The information that Jeanne received from the elder elf was very disappointing indeed.
Ryoma’s company had been seized by the Council, and Ryoma herself had been imprisoned.
I didn’t have to ask why. It was quite obvious. Ryoma had lost the political war with them, and now she had lost her freedom.
In fact, I had expected something like this to happen.
“Ryoma was arrested for embezzling the Council’s money.”
“I see. Well, I’m sure that it’s a false accusation. People with authority are rather good at framing others.”
“While it may be true, just claiming that she is innocent will not help her. We must do something.”
Eve declared. And of course, she was right.
Wagging our fingers in disapproval would not change anything.
“In that case, I suppose we must depend on Sakamoto Ryoma’s master.”
“Sakamoto Ryoma’s master? Do you mean Katsu Kaishu?”
Asked Hijikata Toshizou, the vice-captain of the Shinsengumi.
Sakamoto Ryoma could be said to be Toshizou’s mortal enemy, and so he knew him well.
“Unfortunately, no. Katsu Kaishu would be his master in Japan. He apparently had a different master in this world.”
“Ah, I see. He really has no principles.”
“I would call him flexible. As for this master, he’s apparently called Marco. Well, that’s actually all I know.”
“That isn’t much information at all.”
“However, I do know that he’s a merchant. And if he’s more famous than Sakamoto Ryoma, then everyone should know him.”
And so I stopped a child that was walking down the street.
The child looked at us suspiciously, but Eve offered him some candy, which fixed everything. Thankfully, this child was not stubborn.
“Little boy. There should be a merchant known as ‘Marco’ in this city. Do you know where he lives?”
“Marco? How am I supposed to know who that is?”
“He is likely the most famous Marco here.”
“Ah, then you mean Mister Marco Polo.”
While this was said very casually, it was a great shock to me.
“Marco Polo? Is it that Marco Polo?”
“Well, there is only one Marco Polo that I know of.”
The boy said with a puzzled expression. And then Eve turned to me and asked,
“Who is this Marco Polo you speak of?”
“A person I have a great respect for. He was a merchant in a country called Italy, in another world. When that world was still in the shadows, he traveled to the Eurasian continent on foot and wrote about his travels. He is a very great man.”
“Oh, that does sound amazing.”
“It is more than amazing. He is one of my favorite figures, along with Inou Tadataka.”
In my previous life, I spent much time doing research. And so I couldn’t help but admire those who traveled the world and wrote about their journeys.
To be honest, I wished that I could stop this Demon King ambition and return to my research while traveling this world.
My subordinates looked a little put off when I told them of this dream. Perhaps I had gotten carried away and talked for too long about Marco Polo.
Indeed, I was probably more excited now than I had ever been since coming to this world.
With just a little remorse, I returned to acting like a Demon King and faced the child.
“Boy. Will you take us to the mansion where Marco Polo lives? We’ll give you three more candies.”
“I’ll do it for four.”
Well, the child lived in a merchant city, so it was not surprising.
“Very well. I’ll give you five if you take us to him.”
I answered, and he gladly guided us towards Marco Polo’s mansion.
The mansion was located in the center district of Berneze.
As this city was ruled by a council of merchants, there was no royal castle. However, there were assembly halls and guest houses instead. And Marco Polo’s mansion was located among them.
It was a very grand building.
As soon as Jeanne saw it, she asked, ‘what kind of criminal activity allows you to live in a place like this?’
“Who said anything about crime? You just have to be successful as a merchant.”
I said. However, it was true that building a mansion like this would cost a lot of money. How many dwarven craftsmen had to be hired for this? I started to calculate in my mind, but stopped, as the numbers made me shiver.
As we stood in front of the great mansion gates, I gestured towards the gatekeeper.
He took one look at us and his expression turned into one of annoyance.
Jeanne muttered, but I told her that there was nothing we could do.
“A Demon King dressed as a merchant and two maids. A samurai who likes to glare and a Saint who is failing to hide her purity. If there is any gatekeeper who wouldn’t think we were odd, they would be terrible at their job.”
Eve said with a chuckle. Then the gatekeeper informed us that his master was absent.
As this was clearly a lie, I showed him the short sword I had received from Sakamoto Ryoma.
Recognition flashed on his face and he hurried inside of the house. After a few minutes, he returned with a different answer.
“…My master will meet with you.”
And so we were led to a drawing room and told to leave our weapons there.
And while Toshizou and Jeanne did not look pleased, they still obeyed. Besides, it was a common courtesy after being granted an audience, and it would be unwise to refuse here.
After removing our weapons, we were then led to Marco Polo’s office.
Upon entering the room, I saw that he was surrounded by secretaries and they seemed to be discussing something.
“According to the merchants I sent to the east, if you want to go to the samurai island, the time between June and October should be avoided. There are typhoons…”
“Furthermore, the continent to the east does not have any demons. But instead, it is ravaged by war, more so than this continent.”
“There are also stories about the east having better spices than the island cities.”
The secretaries were listening to him and taking notes.
“What’s happening here?”
“When writing ‘The Travels of Marco Polo,’ Marco Polo had a fellow prisoner write it while he dictated. In other words, he was not very good at writing.”
“Well, I see Jeanne isn’t alone there.”
I glanced towards Jeanne. While she was now able to read, she still did not like to write.
“In the past, important people had scribes who wrote their letters. And since Marco Polo seems to be important here, it is likely not anything unusual.”
It was just as I finished saying this that Marco Polo finished his dictating and addressed us.
“…I heard you mention my book, ‘The Travels of Marco Polo.’ Could it be that you are not from this world?”
He was a very old man, that was plain to see. But there was a sharpness in his voice.
“Exactly. However, I am not from Europe. I was from a different world, not the one called ‘Earth.’”
“And yet you seem to know a lot about it.”
“I happened to study it from my own world. Of course, I also studied about you. You’re a legendary merchant who traveled the Eurasian continent, from the west to the east. Your book is practically my bible.”
“So that book has been useful to someone then. I myself was not very happy with it. The prisoner exaggerated and added some of his own details, you see.”
“Still, I can feel your passion through it, Marco Polo.”
“…Just call me Marco. No Polo.”
“Very well. Then please call me Ashta.”
“I will. I have heard about you from Ryoma. She said that you were a Demon King I could trust.”
“I do my best to live up to the expectations of those who believe in me.”
“That’s a good answer. Then I doubt you’ll disappoint me or the imprisoned Ryoma.”
Marco Polo said. And then he called his maid and sent for some tea to be brought to us.
Well, it seemed that we had overcome the first obstacle.
And so we sighed with relief and waited for our tea.