In order to enter the underground room that Tsudwali tinkered with, you would need the exclusive key that Tsudwali prepared and approach the door.
There’s two keys.
Soraid has one and I have the other.
If you don’t have this key, you won’t even be aware that there’s an entrance to the underground.
It in turn also means that it is just the entrance to a basement as long as you have the key though.
The door leading to the basement has been burned due to the previous fire. I don’t want to touch it, so I kick it a number of times with my shoes to knock on it.
The sound of the bolt inside moving rang after a while and Soraid showed up.
“You look terrible, Soraid.”
“They pretty much just burned the house. And so, Ritial, how much have you grasped about the movements outside?” (Soraid)
Soraid looked around and sighed, baffled.
He of course would have thoughts about the place he has been living in until now being completely burned.
“The Torin army has already retreated. Smythos has been captured, and Landos and the others are confined under the pretense of questioning for the investigation.” (Ritial)
“Did Smythos mess up? I thought she wasn’t that much of an idiot though.” (Soraid)
“It is the resident of Yugura’s planet. He can tell apart people who are hostile against him and those that don’t, as well as the distance of their relationship. If he were to suddenly show up, we would show a reaction by reflex after recognizing him as the enemy.” (Ritial)
“So that means that man came in directly and started a fire? That’s quite assertive.” (Soraid)
Soraid is laughing, but they are the ones who showed results this time around.
It is a situation where we could call this a defeat of ours.
And what’s the most worrying thing is…
“Wasn’t the resident of Yugura’s planet affected by your power?” (Ritial)
“No doubt about it. It may have been on the side, but it is true that the wedge has been driven in. It may have been shallow, but it has moved him back several years mentally. In other words, he could pull stuff like this ever since a long time ago.” (Soraid)
That man wouldn’t take methods like this with his personality, but the reality is that it ended up like this.
It makes me even think that the inside of that man is different from the past and the present.
“Smythos has been captured, so the information of this place will be leaked in a not so far future. There may be no risks of being found, but the surroundings here will always be under surveillance.” (Ritial)
“Considering the number of Illegitimate and the food, we would last for 1 month at best. Well, I will be going out though.” (Soraid)
“I will return to Serende and bring Tsudwali here. We can’t protect the Illegitimate if we lose the dwelling after all. We have no choice but to have the ones that can’t be used for battle stay in the basement for now.” (Ritial)
If we have Tsudwali, we can move to the base of Serende while hiding our traces from pursuers just like the time with Seraes.
I don’t want to bring the people who are deeply involved into the headquarters, but we can’t help it now that it has come to this.
“There’s only Komiha within Illegitimate that could be used for battle… Well, I think we can still manage even with that though.” (Soraid)
“You are the one in charge here. That’s why I won’t say anything about the use of the ones that can fight. But I would like you to avoid using the ones who can’t fight in some sort of way.” (Ritial)
“That’s okay. The worth of the ones that can’t fight is the same as the civilians living in Torin, right? Then, I can just use the latter.” (Soraid)
Burning the base has unchained Soraid instead.
The people around will be dragged into it if it turns into a no-holds-barred battle.
The attention of the enemy will be directed on Soraid if he rampages in the time I am bringing Tsudwali.
“I think telling you this will be pointless, but don’t be too reckless until I return. I will be able to fight together with you after I ask Tsudwali to evacuate the Illegitimate.” (Ritial)
“The chances of winning would increase drastically if I were to join hands with you. That would make me happy. It would, but that’s a warning I can’t listen to. I have no intention of waiting, and no intention of loosening my hand. Cause, ain’t it obvious? Who will be my enemy next if I let this opportunity go?” (Soraid)
Soraid is not moving for an objective like me; his objective in itself is moving.
He currently has an enemy in front of him that he can wield his power against.
How would I be able to stop an Illegitimate that’s trying to fulfill his duty as someone who has obtained power?
“—Something is different from the usual movements of the resident of Yugura’s planet. Act after analyzing this.” (Ritial)
“I can listen to at least that much. It might be the last time after all.” (Soraid)
So this is the result of leaving it to Soraid, huh.
I have to take the choice of using him to the ground, huh.
Yeah, there’s no other way.
I didn’t try to bend the will of Soraid. That’s why I have to see that through to the very end.
Mister Friend has been making each and every move carefully until now, but this time around the development progressed extremely fast.
We first requested the cooperation of General Odyus, gathered the soldiers of the Torin army in order to arrest Soraid who rampaged in the city, and marched into the Holstear Company.
Ekdoik-dono, Mister Friend, and I took advantage of that turmoil and investigated the inside of it in one go. These are the details we were told first.
But the Holstear Company has had a history of having driven away the Torin army, so Ekdoik-dono and I told him that they must have some sort of countermeasure, but…
—“There were no casualties in the Torin army at that time, right? Then, there’s no issues.”
And so, he continued the preparations.
I couldn’t move that much as the bodyguard of Mister Friend that day, but Ekdoik-dono investigated the inside of the building as much as possible.
The result was that we couldn’t find Soraid and the other Illegitimate.
But the objective of Mister Friend was laying elsewhere.
The barrels filled up with magic seal stone fragments that we prepared had a lot of highly flammable magic seal stone fragments mixed in them.
The soldiers can’t use magic because there’s magic seal stones, so they could only believe that they were normal magic seal stones.
Even if there were fragments that were slightly different in color mixed in with those, they would have just mistook them for dirty ones.
And then, after investigating the last room, we piled up books on top of a bed, left a burning magic seal stone on top of it, and had it catch fire with a time delay.
The magic seal stones spread around caught fire one after the other, and the place burned in the blink of an eye.
“To think we would burn the whole place to draw them out.”
“But the reality is that we only caught one Illegitimate that was mixed in with the Holstear Company-desu zo. We couldn’t find Soraid…” (Mix)
Soraid had already escaped.
He might have noticed the movements of the Torin army one beat faster.
But then where did he escape to? I have no idea.
We really should have continued investigating carefully for a bit more, and aim for the timing when Soraid was certainly there.
“Are you discontent about the way Comrade did things?” (Ekdoik)
“…It would be a lie if I said I didn’t. I feel like the Mister Friend until now would have carefully made preparations and crushed them in one go. When I thought about that, there were many things that bothered me…” (Mix)
“I can agree with that, but Comrade has properly shown results. I don’t feel like he is worried about something either.” (Ekdoik)
We are about to begin the interrogation of the Illegitimate called Smythos in the jail at a station of Torin.
Smythos has had both arms restrained by chains stretching from the walls, and made to bite a device so that she doesn’t kill herself.
The one performing the interrogation is obviously…
“Now then, Smythos, what should we talk about first? Let’s make your objective clear. What I want to know is the location of Soraid -basically, the location of the other Illegitimate. I don’t know if he escaped or hid well, but you should have an idea. You will tell us, right?”
“Are you an idiot? Why do you think I will tell you?” (Smythos)
“Hm? Cause you know, you have heard of me from Soraid, Ritial, or people like that, right? Then, someone like you wouldn’t be able to protect your secret anyways, so things would wrap up more peacefully for you if you were to spill out the information at once. At least that’s what I thought you might be thinking.”
“I have of course heard you are a dangerous guy. Even so, there’s no way I would just say ‘ah, okay’ and give you the information.” (Smythos)
Mister Friend is speaking with her while still maintaining a bright expression.
That alone would be enough to bring a chill to your spine if you know the usual Mister Friend.
But for Smythos, this must look like the interrogation of a rookie that she can’t feel any motivation from.
“Then, I will do an imitation of a light interrogation… I need moderation for stuff like this, so I don’t really like it though. Oh well.”
“There’s no light or heavy in an interrogation—” (Smythos)
“Let’s go step by step. First would be what I have analyzed of you. That left hand of yours is poisonous, right? Even if so, it is unnatural that the poison prepared from others barely works on you. Does that mean you are an Illegitimate with the talent to be immune to poisons or something?”
“Your personality seems to be pretty aggressive. I would say it is more of a bluff, but such people have a tendency to have lived a life in fear in the past. That talent of yours must have caught the eye of a noble or something like that and they did something to you? They can test out a lot of strong poisons if they use you.”
Smythos is desperately trying to not react to this, but I can tell she is agitated here even when watching from behind.
“Next, let’s talk about what I think of the checkerboard. What – want to do is eliminate the enemies and stop what people like Ritial are scheming -something like that, I guess. Leaving aside the latter, there’s nuance within what I said about eliminating the enemies. For example; if you were to betray Ritial and become an information source, you will stop being an enemy. There will be surveillance from there on, but that’s all. Of course, we would need to eliminate you as an enemy if things stay as they are.”
“…And what of it?” (Smythos)
“We don’t hate you to the point of wanting to kill you. You could also say we are not that attached to you though. That’s why I wouldn’t really want to enjoy torturing you or make you a plaything.”
“Oh my, you are awfully kind.” (Smythos)
“That’s why I am thinking about using you to the ground as a tool.”
Mister Friend brought out a water canteen, pushed it inside the mouth of Smythos, and poured its contents into her mouth.
Smythos vomited it out and coughed in pain soon after.
“Gah! Geh…ah…what are you… This is poison?! Ugh…ah!” (Smythos)
“Waah, so you really have resistance to poison. Impressive, impressive. But it is just as I imagined. Even if you don’t die from the poison…you still feel the pain, huh. How convenient.”
“…W-What do you mean by that?” (Smythos)
“This poison isn’t for the sake of killing; it is poison to cause pain. It is a creation born for the purpose of making the prisoner suffer without killing them in interrogations like this one. It is fine for them to die in the end, but you have to make them feel pain that would urge them to confess, right? That said, there’s a limit to how much you can test it on criminals. I won’t have such ill-natured thoughts like wondering how you will suffer. You just have to feel the pain as it is. We are going to get nice data just from that.”
Mister Friend lined up the leather canteen and parchment on the table and wrote something on the parchment while humming.
“I have prepared a number of poisons that induce vomit. You ate just now. Well, I can just have them prepare some later, so that’s fine, right?”
“—W-Wait, a deal. I want to make a deal!” (Smythos)
“Okay. Then, I will ask the same question as just now tomorrow. I already decided on using you as a lab tool, so I won’t hear a single word from you until tomorrow.”
“Ah, Ekdoik, didn’t this station have a torture tool that forces you to drink water? Can you bring it if there’s one? I would like to make her drink that same amount after all.”
Mister Friend turned around while smiling.
He has been keeping that bright smile from beginning to end…as if he were enjoying this situation…
“Got it. I will go check for a bit. Make sure not to get close to the prisoner until we return.” (Ekdoik)
“Come back by the time I finish writing the first observation record, okay~?”
Ekdoik-dono told the soldier nearby to stop Mister Friend if he were to approach the prisoner, and we searched to see whether they had the tool he asked for.
“But that’s Comrade for you. He has already managed to make Smythos strike a deal. It is only a matter of time before we can draw information out of her.” (Ekdoik)
“Ekdoik-dono?! Are you saying that with a sane mind?! Mister Friend was doing something like that-desu zo!” (Mix)
Ekdoik-dono made a dumbfounded face, and then began to explain as if he noticed something.
“That’s just normal medicine. It has itoela butterfly larvas aplenty, so it is something that you wouldn’t want to drink compared to normal poison though.” (Ekdoik)
“…Eh, medicine?” (Mix)
“I assure you as someone who helped him out in the mixing this morning. There’s nothing in that medicine that harms the body. But they are super bitter, would taste bad, and there was no restraint in putting famous medicinal ingredients. It must be a new experience for Smythos who has been the test subject for powerful poisons. No matter how much resistance she has against poison, she can’t do anything about bad taste.” (Ekdoik)
“W-Why do something like that…?” (Mix)
“To interrogate Smythos, what else? Comrade had noticed Smythos had strong immunity towards poisons at an early stage, and planned to threaten her with a bluff.” (Ekdoik)
“Bluff…? That?” (Mix)
Now that he mentions it, Mister Friend wouldn’t be able to obtain poison that would make people suffer in such a brief period of time.
No, no, if you were to be shown that sight, anyone would…
“It was an act by bringing up the talk about her past beforehand to strengthen her disgust towards poison. The methods of Comrade really are educational when seeing them in practice.” (Ekdoik)
“…Ekdoik-dono, does the current Mister Friend not look weird to you?” (Mix)
“Hm? It is obvious he would look weird, right? Right now Comrade is in his state of several years ago.” (Ekdoik)
“No, that’s not what I mean… It is as if…he is a different person…” (Mix)
“Yeah, his personality. But the way he does things in itself doesn’t feel that different from the usual Comrade, you know?” (Ekdoik)
Now that I think back on it, the normal Mister Friend also did pretty horrible things… Then, why am I so…
“It is not only me who feels uneasy about Mister Friend. Rakura-dono and Haakudoku-dono are also the same.” (Mix)
“…I see. But Haakudoku is…hmm…” (Ekdoik)
Isn’t Ekdoik-dono the one that’s weird and not me?
It is as if Ekdoik-dono alone is dense towards the change of Mister Friend… That’s how it feels.
“Do you have an idea as to why?” (Mix)
“I do, but…I am sorry. I feel like this isn’t something I should say.” (Ekdoik)
That Ekdoik-dono is trying to get away from a topic?!
The Ekdoik-dono that would speak his mind at every waking moment and make Blue-dono cough?!
“You are making an extremely shocked face… But I am sorry, I think it would be better for you and the others to notice it by yourselves.” (Ekdoik)
“B-But leaving be the strangeness of Mister Friend any further would make Ani-sama and Lady Ratzel worry—” (Mix)
“No, I think Marito and Ilias are not that worried either, you know.” (Ekdoik)
Something that Ekdoik-dono can tell but I can’t?
Judging from the way he spoke just now, Ani-sama and Lady Ratzel would also notice immediately?