Three days into the trip to the Royal Capital, and while being escorted by the Western Barga Knight’s Order, we’d stayed at the rest spot east of Barga. However, nothing occurred such as a bandit attack like during Marida Company’s escort. And the city gate’s came into view as we went.
Duke and Duchess Barga passed through the carriage, followed by Lapitiricia-sama. Even more carriages came in behind. Surrounding them were knights and other lords as their guards. I entered the royal palace an hour before sunset. The streets were filled with people returning home from work.
The Duke’s coat of arms was displayed on the carriage as it moved slowly through the streets. I could hear the people who saw it, “it’s Duke Barga.”. “Could it be the Black Mask?”. “The Black One…”, “The black one returned.”
I Sat on the outer seat of Lapitiricia-sama’s carriage. Ashley was inside, and the coach was a private driver. As such, I stayed on the alert and checked the surroundings. It might be because of that, my eyes met with many of the commoners around us. The carriage was at the forefront. Although there were foot soldiers clearing a path for the carriage, as one sitting on the coach’s seat, I stood out. This setup had been decided on by Duke Barga. But the reason might’ve been to let the people know I was serving Duke Barga.
During the parade in Barga, there wasn’t anyone who called me by “Black Mask”. At the very least, my earpads hadn’t picked it up. However, the people of the capital hadn’t yet forgotten the ruckus I’d caused at the end of last year. Rather, enough time hadn’t passed for that to happen.
Yagorche Company colluded with the bandit ground that’d been ravaging the south, “Demon Lotus”, to attack the main convoy of the Marida Company and abduct officials. Then, Yagorche’s confession and the discovery of the black accounts in the collapsed mansion had revealed their smuggling. After that, the tale of what’d happened had circulated within the capital.
The reason for it was that…
“Hey, what… Is… That?”
A signboard came into view. Without thinking, I pointed it out to the driver and asked.
“Huh? Does Mr. Shaft not know? ‘The black nobleman who arrived in the Royal Capital, Black Mask Shaft’! Saving the girls taken away by evil companies, defeating bandit groups all by himself, uprooting the evil within the capital; it’s a very popular show within the Royal Capital.”
My eyes were stuck on the signboard, placed on top of the passing theatre. While I felt a sense of indescribable collapse, the row of wagons reached Duke Barga’s mansion. The mansion itself was located in the first-class district – the noble’s district – and it was a great mansion. One of a few worthy to be called a Duke’s mansion.
The building was a three-level symmetrical stone-brick structure. With brownish-red bricks and large windows, it was impressive. Maids lined up in front of the arched gateway in front of the mansion’s center. In the middle was, maybe, a butler? With long silver hair, a man stood dressed in a butler’s black attire. He was not the common race – his face was too pretty. Maybe an elf?
I got off the carriage as it stopped before the gate, and opened the carriage door for the others. The first off was the secretary and lady-in-waiting, Ashley. Taking her hand, I helped her down. The next was Lapitiricia-sama. As with Ashley, I helped her by the hand down off the carriage.
In the carriage behind us, Duke Barga’s guards were working on the door.
“Welcome home, Master, Mistress, Young Lady.”
“Ahh, Volker. Nothing has changed, right?”
This eld, Mr. Volker, was apparently the steward who took care of everything in the capital for Duke Barga. Ashley and I were also greeted by Mr. Volker and were shown to Lapitiricia-sama’s private room, and our own rooms. The rooms were connected to the private room, so we could always be on standby.
“Can I walk freely in the mansion?”
“Ye-yes! As long as you don’t go into the Master or Mistress’s private rooms, guards can come and go as they please.”
When I asked to confirm as I listened to the mansion’s explanation by the maid who led me. The still young maid looked straight at my black mask and answered with a flushed face.
… Why am I being stared at?
No, wait… When I was a budding member of the FPS Pro team “POwDer”, I got such gazes too. Thoe were gazes of fans, regardless of their gender.”
I could hear the mutterings of the Maid’s small child.
Weird. In order to avoid bringing attention to Schwartz, combat acts and display of prowess were supposed to be done in my second identity – Shaft. Somehow, the name “Shaft” had become incredibly famous. How did this happen? Thinking about this, I mapped the Duke’s residence. After I had mapped the inide, I went outside and did the same as well.
The thing I pulled out from the large black supply box, was a small white cylinder.
It was a tactical unattended ground senor called “AN/GR-9 (v) 1 (T-UGS)”. After opening the three bottom legs, you place it on the ground. This T-UGS would sense vibrations and sounds within a 25-meter radius around it, and display it on my minimap.
Going to the other side of the mansion, I set up another T-UGS. I could put up two of these T-UGSs at a time, and two smaller minimaps would display alongside my larger one. These maps, even if over 150 meters away from me, would only show the 25-meter radius around the T-UGS.
There was a reason to why I was doing all this work. If you adjust the size of the map to completely monitor the movements of people within the mansion, you cannot monitor movement outside. No matter what, intruders can’t just suddenly appear within the mansion. They have to come from outside.
After returning to the mansion after finishing up outside, I was told that the Duke was calling for me. Guided by the maid, I headed to the Duke’s office.
“Pardon my intrusion. It’s Shaft.”
“I’ve been waiting, Shaft.”
“I seem to have kept you waiting.”
“No, I don’t mind. You were patrolling the premises as a guard right? Was there anything to be concerned about?”
In the officer, Duke Franklin Barga, and his steward Volker, was waiting.
“No, I only went out because I wanted to check out the property. So, what is the matter?”
“About that, let’s start with me.”
Apparently, Mr. Volker, the steward, had been serving the Barga family close to 200 years. Elves’ longevity was surprising, but their loyalty was even more so. From Volker’s explanations, plans of arrivals and departures form tomorrow onwards; the mid-day and evening party schedule and more…
“Oh, is it that theatre…?”
“That’s right. I want to watch the recently popular show. If the schedule permitted, I wanted to go watch it.”
“Of course, it’s ‘The Black Mask’.”
As expected, it’s that…