We arrived in the royal capital of Galbaran.
I was amazed at the number of people passing through the magnificent boulevards.
It is probably the most developed city I have ever seen.
Splendid buildings line the roads, and even those who appear to be commoners wear beautiful clothes.
At a glance, I could tell the living standards here were high.
This place is unbelievable.
There are clearly-expensive items in the stores, but if you look at the price tag, they cost half what you would expect.
From time to time, groups of well-organized soldiers pass by.
Their military strength is quite high.
In addition, many other races could also be seen.
It is very different from the other countries I visited.
I looked around and saw a man in military uniform sitting on some nearby stairs.
I approached him and asked him how to get to this city's ruins.
He said there was a staircase at the end of this road that anyone could use as he pointed towards it.
I approached Kaede and Frau who had also gone off to ask how to get to such a place.
"Master, those people told me that we need to go down those stairs."
Kaede and Frau point to a place opposite of what the soldier had told me.
In other words, there are multiple entrances to the ruins.
For the time being, I decided to use the stairs Kaede showed me, which are probably the closest.
As I descended the old stairs, I took in the chaotic landscape.
The situation down here is very different from upstairs.
Huge pillars lined the ceiling, and the surroundings were littered with countless tents that exhaled white smoke. In addition, on the road that ran like a vein, there was a river of people. I could feel firsthand that the place was prosperous, where other races intermingled.
The atmosphere is very different, it leaves you with a strange feeling, but is exciting as well.
I think I like the dirt down here better than how tidy everything is up top.
"It smells really bad. There's garbage everywhere."
"Ugh,,, this strong fermented smell reminds me of a village I once visited with master."
"Are you feeling well? If you don't like it, we can rest."
"It's okay, I can go on. I'm sure it won't be a problem once I get used to it, so I'll ease the pain with this for now."
She pulled out a small cloth and buried her face in it.
Kaede had an ecstatic expression on her face.
I'm curious as to what it smells like.
"This isn't an ordinary chair, is it?"
"Exactly. This is what's called a mobile chair found in the ruins. You can go anywhere you want while sitting using the magic power it has accumulated. I guess the drawback is that its movement speed is about the same speed as walking."
There were a number of relics laid out in front of the store as if they were scrap metal.
The store owner, a dwarf, was sitting low with a salesman's smile.
Suddenly, a laugh echoes through the store.
"What's this!? I touched it and it suddenly started laughing!"
"Oh, I don't think it's a good idea to touch that."
The store owner lightly taps the box emitting the laughter.
I don't know how it works, but that act made the laughter stop.
"What is this bottled stuff?"
Kaede was very interested in the small bottles on the shelf. Inside were powders, labeled for easy identification.
"That's a condiment. Most of them are still being made, but some of them are mixed with ingredients whose manufacturing process is unknown, so it's primarily a product for people who like to cook."
"You don't mind if I check the taste?"
"Not at all, I recommend you try the white powder."
".....It has a strange taste, like a condensed flavor."
After licking the powder, Kaede immediately decides to buy it.
I'm already curious about what Kaede can make with this. I'm looking forward to her next meal.
Panda wandered around the small store for a while and found a thin tablet with letters engraved on it.
I was curious, so I picked up the lithograph.
"I can't read it. Frau, what does this say?"
"Let's see, the training center guide..... It was created as a facility to improve the motivation of newcomers and also to enable them to practice efficiently. The difficulty varies according to the level, and it is our greatest enemy...hmmm, I can't read any further because the text is faded."
"Maybe it's a phrase for an ancient warrior."
"Maybe... Although it can also be used as a household decoration."
Even if it is an object for decoration, I would first need a house to place this in.
Besides, it's rather expensive.
I carefully placed the board back on the shelf.
I was eating noodles soaked in broth that I bought at a food stall in the ruins.
It's a strange dish, but very tasty.
"This place is much better than I imagined. But it's a shame we couldn't get any information."
"You'd think it would be easy to find some information in such a big country."
Frau replied as she sipped her soup and Kaede nuzzled Panda in her lap.
I twirled the noodles with my fork and looked around the crowded street.
I couldn't find any clues about my friends.
And the scroll's needle is still not pointing in any specific direction.
I wonder if we're looking in the wrong place.
Maybe they are on the edge of the continent, or on the other side of the world for all we know.
I wish there was a way I could know if they were still alive.
"Do you know of any place where we can find information on anything in this city?"
I asked the dark elf cook.
"You should go further down, to the fourth floor. There's a black market that caters to the rich and the people who hang out there are very smart. If you play your cards right, you'll probably find what you're looking for."
"The black market..."
"But just so you know, the Redmouth family, one of the three main forces in these ruins, is in charge of the black market. If you value your life, I recommend you find somewhere else to find what you're looking for."
The cook gave me another two plates of noodles.
The Redmouth family, huh... So people from the underworld are doing business with the nobility and the rich.
Hmm, I think I'm going to eat a double portion.
"Give me four more."
"Isn't two enough for you?"
"No, I want four."
I love this noodle dish. No matter how much I eat, it's never enough.
Kaede, who had been staring at me, took a sip of her soup, pondered for a while and then started taking notes.
"Sorry, big brother, I've lost sight of that boy."
"I see. Well, that's not important for now. Where are the guests?"
"They're gathering in the back, sir."
A few Beastkin men converse next to the food stand.
When the words "in the back" came up in conversation, I directed my attention there immediately.
The Tiger tribesman had a scar on his cheek and a truly intimidating appearance.
He noticed my stare and then turned to look at me.
"Why the hell are you looking at me like that, human...hiigi?!"
"Come on, let's get out of here."
The tiger man tries to walk away quickly.
I got up from my seat and started to follow him. Until I got close enough to him and tapped him on the shoulder.
"What's in the back of this place?"
"Oh... So that's what you're interested in."
"Actually, yes, I'm interested in going to the black market. I'll pay you in exchange for information and a run down of everything about this place."
He shifts his gaze while pale faced.
He looked very hesitant, as if he had a problem.
"I-I don't know, that place is not suitable for a guy like you."
"It's okay, I have a lot of money. Oh, maybe the amount of money I have has something to do with it?"
"Well, at least 100 million..."
"Then no problem. Are there any other conditions?"
"....Can you promise me you won't make a fuss?"
"Hahaha, unlike you, I'm an ordinary warrior, I wouldn't do such a thing."
I smiled and patted him on the shoulder.
I have some common sense.
I wouldn't do something like that unless I was asked.
The accompanying Bear and Monkey tribesmen began to talk to him.
"Are you sure about that, brother? We don't even know who he is."
"Don't be stupid, I can't say no to him."
"....Really? He looks like a normal, weak human."
"Maybe so, but I can't stop shaking. It's just like that time I was a kid and saw the ancient Demon King. Don't provoke this guy, or he'll kill us all."
"I guess we'll take your word for it, brother. In that case, let's go back and warn the others."
The beastmen talk amongst themselves.
I want to get an answer as soon as possible. I still have food waiting for me, and I'm hungry.
"I'll take you up on your offer. I'll tell you what you want to know in the back."
"Thank you. Say, are you hungry? I'll buy you something to eat."
"Oh, yes, it would be my pleasure."
The tiger man sat down at one of the tables with us with a strained smile on his face.
And when he looked at Kaede and Frau, his expression got even worse.
The hand he was clutching his glass with kept shaking.
"Master, who is this?"
"This is the person who will lead us to the black market."
"Amazing, my lord, you have already found a guide so quickly. Nice to meet you, stranger."
Panda and Frau greet him with a smile.
And the tiger man replies, "Oh, yes..."
"Are you okay? Are you having some monster trouble, or are you just having a bad day?"