Intermission: A Certain Master and His Vassal's Conversation
"--As has been said, with the cooperation of all temples and magicians, the labyrinth won't expand toward the city, and as long as the ceremony is maintained, the barrier will last. In the future, for the sake of reinforce the barrier, we'll build several holy monuments in the eastern district. Please sign these documents for securing those sites."
The white-haired official-- consul of the earl, Ortes, read the report while adjusting his monocle.
"Then, is it usable? That labyrinth?!"
A man bend his body forward on the desk while having a joyful look-- the earl of Seryuu.
Can the labyrinth be commercialized? He asked.
"The three great temple, Parion, Garleon and Tenion have conducted ceremonies to determine it and the result are 『ġēse』, 『ġīse』, and 『ġēse』. They're relatively favorable."
The consul stop there, and add, "However."
"Our experts have pointed out several problems."
"The first one must be about the entrance which is inside the city."
"That's exactly right. Other labyrinths have shown that monsters could overflow from it after some years. Therefore, it is necessary to have something to have blockades in case it happens."
"Additional walls outside the barrier huh... quite a lot of expense. Since we already have the quarry from 3 years ago, we only need the workers huh."
"Yes, and we have just secured women and men slaves who looks able from slave dealers."
The earl becomes dubious after hearing the consul.
"Do we need to buy slaves for this? Don't we have enough labor already?"
"The people have become agitated, we'll use the slaves until temporary walls are complete. After we have finished using them we could just put them in the mine. Or we could make the obedient ones to be soldiers."
The earl considers the prior investment before deciding. When the labyrinth is able to steadily supply magic cores, the economy of earldom will most likely quickly grow.
"Have you blocked the entrance for the time being?"
"Our experts said that it's dangerous to completely block it."
"It could ruin a country they said."
"You mean 『The Nightmare of Ishtan』? I thought it was just a myth, did it actually happen?"
There was a country called Ishtan 200 years ago. The country suffered significant damage from monsters that emerged from a labyrinth. The king who was worried with that invited a famous magician to seal off the entrance of the labyrinth. For safely closing the labyrinth and made the monsters threat disappear, the king was hailed as the wise king. However, 10 years later, the seal was broken by tsunami of monsters which overflowed from it and destroyed the entire country in a day.
"Wasn't Ishtan safe for 10 years? Then it should be alright to close it off for a bit while right?"
"Yes, we can't guarantee it but it's most likely fine."
"Alright, then close the labyrinth's entrance after the inner walls' construction is finished."
"I will arrange it at once. Please sign this document."
The consul presents the document which he has prepared it beforehand.
The earl signs while reading it and continues to talk with the consul.
"There's another problem in regard with the labyrinth."
"What is it?"
"The Dungeon Master was the senior demon who had attacked this castle some times ago."
The earl breaks his intense expression, and ask the consul expressionless.
"Is that definitive?"
"Yes, a magic soldier who participated with the castle's defense was on the spot. Furthermore, the assistant priest of Garleon, Nebinen, testified for the power of the demon."
"Fumu, we don't know the demon's goal but we've obtained the answers from the oracle. It can't be helped if we're anxious."
The consul furrows his brow a bit, but regains his composure.
"We're obliged to tell the king about the labyrinth, how will you choose the representatives?"
"Yeah, if I'm not mistaken one of the survivor of the labyrinth is a noble."
"It's viscount Belton."
"Then let's make Belton with several officials to be ones."
"I understand. I'll send a messenger to inform Viscount Belton."
The consul summons his subordinate and tell him to prepare the letter for the Viscount while adjusting his monocle.
The report itself has actually been sent to the kingdom with the magic mirror. But it's considered proper for a noble to be the messenger for reporting directly to the king.
"Were those all the things about the labyrinth?"
The earl is confirming while stroking his goatee which doesn't really suit him.
"No, I was wondering if we could send inspection teams to the labyrinth city, Selbira."
"Learning from the pioneer huh. How many do you suppose we should send?"
"Four groups consisting of two military units groups, a merchants group and a general citizens group would be good. Let's make them bring back the know-how about the public order problem, tax, and structure of explorer guild. If possible, I'd like them to invite some high ranking explorers to investigate our labyrinth's rank."
"General citizen? Is there any meaning in sending commoners?"
The earl asks dubiously.
"It's my bad for calling them general citizens. I mean to say 'people who are knowledgeable about the streets.'"
The earl who seemingly agree with the consul's answer exaggeratedly gives permission.
"Excellent, I'll leave personnels' selection to you. Tell me when you have your candidates."
"I respectfully accept it."
"Were you able to grasp the identity of the silver masked hero?"
The public call him hero, but no one know his identity. Since the earl cannot overlook an existence that could equal senior demon hiding in this city, he did not only make his formal investigators but also the consul's spy to investigate.
"We have succeeded in narrowing down the candidates, but we're lacking conclusive evidence."
"Who and who?"
"The first candidate is Sir Kigori from the knight. He has body reinforcement magic and herculean-strength skill. He was off duty so he stayed at home during that day. There are many other things that match like his long blond hair, but he should has been boasting more if he was really the silver mask."
"Right, he's a narcissistic man isn't he?"
"The second candidate is Yasaku-shi the explorer. He's a level 45 warrior. He's not only high-leveled but also equipped with various strong magic tools, so he could possibly endure the demon's attacks. He's accustomed with fighting monsters and demons. However, his hair is black."
"What is such man doing in this kind of frontier place?"
"Your excellency, please stop belittling your own territory."
The earl is laughing while expressing his gratitude.
"His aim is probably dragon scales from the Dragon's Valley."
"Is he suicidal?"
"No, what I said isn''t exactly right, he's probably aiming for dragons which are nesting away from the dragon's valley. As one would expect, he couldn't possibly come back alive if he goes to the Dragon's Valley."
"Yeah, it'd be over just by the scales tribe before he could even meet the dragon."
The consul clears his throat and goes back to the discussion.
"The conversation had wandered off. The third candidate is Yasaku-shi's companion, the magic swordsman, Tan-shi. His level is high at 42, and he's probably used with dealing with demon like Yasaku-shi. He's a blond, but he can't possibly fought the senior demon while being only able to use body reinforcing magic."
"Right, it's not like the opponent is unaffected by magic."
"Moreover, explorers usually fight in party."
After being lost in thought for a while,
"I see, certainly we're lacking the decisive evidence to ascertain who the silver mask is."
"Is there no other candidate?"
"It's not like there isn't, but beside the three above, it's impossible judging by their ability..."
"They might be hiding their true ability you know?"
The earl is grinning.
"There are four people who were omitted from candidacy. The first one is the Earl predecessor's bastard child, Ratts-dono. He was present in both uproars. His hair and height match the condition. He also has the need to hide his true ability and identity. That said, someone like him probably remained as a spectator until the end."
"That's right, brother-in-law is that kind of guy."
The villainous face of his brother-in-law floats in the earl's mind. It looks like a villain compared to the real person, probably because of the long discord between them.
He's not related with the silver mask, but since he was present during both the incident with the demon, the earl orders the consul to keep an eye on him.
"The second one is the alchemist, Akabana-dono. He wore the same robe as the silver mask, he even had the silver mask in his house. He was present at the day of the uproar, showing his face on the relief station."
"Hou? That's suspicious."
The consul shakes his head at the earl's words.
"However, silver mask isn't an uncommon thing. Because it's used during harvest festival to ward off demon, there are probably more than 10 shops which sell it."
"Fumu, was it a man who was fighting?"
"No, the figure was slim and the skin was abnormally pale that it didn't match the strength the silver mask was showing. A friend of mine testified that."
"Maybe he drank medicine that could change his body?"
"The elder confirm the existence of such medicine but the feedback reaction is too strong that it's suicidal for healthy person to drink it."
"Is that so."
Even if it's possible, if the medicine makes your body handicapped then there would be no meaning in fighting. The earl thinks so and moves his interest to the next candidate.
"The third one is a man called Usu who's affiliated with a criminal guild called Brown Rat."
"It's a guy who's a polar opposite of a hero."
"This man had similar physique and hair and he was confirmed to be present during both uproars. Moreover, the one who was carrying the demon's arm during the rebellion uproar was this guy."
"Hou? Did he cut the demon's arm and got possessed by it?"
"The possibility exists."
The consul picks on thin document from the stack he's holding and gives it to the earl.
"A hypothesis has arrived from the elder. 'Wasn't the demon who possessed the man called Uusu different from the demon who attacked the castle?' He said."
"For two senior demons appeared at the same time, isn't that impossible?"
"Maybe they were demons who were in hiding in hope of creating a labyrinth, he said."
"And then they fought each other because one intruded another's territory is it?"
"It's written as such in the hypothesis."
"How much is the truth from what old man thunder said?"
The earl puts one hand on his chin while thinking.
If it was said by someone else then we would laugh at it together, but the elder that the consul refer-- the earl call him the old man thunder, is the leading magician in this territory and even in the kingdom he's among the five most powerful one. Even if what he said seemed absurd, it couldn't be ignored.
"Right then, since there's no evidence I can't say for sure, but if it's the truth then a lot of things would start to make sense."
"Like the abnormal endurance?"
"Yes. While fist fighting the demon, he received a concentrated attack from 30 magicians and came out unscathed. He couldn't be human."
It's possible with certain magic tool, but the earl and the consul have no idea about it.
The first three candidates who were mentioned cannot clear this condition too, so they are exempted.
"If he's a demon, then that question is solved huh."
"The knight leader who was commanding also reported that, 『He was strong without no doubt, but his movement was like an amateur.』."
"A senior demon who isn't used to fighting huh..."
"Or maybe, it was confused with the difference of the possessed body compared with its real body...."
If the other demons are able to hide themselves, then the threat can't be ignored.
The earl thinks so and translates it into action.
"Alright, arrest all members of Brown Rat guild. Thoroughly investigate everything about this man called Uusu."
"Oh yeah, I almost forgot with the last candidate."
The consul pulls a report from the document stack.
"He's called Satou, a self-proclaimed merchant."
"Yes, the person introduced himself as a merchant but no one in the merchant guild knew him, and he didn't have any business activity during his visit to Seryuu city."
The earl who had his interest piqued chimed in.
"Is he a spy from other country?"
"No, his performance was too poor to be a spy. The only things he did after arriving at this city was just sightseeing and doing tryst with women. He seemed to be well-off but he did nothing but wild merrymaking."
"Sightseeing? In this place... a city with scarce tourist attraction?"
"Yes, it's a good way to check on the city's facilities and road as a way to confirm the nation's power, but it's too conspicuous."
"That's right, I've never seen anyone who goes on a tour in this Seryuu city."
The consul continues his talk after clearing his throat.
"This person is like the three earlier, he was present during both uproars, and was a survivor from the labyrinth."
"Self-proclaimed merchant, but actually an explorer eh?"
The earl finds it quite amusing.
"Well, according to viscount Belton, 『He was excellent at commanding the demi-human slaves, but the actual person himself was mediocre. He's a coward who didn't equip a sword, couldn't use magic, and only stealthily threw stones from behind the demi-human slaves.』, he said."
"Is that guy acquainted with viscount Belton?"
"Rather than an acquaintance, he's the man who rescued viscount Belton when he was caught by monster."
"Hou, should we give him some kind of medal?"
"I think it's unnecessary since the viscount himself is giving him rewards..."
The earl nods while getting back to the story.
"Even without fighting strength, he was able to escape from the labyrinth. We should consider that he has some kind of experience."
"Isn't it just because the demi-human slaves were strong?"
"From the Yamato stone check, they're all level 13, around the level of an average knight."
The consul reports it plainly. His expression doesn't show if he discriminate against demi-human.
"All of his slaves? It's not just one slave who is at the same level as an average knight?"
"Yes, the three are."
"That's some battle potentials."
"Yes, since they're demi-human slaves they're not allowed to have weapons inside the city so there's no problem with the public order, but it's extraordinary for a self-proclaimed merchant's guards."
The earl is contemplating while the consul waits for his master.
"A son of a noble, or a wealthy merchant's son... No, can't be, someone like that would have humans as their guards. The prince of the lost kingdom..."
"I think you're jumping to conclusion for that one."
"You're right, it's fun to guess his identity but there's no meaning to it."
"Let's scout for people to be put into the inspection team for labyrinth city."
"Are you serious about that?"
"Write the candidates."
"Still, the day after he arrived at Seryuu city, he was at the spot where the demon attacked, moreover, the day after that, he was present during the rebellion, and again, he got dragged into the labyrinth. What an unlucky man."
"If that man is bringing in demons then we should expel him from this territory..."
"That can't be. Nebinen testified that he stopped the rebellion, found out the mastermind behind it and discerned the demon."
The earl raises his eyes after hearing the consul's report.
"He's quite an able man. If what Nebinen said isn't a lie..."
"It's not just Nebinen-dono, a magic soldier who was present also testified the same thing."
"Fumu, a mysterious man huh... I'm interested but I can't get free time to meet him."
"Yes, since you need to reorganize the territory army, rebuild the destroyed city, the isolation of the labyrinth and other things that keep piling."
The earl seemingly of doing mischief, grins while crooking his lips.
"About that medal earlier."
"Are you going to really give him one?"
"No, not medal, let's give him gentleman title."
"...court rank is it?"
<TLN: Not sure which rank is the earl is using, so this is going to be temporary although well...>
The consul is unusually shaken with the earl's world and his words is mixed with thorn.
"You don't mind right? It's a rank given to 10 people a year. We don't need to give him position or pension either. At most his privileges are being at the lowest seat of nobles and exempted of the tax."
"To give a person of unknown birth and parentage a rank, this vassal who has served for generations object."
The earl has anticipated the consul's objection and solemnly states his excuse.
"He saved the oldest member of that vassal, viscount Belton's life, stopped the rebellion, and uncovered the plot of the demon. Aren't those enough for achievements?"
"There is no objection to his achievements but..."
"Furthermore, I'm not giving him viscount or baron rank but a false noble rank of gentleman."
The consul realizes that the earl isn't serious from his expression.
"Please stop joking. Right now is the important time for the earldom to make rapid progress."
"Sorry, forgive me. I was having fun imagining how my vassal would look like if I give a vagabond a court rank..."
Admonished by the consul, the earl apologizes.
Having finished letting off the steam with the joke, the earl and his consul move to their next agenda. Their night is long.