A s h e s: Whelp, I got tired of putting credits at the top, sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo…….
“Hey, just letting myself in.” Siegfried announced.
“Oh, Siegfried-san. Quite rare to see you here. Is there anything I can do for you?” A guard responded.
After I passed the newcomer exam for the mercenary guild, I came to the Royal Guard post.
“Yesterday, the Knight Order left as soon as they heard about the attack on Marida Company’s caravan at one of the western rest stops? I didn’t hear anything about that happening.” Siegfried replied.
“Please hold on for just a bit, I’ll bring you the report book.” The guard said.
The guard who was on standby at the post went further inside to get the book. The reason why I came here was to get information regarding the guy in the black mask that the said company brought. A former A-Ranker like me to be immobilized by him in an instant despite the fact I’ve been retired for so long. There’s no way someone with such power is not well known.
However, there wasn’t anything to check at the General Guild; Not even tax records. All the information that was available was the payment collection from when the Marida Company registered at the guild.
“Sorry to keep you waiting. Here’s the report book.” The guard said as he came back.
“Ah, thanks. Let me take a look at it.”
What is this… Seven dead bodies. All of which seemed to be from the bandits. They were all had multiple stab wounds on their back, head, and chest. All were found on the main road to the western rest stop. Eight bandits and horses who were victims of what looked like fire magic in the camp surroundings. Nine others found in different places with severe head injuries.
Lastly, slightly far from the rest camp were eight horses with no heads…
The bodies had no identification and everything pointed toward them being apart of a bigger criminal group. However, there was nothing found to prove it and none of their faces corresponded to any wanted posters. Since many of the corpses had suffered great damage to their heads, there was no real way to confirm either. There was no damage done to the camp itself, just two burnt wagons… No sign of any remaining bandits in the area.
The merchant group had four guards, three of which fled as soon as the attack happened; none to be seen afterward… Which meant the person behind the damage was the guy in the black mask?
The Marida Company got their hands on quite an interesting guy. This meant they could now both attack and defend themselves from any conflict related to the dark side of the capital.
I returned the book to the guard and returned to the Mercenary Guild. I couldn’t help but feel that if the capital became chaotic, that man would be the reason.
Upon returning to Marida Company with Malta-san, accompanied by Marida-san; I went to receive the reward for the mission, which was a hundred bentos.
“Shaft-san, here are the rice and bread meals you asked for. Fifty of each with a good balance of deep-fried and steamed food as a side dish. ” Marida-san said. “Along with some vegetables, the total value of each meal should be slightly above the value evening meal at a restaurant.”
“Much appreciated. I was told this basket would be retrieved later on, I suppose it will be reused?” I said.
“That’s right, in order to reduce the price of each meal, we’re still not prepared to keep producing such big baskets in large quantities. We’re also thinking about using them for the harvest festival.” Marida-san confirmed.
I activated my TSS while I chatted and summoned the gift box. Marida-san, who had just seen my flash summon for the first time, stared at it with a fascinated look as light particles converged.
“So, that’s Shaft-san’s toolbox. Its appearance is quite a marvelous sight.” Marida-san commented.
“Should I only take my part of the meals for today?” I asked.
“Yes, the rest of the meals carried by the company’s party will be ready before the day of departure.” Marida-san said.
Two wagons were lost in the bandit attack so we ended up with only one wagon left to return to Fort Barga. The plan was for me and the other three wagons to split the cargo in between us to carry, but the plan changed to me carrying it all. There was the option to use the wagons from the headquarters, though if we got attacked again in route to Barga; it’d be problematic. If we took only one, it would also mean the number of targets to protect would be less. This included the company’s exclusive guards we settled to head towards Barga.
I had also thought to take a carriage for myself, but entering Barga with a carriage was something I wanted to avoid. Even if I were to hop off before I reached Barga, if I told them I walked all the way from the Royal Capital would be too weird, so I gave up on that idea.
After I had checked nearly everything in regards to the part’s escort back, a maid from Malta-san’s residence brought tea.
“Sir; Madam, its about time I leave to get the Young lady.” The maid reported.
“Ah, yes. Thank you. Please don’t forget to take along guards as an escort.” Malta-san said.
“Yes sir, I shall take my leave then.” The maid said.
The couple’s daughter, Minea, seemed to have been attending the primary Royal Sorcery Academy. Only nine years old, yet she’s already learning and earning experience in the field of magic, along with general education and etiquette. The Primary Academy was for children from royalty and influential merchants while the secondary was for children who belonged to the lower social statuses.
Attendance seemed optional though it seemed most families that could afford to send their children did so. Even students that attended the second academy could be offered a scholarship to attend to the primary academy; grant that they have permission and help from their guardian.
In this world, magic was extremely important. Therefore it was understandable that people would try to have descendants with higher magical ability. After I listened to the academy’s story, I even wanted to pay it a visit. It won’t happen today since the maid had already gone to pick up Minea, but I might just tag along tomorrow.
However, that night, Minea never came home.
“Any leads on her whereabouts?” Malta-san said
“No, she was seen on a carriage leaving the first district Academy, but there was no confirmation about them reaching the second district. ” A guard from the search party replied.
“Which meant something happened as soon as they left the academy. ” Malta-san said.
Minea would normally be home before evening, but she was still not home. Three hours has already past and there was no sight of the maid or the guards so something bad must have happened. The couple asked the company’s guards if there was any progress with the search, but there was nothing. Time-wise, it would make sense the kidnapping had been done by the bandits or their comrades; however, there had been no demands sent to us or the company.
Two more houses had passed and the sun had set a long time ago. In the vicinity, there was the only amount of dim light generated by magic tools. I stood on top of the company’s roof with crossed arms. I concentrated heavily on the blinking spots on the map and at the same time, tried to pick up any odd sounds with my headset. I was absolutely sure they’d send someone to convey their demands, but I wasn’t going to let him run away.
Another two hours passed and nothing happened. The company guards in charge of the search had since returned with no changes in the situation. A group of Capital guards came to assist in the missing group and a maid plus a few guards left with them. Due to how long the bandits had prolonged the situation, there was a chance it had not been a kidnapping case so Malta-san immediately reported this possiblity to the guards. They also did not have any information.
Another hour passed and the surrounding lights disappeared, the day came to an end. In the quietness of the night, a tomorrow; that was when I heard something that tried to approach stealthily.
The rhythm was steady and hardly noticeable, but it was the sound of footsteps. The sound stopped in the shadow of the company building, about a hundred meters from here. I heard the sound of a bow drawn followed by the sound of air being cut by an arrow which penetrated the wooden door of Marida Company. An arrow with a letter wrapped around it, quite an old way to contact someone. At last, what I wanted was here and he could not escape my sights.
I switched the ballistic mask’s mode to NV mode, jumped to the next roof to follow the suspect without thinking of the possibility of the kidnapper noticing. Even more so due to my pursuit via the roofs. After he distanced himself from the company, the kidnapper no longer hid his presence and started to run past the second district’s area.
Eventually, he turned a corner of a remarkably large building and headed towards the back. He ended the building after he carefully checked for unwanted followers.
“So, this is the place…” I said.
It was a building similar to Marida’s Company. Just as expected, it was due to the business conflict. A three-story building made from stone with a billboard that hung on the first floor. “Yagorche Company” was written on it. I stood on top of the building and I heard a conversation that came from within it.
“Did you deliver the letter?” Someone said.
“Yes, I left it at the company’s door.” The suspect said.
“Alright, good job. Move away. Hey! Hows the girl and the others?” the mysterious person said
“Stripped them of everything they had so they couldn’t escape and threw them into the president’s dungeon.” another person said.
So they’re inside the dungeon… By his tone, I assumed he was the company’s president. No, wait… I remember this voice from somewhere… From the bandit group. He was the leader of the group that attacked us. Which meant that the building at the back was the president’s residence. Despite it at a time when the capital was asleep in silence. These men held lanterns and went about on rounds as they guarded the building I was standing on.
I left without having read the contents of the letter to follow the suspect. If the letter was a demand to immediately destroy the priority buyer documents for the festival. I would have to stop that from ever happening, no matter what. With just a few moments of hesitation, I decided that I had to save them right away for the best of it. Even if the priority buyer documents for the festival was lost, what was truly important for the couple was their daughter and their staff. I’d have to rescue them as fast as possible