Translator: Denryuu; Editor: Ryunakama
Wow look, more assassins.
Picking off the last of them, I tossed away the knife I had stolen before helping a spent Dee to her feet.
「Looks like I made it on time.」
「How did you know, Roland-sama…?」
「You’ve never failed to contact me at the usual time. So when I didn’t receive word from you, of course I felt that something had gone wrong.」
Squinting, the vampire looked at the dawn-lit sky.
「Mhm. It’s already this late.」
「You’re always in the wrong place at the wrong time.」
「I was just unlucky, okay?」
I asked Dee a few questions, from which my suspicions were confirmed.
「Basically, Bale-kun’s actions somehow got exposed. I don’t think they have any other reason to come after him.」
「I was wondering whether to squeeze a bit more out of him, but they acted too fast.」
I stared at Bale, who was still on the floor.
「Y-You… you’re that guy from that forest with the Grey Wolves –!」
「It was nice working with you.」
Bale’s former task had been to hunt the legally-protected Grey Wolves. Back then, I had asked Dee to approach him so that she could tease out insider information about Welger & Co.
「Thank you for looking after Dee… or rather, for letting Dee look after you. It’s thanks to you that many of our uncertainties have been clarified.」
「Ara-ara, look at this dense chap. This is what he means.」
Wrapping her arms around mine, Dee made a big display of kissing me.
「Get off me.」
「Oh, uh… so I’ve been tricked…」, the crestfallen Bale muttered, hanging his head low. 「I knew something was fishy. No wonder…」
「So sorry. If it’s Roland, I’ll do anything he asks. I can be a saint or a demon, whichever suits his needs.」
Apologising with no guilt whatsoever. Scary.
「Also, I think I might have information about the abduction.」
Continuing our discussion in the corridor was clearly a bad idea, so we shifted over to the room in which Dee and Bale had resided for the past few weeks.
「Since I won’t be allowed back in the association anymore, there’s no reason for me to hold anything from you」, said Bale as he told us everything he knew.「Are you actually acquainted with that Amstel?」
「Not particularly, but I too have a stake in said affair.」
I see, Bale replied.
「So you know I was part of the organising team behind the abduction, right? Makes things easier if you do. My squad was made to lend another squad a hand.」
「And how did that collaboration benefit you?」
They used Amstel’s name to submit the request and would pay up when it was fulfilled. If this ‘they’ was indeed Welger & Co., I don’t see how the abduction would benefit them at all.
「The folks from that squad were complaining too. About how they have nothing to gain and all that. Doesn’t that make it seem like we’re being used to somebody else’s advantage?」
「Somebody else? Who is that?」
「Even I have no idea.」
To summarise what I know so far:
- Somebody out there knows who I am.
- Thanks to the quest slip, that somebody is likely to have been affiliated with the underground arena.
- Said somebody is using Amstel in order to conceal his own identity.
- He also had people from Welger & Co. abduct Amstel’s daughter to make him comply.
「Have the actual perpetrators told you where they’re keeping her hostage?」
「Ah, well… I did ask, but since I had nothing to do with it, I probably raised suspicion by doing that.」
I don’t think they’d have sent four assassins after him just for that. It’s much more likely that they had suspected him of leaking information long ago, then had their suspicions confirmed when he asked unknowingly.
「So where is it?」
「Somewhere along the border between Ferland and Vadenhaag. But there are only a few spots.」
He produced a rough sketch of said area and marked out three spots.
Glancing at Dee, who was still all over me, Bale drooped his shoulders and sighed. He must have fallen in love with her for real.
「To think that I was so into her, despite not having touched her even once…」
「Roland-sama is leagues ahead of you.」
「We would have known much less without you. Because of that, we owe you our thanks」, I said.
Dee looked at me with surprise.
「Money. Give me money. I need money to return to my hometown safely…」
「No woman, no cry?」
「C’mon, give me a break.」
I guess he had been traumatised by his experience with Dee. I counted nine wads of cash — all the money I had earned from my underground work — and decided to give it to him.
「Nine million…!?」, he exclaimed, wide-eyed.
「It’s for the information you provided. Expecting more?」
「No, not at all. Any more, and I’d be terrified…」
「Ara-ara, maa-maa. What did Roland-sama do to Bale-kun, I wonder～」
「Way to feign ignorance.」
Since I had killed all his assailants, it would take some time for the others to receive word that Bale’s silencing attempt had failed. There had been nobody spectating from afar either, so I assume that the association won’t make a move for quite some time.
I told Bale this.
「I see. That’s great. Together with my savings, it’s more than enough to return home and lie low.」
He produced a large rucksack and began filling it with his essentials.
「Since when did you start walking around with that much money, Roland-sama?」
「Money makes it easier to get things done. It’s one thing to give them a figure, and another to actually produce that sum right before their eyes.」
It gets across the idea that I have the means to pay up. Once he was done packing, Bale stood up.
「Thanks again」, I said, extending my hand.
Looking confused, Bale returned the handshake.
「I’ve been through a lot because of you. Although, I guess I deserved it for being involved in something like Welger & Co…」
He withdrew his hand and looked at Dee.
「Thank you, Candy… I know you were acting according to his orders, but you still helped me out there.」
「Ufufu. Don’t fall for bad women so easily, got it?」
「I’ve learnt my lesson and will be more prudent next time.」
See you then, said Bale, leaving through the door.
「I wonder if he’ll be okay. Bale-kun isn’t that strong, so if someone from the association chances upon him…」
「Since you’re that worried, why don’t you follow him?」
「Oh, shut up.」
「That’s why I gave him so much. If he does run into anyone, he can use the money to cover the other party’s eyes. Depends on his luck too.」
Washing your hands clean of an underground profession is easier said than done. Life is like a straight path — no matter how far you walk or how much you deviate from it, you can always see your past the moment you turn around.
「His shadow will always follow him.」
「Nothing」, I said, shaking my head slightly.