A Particular Interview
After being teleported to Silke, I sat down in the center of a large room and waited for a few minutes. Then, a knock came from behind the door and two men meekly entered.
One was a middle-aged man with a stubble and long brown hair knotted behind his back. The other was a younger man with blonde hair that reached down to his shoulders.
“Nice to meet you. I am the lord of this land, Grey Ines Navarro,” I introduced myself, giving them a light bow. The two of them looked back at me in shock. “Is everything alright?”
“Y-yes! I am Kai Lodos, an officer of the expeditionary force. The man beside me is—”
“I am Martha Saruman. A pleasure to meet you.”
They both gave me a polite bow.
Martha was a modest man—he didn’t look like the type to bully others. Beside me, Tosh was staring at him in amazement, so there’s no doubt that his personally had completely flipped.
It didn’t sit very well with me. No matter how drastic the circumstance, can someone really change that much?
“First of all, Kai-dono, we’ve made preparations to accept your grandparents. Won’t you stay here?”
Kai quickly replied. “I refuse.”
Of course. Stubborn people like him are the most difficult to persuade.
“I think you should stay Kai,” Martha added. He must have said the same thing million times, but he sounded like he had already given up. Kai merely shook his head in response.
“If I stay here, the burdens will fall upon the others. As a commander, I can’t do that.”
Kai raised his hand to cut Martha off. Looks like he’s gotten himself into a misunderstanding.
“Don’t play with me,” I began. “Didn’t he just transfer his responsibilities to you?”
Kai twitched. He turned to look at me and asked, “And what does that mean?”
“Here’s the premise.” Before providing them an explanation, I turned and nodded at Tosh.
“We’ve taken in senior officers with ranks higher than you, Kai-sama. They should be the ones to bear the brunt of these responsibilities, not you.”
“But the expeditionary force’s right of command was transferred to me—”
“Yes, the upper brass of the kingdom’s army is sure to turn you into a scape goat. On the other hand, the other officers will only be demoted at worst. There’s not a chance that they’ll face the death penalty. The kingdom’s laws also strictly forbid anything which might affect your family.”
“That may be true, but I still have my responsibility as a commander.”
I sighed and shook my head.
“No, no you don’t. You just have high moral standards,” I continued. “In the first place, what will change if you get executed? You’re just a stupid and foolish noble clinging to your last bit of authority, am I wrong?”
“That’s not—” Kai stopped himself short, and Martha nodded continuously to his side. He, at least, was actually facing reality.
“Now then, about the transfer of authority. Don’t you find anything strange with the kingdom?”
Blue-Beard, a man at the height of foolishness, was placed as the highest-ranked commander at the fort. I had no doubt that the same was happening in the kingdom as well.
“……What do you mean by……. strange?”
“So you haven’t noticed yet, then let me ask Martha-dono a question. Why don’t you want to return?”
Even though he had killed one of his colleagues, it was an unavoidable situation, and choosing to stay here because of that was a bit far-fetched. Basically, there was a reason he didn’t want to return.
“Because I’m scared,” Martha replied.
Martha paled at Kai’s question.
“I had nothing to do, so recently I’ve been thinking about the past,” Martha began to explain. “When I first entered the army, I wanted to be a respectable commander who led his soldiers without paying any heed to social standings, just like my father.”
“But you changed?”
People change all the time. Not just their appearances, but their thoughts and feelings as well. I didn’t find this it that strange.
“No, I forgot.”
“You forgot?” I asked.
I didn’t really understand what he was getting at.
“Yes, I forgot the meaningless conversations I had with my friends during my days as a student, in addition to all the dumb stuff we did. They were fun times when I didn’t care whether my friends were commoners or nobles.”
“Calm down a little.”
This is just plain strange.
“That’s right, why did I forget?” he continued. “I loved that restaurant so much, and the springtime sunlight that poured onto the seat was so warm. And—”
Large beads of sweat began pouring down his face.
“Hey, Martha!?” Kai yelled in impatience, but Martha only grew more intense.
“And that girl—I loved her so much, yet……..why did I……”
His eyes became bloodshot and foam pooled in his mouth. He teared at his own face, gouging into his skin and drawing blood.
“This meeting is over!” I declared. “Kurama, get him to the infirmary!!”
“As you command,” he replied, and vanished with Martha.
Shit! In the end it all went down to shit. Is it a remnant of Blue-Beard’s demonification? No, unlike those guys, Martha is a human. That, I can say for sure. Then I can just remove the brainwashing and the worst case shouldn’t come to pass. Yes, let’s do that.
“W-what happened to Martha?” Kai asked.
“Who knows, maybe the kingdom brainwashed him?” I replied.
“Our motherland……. brainwashed him?”
“That’s right, that’s her true face. Hadn’t you suspected as much? That if you didn’t return to get executed, then other young men like Martha would be sacrificed?”
“Then, do you expect me to change the world!? I’m just a commoner you know!?”
“A commoner? How ridiculous. You’re a citizen of the kingdom before all else. Do you plan on pushing the burden of removing your pests onto the empire? Onto us?”
“L-let me gather my thoughts,” he said, covering his face with his hands
“Take your time. I wanted to hear your opinions about some allegations of crimes against the Radols, so stay here. Aquido, if you would.”
“Yeah, I’ll go call them.”
Aquido returned with dozens of men and women and asked them to take a seat.
“I am the lord of this land, Grey Ines Navarro. I’d like to talk about some acts of violence committed against Radols.”
As per usual, besides Kai and one other person who knew my status, everyone stared at me with their mouths agape.
“What a rude kid from the inferior people! Hurry and return us to the kingdom! If you return us this instant, we won’t kill you!” one young man with blonde hair screamed as he stood up and pointed at me. The other kingdom soldiers stared in amazement but quickly paled.
“Senior Officer Riemann-dono!! This is a place for an important discussion that will involve your subordinates! How can you be so rude—” Kai interjected. Now pale in the face, he grabbed Riemann’s shoulders but was promptly shook off.
I see, So this is Riemann Chardonnay, the man under multiple suspicions.
“Rude!? You want me to treat this filthy brat with courtesy!?”
“Of course, please think about our position!” Kai shot back.
Meanwhile, the other soldiers watched on with ashen faces.
Suddenly, a woman with short black hair embraced Riemann. “Stop it, Riemann. What’s come over you!?”
“Get off of me commoner! Don’t touch me with your filthy hands!!”
“Nils!” A woman with long black hair tied behind her back caught the woman, Nils, who had just been kicked away. “Riemann-dono, Now’s not the time to throw a fit!” She sent him a threatening glare.
Then the other soldiers followed suit and began glaring at him in hatred.
“I’m fed up with you. Who cares what happens to you now! I’ll spill everything!” yelled a young bald man who began glaring at Riemann in contempt.
“And you are?” I asked.
“I’m Richard from the medical team. One day, an unconscious Radol with heavy wounds was brought in, right? Am I wrong?” he said, turning towards the muscular man next to him.
The man closed his eyes and pondered for a while, picking at his face.
“No, that’s not what happened. That noble boy kept kicking the Radol until I was forced to intervene and bring him to the infirmary.”
“And what happened to the Radol after that?”
“He didn’t regain consciousness and was taken by a central guard the next day.”
There were too many things I didn’t know, but Riemann, at the very least, was guilty.
“That’s a lie! Riemann’s so kind! He would never do something like that!” Nils, the girl with short black hair, desperately tried to refute.
“It’s the truth. Incidentally, the three central guards that brought him away were those three! And it wasn’t just that one Radol either. There were plenty more Radols who were injured!”
The soldiers froze up and began to tremble.
The three trembling soldiers whose lips had lost their color were not looking at me, but at Riemann.
That wasn’t the look someone gave when they were scared of a colleague. No, something was off.
“That’s a lie, right?”
Nils shook off the woman with the black ponytail and in a shaky manner, approached Riemann, who was still trembling.
“Yeah, it’s a lie, everything is.” Riemann looked up. His eyes were tinged red with madness and his hair had turned blue.
A single look at his figure sent sharp chills down my spine.
I clicked my tongue and kicked off the ground. With my left hand, I pushed Nils away and drew my dagger to block Riemann’s punch with my right.
“I thought it would come to thiiisss,” Riemann playfully said. I feel like I’ve heard this particular voice recently.
I tried to gain some distance but my surroundings were already enclosed in a black belt.
“Aquido, teleport everyone else out of here!!” I demanded.
Meanwhile, the black belts that threatened to encase me continued to grow in number.
“No buts! Hurry!”
After the second time, Aquido finally began his teleportation.
“That’s good. Who cares about that trash, you’re my only gooall.”
Riemann’s face warped into something hideous.
“Looks like I’m in a bit of a picklee,” he continued. “But you knoooww, you’re dangerous. You’re so, so, very, extremely, dangeroous. Well, this piece of meat is already dead though! Gwahahahahahaha!”
While laughing shrilly, Riemann placed his hands on his hips, and walked around me with light steps.
“But you knoooww, only someone as risky as you can become the best material!!”
He spread his arms and looked at the ceiling with joy. I looked towards Aquido and said, “I leave the rest in your hands.”
The moment he began to speak, he immediately disappeared.
“Gwahaha, are you satisfied? Then let’s goo. Enjoy my most amazing shooww.”
With his left arm on his back, Riemann extended his right hand and reverently bowed. “Rashomon”
The world began to erode.
The floor below me disappeared in an instant and darkness swallowed me whole.