The Undetectable Strongest Job: Rule Breaker – Episode 54 – Interlude: Star of the Upheaval

Interlude: Star of the Upheaval

One night, about a month ago, Marquedo and Zofira were having their usual talk in the former’s office.

「Is there any reason why the budget for national defense decreased? I know your “Optimization for Every Department Project” is going great, but there’s no need to cut budget, is there? Ponsonia is dangerous right now.」

「The budget, huh… I wanted to increase it, but there’s not a lot of people.」

「What do you mean?」

「Forestia had known happiness for too long. They treat the skirmish between Ponsonia and Quinbland like it’s none of their business. Even if we recruited soldiers, no one would sign up.」

「So there’s too much money for so few personnel?」

「Fifty-one percent of the national defense budget goes to personal expenses and provisions. No one could consume the increased funds.」

「Maybe we should temporarily switch to mandatory conscription. What do you think?」

「…It’s worth considering. Though it should only be used as a last resort.」

「Okay. Launch a review committee. I’ll be the president, and you will execute our decisions.」

「Fine. More work for me, I guess. Yay.」

「Don’t say that. You can have more…」

「Are you Zofira Van Houtens?」

「…assistants if you want…???」

They both turned at the direction the voice came from. A boy – at least that was what they assumed – clad in hooded, black cloak and wearing a Sun God mask stood there.

「Where did you come from?!」

Zofira quickly got up and stood in front of Marquedo. She was unarmed. Bringing weapons in this room was not allowed. But she was willing to put her life on the line to protect her queen.

「Please be quiet. I can kill you both before anyone arrives.」the boy said, anticipating that Zofira would call for the guards. He stuck his hand from underneath his cloak and showed his dagger.

「Wh-What do you want?」

Zofira was prepared to die. The intruder had infiltrated all the way here. Her first priority was to let the queen escape. The future they were building for Forestia would all go to waste if both of them died.

「You didn’t even answer my question.」the masked boy said, a bit exasperated. Marquedo pushed Zofira aside and stepped up front.

「This is my office. I won’t let you have your way. Answer me. Who sent you? Ludancia? Or is it… Ponsonia?」

Zofira was surprised. It made sense to her that Ludancia would send an assassin, one of the nations that comprised the alliance. They were on bad terms with Kirihal, where Marquedo came from.

But the boy reacted to the name “Ponsonia”. Marquedo might have guessed right.

「Someone just asked me to give a message to Zofira Van Houtens.」

「A message? You sneaked into my office and now you’re saying you have a message? Now that’s funny. If you want to talk to Zofira, get an official appointment.」

The boy sighed.

「Are you stupid?」

「Wha—?!」

Marquedo’s face turned red. No one called her stupid in front of her face, save for Zofira, at least.

「You dare mock me?!」

「I told you to be quiet. This is the queen’s room, isn’t it? There’s a peephole in the ceiling and your conversation was recorded.」

「…What?」

「Surely he wasn’t a guard. By the looks of it, he was a complete combat amateur. I knocked him out cold, so you better get him later.」

The women looked at the ceiling. Someone was up there? They didn’t notice at all. Aglaia would have if she was here. But she was with Gafrasti right now. They hadn’t seen her in five years.

If they could sneak into the ceiling easily, there was no doubt someone on the inside was involved. A chill went down Zofira’s spine. They talked in whispers because of the possibility of their conversation being heard outside the door. But who knew how much the infiltrators heard?

「Anyway, you want me to get an appointment? Do you really think a busy cabinet minister would meet a young boy from a foreign country? Even if she did, I wouldn’t want to talk to her in a place that’s being watched.」

「………」

They couldn’t tell if he was telling the truth, unless they checked the ceiling. If it was true, they wouldn’t be able to offer words of rebuttal.

「Let’s get down to business, shall we?」

Ignoring their uneasiness, the boy tossed a handkerchief of fine quality on the table.

「I have a message from Gafrasti N. Valves. “I got what I was looking for. The Day of Dawn will soon be upon the current dynasty.”」

Taken aback, Zofira and Marquedo exchanged glances. The meaning of the message was clear. Gafrasti found something that showed the ancient Poelnxinia’s royal family’s lineage. He was going to challenge the legitimacy of the current ruling family.

It made sense now that the boy reacted to the name “Ponsonia”. He was sent by none other than Gafrasti.

「…Why didn’t Gafrasti use the usual method of contacting us?」

「He said there’s no time, and they need to hurry, or something. The bluish-gray haired woman with him was concerned about the same thing as well.」

This boy knows Aglaia, Zofira thought.

「I don’t care if you believe me or not. I only came here to do my job.」

「Wait. You didn’t answer my first question. How did you get in here? We didn’t notice anyone enter the room.」

「………」

Zofira felt the boy’s faint smile under his mask. She trembled slightly at his enigmatic presence.

「Your security’s full of holes. Anyway, I have a question for you as well. Will you answer it as payment for the delivery of my message?」

「…What is it?」

This boy was powerful. Right now he wasn’t a hostile, but he exuded an aura that indicated he didn’t care about Forestia. They couldn’t trust him. But fighting him was not a wise option. If what he said was true, he could kill the queen any time.

「What does Day of Dawn mean?」

「…Come again?」

The question was so unexpected that Zofira had to ask him again without thinking.

「It’s a term that was in a poem about the fall of the Poelnxinian dynasty. But I don’t know what it means exactly. Literally “dawn” would mean “daybreak”, but if the dynasty collapsed at dawn, you wouldn’t add “Day” to it.”」the boy said.

「That’s true…」

The boy had his gaze fixed on Zofira. Unfortunately, she didn’t have the answer to his question. Just like Gafrasti, he was probably quite well-informed about the ancient dynasty. But why he was interested in that particular term, she didn’t know.

「I only know what I heard from Gafrasti…」

「That’s fine. Tell me.」

Deep inside, Zofira was puzzled. If Gafrasti asked him to come here, why didn’t he just ask the man?

「Do you know that Poelnxinia was a very advanced society?」

「Yeah.」

「The one who developed the technology they used was called the “Sorcerer of the Dawn”. This person was shrouded in mystery. The people who adored him… or her had a custom that still persists until today. On the dawn of this person’s death anniversary, they would offer their most prized possession at an altar, or something…」

「That’s quite a detailed information…」

「There’s a place where the custom is still being practiced. That’s all I know.」

The boy seemed interested.

「Where is this place?」

Zofira didn’t feel like telling him, but Marquedo nodded slightly, and so she answered his question.

「…Scholarzard. It’s a university city where the pride of Forestia, the National Academic Research Institute is located.」

「I see.」

Sure enough, he sounded very interested. He cleared his throat before speaking again.

「That’s all. I don’t have any more questions for you.」

「Wait, what’s your name?」

Zofira called out to him, but the boy simply opened the door and stepped outside. She followed the boy in a hurry.

「What’s wrong, Lady Zofira?」

The two soldiers standing guard jumped to their feet, surprised at the woman’s menacing look. Zofira looked around, but all she saw was the same old hallway.

「A boy wearing a black cloak passed through here! Did you see him?!」

「Uh… No, we didn’t.」

「What?」

She was dumbfounded. The soldiers saluted in a hurry as soon as Marquedo approached Zofira.

「It feels like a nightmare…」the queen said.

「Are you okay?」

「Yes. There’s no sign of a spell on me either.」

Marquedo checked her bracelet, a magic item.

「At any rate, word will come from Aglaia later. If what that boy said was true, we should make moves where we can.」Marquedo said.「But before that, there’s someone in the ceiling of my office! Arrest him right away!」she ordered the soldiers.

The person lurking in the ceiling – who was out cold – was captured. There were four other spots being watched as well and every last one of the spies there was unconscious.

Later, the mastermind behind the spying was arrested and Forestia’s internal government improved just a bit.

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