Today was the day where I would have an audience with King Alfred.
Following the Silver Wing Knights, I left Greenhollow Town and descended the mountain.
Thanks to the bridge that I had【repaired】for the town, we should be able to reach our destination by noon if we leave town early in the morning.
It’s been a while since I rode on a horse, but surprisingly, my body still remembered how to do it.
It should be fine as long as I don’t try to rush and force the horse to run.
「Yo, White Wolf, since this is your first audience, you better not freak and pass out. 」
「Please do not worry, Luke-dono. His Majesty is a rather friendly man.」
「I’m pretty sure I won’t faint from seeing him.」
As we chatted carefreely, we walked out of the mountain path that was overgrown with various trees and plants and arrived at a grass plain that stretched as far as the eye could see.
We immediately knew where our destination was.
Right in the middle of the plain were countless tents set up, creating a large campground.
「That is His Majesty Alfred’s campground, used for moving the imperial court.」
「To move the imperial court… If I remember correctly, there is a system where the king does a tour around the lands he conquered, making sure that each area is being governed properly.」
When I told the knights about the small fact I’ve heard, Felix looked at me with surprise.
「You know quite a lot. That is correct. Since this territory belonged to His Majesty for quite a long time now, he is only passing through this time.」
「Felix, aren’t there a lot of guys around this time?」
Garnet interrupted Felix’s explanation, and pointed at the faraway campground.
I didn’t comment since I didn’t know anything about the scale of a normal migration camp. It appeared that the knights who work for the royal palace felt that something was odd, though.
「Now that you’ve mentioned it, you’re right. Well, let’s head over there now.」
We descended down a slope with our horses and crossed the plain. We arrived at the front of the campground.
The soldier who kept watch noticed us approaching, and blocked the way with some subordinates.
「Halt! State your purpose!」
「I am Felix Arabusta, from the Silver Wing Knights! Under the imperial edict of His Majesty, we have brought Luke of White Wolf Forest here to meet with him!」
「Please excuse us, we have heard of the situation! Please present your letter of summons!」
We finished the business-like formalities, and I followed Felix towards the largest tent.
There were a number of knights around us, as well as many horses fastened by ropes.
Just by looking at those, it was clear that this large tent was the most important place within the campground.
「We will wait for you outside, Luke-dono. Please head inside by yourself from here.」
「Eh, only I’m going in?!」
「His Majesty is the biggest and most conspicuous guy in there. Even if he looks different than how you might’ve imagined, don’t freak out badly, okay?」
I stepped inside the tent in fear, feeling slightly agitated by what Garnet said.
The tent was so spacious it felt like I was inside a small house. The men who I could tell were either nobles or government officials were seated at desks surrounding the center. They were holding a meeting.
There was one person among the group that was noticeably different than the others…
「Ohh, you’re here!」
A hearty voice resounded through the tent.
He had such a muscular body that it was hard to imagine that he was close to being fifty years old. His looks showed that he was a great man, overflowing with energy and vitality.
His majestic clothing was roughened up, the sleeves barely opening wide enough for his arms to fit through. His appearance exposed just how much pride he had in his body which showed no weakness.
I understood at first glance that this person, who didn’t look like royalty, was the strongest adventurer twenty years ago and was now the current king; he was King Alfred.
「Good timing, actually. Let’s take a break here. I’m exhausted from having meetings since morning. I should’ve eaten beforehand.」
Following King Alfred’s orders, the participants of the meeting left the tent one after another.
Seeing how their tired faces look relieved to be leaving, one could tell just how much effort had been put into those talks.
Eventually, only King Alred and I were left in the spacious tent.
…Wait a second, he doesn’t even have any guards here.
Even if he knew of my background, wasn’t he being awfully careless?
Perhaps he has some sort of protective skill that could shield him from harm.
「Take a seat wherever you like. We don’t have a seating arrangement, so any seat’s fine.」
In situations like this, one would assume they have to kneel on the ground, but as I was told to take a seat, I had no choice but to follow his orders.
I decided to sit down at the seat farthest away from King Alfred, but for some reason he left his own seat and sat down right next to me instead.
「It’s hard to chat if we’re so far apart, right?」
King Alfred ignored my shocked expression, and casually went into the main topic.
「Luke of White Wolf Forest. All suspicions towards you have been cleared. You are innocent in the cases of causing harm to the hero, and for the illegal trading of mithril. Sorry for all the trouble.」
「O-oh, no, that’s quite…」
「Now, let’s talk about the main problem.」
Talk about the main problem? Now? I ended up doubting my ears.
I assumed that we were going to discuss what to do with the cabinet minister who made the false claims against me. However, I realized something when I thought about it.
The king wouldn’t summon me just to talk about something like that. He hasn’t talked about the mining and selling of mithril in the future either.
It wouldn’t be strange for the royal palace to recognize that as a big problem.
「You know how Falcon the hero failed to follow orders, right? Although I had no intentions of conflict, the hero decided to attack the demon king, Gandalf. Not only did he fail at that, now our country can’t avoid a full-blown conflict with the demon king.」
The content that King Alfred was telling me about was completely different than what I had imagined.
「It’ll be impossible to take on the demon army with only a select few of heros. The demon king is probably strengthening their surveillance as well. In that case, we must choose the next best option, which is to suppress them with our army, not relying on a hero to subjugate them for us.」
It wasn’t about the false claims nor the mithril.
He was telling me about a problem from the military front, when I am only a former adventurer and the owner of a weapon shop, both of which are unrelated.
I had no idea why he was telling me about this.
「U-um… So, what does that have to do with me being here today…?」
I gathered up my courage and asked King Alfred that question. He gave me a lively smile and placed his hand on my shoulder.
Rather than place, he used so much strength it felt like he was hitting me.
Both my shoulder and arm felt numb from it.
「We’re planning to build a frontline base on the fifth floor of 『Sundial Forest』. It’ll be the station for the chivalric order, as well as a base for adventurers who we’ll hire to explore the underground space. It’s quite a large-scale operation.」
「Eh…? That means…」
「I want you to help out. Keeping the equipment in good condition, constructing the base, researching the door that connects to the underground space! There are a ton of things I want to ask you to do! 」
A lively laughter rang through the tent.
As I listened to his laughter at point-blank range, I felt the corners of my mouth move upwards into a smile.