|Author: Kobayashi Homare||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 3116 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1439 words|
The last one of the three shrieked loudly before running away. It would be easy to catch him, but I decided to let him go. I had no intention of killing any of them. They had annoyed me immensely, but they had done nothing so grave as to deserve death. Not yet, at least.
“Now, talk. What was that skill? Who taught you that? Tell me everything you know.”
I took his sword and held it against him, and after a short moment of hesitation he gave up and answered.
“That…that power came from a drug.”
“A drug? What kind of drug? And who gave it to you?”
“One of my superiors. He just said I’d get stronger by swallowing it…”
Apparently he was never a royal knight, he was just a personal guard of an influential noble on Stied’s side. Stied’s internal conflict with his brother Magna had gone for a long time, but the scales tipped too much when Luvias, the hero, pledged her allegiance to Magna. Until then, Stied had a high likelihood of inheriting the throne, but they decreased dramatically in that moment. Desperate to regain his lead, Stied decided to take arms and change the situation through an insurrection.
But trying to gather an army would make his plan stand out too much before it was complete. And on top of that, his supporters kept switching sides, giving him even less access to strong men. There did not seem to be any way out for him anymore, but then Stied procured those strange drugs from a mysterious source.
“That drug increased our power incredibly. Though it didn’t work on everyone, only some people would get stronger. They gathered everyone who reacted positively to the drug, and formed Stied’s elite guard with us.”
He sounded proud of being chosen, smiling as he said that. But I was deep in thought hearing that.
(A drug to increase one’s potential like that? I doubt such a convenient substance really exists. I’d swear I felt miasma earlier. Are the men in Stied’s elite guard being turned into demons without them realizing?)
They had a selection process through the estates of all nobles on Stied’s side, picking everyone who got stronger to form part of Stied’s main forces. They were fitted with black armors, and each of them was far stronger than any regular knight or soldier. Once the rebellion started, they easily thrashed all of Magna’s men.
Just a handful of black knights were powerful enough to take out dozens of soldiers. They scattered the black knights along the city, so they would not raise any alarms earlier than expected, and on the planned date they all came out simultaneously. The capital was thrown into chaos from the sudden attack, the black knights overpowering the city’s defenses and making Stied’s coup a success.
(That’s what I heard…regular soldiers couldn’t hold them back. Even silver rank adventurers would struggle fighting against them.)
That answered how Stied gathered his army. But I was not done, I had more questions I wanted answered.
“Earlier you mentioned only some people could use the drug, what happened to those who couldn’t?”
The man seemed hesitant to answer, before mumbling in distress.
“They died?! All of them?!”
“Yes. Everyone that didn’t get stronger, fell on the ground after drinking the drug, writhing in pain until they died.”
“That can’t be…”
Even if it was to form a powerful army, that was something no sane person would do. Letting one’s own soldiers die like that. But then I realized something, if Stied continued trying to get strong soldiers that way, many more would die, so in the end his army would decrease sharply in numbers. When I pointed that out, the man shook his head.
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“I and my comrades were all soldiers, but that doesn’t apply to all members of the elite guard. I heard they even used criminals and orphans without honor in other places to build more of the army. Maybe even most of the army came from them. It would be weird to sacrifice so many men after all.”
He was probably telling the truth. Some of the mystery had been revealed, but I did not feel any better.
“Where did that drug come from?”
“There’s no way they would tell someone from my rank. I doubt even my superiors who gave them to us know their source. Maybe Prince Stied developed them himself, or was taught somewhere, either way I think I’m better off not knowing that.”
If he prodded around carelessly he could be killed for it. Regardless, it’s pretty much a fact that Stied’s side is not the most moral group of people. Though I think that applies to anyone who stages a coup. I was done questioning him, so I returned the sword to its scabbard, before hitting his head with it. The attack took him by surprise, and he fainted before he realized what happened.
“From what I saw earlier, I think it’s safe to assume there are demons involved with this. Maybe it was even the demons that gave Stied those drugs. I still have to find actual proof though.”
If we could openly prove the demons’ involvement, we would be able to fight against Stied without having to hide in the shadows. It was obvious who the people would support, a hero, or someone who worked with demons.
“What should I do next though?”
The man who had escaped would announce I returned, so there was little point in trying to hide my identity anymore. So standing out sounded like a better alternative now. Karin and Ciel are already working as a distraction, but they are still under cover so they can probably get away. But I could still serve as another distraction and pull attention away from the others. And if I made the rounds enough, there was a chance I could find the origin of that drug.
As I thought of all that, the adventurers who had seen everything go down came running to me.
“Ah, umm, Diaria! Thank you very much!”
“You really helped us there!”
“Please accept my gratitude too!”
“Wait, calm down all of you.”
It felt nice hearing them say that while shaking my hand, but it was also a bit overbearing. I guess dealing with people who respect one does not get easier even after training.
“Is there anything we can help you with? I might be weak, but I’ll do anything you ask!”
The adventurer that was shaking my hand says that, and the other two behind him nod as well. Something they could do…after a bit of thinking, I realize they could be a great help with spreading the word.
“Then I have a favor to ask from you, could you spread two rumors?”
“Count it as done! What rumors though?”
There were two things. One was that I, Diaria from the hero’s party, was conducting an investigation on Stied and his nobles. The second one was that demons were helping Stied. I had not found proof of the second yet, but that rumor could help build the groundwork to fight back eventually.
“There are demons involved with this..? I can’t believe it…”
The adventurers were unable to hide their shock hearing demons being mentioned in such a context. It truly was unexpected news, considering Bordaule had not been affected by the demon invasions so far.
“At least that’s what I believe. Also, try to avoid coming to the training school until this entire mess gets resolved. It could be dangerous if they recognize you, and might hurt you even more than today. Please tell that to any adventurers you might know too.”
“U-understood. We’ll relay your message!”
“I’m counting on you.”
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After that, I went to the man I knocked unconscious earlier and rummaged through his possessions for all his money, stashing it in my own pocket without remorse. The adventurers stared wide-eyed as I did that.
“Umm…Diaria? Why did you..?”
“Spoils of war. Usually I’d sever one of his arms to take as a souvenir as well, but I’m feeling generous today. Anyway, good luck with the rumors.”
They were still processing everything they saw and heard as I stood up and went back into the city. I felt many stares glued on my back as I walked through the city, so I decided to accelerate my pace.
(At least I won’t have to worry about traveling expenses for a while. Now, where should I go first?)