|Author: Ryuusen Hirotsugu||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 3693 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1739 words|
It was possible to see the rank of a devil by Examining it. That was a special ability only former players possessed, and it gave accurate information, so Mira was certain about the rank of the devil she had defeated.
That also verified the Spirit King’s claim that there was no devil above that one giving him orders, which also convinced Mira.
『This also means that all of his subordinates were weaker than a third rank Earl. Then there’s the barriers set up by that Union organization, which my kin tell me are so powerful that a devil with a lower position wouldn’t be able to get through.』
The Spirit King’s voice was getting more excited. Thanks to the network he had built amongst spirits, he had been able to absorb mounts of information about the current world, and how people lived now. That included the United Adventurer’s Guild, and secret information usually reserved for people working tightly with them. Since then, he had been waiting for the right time to flaunt the fact he was not only knowledgeable of the past, but also current culture.
『Ohh, those barriers were that powerful then?』
『From what I’ve gathered, yes. You require explicit permission to get through, right? Maybe if you go through the Union’s records you’ll be able to narrow down the suspects?』
The Spirit King seemed pleased by Mira’s shocked reaction, and confidently made that suggestion.
The Ancient Temple Nevrapolis was a dungeon, which meant it was encircled by a barrier, put in place by the Union. A devil with a lower rank than an Earl of the third rank could not breach through it, which meant that they necessarily would have obtained permission from the Union to enter.
So if the Union could check all the people who obtained permission to enter there, they could narrow down the list of suspects. At least that was the Spirit King’s suggestion.
That was quite a good suggestion, but it failed to consider one important aspect. Namely, the current state of that location.
『Hmm, I see… But we might not need to do that. A devil appeared in the dungeon, so all entry should have been barred while it was being investigated.』
Mira faintly remembered some of the details Solomon shared about the investigation after she left Nevrapolis. The Union would never leave a dungeon open after a devil was found in it, so they would block it and conduct a thorough search to make sure it was safe. Even when the investigation was over, they would raise the rank requirement to enter for a while, just in case.
『So that’s also a factor, hmm… That would leave a very small timeframe for someone to get the body part out…』
His voice was filled with regret, disappointed that his idea was also not the best.
The next obvious possibility was that someone had dug another hole to get in from outside, but after asking Solomon he quickly shot that idea down. The research team was quite adept at their job, and they searched every nook and cranny for vestiges of such an entry, but found there were no other suspicious holes there. In other words, whoever took the body part did it through the proper entrance.
That meant that the heist was carried out just after Mira left, and before the research team arrived there.
『Actually…there’s one last possibility, but I doubt you or Solomon will be pleased to hear it.』
So far, they still had no clues as to who and when the body part was taken out. But there was just one more factor they had to consider.
「…The research team?」
『I can’t think of anything else.』
Maybe someone from the research team Solomon sent had found the body part and stashed it away. So far that was actually the most likely scenario, after all other possibilities had been deemed unlikely.
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That was still a heavy accusation though, and it could not be handled poorly. The motivation behind it also would change things greatly.
『By the way, Spirit King. Exactly what does that body part look like?』
Its appearance. That was actually important when trying to discern the motivations behind the suspected theft. If it was something with a striking and important appearance, it could incite the greed of someone. And if it looked hideous, then no one would have approached it out of safety concerns.
『It’s appearance… Well, assuming that it hasn’t changed since back then, it shouldn’t look very different from the stones there. Though considering it still has the shape of a human body part, it could easily be mistaken for a statue fragment.』
If it looked like a broken statue in that deep location, it was possible someone could try pocketing it, banking on selling it for a high price thanks to its likely historical value. It was still hard to think someone with such temptations would have been chosen to be part of Solomon’s research team though.
『Luminaria apparently went with the research team as well. I find it hard to believe someone would be so driven by greed that, for a moment when she wasn’t looking, they’d pocket an item without even knowing its worth.』
That was Mira’s conclusion. Given a devil had appeared there, Luminaria had been together with the research team. It was hard to believe someone would be adventurous enough to potentially compromise the search under her watch.
『Luminaria? I believe she’s as powerful as you Mira, right? That’s a good point then, greed alone wouldn’t be enough to push someone to do that. Whoever took the body part must have been driven by a far stronger conviction.』
『Right. The perpetrator didn’t do it in the spur of the moment, but had a strong determination.』
They were still discussing a potential theory, but both believed the likelihood of it being true was rather high.
『I doubt there are humans who possess knowledge about this matter though. One of the devil’s subordinates must have usurped the position of one of the researchers.』
In the end, the only entity with a motivation to steal that body part was a devil, or at least with the information they currently had available. Mira and the Spirit King also focused on that the most.
It was a rather simple plan all things considered. A devil took over the place of one of the researchers, something devils could do as they possessed the ability to transfigurate forms, then entered the dungeon together with the research team. Once an opportunity to take the body part presented itself, they took it, and escaped somewhere.
Another possibility was that the devil brainwashed one of the researchers and used them as a puppet. Devils also possessed that ability, invading the mind of someone with low mental fortitude, turning them into an easily manipulated pawn.
There was one common factor between those two possibilities, a researcher acting like a different person.
Mira tried asking Solomon about that, and was told that everyone in the research team knew each other well, so they would have noticed if one of them had been taken over by a devil, or was being impersonated, and raised suspicion.
Not to mention that Luminaria was also there, so if someone was acting suspicious, they would have attracted the attention of everyone, making it impossible to steal the body part.
With that in mind, there was one more possibility, and something a devil would easily do.
『So intimidation and coercion are all that’s left.』
『Yes, considering everything, that’s the current most likely scenario.』
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Personally approaching a member of the research team and threatening them was something very devil-like, and an extremely effective means towards humans.
There were plenty of targets to be used as hostages as well, family, friends, a lover. The risk of losing someone like that was enough to drive a person into jeopardizing an important investigation.
『Another important fact to consider is when that devil got in contact with the compromised researcher. Especially if that devil is staying in the city.』
For such a threat to work effectively, the hostage had to be chosen carefully. Not to mention that there was still a chance the person could end up seeking help instead. To make sure everything worked out, the devil would have likely needed to stay in the city stalking the target for a while. That also had the implication of a dangerous devil having stayed in a city full of people.
『Hmm, I see… Then I shall tell Solomon how to use the Spirit Active Formation. That boosts the spiritual power of a location, and also creates a faint cleansing aura, which devils can hardly stand. Assuming there’s a devil in the city, that should drive it out sooner or later.』
『Ohh, that sounds incredible!』
The Spirit Active Formation was something created to revitalize ravaged land, according to the Spirit King. The formation would change the environment to turn it into a place where spirits could live better, and had been extremely useful after the wars of old which left the world marred in miasma.
Mira was quickly filled with excitement and gratitude when she heard she would be learning how to perform that.
『Someone will need to keep imbuing it with spiritual power once a week for the effect to remain, do you know anyone who could do that? If you don’t, I could ask someone to come.』
「Ah, hmm…I think we can do that ourselves. I know someone who’s half light spirit and half elf, and I’m pretty sure he’s adept with spirit magic too.」
As soon as spiritual power was mentioned, Mira instantly thought of Creos. While he was a summoner, he also had masterful control over his light spirit powers.
『Alright, that sounds like someone who can handle it. First off then, would you mind relaying everything we talked about to Solomon?』
『Right, I’ll do that.』
Mira took the communications device’s receiver and began telling Solomon everything she learned, about the role of the 48 Transducer Pillars of Heaven and Earth, the six secret pillars, the God of Monsters and his corpse, and the devil that was likely hiding nearby. The Spirit King also made sure to chime in every time she forgot details.