Decoy and a Hostage
“I’m sorry for having you to accompany us until we head back.”
“No, rather, I’m glad that everyone is alright.”
We returned to the stone stele at the Labyrinth entrance.
Apart from Mercedia, everyone in the exploratory group was alright. I also realized that Irmhild was disturbed by this, so we withdrew for now.
As I had thought, the door wouldn’t open even if one tried to push or pull it. In the first place, I didn’t even know how to open that door.
I had also thought of striking it down and destroying it with advanced spells… but I didn’t know whether such an action would work in the first place, and even if I could destroy the door, I couldn’t do a careless thing like that while thinking about the girl on the other side.
“That happened ‘cause of all the trees swaying back and forth within that pitch black darkness. That was really tough.”
“I don’t wanna eat mushrooms for a while…”
The Soldiers sat down on the spot, and let out a sigh of relief.
“You guys. I’ll permit a break, but you’re in public, so don’t show a slovenly appearance.”
The Soldiers hurriedly straightened themselves after being mildly reprimanded by Mercedia.
…She seemed to have earned trust of the soldiers in the exploratory group. Since she suggested handing out her own pocket money to us as a request fee, the soldiers couldn’t hold up their heads.
The request was to accompany them until they returned, and the proposed reward was 100 Kilig. I thought it was exceptionally cheap for an escort request. Even if one said that this was too cheap or something, the deal was made inside the Labyrinth.
It wasn’t to my liking to deal with situations regarding other lives. However, since working for free wasn’t good, I settled for that price.
“I’m really sorry for this. I will definitely bring the payment tomorrow.”
“You don’t really have to rush it.”
“You mustn’t say such a thing. However, I must go report to the Palace today. I’ll be sure to give credit to Theodore-dono as the one who discovered it.”
We had both discovered the door at the same time though.
In the first place, finding the sealed door was just the beginning, and since there were various things beyond there from now onwards, I thought this was an empty achievement.
“If you’re going to report, can you wait a bit longer?”
“Might be better to save some time, right?”
I brought Mercedia, who looked slightly doubtful, with me to the Adventurer’s Guild Lobby. Heather, who was seated on the other side of the counter like always, smiled and greeted us.
“Hello, Theodore-san, hello everyone.”
“Hello, Heather-san. If you have some paper, I’d like to purchase a sheet.”
“Paper, is it? Are you fine with any type of paper?”
Heather, who inclined her head, brought out a bundle of paper from beneath the counter.
“I hope you’re fine with some scraps used for notes. Obviously, I won’t charge any money for something like this.”
“That’ll help me out. I’ll be grateful if you can lend me some ink as well.”
“Here you go.”
After receiving the paper and ink from Heather, I went into the shade and let Caduceus take on a form which mirrored the Relief. I then smeared ink on the surface and pressed the paper down on him, as if I were stamping a seal. When I turned it over, what remained looked similar to the pretty Relief on that door.
I came out of the shade and handed the picture of the Relief to Mercedia, who had been waiting.
“For the time being, please hold onto this.”
After Mercedia received the paper, she bowed deeply, and then left the Guild.
“The Knights have their own difficulties as well, huh.”
Heather smiled wryly, then returned to her work of tidying up the documents placed in front of her. As for why she did not ask about the situation regarding Mercedia, she probably understood that the Knights did not wish to be investigated.
“So mysterious. If she is acquainted with me, the situation will surely grow right?”
Irmhild inclined her head while asking about the matter we had seen today after we had returned to the house and taken a short break.
“…But, I don’t think there has never been a child with that appearance.”
Since it was a denizen of the labyrinth, even if it looked like a human child… frankly, it could be anything.
“Either way, if she can run away like that, catching her would be difficult.”
“She didn’t feel like an enemy, though. Part of me is also saying, ‘what would you do after catching her?’”
“She isn’t necessarily an ally either.”
Since I didn’t know what goal they were trying to work towards in the first place, there was no point in reaching a conclusion. It seemed like she had tried to lead us towards that door.
“Either way, I have no choice but to put it on hold for today.”
“Well…okay. Irm, are you alright?”
“Me? Yeah, I’m alright. From the start, I’m the type who doesn’t worry about things too much anyway.”
Irmhild said, wearing a smile like she always did.
“…Thank you, Theodore-kun.”
“I don’t think I have done anything to be thanked for though.”
“No. The clues have been increasing, and I believe I can move forward.”
She shook her head.
“That’s why, you don’t really need to be concerned about my matter.”
With that said, Irmhild took a sip of the tea that had been made by Grace.
Sheila, who had been listening from the side, opened her mouth.
“This house is refreshing, and feels nice. It would be troublesome to go out again after returning.”
I thought of what she said.
She had recently placed herself in front that ice pillar that was created in the middle of the tub.
Since Wind Magic was used to circulate the air inside of the rooms, if anyone approached the ice, they could cool down quite a bit.
“Do you two want to eat dinner together with us?”
Ashley, who was standing in the kitchen, asked.
“Hmm…. I have to make a payment at the Thieves Guild.”
Sheila’s ears drooped down with her words. Although her expression was the same as always, it was quite unfortunate. Well, Ashley’s cooking was also delicious.
She had to regularly make payments to the Thieves’ Guild, huh?
Although it wasn’t that great of an image in regards to making a payment to that Guild, in actuality, I felt that it was similar to a fee. The strict consequences of failing to make a payment on time and having a hard time withdrawing was a bottleneck for her.
Therefore, after Sheila and Irmhild spent some time in the house for a while, they returned to the Western District, since the day had grown dark and cold.
Just as the dinner preparations started, someone knocked on the door, and after checking it out, Sheila’s group had returned.
I thought that they might’ve left something behind, but since the two of them had stiff expressions on their face, I invited the two of them in before asking about the situation.
“We are being followed.”
Sheila said that apologetically right as the door closed, but…
“I don’t think you were particularly involved in this.”
Since they seemed worried, I decided to say it clearly.
The hope that they could be be friendly with me while showing ill intent towards Sheila and Irmhild was stupid.
Even if that were the case, if someone were to make a move on my companions, I would regard them as an enemy and take action. I thought that it would be okay to listen to the situation slowly, after I had made sure the threat was gone and reached a conclusion.
Therefore, it was good judgement for them to immediately return.
As for Sheila, it would be a difficult fight if someone temporarily interrupted her during the fight.
It wasn’t really like Sheila or Irmhild didn’t have the ability to fight. Looking at it from Sheila’s view, she wouldn’t want Irmhild to transform back into a Lamia in the town and avoid a scuffle.
Caduceus, which had been lying down in its cat form, changed into its amorphous form and headed out the window.
After linking my vision with Caduceus, I examined the house’s surrounding. After that…oh, there surely was something.
A number of people had taken up position, one by one, at each corner of the house. Even though they would be spotted if they came from either direction from the street in front of our house, since the house had many shadows to hide in, they used that to their advantage and were waiting for us.
“What would you like to do?”
“Let’s have these two stay here for the night, since things are like this. I wonder if we should follow the guys back to their place when they give up and return, or when someone takes their place.”
Although I wanted to capture them with a swift attack and then interrogate them, it was possible that they would spread false information, and since it was only being tailed in the first place, I still couldn’t say that it was a crime. Being on the defensive for a countermeasure was a bit troublesome, though.
“How about I become a decoy?”
Sheila placed her hand on her chest and said that.
“A decoy, you say?”
“I’ll go out by myself, and observe their movements.”
“Sheila-chan, that’s dangerous, you know.”
“But, that way is faster. I’ll be able to tell whether they have business with me or with Irmhild.”
“If it’s like that, then I-”
Sheila shook her head at Irmhild.
“This type of thing is my specialty. Since you were unaware that we were being tailed, it’s impossible for you, Irmhild.”
After saying that, she shot a glance at me. I would consider looking into this.
Regarding Sheila’s proposal…She certainly did have a point there. However, to put one of my companions in danger, hmm.
If she were to play the part of the decoy, I wanted to make sure of her safety.
“…I have a few conditions.”
If Sheila could accept these, then I would give her permission.
“…Don’t raise your voice. Come with me.”
A man said as he pressed an edged tool against Sheila’s back, who was crouching down.
The person who was shadowing her took action when they entered the Western District, where there were fewer pedestrians.
Sheila chose a road that didn’t have many people on it, and after looking around as if she had dropped something, she intentionally stopped moving.
It seemed Sheila had probably only wanted to observe the other party’s reaction, but they saw the opportunity and came to try to kidnap her in one swift attack
…This setup was pretty fast. Although I could say it was hasty, could they be in a rush or something?
She obediently followed the man, with both of her hands raised in the air. The dagger worn around her waist was a cheap item. My condition for her was to accept that dagger in the beginning, and the dagger made with the Boar Fang was to be watched over by me.
Finally, a private house in the Western District appeared up ahead, on the path she was brought along on.
My figure was currently in the night sky. I was pursuing them from above, at an appropriate height.
Since I had put on black clothes, it would be next to impossible for them to discover me, even if they looked up.
Grace was in her Released Form, standing by at home. Ashley was fully armed, and Irmhild had dispelled her human form. We were prepared for battle at any time, in case they tried to storm into our house.
However, they probably thought that I was currently at home. Since the number of people who had tailed us wasn’t much, it was hard to think that they would employ force and oppose my base.
Since Sheila… was always ready to enter her defense posture and had Caduceus attach to her like clothes, that edged tool wouldn’t be able to cause a single wound to her.
…Although, I ended up seeing the shape of Sheila’s body and more when Caduceus and I linked our senses together, so this strategy was troublesome for me. …Let’s not think about it too much.
Since she had entered the building, I closed my eyes and and moved my senses to Caduceus. Sheila was brought along by the men, and they took her into the basement.
“We caught her.”
“Heeh, that was unexpectedly quick. This will let us summon that brat.”
The one who said that with a prideful smile…was Jasper. I see. In order to oppose me, she’s a hostage, huh? I had a rough guess as to why they were in a hurry.
If they had plans for me, I had thought that they would confront me directly…but in this room, I got a clear understanding of the situation behind their break-in earlier.
First, as for the gang of criminals…there were several men that appeared to be Jasper’s new Adventurer companions… It seemed Fernand wasn’t there…but it did seem like there were other people bound to the chairs with rope.
The ones who were tied up were Mercedia and the exploratory group Soldiers. After that was…Hmm? Chester?
The other people aside, I wonder why they went as far as to capture Chester.