Minasan oideyasu. This is Yukkuri demasu!
The Knight Commander and the Mad Scientist. Or how to increase technology.
DISCLAIMER: There is no guarantee that my translation is 100% correct. Please correct me if I was wrong.
Chapter 3: The Core of CoReform A
――― 1547 Continent Era, Month 2
At the government affairs office in Parnam Castle, Liscia and I were looking at “a certain thing”.
「Look at this. What do you think?」(Souma)
「It’s really…… thin, long, and curved.」(Liscia)
「……Do you want to try it?」(Souma)
「Can I? Then……」(Liscia)
After she said so, Liscia temporarily left the government affairs office. I was thinking, what happened to her so suddenly, when she returned with something extremely outlandish. It was an iron pedestal with something like an antler attached to it. Furthermore that antler was not something from a common deer, since it was milky white and had a snake-scale-like iridescent luster.
「Wh-what is this?」(Souma)
「A sword rack made from the Mountain Deer’s antler. (I hear later that it was a gigantic deer. A hit from its antlers could even smash through steel). It’s extremely robust.」(Liscia)
Wait, why did she emphasize the robust part? Liscia placed “that thing” on the antlers and fixed it so it won’t move. Then, she unsheathed the sword at her waist and then swing it towards “that thing”. The next moment, immediately after the high-pitched sound, the tip of Liscia’s sword separated from the main blade and fell to the ground. Liscia for a moment was staring in wonder, but then she came to her senses and yelled,
She was shocked and looked back and forth between the broken tip and the broken blade. I sighed when I saw her dismayed state.
「I never imagined that you will slash at it.」(Souma)
「But! You said, I can try it!」(Liscia)
「What I mean was try to pick it up in your hand and swing it around. Why were you trying to test cut it?」(Liscia)
Liscia sometimes had muscle-brain like thoughts. This might be the influence of her mentor Georg.
「In the first place, if you strike a blade at another blade, it will be obvious what will happen next, correct?」(Souma)
「T-that is…… But, this is the “Nine-Headed Dragon Blade” right? I was curious about its cutting ability……」(Liscia)
By the way, just like what Liscia had said, “that thing” that she tried to cut was a blade forged in the Nine Headed Dragon Archipelago Union, (A maritime country that governed the Nine Headed Dragon Archipelago Union, located in the sea eastward from Elfrieden), the so called Nine-Headed Dragon Blade. It was a single edged sword, the blade itself was slim, long and curved. There was a fuller between the ridge and the back of the blade.
I think there might be people who could guess the true identity of “this thing” from what I had said. This Nine-Headed Dragon Blade really resembled a Japanese Katana. It was different from the swords of this country that gave off a “let’s hack ’em” kind of impression (in Earth terms, it would be European swords). This blade was specialized to cut by a push-pull action. Perhaps the manufacturing method was also similar.
That Nine-Headed Dragon Blade had been unsheathed and fixed on the mountain deer (?) sword rack, with its blade edge pointing up. Liscia tried to cut it, but her sword’s tip was the one that got cut instead. Liscia stared at the Nine-Headed Dragon Blade’s edge with a bewildered expression.
「At any rate, this blade has an amazing sharpness.」(Liscia)
「Since it’s similar to the katana of my country, it’s the top class if only in cutting power.」(Souma)
Not long ago, I saw this on some TV program, it could cut a kitchen knife blade into two and even cut through a waterjet cutter (something that could cut through objects using a very high-pressure jet of water). Its cutting power is no joke. Liscia hummed in admiration.
「Amazing…… But why there is a Nine-Headed Dragon Blade here?」(Liscia)
「A present from Excel. It was from a fishing ship from the Nine-Headed Dragon Archipelago that they had seized not long ago.」(Souma)
「It seems that lately, the number of the fishing ships from the Nine-Headed Dragon Archipelago poaching fish in our coastal waters had been increasing.」(Souma)
In this world, there were many gigantic marine creatures similar to the Thalassaurs that pulled the iron warship. (The Thalassaurs were similar to huge plesiosaurs, but with horns). The Thalassaurs were relatively docile, but there were aggressive creatures like the Megalodons (huge sharks). However, since these gigantic marine creatures mostly lived in the deep ocean, it was inevitable that the fishing grounds would be limited to the coastal waters near the continents or the islands. Even so, the amount of fish there was plenty sufficient, so it wasn’t a big problem. But in recent years, the number of ships from the Nine-Headed Dragon Archipelago that had come to fish in our country’s coastal waters had increased.
The commonly accepted practice in this world was that the fishing grounds for a country was located on the coastal waters of that country and the open ocean (though of course, the open waters would be dangerous). To fish in the coastal waters of other countries would be an illegal poaching. They wouldn’t able to protest if the ships that did the poaching were seized or sunk. Regardless of this practice, the number of ships from the Nine-Headed Dragon Archipelago that fished in our coastal waters increased. And consequently, the incidence of conflicts between fishermen also increased.
「Even though we had protested to the Nine-Headed Dragon Archipelago Union, there was no reply. Even though fleets under Excel had patrolled the water, it was ineffective. The other side is an island country, a maritime nation. It could be said that their shipbuilding and seamanship are the best in the world. The Thalassaurs that pulled their ship had been improved by selective breeding and their ability couldn’t be matched by ours. Furthermore, their fishing sips are made of wood and since they aren’t loaded with cannons, their speed is faster than ours. The warships couldn’t catch up to the fleeing fishing ships. It seems that the seized ship this time was only possible since it had run aground.」(Souma)
「Then, how about we also use a fast wooden boat to chase them?」(Liscia)
「In that case, if the other ship is armed, then our side could receive serious damage, you know?」(Souma)
At the very least, the patrolling side must be equipped with some armaments, so this was a tough situation. Liscia crossed her arms and thought deeply about this matter.
「But, isn’t this a little strange? Certainly if they go to our coastal waters, then they could fish safely…… But, they must pass the ocean when going to and returning from fishing, right? Why would they brave that risk and poach the fish, even though they could be arrested?」
「I also don’t know. There might be something happening in the Nine-Headed Dragon Archipelago Union, but I have no means to confirm this. Since they are surrounded by ocean, it’s hard to get any information.」
Even if I send the Black Cat to infiltrate and perform an intelligence gathering operation, since the country was surrounded by ocean, it was hard to maintain an information connection. There was no place for the Homing Quis to rest, so they couldn’t cross the ocean, and a royal voice broadcast orb was too big and hard to transport. In the end, the only method to deliver information was with a courier’s help, but this would take several days. The freshness of the information was the most important thing. Even if they got some crucial information, it would be meaningless unless they had the means to report this immediately to their home country.
For the moment, I only had the stories that I had heard from the people who ran from the Nine-Headed Dragon Archipelago, like one of the Song Princesses, Nanna. But even though it was united by the its leader, the Nine-Headed Dragon King, each island had different livelihoods and conditions, so even when assembling the fragmented information together, it was quite hard to join them into a whole picture.
「A country where we don’t know what they are thinking about is more troublesome than the clearly hostile countries, since we don’t know what we have to prepare.」 (Souma)
Both of us sighed.
「In any case, let’s return the topic of our conversation back to the Nine-Headed Dragon Blade. This blade greatly resembles my country’s sword. The sharpness is really amazing, but it needs skills to handle it. However, there is support magic in this world, right? This blade also could become sturdy enough to withstand the exchange of blows to some extent.」(Souma)
「For a sword-type weapon, it’s the top class, right? Well…… If it’s in the sword-type category “alone”, anyway.」(Liscia)
「Ah, so you noticed?」(Souma)
「Of course. We are not only fighting using a weapon’s power alone.」(Liscia)
Just like what had Liscia mentioned, the people of this world could use magic to some degree. And most of them could manipulate the four attributes, fire, water, earth and wind. Hence, in a battle, they could clad their weapons with these attributes. If Aisha clad her great sword with wind, then its cutting power and attack range would be increased. While Hal could clad it in fire and throw it to the enemy and explode it. That’s why, the sharpness of the weapon wasn’t something that most people paid attention to.
「Well, this blade might be exceptionally useful in sea combat where it’s hard to use magic other than water attribute magic. Actually, it seems that the Nine-Headed Dragon Archipelago’s sea combat tactic are mostly closing off the enemy with their great mobility and then raiding the other ship like pirates.」(Liscia)
「That method is just like something that a marine nation would do.」(Souma)
While listening to Liscia’s admiring words, I looked carefully at the edge parts of the Nine-Headed Dragon Blade.
「But…… I really want this blacksmith technology.」(Souma)
「A-re? But didn’t we just talk about how that the sharpness of a weapon is meaningless?」(Liscia)
「As a weapon, perhaps. But, there are many applications for a blade with a good sharpness.」(Souma)
For example, as a kitchen knife. If we could mass produce kitchen knives with a good sharpness, then the chefs could create even finer and more delicious dishes.
Other examples, as a tool. If we have a cutting tool with a good sharpness, then we could use that tool to produce even more useful tools.
Then medical instruments, like a scalpel. This might be the most urgent one. During an operation, the sharper tools could lessen the damage incurred on patient’s bodies. Hilde and Brad would like to have this.
This was a technology with many applications. I want to have it by all means.
「For the moment, we are still researching it, but…… it would take a long time.」(Souma)
My knowledge about the forging of a katana was mostly sketchy…… It’s lump of steel piled up atop another and then hammered, or something like that. Which one is a real metal? Tamahagane or Hihiirokane…… Yeah my level of knowledge was only like this.
「If we have a diplomatic relationship, even if we had to pay some compensation, we could negotiate for a technological transfer, but……」(Souma)
「But we don’t know the fundamental of what the Nine-Headed Dragon Archipelago Union was thinking, right?」(Liscia)
「What a difficult topic.」
Indeed. Even to avoid needless conflict, I need to establish a diplomatic relationship…
「……Well, there is nothing we can do, but leave it for now. The matter of our country is more important. We need to develop our own technology that doesn’t exist in other places like this blade. It will lead to an increase in national power and become the cornerstone of the country that is unshaken by the events of the era.」(Souma)
「That is a reasonable opinion…… But to be specific?」(Liscia)
「Soon it will be the time to take out “that person” to the front stage. Since we had done various preparations behind the scenes.」(Souma)
「By that person …… You mean, that person?」(Liscia)
I made a great nod at Liscia, who made a puzzled face in response.
「Now, let us go to call Ludwin.」(Souma)
◇ ◇ ◇
The Royal Guards Commander, Ludwin Arcs.
Though he was only 30, relatively young, he was a genius who had been entrusted with the official position of the Royal Guards’ Commander, who will lead the 40,000 strong Royal Army during an emergency. Since the dismantling and reorganizing of the Royal Army and the Kingdom Army, Navy, and Air Force, into a single Kingdom Defense Force, he was recognized as the next Kingdom Defense Force’s Supreme Commander and was learning underneath the tutelage of the current Supreme Commander, Excel, as her second-in-command. An ikemen with matching straight blonde hair, he came from a family with good status, and his popularity was extraordinary amongst the people that worked in the castle. However, considering all of that, there was not a single rumor about his relationships with any women. Conversely, there was a rumor that he was homosexual, which bewildered the person himself.
But there was another strange rumor about Ludwin. It was thought that his actual family finances were not in a good state. Because for some reason, Ludwin always eat in the dining hall that was commonly used by the castle’s staff and guards. It was as if he was trying to suppress his expenses as much as possible. Considering his good family status and his high position, Ludwin should have received a stipend that suited his status and job, so it was unthinkable that he was witnessed over and over again only eating the cheapest bread in the dining hall.
Though there were some reasonable voices that explained this as, 「Ludwin-dono is eating the same food like the common soldier, so he could experience their joys and sorrows」, 「He dedicated himself in self-temperance, so he could be ready in case of an emergency」, there were also people who said, 「Isn’t he is just a cheapskate because he is a miser?」 But there were also people who whispered gossip, like 「Perhaps he has a lover or a secret child that he needs to financially support」. Nevertheless, there was no story of Ludwin spending his money in a gaudy manner, but on the other hand, there was no sign of him having any savings. So, where did all of Ludwin’s stipend go into?
That answer…… is something that I know.
――― 1546 Continent Era, Month 11
This was before Roroa pushed Amidonia to us. We had defeated the Amidonia Dukedom Army led by Gaius, finished the negotiation with the Sister General Jeanne from the Gran Chaos Empire, returned to Parnam after giving Dukedom’s Capital, Van and its surroundings, back to Amidonia, and finally concluded dealing with the domestic postwar problems. One day, while I was working in the government affairs office like the usual, suddenly he kneeled on the spot, and then deeply bowed his head until his forehead hit the floor. His pose was a bit different, but it was something similar to a dogeza. Then,
「Your Majesty! Please forgive me!」(Ludwin)
Suddenly he started apologizing. I was confused and asked.
「Ludwin? Why are you suddenly apologizing?」(Souma)
「Did something happen, Ludwin-dono?」(Liscia)
Liscia, who was helping me work, also asked with concern. Then Ludwin raised his face and spoke with carefully-selected words.
「No, Your Majesty, this is not something about myself. However…… My acquaintance has done something unthinkable……」(Ludwin)
「About that…… Your Majesty, do you remember that not long ago, Your Majesty had said something of wanting to meet with my acquaintance?」(Ludwin)
Ah, that’s right, not long ago I remembered saying that in the dining hall. Certainly, Ludwin was telling a story of his mad scientist acquaintance and I wanted to try meeting with them for once.
「I have been busy lately, so even though I wanted to meet with them, I couldn’t spare any time.」(Souma)
「Yes, I am very aware of that. It’s just……」(Ludwin)
Ludwin seemed to be hesitating, but then he made up his mind and began to speak.
「My acquaintance, who had done the unthinkable, is that person.」(Ludwin)
Let me say this with you: CLIFF!
So, fellow readers: How should I translate: Kuzuryuu Shotou Rengou:
1. The current Nine Headed Dragon Archipelago Union (NHDAU)
2. Just: Kuzuryu Archipelago Union (KAU)
3. Or : Hydra Archipelago Union (HAU)
Also which do you prefer:
Archipelago Union or United Islands?
The secret behind Ludwin’s destitute: Is it a girl? Is it a daughter?
 The title is a homophonous pun. 革新の核心 Kakushin no Kakushin. The first means Reform, the second means the Core or Center or Crux. To make it almost similar in English, I use the CORE and COREform. It’s not that a pun that good…… Open for suggestion!
 Souma said 試してみる, Liscia took Souma’s words as 試し切り. To read about the latter, visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tameshigiri
 Should I use the Localized: Nine-Headed Dragon or should I just call them simply as: Kuzuryuu. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuzuryū (E/N: Nine-Headed Dragon could work, but it’s kind of long. You could shorten it to “Hydra” instead. The official “fixed” version of the Hydra has it with 9 heads.) I’ll see what reader opinion about this.
 The show in question. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZsjh5D7eDE an Episode from The Fountain of Trivia トリビアの種
 The Japanese is 海竜類. Although it simply means: Sea-Dragon-Kind/Species, 竜類 is how Japanese describe some of the Dinosaur Taxa: Ankylosauria is 曲竜類, Stegosauria is 剣竜類, Ceratopsian is 角竜類. You get the gist. So the author is basically creating a term for a new marine dinosaur-like animal/dragon. Hence why I mimicked the author and slapped Mare (Latin for sea) and Saur (reptile) into Maresaur. (E/N: The Maresaurus is a real extinct genus of pliosaurs, by the way. Maybe we should pick a different name? Or it could be like how the Rhinosaur vs Rhinoceros thing we had earlier.) Aw… Then, Thalassaur from the Greek word for sea: Thalassa. There are Thalattosaur, but the words are significantly different, so I think it will be alright.
 It’s really hard operate with a dull scalpel…… And it’s really hard to stitch skin wounds with a dull needle…… Also, how can I inject stuffs with a dull syringe. (E/N: plus those needles get damaged so easily that you have to throw it out after each use.)
 Tamahagane (玉鋼) is a type of steel made in the Japanese tradition. The word tama means "round and precious", like a gem. The word hagane means "steel". Tamahagane is used to make Japanese swords, knives, and other kinds of tools. Hiirokane (ヒヒイロカネ) means "Flame-Colored Metal" or "Brilliant Scarlet Metal". It’s an unknown metal/alloy that was said the base of Japanese Imperial Regalia was made from.
 The gender is not revealed.