Magi Craft Meister 484
14 Family Trip Arc
14-35 At The Lake
Upon hearing that Jin had no desire to be with a young woman, the empress opened her eyes widely.
“Wait, Jin… So that’s what it is?”
“What do you mean by ‘it’…?”
Jin had no other answer to such a question. The empress then tried again from a different angle.
“So if it’s not a young woman, then maybe you like them even younger, or perhaps you like them older…”
“That’s not what I’m saying.”
“T-Then… Could it be that you’d prefer the company of a man instead?
“Why are you drawing these weird conclusions?”
Jin was utterly confused. He had never expected the wise and dauntless empress to suddenly start talking about those kinds of things.
“Certainly you don’t prefer automata…”
The empress then easily realized that Jin was being serious, so she decided to drop this conversation.
(Actually, she figured Jin would eventually end up together with either Elsa or Saki, so there was no point trying to get anything else out of him.)
Without putting that last thought into words, the empress then changed the topic.
“There’s so much we don’t know about demons. I’m a bit worried.”
“R-Right. But I’ll do everything in my power to help.”
“Hearing that from you feels as if I had an army of thousands behind me. Our country will do as much as we can as well, so if you need anything from us, just say the word.”
“Yes, when it comes to that, I will.”
After that, they traveled in silence for another while.
Then, as soon as the Imperial Palace came into view as a tiny speck in the horizon…
“I want… power.”
A small voice escaped from the empress’ lips.
“Yes, power. Human resources, economy, weaponry. I wish I had more and more power so that I can better protect my people.
Jin couldn’t say anything in response to the words that had come out from the innermost depths of the empress’ heart.
However, through Reiko’s ears, those words were tightly grasped by Laojun.
＊ ＊ ＊
The hot-air balloons had safely landed on the public square in front of the Imperial Palace.
The Chancellor rushed to meet the empress as she stepped down from the gondola by Jin’s hand, who helped her after getting down himself.
“Your Majesty, I’m glad you’ve returned safely.”
“Yes, thank you. It was a very comfortable flight, with no danger whatsoever.”
The empress turned around and smiled at Jin.
“Thank you very much, Jin Nidou.”
Everyone then went back to the conference room inside the Imperial Palace.
Stearleana and Vivian were waiting for them in the room.
“Jin, Vivian here has become the Shouro Empire’s second registered foreign citizen.”
The empress herself explained that. The overly friendly chancellor seemed to have a troubled expression on his face.
“Ah, that’s good news. Will you be accepting more people seeking asylum from now on as well?”
Jin had asked that question in a casual tone, yet the empress laughed as she replied.
“Yes, that’s right. As long as they really need our help.”
That made Jin remember that there was a rumor that Her Majesty had the ability to determine a person’s true nature simply by looking at them.
In that case, she would be able to see clearly if a person seeking asylum was actually trying to infiltrate the Shouro Empire as a spy or otherwise trying to cause harm. If the rumor was true, it would bring Jin some peace of mind.
(After all, he had quite a lot of friends in the Shouro Empire.)
It was no wonder that Jin wanted to support them as much as possible.
As he was immersed in his own thoughts, Jin ended up failing to hear some of the empress’ remarks. It had been a very disrespectful thing for him to do.
However, the empress -whether she had perceived Jin’s inner dismay or not- cleared her throat and rephrased her last statement.
“In other words, From now on, I intend to leave dealing with those who come to the Shouro Empire seeking asylum to Reinhardt’s family, the Randall House. I’m taking into account the fact that Reinhardt himself is a very accomplished diplomat, you know?”
Stearleana, and then Vivian. The Shouro Empire had taken two refugees in a considerably short period of time.
Given the instability of the Celuroa Kingdom, it wouldn’t be too farfetched to think that more of their inhabitants could come to the Shouro Empire seeking asylum in the near future. Because of that, the empress figured that it would be best to leave the matter in the capable hands of the Randall family.
Jin was relieved to know that that was the Shouro Empire’s position in the matter. After all, they always had the option to not take any refugees and simply send them back to their country of origin.
It seemed that the Shouro Empire prioritized securing human resources over maintaining good relations with the Celuroa Kingdom.
Jin had the honest impression that having any kind of normal diplomatic relations with the current Celuroa Kingdom would be something very hard to realize.
“So it’s settled, then. Reinhardt, I’ll be sending a letter of appointment to your father, Count Randall, shortly.”
The chancellor was the one to end the conversation with that remark.
＊ ＊ ＊
After staying the night in one of the Imperial Palace’s guest rooms, they departed the next morning. Thanks to that, they were able to arrive at Koju with ample time before noon.
“Oh, there’s three paddle steamers now?”
Jin sounded impressed.
There were two more paddle steamers floating on the water that looked very similar to the “Scarlet Trail” made by Reinhardt.
“Oh, I’ve been thinking about taking water transportation of Lake Tosmo upon myself in the future. As a Magi Engineer, this makes me happy. But I might have to apologize to you, Jin.”
“Apologize? What for?”
Reinhardt met Jin’s puzzled face with a serious expression.
“For the mass production of paddle steamers.”
However, Jin laughed it off.
“There’s no need for that. You just said it yourself, Reinhardt. To be able to do something that can be useful for the people is the Magi Engineer’s joy.”
“I’m glad you see it that way.”
“Though I do have some ideas about how you can make this even better.”
“Ah, that’s great! Why don’t you tell me about it once we get on board and head for Vanne?”
Stearleana and Vivian looked at those two from a distance with a half-jealous and half-shocked look on their faces.
“Master Reinhardt, we’re ready to depart.”
“Good work. Well, everyone, shall we get going?”
Reiko, Jin, Stearleana, Vivian, Noir, and finally Reinhardt boarded the “Scarlet Trail”, which left the shore soon after.
The “Scarlet Trail” was characterized by being faster than other paddle steamers since it was powered by the mermaid-type golem “Lorelei”.
The wind over Lake Tosmo was cool and refreshing, even in the middle of summer. Stearleana and Vivian enjoyed the trip over the lake with the wind behind their backs.
Meanwhile, Jin and Reinhardt…
“…You can cover the paddle wheels by extending the deck over them…”
“I see, that also makes it easier to get on and off the boat…”
“You’ll also want it as a means to avoid splashing water all over the deck.”
“Ah, that’s right…”
They spoke of nothing else during the entire trip from Koju to Vanne.
“…They really get along well, don’t they?”
Vivian already was beyond amazed.
“That’s a good thing. It’s proof that we’re at peace.”
Stearleana smiled as she replied.
The future was shrouded in an unpredictable darkness. But the light that illuminated it was definitely right there with them.