V2 Chapter 41: The Golden Empire

“Nice to meet you, Dragon Slayer-sama. My name is Katia.”

That was the first words of Iria’s childhood friend.

The place was the guest room on the top floor. It was the room where Iria and I stayed together before. In that room, we heard the situation from the girl who introduced herself as Katia.

I didn’t notice it when I saw her from a distance, but Katia was clearly exhausted. She was hiding it with heavy makeup, but her eyes were sunken, her cheeks were hollow, and her voice was hoarse.

She had tied her brown hair in a bun at the back of her head, perhaps for ease of movement, but even that was sloppy, and she looked far from a girl of her age.

“As you can see, I am a servant of the God of Law. I used to live in the same Melte village as Iria-san when I was little.”

When Katia glanced at Iria, the priestess warrior of the “Falcon Sword” nodded as if to affirm Katia’s words.

I had guessed from the emblem on her chest, but Katia was a former member of the A-rank party “Silver Star”. She had reunited with Iria, who was gathering information about the King of Beasts Behemoth in this city, and heard about me from Iria’s mouth.

Knowing that the Dragon Slayer would visit Berka again someday, Katia had been visiting Iria regularly and waiting for me to come. That led to today.

The problem was why Katia wanted to meet me, but well, this was obvious without asking. The Dragon Slayer would not fear the monsters of the desert. I could easily imagine what Katia had thought.

In fact, the next words that came out of Katia’s mouth were exactly as I expected.

“Dragon Slayer-sama, please cooperate with us in searching for our comrades of “Silver Star”! The unexplored area is in the deepest part of the Catalan Desert, where the King of Beasts Behemoth has been sighted in the past. I think it will suit your purpose as well!”

She said that and bowed her head desperately.

I heard that the leader of “Silver Star” was the one who freed Katia from slavery, and this girl seemed to feel a deep gratitude to him. Judging from her haggard appearance, she might have more than gratitude for him.

The leader of “Silver Star” and his companions had lost contact months ago. Even after the time had passed for them to be officially declared dead, Katia was still working hard for her former comrades.

Her circumstances, having fallen into slavery since childhood, were worthy of sympathy. I couldn’t be so cruel as to say “I don’t work for free” in front of her desperate plea. As she said, I was going to the desert anyway to look for the King of Beasts Behemoth. It wouldn’t be much trouble if I thought of it as a side job.

She was a childhood friend of Iria and Larz, so she must have known Priestess Sarah as well. I had no intention of refusing her cooperation for that reason either.

――I briefly explained that and Katia brightened up and said “Thank you!” and bowed her head several times.

To that Katia, I added “However”.

“I can’t stay forever, so I hope you understand that.”

For example, if the King of Beasts Behemoth was found outside the unexplored area, I would defeat it and return to Ishka. I couldn’t stay in Berka and continue searching for “Silver Star” after defeating the King of Beasts Behemoth.

I didn’t intend to go back to Berka and resume the search after handing over the horn of the King of Beasts Behemoth to Noah Pope. If they had gone missing yesterday or today, it would be different, but I couldn’t see the point of a long-term search in a situation where months had passed.

I felt sorry for Katia, but the members of “Silver Star” were probably dead. Their bodies were either buried in the sand or eaten by monsters, and either way, it would be hard to find them.

To put it bluntly, I was cooperating not to search for “Silver Star”, but to calm down the girl in front of me. I thought that if I left her alone, Katia would keep running on a faint hope and eventually collapse.

… Well, maybe that’s what she wanted.

I sighed quietly so as not to be noticed by Katia, who had tears in her eyes. Unlike the “Desert Hawks” who had been arrogant, “Silver Star” seemed to be another source of trouble.

“Um, thank you for… helping Katia.”

In the room where Katia had left, Iria bowed her head with an awkward honorific.

Seeing Iria like that, I narrowed my eyes slightly. Unlike Lunamaria and Miroslav, Iria was still a sixth-class adventurer belonging to the Ishka Adventurer Guild, and still a member of the “Falcon Sword”.

When I was in Berka before, I performed soul eating on Iria and then left her in Berka and headed to Demon Island. I was a little curious about how Iria, who had been away from me for a long time, would act. To be honest, I had also considered the possibility that Iria had disappeared from Berka.

But Iria was still here in Berka.

――Well, it seems that there is no problem. Well, for Iria, who had been exposed to the Hydra’s death poison, she couldn’t leave me to get the antidote, so she couldn’t choose anything other than obeying me.

Hiding such inner thoughts, I replied to Iria.

“It’s no problem. Like I told that girl, my priority is the King of Beasts Behemoth. But how did you reunite with her? Did you run into her at the Temple of Law or something?”

“Well, it wasn’t so much that I ran into her… she heard that there was someone who was gathering information about the King of Beasts Behemoth, and she came to see me. That’s when we recognized each other.”

“Is that so? Have you told Larz about it?”

I asked casually, but when Iria heard that, she bit her lip and looked down.

“No, Katia stopped me. She said she had no intention of going back to Melte village, and asked me not to tell anyone about her.”

I crossed my arms when I heard that. If she had been freed from slavery, she should have been able to go back to her hometown anytime. Even if she couldn’t leave Berka for some reason, it wouldn’t be hard to let her family know that she was safe.

The fact that she didn’t do either of those things meant that she didn’t want to see the faces of the family who sold her, and that she had no attachment to the village. Of course, that meant that Iria and Larz were no exception… It seemed that Iria and Katia’s reunion was not very emotional.

Ciel had been sending money to her family even after becoming a slave – but this was probably because Ciel had sold herself for her family’s sake. It wasn’t hard to imagine that Katia’s situation was completely different from that.

And if Iria and Larz, who had lost their childhood friend in that way, had decided to pursue the path of adventurers more strongly, then Katia’s existence would have had a significant impact on me as well.

I met Katia in Berka today. It was a strange coincidence, I thought.

While thinking about such things in my mind, I changed the topic. I was not being considerate of Iria, who looked pained, but because I had to check something for the future.

“By the way, how are you feeling? You don’t seem to have any problems as far as I can see, but did you have a relapse of the poison after we parted?”

The poison was of course the Hydra’s poison. Iria had fought with the aquatic horse Kelpie in Melte village and was exposed to the death poison of the mythical creature, which caused half of her face to collapse. The symptoms were greatly improved by drinking the antidote made with my blood, but the risk of relapse was not gone.

My level had increased even more after defeating the demon god on Demon Island. Inevitably, the effect of blood essence was also higher than before. If Iria had a recurrence of the poison symptoms while I was away, I would have to use it. That’s why I asked her, but Iria’s answer was “no problem at all”.

“Rather, I feel better now than I did before I was poisoned.”

“Well, that’s good. It seems like I won’t have to kill you, after all.”

As I said this teasingly, Iria hesitated, her lips pursed tightly. Before, I had declared to Iria, who was afraid of a painless death due to the deadly poison, that I would kill her quickly if it became too late. I was referring to that in this situation.

At the time, I tried to empathize with Iria’s feelings, but my words were not something I could share with Priestess Sarah or the kids. If Larz were to hear it, it might cause another duel commotion.

However, Iria’s expression clearly showed relief at that time, and she didn’t show any anger here either.

I instructed Iria to sit next to me. She averted her eyes slightly but followed my directions without saying anything.

By the way, Suzume and Lunamaria have moved to a separate room a little further away. It’s not possible for four people to stay in a two-person room, so we booked another one.

Now, only Iria and I are in this room. In that case, there was only one thing to do.


Three days after arriving in Berka, I was flying in the sky of the Catalan Desert alone on Clau Soras.

At first, I thought it would be bad to stand out too much, so I hid Clau Soras in a nearby mountain. But now that I had gotten involved with the “Desert Hawks” and “Silver Star” as soon as I arrived, there was no point in hiding. Rather, I should have shown my presence clearly. If I had announced that the Dragon Slayer was here, the “Desert Hawks” would have been less likely to mess with me.

The one who agreed with my idea was Sylara Cardinal, the highest authority of the Temple of Law in Berka. The cardinal promised me full cooperation and even got me permission to enter and exit Berka freely with Clau Soras.

At first, I thought it was because of the letter of introduction from Noah Pope, but when I asked him more, he said that he was also troubled by the disappearance of “Silver Star”. He said he cared about Katia too, and that he would have cooperated even if I didn’t have the pope’s letter. That was what the cardinal himself said.

“Arow was a very courteous man. For the people of Berka, adventurers are usually considered to be roughnecks, but Arow and his companions were exceptions.”

When I first met him, Cardinal Sylara said to me with a solemn expression. The name Arow mentioned here is the leader of the “Silver Star”. His nickname is the White Knight.

Apparently, Arow took care of people who had lost their relatives or who had been abused as slaves, and he had a cooperative relationship with various temples, including the Temple of Law. Katia was one of them.

He was an adventurer without a lord, but he had the nickname of “knight”, which shows how his honest personality was admired by people.

By the way, Cardinal Sylara, whom I thought was a woman from the sound of his name, was a dignified man over fifty years old.

As I flew through the desert sky, I remembered the words of the old cardinal.

“When Arow and his friends went missing, I searched for them with the help of the Temple of Law… but they were headed to the deepest part of the unexplored area. There were many monsters lurking there, and there was no oasis nearby. Even a skilled adventurer would have a hard time going there and coming back, let alone searching for them…”

When I heard that, I wondered. Why did the “Silver Star” go to such a dangerous place?

Of course, adventurers take risks, but of course, there must be a reason worth taking the risk.

There were many monsters lurking, no oasis, and even a skilled adventurer would risk his life just to go there and come back. What was Arow’s purpose in taking his friends to such a place?

I asked Cardinal Sylara the question that I couldn’t ask Katia.

In response, the cardinal closed his eyes for a moment as if to hold back something, and uttered one word.

Golden Empire Imperium.

It was a legendary desert utopia that only left its name in legend. The “Silver Star” – no, the White Knight Arow had set foot in the Catalan Desert in search of that legend. Many times, dozens of times, maybe hundreds of times.

And then, having obtained some clue to the legend, he ventured into the unexplored area at the risk of his life – and never came back.

“The White Knight who disappeared in the desert, huh. Well, I wonder what happened.”

I muttered to myself as I turned Clau Soras’s head towards Berka. This was enough for a test flight. I planned to go back to Berka today and challenge the desert again tomorrow with Suzume and the others.

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