In the dark, a small voice echoed around.
Moreover, it was a darkness that expressed the coldness of winter at night. There were 20 people in the area. Each of them wrapped up in a black costume that would blend in with the night as they waited on a roof.
This road from downtown towards the lord’s residence was much less crowded at night. In other words, it was a place that was more suitable for taking action that preferred much less people around.
What lay ahead in the eyes of the people in the dark was a carriage moving along the road. It wasn’t just an ordinary carriage. It was an escorted carriage used to transport criminals so that they could never escape from the inside.
「Okay. Are you all ready? If possible, we’ll rescue them. If it isn’t, we’ll silence them.」
At the emotionless voice of the of the man, the others silently nodded.
「As things are, we have already lost an alchemist and two Demon Soldiers, who can be considered core people of the Bestir Empire. We can’t allow any more information to be leaked.」
All the others silently nodded in agreement at the words the man whispered.
Confirming that, they waited for the carriage like a predator watching their prey……The moment it passed near them, 20 people jumped down towards the carriage traveling in the dark without hesitation.
The next day. As usual, Rei had breakfast before heading out to the city with Set. He didn’t plan to go to the guild today, but to look for interesting books in the library instead……
「What’s going on? The city seems to be strangely noisy.」
Rei muttered unintentionally as he walked down the street.
Set seemed to agree and gave a small cry.
He could see a lot of residents that had uneasy expressions on their face.
「What, you don’t know the reason for all the noise Rei?」
Seeing Rei like that, a stall owner who was making something like a crepe called out to him. However, it wasn’t a sweet crepe made with sugar and fruits, but had ham and cheese or meat and vegetables instead. Something more like a Galette.
「Looking around the city, it looks like it isn’t anything good……ahh, give me 6 please.」
On account of the information, he made an order and paid the money for it.
The stall owner nodded with a smile at the order and quickly handed over a baked dough crepe that held its contents inside.
Receiving the crepes, he bit into it deliciously even though it hadn’t been long since he had eaten breakfast. While feeding Set, Rei turned to look back at the stall owner.
「It seems a carriage being escorted was attacked last night. ……And, the criminals who were on the carriage as well as all the knights that were escorting it were killed.」
Hearing the stall owner’s words, Rei stooped halfway biting into a crepe.
Last night, an escorted carriage, knights. Rei recalled the events at those words.
Set also stopped eating his crepe and turned to look at the stall owner as if just as surprised as Rei.
It was something they had not expected to happen. The stall owner looked back at Rei’s sharp eyes from under his hood and nodded while falling back a few steps without realising it.
「Ah, there’s no mistake. I don’t know if it was an escorted carriage, but there was certainly some burnt debris on the roadside when I set up my stand here today. There were also some guards and knights around.」
「……I see. The information was helpful. I would also like 10 ham, egg and tomato crepes.」
「Thank you for your patronage.」
Because the crepes he ate were unexpectedly delicious, Rei bought more freshly baked ones and stored them into the Misty Ring.
He then left the place as the owner of the stall thanked him.
While eating a crepe that he had just bought along with Set, Rei thought to himself.
(The carriage that was attacked was definitely the one carrying the people I caught yesterday. In that case, did they want to rescue their companions? All things considered, to do such a thing as trying to kill the knights, the knights would definitely get serious when that happens. ……No, did they not care either way? Was there a need to do that? Why? Could it be, that the information the three of them knew was of great importance? Hmm, I don’t know. Well, my job ended after I handed over the three spies I captured. I wish it actually ended there though……)
While thinking about that, Rei gave a sigh.
(That would be impossible. Anyhow, the reason those three were caught were because of me. Because of that, there would naturally be a corresponding amount of hostility against me. Where the three of them rescued or silenced in order to prevent information from leaking? Either way, it seems things will get interesting in various ways. ……If I think about that, if they plan to target me, it might be better if the three of them were silenced since that means they can’t attack me?)
「……ait……can you hear me? Hey.」
(Hmm. If I assume that, it might be a bad idea to go out. Should I just stay back at the inn until the noise dies down?)
Rei was thinking about that when someone suddenly put a hand on his shoulder and forced him to turn around.
「Hey! Don’t ignore me!」
He was greeted with a familiar face when he turned around. The person was involved in the events leading up to the attack on the knights that Rei had just been thinking about.
「You were one of the guards……」
Yes, it was the guard who had stopped Rei in downtown yesterday and had taken him to the guard station.
「Seriously, have you finally noticed? I don’t know what you were thinking about, but it’s dangerous to walk around while thinking.」
「My bad. I just heard the rumors about yesterday’s matter.」
Even though the guardsman wasn’t a close friend with the knights who had died, he still probably thought of them as companions who protected the city with them. After giving a small sigh, he turned to Rei again.
「It’s about that matter that I stopped you. Captain Ranga want’s to talk to you about the details of yesterday’s matter. Could you come with me?」
Rei was surprised, but immediately understood.
In Rei’s eyes, Ranga might have been the person in charge of monitoring people going in and out of the city, but his actual position was that of the captain of the city’s guards. Because of that, it wasn’t strange for him to call for Rei in regards to yesterday’s case.
「Ah. After all, the notes about what you told us yesterday are all gone. There is a need to hear the story again.」
「……Well, that’s fine. I don’t have any particular things to do today.」
He had been thinking of searching for books and encyclopedias on monsters in the library that would be useful on his requests. But as he didn’t have to do that today, he just nodded his head decided to follow the guard to the station.
「I see, sorry about this. It seems there will be some rewards for your cooperation in the investigation.」
Speaking up to there, the guard turned to look at Set.
「But, if the rumors I’ve heard about the Griffon’s appetite are true, we’ll only be able to provide one meal.」
「Don’t worry about it. As I said, I don’t have any special business today. Considering that, there’s nothing I’m dissatisfied about. Rather, it’s good enough if you can provide a single meal.」
(If I think about it, this world has almost no developments in terms of entertainment. There’s no internet, no games, no manga. It’s difficult to even find something to the extent of a picture book. It was a bit unexpected that there aren’t any novels. ……If I consider that, even if I have enough saved up to not take on requests during winter, how should I spend my time. Speaking of that, it would be stupid to deliberately go and take on requests in the middle of a blizzard. For ordinary adventurers, they would probably go drinking at the bar……)
As Rei knew he wasn’t that good with alcohol, that option was impossible.
In addition, he didn’t have any friends or acquaintances to kill time with, which also served to indicate Rei’s poor socialising skills.
(In that case, I guess it’s just the library in the end. Or maybe I could buy a book at a bookstore. I have a lot of money to spare. There’s also eating and walking around. Collecting monster magic stones……no, I can’t take winter weather lightly even if I do have the Dragon Robe.)
Rei, who had been exposed to the horrors of winter due to growing up near the mountains in Tohoku, continued walking while remembering the dangers of winter again. Eventually, they arrived at the guard headquarters, a short distance away from the adventurers guild.
「Please, come in……there’s not as many people as there were yesterday but the captain is already waiting.」
Set gave a cry and moved to a gap between buildings, knowing what to do without needing detailed instructions.
「Sorry about this. When this is all over, we’ll head over to the Satisfied Stomach, so please eat this for now while waiting.」
Saying that, Rei threw some dried meat, that he had taken out from the Misty Ring, over to Set and went inside the building.
He was guided by the guard and entered a room at the furthest end of the building. There, Ranga, who Rei had seen many times at the main gate, was looking at documents with a troubled expression.
「Captain, I’ve brought Rei.」
「Mm? Ah, I’m sorry. I was too deep in thought. Take a seat on the couch over there.」
His beard was well kept, but it didn’t look like he had had any time to rest due to yesterday’s carriage attack. It seemed to Rei that Ranga’s beard seemed to have lost of its spirit as well.
「I’m sorry, but please bring tea for the three of us and something light to eat with that.」
「Yes, right away.」
Seeing the guard who had guided Rei here leave the room, Ranga left his desk and sat down opposite Rei.
「Sorry for calling you over here so suddenly.」
「No, don’t worry about it. Anyhow, it’s related to me.」
「I guess so. ……Well, let’s hear out the details of the story after he comes back. After all, we’re short on personnel right now.」
At Ranga’s words, Rei spoke up in puzzlement as he took off the hood that covered his head.
「Is your personnel shortage because you’re looking for the culprits?」
「Yes. There are many adventurers in the city of Gilm, and as a result, there are also a lot of hot headed people. Because of that, there are cases of violence every day……it’s just that it’s been a long time since a knight has been killed by several people. That is why we have to solve this matter as soon as possible so as to not raise any unrest among the city’s residents.」
「So that’s why you’re here. You’re almost always at the main gate.」
Ranga gave a big sigh at Rei’s words.
「That’s right. As for me, it’s best that I stay there. But I can’t help it if such an incident happens.」
He was definitely tired. As he was talking with Rei languidly, there was a knock on the door as the guard from earlier returned. In his hands was a tray with three cups of tea and a platter with plenty of sandwiches.
「Sorry for making you wait.」
「Mm, you also take a seat on the couch. I’ll tell you about what happened while we drink the tea.」
Following Ranga’s words, the guard took a seat on the couch and reached out for a sandwich before continuing the discussion.
The contents of the guard’s story was exactly what Rei had told the guards and knights yesterday. There was nothing new in particular. As for Ranga, he had already heard what had happened from the guard once. He had been hoping for some kind of clue, but in the end, he hadn’t been able to gather any new information.
「……I see. Yes, I’ve roughly figured out the situation. Unfortunately we haven’t had any new information.」
While carrying a cheese and vegetable sandwich to his mouth, Ranga apologised. Rei, who had been watching the situation, looked puzzled as he spoke up.
「Still, there’s no doubt that it was people from the Bestir Empire who attacked us right? There’s no way bandits would try to attack a carriage guarded by knights.」
「Maybe……no, definitely. As you said, even if bandits attacked an escorted carriage, it doesn’t mean they would have been able to steal away treasures, food or supplies.」
「By the way, what happened to the spies that I caught? Where they taken away or silenced?」
In Rei’s mind, he thought of the three people who had attacked him. Two of them had worn black costumes and had ordinary looks which you could find anywhere.
(But if they’re spies, they would stand out if they looked too good.)
And a woman who no one would have any issues calling beautiful.
(Well, maybe she had the role to find information using a honey trap……maybe?)
When asked that question, Ranga shook his head.
「All three were found dead. However, since the corpses were all burnt, I can’t say for sure that they are the three that you caught.」
「……Was even fire magic used?」
「I don’t know if it was magic, but there’s no doubt that all the corpses, including the knights, were burned.」
Rei frowned at Ranga’s words.
Then remembering, Rei took out the black needle from the Misty Ring and placed it on the table.
「This was the weapon the three of them used to attack me yesterday. ……I dont’ know if it will be useful, but I’ll pass it to you since you might find out something from it.」
「Thank you. It will be helpful.」
Ranga wrapped the long, black needles on the table with a cloth.
(Even if it’s at night, they would specially use fire in the city to attack? Isn’t that just saying that we wouldn’t be able to find anything even if we tried? ……It sounds a bit fishy. However, what’s their purpose in doing that? Normally thinking, it would be to disguise the corpses.)
While looking at Ranga’s expression, Rei’s thoughts seemed to have shown on his own face. Ranga gave a heavy sigh as he nodded.
「Yes. The later we became aware of the attack on the carriage, the better it would be for the spies. And yet, they used fire, which made it stand out. This is suspicious in various ways. ……In fact, it’s because residents found the fire that this incident was revealed. In other words, there’s a possibility this incident isn’t over yet. ……Because of that. I would like to give you a nominated request. If you find the base of the people who caused this incident, I would like you to cooperate with us in their suppression.」
Ranga’s words echoed through the room.