Xant: Here is numero two. Enjoy, you ravenous readers~
Chapter 14 – Conference & Before The Attack
Unlike in the middle of the capital, it was dark in the back alley of the slums even at noon.
This was where criminals and the Shadow Guild would gather for illegal trading.
No one would guess that this was in the same district as the shopping area.
That was why it was known as the back side of the Shopping District.
This was a place that even the residents of the slums didn’t go near.
Using the rampart as a wall, a small and ruined mansion rose above the surroundings.
Apparently, the noble who used to manage the shopping center once lived there.
This nobleman had died a long time ago.
His son was not fortunate and lost the mansion.
Being of junior nobility, I was told he had returned to his hometown with only a few of his servants.
The mansion, with no one left to live in it, had become ruined and now gave off an atmosphere that scared others away.
I think it’s easier to understand if I said that it looked like a mansion out of a horror film.
The soldiers of the Imperial Army waited in the shadows around the ruined mansion.
Several dozen mages had cast “hide presence” magic to ensure that their presence wouldn’t be noticed.
“Knight Commander, the Archer Corps, Swordsmen Corps, Fighter Corps, and Mage Corps are in position.” [Swordsman Soldier]
A man who belonged to the Swordsmen Corps reported in a low voice.
“Understood. Tell them to hold their positions and wait for the signal to attack.” [Chie]
“Yes sir!” [Swordsman Soldier]
After I instructed the soldier in a low voice, he acknowledged the order and left.
Soon we would attack the auction location.
A plan of attack had been created three days ago, using the results from Claude’s investigation of the auction venue.
War Room, 3 Days Ago
The Captains, including Conrad and myself, were all gathered in the War room.
As for why no other vice-captains other than Conrad were present, it was because Conrad was allowed to wear a special cloak that was proof of his status as Captain, even though he was my subordinate.
This was because of his past achievements.
This was an urgent meeting between the Captains, who were ranked highest in the military.
We sat in chairs around a large, round table.
“To suddenly open an emergency meeting, does that mean it’s finally time to move out, Black Knight-san?” [Adolf]
Blue… Captain Addinsell asked with a serious look.
I nodded in response.
“That’s correct, Captain Addinsell.” [Chie]
For some reason, when I answered, everyone’s serious faces except for Conrad’s became surprised.
“What’s wrong?” [Chie]
“No…uh, it’s just, you didn’t use his nickname just now. So it just wasn’t the usual you know…” [Adelbert]
Captain Abercrombie said.
So that’s what it was about.
“Now is a serious time, Captain Abercrombie. It is not the time to be playful.” [Chie]
“Well, that is true….” [Adelbert]
Captain Abercrombie said in response, while looking puzzled.
Today was the first time I showed them my “work mode”.
It wasn’t unreasonable for them to be surprised, when one considered the difference between my current attitude and my usual playful attitude.
“Now, on to the main issue.” [Chie]
Everyone’s faces became serious again.
“I think everyone already knows, but recently two important pieces of information have come into our possession. First is the location of the Shadow Guild and second is information about a group of suspicious individuals entering the ruins at the back of the town. To start with, Conrad will report on the Shadow Guild.” [Chie]
I directed my line of sight to Conrad.
Conrad nodded before starting the explanation.
“Currently, we have our subordinates keeping watch over the Shadow Guild. They were able to identify a suspicious looking individual through their observations. Upon investigation, it was found that an assassination request had been put in for the Commander…” [Conrad]
All eyes turned to focus on me.
I gave a worried look.
“It’s not a problem. Conrad is usually nearby to assist me. Well, encountering Gardo on my previous day off was unexpected, but the Goblins were dealt with, so there’s nothing to worry about.” [Chie]
I said to everyone.
Claude shall remain a secret.
If I told them about Claude, I would be defeated by all the questions that they would ask.
“Continue, Conrad.” [Chie]
I ordered Conrad to continue.
“Understood. We found out that the man was an intermediary between Praetor Ackroyd and the Shadow Guild. Praetor Ackroyd hired this intermediary to put out a request to the Shadow Guild.” [Conrad]
This man happened to be a big catch.
During interrogation, he talked non-stop while acting all nervous and jumpy.
Not only did he talk about the request for my assassination, but he also talked about the kidnapping requests, backed up with evidence of their activities.
“We offered to release this man on the condition that he would report any future requests made by Praetor Ackroyd to the Army immediately. In this case, the request was not made by this man, so it was determined that there would be no issues with releasing him. However, he was warned that if he did not honor the agreement there would be no such mercy next time.” [Conrad]
Everyone seemed satisfied with what Conrad said.
I remembered the pale face of the man during the investigation.
I had just watched as Conrad had turned into a demon as he interrogated the man.
I wonder if that was what they called bone-chilling fear?
“That concludes the report, Commander.” [Conrad]
“Oh. Thank you, Conrad.” [Chie]
I thanked Conrad, then turned my line of sight back towards the Captains.
“Next is the second piece of information, which involves the ruins at the back of the town. It was found out that the next auction will be held there in several days. I would like to immediately form a unit to launch an attack on this location.” [Chie]
“…I’m concerned. How did we obtain this information?” [Brandon]
Captain Adams asked.
Everyone other than Conrad was of the same opinion.
“Well, we just…” [Chie]
I tried to think of acceptable words to say.
Claude’s presence shouldn’t be revealed to anyone other than Conrad, Alice, and His Majesty.
That way, it would be easier for him to move.
“…..Haa~, it’s not something we need to be concerned about.” [Adolf]
I silently expressed relief.
“What matters is the positioning of all the corps. My bowmen will surround the buildings, cutting off any escape paths.” [Adolf]
“My Fighters Corp will do something similar. Honestly, fighting within the buildings would be quite difficult for my men.” [Brandon]
I nodded to the words of Captain Addinsell and Captain Adams.
“If that’s how it is, then the Spear Corps should also wait outside.” [Celes]
“Understood. Captain Arnold, I would like your Mage Corps to spread out among the other corps to help with defense and concealment. Move as you see fit.” [Chie]
“Yes…Sir. They…can…cast…’hide…presence’…magic.” [Amy]
Captain Avery and Captain Arnold also confirmed their positions.
“That leaves the assault to the Knight Corps and Captain Abercrombie’s Swordsmen Corps. Is that alright?” [Chie]
“….I don’t care.” [Adelbert]
After a slight pause, Captain Abercrombie accepted.
I knew he didn’t like me, so I ignored it.
I also didn’t acknowledge him.
“I’ll have command of the assault troops. Who will lead the external forces?” [Chie]
It wasn’t like all the Captains could be involved in the attack.
At best it would be me and another person, but should it be the Bow, Spear, Fight, or Mage Corps Captain?
It was previously decided that Captain Abercrombie would lead the troops guarding the castle grounds, so he would wait here.
“I’ll do it.” [Adolf]
Stated Captain Addinsell.
“I’ll give the orders. Archers excel at ranged attack. We can easily observe the situation and relay orders to the others.” [Adolf]
Everyone nodded to his words and afterwards the unit was created.
Since there was little time, we rushed to select the members of the unit, and procure and check the equipment.
The auction date quickly arrived.
It became completely dark as the soldiers concealed themselves in the surrounding buildings.
Filled with tension, my heartbeat increased immensely.
My mind was clouded with anxiety.
It was no good; my hands were trembling.
I grabbed my arm so the other soldiers wouldn’t see.
They would become uneasy if they saw it.
I stood up to leave and calm down.
“Commander, what’s wrong?” [Conrad]
When I went to leave, I heard Conrad’s voice.
I needed to say something to him.
“Just getting a little excited. I’m going to cool down.” [Chie]
I said quietly, so only he could hear.
“…Understood, be careful.” [Conrad]
It looks like he knows.
After all, he’s an adult. I’m reminded of it again.
I walked away to a more secluded area.
I let out a large sigh as I sat down against a wall.
Mentally preparing myself had been useless…
The tension caused my heart to beat faster, and I felt a discomfort in my chest.
Not only my hands, but my whole body had started to tremble.
How could I…
If I were to fail here.
As I began to think, I was filled with unease.
Even when given power equal to that of the Demon Lord, or all the knowledge of this world, I was still just a high school girl.
The knowledge given to me was of common sense, fighting, politics, history, and legends.
The knowledge came from the Elk god of this world, and was implanted into this body.
The knowledge was enormous, as much as all the information contained in a large library.
This was only possible because this body was made by Amaterasu.
Considering history, the knowledge of the next 4 years had not been entered.
Perhaps it was because the future where Yuusuke was summoned had yet to occur.
Amaterasu may have sent me back in time in order to gain combat experience.
Actually, she had explained that to me before I left.
However, when I thought about why I was sent to this world, perhaps I would make a future where, in 4 years, Yuusuke would need to be summoned.
“Hah~, that’s ridiculous~” [Chie]
I let out a deep sigh and muttered in a low voice.
Don’t think of such things right now.
I felt like weights had been attached to my whole body.
Since I came to this world, the only original knowledge I had were of Earth’s anime, manga, and games.
A simple high school girl wouldn’t have been accepted by His Majesty, and there would have been no reason to let me train the military.
There would have been no reason to give me the title of Duke, let alone Commander.
Even being favored by the Royal Family…
None of it was done through my own strength.
The more I thought about it, the more negative I became.
My face under the helmet was probably making a pathetic expression right now.
“…You look discouraged, Black Knight-san.” [???]
I was surprised by the voice directed at me.
The voice came from a spot between a house and a wall.
A man was leaning against the wall with his arms folded.
As usual, a black scarf hid his nose and mouth.
Usually, the night and shadow would hide anyone there, but my helmet allowed me to see clearly.
I was surprised when I noticed Claude’s profile.
“…You’re pretty good at hiding~. Usually I’m good at picking up any signs.” [Chie]
I was talking in my usual way, rather than how I talk in ‘work mode’.
I really didn’t notice him.
In my original world, I was already sensitive to my surroundings, but coming here had made me even more sensitive.
“Idiot, you were so defenseless.” [Claude]
Hearing Claude’s words, I laughed at myself.
I had no words to say in return.
“…What’s up? This isn’t like the usual you.” [Claude]
So he said, but I didn’t even know what the usual me was like.
A Black Knight?
“The usual me…what is it?” [Chie]
“Just answer me…” [Chie]
Claude made a strange face when he heard my words.
I asked him for an answer.
“…Let’s see~” [Claude]
Claude looked like he was thinking.
I waited nervously.
“An unreasonable, suspicious, merciless, naive, and strange guy.” [Claude]
I quietly grabbed a bunch of pebbles and threw them at Claude.
He quickly ducked to avoid them.
Although I hadn’t thrown the stones in earnest, I was secretly irritated that he had dodged them.
“Hey! What gives!?” [Claude]
Complaining, Claude stood up again.
“Too loud! And those are all bad things!” [Chie]
We ended up shouting at each other, though not too loudly.
There was no way someone wouldn’t get angry when talked about in such a way.
“What! Right when I thought you were all depressed you suddenly become all energetic again. Really you, even while not wearing your armor you have become strange!” [Claude]
“Huh? Strange…I am?” [Chie]
I involuntarily gave him a blank look.
Under my helmet, I probably looked like a pigeon that had been shot by a peashooter.
“What’s with that blank look?” [Claude]
“Oh, I mean…I was just wondering what you thought was strange.” [Chie]
I responded in surprise to the words that Claude spoke.
“Huh? What are you talking about?” [Claude]
Amazed, Claude continues.
“In the beginning, your voice was different depending on whether or not you were wearing the armor. These last few days, when I listened to you talk while changing voices, I thought something was strange. Just now I thought the same thing.” [Claude]
When he said that, I tried to recall my voice from the last few days.
Certainly, even without wearing the armor, I spoke with a man’s voice even though I’m a woman.
While outside the armor, I had only spoken to Conrad, Alice, and Claude, so I hadn’t even noticed.
“I didn’t notice at all…” [Chie]
“You didn’t even notice until now…” [Claude]
I nodded in response to Claude’s words.
Stunned, he looked down at me.
“I see… it changed…” [Chie]
I muttered to myself.
Strangely enough, the tension that had built up a while ago had eased somewhat.
“You alright?” [Claude]
Claude asked with a doubtful expression on his face.
“Ah~, actually, I was troubled just a little while ago. About what would happen if I failed here.” [Chie]
Claude silently listened to me.
“Because this is my first mission, I became terrified thinking that I might fail here. The feeling grew as I thought about my position, and it made me insecure. I wondered about His Majesty’s intentions when he gave me this position.” [Chie]
Those were the feeling that had been accumulating up until now.
“A man in his position, he must have some sort of aim.” [Chie]
“You think so? Recommendations from the Captain and Vice-Captain alone is enough merit, or so I would think…” [Claude]
I agreed with Claude.
Perhaps I had been thinking about it too much; no matter how much I thought, I could not find an answer.
Until now, a person whom I could ask for advice had not existed.
Though Conrad had been more reliable than anyone else, because he maintained a superior to subordinate relationship it was difficult for me to consult him.
He gave off an atmosphere of a strong and stern individual who didn’t express deep feelings.
I would have loved to talk with Alice, but because she worshipped me due to my position it was difficult to consult with her.
Compared to those two, it was much easier to talk with Claude.
After all, unlike with subordinates and key employees, one could freely speak to friends.
There was no one else in this world that I could talk to as a friend.
Once again, I thought that Claude was a valuable existence.
“Enough talking about difficult stuff.” [Chie]
I said while standing up.
I had been gone long enough.
If I didn’t return soon, it would be past time to lead the assault.
“Black Knight-san, I think it’s okay to just do what you think is best.” [Claude]
Claude said unexpectedly.
I turned to face Claude.
“As I think?” [Chie]
I asked, puzzled.
“There have been times when I was confused and didn’t know what to do. At those times, I think it is better to do what you feel is right rather than not doing anything at all.” [Claude]
He said while looking at me with serious eyes.
Certainly, it was as Claude said.
I couldn’t afford to worry at this late hour.
I would just have to do what I could.
“Claude, are you really an assassin? Such a thing wouldn’t be said by a normal assassin, don’t you think?” [Chie]
I said to Claude.
Even though we were friends, I didn’t know much about his background.
“Hmph, I have a number of reasons.” [Claude]
“I see.” [Chie]
Claude muttered grumpily while I gave a small laugh.
“And I’m not an ‘Assassin’ anymore, I’m a ‘Covert Investigator’ now.” [Claude]
“It’s still ‘temporary’ though.” [Chie]
I retorted to Claude’s proud words.
We put off the formal procedure so it was still ‘temporary’.
“Hmph, whatever.” [Claude]
Claude became grumpy again.
“Hahaha! After this is over, we’ll do the formal procedure. Wait for it until then.” [Chie]
I said to Claude while laughing.
“Hoh~, that so. I’m fine with this title though; I’m starting to like it.” [Claude]
Claude said with a sigh.
I had given him the title for fun, but he seemed to have grown attached to it.
I wasn’t sure why I did such a thing, but I remembered that when I had told him the job title and description, he had responded happily.
That was the first time I saw the true Claude.
That’s what I thought.
“Good. You better look sharp when that happens, since we’ll be going in front of His Majesty together.” [Chie]
“Stop that, I’m already nervous enough as it is.” [Claude]
Claude said wearily as he put a hand on his chest.
It was understandable.
“Oh no! We’ll also have to get something for Alice for her birthday!” [Chie]
He was wide-eyed and very attentive.
It seemed like he really wanted to know.
“Thank you~! As I thought, you’ll need help to win her hand.” [Chie]
“Calculating girl, you.” [Claude]
Claude said happily, with a wry smile.
“Well, it’s time to go.” [Chie]
“Oh! I might not be able to help this time, but good luck.” [Claude]
We shook hands and parted.
Claude…it was good to talk to a friend.
My trembling and tension had subsided.
Now I would just do what I could.
We would launch the attack soon.
I headed back to where the soldiers were waiting.