Majo no Tabitabi – Volume 2 Chapter 8

Chapter 8 – The Country of Honesty


“…The Country of Honesty?”

I was standing in front of the gate of a small country that stood on a coast, and felt confused after hearing what the gate guard had said to me.

“That’s right! Our country is called 『The Country of Honesty』. As the name implies, there are no liars in this country! It’s a crappy country!”

“…Haa.”

“The moment a person passes through the gates and enters the country, they will become unable to tell lies, even if they are a witch.”

I felt a little curious after hearing what the guard said. That was my mistake.

“How exactly does that happen?”

“The sword that belongs to the King of our country has a mysterious power, and apparently that power was used to create a barrier over the entire country which prevents people from telling lies. I know, it sounds incredibly suspicious, but that’s how it works, apparently.”

“……”

“Well then, Witch-sama, what do you want to do? Do you want to enter our country?”

After hearing what he had to say, I responded.

I applied for a stay of three days and two nights, and went through the gate. The early summer breeze that was blowing inside carried a faint hint of salt.

The appearance of the city along the coast was excessively colorful, and the houses that lined the alleyways were painted in blue, red, yellow, green, purple, and many other colors. At any rate, the place was dyed with many vivid colors. There is no sense of unity in the appearance at all. However, the mixture of colors gave off a good feeling overall.

This country gives off a good feeling.

“Witch-san! Please buy some of our bread! It’s not particularly tasty, and it’s gotten all hard because it’s quite old. The stuff I have here at the counter is actually leftovers from the day before yesterday, but I’m still selling it at the regular price! Come buy some!”

“…No, who would actually buy garbage like that?”

A voice saying unbelievable things was directed at me from a street vendor I happened to pass by, and I unintentionally retorted.

For some reason, my sharp comments are about twice as harsh compared to usual. Is this because I can’t lie?

“What are you talking about? They’ve been lying here for a long time, so of course the taste and quality are going to drop. They are still edible, though! Buy some!”

“……”

Not being able to lie should be considered sinful.

I had a bad premonition after that incident with the old lady who was manning the roadside stall right after I entered the country, and I was right. The people of this country often mess with other people in quite a similar way.

“Oh my, Witch-san, you’re so cute! It’s pissing me off! By the way, I developed a new perfume the other day, would you like to buy some? I’d rather not sell any to a cute little girl like you but I’m running a business here after all.”

“Hey, good afternoon. To be honest you’re not really my type, you look too childish, and your breasts are also quite lacking, it’s really horrible. I’m kinda starved for women right now, though, so would you like to grab a bite to eat— Ah, you don’t want to?”

Everyone was so honest that I wanted to just call them idiots to their faces.

the people who passed by me in the streets were all giving off a dangerous aura because everyone just kept talking about stuff that shouldn’t be said aloud.

“Hey, I see you’re still bald, as usual.”

“And you, as fat as ever, I see.”

“I’ve been thinking this for a while, but you have really bad breath.”

“…Hahaha.”

“…Hahaha.”

The aggressive nature of the people was barely being contained, and was showing through the cracks in their facade.

…What the heck was the king thinking when he decided to turn this country into such a place?

As I continued to walk through the city, the royal palace came into view.

“Half a year has passed since lies have disappeared from my country. What do you say, everyone? Isn’t it wonderful to live in a country where there is no deceit?”

At that moment, the young king of the country was in the middle of giving a speech that was receiving great applause.

He held a sword of exceedingly strange design in his hand. It was so strange that I might have blurted out, “Ah, you have bad taste,” if he were to ask me for an opinion.

The people who were gathered outside the palace were shouting, and holding placards which said stuff like:

“The King is the best!”

“Thank you for giving us a country without lies!”

“I got a girlfriend thanks to His Majesty!”

“Long live the King!”

Not a single one of them was saying anything coherent, I could only hear people shouting short phrases like “Wa wa” and “Kya kya.”

The king nodded after appearing pleased with the reactions of his subjects, and pointed his sword at the sky.

“Lies are evil! They are despicable! I swear by this sword, I will continue to keep this country pure and free from lies and deceit!”

“I will follow you forever!”

“Your Majesty, I love you!”

“So handsome! Take me!”

“Long live our King!”

The king’s voice grew even louder, as he appeared to be very pleased with the praise from his honest subjects.

“True trust is born from straightforward feelings and words that carry no deceit! Let us lead our country down the proper path by facing each other head on!”

………

I was watching the speech from afar with feelings that were difficult to put into words, when all of a sudden, someone tapped my shoulder. Looking around, I saw a witch who was wearing a brown-coloured robe and a tricorne.

That woman with messy, brown hair appeared to be in her early twenties.

“…Can I help you?”

After I said that,

『You’re the witch-sama dispatched by the Administrative Bureau of Magic, right?』

The woman silently held up a sketchbook with those words written on it with a proud expression on her face.

“………?”

I shook my head.

“No, I’m not.”

By the way, the Administrative Bureau of Magic is the organization that conducts exams that make you eligible to become a trainee witch, handles incidents caused by magic, and conducts research into developing new kinds of magic—putting it simply, it is a mysterious organization that is involved in all matter related to magic.

“By the way, people from the Administrative Bureau of Magic wear a moon-shaped brooch, you know?”

The only brooch I had was the one on my chest, which was star-shaped and was proof of my being a witch.

After taking the effort to explain this to her in great detail, the woman finally seemed to have realized her mistake—she blushed red out of embarrassment, and quickly started scribbling something with her pen while panicking.

And then,

『I’m sorry, I mistook you for someone else, please forget about what happened earlier!』

She once again held up the sketchbook towards me that had those words written on it, and ran away from me after bowing several times.

What did she want, anyways?

“…Hmm?”

Now that I think about it, what about writing on paper? Was the rule about being honest applicable to that as well?

That question floated to my mind as I considered the strange witch who refused to speak, and the crowd that had gathered around the royal palace.

From my experience, it should have been impossible to lie in this country even through writing. For example, a sweets shop that was selling a “new” type of sweets would have a sign saying “New sweets available!” but that would be followed by something like “They’re actually the same as the old ones, only the appearance has changed.” Other shops, whether they were candy shops, cafes, bookstores, or anything else—they all had signs which were equally horrible.

“New product, recommended by the shop owner! It’s delicious! Sorry, that’s a lie. It’s trash. It’s utter crap. You’ll die if you eat this.”

“A mystery novel by a new author! Even the author of that bestseller was shocked! (at how horrible it was)”

“This new product will ensure that you get a forty percent salary hike! It just feels that way.”

Et cetera, et cetera.

The signboards all had such slanderous words written on them, but none of them appeared to have been written there from the start. They all looked like they were added to the sign later on. In addition, every signboard and advertisement bore signs of trying to erase the text or had been dirtied on purpose, making them very hard to read.

After getting tired of the streets where people were leaking their true intentions in an easily understood manner, I walked towards an inn.

The inn had a sign that read “Extremely cheap lodging! It’s cheap, but very beautiful,” and some other text that couldn’t be seen because the signboard was too dirty.

It’s a country of honesty after all, so what’s written on the sign shouldn’t be a lie. Thinking that, I stepped inside.

“………”

However, the room that was prepared for me was anything but beautiful. It was trash. It was the worst room I’ve ever been in. I’d probably die if I stayed here.

Does this mean that the owner of this inn considers this to be beautiful…? Apparently, they didn’t have very good eyesight.

I shut myself in the room and pulled a memo pad and pen from by bag while feeling disappointed at this cruel reality.

“…What should I write about?”

I decided to test the current situation and see how it would prevent me from writing lies.

After holding my pen near my mouth and humming for a while, I decided to write about all the things I experienced today.

And so, I wrote it down. I fussed over my writing and forced myself to remember all the details, but I just kept moving my pen.

I see, the magic works in such a way that my hand automatically writes the truth even if I decide to lie. I thought about just making up some random lies, but after I finished writing and looked back at what I wrote, only the truth was written there.

For example, I can think that I want to lie and write “I am actually a man,” but I end up writing exactly the opposite on the paper. If I try to say it aloud, my voice naturally says the words “I am actually a woman,” and there is no sense of awkwardness at all.

What’s more, any changes I make to to what I have already written or said cannot be lies either. If I try to write or say “The previous statement was a lie,” I actually end up writing and saying “The previous statement is the truth.”

Even if I try to use a different sheet of paper, and experiment with different ways to word it, no matter how much I struggle, the magic was apparently setup in a way that would prevent me from using words to tell a lie.

“….Hmmm.”

This is a strange feeling.

After finding that I was a little addicted to that feeling, I amused myself by experimenting with my body that refused to obey my will until I was exhausted.

“…Huh?”

After continuing to write for a while, I noticed something strange.

I discovered the implicit understanding that the people of this country were keeping silent about after being forced into honesty.

I went for a walk inside the country the next day.

Walking around on the absurdly colorful streets, asking the vendors of the street stalls “Is this tasty? Was it freshly made?” and making them give me a truthful confession, I went around buying a lot of tasty and freshly made food while humming a little tune.

Seeing as it was a country on the coast, part of the city faced the sea. I could hear the gentle sound of waves lapping on the shore as I walked around while eating.

This is a nice feeling.

As I thought, this country has a great atmosphere.

“You asshole! I’ll fucking kill you! Freakin’ baldy with bad breath!”

“Shut up, fatass! Your body odor is just as bad!”

“Go die!”

“No, you go die!”

………

The nice atmosphere was destroyed in an instant.

Looking over in that direction—in the direction I was walking, I could see two men who were wrestling and hurling abuse at each other. One of them was a fat man who looked like he’d explode nicely if I pricked him with a needle, and the other was a bald man whose head was reflecting so much light, it was almost blinding. By the way, they are also apparently suffering from body odor and bad breath respectively.

……Actually, it’s the same people I saw yesterday.

“…Ha.”

The two of them were embroiled in a violent fight, and they didn’t care about the fact that they were attracting attention from other people in the surroundings. The people who stopped to watch them just stood around while staring, and nobody tried to stop the two men.

Well, the same holds true for me as well.

“Is it okay not to stop those two?”

I called out to a young man who was near me and asked him that. It’s obviously better to stop them but I didn’t want to do it myself, so I was trying to throw the responsibility to someone else.

However,

“Hmm? Witch-san, did you perhaps come here newly from someplace else?”

Seeing me nod, the man laughed.

“Quarrels like this happen all the time in our country. Watching people fight is a good way to relieve stress, though, so nobody tries to stop them.”

“……..”

“Our irritation just keeps building up because of that idiotic king, so this makes for a good diversion.”

That was certainly a strange thing to say.

There seemed to be a large, irreparable divide between the king—who said that true trust could only come from facing each other head on—and his subjects.

“That’s enough, stooooooooooop!”

That was when a voice loud enough to make me want to cover my ears reverberated throughout the street.

Looking over at the men who were fighting, I saw a young witch standing at their side, gripping a staff—she was using magic to forcefully stop their fists just before they hit each other.

She appeared to be a little younger than me, and had star-shaped and moon-shaped brooches pinned to her black robe. Her short, glossy black hair swayed as she glared at the two men who had been fighting.

“Stop fighting in the middle of the day for stupid reasons. Can’t you see how you’re troubling the other people around you?”

That girl had a familiar face, and she was wearing a tricorne.

“And you people as well, if you have the time to stand around watching, why not try and stop them? Why do I have to do something like this, when I’m not even from this country?”

It looked like the girl was quite angry.

“……..”

I had given my tricorne to a girl quite a long time ago, and that girl was standing right there.

“…What are you doing in a place like this, Saya-san?”

I walked out of the crowd and stood in front of her. The girl saw me as well, and,

“Eh…? Elaina-san…?”

Her eyes were wide open and her jaw dropped.

Her surprise was so great that she loosened her grip on her staff, and the magic that was stopping the two men from fighting disappeared as well.

Having been released from the constraining magic all of a sudden, the fists of both men crashed into each other’s faces at the same time, and they both fell over.

“Ah, I’m sorry.”

An extremely flimsy apology echoed throughout the street.

“I never imagined I’d meet you again in a place like this, Elaina-san. This must be fate. It must be fate, right? We should probably just go ahead and get married, right?”

We left the two unconscious men to the people in that area and the two of us talked while walking around the city.

“It really has been a long while. How are you?”

I decided to ignore her thoughtless remarks.

“I’m perfectly fine and full of energy, thanks to this hat. I safely managed to become a witch as well.”

Saya-san gently touched her tricorne. I’m glad that she seems to like it.

“What is your witch name?”

“It’s the Witch of Charcoal.”

“Oh…. It’s somewhat similar to mine….”

I am the Witch of Ashes. They’re almost identical.

“I begged my teacher for a name with kanji similar to ‘Ashes.’”[3]

Saying that, she proudly puffed out her chest. Due to that action, the two brooches pinned to her robe struck each other and made a noise like a metal chime.

One of them was star-shaped, and the other was moon-shaped.

“So you joined the Administrative Bureau of Magic?”

She nodded.

“Yes. I thought that this would be the quickest way to earn money while traveling.”

If you register yourself with the Administrative Bureau of Magic, you will be given a brooch shaped like the moon and will be qualified to accept requests from regional branches of the Bureau. It looked like she was able to obtain a fairly stable source of income by doing this.

Oh, I see. That means:

“So, you came to this country on a job?”

“That’s right. So I’d appreciate any information you can give me. I don’t really know much about this country.”

“You accepted the job even though you didn’t know much about the country?”

Is she an idiot?

“No, umm, I’m short of money right now because I did some expensive shopping…This particular job has a really high reward, so that’s why I accepted it and came here.”

“……”

I sighed at Saya-san’s carelessness and lack of planning.

“What were you planning to do if that promise of a reward was false?”

“But this is the Country of Honesty, right? They wouldn’t lie.”

“Apparently, that’s not really true.”

“What do you mean?”

“Saya-san, do you have a spare piece of paper?”

“Yes I do…”

“Here, give that to me.”

“……?”

With a confused look on her face, she pulled out a thick piece of paper from her pocket and held it out to me.

“Here you go.”

No matter how you look at it, the paper she gave me was the letter of request from this country.

“…It’s not okay to scribble all over something like this, you know?”

What’s more, the paper had sentences written on it in beautiful handwriting, it’s definitely not something that you would feel like scribbling on.

By the way, the contents of the job were as follows:

『To the Administrative Bureau of Magic. We have a request. Our country has currently been transformed into a place with no lies due to the power residing in our king’s sword. Not being able to lie is not necessarily a bad thing, but all of us citizens here are highly inconvenienced because of this. Would you please come to our country and fix this problem for us? We will provide the following reward in return for your service—』

Saya-san puffed out her cheeks as she watched me reading the request letter seriously.

“Certainly, this job has a high reward, but the request letter doesn’t have the name of the client, their address, or any other contact information. Thanks to that, I have to start with finding the client first. So that paper has no further information that I need. It might look like an important document, but I don’t need it anymore. Feel free to stew it, grill it, or eat it, I don’t really care.”

“Do you think I’m a goat or something?”

After giving a sigh to the pouting Saya-san, I once again looked at the paper in my hands.

I feel like I’ve seen this somewhere before. The thick paper looks like it was taken from a sketchbook, and the beautiful handwriting also looked familiar.

………

Oh, my.

“I think I know the person who wrote this request.”

“Ehh? Really?”

“Do you remember what country we are in right now?”

I said that while returning the thick paper to her.

We walked to the area near the royal palace.

Unlike yesterday, there wasn’t much of a crowd. People were just passing through the courtyard.

“………”

“………”

We discovered the witch-san who we were looking for right away.

『Has anyone seen the Witch-san dispatched by the Administrative Bureau of Magic? She should be wearing a moon-shaped brooch.』

She was wandering around, shoving a sketchbook with those words written on it in the face of everyone who was passing by. She’s behaving very suspiciously. She’s being very conspicuous.

“Hey! You’re here again!? You’ve been banished from the royal palace, so don’t keep wandering around here! You incompetent witch!”

『Hiii! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!』

What’s more, she was being pursued by a soldier.

“….Is it that strange person?”

“Yes, it is indeed that strange person.”

I nodded to Saya-san, who looked doubtful.

And so, we chased the witch-san who was running away.

“What a horrible experience….”

After running around for a while, the running witch curled up in a back alley while clutching her sketchbook. Her eyes were full of tears.

I stuck my head out of the alley to make sure that there were no soldiers in the vicinity, and then,

“Hello, how do you do? We met yesterday.”

Saying that, I stood in front of that witch.

She looked very surprised.

『The witch-san from yesterday! What’s wrong?』

“If I remember correctly, you were looking for a witch from the Administrative Bureau of Magic, right?”

『Y-Yes, that’s right……』

“Let me introduce you. This is my friend, Saya-san. Apparently, she’s the witch who has been dispatched by the Administrative Bureau of Magic.”

I said that with one of my hands resting on Saya-san’s shoulder, and pointing at her chest with the other hand.

“Ah, hello.”

Saya-san gave a very half-baked response.

The girl looked very surprised once again.

『That brooch! So you’re the witch dispatched by the Administrative Bureau of Magic!? I see… I am the Witch of Quicksand, Eihemia. I am the person who sent a written request to the Administrative Bureau of Magic.』

Saya-san pulled out a thick sheet of paper.

“Are you talking about this letter?”

After nodding several times, Eihemia-san flipped to a new page on the sketchbook and showed us the word 『YES』on the page, then flipped to a different page and wrote, 『I’m sorry. I was in such a hurry to send it that I forgot to add my name and a meeting place. Tee hee~』

She gave that as an explanation.

It looks like she had prepared some simple words in the sketchbook beforehand. More importantly,

“Umm, can you not speak?”

『YES』

“Why not?”

『The mouth is the source of all evil.』

“Would you mind answering seriously?”

『…There’s a good reason for this.』

So she wrote.

『That reason is also related to the present condition of this country. Would you mind listening to it, as part of the job?』

“Fumu.”

“Ah, please wait for a minute. I want to take notes.”

I nodded, and Saya-san pulled out some paper and a pen. She looked just like a new worker, extremely serious about her job.

After looking at both of us in turn, Eihemia-san started to write.

『Actually, the king’s sword was made by me.』

For some reason, she looked a little proud.

Eihemia-san, who used to work in the royal palace, received the following request from the king.

“Please get rid of all the liars in the country. I wish to only have truthful people as my subjects.”

When she asked for the reason, she found out that he had apparently been lied to and betrayed by a vassal, and he couldn’t stand it anymore. So he decided to get rid of all the liars.

Eihemia-san who deeply respected and one-sidedly loved the king immediately agreed to his request and set about making a plan to get rid of all the liars in the country.

And then, she had an epiphany.

“That’s right! I just need to make a barrier that prevents anyone inside from lying!”

However, making the barrier would require an immense amount of magical energy. So, Eihemia-san sacrificed her own voice in order to create that enormous amount of energy. However, just her voice was not enough. After worrying over it for a long time, she decided to give up her ability as a magic user in order to create the energy.

As a result she became unable to use magic and also lost her voice, but the sword had been completed.

By the way, why had she decided to sacrifice her voice in the first place? When I asked her that in the middle of her story, she wrote down while blushing:

『If I couldn’t lie anymore, I thought I might accidentally tell the king how I felt about him…』

It looks like she was very shy.

She then immediately took the completed sword to the king.

『Your Majesty, as long as you grip this sword with your dominant hand, the people of this country will become incapable of lying. By the way, if you let go of the sword or touch it with any part of your body other than your dominant hand, the effect will disappear. Please accept it.』

In this way, the king would always have to hold on to the present that she made for him. She’s such a schemer.

“…Why must I only use my dominant hand?”

『That’s because the effect will be stronger that way.』

That was a lie. It was actually so that I could stay by his side and serve him after he became incapable of using his dominant hand.

“Fumu…. By the way, why do you not speak?”

The king asked her after feeling curious about her behaviour, and she revealed all of what she had done. After hearing that, he lamented what she had done.

“To think you would go so far to follow my order… If only everyone possessed the same level of loyalty as you, I wouldn’t have had to do something like this…”

『I am not deserving of such praise.』

And then, when the king accepted the sword from her,

“Still, this sword looks so lousy. It’s in such bad taste. I have to keep holding something like this?”

『Eh?』

“…Damn”

His true feelings were exposed.

That day ended with a subtly awkward atmosphere.

Starting the next day, the king used that sword to change the country. To begin with, he used that sword to find his disloyal retainers and banished them one after the other. Following that, he used military force to subjugate the citizens who were displeased at having lost the ability to lie.

And so, the Country of Honesty—or rather, the country where only the citizens who couldn’t stand up to the king were left— was completed in this fashion.

At this point, the only people left in the country were those who would obey the king, no matter what he does. By the way, Eihemia-san was labeled as an incompetent and banished from the royal palace because she lost her ability to use magic.

『Apparently, I had no value to him apart from the fact that I could use magic….』

After completing her story, Eihemia-san wrote those words in her sketchbook.

Could she have been any more stupid?

“You were hired as a witch, so of course your magic would be the most important thing.”

『I had hoped that he would allow me to remain by his side even after I lost my ability to use magic.』

As Eihemia-san was feeling depressed, Saya-san spoke up while standing next to her.

“You gave up both your voice and magic power for his sake, isn’t that kind of heavy? Maybe the king disliked that?”

She delivered such a finishing blow.

She hardly had any right to say such a thing, considering that she immediately started speaking about fate and marriage when we met after a long time.

As I stood there feeling amazed, Saya-san looked at the request letter once again.

“Eihemia-san, your request is to turn this country back to the way it used to be, right? What needs to be done in order to make that happen?”

『You just need to make the king let go of the sword.』

“I see…”

Saya-san said that while nodding, and I asked,

“What will happen if the sword is destroyed?”

『The power I put into the sword will disappear, and my voice and magical ability will return.』

“Hoho…”

“In that case, the fastest way to do this would be to destroy the sword when the king comes out to make a speech, like he did yesterday.”

『The king doesn’t have any speeches scheduled until next month.』

“Elaina-san, let’s share a room and stay here for the next month—”

“Let’s think of a different option.”

『If you plan to take the sword away from the king, you will need to enter the royal palace.』

“…But wouldn’t it be really hard to get inside if we can’t lie? The whole plan will fall apart the moment we are asked why we want to go inside.”

That’s true.

“It’s the Country of Honesty, after all. We can’t lie our way into the palace.”

I continued to speak.

“But if we use what Eihemia-san is holding, then we should be able to manage. Sure, we can’t lie in this country, but we can mislead people all we want.”

Even if we can’t speak lies in this country, we can manage it somehow when it comes to writing.

Eihemia-san nodded and displayed the page with 『YES』written on it. It looked like she had already discovered the loophole in the barrier that she had created—the loophole that was implicitly understood by everyone living here. Perhaps it had been created with such an intention from the beginning.

“…? What do you mean, Elaina-san?”

Allow me to explain.

I borrowed the sketchbook and pen from Eihemia-san, and,

“Now, pay attention. This is all we need to do—”

And so, I wrote down the strategy.

………

At some point, I had been roped into helping Saya-san with her job, but I decided not to touch upon that point until the end.

That’s because in this country where people cannot lie, they will not be able to hide their embarrassment either.

“Excuse me. Please state your business. You may not pass beyond this point without His Majesty’s permission.”

As expected, we were stopped at the gate after walking up to the royal palace.

The guard then realized that one of us was none other than Eihemia-san, and he exclaimed,

“Ah, you! What are you doing here!? You’ve been banished from here, haven’t you!?”

『Hiiii! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!』

“Hey, behave yourself.”

Eihemia-san had turned around on the spot and I reached out to grab her by the scruff of her neck before she could run away, and,

“Saya-san, hurry up and explain the circumstances to him.”

Saying that, I lightly pushed Saya-san forwards. Standing in front of the guard, Saya-san boldly pulled out a piece of paper.

“Ahem. Guard-san, do you understand what is written on this paper?”

The dirty, stained paper had the following words written on it.

“The banishment of the Witch of Quicksand, Eihemia, has been rescinded. At the same time, right of entry is granted to The Witch of Ashes, Elaina, and the Witch of Charcoal, Saya.”

Even the King’s signature was properly present at the bottom.

“The banishment was rescinded? How suspicious. Is this genuine?”

Oh, what’s this?

“What are you talking about? This is the Country of Honesty, isn’t it? There’s no way lies could exist here. Or else, are you implying that His Majesty lied to us?”

“…Ugh, you’re right.”

“Now, please let us pass.”

“………”

The guard moved away from the entrance, albeit reluctantly. And so, we were able to boldly pass through the gate.

While holding the fake document in hand.

This country does not allow one to lie using spoken words. However, the circumstances are different when writing them down.

Unlike speech, characters that have been written down can be erased. It’s very easy to write a lie by jotting down a bunch of random characters in a line and then erasing some select characters.

You can only correct speech with more speech, so it’s impossible to lie while speaking, no matter how hard you try. However there are many ways to alter text even without using a pen.

I discovered this fact while I was writing down random things in my inn room the other day. It appeared as if the dirty, stained signboards of shops in this country had been made in the same way, and I also understood how the inn rooms could be so dirty while the signboard insisted that they were beautiful.

The people of this country had discovered how to lie using written words, but they were keeping that fact a secret.

“It went well. As expected of you, Elaina-san.”

“Why, thank you.”

Saya-san was looking at the paper that I had forged while we were walking inside the castle. Incidentally, the King’s signature was written by me while copying his handwriting. After writing something random like “This is His Majesty’s signature,” mimicking his handwriting and forging his signature next to that sentence was possible. Once that was done, the previous sentence could just be erased to complete the forgery.

『Truly, the pen is mightier than the sword!』

There was a person next me writing down things with a triumphant expression on her face, but I pretended not to see that.

“By the way, Eihemia-san, which way should we go now?”

Saya-san pretended not to see that as well.

『Eh? The throne room, perhaps? His Majesty usually whiles away the time in there.』

“Hoho. So, where is this throne room?”

『It’s still quite far from here.』

“I understand. Both of you, follow me! I’ll protect the two of you!”

“You seem to be all fired up, Saya-san.”

『At any rate, I cannot fight at all, so I’ll just hide behind the both of you.』

“Sure, just leave it to me. Taking the sword away from the king should only take me an instant.”

Just where did her confidence come from?

“Do you have a plan?”

“Well, for starters, I’ll go in from the front and say, 「Hey there, I’m a witch from the Administrative Bureau of Magic, and I’m currently doing some research on magic. Would you mind letting me take a look at that beautiful sword?」 Once I say that, he’s sure to give me the sword. See, isn’t that a perfect plan? Hehehe~”

“True, I have never seen a plan so perfectly full of holes.”

『There’s no way he would let go of my sword for such a flimsy reason!』

We have two witches here, so the best way to do it would be to have one of us distract him from the front while the other sneaks up on him from behind and steals it. Actually, we don’t even need two witches for this.

Well, it’ll work out somehow if we make up some kind of a plan before we confront the king—thinking that, we proceeded to walk deeper into the royal palace.

And that’s when it happened.

“What’s all this noise about? What is going on—”

The king came out of the door directly in front of us.

He actually came out at a time like this.

Why was that, though? Wasn’t he supposed to be in a place still far away from here?

When I looked around while having a question mark floating above my head,

『I’m sorry, we have reached the throne room. It was unexpectedly not that far away.』

So said the words, written by Eihemia-san.

It was a very insufficient apology, in more ways than one.

“Seeing as you’ve already found us, I guess we have no choice. Your Majesty, please let go of that sword at once.”

I instantly saw that it was impossible to end things peacefully, so I pulled out my staff and walked towards the king, and made him return to the throne room.

However, while retreating, the king shouted,

“Intrudeeeeeeeeers!”

Regrettably, he called for help.

Immediately after, there was a large number of voices saying things like “What’s going on?” and “Who’s there?” and “That was His Majesty’s voice!” and a large number of guards entered the room through the open door.

Our retreat was instantly cut off.

Hmm.

“Saya-san. I will deal with the king. Please do something about the guards.”

“Leave it to me!”

Saya-san also took a stance with her staff. As for Eihemia-san, she had ended up beside me by chance and was holding up a sign saying 『Ah, I am a non-combatant!』

She has no intention to help at all. Oh well, I guess it’s better than her just jumping in blindly.

“Your Majesty, please give that sword to me.”

I slowly walked closer to the king.

“Silence! Shut up! Damn you, Eihemia… What are you trying to do?”

『Your Majesty, that artifact is very dangerous. Although that might sound ironic, coming from the person who made it.』

Eihemia-san was holding up her sketchbook while standing behind me.

『So please, return that to me.』

“What are you saying? This sword is truly the perfect weapon to guide this country. As long as I have this, I can lead this country in the correct direction.”

And then, the king said,

“Even if there are some bad people who are after my sword, I can take care of them by myself—like this! ”

The king swung the sword horizontally in a straight line.

A mass of magical energy was released from the hand of the king. A pale light in the shape of a crescent flew towards me, carried by the momentum of his swing.

“Whoops.”

I dodged it like it was nothing.

It hit Saya-san instead.

“Ouuuuuuuuuch!”

An agonized wail echoed throughout the chamber.

“Ah, I’m sorry.”

“Uuu… So mean…”

By the way, I didn’t hear anything about that sword being capable of producing magical energy.

『That sword is capable of releasing accumulated energy by the action of swinging it, so be careful. It’ll hurt like hell if it hits you.』

Isn’t that warning a little too late?

“Tch… As expected, ordinary methods will not work against a witch—in that case, how about this? Ei!”

Saying that, the king swung the sword several times, shooting waves of magical energy at me.

I carefully struck down each of them so that they would not hit Saya-san. From behind me, I could hear Saya-san shouting things like “Orya!” and “Damn you!” as she valiantly fought to protect my back.

“Your Majesty, has this country become a better place now that the lies have disappeared?”

“Of course it has! Can’t you see how happy the citizens of my country are?”

“Isn’t that because you only let the people who approved of your vision of a country stay behind, and kicked out everyone else?”

“It’s the same thing. What’s wrong with stamping out the seeds of rebellious intent?”

“You’re right—I agree with you on that point. On the other hand, there is a possibility that not all the people remaining here approve of what you’re doing.”

“……What did you say?”

As the king furrowed his eyebrows in doubt, I thought back on all the things I had seen after coming to this country; the signboards on the shops and the men who were fighting.

“This is the Country of Honesty, right? There are a lot of people who confess their true feelings, and sometimes come to blows when they express themselves frankly. But there’s undeniably a sense of malice hiding in the background.”

The people of this country often say things that are better left unsaid, but that’s probably not out of good intentions. It might just be due to accumulated stress.

It’s the same with writing all those unnecessary things as well. Actually, that additional writing on shops might have been done by some malicious individual.

Although the people were making a show of appreciation while gathered in the courtyard of the royal palace, not a single one of them actually said anything meaningful aloud. This was probably because they were hiding their true feelings.

“Being honest is not necessarily always the best option. That’s why this world has the concept of lies—”

“Elaina-san! Sorry to interrupt, but we’re out of time! There are too many enemies for me to handle. My head is going to go flying! Iyaaaaaaa!”

『Good luck, Witch-san from the Administrative Bureau of Magic.』

“You should help out toooooooo!”

『I’m sorry, I specialize in inspections and the like.』

………

“It looks like we’re out of time, so let’s wind things up here.”

However, the king snorted at my proposal.

“Wind things up? Who are you trying to fool? It’s taking everything you have to just deflect my attacks.”

“……No, I’m sorry. I’ve already completed the preparations necessary to take the sword away from you.”

“Hmpf. You’re obviously bluffing.”

“Can you still say that after seeing what is behind you?”

“……What?”

Without ceasing his attacks on me, the king quickly peeked behind him. When he saw what was there, his attacks abruptly ceased.

The broom that I had secretly brought here was floating in the air behind him.

“What!? When did you—”

Without even allowing the king to complete his sentence, I moved the broom towards me. As fast as I could make it go.

Right after that, a dull thump reverberated through the air and the broom impacted the king squarely in the back. The king gave a low groan and was thrown towards me.

The sword that he had held up until that point, fell from his fingers.

“Ei.”

Seeing that, I conjured up a large lump of iron using magic and sent it flying at the sword as it fell towards the ground. After making a heavy sound, the lump of iron easily broke the sword into two pieces and then made a small crater on the ground.

Once the sword broke with a nice, clean sound, a large amount of magic was immediately released from the sword, and the pale light returned to Eihemia-san. The sparkling grains of light looked like the stars in the night sky.

After being entranced by that sight for a short while, I leaned forward and said,

“People with evil intentions can still do bad things even if they cannot lie. All the people remaining in this country are not necessarily good people.”

“………”

“Similarly, not everyone who lies is a bad person.”

If the truth is like a sword, then lies are the sheath. The truth is encased in lies to prevent it from hurting people for no reason.

Lies can also be used in such a way.

“……”

The king slowly moved his body and crouched down on the spot.

He just kept staring at one spot on the floor. Maybe he’s thinking about something, or he’s just depressed.

After a few very long seconds passed,

“So what are you saying…!? Are you saying I was mistaken…?”

He vaguely whispered those words.

“No, you were not mistaken.”

An unfamiliar voice replied to the king’s words.

It was immediately apparent who had said that. It was Eihemia-san, whose voice had returned.

“Your Majesty, you were just a little too honest with your own feelings. From now on, why don’t you relax a little and live a life where you can lie when needed and stay silent about things that don’t need to be said?”

Eihemia-san said that while smiling gently.

Was that really the truth, or was it a lie to make the king feel better?

Honestly, I can’t tell anymore.

This is what happened afterwards.

The king publicly apologized for turning the country into a place where people couldn’t lie for more than half an year. He said that everything that had happened so far was his fault, and he sincerely asked the people to forgive him.

The reactions of the people were surprisingly indifferent. There was no riot, and nobody booed the king while he spoke. They just accepted the apology while looking unconcerned, and once the speech ended, there was some scattered applause in the courtyard of the royal palace.

Most likely, the king has not yet recovered the trust of his people.

After recovering her voice and magic, Eihemia-san was reinstated to her old position and was now working in the palace.

“It’s going to get busy from now on!”

She was full of excitement while saying things like that. Her eyes were sparkling as she stood next to the king who was busy dealing with the aftermath of this event.

It looks like it will still take some time until the king finishes his work and the country goes back to how it used to be.

“Elaina-san, about the reward for this job.”

Saya-san held my sleeve and said that after we passed through the gates of the country and went outside.

“What is it?”

“You helped out with this job as well, so I think… I think you deserve to get a reward.”

“Eh, but I don’t want it.”

“It doesn’t work that way.”

Saya-san said as she lowered her eyebrows.

“We need to share the reward with any magicians who helped during the job, that’s the rule. I need to do something to thank you for your efforts.”

“If you keep doing everything by the book, you’ll become an inflexible person.”

Besides, I didn’t do what I did this time because I wanted money. Not that I said that aloud, though.

“Still, please let me do something to thank you!”

“…No, really, it’s fine.”

This girl was pestering me saying she wanted to thank me, and I kept refusing.

It was a strange feeling.

“In that case, let’s do this. I need to thank you for giving me the hat as well, so I’ll give you something nice!”

After clapping her hands, she searched her bag and pulled out something small.

She held two small necklaces in her hand, and pushed one of them into my hands.

“…What is this?”

I asked while accepting the necklace, and she made a pleased sound.

“This is something I used all my money to buy, in preparation for when I would meet you again, Elaina-san. By the way, the reason I was broke was because I spent my money on these. That’s the reason why I accepted this job, but I happened to meet you because of it, so it really is fate, isn’t it!?”

“Eh, that’s pretty heavy.”

I thought it was heavy enough to equal Eihemia-san’s actions. So she kept badgering me about wanting to thank me so that she could give me this? So cunning.

“Please think of that as me and keep it safe!”

“……..”

I don’t really want to accept something like this……

I mean, I would remember this every time I looked at it. It might make me sad. It is not good for a traveler to accept things like this.

………

After silently looking at that necklace and Saya-san for a few seconds, I said,

“Thank you. I will take good care of it.”

Oh well, it should be fine. That’s what I thought.

It might not be bad to relax once in awhile and do things differently for a change.

“Well then, I guess we part ways here—I’m heading to the branch office of the Administrative Bureau of Magic, and you’re going to continue your journey, right, Elaina-san?”

“That’s right.”

I replied while putting on the necklace.

“It’s time to say goodbye, Saya-san.”

“…I hope we can meet again somewhere in the future.”

“If that comes to pass, we will meet again. If not, this is the last time we will see each other.”

“I definitely won’t let it be the last time.”

Saying that, she held up her little finger and extended her hand towards me.

“…What are you doing?”

“This is a charm for making a promise, it’s been passed down in my birthplace for ages! Please wrap your little finger around mine.”

“………”

Just how does wrapping my little finger around hers constitute a charm?

I extended my little finger towards her while still holding some doubts.

She wrapped her little finger around mine.

“Elaina-san, it’s a promise. We must definitely meet again.”

Saya-san smiled and said that. She also said that she would become an even better witch by that time.

And so, I responded,

“I will patiently wait for that to happen during my travels.”

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