Xant: Thank you Draco for doing the editing. Oh man, so much to do these days. And these chapters are just too long!
Update on the other series:
ID – Senna has been swamped by real life and her car broke down recently >_>
Garudina – Whenever Ash is done doing his tl.
Astarte – Whenever Ash is done Garudina.
Kansu – Whenever 9 decides to give us chapters~
??? – Sneak is hard at work on this, I don’t even know what it is…he said it should be done very soon though.
Chapter 9 – Organizing the Situation and Hypothesis
Chie’s Work Room
Parting ways with Conrad, I returned to my room embarrassed.
Certainly I got involuntarily angry, hit that stupid swordsman, slammed the muscular guy on the ground, and put the sword to that long, blue haired good-looking guy, but that’s not what I’m embarrassed about.
The problem is after that!
Never in my entire life have I shouted out in front of a crowd like that! It was so embarrassing!
At the time, my blood was rushing to my head, but now I realize what I actually said…
Those things I said about Conrad!
What was that!?
Was I trying to woo him!?
I was just trying to explain that I preferred the casual way of talking between us rather than formal. I only meant to force the issue as a joke. There were no ulterior motives! Definitely!
I know what it is!
I just haven’t had many opportunities to talk with many people until now so I am bound to say something embarrassing. Yep that’s it.
As I was reasoning to myself.
I hear a knock on the door.
I came back from my thoughts and moved to open the door.
Sounds from the room can’t be heard outside but from inside I can still hear them.
To be able to apply this world’s magic in such ways is really convenient.
I wonder if I can change the settings to hear from outside once you knock.
Right now, it just seems improper.
When I opened the door Alice, who had gone to retrieve a map of the Empire, was standing there.
“Black Knight-sama, the map.” [Alice]
Alice passes me a piece of paper that has been rolled into a tube.
“Thank you.” [Chie]
I thank Alice as she hands it to me and I spread the map out on the large work desk.
As expected, it’s not as detailed as a modern Earth map.
It looks like one of those maps attached to the appendix of a game.
“This is the best and latest map. Is it good enough?” [Alice]
“Oh, no problem.” [Chie]
Certainly, it could be a bit more detailed, but this is good enough.
“Alice, I would also like to hear of what you know before Conrad comes.” [Chie]
“I do not mind, but wouldn’t the military people know more?” [Alice]
Alice says while tilting her head to the side.
Certainly one might think so.
“Maybe, but there may also be people who know of things the military don’t.” [Chie]
“How so?” [Alice]
I explain to Alice.
“There is always the probability of someone knowing something but never reporting it. You should always think “what if” and not just think the real answer is what you see.” [Chie]
What if that were the cause.
What if it were him.
What if there was a purpose.
What if it were known.
The possibilities of “if’s” like this are prerequisites to form a hypothesis.
Yusuke was always good at getting caught up in dreadful things.
Always getting stuck up to his neck…
He wasn’t even thinking when he grabbed onto me. I should have just ran. His action ended up causing my death.
Alas, I survived so I can always appreciate that.
That guy, he’s only here to beat up the enemy while I just ensure a safe route.
Ah~ This is the worst.
“Black Knight-sama?” [Alice]
Ah, I was caught up in remembering old things that are best kept silent.
Alice curiously looks at me.
It’s meaningless, what’s important now is the kidnapping.
“I’m sorry. Well, it’s fundamental to think the way I said a while ago.” [Chie]
I apologize quickly and return to the story.
“Oh! Certainly if you think about it, they may not know everything! As expected of Black Knight-sama!” [Alice]
Once again I was praised.
How many times has it been today?
I’m just thinking normally though.
“I want to know about the rumors.” [Chie]
Alice talks about what we know.
“As we heard from Byron-san at the clothing store, young men and women from several villages and towns have gone missing in the past three years. The age of the missing people ranges from 10-year-old children to young adults in their 20’s.” [Alice]
“Huh? Is it okay to assume that children below age 10 and adults above 30 are safe?” [Chie]
I pose the question to Alice.
“Well, I am not sure since the information is based on rumor.” [Alice]
That is true.
“Thank you and continue.” [Chie]
“Yes. The kidnappings have been occurring to the east of the capital located mostly in villages near the border.” [Alice]
Alice points east of the capital on the map near the border where there are a lot of villages located.
“What is the characteristic of this area? For example the population or what is popular?” [Chie]
I request detailed information about a particular village.
“Well…the population is only about 1,000 people and mainly grows polon fruit.” [Alice]
Polon is a sweet fruit that is red and round.
Generally eaten as a snack.
Also used in the ingredients of cake.
It’s a strawberry…
“I see. Since the vicinity is surrounded by a forest it is likely to be the Shadow Guild rather than the Thieves Guild.” [Chie]
“That is all I know so far.” [Alice]
So Alice ends the explanation.
Admittedly, there is not enough to form a hypothesis.
The only thing is to wait for Conrad to come.
Alice moves to open the door.
I change the barrier to allow entry.
“Everyone, we’ve been waiting.” [Alice]
“Alice, thank you.” [Conrad]
Conrad enters the room.
“Commander, 4 subordinates, and I have brought the 5 Captains.” [Conrad]
“Thank you very much Conr….5 Captains?” [Chie]
You mean 5 people…
I have an unpleasant feeling.
As Conrad enters the room 5 people follow suit.
Watching the 3 people come in I give a frown.
However, my face is hidden by my helmet.
“What! You! We come in and you sigh!” [Adelbert]
So says the blonde, stupid swordsman whose face I smashed.
A bandage strip on the nose, he looks like a foolish character that has come out of a cartoon.
“Of course I will give out a sigh. I won’t say I dislike the stupid swordsman who has no manners, the muscle bound brother who acts rashly, and the long, blue haired ikemen who acts like a child and lets the blood go to his head, but I had hoped not to see your faces for a while…haaa~” [Chie]
Having said this, I breathed another sigh.
The 3 grimace upon my words.
They do not return my words.
“Sorry Commander, these three people didn’t know their place and caused a fuss.” [Conrad]
Says Conrad with a fed-up face.
Apparently, they came by force.
Well, it’s inevitable.
“Understood. Well, if I were you, what things would you need to know? Ah, I will introduce myself. I am the Black Knight. I was appointed Knight Commander and exclusive royal knight by His Majesty yesterday. I may be strange looking but I am not an enemy of this country. I cannot reveal my identity to you so I thank you for your discretion.” [Chie]
It was my normal self-introduction.
Other than Conrad and Alice, everyone returns a blank stare.
“…What is it?” [Chie]
I ask them.
It was just a self-introduction, what’s with the faces?
People in this country are much too surprised.
“No…for a Duke, I don’t think you would introduce yourself that way.” [Adolf]
Blue, long haired ikemen guy said.
Whatever, I will act how I want to act in front of other people.
“Normally, when you introduce yourself to someone you should show respect to the other party? My status matters not. It is common sense as a human being, but not so obvious for a certain stupid swordsman.” [Chie]
With a distorted face, the swordsman responds to my sarcastic retort.
His good-looking face has turned ugly.
“Hey, I did it. Now you.” [Chie]
I’d like to get on to the agenda as quickly as possible so I ask them to start introductions.
Perhaps because of a bad mood, my wording is getting worse.
I’ll have to be careful.
I have to maintain my guy tone.
There is still some discomfort.
“I know. I’m Adolf Addinsell. Archer Captain.” [Adolf]
So the blue, long-haired ikemen guy says.
There was no respect or disrespect in his words so I don’t say anything.
Rather, it gives off a feeling of a veteran talking to a newcomer.
“I’m Brandon Adams. Fighter Corps Captain.” [Brandon]
I didn’t notice before, but what a large person.
Well, I was able to throw this person…
Was that also thanks to this body?
“…I’m Adelbert Abercrombie. Captain of the Swordsmen Corps and heir to the ‘large noble’ Abercrombie house.” [Adelbert]
Awfully stressing the ‘large noble’ part there idiot swordsman.
After all, I think it’s just stupid.
“My name is Celestia Avary! Spear Captain! Please call me Celes, Black Knight-dono!!” [Celesia]
Said the beautiful woman with short, wavy blonde hair in a very powerful manner.
This person, is she going to speak to me with honorifics?
“How you took out those 3 Captains in mere seconds with such skill, I was most impressed!” [Celestia]
“That, ah~…” [Chie]
I have no idea how to reply.
I just thought of the combat animation in games and tried to move like that.
“When I saw that movement I was so shocked I couldn’t move from my spot! It was such a shame it was over in just a few seconds!” [Celestia]
She says all fired up.
“Then, shouting at Adel, I was touched by your words! Rather than the ones thrown at you, your anger was directed at the insults thrown at Conrad which shows your great personage!”
“Oh, Celes it is then! Also there is no need for honorifics! …Celes…sorry but perhaps we can talk about this some other time as time is short.” [Chie]
I said in order to stop her.
“Yes! Also, I’m sorry…” [Celestia]
Celes said shyly with a bright red face.
She was so cute you could take a picture.
It’s cute, but I don’t think I could pull it off…
Somehow, it’s become sad.
“We will speak later at length…” [Chie]
I take good care of friendly people, but why are you happily blushing Celes?
Is it the voice?
Is it the delusion that under the helm is a good-looking man with a handsome voice?
Or purely the respect for my combat ability…
Let’s pray that it is the latter.
Xant: Oh my fuck I swear to god if this is yuri
“I-I…am…Amy Arnold. C-Captain…of the…Mages!” [Amy]
A long, red haired girl with round glasses said intermittently.
Going by looks, I appear to be slightly older?
“Thank you. Arnold-san.” [Chie]
I remove the right gauntlet and hold out my hand.
A while ago I was told by a stupid swordsman, but my hand really is dry and lumpy. I’m losing confidence as a woman….
Or maybe, it’s just not a likeable hand or so I thought.
“Ah…Y-Yes! Amy…is…fine. Please…talk…to me…casually.” [Amy]
Joyfully she clasped my hand with both of hers and insisted I call her by name.
What a cute person.
“Very well, Amy.” [Chie]
When I said so Amy returned a smile that bloomed like flowers.
This person is absolutely a healing character.
But, this person’s blush is also on my mind.
Let’s hope things here are also born from respect.
I don’t have that hobby.
I prefer handsome men.
“Commander, about the frequent missing persons, we will report on this incident.” [Conrad]
So says Conrad.
It seems only the Captains will be introduced.
I put my gauntlet back on.
“Understood. Tell us what you know.” [Chie]
When I say so the man who appears to be in his late 20’s with short brown hair and brown cloak came forward.
“First, I would like to report. The age of the missing men and women are from 10 to 20-years-old. People in their late teens to late 20’s have been said to leave the village and never return. The children in their early teens aren’t permitted to leave and therefore have been assumed to been kidnapped internally.” [Subordinate A]
“So children younger than 10 and people older than 30 are safe?” [Chie]
I pose the same question I asked of Alice.
“Yes, the missing people are only 10-years-old to late 20’s.” [Subordinate A]
Hmmm, I wonder if there is some meaning behind the age?
Now, a man who looks to be in his late teens, wearing dark green padded armor and golden hair down to his neckline speaks.
“To strengthen security of the towns and villages, a powerful mage was hired but was unable to come up with a lead.” [Subordinate B]
The man bows then a woman in her early 20’s with light blue hair and wearing full armor speaks.
“In the past, soldiers sent to track down leads were found with their throats slit or torn out. Probably by means of an assassin.” [Subordinate C]
“Any other injuries?” [Chie]
“No, other than the throat, there were no other signs of resistance.” [Subordinate C]
Indeed, a professional assassin would be the likely cause of such a death.
Their throats were probably slit before they even realized.
“Throughout the Empire, people frequently go missing, but the most popular location is south of the city next to the thriving commercial city of Azuri.” [Subordinate D]
To the words of the man who looks 30 with short brown hair and wearing armor, I let out a strange voice.
Even Alice has a surprised look on her face.
The other people in the room wear expressions of not understanding.
“Is there a problem Commander?” [Conrad]
“No, it’s just Alice told me a little while ago that most of the missing people were from villages and towns located to the east of the capital.” [Chie]
Conrad is surprised and raises his voice.
“Alice, is that true!?” [Adolf]
The blue long haired ikemen guy draws closer to Alice.
“Ah, yes. That is what I heard previously from some of the maids. Some of the maids know of and talk to the military men from there.” [Alice]
Alice responded to the blue-haired ikemen guy.
“Yes, that’s what I thought.” [Chie]
“Yes, just as Black Knight-sama had said.” [Alice]
“What do you think Captain?” [Adolf]
Conrad is listening while tilting his head with a puzzled face.
“Before Conrad came, I asked Alice for reference of what she knows…” [Chie]
“Hmph! Listening to a servant! What was that about a ‘stupid swordsman’!? Who’s the idiot!” [Adelbert]
The stupid swordsman scoffs and interrupts.
At least listen to people till the end!
“I asked Alice as a ‘what if’. There is a probability that someone knows of something but never reported it.” [Chie]
I look at the strained faces in the room.
I continue the explanation.
“In short it’s a hunch. It may seem careless. Rather, where is this town of Azuri?” [Chie]
I ask while looking at the map.
“Around here.” [Conrad]
Conrad points to the town on the map with a finger.
I look where his finger pointed to.
I leak out a voice.
From where he pointed it is close to the border with the Holy Kingdom.
“This is also close to the border?” [Chie]
“Yes, the villages and towns away from the capital and near the borders have the most victims. This is what our information tells us.” [Conrad]
Even though Conrad spoke to me I remained silent and did not return a reply.
What is it?
I’m stuck on something.
Like something is missing…
“Hm, even though the auction is being held in the city, yet even though we searched for it, nothing was found.” [Brandon]
“That’s right. And there is only one entrance in or out of the city. Somehow they manage to get around the guards.” [Celestia]
I hear the voices of the muscle-brother and Celes and suddenly become worried.
I fold my arms and start thinking.
The kidnappings started 3 years ago.
Young men and women.
Mostly around the border.
The single entrance to the city.
And, the auction.
I have a hypothesis.
“Conrad, there is one hypothesis that stands out.” [Chie]
I say inclining my head to everyone.
Well, there is still a part I’m stuck on.
“Why they take people from the border. It’s because it’s near that it’s meaningful.” [Chie]
“Before I explain it, let’s talk about a hypothesis. Perhaps I am selling slaves to another country. People wanting to do business for profit with me are people with a strong voice in the country and involved with politics.” [Chie]
“Slaves for sale in other countries I can understand, but why do you say they must be involved in politics?” [Celesia]
“Think about it. Why has there been 3 years of kidnappings but no leads at all? The answer is that someone is manipulating the information.” [Chie]
To be honest, the slave merchants wouldn’t be able to do so much.
“Perhaps the Shadow Guild was hired by the mastermind to dispose of all the things that become the evidence, making it easier to manipulate the information. This guild would be the ones responsible for the assassinations, kidnappings, and hiding the information within the military.” [Chie]
It’s these guys who killed the soldiers who got too close.
“The mastermind hires the Shadow and Thieves Guild to make it easier for the slave merchants to move around. Meanwhile the mastermind keeps most of the profits.” [Chie]
I don’t believe the slave merchants make enough money to hire someone.
Manipulating information would be much easier to do if you were involved with politics.
“Next is the auction and the single entrance to the capital. How is it with the tight security the auction is still being held but no one can find any trace of it? Because the people being kidnapped never enter the capital.” [Chie]
“Never enter?” [Adolf]
The long blue haired ikemen guy tilted his head while asking.
“Ha! What stupid things are you saying? So your…” [Adelbert]
Once again the stupid swordsman who was being a fool was this time blocked by Amy.
Well done Amy.
“What’s a puppet?” [Celestia]
Celestia asks but I explain instead of Amy who falters with speech.
“A ‘puppet’ can also be called a ‘marionette’. In short it’s a doll. To make a person type doll, use the hair and nails of the person to be the model, insert magic and the doll will become similar to the person it’s modeled after. Normally it is used in a ritual, but to think it would be used like this.” [Chie]
If it were just a doll, it would be easy for it to go in and out of the capital.
With the term ‘ritual’, other than Amy and I, the faces of all others twitch.
I can understand your feelings.
“You can use the doll so you don’t have to bring your ‘goods’ into the city.” [Chie]
“So then, where are all the people that were kidnapped!?” [Adelbert]
The stupid swordsman asks a decent question.
I can deal with an ordinary question.
“It was said a while ago. The kidnapped people are being held in the vicinity of the border.” [Chie]
Upon hearing that Conrad wore a look of surprise.
“It all makes sense. Kidnapping in other places than the border to divert attention. The auctions do the same. They were able to keep the confinement location hidden. Why only young men and women are being kidnapped….Ah, I don’t want to think about it when slave merchants are involved but the answer is usually obvious.” [Conrad]
Everyone in the room shows a bitter expression.
Well, it’ll become so if you think about the people that were sold.
I just wish I could of helped sooner.
At any rate.
“This mastermind is out to make a fool of the military.” [Chie]
Everyone looks up to me as I speak.
“Don’t you think so? Openly reveal a slave market in the capital yet not have a single slave step foot in the city. You focus in on it a little bit and you think you know where the confinement is so you take action. Meanwhile you think you put an end to it but you’ve been made a fool.” [Chie]
“…I’m sorry, there’s no excuse.” [Conrad]
Conrad apologizes suddenly.
Perhaps he thought I blamed him.
“Conrad, there is no need to apologize. The investigation was made difficult was it not? For example, the number of people assigned to the investigation was rather low.” [Chie]
The Captains, Alice and I view Conrad’s surprised face.
The 4 subordinates wore bitter faces.
“….If you look at it up to this point. The investigation consisted of the 4 subordinates here, Kyle, and I.” [Conrad]
Conrad said quietly.
“I figured as much…I thought it was funny how the information about the locations of the missing people differed between the military and the citizens. This information would have been the most significant in this case. If there were more people involved in this investigation this mistake would not have happened. Also, if it was just a few…such as 6 people, you can see why the information would not be easy to get. Actually, to get this far you have done well.” [Chie]
“Yes, the puppet thing you talked about and the missing people being detained at the border, I had roughly predicted to be so.” [Conrad]
“I figured.” [Chie]
When the subject of the ‘puppet’ and ‘near the border’ thing came up and everyone wore a quizzical face, I saw that Conrad wore a serious expression.
“If I was to go so far as to say what was said is true, do you know of anyone who could be the mastermind?” [Chie]
“Yes, Brattle Ackroyd. A politician. The present head of the large aristocratic Ackroyd house.” [Conrad]
“Praetor Ackroyd!?” [Adolf]
(ED: Roman title)
The long blue haired ikemen guy raised his voice.
The Captains, 4 subordinates, and Alice are all startled.
The reaction must be equivalent to his power.
“With his instructions, the numbers in the investigation team were limited. On my own I went to investigate him. It easily came out, the evidence of his illegal conduct.” [Conrad]
He laughed while he said so.
“I formally appealed to Parliament to officially investigate him. Of course I brought the evidence of fraud and irregularities, but….” [Conrad]
“You couldn’t make them listen…” [Chie]
Conrad shakes his head in silence.
He tightly clasped his hands with a look of frustration and continued.
“‘There is not enough evidence to prove anything’ it seems. At that time, I thought about how all politicians were rotten! The only saving grace is His Majesty. He is the only one to see the truth the same as me. That was when people began targeting the Royal Family.” [Conrad]
Everyone’s face expressed they were at a loss for words except Conrad and I.
It seems there is a connection.
“I had to act to protect His Majesty, I could no longer focus on the investigation. As a result, the information that His Majesty and I knew about became classified as well the information about the people I was investigating.” [Conrad]
“I see, despite the difficulties you faced you were still able to maintain a clear head.” [Chie]
Conrad’s ability to calmly analyze things means he was able to easily reach the truth.
He did the same after the ogre attack. At the time I was probably a suspicious person but he was able to determine I was a good person.
At that time, with all that had happened, I couldn’t afford the time to think about the situation.
“No! You think too highly of me!” [Conrad]
Conrad says while being humble.
All that I have said is the truth so I don’t feel any need to be reserved anymore.
“No, Conrad is amazing. Much more than I thought.” [Chie]
“…..(Perhaps this person is unaware)…” [Conrad]
Conrad covers his face with his right palm.
I wonder what’s wrong?
“Hey, what’s the matter with you?” [Chie]
“Seriously, what!? Something I did?” [Chie]
“Fufufu~, Black Knight-sama is dense.” [Alice]
Yusuke is ‘dense’, how could I do such a thing!?
I just feel Conrad is super-cool, I wasn’t trying to put on airs!
“No! Alice, I think you are misunderstand….” [Chie]
“Hey, wait!” [Adelbert]
Every time I have something to say, this stupid swordsman.
His interruptions are really getting on my nerves.
I was quite irritated and it showed in my voice.
“Uh…Black Knight-san is a man! What’s with all this stuff about being dense!?” [Adelbert]
As he said so the others in the room think back on what was said and express a ‘now that you mention it’ face.
Conrad and Alice show expressions of ‘oh no’.
Meanwhile, I grin under my helmet.
“Oh? But I do not remember saying anything about being a man?” [Chie]
I intentionally use my original feminine voice to which everyone is surprised and raises their voices.
Conrad and Alice show a ‘what are you doing!?’ expression of surprise.
Reaction: just as expected. Thank you very much.
“A woman!?” [Adolf]
The blue long haired ikemen guy says while pointing with his right finger.
“Did I say woman?” [Chie]
Now a low man’s voice.
“Which one!?” [Brandon]
Muscle brother cries out.
I never had an experience in teasing people; I found something fun!
“Oh, well a while ago, Alice kept giving me praise so she just meant it in that way. That I was just being shy?” [Chie]
“….(I don’t know)” [Alice & Conrad]
I attempt to explain it off in a way so there are no unnatural ideas about what Alice said.
Even though the faces of Alice and Conrad look normal, I feel something from them!
I’m afraid of those two!
“In the end, which is it!?” [Adelbert]
The others don’t even notice the change in the other two.
Stupid swordsman has been asking insistently.
The others seem anxious, but I have no intention of telling.
Besides, it’s fun!
“Hmm~, I wonder~?” [Chie]
I said flat out in the playful atmosphere.
“Ah~! This guy, repulsive!” [Adolf]
Hearing the frustrated voice of the blue long haired ikemen guy I happily burst into laughter.
After teasing the three idiots and talking about future plans, the meeting broke up.
Alice and I remain in the room, but before Celes and Amy leave…
“Even if your identity is unknown, it does not change this feeling of respect I have for you!” [Celes]
“I…I also…feel.” [Amy]
And exited with shining eyes.
Anyways, since her feelings are born from respect, I am relieved.