14-24. Snow Kingdom (5)
Satou's here. In the past, during the time when the anime about galaxy war was popular, there was a time when drinking black tea mixed with brandy among friends was popular. It quickly ended up with people drinking only the brandy though.
"Are you always wearing that boorish hood?"
"Please pardon me. This is because there are a lot of nobles who find our beast faces unpleasant."
When I was halfway walking outside of the party venue with the weaselkin merchant, I asked about his hood and got that answer.
He was speaking strangely eloquently so I was getting cautious, but looking closer the reason seems to be because of the translation ring he's wearing.
It's probably the same item they gave to the summoned Japanese people in Rumooku Kingdom.
Unlike the warm party venue, this stone corridor with its penetrating cold likely would even make a healthy person catch a cold in half an hour.
There are some movements of suspicious shadow beyond the corridor.
Waiting in a place like this huh, assassins have it hard too.
"Please look at that."
The weaselkin merchant stopped in the middle of the corridor and pointed outside a small glass window.
I see snowy landscapes outside the window.
The Kiwolk Kingdom buried under the snow and a lake covered in ice.
On the middle of the lake an amethyst-like rock--no, tower-like thing has sprouted, emitting faint light.
I can see them thanks to [Distant View] skill but normal people probably can only see a very faint purple light.
I heard a faint sound behind the corridor pillars.
The obvious assailant is probably going to attack soon.
"That purple light is the thing you wanted to show me?"
"Yes, the tower emitting that light is--"
I thrust the merchant away when he was still talking, and swat the poisonous daggers that were thrown at us using a muffler circulated with magic power.
"He repelled all seven of them!"
The assailants show themselves up from behind the pillars.
Lisp speech were revised in my brain like usual.
The five assailants are holding poisonous daggers.
Under the hood, their figures look like weaselkin, but according to the AR reading, they're ratkin men.
Their affiliation is--.
"Sir Pendragon, are you alright! Soldiers! Do not let even one of the thieves escape!"
From the opposite side of the corridor, the red-haired general and soldiers showed up with an oddly good timing.
The assailants who are in disadvantage seemingly intend to escape through the hole behind the pillar that they used to invade here.
I've put markers on them so there's no point of them escaping, but catching them would be troublesome, so I neutralize one of the assailants by throwing a pebble on him.
"Send this guy to the dungeon and question him."
The soldiers brought by the red-haired general tie the assailant and are going to take him away.
Oops, it'll be bad as is.
"Sir Pendragon, are you injured anywhere?"
"No, I'm alright."
I gave the red-haired general, who was trying to hide the assailant from my line of sight with a barefaced smile, a positive answer.
"Wait, I have some business with that man."
"Sir Pendragon, please don't get close to the thief."
I stepped forward to stop the soldiers who were going to take the assailant away, but the red-haired general obstructed me.
"This kind of assassins has many unknown ways to attack. As you are our country's guest of honor, we cannot let you get injured."
"I see, that's true isn't it--"
I flick half a copper coin I took from my hand away, uncovering the assailant's hood.
"--I thought he was a weaselkin, but it appears he's a ratkin isn't he."
When I told the red-haired general that while putting a refreshing smile, he muttered, "gununu", and said, "that seems to be the case", with a cramped face while squeezing the words, and then he withdrew.
Now then, about this chain of baffling surprise attacks--.
The ratkin people who attacked us belong the demi-human unit of Kiwolk Kingdom who's specialized in dirty works. Common appraisal technique would show their affiliation to be of a crime guild though.
They're disguising their affiliation like the way the people of the [Wings of Liberty] did.
Next when I tried searching on the map, I found several weaselkin people in critical condition in the dungeon.
This is my conjecture, the red-haired general probably was going to execute the weaselkin people in the dungeon after capturing the assailants and push the crime of my assassination to the weaselkin.
The red-haired general would then drive out the weaselkin away from the kingdom, and either sell all the Ice Stones or perhaps end the [Winter] to restart the war.
He also might have tried to help me who should have been weakened from the paralyze poison and then demand something for the favor.
In addition, the maid who gave me the poisoned liquor is being confined in one part of the noble district in fainted state.
Before meddling with things like a softhearted person would, I'll finish the things I should do now.
I turn toward the merchant who still can't get up.
"Now then, let me hear it. What does that tower--"
"You were the one who incited Ganunu to step on the dragon's tail right?"
"I did not give him any order. Besides, I don't think that Viscount would fall for such a child's play."
"Ara, you sure have a high opinion of him don't you?"
"A commoner who has just come of age, getting peerage of a large kingdom, and even becoming the vice minister of its capital. Only fools would underestimate such a person."
When I sneaked into Winter General's room, I could hear a conversation between the person himself and Light Snow Princess.
"I thought you wanted to end the 『Winter』, was I mistaken?"
"It was I who suggested the 『Winter』 to the queen you know? Even though I knew that it would cut off remote villages, I couldn't come up with other plans."
Winter General told Light Snow Princess like he was sneering at himself.
"Our army is weak huh."
Light Snow Princess muttered so and stood up.
"If the 『Winter』 won't stop then I can't fight in this country anymore. Rather than rotting inside this ice cage, maybe I should entice Viscount-sama and get him to take me to countries with battlefields?"
"Are the Snow Leopards and the Rocket Wolf not to your liking?"
"I've grown tired of them. I want to fight demons for the sake of world peace. Even though it's impossible for me to stand beside the hero, I want to be a warrior that can rival the Shiga Eight Swords."
I thought Light Snow Princess was someone who seeks enjoyment more, but she unexpectedly has a clear target.
After the silent Winter General sent a restraining glance, Light Snow Princess shrugged and left the room.
Winter General gulps down the kelp tea mixed with sweet potato liquor with a gloomy face.
"....The 『Winter』 will defend us from the enemies only for several years more. Knowing the Kogeoku King, he will absolutely find a way to make it possible for his army to move on the snow. Gathering Ice Stones and preparing weapons until that happens is...."
"Is it impossible?"
The queen in black dress came in from a different door than the one Light Snow Princess used to go out.
I expected her to wear some sexy see-through clothes, but she's wearing a business-like dress with subdued chest.
"We can prepare a fixed number of them in five years if we put the portion wasted to the nobles to use, but as it stands now--"
"That's impossible. There are a lot of nobles who reject the 『Winter』 even now. If we stop coaxing them with money and goods, there will be intense dispute to select the next king, there won't even be any development."
The queen pours some sweet potato liquor to the tea cup and sips it elegantly.
"It'd have been simple if the king of Kogeoku would stop the invasion--."
"That's impossible isn't it. The cold wind flowing from this country is killing the meadows of that country. With how the 『Winter』 is accelerating now, Kogeoku King won't yield."
Even if this country keeps temperature above spring all year, the dispute with the neighboring country won't stop?
"Is there really no way?"
Winter General remains silent to the queen's question.
Is his pride preventing him from saying no, or perhaps--.
"There is. However, Sir Pendragon's help is indispensable in this plan."
"Say it. If it's anything that I can do, I will even offer my body."
"We ask him and his retainers to kill the demon sealed in the lake."
--The demon sealed in the lake.
In fact, the merchant told me about that earlier.
In order to keep the seal of this demon, the winter of this country has been prolonged.
The miasma leaking from the demon is changing the lake kelps into monsters, the ice essences gathered on the tower where it's sealed produce Ice Stones.
It seems the reason why the merchant told me that was for the sake of [securing profit].
He has collected enough supply of Ice Stones, so he wants a third party to end it out of fear of a price collapse if the production continues.
It's selfish, but it's really like a weaselkin merchant.
"If the lake demon is killed, then it will not be impossible for this country to keep an everlasting spring."
"Fumu, it's a bit difficult, but simply keeping a warmth temperature enough to prevent cold air blowing to the neighboring country should be possible. There is no guarantee that it will stop Kogeoku Kingdom's attack, but there is a merit in trying."
Looks like the story is advancing while I was deep in thought.
"Very well, I will seduce the viscount with my charm. Wait for the good news!"
The queen went out of the room after leaving a statement that sounded like a preview for the next episode.
I think she'll come across Light Snow Princess who's waiting in the bed of my room, but leaving them be should be fine.
I knock on the door and enter the room without waiting for the general's response.
"Good evening Your Excellency General."
"Welcome, Viscount-dono. Would you be willing to defeat it, the lake demon?"
I thought there would be some long explanation, but it seems Winter General noticed me eavesdropping.
"If you can promise me a promptly end of the 『Winter』 and half of the Ice Stones the country has in stock that is."
"Understood. I promise to get the queen's approval with my life on the line."
He quickly accepted it even though my condition was quite unreasonable.
The demon sealed in the lake is high leveled for a mid demon at level 50. Its skill are [Ashification], [Summon Servants] and more. This [Ashification] seems to be the advanced version of [Petrification].
When I was going to toast the liquor cup offered by Winter General with him, the door opened violently.
"General! We got a report of Kogeoku army breaking through the fort!"
"W-what! I'm going! Viscount-dono, please excuse me."
Winter General left the room in a hurry after hearing the official.
This country sure is full of drama isn't it.
--Do your best, Winter General.