Translator: Kell | Editor: Weasalopes
The Mask’s Cajolery
Six men were in the commander’s office, including the commander and his one subordinate.
Duinkler, the plump man sitting in front of Grucel, didn’t seem to cower before the commander. Slightly balding on top of his head, he was smiling, but his eyes were alert.
『Commander. Have you decided on attacking those monkeys from Primeval?』
『I’ve said it a number of times: we’re not attacking. Did you forget our King’s wish?』
『The King only wants results. He said before we departed to be alert and look for opportunities as we are in unexplored lands.』
『My order was to not act without authorization. I can court-martial you, you know.』
Grucel fixed his gaze on Duinkler. The plump man never broke his smile, but the three men behind him turned pale for a moment. Pipsqueaks, the commander thought.
『What I’m saying, Commander, is that not everyone agrees with your methods. Do you remember how much we had to sacrifice just to get here? How many died in studying the magic item that repels the sea monsters away? How much did we spend in preparing all this? Yet you still insist on your half-hearted methods. The families of those who died for the Master Plan will never agree to this.』
『So you attacked Dew Roke to please the bereaved families? You sent a spy without prior consultation and let the Primeval people capture him. Was that part of your plan?』
『Sacrifices are unavoidable in realizing our plan. We need tangible results.』
『The King said he doesn’t want any more sacrifices. You’re being nothing but reckless.』
Duinkler heaved a deep sigh.『We won’t make it that way, Commander. We can’t save the King’s life in time.』
『Don’t you dare speak about His Majesty’s fate!』
『Can you say you’re doing your best to save His Majesty?!』
Rage clashed, and the room went silent. Grucel’s subordinate and Duinkler’s followers watched with bated breath, waiting for what would happen next.
These two men held that much power. If they clashed, many would surely get hurt. The reason the commander couldn’t get rid of Duinkler despite his unauthorized actions of sending a spy and attacking Dew Roke was because the plump man possessed considerable power as well.
We went from gradually poking at Dew Roke and eventually launching an all-out attack, so I couldn’t criticize Duinkler for that, Grucel thought. But this time it’s different. The captured spy no doubt works for him. We’ll identify him as soon as he’s returned, expose Duinkler’s crimes, and then send him back to Grand Dream. That would be the best move.
Duinkler knew exactly what the commander was thinking, which is why he rudely barged in in the middle of the night to put pressure on him.
His followers were getting anxious, wondering how long the stare-down would continue, when a voice came from metal pipes on the wall.
『Commander! Are you there?!』
At first, Grucel didn’t take his eyes off of Duinkler, but eventually he got up and approached the voice pipe and removed the lid.
『Thank goodness. I have a report, Sir.』the man said in a clear tone.
There was desperation in his voice as he gave his report. Grucel’s clean-cut features gradually became twisted. Duinkler couldn’t hear a word the man was saying. The plump man seemed calm and composed at first.
『What is going on here, huh?』Grucel asked as he closed the lid, turning only his face around.
For the first time, fear marred Duinkler’s features. The commander was clearly furious, his face dark red.
『I received word that one of your men pushed my secretary, Deena, off the ship. Everyone’s currently frantically searching for her.』
Duinkler’s eyes grew wide.
『I would like an explanation. If your answer doesn’t satisfy me…』
The aura of pure fury emitting from the commander caused Duinkler, who had been calm until now, to pull his body back.
『…I will show no mercy.』
「Haa… haa… haa…」
「Calm down. We’re on a boat.」
「H-How can I c-calm down…」
Hikaru’s boat was already sailing away from the ship. He already knew that they would land on his ride before they jumped. Right before they landed, Hikaru used the Gravity Balancer that he received from Katy to limit the shock of the landing. Deena, oblivious to all this, just screamed.
Wow, they’re all looking for her.
Hikaru turned around to see the soldiers using searchlights to scan the sea surface, probably checking if Deena was floating or not. Her cap that slipped from her head and the documents she dropped were all afloat. Fortunately, the waves erased any wake that the boat left.
「Wh-Who are you?!」
Deena distanced herself from Hikaru as though to protect herself. With the boat being small, she could only stay a maximum of three meters away.
「I’m sure you already know based on the language I’m using. I’m a Primeval.」
「What do you plan to do with me?!」
「I saved you, and this is what I get?」
「But we’re going away from the ship!」
「Well, yeah. I wanted to talk to you without anyone bothering us.」
「You want to talk to me?」
She seemed to have regained a bit of her composure.
「I’m guessing that fat guy is Grucel’s enemy. Right now, they’re divided over how to deal with us. Fatty is hard-liner and the commander is trying to suppress him.」
「Y-You understand our language?」
「Nope. But it’s an easy enough guess to make.」
She’d find out right away if he was lying about knowing the language, so he told the truth. Hikaru didn’t want to say just how much he knew, of course.
「We’re done here. Please take me back to the ship.」
「No can do.」
「Why not?! There will be trouble if I don’t get back!」
「The rift between fatty and Grucel will become critical?」
「Hmm, the commander seems to like you a lot.」
「I’m not special or anything. The commander values his subordinates dearly.」
「All the more reason not to take you back.」
「If you become our “guest,” Grucel will think twice before attacking us. Am I right? He just sent a messenger for one spy.」
「Think about it carefully. What’s the disadvantage in you leaving the ship? The interior conflict will grow more serious. All because they thought one of the fatty’s men pushed you off the ship.」
Hikaru made it look that way. Deena started panicking, worried that she would become the trigger of a conflict.
「But I will tell the messenger in Ville Zentra this: “Deena fell off the ship, but she’s safe under our custody. She’s fine, with no injuries. She’s worried about the discord between the fat guy and Commander Grucel.” Grucel should hear about it the next day, preventing any internal strife.」
「W-Will that really happen?」
Deena seemed to doubt what Hikaru said. Cool. This girl’s easily pressured, Hikaru thought, chuckling inside.
「Going to Ville Zentra will be a huge benefit to you. We don’t speak Grand Dream’s language, so I’d like to ask for your help, since you’re fluent in both. Absolutely no harm will come to you. Your safety will be guaranteed.」
Deena looked relieved. She might’ve thought she’d be interrogated for answers.
「Oh, and for the record, the people of Ville Zentra are seething with rage for having Dew Roke stolen.」
It was a bluff, but not completely a lie either. Vireocean raised an army once to try and take back the island, after all.
「There’s no way the negotiation for the release of the spy will go well in these conditions. What’s more, Commander Grucel’s real objective won’t get fulfilled.」
Deena’s body stiffened. Hikaru hit the mark.
「H-Have you been to Grand Dream?」
「Then how do you know about our purpose for coming here?!」
「Just a guess. You’re not here to invade us.」
Deena nodded. Now for the crucial part.
「Yes, not invasion… You need something that can only be found here in this continent.」
Deena nodded once more.
「But there are those that wish to invade us, which explains the inconsistent approach.」
「Think about it. Do you really think we’ll help you with the way things are right now? What you’re after is not something that you can get just by landing on our shores. Serious cooperation is necessary.」
It was just a hunch, but Hikaru seemed to have hit the mark again.
「That’s right.」Deena nodded, with more force this time.
「Talk to me and I’ll convince the higher-ups to help you guys out. If a war can be avoided, that would be best.」
Deena went silent, pondering it over. She was probably wondering if she should believe Hikaru—this man wearing a mask.
What will you do? Hikaru believed the odds to be fifty-fifty. If she didn’t agree, no matter. He would just take her back to land as a “guest.” The more cause they had for negotiation, the better. But if she agreed…
If it’s something interesting, I want in too.
Of course, his number one priority was to prevent war from breaking out, but Hikaru’s motive was gradually shifting to that of satisfying his curiosity.
Grand Dream, a continent with a civilization that evolved differently than this side of the world, even developing a powerful military. Hikaru thought someone from another world might be involved, but still the progress was rapid.
I wonder how they got here. What level of civilization do they have? I wanna know so bad!
He felt sorry for Deena who was seriously considering her options.
「I, uhh…」Deena made her decision.