13-25. Secret of the Red Rope (2)
Satou's here. Talking about interrogation reminds me of spy movies. It seems even interrogation can have change in fashion, from violent and torture, to guiding through words and drugs like truth serum, they're changing through ages.
When I get near the detached building where the slender man is, I hear voices of men and women entwining.
It's boorish of me to disturb an exercise of love, but let's have them sacrificed for the sake of the public welfare.
When I kicked the entrance and intruded, the sound suddenly stopped, and then I heard some rustling sounds like they'd flee.
After passing through the entrance and entering the bedroom inside, a half-naked beauty with coquettish smiles turns toward me.
If someone were to put their hands to someone her age in Japan, they'd be caught due to the juvenile protection regulation.
"That guy has escaped. Go there if you want to chase after him. Or maybe you want to play with me? It's just one gold coin a night you know?"
I throw the cloth near my feet to the girl, covering her naked body.
She doesn't seem to be shy, but she's probably not a flasher either.
"Tell me if you know the things he's done."
"He's a trash whose parents are fallen nobles, shamelessly leeching off in this house by depending on the favor that his father did long ago. Is it okay with that much?"
Just when I thought that she told me easily, it seems she's going to charge now.
The girl signals with her fingers to give her money, so I takes several gold coins from my storage and throw it to the bed.
"....Did that guy do something to be guilty of?"
Looks like the girl became cautious instead since it was too much.
I'll not hide it and make her speak for her sake too.
"It's treason. You're not his mistress or collaborator right? If you speak everything you know, I won't accuse you of the crime as an information provider."
"O-okay. That's why please promise me not to involve my little sister and mother..."
Looks like the crime of treason is more serious than I thought.
To the girl who's desperately clinging to me, I tell, "That' depends on the information you provide", and push her behind.
Taking advantage of a girl who's worried about her family like this, I'm quite awful if I do say so myself.
"He had been engrossed in a society called 『Wind of Liberty』 since a while ago, but ever since his father was shut out of the high society, he said something like, 『This world is wrong for not accepting me』 and then began to associate with some strange foreign people."
"Do you know which country they're from?"
"I think they're probably from Holy Kingdom Parion. They said something like, 『The kingdom of the god who brought the hero summoning is the preceptor of demon lord believers』."
--Preceptor (oshou)? Ah, she means hotbed (onshou).
So it's just someone who's into an occult club that's dissatisfied with his situation and gets pulled into the road of evil by the people of the Holy Kingdom Parion huh.
"Some beastfolk merchants also often showed up here. They were probably weaselfolk kin."
"Do you know which firm they belong to?"
"I can't differentiate their faces, but looking at the differences of their clothings' expensiveness, I think there are around three kind of merchants coming in and out. He threw the transaction papers into that shelf, I think you'll know it if you see them."
This girl is quite a good source of information.
After collecting the documents from the shelf, I learn the names of the weaselfolks.
One of them is a man called Usan who's delivered platinum to Echigoya Firm.
Judging from the documents, there's a high chance that he's not simply in charge of transportation.
It seems the slender man carried the [Pills] thing that appeared in the conversation between the slender man and the green demon earlier, there's nothing of it left in this detached building.
Now then, I've heard what I need to hear.
"Wear your clothes and leave this mansion. Do not come here again."
"U-un. That's why--"
"I'll arrange so that you won't be charged of treason, do not worry."
"Un, thank you."
I turn away after seeing the girl who runs with her clothes still in disarray, and then collect all the items in this detached building into my storage.
Just to be sure, I also collected all the junk in the basement.
I did it broadly in order to prevent me overlooking any clue.
I was thinking of letting the slender man roaming free to catch the other collaborators, but he only hid in an inn in the outskirts, and didn't contact anyone.
There's no helping it, so I decided to raid the inn.
I don't want to trouble the other guests, so I make use of my hiding skills to invade and catch the slender man.
There's no meaning to catching him quietly if I interrogate him like this, so I move to the prime minister's intelligence bureau with Unit Arrangement.
"Who's there--what, it's Kuro-dono. Please don't surprise me."
"Sorry. Let me borrow the underground torture chamber."
"Please go ahead, no one is using it today."
I head toward the torture room while being sent off by the skinhead with stitch wound on his face.
I don't remember ever getting acquainted with the macho man, but since it saves me the trouble of explaining who I am, I'll consider it a good thing.
I tie the slender man near the wall, and splash him with water from the bucket below.
The slender man who's woken up is overwhelmed by the atmosphere of the torture room and looks like he's going to faint anytime.
"You're awake. If you're going to make this difficult, I'll let a pervert muscle man to turn your body into something that isn't appropriate for a groom you understand?"
It was just a light joke, but the slender man nods buzzingly.
"Answer my questions, do not question back. Nod for 'yes'. Also nod for affirmation. I do not permit any other answer."
I threaten the slender man with the lines of an interrogator from some movie I've seen before.
I ask the first question while the slender man is affirming his will to answer.
"Talk about the pills. Your life will be prolonged the more you talk. Keep that in your mind while you're talking."
It seems my kind persuasion is having an effect, the slender man talks obediently.
"T-the pills were first brought by a suspicious guy called Po-Propor. He said it was a medicine for epidemic disease."
"Medicine for epidemic disease?"
Propor and the green demon can't be ones who do charity.
I take out some pills from the bag that the slender man was carrying.
A lot of them are jintan-sized but there are also some that are as big as a pachinko ball. <TLN: Jintan https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jintan_%28Japanese_medicine%29 .>
The pill's name is [Reborn Seed].
According the information from the AR reading, "Absorb the surrounding magic essence, increase physical strength and resistance."
The, "Medicine for epidemic disease" part is probably not a lie, but the "Absorb the surrounding magic essence" part sounds dangerous.
Expecting the slender man to know something, I decide to ask a leading question.
"--And the true effect of the pill is?"
"....You knew already right?"
It seems he knows.
"Answer the question."
"Those are fiend drugs. I saw a man who couldn't stand his hunger swallowing up a large amount of the pills died. The form of that man was exactly the same as the people from Violet who took too much fiend drug."
The slender man spit out words like he couldn't stand the sin anymore.
The figures of the crime slave unit of the kingdom called Violet are flashing in my mind, reminding me the grotesque forms of those soldiers.
However, even though there's a record of people dying from taking too much fiend drug, there's no case where the victims become grotesque looking.
Perhaps the fiend drug is concentrated, turning it into reinforcement type--or perhaps, it might be a [completely different thing].
At the very least, there's a high chance that these pills are the main cause of the red rope monsters and Hisui's case.
I can try experimenting it with animals, but it probably doesn't have immediate effect.
I'll bring the pills to the Royal Research Institute later and ask them to investigate the ingredient.
Next I'll ask about the snake charmers--just when I think I about that, I notice something I forgot to ask.
I remember him saying, "Mixed with the food distributed to the poor", during his conversation with the green demon.
I have to question that.
"Next, talk about how you use the pills."
"....I distributed it."
The slender man stops talking halfway through, I urge him to continue with my eyes.
"I distributed it to the people and the orphanages in downtown."
"I distributed it saying that they were medicine for epidemic disease. ...The drunkards didn't take it since they said it made the liquor tasted bad, but most of the people were delighted because it made them more energetic they said. That's right, those people were delighted. Damn it....Those fools...."
I feels that the man directed the last "fool" toward himself more than to the people who took the pills.
But, what the slender man thinks doesn't matter.
Rather than that, the thing about the orphanages is bad.
Any medicine has strong effect to young children.
"W-which.... It's all of the orphanages in downtown."
I sent a menacing look, and then the slender man stopped his delirious talk, raised his head and answered my question.
Looking at the map, I understand that it's not only the orphanages, the pills also present in a large number in the metropolitan area.
As the slender man's said, most are in the orphanages and the dismantling places in the downtown. There are also some in the underpass, though only a few.
Unfortunately, some of them are also present in the room of Princess Doris's employees.
So this pill is really involved in Hisui monsterfication disturbance.
Fortunately, there isn't any in Shin boy's orphanage.
"You distributed it to all the orphanages in the downtown right?"
"Not even one was spared?"
"That's right. Propor reminded me repetitiously, so there's no mistake about it."
The slender man who didn't want to be tortured frantically reconfirmed.
I gave him the name of Shin boy's orphanage, but he was certain that that orphanage was given the pills too.
I search the other children from Shin boy's orphanage, but there wasn't any child having the symptom of someone who had been taking fiend drug.
That evil director might have sold the pills for money.
Let's continue the questioning.
"You said that the pills were first brought by Propor right? Then who brought it the second time and after?"
"It was weaselfolk kin merchants."
"Which firm they belong to?"
"Many. P-please wait! I-I'll say them all, so please."
It seems the slender man really doesn't want to be holed, he marvelously talks cooperatively.
I write the name of the weaselfolks merchants and their firms on the memo. There are many. Four times the number of the merchants written in the confiscated documents.
He's good to remember this many name.
He could have become someone great if he did a honest job....
Comparing it to the information on the map, I understand that around two-third of the weaselfoks kin in the Royal Capital are involved.
That's too many no matter how you see it.
It should have only involved one or two firms if they used back channel.
I can't deny the possibility that they're all involved in the plot, but I'll delegate that job to the prime minister.
It's better to leave the cross-national plot to the experts.
If it's just looking for the source of the pills, it'll be faster for me to just intrude the empire over there and search the map.
The information about the pills has reached the limit, so I continue to the next.
"Spit out the thing about the 『Snake Charmers』"
"....Ee, what about the snake charmers?"
The slender man looks like he's confused as to where to start, I question him about the one that's been bothering me.
"Where are the snake charmers hidden?"
"They're in the slums of the downtown."
I searched the map but I couldn't find them.
"Know that lies lead men to their ruin."
"I'm not lying! It's true! I'm not lying! We gave tools to the beggars in the slums and downtown for them to perform!"
Apparently, [Snake Charmers] are just side jobs for the beggars.
The slender man gave several names of the beggars, and when I confirmed it, I noticed that some of them had markers. They're the beggars who came in contact with the green demon.
"By tools, do you mean this flute?"
I noticed there was a lot of them in the bag when I took out the pills earlier.
"What is this flute?"
"Ee, that's the snake charmer's flute."
"I know that."
I point the flute before the slender man.
"What do you use it for? Is what I want to hear. Answer after thinking it through you listen?"
"Ee, outwardly it's a tool to manipulate the snake."
The threat worked, the slender man changed the direction of his answer.
"That flute can summons monster if it's played with a special tune, you see. Those flutes used by the snake charmers were the things that summoned the red rope that attacked the Royal Capital, you see."
I appraised the flute, but it doesn't have the function to do any summoning.
This flute only has the function to absorb the user's magic power to generate a specific pattern with Force magic's [Signal].
Even the name is [Signal Flute], so there should be no mistake about it.
--It's the same function as the harp that Princess Doris pestered Mia to play.
Looks like it's connected.
Certainly, a snake charmer was always present whenever the red rope monster's outbreak happened.
I didn't notice it since they were everywhere in the royal capital, but it seems they were the triggers.
I don't have the proof yet, but thinking that the main cause of the red rope monsters are, almost without a doubt, the pills and the Signal Flute should be alright.
I report the information I got from the slender man to the prime minister and the king.
The slender man was to be put through the capital punishment for the crime of treason, but I appealed to them to tolerate Souya boy's family for lending the man a detached building.
The present head of Souya boy's family couldn't got away from the punishment, but the family shouldn't bear the crime.
In addition, the beggars probably don't know the connection between the flutes and the monsters, so they'll probably only become slaves as the punishment.
Just in case, I tell them to strictly interrogate the beggars who came in contact with the green demon.
After I've finished those arrangement, I head out to gather the remaining pills and Signal Flutes in the metropolitan area.
The red rope case should end with this.
The trade between with the weaselfolk kin empire will probably slow down, but I should let the big-wigs to worry about that.
First, I go around the metropolitan area to collect the remaining Signal Flutes.
I changed my name to [Arsene] this time, and skip about in black mask. I didn't have any handy-looking title, so I picked the [One who Protects the Order] as a bit of a joke.
There wasn't anyone who had the flute in large number like the slender man, but individually, there were many who had them. Many of them are collector noble and the wealthy.
Every one of the flutes was protected with strong barrier and magic, but they are meaningless before Unit Arrangement and Magic Essence Camouflage, the unfair mean.
I felt like I was stealing from them somehow, so I decided to return the flutes after destroying the flutes' magic circuits later.
I left IOU notes with [Arsene] name in the houses that had kept the flutes.
Next, I go collect the pills.
Simply stealing them would be boring, so I left the same amount of konpeito as the pills to the orphanages, and small amount of money to the people of the downtown and the slums.
Doing it as Hero Nanashi is probably better after spreading the rumor that the pills are dangerous beforehand.
People won't agree to have their belongings stolen if you announce it suddenly after all.
Lastly, I found some mouse chewing on the pills when I was collecting them in the underpass.
I tried using [Signal Flute], but it didn't transform into a [Red Rope Monster].
After doing the experiment in every place I was collecting the pill at, for the sixth time--
The cockroach that has transformed into a red rope monster roars loudly.
--ＧＯＱＵＷＥＥＥＥＥＥＥＥ. <TLN: Cockraoch is 'Gokiburi' in Japanese.>
Ocher-colored mist is floating around the red rope cockroach.
To use magic right after transforming into a monster, it's some skilled cockroach alright.
I brush off the mist with a Short Stun bullet.
The red rope cockroach is only level 20, so it's already staggering just from the after-effect of the Short Stun bullet.
I didn't want to get close to it, so I froze it with [Freeze] magic and threw a pebble to destroy it.
I was able to verify it, so I only collected the pill afterward.
I'll leave it to the king and the prime minister to eliminate the potential red rope.
They can just form a unit that can defeat red rope monsters and let them explore the underpass while playing the flute.
It'll be faster if I do it myself, but I don't intend to do something that can be done even without me.
When I've gone to the royal castle to report about the red rope cockroach, the king's office is noisy even though the date has changed.
The prime minister met me when I entered the king's office.
Apparently, a report about an oracle seems to have come from the Royal Capital's temple.
....Again huh. Gods are working too hard.
And, the content is--
『Fragment of cup breaks, False King is born』
By false king, maybe it's referring to an impostor of the king, an unqualified foolish king, or perhaps someone who wants to usurp the throne.
For the former, since Mito--the real Ancient King Yamato has appeared, there's a possibility that it's pointing that Hero Nanashi and the King are false.
If it's the latter, there's a possibility of coup d'etat happening, but with Marquis Kelten having lost his standing, there's no one who has enough influence to incite rebellion, so the prime minister says.
"What's the 『Fragment of cup breaks』 about I wonder?"
It made me recall the [Holy Grail] from the Sakuramochi Demon incident, but since it's enshrined in my storage, it probably isn't related.
"According to the theoligians and the temple people, there's a lot of case where the cup refers to a peaceful nation and complete state."
In other words, a part of a peaceful nation is revolting, is that it?
"Thinking from that, perhaps it's valid to think that the young nobleman who causes the rebellion in Bishtal Dukedom falsely assumes the title of king?"
A young minister beside the prime minister told his opinion.
I see, if we turn our attention outside the territory under the direct control of the king, that's probably the most appropriate.
To inform about someone who causes rebellion in a country, like this, the gods sure are caring.
It'll be better if they stop obstructing civilization from developing though.
It doesn't seem to be related to demons, so I excuse myself after I've exhausted all the information.
If there's a follow-up, there should be a contact from Echigoya Firm.
Today I'm busy.
I move to the mountain near the royal castle and eliminate the wyvern that the green demon rode.
Then I went to investigate the direction where I found the green demon.
Using Unit Arrangement for it is troublesome, so I investigate while using Flash Drive.
I went until some undeveloped land and the blue territory following a straight line from the discovery point of the green demon, but I couldn't find any potential place for it.
The blue territory is a den of monsters that's worse than I've heard, so I'll be intruding it once our girls have run out of their prey.
There's a pioneer village created by former explorers on the edge of blue territory, so visiting there seems fun too.
"Mu, it's the morning sun huh--"
There were more unplanned events than I thought, so there are many matters left in hanging.
I'm troubled that things that need to be checked have increased due to demons and demon lord believers.
It might be good to ask Arisa or Tifaliza to set up my inspection schedule.
Maybe because my drowsiness and mental fatigue have piled up, that foolish plan seems like a good idea
I did a stretch and renew my mind.
While basking in the daybreak light, I teleport to Boruenan Village where everyone is with Unit Arrangement.
Now then, it's the long-awaited third day of the auction at last.
Let's get fired up!