──At the same time, on a rocky mountain east of Nosa──

“Good grief, what a troublesome thing we discovered!”

Isaac spat as he stared at the rocky mountain.

This was a rocky mountain several hundred metres tall near the border of the Demon Territory.

The surrounding area was home to medicinal herbs, resulting in it being an excellent location for the townspeople to gather medicinal ingredients.

And now, near the summit of the rocky mountain, a greatsword jutted from the ground.

“…… Oh!”

At the foot of the rocky hill, the soldiers exclaimed.

They too must have heard the legends of otherworldly heroes since their childhood.

A holy sword embedded in a rock.
A sealed magic sword.

Perhaps they were superimposing such legends onto the scene before them.

“Even this Isaac’s eyes were drawn to that sword.
What exactly is it?”

Lodged in the rocky mountain was a common two-handed sword.

It was thrust into a chasm in the rock, revealing only half of it.

What was even more bizarre was that it was bound by chains which wrapped around the sheath and guard of the sword.

The chains were layered on top of each other, and the shape of the sheath or guard could not be perceived.

The only part of the sword that could be observed was the hilt.

It may have rusted due to exposure to the wind and rain.

However, there had been cases in which even a seemingly rusted sword was found to be enchanted when it was drawn out.

There were even legends detailing swords that revealed their true form the moment they were drawn.
There were plenty of legends such as these, dating back to the time of the heroes.

“It is really troublesome……”

Isaac ground his teeth.

Realistically speaking, they lacked the time for this.
He should have left it alone and investigated it in between military exercises.

“Isaac-dono, should we return to town?”

At the foot of the rocky mountain stood Mariella, his second-in-command.

She, like Isaac, was gazing at the sword stuck in the rock.

‘…… If it weren’t for her, I would have left that sword alone.’

Isaac mumbled to himself.

He didn’t care much for that sword, but he also disliked the idea of it falling into her hands.

If it was a magic sword, it would be recorded as an achievement for her.

By extension, it would become the achievement of Zagran, the Minister of Military Affairs, thus stabilising his position.
The position would move further away from Isaac.

That was something he wanted to avoid.

“I will say it again.
Isaac-dono, you should return to prepare for the military exercise!”

Shouted Mariella.

“Your mission is to exhibit the strength of the Empire to the Demon Territory.
You should not concern yourself with such trivial matters.”

“It is also the role of this small officer to maintain the peace of the people.”

Isaac glanced towards Mariella and replied.

“If anything peculiar is discovered near the town, we should investigate it.
Otherwise, the people will be unable to be at ease.”

“It is merely a sword.”

“It might not “merely” be a sword.
If it truly is a magic sword, the people in the Demon Territory may come for it.
That would unsettle the people.”

“A magic sword? Are you serious?”

“This is the land where the heroes once clashed with the Demon Territory’s army.
It would not be strange if it housed lost weapons.”

“Then why did we not stumble across it before?”

“There is a large crack in the mountain.
Moreover, there are traces that suggest that the pile of rocks has crumbled.
The cliff must have suffered a small collapse recently, which would have unearthed the buried sword.”

“That sounds like a fantasy.”

“If you feel that way, leave this matter to this little officer and return to town, Mariella.”

Isaac stared at Mariella as he said as such.

“Your role is to support Her Highness, is it not?”

“I have been ordered by Zagran-sama to report any abnormalities to him.”

Mariella returned a polite bow sarcastically.

“Furthermore, I must identify it and transcribe a report.”

“That’s fine.
If I discover anything, I’ll make sure to inform you.”

“Thank you for your kind favour.”

Despite her statement, Mariella did not leave.

The reason was clear.

Mariella did not trust Isaac, just as Isaac did not trust Mariella.

‘If Mariella discovers that it is a magic sword after she has been entrusted with this situation…’

Without a doubt, the magic sword would be sent to Zagran.

Mariella would then present an imitation to Isaac.

That sword was bound by chains, revealing only the grip.
It would be a simple matter to replicate it.

It would absolutely result in such a situation, as Isaac would do the same were he to obtain it.

‘…… This is why it’s so troublesome.’

While Isaac was grumbling inwardly…

“Commander! The soldiers have reached the sword!”

One of the soldiers shouted.

Isaac looked upwards and found several soldiers standing near the sword at the summit.

“Good.
Tell me, what is the condition of the sword?”

“As we expected, the sword is secured with chains.
The end of the chains seems to be wedged deep into a crevice in the rock.
It is impossible to untangle it or draw it out of the rock.”

“Then try forcing the sword out!”

“We were going to try it…”

The soldiers grabbed the sword and then firmly planted themselves on the rocky ground.

The four soldiers’ muscles bulged as they pulled with all their might, but…

“… It won’t move!”

“It doesn’t even budge.
What’s with this sword?”

“It’s as if it’s one with the rock.”

Hearing the soldier’s mutterings, Isaac began contemplating.

He then decided that the sword should be dealt with promptly.

“I understand, I’ll prepare an axe for you guys to sever the chain!

“Commander, please wait a moment.”

The moment Isaac shouted his command, Mariella interjected.

“Perhaps there is significance behind the chains.
We should attempt to shatter the rock with earth magic and pull the chains out.”

“Don’t interrupt me! The commander of this unit is this small officer!”

“I am also the second-in-command of the unit.
I believe I possess the right to voice my opinion.”

“…… Chi.”

Isaac clicked his tongue and observed the surroundings.

Some of the soldiers were nodding in response to Mariella’s words.

‘It’ll be difficult to push my opinion.’

Isaac was delegated the authority of a commander, but when he returned to the capital, it would be Zagran who would evaluate everything.
The soldiers probably could not ignore the opinion of Mariella, his second-in-command.

‘A united unit is the basis of warfare.’

If this were a battle against an enemy nation, Isaac’s orders would be absolute.

However, this mission entailed only a military exercise.

That is why the loyalty of the soldiers was divided between Isaac, the commander of the unit, and Mariella, the Minister of Military Affairs’ confidant.

“Understood.
We can tunnel through the rocks with earth magic, correct? Then let’s designate someone for this task and leave them here.”

Isaac looked at Mariella and told her.

“They will handle the rest.
After we retrieve the sword, we will discuss the matter and decide what to do with it.
How does that sound?”

“I disapprove of leaving only a small number of soldiers behind.
There is a possibility that they will be attacked by monsters or those from the Demon Territory.”

Mariella shook her head as if saying that it was out of the question.

“Leaving the soldiers suggests to the residents of the Demon Territory that ‘This place holds significance.’ If that happens, the demons and demi-humans may come for this sword.
Don’t you understand that, commander?”

Mariella offered her opinion, her tone sarcastic.

Isaac glanced at her and rebutted.

“…..
On the contrary, isn’t it possible that this sword was placed here by someone from the Demon Territory?”

“For what purpose?”

“They would lure us here and attack the town of Nosa.”

“If the Demon Territory intended on attacking the town of Nosa, they would have done it before we arrived.
What benefit is there in attacking it now that the town houses more troops?”

“…… Hmm.”

“The only possibility is to make an attempt on Her Highness Sophia’s life.”

Mariella cut off her words.

Isaac waited for a moment, but no further words left her mouth.

He didn’t have to tell her.
Her Highness Sophia held no value as a hostage.

Princess Sophia could not inherit the throne.

Even if the Demon Territory demanded something in exchange for her, the Empire would never accede.

Furthermore, Princess Sophia was sickly.

It was plausible that Princess Sophia would simply die after being kidnapped.

If that occurred, the Empire would use that as an excuse to seek assistance from the other nations.
If so, it could lead to the formation of an allied army intending to invade the Demon Territory.

The upper echelons of the Empire had sent Princess Sophia here with that in mind.

“…..
Her Imperial Highness Princess Sophia’s safety is not of concern.
Her Highness is protected by soldiers, she cannot be harmed.”

However, Isaac spoke as a commander seeking to protect Sophia would.

“Since Her Highness is safe, we shall establish a camp here and examine that sword.
We will retrieve it as soon as possible and destroy it if it takes too long so that those in the Demon Territory cannot use it.
Is that clear, Mariella?”

“I thank the commander for his wise decision.”

“I don’t think the Demon Territory will make a move.
There are numerous soldiers gathered here, yet they haven’t dispatched any scouts.”

Isaac turned his gaze to the border shared with the Demon Territory.

A series of tall, rocky mountains appeared in his field of vision.

It was a mountainous area on the border.

From a distance, it did not look like there were any soldiers from the Demon Territory.

No arrows or magic could reach them, but if anyone were to move, they would be seen.

All that Isaac could recognize was a large lizard prowling around the rocky terrain.
It was not a monster, just a wild animal.

There was nothing to be alarmed about.

“Anyways, let’s get on with it.
I’m sure Her Imperial Highness is concerned about us.”

At Isaac’s command, the soldiers began to move.

They were to establish a temporary base here in order to investigate the mysterious sword.

──At the same time, in the mountainous region of the Demon Territory──

“The Imperial army seems to have taken the bait, Kelve-dono.”

General Reisenga said, lying on his stomach on the rocky ground.

“As expected of the Chancellor, your strategy seems to have worked.”

“It was Thor who suggested embedding the greatsword in the rock…….”

Chancellor Kelve said so while maintaining the same position.

The operation to lodge the sword into a rocky mountain near the town was executed during the night.

To witness the result, Prime Minister Kelve and General Reisenga had come to this mountainous area.

They were lying on a rocky outcrop in the mountainous area.

In the distance, they could see the rocky mountain where the sword was planted.
As expected, they could not see the faces of the Imperial soldiers, but they could roughly estimate their numbers.
They likely numbered about a hundred or so.

It seemed that most of the soldiers dispatched by the Empire were present.

“It seems they haven’t noticed us.”

“You wouldn’t expect to find people on top of a rocky outcrop like this, would you?”

General Reisenga nodded in agreement to chancellor Kelve’s words.

“In the first place, it would be dangerous to scale an area like this.
We are able to climb up here due to Thor’s items.”

“I never imagined that the [Chain Lock] could be used this way……”

Chancellor Kelve and General Reisenga looked back.

Behind them, on the rocky terrain, was a ladder formed of black chains.

The ladder adhered to the rock face to the mountain path just below.

Both Kelve and Reisenga had climbed up here using that ladder.

“This [Chain Lock Ladder (Revised Edition)] is amazing…”

──────────────────

[Chain Lock Ladder (Revised Edition)]

(Attributes: Earth-ground, Earth-water) (Rarity: ★★★★★★★★★★★*)

[Chain Locks] joined together in the shape of a ladder.

When magic power is poured into it, it enters the [Land Lock] mode.

The auxiliary chain bites into the rock crevices and rock walls, and its strong earth attributes allow it to stick firmly to them.
This renders it possible to use it as a stable ladder.

Ten auxiliary chains hold the ladder in place so that more than a dozen people can hang on it.

The [Land Lock] can be released by the person who has locked it by applying magic power.

The chains can be reused as long as their integrity allows.

──────────────────

“As expected of Thor-sama.
Now the Demon Territory is safer!”

“General.
Do you understand? These ladders could also be attached to the city walls, you know?”

“…… Umu?”

“Basically, it can latch onto any rock or stone, correct? Naturally, it will adhere to stone walls.
As long as you can get in close proximity to the wall, you can climb over it and enter, right?”

“…… Well, it is made by Thor-dono.”

“…..
Right?.”

Prime Minister Kelve sighed.

General Reisenga laughed.

“Hahaha.
I know I shouldn’t laugh, but the figure of…… Chancellor-dono looks exactly like a lizard.”

“The same is true of the General-dono’s appearance if you put it that way.
We are both wearing [Onesies].”

“If we remove the hood, we can transform back to our original form, right? Shall we remove it?”

“I don’t want to do that.
We don’t want the Imperial army to discover us.”

“…… I guess so.”

Kelve and Reisenga, lying on their stomachs, nodded in unison.

The scales on their bodies glistened in the evening sun.
Their long torsos crawled along the rocks, their short limbs gripping them firmly.
Their long tails moved according to their wills, but they were unaware of how it worked.

This was the ability of the magic item, [Onesies], created by Thor.

It was completed a few days ago, and when worn, it was capable of transforming the wearer into another creature, a tremendous feat.

Even Thor encountered a lot of trouble while making it.
He said he could not have made it without the cooperation of Demon King Rukie, Mabel, and the pixies.

He gave Kelve and Reisenga lizard-shaped pajamas as a scouting device.

Kelve remembered the explanation he had heard when he put them on.

“If you wear the hood, you will look like a lizard.
If you remove the hood, you will return to your original form.”

As usual, it was a confidential item, so he could not allow his subordinates to use it.

That was why Kelve and Reisenga came donning their pajamas to scout the Imperial army.

“What does General-dono think about these [Onesies]?

Kelve asked while shaking his lizard head.

Reisenga swung his thin tongue, which came out automatically.

“Agnis said you were cute.”

“That is not what I am saying.
This lizard looks just like the real thing.
I can move my tail just by thinking about it.
How is that possible? Something like this……”

“It is what it is.”

“In the first place, I can see normally despite my entire body being in the form of a lizard…….
I won’t feel at ease until I ask Thor-dono for more details about the abilities of [Onesies] later on.”

“Hey, stop banging your head against the rocks.
It will damage your [Onesie].”

Reisenga, in lizard form, moved his long tail and held down Kelve’s head.

“Anyway, the mission was a success.
The imperial soldiers are attracted to the sword.
In the meantime, I think we should speak to those who are truly in charge.”

“For how long will that greatsword impede the Imperial army?”

“It would last a few days at the most.
Thor has repaired the visible parts, but the blade is enveloped in rust.
If they remove it, they will know it is just a piece of junk.

“Anyways, let’s return and report to Her Majesty.

“I guess so.
I’m also worried about the pixies who went to the town.”

Chancellor Kelve nodded and turned his back on the Imperial soldiers, along with General Reisenga.

Then, they removed the hoods of their pajamas.

With a pop, the two return to their demon forms, dressed in cute, green, fluffy pajamas.

“… I’m still uncomfortable with this.
I can’t wait to change.”

“But Agnis said that you were cute.”

The two climbed down the chain ladder attached to a rock wall facing the Demon Territory.

‘My men will be awaiting us on the mountain path.
I can’t wait to change my attire.’

While thinking about that, Chancellor Kelve thought of those who had worn the same pajamas and were headed for the town of Nosa.

“They would look great in these pajamas.”

‘It doesn’t suit me.
I will never wear it again.
Her Majesty told me that they would look great, but that was definitely a sarcastic remark.’

‘There is no way that these green pajamas sporting lizard-like eyes on the hood and a fluttering tail would suit this Chancellor Kelve.’

I’ll accept them because they were offered, but that’s to keep information about the item from circulating.

For now, I will store them in my bedroom, but I have no other intentions.
Absolutely.

“I wonder why Thor-dono’s items are so damaging to my spirit.”

While thinking about that, Chancellor Kelve climbed down.

──At the same time, in the town of Nosa ──

“A pleasure to meet you, Princess.”

Perched on a branch right next to the window, the white owl spoke.

“Eh?”

Sophia’s eyes widened

“Did the owl…… speak?”

I thought I was imagining things.

There is no such thing as an owl capable of speaking the human language.

They may have existed in the time of the heroes, but there was no concrete record of their existence.

In front of an astonished Sophia, the white owl raised its body and bowed.

“Fumufumu.
As expected, you have the same symptoms as Solei- no, a person.
Your light magic power is too strong, and it seems to be taking its toll on your body.”

“H-how do you know that?…… No, what are you…”

“I need to speak to you, but there is something I need you to hear first.”

The white owl said, overlapping Sophia’s words.

“── This owl’s lord desires peace, but the Empire is pestering us near the border.
We wish to inform you of the truth.
My lord wishes to speak to you.
If you agree, this owl’s lord will permit you to use of his health products.”

── In a small, calm voice, the white owl told Sophia.

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