The Floating City, Berneze
We changed into travelers clothes in a grove near the city. I had anticipated their necessity, and had Eve prepare them in advance.
I would be the traveling merchant, Toshizou would be my guard, and Jeanne would be disguised as a farmer’s daughter.
I was used to putting on disguises, and Jeanne was born a farmer’s daughter, so she had no trouble there. She even put mud on her face to look the part.
The problem was Toshizou. Even with his clothes, he had the aura of a killer. There was something about him that was not normal.
“Well, I suppose it will be fine.”
I said in resignation. There would be no end to it if I wanted perfection. I couldn’t ask him to pretend to be a cowardly farmer, and so we entered as we were.
Though, Eve did not wear a disguise at all. It was the same with Fuma Kotaro. The uniform of a maid was quite useful because people did not look at you with suspicion. And they both wore it like it was their own skin.
And so it was like this that we attempted to enter the city. And fortunately, the gatekeeper let us through without any complications arising.
However, it was clearly less about our acting ability and more about the permit that I had. It was a real permit, and it allowed you to freely enter and leave the city.
“I’m surprised you have something so convenient.”
Said Jeanne. And so I explained.
“Ryoma gave it to me before she left. It’s a special permit that only honored members of the Council can issue.”
Jeanne said as she bit into some dried meat. I had no idea if she was really interested or not.
“Now, we could just head over to where Ryoma is, but I think that I’d like to take a look at the city first.”
“I agree with you. Besides, I just saw some food stalls. I want to eat.”
“Maybe some other time. I want to get a lay of the land and understand the economic scale of this city.”
“You can learn about the economic scale by eating their food.”
“You’re not wrong, but it’s not lunch time yet.”
I said as I turned Jeanne’s head away from the food.
There in front of us, was a vast sea.
“I am in awe. The sea. It’s been so long since I last saw one.”
“The Ashtaroth lands are far inland.”
The Floating City of Berneze was exactly what it sounded like. It jutted out into the sea as if it was floating. And so you had a great view of the sea from any elevated location.
“It’s such a beautiful sight. It feels like it’s floating on the water.”
Eve whispered as she held her hair, which was blowing in the wind.
“I heard that there are cities in this world that float on boats. Unfortunately, Berneze was built on sand.”
“Building on sand seems rather dangerous.”
“Every building is supported by a pillar that goes deep into the ground. Much like the city of Venice, in that other world. They have buildings along a river that are on sand.”
“Oh, so they have similar places in other worlds.”
“Yes. And they once boasted the strongest economy in the Mediterranean region. But it mainly attracts tourists now.”
However, I continued.
“Paradoxically, having rivers go through your city is a good way to make the economy grow. And even when there is a decline, it’s sure to bring in tourists.”
“I am sure this city would do very well if it was under your rule, Demon King.”
“Exactly. But that is in the far future. Right now I am looking forward to peacefully negotiating a trading agreement.”
I said, and we started to walk again.
We came out into the marketplace.
It was the best place to go to if you wanted to get an idea of the economic scale of a place.
And the Berneze marketplace was much more lively than I had expected.
The marketplace itself was huge. I estimated it to be more than three times larger than the one by Ashtaroth castle.
Not only that, but the people who worked there were very diverse.
There were merfolk, humans with dark skin that likely came from the island cities to the south, and even sea dwarves and dark elves.
“I had thought that the population around Ashtaroth castle was diverse, but it is nothing compared to Berneze.”
“Like a salad bowl with seven types of dressing.”
Said Eve, quickly betraying her role as guardian of the kitchens.
“I’ve never seen a sea dwarf before. I wonder if they really do have webbed hands.”
Jeanne said as she walked up to a sea dwarf and shook his hand. It was a rather long handshake, and she spoke with him for a few minutes before returning.
She seemed very excited.
“He really did have webbed hands! But it was rough, just like the hands of other dwarves!”
“I see. So they have the features of both dwarves and merfolk.”
“He said that he could hold his breath underwater for five minutes.”
“That is impressive.”
I would like to bring such people in once I started to build my own navy, but there was no time to go looking for them now.
What we had to do now was get a grasp on this city.
And so I asked the others what they thought.
“What is your impression of Berneze so far?”
Toshizou was the first to reply.
“I was able to get a glimpse of the brothel district earlier, and it was filled with people, even though it is midday. I would consider that a mark of prosperity.”
That was about as typical an answer I could expect from him. But I supposed people wouldn’t be spending time in such places if they had no money.
Fuma Kotaro was the next to reply.
“Of course, you have already noticed it, Demon King, but this place is filled with people of different races. That is proof that they gather here from all over the world. Yes, to me that is the real proof of prosperity.”
I nodded in agreement.
Finally, Eve answered my question.
“Fabrics that would cost ten pieces of gold are only eight pieces here. Not only that, but I suspect that the quality is superior. Dairy products are also cheap, but of high quality. In other words, their economy is excellent.”
It was the kind of answer that only a maid who managed the castle kitchens would give. And it was probably the sharpest observation as well.
It wasn’t just size, but these small details that reflected the health of an economy.
And so I considered all that they had said.
“In other words, this is a rich city. I couldn’t ask for a better trading partner.”
“I would very much like to build a friendly relationship with them. However, I am likely to be served poisoned tea if I go and meet with this Council.”
I said casually. And so Fuma Kotaro made a suggestion.
“In that case, you should rely on the daughter of Sakamoto Ryoma. After all, it is she who called you here.”
“That’s true. And since she has already returned to this city, we should go and find her.”
“But Master. Berneze is a huge city. And we don’t have any leads on where she is.”
Eve said worriedly. However, it was for nothing. And I told her the reason.
“Ryoma is a very odd sort of person. I have a feeling that she would be well known, even in this city. We just need to gather a little information and we’ll find something soon enough.”
Jeanne nodded at this.
“That is true! Ah, perfect! I will go and ask that elder elf over there!”
She said as she rushed off, ignoring Eve’s attempt to stop her.
Elder elves were known to be difficult people, however, this one seemed happy to reply to Jeanne.
Perhaps Jeanne had a skill that made people more accepting towards her. That’s how impressive her questioning techniques were.
“Really, I don’t know how she does it. Everyone likes her.”
Eve muttered under her breath.
“Well, it’s her strength. After all, who would reject a golden retriever that runs up to them?”
“I suppose so. Though, I cannot help but feel jealous sometimes.”
Eve sounded a little sad. It seemed like she too wanted the ability to be liked by nearly anyone.
I understood the sentiment, but it was not something easily acquired.
And so I told her that Jeanne had her strengths, and that she had her own.
“It’s good of you to say that, but perhaps you can tell me what those strengths are?”
She said very seriously. And so I answered.
“Let’s see. You were summoned for the first time, but trusted me and have been very loyal ever since. Even if everyone else betrayed me, I know that you alone would not. And perhaps it’s because of that reassurance that I am often able to employ such bold strategies?”
I said all of this rather matter-of-factly, but Eve’s eyes welled up with tears.
“I am not worthy of such praise.”
She said with a bow. That’s when Jeanne returned.
Eve did not want her rival to see her crying, and she quickly wiped her eyes and smiled.
“There you are, Jeanne. Were you able to acquire any useful information?”
However, what she then told us was most unexpected.
Not only that, but it could hardly be considered good news for us.