|Author: Kobayashi Homare||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 3470 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1669 words|
After I left the guards’ station, I returned to the alley where I parted ways with my Master and Diaria. I waited for an hour, then two hours, and when the sun was starting to set, I began to feel something was wrong. Maybe something had happened to them.
My Master had always been really strong, and Diaria had improved a lot as well. Even with just a sword, I could see Diaria beating my old self before all the training. If she used her spirit magic too, she would have the power to overpower an entire army. Because of that, I was not worried that they had been captured or killed, but there had to be some other reason as to why they did not come back.
“All I can think is that either their cover was blown and they’re trying to go out of sight again, or they got a good chance at obtaining information, and can’t afford to come here…”
But that made things harder for me. I had counted on being able to get at least one of them to help me, that both of them would be unavailable was unexpected. Even after all that grueling training, I could not simply split into two and rescue people from two different places. In the worst case, I would get either the governor or his family killed the moment I rescued the other.
(Wait no, there’s an even worse situation, his wife and daughter could be in separate prisons. Though the guard spoke like they were together, so hopefully that’s not the case…)
My Master said that if anything happened, we could regroup in Sorciere’s city. But unlike she and Ciel who can use Flight Magic, I would need to go there on foot, which could take many days.
I started pondering what to do. I did not have much time, so leaving the city was out of the question. I could try charging in through the front gates, but that would make it hard to rescue both sides. That left infiltrating stealthily to rescue them separately as the solution, though…
I felt depressed again. Unlike my friends, I still lacked a lot of common knowledge, so what were the chances I would not get found out? Would I be able to lie my way through any questions they asked me? My head kept filling with doubts. Some time later I realized my thoughts just kept getting more negative, so I shook my head to clear it up.
“I just have to be ready for whatever happens. In the worst case, I’ll have to give up on Grom. I doubt he’d want to sacrifice his wife and daughter just to save himself anyway. If I prioritize him, I know he might suffer more later. If there’s only one side I can rescue, it has to be the weaker and powerless ones.”
With that decided, I only had to act now. I walked out of the alley and headed back to the castle.
§ § §
I was able to get close to the castle while looking like a country girl, but getting inside the castle would be nearly impossible. It would be easier if I acted like a maid, or a soldier, or some peddling merchant, or even a laborer doing some repairs inside.
(A getup that makes it easier to move in would be best…)
I did not necessarily hate skirts, or found disguising myself as too much of a hassle. I chose to acquire a full set of soldier armor and equipment solely because I prioritized being able to fight. Though that stuff does not grow on trees or appear in random stores. I thought about asking the guards that gave me information earlier for help, but I also did not want to cause them more trouble.
“It’s clearly a crime…but I’ll have to turn a blind eye this time.”
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The solution I found was to steal. If I went through all the stations throughout the city, I was sure to find one piece or two of old equipment. I was planning on gathering everything I could, and then secretly sneak out the prisoners.
I avoid detection and start walking in a clockwise direction around the castle. I could see multiple guards, but almost no regular people, so I had to keep hiding. When I got close to a station, I took a deep breath and tried sensing if there was anyone inside. It felt empty, so I went in through a window.
“Only a sword and helmet…I was hoping I’d find everything at once, but that was clearly wishing for too much. Either way this…eugh! It stinks..!”
I forced myself to resist the urge to throw up once I caught a whiff of the horrible stench wafting from the helmet. Since I had not found everything in only one place, I had to continue searching through more stations, and I got an entire set of soldier equipment when it was late at night.
“I didn’t plan on this, but now’s the perfect time to infiltrate places.”
Having endured the foul smell for so long, my nose had gotten numb and could not feel anything anymore, for better or for worse. Either way, I felt like there were less guards doing the rounds at this hour, so getting inside should not be too hard. I quickly looked around, went to the least guarded spot I found during the day, and jumped high to climb the wall. I had already verified the other side earlier, so there was no danger of someone catching me.
“For some odd reason I also saw a large number of soldiers leaving the castle, more than when I first got here. There were too many just to chase Karin and Ciel…maybe it was something Master or Diaria did?”
I was really curious about what was happening with my friends, but I needed to focus on my own mission.
I had lived in this castle since I was accepted as my Master’s disciple, until I started living together with her. I still remembered perfectly the interior layout, the small corridors not visited by guards often, and where the prison cells were. There was enough light from the moon and torches scattered about to light the way, and I headed straight for the prison.
The prison was located below the castle, but the entrance was inside the castle itself. I went to the corridors usually employed by the cooks, and softly turned the knob. I had not expected much, but the door creaked loudly before rattling still. It was locked.
I unsheathed my sword and swung it between the door and the frame, slicing the lock open. In the past, I would have destroyed the entire door if I tried doing that, but this went to show how much I had improved. The door opened with a dry sound, and after I went through it I locked it with a rod. The kitchen was cold, all the fires put out, and I could not sense anyone there. I waited some time for my eyes to get adjusted to the darkness, and then started walking on tiptoes.
I sensed far less people inside than outside the castle, but it was not entirely devoid of them. After a lot of struggle, I reach the entrance to the prison and let out a long sigh. The stairs leading down were dark, and coupled with the night, they looked more ominous. I braced myself and started going down the steps, a couple of steps in, I heard sounds from below.
(Are those…animals? But no one would raise animals down here…)
A weird sensation spread through my chest, the sounds were getting louder and clearer. They were voices, human voices. They were high pitched, and their owner was so distressed they no longer sounded like a person. Urged by them, I run the remaining steps down.
“Shut up you brat! It’s always the same s̲h̲i̲t̲ all over again every night! Give it up already!”
I was left speechless at what I saw. There were two men speaking angrily in front of a cell, they both wore black armor, so they had to be those mysterious black knights I was told about. But what had caught my attention lay beyond them, inside the cell. A child I knew very well, Juliana, Grom’s only daughter.
She clung onto the metal bars, screaming incoherently. She no longer looked sane, her eyes bloodshot and saliva streaking down from the corner of her mouth. I remembered her as a cheerful girl who could make anyone smile. She looked like a completely different person now.
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“Hm? Hey! Who gave you permission to come here!”
One of the black knights turned around and rushed towards me, swinging his fist without waiting for an answer. But before it reached me, I caught his fist and easily stopped him in front of me.
“Alright…I have some questions, so you better answer.”
I twisted his arm back and turned his body around, before mercilessly kicking him. His armor bent inwards from the hit, and his face was filled with terror as he flew onto the other black knight and both rolled on the floor.
“Y-You b̲a̲s̲t̲a̲r̲d̲! Do you realize who you’re standing against?!”
They both shuddered at my yell. Just feeling the anger and bloodlust filling my body was enough to leave them frozen in terror.
“What did you do to Juliana? Why is she acting like that?”
“W-what? We just-”
“Answer already! Or do you want to die faster?”
I unsheathe my sword as fast as I can, and they rush to get theirs ready too. So it seemed like they would not understand unless they felt actual pain. I was going to fulfill their desires then, and make them taste hell!