When we went down the mountain and returned to the capital, the captured bandits were imprisoned at the barracks.
A celebration was raised afterwards, but I politely refused.
I haven’t had a proper sleep since coming to this world. Even though my second mountain climbing was me being carried so I am not that tired, the last time I slept was when I was smacked awake by Ilias-san and only managed to sleep for around 1 hour.
When I said this with a serious face, one of the knight old men told me to freely use a bed in the barracks, so after wiping my body, I borrowed some clothes, and went right to sleep.
I welcomed a really sweet noon.
I was fast asleep at the cell, but actual sleeping quarters really are different. My physical condition was perfect aside from the fact that my muscle pain was still not completely gone.
While I was thinking that, my stomach began growling.
“I need to ask them to share some food…”
I got up from the bed and left the room.
I met one of the knight old men while I was wandering around randomly.
If I remember correctly, he was the spear user…what was his name again?
We had some light self-introductions, but I honestly can’t remember it.
I might have barely been able to remember if they were Japanese names, but it is not like I have such good memory that I would remember the foreign names of close to 10 people.
“Ooh, it is you. Got a good sleep?”
“Yes, thanks to you all. Excuse me, but what was your name?”
Yup, not even confident about remembering a single one. From what I remember, the other old men also had long names.
“I am sorry, I don’t think I can remember it.”
“Fuafuafua! I am told that often. Just call me Cara-jii.”
“That would be a great help… Cara-jiisan, can I get a bit of food? I have only been eating nuts and fruits these few days…”
“Ooh, that’s not good. There’s still leftover food from yesterday’s celebration if that’s alright with you.”
I am honestly fine with anything.
When I went to the cafeteria as guided, there was still a lot of food on top of the plates that hadn’t been tidied up yet.
They are all dishes that give out a wild feeling; perfect for a junk food enjoyer.
“Want me to heat up the soup at least?” (Cara)
“I don’t mind anything as long as it can enter my stomach.”
I eat the cooled meat with soup.
This is a taste I would normally feel sad about, but I can enjoy them plenty enough as I am now.
This is my first time eating the food of this world, but it is not to the degree where it doesn’t match my palate.
They are using herbs with a slightly peculiar taste. The scent is on the strong side, but it seems to be concealing the gamey taste of the meat.
The soup is also a simple one where you boil the ingredients together, and there’s also something resembling herbs added to it.
But it seems like there’s no salt used in any of the dishes. Maybe because it is a country surrounded by mountains and forest, salt obtained from the sea is probably a rare product or maybe isn’t circulated.
It is a thin taste for a modern person, but it is far better than nibbling on fruits.
After eating my fill, Cara-jii, who had disappeared somewhere, came back with a wooden mug of water.
“I could have brought you booze too, but Ilias seems to be troubled, you see. Can you please show up at her place later?” (Cara)
“Hm, got it. But can I clean this up before that?”
“Fuafua, that would be a great help!” (Cara)
I rolled up my sleeves and picked up the tableware.
I then chatted with Cara-jii as I arrived at the breakroom at the side of the prison where Ilias-san is.
From what I heard, these barracks are the station of the gatekeepers that protect the gates and the knights that guard the surroundings of the castle.
Cara-jii and Ilias-san are originally in charge of patrolling and doing work similar to that of police. The mission this time around of dealing with bandits was a special one appointed to Ilias-san.
Right right, the name of this country is apparently Taizu.
“Hey, Ilias, I brought the lad.” (Cara)
“Aah, I see.” (Ilias)
Ilias sat down on a chair looking pensive.
“Judging from your state, it doesn’t seem like they are coughing it up, huh.” (Cara)
“Yeah, I left it to someone that specializes in that field, but it is not working. They told me that if we were to turn it up more than this, they would die.” (Ilias)
It seems to be some dangerous talk.
“Coughing it up? Are you interrogating the bandits?”
“Yeah, we certainly did wipe out the den of bandits yesterday, however, there’s other crews hiding in Taizu. Since there’s no signs of fights between bandits, I thought there must be some sort of networking or information exchange of sorts, but…” (Ilias)
I see. There’s no way a single crew of bandits of that scale would be able to fight against a whole country.
“There’s more things I don’t know than things I do. Can you tell me the current state of affairs?”
“Aah, that’s true.” (Ilias)
It all began when the king of the neighboring country, Gahne, changed.
The new king of Gahne showed splendid ability, strengthening their national power, and limiting the actions of criminals.
Because of that, the criminals moved away from Gahne and escaped to neighboring countries. One of those was Taizu.
The Taizu nation possesses a vast territory that doesn’t lose to Gahne, but has a lot of forests and mountains, so it must have been judged to be a perfect spot to create bases for the bandits.
And thus, many acts of pillaging have occurred in recent years. The knights began moving in order to put a stop to this.
But the bandits would avoid fighting with the knights, would poke at openings ingeniously, and would repeat their pillaging.
“I see. Couldn’t you have gotten them with baits or something?”
“We did try to have knights conceal in the cargo or disguising them as merchants, but it didn’t work. They use detection magic after all.” (Ilias)
You apparently can see the beings with mana and how high their mana is within the range of the detection magic.
I see. You would be found even if you are hiding, and even if a knight were disguised, they will judge them as dangerous if they see the abnormally high mana.
It is probably like a mana version of a thermo sensor. It really sounds handy.
“But the fact that they are confirming your mana amount must mean that you could instead use detection magic to find them, right?”
“There was a time when we did get a reaction. But they are checking out actions from within the forest. The moment they get caught with detection magic, they run deeper in.” (Ilias)
Speaking of which, they did say that yesterday. If detection magic is used, the ones caught in it will also notice.
“I think you guys would be able to catch up to them with your speed even while using detection magic and chase them around though.”
“Of course. But they would scatter around Magic Seal Stones while they are escaping.” (Ilias)
“Magic Seal Stones?”
“What, you don’t know about them? What countryside did you come from, lad?” (Cara)
“It is this.” (Ilias)
Saying that, she showed me a faintly pea green transparent stone.
Its size is around that of a marble and it doesn’t seem to be processed.
It gives me more of an impression of a glass rock than a jewel.
“This stone covers the surrounding area with a specific mana proportional to its size. When magic touches that mana, the stone reacts, disassembles the structure of the spell, and scatters it as mana. It is a stone that seals magic just as its name denotes.” (Ilias)
What a fantasy killer. I had a clear desire and was excited to learn magic after coming to this magic world, and yet, there’s a magic killer as if it is the most natural thing.
“By the way, is this stone rare?”
“This size can be bought with the allowance of a child.” (Ilias)
Ooh, it is on that level?
“Then, does that mean that mages are practically useless in actual combat?”
“Are you referring to combatants specialized in magic? Right. If you are quite the skilled user, you can do things like throw rocks with magic to avoid the effect of the Magic Seal Stone, but it will be nullified just by having Magic Seal Stones nearby. In war, there’s a lot of cases where magic in the whole battlefield will be impossible to use by bringing giant Magic Seal Stones.” (Ilias)
“This makes me curious, but won’t detection magic be useless if you had this?”
This is obvious, but won’t magic that detects in a radius around you be nullified if used within the range of a Magic Seal Stone?
“Yeah, if you use it in all directions. That’s why you narrow the direction when you use it. In the case when an ally of yours holding a Magic Seal Stone is close to you, you cut off the detection of that ally’s direction. There’s a trick to it, but it is not a difficult technique. For people who are used to it, they would even be able to use magic while having a Magic Seal Stone on them. The size of it would be restricted though.” (Ilias)
“Sounds pretty malleable.”
“Yeah, it comes to training. That said, there’s no way to immediately tell what size or where the other party has the stone on, so it really would be difficult to use magic in actual combat.” (Ilias)
“By the way, a part of the cave yesterday had a storage of Magic Seal Stones. If you were to use detection on the surroundings, you could use it as long as you avoid the direction of that room.” (Cara)
Fumu, a stone that can adjust its nullification field depending on its size, huh.
Moreover, because the price is reasonable, you can use them as if they were disposable.
If you scatter them around while escaping, you can obstruct the detection magic of the chaser effectively.
Then what if merchants hold them?
No. If they have a method to cancel detection magic, they will assume you have some sort of way to resist, and the bandits will go into hiding.
No, wouldn’t it instead make it more difficult for the bandits to attack the merchants?
“Won’t the bandits be more wary and casualties lower if you had the merchants hold those as a sort of traversal permit?”
“You certainly would be able to nullify elementary detection magic. But if you have a somewhat accurate location and you avoid that spot, you can use detection magic again.” (Ilias)
“If you bring a whole lot of them -on a bigger size?”
“You will be able to nullify the detection magic and it will show temporary effectiveness. But when that happens, they will begin gambling attacks on the merchants. We might be able to capture them eventually if we mix one of us within them, but it will drastically increase casualties. It would be hard to make everyone accept that condition.” (Ilias)
Hmm, there’s rarely any merchant who would want to carry such a risk.
Also, as long as you don’t get them by the root, they will think up new methods, and the cat and mouse chase will resume.
They use detection and attack the ones they can attack with certainty.
If detection is used on them instead, they will use Magic Seal Stones and escape.
They are incredibly troublesome bandits.
When considering this, an otherworlder with low internal mana coincidentally passing by the base of the bandits and leaking that information must have been a godsend.
Of course they would be excited.
“In the end, this means you have to subjugate them, huh.”
“Yeah. We thought we finally managed to catch their tail, but…it doesn’t seem like we will be getting any information from them.” (Ilias)
And so, we are finally back to the current problem.
If they can’t make use of the information from the captured bandits, it would just mean they have simply reduced the casualty rates by a tiny bit.
No, it might even lead to the bandits growing more active due to the happiness of their share increasing and the harm done would be unchanged.
“Speaking of which, is there magic that can brainwash or control people?”
“There are, but you would need to cast magic on their heads. I don’t know how they did it, but these guys have a small Magic Seal Stone lodged in their heads. If we were to forcefully take that off, they would most likely die just like that.” (Ilias)
They are thorough. If there were surgical techniques, it might have been possible, but considering the scientific level of this world, it would be difficult. They might be able to achieve an accurate surgery with magic, but if what they are trying to remove is a stone that can nullify magic itself, there’s nothing they could do.
At any rate, I am impressed that the bandits won’t yield to even the interrogation of these gorilla knights.
Do they have a really high sense of comradery? No, almost all of the bandit crew of yesterday has been wiped out.
I would understand if it were about their own crew, but would the information of the other bandits be more important than even their own life?
“There’s something that bothers me. Can you let me do the role of interrogator?”
Ilias-san and Cara-jii were looking over here in wonder.
They then guided me to the investigation room…no, the interrogation room where one of the bandits is in.
I don’t really have any intention to torture him, so I placed a desk between us and sit on a chair.
“Hah? Who the hell are you?”
“The new interrogator.”
“After a sir knight comes a bean sprout? The quality of Taizu is damn low.”
“There’s no rule stating that muscles are needed in interrogations. I don’t really like inflicting pain.”
“Not only a bean sprout, but a pansy? Kill me already. I have no information to give to any of you.”
He taunted me. Scary.
The other party is full of aggro towards me.
He must have already faced the interrogation and torture of the knights, I can see a number of new wounds on his body.
But well, thanks to having seen even more monstrous people than this, I was a bit unfazed.
“Then, can you tell me why you can’t talk?”
“We are currently trying to obtain information from you guys by using this or that mean. But you guys are not telling us. I want to know the reason why.”
“Are you an idiot? Why should we tell the enemy?”
“I have heard from a higher up, or more like, the one in charge this time around, but it seems like you guys won’t be able to escape execution. You have taken too many lives, so nothing can be done about that.”
“Obviously. Kill me at once then.”
“That’s when something bothered me. Why is it that you are refusing so vehemently despite death being set? Even if you tell us the info, you will be dying. The ones who will be suffering from this won’t be the comrades you have been eating together with, but bandits in a business relationship. You would normally want to just spit out the information at once and die in peace rather than dying through torture, right?”
“I think what’s awaiting you guys if you sell the info of the other bandits is something even scarier than death. I want to know what that is.”
“What would I gain from that?”
“We can acknowledge it.”
“If we acknowledge the reason why you can’t tell us the info, there’s no need to do pointless interrogation. Don’t you think it wouldn’t be a bad deal between us?”
“I am not really telling you to backstab your allies. I am giving you the offer of telling me the reason why you can’t, and you get a peaceful death. If you have a reason why you can’t even tell us that, then it can’t be helped. I will just have to leave it to the efforts of the knights.”
Now then, the last part sounded like a threat and I felt it was a minus instead, but I ended up slipping there.
I hope it goes well.
“…Being dead brings no respite. That guy can bring eternal fear to us.”
Oh, he told us.
“You can’t tell us in detail about that, right?”
Well, if they do have some sort of method, them telling us what it is would equate to spilling the information to us after all.
We can narrow down our direction greatly here. I managed to get out a statement with enough worth.
This bandit said ‘that guy’.
It means ‘that guy’ is an incredibly threatening existence for this bandit crew.
The other crews are most likely being threatened in the same fashion.
In that case, the crews with lairs in Taizu are most likely cooperating with ‘that guy’ as the center, or maybe in a subservient relationship.
Next would be the point about regretting it even after death.
The immediate one I can think of is killing their families.
But his crew has already been wiped out. I find it hard to believe that they are taking their wives hostages like some warring state general.
Also, that won’t be bringing ‘eternal fear’. I should be honing in on that eternal fear keyword.
I can imagine a few possibilities, but these are just assumptions from an incomplete picture of fantasy.
There’s no point worrying about that here. Let’s ask a specialist.
“Alright, got it. That’s enough. I appreciate your help.”
I stood up and decided to move.