14-29. Water Peach Kingdom (2)
◆Royal Villa of Rumooku Kingdom◆
"--Your Highness, what did the weasel ask?"
"To let them enter the Shadow Castle, saying they would make it float again."
The second prince leisurely replied the cabinet minister from his faction who came to his room. <TLN: I wrote third instead of second on the previous chapter. Amended.>
The minister ordered an official behind him to vacate the soldiers outside the door and close it.
"The Shadow Castle? Is that possible?"
"Of course not."
The second prince raised the reasons why it's impossible one after another.
"The gate won't open unless you take a little girl wearing the 『Necklace of Treasure Key』 that can't be taken out except during the grand festival, on top of that the castle is protected by sentries that even made that Hero King Yamato ran away y'know?"
The legend passed through the second prince's mind.
The hero king Yamato who defeated the great demon lord, that ruined the ancient Furu Empire which reigned supreme in this continent, the symbol of the [Strongest].
An existence that can't even be defeated by the [Strongest], he can't imagine it.
"Still, it's too bad isn't it. If the god sentry weren't there, Your Highness could have gotten his hands on the treasures sleeping in the Shadow Castle...."
"Are you implying me to raid the tomb?"
"Not at all, Your Highness will only take a little bit of inheritance from your ancestor."
The second prince's wavers with the minister's words.
As if taking advantage of that, the official behind the minister murmurs.
"Perhaps the weaselkin's underling that contacted the crime guild the other day was related to this?"
"--You mean they instigated the crime guild people to kidnap Rumia who'll be acting as the Shadow Princess?"
"With all dues respect...."
The minister assented to the second prince's worry.
"Don't tell me--the B-class adventurers who had an audience with His Majesty were also summoned by them?"
"It is possible. There's also the report of a scout-looking adventurer going astray in the prohibited place in the royal castle."
It's probably hard to infiltrate the Shadow Castle no matter how many riff-raff you send there, but if you are together with adventurers most active on the frontier, the success rate should be different.
"Let the knights to stand by near the ceremony site."
The second prince stood up while giving an order to the minister.
"I'll go out too. It's the older brother's job to save his little sister."
The thought of saving his little sister from the crime guild and the adventurers, getting the treasures they have and then confiscating the disrespectful weaselkin's firm floats in his mind.
There is no one here who pointed out about him counting the chickens before they're hatched.
◆Rimia the Sixth Princess of Rumooku◆
"Rumia is calm today."
My heart aches hearing Nii-sama who spoke and smiled lightly.
Even though I've switched with Rumia ane-sama to do the role of the Shadow Princess in the festival, Nii-sama doesn't notice it at all.
Perhaps brother doesn't recognize me, who doesn't have pink hair, as his little sister.
"If you're tired, let me be the one to greet the citizens. Rumia can just smile suitably while drinking the fruit water."
"Thank you very much. Nii-sama."
I replied my brother kindness by smiling my best.
--The day darkens before long and a bonfire is lighted in the center of the ceremony site.
"Hou, this is some tasty wine...."
"It was brought in a barrel by the representative earlier."
"Must be a wealthy merchant to bring a barrel of an expensive wine like this."
Nii-sama sips the wine in good mood.
I've never drunk wine before but people said that the wine in this kingdom is astringent and bad so this must've been imported from some foreign country.
"Here's some grape water for Rumia-sama."
I drink transparent red drink offered by an unfamiliar maid.
It's as classy as the sugar water that I got during Nii-sama's coming of age ceremony back then.
I forget my depressed mood just now and drink the sweet grape water.
My view shakes.
I staggered, fell to the ground and looked at the surrounding with disorderly mind.
--Everyone is sleeping?
"Hey, isn't the all-important princess awake there."
"Keh, that damn weasel gave us a defective product."
"Oy! Save your complaint. Let's get out quickly."
I could only shiver with pale face hearing the violent words.
Just when I thought my hand was caught, I was tossed inside a sack with strange smell and carried like a baggage.
My frail protest reached no one, and I fainted as I was carried roughly.
"Boss! The cavalry are chasing us from behind."
When the crime guild boss looked at the back, he saw cavalry wearing scale mails.
Despite their heavy armor, their horses speed is faster.
"10 horses all huh.... There's only a few of them, but they appeared too fast."
They must've been on stand by even before the princess was kidnapped.
It's an impossible tact for the incompetent knights of this country.
"Tsk, did we get set up by the weasel bastard?"
"Boss, those are the second prince's troops."
"That schemer daredevil second prince sure is fast. Oy, use the smoke ball we took from Shiga Kingdom explorers. Throw it after we pass that watchtower!"
When the boss passed through a watchtower for festival use, he cut the tower's ropes.
Slightly afterward, his subordinate threw a white bundle, and then smoke covered the surrounding explosively.
Without caring the cries in the back, the men ran pass the Royal Capital through the opened gate.
They smashed several festival decorations as they passed the gate and let a subordinate set them to fire.
"Boss, is this alright? Doing this much."
"Don't worry. We just have escape the country once we got the treasures in the Fallen Castle."
The boss laughed off the vice's worry.
There were many cases where pursuers couldn't catch up to them considering the fact that there's a little traffic between the cities and the borders of the eastern countries.
Although, cases of kidnapping a royalty and pillaging the national treasure like these are probably going to be an exception.
Only several people including the boss and the vice notice it.
"What if we don't get the treasures?"
The timid vice asked the boss while whipping his horse.
"No worries. The things we stole from the prince and the princess earlier are already valuable enough. We could even get peerage rank if we sold this 『Necklace of Treasure Key』 this princess had to some king of the neighboring countries."
"As expected of boss, you're well thought!"
Unlike the gloomy vice, the subordinates applauded the boss.
The men who escaped the cavalry leisurely ran through the forest toward the Shadow Castle on their horses.
◆Rumia the Fifth Princess of Rumooku◆
Farsa, my wet mother held me back as I was going to dash out.
My little sister Rimia was kidnapped by bad masked men before my eyes.
"Let me go."
"Princess-sama, you must not."
Farsa checked with the escort soldiers about the safety on the surrounding, and let the escort soldiers to go to the guard station after confirming it's safe.
And then a horse riding group appeared.
They're probably the knights of this country.
"You guys, chase the thieves! They must have gone toward the Shadow Castle."
While leaving several people riding horses here, they chase after the thieves who kidnapped Rimia.
"Ah, that's the crest of the second prince?"
Hearing Farsa, I look up, certainly, the dignified older Nii-sama is there.
"--Rumia? Why are you here?"
"It's terrible! Rimia was kidnapped by bad people."
"So it's like that...."
Nii-sama's face is scary.
He must be angry at the bad people who kidnapped Rimia.
"You should go back to the castle--oy, you guys, call the soldiers in the castle. I'll take my little brother to the court physician."
Older Nii-sama took younger Nii-sama and rode the horse toward the court physician in the castle.
The other cavalry also run off to call other people.
"Oh? What happened here?"
As I was looking at that, my body shivered when I heard the voice that suddenly appeared behind me.
There, a woman with red blazing hair, a thin scout-like man, and a giant warrior twice as big as a normal adult--the Saga Empire adventurers who visited the castle back then are standing.
"--Nn? Aren't you princess-chan? What's wrong, you look like you'd cry you know?"
I told the peering female adventurer-san about the situation, bursting like a broken dam, and asked for help.
"Alright, I've lost to princess-chan's spirit who wants to help her little sister. This B-class adventurer Kaizemain-sama will pitch in and help!"
Even though it should have been reassuring, I departed the Royal Capital while feeling like a rat who's being toyed with by a cat somehow.
"Princess-sama, let's leave it to His Highness second prince to save Rimia-sama."
"What're you going to do princess-chan."
"I'm going. Please take me."
"Alright! You'll be safe and sound with us!"
My wet nurse objected even now, but I want to save Rimia who changed place with me due to my selfishness.
I thought we were going to chase them with horses, but we went to a farm village near the Royal Capital instead.
Three golems came out of one of the sheds.
"These are our 『Sea Fire War Ogres』 you see."
Female adventurer-san showed the golems while smiling like Nii-sama when he was showing off his toys.
"....The golems used by the weaselkin."
"That's right, wet nurse-dono is knowledgeable huh."
Farsa who's shaking with pale face fainted when she saw female adventurer-san grinning.
"Oh oh? We can't take along someone who's fainted. Let the people in the village take care of her."
"You say that after putting up that coercion."
"You said something?"
"N-no, nothing at all Nee-san."
"Then stop talking and do it quick."
The thin adventurer ran to the village ordered by female adventurer-san.
Still.... What is this coercion they talked about?
"Ize Neesan. The startup is complete."
"Alright, I'll go ahead with princess-chan. Go with that guy once he comes back."
I'm carried under female adventurer-san's arm, and taken onto the golem that's taller than the surrounding houses.
It's shorter than the balcony in the castle, but the shaking shaking cockpit is cold it's scary.
"We're going to run okay? Hold tight so you won't fall."
Without being able to reply to the cheerful female adventurer-san, I desperately clings to her waist.
Wait for me, Rimia.
I'll absolutely save you!
"Then, take care of the firm."
After telling that to the ashratkin clerk, I get into the carriage.
I've only taken the female slave that has the [Item Box] skill along.
There will be little damage even if the firm is confiscated by the kingdom since I've taken the funds and the expensive items.
"Looks like Kaizemain-dono is heading toward the Shadow Castle successfully. It'll be the best if I can bring an Artifact from the era of god in the Shadow Castle, but bringing information from even one of the explorer probes should be enough to make His Majesty the emperor delighted. Nothing of value will be lost even if I lose one or two branch offices in a poor country."
I murmured alone and looked up, and then black shadows got reflected in my eyes.
The wind pressure shakes the carriage, the slave girl screams.
Four monsters met up with the merchant who got off the carriage.
Lizardkin and beastkin wearing slave collars are riding on the monsters' back.
The things the slaves riding are tamed wyverns that only wealthy merchants have even in our Weasel Empire.
"President, we've come to pick you."
"Good work. Let these go to the Shadow Forest besides the one we're riding."
The Wyvern Riders flew off after receiving the magic tool to retrieve the Explorer Probe.
"President, Rumooku soldiers are heading here."
"Then let's go too."
"Is our destination the empire?"
The rabbitkin rider asked me who had ridden on the wyvern.
"No, go to Silga Kingdom before we return to the empire."
The wyvern takes off while sliding and chipping the highway.
"I will not ask for something as extravagance as fang, I'd like to get claws, or thorns--or at least the scales."
I muttered while leaving my body to the body temperature of the slave clinging to me.
◆In the Forest of the Shadow Castle◆
"Damn it, why isn't the gate opening."
The necessary condition should have been fulfilled, the boss catches and pulls the little girl's hair.
The pink wig comes off of the princess who screams shortly, golden hair appears in the light from the torches.
The dark brown boss glared at the little princess.
"I'm not a fake."
"There's no point if a royalty doesn't have colored hair! You damn fake."
The boss is still flinging violent words to the princess who's fighting back with a shaking voice.
"Can't be helped, the key is profitable enough. Let's scram."
Torches shines over the boss's curved sword which glitters suspiciously.
The curved sword casually swings down toward the princess who's edging back without even being able to scream.
Everyone expected blood to spill but in the next moment, they only heard the sound of the blade sinking into a wood.
In the place where the princess should have been, there's a log wrapped in dress--
"Utsusemi no jutsu~?"
Toward the voice that could be heard somewhere, the boss asked for its identity.
A masked boy appears with a gust of wind.
Beside him, there's a little golden armor wearing a pink mantle standing.
"Hello, nice to meet you. Tough I think our acquaintance will be short, best regards okay."
Hearing the boy who doesn't have a speck of tension, every member of the crime guild is trembling as if their spine has been thrust with an icicle.