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Chapter I: The Encroaching Mutants 

“Pirates, eh? That’s no good.” 
“Quite... Right at the beginning of peak trade season, at that. If we end up missing this opportunity, it’ll be quite the financial blow... I’m truly irritated right now, if I must be honest.” Olba grumbled quietly to himself as his fox ears twitched and swished. 
I’d dropped by the Strand Company building in Brunhild, and Olba happened to be there. We decided to have a small tea break in the back room. 
The head office of the Strand Company was located in Berge, Mismede’s capital city. 
Olba himself didn’t conduct operations out of Mismede, though, and most of their trade was primarily conducted via ships. 
The Great Gau River connected Belfast, Regulus, Ramissh, Roadmare, Ryle, Felsen, and Lestia... So the ships he sent out would proceed down that route, which he called Route A. Lihnea, Refreese, Palouf, and Elfrau weren’t connected along the river, so there was a separate sea-based Route B for trade with those nations. 
The sea-based trade route had currently been falling victim to pirates. They’d already lost several ships. That was a major cause for concern. 
“We assume their hideout is on one of the islands along Refreese’s coast, but they’ve been pretty good at eluding us so far.” 
“Can’t Refreese do anything about it?” 
“Their naval forces have been keeping a keen eye, but... Well, it’s not like they can escort our ships all the way.” I took out my smartphone and pulled up the map of the sea from Refreese to Lihnea. 
“Search. Pirate hideout.” 
“Searching... Search complete. Displaying.” A few pings ran out as the pin markers landed on several small islands. There were six results in total. I wondered if that meant there were six hideouts that belonged to one band or six separate pirate crews. 
“Oh my...” 
“Yep, here’s the hideouts. I don’t think they’d have bothered installing any barriers, so this is probably the lot.” I used my camera to screenshot the map, then made a call to the emperor of Refreese. 
“Ah, ‘sup. Is this the emperor? Yeah, calling about the pirates. Yep... Yep... Gotcha. Oh, sure. I’ve discovered their hideouts, so I’ll send you a photo of the map, alright? No, really... Don’t worry about it. Oh, really? Well, maybe later then... Alright, thanks. Glad I could help!” 
And that was that. 
“Refreese’s navy is headed to the hideouts right away. That should help, right?” 
“Ah, I... Good grief... You just snapped your fingers and solved such a plague on my company... You’re really something else, young man...” Olba let out a heavy sigh as he sipped his drink. I was getting used to this kind of thing, so I just ignored it and sipped my own. 
“By the way, Olba, I have a proposition for you.” 
“Hmm? Your ideas are always welcome, Grand Duke... What’s on your mind?” I picked up my smartphone and played a video of the Dverg that Rosetta and the others had repaired the other day. 
Rosetta was piloting it as it slowly walked toward a large boulder and picked it up. 
“Hm...? Is this a Frame Gear? No, it’s smaller...” 
“This is a magic construction vehicle created by the Dwarves. It’s called a Dverg. It’s inferior to the Frame Gears, but more than capable of manual labor. It’s still in the testing phase but I wanted to know if you’d be willing to invest.” 
“Invest...? You wish for me to provide development funds?” 
“That’s right. In exchange, the Strand Company will have exclusive rights to the machine and its sales. Not a bad deal, is it?” The Dwarves seemed fine with those terms. They said they didn’t care too much about profiting, they just wanted to show the world the marvels of Dwarven engineering. 
They probably didn’t even give any thought to the problems that a national monopoly of that kind of tech could cause. 
They only had one condition, which was that Olba would sell the machines to any country, all at the same price. 
The raw material cost to construct one was definitely high, so it’s not as if any one nation would be able to amass too many. Not to mention the fact that I was the only one with access to the Workshop, so mass-producing them would be impossible anywhere else. 
If the Dverg ended up becoming a globally-known product, it was possible that other Dwarves around the world could try to produce more on their own, so we needed a proper stake in the market. 
“Hmm... I could certainly see this being profitable if my people had a monopoly on it...” Olba leaned forward and muttered to himself as he watched the video play. 
“...Very well, then. I’m certainly interested, I just have concerns about the investment cost...” 
“If you want to talk it over with the inventors, you can. They’re staying at the Silver Moon right now. They know about you, so you’d just have to introduce yourself.” Olba seemed a little surprised they were so close, but he quickly straightened himself up and smiled. 
“My, my... You’ve already arranged so much. Did you not consider that I might have said no?” 
“Not in the least. A shrewd guy like you, Olba? You’d always be on the ball with this kind of potential profit.” 
“Hoho, I see. Well, you were quite right.” Olba grinned a little as his eyes narrowed on me. All I wanted to do was mediate between him and the dwarves, now all they had to do was iron out the rest. There was nothing in it for me, but I had a feeling that the Dverg would end up becoming a useful excavation and construction tool for those who couldn’t use Earth magic. In that regard, it would end up bettering the world. 
Olba said he’d visit the Dwarves the following morning, so I said goodbye and left the building. 
I opened up a [Gate] and headed up to the Babylon Garden. Doc Babylon and Rosetta were there tuning up the Dimensional Disruptor. 
There were new parts installed around the gate’s arch. 
“Did you finish the adjustments?” 
“Basically, yeah. We can trigger it with a lot less magic than before, and we’ve removed the weight limitations. If I had a little more free time, I’d make further adjustments, but this’ll do for now,” Doctor Babylon said as she shrugged her shoulders and stashed her gear into the toolbox. 
I touched the disruptor to test out her claims, and the meter filled up with far less effort than before. The new parts began to whir and spin. 
“Did you finish making the mana tank for the other side, too?” 
“That I did, yes. But that’s no big deal. Both Dimensional Disruptors are connected by Space-time magic, so improvements to one will be applied to the other.” Wonder if we should go to the other side, then... I did promise everyone they could come. 
I needed to cast [Translation] on everyone first, though. 
That spell was useful because I could use it to teach others languages that I’d absorbed. 
I wasn’t able to communicate with dragons using it, though. Apparently, they communicated with some kind of unique telepathy. 
To be honest, though, I didn’t really want to learn the languages of monsters and animals. I definitely didn’t want to hear the opinions of chickens, cows, and other livestock. 
Either way, there was no point fretting. I had a trip to arrange. 
I went to the Research Lab to pick up the new mana tank and reactivate the three etoiles. I’d noticed that the three of them were wearing petite maid uniforms, Tica had likely been responsible for it... But it did suit them, so it was okay. 
Once I got back to the Garden with the three etoiles, everyone was already gathered and ready. 
Even Sue had come, all the way from Belfast. With the professor included, I wondered if all ten of us plus Paula and the etoiles would be alright over there. 
I sent word to Kousaka and told him not to worry about our absence. Ideally, I’d want to be back in Brunhild by the evening, but there was no way of guaranteeing that due to the time dilation. 
According to Doctor Babylon, her tune-up on the Dimensional Disruptor reduced the amount of time it took to traverse worlds, but we wouldn’t know by how much until we went and gave it a go. 
I channeled my magic through the tank, and the Dimensional Disruptor opened up a portal. 
“Well then... Let’s go... Could you maybe let go of my coat, though?” Everyone there was holding on to me tightly, except for Doctor Babylon. I could understand their unease. 
“T-Touya-dono... I am simply afraid that we might be separated, I am...” 
“H-Holding on to you is fine, right?” Elze and Linze were clinging to my right arm, while Lu tightly clasped my right hand. Hilde and Yae were on the opposite side, seizing my left arm as Yumina grabbed my left hand. Leen and Sakura were clinging to my waist on either side, and Sue had clambered up to my back... Paula was sitting on my head. I felt like a heavily-armored knight. 
Still, I only had to bear with it while we passed through, so it would be fine. 
We passed through the Dimensional Disruptor, slowly but surely. The sensation of walking through a rubbery material was there again, but it was easier to move through. It was probably because of Babylon’s improvements. We made it through and came out into the garden on Drakliff Island. I looked around and found myself rather surprised at what I saw. 
There was a beautiful stone pathway leading from the portal and beautiful flowers in bloom all around us. The garden had been decorated since I last left, and it was clearly well-attended and gorgeous. 
“Wow, this is so pretty!” Sue jumped down from my back and ran to the flowerbed. Yumina and Lu followed suit as Paula clambered from the top of my head. 
Hm... Everyone seems fine, then... Guess the Dimensional Disruptor works well. 
“Yae, there are so many dragons...” 
“You are correct, Hilde-dono...” Yae and Hilde stood at the edge of the cliff and watched a group of wyverns fly by. 
Well, this is a dragon island, so what do you expect? But... Who did that with my garden? Oh wait, could this be that silver dragon’s work...? “Greetings, everyone. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” As if appearing to answer my question, Shirogane suddenly came to greet us. 
He was wearing a formal black butler suit with white gloves, and his long silver hair was tied with string. What the hell, man! You look really hot! Shirogane bowed his head to me. His posture was definitely on point. I grumbled quietly about how jealous I was of his good looks before introducing him to everyone. 
“Everyone, this is Shirogane. He’s in charge of this house while I’m away. He might look like a beastman, but he’s actually a Silver Dragon that can take human form.” 
“My name is Shirogane, indeed. It’s a pleasure.” Everyone stared at him with a look of confusion on their faces. Then I realized what I’d done. I’d forgotten to cast the linguistic magic on them, so they couldn’t understand a word he was saying. 
“[Translation].” I cast the spell and everyone was suddenly able to understand him without any issues. 
I then introduced all the girls as my fiancees, except for Doctor Babylon. She kept insisting that she was my mistress, but I refused to let that slide. 
“So, what’s up with the garden?” 
“Ah, yes! I was told I could do as I wished, so I did some decorating.” 
So it was you, you sure are a dragon of many talents... I’m pretty surprised you have such a green thumb... But I guess Silver Dragons are just weirdos. 
“Now then, please come inside. Right this way sir, and madams.” 
They’re not married to me yet... But they certainly seem happy with his manner of address... Guess we’ve got ourselves quite the butler. 
The interior was gaudier than it was when I’d left it. There was a Leylight stone chandelier, a magnificent carpet, a cupboard, potted plants, paintings, fully functional blackout curtains, and even several comfy beds. Everything had been arranged perfectly. 
“You sure had fun, huh...” 
“I’d never had the chance to shop in a human town before, so... Well, I went a little wild, but I thought your home would be best fitted with fine furnishings.” He certainly wasn’t wrong about the fine part, since everything looked amazing. I had nothing to complain about, at least. 
“Touya, there’s even a library!” Linze had discovered a book-filled room, which certainly got her excited. Leen picked up a book and began flipping through it with curious eyes... Doctor Babylon followed suit. 
“You bought books, too?” 
“Of course. I haven’t had contact with humanity in over two-hundred years, so I purchased enough to really get myself up to speed.” That made sense. There were a lot of different genres, too. He’d picked up history books, technical manuals, war stories, and even academic textbooks. I even saw a couple of cookbooks... Which made me wonder if dragons even needed to cook. I left the library and headed to the living room. There was a big comfy couch and a table with a beautiful flower vase on top. There was a nice-looking clock on the wall, too. Not to mention the very fancy and expensive-looking chest of drawers up against the wall. 
I sat down on the couch and practically sank into it, it was really nice. 
“Please, do relax. I’ll bring tea.” Shirogane bowed and left the room. 
“He’s a pretty good butler, huh? But I dunno if he’s as good as mine!” Sue grinned slightly as she sat herself down next to me. He wasn’t as talented at butlering as Leim, that much was sure... Laim would give him a run for his money, too. 
“So, what are we going to do? We wanted to leave by the evening, right?” 
“That’s right. I was wondering if you might take us to a capital city.” Lu sat down next to me as she answered my question. 
Capitals, huh...? Well, there’s Allen... Or there’s Goldose... I guess I haven’t actually been anywhere except those places. 
If we wanted to have a fun day out, then Goldose was the place to go, but I felt uneasy about that place since the attack on the black market. That’s why I decided that Allen was the best place for us to go. 
I didn’t want to run into Nia or the Red Cats... So I hoped that they’d stay in their forest hideout for at least today. 
I didn’t want my fiancees finding out that I’d peeked at her panties, after all. 
“Is there something on your mind, Touya-dono, is there?” 
“Ah, no... Nothing.” I smiled over at Yae, who was eyeing me suspiciously. 
Alright, we’ll head off to Allen. The only people I know there are Mr. Sancho and the Red Cats, so I guess just strolling around the place should be decent fun. 
We drank the tea that Shirogane brought in (it was great) as I explained my idea. Everyone except Doctor Babylon said they’d tag along. She wanted to make some final tweaks to the Dimensional Disruptor Mk. II and install the mana tank. 
I also asked Shirogane to take care of the three Gollems. I didn’t really expect him to teach them anything weird, so I figured it would be fine. 
They only followed orders given to them by their master, so I just ordered them to listen to Shirogane as well. 
“We’ll be heading out, then. We expect to be back by evening.” 
“Very well. Have a pleasant and safe trip!” 
“Pang.” The three etoiles mimicked Shirogane’s bowing motion. That’s when I was certain that leaving them with him was probably a good idea. 
I opened up a [Gate] to the capital city, Allen. 
We came out into the main street and saw people and their Gollems walking by. 
There was a man riding a Gollem that resembled a small Dverg, as it hauled a cart behind it. Just as I watched them pass by, a massive, armored, two-and-a-half meter Gollem walked past us alongside a young knight. 
“Oh my... It really is another world...” 
“...Wow...” Hilde and Sakura murmured quietly as they watched all the different Gollems walk by. 
The others timidly followed after me as I walked. We must’ve looked pretty backwater. 
Paula’s tottering caught the attention of a few people, but they lost interest relatively quickly. People probably just thought she was another Gollem. Frankly, I was glad we weren’t standing out too much. 
“I guess we should go visit Mr. Sancho... I could do with some money, after all.” 
“Is he the merchant that helped you, Touya?” 
“That’s right. I’ll have him buy some gold and silver from me.” The money I’d made from the Red Cats had mostly been used to buy the three Gollems, after all. We still had enough to eat well, but I wanted some more money so everyone could buy themselves a nice souvenir. More money was always better than less, in the end. 
We arrived at Mr. Sancho’s store when I saw the man himself talking to a few merchants. Their faces looked a little dire. 
“Ahh, it’s you, Tohya! Did you need something?” 
“Good day to you, Mr. Sancho. I was looking to see if you’d buy, but... Is something wrong?” 
“Ah, well... We were just discussing the incident, you know? They say someone got away from Geore Village just in time...” 
“Hm? What incident?” I was confused, but Mr. Sancho just looked at me like he was surprised. 
“You don’t know? But everyone’s been talking about it! It’s even in the newspapers...” 
“Ah, sorry... I haven’t been here for a while.” 
There are newspapers in this world? Oh, the Red Cats did have a comms device, so maybe this world has decent information technology... The regular world only has communication artifacts and horses... 
Oh, I guess the other world does have bulletin boards for general news, though. 
“Ah, I see... If you weren’t around the city, then it makes sense you wouldn’t know! Look here.” 
Mr. Sancho showed me the paper. I looked at it with some surprise. It was stiff, and the paper quality wasn’t exactly very good. The printing looked neat, but the paper itself was about half the size of the newspapers back on Earth. 
I looked down at the main headline and instinctively caught my own breath. 
‘Golden Monster Sighted In Geore!’ There was an illustration beneath, a realistic likeness of the creature that had been spotted. At a glance, it kind of resembled a ladybug, but it was clearly well-rounded and had various limbs. There was no mistaking it, I’d seen this creature before. 
“...One of the mutant Phrase...” It was a golden monster alright. There was no mistaking it, this was a drawing of one of the metal devils. One of the wicked god’s dependents. 
The newspaper had the following to say about the incident: 
A golden monster appeared all of a sudden in Geore Village, not far from the Holy Capital. The monster attacked the villagers and began ripping them apart, one by one. 
A few survivors escaped, but only barely. The Knight Order responded to the summons and charged in with their Gollem Enforcers. 
What they found when they arrived at the village was the golden monster and several crystal skeletons shambling around the streets. The knights engaged the creature and met success against the skeletons, but even the Skills of the Gollems were ineffective against the golden creature, and so they had to go on the defensive. 
The prince of the Panaches Kingdom just happened to be passing by, and he used the power of his crown Gollem to destroy the golden creature. 
Then the monster completely dissolved into a liquid, leaving behind the mystery of just what it was. The Allent Theocracy was now developing countermeasures in case another decided to appear. 
“...Well, isn’t that just fine and dandy.” I had Mr. Sancho buy a few more ingots from me, said my goodbyes, and took the girls with me to a nearby cafe. 
“I understand how you must feel, but it’s bad manners to read while eating. Could you not, for now?” 
“Hm? Ah... Sorry...” Leen scolded me lightly because I was holding a sandwich in one hand and a newspaper in the other. Apparently, I’d been reading longer than I thought because everyone else was done eating. 
Yumina, having finished her food, took the newspaper from me. 
“Hm... It really is one of them, isn’t it?” 
“I’m pretty sure, yeah... And judging from what the paper says, it must’ve eaten its victims’ souls.” 
“But why wasn’t it a regular Phrase? Why did one of the mutants come to this world?” Lu tilted her head to the side. I had a general idea, though. 
“The Phrase exist to seek out their Sovereign, right? That’s why they came to our home. Because the Sovereign lives inside a living person in that world. That’s also why they’ve been killing people in our world. But the metal devils don’t play by those rules.” I remembered how they even attacked a Dominant Construct like Gila. Those creatures couldn’t even be called Phrase anymore. 
“Basically, it would be stupid to expect regular Phrase in this world. There’s no reason for them to come here, after all. But those mutated versions... Maybe they have an objective here.” That was the best kind of conclusion to make for the time being. They were probably obeying orders from the wicked god, the creature that had consumed that NEET god. 
That made sense, but there was still part of this whole thing that concerned me. 
The regular world, the one I’d come from, was freely invaded by the Phrase due to the damaged world barrier... But the Reverse World should have had a fully functioning barrier. The appearance of a metal devil meant that it was potentially no longer intact. 
Either way, they were here. At least one of them. They’d appeared in our world first, and now this one... I wondered if something had happened in the gap between worlds, but I had no way of telling. 

I was worried that Yula and the wicked god might have been planning something dangerous, but it wasn’t like I could do anything about it. 
Still... What are they playing at with covert actions across two worlds...? 
“Hm? Ah... What?” Crap, I ended up getting lost in thought again. I apologized to Yumina for worrying her, and quietly resigned myself to fate for the time being. 
I wolfed down the remains of my sandwich and washed it back with my now-cold tea. 
I was curious about this crown that had killed the metal devil. It wasn’t Nia’s Red Crown or Luna’s Purple Crown... The paper had mentioned some prince. 
I wondered what price the prince needed to pay in order to use his crown... Defeating a Phrase definitely required some incredible power, after all... 
He must have had to pay some kind of appropriate compensation. But I remembered what Nia had said, that aside from the Purple Crown, all crowns could be used without risk of death... 
But if the cost was something like making your feet permanently smell worse with each use, that would still be really bad. 
I looked on my map and found that the Panaches Kingdom was located around the area where Palouf and Lihnea were located in the regular world, on Palnea Island. The whole island seemed to be unified as one nation in the Reverse World. 
I then used my map to run a search for any Phrase or metal devils, but nothing came up. 
I felt crappy, but there was nothing to be done... I decided to change the mood a bit. “We came this far, so how about we do some shopping? We might even find something rare or unusual! We have money, so let’s give it a shot! I’ll hold the bags, too!” 
I didn’t want the girls feeling uneasy, so I shifted gears. Even though I said I’d hold the bags, I was actually just gonna toss them into [Storage]. 
“Oh, that’s right! I wanna buy souvenirs for my father and mother and the old man as well!” Sue grinned broadly, but I reminded her not to tell anyone where she got the gifts from. 
“Sounds good to me. Shall we go?” 
“I would like to find a new drinking cup, I would.” 
“And I’d like to visit a bookstore.” 
“I’d like to see what armors I could find in this world.” Everyone brought up what they were after, so I used my smartphone to find various stores of interest. Then we all set off. 
But I underestimated them... Or rather, I underestimated the terrifying power of the female shopper. 
The carrying part was fine, thanks to my [Storage] spell, but I was waiting around forever. They also kept asking my opinion... I didn’t want to be too blunt, so it was a lot of agonizing and me just telling them what they wanted to hear... It was a hellish experience, multiplied by nine... 
Plus this happened with every store we went into. They didn’t ask my opinion about everything, but it kept happening nonetheless. It was even worse in clothing stores. 
We went to shoe stores, hat stores, accessory stores, weapon stores, bookstores, grocery stores, furniture stores, general stores, musical stores, jewelry stores, makeup stores, bakeries... I ended up losing count of how many stores we hit. 
I finally found myself at a store that specialized in ladies’ undergarments. Naturally, I wasn’t going to go in with them, and they weren’t going to ask for my thoughts... So I was stuck waiting outside. 
I didn’t want people mistaking me for some kind of pervert, so I moved away from the storefront and stood on a street corner near a blacksmith’s. 
The blacksmith was hard at work repairing some armored plating on a Gollem, which led me to assume that kind of thing was standard in this world. 
The Gollem’s upper body was that of a minotaur, but its lower body had tracks like a tank. I’d have probably called it a Minotank. It was tough and rugged, which meant it was probably built for power. It also had a weapon on its person, a massive double-edged ax. 
The blacksmith gave me permission to watch him work, so I decided to spend time watching him do his job. 
“Do you get many Gollem repair jobs?” 
“Well, sonny. We ain’t exactly Gollem Engineers... I’d say the most we can do is fix the outer plating. The factory models are also pretty simple to tweak if their arms or legs get messed up. Oh, we make weapons an’ armor for them, too.” That’s pretty cool... I guess I didn’t think about how Gollems would interact with blacksmiths. 
I looked around and saw an object in the corner of the room. 
It looked like a vaguely familiar piece of equipment. It was about forty centimeters in diameter... It sure looked like a mana furnace to me. 
“What’s that...?” 
“Hm? Oh, the Magic Motor? It’s part of a Gollem Carriage that I recently dismantled. We didn’t need it, so I was thinking of selling it fer cheap. It’s old.” 
I used [Analyze] to confirm the information. It was pretty much identical to the one we used in the Dverg. Except it was a lot more compact and had a relatively smaller magical output due to the fact that it didn’t incorporate spellstones. I wondered if that meant we could make our own Gollem-like creations, we could probably use Spellstones and Ether Liquid to make up for the lack of a G-Cube. 
I tested the device, taking care not to break it like I did last time, and it whirred slightly. 
“Hey, can I buy this from you?” 
“Hm? Sure... If you like.” He was planning on selling it for cheap, so I got it at a decent price... Supposedly. It wasn’t like I knew the going prices or anything. 
It was possible that I could use this thing to make something like a motorized car. 
We had an armored car in the Babylon Hangar, but I didn’t really want to mass-produce something with such insane levels of speed and power. It could only be made in our Workshop, too. 
If I managed to get the magic motor mass produced, then other nations would be able to make them. It would probably only be powerful enough to make a one or two-seater vehicle, though. 
I left the blacksmith’s and looked across the street to see the girls walking toward me. 
“Please forgive us, Touya-dono. We left you waiting, we did.” 
“No, don’t worry... I managed to pick up something good, too.” I smiled toward Yae as I put the magic motor into [Storage]. I offered to put their bags in as well, but the girls said no. It was probably because it was underwear... They didn’t want me peeking. “Man, there was a hell of a line in there... Plus, Linze spent ages deciding whether to go for something more proper, or something more daring... But in the end, she just went for bo-” 
“S-Sis!! Please don’t blabber so needlessly!” Linze turned bright red as she clamped a hand over Elze’s mouth. 
“Elze-dono was also troubled in deciding, she was. In the end, it was a one-cup fits a—” 
“Auuuuugh!” Elze suddenly slammed her palm over Yae’s mouth. Those girls sure could be silly sometimes. 
I decided to keep quiet since I felt like I’d lose no matter what I said in this situation. I just need to become like a stone... Focus, Touya... Turn your mind to steel... 
“...Grand Duke, do you want to see...?” Sakura’s words pierced me through to the core as I tried to remain stoic. I was placed into checkmate. If I said no, they’d be upset. If I said yes, they’d be upset. I had no options! 
“Something wrong, Touya? Don’t you wanna see our underwear? I don’t mind. What about you, Lu?” 
“Wh-What?! D-D-Don’t drag me into this, Sue... Ah... N-Not that I wouldn’t show you, Touya... B-But... Uhm... W-Wouldn’t you rather see Hilde’s?!” 
“Huh?! Me?! Wh-Why me?! I bought striped ones, but... Ah... Wait! I didn’t s-say that!” Sue lit the fuse on a bomb and then passed it along to Lu and Hilde respectively. 
Her words were completely innocent, of course. But she definitely had no filter when it came to stuff she was unaware of. Her mother, Ellen, was blind for a long time... It made me wonder if her condition meant she hadn’t taught Sue about basic social cues. 
“Okay, okay. Enough already. This isn’t the kind of thing to discuss in the middle of the street. We’ll leave it here.” Leen clapped her hands together and ordered everyone to stop. I was glad that the eldest of them was taking charge, even if she looked around the same age as Yumina or Lu. 
The girls noticed that they were drawing attention and started walking down the street. I sighed and expressed my thanks to Leen. 
“They’re all a little shy, you know. You need to be a little more commanding, darling. After all, you’ll be able to see us in our underwear whenever you want soon enough.” 
“Gimme a break...” I groaned quietly as Leen took my arm and began to walk alongside me. 
“By the way, I chose a frilly black lace set... Would you like to see?” 
“...C’mon...” How would that kind of adult lingerie even look on someone with such a child-like body? Though I guess it doesn’t matter what Leen wears, she’s still Leen. I’m sure she’ll look amazing in any type of clothing she chooses. 
“Well? Want to?” 
“I’d be lying if I said no. It’s not like I’m not interested... I’m just hesitant to say so outright. If you want to force me to see, then I won’t stop you... I just don’t have the guts to outright say I want to see yet, that’s all.” 
“Goodness grief, darling... You’re quite the handful.” I was lying. My intentions weren’t even nearly that pure. I just didn’t think I’d be able to control myself if I saw someone I loved in clothes like that! Don’t tempt me, you wicked witch! You’re always such a tease, Leen! Auuugh! 
“Fufu... You’re always so fun to play with, Touya.” Leen grinned as she clung tighter to my arm. Sakura turned around and noticed this, before quickly running back and clinging to my other arm. 
“No fair... Don’t hog all of him...” 

Oh geez... This feels nice, but I’m still shy... Knock it off, Paula! Don’t make that kind of ‘ooh la la’ gesture! 
She was really full of life, despite her status as a stuffed toy... I was honestly curious about the sheer extent of the programming that had been put into her. 
We walked into a back alley and I opened a portal back to Drakliff Island. 
“Welcome back.” 
“Oh, you’re finally done.” Shirogane bowed his head to us. The Professor lazily waved, lying back on the couch as she looked up from her book. 
“I call it the Ether Vehicle, it’s basically a magical automobile.” 
“It looks like a carriage...” I was in a small plaza to the north of Brunhild Castle, showing my new invention to the other world leaders. I didn’t exactly invent it, but that was just a fine detail. 
It had four thin wheels and an open roof, two leather seats and two headlights on the front. 
It was outfitted with a steering wheel and a basic horn, as well as accelerators and brake pedals. There was also a sunroof installed that could be manually pulled back. 
Specifically, I’d based the Ether Vehicle on a car model from Earth. The Fiat 4 HP. It was a four-wheeled gasoline-powered car produced by the Italian car company, Fiat, way back in 1899. 
I brought the magic motor back from the Reverse World, then tasked Rosetta, a group of craftsmen, and the town’s blacksmiths with building the car from scratch. 
That meant that the body of the car didn’t use technology from Babylon, nor the ancient civilization. Which in turn meant that any country with enough money and skill could produce one. They would have to buy the Ether Liquid fuel from Brunhild, though... But that would be fine. The Frame Gears didn’t run on it anymore, after all. 
The back of the car had a 500ml plastic bottle of Ether Liquid installed. It just looked like melon soda, chilling in the back. 
I hopped into the front and fired up the car. The steering wheel started draining some of the magic reserves. It was pretty responsive due to my magical affinity. 
After that I hit the accelerator, causing the vehicle to start slowly moving around. 
“It’s moving!” The motor was operated by magic power that was amplified not only by Ether Liquid, but also spellstones installed into the car. That meant that it ran quietly and didn’t exhaust the driver. That being said, if someone drove for a full day it would probably wear them out. 
Plus, it was good for the environment because there were no gas emissions. There was an exhaust that shot out a steady stream of glittering steam, but that was just waste residue from magic and Ether Liquid and was completely safe. 
It could go a little faster than a horse-drawn carriage, but if the horses were galloping then it would probably lose. I had a feeling that future model developments would improve speed and efficiency, though. 
I turned the wheel and made an effective U-Turn, and once I was back in front of the other world leaders, I hit the brakes. 
“Hmm... It seems to go about the same speed as a carriage, with less of the stress. You won’t need to feed or maintain horses, after all...” 
“You’ll still need to maintain the vehicle itself. Anyone can drive it with enough practice, though. Just uh... Try not to let children drive it, that would be dangerous.” I planned on incorporating a lock system that analyzed fingerprints. I didn’t want to hear about some five-year-old kid going for a joyride, after all. 
“It’s certainly less flashy than a Frame Gear, but a lot more convenient as transportation.” The King of Lihnea nodded slowly. I felt comparing it to the Frame Gear was unfair, but I figured after they’d been introduced to giant robots, something like a car would seem a little plain. 
“Touya, my boy. May I take it for a spin?” 
“Go ahead. I’m hoping to introduce these worldwide, so it’d be good if you all got a feel for it.” I nodded to the beastking and pulled out four more Ether Vehicles from [Storage]. 
The king of Belfast and the emperor of Regulus got into the one I’d been riding, the beastking and the overlord got into another, the king of Lihnea and the knight king of Lestia got into the third, the pope of Ramissh and the doge of Roadmare got into the fourth, and the king of Felsen and the young king of Palouf got into the last one. 
It was kind of funny seeing the tiny king of Palouf next to such an oversized man. 
The cars began to start up. We’d installed safety teleportation features much like the Frame Gears, so I wasn’t worried about crashing. 
They all slowly began to drive their cars as I looked on with the emperor of Refreese. 
“That reminds me, Touya... You really helped out with that pirate matter the other day. The merchants in my region are all thankful.” 
“Did you take them all out?” 
“We did. However... Of the ships that headed out to take care of the pirates, one went missing... We’re searching for it, but would it be within your power to locate it?” 
“I should be able to do that... Can you describe the ship at all?” I heard a brief description from the emperor and ran a search of the Refreese coastline on my map. There were no hits. That meant it had likely sunk... If it had fallen apart to debris and sank to the bottom of the ocean, then my spell wouldn’t be able to pick it up. 
“Hmph... I suppose it must have been destroyed by a beast of the sea... Forgive me, Grand Duke, for wasting your time... I shall call off the search.” Sea monsters that were capable of sinking ships were usually limited to Krakens and Sea Serpents. 
Adventurers were generally fine with taking out monsters on the land, but the world didn’t have much it could do against sea-dwelling nasties. 
The ship was called The McClane, which made me slightly amused. But it wasn’t like the bald-headed emperor next to me would know anything about famous Hollywood movies... It was just a coincidence. 
But still, for the ship to bear the name of the world’s unluckiest detective... It was a bad omen from the start. If only it had as much will to survive as John McClane had in his movies. 
The world leaders were all so pleased with the Ether Vehicles that they asked to buy several each. I was satisfied with how things had gone. 
The Ether Liquid that came with the cars would last over half a year, but I gave them all an extra bottle as a bonus. I also threw in some spare tires and off-road wheels. Mismede and Xenoahs had rougher areas, after all. 
I also informed them that the cars could be reverse-engineered. If they dismantled them they’d be able to make their own changes. I didn’t plan on directly profiting, so I just wanted to see what each country could make of the vehicles in the coming years. 
The money earned from the Ether Liquid would be enough, anyway. To be honest, it was possible for the other nations to produce it themselves after enough research, so I was waiting to see if they’d manage it. 
“I think we might need to pave the roads a bit more if these vehicles become more commonplace, though...” 
“Actually, the Dwarves have recently created a magical construction vehicle that might make that easier. It should allow you to terraform without the use of Earth magic.” The development was proceeding as scheduled, and would soon be available on the market. That was all up to Olba, though. He was the one deciding the points of sale and the price. I wasn’t really profiting from that, either. 
The others continued to ride their cars for a while. It was obvious they were having fun, even if they were trying to pretend it was all formal testing. They even started a little race. 
For what it was worth, the young king of Palouf was faster than all the others. It wasn’t a matter of skill, though. He was just the lightest. 
The next day I made sure to deliver the Ether Vehicles to each nation. They were only allowed to order a maximum of five each. I collected the payment and then took it to Kousaka. 
I was looking down at the castle courtyard from my balcony. Lapis and the maids were practicing how to drive the cars. 
We’d built a simple race course in the courtyard. It was simple, kind of like the tutorial level in a racing game. 
The head maid sure got excited as she hopped into the car, but it didn’t really need as much finesse as a bicycle so I was sure she’d be fine. 
The controls were simplistic, really. Much like a go-kart. Even a kid could do it, honestly. I probably should’ve made the controls a little more complex, but it wasn’t like we had driving schools or anything. 
Lapis started up the car and started to drive slowly. She made a single lap around the course and gradually got used to it. She was driving safely, for the most part. She’d probably be able to take the car out to town, it’d help with shopping runs... Then again, the head maid wasn’t really tasked with going out and shopping. 
I continued to watch them practice in the courtyard when my smartphone began to ring. The display said it was the overlord of Xenoahs. I wondered if there was an issue with the cars I’d delivered. 
“Hey, ‘sup?” 
“Ah, Grand Duke?” 
“Something up? If you’re calling to ask about Sakura, I don’t really have time.” 
“Hold on a moment! She’s my daughter, and I... Wait, this isn’t the time for that...” 
“So, what’s wrong?” 
“That information you gave us some time ago! The mutant variation of the Phrase... Those metal devils? One appeared in my country!” 
A mutant in Xenoahs?! 
“It was in a town called Radom. The town was known for being a hive of scum and villainy, crime there happened often... It’s the kind of place where negative emotions gather, so it fits the bill for their target.” 
“What happened to the citizens?” 
“All dead. Turned into crystallized zombies. There was only one of the monsters, thankfully. I dispatched the Ogre Squad and they managed to kill it, but not without suffering losses.” 
Ogre Squad, huh...? I guess one Ogre has the strength of ten men, so it makes sense they’d be able to take it out. Still, it couldn’t have been easy... 
The fact that crystal skeletons appeared meant that souls had been consumed. The wicked god appeared in Sandora and Lestia to strengthen itself by eating souls... So I was worried that it was another case of that happening. First the Reverse World incident, now this... Clearly, the wicked god was up to something. 
It could probably happen again, too. The sensors that the guilds were equipped with could only pick up regular Phrase signals. If we captured a metal devil alive and researched it, we could probably make a separate scanner. 
“The dead mutant melted into goop, as we were informed... The skeletons all collapsed once their cores were shattered, too. We collected the pieces, just in case. Are they made of that, er... Phrasium material?” 
“On a base level, yeah. They’ll harden if you pour magic into the fragments, and they’re purer than spellstones. You can’t put the fragments together, though, so they’ll be largely useless in such small chunks.” 
“They’re valuable, at the very least... But we are hesitant to make use of them, given that they’re the remains of the victims... They won’t be able to rest in peace, either.” 
The overlord knew that those who had their souls devoured couldn’t reach salvation. They weren’t allowed to pass on to the other side, being effectively obliterated and removed from the cycle of reincarnation. It was a pretty horrific fate. 
Maybe the wicked god is collecting the soul energy and using it to create the metal devils... I’m honestly getting a little scared of the power it’s gradually building... 
Either way, Xenoahs had taken care of it, so they were free to do what they wanted with the Phrasium. They would probably trade it for money and pay it out to the families or relatives of the deceased. Alternatively, they could improve their own weapons or armor. Even small fragments could be made into something similar to scale mail. 
I ended the call with the overlord. The conversation made me wonder if I needed to start gathering allies in the Reverse World in case any incidents like this happened again. 
I sighed and shook my head... 
Looking down at the courtyard, I noticed Lapis driving a car at insane speeds toward a corner. 
Whoa, holy shit! You’re going too fast! You’re gonna... What the?! Lapis was somehow making the car glide on its side, causing the vehicle to lean as it cleanly changed its direction without compromising any speed. 
She’s drifting... Or, wait... She’s hanging off? Holy crap! That’s crazy...! 
I stood, dumbfounded, by how insane her technique was. Frankly, I was getting worried about the tires... She was definitely damaging them. 
I started wondering if we could do some kind of street-based grand prix like the Circuit de Monaco. 
Either way, the maids of Brunhild were clearly a force to be reckoned with. 

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