Hail and Kill
Nearby where they were eating, a young man approached Hifumi and co. HE sported clothing resembling a merchant’s, with a refreshing smile on his face.
「 Heeey, long time no see! When did you get here? 」
Sitting down next to Hifumi in a friendly manner, he passed him a note unseen by others around.
「 The meal has already ended, huh. There’s a cafe nearby, how about it? 」
「 No, that is… 」
Not going along with the man’s tension, Hifumi placed the note on the table.
「 There’s no need for a performance. There are no suspicious people in the vicinity, so this kind of communication is unnecessary. Moreover, it’s meaningless since I can’t read. You’re from the Third Knight Corps yes? 」
「 Certainly, the memo says he is from the Third Knight Corps. 」
Origa read the memo placed on the table.
As for the man, his smile slipped off, his precautions unnecessary.
「 Uu~, unable to read…… Then how did you notice I was a Knight? 」
「 Knights who receive training in marching walk in a manner different from normal people. 」
He was used to seeing it after Pajou and the others, and understood it immediately.
「 Then, what’s the important matter? You fellows disappeared after leaving the capital. It seems that you guys operate only within the royal capital, huh… 」
「 Th-This is the matter. 」
The Knight straightened up and introduced himself as Sabnak. As of now still an inexperienced Knight, concealed in Fukaroru on his own as an apprentice merchant.
「 Well, in the matter of Marquis, the target of my observation is Viscount Hagenti. Since you disappeared, there was a report distributed via messenger bird from the capital, to continue watching from here. 」
From the fact that a carriage was prepared for them, the person in charge of the tracking was going to have them followed while pretending to be a merchant in a mercantile caravan.
However, since the carriage was immediately stored, and horses were used in leaving the capital, the trackers were left in the dust.
Sabnak followed them, he acted as a lone pursuer since the concept of acting in a 2 or 3 person cell didn’t seem to exist here. Like the incident with Pajou, she wasn’t carrying weapons during surveillance. Was it normal for them to operate alone?
「We don’t have enough personnel. There are few applicants who wish to join the 3rd knights’ corps, all the excellent applicants aimed for the Castle duty of the First Knight Corps, and any applicants who boast their strength picked the Second Knight Corps.」
「Generally only nobles can enlist for the Knight Corps. Being patient and stealthily mingling with the commoners makes the Third Knight Corps’s job unpopular with the nobles. But, the Second Knight Corps only takes action in the event of a crisis, and the First Knight Corps doesn’t actually experience field work, so it is believed that the Third Knights Corps is the most useful in protecting the citizens. 」
Sounding considerably annoyed, Hifumi shut Sabnak up with a single word.
「What do you want? Your work is to monitor me, you’re not supposed to make contact with me, else the Third Knight Corps’ involvement will be revealed. 」
「Ah, please excuse me……」
Sabnak just realized that he was heated up, he bowed down while blushing.
Remembering the un-knightly attitude of Midas and Pajou, Hifumi’s evaluation of them was “The Third Knight Corps is a gathering of strange fellows”.
Sabnak who received instructions from the capital, turned towards the entrance in a hurry, but already in its place was spread a scene nothing short of a picture of a hell.
Sabnak who looked directly at the familiar tragically scattered corpses, threw up gastric juices, he then pulled himself together and started searching for Hifumi.
「Honestly speaking, I want to capture Viscount Hagenti alive. There’s also the confession from the Marquis. The Marquis issued instructions only to suck up profits. Specifically, we still don’t know who’s moving them and how.」
In reality, the one who caused the incident in the feudal town was Viscount Hagenti, who was part of the Marquis’ faction.
As for the knight corps, according to princess Imeraria’s instructions, thanks to Hifumi’s actions they can push forward with an investigation unrelated to him, without restriction. He spoke honestly.
「I don’t intend to bother or be hostile to you. To solve this matter and for Princess Imeraria to peacefully govern this country, we would like to receive your cooperation.」
Sabnak stood up and deeply bowed his head.
Sabnak recalled the corpses of the soldier he saw earlier. There are also an unbelievable number of reports related to Hifumi circulating from the capital. Its said that, anyone hostile to him, be they a king or noble will be killed without mercy. 10 members of the inner organisation were killed in a matter of seconds. Even without a weapon, he can lead knights by the nose bare-handed.
If one’s words angers Hifumi, they will die where they stand. However, in order to improve this country as a knight, they absolutely had to deal with this matter and to sweep the surroundings of the royal family, he gambled on Hifumi.
「 …… I don’t particularly mind. 」
At Hifumi’s words, Sabnak raised his head.
「 The Viscount does not particularly matter to me, but to Origa and Kasha, he is someone they want to take revenge against. I will talk to them and decide later. 」
Immediately after saying that, Hifumi stood up and left.
The persuasion target having changed, Sabnak was completely bewildered, not to mention the two slaves that were abruptly entrusted with the decision.
「 Ah-….. For now, could I have some tea? 」
Sabnak called the shop assistant to gloss over his red face while thinking 「 derailed! 」embarrassedly.
Kasha could not help laughing.
「 Puu~…. Sorry, it’s completely different from when you first called out to us. 」
「 No, it’s fine. I practiced passing over the note several times at the back of the building while fired up. I had a small illness when I was younger, so I am a little unskilled at these sudden things. 」(TN: due to his illness when he was young, Sabnak can’t easily cope up with sudden changes in a situation and gets flustered easily.)
Sabnak said he was not good at meeting others for the first time. Being assigned here was also because few spies wanted to polish their skills alone in a different land.
「 I’m sorry, I’m rambling. Well, about the matter with the Viscount….. 」
「 Before that, could you tell me what information the Knight Order has on the Marquis’ faction? In case the Viscount is let free, if any other enemy can be killed, I may consent. 」
Sabnak thought about Origa’s words a little. 「To agree」or 「 To not agree 」.
The positions of nobles and slaves, leaving aside comparing them, the chances of them sitting at the same table were virtually nonexistent. However, Sabnak reminded himself that Origa and Kasha were slaves of the “Slender sword Knight”. He felt an overpowering intimidation from Origa and Kasha, unthinkable of ordinary young women.
「 …… I understand. Where shall I start explaining? 」
After waiting for his tea, Sabnak began to speak.
At that time, Hifumi was aimlessly wandering the streets of the town.
His katana casually hung on his waist.
「 I wonder what that is? 」
Towards the center of the town, there was a residence much larger than the ones surrounding it.
Slowly drawing near, several soldiers ran out of the strong looking metal gate.
The soldiers had ghastly appearances. Passing by Hifumi, they ran towards the town gate. Apparently, they were the response to the previous completely annihilated unit.
「 …… So late. The guys watching were quite some distance away. As I thought, there’s probably another mode of information delivery. 」
Muttering to no one in particular, Hifumi approached the gate the soldiers had run out of.
「 ……. There’s no guards on watch. 」
It appeared that all military personnel had completely left for the scene.
Hifumi entered in a stately manner, in spite of his amazement. The moment he placed his hand on the door of the mansion, he suddenly felt a sense of unease and jumped back from the door.
A loud sound rang out, the wooden door fell to pieces.
Looking into the doorway that was suddenly well-ventilated, a face was seen.
「 The guy in the Marquis’ mansion in the capital. If I recall correctly, your name was Strauss. 」
「 You remembered huh…. As I thought, I should have gotten rid of you back then… 」
There was a big hole from within the entranceway, Strauss fled back into the Marquis’ Mansion while holding out a dagger followed by preparing to use magic.
Hifumi dodged without hesitation, and pulling back momentarily, ran around towards the side of the building while silencing his footsteps.
He ignored Strauss’ husky voice and continued to run.
I could sense 10 people inside the building. Since Strauss is out here alone, is one of them the Viscount? So the remainder are the servants?…… No, I could sense someone on the second floor…… It’s Tamuzu. Why is he here?
He remembered the young soldier that stood still as he watched all manners of death, the young soldier that was about to be killed by his colleagues.
Hifumi had an unpleasant hunch so he looked up. At that instant, a maid who had opened the window to air the room saw him.
He jumped up, grabbed the edge of the window with his left hand, and slipped his body into the window at the last minute.
The maid was surprised and froze when he approached, she cracked a smile so he only gently hit the nape of her neck, knocking her unconscious.
I’m sorry that there are no beds.
He softly laid the maid’s body down, and after confirming there was nobody else in the hallway he went into the room Tamuzu was located in.
He ran across the wooden floored hallway with considerable speed, you could only hear slight rustling of the clothes.
Among the doors that lined the corridor, he stopped in front of the one that was particularly significant.
He could sense Tamuzu and another person behind it.
Unable to hear anything, he silently opened the door and peeked through the gap.
「……I understand the report. All of the remaining personnel went out?」
「Yes. The Vice Captain lead all the remaining personnel and went towards the scene.」
Speaking to Tamuzu was a gentleman-like person with a refined voice. Peeking through the gap, the gentleman seemed to be in his 40’s, wearing brand new clothes with embroidery that identified with the aristocracy. He took something off of the shelves in front of Tamuzu after hearing Tamuzu’s report.
That’s Viscount Hagenti over there huh..
「However…… Commanding officer Guzafan was an accomplice, it is deplorable.」
「Regrettable…… That’s right, it’s regrettable」
Hagenti took out a sword.
Holding the sword straight, it was 70cm long and had decorations for some kind of ceremony.
The Viscount having turned his back towards Tamuzu, gazed at the blade of the sword carefully while drawing it out.
「It’s a serious crime. Many soldiers were lost. Well then, we should request a Knight’s investigation here…… 」
Apparently, it seems Tamuzu is complaining to Hagenti because the ringleader of the evil deeds was the lead soldier. Moreover, he proposed getting the country to intervene.
That guy is a fool.
The idea that they were Hagenti’s instructions did not come to mind. That aside, would any noble inform the country of any blunder in their own territory?
Hagenti muttered in a low voice and further lowering it said
「If you’d stayed silent, this wouldn’t have been necessary.」
Turning around, Hagenti thrust the sword. Tamuzu couldn’t react in time.
Tamuzu collapsed after the sword struck his stomach and looked up at Hagenti without being able to make a sound.
Hifumi slipped into the room while Hagenti was occupied with the collapsed Tamuzu.
When Hagenti noticed Hifumi’s intrusion, that figure was already in front of him.
Hagenti slashed with the sword that he was holding in the spur of the moment, but it was too late.
A fist drove into the sword-brandishing Hagenti’s solar plexus, his eyes turned white and fainted.
Hifumi looked at the fallen Tamuzu, however it was too late. He was dead.
Hifumi noticed indications of something hidden behind Hagenti’s writing desk, so he turned it over.
In a single beat, the painting that hung on the wall above was sliced.
Falling from the gash in the painting, scattering documents fell down.
Looking at the state of affairs, Hifumi nodded to himself.
「 Found it at last 」
Strauss had entered the room.
「 You’re slow. The task here is done, you can entertain me. 」
Hidden in the shadow of the desk, Hifumi put away his katana and brought out his kusarigama.
「 It’s over is it? Is Hagenti dead? 」
「 No. 」
Hifumi rose, leisurely swinging the chain, sickle in one hand.
「 We can still fight a little bit more. I’m letting him live for now 」
「 …… It is regrettable that I withdrew before. By no means did I think you’d be a hindrance here. I should have killed you at that time 」(Strauss)
Strauss pointed his dagger at Hifumi and began to chant quietly.
Hifumi continued swinging the fundou, the same as ever, without taking up any particular stance.
「 ……. Are you finally prepared? Die! 」
Though the wind blades attacked Hifumi, a gust of wind produced by the fundou dispersed their destructive force and disappeared.
「 What!!?? 」
Strauss had absolute confidence in his wind blade magic, he was unable to hide his surprise at seeing it so easily erased.
「 You bastard, what did you do! 」
「 As you can see, I waved my weapon. Like this, swoosh. 」
The chain was flourished as to show the fundou at the end of the chain.
「 As expected, if shown often, countermeasures can be prepared. Was I overconfident? However, there was no choice, it had to end. 」
Not just the fundou, the sickle section of the kusarigama was thrown, twining around Strauss’s shaking arm, the sickle section embedded itself at the right shoulder.
Strauss lowered the dagger, Hifumi approached slowly and cautiously.
「 The wind can be blown in various directions, but the practical scope of using it is quite narrow. In the Marquis’s estate, Pajou’s shoulder had a shallow cut. Some time ago as well, not even the painting was sliced completely. Though the wind blades blowing may look frightening, the reality is that the opponent cannot be killed unless cut at the neck. 」
The true nature of Strauss’ magic was seen through he was panicking while holding the dagger in his left hand. In addition he began to chant, but Hifumi was already in front of him.
「Too slow. 」
Strauss got kicked in the face and rolled over to the hallway.
You could see he had a nosebleed and was fainting in agony, then a woman’s scream was heard.
「The magic my Origa uses can attack and carve out a desk from the floor. The speed of the attack is much faster」
He thumbed the guard of his Katana so it would be easier to draw.
「 I think there is some good prospects in your body movement, but it is still impossible for you to stand before me.」
Hifumi slashed Strauss with a quickdraw while he was trying to get up.
Stepping forward firmly with his right foot, a sound was heard as Strauss’s head began to fall from the torso.
In the hallway, there was a housemaid who witnessed the instance of murder, unable to move out of shock.
「 Hii-! 」
Frightened at seeing Hifumi approaching, she moved back, trying to escape unsuccessfully.
Sorry about that. Can you stand? 」
Afraid of being touched again, stopping at a suitable distance.
「 Gather everyone else in the hall. 」
「 This…… Yes, Un-Understood! 」
Standing up, the maid unsteadily ran to carry out Hifumi’s instructions.
Shouldering the unconscious Hagenti and returning to his seat in the dining room, a little less than 30 minutes has lapsed since he’d left.
Though he had settled the entire matter alone, he anticipated what they were going to say.
「 There’s the scent of a woman on you. What were you doing? 」
Hearing Origa’s first words, he slipped.