Oukoku e Tsuzuku Michi Chapter 326
「――if we put together the information from the prisoners, the offender is without a doubt Griff Zilgray, the Governor General of Magrado.」
I lean back in my chair in the office after the short reply.
The others here with me include Leopolt who just gave the report, the angry-faced Celia, the downward-looking Myla, and the sleeping Tristan. Celia, kick his ass.
「Wake up, idiot!」
「Oww, you’re going to break my bones.」
Sebastian and Rita are also here.
「It’s fine to know who the offender is, what I’m interested in is whether there will be another attack. If not, we can slowly take revenge or make a scene in the capital or something.」
「There definitely is.」
I just sigh when Leopolt answers without hesitation and instinctively reach for Celia so I can pat her.
「This attack was clearly an attempt at Lord Hardlett’s life, not a form of intimidation or a warning. That guy has not achieved his goal.」
Leopolt has more to add.
「Furthermore Governor General Zilgray is famous for being vindictive, as we have information about him criticizing or slandering Lord Hardlett repeatedly in the balls and dinner parties he attended. He doesn’t only want to eliminate Lord Hardlett because of profit, I believe a large part of it is emotional. That’s why I anticipate relentless attacks in the future.」
「What the heck, I don’t remember doing anything for him to hate me so much.」
The room goes quiet for a moment. What is it? Whatever, I’ll go on.
「Which means we can’t leave him alone. How should we deal with him?」
Leopolt remains expressionless as he takes out a map of the mansion.
「The mansion’s defenses were exposed as being weak against trained infiltrators. Therefore we will increase the number of watch fires and sentinels as well as expand the scope of the watchtowers. Additionally, the maids and servants will undergo training for when they discover suspicious people, and will walk with a warning whistle. That’s the first countermeasure.」
So we’re simply tightening security?
Rita and Sebastian nod when they find out why they were summoned.
「A few members from the escort unit will always be on standby in the mansion. There may be opponents who the sentinels cannot match.」
Celia chimes in.
There is a pretty big difference between the physiques and training of the guards and the escort squad.
A few fully armed escort soldiers can probably suppress a majority of enemies.
「Will that solve everything?」
「The next matter is in regards to the report to the capital. “This incident was an assassination attempt on Lord Hardlett’s life by the remnants of the ex Magrado rebellion force” ……was added to the notes so that should keep them in check. Zilgray won’t be able to move publicly now.」
I see, purposely mentioning Magrado to associate him with the name.
Celia looks somewhat dissatisfied. Leopolt shifts his gaze to her before continuing.
「Normally, it would be shameful to allow intruders into your mansion and most nobles will hesitate to report to the capital. However I believe the effect that the report will have on restraining their movements is more important than saving face. This is the second countermeasure.」
「I don’t care. If it will have an effect, then do as you see fit.」
「Haha, other nobles would probably rage at Leopolt-san.」
Tristan remarks. That much is nothing to worry about.
「Just the other day, I was enthusiastically singing a song I made up, thinking nobody was in the garden, but there was a maid doing laundry in the corner who ran away hurriedly. That is way more embarrassing.」
「Please have a little more dignity…… anyways, wouldn’t it be more effective to have the girls as witnesses say Zilgray did it than sending a report to the capital?」
Celia looks to Leopolt. Before Leopolt could open his mouth though, Tristan starts talking.
This guy’s such a lazy ass but he just loves to talk.
「That would be meaningless, rather it would be a bad move. Zilgray is a chief vassal of Goldonia, so there’s no way the testimonies of a few commoners could be used to get him punished. Besides, it’s a well-known rumor that Lord Hardlett is against Zilgray, and it could look like we’re trying to defame him if we’re not careful.」
Celia stares provokingly at Tristan before closing her mouth.
Zilgray and I are opposing each other? I have to remember what I did.
Oh right, there was a girl I rescued from him who I impregnated not too long ago.
She’s currently knitting baby clothes happily with a large stomach.
What kind of gift should I get when she safely delivers her child?
At that time, I should also drink some of her breast milk.
When the last part left her mouth, Celia squeezes her own chest.
「Are you satisfied?」
Leopolt stares coldly. Who was it that got the conversation so off-topic?
「Still, this is incomplete. The first measure is a shield which only receives the enemy’s attack. The second is a voice which only intimidates or dissuades the enemy.」
「You see. What you need to stop an enemy that comes at you is a sword.」
「That will be the final countermeasure.」
Leopolt stays cool as always, though the aura around his eyes seem to change. So we’re getting serious now.
I’ll seriously pay attention then.
「We will also be conducting our own attack on Zilgray. The plan is――――」
Leopolt starts explaining the offensive strategy. I see, how interesting.
I couldn’t care less about Zilgray, but letting him push me around leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
I like the idea of attacking so he doesn’t try any nonsense on me again.
Now, to choose the personnel for the operation.
It will be a fight behind closed doors. If we consider the fewer people the better, individual fighting ability is important.
The next thing to consider is stealthiness and a disposition for espionage activities.
Furthermore, it has to be someone who possesses the judgment to adapt based on the situation and most importantly can protect secrets.
「Now that I think about it, there aren’t many who fulfill that requirement.」
The first person who comes to mind is Gido.
He has high combat ability and his bowmanship will definitely come in handy. He’s a commander in the escort unit so he has sufficient decision-making ability and I don’t have to worry about him leaking secrets.
The next candidate is Celia, who volunteered eagerly.
Her skills are perfectly suited for covert operations and she’s a quick thinker, but……
「I can’t bring myself to let her go, I’m worried that she’ll injure herself……」
「I’ll be fine! Besides, my incompetence played a part in allowing the raid on the mansion, so please let me make up for it!」
I would feel bad forcing her to stay if she’s this determined.
Her ability will likely keep her safe, although I will certainly have sleepless nights.
No wait, let’s change this way of thinking. It’s wrong because I’m thinking about sending people.
「I thought of something good. Can’t I just go?」
Celia and Leopolt speak in unison.
「Lord Hardlett only fulfills the fighting ability of the four requirements of individual battling capabilities, covert capabilities, decision-making, and trustworthiness. This is a completely unsuitable task for you, so please don’t restrain yourself.」
Leopolt tells me off.
「Wait a second, I know I don’t have covert capabilities, but what is that about not being trustworthy?」
Why is he worried that I will betray him? Isn’t that weird?
「Can you swear you will keep a secret from a woman who invites you to bed?」
「…… probably…… I think.」
Sometimes my lower half betrays me. I can’t make a definite promise.
「So please stay here.」
I guess I can’t say anything more.
Hm? Wait a minute. I just let that comment about my decision-making ability go.
You’re actually just mocking me, aren’t you.
「There are things people are good at and not good at.」
This guy, I’ll definitely expose the perverted things he does with Nina.
「The feudal lord himself charging forward in retaliation for a failed assassination attempt…… kuku…… kukuku.」
Tristan’s laughing at me.
Rita, make all of his meals today peas. Assign a maid to shove it in his mouth.
「Let’s get back on topic.」
Other qualified individuals are……
「Pardon me, if I could also get the chance to answer for the dishonor……」
Myla raises her hand, which I have to shake my head at.
「Not possible. Since you hold a title, if you get caught and your identity is discovered, that will unconditionally prove Lord Hardlett committed the offence.」
「Besides, Myla is not skilled at acrobatics or espionage activities, right? Being a leader on the battlefield is your domain.」
When Leopolt and I reject Myla, she sits back down weakly.
She’s acting strange today. Even when Celia and I were flirting, she just looked down instead of staring in jealousy like usual.
For now, those two are guaranteed and then I guess we have to find a few trustworthy guys from the escort unit.
Mack is out of the question. He stands out too much.
Christoph is out too. He’s too weak.
At that moment, there was a knock on the door.
「It’s me. Can I come in?」
The voice belonged to Sekrit.
「We’re in a meeting. You may not enter.」
Celia asserts in a strict tone.
Sekrit is hated by almost all the girls in the family including the main proponent Nonna.
Not only is their initial impression of her based on their first meeting horrible, she doesn’t listen to anybody except me and doesn’t seem to have any intention of getting along with anyone.
I tried to smooth things over, but she isn’t concerned with being isolated and doesn’t make an effort to improve her relationship, so there isn’t much I can do.
Sure enough, Sekrit doesn’t let Celia’s warning stop her.
「I was wondering what kind of retaliation you were talking about.」
Celia gasps in surprise, while Leopolt stares at the door.
If she says anything carelessly in the halls, the servants may overhear.
It isn’t because I don’t trust them or anything, but it is more dangerous for them to know compared to the people in the room.
Celia opens the door with a face that was as if she bit down on something bitter, inviting the faintly smiling Sekrit into the office.
She’s wearing a tight-fitting short sleeve shirt and a long slit skirt, with no other accessories, only tying her long hair simply such that it doesn’t get in her way.
「There was nobody in the halls. Don’t worry.」
Sekrit glances around the room, then sits right next to me on the chair vacated by Celia after she stood up.
That turns Celia’s face red, but that matter can be dealt with later.
「Where did you learn about the retaliation?」
Sekrit takes the tea Celia left on the table and gulps it down before grinning.
「I know about the raid that happened too, you know? A meeting held with you who manage the army plus the butler and head maid, even an idiot can figure out what is being discussed.」
Sekrit takes her hand holding the cup and points at Leopolt and Rita.
She arrogantly crosses her legs, acting like she’s the head of the house.
「The possible actions that can be taken by the attacked party are fleeing, crying oneself to sleep or revenge. Are you the type of person who would run or cry?」
Leopolt does not show it on his face, but he seems to be quite unhappy.
Meanwhile Celia is visibly angry and is being restrained by both Rita and Sebastian.
「Well, not like I care.」
After taking a quick peek at the retaliation operation, Sekrit smirks and rests her head on my shoulder.
Celia rages more. Rita and Sebastian urge me to stop her as they are at their limits.
「Let me take part in this operation too. I’m tired of trying to entertain myself with fishing and napping.」
Leopolt and Tristan’s gazes change to curious ones.
Celia is making a fuss as usual.
「I believe I fulfill all the necessary requirements.」
Sekrit licks the rim of Celia’s empty cup and then returns it to the table.
You’re hated by everyone because you do things like that.
「That may be so……」
Leopolt and Tristan look to me.
Those guys only know Sekrit as a lover.
I did tell them about the events in the Federation, though it was probably not sufficient knowing how bad I am at explaining things.
「The Margrave only ever talks about girls. I don’t see how you think that told us anything.」
Anyways, there is no doubt about her combat ability. She possesses Irijina-level of strength.
By the way, Irijina doesn’t have the right nature for covert missions like me, so she was deemed ill-suited for the task.
Going back to Sekrit, she can use her flexible body to perform acrobatic tricks and fight bare-handed, making her a great match for operations like these.
「She has no ounce of trustworthiness! You don’t know when this woman will betray us!」
「I won’t do something like that. Where will I go after betraying you? You think I’ll go to this Zilgray and turn you in for a prize? No way.」
「Of course I’m not worried about that.」
Even though I’ve only known her for a short time, I know there is no concern of her turning on us.
With Sekrit in the mix, I don’t have to worry about fighting strength either.
「Alright. I’ll rely on you too. Don’t fight with Celia though.」
「That depends on her. I unfortunately don’t know how to handle children.」
Celia finally frees herself from Rita and pounces at Sekrit.
However she was too riled up and failed to jump over the sofa, tripping on the leg of the seated Tristan who is grinning to himself and tumbling to the floor.
「Fugyaa! Oww, that hurt!」
「Hmph, and you’re going to be participating in the covert operation?」
「I-I’m the one who feels the most pain…… a knee rammed into my head……」
「Let’s think of a plan B for when the operation fails.」
Damn Leopolt, don’t say something so ominous.
「Sorry for leaving everything up to you guys. I’ll listen to any requests when you come back.」
Celia’s mood improves instantly.
I’ll take Gido to the highest class brothel.
It’s good for the both of us who are married to cheat side-by-side once in a while.
For Sekrit, let’s see.
「Let’s go fishing together. We can take your Liu ayasan II and take it easy on the water for the day.」
「We’re talking about rewards before the mission is even successful……?」
Sekrit blushes happily, though the color gradually disappears from her face.
「Why do you know about that?」
She brings her face close enough that our foreheads are touching and murderous intent oozes from her.
「Hahaha, the feudal lord knows everything.」
I was sleeping under a tree near the pond and saw Sekrit dragging a small boat.
I want to praise myself for not laughing when she shouted “hoist the anchors, set sail!”, and started rowing herself.
「What’s that about? Tell me too!」
「Shut up, it has nothing to do with brats!」
Celia pokes her head in after her sensitive antenna detected something, only to be chased away by Sekrit.
I’m glad they’re somewhat getting along.
–Third Person POV–
A While Later. North Teries River, North Coast. Port City Panate
「The package is moving to the target. It looks heavy…… there’s no mistake.」
In front of Gido’s eyes, a package is being carried from a ship to the building along the river.
The building and the site belongs to Zilgray, while the package was transported here from Magrado via the river.
Gido continues to monitor the situation carefully despite being far away from the warehouse, which is made possible only because of the mountain nation people’s astounding vision.
「Then we will do it tonight as planned. Close the curtains, everyone get their eyes used to the dark.」
As Celia addresses everyone, Sekrit smiles.
「No, it’s nothing.」
Desperately trying to negate the tense atmosphere, Gido makes a comment to himself.
「It would have been better if I brought my usual bow. My range is halved with this thing.」
Carrying a battle-ready bow while passing through other territory is dangerous, so he was given a prefabricated bow a traveler would use on a journey to be more inconspicuous instead.
Naturally, the size, the bowstring, and tension are inferior to his more familiar weapon of choice, plus he will experience a decrease in range and power.
「There won’t be any soldier wearing full plate armor in the city. The maximum distance will be a hundred meters. Can you manage?」
「I can go up to 150 or so……」
Sekrit’s eyes widen slightly in surprise.
「Hooh, impressive. So you’re not just a man who gets hard at the sight of my ass.」
「T-that’s because you started to change in front of me all of a sudden!」
「I’m reporting this to Aegir-sama.」
The idle chatter in the dark of the night stopped when the sun completely set.
After confirming the disappearance of the sun, Celia, Sekrit, and a handful of troops selected from the escort unit all started to move.
「Uuii, ‘m feeling good.」
「Wanna visit the brothel? I’ve got this itch to squeeze some big tits.」
Two escort soldiers in sailor uniforms are walking unsteadily shoulder-to-shoulder.
This kind of scene was abundant in the port city and didn’t draw anybody’s attention.
Once the two enter the back alley, they take out wooden pipes and a fuses from their pockets.
After igniting them skillfully, several were thrown into the site containing the warehouse.
「Uuuiii, I’m totally hammered.」
「Let’s go to another one~ The night is still young.」
The two of them walk unsteadily back out of the back alley side-by-side. Nobody paid much attention to them.
A thunderous roar tears through the night, then a pillar of fire rises up and illuminates the dark.
「W-what was that!?」
「It’s a fireーー! Hurry and extinguish it! Get the water!」
「That fire is so strong! How did this happen!?」
Even at a distance, it did not seem like a normal conflagration.
The lookout of the warehouse runs to the origin of the fire while making a commotion.
It wasn’t just the lookouts, all who were near the warehouse had their attention taken by the fire.
One person gets stabbed in the neck by a sword.
Another one’s neck gets cut from both sides, dropping his head to the ground.
「And the body?」
The perpetrators Celia and Sekrit ignore the corpses and rush through the entrance.
「Hm? Who are y―― guha!」
The two girls obviously realized the presence of the lookout on the watchtower but before he could say anything, he was silenced with arrows to the face and throat.
It was Gido who provided the covering fire some distance away.
「Such accuracy at 100 m in the night? He would be given plenty of affection if he was in my fleet.」
「Please keep your comments to yourself. More importantly, the force of those flaming tubes……」
Before Celia could finish her sentence, Sekrit lights one of them and tosses it into the lookout station.
At the same time an explosion was heard, the entire station goes up in flames, and then men burst out of the station on fire, running around a bit before falling over.
「It’s a combination of gunpowder and high quality oil. Gunpowder alone would simply cause an explosion while oil alone would simply cause a fire, but if you put them together, the flammable oil would scatter everywhere and instantly create a huge fire. I used them lots in the past.」
Not long after she finishes her sentence, Sekrit twists her body to one side.
At that moment, a sword swings down beside her and cuts air.
「Aah, it’s been so long. The feeling of cutting a person…… as I thought, I need this.」
Sekrit cuts the man’s hand off with the sword in her right hand, then tears through the man’s side with the sword in her left hand.
She spins around once before deeply plunging her swords into the man’s neck and stomach.
Blood and guts spill from the man’s body as he falls to the ground.
The man turns around running and shouting, but Sekrit already closed the distance in no time.
「So slow, so foolish, like a pig.」
A tendon gets cut when the man’s heel is sliced and he stumbles to the ground.
「W-wait! Why are you doing this? Are you bandits? The goods are over there……」
「I know that.」
Sekrit, who slams her sword into the head of the man begging for his life, moves sideways effortlessly and without any excess motions.
The short spear thrust from behind her hit air.
By the time the weapon was pulled back in haste, it was too late.
Sekrit drops her body as low as possible and then slashes the man’s legs.
It may appear to be an unstable position where power could not be generated, but Sekrit’s one slash broke the man’s shank.
「My leg―― eh!?」
As the man falls, he could see a grinning Sekrit and the tip of her sword waiting for him.
He felt the blade pass through his eyeball and then died.
「You’re neglecting your back!」
Celia pulls out short swords attached to her thigh and throws them in Sekrit’s direction.
The man who is about to charge Sekrit faces off against the approaching short sword and attempts to deflect it, however the two blades aiming for his throat and abdomen make it impossible for him to block simultaneously.
The split second of hesitation proved to be fatal as both swords pierce through their targets and kills the man.
「Be more careful!」
Sekrit flexes her body and hurls her sword in Celia’s direction.
Her sword flies deep into the heart of the man behind Celia.
At the same time, two soldiers making their way to the girls fall down like they were hit by something.
Looking carefully, each of them had their vitals hit with an arrow coated in black ink.
Another one gets stuck right between Sekrit and Celia.
「That boy, looks like he’s telling us to hurry up.」
Sekrit smirks and then pulls her sword out of the man’s dead body.
The blood splatters over her own body, but she doesn’t seem to mind.
「Fire, gunpowder, and blood huh…… fuu.」
「Aegir-samaa…… this woman is crazy.」
The target location is the largest stone building right in the center of the site.
Normally it would be guarded tighter, but the fire seemed to have drawn the lookouts away.
Not to mention the sturdy doors are slightly open.
Celia and Sekrit take a glance at the door before muttering.
「I’ll jump.」「I’ll crouch.」
It happened the moment when the two of them pushed open the door together.
「Damn thieves, dieeeee!」
Two men, unlike all the lookouts up till now and wrapped in metal armor, come rushing out with their swords.
Except their slashes only hit empty space.
Celia lowered herself to the ground when the door was opening and was laying in wait at the man’s feet with her sword ready.
Similarly, Sekrit leaped as the door opened and swung her sword as she was coming down.
Celia thrusts her sword into a gap in the man’s armor and deep into his body.
Sekrit relies on her strength and whacks the helmet, knocking the man unconscious, then finishing the fallen soldier by breaking his neck with her foot.
Sekrit enters the structure with a smile on her face.
The inside is packed with the cargo carried off the ship.
「Hiih! We’re just workers and not related to anybody here――――」
「Is that so?」
Sekrit swings the swords in both her hands and massacres all the trembling laborers among the cargo in no time.
She checks on the packages without even wiping the blood off her blades.
「As expected. Gold and silver coins, hooh, even gold ingots from before they get processed. I guess these are the fruits of that Zilgray’s benevolent rule.」
「There are many mines in Magrado after all.」
The goal of the raid from the start was to get this cargo designated to be transported to the capital.
Going back to when Leopolt was explaining the plan.
「It might be revenge but assassinating Governor General Zilgray will surely end up in a great strife with all of Goldonia involved. In addition, the earlier uproar has inevitably directed suspicion towards us, which may lead to the worst case scenario considering the current state of the King.」
「What we need to do is deal a serious blow to Zilgray, to properly show him our intentions.」
「It would be preferable if it is something which he cannot report the damages to the capital.」
「If we consider the security on the wagons which periodically depart from Magrado, we can guess the load is――」
「-which, in the territory of the powerful General Governorate, will be heavily guarded. If we cause a ruckus near the capital, the Kingdom will instantly go for his head. They will be aiming for the port city which is the last place where the load was dropped off, meaning Zilgray can’t move his soldiers around as boldly, and the capital will be directed away from us, freeing us from any interference by the Kingdom.」
「Everything is as predicted. The one who came up with this plan was called Leopolt…… that guy isn’t just a lady-killer, he’s got some good chess pieces at his disposal.」
「There’s close to 10 000 gold here. Do you think he’s illegally accumulating this wealth?」
「Who knows. It doesn’t seem like honest money though. Even if it’s taken away, he can’t say anything to the Kingdom.」
Sekrit grabs a handful of gold and stuffs her pockets.
Celia furrows her brow.
「But gold is gold. I’ll put it to good use.」
「To build your Liu ayasan II?」
「What did you say?」
Sekrit and Celia glare at each other.
「What are you doing!? The fire is spreading and the city guards are coming! Let’s hurry and get out of here!」
Gido and the remaining escort unit soldiers come running in.
「Fumu, we stayed too long.」
「Then as planned, we’ll escape through the river, and also throw this gold in the river.」
「It’s a waste, but there’s no way we can carry this back.」
Just when everyone was about to lift the boxes of gold, Sekrit stops them.
「Wait, there’s a way to make it impossible to retrieve the gold which also lets us escape without getting wet.」
Celia and Gido force a smile at the woman’s proposal.
「Are you ready?」
Gold is packed tightly into the wagon with the boxes destroyed by swords so all the coins are trickling out.
Connected to the wagon are two horses, who have already lost their composure due to the fire and great noise.
Sekrit and Celia slap the asses of the two horses at the same time with their knives, while everyone else quickly gets out of the way from the wagon.
Accompanied by sharp neighing, the wagon races off on its own.
It runs out of the building, and out of the site with tremendous speed.
Of course, it isn’t going anywhere in particular. After getting their asses slapped, they were simply bucking around wildly.
Onlookers and guards alike have already crowded around the site.
The wagon crosses through that gathering of people.
「It’s an out-of-control wagon, get out of the way!!」
Everyone hastily steps back.
Except one person, who has a curious look on his face.
「That wagon is spilling something…… wait, that’s gold!!」
「It’s spilling everywhere! Pick it up, pick it upーー!」
The vibrations from the violently rocking wagon scatters gold and silver coins everywhere from the platform.
Onlookers instantly drop to the ground and frantically start looking for the dropped money.
「Will you guys stop!? Wait, Klaas! You’re picking this stuff up too!?」
「Well, it’s gold. Our monthly wages are being spilled everywhere!」
The rampaging wagon runs all over town, leaving gold in its wake.
Street corners are the spots where more gold is spilled so citizens and guards indiscriminately flock to those areas to fight for the money.
「Hey you guards, go and determine the cause of the fire! It started up suspiciously, didn’t it!?」
「Shut up! The gold was entrusted to us guards! You need to go back to your house and sleep!」
There are no longer any guards who care to look at the fire anymore, much less care about finding the people behind it.
A party of people walk leisurely in the chaotic night lit up by the burning fire.
「I’ve already gathered 10 gold. Now I can eat good food for a whole year. Oops! Hm? Hey, why do you guys all have swords?」
That one guard who bumped into the group questions them――
「Ah! Something sparkled over there in the corner!」
「That gold belongs to meー!!」
The guard slides into the back alley.
And so the raid on Panate comes to an end.
「Gido…… you also picked up a few coins, didn’t you.」
All the members of the escort unit avert their eyes.
It was a dangerous mission with large profits.