~Earl Knowles’ Perspective~
I, Earl Knowles and Jamie
Reston, headed to the village of Rathmore, 25 km from the town of Kilnarc, to
investigate the home of Zacharias Lockhart and Sharon Jakes.
But as we entered the road
from the Ars road to the village of Rathmore, we were very surprised. When we
left Kilnarc, we were told that it would be better to have a guide because the
road was difficult to find, so we hired one. Indeed, without a guide, we might
not have been able to find the narrow path. The path was so narrow that it was
almost like an animal trail.
The guide told us that during
the summer, the grass grows so fast that the road to Rathmore Village, which is
less frequented by wagons, becomes indistinguishable from a grassy area. At
other times of the year, they said, it would not be so difficult to tell them
apart, but even so, it was hard to believe that this was a village supplying
liquor to a big city like Ars.
As we enter the narrow road,
the escort mercenaries will increase their vigilance. However, the guide
laughed and didn’t seem to be very wary, saying, “At most, there are wild
dogs wandering around.” After asking in detail, it seems that the Lockhart
family regularly exterminates the monsters around here, so it’s not that
dangerous for an adult to walk alone.
Around 3:00 p.m., we arrived
at the village of Rathmore.
My first impression was that
it was a typical pioneer village with a series of hills, idyllic and peaceful.
When I asked the guide about
lodging, he told me that there was only one tavern that also served as an inn,
and he took us there.
Upon entering the village, I
found a well-maintained road and a small irrigation canal, perhaps used for
The houses were standard rural
ones, and the villagers looked at us curiously.
We arrived at our inn, Black
Pon Pavilion, and breathed a sigh of relief that we had arrived at our
destination safely. After a short rest, we went to the lord’s mansion to make
an appointment for tomorrow’s meeting.
I was told that the lord’s
mansion was located on the northernmost hill in the chain of hills, and that
the mansion was at the top of the hill, but if I had not heard that, I might
have gone to the brick building at the foot of the hill. The building was said
to be a scotch cellar, but it was more magnificent than the lord’s mansion.
On the way to the lord’s
mansion, I saw a rather large two-story wooden building on the western slope of
the hill. Around it were children, and a young woman was talking to them. I
later learned that it was a school, and that the Garlands were teachers there.
I was surprised to hear this fact.
I was surprised that there was a school in a small village with a population of
Even in a town of about 2,000
people, there would be no school, but an elder who can read would probably run
a temple school in their home. In this village, however, almost all children
attend the school, and adults who wish to study there also come.
Through our research, we found
that the literacy rate in this village is very high. About one out of three
adults can read, and almost all children around 10 years old can read and
This is astonishing. In an
ordinary village, one out of every ten people can read, which is probably a very
Even in the academic city of
Doctus, the literacy rate is less than 50 percent in New Town, let alone the
In other words, the literacy
rate is comparable to that.
No, maybe now, but when the
children grow up, the literacy rate will be as close to 100 percent as
possible. This is more than in the old town of Doctus.
I heard that the school was
established a few years ago, and Mr. and Mrs. Garland are credited with
bringing the literacy rate up to this level in just a few years. In the
beginning, the school offered a travelling classroom, but Mr. Garland appealed
to the lord to establish a school. They have also devised ways to further
motivate people to learn and have special classes for adults during the
off-season, and although not directly related to this survey, we are thinking
of reporting it back to the guild.
I came to the lord’s mansion
with the intention of making an appointment for tomorrow, and when I told this
to a man in his fifties who seemed to be a squire, the lord said he would see
Thinking that this could only
happen in a countryside knight’s estate, I headed for the lord’s office as I
The lord who greeted me was a
stout man of about 30 years of age, with the physique of a knight. However, he
welcomed us with a smile and no hint of roughness. As we were about to kneel
down to greet him in the manner of the court, the lord, Mathias Lockhart,
“As you can see, my Lockhart
family is like a village headman in the countryside. My father was a commoner
turned knight in the first place. I am sorry to say that we do not know the
etiquette of the nobility better than you.”
After saying this with a
smile, he motioned for me to sit on the couch.
I sat down, feeling a bit
He asked me what I wanted to
know, but first, I told him that his son had passed at the top of his class.
I tried to surprise him,
thinking that he probably did not know the result yet, but he just gave a small
nod, as if he already knew.
“Is that all you have to
do? I don’t know the custom of the academy, so I can’t say much, but I don’t
think you came all the way here to inform me that my son had been accepted.”
When I asked him if he already
knew the results, he told me that the squire he had assigned as his son’s escort
three days earlier had returned and informed him of the results.
I agreed that surely a
well-traveled soldier could have overtaken us.
I then decided to be honest
and tell him the purpose of our visit to this village.
“We have been dispatched
by order of the Magician’s Guild. Our purpose is to survey your territory.”
The lord asked, “What do
you mean by a survey?”
I decided to tell him honestly
what the guild had ordered me to do.
“It is very rare that the
first and the second top scorers in the examinations come from the same place.
Furthermore, I understand that your son, Mr. Zacharias, and Ms. Jakes are milk siblings.
The Guild has ordered us to investigate to see if this is a factor.”
The lord’s expression hardens
for a moment, but he quickly smiles.
“I wouldn’t mind looking into
it, but it’s just a country village. However, if the first and second top
scorers are from the same town, why would you bother to have them investigated?”
“If they were just plainly the
first and second top scorers, the guild would not have ordered an
investigation. Your son is regarded as a once-in-a-millennium genius. And Miss
Jakes is already at the same level of ability as an academy graduate. If the
environment can produce such geniuses, the Guild would like to use their
upbringing as a reference for the training of future generations.” (Earl)
The feudal lord burst into
laughter as if he heard an amusing story, and said, “No, I’m sorry. It was
ridiculous to be told that this might be the environment where geniuses are
And they promised us their
“We will help you as much
as we can. I hope you find the secret, but even if you don’t, we promise we are
not hiding it from you. Hahaha!” (Matt)
With these words, he gave us
permission to enter the mansion and interview the squires and the villagers.
The next day, I began
interviewing the squires and villagers. When asked if there was anything like a
sage, they all shook their heads and testified that there was not. Further
investigation gradually revealed the peculiarities of this village.
The literacy rate mentioned
earlier is unusual, but the standard of living in this village was not that of
a pioneer village. Toilets were installed in all areas, and soap was
distributed to each household free of charge. The soap was not the luxury goods
that Reston had heard the ladies were competing for, but it still seemed to be
of high quality.
And there was a public
bathhouse in this village. I was surprised that there was a public bathhouse
built, but I was even more surprised that it was open to the people of the
village free of charge. In reality, the baths are managed on a rotating labor
system, and the fee for the baths is probably labor, but I could not believe it
when I first heard about it.
The residents of the village
visit the public bathhouse at least once every three days.
I did not notice it at first,
but all the peasants in this village were clean. And I did not see a single
dirty person, as I had seen on my way here, which is tycially common in rural
The village was characterized
by good security through the village patrol led by the previous lord, good
education through the school, and good sanitation through public baths and free
soap. The people were loyal to the Lockhart family, which had created and
continued to maintain this situation, and the relationship between the people
and the lord was very good.
The food situation was good,
the children were running around, and the adults were drinking in the evenings
and seemed very happy.
I was beginning to think that
this was a kind of utopia.
After ten days of interviews,
I could find no reason for the two geniuses to be born.
The slightest possibility was
an elf woman named Lydiane Dupré, who taught them. She was a magician who had
graduated at the top of her class from the Tyria Magic Academy, and she herself
was a genius with four attributes.
It is true that if you are
taught by an excellent teacher from an early age, you may be able to achieve
excellent results at the academy. However, all children who take the entrance
exam of the academy are taught by excellent tutors. Therefore, it is difficult
to say that this is the decisive factor.
We decided to change our
We decided to abandon the
hypothesis that a sage led the way, and to look for other factors.
First, we decided to follow
the behavior of the boy named Zacharias.
As we began to interview about
him, we gathered a lot of information.
He seemed to have been leaving
the mansion and showing up at various places since he was a child. The most
common one was the scotch distillery, where he appeared quite often and came up
with new ideas.
Next most frequent was the
workshop of Bertram, the village blacksmith. He was a dwarven blacksmith and
made many things other than weapons, such as the hand pumps and distillers.
I asked Scott, the distillery
manager, and Bertram, the blacksmith, for an interview.
Scott was a stocky man of
about 40 years old, and he was sweating during the interview because he worked
in a hot distillery.
I asked him about Zacharias.
“Master Zack was a curious
boy, you know? Whenever Mr. Bertram, the blacksmith, and Mr. Garland, the
squire, talked about making spirits, he would follow Mr. Garland around. I
always wondered what was so interesting for a four or five-year-old to watch,
but Mr. Garland told me that it was Master Zack who convinced the mansion that
the distillery should be expanded. Well, he’s a genius, so he must have sensed
something we didn’t. Yes, I know, he named the liquor ‘Scotch’ because he knew
how hard I was working.” (Scott)
I felt a slight sense of
discomfort when I heard that story. And I did not understand at the time what I
Next, I talked to Bertram, the
blacksmith. He was a blacksmith and a dwarf, and he looked at me with quizzical
eyes as I entered his workshop.