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≪1-6≫ – Malice

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

Upon returning from viewing the vista, it seemed that the meeting in which Tim and Wein had participated was already over. They welcomed Lucella and the others at the entrance of the town.

“Good work.”
“Likewise. How was the meeting?”
“Well, we were just listening to the discussions, so not much to say. We wanted to grasp the current state of the town and the parts where we want the Guild’s cooperation. As representatives of adventurers, we’ll just express any opinions or suggestions from an adventurer’s perspective.”

Tim and Wein, being at the top of the city’s party hierarchy, had connections all around and held influence. However, they didn’t possess the authority to command other adventurers. Each adventurer acted independently.

Hence, they were only officially there to provide advice as ‘adventurer representatives.’ Nevertheless, by briefing them beforehand, things could be made smoother when involving other adventurers. Although it wasn’t explicitly stated, there was an underlying expectation for them to fulfill that role effectively.

“I’ve heard that the king and the duke are working hard, and luckily, we have enough supplies. However, the city guards are quite overwhelmed, so they asked for assistance in patrols for security. Also, if there’s a major attack from powerful monsters, they would rely on adventurers.”
“The main concern is if the Variants come out from Mount Kuguse. But didn’t we pretty much deplete them during the battle with Marquis Angus’ forces?”
“Yes… That’s true. I do believe we’ll manage, though.”
“So, well, I don’t really expect them to come. If they do, I think we can somehow deal with it, but if we keep reducing the number of Variants further, it’ll become worrisome for the mountain.”
“Yes. Mom is taking measures to ensure the Variants don’t get too close to the town… Ideally, I’d like to just drive them away if they come. Of course, we can’t jeopardize the safety of the townspeople, so if things get dangerous, it would come down to subjugation…”

The city struck by the disaster was more vulnerable than usual. Fortunately, there didn’t seem to be any signs of Maltgartz launching another attack, but even so, they couldn’t let their guard down. The lives of humans were always threatened by monsters.

That’s why, at times like this, adventurers with their freedom-bringing swords became crucial, not just the authority held by those in power.

The adventurers didn’t have obligations or responsibilities towards the city. However, a sense of responsibility was a different matter. It was because they willingly shouldered the burdens of the powerless that Golden Helmet had gained trust. Drawing their swords for the sake of righteousness was a common occurrence. They thought about the city’s well-being as a matter of course, without any undue tension.

“Did anything interesting happen on your end?”
“Yes. Monica said she wanted to become a Chrome Shooter.’”
“Oh, Chromist huh.”

Monica, who had been listening quietly, quickly hid behind Viola, avoiding Wein’s gaze. Wein could only chuckle at her reaction.

“You could probably buy a Chrome Shooter somewhere, but if you wanted to be a Chromist, you’d also need a device to turn records into pictures.”
“True… Having just a peeping box doesn’t seem sufficient.”

Both Tim and Wein wore thoughtful expressions.

While Lucella wasn’t particularly knowledgeable about Chrome Shooters or Cromists, she did know that those who went by the name of Chromist generally transformed what they captured into pictures to show others.

However, that’s where the problem lies.

Capturing images with a Chrome Shoter —essentially recording memories as images— was a relatively common technique, employing an adaptation of the memory core technology used in golems. However, the process of turning those records into actual pictures was a challenge. Although there were printing machines for Chrome Shooters, Lucella had no idea where to acquire one or how much money it would take, even though she had heard that they existed.

“Should we ask the newspaper company or something? They must use Chrome Shooters, and since they publish photos in the newspaper, they probably have machines to print images too.”
“Are those machines something individuals can buy?”
“I don’t know. In terms of cost, well, if newspaper companies or the Adventurer’s Guild can buy them, it’s not like we adventurers couldn’t afford them…”

As they walked while discussing this, Wein suddenly stopped in his tracks.

“Hey, don’t you smell something weird?”
“Now that you mention it, there is a different odor…”

The city of Kugutfulm, submerged in muddy water, still carried the faint stench of mud and a lingering hint of decay throughout the streets.

However, there was something more.

There was a looming foul stench that hit the nose with an almost violent force.

Since there were no general citizens collapsing around them, it didn’t seem to be the result of a poisonous gas release. However, everyone noticed the unusual smell. They wrinkled their faces, covered their noses, and looked around, trying to assess the situation.

Among the thief skills commonly used by adventurers was the ability to sharpen their senses to detect danger. Wein seemed to have immediately discerned the direction from which the smell was coming. He swiftly strode forward with large steps.

The foul odor gradually intensified.

Their destination was the same as the direction Lucella and her companions had been heading from the beginning.

To the former hot spring inn, the Rock Lizard Inn, which served as their party’s base.

“There’s a crowd over there.”
“No way… What’s going on?”

The area around the Rock Lizard Inn was filled with people who were clamoring uneasily, their demeanor filled with unease. The entrance of the inn was completely obscured from view.

While holding their noses or covering their mouths, they observed something.

“Hey, let us through! What’s… Oh!?”

Wein, who had pushed through the crowd to reach the front, exclaimed in surprise and bewilderment.

Made from aged and glossy wood, the double doors of the entrance were sizable.

There, a massive amount of feces resembling watery mud had been splattered, enough to fill several barrels of wine.

The damage wasn’t limited to just the entrance; five different parts of the Rock Lizard Inn building were affected.

One of those spots involved a broken window, and the substance had been thrown inside the building. Fortunately, it was a ground-floor guest room undergoing cleaning due to flooding, so the belongings weren’t ruined, which was a stroke of luck amidst the misfortune.

Eventually, the city guards arrived, and the crowd of onlookers who had already satisfied their curiosity thinned out and dispersed.

As the guards conducted their on-site investigation, Wein let out a sigh.

“Well, at least it’s not like we found grandma’s dead body.”

His joke was not only dark but also carried a hint of bitterness.

“But seriously, what in the world…”
“It can’t be just a coincidence.”
“No way. I highly doubt there’s a possibility that s̲h̲i̲t̲ falls from the sky and coincidentally lands at our doorstep.”

Both Tim and Wein glared at the substantial amount of filth. It was clearly no coincidence; rather, it appeared to be a deliberate act, most likely a malicious scheme. While the spilled substance amounted to nothing more than a dirty and foul-smelling mess, the malevolence of the culprit behind it could sour anyone’s expression.

“S-So, what are you doing, Viola?”
“I’m analyzing traces of magic.”

Viola was amidst the guards investigating the scene, collecting the filth and stuffing it into flasks.

“You wouldn’t easily come by something like this. Setulev has well-established sewage systems in most cities.”
“Yes! And it’s highly unlikely they would carry it in regular containers. They must have used some kind of magic. If we can deduce that…!”
“You’re quite skilled at handling this…”
“It’s not like I’m touching it with my bare hands. I’ve poked around in creature droppings to study their ecology, so I’m used to it.”
“What a resilient princess.”

Viola, who possessed top-notch proficiency in almost all types of magic, should be able to use the Deodorant spell, but perhaps to preserve the clues, she was investigating the source of the smell without dispelling it.

In this situation, Viola worked calmly as if completely unfazed. As a top-tier adventurer, she was undoubtedly exceptional not only in combat but in various other aspects as well.

As Viola gradually added the “samples” into the flasks, a transparent liquid within one of them began to change its color to reddish-black.

“Reacting to reagent 71… This contains components of a magic potion used as growth stimulant for livestock feed.”
“So, this is likely manure from livestock used for compost.”
“Well, if you want to source some crap, that’s probably the most convenient way.”
“Let’s try putting it through various reagents. If we can discern regional patterns in the magic potion used, it might reveal the origin.”
“…To go to this extent to examine s̲h̲i̲t̲… the person who splattered it probably never considered this level of scrutiny.”

Wein was torn between exasperation and admiration.
Lucella shared the same sentiment.

“After that… there was no need to use reagents. We found out about the means of transportation.”

Viola picked something up with a pair of tweezers. Covered in filth, it was a hard, transparent fragment of something.

“A broken potion ball?”

Potion balls were like bombs filled with potions that could be thrown. They would shatter upon impact, releasing their contents. If they contained potions, those would disperse like smoke.

They had various applications, from throwing poison into enemy ranks to supporting allies. If something was liquid or viscous, it could generally be packed into a potion ball and used as an explosive.

“Fragment of a crap bomb, huh?”
“Most likely.”

The trick was revealed. However, the more critical questions to uncover were Who and For what purpose.


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