“WE’RE HERE, POCHI!”
“WE’RE FINALLY HERE, MASTER!”
“Royal Capital Regalia, more than sixty years before our time! We gotta keep a low profile, doggo!”
“Huh? We’re still THAT far back in the past?”
Right. I forgot just how bad she was at maths.
“W-well, I’d say it’s pretty far back, yeah.”
“You’re being vague again, Master…”
Arguing against her remark is gonna be a hassle. And it’s not like doing that will get us home any sooner, anyway.
Mmm, now I’m acting more like the Philosopher I’m meant to be. One does not achieve the title in a single day, after all — it’s the culmination of daily training and studies that enables one to make the right decisions when they truly count. Hehehehe… another wonderful quote to add to the Principles of a Philosopher. Gotta note it down.
Anyway… we gotta start things off by meeting Sagan, the current War Demon Emperor.
“…That’s a creepy smile, sir.”
“Now then, to meet the War Demon Emperor, we must go to Regalia Castle… Which is where he IS, but I guess we can’t randomly walk in and get to see him just like that.”
“So we have to start by gathering information… yes?”
“Which means we’re dropping by the Adventurers’ Guild… right, of course.”
Pochi and I talked as we walked through the Royal Capital of Regalia.
…And it didn’t take long for me to start feeling uncomfortable.
“You know, I kinda feel like…”
“We’re TOTALLY being watched, sir…”
So Pochi’s feeling the stares from all around us as well.
I do remember this kind of look — because it’s what Pochi and I have been subject to so many times before.
It didn’t happen in Beilanea and Radeata, but this is the War Demon Nation’s capital city. The cultural shift… has not happened over here yet.
“Here we are, sir.”
Pochi said, her voice lacking in energy, contrary to the usual. I do know why she’s like that, though.
“…Yup, this is the place.”
“…Well, let me try going in, just to be sure…”
Pochi said as if she half-knew how this would end.
Well, it’s not like we can avoid this. I’ll just let her do it.
I opened the door to the Adventurers’ Guild, and Pochi was about to walk inside, but then…
And so Pochi stood in place, as if she knew she was the one being told to stop. I did so as well, of course.
The voice was from the Guild receptionist right in front of us, a bearded middle-aged man.
“No Familiars allowed.”
Wherever Pochi tried to enter today, she’d be turned away at the door.
Which reminds me, hundreds of years ago, this would always happen whenever I visited human settlements with Pochi.
Maybe it was precisely in this era when that sort of discrimination started to diminish.
After all, we faced no such issues days ago, in Beilanea and Radeata.
The Royal Capital is naturally full of aristocrats, which may be causing a delay in the removal of such restrictions.
“…Welp, looks like I’m waiting outside, Master.”
Pochi looked sad for a moment, then tried to put up a smile.
I know these things take time, but that doesn’t mean I can tolerate poor treatment of Familiars.
When and if I meet War Demon Emperor Sagan, I’ll be sure to mention this issue to him. That’s the one thing that I’ll definitely do.
“So… what do you need?”
“You see, I’ve traveled a great distance from Beilanea to the Royal Capital, and would like to meet Lord Sagan to commemorate my trip here. Are there any such upcoming events or arrangements in the near future?”
“Heh, your devotion is admirable, but… it seems that Lord Sagan has been terribly busy since the coronation. I don’t think you’ll get to see him for quite a while. Well, you can always wait for the new year’s celebration, when he’s definitely scheduled for a public appearance. Hahahaha!”
That’s about as much information as I’ll get from this place, I guess.
I thanked the Guild receptionist and headed outside to meet up with Pochi.
“How did it go, Master?”
“Honestly, I didn’t get anything that a random passerby on the streets wouldn’t know.”
“Well, we ARE trying to meet the Nation’s top ruling man, sir. It never was going to be easy.”
Although without even a hint of how to proceed, I started walking, and Pochi followed.
And as I thought carefully about what we could do, we reached the commercial district.
I wonder if those ladies in that corner are talking about Sagan…
Randomly joking that to myself, I tried getting closer to them and listening in.
“Lord Sagan? Are you sure?”
“That’s right, that’s right. Look, you didn’t hear this from me, but… You know how there’s a dried-up lake to the north of Regalia? My husband said he saw him there, training alone.”
“Huh? Without any company?”
“Yes…? I’m pretty sure that’s what he said.”
“Come on, there’s no way Lord Sagan would go there without anyone else with him. I heard that a terrifying monster’s recently appeared in that area…”
“Oh my, so scary… But then who or what did my husband even see…?”
“Must’ve been someone with a similar face.”
“Right, that must be it. Ohohohoho!”
Ending the conversation, the ladies laughed and walked away.
“Master, did you hear that?”
“Oh, I totally did, doggo.”
Pochi and I looked at each other.
I never expected to find our solution here–
“–They way she laughed — like ‘ohohohoho’! I never thought people actually laughed like that! What a surprise, sir!”
“THAT’S NOT IT! How the hell did you even focus on that point, anyway!? That’s what actually surprised me!”
“Eh-hem! How about you do research about it later, sir!?”
“About your wonky ears, you mean!?”
“About people whose laughs go ‘ohohohoho,’ what else!?”
“You think I’m immediately gonna start researching some ladies I just met in Regalia!? That’s not what a Philosopher would do!”
“But you’re just a fool, sir!”
“Damn it, you little–“
She’s STILL calling me a fool, worsening the curse even more!
I grabbed Pochi’s mouth and held it shut.
“Ah–! Why you–!”
Pochi thrashed around, eventually breaking free from my grab.
“Bu-hah! …That was fun, sir! Let’s do that again!”
“……Hah. Yeah, later.”
“I’ll consider that a promise, sir!”
The way Pochi’s wagging her tail so happily does raise some… concerns for the future, but regardless, I crouched down and looked at her, to steer things back into topic.
“There’s a dried-up lake to the north of Regalia — and there’s a good chance that Sagan is there. And even if he’s NOT there, there’s a hidden passageway that connects to Regalia Castle.”
“Ah… I remember you mentioning going through one when you met the Holy Emperor, sir! But are you sure it still exists? I have a feeling that it’s been a pretty long time since then…”
Pochi asked the obvious question, prompting me to look at the Regalia Castle in the distance.
“As far as I can see, the castle’s construction hasn’t been changed from back then. The city name, Regalia, is kept over the millennia, too. I’d say there’s a good chance — just gotta go and check it out ourselves.”
“Yes, sir! But before that… FOOD!”
Following Pochi’s cheerful reply, our destination instantly changed the dried-out lake north of Regalia to… a restaurant.
After the meal, we finally went to the rumored spot where the lake used to be.
And so the rumor randomly obtained on the roadside proved to be superior to the information gathered from the Adventurers’ Guild. I guess that does happen sometimes.
“This is a pretty deep drop down, sir.”
“Yeah… last time I was here, it was a beautiful lake. Must’ve dried up after the few thousand years.”
“And there’s no one around here…”
Pochi said as she looked around.
“Even if he had a habit of coming here, he won’t be able to skip a War Demon Emperor’s obligations so easily. Let’s be patient and wait.”
“Oh, but before that…”
Saying that, I jogged on ahead, and Pochi proceeded to follow me.
There should be a rocky surface located about half a lap around the lake… Aha — it’s still here, even if the surface itself has changed quite a lot.
“Hmm… Oh? What’s this place, sir?”
I looked into a certain gap in the rocks.
……All right, there it is.
“What’s wrong, Master? Is there something in here?”
“Just wait and see, Pochi… Aha!”
Gotta grab the hidden handle inside and twist it…
“W-wha–!? The ground’s shaking…!? Wow! The rock just split open! We should get one of these for the Pochisley Agency, sir! People come, the rock wall opens, and then we say ‘Welcome! We’ll buy those unfairly enslaved children off you!’ — perfect!”
What the hell, that sounds super scary.