Translator: Kell | Editor: Weasalopes
Investigating the Assassination
The palace had been in an uproar since morning. The emperor, the head of the empire and a highly-respected person, was almost killed. Emperor Kaglai escaped certain death thanks to a quick application of Healing magic. However, the severe blood loss and the poison on the blade had left him in a comatose state.
In the absence of the Emperor, Prime Minister Sakakimiya convened the Imperial Council, the highest-ranking body running the empire.
「That is the current situation.」
The cabinet ministers listened to the Prime Minister’s briefing with pale faces. They had come running to the palace as soon as they received word of the incident. A few were away from the capital for official business, but express messengers were already on their way to deliver the news.
「Damn it. Who would dare take the life of His Majesty, the Empire’s greatest treasure?! They will not get away with this!」said a large, fierce-looking man, the Minister of the Right, the person in charge of domestic affairs. He raised a fist as big as a child’s head and slammed it down on the table, shaking it.
To the left of the Prime Minister sat the Minister of the Left, also known as the Minister of Military Affairs, the man on top of the empire’s army. Contrary to what his title might imply, he was a lanky man.
「Now, now. Let us calm down.」he said.「What we should do is pray for His Majesty’s recovery.」
「Nonsense! We can’t take such a weak stance! And you call yourself the Minister of Military Affairs?!」
「Settle down.」the Prime Minister intervened.「The Minister of the Left is correct, in that we should not be rash.」
The Minister of the Right backed down, while the Minister of the Left looked relieved, putting his hand to his chest.
Most of the faces of people present were red with anger. They were conservative nobles who had served the Empire since its foundation. Although belonging to the human race, the Prime Minister included, none of them had any qualms serving a Man Gnome.
The commander of the Imperial guards, an elderly man with a handlebar moustache, entered the conference room.
「Your Excellency, gentlemen, we have conducted a detailed investigation, and I have come here to give a report.」the man said.
「Very well. Go on.」
The commander ordered his men to bring the weapon—a vicious dagger. Its thirty-centimeter long blade was dark red from blood.
The room stirred.
「This is the weapon used. The perpetrator infiltrated His Majesty’s bedroom and stabbed him in the neck with it. But for some reason, they failed. Perhaps His Majesty noticed the assassin and managed to dodge it. His Majesty rang the bell, prompting the guards to enter the room. Then the assassin escaped.」
「How despicable.」said one cabinet minister.
「They failed to catch the assassin?」another added.
The Prime Minister approached one of the guards, wore the glove given to him, and lifted the dagger.
「Hmm… Its center of gravity is much closer to the front.」
「Yes. It is an unusual type of dagger. There is probably no particular reason for it. It may simply be because the blade is long, making the front heavier than the hilt. A blacksmith that handles this type of weapon is currently examining it.」
「Hmm…」The Prime Minister returned the dagger, deep in thought.
「Commander!」the Minister of the Right howled.「There is something wrong with your statement!」
「What would that be?」
「His Majesty rang the bell, and the guards in the hallway entered his room. If that were the case, they should’ve seen the assassin!」
「Yes, that is a sensible assumption. But the guards testified that there was no one in the room besides His Majesty.」
「Did they escape through the window?」
「No, sir. The window was locked.」
「Then either they didn’t see clearly or they overlooked something!」
「We find that unlikely, sir. If it was just one or two people, they could’ve missed something in a dark room. But the crime took place right about the time for a shift change. Four men couldn’t possibly miss anything.」
「Then where did the assassin go?!」
The commander frowned.「We suspect the assassin to be a master spy, able to hide themselves even from four guards. Apparently a person that meets that criteria visited His Majesty behind closed doors last night as a guest.」
「What?! Prime Minister, do you know about this?!」
The man nodded.
「A spy so skilled that he earned His Majesty’s favor. He could easily hide from four imperial guards.」The commander eyed the Prime Minister fiercely, and continued.「He is known as Silver Face.」
After the Prime Minister adjourned the stormy meeting, he hurried back to his office inside the palace. The room was large, but crowded with piles of documents and letters, filling the office with the smell of paper. His secretaries were waiting for him. As soon as he returned, they ushered him to the reception table.
「How did the meeting go?」
「Extremely bad. They will move on the assumption that Silver Face is the assassin. Did you find out where he is?」
「We lost track of him since last night.」
「Damn it. We cannot even defend him when he is acting suspicious. Did Silver Face really attempt to assassinate His Majesty? No, he does not have any reason to cause such a disturbance.」
「Your guests are waiting for you, Mr. Prime Minister.」
Pushing aside a pile of pamphlets and books, they managed to clear out the table for the guest. Sipping her tea, the woman was wearing commoner clothes, out-of-place in the Imperial Palace where nobles strode about. But she showed no sign of being bothered by her appearance. She was calm and composed.
「I apologize for making you wait, Lady Luna.」
「…It’s fine.」the guest answered after a peculiar pause. Her melancholic eyes were not directed at the Prime Minister sitting across from her. It was not even clear where she was looking.
「I trust my secretaries have informed you of the situation.」
「We are looking for Silver Face. It pains me to ask you, a rank S adventurer, for help on a matter like this…」
「…It’s quite all right. I have met him once already…」
「Come to think of it, Silver Face showed up at the Adventurers Guild, didn’t he?」
「…But he is not the one who attempted the assassination.」
The Prime Minister was taken aback at her firm statement.
「Do you have proof?」
Luna shook her head.「…It’s just a feeling.」
「I see… Your intuition is always right. If only we could talk to His Majesty directly, I’m sure the investigation will proceed much more smoothly. Right now, all we can do is pray and wait. Lady Luna, I ask you to search for Silver Face.」
Luna nodded and stood up. She left, her footsteps not making a sound, as though there was no one there from the start.
「Your Excellency. Lady Luna may be a rank S adventurer, but I think finding Silver Face won’t be easy. We don’t have much to go on.」a secretary said as soon as he confirmed that she was gone.
「The same goes for the knights and soldiers. Searching for Silver Face is difficult for anyone. If Lady Luna can’t do it, then no one in the world can.」
「That is true.」
「Our problem right now is not Silver Face, but the identity of the assassin. It’s unthinkable for them to simply escape without finishing the job. He would prioritize the death of their target over their escape.」
「That is a great point, sir. But the guards didn’t see anyone.」
「Hmm… I find it hard to believe, but…」the Prime Minister quickly returned to his desk and muttered in a voice that only he could hear.「Perhaps His Majesty did it himself. But I just don’t know why…」