Just in time for my connecting flight.
As I mentioned previously, I’ll be in rural Japan for the next few days.
I’ll IM Deskie to have this edited ASAP. Ha-ha, it’s done! Enjoy! //D
For now, enjoy.
Edits: Deskie, sancturillore
Chapter XVIII – Soul-Mixing
What lied on the other end of the “Portal Gate” was a cavern.
Although the light source wasn’t a problem thanks to the magic lighting tools hanging on the wall, the damp and dusty stagnant air and the exposed bare rock that was the cavern’s floor made this place more of a mining tunnel rather than an alchemist’s lab.
Well, truth be told, in a sense that view is correct, though.
“Still, I don’t see how humans can live comfortably in this place…”
“I personally don’t mind at all. However, since there’s the risk that this place may adversely affect Master’s health, it’s indeed a bit worrisome.”
I have already visited this place several times before, but Uni and the others still hold unfavourable views regarding the place. Though, since I was putting emphasis on the convenience and the concealed nature of the place, of course the environmental aspects had to be disregarded in exchange.
By the way, Drei says,
“There are some among my clansmen who do live underground, but their dwelling aren’t as damp and as dusty as this…. Dwarves, though, might have a different idea of this.”
And, as I thought, she isn’t a fan.
“Well, even for me, this isn’t an environment where I can engross myself in research with a good mood. If the opportunity arises, shall I make some improvements around here?”
“Yeah, by all means, please do that. After all, in an emergency, this place is supposed to be the last bastion right? If many people were to be crammed into this place, I’d suffocate.”
“Only superior units like us would feel so. When it comes to that, you’ll just have to put up with it. The slaves don’t have the capacity to be dissatisfied, right?”
“As a matter of fact, that is not true.”
Uni raised an objection against Drei’s careless remarks.
“While the mass-produced slaves indeed have had their emotions restricted, their emotions itself still exist. Too much accumulated stress will have a negative impact on their body and mind. Like what happened to M-03 in the past.”
‘Yeah’, Due said, his face sour. It was a story from last year, when a slave put down her brother whom she had reunited with by chance due to his hostility factor against me. And due to the stress from having slain her own kin, the individual fell into an extreme panic.
It was when he just had become my “opus”. I do remember that well. As Uni said, although the mass-produced slaves are robot-like in nature, in order to maintain their autonomy, a reasonable amount of emotions still has to be kept in place. Though, I also keep their appearance neater than the slaves in some other places and provide them with top-quality meals in order to maintain their mental stability.
TL Note: “Masterpiece” will be translated as “Opus” from now on.
Besides, compared to the superior units – the “opus” series , they are physically weak. If I leave them in an unsanitary environment for a long time, they might fall ill and collapse. Should the worst happen, I’m confident that I can cure them of most diseases if I treat them. But compared to symptomatic treatments, striving for prevention costs less. Besides, it would be troublesome if I, however small the chance might be, were to contract their illness too.
“It is as she said. I have established a shift-system for the mass-produced slaves that I have assigned to work here, to be periodically replaced by those from the main residence outside. However, this isn’t much of a profound solution. Hence, I believe that improvements on the environment here indeed is a necessity.”
Moreover, the environment may affect the bodies for my experiments as well. That might impair the reliability of the data that I’ve gathered with great pains too.
“Hum… I was being imprudent. I’ll be careful from now on, Master.”
‘Don’t mind it’, I replied her with a wry smile and move on from the topic.
“Anyway, let’s talk about the future. This lab is different from those tiny basements in my residence in the capital and that former deputy’s manor in Marlin. Rather, this place is a yet-to-be-completed secret base.”
Secret base. Even though it is something I have said myself, the words are so childish it made me want to laugh.
However, it tickles my motivation and something that seems to be excitement echoes somewhere inside of me.
I recognise myself as a man of efficiency, but I’m not enough of an adult to hold this romance in disdain entirely. Otherwise, surely I’d give up a preposterous dream like attaining immortality a long time ago. It’s just right for an alchemist to be somewhat childish.
I thought as such, when,
“Well, well, welcome back Master! I’ve waited an eternity for your return!”
Charl, who I kept here to look after the place, cheerfully greeted me. Drei’s a dark elf, but with a collar attached to her, if people were to discover her then at worst I can defend her by claiming that she’s merely my slave. But the same defence won’t do for him, who’s a vampire…. and moreover, a lord class vampire. After all, he’s an extremely dangerous entity who’s able to conquer a small country just by increasing his kin. Even as a slave, he’s still mankind’s natural enemy whose existence cannot be tolerated even for a second. And that’s why he basically is kept in this lab in secret.
“Aah, here comes the annoying one….”
“I’m back, Charl. So, what’s changed while we were away?”
Charl ignores the weary-looking Due and answers my question.
“Ah, yes. I tried the experiment you asked me to perform. The result isn’t really satisfactory though—- …..”
‘Haa’, he sighed in a way that fits his young nobleman appearance.
As this vampire’s spirits fluctuates in an extreme manner, seeing as he’s down like this, it seems the results are quite bad.
“Well, if all experiments yield success, then the word ‘experiment’ doesn’t have a meaning. It’s fine to make the best of the data from the failure in the next experiment. By the way, can you show me how it turned out?”
“Yes… then, this way, Oubeniel-kun.”
“Aa, aa, Aaa, aaAAa…..”
A sitting man, whose body is covered in patches, is rambling while gazing hollowly at the empty air. There’s no meaningful words coming out from his mouth.
He looks like a zombie, but the truth is that the man’s actually alive. In addition, his brain is also functioning normally, medically speaking. Unlike the experiment that I did in the academy, here I didn’t intentionally damage any of his brain functions.
With a ghastly look on his face, Due points at the man.
“Milord, the heck’s this?”
“A test subject. For a resuscitation experiment.”
Drei leaked as she flutters her eyes. Surely she’s greatly surprised. After all, bringing dead men back falls more into the ‘miracle’ category rather than ‘magic’ territory. Necromancers may turn the living into the undead, but they can’t revive the dead as living human beings that they originally were. ‘A once-dead person regains life’, such a thing can only be found in the scriptures of the Church.
“If I’m not mistaken, the subject of this experiment is to restore a post-mortem body by having its preserved soul to repossess it……. right?”
“Yes, that’s correct. Theoretically, when the soul establishes itself in the body, then the body should be resurrected, but…”
His body was kept intact without damage, and in addition to that, we’ve got all of the final parts – twenty-one grams of the so-called ‘soul’. With these components, he should’ve returned as he was, as a human, but…
After all, if this is about reviving a dead man by inserting their soul into a living body, then I’ve got an example. That is example is none other than me. I died one in the previous world, and then was reborn in this world. All of my memories and my personality was kept intact, and I’m still alive for almost twenty years here. If this experiment were to follow the preceding example, then this man—- who now can’t do anything but to groan, should have regained his senses, he should’ve been hurling abuses at us, and he should’ve been frightened by our presence, for we had already killed him once.
“Let’s hear your opinion on this, then, Charl.”
“Suure…. But before that, may I kill this sample once again? In order to explain what happened, I will have have another look on the condition of his soul too.”
“Sure, permission granted.”
Before I get to finish my words, Charl had already promptly robbed the life from the experiment material once again by a chant-less instant death spell.
With a thud, the body that has become a genuine corpse once again lies back on the bed. Charl grabs the soul that came out from the poor man (which is basically invisible to living beings), and then he casts some sort of a spell to make the soul visible to me.
“… As I thought. The size of this soul is clearly small. Even though his brain tissues that were responsible for memory storage and emotion are kept as they were, there’s no information content in this soul.”
“Which means, the soul didn’t establish itself in the body?”
The hypothesis that the cognition of the brain affects and changes one’s soul has already proven in previous experiments. I already did the experiment on this, ad nauseam, with Charl in the academy. Then in this case, the soul didn’t establish itself well enough in the body, and for that it couldn’t receive any information from the brain, and the soul complied with that condition and turns hollow, I suppose?
However, Charl shakes his head.
“No, that’s not it, Master. If that was the case then he wouldn’t be able to move as he were, but in addition to that his status as a corpse should’ve remained intact. He shouldn’t be able to groan like, ‘aaaah’, ‘uuuh’, like that. And I have certainly placed the soul into this empty body in a way that it should’ve moved again as a normal human.”
“…. Hm. If that’s the case, then I suppose I should surmise that some problems happened because the subject’s soul was placed into an empty body?”
I ordered Charl to put the soul inside the body once again. Since Uni has been casting recovery on the body since a little while ago, its decay, including of the brain, should be minimal. If there’s no kind of loss on the soul, then he should return to the state a while ago.
Then, what’ll happen now? The subject convulses once, before it finally ceases to respond like a living being. I take his arm to check his pulse, but there isn’t any…………. He’s completely dead.
“Impossible…….. his soul, it’s gone!? This can’t be! There shouldn’t be any mistake in my spell!”
“You sure? So this isn’t caused by a mistake in the process?”
“No, I believe that possibility is minimal. I couldn’t find any deficiencies in the spell’s configuration.”
“Yes… we’re not experts in death magic, but we didn’t see anything in the spell that would cause abnormal results to occur.”
This is unexpected.
Could it be that a damage will occur on the soul if it’s inserted into a soul-less body? Well then, why was it possible for me to reincarnate? My soul was supposed to disappear, like what happened to the soul that entered the subject’s body. What was the difference between this subject and me? Was it because from the viewpoint of this world, my soul came from another world? Was that the root cause? Well, that would be plausible, but there’s no solid evidence to back this hypothesis, and the only sample I have to research this is me alone. This isn’t a hypothesis that I can trust completely.
“So a soul dissipates when it’s inserted into a soul-less body, and when the process is repeated, it’ll completely disappear in the end. Then… what happens when a soul is inserted into a body that already has a soul?”
Due startledly shifted his gaze on me at my murmurs. I pay him no mind and continue my thoughts.
How does this theory sound? Let’s go with my example, for some reason my soul reached this world and entered into this Tullius Shernan Oubeniel’s body. When I possessed this body, the original owner was still a baby. Considering that the soul wasn’t mature, what happened then? Was there any sort of loss that occurred to a soul due to the possession which got supplanted by another soul?
“That sounds interesting! Let’s do that, by all means, let’s do that! Let’s do that right now!”
“How come did you get so eager with that kind of experiment…”
As I thought, Due would be critical of an experiment that involves tampering with someone’s living body or someone’s soul like this. Well, this is what it means to have a diversity of opinions. If I were to make everybody a yes-man that’d agree to everything I say, my ideas and tactics would eventually get ossified. That’s why I won’t repudiate this aversion of his. Nevertheless, I do limit what I imbibe, though.
At any rate, Charl has quite changed too. In the past, be as it may that this sort of experiment would develop his skills as a necromancer, he used to detest this. Is this change caused by his brain augmentations, or is this caused by him turning into an undead?
“Then, I’ll bring the slaves that will serve as the sample.”
“Yes, please do Uni. Well, then, what to do in this case….?
While seeing her off as she’s leaving the room to bring some experiment materials, I muse with numerous hypotheses.
Though, considering my own example, there’s one strong theory.
Well, well, well, then?
Speaking of the results, the experiment isn’t successful.
However, the experiment does end up with quite the interesting results.
“Uh, a, A, AAAAAAH! WH, WHAT THE HELL IS THIS!? S, SOMEONE. THERE’S SOMEONE INSIDE OF ME!?”
Slave B, who has the dead Slave A’s soul inserted in him, falls into a state of panic as soon as the operation was performed on him. The influx of information from Slave A’s soul couldn’t be integrated and that may have caused confusion in him.
“Ooh, this is interesting, Oubeniel-kun! The souls are vying for control, they rampage as they tear and rip about! Even though they share the same body, I can see its after-effect veeeery well! AMAZING!”
Charl, who casted the spell, is in rapture. Perhaps because of his vampiric transformation, he’s showing his fairly sadistic side towards this inferior opponent. To someone of the same stature as, or to someone who is superior to him, he still is a spineless man though.
“GE, GE, GET OUT! GET OUT OF ME! …. No, you get out…. STOP! DON’T SPEAK WITH MY MOUTH! …. You, get, out…………. STOP, STOP, STOOOOP!”
“From what I see, the dominant one here is the original owner of the body, is that correct?”
“Indeed! But the one’s possessing him is also working hard, you know? It appears that it’s eating away the original’s soul and supplanting its lost parts! But I don’t think it can overcome the shortage that it had from the start. At this rate, the possessing soul will be eaten by the original soul and disappear completely! I wonder, what kind of death cry will I hear then? AHAHAHAHAHA!”
“Oh, so that means, if the original soul is the weaker one, then it’s possible for the possessing soul to replace it?”
“The probability for that is high. In the next experiment, I propose a trial run on the debilitated possessed one.”
“Yes. That’d be reasonable. Or if you so inclined, should we try using a baby? If the soul isn’t matured enough, I suppose it’ll be easier to take over too….”
Uni and Drei laid out their ideas. Drei’s proposal is especially good. If the experiment is successful, then I can prove the hypothesis on the mechanism of how I got reincarnated here. Why did I came into this world particularly is another matter entirely, though.
The only one who doesn’t look comfortable with this is Due. Well, in the first place, he wasn’t provided with a function to help with these sorts of experiments, and his temperament isn’t suited for this.
So, in the end, he opens his mouth.
“What is it.”
“… Did you go this far, just because you want to be immortal?”
That’s quite a late question to ask.
“But of course? You too, didn’t you take my hands because you didn’t want to die?”
Anyone would want to avoid death.
Certainly, there are also people who’d think that death is better for them in this world too. And that’s why the number of people who committed suicide here is too much to mention.
But here’s what I think. In case where people would, from the bottom of their hearts, think that death is better for them, it’s possible that their souls are already close to dying.
When people is being driven into a corner, or when their raison d’être disappears, during those moments, people would wish they were dead.
But on the flipside, if none of the two conditions apply, I don’t think they’d wish for death themselves. So, the death of a soul, I suppose, isn’t when a soul disappears to somewhere like what happened in the previous experiment, it’s when one’s heart gets so broken it no longer has the will to live.
I don’t want to be like that. In my pursuit of immortality, I’m also seeking a way to triumph against that soul-killing poison. I fear death so much that I don’t want to deal with it, and so there’s no way I want my heart that wishes that I’d avoid death to change. Simply desiring a long life, and so that to simply avoid death when the time comes – that is, turning into a vampire like Charl and then retiring somewhere, that’s out of the question too. That’s not enough for me, and that’s why I’m doing this.
… Is that not the case for Due?
“…. Knew it. I knew you were going to say that.”
He shrugged his shoulders as he said so.
“So, what’s the answer to my question? You still don’t want to die, even now, yes?”
“Yeah, that’s right. Even now, I can’t bear to die and leave things this way. I know at least that much.”
“Quite the light answer….. Though if you work for me properly, I won’t say anything about it.”
That’s the point of this. And as long as my treatment on him is working, he will continue to work for me properly.
“Well, regarding this experiment, I do get where you’re coming from, alright? It’s not anything pleasant to look at, anyway.”
“Heh? Is it? I’m having so much fun, though!”
“Yes, I know already, so be quiet Charl.”
I shot at the person who interrupted without reading the mood and continued my speech.
For me, this experiment is a job. It’s just a job to earn the reward that is immortal life. I’m not doing this because it’s my hobby.
“If you’re not comfortable with this, I don’t mind if you want to sit this out. There are other kinds of experiments in the other section of the lab that may suit your liking, if you want a change of pace, you may go ahead and check them out.”
“… Sorry. I’m gonna take you up on that offer. ‘Scuse me.”
Due said so as he leaves the experiment room.
At that sight, Drei gazes somewhere with a sullen look.
“He’s more irresolute than I thought.”
TL Note: the original word for “irresolute” is warikireinai. Irresolute is rather an abridged translation of the term. From warikiru(割り切る). I believe here it technically means that Due couldn’t make a clear-cut resolution on where he stands and how he should serve. I’ll continue to refer warikirenai as irresolute and warikiru as being resolute for this chapter. Feel free to correct me if you have a better idea as to how to translate this.
“Are you unhappy that the one who dragged you in the first place is in that kind of predicament?”
“I don’t….. mean…..”
Then she chews her own words as he falters. Both he and Drei are in the beginning of a romance. Well, of course there’d be at least one or two feelings that are out of the ordinary between the two.
“It’s just that, I wish that he’d serve Master more resolutely….”
“Hm? Is that so you two can have more fun together?”
Even here the vampire needlessly chimed in. Sure enough, he ends up being glared scarily by the lady.
“Shut up. You want to be struck by a stake?”
And so he ended up like that, just why couldn’t he learn anything? His intelligence was supposed to be high.
As I find myself exasperated, Uni opens her mouth.
“’Warikiru’, so that means there’s also the option to cast aside the rest of what one would have. While being resolute may produce good results in most conditions, in some other conditions that may not be the case. A person might cast aside something that they have and that might turn out as a mistake that they shouldn’t have overlooked, in other cases, it might be an instance of a rare luck for them—– it’s possible to confuse the two.”
TL Note: There’s an element of wordplay here. ‘Warikiru’ also means dividing something so that it doesn’t have a leftover. Consider the following. Say that you have some cookies that you can’t break apart for some reason and you want distribute these cookies to another friend of yours— so there’s two of you. Say that you have four of these cookies. To warikiru here is simple, two for you, two for your friend. But what if you have three? To warikiru, you must discard the third cookie. And what Uni is trying to say here that the fact that you discarded the third cookie might turn out to be some form of a great luck (third cookie’s actually poisoned) or some sort of a terrible mistake (best cookie in the world and you threw it out). TL;DR she’s basically trying to say that Due being irresolute about this whole deal isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“What are you trying to say?”
“For example, take Sir Victor Lorge. What might happen if he were to be brainwashed so much so that ‘alchemy research’ became his top priority?”
At that question, Drei thinks for a bit, then answers,
“… Home affairs and negotiations with external parties, and other things that were cast away— he would end up shunning them, huh. ‘They are nothing but trifling matters’, and he’s indeed being ‘resolute’.”
“That’s correct. To some extent, if we didn’t keep a person’s nature that would continue to let him make sensible and ordinary decisions, in a closed environment like this, they will end up behaving recklessly….. That was what the Master had taught me.”
“Well, well, you have learned well too, Uni. Well, Due’s sensitivity is useful in its own way.”
He’s especially useful for someone like me who’d resort to any means necessary to attain my purpose. I redirected the sentiment and loyalty of Drei from her tribe – the Dark Elves – and the clan where she was raised towards me. Of course, I’d prefer her to undividedly, resolutely, dedicate her thoughts for her lord and this group where she belongs now. But that’d mean that her line of thoughts would become inflexible, and the ability to pay some mind to how other people may see her would be reduced as well. That is not desirable.
“That reasoning… I think I can understand it.”
“That so? Then, I’ll let you sink that in………. Alright, by the way, what’s happening with the subject, Charl?”
I returned my attention to the experiment. This isn’t the place to give a self-study philosophy lecture on organisational theory. It’s a place for an alchemist to do his experiments.
“Aaah…. Yes, this is no good.”
Charl threw a cold gaze at the state of the subject, in which various souls vying for control of the body have already completed the initial stage.
The subject sunk down, powerless, occasionally the subject convulses and cackles randomly.
“Ah, ehe, uhu, uhu, who? Me, who? I, who? Me, who? Who? Who? Ahi, haheahaha….”
“…. Both of the souls’ self-awareness was thrown into disorder and thus his identity collapsed, huh? Well, for an experiment I just came up with a while ago, its result is quite useful.”
“While Master may be fine with this, for me this is far from satisfactory…. More, he should’ve writhe in agony more as he loses himself, it’d be better if he’d go crazy like that…”
“Quite the vulgar taste you have there. That’s just going to be noisy.”
“So the ego collapses…. Master, let us keep the subject alive in this state for a while, and then insert another new soul, perhaps the possessing soul will settle in well at that time.”
“Alright, I accept. Let’s put him into confinement for a while as a measure to prevent him from committing suicide. Your evil eye may tamper with his mental state and compromise the result of the experiment, so don’t brainwash him with it. Gag him so he won’t be able to bite his tongue.”
“As you have ordered. It shall be done immediately.”
As I gave Uni, who’s nimbly dealing with my orders, a sidelong glance, I record the results of the experiment. Char pokes my shoulder repeatedly.”
“Hey, hey, Oubeniel-kun. Putting aside the guy who went mad, what should I do with the corpses?”
“Hm? Ah, now that you say that, there’s that too….. Charl, can you suck their blood and make them lesser vampires, and then destroy their hearts? They’ll become ash, dealing with that is easier.”
“Uegh~~~…. Even though the blood of a corpse tastes real bad…. Then, then! Next time, can you give me the blood of a virgin as a return? If possible, I’d like to suck it directly!”
And he puts out a request like that. Hmmm, it seems that when a virgin— man or woman— has their blood taken, there’s a tendency for them to become a powerful kin. I don’t really want them to be under Charl’s control though….
Well, I guess I can manage the number under his control regularly so it doesn’t expand too much? That way it’ll also give Charl, who’s now living in this cavern, a way to vent, and he surely needs someone to talk to. Of course, I’ll have to get several preparations ready first, though.
“Indeed…. In the near future, I’ll have to buy a large number of slaves to develop the coal mine, take a cover, and I’ll leave it to your discretion as to who to buy.”
“YAHOOOOOOOOOOO! As expected from Master, you sure understand me! I’ll do my best even more! Now that I think about it, I haven’t sucked a single virgin’s blood. The ones I drink are cultured, and I’m strictly prohibited to lay my hands on the M-series. I mean, there’s not one single virgin in the ‘Opus’ series—-”
Drei’s cold voice.
“I’ve just dealt with Master’s orders and have now returned…. You were talking quite the interesting thing there, O-Four.”
Now Uni too.
“A, a, a, abababababa………”
…. Aaaah. I just don’t know anymore. Before I got dragged into the problem, I decided to leave the lab.
There were cries of “OUCH!”, “I’M SORRY!”, “Ah, that actually feels a bit good, probably.” from behind my back. Good grief, that room is littered with corpses, just what are they doing there?
This underground lab also functions as a mine for materials. Mined from one of the veins that Drei discovered when we were going about the territory a while ago. After consulting with Victor and the other vassals, considering the cost of infrastructure and current political condition, I’ve decided to abandon mining as a policy. However, as we privately dig here to set up the lab, the result was this space in the depths of this earth.
By the way, to avoid the unlikely event where an adventurer stumbles into this place, entrances into this place from the outside are securely collapsed after its insides have been excavated to a certain degree. One can only enter and leave this place through the “portal gate”. The air inside can be cleaned by an exclusive magic tool (it’s easy for an alchemist to separate carbon dioxide into oxygen and carbon). The waste from the mining process is recycled by converting it into a golem on the spot. Still, it’s dusty and water’s hard to get, so in these respects, this is still an environment where people can’t live comfortably.
At any rate, this underground space will become even wider as the mining progresses. In a way, it may be said that this is a dungeon that extends indefinitely. In the near future, if I were to be defeated politically by my older brother or a certain marquis, this is the most promising destination for my escape. I’m planning to make some improvements in that area. I plan to arrange this place’s environment so this space can be completely self-sufficient at the end of the day. Well this underground lab has only been running for six months. This is just something to do much later.
While thinking about that, I turn my feet towards the mineral deposit section. Well then, how far has it been dug while I was gone?
“Well, well, Your Excellency. This place’s a bit sordid, but welcome anyway. Have you come for an inspection this time?”
The one who greeted me with a blackened face is….
“…. Ah, if it isn’t Laubert. Your face’s covered with dirt, so I couldn’t recognise you for a moment there.”
“Well that’s harsh. Even though you’ve already messed with the insides of my head so that I can admirably work like this.”
“What are you saying? I don’t remember augmenting you so that you’ll be happy playing in dirt. Wasn’t it you who offered to supervise this mine by yourself?”
When I pointed that out, with that sooty face of his Laubert lets out an embarrassed laugh.
It was himself who volunteered here ‘for future reference’, since he’s volunteering for the official duty of copper mine development that will begin soon as well. In a mine where golems would excavate without being tired, or where they would never get mineral poisoning, surely there’s not much to take here. But knowing that, with avarice he’d still be like, ‘let’s learn a lot’, as if what he gained here will be his flesh and blood. That’s probably how Jean-Jacques Laubert does things.
“Weell, anyways, this place is quite the treasure mountain! Gold and silver keeps coming out.”
“Well that’s quite the blatant attempt of changing the conversation. Well, whatever…. Is there really a lot of them?”
“Well, that! At worst, what we have here is enough to cover the kingdom’s revenue for a year. Burning the documents regarding the survey was a correct decision. If you think about what’ll happen if Marquis Lavallée were to know about this——“
“Surely, no matter what he’d do then, he will handle the matter directly. If we handle it poorly, he might confiscate the entire territory of Marlin.”
‘No doubt about it’, says Laubert in a serious manner. Though this man would gladly back the marquis had he not been brainwashed. There’s also Victor too. But both are now faithful and capable talents under my control. Occasionally, there are times where they’d nag so much so that I couldn’t bear them, but I suppose that there’s some charm there too.
As I think about that matter, a golem is taking out a handcart loaded with lumps of ore. Illuminated by the light of the magic tool, reflected there were glimmers of gold and silver. Even though they’re not refined yet, in those glimmers I can still feel their magic, that magic that melts the hearts of a lot of people.
“I’ll say this again, Your Excellency.”
“Ah, I got it already. ‘Don’t circulate these outside’, right?”
“It is as you say. If you were to put gold or silver with unknown source outside, it’s only a matter of time until they track the source.”
“It’s alright, I’ll be using them for research only.”
“It’s actually a waste to do so, though. Well, however, if the situation tilts to the point where Your Excellency would wish to have the realm under your control, I suppose there’s another way to use them.”
“Spare me the joke…. Even though I can finally do my research earnestly…”
“Then, please bear in mind that this situation will not last for long. With an adversary in hand, this state of equilibrium will not last for long. Considering the marquis’ age, I don’t know what he’ll try to pull before he passes.”
“This turns out to be quite the unpleasant talk. If he’s so afraid of dying, I wish that he’d lend a hand to my research instead….”
“He won’t do that even if he dies. From what I see, he’s already dedicated his life to his personal belief – the centralisation of the country. Rather than to preserve himself so late into his life now, I suppose that he’d rather take the territories of the feudal lords from them until the end, be it a single field or a garden.”
“Belief, huh. You can still live without them. Me, I just don’t want to die, that’s all.”
To that, Laubert responds,
“But isn’t that a form of belief too, Your Excellency?”
And so he poked fun at me. If you can call the indicator to stay alive a ‘belief’, then, sure.
“Anyway, it’s good that everything seems to be going well. Laubert, why don’t you finish up around here too and return to the residence for once. While you do have the magic tool to prevent you from being poisoned, this environment isn’t suited for humans. And besides, I suppose it’d be better for you to take a bath very soon.”
Since he’s been in this mining site for a while now, he’s dirty all over, and there’s no bath installed here yet. The fact that he’s been here for quite a time, to say it mildly, shows that he’s quite determined, even from the sense of a Japanese who lived in the 21st century.
When he heard those words, his eyes began to shine.
“Bath! Ah, how pleasant. Indeed, the most pleasing thing from me being Your Excellency’s vassal is that now I can use the bath every day!”
“If you’re happy with it, then that’s good.”
In this era, it takes fuel to heat the baths, and even if you have hot water, fetching it is hard labour in itself. While it isn’t as bad at the middle ages of my previous world as there’s magic in this world which would make the process to be more labour-saving, the opportunity to take a bath is still valuable nonetheless. In case of my Oubeniel house, we keep the temperature of the warm water and remove dirt and bacteria from it with a magic tool, so the bath runs for twenty-four hours a day. If you favour cleanliness, then surely this would be an ideal place to work for you. In order to be employed, however, it is a prerequisite to have your brain augmented first.
“Yes, but properly wash yourself before you get in, alright? As expected, it’ll be painful to remove that amount of soot and dirt from the baths.”
Did he really get it? Ah, well. Laubert is an excellent official. Even if I don’t nag him about it, he should understand at least that much. He’s not a certain vampire who would forget to pay attention as to which side of the bath he should enter.
I cut my visit of the mining deposit area short and head to the other section. If there’s a problem here, surely Laubert will be the first to let me know. He’s that kind of a man.
The next place I stepped into is a wide cavern that’s a lot different than the previous places. There’s a silver-coloured lustre all over the place, since the walls and the floors are reinforced by the mined materials. The back of the walls are fixed with large suspensions in all directions, so even if a giant or a troll were to rampage inside, they won’t sway even for a tiny bit. If it comes to dragons, I’m not that confident though.
What is researched here is a bit different than the main subject of the research. This is a so-called weapon testing facility. As I am learning alchemy because I don’t want to die, I am also seeking more powerful weapons so that my opponents wouldn’t be able to kill me. But if I were to get myself to be occupied in this, the vital research on immortality would fall behind, so I basically left weapon development to the mass-produced series, with some rough instructions.
So, if one were to ask what I was doing here,
“What on earth is that?”
Perhaps when he left the experiment room a while back for a change of pace, Due ended up here. He gazes curiously at the man carrying a pipe-thing made of metal and then alternated his gaze to a scarecrow on the other side. The man is one of the military officers of the former deputy who had undergone simple brain augmentations when I seized Marlin. From the beginning he wasn’t that competent, and now due to further augmentations, his ability keeps on declining. As these people were rendered obsolete when Victor and Laubert were appointed, I can’t leave these people to be idle like that, so I have them participate in this sort of trial run.
“We will commence the thirty-fourth shooting test. Ignition, check.”
After the slave-maid gave him the signal, the man who’s carrying out the trial run sets a rope that’s attached on the pipe on fire, presses his shoulder against the stock installed on the back of the pipe, and then he pulls the metal trigger. So, in conjunction with the metal trigger, the burning rope will ignite the loaded powder inside of the pipe. When Due thought that sparks will fly from it,
Fire was blown from the tube with a roar. And as if the scarecrow was struck by something that was released by the pipe, its belly parts scatter straws about.
“…. What’s that tool?”
“It’s a musket. As you can see, it’s a tool to shoot projectiles.”
A matchlock musket………. or in other words, a firearm.
The ores mined from the deposit contains a lot of sulphur, and thus with the extracted sulphur from the ores and the saltpetre collected from the feces and remains of the experimental subjects, I can make gunpowder. Well, the words ‘if it’s just decomposing a chemical compound, then alchemy can do it’ is utterly true. And so that I could put the abundant gunpowder that I made into effective use, I tried to make this thing. Harpers….. Was it? Or was it Dash, or Bosch? Well, in principle, there’s also a way to make gunpowder from thin air. But well, first I should just use the materials in hand.
TL Note: While I can’t be 100% sure, the name Harpers, Dash and Bosch might be related to a gun or a gun prototype. Dash may refer to Degtyaryov-Shpagin. Bosch doesn’t seem to be a gun name though.
So I passed the simple materials to the maids and had them make it, weeeelll, it turned out to be easier than I thought. I believe that it isn’t because our technological strength is superior, rather, it’s because the technological level in this world is actually higher than I thought.
Due, who observed the musket trial, titled his neck in bewilderment.
“That… is it really worth it to take the trouble to make something like that?”
Well, I already figured that he’d say so. For adventurers who’d already get used to dealing with monsters, muskets that can only be used to shoot only once before it must be inefficiently prepared to shoot again would seem to be a picnic in their line of work. In addition, Due is an “opus” that I’ve augmented, so forget muskets, he could even endure the shots of a cannon head on.
“It’s not to be used against exceptions like monsters or people like you. The weapon is for war against humans.”
“War? Stop it with the jokes, Milord. You know how far an arrow from a bow can reach? If that can only reach within the distance where you can see your opponent’s face, I don’t see how it can exchange shots with the archers.”
He said as he waved his hands near the side of his face. Indeed, the range of a bow is surprisingly long. From what I can remember from my faint memory, it took a considerably long while for guns since its advent to surpass the range of bows and arrows.
However. The terrifying thing about a gun is not its range, nor its killing power. Well, they can’t be completely disregarded, but the important point lies somewhere else.
“Due. That blockhead who used the musket a while ago. How long do you think would it take for him to hit a single target with a bow?”
I said as I pointed at the former officer who ran the trial. He’s probably a good sample of how an imbecile (?) would look like.
“Him huh…. Someone ordinary can use a bow in about half a year, but a dull bastard like him probably would——– hm?”
Probably Due has realised it too.
“You get it? Even he’s like that, he can use the musket with only a short period of time of training. Someone ordinary would be able to use a musket after a week of training.”
Indeed, guns have a dramatically shorter training period compared to other weapons. How long would it take for someone to learn swordsmanship until it can really be useful in the battlefield? Then how about bows? Compared to those, firearms would allow humans to kill another as quick as possible.
In the same way, among the weapons that can be used in the battlefield with a short training period is the spear. Have the soldiers carrying them line up to form a rank and they’ll be useful for the time being. But while guns have shorter range compared to bows, their range is still overwhelmingly longer than spears.
“So that means, by having a number of them…. all at once…”
“Yeah, do it incessantly, and the spearmen and knights won’t be able to get close.”
Doing something like ‘one shot, one kill’ can be left for the snipers with their guns of the future. The job of a musketman, instead of making a rank to form a fence, is to shoot their weapons side by side. That alone can take down about half of the incoming infantries and cavalries. Oh, in my previous world the path of chivalry already has died out too. After you teach the peasants you conscripted how to shoot a gun, simply push with the number you have. That will allow you to suppress the battlefield.
Of course, in this world there are also mage-knights and magic beast-knights, so I don’t think using guns here will go smoothly as it would in my previous world. And the strong men here couldn’t be considered as normal humans at all. Nonetheless, the advantage that can be gained by using superiority in numbers is overwhelming. And the stronger individuals can be dealt after the rest of the population is scattered away. Exceptions are exceptions because there are only a few of them.
However, there’s one problem.
“But… I don’t think I’d want to use this weapon too often…”
“Yeah, the production of muskets is technically not so difficult. If someone were to pick one up in the battlefield, they will be quickly copied and spread in the whole continent.”
“No no, isn’t that impossible? Even if you sweep the continent for it, there’s no one that has merits like the alchemists we do have here, even among countries, right?”
“You can make this even if you’re not an alchemist, though?”
Due’s face looks like that of a pigeon that gets hit by a peashooter. Was it really surprising?
“Muskets aren’t made of mythrils or orichaliums. The tube is iron, and the bullet is lead. Heck, the stock is wooden. A blacksmith with a bit of skill can easily learn the manufacturing method. The technology to synthetise sulphur and nitrate to make gunpowder isn’t that difficult. Well, above all that though, it does take money to put them into practical use. Well, rather than us, I guess the more fortunate great other forces will use it more efficiently, huh.”
It’s a sad thing, but an inventor doesn’t necessarily gain the greatest benefit from their inventions. The Yagi-Uda antenna is a good example. When it was initially invented, it wasn’t adopted into the army’s tactical ideas, while the UK and US on the other hand incorporated them into their military and won World War II. Even if the Marlin military were to adopt the musket ahead of the others, at best there’s the chance that other lords would, at worst there’s a risk that other countries woukd, produce these in great quantities and use it to overrun this place… No, that’s not a risk, that will indeed happen. Marlin has only a small population. It’s not a territory that can win in a battle where only numbers matter.
“I don’t quite get it…. But why did you make this, then? Won’t it be useless that way?”
“Someday, somewhere, someone is bound to invent the musket in the future, and so this is to prepare when that time comes. If we accumulate the know-hows ahead of that, it will be easier to respond when the era of muskets as the main weapon of the battlefield comes.
That way it’ll be easier to devise measure against them and to make manuals for the soldiers who just got freshly drafted. Well, it’s a classic case of ‘better safe than sorry’.”
The musket is still heavy, and on top of it, unsafe. But it’s still better than nothing.
Besides, after the development department accumulates enough results from the production, they’ll be able to develop more sophisticated firearms. If I can make flintlock muskets and breech-loading guns ahead of time, surely I’ll be able to gain advantage in a battle, even against the muskets. However, in this world, there’s also this lot called dwarves that are exceptionally good at smithing. If it’s them, I fear that it’s possible for them to cover the technological gap and evolve their guns right away.
At the end of my line of sight, the slave-maids in charge of weapon development are inspecting the gun which has cooled down post-firing. Whether any distortions have appeared in the barrel, or if the mechanism, like the trigger, isn’t durable enough—– well, there’s plenty to find out.
I called out to them.
“Hey, how are you people doing?”
“Forgive us for having you witness such a disgraceful sight…… the development of the musket that Master has instructed is currently progressing at a faster pace than the previous estimates.”
Faster than the estimates, huh. As I thought, the degree of difficulty to create this isn’t that high.
…. The muskets, like the silver and gold found in this mine, should not be put out to the world under present circumstances. If this gets out, the world will be rebuilt with a momentum that will be so quick that it can’t be undone. If I ran out of luck and a war between countries were to happen, only then I suppose would I use this to fully cooperate with this country.
“We will submit a report of existing problems and improvement plans at a later time.”
“Hm, well done. Once you’re finished with this, return to the residence and have the other shift come here.”
“M-06, as Master wishes.”
“M-07, our gratitude to Master. Finally it’s possible to bathe.”
“M-08, our gratitude to Master. Keeping hygiene is a maid’s duty.
It seems that they have it rough here too. Being unable to bathe puts a heavy mental strain on them, especially since they’re women. Although their emotions are restricted, that degree of sensibility exists still. There’s also the possibility that problems may occur in strange places if I do not let them moderately reduce their stress. Let’s have none of that and let them stretch their wings for now.
“Ah, by the way. There’ll be another replenishment of slaves in the near future. The plan to improve the environment of this lab should make a lot of progress by then. The day when you can take a bath while you’re being stuck in here is closer than ever too.”
“Truly splendid. In any case, Master, M-06 is currently interested in the bath called ‘hot springs’.”
“M-07, likewise. More than 90 percent of the M series is interested in ‘hot springs’.”
“……..? From M-08 to M-06 and M-07. Query. Isn’t ‘hot spring’ water supposed to be a beverage? M-08 have gathered that nobles would drink from hot spring for medicinal purpose.”
Oh, how unexpected that it came up now. I certainly remember talking about hot springs when I was designing the bath for the residence. Well, I gave up on it since it would be so conspicuous that it might gather unnecessary attention, and there was also the problem of time constraints when the residence was built as well. There’s plenty of sulphur in the deposits here, so if it all goes well, I suppose it’s possible to dig a hot spring nearby.
But still, M-08 sure has quite the strange knowledge. Certainly, it’s customary in this country to drink from hot springs, or rather, perhaps in this world, soaking in it like the Japanese do is something unusual?
“Well, I’ll consider it. Once I know the location of the hot spring, I can have the golems dig it up. For now I’ll include it in the future environmental improvement plan.”
““Our utmost gratitude.””
I gave the bowing maids a sidelong glance as I turn around. I’ve grasped the progress here in general. Shall I head to the other research departments soon?
“I’m leaving now, but what do you plan to do now, Due? You still find it hard to meet the others?”
“It’s, not that, though.”
Due scratches his head with a troubled look. Probably, he’s concerned that things have been rather awkward with Drei. In spite of his frame, he’s quite the indecisive one. I’m fine with him being irresolute in regards to the experiments, but being indecisive here isn’t good. So as I leave the test site, I thought…. when the hot spring’s found, let’s have them soak there first.
Apparently, Due will be staying there for a little while longer.