|Author: Tsunose Bun||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 3024 characters|
|Translator: Jiro||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1178 words|
The continent was home to a number of countries, the largest of which being the mighty Chulice Empire.
It grew its area year by year with its own culture and technology, with limited connection with other countries. According to rumors, the empire was on a mission to conquer the continent.
With the fall of the once-prosperous Great Kingdom of Egelmun, the continent was left with just one kingdom, known as the Holy Kingdom of Esther, that could compete with the Chulice Empire. However, even the Holy Kingdom of Esther, if it went to war alone, would have little chance of victory.
As a result, the Chulice Empire’s neighbors formed coalitions to restrict the Empire’s territorial growth.
The Kingdom of Lambada, the Holy Kingdom of Esther, the Kingdom of Sphinia, the Lezau Duchy, and the Republic of Kushilia formed the Five Kingdom Alliance.
For many years, that coalition has kept a tight check on each other, preventing the Empire from expanding, and the fight for power on the continent has remained rigorous.
However, if the Lezau Duchy’s nobility is really linked to the Empire, this is quite problematic.
A nobleman with the assistance of the Empire could take control of Lezau Duchy and betray the Five Kingdom Alliance. Even if that didn’t happen, if it was discovered that there was an informant within the Lezau Duchy, the relations between the five nations, which had never been strong to begin with, would undoubtedly be severed.
Whatever the case, the Chulice Empire was sure to benefit from the scenario.
“Can you testify to Duke Lezau that Count Fonan is linked to the Empire?”
With sweat dripping down his brow, the assassin shook his head in response to Astard’s query.
“There’s nothing on paper that suggests a link between myself and the Count. If I made such an appeal to the Duke, he would assume I was making it up and would either execute me or simply ignore it.”
“But, if he is indeed associated with the Empire, shouldn’t we be able to uncover proof if we search his mansion?”
“I doubt a Duke can investigate a count’s home based only on the word of a single adventurer, no matter how influential he may be! He can’t do it until he has solid proof!”
Astard turned his gaze to Merc after glancing down thoughtfully at the assassin’s remarks.
“It appears that this will prove to be rather tricky. If Count Fonan is indeed tied to the empire, I’m worried for my collaborator’s safety… I’m going outside.”
“I’ll come with you.”
“Then how about we go back to my home for the time being?”
Astard slowly walked towards the stairway leading to the fourth floor after making the proposal.
“H-Hey! Wait! Don’t leave me here!”
The assassin shuddered and screamed, still bound by the magic rope. The Great Sage gave the man a sidelong glance, his eyes concealed by his hood.
“Oh, I almost forgot. I’m not going to feed you to the Gai since you provided me with some useful information.”
Astard said, and the magic rope that restrained the assassin vanished, freeing him.
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“Now then. Estert, let’s go.”
Merc and Astard ascended the stairs, leaving the fifth floor and the assassin who was staring at them warily from behind.
They spotted numerous individuals lying next to the Dorum Gai when they reached the fourth floor. They were all, apparently, dead.
“Now that I think about it, I had given it orders to kill if someone managed to get through by using his comrades as bait. It’s done a spectacular job.”
“It seems like it… Well, the Gai will likely take care of these bodies, but still, I’m shocked. I didn’t think you’d let the assassin off the hook.”
“What? Oh, yea.”
Astard threw a look at the Dorum Gai. The Dorum Gai responded by walking down the stairs without saying anything. It was most likely on its way to kill the assassin, based on its demeanor.
“Hey… Didn’t you say you’d spare him?”
“I didn’t. I only said I wouldn’t feed him to the Gai. I’ll allow him to fight the Dorum Gai as an adventurer and die valiantly.”
“You’re as merciless as ever.”
“You’ve grown naïve. If anything like this had happened back then, you would have cleaned up the mess if I had forgotten about it.”
“Really? I’m not that cruel!”
“I wonder about that…”
Astard just smiled meaningfully in response to Merc’s objections.
The guild official stationed at the gate turned to Astard and slightly bowed to him once Merc and Astard exited the Dungeon. He was probably familiar with Astard, who was dressed suspiciously. He then gave Merc, who was standing next to Astard, a curious glance but said nothing in particular.
In the end Merc and Astard left the place.
“By the way, I hear you’re living in Logholt now.”
“Technically, I reside on the outskirts of Logholt.”
“Are you really okay with that? Isn’t Count Fonan going to come to your house and try to search it?”
“You don’t need to worry about that. I have spells cast on every document in my house. If someone other than me attempts to read them, they’ll catch fire, so even if they’re discovered, there won’t be an issue. To begin with, I’ve cast a spell on the property itself, allowing only those I authorize to enter.”
“Hmph. You’ve got some useful spells.”
Astard casually shook his head at Merc, who expressed her admiration.
“It may not work on the strong, but it will most certainly work on those employed by Count Fonan. I can estimate the caliber of assassins he can employ based on the assassins that have already attacked me.”
“I see… Still, do not let your guard down. If your research can really create and allow one to command a Falgaro then the present power ties between the nations will immediately collapse. It’s inevitable that many countries will be eager to get their hands on it.”
“I don’t need you to tell me that. Good grief, that deplorable group. They’re being rather obnoxious in their attempts to turn the research I’m conducting for peace into a military operation.”
Merc took note of Astard’s statements, which he expressed in a more aggressive tone than usual.
He seemed upset in his own way, but it was hard to tell because his face was expressionless as always.
“I figured I’d just let him go if he was just interfering with my research, but if the Count is related to the Empire, that’s a different story. I must get him out of this country at any cost. If I don’t, I’ll be enabling the Empire to act as they see fit behind the scenes. Will you help me, Estert?”
Under the hood, a determined stare peered out at Merc. Merc smiled at Astard as she shrugged her shoulders1.
“Do you even have to ask? Of course I will. But first, tell me more about this Count Fonan and that collaborator of yours.”
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