Volume 1 Chapter 1 – The First Friend (5/6)
That day, the whole world slightly shook.[Catastrophe] ranked monster, [Storm Dragon] Verudora’s disappearance was confirmed.
Verudora, Special S-Ranked monster.
Demons’ rankings were evaluated into six ranks, A~F by adventurers.[+] was added if the monster was slightly stronger than the evaluated rank, [-] was added if the monster was weaker than or pseudo to the evaluated rank.
This was the ranking system established by the [Otherworlder] at the top of the Freedom Association, Kagurazaka Yuki, who holds the title [Freedom Association Grand Master].
This was simpler and easier to understand than the old four step evaluation of Fledgling → Beginner → Intermediate Adventurers→ Expert Adventurers.
The so-called Special S-Rank, referred to something that went beyond a Demon Lord’s designated S-Rank. They are demons categorized as [Catastrophe] or even [Calamity].
They were extraordinary existences that could not be evaluated within the frame of A~F.
Originally, even an A-ranked demon would be able to affect a country’s existence.
Having said that, it ought to be possible to see a glimpse of the despairingly high degree of danger.
Although he was already sealed three hundred years ago, in the end, he was still a catastrophe level monster.
However, the Western Holy Church only released the information about the complete disappearance of [Storm Dragon] Verudora to the public, when it was already twenty days after they had received the disappearance report.
In the surrounding areas of the Great Jura Forest, there existed many small nations.
After receiving the report of Verudora’s disappearance, all the nations panicked around like bees in a disturbed beehive.
Kings and ministers of various nations held emergency meetings day after day, to gather intelligence and discuss future countermeasures.
The minister of Burmond Kingdom, Baron Belyard, was also one of them.
The person facing him was Fitz. Although his height was slightly on the short side, he possessed a gaze that made others feel cautious.
His position, was the Burmond Kingdom’s Freedom Association’s branch leader; in this country, it could be considered a decently influential position.
“I didn’t call you for anything else. About the matter of [Storm Dragon] Verudora, you should’ve received the news, right?”
Putting out a mannerism as if the other side definitely was already aware of it, Baron Belyard asked Fitz who had just stepped into the room.
“Of course, Baron.”
Fitz affirmed it in a low voice with concise words.
“Hmph, as expected of the guild master, you were informed pretty quickly.”
Belyard snorted using his nose, and continued speaking.
“So, may I hear the countermeasures your Freedom Association have for the future?”
“For the upcoming short period of time, there aren’t any special plans.”
“What? I don’t think I heard you clearly…. Don’t tell me, there are no plans to establish any countermeasures?”
“That’s correct, since it is unnecessary.”
Fitz replied indifferently.
With an expression that appeared to be completely oblivious as to why Baron Belyard would become angry.
Although Baron Belyard felt displeased, he tried to keep on speaking without revealing it.
However, the effort to do so didn’t seem to succeed….
“What’s up with your so-called unnecessary? With the disappearance of [Storm Dragon] Verudora, it was unquestionable that demons would quickly become active in the near future! Even so, you still don’t plan on formulating any countermeasures!?”
“What you had just said is wrong. Establishing countermeasures is the kingdom’s job. The Freedom Association are not volunteers, alright?”
This was the truth.
The so-called freedom association, was an organization that transcended nations.
Compared to the professionals who belonged to the nations, those who joined the Freedom Association do not have any guarantees for their livelihood. As the price of receiving the lowest level of citizenship, they would would pay a certain degree of taxes.
This system was not only specific to this country, but a common matter that’s nearly the same for all the surrounding nations. Thinking about it in reverse, the Freedom Association actually has an organizational capacity that exceeded an entire nation, however…
It’s unknown if it’s only by chance, or if it’s by deliberation, but it’s also a fact that they permeate into the group of nations to launch their activities.
“Protecting the citizen’s livelihood is the country’s lowest obligation, isn’t it? It’s the same for us, we protect the lives of our association members. It’s pretty tough for both of us, eh.”
The guildmaster’s attitude that clearly expressed rejection, made Baron Belyard’s veins appear on his forehead.
These were obviously words that could only be said after seeing through the bottomline of the other party.
“Enough of pleasantries! Just say it directly, how many mercenaries can the Freedom Association provide? How many adventurers are proficient at battles? And how many people can you send to this city for defence!?”
The guild master let out a slight sigh,
“Please don’t misunderstand, we are not a volunteer organization. From the agreement between the country and the Freedom Association, the association members that can be mobilized is one-tenth of the total. If you need more people than that, then appropriate compensation must be paid.”
The total population of Burmond was one million people.
Freedom association members that reside there only consists of seven thousand people, not including their family members.
Based on the agreement between the country and Freedom Association, under emergency situations that required mobilization of combatants, the Freedom Association would need to pull out ten percent of their association members (In this country, it would be seven hundred) to participate under the country’s command.
Of course, this only applies to the association members in that nation, and did not include other nation’s association members. Therefore, although it was a freedom alliance, the nation that they belonged to, was distinctive.
Additionally, during the enactment period of this agreement, the taxes that the Freedom Association pays are cut down to only twenty percent.
Because the pact was coercive, from the viewpoint of taxes, this limited authority was not something to be arbitrarily used. Also, during the period of mobilization, the association member’s wages were naturally paid for by the country.
Presumably, to mobilize all the association members of the nation, it would also be impossible.
Since half of the association members are non-combatants.
For a country, they clearly knew this fact.
Therefore, in normal situations this agreement would not be enacted…. However the situation this time was extremely serious.
The demons were becoming active. Indeed, this was a great reason.
However, what’s hidden behind the back, was an issue that’s even more serious.
“Let’s stop playing around! Oi, Fitz. Can we speak some sincere words?”
Fitz felt somewhat surprised since Baron Belyard directly called out his name.
He looked straight at Baron Belyard’s face for the first time, and spoke.
“Because there is a territory that couldn’t be passed, namely the place where [Storm Dragon] Verudora was sealed, the footsteps of the Eastern Empire’s invasion was halted. However, since Verudora is now gone, the Eastern Empire is very likely to take action.”
“That’s exactly the case! The Empire had only remained quiet out of the concern of Verudora, for they were afraid that the seal would be broken. You know it too, right? If they cleared a path in that forest, this kingdom would be annexed in a flash. Plus, it is impossible to expect anything from the Western Holy Church. The un-unified nations surrounding the great forest, will be taken over by the Empire in an instant!”
“Was there really no action from the church… That’s true. Those guys don’t have any interest in the disputes of humans. After all, exterminating demons is their doctrine.
“It’s just as you say. Even if only a single paladin was willing to make the rounds, then the Empire would not dare to act carelessly…. If only there existed the threat of demons of a certain rank, we would’ve been able to gather a little bit more time.”
“That’s probably useless… From the view of the Church, it doesn’t matter in the slightest even if one or two nations collapsed. Even if there are believers of the Church, it would be impossible to account for all of them.”
Fitz looked at Baron Belyard’s face and thought.
This fellow seems to be considerably exhausted already….
That wasn’t really a surprise. Baron Belyard seemed like he had aged over ten years in these past few days.
These two people, were actually good friends starting all the way from childhood.
Although he was a Baron, it was impossible to disclose their friendship publically, because it would involve issues of many aspects.
Therefore, both of them acted out the relationship of exploiting each other.
With only this small nation, it was impossible to cross this hurdle.
However, it was still necessary to think about the worst sometimes.
There were indeed some activities in the Empire. However, there was no conclusive evidence that indicated their invasion.
If it’s only the overflow of demons, that was still possible to deal with.
“It’s not guaranteed that the Empire would act this fast, right? Anyways, I’ll use my personal information network to gather intelligence. Naturally, I hope that you won’t hold too high of an expectation. I’ll start with inquiring about the Jura Forest’s state and the Empire’s movements.”
“Sorry… That’s a big help.”
That’s right, it was not certain that the Empire would act that fast.
Even if they start preparing this instant, it still was a large-scale military movement.
They, were not naive to the point of only sending a small army to conquer the Jura Forest’s surrounding nations. To prepare an army of over one million strong with trampling the enemy as the goal, would require a long time; at least three years was necessary.
Even if that’s the case, it’s still hard to say that there was enough time.
“All in all, I’ll start with gathering intelligence. There’s not enough time, I’ll start acting right now!”
The two nodded their heads, and said their goodbyes.
There were a lot of things that needed to be done.