There Was No Secret Evil-Fighting Organization (srsly?!), So I Made One MYSELF!
Chapter 2: The Noble 70-Year-Long Lineage
Volume 4: The Newly-Built Ancient Ruins
So, what would be the biggest obstacle in fabricating an ancient ruin?
Naturally, that would be procuring the land for it. We couldn’t very well dig underneath Tokyo. Of course, the idea sounded like a ton of fun, but there was a ton of stuff buried underneath the city, such as electrical cables, the sewage system, and the subway system, just to name a few. It was said that it was such a complicated mess down there that nobody alive had a complete grasp of the city’s underground area. There was no telling what catastrophe I could trigger if I accidentally messed with the wrong thing.
As such, I needed to procure land that was safe to dig into. That was Step One.
This was actually Kaburagi-san’s area of expertise, so I tried to ask her to finance it and arrange everything, but she got really quiet and her face went blank. Shit, okay, that was a mistake. I guess her capital is still quite drained because of everything that happened with Tsukuyomi.
There was the Hanegecha Incident (so called because it was a flight flying from the Tokyo Haneda Airport to the Hokkaido Hagecha Airport) where a plane crashed into the heart of Tokyo and would’ve ended up as a horrible tragedy if it wasn’t for the last-minute intervention by Amaterasu.
Then there was the 70/30 Incident, where unexplained explosions and flashes somehow ended up leaving Shichijoujima Island in a 70/30 split.
After having to clean up after both incidents by herself, even Kaburagi-san had hit her limits. It was easy to forget sometimes, but even Kaburagi-san was a human, and money didn’t just grow on trees. Rather, I was still in complete awe of how she managed to resolve everything using the financial assets and influence that she had amassed as a single individual. The fact that she had probably fully spent every single person that she could reach with her connections didn’t detract from that.
With its proximity to where the previous Super Water Sphere Incident took place, Shichijoujima Island was fast becoming known as a so-called “power spot” not only among the occult community but the world at large. The Japanese government also deployed a survey team and, citing possible danger remaining from the as-yet unknown reason for the island’s split, declared the area strictly off-limits. However, the truth — and this was top secret — was that because the island had been lifted up and flipped over, ore veins that had been located deep underground had now become exposed. In light of how scarce natural resources were in Japan, there were hopes of this becoming a new, important mining hub.
With the rising popularity of Shichijoujima Island as a power spot and the country’s subsequent sealing off of the area while repeatedly deploying survey teams, the area naturally drew the eye of the entire world. Occult-loving Strangers flocked like moths to a light, triggering a flood of arrests of those attempting to illegally enter the country.
Even the Japanese government realized how bad it would be if things were to get anymore chaotic. Consequently, it passed an emergency bill to limit entry to the country and finally legalized forced deportation. Once arrested, illegal overstayers would be put through a simplified procedural processing and then stuffed onto a plane regardless of his or her own will. The disorder caused by the Super Water Sphere Incident was now effectively being resolved thanks to further disorder caused by a second big incident. It was only a matter of time before public order would be restored to Tokyo.
I didn’t dare to ask exactly how much Kaburagi-san was involved with how everything was being settled. At the very least, she had clearly used up so much money and favors that her hands were tied in regards to the ancient ruins plan. Her coffers were almost empty, and her connections were largely exhausted.
We were beyond the point where Kaburagi-san could shoulder everything by herself.
Therefore, we decided to borrow the power of a country.
Through Kaburagi-san’s connections as a Duchess of Marineland, we were going to convince Grand Duchess Ermentrude Bates of the Principality of Marineland to finance our operations without actually telling her the truth behind the setup. By baiting her with the promise of Awakening her superpower, we would acquire the cooperation of an entire country, small though it was.
In my mind, superpowers were for having fun, and so I didn’t really want to use it as a bargaining chip in the sordid affairs of international politics. However, when Kaburagi-san clearly stated that “Things have already spiraled beyond my ability to manage by myself,” there was nothing I could say in response. We’re going to use the country, and the country is going to use us. So let’s just write it off as a win-win relationship, I guess.
The Principality of Marineland was a small country located on an island in the middle of the North Sea, situated between the United Kingdom and Germany. It had a population of 100,000 and a national budget of 860 million GBP (roughly 120 billion JPY or 1.11 billion USD)1, and its main industries were fishing, tourism, stamp issuance, medicine, precision machinery, and trading.
Previously, the place had been a military stopover that belonged to the United Kingdom. During WWII, the island was fortified and turned into a proper city with a population that stayed behind even after the war. An eccentric self-made soldier who’d turned into a mogul had bought the island from the UK government and then declared independence as the first generation grand duke. After that, he put in a lot of effort into expanding the nation’s industries, such as expanding the port, constructing an airport, fixing up the fortifications to serve as tourist attractions, and arranging annual tourist cruises using old decommissioned battleships. The country got involved with nature conservation as well, actively participating in the stocking of young fish as a countermeasure to overfishing.
The peerage that Kaburagi-san had purchased was something that had been sold largely as a publicity stunt. Starting from the bottom-up, the available ranks on sale were baron, viscount, earl, marquis, and duke. At the very top was grand duke, but that was practically the ruling monarchy and therefore wasn’t for sale.
The selling price for a baron peerage was £100 (~¥14,000 / US$134). Viscount was ten times that at £1,000, earl was £10,000, and marquis was £20,000. There was no particular meaning to these peerages, and although a certificate and identification would be issued upon purchase, whether that identification would even be acknowledged anywhere else was doubtful. Pretty much the only value it provided was the fun factor. That was the important part.
When it came to the peerage of duke — the one directly below grand duke — the price suddenly leaped up to a staggering £3,000,000 (~¥420,000,000 / US$4,000,000). This was a price clearly set without expecting an actual buyer. As there was only one person who had actually bought it, there wasn’t a single citizen of the Principality of Marineland who did not know of Kaburagi-san. And in fact, she was quite popular with the populace.
According to the article in the Marineland local newspaper that covered the peerage conferment ceremony, Kaburagi-san had carried herself even more regally than the grand duchess herself. Ever since then, the ducal chalet that had been built mainly as a tourist attraction became conferred to Kaburagi-san, and she would come to pay visits two to three times a year.
I was currently accompanying Kaburagi-san on one such visit — with the bar having been left in Kuma-san’s capable hands — under the guise of being her attendant.
As a result of Kaburagi-san’s investigations, it was discovered that, of all things, there was an ancient ruin holding an Artifact sleeping underneath the country!!!!!
Artifacts were dangerous!
The grand duchess needed to be warned!
The land where the ruins were presumed to be located should be assigned to Kaburagi-san — who was an expert on espers — to manage and take care of!
Although nothing had happened so far, wouldn’t it be catastrophic if the Artifact — which might or might not have the power to fracture an island — was to go berserk?!
Of course, we’re not asking you to do so for free!
Grand Duchess, you apparently have the Seed of a superpower sleeping within you, and we can Awaken that for you!
Imagine the prestige you would gain as a royal!
Imagine how much this could help put your country on the map!
And we would gain a financier who knows about the truth (lie) of the World Shadows!
I left all the negotiating to Kaburagi-san.
I was here just to give the grand duchess her superpower and to be a ruin-forging machine. Negotiating with the head of a country — no matter how small the country was — was far beyond what my cowardly middle-class heart could take.
I mean, what the hell is a grand duchess? That’s way more important than a town mayor or city mayor, right? I still remember that time when I had been all over the place speaking to a city mayor who had come to visit a volunteer event that I had been forced by my exploitative “black” company to spend an off day participating in. And now we’re talking about someone even more important than that, right? I wouldn’t even be able to hold a conversation, much less negotiate.
After a brief stopover at Heathrow International Airport in London, the two of us finally landed in Marineland. There was a black luxury car waiting to take us to the palace, so we got in. Seeing as how the chauffeur didn’t even blink upon seeing Kaburagi-san in her super over-the-top — as in, even more than usual — red and black dress, apparently he had gotten used to this. Rather, it was me, as the attendant, who got a look. I suppose it would raise a few eyebrows for the pretty duchess who always came alone to suddenly bring a guy along. I couldn’t help feeling a bit out of place.
The scenery that I saw through the car windows looked like that of an ordinary city. There were skyscrapers, street trees, two-laned roads, and cars and people coming and going. The way how all of the passersby had Caucasian faces and how all of the signs were in English really gave me the “this is overseas!” feeling.
If I had been a bit more knowledgeable regarding Marineland’s history and everything, I would probably have been able to pick up more things from what I saw. However, as someone who had only read a tourist pamphlet and gotten a quick primer from Kaburagi-san, I could only manage to give a reaction on the level of an elementary kid.
Several dozen minutes later, we had arrived at our destination. In addition to being the residence of Grand Duchess Ermentrude Bates, Canaria Castle was also a famous tourist attraction, with part of the grounds being open to the public.
The first generation grand duke had apparently decided against retrofitting the original fortifications that the Principality of Marineland was originally founded on. The oblong stronghold that served as the royal palace stood upon a cliff that looked out over the ocean, naked concrete walls soaring straight into the air. In between the watchtowers — there was one on each side — were artillery cannons mounted at regular intervals in a conspicuous manner.
I myself did not dislike the austere, unadorned outlook that preserved the feeling of a hurriedly built fortification in a time of war. I also gave it points in my book for the signs of aging caused by the salty sea breeze.
In contrast, Kaburagi-san pulled a bit of a face. This was pretty much the complete opposite of the fancy, magical castles that she loved.
Clearly having been expected, we were allowed to go straight in when we stepped out from our car. This was not the area opened to the public, but the inner residential part. The hallway was paved with red carpet and decorated with things like vases and paintings, but I also spotted marks of careless removal of what had presumably been iron lattice window bars. Guess putting up appearances isn’t all that high on their list of priorities.
Kaburagi-san was a genuine duchess, which made her practically family to the royal family and, by extension, to the country in general. She led me confidently through the hallways, not missing a single turn and not being stopped by anyone. Soon enough, we found ourselves standing before the grand duchess’s parlor. I was to remain on standby outside while Kaburagi-san explained everything to the grand duchess. Then I would be called inside.
Just as Kaburagi-san raised her hand to reach for the knocker on the door, I passed her the paper bag that I had been holding very carefully to avoid getting any creases on.
“Pass this to her.”
“What is this?”
“Super Water Sphere manjuu2.”
After giving me a wry smile, Kaburagi-san rang the knocker and stepped in.
Hold on, what was with that wry smile? Did I make a mistake? Shit. I mean, it would be rude to show up empty-handed, right? Should I have gone with Tokyo Banana3 instead?
…Could it be that it isn’t appropriate for presenting to a head of state? But since we’re coming from Japan, wouldn’t it be inappropriate to gift things completely unrelated to Japan like high-class chocolates and expensive watches? Buying souvenirs for relatives and supervisors is one thing; I haven’t the faintest idea what is right to give a head of a state. I haven’t the faintest idea, but bringing something is still better than not bringing anything, right? As the saying goes, excess can be as bad as insufficiency. I mean, Kaburagi-san did bring it into the room without saying anything, so I’m still in the clear, right? ARRRRGGGGGGG I don’t get it! It seems like it would be a mistake no matter what I chose!
My stomach hurts. I want to get this done and over with and go home. What am I supposed to do if someone finds me just standing here in front of the grand duchess’s room? Although it seems like the castle side had been informed beforehand of our visit, we aren’t here with the best of intentions. In fact, we’re here to pull the wool over the grand duchess’s eyes.
With Kaburagi-san gone from my side, I was getting more and more nervous. Around the time when my stomachache got to the point where I thought I would throw up, I was finally called into the room. It was at this moment that I realized I had forgotten I could use telekinesis to eavesdrop and spy on the room. I despaired at my own idiocy while walking in.
The interior of the parlor was rather quite normal. There were two sofas facing each other and a table between them. On the table was a teapot, cups of black tea, and the Super Water Sphere majuu. The walls were decorated with random stuff like certificates of commendation, medals, and golden cups. A rather eye-catching chandelier dangled from the ceiling.
The girl with semi-long brown hair wearing a white dress who was sitting across from Kaburagi-san was very likely Grand Duchess Ermentrude Bates of the Principality of Marineland. At 17 years of age, she had just become an adult according to Marineland customs.
Her height was slightly on the short side, her waist was narrow, and her breasts were rather sizable. And most surprising of all, she had a gentle, mellow face like a cute capybara relaxing in an onsen.4
In other words, the grand duchess — which means the queen of this country — was a cute girl. A really cute girl at that.
Those used to reading manga or watching movies might not think it anything out of the ordinary, but this was actually a pretty rare occurrence. Not the thing about her age, but the thing about her features. Reality was, royalty almost never had actually attractive features.
Many marriages between royalty were out of political convenience and not out of love. Royal families might be more lenient in regards to this in this day and age, but they still possess the bloodlines from many decades and centuries of breeding without consideration for looks.
In short, the large majority of royals were neither handsome nor beautiful. It was only with the power of cosmetics and clothing that they somehow look the part. When one mentions European princesses, I’m sure a lot of people would first think of Marie Antoinette. She was famous for her tragic tale, true, but part of her fame was also because she was one of the very rare examples of a queen of a major power who was an actual beauty.
Normally, queens only very rarely left the inner palace. Each excursion outside, be it to attend a social gathering or any other function, meant being exposed to danger and possibly death. As such, it was only the concubines chosen for their looks — who could die without much repercussions — that the king would bring out to such occasions. Because the women surrounding the king were beautiful and attractive, the assumption was that the “main” wife, the queen, was all the more so. As the actual queen herself, with her drab looks and not so attractive features, rarely made an appearance, this impression soon became accepted as the norm.
The cruel reality that normal princesses and queens had pretty mediocre looks was surprisingly not all that well known. Even in this information age with the internet, it was only the rare outliers that were exceptionally handsome or cute that would make the news, with little attention paid to the plain ones. Due to this, the misunderstanding still largely persists to this day. Then again, this wasn’t a misunderstanding that would bring much joy to anyone being resolved.
Then again, there was a reason for why this grand duchess had such good looks. Long story short, it was because she was born from a beautiful concubine. The daughter of a beauty turned out to be a beauty herself. There was nothing else to it.
Three children had been born between the late grand duke and his official wife. There was the eldest son, who wanted to become a movie actor and, with his father’s support, packed off to the States to realize his dream. The second son insisted on not wanting to work, so he was granted a small piece of estate in exchange for abdicating his claim to the throne. Last was the eldest daughter, who, despite having had the passion to succeed the line, did not have the brains for it and was therefore cajoled into marrying some foreign mogul. That left only Ermentrude Bates, the daughter of a concubine who still bore the blood of the royal lineage.
There was no tragedy involved in how things turned out. Rather, the late grand duke was a kindly father and a relatively capable king. In the first place, what worth was there in the lineage of a 3rd generation descendant of a self-made civilian soldier? The citizens accepted the coronation of a bastard daughter rather positively. That was, after the initial hubbub surrounding the scandal died down.
[This man is Invisible Titan?]
[Yes, he is. He is the esper Sago Kinemitsu.]
The grand duchess looked at me with interest while devouring her way through the Super Water Sphere majuu. I bowed, then telekinetically lifted the teapot to refill her cup by way of proving my identity.
[Oh, you’re right! Today sure is full of surprises. Turns out you can stop time and now I’m even meeting Invisible Titan in person.]
Belying her words, however, the grand duchess did not actually look surprised. I couldn’t tell if that was because she was just that in control of her emotions or if she simply wasn’t surprised. Oh, that’s right, I still haven’t introduced myself yet. Right, in English. I have to introduce myself in English. Don’t worry, I’ve practiced tons. I even have EIKEN Grade Pre-1!5
[Y-Y-Your Highnes—] Shit I bit fumbled it shit shit shit shit… [T-Today is…today…!]
[Oh my god, he’s hilarious!]
The grand duchess laughed uproarious— AAAAHHHHH I wasn’t going for a laugh goddammit I fucked it up I fucked it up I fucked it u—
“Sago-san, calm down. It’s all right. Ruu-denka wouldn’t take offense at small discourtesies. You can speak with her like how you speak with me.”
“I can’t do it. I can’t love someone I’m meeting for the first time as much as I love you.”
“……Then speak to her like you would a female cousin.”
[You two are flirting right now, aren’t you? I can’t speak Japanese but I can tell! Is this man your type, Kaburagi?]
[He sure is.]
Wait, what just…?
[An instant reply! That’s going to break the hearts of half of my citizenry. But no matter, we can talk about that another day. Sago here is going to Awaken my superpowers, right?]
[That is correct. First, talk to him to determine whether you can trust him or n—]
[Nah, there’s no need for that. I’m an idiot, so I wouldn’t be able to tell anyways. You believe him, that’s all that matters to me. Plus he brought me these. They’re delicious. Thanks, Sago, I really like them.]
[T-Thank you very much, Your Majesty.]
[Just call me ‘Ruu-denka’ like Kaburagi does. ‘Denka’ means ‘Your Majesty’ in Japanese, right? That seems more like a nickname. Being called ‘Your Majesty’ makes me feel like I’ve become my father.]
Ruu-denka shot me a smile, then resumed wolfing down the manjuu. Is it all right for a queen to admit so openly that she doesn’t have an eye for people? She doesn’t look stupid, at least. I suppose the word ‘affectionate’ would describe her aura best.
[So then, Awaken my superpower please. I’ll leave the ruins and Artifacts and whatnot to you guys and give you as much money as you need. I want a superpower. Seems like it’d come in useful somehow. Plus, it’ll be fun, right?]
The sight of the grand duchess opening her arms wide in a “c’mon!” pose left me slightly bewildered. Uh, you being that open to it makes me feel hesitant. Aren’t you a bit too quick on the uptake? I mean, yes, this is what we want, but she’s not supposed to say “yes” so readily, right? And it doesn’t feel like this reaction is a result from any overly convincing cajoling on Kaburagi-san’s part.
Apparently Kaburagi-san also felt the same emotion I did in the face of this unexpectedly smooth development. She couldn’t help but to offer the girl a word of caution.
[Ruu-denka, shouldn’t you properly think this through first?]
[I already did. But I don’t really get things like this. So isn’t it best to leave it to people who know best? You’re an expert in the ruins and the Artifacts, and Sago is the real Invisible Titan. Things can’t be better. I just have to give you money and land, and you’ll do the rest all for me. I even get my own superpower, so, yay me.]
[What if the ruins and Artifacts are all just one big lie and we’re simply duping you into giving us your money and resources?]
Whoa, Kaburagi-san, you sure are going right for it! This is the strategy of purposely suggesting something close to the truth to make the other party think the truth a lie!
Ruu-denka tilted her head, a look of complete puzzlement on her face.
[But if you seriously intend to deceive me, Kaburagi, there’s no way on earth that I’d be able to see through it.]
That’s…well…a pretty fair point, actually.
I was gradually starting to understand this girl. To put it nicely, she was a completely open book. Some would call that a form of stupidity, and they wouldn’t be entirely wrong, but she was the kind of person who people would hesitate to trick. Rather than being unable to lie, she probably didn’t even understand what a lie was in the first place.
With a half-amused face, Kaburagi-san gave me the “go” sign with her gaze. So I took this as consent and performed the Seed transplant. Due to Ruu-denka being different in both race and gender, it took a bit more effort to make the fragment stick, but I managed. It should adhere properly and become usable after a few days.
[I’m done. You should be Awakening to your superpower several days later.]
[Already? I don’t feel any different.]
[Every superpower starts off incredibly weak. Only after it Awakens and you diligently train it does it eventually become useful.]
[Which means you must have trained yours a lot, Sago. That’s incredible.]
Ruu-denka’s pure gaze of respect made me feel really ticklish. It was all the more so because I could tell that she meant it from the bottom of her heart and that she wasn’t saying it just to be polite.
[So, Kaburagi, is all of the complicated talk over now?]
[Yes, it is. I will write things up in a proper report and send it to you at a later time.]
[Sounds good. In that case…]
[Would you tell me about the person you like?]
Kaburagi-san readily nodded and began talking.
Hold on, what the hell is this?! If I’m not misunderstanding, that person is me, right?! It makes me hella happy to hear her say that she likes me, but this is hardly something to talk about in front of the concerned party himself! What, is this a public execution? This is way beyond the level of being embarrassing! Have your love story conversation somewhere else in secret! Seeing how neither of you look embarrassed in the slightest is making me feel absolutely mortified!
[I’ll… step out.]
[We don’t mind if you stay, you know?]
[Well, I mind.]
If I stay here any longer, I think I’ll die of mortification.
[Aww, okay. By the way, Sago…]
[Do you want to join our army?]
[…I’m sorry, what?]
“Our army”? As in, Marineland’s army?
Where the hell did that come from? What happened to the love story talk?
Apparently, my confusion was obvious on my face, as it prompted Ruu-denka to continue her rather frightening train of thought, albeit in a bright tone.
[If you join our army, then we could use all the gunboat diplomacy we want. Any country would say yes to anything I ask for if I threaten them with being attacked by Invisible Titan, right?]
She… isn’t joking. She’s serious.
Holy crap… What’s with this girl… She’s freaking scary.
[I… think I’ll refrain.]
What do you mean “why”? Why do I have to deal with this question?
[Because it’s now an era of peace.]
[Is it, though? The World Shadows are making the world not peaceful, right? If you conquer the world, you can mobilize everybody to comb every corner of the planet to find all the Artifacts in existence and wipe out the World Shadows! And our country could get big in the process. What’s there not to like about the idea?]
I can’t very well conquer the world for the sake of my own lie!
…Not that I can do it even for a real reason. I’d be too scared to.
[Uh… because the chaos would interrupt the production of Super Water Sphere manjuu.]
[Wait, we can’t have that. Oh well, it’s a no-go, then.]
Ruu-denka backed down surprisingly easily.
Really? She can be convinced out of such a terrifying idea with such an inane reason? This girl is a unique character all right. Then again, Kaburagi-san is a pretty unique character herself, so I suppose it makes sense for her introductions to be pretty out there too.
Before I got caught up any further in the love story talk that resumed without warning, I slipped out of the room in escape.
After a while, Kaburagi-san also came back out and we headed for where we were staying. I wasn’t quite ready to die of cardiac arrest, and so I opted to not touch on what they had talked about in there and instead brought Ruu-denka up in conversation.
“She’s a pretty incredible person.”
“Though I do kind of feel like she’s a bit too straightforward for a queen. You sure she can lead the country properly the way she is?”
“There’s no need to worry on that front. The people around her give her all the support she needs.”
“Around her… I see, so she has talented retainers. So she does have an eye for people?”
“No, she does not.”
She doesn’t?! Then it’s still going to shit, isn’t it?
“Ruu-denka’s brother has a knack for finding talents. Those that he sends over are earnest and hardworking. Her role is to motivate them.”
“Ahh, I see, she does have that quality to her.”
Seeing her being that clueless about what’s good and what’s bad would surely make people think “I have to at least do my part properly!”
Being trusted from the heart, being praised, and being told “I’m entrusting it to you” makes people happy. If the people around Ruu-denka were bad people, then the whole ship would be sunk in no time at all. If the people around her were all good people, though, then she would go down in history as a great queen.
Let’s go the extra mile to make sure that the forged ruins don’t cause Ruu-denka any trouble.
Now that we had the grand duchess’s permission, the first order of business would be to survey the land and confirm the story narrative surrounding the ruins. We’d probably need to invite an expert or two, I imagine.
If you’re enjoying the series, please consider buying Volumes 1 and 2 in Japanese and English to support Kurodome-sensei and me!
All details in the Table of Contents page.