Raclaila Town was part of Earl Samuels domain, as well as where his main residence was located. Although he was a powerful local domain lord, Earl Samuel was going through tough times as of late.
His domain didnt have any particular special products. Most industries were at only a mid-or low-level here. In the eyes of those nobles from more urban areas, this location was probably a classic example of a hick location. The only noteworthy part was that this was one of the reasonably well-run domains closest to the Lagraz Kingdom, so the import-export trade was relatively flourishing. More than seventy percent of Earl Samuels income came from taxes on the import-export trade.
However, ever since last winter, due to certain unstable political factors within the Bardi Empire, the number of merchants coming from Lagraz had significantly decreased. Since this would greatly affect his tax income, it made his life rather difficult.
Still, it looked like his luck was improving again. Not only did the major merchant Sindy Veji come as agreed, even "Brilliant Pearl" Carolyn A. Milan from the Bardi capital of Haisler came to visit his domain on a vacation, which was a great political opportunity for him.
This Carolyn was a distant relative of the emperor and had the royal family name of Milan. Although she was only a distant relative who wasnt even in the line of succession to inherit the throne, her father Duke Harold was a major personage who even the princes had to defer to. As an infanta
Earl Samuel was overjoyed that such a person chose to come spend a vacation within his own domain, while also simultaneously being nervous that he would accidentally antagonize her, which would, undoubtedly, be bad for him.
And so, Earl Samuel invited the best chefs and acting troupes within his domain and held a major welcoming party at his residence. He invited all the nearby local nobles and leaders and even the major merchant Sindy Veji from the east, which caused him to receive some criticism.
In the eyes of most nobles, while they may benefit from making trades with merchants, that was something that they couldnt do on the surface. After all, that was considered a "low-class" activity.
As for me, as an add-on to Sindys merchant party, I was quite happy to join Earl Samuels welcoming party.
Yep, I was simply happy to be able to receive new information. It definitely wasnt me being happy at being able to eat and drink as much as I wanted for free or anything like that.
Fine then, I admit that these Bardi spicy soup noodles were quite agreeable with my palate, that these freshly-baked apple pies were absolutely scrumptious, and the spices on that barbequed meat were simply perfect. These fried chicken legs tasted even better, not to mention the excellent pudding and finely-aged red wine The provisions I was eating recently tasted so bland, and since I wouldnt have the chance to meet such delicious foods again, I didnt care how others were pointing and looking at me.
Who cared if I was drooling or swallowing everything in a single gulp? Just call me a rural hick that had come to the city. Who cared what everyone said? Forget about reputation, stuffing my stomach was more important.
Those who saw my archmage robe and wanted to chat me up gave up instantly upon seeing the ravenous manner in which I was devouring food. Even Sindy shook his head and gave up the idea of introducing me to important personages. But, since nobody was going to come bother me, I was more than happy to enjoy such an abundant feastit was a rare opportunity for me. I only forced myself to stop when the main character of the dinner party finally appeared.
When Infanta Carolyn appeared outside the door, she attracted everyones attention.
I wont comment on how she was clad in so much jewelry. Also, since she was from a major family in the capital, her aura and appearance were both better than passable. However, since everyone politely put down what they were drinking and eating when she arrived, I could only do the same so as to not attract unwanted attention to myself. I helplessly put down the pudding cake that I was chewing.
"Sigh, such a grand show of etiquette just for her. Looking at her family crest, she really is an infant?"
Id already seen so many beauties already. Dont even mention an infanta, even princesses were common in my eyes. However, the servant that followed after her astonished me quite greatlyan actual lich.
Perhaps other people didnt know how to differentiate between skeleton mages, skeleton soldiers, and mages, but for me, the soulfire of liches was akin to a bright light in the middle of the night, easy to identify.
"This is Lord Rex. Hes an imperial envoy on a tour of inspection by orders of Emperor Orloss. He represents the will of Emperor Orloss."
Alright then, did I accidentally transmigrate into a fairy tale now? Using a lich as an imperial envoy for a tour of inspection? Was I going crazy, or was Orloss the crazy one?
But representing the will of the emperor meant that he had an incredibly venerated status. Not to mention that there was someone as high-ranked as an infanta doing the introductions for him. Plus, there were plenty of recent rumors about undead receiving noble titles, so even the blind or young brats would know what they should do in such a situation, not to mention these local nobles that had survived the stage of politics for so long already.
There was an endless amount of applause and cheering. The local domain lord Earl Samuel was the first to show his welcoming appreciation, and all the nobles kept bootlicking and kissing ass. There were even some young and beautiful women that cast seductive looks at the lich out of habit, but they soon discovered that there was something wrong about the situation. The lich seemed to be looking at them with an expression that said are you joking with me?, which caused these young ladies to hurriedly lower their heads in an effort to decrease their sense of presence.
As for me, when I heard that a lich actually became an imperial envoy representing the will of the emperor, I was so shocked that I almost choked. I hurriedly drank two gulps of some two-hundred-year-old Omto red wine to swallow down my surprise.
Only later did I find out that this was all part of the Undead Emperors plan. In order to completely take over the Bardi Empire, they made their plan with centuries as the time unit. And now, it was time for them to plant the seeds for harvesting. In order to solidify their "authority," having a high-ranked noble from the capital taking a high-level undead around on a tour of inspection and establishing the undeads authority was just part of their overall plan.
"See, even major nobles from the capital are recognizing high-level undead as high-ranked nobles. What are you all worried about?" This was probably what the Undead Emperors wanted and were hoping forto mitigate humanitys distaste for having undead rulers above them in order to avoid any unplanned accidents when they put their plan into motion.
However, their plan was still limited and with flaws. With Emperor Orloss ruling with an iron grip, it was possible for people to accept some undead as nobles, but if they discovered that the entirety of the Bardi Empire was ruled by undead, this country would likely come to its end. Perhaps, it was precisely because the Holy Church learned about this that they made the decision to "eliminate the sources of evil" here.
Still, the undead were probably just looking to temporarily coax human worries. As for whether or not theyd be exposed later when the Undead Emperors all descended, they wouldnt really care if they were exposed anymore.
If this "main character" arriving for the dinner party could be considered just the first program for tonight, then, when the infanta that just arrived from the capital started whispering in Earl Samuels ear and pointing at Sindy, I faintly perceived that the God of Misfortune was giving me his blessings once again.
"Pope heretic." "Battle!" "Enemy country" "Capture them." "Take their riches."
Thanks to my 20 points in Legend-ranked Perception ability, my five senses were far above an ordinary persons. I heard these few words through the stubborn winds, and when I saw Earl Samuels expression change from disbelief and astonishment to one of consideration and then great joy, I knew what I should do next.
"Damn it, this is going to be really fun now. Perhaps I really should go to the God of Fates sanctuary and pray to him."
But, I was already too late.
"Guards, capture those spies!"
It would seem that Earl Samuel had already finished thinking over things and come to a conclusion. Actually, he didnt need to hesitate at all. Since the Bardi Empire and Lagraz Kingdom were now officially at war, he probably couldnt expect any more merchants coming over from Lagraz for at least the next several years. In that case, he might as well just take all of the Lagraz merchant Sindys goods for himself, which was a concrete way of enriching himself.
As for the reason for taking all of Sindys goods for himself? "With the two countries at war, doesnt that obviously make you a spy? Im going to take everything you have, and as for you, if someone pays a ransom for you Ill let you go, otherwise you can just rot in jail here."
What if the two countries later improved their relationship? That would be no problem either. Would these foreign merchants really have the ability to take revenge? There would always be new fat lambs arriving for the slaughter. And besides, it was still possible to work together if Sindy was able to pay a sufficient amount of ransom money.
Not only did Earl Samuel come to such a realization at this moment, but Sindy was no idiot, either. He had already expected something like this to possibly occur due to the unstable political situation. The moment he heard the word "spies," he unhesitatingly took a scroll out from his sleeve and tore it.
A five-circle magic random dimensional door appeared. Since it was too quick and too unexpected, even the lich Rex was unable to stop him. Sindy was randomly teleported to a location within a three kilometer radius.
It would seem that this was his ace card for escaping, and he had been prepared to use it at a moments notice.
"Wow, Mister Sindy, arent you forgetting about someone? Dont just make your teammate suffer like this."
Several dozen pairs of eyes were staring at me. Since the main character Sindy had ran away, I, who was only a side character, had obviously leveled up.
"Um, if I say that Im not together with him, will you believe me?"
"Catch that guy!"
"Yep, thats how everything happened!"
"Thats why you unhesitatingly brought all the soldiers chasing after you over to us? Arent you the one thats making your teammates suffer?"
A certain silly cat was angrily shouting at me as we hid in a small forest. She was quite angry because she had just lost her collectibles.
"Isnt he just a mere lich? Why dont you just kill him? Do you really need to run like this?""
"Do you think that itll end with just a lich? There will probably be something even more troublesome after him. Besides, Im currently only a Gold rank. Do you think its possible for me to defeat a Legend-ranked lich together with a bunch of small fries?"
"Do you really dare to tell me that you honestly believe that? You cant even defeat a lich?"
At the very weakest, all liches would be Legend-ranked. But judging from his mana waves and soulfires strength, the lich Rex was only at the top of Legend rank, and he was even a Legend rank who lacked foundational strength because he had been forcibly improved in power by an outside force.
Although undead over the Legend rank boundary that possessed intelligence were typically stronger than humans at the same power rank, based on my understanding of undead magic, normal Legend-ranked liches werent all that difficult to deal with.
Especially all the more so because I could tell that the lich Rex seemed to be an ice magic specialist apart from using undead magic. That would be nothing more than showing off in front of an expert, and as Harloys said, it would be quite easy for me to deal with him. However, I didnt do so because I had other considerations.
The soldiers chasing after us were mostly the domain lords private soldiers, and most of them were Iron-ranked novices. If we really wanted to turn around and counterattack, literally any one of us could do the task on their own. However, I forced everyone in my squad to listen to me, ordering them not to scare them off. But the pity was that although I preferred to simply run off and come to a peaceful solution, they seemed to be quite stubborn about following us.
Thanks to there being local residents supplying them with information in this environment filled with enemies, they were quickly able to catch up to us again.
"Catch that mage, otherwise our lord will kill us all."
"Bastard! Is that guy really a mage? Why is he so good at running?"
"Dont mention it anymore! Ah San was sent flying with a single smack of his mage staff and was even stuck into the wall. This guy definitely has an ogres bloodline."
"Hurry up and chase after him! This time, our lord is so angry! If we cant catch him, none of us will get off easy."
As we heard the soldiers saying such things from behind us, Little Red, who had been rather frustrated at not being able to vent, looked at me in astonishment, seeming to question what it was that I had done.
"Not much. Since I wasnt using a show of force to escape, I used a hostage, that domain lord, instead. That domain lord probably felt like he lost a lot of face in front of that beautiful infanta, so he got angry."
"I think that there was something wrong with the way you took a hostage. First of all, you should have used a knife, not a chicken leg, when putting something against someone elses neck. Not only that, after you noticed that you grabbed the wrong item, two wrongs dont make a rightyou actually finished eating that chicken leg and used the chicken bone to point at everyone, shouting Dont come over, otherwise Im going to stab your domain lord to death with this chicken bone."
"An earl that was almost stabbed to death with a chicken bone? I think that once this news spreads, he would prefer to have been stabbed to death by you."
Having a magical pet that was connected to your mind was truly inconvenient. This was especially because she would take every opportunity she could get to make fun of me. Did she really think that I didnt want to use a dining knife instead? Who knew that I would accidentally grab the wrong item?
"Thats right, not only that, Roland even thought that the earl was being noisy, so he used pudding togrrgh!"
I unhesitatingly stuffed the final chicken leg I had been saving for myself into that silly cats mouth, finally giving myself some peace and quiet.
"If Im correct in my calculations, this could even be a good opportunity. Yep, lets go meet back up with Sindy again. I still need to recover my fees for mental trauma."
"Stop changing the topic! We want to hear more! Just how did you escape using a chicken leg!?"
"Stop mentioning chicken legs!"
"What about the pudding, then?"
1. An infanta is a historical term that refers to a daughter of the ruling monarch [of Spain or Portugal], especially the eldest daughter who was not heir to the throne.