Editor: Thor’s Stone
As we walked around, a boy suddenly came running out of an alley. He looked to be about twelve to thirteen years old.
“They’re havin’ a fight over there! Somebody stop them!”
A fight huh. Was it between fellow minors?
Two adventurer-looking guys got pulled by the boy inside a nearby alleyway.
“They have a lot of people. Please help stop them too, big bro! I beg you!”
The boy turned to me and implored. I guess it can’t be helped since he’s pleaded so earnestly.
“Let’s go and check it out.”
We also decided to follow the boy. The alley led to a dead end, and there certainly were people fighting at the very back. However, they weren’t children but fully grown adults. There are about ten or so of them.
The moment the three of us approached, they immediately stopped fighting and scattered. They then ran past us. Curiously, this included the two adventurer-like men the boy dragged in with him.
All the men stopped near the entrance to the alley and glared at us. What’s the meaning of this?
『We’ve been had, Captain. You’ve been placed in a bad situation. If possible, please escape from your position as soon as you can.』
The bad situation Iris described was displayed through a virtual window. It was certainly bad alright.
(It looks like we’re a little too late to make a clean escape. So it was a trap huh. I didn’t think we’d actually fall for such a simple trick.)
『I’m sorry. I was late to notice the danger.』
More men were rushing toward the alley from the main street.
I never thought they’d actually make use of a child. Well, I suppose they made use of him precisely because they anticipated that I would think so. The acting was also very natural, and they even prepared two extras who dressed as adventurers. It was a pretty professional job.
『What’s our move, Alan?』
『Let’s observe the situation first. There’s no need to panic.』
As more and more reinforcements came, the men slowly advanced toward us. They don’t seem to intend to launch an attack immediately.
According to the area map displayed on a virtual window, the group of drones performing surveillance missions over the royal capital were already gathering overhead.
As long as the five drones have a clear line of sight, it doesn’t matter no matter how many men they surround us with. If this situation is as I imagine, it would be better to squeeze as much info as I can.
The initial number of thirteen men now ballooned to more than fifty. That’s a lot of people. Does this mean they were that wary of our ability?
They slowly advanced as if probing us and stopped at a distance of about five meters away from our position.
Most of the men were dressed poorly like your ordinary commoners, but there was also a single well-dressed man among them who looked the part of a noble. I suppose he’s the leader.
However, contrary to my expectation, a man who was fully clothed in black came forward instead. A description supplied by Iris was displayed above the man’s head.
Selena and Sharon came forward to defend me.
“Greetings, Your Excellency Baron Corinth. I am called Elvin. I am pleased to make your acquaintance.”
“One of the prime minister’s men, I presume. What is your business with me? No, I suppose there is no need to ask.”
“……Why do you think we are under His Excellency the Prime Minister?”
“You frequented the prime minister’s estate often, did you not? Additionally, those two over there have been keeping a close eye on the inn we are staying at, and that one was working as a server in a cafeteria just across the street. I see some more familiar faces among you. Your surveillance work wasn’t too shabby, but unfortunately, we’ve noticed you guys from the start.”
“……I didn’t think you already had eyes spread around the castle town, Your Excellency. Impressive showing as usual. I’d even like to meet your subordinates at least once.”
“Sorry, but that’s not possible.”
“How unfortunate. ……Why did you insist on staying in the royal capital for so long if you’ve already noticed our surveillance? You should have left when you had the chance, Your Excellency.”
“There are various circumstances on our end you see. ……But you really gathered quite a number of men, haven’t you?”
“That I did. I told my employer that I did not need to take this many people, but it looks like they do not have much trust in my abilities. They insisted on sending all of us out. Thanks to that, it took so much time to gather all my subordinates, so it’s already turned this late.”
“I didn’t think the prime minister was so afraid of me.”
“What we are afraid of isn’t you but the dragon. If you weren’t involved with the dragon, you would probably have been let off, Your Excellency.”
“Is that so? I’d like it if you just left me to go about my business though.”
“It’s truly unfortunate. It’s even more unfortunate due to the fact that this country currently needs someone like you……”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Stop all this useless talk and finish this cretin off already!”
The man dressed in noble attire impatiently ordered Elvin around.
“Would you mind keeping your mouth shut for me? I have also been ordered to gather information. Please do not get in the way of my business.”
Elvin’s retort silenced the man who seemed to be one of the prime minister’s attendants.
“Do excuse us, Your Excellency. This man was sent as our overseer, you see.”
The guy was probably sent to confirm that I was properly finished off.
“There were many points of interest, but we’ve finally confirmed something interesting earlier. While observing the Shining Star member’s speaking, drinking, and eating habits, there were some things that caught my eye. And my suspicions were finally confirmed today.”
“……Those are some pretty suggestive words. Can you tell me what you have managed to uncover about us as well?”
“It’s due to the defensive formation that Your Excellency’s subordinates performed earlier. I’ve observed such a formation in another country a while back you see. It was performed by the knights of the Alois, no, Starveek kingdom. And furthermore, they were royal guards.”
So they were behind that runaway horse as well huh. Dammit, this is the worst. They managed to uncover the information I wanted to hide the most.
“……Then there was the escape of the captured knights. There are also the features of that female adventurer who strangely always had people who were guarding her. Yes, there’s no doubt about it now. It finally all makes sense.
It should have been easy enough to notice, but why didn’t I manage to do so until now? How strange.”
So this guy’s also aware of our hand in the escape incident and even Cleria’s identity. It looks like we can’t leave these guys alive.
“However, I still have some things that are puzzling me. How about this, Your Excellency. Would you like to exchange information with me? We will take turns revealing information to one another. I swear to the Goddess that I will speak the truth and nothing but the truth.”
Well, since we’re gonna kill them all later anyway, I suppose it’s fine.
“Very well. I will also promise to tell you nothing but the truth.”
“Thank you! My utmost gratitude, Your Excellency. Well then, I shall begin. How did you manage to avoid being poisoned by the wine at the conferment ceremony banquet back then? I confirmed that you drank the wine myself, Your Excellency. I suspected it was due to drinking panacea and bought one to test it out, but it was just a waste of money and time.”
“Most poisons actually don’t work on the current me. That’s simply how it is.”
“Your Excellency…… I thought you were a person of integrity but was I mistaken?”
It doesn’t matter what this guy thinks of me, but it does kinda bother me that he’s accusing me of being a liar. However, I’d like to continue on with the information exchange.
“Do you have poison on hand right now? If you have some, hand it over.”
After thinking for a short while, Elvin drew his knife from its scabbard and threw it on the ground in front of me.
“The blade is coated with a very potent poison. Even a little wound from it will kill a man within two minutes.”
I rolled up my sleeve to keep my clothes undamaged and cut my arm from the wrist to the elbow.
Blood dripped out but I felt no pain. The blood flow stopped almost immediately. I then cast healing magic and closed up the wound.
“…………I am truly sorry. Please do forgive me. I will no longer doubt Your Excellency’s words from here onwards.”
“Very well. Now then, it’s my turn to pose a question.”
When I tried to return the knife, I noticed that it wasn’t any ordinary knife. It was a large combat-oriented knife with a very intricate design. It had unique patterns which looked somewhat familiar engraved on its blade. I tried to pour magic power onto the knife, and its blade emitted a bright glow.
“Oh, this is actually a magic weapon? I’ve heard that you can’t forge a magic blade without at least reaching a certain surface area requirement, but this…… Oh, this wasn’t my question by the way. You don’t need to answer.”
“I do not mind telling you about something so simple without any conditions attached, Your Excellency. That blade was made in the Kingdom of Iririka. In that country, even a blade of that size can be forged into a magic weapon.”
All the other men had similar swords and knives strapped onto their waists.