13-7. Scattering Bait
Satou's here. Talking about scattering bait, I recall the time when I went fishing with sabiki rig on breakwaters during my childhood. I remember getting slightly frightened by the fish that reacted furiously to the scattering krill bait.
"Sir Pendragon, is this the item that you want to exhibit on the auction the day after tomorrow?"
"The reception period for that one is already over, so I'm thinking of displaying this for the auction next month."
The older generation viscounts from the royal capital are looking at the jewel I've put in front of me with sparkling eyes.
I've come to the social salon after the kingdom conference is over, showing off a jewel made from Blood Bead there.
Of course it's not for boasting or satisfying my vanity, but to lure out the thieves who have been making havoc in the royal castle during the lunch break.
This Blood Bead was one of the item the True Ancestor Ban got from the floormaster, it's mainly used as an ingredient for healing and stamina recovery magic potions.
It seems it's rarely ever used for making disposable magic potion like I'm doing.
It's a lesser version of Blood Sphere that I also received together with it, but this Blood Bead itself is quite a rare material, it can only be gotten as a rare drop of the Blood Stalker monsters that infest the Bloodsucking Labyrinth in Saga Empire.
I saw with my own eyes when Ban and his vampire princesses easily made the thing though, so I don't feel like it's something that valuable.
"I thought this was a Ruby, but this is a Blood Bead right."
"That can't be--The Blood Bead that Bishtal Dukedom has looks more reddish brown doesn't it?"
"I heard that the brighter the red color of a Blood Bead is, the higher quality it is."
"With a Blood Bead this clear, just how valuable is it..."
At the very least, it's valuable enough to dazzle upper ranked nobles of a large kingdom who are used to luxurious items.
...It might have been better if I brought something more moderate, like a fist-sized ruby or emerald or something.
The reaction was bigger than I thought, so this is probably going to make a bigger rumor than planned.
It was a bit conspicuous, but it's nothing compared to when I exterminated a [Floormaster], and when I became a viscount.
Now then, I'll leave it to the nobles and the maids who were there to work spreading the rumor, while I'm preparing the site for the jewel.
Even now, I haven't made the trap for thieves that I was thinking of making when we first came to the royal capital.
I should make the thief trap when I'm checking the place for tonight power-leveling in the labyrinth.
First, I write some simple plan on the memo pad.
I have made one in the labyrinth city mansion, so let's improve that and make a version 2.
Next the preparation for the material.
I'll cut the exceedingly hard wall of the labyrinth with a holy sword, and use it as the building material.
I've stocked up a lot of liquid from tree-type monsters that have powerful adhesion, so there's no problem on that part.
In just 30 minutes, I made a seven-meter tall cube structure as the thief trap.
I've put three-dimensional maze-shaped passages together, and various non-lethal traps inside it.
The passages is too narrow to stand inside, you can barely able to crawl in it, I've also prepared dead-ends here and there.
It's probably going to take around one hour to reach the treasure room if you move in it normally.
Thieves that can employ or summon small creatures can probably invade the treasure room easily, but I can just prepare treasures that can only be moved when you have at least certain amount of strength.
Next I just have to bury this in the garden of my mansion in the royal capital.
I return to the royal castle with teleportation and get back to my mansion with a carriage from there.
It seems I took too much time in the labyrinth, Zena-san's marker who was in my mansion before I had gone to the labyrinth is now in Earl Seryuu's mansion.
After changing my clothes, I ask Arisa about Zena-san while relaxing in the living room.
"Has Zena-san gone back already?"
"Yup, there was a messenger from the Earl calling her back."
Hm~m, did some emergency happen?
I should ask Echigoya Firm if there's any information later.
Pochi and Tama who are playing in the garden show their faces on the window of the living room.
"Master, we caught a suspicious person nodesu."
Apparently, the rumor has shown its effect already.
I go to the garden through the back door, and inspect the thief the two have caught.
According to AR reading, he's a member of [Long-armed Ape].
He's probably a remnant of the thieves who attacked us when we first arrived in the royal capital.
Looking at the map, I see a luminous point moving from this mansion toward the downtown.
I put a marker on it for now, I'll arrest it after the meal.
"Now then, suspicious person-kun. Why don't we have you talk on whose order you intruded here?"
"H-hmph. You think this great me will talk?"
"Of course you will--"
I use sound isolation magic and cover ourselves with earth wall magic and then begin the questioning.
"Suffering of hell is waiting nodesu."
With my instruction, Tama and Pochi begin the torture.
Inside the soundproof space, laughter of the suspicious person is echoing.
In order to help Tama and Pochi who are tickling the man happily, I use [Air Control] magic to restraint the air flow. Now the number of time he's suffocating should go up.
The suspicious person gave up after an hour.
Looks like he's more tight-lipped than I thought.
"--We were ordered by the boss to steal the orbs that were carried by the airship rode by Duke Bishtal y'se. I heard that orb-like things were in this Viscount's mansion--"
The suspicious person talks while grasping for breath.
Fumu, so they were aiming for the orbs when they attacked us during our travel to the royal capital....
The people that we captured earlier seems to be the execution unit's leader.
I search these guys' boss on the map.
"What's the name of your boss?"
I searched that name this time, but I couldn't find it.
"Looks like the torture wasn't enough."
I instruct Pochi to break a cheap bronze sword with her fingers.
The suspicious person insists on his innocence when he saw that.
"W-wait! I'm not telling a lie!"
His expression looks real, but I shouldn't take the words of a thief seriously.
I instruct Tama and Pochi to resume the torture.
『Master, Lulu said that the preparation for the crab nabe has been finished.』
"Okay, I'm going back now."
Sound couldn't reach here, so Arisa contacted me with space magic.
The nabe is more important than torturing the thief.
I tie the thief with a rope and leave him unattended on the earth wall. Even if he gets out of the rope, I can just capture him again when I raid the thief's hideout.
"Now then, you two let's have a dinner."
I take the two along back to the mansion.
I'm listening to everyone's activities in the royal academy during the dinner.
"Geez, you see, Mia has become a teacher instead of a student. I was surprised you know."
Mia shows a peace sign toward Arisa while smiling triumphantly.
There's no problem since I was planning to let her work as a teacher in-training in the first place.
"That's right nanodesu. Master, please listen to Pochi's story nodesu."
Pochi who was urged by Tama tells about the event in the knight school.
Apparently, the two have gotten some underlings.
And then, Arisa cut in trying to say something after she's finished a bowl of crab rice porridge.
Arisa is hesitating.
"Did you do something bad?"
"Will you get angry?"
"It depends on the content. Quickly say it."
"Uu, it's not something that bad you know..."
Then why are you hesitating.
"I became a friend with the princess ."
"With Princess Menea?"
If you're talking about a princess who's attending the royal academy, I know only Princess Menea.
Arisa shakes her head.
"Not that one. Her highness Sistina."
--Highness again huh.
<TLN: A good time to tell you that the word [殿下] (Denka) for [His/Her Highness] is gender neutral in Japanese.>
However, I feel like I've heard the name Sistina before.
....That's right, the curt princess of the forbidden library should have that name.
Apparently, Arisa became friend with her with magic talk as the impetus.
"Then you see, we were invited to a tea party by the princess."
"Eh~, isn't that great. Together with Mia?"
Arisa mutters sheepishly, "Master too."
"Don't tell me, I was invited to the tea party by the princess too?"
I see, no wonder she hesitated to say it.
Princess Sistina is free now ever since she canceled her engagement with Earl Lesseu.
If I come to her tea party, the surrounding will misunderstand as me trying to be her spouse.
There's no way that Arisa doesn't understand such a thing, she must be quite fond of the princess.
I don't mind getting some rumor for this.
"You don't have to look like that. I'll go to the princess's tea party."
"....Is it alright?"
"Yeah, it's not like I have an ulterior motive anyway, there's no problem if I regard it as an extension of the tea party organized by the noble wives."
Moreover, Princess Sistina was robbed the status of a territory lord's wife due to a mid-level demon devastating Lesseu Earldom, so the chance of her being the [Highness] is probably low.
--It's a different story if Lesseu Earldom was partially destroyed because she wanted to cancel the engagement though.
After the dinner, and setting the thief trap in the garden, I raided the hideout of the criminal guild [Long-armed Ape] as Kuro, and succeeded arresting all the members.
I had stationed Arisa and Tama on top of the nearby water towers in case they escaped, but it ends up being needless.
A mysterious presence suddenly appears when I've just completed the arrest.
"--Aiming for my limbs like this, you daredevil."
I jump aside to evade the flying blade that appears together with a glint of silver light.
Before I knew it, a man in green attire, holding two curved swords, has appeared there.
According to AR reading, his name is [Ropo], level 66.
--Strange. He didn't exist when I searched awhile ago.
While warding off the twin curved swords' attacks, I put a marker on him.
His swordsmanship is relatively good, but he's not an enemy of me who has [Foresight: Anti-personnel Combat] skill.
"I see, it seems you're quite skilled--"
The man who mutters like he has some leeway tries to strike me again continuously.
This time I evade the attack without blocking it, and cut his green mask before he can pull back his swords.
The face looks familiar.
It's the same face as Propor the [Mirage], the executive of [Light of Liberty] who succeeded summoning parts of Demon God.
Propor and Roppo, their names are similar too. They might be relatives.
Now then, let's stop playing with the swords now and neutralize him with a palm strike like usual.
--Suddenly, the guy acted strangely.
He thrusts his own sword toward his own chest.
The blood gushing from the wound spray toward me.
--My Crisis Perception reacts for some reason.
I jump back to evade getting bathed in the blood.
White smoke raise from the floor that's hit by the blood as if hit by strong acid.
The man is gone.
In the instant the white smoke appeared when I didn't check him, he had escaped to the other room.
The members of [Long-armed Ape] who are in the other room have all been killed.
It's probably to prevent them from talking. He sure is quick to cut them off even though he said they were his limbs or something.
I open the map in the room that smells of iron.
--it's not there?
The marker that shows him is not reflected on the map.
Perhaps he used shadow magic?
I think that as a possibility and then check the marker column of the map.
The name 'Ropo' isn't written there too.
Marked people are written on the marker column even if they are inside shadow magic or barriers made by Yuika's Unique Skill....
He might have a type of Unique Skill that I don't know.
He's either a hero, a demon, or a demon lord....
At the very least, it's probably okay to consider him related to the real [Highness].
I collected all the things besides the corpses in the hideout and then returned home.
I pray that there are things that contain information about [Highness] among them.