Convoy and Interrogation
They decided to escort me over to Thermax tomorrow morning.
For now, I was being dragged from the Department of Justice to a carriage by the west gate. Cyrus’s side dragging me around like this is probably some ploy to ingrain the idea that I’m a criminal into the general public, and the fact that I’m merely bound at the wrists must be appealing to the public that I’ll get a fair trial. Seriously, he gets real smart when it comes to these shrewd things.
“You coward!!” a spectator jeered from the sidewalk before many more followed suit.
“Apologize to the Hero!!”
“Don’t you know any shame!? We’re about to get attacked by the undead!!”
“Get The Fools and their comrades out of Sutherland!!”
Well, this doesn’t affect me at all, thanks to my stepmother and my sister.
“You demon!!” a commoner boy yelled as he threw a rock at me.
I casually dodged, and the rock flew past me, hitting one of the escort soldiers in the head.
Even if the rock did hit me, it’d do even less damage than a mosquito, but I had no intention in playing along as a stress reliever for these sheeple.
“Why did you dodge!? Now that soldier got hit!” the boy spat out before he launched into further abuse. He’s probably a shill hired by Duke Cyrus—he really doesn’t hold back.
We walked down the main street that ran east to west through the center of Sutherland before stopping in the middle of the street in front of Rainer and dozens of others behind him, all glaring with uncharacteristic abhorrence. Their gaudy clothes sported an insignia of a scale with a gold coin on top, which was probably proof that they were the top brass of the Commerce Guild.
“This foolish country has lost all meaning now. Please wait just a bit longer; we’ll definitely welcome you,” Rainer said.
The people behind Rainer instantly straightened their posture, placed a hand over their chest, and bowed deeply.
The incessant jeers quickly died down soon after as the spectators stared in a daze with their mouths half-open.
Well, no wonder: you could say that Sutherland was the one place where court nobles’ influence didn’t extend to. Instead, the ones who truly controlled Sutherland was the Commerce Guild and the wealthy merchants of the world. So for those who lived in Sutherland, the top brass of the Commerce guild were even higher than the clouds.
“I give my thanks, but that’s unnecessary. I’ll come back to this land on my own.”
I raised the corners of my mouth into a sly smile, and I walked past them without sparing a second glance.
Three days later, we finally arrived in Thermax, one of Duke Cyrus’s lands. I thought I would be sent to be tortured the moment I arrived, but unexpectedly, I was brought into a room to begin my hearing.
“Who killed the Radol? The officer in the room asked me the same-old question yet again.
She was wearing a robe with a symbol of a snowflake and had her red hair done into a ponytail.
“Duke Cyrus’s son, Mawlek Cyrus,” I replied.
“And yet that differs from our witnesses’ testimonies?”
“So it does.”
“Then how did you incapacitate Yukihiro the Hero?”
“With my magic?”
“According to the church, you had no magic prowess when you were five. How do you explain this?”
“I do not refute it.”
The secretary in the corner of the room had long stopped writing anything, probably because I was being asked the same questions over and over.
The ponytailed woman heaved a sigh and tossed a bundle from Sutherland onto the table.
“Everything within these documents prove that you were the criminal,” she said.
“Do you think the same?”
“No, I know that good-for-nothing more than you do; I’m getting tired of seeing this same occurrence over and over again. Mawlek Cyrus wouldn’t help the weak even if the world were ending.”
Hmm. This woman’s quite amusing. She’s piqued my interest.
“You sure you can say that?” I asked.
She would surely be executed for slander if Duke Cyrus found out.
“No need to worry. Even though Duke Cyrus directly controls these lands, we’re quite the remote region. He doesn’t put any effort into here. Additionally, he levies high taxes so I thought he would at least come occasionally, but he just lets us do as we please. There’s no way we’d hold any good-will towards him.”
I noticed a glint of insanity in the secretary and the two guards by the door. I think I understand the gist of the situation.
“What’s more, this land will soon even—”
“Officer Luca!” the secretary interrupted.
“So, will you say I’m innocent then?”
“Now you’re asking for the impossible. I’m an officer of the court, so even if he’s a hateful fiend, and you’re obviously innocent, the evidence points elsewhere, and I have no choice but to follow as long as we can’t deny it.
“You’re truly outstanding, you know.”
“Please stop with the sarcasm. We officers already consider this a loss.”
But it’s not sarcasm. I’m actually really surprised that I would meet someone so excellent in this world, especially in some extraterritorial region of Duke Cyrus’s.
“What’s your name,” I asked.
“Luca the Leaf.”
“I’ll remember that.”
I began to stand up from my chair, but the guard by the door pointed his sword at me in a fluster.
“I’m doing the hearing,” Luca said. “Fall back.”
The guard saluted and retreated back to the door.
“I don’t plan to waver my opinions,” I said. “Any more than this is just a waste of time.”
“I understand. Bring him to his cell.”
About half a day after I was confined to the underground prison, Luca appeared before my cell.
Her ghastly expression spoke volumes about what she was about to say.
“We’ve run into a bit of trouble.”
“Have they decided to dispatch the torturer?”
“It’s just a rumor for now, but……” Luca affirmed my suspicions with a bitter face.
As I thought. I consistently refused handing over my fortunes and my rights. In the first place, transferring rights through reparations was unheard of, and the Commerce Guild was related too. They would surely want to avoid any needless conflict, so there should be no surprises there.
Still, rumors have been spreading with uncanny speed, Officer Luca has guaranteed fair judgement, and right after, a torturer would come to make me hand over my rights.
Even for a coincidence, the timing is just too perfect. As I suspected, there’s almost no doubt that the mastermind behind the undead attack and Duke Cyrus are connected.
Which begs the question, ‘why the hurry?’ I’m not in Sutherland anymore—they should have achieved their goal already. They should have been plenty of time to try more temperate methods before bringing in the torturer.
I should ask Luca.
“Have you heard anything strange in Thermax lately?”
“Anything is fine. Even the slightest difference in your daily life.”
Luca placed a finger on her lip and pondered for a while before looking back up in realization.
“Maybe Duke Cyrus is moving to his villa or something, but there’s a carriage packed with luggage in front,” she said.
Moving to his villa, huh. I feel like it’s connected somehow.
“Officer Luca, could you look into when Duke Cyrus’s carriage is set to leave? Also, any relatives of his might soon leave for a business trip!”
If my suspicions are correct, Duke Cyrus might dirty his hands with the most taboo thing a ruler can possibly do.
“Is something going to happen?”
“I don’t have any proof yet, but if I’m right, Duke Cyrus might sacrifice everyone in this city. Does that ring any bells?”
Unease crept onto her face. Looks like there’s no need for her to say anything.
“So there’s something.”
Luca nodded and slowly opened her mouth.
“The mayor and deputy mayor have both been prosecuted under false charges……”
The citizens of Thermax have been putting up with the Cyruses’ oppressive rule, but the deputy mayor’s sudden arrest sparked conflict, and the citizens erupted in rage, now to the point of an insurrection.
Despite their insurrection being suppressed, the citizens’ distrust and anger towards the Cyruses is now beyond imagination. There’s no avoiding their separation from the Cyruses, who seem to be making moves behind closed doors.
And now, they’ve earned the cooperation of Margrave McBurn and Count Hartwig, who stand against the Cyruses.
They plan to use Thermax’s mayor and attorney general’s false prosecution as an opportunity to gain independence.
Still, to think that Margrave McBurn and Count Hartwig’s names would pop out now……can I really just consider this a coincidence?
“We’ve got no choice but to accelerate our plans……” Luca said dejectedly.
“No, I’ve got no proof yet. The investigation I asked of you before takes priority. Let me know once you find anything out.”
“What do you plan to do? The torturer is soon to come.”
“Torturer? Yes, I eagerly await him.”
She looked at me in amazement, clearly taken aback.
“You swing that way?”
↑ Changed Radoru to Radol