|Author: Kaburagi Haruka||Original Source: Syosetu|
|Translator: Yuki||English Source: Re:Library|
Letina felt like she was floating. It was her long-awaited entry to the Magic Academy, she was able to pass the magic power test, which was one of the main requirements in order to enter the academy.
That’s why when she was walking around the city with an elated mood―― and then she finally noticed that she was separated from her mother.
「Eh, where am I?」
By the time she noticed, her mother was already nowhere to be found. In search of her mother, she ran around the city to find her, which eventually led her into an alley without any people around.
This capital city was called the city of elves, and that’s because the ratio of elves in the city was much higher than anywhere else. Other than that, it didn’t really differ from other cities.
The same could be said to alleys without any traffic.
「Mom? Where are you?」
She went deeper inside the back alleys while calling out. She was a young lady from born in a family with relations to elven politics, and not only was educated but also had been deemed as a gifted child, which made her all the more prideful.
Because of that, her pride soared to the point that she became ignorant of everything around her. As a result of that, even if she was separated from her mother, she was confident that she could somehow find her mother immediately.
Eventually she began to cry, and because of her cries, someone noticed her presence. It was a man who smelled bad and reeked of alcohol.
「What’s wrong young lady. Why are you crying out here, it will ruin that cute face of your, you know?」
She was so overwhelmed that words couldn’t come out of her mouth. Letina wanted to run away immediately, but her legs were shaking out of fear and she was not able to even step away.
「The shipment we have should be enough, but there’s won’t be any problem having some surplus added, right?」
After saying that, the man put his hand inside a dirty leather bag and took out a dirty piece of cloth inside it.
The stimulating scent from the cloth somehow made her return to her senses and she immediately tried to escape.
But the man was one step ahead of her. The cloth that was taken out was then pressed on her nose and mouth. A very noxious odor irritated her senses. She attempted to scream, but her whole body suddenly weakened and she was not able to do anything anymore.
Immediately, Letina’s consciousness faded and her vision sank into the darkness.
「Now then, where did I put spares for those 『caskets』?」
The man then wrapped her in a cloak and disappeared in the back alleys.
I followed the cart that was carrying timber to a place close to the gates. It went into a seemingly unpopulated timber store and stopped.
Now, this is definitely strange.
The timber they’ve brought in should originally be unloaded from the cart, but nobody even bothered to come in contact with the cart.
The logs they carry are also much thicker than one that is normally used. Well, that doesn’t really mean that there aren’t any uses for such a thick log.
Not only can they be used for making large houses, but also for making wooden statues. That’s why they will have no problem selling such logs.
And yet, there’s no sign of them unloading it.
I approached the cart while making sure that the driver doesn’t notice me. I then took a quick look, but I didn’t see anything suspicious about the cart itself. However, I’m feeling a little uncomfortable about the loaded logs itself.
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Looking closely, I can see that all of the timber seems to have a cut at the center. Actually, in this case, it could be said to be two split logs placed together?
I tried my best peeking inside the timber by widening the gap, but……
Un, as I have expected. I couldn’t lift nor make a gap on the timber even if I used all of my strength. Because that couldn’t be helped, I tried tapping the surface with something hard. I should be able to tell if the inside is hollow from the reverberations.
Perhaps what caused the sound was due to the logs colliding with each other from the shaking of the cart. That’s why Finia, who was an elf with sensitive hearing, was able to notice something strange with the logs.
When it comes to hollowing the insides of a log, I could only think of two main reasons. It would be to either enclose something inside it or plainly reduce its weight. In any, I currently have no way of verifying what is inside these logs.
It’s inevitable that I won’t be able to verify its contents. Then there’s only one other way for me to know. That is to investigate the people who were in charge of these suspicious timbers…… that’s why I went towards the place where the men were stationed.
The man I tailed entered a yard in the corner of the storage area, and then closed the entrance of the station as soon as he went inside.
Because it couldn’t be helped, I turned around and made my way through an open window. Considering that it’s currently summer, it was necessary to open the windows during this season.
Though I call it a window, it’s not the type that was covered by expensive transparent glass, but was made entirely out of wood. When fall arrives, such windows are usually closed because that is the start of the cold season and would usually be left closed until late spring.
Also, if it has an opening, I would be able to slowly widen it without making any sounds that would reach inside the room.
「So, how’s the merchandise?」
「No problems with it. They were all sound asleep.」
「If we don’t transport them immediately, some of them might end up dead, you know」
「What’s wrong if they end up dead. They are only elven children anyway」
「Haah, elven children are different. There are people with some really strange hobbies out there you know」
「Well, there are many ways to use them. Like using them as sacrifice」
Hearing what the people inside were talking about made me feel as if cold water was poured on my back. I don’t know the details, but 『Luggage』and 『Sound Asleep』 clearly states that what was contained inside were living beings.
『Casket』 definitely refers to those logs that have been hollowed inside to be used as a disguise. Also, with the latter conversation, I could infer that there were elven children included.
Adding to that, the words 『Usage』 and 『Sacrifice』 also followed. With all of those information, conclusions could be drawn already.
「Those people… they were human traffickers. Not to mention, they are specialized in trafficking elves」
I only speak in whispers in order for my voice to be unnoticed.
If I don’t report this immediately…… judging from the talks of the people inside, they might make their moves soon.
「It’s about time for the gate to close. After a little break, let’s move out」
「The slave merchants are probably waiting outside already」
In this world, the existence of slaves is supposedly not recognized. However, there are people who have been turned into a labor force which is considered to be indispensable, and people that were turned into slaves are being handled as a workforce.
Thinking about it, this side of business talks could be said to be barely in the gray zone and almost reaching the dark side, this includes business being held outside of the city walls. In this time’s case, it seems like they are using such measures.
One of the reasons for them leaving before the gates are closed is because at this time the security is lax and the gatekeepers don’t closely check packages that are being sent outside.
The main reason for this is because the gatekeepers were already exhausted after a whole day of work so they couldn’t help but slack off a little. I probably won’t have enough time in this case.
「However, I surely won’t abandon this mission――」
If I let them go this time, they will be able to escape from the city and their goods will be handed over to slave merchants, I also won’t be able to track them anymore.
Elven children are about to be abducted, I just couldn’t abandon them nor miss this chance to help. I am aiming to be a Hero after all.