171. The Beast Lord
「Are you aware of the fact that a large number of nobles have been visiting the city as of late?」
We kinda just saw them on our way over, so yeah.
「One of the visitors I just mentioned happens to have a special sort of status.」
「Well, let’s just say said person happens to be the Beast Lord.」
「Really!? Wow, we’ve got some big names here this year.」
Erza’s expression changed into one of honest surprise. It seemed that the Beast Lord was apparently someone famous.
「Oh my. I guess that means you must not know much about the Beast Lord.」
「Only heard name before.」
「Well, you’re a beastkin yourself, so I think it you should learn a bit more about it. Mhmm.」
The Beast Lord was apparently a self-evident name; it was the title granted to the person that ruled over the Beastkin’s Country. The Beast Lord stood above all tribes and was respected by all beastkin regardless of whether or not they were the lord’s countrymen. Its influence was so great that it held notable power within every single nation.
The Beastkin’s Country itself was located on another one of the world’s continents, but considered the Kingdom of Kranzel friendly regardless. The lord has been known to visit Ulmutt in order to watch it’s famed Martial Arts Tournament once every few years as a show of goodwill.
「And this year just happens to be one of those years.」
「Well, you sure make it sound like you don’t like the Beast Lord’s visits.」
「That’d be because I already have enough on my plate. This year’ll be especially busy with Fran here.」
What’s that supposed to mean? We’d never met anyone like the Beast Lord before, so why’s this sound like it’s supposed to be some sort of big deal that relates to us?
「You see, it was said that the Blue Cat Tribe was the first to sell the Black Cat Tribe into slavery, but some say that their actions had actually been ones ordered by the Beast Lord. Typically speaking, the Beast Lord is chosen from amongst the Red Cat Tribe, or more specifically, their evolved members, the Golden Lionkin. The Blue Cat Tribe is known for taking action as under the Beast Lord’s orders..」
「Wow, really? I never knew.」
「That’d be because it’s been considered a part of one of history’s darker canals. Not even the citizens of the Beastkin’s Country actively seek discussion about the topic.」
It seemed that Fran hadn’t know much about what was said either, as she was listening to Dias with an earnest look on her face.
「I don’t really think I need to say this because it’s rather obvious, but it’s been a long time since the Black Catkin were first sold into slavery, and the Beast Lord that ruled back then has long died. Though, they do say that the Blue Cat Tribe still does function as one of the Beast Lord’s agents.」
Which means that it’s possible that the Black Cat Tribe had been enslaved because the Beast Lord had willed it.
You know, thinking about it, that does actually seem quite possible. That kinda stuff happened back in my world too. History was stained with acts in which people targeted others and forced them into poor social circumstances, like slavery, in order to use them as scapegoats and appease the masses.
Selling off the Black Cat Tribe’s members not only created said scapegoat and abated the common folk’s dissatisfaction, but also also allowed the country to gain access to foreign currencies.
The Black Cat Tribe’s members basically filled the role perfectly too, seeing as how they were both weak and unable to evolve.
「The current Beast Lord is especially unpopular. They pried the role from their predecessor in what may as well have been a coup d’etat.」
「Oh, I heard about that too. They say the newest Beast Lord is a parricidal thief.」
「I can’t imagine a person like that having any good impressions on the Black Cat Tribe. In fact, it’ll more likely than not be the opposite.」
That… was some pretty important but bad news. It meant we had to be on guard around basically all other beastkin.
『You think the Beast Lord might’ve been in the carriage we saw just a bit ago?』
I recalled the carriage and the ridiculously powerful guards that protected it. Yeah, that kinda looked like it was probably the Beast Lord’s carriage. The Beast Lord being some sort of Lionkin explained the lion that decorated the carriage’s top. Ugh, what a pain. The Beast Lord was a foe we wouldn’t be able to overcome, be it through political power or brute force. It was also supposedly an evolved beastkin, so I didn’t really think we’d be able to win in a fight if it came down to it. That said, it wasn’t like we already knew for a fact that the Beast Lord would actually antagonize us.
『Just… no. You’re being way too over the top as far as the violence goes. The Beast Lord might not end up antagonizing us at all.』
Aw crap. It looked like Fran’d already been convinced that the Beast Lord was basically Hitler. I figured it would best for me be on my toes if we ever happened to run into it. I was pretty sure Fran wouldn’t like just suddenly attempt murder, but you know, just in case, right?
「The Beast Lord may end up taking an interest in you if they happen to catch wind of you, and let’s just say I can’t imagine anything good coming out of that.」
「So you want her to stay in the dungeon so she can avoid meeting the Beast Lord?」
「Exactly. We can also protect her by giving her designated requests if she manages to hit C rank before the tournament starts.」
I’d never heard of them, so we ended up having Erza explain the fact that they were basically requests the guild would offer to specific adventurers.
Designated requests tended to be of high importance and taking on one went hand in hand with receiving every last bit of support the guild was capable of providing. Hence, messing with an adventurer working on a designated request was more or less equivalent with messing with the guild itself. That, by extension, meant that Fran would effectively remain under the guild’s protection so long as she was on a designated request.
There kinda wasn’t anyone brave enough to pick a fight with guild, seeing as it not only spanned what was basically the entire world, but also helped maintain the populace’s everyday lives. The sheer amount of influence the guild held would then make it possible for it to function like a shield that’d stop Fran from being put under the influence of the Beast King’s authority.
「I don’t really think you can just kinda give out designated requests all willy nilly though, can you?」
「I’ve already got that covered. All I have to do is give her a designated request associated with the dungeon. I’m basically the only person the Dungeon Master is willing to negotiate with, so I can just say she’s helping me look for something the Dungeon Master wants.」
「Ohhh~ So that’s why you want to get her promoted. Mhmm, I get it now. It’s because designated requests can only be given to adventurers that are at least C ranked.」
Huh, I guess that means he really was just doing everything he was doing for Fran’s sake this whole time. I had to say, it really was hard for us to believe him because of how shady he was. In fact, I probably still wouldn’t believe him if I hadn’t the Principality of Falsehood.
「Why didn’t you just tell her everything from the start?」
「I was worried she’d take an interest in the Beast Lord if she learned the truth.」
Well uh, can’t say he’s wrong, seeing as she kinda did exactly that.
「And that, Fran, is why I’m asking you to raise your rank as soon as possible.」
「Nn. Got it.」
「Try your best to get it done before the Martial Arts Tournament. As I said earlier, I’ll get you a recommendation, so you at least won’t have to worry about that.」
「Don’t need recommendation.」
「Really? Why’s that? It’ll get you seeded so you can skip the prelims, you know?」
「Want to participate in prelims.」
「But Fran, the prelims are completely random. You might end up having to fight someone really strong.」
To Fran, the Martial Arts Tournament was effectively an event in which she’d have a chance to fight a bunch of people.
「T-That’s fine. I can make it so you get registered like any other person and can take part in the prelims.」
「You sure do like fighting, Fran. Ermagawd, that part of you is just so adorable~」
It seemed like Dias was willing to comply with our request as he deemed it dangerous for Fran to meet the Beast Lord. He was all for having us hole ourselves up in the dungeon so we could rank ourselves up while also avoiding the worst possible scenario. I got that and all, but I still couldn’t help but feel that he was acting suspiciously.
「Why going so far?」
Fran’s question hit the nail on the head and got to the exact thing that resulted in me feeling all suspicious. I understood that Dias, as Guildmaster, was obligated to protect the adventurers that worked under him. Still, I failed to see why he would go this far for us.
「I’ve got my reasons. For now, let’s just say it’s to fulfill a promise I happened to make with a certain someone.」
Oh. I get it now. It must’ve been because of that contract Rumina asked him to fulfill. Its contents probably touched on having Dias do his best to help any Black Catkin he happened across. This was further evidenced by his lack of ability to name her seeing as how Erza was still present.
「Do thank her next time you two meet.」
「Nn. Got it.」
「What’s this? You two have got some sort of secret going? I’m soooo jealous.」
Well, we kinda are heading back to the dungeon anyways, so we might as well do that while we’re at it. She really has made life a lot more convenient for us, after all.