Night of the Red and White Clovers
Magic crests were carved onto the human’s skin because the human body was a substance that could circulate magic power the most efficiently.
At the very least, the present magic warriors didn’t know of a medium that was more suitable than their own bodies for manifesting magic.
Magic warriors circulated magic power into the magic crests which were carved onto their bodies with their will. The shape drawn by that circuit became a magic square and made powers of miracle appeared in this world.
However, an alloy which was good enough to substitute the human body as a medium and manifest magic was created, and spread secretly and rapidly. Its developer was the Amaddo Army’s Third Arsenal Chief Engineer,
He was also undoubtedly a genius, albeit eccentric.
If one was to take charge of a whole country’s government, then a deep and extensive knowledge was necessary. The vast amount of books collected in this library aided his career as a politician and could be called his support. In order to become a Dominas, Karin had read a huge amount of reference books as expected, but their quantity in her personal library, the Rudbeck Houses’s, could by no means be compared to the Valiente House’s.
Karin, who was looking up at the bookshelf like how she had looked up at it with awe and envy when she was a child but from a slightly higher viewpoint, heard the sound of door closing and looked back.
「…I’ve kept you waiting, Karin」
Dante who had entered the room while playing with his curled red hair with his finger was wearing a dark red vestment signifying his current status.
「I’m sorry. I understand that you’re busy with work」
「No, I don’t mind」
「I want to talk again just by the two us before returning to my country」
「You’re returning to your country already?」
Dante’s eyes became round in surprise.
「Hasn’t it been only three days since you came here? Didn’t you spend half a month or a month here in the past?」
「This’s different from childhood. Similarly to how you’ve realised the deputy prime minister’s title, I’m also interested in the the title of a Dominas now」
「I know that but…I don’t want to send you back as it is」
Dante leaned against his favourite desk and folded his arms. Karin thought that each of his theatrical actions was exaggerated.
「—The thing that I said to you before wasn’t a joke」
「I’m sorry, what was it?」
「It’s about me hoping to take you as my wife. You’re good in feigning ignorance as usual」
「That’s good to hear」
「I should have said that it wasn’t a question that can be immediately replied to」
「Can you hear me out first, Karin?」
Dante opened the desk’s drawer and took out a bunch of documents with finely written characters.
「It’s the draft of a petition that I intend to report to His Majesty soon」
Saying so, he held them out to Karin.
「…Is it fine for me to read it? I’m from Amaddo you know?」
「I don’t mind. Rather, the conversation can’t proceed unless you read it」
Since it was Dante’s proposition to the king of Biranoba, it had to be deeply connected to their national interest, but Karin scanned through it like she was told to.
「…Magic warriors’ training institution?…」
It was a petition stating that a place like the Magic Academy in Amaddo should be established in Biranoba. The summary of the required budget and the timetable for until when magic warriors could be produced practically etc. were written down quite meticulously.
「—The Holy Alliance was originally the 12 magic warriors who helped Redountra sealed the “Demon”, but it stemmed from the countries which were founded to surround the current “Hill of Seal”」
Though it might be nothing new to the Dominas you—Dante made a preface like so, and began to talk to Karin.
「They became kings eventually, and after Redountra fell into slumber, they kept surveillance to ensure that the seal doesn’t come undone. They left behind 12 Dominas, one to each of the 12 countries, so that the “Demon” can be sealed again in the worst case. Henceforth, even if we temporarily lack a Dominas, their number continues to be the same even now without changing」
「…That’s right. Until now, there were several occasions where a substitute was needed suddenly due to unforeseen accidents or deaths from illnesses, but nevertheless, I remembered that there wasn’t a time when 3 or more Dominas were missing simultaneously」
「However, what happened to the number of allied countries?」
Karin stopped her hand that was turning over the fine quality paper and looked at Dante with upturned eyes.
「Presently, just 7 of the countries that participated in the alliance remained. Amaddo, Diruma, Haiderota, Mirzoza, Bito, Picabia and Garmany. You should also know what became of the other 5 countries right?」
「…Biranoba is also doing well now as a quasi-signatory」
「Yes, a quasi-signatory. Still, it might be preferable that just the outward appearance as a country remains. Even if it’s our Biranoba or Berdou」
Dante’s gaze ran towards a picture frame that was hung on a corner of the wall. However, it wasn’t a picture fitting of the Valiente House’s family status that was displayed inside, but a picture map centring on Biranoba.
「—But Romarikku, Emelily and also Baragan cease to exist in this world already. Moreover, Romarikku and Baragan were annexed by Amaddo and Haiderota, and vanished from the map’s surface」
「I’m sorry…The current me can only reply with this much」
「It’s not like I’m criticising your motherland’s deed in particular. But I just want to reaffirm to you that the present situation deviates greatly from how the alliance should originally be」
Dante moved towards the picture map on the wall and said so. The Biranoba in the map was very small, and being pressured by Amaddo and Diruma in its east and west, it looked as if it’d crushed anytime.
「With just Amaddo and Diruma, they possessed nearly half of the entire alliance’s territory and moreover 5 Dominas. This present condition can by no means be said to be well-balanced right?」
「Isn’t that balance fine if there’s stability because of it?」
「A situation where there’s a congregation of Dominas isn’t desirable, and Amaddo’s power becomes increasingly strong. Therefore, I want a small country like Biranoba to possess a Dominas similar to before. And I want Amaddo and Diruma to approve of it」
「And I’m to assist you in that?」
「It doesn’t have to be right now」
Dante tossed the draft that Karin had returned into the drawer.
「It can be after you’ve finished serving your Dominas’s duty. Come to Biranoba and marry me. And then I want for you to guide the next generation at the magic warriors’ training institution that I created」
「…You’re barking up the wrong tree」
Although Karin was Dante’s blood-related relative, she was a person of Amaddo to the bitter end. Abandoning Amaddo to live for Biranoba—which meant abandoning her House at the same time—wasn’t simple.
「…I’m a Dominas as well as a High Grade Inspector of Amaddo, and also the only daughter and heiress of the Rudbeck House」
「Indeed. That’s why I said this at that time right? It’s possible to do so if you give birth to 2 children」
「…I’m sorry, I’ll say this clearly」
Karin dragged up the shawl wrapping her shoulder and said to Dante.
「I don’t want to give birth to your children…To say nothing of now, but also 9 years later」
「That’s—quite a shock」
Dante opened his eyes widely at Karin’s words. Brushing up his forelocks, a fixed habit of his, he took in a deep breath greatly and shrugged his shoulders.
「I never thought that I’d be disliked by you」
「I don’t dislike you. However, I cannot think of you as my future husband」
「Even as a partner?」
「I’m born and raised in Amaddo, and has no obligation to work for Biranoba. Besides—」
It’d be better if it (Dante’s draft) was for ordinary magic warriors, but if he was going to create a genius girl that could become a Dominas, then a specialised educational institution have to be prepared. Also, a talented girl must be selected from a large number of candidates, and given thorough training from her childhood. The special annual budget that Amaddo invested in Dominas’s training easily surpassed a somewhat small country’s war funds.
Furthermore, for a country like Biranoba that had to start the training of magic warriors from scratch, a lot more budget was necessary.
「…Does the current Biranoba has the national power to invest an enormous budget into magic training? This country certainly has become rich economically, but will the citizens still agree to your idea when they hear that the war funds will jump up by three times suddenly? What about the royal family?」
「There’ll be a fundraising and I’ll obtain the citizens’ understanding then. Even if I couldn’t obtain it, their antipathy can be suppressed」
「…I’m sorry, what do you mean by that?」
「Any more than this will be a secret concerning Biranoba’s national interest. —However, if you accept my offer, I won’t hesitate to speak freely without holding anything back」
Dante, who had stopped his hand that was touching his forelocks and laughed, recovered his serous look suddenly and added on.
「—You also want to know what I’m thinking in actuality right? Didn’t you come all the way from Amaddo for this?」
Karin closed her eyes partly and pinched the fingertip of the long glove that she wore on her right hand. She then quietly poured magical power into the magic crest hidden beneath the long glove.
At that time, she heard Petra’s shriek for the first time in her life and held her breath.
As Dante’s mansion was originally distanced away from Buruan, it tended to become silent suddenly when the day got dark, but the vicinity of the Valiente House’s detached residence was even more rustic. There were no lights of private houses in its surrounding, and no sign of life except the occasional hooting of owls.
Late in the night, Valeria who had slipped out from the mansion secretly and came here while being shouldered by Bettina, looked up towards the hilltop from within the forest and frowned.
「…If it’s from here, we’ll be completely visible for a while until we reach that residence」
「You’ve come to understand things a little huh」
Dimitar who was replacing the cartridge of Bettina’s back said so sarcastically. Although judging from his expression, Dimitar probably wasn’t intending to make fun of Valeria, but was only stating the truth.
Even if that was the case, it didn’t change the fact that she felt offended though.
Glossing over the anger which was welling up within her with a small cough, Valeria looked at the residence that was built on the hilltop again. Though its scale was quite small compared to the main house, if she was to consider that it was built for only one old person to rest in, it could be said to have an extravagant structure nonetheless. From what Karin had said, walking along the wall and around the perimeter of that land once took her about 20 minutes on foot. There also seemed to be a fairly large garden.
「…Even if someone was inside, it’s time for them to be asleep right?」
「There’s a story of the caretakers-cum-servant couple usually staying inside, but I don’t know if that’s true」
Dimitar who had finished changing the cartridge stroked his head and sighed.
「That means there’s somebody else?」
「I’ve no definite proof, but that’s likely to be so」
「Have you met that large man who greeted us on the first day anywhere after that?」
「That tough fellow called Salomon Pujor. The one in charge of security」
「Ah…now that you mention it, I haven’t see him at all」
「I’ve only seen him two, three times during the day. I don’t see him once the day gets dark」
「Is there something wrong with that?」
「He probably a former mercenary or soldier of some place, and had accumulated a fair bit of experience」
「Is, is that so?」
「You’ll understand if you see it from this perspective…Do you think it’s this easy to slip out from a mansion that such a man is guarding? It was the same when Rudbeck-geika and I investigated the army’s facilities. It was so easy to come and go that it was anti-climactic. Why in the world is that so?」
Even if she was asked why, she could only answer that wasn’t it possible since they had actually slipped out of the mansion like this.
However, Dimitar pinched the nose of Valeria who was about to continue so with a “mugiyu!” and forcibly interrupted her words.
「There’s 3 possibilities. Did that man skipped out on guarding the mansion, or was he not in the mansion from the start—」
「What’s the remaining one?」
「You’ll be on standby here」
Dimitar rolled up his right sleeve without mentioning the third possibility.
「—In the worst case, the role of carrying Her Eminence, who dreams of a happy old age, on the shoulder and escape is yours」
「Um~…I, just a moment—」
「Endure that physiology phenomenon as much as possible」
(TN: He’s referring to Bettina’s urge to pee whenever she’s nervous.)
「No, no way…!」
「Let’s go, Your Eminence」
Dimitar heartlessly left behind Bettina who had probably became teary-eyed beneath her visor, and began to walk in front.
「Don’t take charge! I’ll say this many times, but the superior is—」
「Don’t dawdle, superior」
「You’re being noisy」
The forest ended before long and the gentle hill continued from there. Even under the faint moonlight, it was distinctly clear that an innumerable number of white petals were falling onto the slope that was covered in a greenery of white clovers. Excluding that, there was hardly any grove of trees, and there wasn’t a place to hide at the critical moment as expected.
Valeria asked Dimitar in a low voice.
「You said that there’re 3 possibilities just now. Explain the last one」
「…You don’t understand?」
Dimitar, who was straining his eyes and staring fixedly at the residence, turned his head lightly and looked down at Valeria.
「You seriously don’t understand?」
Valeria who had thought “I was pitied on again!” almost screamed instinctively, but given the circumstances, it was also a fact that she didn’t understand, and she somehow restrained her anger.
「…Can you explain in detail for my reference, Richternach-kyou?」
Dimitar removed the scabbard’s clasp and pulled out his sword.
「—The third possibility is that he overlooked our movements despite noticing them」
「Thinking normally, the first possibility is non-existent since such a man won’t skipped out on his work. Similarly, it doesn’t make sense for the person in charge of security to leave the mansion, so the second one is out too. He didn’t skipped out and wasn’t absent, and yet he didn’t guard the mansion. In other words, he deliberately created a chance for us to move easily」
「Eh…? Could it be that Dante-san has also noticed what we’re trying to do…?」
Dimitar answered back casually.
「—It’d still be fine if it was just Rudbeck-geika and Petra, since they’re relatives in the first place. However, you, Gacha Pink ad I had shown up at the same time. If it’s that sharp-witted man, he’d have immediately guessed that we didn’t came along for the purpose of sightseeing. We were made to move freely」
「M, made to move freely…you were aware of it!?」
「Rudbeck-geika and Rudbeck-kyou should have noticed it too. You and Gacha Pink didn’t seemed to notice it」
Although Dimitar replied calmly, Valeria couldn’t maintain her composure at all. If Dimitar’s conjecture was correct—if Dante was aware of everything—, then Karin and Petra who remained in the mansion were in danger. There was no country that tolerated foreign spies.
「Why didn’t you tell me anything if you had understood that much!?」
「It was Rudbeck-geika who said that they’ll remain in the mansion…In short, she concluded that it was better for us to take on this mission. Even if they’re captured in the worst case, if it’s those two, they won’t be killed first」
「They aren’t completely incompetent too and they won’t be caught easily…Based on such premise, we can only take action. If you still want to say more, return to Gacha Pink’s place. I’ll go by myself」
「I, I didn’t say that I won’t go!…To begin with, I just said it this morning to stop going off on your own without me!」
「If that’s the case, let’s go quickly」
Dimitar covered Valeria with the mantle that he was wearing, and on top of which he carried her on his back.
「Don’t make noise at everything, you’re being noisy」
Dimitar carried Valeria on his back and rushed out from the forest.
Dimitar whose physical ability was enhanced by magic was faster than any swift horse. There was hardly a person that could perceive Dimitar, who had slipped into the dead of the night and was running at this speed,—while wearing a black mantle too—with his naked eyes.
Having ran up the hill just like that, Dimitar clung onto the wall enclosing the residence’s environs and muttered in a very calm tone.
「…It’s an extremely high wall. Is it really a mansion built for his Baa-san’s recuperation?」
「It looks exactly ideal for barricading oneself when something happens. Since it stands alone on a hilltop, it’s good for commanding a view in any direction」
「Even if I think that it was built here with such factors in consideration, if it’s that man, then it isn’t anything strange」
Dimitar looked at Valeria over his shoulder.
「…Oi, try to put your feet on my shoulders and stand up. Can you not peek inside from above the wall?」
「Eh, is that fine?」
「I said to do it. You don’t have to worry」
「…You know, I can endure anything if it’s for the mission, but even so, you irritate me」
「Cease your irrational false accusation」
「Hai hai…Don’t ever look up okay?」
「Be at ease, even if you meaninglessly undress and climb onto my shoulders, I’ve no interest in the bottom or crotch of a thin young girl in the first place」
「Don’t say crotch!」
Valeria placed her feet on both of Dimitar’s shoulders and stood up timidly.
Standing on tiptoes while her legs trembled with a “puru puru”, Valeria’s face barely appeared over the wall. She then strained her eyes and surveyed the area.
「I can see a light…」
「So someone is there? They haven’t sleep yet?」
「Rather, there’re many lights and they’re moving…」
「They might be guards of this place…As I thought, it’s different from what I heard」
「Even so—the Valiente House is really wealthy. Doesn’t he own several such mansions here and there? Is the deputy prime minister job so profitable?」
「Who knows. However, the Valiente House is an old family that possesses territory not only within Biranoba, but also in Amaddo and Diruma. If managed well, maintenance of this much is possible」
「Why do Biranoba’s nobles have territories in Amaddo?」
「When Biranoba ceded territory to Amaddo, they seemed to have avoided having their individually owned plots of land confiscated. Thereupon, the Valiente House’s territory remained inside Amaddo like a exclave」
「He—…Even though they’re relatives, it’s surprisingly different from Karin’s House」
Valeria jumped down from Dimitar’s shoulders with a “hyoi” and sighed.
「—Karin’s Ojii-sama was a person with a preference for spending money extravagantly, and he squandered the Rudbeck House in a flash. Karin will have a fairly hard time rebuilding it. That includes me of course」
「Is that so?」
「When we met in the beginning…how should I say, we had a really serious relationship because Karin is that type. Anyway, our surroundings were all rivals aiming to be a Dominas. —However, once Karin and I realised that we were aiming to be a Dominas to somehow settle our grandfathers’ generation’s credits that we were burdened with, feelings of affinity budded instead, and we become on very good terms—」
Dimitar interrupted Valeria’s statement and looked towards the mansion.
「…By chance, is that a mere talk about yourself?」
「I thought it was some information that’d be useful for investigating this mansion and listened to you, but if it’s just an idle talk, be quiet at once」
「I, isn’t this much fine!」
「Your private life is none of my concern. It’s just like how you aren’t interested in my private life」
Though Dimitar said so, Valeria was in truth just a little interested in his private life; rather than his private life, it was the story of his childhood.
After she completed her first job in Seriba, she heard from Lucius—the story where Dimitar was about to be killed by his biological mother when he was a child, and it had been on her mind since then.
Although she didn’t ask for it, according to the rumours gathered by Valeria’s father, it seemed that Dimitar’s mother was made to do a double suicide with her child. The mansion where the parent and child lived was also burned down; what sort of circumstance was there for Dimitar alone to be rescued? Afterwards, Orevieto took custody of Dimitar and raised him together with Lucius like brothers.
If it was her spirit of curiosity, it was to this extent, but Valeria wanted to know about that matter.
However, there was no way she could ask such things in this situation. She might just be ignored even if she asked, and it was also vexing to yield to Dimitar just to have him teach her about it.
Valeria exaggeratedly brushed up her blond hair with tinges of orange, and said with a fed up face.
「—Even though I expressly thought of getting along with you since Lucius-sama had requested me to do so!」
「You can ignore what Lucius said. That guy read too much into things」
「Don’t order me on everything! In the first place, don’t refer Lucius-sama as that guy!」
「It’s up to me to decide how I call that guy, and there’s no need to get along with you too. It’s sufficient if we just do our best in the mission」
Dimitar smoothly warded off Valeria’s anger and looked up at the wall again.
Carrying Valeria on his shoulder, he jumped over the wall and lay down on the ground with a “petari”. As most of the rooms weren’t illuminated, the vast garden was enveloped in the heavy darkness of the night. Although the surroundings were barely visible due to the moonlight, nobody might noticed them if they kept their postures lowered and held their breaths.
Looking at the lights moving randomly in the darkness, Dimitar muttered in a low voice.
「…I’m not sure how many guards are there, so forcing our way through is the last measure. We’ll enter from above like last time」
「G, got it」
Valeria nodded deeply and began moving in a half-rising posture behind Dimitar.
The building wasn’t very big, but the garden was vast. Even when the person in recuperation wasn’t here now, a gardener seemed to have come regularly to maintain it as a strong fragrance of flowers wafted from somewhere.
Once the light of a lantern disappeared, Dimitar stopped his feet there, carried Valeria on his shoulder again and jumped.
「…Let’s find the evidence quickly and return」
Kicking the top of a virgin statue that decorated the large pond, Dimitar jumped again and moved to the second floor balcony, and easily picked open the lock on the window.
「I’ve said it many times, but I haven’t commit theft. Be it you or Rudbeck-geika, is it a Dominas’s trait or something to treat people who are skilfully with their hands as thief?」
「Karin said that too?」
Dimitar crept into the dark interior, surveyed the vicinity and sheathed his sword for the time being.
This room which had a nice view from its balcony might originally be the room of the old woman that was recuperating from sickness. It seemed to be converted into a lodging room when Dante came along after her death. Other than a bed, a desk and a cabinet lined up with sake bottles were firmly placed in a neatly maintained condition.
「…Search the drawers over there thoroughly」
「Ha? There’s no way the armaments can be kept in such a place」
「We aren’t searching for that only, but also clues to locate Nereida’s whereabouts…Letters or something, I want documents that show the link of Dante and Nereida」
「Ha~a…you think the evidence can be found so conveniently?」
「How we think is irrelevant. At any rate, search for it. That’s our job」
Valeria uttered a sigh while opening the desk’s drawers in turns.
「…Even though I took great pains to become a Dominas, the jobs that I’m assigned to only seemed to be an imitation of a spy or a petty thief」
「Are you indignant?」
「Don’t you say something like “quit if you’re indignant”. I didn’t say that I’m indignant」
「Then what’s it?」
「It’s different from reality, or perhaps I should say—」
「In short, like the bonbons who attended that party, you think it’d be nice if a Dominas dedicates prayers to Redountra throughout the day?」
Dimitar who had searched under the bed with his sword’s scabbard showed an unpleasant smile and stood up.
「…You’re a Dominas as well as a high grade inspector of Amaddo, and I’m also entrusted with both the roles of being your exclusive Hiera Glaphicos and an inspector. In that case, we’ve to quietly obey the orders from above. That’s court service」
「I don’t understand the role of an inspector well. In the first place, what does that job entails?」
「Domestic and foreign investigations」
「Investigation? On what specifically?」
「There’s no specific regulations. In any case, every event that concern Amaddo’s national interest are targets for investigation…That’s why it can be broadly interpreted as much as one likes」
「…That’s to say, a Jack of all trades?」
「To say it trivially, that’s so, but only the king and his proxy can order the high grade inspectors. Basically, there’s no need to follow the instructions of people other than them. You should act with a little more self-awareness that high grade inspectors were given a great authority of that much」
Having said so, Dimitar instructed Valeria on this and that, and occasionally kicked her bottom. Although she wanted to say “who’s the one lacking self-awareness”, she knew that she’d be logically retorted if she said so, hence Valeria kept quiet.
Affirming that opening all the drawers was a pointless labour, Valeria noticed the small knife that was placed on the desk together with an ink bottle and a quill pen. Its structure couldn’t be described as especially unusual, but something felt out of place.
「…Ah, I see」
Dimitar closed the cabinet’s door and looked back.
Valeria picked up the knife with her fingers and showed it to Dimitar.
「It’s extremely simple and feels plain…」
「Un. I thought it’d be flashier if it’s used by Dante-san…」
「He’d be sure to use something appropriate for his social status」
In fact, the furniture and stationery that were placed here were only things befitting of a great noble. The quill pen was also made from the tail feathers of a rare male Sagittarius serpentarius.
Compared to those, this knife was very—to say it nicely, simple and sturdy; to say it badly, it was plain. It was definitely unusual as a noble’s possession.
Valeria pulled out the knife gently and looked closely at its blade.
Noticing faint and complex lines coursing through the blade, Valeria murmured so.
「Let me borrow it」
Dimitar held the knife that he received from Valeria’s hand.
When Dimitar poured in his magical power, the engraved magic crest on the knife’s blade shined with a ” boya~!”, and a small flame lit up at its tip.
「…It seems useful for lighting up a fire in the fireplace」
Dimitar immediately extinguished the flame and laughed.
「It’s quite a basic article…It was probably used when Nereida promoted herself to Dante, since it’s the easiest to understand what magic engineering can do by showing an actual article. Did she coaxed him by saying that she can create more things than this and as many as he likes if he assisted her—」
「But isn’t this weak as an evidence?」
「…Let’s search the basement」
Dimitar sheathed the knife, threw it back to Valeria, and quietly opened the door facing the corridor.
「If there’re armaments being kept here, then they had to be in the basement. And if there’s no basement, they’ll be on the first floor」
「Think about their weight」
Moving slowly and quietly along the uninhabited corridor, Dimitar spoke while descending the stairs.
「—Simply put, the armours and swords are a mass of metal. If such things are kept in large quantity in this type of room, the floor would collapse from their weight. In that case, they’ve to be in a spacious and strongly structured room where its floor, walls, ceiling and everything are covered with stone」
The first floor seemed to comprise of an entrance hall, a few guest rooms, and a dining hall which served as a living room too, but as far as they could see from peeking lightly, it was only decorated with a few armours and swords as works of art.
「…There’s an underground storehouse for keeping food in our mansion too」
「I suppose so」
There was a stairway leading to the mansion’s basement at the side of the kitchen. However, even though the mansion’s interior was completely cleaned, it was dusty from that point on. Due to that, it was clear that a few footprints remained slightly.
「…It seems that the servants are prohibited from going any further from here on」
「…What shall we do?」
「Is there an idiot who’d come until here and return without checking it?」
「I know that! That’s not what I meant!」
「You’re being noisy」
Dimitar rebuked Valeria who had raised her voice instinctively and observed the long corridor.
There didn’t seem to be another stairway leading to the basement besides this. In that case, if the guards noticed them while they were descending to the basement, they’d completely become trapped rats. If this exit was set on fire, it’d be enveloped in smoke and might easily become a trip to the netherworld.
It was annoying to admit, but Dimitar should have also realised this since Valeria had realised it. Though Dimitar usually made quick decisions, the fact that he didn’t try to descend immediately when they found the stairway might be because he couldn’t discard that possibility and was perplexed.
Valeria drew out the knife that she found earlier, lit up a small flame, took the initiative and began descending the stairway.
「We don’t have the time to be worried right? There’s the matter of Karin too, so isn’t it better to finish up quickly?」
「…Maa, that’s better than wasting time on hesitating」
As though making himself to decide, Dimitar muttered and followed after Valeria.
If this mansion was purely built as a place for an old person to rest in, and was subsequently changed to a place of a secret conspiracy, then this basement might originally have been prepared as a storehouse for storing food and wine reserves.
If it was the mansion located in Buruan’s outskirts, even if the stock of food ran out, it could immediately be bought from the market, but that was difficult for this mansion which was distanced far away from the town. This storehouse should be fairly vast to stockpile a large quantity of food to prepare for a time when something happened.
As though to support Dimitar’s conjecture, the stone stairway was wide enough for a large-build man to move while carrying a wine barrel and a sack of wheat.
Valeria who had descended the stairway earlier looked up at Dimitar with a somewhat tensed expression.
In front of the girl was a reinforced door enshrined with an iron frame and rivets. It didn’t seemed to have a lock on it, but a small window attached with iron grilles cut through the door at eye-level.
Probably, Valeria might have recalled the incident in Seriba. There, Valeria’s magic crests were erased, and she got captured and was almost deprived of even her chastity. It wasn’t strange for that fear which she had felt inside the dark storehouse to remain as an uneasiness even now.
「You can go back up and keep watch if you’re feeling unwell」
「A mental trauma is a troublesome thing. Apparently, many guys tried to forcibly overcome it and made blunders」
「…What do you mean?」
「Aren’t you feeling scared to enter the basement because you recalled the incident in Seriba?」
As Dimitar’s observation had hit the mark, Valeria’s face stiffened and her lips quivered slightly.
「…Since I’m a man, I can only imagine the feelings of you who freeze from fear when such things happened, but it isn’t something shameful. It’s probably normal to feel that way」
「…I don’t want your sympathy」
「I don’t intend to sympathise you. However, even if I take you along, you won’t be very useful and will only increase my burden. If that’s the case, there’s no trouble in moving by myself」
「You’re forbidden from acting alone! I’ve said this many times right!?」
「Then don’t make such a face that’d seem to cry at any time」
「I…It’s not like I’m about to cry in particular!」
Valeria’s face was flushed in a deep red and she abruptly struck the tip of Dimitar’s shoulder with her small fist. She didn’t think that it was good to hit a person to hide her embarrassment, but it probably wasn’t bad now that she could move her paralysed feet.
「You might break your bone if you hit with your fist. If you want to hit no matter what, then use your palm」
When Dimitar had lightly dusted off the area of his shoulder ostentatiously, he grasped the iron ring handle and pushed open the door.
「…There doesn’t seem to be anyone inside」
There was a fairly wide space like Dimitar expected, though approximately half of it was occupied by wooden boxes that were stacked up neatly. Placed in half of the area near the door, were a large work desk and a bookshelf reaching from the floor to the ceiling which were inappropriate for a food warehouse.
Walking timidly, Valeria lit a fire in a lamp that was hung on the wall, and knitted her brows as though she had noticed something.
Similar to the paintings that produced the gorgeousness of a noble’s living room, this storehouse was decorated with shields aligned at fixed intervals. The shields, which reflected the lamp’s illumination and shone in dull silver, were slightly small, but a familiar pattern was lightly engraved onto their surfaces.
Dimitar struck that surface with a “kotsun” and laughed.
「It’s simple, but it’s obviously a magic crest…And such a number of them too」
「What about the box over there?」
「Probably swords and armours I guess. I’ll search the desk」
Leaving Valeria to check the box’s contents, Dimitar started to investigate the desk and bookshelf.
Inside a small vase which was placed on the desk were only the remains of a withered flower with most of its water evaporated. In contrast, there was no dust accumulated on the desk or chair. When he put these facts together and ruminated on it, it might have been at most one month or so since a person entered this storehouse.
Turning the pages of a book that he had pulled out from the bookshelf with a “para para”, Dimitar asked Valeria.
「…Did you find something?」
「Swords and spears…and armours here」
「You found them huh」
「—Does this means that Nereida did her research here from quite some time ago?」
「I mean, there shouldn’t be so many of this type of weapons and armours even in Amaddo right? Wouldn’t it take a reasonable amount of time to gather so many of these?」
Dimitar shrugged his shoulders and looked back at Valeria.
At the feet of the seemingly puzzled girl lay a slightly short-sized sword and breastplate that she had probably took out from the box. Both of them were tinged with radiance like those shields that were aligned on the wall.
「I’m not sure if this’s an accurate example since I’m not an expert…but it seems that it’s necessary to do a treatment like plating with some special alloy to engrave magic crests on swords and shields」
「Yes…It’s possible to draw magic crests on that alloy’s surface in the same way as how it’s done on the human’s body」
Dimitar pulled out only half of Jagieruka and showed Valeria its sword blade.
「—In reality, I helped the Chief Engineer to engrave this guy’s magic crests. I can modify them to a certain extent on the spot」
「Then, mass production will be easy as long as that alloy can be prepared?」
「That might not be the case. There’re too few magic warriors in this country」
「Is that so…the task of engraving magic crests takes time?」
「That’s how it is. There’re few magic warriors who can draw precise magic crests. I don’t think there’s this sort of valuable talent in such a magic-undeveloped country. It’s likely that Nereida had laboriously spent time to complete these. —Though it’s queer that the said person isn’t here」
Valeria who had sat on the box jumped off with a “hyoi” and picked up a sword.
「—Contrary, is it easy to gather this much if it’s Amaddo?」
「Yes…But that’s if the conditions of the army providing a plentiful budget to the Chief Engineer and the Magic Academy cooperating extensively are attached」
Judging roughly from their appearances, the magic crests which were engraved onto the swords and armours here were far simpler when compared to Jagieruka’s. Jagieruka had precise and complex magic crests, and several magic crests could be used properly by Dimitar’s will, but each of the armaments here could only use one magic crest. If Jagieruka was a custom made one-of-a-kind item, then these were undoubtedly mass produced items.
Dimitar continued to check the bookshelf and discovering a bundle of papers inserted between the books, he narrowed his eyes.
「I don’t know if this’s drawn by Nereida but…I found that person’s blueprint」
「The design draft of magic crest. There’s writing too. Whether or not it’s Nereida’s handwriting, if we take it and return to show it to Chief Engineer—」
Dimitar, who had folded up the bundle of papers and stuffed it inside his vest, noticed things like grains of sand falling down in small light bits and looked at up the ceiling.
「…We’re heading back」
「There’s a sign that someone was running close by」
「No way! They noticed?」
「Perhaps the lamp’s light has leaked out from the hole used for ventilation. Let’s escape before the stairway is blocked」
「Follow behind me」
Dimitar picked up a sword and shield that were lying down, and headed towards the stairway.
「! There they are, seize them!」
As soon as they rushed out from the underground storehouse, such a voice came down from above the stairway.
Barely confirming his opponent, Dimitar wielded the sword while concentrating his consciousness into his right hand.
「…This kind of feeling I guess?」
A vivid flame surged forth from the tip of the short sword. When he thrust out the shield in his left hand simultaneously, the violent wind produced from it fanned the flame. It became a scorching hot wind that ran down from above and engulfed the guards.
「…You’re a hindrance」
Pushing aside the guards who were enveloped by the flame and running about trying to escape, Dimitar held up the shield and ran up the stairway with Valeria without stopping. Although the guards seemed to be equipped with that sword and shield too, were they afraid of friendly fire in the confined space or they simply couldn’t master them; they didn’t use magic.
「These valuable toys are pearls thrown before swine」
Kicking down the guard before him with his momentum as it was, Dimitar jumped out to the corridor.
「…If it’s troublesome, it’s alright not to use that way of calling every time」
「That’s not it—in front! In front!」
Valeria pointed to the other side of the corridor. Several soldiers could be seen facing towards them and nocking arrows.
「…Don’t use magic. Preserve your magical power since your turn will come afterwards」
Dimitar reminded Valeria with a whisper and held the shield aloft. The wind which welled up at once greatly deflected the arrows that were shot.
「…Certainly, even if an ordinary person becomes able to use magic, that person’s endeavour is needed to master it」
Dimitar threw out the short sword as he spat out coldly, and before the soldiers could nock their second arrows, he shortened the distance and unsheathed Jagieruka.
When Valeria picked up the short sword and caught up to him, Dimitar had already cut down all the soldiers.
Although she had several near-death experiences in Seriba, she had yet to grow accustomed to the redness and smell of blood. While trying not to look at the defeated guards as much as possible, Valeria held out the sword to Dimitar.
「I don’t need it. Just hold onto this for now」
Dimitar pressed the shield onto Valeria in place of the short sword, led the girl by her hand and rushed out of the mansion.
The deep darkness which had enveloped the mansion’s surroundings until some time ago was now expelled by the flames of the torches and bonfires, and started to disappear. The dark shadows were casually brushed aside and there was hardly any place to hide.
「There they are!」
The soldiers carrying the torches noticed that the pair had rushed out from the mansion and ran. It seemed that they were also equipped with that sword and shield.
「We’re retreating quickly」
「Is that fine? What about the evidence!?」
There were definitely armaments that were made by using magic engineering here. Although they were here, there was no proof that it was Nereida who developed them. There was also no evidence of Nereida and Dante having a cooperative relationship, much less evidence of secretly assisting Hokon’s revolt in Seriba.
「…Unless there’s a very strong evidence, Amaddo can’t judge Dante as a criminal anyway. At any rate, Dante isn’t a person of Amaddo but Biranoba, and also its Deputy Prime Minister. From the time I realised that Dante seems to be the mastermind, I knew that we aren’t chasing after simple evidence」
Dimitar lifted Valeria, carried her on his left shoulder in a state where she was facing backwards, and ran.
「If it’s you, you can use that shield…Be careful of the arrows」
「E…even though there’s evidence…, you knew that it was useless!?」
「That’s what I intended to say」
「Then why did we came here!?」
「Though it cannot become an evidence, I thought that Dante would become defiant and talk if we thrust the actual article before him and pressure him… Maa, We don’t have to think about the obtained evidence’s use. I’ve said this many times but our mission is to gather evidence. It’s not like we came here to pursue and arrest Dante」
Certainly, what they ought to think of now was to shake off their pursuers, returned to Dante’s mansion, and linked up with Karin.
「—Don’t bite your tongue, Costacurta-geika」
Warning Valeria lightly, Dimitar evaded the attack of a guard who came stabbing with a spear, and kicked the ground.
He trampled on the guard’s head, jumped onto the branch of an orange tree, and then jumped again towards the wall from there. When the guards raised voices of admiration and surprise at that agility, Valeria was already on the other side of the wall.
「Start a fire」
「It’ll confine the pursuers. If you start a fire with that knife just a little and fan it with a wind, that’ll suffice」
「I, is that fine? This whole place might turned into a sea of flames you know?」
「It’s fine, so do it」
「…Why do you’ve to say it unsparingly like that…?」
「Make it fast」
Although Valeria frowned, she pulled out that knife, and scattered the small flames which rose on its tip onto the carpet of white clovers.
When she looked up suddenly, she saw many lights running after them from the mansion on the hill. She also heard the neighs of horses and it was likely that they were pursuing with quite a large number of people. Valeria hurriedly held up the metal shield and stirred up the flames which lit up alone on the dark greenery fiercely with a gust of wind.
「…Nice work. This’ll buy us some time」
Dimitar glanced at the sea of flames produced at the rear over his shoulder, and rushed into forest where Bettina was made to standby.
「Ha, hai! I didn’t sleep desu, I didn’t sleep desuyou!」
Bettina who was sitting on the root of an oak tree sprang to her feet.
「—Is your urge to urinate alright?」
「It, it’s alright desuu!」
「Then, we’ll return quickly and link up with Rudbeck-geika」
Dimitar placed Valeria whom he was carrying on his shoulder onto Bachururusu’s head.
「…It’s not your manner of speaking, but merely your petty thief-like behaviour that’s disappointing」
(TN: Spoken by Valeria.)
A woman wearing a white robe looked around the dim room’s interior and slowly sat down on a chair.
Although the room, which was entirely made of stone from the floor to the ceiling, wasn’t dusty, there was a feeling of oppression that couldn’t be cleared away. However, to feel calm from that might be an occupational disease in a certain sense.
After looking into the empty drawer and bookshelf, the woman pulled the cuff of her white robe and polished the monocle’s lens.
「…I want you to prepare the same books from the previous laboratory」
「If you’ve a list, I’ll prepare them at once」
The one that replied so was a woman who had covered and hid her whole body with a black robe and cape.
On one side was a woman wearing a white robe and sitting on a chair, and on the other side, was a woman dressed completely in black and leaning against the wall. Without crossing their gazes with each other, the extreme pair of women exchanged words while facing different directions.
「—What’s the other thing that you need?」
「This’s a serious conversation, Maestro」
「I’m saying it in all seriousness though」
The monocle woman ran a quill pen across a pure white paper and answered without appearing interested. Chief Engineer—certainly, this woman’s appearance might be appropriate to be called as such.
「—I can’t conduct experiment if there’s no money. If I can’t search for a metal with better efficiency, I can’t surpass Quique」
「You made Sorubakken」
「That was mostly made by you right, Medou? I only created its form as a gauntlet. The essential magic crests were thought up and engraved by you…If Quique was the one helping you, Sorubakken would be more efficient」
The monocle woman wrote something down on the paper, pressed it against the woman garbed completely in black—Medou, and took out a khsier from her breast pocket. By shaking it lightly, a magic crest faintly emerged on the metal pipe bowl’s part.
「Honestly, when thinking whether Quique had seen the things that I put in Biranoba, I feel ashamed and my face burns with shame. Even if they’re mass produced items, I don’t want to think that I can only make such things」
「However, you’re able to draw out a substantial funds from the Valiente House because of them. It’s likely that you won’t be troubled by research funds for a while…And, this is?」
「The list of books that I want for now. Prepare them even if you’ve to steal」
「Very well then…What else do you need?」
The woman rose up from the chair and stood in the middle of the empty room. She faced the wide wall and slowly began to exhale smoke.
「Whatever Quique is making recently, I want the actual article. If possible, that enormous sword—」
Medou asked the woman who was hesitating to speak.
「Iya…Actually, I think that my assistance might be unnecessary for you」
「There’s no such thing」
「After all, aren’t you able to draw such a magic crest?…It seems like no one knows it yet」
「It’s regrettable, but that’s not designed by me」
Medou shrugged her shoulders and shook her head.
「Even now…I simply remember just a little of the things that many people had forgotten」
「I think that’s enough though」
「At any rate, I’ll handle your request discreetly. It might be quite difficult to steal the sword from that boy」
The woman called Medou, who had said so and was about to leave the room, to a stop.
「Ah, I forgot another thing!」
「Paint this place white with plaster or something」
「Rather than writing small notes, I think there’s no trouble filling them here」
The woman pointed at the wall and smoked the khsier.
End of Chapter 5