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—The bandit that was the first trigger was troubled.
The first time I saw that youngster, I underestimated him and thought he was weak.
I polished my detection magic and already learned the technique to evaluate the strength of my targets before I learned how to use magic to choose my prey.
My impression after seeing the youngster was that he had nothing special in his body build and didn’t give off the aura of a powerful person at all.
It didn’t seem like he was hiding his power. He was just a normal person.
Because of that, I ended up slipping out, thinking he wouldn’t get it with just this much info.
What was the result of that? We are being shaken.
He wasn’t deceiving us with nonsense. He noticed holes in our logic even we didn’t notice and poked them.
I think back on the one-armed man that is uniting the bandits.
He suddenly appeared and proposed a bandit alliance.
Our boss Gidou must have been internally scared, he accepted the proposal obediently.
There was the downside of sharing territory, but he provided us with even more than that.
Information of the merchants, detection magic, a way to escape and avoid brainwashing by using magic seal stones.
We could do their job in a far safer manner than before, and managed to benefit from it.
But once a human learns comfort, they become greedy; even more so the case when working as a bandit.
There were members who broke the conditions of the one-armed man and acted as they pleased.
However, those were simply the necessary ingredients for the one-armed man.
“Aah, right, I didn’t tell you guys about what awaits the people who break the rules of the alliance. I said you would be purged, but I will tell you the details.”
Saying this, he showed them a comrade of theirs cruelly turned into a horrible aberration through necromancy.
The shadow of a face he had seen before still faintly remained there.
Not only that, they were still conscious.
Their eyes were leaking out what seemed like muddy water and were mumbling absentmindedly.
“Let me die… Please let me die…”
As someone who had lived as a bandit, I thought I had overcome the fear of death.
But being shown that sight of continuing living gruesomely even after death, a fear that surpassed this had been etched in my heart.
That’s why I decided I must avoid turning into that form at all cost even if I were to die here.
However, what the youngster told me shook that conviction of mine.
The cave that shouldn’t have been found was attacked by the knights; he said it was a coincidence, but it really did happen.
In that case, there’s the possibility for the information of the other dens to leak in the same fashion in the future.
When that happens, who would be the ones who would be suspected immediately and purged?
My body shook and my heart wavered.
I wanted to consult with my comrades, but I am alone right now.
Both options are risky regardless. In that case, I don’t want to do something that would benefit the knights that will be executing them.
But rather than the possibility of dying like a human right now…
“No, let’s rest for now. I should take more time to think.”
Right, that youngster had told us about the demerits of the method we are taking.
In that case, there’s the possibility for the deal he proposed to have pitfalls.
I should calm down first. The best action here would be to take a rest so I can think with a cool headed mind.
“Ooh, it is about time for my shift.”
The voices of the knights rang outside the room. It seems the lookout is going to be changing.
“Is there anyone who has spoken?”
“No, they are all silent.”
That’s right, we won’t be snitching so easily.
I was relieved by those words.
My comrades must be thinking the same. They are not idiots who don’t think things through.
“But do they plan on delaying the execution day?”
“That seems to be the case.”
“Even though the food they are being fed with came from the sweat and tears of the people.”
“There’s no issue on that point.”
“They apparently are only going to delay the execution day of 3 people at most. The others will be executed at once, and if we simply give them the leftovers, the burden will be less.”
My breath stopped. My heart rate increased.
I heard something that shouldn’t be heard.
What did he say just now?
“But why 3?”
“Even if 7 people were to spill the info, it would just be the same info, right? If we consider the ideal number for interpretation and comparing accounts, the lad said 3 people would be enough.”
So this is the pitfall of that youngster?!
Right, he never said ‘everyone’.
It is true that if there’s a number of us left, they can confirm if it is a lie. There’s no need to wait for everyone to spill out the beans.
What a merciless bastard. In that case, 4 people will definitely be suffering the worst fate.
You will be treated as a betrayer for sure if you snitch, but your safety will be assured until the one-armed man dies.
You won’t be treated as a betrayer if you don’t snitch, but depending on the mood of the one-armed man, we could be prey for the necromancy.
It is because both sides had hope in it that I was troubled about it.
But what would happen if 3 people were to talk?
The 3 will be protected but the other 4 will be executed at once.
And then, all 7 of us will be treated as betrayers.
The one-armed man said: ‘No matter where you are, as long as you are dead, you will definitely get your retribution’.
In the case 4 people spill the beans or don’t, you would still be suffering the bad sides of both.
Only 3 people can safely sit on the chairs that will allow you to die as a human.
“O-Oi, Jailer! I will talk! Please call that youngster!”
I hit the door. If the others were to discover this, they would spill the beans without doubt!
“What, so noisy. It is nice that you are being obedient here, but leave it to tomorrow. The lad said he was going to hear you out tomorrow, right?”
“Don’t joke around! I am telling you I will talk right at this moment, right?!”
“So damn noisy. The lad went to sleep a long time ago. Here, I will give you a paper, so write down what you want to say or something. Give it to him first thing in the morning.”
Saying this, he slipped a single piece of parchment, and a long and thin piece of charcoal was given to me from the lattice window.
It would most likely be impossible to call that youngster even if I were to complain here. Then, what should I do to sit on the chair faster than the others?
I hold the charcoal in my hand and begin writing on the paper.
As much information they would want as possible, to pull their attention.
“5 out of the 7 have said they wanted to provide us with information. This is the information list they said they are going to be talking about.”
After I woke up, Cara-jiisan gave me a pile of parchment while I was having breakfast at the cafeteria of the barracks.
I skimmed through them while I passed them to Ilias-san.
“I don’t know what information would be of use. Let’s hear as much as we can.”
“But they all seem to have been written in desperation…” (Ilias)
The last push was for Cara-jiisan and Ilias-san to let the bandits hear the talk about how ‘we will only be taking the info of max 3 people’.
People are weak to limited things. Humans are the type that would reach out to such things easily.
And then, if you have the information that will serve to obtain that limited resource, it is even more effective.
If a salesman were to tell you ‘you can only buy it now’, only the frugal ones would bite.
A thinking person would notice that this is just a method to make you buy it and would be wary of it.
But what about information you ‘coincidentally’ hear from a 3rd party?
A distinction is born when it is information you learn through the media, or information you coincidentally learn.
This is not information given to you; it is information you obtained yourself.
Therefore, you end up believing it. No matter if it is fake information or not.
Such scams were proliferant for a period of time.
They must have been in even more of a hurry by making them believe this.
They must have thought about how to end up with more certainty on that chair as information providers.
That’s where the paper comes in.
This is the last appeal point they can provide.
They will try to show that they have the most information out of the others, the one with the tastiest information.
This will result in drawing out even more information out of them than having them tell it right then and there.
“Cara-jiisan, can you tell everyone that I will be listening to what they have to say once it hits 10?”
“Are you going to be talking with everyone together?” (Cara)
“No, tell them I am listening to the talk of someone else, and then have everyone talk alone with a respective knight at 11.”
“Because I think their mouths will loosen more if they think they are the 2nd or 3rd.”
“You are so thorough… Well, gotcha.” (Cara)
Cara-jiisan leaves the room.
Ilias-san looked at me with a serious face and spoke.
“Just how did you live in your previous world?” (Ilias)
“That’s quite the abrupt question.”
“I have heard that your world doesn’t have magic, but I have barely heard anything else aside from that. The actions you have taken this time around were all—” (Ilias)
“Against the chivalric code -unsavory as a human being?”
“That’s right. Poke at the weakness of people and take advantage of it. You are taking those methods way too naturally. The ones who can pull something like that in this world are wile merchants and criminals, or people who have been involved with that kind of bunch. Can you please tell me?” (Ilias)
“I lived safely.”
“No matter how I see it, that’s not possible—” (Ilias)
“Safely means to not be persecuted by anyone, and live a peaceful life. That’s how I have carried myself. The biggest difference between this and my world is the sphere of contact.”
I drank water and paused for a bit.
“There exist many chances and means to learn about others. If you make contact with many people, the chances to learn of the differences increases. There’s obviously good and bad people within them. The bad people will cause harm to others with malice, and will try to benefit themselves. It is a world where there are so many of such evil people, you couldn’t let your guard down.”
“In order to live peacefully in a world like that, you need knowledge to protect yourself from such evil. The means to stand in a way that you won’t be targeted. The techniques to not be persecuted by others through those actions. That’s how I lived safely.”
“I can’t understand you well. The you when you were speaking with Maya and us, the you when you were facing the bandits; just which one is the real you?” (Ilias)
“Both. They are both without a doubt me. Even you have a different attitude when facing your people and when you are facing criminals, right? In your case, you are facing them both as the knight Ilias. I am also changing my way of carrying myself depending on my circumstances. That’s all there is to it.”
“Does that mean you would become evil when facing evil?” (Ilias)
“It means to comprehend evil.”
“…You are living a lifestyle like that of a warped mirror. I see, I get it now.” (Ilias)
That face of hers seemed as if strength had left her a bit.
“Changing your way of being to match the other party. I am impressed that you can pull off such a troublesome thing.” (Ilias)
“Living safely isn’t easy.”
After that, we successfully obtained the information of the bandits.
There was apparently a messenger of the bandits within those, so we managed to obtain information about the other dens.
And we also heard about the one-armed man that formed a ‘bandit alliance’ and uses necromancy.
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