Transport Preparations (Part One)
Jill’s hands froze as she was cutting the pie with a knife.
「…Where’d you hear that?」
「Some people were talking about it.」
「No, no, no, that’s impossible! Like I said before, Morgstad’s murder is highly classified information!」
「Apparently the culprit is a young girl.」
This time Jill was speechless, her mouth agape.
「I can’t say.」
「Here’s the menu. What do you want to eat?」
「There are just some things that you can and cannot say. I can’t say any more as it would be a violation of confidentiality.」
「What, you think I’m going to misuse the information?」
「…No, I should be the one apologizing. That wasn’t fair. You’re answering my questions out of goodwill. It would be awful if you were punished because of it.」
All right, now what? Hikaru thought as he leaned back on his chair.
(If she’s not going to tell me any more, I just have to sneak into the mansion…)
「Why do you want to know? This is indeed big news, but you wouldn’t normally care about a Count being killed, right?」
「Hikaru-kun. I’m guessing you’re a son of a wealthy family who ran away from home on a whim and decided to become an adventurer so he could survive. Am I right?」
「…I suppose. Yeah, something like that. I don’t have any other means to survive.」
That, and he didn’t really have a home to return to.
「Does your family have connections with Count Morgstad?」
「No. None at all.」
「Then why do you care so much?」
I screwed up, Hikaru thought deep inside. Morgstad’s death was much more confidential than he imagined.
「My friend… went through a lot.」
「Yeah. You could say he was oppressed by Count Morgstad. So I want to know whether he’s alive or not.」
Jill stared at Hikaru, studying him. He thought about staring back, then stopped. If I remember correctly, a person who lies does either of two things: First, they don’t look at the one they’re lying to – they can’t. Second is they try too hard to convince the other person that they’re not lying by staring back intently.
Hikaru looked her in the eyes for just a moment and gave a small nod. He then downed some water.
「 …I don’t feel any malice in your words.」
Oh, right. Jill did mention being sensitive to the emotions that people hide. There was probably no need for him to pretend.
「It’s going to be public anyway so I guess I can tell you this… Three days from now, a certain someone will be transported to the royal capital. That’s all I can say about the matter.」Jill said with a sigh.
A certain someone… the culprit. It’s that girl, all right. Three days from now… The fact that the Adventurers Guild know about that means…
「Don’t tell me… adventurers will be the convoy ? Why—」
Jill’s kept her attention on the food as if to say “I’m not telling you anything else”. She deftly cut the pie in bite-sized pieces and stuffed herself — each movement extremely smooth and precise like some professional craftsman.
There were knights in the Count’s mansion who are much higher-ranked than the common soldier. So why would they hire adventurers to be the convoy? There’s gotta be more to this…
In the meantime, the Twin Tornado Juice arrived, its container shaped like a round melon and made of metal, with two straws sticking out of it. Two straws.
「Here you go.」
「Wait, what? There’s two straws on this thing!」
「Yes. It’s called “twin” for a reason.」
「No, no, no, no, no.」
It’s a drink for couples! Stuff that cheesy lovebirds drink! Jill seemed to be embarrassed too as her cheeks turned red.
「I told you I’ve been wanting to try it, but I didn’t have anyone to drink it with!」
「You’ve got all those men after you. Just choose from any of them!」
「Like. I. Said. I can see their motives clearly!」
「Ah, makes sense.」
Hikaru finally understood.
She sees me as someone completely harmless.
「All right. Let’s have a drink, then. But you go first. Once you’ve had enough, I’ll finish the rest.」
「Don’t tell me you actually want us to drink it at the same time—」
「O-Of course not! Don’t be so full of yourself!」
Jill started sipping the drink, pulling it closer to her as if to take it all for herself.
「So good. Ugh, darn it!」
In the end, she finished it all on her own.
Money left: 1,430 gilans (+7,500+α)
Later that day – almost midnight.
A boy in a black outfit appeared in front of Count Morgstad’s residence. Hikaru. He left his cloak as it would only be a hindrance if it got caught in something. On his face was something he’d never worn before.
Made out of thin, metallic plate, they were sold at the temple. Each mask was modelled after different famous gods – the Sun God, War God, Commerce God – and cost only ten gilans.
Hikaru bought a Sun God mask, dull silver in color with a sharp jawline, and thin eyebrows that stretched to the sides. The carving wasn’t deep so it was perfect for his face. It had holes on the eyes and nose, though Hikaru added another one on the mouth for him to breathe out of.
「All righty, then. I guess I just have to go through the front again.」
Hikaru intended to save the girl. She showed him an escape route after he finished killing Morgstad. He had no idea why she did that.
「…I don’t like the idea of her being accused for the murder instead of me.」
He had no idea what was going on behind the scenes. Even if he wanted to investigate the matter, he had no connections. Asking the guards directly would only bring suspicion on him. As a matter of fact, Hikaru sneaked into the guards’ station in town to eavesdrop but he came up empty. Most of their conversations were about alcohol, gambling, and women. They complained about their superiors as well.
「My legs feel like lead…」
He was exhausted. Hikaru wasn’t used to walking around for a whole day. While he wanted to add more points to his Stamina or Strength, he had none at the moment. But he did gain something. The girl wasn’t in the Public Safety Investigation Agency’s custody – an organization similar to the Japan police. She wasn’t in the guard’s station either. There was a high chance of her being kept inside the Count’s residence.
The front gate was locked, but the side entrance wasn’t. A guard stationed at the entrance didn’t notice Hikaru at all as he passed by. The last time he came here, it was raining. Today, the pale – a lot paler than on Earth – light of the moon shone on the mansion.
The front door, which he used last time to enter, was locked.
「…Of course. Someone was assassinated recently. Security will be a lot tighter.」
Hikaru’s mouth curved into a grin.
「But my Stealth’s level has gotten higher as well.」
He’s already set the class on his guild card to Stealth God: Darkness Wanderer. Hikaru circled the building. Wooden boards covered the windows. He would have to remove them if necessary and break the glass windows inside as they had bolts, albeit simple ones. As much as possible, though, he didn’t want to leave traces behind.
「…Wait, what’s that?」
Hikaru caught sight of a slightly-opened back door. The stream of light coming from within revealed a man and woman standing by it.
「Are you leaving already?」
「I need to go back to the capital once my mission is over.」
「I’ll be lonely.」
「I’m sorry. I’ll make sure to send you letters.」
The man’s face wasn’t familiar to Hikaru, but judging by the uniform and the sword hanging from his waist, he was a knight. And the woman was a maid.
…Right. The knights in this place were hired by the Count against their will. As such, they really don’t have much motivation. But still you shouldn’t hit on the maids. That’s why the mansion’s owner got assassinated. You’re not doing your jobs properly.
Hikaru slowly walked past them and slipped inside through the open back door. As soon as he opened it, the sudden brightness from within caused the two of them to jump and run to the darkness. They probably thought someone was coming from inside. Hikaru was standing there, though, but they couldn’t see him.
Man, this Stealth God class really is incredible.
Inside he spotted a storage room with a kitchen beside it. Only a dim lamp was lit, with no one around. Hikaru steadily advanced forward. He didn’t need to worry about minor stuff with his Stealth on. His first stop was Count Morgstad’s room on the second floor.
The door was locked.
No good. I could make easy progress if I had Skills like Unlock or Trap Deactivate. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any of those in my Soul Board.
Either way he had no points to spend.
He pressed his ears on the wall but heard nothing. After checking to see no one was on the corridor besides him, he knocked on the door.
「…Guess no one’s inside.」
There was no response. He then checked the next room. Empty. There was, however, someone in the next room.