13-16. Royal Capital Sightseeing, Downtown Arc (2)
Satou's here. Anywhere you go, there are always people who turn to crime. However, to be biased against the people who are doing honest activities due to the mess caused by the few unscrupulous ones is too sad.
"--The other children are also missing?!"
I heard some troubling things from Shin boy and the saved children when I was searching for the evil directors' locations.
"U-un. Pon and Chobi are gone. When everyone split to search for them, Noza and Joi went missing and then we were caught by the people earlier when we were confused."
"What should we do, Shin-nii"
Fumu, group kidnapping huh.... How nasty.
"Be at ease. We will carry out the rescue operation of the young organisms. Master, the permission!"
Nana is unusually fired up.
"That's right! Our Master will find the kidnappers and rescue the children like a walk in the park!"
"Don't make fun of me just because I'm a kid! How do you search for them in this crowd!"
Shin boy snaps hearing Arisa's rash promise. Looks like he'll become emotional when he's pressed.
The little girls who became anxious hearing his exasperation burst into tears, then Pochi, Tama, and Lulu hurriedly try to calm them down.
Now then, let's get the situation under control--.
I search for people that belong to the orphanage on the map.
Looks like they're confined in a workshop in the same area.
It seems they're with other children from other orphanages.
There are several dozens of crime guild people, one slave trader, and level 20 and 30 man and woman who seem to be the bodyguards.
The man has [Berserker] title and [Frenzy] skill, a bit dangerous.
I question the man Nana caught who was acting as a relay, and get information about the workshop's location.
I've already known but it's a necessary action.
"--Like I said, it'll be fine."
"We'll do it ourselves. We'll find them even if we have to walk until we're utterly exhausted."
I put myself between Arisa and Shin boy who are quarreling even now.
"Leave it at that. I've heard the place where the children are held from this man."
"W-where is it!"
Shin boy is looking like he'll run.
His action is truly like a hero, but his level isn't enough to act in solo.
"It's dangerous to go alone. Let's go together--"
I hold back Shin boy and suggest to him that we should go with him.
"Leave the criminals to us, I'd like to entrust the children rescue to you, is it fine?"
"Y-yeah. As long as I can save the children, I'm fine with it."
"Alright, that's that then. Arisa, Lulu, and Mia, you three please protect these children. Once the guards have come, hand over the kidnappers and tell them about the situation."
I leave it to Arisa who readily consents, and then we head toward the workshop with Shin boy.
I'll put aside the prison invitation of the evil directors for later.
"Is it an abandoned workshop?"
"Looks like it--"
We arrive at the workshop which has been closed off with thick woods on the entrance with no sign of humans.
While answering Liza, I looked around and found the workshop signboard, which made me realize the reason why this workshop was abandoned.
"Look at that. It's the crest of the Earl house which was destroyed because of the crime of treason."
In other words, this place was used by people related to the [Light of Liberty].
The kidnappers inside are probably carrying out the plan that the [Mirage] had ordered them when he was alive.
The street in front of the workshop is deserted, it seems the inhabitants have gone to the festival around the auction venue.
If it's like this, no one will report to the authorities even if some suspicious men going in and out of the workshop.
"Tama, go infiltrate and look for the place they keep the children."
"Aye aye sir~"
Tama disappears with my instruction.
Shin boy and Zena-san are surprised, but let's ignore them for now.
After waiting a bit under the shadow of the workshop, Tama comes back passing over the fences with 'nyurun' voice.
Shin boy and Lilio leak out voice of surprise to see Tama who completed her duty in under a minute.
Zena-san is too surprised no voice comes out her.
I've told Tama about the underground employee lodging where the children are held beforehand though, so this result is reasonable.
"I'll leave it to Shin to rescue the children. Pochi and Tama, please guard him."
Nana and Zena-san show disapproval to my instruction.
"Master, permission to accompany the rescue mission."
"There might be other children inside the workshop, so I want Nana to protect them."
"--Taking charge of Master's order."
Nana nods and then pulls back.
"Um, is it fine to let only the children go?"
"It's alright. However, that's right--Lilio-san, would you please accompany the children?"
"Understood. Take care of Zena-cchi 'kay."
"Yes, I won't let even a scratch on her."
Lilio waves her hand energetically to Zena-san whose cheeks are dyed red besides me, and then she trails behind Shin boy.
The four of them cross over the workshop wall, infiltrating it.
"Shiro and Crow, go the top of that tree to see if there's anyone trying to escape. Could you tell me using flash Light Magic if there's anything happen?"
"It's 'yes'. Shiro."
Shiro and Crow fly to the top of the tree.
Now then, let's do it.
"--Who the heck are ya? Ya knew this is place belongs to Earl-sama and yet entered?"
The moment we went into the workshop, three crime guild men approached us while threatening.
"Are you people under Earl-sama?"
"Huuh? Something like that doesn't matter! Leave those women and ya kid go away. Ah, you can bring that lizard home with ya."
Zena-san's ears could be polluted from the men's vulgar speech.
Liza attacks on with my signal.
She doesn't have her favorite spear, but against these small fries, such thing won't be a handicap.
With a single swing of Liza's tail who's closed in fast, the men get mowed down like decayed trees.
Seemingly hearing that sound, the door in the back opens and around 10 tough-looking men come out.
"Tch, I thought they were the guards."
"Looks like they're strong."
"Then, leave it to the two bodyguards--"
I don't intend to keep them company for long, so let's get this over with quickly.
I silently order Liza and Nana.
Liza rushes out like a low-altitude arrow, peerlessly beating down the men.
Nana runs on the space that Liza's created, sends the men who stand on her way flying with magic shield using Force Arte, and rushes into the door.
I can't see it from here, but it seems she knocks down the slave trader inside and saves the children.
The mercenary man who has Berserker title is attacking Liza repeatedly while screaming like a beast.
The other female mercenary is more cool-headed, she tries to attack whenever there's a gap on Liza's defense while using the other men as shields.
They're quite contrast--
"....■■ 《Wind Protection》"
Zena-san's magic flicked the poisonous dagger that flew out of nowhere.
Looks like it was thrown by the boss.
"Tch, they even brought a magician huh. You guys, seize that black-haired kid!"
With the signal from the boss, three men are coming to assault me all at once.
"■■ Wind Fan"
Zena-san's magic obstructs the men's visions with dust, and then she cuts down the men quick like the wind.
She's relatively merciless, but it doesn't seem the men are killed.
She can't compare to our girls, but her strength doesn't pale in comparison to an average holy knight.
Even though they're crime guild people, against hooligans like them, this result is natural.
I saw the shadow of a man who seemed to be the boss trying to hide.
I grab the boss's feet with [Magic Hand] and throw him in front of Liza who's finished dealing with the mercenaries.
"Uwah, what? Is it magic--gueeh"
Stabbed by Liza's baton, the boss faints in agony.
It looks really painful.
Nana came back from the door just when we were finished.
"Master, secured three young organisms."
"Well done. I'll look after those children, so go with Liza to look for any survivors after we tie these guys."
I know there isn't anyone left in this workshop, but I can't not do anything in front of Zena-san.
"Zena-san, let's evacuate the children for the time being."
With Zena-san, I go outside the workshop while bringing the children.
"Who are you onii-chan?"
"Will you bring me back to the orphanage?"
While giving candies to the little girls, I check their skills.
Apparently, they were managed separately because they had magic-type gifts.
They were most likely were going to get slave-contracted ahead of time.
When we get to the workshop's courtyard, the children who were confined in the cellar come out, led by Shin boy.
"Rescue complete nanodesu."
"You two did well."
I catch the two who are reporting mission complete in my arms and pat their heads.
I instruct Shiro and Crow who came back from the treetop to go to where Arisa and the others are and to bring the guards.
Now then, time to question the boss.
I order Liza to pour water to his head to rouse him up.
"Buwaah--, tch. Pathetic, everyone's captured huh."
"Answer my questions."
"Tch, bring the hero if you want to make me talk."
This boss seems to have the habit of clicking tongue.
"Are you the one who ordered people to kidnap children with cloth wrapped on their arm."
The boss stops talking when I question him.
Let's bluff here.
"Your silence is already an answer. The other guys have already confessed you see? What I want to hear from you is his location."
"Hmph, I won't sell out Mirage-aniki even if you tear apart this body. Don't lump me together with other small fries."
....So this guy is really connected to Mirage too.
I've thought of this before, but Interrogation skill is dangerously effective.
Afterwards, I questioned him many things, and he confessed that he had been regularly gathered orphans and broke people of the slums and given them to the earl's agent.
The gathered people were probably the countless corpses that were in the earl mansion's underground cave.
The boss isn't directly acquainted with the evil directors, but they were in touch through the direct subordinates of Mirage.
It seems they had been ordered to gather the sacrifices every odd months whenever the auction open since a year ago.
The last one was several days before the incident of the year-end.
I also confirmed the thing about the Orbs, but his replies were are all irrelevant.
Apparently, these guys aren't related to the Orb matter.
Fumu, then there's a high possibility that they're unrelated to the green demon's secret plot.
I've heard the thing I wanted to hear from the boss, so I separate from everyone with nature's call as an excuse.
Just in case, I told Liza that I was going to capture the other criminals.
I change to Kuro, and move to boarding place for stagecoaches in the royal capital's eastern gate using Unit Arrangement.
"Are you traveling?"
"What do you want!"
I catch the shoulder of the orphanage director who's carrying a big bag and talk.
"Eey, let go! Do you not know courtesy!"
The orphanage director struggles to shake off my hand.
It seems he's trying to escape the royal capital by riding the stagecoach.
He probably sensed the danger for himself from Echigoya's inquiry.
He has some good intuition.
"Do you know Mirage?"
"W-what is it about? Talk to other people if you're mistaken me with someone. I'm in a hurry."
Fumu, he doesn't seem to be playing dumb, so the evil director doesn't seem to be related to Mirage.
"--Then what about the 'arm cloth'?"
With that, the evil director shakes in surprise, and tries to run off to the stagecoaches while pushing the other passengers.
Looks like he takes part in the kidnapping case.
I catch his shoulder when he's about to get on the stagecoach, and hurl him behind.
With a crashing sound, gold coins flows out of his bag.
"Orphanage director nowadays seem to be quite well off."
While glancing at that, I scowl at the evil director.
"O, oy, it's gold coins."
The masses are starting to make noise when they see the gold coins, but no one tries to steal it, maybe because there's a guard station nearby.
"Oy! What are you doing in front of the gate."
"Guards, arrest this guy."
I show the dagger with Mitsukuni crest to the guards and order them.
The dagger was a thing I got as Nanashi.
There are three evil directors including this one. The other two are arrested in their orphanages.
After questioning the third evil director, I push them and the kidnapper boss to the prime minister secret agent bureau.
Zena-san and the guards were panicking when I snatched the boss as Kuro, but since I've told Liza and the others that Kuro's identity is me, there should be no problem.
After a slightly long nature's call, I returned to where everyone was.
As for the treatment of the evil directors and co--
According to the prime minister, as they took part in the summoning of the greater demon that put the royal capital in danger, they are all charged of treason to be put for capital punishment.
"So, did you question the orphanage directors?"
"Yeah, they were just in for the money. They were acquainted with the earl in question after he donated to the orphanages."
In order to have a secret talk, I put Arisa on my shoulders and parade around the auction venue.
I let the guards to handle the orphans. I gave the guard leader one gold coin as a bonus, so they must have sent the children back to the orphanages properly.
"However, to be thanked by a defiant handsome boy in quite murmur sure fires you up~"
She's probably talking about the curt thank you of Shin boy when we parted.
It's hard for me to agree with Arisa's remark, but it's not like I can't understand if I were to put myself in a cheeky girl's shoes.
'Kyururuu', I heard a sound from Zena-san's stomach.
Having Attentive Ears skill, I'm probably the only one who heard it.
Unlike our girls who have been buying and eating, the four people of Zena squad haven't eaten anything since morning, they must be hungry.
It's already way past 2 PM when I check on the clock.
Looks like we missed lunch due to the kidnapping incident.
"I'm feeling hungry. Let's get some lunch on a shop somewhere."
"Yes! Yes! I know a good shop! Arisa-chan recommends it!"
Arisa reacted to my suggestion first.
There wasn't particular shop I wanted to go, so we went to the so-called creative cuisine shop Arisa recommended.
It was slightly far, so we took a carriage.
It's near the knight school of the royal academy--or rather, it's close by the Echigoya Firm's workshop.
It seems to be the Soba shop that Nell had a meal at back then.
"Here it is!"
Arisa points to a two-story building restaurant while looking proud.
"The gyuudonburi here is delicious nodesu!"
"Like gyuu gyuu~ it's packed with deliciousness~?"
Looks like Pochi and Tama too have come here to eat with their classmates after school and between-meal snacks.
"It smells nice of meat."
"Aren't the smell of soy sauce and miso stronger?"
Lulu and Liza seem hungry too, they're sensitive to the smell.
"Occha~n! Is the back private room available?"
"Ou, if it isn't the noble young lady. Sorry, but the back room's been reserved."
The thirty-something old shopkeeper who has thick body hair comes out of the kitchen.
There are only several people by the counter inside the store, so all the eight tables inside are empty.
"Eh~, how unusual."
"Sorry for being unusual. All the tables are available, so you can sit wherever you like."
We secure three six-people tables inside and sit down.
Zena-san and her squad are in the table close to the entrance since they act as the bodyguards.
"What do you like to order?"
"Do you have any recommendation?"
As to be expected of this country's literacy rate, there's no menu in this shop.
"Of course gyuudonburi nanodesu!"
I was actually asking the shopkeeper, but Pochi and Mia quickly told me their own recommendation.
"If you're fine with something a bit expensive, I recommend Oumi cow karage special."
"Then I'll go with that. How about everyone?"
Looks like karage (fried food) have begun to spread in the royal capital.
I urge everyone to order.
Zena-san is panicking to Lilio's unreserved remark.
"Of course. You can order anything you like without minding the price. Just in case though, liquor is prohibited okay."
"Alright, as expected of noble-sama!"
"Then I want the most expensive dish!"
"Ruu, let's have some talk later."
Zena-san and Miss Iona raise their eyebrows to Ruu's remark.
"Oy oy, our most expensive dish is two silver coins y'know?"
"I don't mind. Everyone, order without hesitation!"
"Pochi is gyuudonburi nanodesu."
"Tama gyuudonburi too~"
"I'd like Oumi cow karage special like Master's please."
After Pochi, Tama, Lulu and Mia, everyone tells their order to the shopkeeper.
He sure can memorize well without memo.
Lastly, Arisa who was pondering with a serious face speaks her order.
"I'll go with gyuudon set, kakiage, and cold tofu with a lot of spring onions."
Arisa--I can hear the wailing call of diet y'know?