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≪24≫ – Coming of a Storm

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Author: Kisasaki Suzume Original Source: Syosetu
Translator: Mui English Source: Re:Library
Editor(s): Deximus-Maximus

Royal capital, northern district gate.

A high-speed carriage chartered through the Adventurer’s Guild was on standby there, with Lucella and Kafal already boarded.

“Things are so busy. You just finished things and now you’re already going back to Mount Kuguse, huh?”
“Well, I’m glad we managed to finish our business before the time limit.”

Lucella answered Tim and Viola, who came to see them off, through the window.

Leaving the three who were going to attend the banquet, Lucella and Kafal were returning to Mount Kuguse ahead of time.

If they were to leave the capital now, they would spend the night at a rest stop along the way and be able to return to Kugutfulm by tomorrow. And the day after tomorrow was the deadline for the “trial” designated by Shurei.

“About that dragon’s trial. Is there nothing we can do to help you?”
“Thanks for the thought, but it wouldn’t be a trial if you did.”
“True… I’ll wish you good luck at least.”
“Leave it to me.”

The two were worried after seeing those dragons up close.

Lucella tapped on her flat chest to reassure them.

“Well… nothing would change no matter what we do.”
“Yeah. Good luck, Lucella. Meanwhile, we’ll go and fill our bellies with delicious palace cuisine.”

Wein said jokingly.

It may seem easy at first glance, but they had to deal with people so it wouldn’t end with just a meal. That was also part of their work.

Once they wished each other luck, the carriage sped toward the north.

The high-speed carriage, designed with comfort in mind, barely rocked on well-maintained roads.

It was a comfortable journey at a speed close to that of a fast horse.

Inside the carriage, Lucella was teaching Kafal the rules of “Lord of the Tiles,” a game played on a board. This game, which involved using many pieces to wage war, tested one’s mental processing abilities. While Lucella herself wasn’t an expert, she was astonished when Kafal, who had just learned the rules, began putting up a good fight by the third match.

It was a critical moment, where they were either about to checkmate or be checkmated.

The scenery outside the carriage was tinged with the colors of the sunset. Just as Lucella was about to consider turning on the magical lights inside the carriage, a card she was holding suddenly ignited in a blue flame.

It was a magic item for distant communication known as a caller. It was quite popular as a communication method among adventurers. The spell was inscribed on a paper infused with magic catalysts.

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They were created as a set of two, and it was possible to communicate between the linked pairs. It was also a disposable item that burned up in ten-odd minutes.

The caller Lucella had was given to her by Ivar and was paired with his own.

Tracing the designated shape on its surface, Lucella activated the charm.

“Mr. Ivar, what’s the matter?”
“The golem has been identified! The b̲a̲s̲t̲a̲r̲d̲s̲ carefully erased the characteristics when making it, but the graselm circuits that survived the burning were identified after the analysis! It’s almost certainly a Maltgartz military model, and one that has been rolled out within three months. It’s extremely unlikely that it was looted or obtained through illegal channels. Most likely, Julian brought it in!”

Ivar started speaking in a loud voice right away, making it clear that he was at his wit’s end.

“Hey, do you know the versatility of golems as soldiers?”
“Like the fact that they don’t fear death and they’ll never disobey you…?”
“That too, but that’s not all. You know how you can’t put living things into storage magic items, right?”
“Well, you can put things that aren’t alive.”

When Lucella realized what he was getting at, all the hair on her body stood up.

“For example, if you enchanted your suitcase with storage magic and just said it contained the clothes of the marquis and brought that over, they probably won’t check the contents during the inspection.”
“A golem that large wouldn’t fit in any normal storage, though…”
“But they can just demolish it into parts and patch it back together after bringing it over. It’s a golem, after all.”

In other words, golems were a military power that an individual could secretly carry in. It was easier to hide compared to bringing in humans.

And Julian could do that much.

Even if an average citizen would have their luggage checked down to a single needle they had on them, Julian’s social position allowed him to dodge it conveniently.

“Of course, there’s a limit to what you can bring. For example, if you tried to bring in enough golems to bring down the royal capital, it would end up being a clearly suspicious number of baggage, and they can’t even prepare that many of them.”
“Then… What could they aim for with the number of golems they can possibly bring in…”
“Places with important people.”
“Places with weak defenses.”
“Targets who must not be compromised under any circumstances.”
“This is the worst possible timing.”

The silence followed.

Within the confines of the passenger compartment in the high-speed carriage, the soft murmur of wheels connecting with the earth, the muted clatter of horse hooves, and the gentle groaning of the carriage were barely audible.

However, at this moment, those sounds seemed unusually loud and grating.

Lucella’s memory brought her back to the inspection they’d faced at the entrance of the castle gate before their admission to the royal palace.

The purpose of this thorough examination was to ensure that no magical artifacts were being smuggled in. However…

A revelation dawned on her, “I see, so that’s how it is…”

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Usually, any magic items carried would raise suspicion, but it was customary for persons of influence to bear them as shields against curses and other threats.

Although these artifacts might be subjected to a magical power check, their specific effects would remain undetected, thus opening a loophole for deception.

“In other words, you could just do it in the form of a box or a bag. You could even camouflage it as a cloak or a scarf. Now that I think back on it, that b̲a̲s̲t̲a̲r̲d̲ wore a really bulky scarf.”

Everything made sense, and all the facts agreed with it.

Piece after piece started to fit into its place, gradually revealing a puzzle that must not be completed.

“The royal palace security is strict… but it has its limits! If they started investigating even the buttholes of every person who enters it they wouldn’t be able to finish it until nightfall. As such, they would normally ignore the ‘almost’ impossible cases.”
“A VIP normally wouldn’t try to become an assassin himself and expose their life to danger. Moreover, you normally wouldn’t cause a definitive breakdown in politics.”
“It’s impolite to suspect guests of honor, so they wouldn’t delve too deeply into it, since it goes both ways.”

One normally wouldn’t do it. Normally, that is.

There may not be absolute laws in the relationships between the kingdoms, but there were still agreements and unwritten rules that emerged through diplomacy.

If it were a free-for-all where “anything goes” between nations, it would quickly escalate into a never-ending cycle of warfare until one side is completely annihilated. To prevent this, people establish rules.

This was not necessarily for the sake of morality or goodness, but ultimately to gain benefits.

Let’s assume that Julian was preparing some kind of conspiracy.

If he were to storm into the royal palace and unleash the golems, the question would be how meaningful the resulting battle would be.

It could perhaps be meaningful if he managed to seize Setulev by doing it, but killing a few nobles would hardly bring the kingdom into ruin.

In fact, such actions would likely provoke the public opinion of other kingdoms that were observing the Gufare front, pushing them towards a more hostile stance and potentially generating criticism or reasons for intervention. In other words, the potential losses would outweigh the gains. Moreover, Julian himself would most likely be slain on the spot.

But Lucella remembered the transient, dangerous, elusive, and empty impression she got when she met Julian in the palace.

That man didn’t seem to have things to protect or lose.

And… what was more frightening was that… what if this madness was something personal that even Maltgartz was unaware of?

There would be no possible breaks in such a situation.

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“…Things are bad, huh?”
“They are.”

Lucella made her stiffened hands into fists.

“Mom, we’re returning to the royal palace!”


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