~ KAY ~
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The motorhome proceeded through the night down the highway, it’s engine roaring heavily. Laptricia-sama and Ashley were resting on the twinbed; the servants attended to them. Their breathing had calmed after the Air Masks I’d taken were put on them. But their fevers from the Mage Masher still hadn’t subsided.
The Mage Masher caused the intricate flow of magic within one’s body to run rampant. Thus, leaving the afflicted in a deadly situation. In addition to that, with the flow of magic going crazy, recovery magic loses its effect. This meant that it was detrimental for the antidote to be administered, the one only the Knights of the Royal Capital had, to calm the flow of magic.
“We just passed through the resting area west of the capital. We should arrive at the capital in in hour.”
I glanced back as I drove and noticed the Escort Leader sitting on the sofa in the living room. He didn’t seem relaxed at all. He sat straight up, his hands on his knees and eyes boring straight… Into the wall.
“Are you okay?”
“I,I,I,I, I’,m alright.”
He didn’t look alright at all. The servants had already gotten used to the vehicle already. I figured it was because they could cook, prepare and attend the resting girls while staying indoors; and traveling at the same time. On the other hand, the man had been glued to the sofa since the ride began.
The instrument panel on the driver’s dashboard was outfitted with a built-in display. It showed the video of the onboard cameras. This way, I could see the situation within the motorhome at all times while I drove. I kept tabs on the girl’s conditions and I stopped whenever their symptoms flared up. I only restarted the vehicle once they’d simmered down. It was a hurried, but careful ride nonetheless.
“The capital is already in sight.”
“Oh! We’ve finally arrived”
After hearing my announcement, the Escort Commander, who’d been seated like a lifeless mannequin, jumped to look through the windshield. I could see that his eyes were slightly moist. Was riding in here that scary…? But this alone didn’t mean that all of our problems were solved. It was already dawn and the gate was open. Although it was not crowded yet, the guards had probably already noticed us and were on the move.
I stopped the Continental some ways away from the gate and asked the commander to take the lead. During our ride, I reminded him and the servants that the Continental was to remain a secret. The vehicle was not my property, but a loan from someone of higher rank. Since it was a secret, if rumors were to spread… I intentionally stopped there. I could see that this had given the intended result by their pale faces. So, I let them all off as I stated I wanted to see Laptiricia-sama and Ashley.
Both of them seemed awake, but their faces were extremely pale. Their eyes were barely open, as if their eyelids were being weighed down.
“We’ve arrived at the capital. The captain has arranged for immediate treatment. Please be patient a little while longer.”
They appeared to have replied, though their voices were too weak. Or, the air masks muffled their voice; maybe both.
I left the rest to the servants before I got off the motorhome. I wished nothing more than to let the girls get treatment right away, but my suit was drenched in blood. It had all blackened at this point. The kevlar mask hadn’t been exempted from the mess. The bloodstains resembled flames on the mask. There was no way I could present myself like this, right? Maybe I should get myself a change of clothes…
Several carriages came from the capital along with horses. The cavalry, raising the standard to the Royal Guard, surrounded the continental. One of the horsemen approached me before he dismounted.
“I take it that you’re the ‘Black Mask’? We’re here to bring Duke Barga’s third daughter and Ashley Zephanel to the clinic immediately.”
“Thank you. Laptiricia-sama and Ashley will unboard momentarily. Please wait a moment.”
“You seem to be covered in a lot of blood yourself. Do you also need medical attention?”
“No. I’ll head to the Duke’s manor to file a report immediately. Duke Barga’s escort commander will be along to accompany you. Also, the servants might’ve inhaled some of the mage masher as well, so please see to them.”
“I understand. We’ll bring the servants as well.”
After our exchange, the escort commander stood next to the continental. A moment later, Laptiricia-sama and Ashley stepped off with the help of the servants. The squad leader and some of the royal guards helped the ladies board a prepared carriage. I saw them off then prepared to enter the capital myself.
“By the way, Blak Mask, what is that thing?”
Of course, it was the leader of the Royal Guards that had to point at the Continental.
“This is a large magical tool entrusted to me by higher ups. I will refuse any question or investigation regarding this. If you even dare to touch it, don’t blame me for being impolite.”
“No, no. I didn’t mean to do that. I won’t ask anything.”
The royal guard leader mounted his horse and rode alongside the carriage to the capital afterward. Once they’d gone some distance out, I opened the TSS and returned the motorhome to the garage. Doing so, it was automatically refueled… And as expected… the refueling costs were much, much higher than any other vehicles I owned…It wasn’t that I couldn’t afford it, but the price itself was three times more than to refuel the Dorchester. As I walked to the capital, I decided that I shouldn’t use this often from now on.
I would hear rumors such as “This morning, the Black Mask entered the Capital drenched in blood; “The black masked became the Blood-soaked Black Mask, or “Another has fallen victim to the Black Mask again” later on. At present, I just ran through the capital and headed directly to Duke Barga’s residence in the first district. I reported on the night raid at the resting area to his guards out front before I went in to meet with the Duke.
“You have my gratitude, Shaft-kun. Then, how is Laptiricia and Ashley?”
The guards gave way and allowed me entry. Inside, I was greeted by Volker-san who guided me to the Duke’s office.
“The escort commander is with them at the clinic for treatment.”
“You said they used ‘Mage Masher’? How many days had passed since they’d inhaled it?”
“About half a day.”
“Only half a day has passed? Well, it’s good then. They should recover as long as the people at the clinic don’t make a mistake. Volker, can you leave us alone for a moment?”
“As you wish. I’ll take my leave.”
Volker-san left the office, leaving me and the Duke alone.
“Shaft-kun, what do you know about the ‘Mage Masher’?”
The Duke’s voice echoed through the mostly empty office was not the gentle one I was used to hearing. This time, it was clear and firm.
“I do know that it’s a poison that is supposedly only available to knights to use.”
“That’s correct. The management is entrusted to the knights .That thing you used to alleviate the poison, did the attackers also use it?”
“Yes, I left the rest of the undamaged air masks they wore in the Escort Commander’s care. I’ve told him to send them to your Excellency.”
I placed the air mask I’d kept in my pouch on the table. The Duke promptly took the mask and inspected it. He uncorked the cylinders where the wind magic stone was embedded. His sharp eyes became ever more narrow as he carefully examined the inside.
“This airmask is actually under the same strict management standard as the poison. If a foreign invader managed to get their hands on this, then using the mage masher as an emergency weapon wouldn’t work well.”
He disassembled the mask as if he was looking for some sort of serial number.
“I knew it… Shaft-kun.”
“I have a new request for you.”