“What? Did you really build all of this underground in that short amount of time…”
Uttering such words of surprise was middle-aged man of great size.
He was Duke Kaion who ruled over the northwestern region of the kingdom.
Not only was he one of the only two dukes in the entire kingdom, he also possessed the largest territory. That being said, his entire territory was an extremely cold region. Whenever winter comes, moving about, even in cities, was difficult due to the heavy snowfall.
At any rate, underneath the largest city in his territory, a railway station was built. He was currently inspecting it.
“Even so, I still don’t believe that if we ride this train thing, we’d be able to travel from here to the capital in just a few hours…”
“Would you like to take a ride, then?”
“Is it ready?”
“Yes. I’ve already laid down tracks that’ll connect it to the royal capital.”
Duke Kaion was talking to Luke, the very person who built this underground structure.
“That aside…Luke-dono, it was to my understanding that you were a boy, but is that not the case?”
No matter the angle the duke looked from, the Luke before him looked entirely like a pretty girl.
“Ah, yes, I am. I have to look like this due to some circumstances, but I am definitely a man.”
The duke couldn’t begin to imagine what those circumstances might be.
By the way, the duke didn’t know this, but the one he was speaking to was only a body double and not the real Luke.
Afterwards, the duke boarded the train and was amazed by its capabilities.
After all, in just about 30 minutes, they had already reached the southernmost city of his duchy.
“This…this definitely is the city of Kirie! Did we really travel that much in such a short span of time…?”
While looking at the townscape from the outside of the railway station there, the duke was left dumbfounded.
“And since this travels underground, no amount of snowfall should have any effect on it…that means we should be able to use this even in the dead of winter. Not only is it fast and can transport so many people at once, it also can provide its service all year round…this is tremendous…no wonder His Majesty is having this installed all over the kingdom.”
The duke was certain that the trains would bring great boons to the kingdom as a whole as well as to each territory that had it.
He might be a duke, but when thinking about his territory, even he couldn’t resist this trend of things.
“*People say that the royal family is aiming to centralize the kingdom’s powers into them. I suppose this serves as preparation toward that. At the very least, it’s an important step toward preventing another case of uprising like the one Albert did.*”
For generations, House Kaion have kept a friendly relationship with the royal family.
As long as there weren’t any absurd demands, the duke himself intended to keep such a relationship going forward.
“*Truly, just what kind of future awaits all of us…? It can be said that now is a great turning point for our noble house.*”
After thinking of such things, the duke expressed his desire to head back home and turned around toward the station.
“Let’s go back in an easier way, ok?”
“What do you mean?”
In the next moment, the sight before the duke became that of his castle.
“……we didn’t even need the train?”
The duke groaned, but at that same time…
“Damn it, let go of me!”
“Don’t resist and just be quiet!”
When the duke turned around toward the source of those shouts, he saw soldiers dragging along someone they arrested.
Upon closer inspection, the one resisting the arrest and making a fuss was an all-too-young girl.
The duke said so and sighed.
“Have you perhaps never seen one before? Well, that girl there has beast-like ears, right?”
“That and their tails are the beastmen’s most distinguishing characteristics. Their kind live somewhere north, beyond my duchy. For many years, they have been a pest to my territory due to their raids to our villages and cities.”
Due to its position as well as the fact that the land stretched widely from east to west, this duchy served as the kingdom’s breakwater against the invasion of the beastmen race. Such a role, as to be expected, was not easy to accomplish when they had no idea when or where the beastmen might strike.
As such, it was difficult for the duke to deploy soldiers anywhere outside of the duchy. That was true even back when the royal family requested assistance to repel Marquis Albert.
“Capturing the physically strong beastmen is quite a difficult task, but every now and then, we’re fortunate enough to do so. In order to extract information out of them, I have ordered my soldiers to bring and detain them to this castle.”
TL note: just a reminder on the geography of the kingdom, according to chapter 124, Albert is to the northeast, Schneger is to the southeast, Kaion is to the northwest, Talister to the southwest, and the royal capital at the center.