The Master of the Brave - Chapter 76
Chapter 76 – What lurks in the darkness of the Imperial City (IV)
“They’re dead!!? It’s got to be a lie, how did that happen?!”
The day after the capture took place. Locke’s voice echoed in the guard station, which housed the four people captured by Wynn and Leticia. Locke was skipping classes at the knight’s school by putting the mission as a priority, paying a visit to the guard station. Similarly, Wynn and Leticia, also Cornelia, were with him.
Cornelia was also surprised and interested in the incident that occurred after they were separated during the night. Since Wynn always accompanied Cornelia as her servant, it was easier for her to move with him that way. However, when they tried to go to question the men they had captured at the guard station, one of the guards who had been with them yesterday at the scene told him that they had “died in prison”.
“But they didn’t even have serious injuries, did they?”
Leticia said to the guard, surprised.
“Yes. That’s what we’re confirming…”
According to the guards, when the men were taken to the guard station last night, they were treated by a doctor who belonged to the guard force. The doctor’s assessment at the time was that the men were alive, although they had simply been passed out.
After seeing the doctor, the guards on duty took the men to the cell in the basement of the station. However, since there was only one cell that had a “Sealing Barrier” to accommodate those who could use magic, all four had been housed in the same room.
When morning came, the guard went down to the basement to bring breakfast to the prisoners and found the four men cold and spitting blood from their mouths.
“Suicide by poison?”
“Didn’t you check their belongings?”
The guards shook their heads at Wynn and Locke’s question.
“Yes, we made sure to check their belongings properly. When the doctor examined them, we also made sure they didn’t have poison in their mouths.”
“Did they bring it in from outside, maybe through a window?”
The guard shook his head at Locke again.
“As I said before, the prison here is built underground. Among them, the one with the ‘Sealing Barrier’ is in the deepest part, so you can’t enter from the outside.”
“Can you lead me to the prison where those four people died?”
The four of them followed the guard down to the basement. The passageway, walls and ceiling were made of stone, and there were six cells. They were all separated by iron bars, and in one room there were three or four prisoners lying or sitting, watching the figures who had come down the stairs.
Perhaps the hygiene was not very good, as soon as they went down to the basement, the smell of burning came through their nostrils, and Leticia and Cornelia covered their noses, frowning at the same time.
“Hey, ladies. How cute. Do you want to play? Hiahiahiahiahia…”
From inside the bars, the guard was in front, watching the undesirables trying to get to the women.
“Well, the people we’re housing are mostly those who got drunk and picked a fight, or second-rate thieves. As you may know, offenders with more serious charges are detained at the headquarters of the guard force, which are located in the east, west, north, south and southwest, and after being questioned there and having their crimes confirmed, they are sent to a special facility that houses the offenders. Meanwhile, they were also scheduled to be sent to one of the headquarters at the end of the day…”
As he explained that, the guard said “this way”, and led the three of them in front of the iron door at the end. This was the only room that had no iron bars, although its door was made of thick, heavy iron. Right at eye level, there was a small window through which you could look inside and an opening at the bottom for bringing in food.
“As I said before, this cell has a ‘Sealing Barrier’, and those chained here would not be able to use magic.”
The guard took out the metal handcuffs hanging on the wall and showed them to the four of them. Then he opened the cell door.
The walls inside were made of stone. Since it was underground, there were no windows for light, and everything leading to the outside of the room was a small hole the vertical for ventilation, except for the iron door. Cornelia, who specialized in bestowing magic, went in and examined the walls, but could find nothing strange.
“It certainly feels like the power is leaving my body.”
Wynn felt nothing in particular, but in Locke’s gaze there was displeasure. Even without the handcuffs, it seemed to affect him a little.
“Normally, it is quite difficult to seal other people’s magic power, but the ‘Sealing Barrier’ magic here seems to have been created by a person of considerable skill. Could it be a court magician?”
“Yes, it is as you say.”
The guard replied politely, as he saw Cornelia as a woman of nobility, or at least belonging to a higher status. Cornelia nodded profusely as the guard told her the name of the court mage who had made the sealing barrier in this prison. The name she received was that of a famous court mage who had served the empire even before she was born.
“If it’s magic casted by that person, it’d probably be able to block magic, unless it was very powerful.”
“Hmm… though with this level, I can still cast magic.”
Leticia, who spoke while holding one of the handcuffs in her hand, looked at the surprised guard.
“I heard that the ‘Sealing Barrier’ in this prison reaches the level that it can block magic to the point that even a court mage can cast just simple magic. But… As expected, nobles do have magic power.”
He had a look of admiration on his face.
“So, it’s also possible that kind of magic was used to kill the four of them?”
“No, it’s not.”
However, Wynn answered the guard’s question in the negative with a bit of anticipation.
“It’s not every day you meet someone with magic as powerful as hers.”
It takes a huge ritual and seven towers amplifying magical effects to finally activate the Empire’s last line of defense, the “Seven Layer Barrier Magic Circle”.
One of the deepest secrets of magic.
With that magic, it was finally possible to contain Leticia’s magical power. No matter how well known the court magician who had performed it was, it was natural that her magic power could not be sealed by the “Sealing Barrier” that was made by an individual instead of a magic ritual. If there were other people who could use their magic even if they were thrown into this place, the only one Wynn knew who could do so was the “Great Sage” Tiara Sciurus Velf.
Perhaps there were others who could too, if they were high elves like her. However, it was wiser to think that there were other means than the possibility of so many visiting this place.
After finding no clues in the cell, they returned to the guard station. They were taken to a room in the station. The guard attending them told them he was going to make tea and then left the room.
“They’ve most likely been sealed.”
When it was just the four of them, Wynn opened his mouth. Locke pounded his right fist against the palm of his left hand in frustration.
“But how did they get the poison in the cell? The guard from before didn’t seem to be lying, did he, Onii-chan?”
“Maybe it was an inside job.”
“If that’s the case, the culprit would be someone who can influence the guard force.”
“I wonder if we can investigate whether such an incident occurred.”
Locke said, staring at the door through which the guard exited.
“I suppose an internal Guard Corps investigation should be conducted first. Besides, even if they find some corruption, I have a feeling the guards won’t do anything.”
Even if it was the head of the guard, who was the head of the guard station, their status was lower than that of a knight. However, the senior officers of the guard headquarters were either senior knights of the knight order or nobles who served in that position. The four chiefs of the main headquarters were knights chosen from one out of 1000, while the general chief was a knight chosen from one out of 10000. The killing of a prisoner in the cell of a guard station was a scandal for the guard corps. First of all, an investigation would be carried out by the organization within the guard corps. If Knights intervened before that investigation took place, it would be seen as an overstepping of their authority. Even if Wynn and the others were the ones who captured them, it was not certain that those four men were actually related to the case Locke and Royce’s squad were investigating. As things stood, it would be an act of overreaching for Locke, who belonged to the Knight’s Order to begin his own investigation.
“I’ll have to brief the captain to let me know when the investigation report comes out…and then there’s the carriage crest.”
Locke looked at the hempen paper in his hand. It was a crest that he drew from memory as best he could.
“Guess we’ll never know, huh?”
“What about Letty and Cornelia-san?”
“As expected, I can’t tell just from this either. There are a lot of families that have crests.”
Leticia also shook her head.
“I don’t know many nobles myself.”
“You might want to check with the heraldry office. They keep all the crests there, and I’m sure the heraldry officer can show you the documents.”
“Okay, I’ll check with them.”
Locke nodded at Cornelia’s suggestion, and just then the guard entered the room with tea for everyone present.
“Right. I have one more question for you…”
When Locke told him about the cases of disappearances that had been occurring in the slums lately, the guard responded with a somewhat confused look on his face.
“The slums… even we have trouble keeping track of them. For one thing, many of the residents there are hostile to us.”
Originally, the slums were created by people who had become poor. By those who ran away at night because they couldn’t pay their debts. It was a place where people who had lost their villages due to natural disasters such as famines or floods, or damage caused by demons, had no choice but to leave the city and could not find work. Of course, not all of them, but in many cases, they committed crimes that could cause problems for the security maintenance institutions.
“Well… if people living in the slums wanted to ask to solve a case, they would probably go to the adventurer’s guild, for example. Although an application fee is required there, novice adventurers can be hired for cheap, and they often have more information on what goes on behind the scenes than we do.”
“The adventurers’ guild. That’s true, if you ask me.”
“If it’s the Adventurers Guild, I should probably go myself. I know some people there. What Seri-san asked me to do isn’t a job for the Order, so it would be outside of Locke’s duties, right?”
“I’ll go there and ask them.”
“Have you, by any chance, gone back to being an adventurer?”
“I mean, I’m not working for them officially, so it’s not like I’ve done any work.”
Wynn laughed at Leticia as he leaned forward.
“I already have my job as a servant, so I’m just going to go talk over there.”
“I’m interested in the Adventurer’s Guild too. I’d like to join you guys.”
“If that’s the case, then Wynn, Cornelia-sama and Leticia-sama will go to the Adventurer’s Guild, and I’ll be the only one going to the heraldry office… that is, this division is kind of annoying…”
However, regarding Seri’s story, they didn’t know if it was related to Locke’s mission. After all, Wynn and the others were just helping out, so it would be silly to get upset.
‘I know, but it feels so absurd…’
Locke walked out of the station and slapped Wynn’s back as they parted to go to the adventurer’s guild.
“Ouch! What are you doing?”
Locke dismissed Wynn’s complaint, who protested with slightly watery eyes.
“Let me know as soon as you hear anything, okay?”
“Su-Sure. I will. I’ll see you later.”
Wynn walked between Leticia and Cornelia, with a confused look at Locke, who spoke sharply. After that, as he took his leave, Locke walked toward the heraldry office with a little slack.
‘Even if you weren’t me, anyone would want to punch him just to see that scene!’
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