Chapter 98 Malice Lurking in the Dark
Since Brighton-kun has come to as well, right now we're all encircling the sitting Belchika for interrogation time.
"So could you tell us how it turned out to this?"
Originally, a party-specific problem should have nothing to do with me, but since I've used [Curse Return] and all, I'd like to know the circumstances as well.
"Err, why are you? Nobusada-san, isn't it? The one rumored to get women pregnant just by glancing at them."
Just how big have the rumors grown anyway. This feels like pure malice at this point. I'd be sure to have everyone console me once I get back, sniffle.
"That's absolutely wrong! I have people dear to me already. I'd never lay my hands on some random passerby just because! I see you're looking at those girls, just so you know they're our store's employees, don't get it wrong!!"
Good grief. All of them are looking here.
"Excuse me. But that doesn't explain how you are related to this."
What a strong willed girl. I'm convinced she's the type that will go wild on her own though.
"I just happened to stop Afuro-kun's rampage by chance, but I also wouldn't want people handing out those cursed magic tools in the middle of town. I have a duty to report this to the head commander, my master."
"Eh, you're a fellow disciple of Papan!?"
Afuro-kun, what's that Papan... By the way, apparently he had no idea about our match yesterday since he's been in the dungeon this whole time.
"Yeah, I'm Matda-shi's tenth disciple. Back on topic, those magic tools aren't something some random fortune teller would possess. I have no clue how big this whole thing is, but it's definitely not something limited to your party."
"You're right. I understand. I shall tell everything I know."
This is Belchika's side of story.
She was in love with Afuro-kun. However, Afuro and Chein had been getting along well lately, she began panicking. Then another friend of her told her about a fortune teller rumored to give precise advices, thus she went straight to them.
At the site, she couldn't look away from the crystal ball, and was somehow convinced that Afuro would turn to her if she did everything the fortune teller told her to.
Then, today she gave him that gem as a charm and pretended to have been lost while watching over the situation herself.
"Do you remember that fortune teller's name and looks?"
"Err, huh? I can't seem to recall. And the friend who introduced me to that fortune teller... who?"
This is more like a memory manipulation than merely leading her around. I dunno how truthful she is being, but it's probably true that someone had come in contact with her in an attempt to harm Afuro-kun. And yet, Afuro-kun himself has no idea about all this when asked.
Which means, this pertains men of major positions related to him. Either Temuro-san, or even perhaps the one above him, the duke himself. Either way, this is far beyond a lone adventurer's hand. We'll have to let Master and co. handle this.
"At any rate. Everyone, keep all this to yourself. Afuro-kun, could you contact Temuro-san right away?"
"Sorry, I have no idea about Papan, I mean, father's schedule."
"I see. Okay then, let's just head straight to the guard garrison. Master should be there today. We'll ask the guards to catch that fortune teller by the tail. Also, Belchika-chan should probably stay somewhere safe for a while. Any idea where?"
"Then she should come with me to the temple. We have temple knights-sama under the same roof there, she could stay in my room if she would."
Chein offered a helping hand to Belchika. Seeing that, Belchika teared up before hugging her.
"Sorry, forgive me. Even though it's all my fault."
"It's okay. It's not your fault Belchika. I might have been manipulated myself, you know."
Afterward, Belchika cried her eyes out.
I'll let Chein take care of her until she calmed down.
Well then, what to do with the boys.
"Afuro-kun, Brighton-kun, what's your plan? Me think explaining the situation to Temuro-san and ask for his protection would be best."
"I... Would rather not rely on father. But then, someone else could get dragged into this because of me, could it?"
"Yep. You might be the target or perhaps there's something else behind it. We are totally clueless though so there's just no way to be sure here."
"Would it be fine if we leave the decision making to father? Brighton, are you okay with that?"
Brighton nodded at Afuro. I was wondering why he hadn't said a word, turned out he was a silent character.
By the way, Afuro-kun apologized to him with a dogeza the moment he came to. Brighton only patted Afuro-kun's shoulder while smiling like saying 'don't mind it', so that was cuz' he couldn't talk.
"Well then, time to get out of this dungeon."
Everyone nodded and departed the place.
<TLN: Catch the latest updates and edits at Sousetsuka .com >
A crystal ball put on an alter broke into pieces with a shrill sound.
A man in hood turned to look at it with a dubious look on his face.
"Curse Return? I don't believe those little girls are capable of something like that. Tch, what a waste of memory manipulation artifact. That thing's pretty valuable."
The man thinks.
Altering the mana through the crystal ball just in case of having the art returned was the right decision on his part.
However, this situation is bad in itself. There's an art user capable of Curse Return around them. This location might even get found out.
"Damn, what a pain in the ass. Well fine, done 90% of stuff Boss told me to do anyway. Just gotta wait for the right time and activate that stuff over there. Gotta raise this pawn I got here too. Thought I could get rid of those pesky 『Meteor』 and 『War Fist』, but that was too much to ask eh."
The man muttered something before the fortune teller tent suddenly vanished.
The only thing left in the dark is a hooded man with sharp eyes like that of a bird of prey.
"Now then, ladies and gentlemen of Gramada. It won't be for a while, but I hope you shall enjoy the show time. I'll have myself a special seat to watch over it safely. Well then, see you again in a while."
The man made a light step dance before melting into the darkness.
The guard garrison is situated not too far from the dungeon's entrance. After taking them there, I escorted our girls home. Then I went back to the garrison.
"Fumu, that happened huh."
Master scowled while stroking his beard.
Yukito-san next to him doesn't look cheerful.
Afuro-kun and the gang are resting in another room.
Only us three in this room.
"S'fine to conclude that matter is related to this one then, eh Yukito."
"Most definitely, yes. I have dispatched our people to several spots where the fortune teller is likely at, but it's probably already gone by now."
"Err, I have no idea what's what, what is it about?"
"Umu, there's this incident that's been giving us headaches lately. We have a few dozens of relatively capable adventurers and townspeople losing memories for a period of time or having recollections of inexplicable experiences."
"We have utterly no idea how it's done, however, Nobusada-kun's conjecture is most likely correct."
"I'm sorry, I broke the necklace that could have worked as evidence..."
"Oh no no, you had no choice there. We couldn't have gotten her circumstances otherwise. But really, undoing curse and even appraisal, you're truly versatile, Nobusada-kun. Oh but this man's disciples being extraordinary is just the usual though."
The usual huh. Yukito-san is holding his stomach down for a bit. Sorry, I'll make some stomach medicine and hand you over the best one next time.
"Anyway, we've dispatched a messenger to Temuro. Should have gotten to him by now. As for the girls, the guards will take responsibility of escorting them to Hadin temple."
"How about Afuro-kun and Brighton?"
"That'd be up to Temuro. They ain't gonna dive in the dungeon at their state though, he's probably gonna work them hard at training ground."
Ah, my condolences. I and Yukito-san reflexively looked at each other and smiled wryly.
Afterward, I could hear intermittent screams coming from training ground. Afuro-kun's face was full of swollen marks when he dropped by to thank me later. I cast Heal on him then, do your best young one.
The day after, we got reports from the dispatched guards, and sure enough the spots were completely vacant.
Having absolutely no clue despite it being quite a huge incident, Master and co. were at their wits' end. For now they apparently plan to intensify patrols for a while.