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≪1-7≫ – Preparing for Interception

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

Tim and Lucella walked through the city.

They seemed to be in a hurry, walking a bit faster than usual.

“It’s like they deliberately targeted midday. They must be avoiding the night hours when all the Golden Helmet members are retired there.”
“I’ve heard from a thief that it’s more advantageous to infiltrate during the day, blending into the crowd rather than the darkness of the night.”

Their party’s base, the Rock Lizard Inn, faced a relatively quiet street.

It might be possible to wander around pretending to be passersby and finish the job when they were no longer under anyone’s gaze.

“…It might sound strange coming from me, but I don’t think anyone in this city has the guts to mess with Golden Helmet.”
“That’s true. So, could the culprit be someone from elsewhere?”
“At the very least, the one who carried out the deed might be from elsewhere.”

Despite not wearing armor, Tim’s imposing silhouette created the illusion of him being fully armored.

Outsiders didn’t draw much attention in cities. Kugutfulm was abuzz with hot spring visitors, and now it had reconstruction workers and merchants joining the crowd, more so than usual.

“But if that’s the case, there might be something we can investigate.”

The place the two were heading towards was a small fortress-like building located within the city. It served as the headquarters for the city guard, responsible for maintaining security in the city and dealing with monsters during peacetime.

“I see, I understand the situation. Let’s sift through the records of the residents and track as much as we can,”

Interrupting his administrative work, the captain of the city guard welcomed the two and immediately accepted the task upon hearing Tim’s explanation.

In the captain’s office, equipped with a large desk, maps of the city’s surroundings and detailed maps of the city itself were hung on the walls, each adorned with numerous annotations and notes.

Several stacks of documents were organized on the desk, and in the hallway outside the room, guards and clerks were forming a line, awaiting their turn to bring in documents or make reports.

The atmosphere seemed better suited for a brief visit.

“If the culprit came to the city from outside, it’s likely a recent development, perhaps within the last day or two. At least after the flood damage. They might have already left the city… Just investigate as much as you can. Sorry for putting this on you during such a busy time.”
“Oh, not at all. This is part of the job. If we find anything, we’ll notify you immediately. Should we meet at the inn?”
“Yeah. Right now, every place in this city where you can stay is already full… We’ll take care of things quickly and spend tonight there again.”
“Understood. We’ll talk later.”

As soon as the conversation was over, the two exited the room. A guard who had been waiting in the hallway saluted Tim and Lucella crisply before entering the captain’s office right after them.

The city guard seemed truly busy. But even amidst this, the captain of the city guard had met with Tim and Lucella and provided them with the utmost convenience.

“Normally, the city guard wouldn’t go so far as to investigate all the residents like this. But… if I say the word, they’ll move,” Walking down the corridor of the headquarters, Tim muttered with a sour expression.

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While it might be the ideal of the city guard to thoroughly investigate every crime and apprehend every criminal, thus serving as a deterrent against crime, the reality was that both manpower and budget were limited. Therefore, the city guard had to prioritize their tasks.

The more significant the crime, the more resources would be allocated to deal with it. However, the question remained: What cases were considered significant? It wasn’t just about the scale of the damage but also about who or what had been targeted. These were the criteria that couldn’t be overlooked.

As the leader of one of the city’s top party and someone entrusted with Viola, Tim’s position carried weight even with the city guard. Especially when he personally came to the headquarters and made a request, it became even more significant.

“It feels a bit underhanded, doesn’t it?”
“It’s the result of your consistent efforts. We judged it necessary to do so… that’s the reason.”

The earnest Tim had a guilty conscience about it, but this decision was unavoidable. If it had been a mere prank, the situation might have been different. However, this was likely a case that the city guard needed to address as a priority.

“With this, we’ve played our ‘offensive’ move. As for the ‘defensive’ aspect…” Tim murmured.
“If we set up enough crystal orbs, the culprit will likely become cautious and avoid approaching. And if they still come, we can just catch them,” Lucella answered.
“That’s true… I’m surprised you came up with that idea.”
“It wasn’t me who thought of it; I just knew about it.”

There were various types of magic in the world that allowed one to see distant scenes using crystal orbs. Sometimes they were used as mediums for magic, and in other cases, they were turned into magic items that anyone, not just magicians, could use.

Golden Helmet had been collecting sets of magic items called the Twin Eyes from around the city. These were a pair of crystal orbs that, when you looked into one, allowed you to see the surroundings of the other crystal orb.

Lucella had proposed setting these up around the Rock Lizard Inn’s building. She suggested arranging one set of orbs in a ‘monitoring room’ from which the entire surroundings would be clearly visible at a glance. She had remembered hearing about a noble in Maltgartz who used a similar method for securing their vault room, and that’s what inspired her proposal.

Normally, for something like this, hiring people would be the way to go, but that would cost money, and above all, Lucella’s judgment was that they shouldn’t ‘increase the number of people involved.’

“Viola and Wein will surely set it up perfectly.”
“Yeah… During urban missions, I’m always useless. I don’t have anything useful to contribute except connections.”

Tim’s words weren’t self-deprecating. He understood the concept of roles and responsibilities within the party, but at the same time, he must have been frustrated with the feeling of relying on others for certain tasks.

“I’m in a similar boat these days. In reality, during times like this, a manager should be able to leverage their unique strengths and join the quests, but…”
“Is there an issue?”
“I stand out too much right now. In appearance and position.”
“I see.”

Lucella was also frustrated.

Tim, Wein, Viola… They were all well-known figures in the city, and people like them needed someone who could perform “behind-the-scenes” tasks without drawing too much attention. However, Lucella hadn’t become that. She herself had become a famous person (or a dragon?) on par with the other three, and even people who didn’t know her would turn their heads at her presence. She had become an unbeatable beauty who stood out like the North Star in a crowd.

“A manager is said to be the shadow that carries the party’s name. They should exude cleanliness, sincerity, and not draw too much attention… They don’t need more distinctive features. At least, they should be able to behave that way. There are several reasons for this, but in this case, the problem is that everything the party does becomes completely visible to the public eye. There were tasks that I should have been able to handle as someone who works behind the scenes and doesn’t stand out.”
“Well, nothing to be done about it. ‘Cats and dragons hunt differently,’ as they say. We’ll just have to find a solution in a way that only we can.”
“Haha… Indeed, with me being a dragon and all.”

It was a fairly clever joke, coming from Tim, who wasn’t usually good with lies or jokes.

“What do you think about this incident, Tim?”
“…I probably think the same thing as you.”

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When Lucella asked, Tim furrowed his thick brows resolutely and his expression turned into a gaze focused on the distance.

“In other words, it’s strategic harassment. The recent battle at Mount Kuguse was a contribution of the ducal family and Kafal. Most of the citizens would praise the heroes without any suspicion. So, they probably feared that the ducal family would grow politically strong from this. They probably thought that if the Golden Helmet were to disband, the situation would change. Currently, the Golden Helmet forms a nexus connecting the Royal Family, the Ducal Family, and the Dragon of Mount Kuguse. On the surface, it’s just an ordinary adventurer party, but its political presence has become too heavy.”

One of the flooded first-floor guest rooms had been hastily cleaned up to the bare minimum, and Viola had set it up as a ‘monitoring room.’ About seven large crystal orbs were lined up on the desk, with intricate threads of mythril-silver entwined in chaotic patterns. Normally, these were magic items powered by magic stones, but Viola had improvised modifications to make them work with direct connections through wires.

While examining maps of the building and its surroundings, Wein clicked his tongue in annoyance.

“So, they targeted my place?”
“Based on the surface-level information alone, Wein, you would only appear to be a local collaborator. Targeting peripheral collaborators instead of those fully prepared for political strife is a common strategy… If they don’t want a full-blown war with the ducal house through a direct attack, then aiming to frustrate Golden Helmet members, who are collaborators, seems logical. In that case, the primary target is obviously the provider of the base.”
“You’re kidding me. I’m not going to run away, and that woman wouldn’t be shaken by something like this either. Darn, this is raising my blood pressure.”

First of all, when considering who would have the audacity to harass a top-tier adventurer’s base, one could narrow down the list of suspects considerably. Considering the motive behind choosing such a method could further narrow it down.

The power struggle among the nobles over the former Queen Consort Loreina wasn’t something that had started recently; it had been simmering for quite some time.

Duke Foster’s Household, which had married their daughter off to Crown Prince Lazarus, had fallen due to a scandal instigated by Queen Consort Loreina herself. After retreating quietly, as if gold had fallen from the sky, they were beginning to secure an overwhelming political influence over others through fortunate circumstances…

For the parties involved, it might have been a product of circumstances, but the ducal house would likely cunningly exploit the situation, and it was not in the interests of opposing factions.

So, there might be those who would take action to disrupt this situation.

“But still, would the culprits really continue to linger in the city?”
“I believe they would. Attacks like these are meaningless unless they persist until the target is thoroughly fed up. Rather than sending people repeatedly, they’d likely use pawns who have already infiltrated the city once. The perpetrator might be willing to be exposed and caught… at least, the mastermind would be.”

Viola had her suspicions that it was the work of hired thugs.

Every noble would have the personnel for covert, spy, and espionage work, but this job wasn’t of the highest caliber to require their direct involvement.

It’s as simple as moving the tail of a lizard that could be cut off at any moment. Lizards could be readily replaced.

“It’s only been four days since that battle. Considering the short amount of time, I don’t think they’ve crafted intricate plans. Success or failure doesn’t matter. Whether the perpetrator is caught or escapes, it’s all fine. They just need to continue the attacks and apply pressure… I believe that’s their line of thinking.”

Wein pursed his lips and growled like a threatening dog.

“Regarding Monica…”
“She has likely realized. She’s a clever girl.”
“I see.”

They probably didn’t target this place just because Monica resided here. The fact that the attack happened the day after she arrived gave the impression that things were moving too fast.

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However, it was undoubtedly an attack aimed at severing ties with the ducal house, and in that sense, Monica wasn’t unrelated.

…And such an incident happened right in front of Monica.

“It’s unforgivable, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” Viola adjusted her glasses and looked at one of the crystal orbs.

The image from the surveillance crystal, which had been set up as an experiment for now, displayed the entrance of the inn, where the traces of dried water from the cleaning were still visible.

The lingering smell of the intense odor still wafted into the building, and it seemed that without some kind of magical intervention, getting a good night’s sleep would be difficult.

“I can’t forgive this.”


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