Volume 3 Chapter 8.4
Translator: Adam Seacord
“I’m back. Any new information on the incident in the Desert?”
At the Darl palace, the queen who had been absent under the pretense of meeting with the temple representatives had asked Sergio the one thing that was on her mind the whole time, the second she returned. The whole reason for her traveling this time was because of this incident, anyway.
“A long absence for just talking in the temple. We do have a good collection of information.”
“I see. I’ve stopped by everywhere I could to collect as much as we could.”
“Your Highness, please don’t go wandering about in this emergency…”
“Only so much information one can trust without getting ahold of it themselves.”
The Queen was too careful to limit her source of information to anyone within her palace. If she hadn’t collected rumors on her own accord, all it would take would be for Sergio to betray her for her to become the ignorant, Naked Queen. While it wasn’t very likely for Sergio to betray her now, she knew there was no absolutes in this world.
Truth be told, the Queen wanted to change the very system where all info coming into the palace had to pass through Sergio, but since there was no one else to do the job, she had to maintain the status quo.
“Let’s get back on topic. New intel?”
“Let’s see. Our intel team just returned. The biggest tip is that we finally narrowed down the location of the incident.”
“Oh? Where was it?”
“Apparently, about 50 kilometers South South East from the entrance into the Scorching Desert. They can’t be sure without seeing the actual location, but someone had cast a major spell. Judging by the fact that the vibrations reached us, it’s a spell comparable to Hell Inferno. Most likely.”
“…That’s certainly a scary thought. But it would narrow the search down if we’re looking for someone who can cast such a spell.”
While Hell Inferno had its time in the spotlight every decade or so when a large horde of monsters appeared, but it was, of course, nothing that could be fired off left and right in this world. The magic needed to use it was on an entirely different level than spells that could be used in normal combat. It was a little difficult for a solo mage to use it without stipulation.
Even Tatsuya, who had ten times the amount of magic as the average mage, could only use the spell once in his best condition, if it wasn’t for the cost reduction he got from his wand. That was a major spell. Naturally, it would narrow down whoever could use it, and it could only be used, ordinarily, as a ritual spell or with the aid of many boosters. It wouldn’t be too difficult to narrow down the castor. While much more efficient than Hell Inferno, the same could be said for the most part about the technically major spell, Holy Octocannon.
A major spell was something that most high-ranking adventurers, let alone any civilian has seen it cast. With the scale of the spell, it was no wonder that it was seen as some catastrophe in the desert. In Darl, anyway, a spell like that was only cast once every decade or so, after all.
“Now this is my personal opinion, but perhaps this Barold is more than a part of it, but the attacker himself?”
“Hm. Do you mind if I ask why you think so, Your Highness?”
“First, from what I’ve read in the documents from Farlane, this Barold apparently used Hell Inferno with ease. Besides, the attack on the temple workers that have got the city riled up shares someone of the M.O. with this Barold.”
“But is that enough, Your Highness? Besides, I believe Barold was taken out by Alvan.”
“It was active in Farlane at the same time, I believe. It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to think that some knaves of similar powers are all over the place, working under the same name, now, is it?”
Sergio could only nod with a frown at the queen’s response. Truth be told, it was no laughing matter if there was a bunch of creatures that could each fire off Hell Inferno on their own, but after inspecting foreign intel, he couldn’t be too sure that the queen was wrong.
“And my biggest reason for believing this…”
“…What is it, Your Highness?”
“There’s intel that suggests our guests from Farlane were in the desert before noon. The incident occurred a little past 3. If the Norton sisters were with them, it isn’t impossible that Barold was after the sisters, and entered combat with them, resulting in the incident.”
The queen had excluded this possibility at first, but now that she had seriously considered it in her mind, she notified that much to Sergio. If she had been sure that the incident wasn’t caused by the like of a major spell, she wouldn’t have given the theory a second thought.
“I don’t know how, but they seem to be alive, at least. They’re stuck in the sandstorm and would return tomorrow or later. According to the communication the temple received, anyway.”
“Survived being caught in a major spell…”
“If they were the kind that wouldn’t, they would have died in the incident in Farlane.”
Sergio could only agree with a chuckle at the queen’s assessment. Judging from their relationship with Farlane, it seemed difficult to take the party in, but they were sure that they definitely could not make enemies out of this party. Honestly, neither of them had the prospects to defeat them in that case.
“In any case, there’s the future to think of. As soon as they return, get them to the palace. With the proper etiquette they deserve, of course.”
“Understood, Your Highness.”
There was much on the horizon. Frist of all, they had to make a connection. Thanks to the royal intentions in that manner, Hiroshi and his party would end up getting tangled up with the royalty in Darl, too.
“The Barold in Darl has vanished.”
“…That makes two. That chivalrous thief, again?”
“Negative. It seems to be the ones that took out the Barold in Farlane.”
In a particular space of darkness, bunch of figures that might as well not exist at all were talking this and that.
“What happened this time?”
“it attacked them in attempt to take out the priestesses, and was taken out by some mysterious attack, in turn.”
With that report, the space fell silent. After some silence, one of them spoke:
“What do we do?”
“Already arranged for a new Barold. But…”
“Sending it alone will most likely end in it being taken out in return, again.”
“But as long as there’s kindle in the country, unlike Farlane, it isn’t wise not to do anything. “
The shadows discussed with concern about the Barold that, this time, seemed to have gone down without much of a fight. After another long beat of silence, one of them mumbled.
“…If one won’t do… How about three?”
“…That’s an option, but all of them think they are the only Barold. I doubt they’ll be any semblance of teamwork between them.”
“We’ll have to play a little trick. Make them think they were a trio to begin with.”
“Is that possible?”
“To a certain degree. They do think that each of them owns the name Barold, but they do know that there are others in similar situations as them. We can take advantage of that to make a little change.”
With this shadow’s idea, the direction seemed solidified. At this rate, they were done for, anyway. And, while it would take some time and resources, they could make as many Barolds as they needed. While the loss of Barolds wouldn’t be completely fine for them, it wasn’t something they had to particularly worry about.
“Well, drastically increasing their numbers won’t end well. Let’s send two of them first, as a sort of test. Is the Barold you spoke of already sent in?”
“Then, we’ll tinker with its memories. Have it standby without turning it on.”
Despite being created, Barolds have independent consciousness from the moment they are started up. It was difficult to manipulate their memory after the fact. Besides, because of their independent mind, even if the backstory of a trio was imprinted in them, it didn’t guarantee that they would work well together with each other, nor that they could intelligently execute any team-oriented tactics. With no data, a trio would be too risky in the case of losing their control. With that much in mind, no one objected to trying out an attack with one less than their idea.
“The rest is up to me, it seems. You all go back to your own tasks. To fill the world with Holy Essence.”
With that call, each of them disappeared from the space to return to their own work.
“We can’t ignore our guests from the Unknown Continent much longer.”
While modifying the Barold that appeared in the darkness in all sorts of way, the shadowed whispered. Since sending the Barolds as-is seemed destined to fail, he planted some sort of gimmick.
“Now, we’ll see how this goes.”
After finishing up, the shadow sent out the Barold in hopes of it taking care of the unwanted guests once-and-for-all, and vanished into the darkness.
“Wow. You can get a sort of shark-fin from the Sand Rays?”
“And caviar from the Sand Sharks.”
“These Desert Crabs are pretty lean and sweet. How about some grilled crab?”
Hiroshi and the rest of the party, oblivious of the new scheme creeping up to Darl, were enjoying the extravagant dinner concocted from the desert delicacies.