The result after attacking the inns of the merchants that made contact with Lando: all of the merchants were duds.
The specific method was to go into their houses with several people, threaten them with bladed weapons, and steal a bit of their money and goods.
Lightly injure one of them in order to confirm whether they are hiding their strength.
We did that on all the merchants.
“This is so~ weird~. I thought there would be a hit.” (Soraid)
“S-Soraid-san! The security of the Torin army has gotten really bad after causing thefts everywhere in one night!”
“Obviously. We can just have the ‘quitters’ hold the stolen gems and have them be found by the Torin army.” (Soraid)
There’s roles even within the hoodlums.
The ones that would come report to me in this manner and relay my orders; the ones who do the actual physical work; the ones who become the lizard’s tail.
There’s normally no idiots who would want to become the lizard’s tail, but there’s actually nothing but idiots, so they don’t even notice that they are lizard tails.
“Alright. We will calm down the movements of the Torin army.”
Is the resident of Yugura’s planet really here? -I think about the possibility of this.
The idea of circulating the goods of the Nether by Gestaf Heriodora -this in itself is possible to achieve by consulting with Gestaf beforehand.
There’s also the possibility that they are not trying to pull anything here.
The Demon Lords have not enacted revenge, so the resident of Yugura’s planet has not died, but is he still in critical condition?
It would be faster to confirm the details on that front.
“…It seems like you want to say something, Ritial.” (Soraid)
“Not really.” (Ritial)
Ritial undid his invisibility spell after the hoodlum left the room. His face was showing a smile.
The reason why Ritial is smiling at my way of doing things… I don’t even need to think why it is.
This is a sneer. This must be his way of giving me advice.
In other words, Ritial has noticed there’s a hole in my method.
“We are the target -that hasn’t changed. They would want to make contact with Landos and investigate the firm for the sake of this. It is not like Yasutet has a grasp of the Illegitimate’s powers in Torin. They would also need to be cautious because they encountered Arcreal not long ago.” (Soraid)
Infiltrating as merchants trying to negotiate with Landos would be the most logical option.
No, wait wait.
What’s the basis for this being the logical option?
This is not about my viewpoint. I have to think in the perspective of the people that are wary of us.
“—I see. Shoot. They would have already infiltrated with the resident of Yugura’s planet being present, huh.” (Soraid)
There has only been one person who has escaped from Torin within the merchants we attacked.
In the first place, the monetary harm was negligible even if they suffered from the thefts.
They can also work the next day if they treat their wounds.
That’s why their negotiations with Landos would progress without issues and they would have entered this firm.
“These merchants are duds, but they are not complete duds, huh.” (Soraid)
They would be able to approach this firm without getting suspected with this method.
They would be wary of their surroundings and even be able to use detection magic.
“Hmm, it is weird to be impressed by an enemy that I haven’t even confirmed the presence of. But well, that’s what it means to be on the same level as Ritial. I will take my steps with the assumption that he is present.” (Soraid)
But that would mean he is someone who has succeeded in deceiving me once.
Then, would I be able to win the next read? That would be too naive.
Wishing for uncertain victory against an opponent I have already allowed an advantage once is the habit of a loser.
Then, what should I do to win?
“—Aah, I see. Of course. It is simple. If I can’t win in a battle of wits, I just have to win after being read.” (Soraid)
What I have to do for now is attack the new merchants that make contact with Landos.
We have safely managed to infiltrate the Holstear Company.
The next step is to check how many Illegitimate are inside.
We managed to advance more quickly thanks to the merchants making contact with Landos being targeted one after the other.
6 merchants made contact with Landos in this short span of time. Half of them were merchants I readied.
Ritial would be able to notice our route with some sort of method.
I increased the number of correct answers for the sake of that.
I was worried at first that they noticed my aim here, but I was certain after the other merchants I investigated just in case were also attacked.
They still have not ascertained their enemy.
“So you won’t be negotiating directly, Counselor-sama.” (Rakura)
“Obviously. There’s the possibility that that firm has Ritial and Raheight, you know? There’s no point in my disguise if I were to accidentally meet them.”
The merchants were prepared by us.
‘We are the subordinates of Gestaf Heriodora. We are moving in order to investigate the state of the circulation in order to spread the goods gathered in the Nether’ -we are going to make contact with them under that guise, and we will negotiate with them about wanting to keep an eye on its movements in exchange for selling them the goods at a comparatively cheaper price.
The management of 3 people’s worth of inventory was pretty taxing.
“Even though those people were robbed. They are so unyielding.” (Rakura)
“They must have chosen theft with the intention to do a round-robin investigation. They didn’t have the leeway to inflict that much fear. I didn’t negotiate with merchants that would falter with just a bit of injuries.”
I was actually aiming to orchestrate thefts and extinguish them ourselves anyways.
I planned on making a deal with the Holstear Company peacefully first, and match the damage of the thefts appropriately. After that, have the merchants hire bodyguards.
“It wouldn’t be strange for the merchants that were robbed to hire adventurers as bodyguards after all. But you actually planned on causing a ring of thefts?” (Rakura)
“You could say that. I was planning on having them steal the Nether products first, creating the perception that these goods have worth. Of course, I intended to provide them with the goods at almost no charge since we would be operating under the front that we want to check how those goods circulate.”
The merchants have hired a number of bodyguards respectively, and Kayle and Melia have sneaked into those under different merchants.
Ritial knows the faces of the other members, so I am having them do something else.
“I feel like it would have been better if we had made Ekdoik-niisan do his best instead if we were going to go through this much effort to infiltrate.” (Rakura)
“We have to ascertain there’s no monsters like Arcreal first before doing that. The guy you fought before, Yasutet, said that he doesn’t know how many people of that same skill are present.”
“Hmm, it certainly would be difficult to deal with people around that level…” (Rakura)
What I know right now is that Ritial has strengthened the defense of the hideout in Torin.
I don’t know if he has already confirmed whether I am back, but it is clear that there’s movement from the fact that they have attacked the merchants.
A careful guy like Ritial would move with the assumption that I am already back and would be in the middle of setting something up.
Curling ourselves up too much would not be good as long as we have not been discovered for certain.
“Well, we will be keeping an eye on things for a few days. We will move to the actual search if nothing happens.”
“So careful.” (Rakura)
“Ritial would be paying attention to the bodyguards too after all. He would at least be giving advice to the guy that’s commanding the hideout of Torin.”
“You can tell that Ritial-san is not the one in command?” (Rakura)
“Round-robin thefts using hoodlums is something that Ritial wouldn’t ever do. It is basically like telling your enemy that you have no clear target. But they are keeping in check the merchants to some degree, so Ritial and Nektohal must have told them to deal with the possibility that I might have recovered.”
“They indeed are moving as if they knew Counselor-sama has recovered.” (Rakura)
“I feel like Ritial would be the one moving if they were certain though. Even if not, I think Ritial would still move in some manner just in case. But the one taking action in Torin is a different person. Thinking about it in that way, they should have around as much authority as Raheight and Ritial at least though…”
I heard the ones attacking the merchants were hoodlums.
They are using the hoodlums of the city, so it is possible that their face and name are decently known, and should be someone easy-going to the degree that such information would leak.
“This doesn’t seem to be that good of a situation.” (Rakura)
“You could say that. Ritial entrusting this matter to that person means that they are not completely incompetent. But they are notably coarser than Ritial. This means that person is not right in the head.”
Ritial would either do it himself or concentrate on defense as much as possible.
The reason why he doesn’t is because he has a hard time arguing against that person.
Someone who Ritial doesn’t choose to argue against. That means either they are really strong or crazy.
It would be the latter considering the fact he is using round-robin attacks on the merchants.
I can’t tell how much Ritial is helping out as of present, but he will most likely interject in order to adjust the trajectory before things go out of hand.
Me being able to comprehend that enemy before this happens will be the key here.
I managed to enter the headquarters of the Holstear Company as a bodyguard of a merchant just like Comrade-san planned.
But I have been told to not investigate the premises at present and just bring back the information I have seen.
(Uhm… As a bodyguard, I have to confirm whether there’s people around peeking while lowering the goods to the carts, I guess…) (Melia)
I was told I shouldn’t give the air that I have come here to investigate the place.
I should be an escort of a merchant that is purely on edge because thefts have happened.
We move the luggage to the cart and watch as the merchants are having a conversation with documents in hand at the entrance of the firm.
Then, a person from the firm was entrusted with the cart, and carried it into the site.
“The subordinates of Landos-san will be carrying the goods, so please wait here. I will proceed in the negotiation with Landos-san.”
According to what Comrade-san said, there might be Illegitimate somewhere in the residential space of this big firm…
I think I would be able to investigate in detail if I were able to help out in carrying the goods.
But it is not like I am that good at stealth, so let’s just wait obediently here.
It might be unnatural if I were to move my gaze around too much, so I looked around at the same frequency as the other bodyguards, and someone showed up from inside the firm.
They have awfully long hair… That’s a man, right?
That man walked straight this way and, after staring at every inch of each one of us…
“Hey, you people are the escorts of the merchant that came to negotiate with the Holstear Company, right?”
That man spoke in an awfully sticky manner, and the clothes he is wearing are so baggy it must be difficult to move in them.
He is holding a staff around his size and the tip has something that looks like a bell.
Also, there’s a really sweet scent wafting around him.
“Yes. Our employer is currently in the middle of negotiations, so we are waiting here. Was it a bother?” (Melia)
“Who knows~. Most of the merchants that came today had escorts, so it is fine as long as you don’t cause problems, I guess.”
“I see… Uhm, do you need something?” (Melia)
“Can’t speak to you unless I have some business?”
This is my instinct as a Holy Knight speaking here: this person is an enemy of Comrade-san. Also, I can tell he is an extremely dangerous one.
“No, that’s not it…. But we are in the middle of our job, so I think it would be better to refrain from unnecessary talk.” (Melia)
“…I see. So cold. Aah, I haven’t introduced myself yet. My name is Soraid. I am under the care of the representative of this Holstear Company, Landos. What are your names?” (Soraid)
I can’t make careless lies as long as I don’t know whether this person can see through lies like a cleric.
“…I am Melia.” (Melia)
The other escorts answered while I was agitated by the peculiar atmosphere of Soraid.
Soraid nodded and then threw a question.
“By the way, is there anyone here who knows a man with black hair and black eyes?” (Soraid)
He is going to investigate Comrade-san in such a brazen manner?!
Could it be that the plan of Comrade-san has been seen through…?
But Comrade-san did say that ‘Ritial would act with that assumption’….
Also, Soraid is not talking directly to me but also to the other escorts as well. What should I answer with…?
“Hey, how about you?” (Soraid)
“…No, I don’t.” (Melia)
If this person can see through lies, he should show the appropriate reaction.
I maintain calmness on the surface and carefully observe the state of the other party…
“I see. This man is apparently the mastermind of that theft incident that happened recently, you see. It seems like they attacked the merchants who had a connection with Landos-san this morning.” (Soraid)
This person is spouting nonsense without hesitation…
But we are here as escorts of one of those victims. It is natural to bring up a topic like this one, but…
“I see. Thank you for the information.” (Melia)
“You’re welcome. Please tell me if you find a man like that, okay? He is apparently an extremely heinous individual, so you must not approach him.” (Soraid)
Soraid finished the conversation with this and returned to the firm.
It doesn’t seem like he noticed the lie, but…I feel like he would see through many things if the conversation were to continue for long.
The merchant returned after that and we left the firm.
“Whew, you really helped me out there. Lord Heriodora is an awfully generous man. He sold the goods at a cheap price just for having us report the circulation of the goods and even set me up with escorts. Is there really no need for me to do any manipulation from my side?”
“It is alright.” (Melia)
The adventurers escorting the merchants that Comrade-san has prepared have been paid beforehand by Comrade-san.
The escorts of the other ones have been hired normally, but I am basically one of the people that was supposedly hired in that way.
“The guards of Lord Heriodora are impressive, but the Holstear Company are also pretty strong. I was just watching from the window, but the subordinate of Landos-san said that the man you were talking to was an extremely outstanding bodyguard.”
“I-I see…” (Melia)
“He had an extremely peculiar attire, but he was apparently originally a Yugura Church cleric, you know?”
What did he say just now…?
That Soraid was a Yugura Church cleric?
It didn’t feel like he had seen through my lie, and he was lying all naturally in front of me…
A Yugura Church cleric rarely lies.
They have the means to see through lies, so they get cautious about lies.
“He was apparently a disciple of Archbishop Seraes who was left with the Kuama branch. Impressive, right?”
“W-Well then, I will be taking my leave here! I will inquire with you on a later date!” (Melia)
If this is true, it would mean that my lie of not knowing a man with black hair and black eyes has been seen through.
What should I do?
I should return at once to report this, but…if Soraid has acted after seeing through my lie, there’s the possibility I am being tailed…
I choose paths I wouldn’t need to take just in case, and check to see whether I am being tailed…
I think I should be fine, but…but just thinking about the possibility…
Maybe I should not return today and kill time somewhere… I am sure Ekdoik-san would search for me.
If I just tell Ekdoik-san what has happened, I am sure…
(Yeah, I can’t cause any problems to everyone with my careless moves. I should ask Ekdoik-san to—) (Melia)
“What’s the matter, Melia?”
“?! C-Comrade-san?! Why are you here?!” (Melia)
And here I was thinking I was familiar with this place. This is the path right by the side of the route we use when doing the groceries!
But why Comrade-san of all people… Wait, aaah!
“Why, you ask. I am in charge of cooking today. I came here to do the groceries with Mix.”
“Right… Ah! W-Where’s Mix-san right now?!” (Melia)
“She is trying to haggle for fish at the store there… Are you being tailed?”
The atmosphere of Comrade-san has changed.
A cold feeling as if emotions were thinning out from his face.
He managed to see through that much with just my agitation…
That’s right, even without combat power, it should be okay if I consult with Comrade-san!
“Actually…at the firm…” (Melia)
“Hmmm~? Black hair and black eyes… I thought I got a hit here, but…a demi-human? Speaking of which, I heard demi-humans called the black wolfkins were found. Is it that?”
A clear sound of a bell and a sickly-sweet voice that feels as if it clung to your ears.
I directed my gaze towards the direction where I heard this sound and the one there was Soraid who I met at the firm.