「 Can’t you even observe properly! 」
Unable to control his anger, the current head of the Raghlain family, Karcimoral Vado Raghlain hurled a stunningly decorated earthenware cup at a man kneeling in his presence. A small amount of wine pooled around the remnants of the broken cup.
Dripping blood, the man who ran away from Hifumi’s attack silently crouched. His side was lightly bound with cloth.
「 Could you leave it at that? In addition, the number of people have decreased, I am embarrassed. 」
「 Orbas. No matter the circumstances, think about dealing with the Hero as soon as possible. 」
The man with honey-coloured, shoulder-length hair called Orbas gave a faint smile, and sighed. The man writhing with pain on the floor was kicked away.
「 Oi, head to the standby room, wake everyone up and arm them. 」
He said in a low voice that did not seem to match his face.
「 Really, I have to deal with your mess. Work yourself to the bone and redeem your worth. 」
The man on watch frantically left the room.
The Marquis made an unpleasant face on watching this and turned to Orbas.
「 Now, what to do? 」
「 Um, that is….. 」
Out of habit, playing with his hair, Orbas shook his head.
「 Hero-san’s skill, Marquis is aware of it yes? Come to think of it, it seems impossible for that fool to escape with only a slight injury. 」
「 Mu….. Then 」
「 Clearly, that fool was deliberately let go. Panicking, he was most likely to come here in a hurry. Most likely he was followed and we will have company soon. 」
「 Hmm. Your soldiers and those of the territorial army are here too. In any case, a skilled magician is also hired here. That much should be enough to handle that one guy. 」
Laughing scornfully while drinking his wine, Karcimoral looked at Orbas with cold eyes.
That sort of easy opponent, it is not too troublesome.
Hifumi did not hesitate.
「 The guy that escaped is here. The fellow targeting me should be here. 」
Two soldiers stood at the gate of the Raghlain estate.
Walking forward, Hifumi casually walked over to the soldiers as though they were acquainted.
Behind Hifumi, Pajou followed.
「 What are you saying?? This is the Marquis’ estate! Leave, leave! 」 (Pajou)
「 Hmm, such a reaction was expected. 」(Hifumi)
Though understanding, Pajou showed a cramped smile while speaking to his back.
「 Haa~ 」
Letting out a quiet shout, Hifumi pinched the guard’s throat with his fingers. Falling against the gate behind him, the guard collapsed, unconscious.
「 …… Didn’t kill. 」
Pajou said, surprised. Annoyed, Hifumi replied,
「 I don’t murder everyone. Killing is a weapon for me, only fit for those hostile to me. 」
Saying this while approaching the other confused and stock-still guard, Hifumi knocked him out in a similar manner, the guard collapsed powerlessly next to the wall.
「 By the way, why should I follow? 」
「 You will be my lookout. Besides, to prove to the people tat come along that this slaughter was due to legitimate self-defense. 」
Though you arrived at the enemy gates voluntarily, thought Pajou, refraining from voicing her thoughts.
Though Pajou thought Hifumi would surely walk in through the front door, unexpectedly, Hifumi soundlessly headed towards a bungalow built separately from the main building.
There was no one patrolling around it.
「 Are you not meeting the Marquis? 」
On being asked in a low whisper, Hifumi replied without turning around.
「 The guys that attacked me, they will not be a noble’s subordinate. It takes regular training for them to be that inconspicuous. Most likely, there is a group on the premises used by those underground organisations. I want to hear the story from them. 」
I see, thought Pajou.
If nobility have a degree of financial power and territory, they have private soldiers such as the territorial army. However, because there is a law that the King must be informed the details of the territorial army, they cannot be used for any covert work. Unlike normal troops, they can only be used for ‘disposal’.
「 Imeraria has given a strict order that I am not to be touched, yes? Additionally, I am sure you want to keep the death of your King concealed. Even if you know the circumstances, this incident can be used as potential to start a war. So this can be left to people from the underworld. 」
The entire wing of the bungalow came into view. There were a few windows, the stonework was of simple make. In front of the wooden door, a disagreeable-looking man stood.
「 Well then, time to greet them. 」
「 Oi, you, is your boss in there? 」
「 Aa, who…. eh……eh? 」
On seeing Hifumi’s face, the man’s voice gave out. Apparently the man seemed to know Hifumi’s face.
「 The man you people have been looking for is here. 」(Hifumi)
「 You bastard! Nonchalantly walking in! 」
Coming to his senses, the man struck without a weapon. With his good physique, it was a good punch, Hifumi evaluated disinterestedly.
However, it did not connect.
The punch was easily avoided by a slight movement of the head, Hifumi was already facing the guard’s back. Hifumi hit the back of the guard’s knee with his toes, when he dropped to one knee, grabbed his jaw and the back of his head and twisted.
*Gugyo* , a damp, unpleasant sound was heard, Pajou turned her eyes away instinctively.
Killing like this…..
Too cruel, Pajou, who did not think she could do it, felt her stomach tremble.
Near to where the corpse was discarded, a person with shoulder-length hair called out to Hifumi.
「 Do not decrease our numbers any more. 」
「 I thought someone was here, are you these guy’s boss? 」
「 I am the leader. But how were you able to understand that? 」
Orbas dared to show himself frivolously while touching his hair.
All, to induce negligence in the opponent.
「 Positioned as you are, the opponent’s weapons can be confirmed and any movements can be seen. The point of you touching your hair is to unfasten your weapon, yes? 」
On being seen through, the smile on Orbas’ face disappeared.
「 The presence of the guys inside, also, those guys that attacked in the day, their movements were monotonous and their scheme was insufficient, although not bad. Their co-operative movements also, it felt like they learned from someone. Not you. 」
「 Yareyare…. As expected of Hero-sama. 」
Orbas faintly smiled again, and pulling out the knife from his back, tossed it aside.
「 I give up. Even a squad of 10 people were defeated, the tables have turned. The levels are just too different. 」
Giving up, Orbas raised his arms with his palms showing.
「 As you can see, weapons have been discarded. Just my life, can you please spare it, Hero-sama? 」
「 No. I was attacked by your instructions. I will not allow it. 」
To Hifumi not showing any mercy, Orbas could not conceal his bewilderment.
「 Wait a minute, you would kill an unarmed man? 」
「 What are you saying. 」
Hifumi smoothly stepped forward, his hand on his katana.
「 You have a weapon. 」(Hifumi)
「 Chii! 」
Orbas immediately took out a small knife from the cuff of his raised arm, and instantly swung downwards at Hifumi.
However, Hifumi was no longer there. Orbas tried desperately to turn towards Hifumi, who was already behind Orbas, but to no avail.
The separated left arm and head fell to the ground, followed by the rest of the body.
「 His performance was so-so, should have hidden his bloodlust better. 」
Though Hifumi was about to pull out the kaishi tucked in his kimono, with a single shake of the katana, the blood was cleared off, without a trace remaining.
Is this the God’s influence? Truly convenient, muttered Hifumi as he sheathed his katana.
The door was kicked open, and about 20 subordinates of Orbas stared at the entrance, unable to move.
At the entrance stood Hifumi, holding Orbas’ head.
「 B-Boss!! 」
「 You’re the bastard that killed Ain and the others! 」
A man nearest to the entrance leaped at Hifumi. In a single movement, Hifumi drew his katana and sliced him to pieces.
「 Yeah yeah, quiet down. 」
Confirming that Pajou was behind him, Hifumi pulled his katana out of the body while imposingly standing in the doorway.
The instantly enraged people instantly became quiet.
The beautiful blade crest shimmered in the light of a candle on a table.
「 If you don’t want something similar to happen to you, answer my questions obediently. Resist like that guy, or not answer appropriately, everyone dies. 」
While throwing Orbas’ head on the floor, Hifumi surveyed the men in the room.
「 The first question. Who are you fellows and are all members here? Oh, if I sense a lie, it’s time to kill. Well then, you. 」
Hifumi pointed his katana at the nearest guy.
「 M-Me? ……. We are called “Hidden Serpent”. All it’s members are here. 」
Resigned, the nominated man answered obediently.
「 Then, next. You people, in the Marquis’ employ, was attacking me in the daytime the order of the Marquis? 」
Looking Hifumi in the eye, he began to talk while trembling.
「 Rather than employed, we are allowed to use this place for occasionally undertaking errands for the Marquis. We do not set foot into the Marquis’ home… This should have been a request from the Marquis, the leader said so. 」
On hearing the answer, Pajou fleetingly glanced at Hifumi.
「 …. Certainly, regarding nobles’ residences, leaving aside on-the-spot inspections, yield no clear evidence. 」
Pajou said with a sigh mixed in. To think that there might be criminals who have similarly been given shelter, it was depressing.
「 And the last question. Are there troops in the Marquis’ mansion? Does anyone here know? 」
One person timidly raised his hand.
「 On answering, will I be spared? 」
「 I am asking the questions. 」
「 Uu…. There were many soldiers on duty in the mansion, on patrol and so on, but it seems that they don’t enter the third floor where the Marquis is. Recently, rumours of a magician being hired have been circulating. 」
「 A magician huh…. 」
Receiving Hifumi’s permission, the members of Hidden Serpent ran away at full speed.
Pajou shifted her gaze to the criminals fleeing from the shelter.
「 Your job is intelligence, not criminal law enforcement. Spend time arresting them, the Marquis will be able to escape. 」
「 Though that is so….. 」
Hifumi went out, Pajou reluctantly followed.
「 I’m getting drowsy, so bothersome. 」
Hifumi murmured, looked up at the side wall of the mansion, and using his fingers, climbed up smoothly via the few irregularities in the stonework.
Watching the figure dressed in a hakama ascend the wall speedily, Pajou could do nothing but watch bitterly. In the blink of an eye, Hifumi reached the third floor, skillfully opening the wooden window with one hand, he leapt inside.
After a little while, a rope that usually binds curtains descended from the open window.
「 In this dress, I should climb? 」 (Pajou)
「 No, just grab it. 」
Pajou gripped the rope tilting her head in confusion, and was instantly launched upwards.
「 ~~~~~~~! 」(Pajou)
Unable to let out any words, Pajou was caught inside the room.
「 Well then, this seems to be an office-like room. 」
Looking around the room which had a large, stately desk and an elegant bookshelf, Hifumi muttered.
「 Next door, there is the presence of one person. The presence on this floor……No, near the stairs is an unusual stagnating presence. Possibly, in the next room is the Marquis. The guy on the stairs is most probably the magician from the rumors. 」
Pajou did not doubt Hifumi’s words any more.
「 Well then, search for your achievements. 」
「 Haa? 」
Relying on the dim light of a wax candle, Pajou confirmed documents one after the other.
Hifumi, who could not read the characters was rummaging around the desk.
「 No problem with the documents…. huh? 」
A certain bookshelf, its depth seemed unnaturally inadequate.
「 What’s wrong? 」
Calling out to Hifumi, Pajou explained the irregularity.
Without hesitating, Hifumi threw away all the documents on the racks to the floor and peeled off the rear boards with a sound like tape being pulled off. A bunch of documents spilled out from a hidden compartment.
Picking them up, Pajou quickly looked them over and said with a shaking voice,
「 This…. an account book containing records of secret trades with our neighbouring country, Vichy…. 」
「 Oh, there’s your achievement. 」
Far from an achievement, if things don’t go well, the Marquis may bump her off, Pajou shivered. No matter what happens, if unable to safely return to the castle, her life may be forfeit.
「 Ah, not the fellow next door, but the guy near the stairs is coming here. Be quiet for a minute. 」
To Hifumi nonchalantly saying that, Pajou started to panic.
「 Wh-What do we do? 」
「 Calm down. First, see what kind of guy he is. 」
The door slowly opened, and a man wearing a black robe with a hood covering his eyes entered.
「 …… A thief? 」
An extremely hoarse voice rang out.
「 So you’re the magician that was employed. 」
On seeing Hifumi speak, the magician quickly drew a knife from his robe and pointed it at Hifumi and Pajou.
「 ……… 」
The magician chanted something in a low voice, and an invisible blade of wind flew forward.
「 Auuu! 」 (Pajou)
Unlike Hifumi, Pajou was struck by it on the shoulder and losing her balance, fell.
「 You dodged it?… 」
「 M-Magic dagger…. A magician from the Horant country, why is it! 」
To Pajou’s words, the magician laughed under his hood at her holding her shoulder and taking some distance.
「 Ho~, you know our country’s magic tool quite well. Though you’ve got the appearance of a prostitute, are you a dog of Orsongrande? 」
While the magician was speaking, Hifumi drew near.
「 Nuu! 」
Hifumi’s thrust met a sudden gust of wind.
That violent gust of wind blew up the documents scattered on the floor, the pen on the desk flew up, and the chair was knocked over.
The candle fell, the documents on the desk began to burn.
「 Hmm, magic can also be used like this huh. 」
The fire was spreading, watching the unworried Hifumi admire wind magic, the magician was secretly in a cold sweat.
According to the plan, the gust of wind should have blown away the sword, and without the sword…
However, Hifumi adjusted his katana according to the direction of the wind while receiving it, neutralizing it. In spite of seeing such magic for the first time, such marvellous flexibility.
While the magician thought that even if he wins, he would not come out of this unscathed, a new person entered.
It was Marquis Raghlain from the next room.
「 Strauss, what is this situation! …… You! 」
The moment the Marquis saw Hifumi’s face, he tried to shout something, a gust of wind hit the Marquis’ back. This was the act of the magician Strauss.
Calmly knocking down the Marquis who was thrown at him, Hifumi returned his gaze towards Strauss, but he had already run away. His speed points to magic being used for movement.
「 …..He ran away huh… 」
The fire was already spreading from the desk to the documents scattered on the floor.
「 Pajou, do you have the documents? 」
「 Ee, they’re all right…….. Hey! 」
When Pajou looked up after stopping the blood from her wound by tearing off a piece of her dress, a shocking scene met her eyes.
Hifumi threw the fainted Marquis out of the window they came in from.
「 Don’t worry. He’s not dead yet. 」
Hurriedly going to the window and looking, Pajou saw the Marquis’s figure in a tangle of thick shrubbery. One leg was bent in a weird direction, but he seemed to be alive.
「 Well then, leave. 」
「 J-Jump down? 」
「 Obviously. Enemies will soon flood the room, and leaving will be delayed. 」
Seeing Pajou hesitating while looking out the window, Hifumi clicked his tongue.
「 No other way. Hold onto the documents tightly. 」
「 Eeh? Wai-, IYAAA~~~~~! 」
Grabbing and holding her sideways under his arm, Hifumi immediately jumped out of the window.
Kaishi = Piece of paper often used in Tea Ceremonies.