One whole season had passed after the battle between Rodelia and the allied countries.
The woman general known as Catastrophic Butterfly inquires at the dedicated general’s office within the royal palace, her face dissatisfied.
「It’s rejected? Did you put up the reward as I said? 」
「Y-Yes. The amount was prepared to be five-fold the norm as General Jelia ordered. 」
A middle-aged bureaucrat answered fearfully while sweating from his forehead. Despite his opponent being a female in her prime age, her absurd abilities and lack of mercy towards anyone who dares to oppose her is well-known even in the royal castle.
Buying her displeasure and getting punished is undesirable. The bureaucrat was more nervous than he could handle.
「Mercenaries should just be mercenaries and wag their tail at money. 」
With clear irritation shown on Jelia’s face, the bureaucrat’s shoulder jumped.
Jelia had been grumpy recently.
Although the cut on her cheek from the last battle had healed without a trace, the crack in her pride had not yet mended.
She wanted to use them as sacrificial pawns in the next battle, and as expected, they were on guard. Even with the absurd amount of money she offered, they didn’t budge at all.
Jelia was frowning with her eyes shut for a while. When she eventually raised her eyelids, she gave new instructions to the bureaucrat.
「……I suppose there’s no other way around it. Hide the name of Rodelia. 」
「Then, shall the request contents be changed? 」
「Yes. The contents……let’s see. How about a raid on a laboratory in Rodelia? They will surely bite it, and the location is convenient as well. 」
「Convenient……are you perhaps referring to the Special Military Research Institute? 」
When the bureaucrat asked with a suspicious expression, Jelia answered with a full smile.
「I like smart people. As you say, that place is undeniably our kingdom’s possession. Would they not they bite the bait even without any increased rewards? Surely they wouldn’t expect the client to order to destroy their own facilities. 」
「Well, that is certainly the case, but… 」
「Then it’s decided. Quickly put out the request. I will send the details to the people in the laboratory later, and they can decide about it there. Make sure not to let them realize it’s a request from Rodelia. 」
「Yessir, I understand. 」
After acknowledging her orders with a little reluctant about the plan, the bureaucrat who was trying to leave the office was stopped by Jelia.
「Ah, the laboratory chief should be in the castle as well. Find and tell him to come to me. 」
「Uhm…… that person? 」
The bureaucrat didn’t hide his unwilling expression at all.
「That’s right, get going already if you understand. 」
A while after the bureaucrat was chased out of the office, someone paid Jelia a visit.
「Hya hya hya. I heard about it general. You’re inviting mercenaries and having a blood feast at the facility―? 」
A short elderly man was laughing disturbingly. He had a head full of curly hair that looked like it had been basked in flames, thanks to its red color.
This was the laboratory chief that was mentioned in the conversation with the bureaucrat earlier.
「Ara? Could it be the chief is disapproving? 」
「No no no, why not. It’s very interesting. There is no better chance to test out the performance of the special soldiers I raised personally. I’d like to watch the battle as well―. 」
The chief replied with slightly elongated words. He was brilliant as a researcher, passable as the chief of the organization, but he was failure as a person. That was his overall evaluation.
Simply put, he is one of the weird breeds that no one understands.
「I see. Then it’s fine. That saves me the trouble of finding a new replacement for the chief. Well, I will just have the facility rebuilt later, so go wild as you please. 」
Hya hya hya, the chief laughed.
Even though he was just told that he would have lost his job if he gave the wrong answer, he continued the conversation seemingly without worrying about it at all.
「I’m sure it will be a good show since they are the famous Wisteria mercenary band ―」
「Oya. Is the general not interested? I’m not that familiar with it either, but it seems like they are quite famous for their strength even among mercenaries― 」
「Fu―n. Well, I don’t really care. After all, it is a mercenary band soon to disappear. 」
Believing that mercenaries will just sprout up again if there is money, Jelia didn’t think much about what the chief said.
「Rather than that, general. 」
The chief suddenly changed the topic.
「The experimental animal sent to the surface world is quite interesting―」
Despite being summoned by Jelia who is his superior, the chief started bringing up his own agendas without any hesitation.
Although feeling a little offended by the lack of respect from the chief, Jelia had understood that he is a person like this from the start.
Unlike soldiers or mercenaries, she knows that the man in front of her is a little capable. It’s why she decided to let it slide, and moreover, what he mentioned caught Jelia’s attention.
「Experimental animals? 」
「Yes yes yes yes, that’s right. I tried sending a Nedulo with all its legs cut off, but even without its legs, it did great there――」
「Great? A Nedulo with no legs? 」
「Yes yes yes that’s right. The surface world seems to have multiple countries, but one of them was comically destroyed by a Nedulo that can only crawl on the ground― 」
「That’s……is that particular Nedulo a special mutation? 」
Although Jelia seemed a little surprised as she asked, the chief was completely indifferent.
「Actually, that’s what we thought at first too, and so we sent in another one―But this time, it’s a young one with all its limbs intact. Then, then…… hya hya hya hya! 」
「Don’t end the story with your laugh, quickly continue. 」
「Oh my, excuse me」
Seemingly having finally caught onto his superior getting annoyed, the chief apologized. However, it was only this instant where he seemed to be sane. Immediately after, his smile returned as he continued.
「Believe it or nooot! Just one Nedulo ruined three countries. There was a huge chaos there saying the demon lord appeared or something. It was so funny to watch―― 」
「One Nedulo brought down three countries? What kind of joke is that? 」
Jelia asked suspiciously as it was too farfetched of a story.
「No no no no no, it’s for real. It seems like organisms in that world are quite feeble―. Be it beast or man, just one Nedulo is too far out of their league. 」
「In the end, did the Nedulo get subjugated? 」
「It died of old age. 」
The answer that came back within moments was unexpected even for Jelia.
「The Nedulo was never subjugated, and laid waste everywhere it went until it died of old age―」
「……You said it was a young one? 」
「Yes, there’s no mistake in that. However, the Nedulo grew older faster than expected. It seems like time flows incredibly faster there, I was only observing for ten days, but it was growing older by the second. In the end, it died of old age― 」
The chief was breathing excitingly at the unexpected discovery while Jelia had a dubious expression.
「The flow of time……」
「That’s right. It looks like the time there flows few hundred times faster than here. At first, I could only hear screeches from the people there speaking, but it seems that they were simply speaking too quickly for me to interpret― 」
「That means, if anyone here went to the other side, they would become old in a short period? 」
「Yes, you are right. And from the perspective of people that actually crossed to the other side, the people remaining here would not age at all― 」
It was difficult to say whether this was a reason to rejoice or a reason for disappointment. Opening a door to another world is surely something worth celebrating.
It is an entire new and wide world that Rodelia had never imagined before. Thinking about the land and resources that comes with a new world, it should be a welcoming discovery.
On the other hand, the difference in time flow is a major obstacle in developing that world. If what the chief said was true, those who went to the surface world would meet their death from old age in just about few tens of days.
From the perspective of a person of this world, being in the other world would mean shaving off lifespan. It was too cruel of a story.
「……Why not just throw those mercenaries into the surface world? 」
After muttering so, Jelia immediately reconsidered.
「Even one Nedulo can destroy countries. They will just conquer the entire world if that happens huh. 」
It seemed that travelling to the surface world should be kept a secret between them, and Jelia, who believed so, instructed the chief to continue his investigation and take precautions to keep knowledge from leaking.