The ugly truth of the two Viscount’s quarrel was apparent to me, who had relied on Earl Thelesia’s information network after I saw that my own information network was limited for this matter, and I was amazed at how quickly they spoke with a double-tongue.
What the two Viscounts were saying was a mixture of exaggeration and lies. They had colluded and this was the worst possible way of them cutting each other off for profit. The beeswax manufacturing and trafficking as well as tax evasion… the dispute over their children’s engagement was a camouflage to allow them to act in secret, and I was dragged into this because they couldn’t get out of the situation no matter how much they struggled.
I’m going to have Viscount Roguesia alter the third-party evidence of those illegal activities that Earl Thelesia had given me, and then I’m going to submit it to the two judges, then it’ll all be over.
Viscount Roguesia will be left with a heavy debt, but Margrave Freche will take care of them without killing them or letting them off either. He should be grateful that Margrave Freche accepted his third son’s proposal: ‘you can get your hands on Ryunfeld’s fertile land and a large beekeeping facility for 15 million alcs’.
The Agren House’s wrongdoings are definitely connected to the Nordsterm House. Earl Theelsia’s goal this time was to expose Marquis Nordsterm before he cut off his tail and forced him out of the House of Lords, and I was his pawn in this occasion.
… Anyway, it was only a matter of time before this came to an end.
I looked up since a slight discomfort reached my ears.
Perhaps because of my sudden movement, everyone in the room, including the two Viscounts who were ugly arguing, as well as the judge and priest who were listening to their conversation calmly, suddenly looked at me.
I could hear a high-pitched sound rising in the distance.
“… Is there a commotion outside?”
The priest was puzzled and quickly motioned to the guard who was standing at the door. The guard opened the door.
――― At that moment, the room filled with noise, and a strange sound of rustling dead leaves filled the room.
Just then, a guard came rushing in from outside and said, “There’s a fire! A fire has broken out in the vicinity! Please evacuate!”
Everyone rose to their feet. The sound was too strange to be a mere fire.
“We will adjourn the meeting due to the emergency situation. Everyone, this way please.”
The priest led the way while looking pale and guards were on either side of Viscount Agren and Viscount Roguesia. I pacified the confused Feyria and pulled her arm. I had lost Claudia who I had sent away to get documents, and I wondered if I could properly join with her later. She shouldn’t be that far away.
… At any rate, the commotion occurred at a bad time. I hope this commotion doesn’t cause this matter to be swept under the rug.
We quickly walked out of the temple. Everyone gulped since they couldn’t believe their eyes.
The sky was red even though there was still some time before dusk. On the other side of the wall that divided the city, black smoke was rising from everywhere and there were sparkles flashing everywhere.
“Are those… phosphorescent moths? No way, there’s that many?”
Viscount Roguesia muttered dumbfoundedly. I looked up at the sky while feeling the same.
A red sky… the sky looked red because countless phosphorescent moths were swirling in the air.
The phosphorescent moths swarmed like a surging wave and grazed past the commoners’ buildings which caused them to flare up. Screams echoed continuously. Everyone was speechless at the horrifying and unusual sight.
“What the hell is going on?”
“We should evacuate… it’s dangerous here.”
The priest turned around.
Then, I was suddenly hit by a strong force which knocked me against the wall. The impact ran through my body, and I stopped breathing. My weak body slumped to the ground.
“Everyone, stop moving! Don’t move!”
Something strongly pressed down on my back, and I heard Viscount Agren screaming hysterically right above me. When I managed to turn my head, I saw two men in black plunging their swords into the bodies of the guards.
Feyria’s scream pierced the air. I saw Viscount Roguesia fall onto the ground without a sound.
Those were the last words of the judge. The sounds of the flapping wings of the phosphorescent moths drew closer, drowning out his last words.
The temple garden caught on fire. The fire built up gradually, then transferred onto the tunics of the guards who were on the ground. I could only watch in dismay as the fire spread.
“Great! I hope you all burn alive in the fire!”
Viscount Agren gleefully screamed, then he stomped on my back and something cold hit me on the back of my left hand…
An impulsive scream squeezed its way out of my throat and sweat gushed out of my body. My left hand felt hot. It was burning with pain. The guard’s spear that Viscount Agren had thrusted pinned my left hand to the ground.
The Viscount laughed loudly, drowning the noise of Feyria resisting to escape from the hands of the black-clad intruders. The awful sound of fire, screams, and flapping wings filled the area, then the sound soon faded far away.
I bit the back of my mouth and grabbed the hilt of the spear that was stabbed into my left hand with my right hand.
My breaths were short as I was still recovering from the shock of the impact. My left fingertips twitched from the intense pain as I heard a sickening gurgling sound.
The blade had pierced my hand without damaging my bone. Lucky. The nausea would have slowed me down if my bone had been damaged.
I pulled the spear up. The sweat on my palms made my grip slippery and I couldn’t lift the spear properly.
A burning sensation spread through my body because I was close to the fire. I’ll be engulfed by flames and will die if I don’t hurry… the people who had fallen around me will be the same.
I could see the priest convulsing on the ground. The priest and Viscount Roguesia should still be alive. It was already too late for the other three. The judge looked like he had been stabbed in the chest and the other two guards had already been engulfed by the flames.
I have to save the priest at least. I should be able to send Viscount Agren to the guillotine if the priest is saved… Well, I have to deal with my own critical situation first though.
But the heavy metal spear wouldn’t budge in a child’s hand.
I grew more and more impatient. The thought of another swarm of phosphorescent moths passing by sent a shiver of fear down my spine. I tried to calm my rising breath, but the heat made it hot and stuffy.
… The smell of people burning made me feel awful as I was forcefully made to recall some bad memories. I clicked my tongue at the sweat that was caused by factors other than pain and heat.
Calm down… Calm down, me. Since it’s already like this then why don’t I just pull my hand back as hard as I can and rip the flesh between my middle and index fingers with the tip of the spear? At worst, I might lose the use of my pinkie and middle fingers for the rest of my life, but it would be better than being burnt alive here. It’s not even my dominant hand.
Just as I began to think about this, by some stroke of luck, a familiar voice called my name from the sky.
“… Radka, I’m here!”
There was a burst of fire. A child with black hair and deep crimson eyes ran up to me after he tumbled down from Rashiok’s back. He frowned when he saw the spear stuck in my left hand, then he grabbed the handle with both hands and pulled it out of the ground in one slick movement.
Blood dripped to the ground with a sloshing noise. My entire arm shook from the intense, numbing pain.
I tore off my cloak with my mouth and right hand, and with Radka’s help, tied it around my left hand to stop the bleeding. I dragged the priest and jumped on Rashiok’s back. Rashiok gently floated in the air with Viscount Roguesia in his mouth and Radka, the priest and I on his back.
I heard the roaring sound of the wind. I wondered if the phosphorescent moths weren’t approaching us, even though we were flying through their flock, because Rashiok was using his magic to control the wind.
The downtown area of the capital which was spread out below us was in a really bad shape. People ran into narrow alleys to escape from the phosphorescent moths. Fire and black smoke rose from everywhere and people were screaming and shouting.
“What are you doing here?”
“Rashiok suddenly… put me on his back and ran out of the house.”
“I see,” I nodded.
Radka didn’t seem to grasp the situation. It must have been Rashiok who suddenly went into action.
If possible, I wanted him to take Theo or Gunter with him instead of Radka, but he seemed to have sensed that something was wrong and immediately flew to me with the closest person, so I couldn’t complain.
I stroked Rashiok’s neck with my fingertips while feeling relieved.
“Hey, don’t move your injured hand.”
“It’s stopped bleeding. It’s alright. It won’t get worse if I don’t use my palm.”
The bleeding had already stopped in my tightly bound left hand. Pushing the stinging pain out of my mind, I motioned Rashiok to go down to the canal.
Phosphorescent moths were weak against water, so they didn’t approach the canal. The commoners, who had failed to escape, were huddled in the centre of the canal and shivering.
“Radka, take care of the wounded. Do your best to make sure they don’t die, especially the priest over here.”
With that simple command, I ripped off the cloak that was hindering my movement and pressed it into Radka’s arm so he could use it as bandages. “Alright,” Radka widened his eyes. Then, he lowered the two unconscious men into the high-water.
“Stay in the canal. Phosphorescent moths don’t go near water.”
“Where are you going with that injury?!”
“Viscount Agren has escaped with Feyria Roguesia. I’m going after them.”
“HAH?!” Radka screamed behind my back as I ordered Rashiok to fly. The wind immediately roared, and I felt my organs sinking as we floated into the air.
“Follow Feyria’s scent, quickly!”
They couldn’t have gotten far. If he wanted to take advantage of the chaos, then he wouldn’t run in a direction where there is no chaos, as long as he has his conspicuous attendants with him. He would definitely not head towards the noble district.
But since I don’t know who those black-cladded men were, I can’t be sure that Feyria and Viscount Agren won’t split up. Therefore, I had Rashiok rush.
I won’t let Feyria be taken away. We’re almost there ―――.
Rashiok landed in a hall in the commoner’s district where the fire was less intense, and from there, he began running fast down the street. He used wind to push away the occasional fire sparks and phosphorescent moths as he ran down the deserted streets.
The phosphorescent moths had started behaving strangely and were flying in swarms. They were still fluttering around in swarms, but they weren’t fluttering like waves.
This is rather eerie, I thought.
The abnormal behaviour of the monsters has been going on for several years. However, they shouldn’t clearly deviate from their ecological behaviour unless it was because of a natural disaster. The knowledge that I have accumulated negates that.
It was impossible for the phosphorescent moths to cause this incident since it wasn’t their normal behaviour.
――― So, this must have been caused by someone.
… People are usually involved when something out of the norm happens. I don’t know how they did it, but there is someone out there who has the means to make monsters and magical beasts rampage.
Though, I couldn’t find anything in my ‘previous memories’ that indicated that such a method was possible.
I was lost in thought when Rashiok let out a low growl.
“You found her?”
I pulled out the sword I wore around my waist. It was a ceremonial sword, but that didn’t mean it was inadequate as a weapon.
I saw two men dressed in black in a small square with a fountain. One was carrying Feyria on his shoulder while the other was keeping a watchful eye on their surroundings with a spear in his hand.
There was a figure on the other side of the fountain… Viscount Agren wasn’t alone. There was one or two people standing opposite him.
Do I need to get Feyria back first? I can’t do anything while they’re holding a hostage. ――― I can’t let them take her for personal reasons as well.
“Go, Rashiok. It’s time to hunt.”
Rashiok instantly sprung out like a released arrow.
The tip of the spear, which had been swung in panic at the sudden attack, bounced off Rashiok’s scales, and Rashiok bit into the defenceless body. Rashiok continued rushing forward and crushed the fountain, spraying water high into the air.
I jumped off Rashiok’s back at the same time, and my rapier stabbed straight through the nape of the man who was carrying Feyria.
Hostages are meaningful when they’re held out in front of you like a shield, and not when they’re being carried. Remember that in your next life.
I pulled Feyria off the man’s shoulders as he let out a strange sound when the sword pierced his throat. I rolled on the ground with her screaming in my arms, blocking the impact for the both of us. It was difficult for me to catch a sixteen year old girl who was bigger than I am.
I said in a commanding tone out of habit. I left Feyria who was staring at me in a daze and got up. Then, I took the spear from the corpse that Rashiok had spat out. It was a little heavy, but it would do.
At that moment, I heard the sound of something heavy falling from the other side of the fountain. Two figures swayed beyond the raining water and turned around to look at me.
“My, oh my, Eliza Kaldia. It’s been a long time. I’ve come to see you, but I didn’t expect to see you so soon. You’re an excellent killer, just like your father.”
There stood a girl in a nun’s uniform; ――― she was definitely the nun who had attacked Kaldia.