|Original Source: Syosetu
|Word Count: 3366 characters
|English Source: Re:Library
|Word Count: 1542 words
After leaving Natalia on her own, Ophelia went to the guard’s headquarters. Being a famous adventurer, Ophelia had connections in many places. She was led to a meeting room, where she waited until the divisional officer of the guards entered.
“And well, has there been any progress?”
There was barely any greetings, Ophelia addressing the main topic as soon as he sat in front of her.
“Yes, we found some dirt on Grog. He’s violated free commerce laws, and it seems he’s committed many other smaller infractions, so we might discover even more felonies to charge him with.”
Grog was the worker in the blacksmiths’ guild that did not get along with Mir’s father. Ophelia felt like his actions were against the law, so she decided to ask about it with one of her acquaintances, the divisional officer. The result of his investigation proved Ophelia’s suspicions, and they determined Grog had acted against the law.
“We’ve written a warrant already, and the city’s gates have been informed. He has no way to leave the city, so it’s just a matter of time before we catch him.”
“Is that all you’ve done?”
Ophelia glared at the officer, who recoiled and began sweating. He had essentially declared Grog was on the chase. Either because he predicted this would happen, or because he managed to avoid being spotted by a guard.
Regardless of that, him being free was a failure of the guards. The fact that criminals that had escaped the law in a similar way had attacked her daughter was still fresh in her memory, so she could not overlook this matter.
“I’m sorry, really! I promise we’ll catch him, so please forgive us!”
He said while bending down to bow. He sighed, he knew Ophelia had more than enough reason to blame him, but he had apologized as much as he could, so he sat down again.
“I’m sorry to unload this onto you too, but we’d really appreciate it if you could help us catalog some of the items we confiscated from Grog’s house.”
“Don’t you have sorcerers working for the guards already?”
“Yes, we do. But some of the items were related to automatons and alchemy, so our investigation is a bit stumped.”
There were far less people knowledgeable about magic automaton and alchemy, compared to regular sorcerers. It was valuable to have a contact who could properly identify items related to that. Ophelia was not convinced though.
“You found automaton and alchemy things in the house of a worker for the blacksmiths’ guild? That still doesn’t sound too strange.”
When building an automaton, it was common to commission parts from other people. Most of the puppeteer’s job was to ensemble and give them orders after all. There were hardly any who would make everything from scratch, even if they had the know-how.
Alchemy could be used as a magic substitute for blacksmithing as well. That all seemed to check-out at first sight, but the population of alchemists was so low that most of them lived as hermits. Alchemy was also used to get materials, instead of complete items. Like gathering iron dust and forming ingots with it.
Either way, it was not too strange to find items like that in Grog’s house, both automaton parts and materials purified with alchemy.
“I probably should’ve explained it better. We’ve seized a Sorcery Core, one with a really strong protection.”
Ophelia raised her eyebrows hearing that.
Sorcery Cores were a source of magic power. They were commonly used for large scale magic tools that required a long and constant supply of mana, or magic automatons and golems. Making one required highly technical magic knowledge, so it was hard to imagine a blacksmith building one.
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“That does seem out of place.”
There were no records of Grog being able to build something like that, or to cast a defensive spell that the guards’ magicians could not break. In other words, Grog had not built that Sorcery Core. That left the question as to why it was in his possession.
“That’s why it’s so puzzling. Could you take a look?”
“Yes, I will. I started this entire investigation anyway.”
“Thanks. I still need my superior’s approval since you aren’t a member of the guards though, so could you come back tomorrow?”
She had plans to hunt a Shaman Ape with Natalia and Mir the next day, but she figured she would be done by night so she accepted. She also knew how to prepare in case she did not make it on time, and if she refused, the investigation she started would go nowhere.
“It’s still strange though, seeing you get so involved in the matters of others.”
“Well, I guess. Though if the blacksmiths’ guild is corrupt, it’ll affect all adventurers working there.”
In truth, Ophelia did not care much about the guild’s situation. She could fabricate anything she needed herself with alchemy, so she rarely had any use for it. But there were other people who could end up suffering from it. Once they became proper adventurers, it would be hard for them to obtain quality equipment. And she knew at least one of them would feel bad seeing a friend struggle as well.
That was why Ophelia had decided to meddle with those affairs, for the sake of her two beloved daughters. Though she also had a bit of sympathy for another adventurer they had met as well.
“This situation has also launched an internal investigation in the blacksmiths’ guild, there might be a pretty large reorganization coming soon.”
“That’s reassuring to know.”
The divisional officer had known Ophelia for a long time, and it had been a while since he saw her smile like that. A heartfelt smile, without forcing herself, which he had not seen on her since she had lost her husband.
That relieved him, though a new, mysterious uneasiness creeped inside him.
Her business in the guards’ headquarters concluded, Ophelia headed back to adventurers’ guild. There was still some time before the arranged meeting time with Natalia, but there was something she wanted to do before that.
The person she was looking for usually hung out in the guild’s dining hall at around that time. And just like she expected, she found the person. That person was a woman with a well trained body, muscles bulging everywhere, and her tan skin standing out amongst the crowd.
“Jane, do you have some time?”
“Ophelia! It’s been a while. And of course. Hey you, move aside.”
Under Jane’s command, another person sitting there moved to the side, opening a spot for Ophelia to sit.
“Sorry to come barging in like this.”
“No worries, I still feel indebted to you after all.”
Jane smiled in a friendly but dignified way. The other adventurers sitting nearby were surprised at their interaction, not knowing the relationship between the two, though they kept their thoughts to themselves.
They were all members of a large clan of adventurers, with Jane as their sub-master, who recruited members through displays of strength. She only spoke so friendly and casually when talking to her relatives.
“Anyway, it might be a bit sudden, but I have a favor to ask of you.”
“Sure, anything you want.”
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Hearing Jane’s straightforward reply, Ophelia smiled softly and detailed what she wanted. Once she was done, Jane stuck to her word.
This is something that happened the day before Ophelia went to the guards’ headquarters.
Grog breathed heavily inside a dark warehouse. Noticing the guards had started sniffing around him, he quickly gathered the bare necessities and fled his house, hiding inside the warehouse of someone he was trading with.
“What a mess, Grog. You got the guards on your a̲s̲s̲, and now I might get roped in with you too.” The owner of the warehouse, a merchant, sighed in an exaggerated manner.
“Heh, but if I get caught, they’ll come after you soon enough too.”
“I guess you have a point.” This merchant also had a rather black record in the underground world. So if Grog was arrested and interrogated, it was easy to imagine they would get many more leads for people like them.
“How do you plan on dealing with this though?”
“I heard Jace’s daughter will go gather the last material tomorrow. I have to stop her no matter what.”
Jace was Mir’s father. The merchant shrugged in a dissimulated way hearing Grog still obsessed with ruining Jace, even in a dire situation like this.
“Alright, lend me the workshop you got near here. And go buy me as many materials as you can with this.”
Grog threw a closed bag at the merchant, who hastily caught it and checked its content. It was stuffed with gold coins.
“As long as I get my fee I don’t mind, but what do you want that for?”
“Is that any of your business?”
“Sorry, forget I asked.”
The merchant quickly bowed in apology, and went out to fulfill Grog’s request.
“Just you wait, Jace. I’ll crush everything you have and love, not just your career as a blacksmith.”
Grog muttered to himself in the empty warehouse. At the same time, a Sorcery Core stuffed in his pocket began activating.