The back alleys of Capital Gran. A dark area where people who barely get by working in the day, or people who lost their family’s bread winner and can barely survive with what they measly gather.
It wasn’t shrouded enough to call it darkness, and not really depressing enough to call it a slum either, the citizens of the capital named it the 『Shadow District』.
The people living in this district hates interference from outsiders. Wishing for help, reaching their hand for help wasn’t something bad but, here isn’t where honest people like them gather.
Getting help from someone else makes yourself miserable.
Getting help from someone else reveals your weakness.
It is where people who think so gathers. That is the Shadow District.
That’s why they wouldn’t care who the one beside them are, or what kind of person they are. As long as they wouldn’t harm themselves. That is a common consensus among those that lives in this area.
Even if someone is planning something in an open house where people can see, there aren’t many who would realize it, even if they realize it, they would pretend not see it, it is such place.
Old houses filled the area. In one room where all windows are shut, there were people.
About ten people with mixed gender were in the room. A man sat in the middle, and the others sat in a circle, surrounding him.
All of them wore get ups that were very common in the capital. Although they were all apparels that are very common, there’s an awkward feeling with all of them sitting together.
There was a young girl in waitress uniform sitting beside a merchant-looking man. And beside her was an ordinary middle-aged man, and beside him was a young man in a mercenary getup.
From a third person perspective, they would surely be confused by the ununiform appearances of all the people.
「It’s just one young lady, do we have to be so uptight. 」
A young man declared without reading the atmosphere in one corner of the circle.
「Quiet, 『Dive Swallow』, he is still explaining. 」
An elderly man glared at the person referred as 『Dive Swallow』.
The man in the center asked the Dive Swallow. It was only a single word but, the surrounding air froze. The man sitting in the center of the circle was wearing clothes like a street stall vendor.
Only his appearance was common, the pressure coming from him was not normal at all.
「I didn’t say I’m dissatisfied right. Though I think it’s overexaggerating. 」
Panickily he sought affirmation from the person beside himself.
「Don’t you think so too? 」
「I don’t really care. As long as it’s an order. 」
A female citizen――no, she’s more like a young girl before adult, answering in a voice void of emotions.
「Then just shut your mouth. No one asked for your opinion. Although your mouth is like this, manage it well or only troubles will find you. 」
With the stall vendor man glaring at him, the Dive Swallow can only shrink back. Seeing that, the man started his explanation again.
「He’s right, it might be too many people here just for the sake of making one young lady disappear. Even if she’s a duke’s daughter that can be the next empress, she’s not living in the royal castle. 」
At that explanation, Dive Swallow nodded repeatedly. Few people watched him stupefied.
Even if he never interrupted, the man would’ve spoken about this part naturally. Doing unnecessary things that caused troubles to all of them, only cold gazes that condemned the Dive Swallow for interrupting the talk remained.
「But this time, the target has the 『Countless Swords Sorcerer』 with her. He’s definitely not an easy opponent, that’s why I had gathered this many people today. 」
The moment when the name of 『Countless Swords Sorcerer』appeared, it felt like the atmosphere in the room shook.
Of course, their mouth is still shut. But it’s certain that that name had caused some influence on them.
「May I speak? 」
It was the elderly man that seem like a party leader that raised his hand to ask.
「From the rumors, the 『Countless Swords Sorcerer』 had repelled a thousand cavalries by himself. How credible is that rumor? What did the upper say? 」
At the stall vendor man’s approval, the party leader like person asked. It’s probably what everyone there wanted to know.
「The rumor is probably correct. The conclusion is the same after gathering information from the Empire’s side. 」
「The reason behind why we should charge when that kind of monster is around? 」
「That’s not something you lots need to know. 」
The question that was asked by the party leader was shot down coldly by the stall vendor.
「But the ones up there aren’t looking down on him. Exactly because that our opponent is a monster, that we have all of you here. 」
Just like what the stall vendor said, the ones gathered here today are all elites among the organization.
Of course, due to time constraint, they only had whoever near the Kingdom, but all of them had the stealth capability to sneak into the royal castle, and even the power to stand against ten or more soldiers and win.
「Stabbing into the gap when the war hero is drowned in praises, it’s something that happens often. In the first place, our target is not the 『Countless Swords Sorcerer』. Finishing the target doesn’t take long, we will just have to make sure he can’t move freely till then. 」
After that, the vendor man had delegated each of their task, and after explaining the details of the plan, he looked around the members and declared.
「Three days later, the operation commences. 」
「Yo, come with me for a while. 」
There’s a small street north of the Shadow District. The girl in a commoner clothing stopped in her tracks after hearing a familiar voice.
The girl that was heading to her own living quarters after finishing the secret meeting with her comrades realized the owner of the voice, ignored it and started walking again.
「Hey, 『Crimson Osprey』. Don’t ignore me here. 」
「……What is it? 」
『Crimson Osprey』, the girl replied with displeasure.
It was the man that sat beside her during the meeting just now, it is the person whose name is 『Dive Swallow』. That man who is in a merchant appearance is as usual, talking to Crimson Osprey in a strangely friendly way.
「How about it, I thought to become closer with my comrade. 」
「No need. 」
The girl’s response was short.
Crimson Osprey and Dive Swallow are only operators of the organization. At the same time, he’s an annoying bug that would always make a move on Crimson Osprey.
Although she will listen if it’s needed for the mission, but she thought there is nothing to talk since the operation day was decided to be three days later.
「No no, I mean we’re a team this time right? Isn’t it important to have teamwork? 」
「The order I received this time was to spectate. No teamwork is needed. 」
「Isn’t communication important for us to understand each other even without the orders? 」
「Only communication to understand orders is needed. I don’t recall any orders of deepening relationship. 」
「Ka―h! ……Seriously, thanks for the model answer! 」
Ignoring the Dive Swallow who was making an appreciation towards the sky, Crimson Osprey tried to get through.
「Later then. 」
「Ah, wait up! I will tell you some real secret useful information. 」
Even so, she didn’t stop because of his words.
「The required information was already given just now. 」
「No no, what I have here is what 『Yarn Crank』 didn’t say? 」
「『Yarn Crank』? 」
Yarn Crank was referring to the stall vendor man sat in the middle of the circle just now.
He seems to be one of the higher ups in the organization, he was tasked with gathering nine of them in the mission this time. Even though a peaceful outwards, the pressure and bloodlust hidden behind it is something even professionals like Crimson Osprey would be afraid of.
「Yeah that. That part about 『Something you lots don’t have to know』. 」
「That is exactly as it sounds. It’s not something we have to know. 」
「Doesn’t that make you interested? Rather, I think that we should know everything about the target no matter how irrelevant it might be. After all, we might be in a disadvantage if something happened and we’re lacking in information? 」
Crimson Osprey looked over the surroundings casually.
Although it is a street not many passes through, there’s no knowing when information is leaked. Crimson Osprey was already alert about leaking information to outsiders before, but since the content is this, she had to be even more alert.
「Are you interested now? 」
「……Let me hear what you have to say. 」
「That must be the case. 」
Dive Swallow walked beside Crimson Osprey while offering his left arm. And Crimson Osprey grabbed that arm in a natural fashion. It was to make sure they look no different than a young merchant walking together with a commoner girl in the streets.
「So? What is it? 」
「About what 『Yarn Crank』 hid just now. 」
In a distance befitting lovers, Dive Swallow answered in a soft voice.
「Why we had to go at the timing when a monster like 『Countless Swords Sorcerer』 is around? About that. 」
On the other hand, Crimson Osprey’s expression didn’t change.
Unlike Dive Swallow who is used to interact with others as a merchant, Crimson Osprey wasn’t as proficient in communicating and negotiation.
Rather, she is much better in tailing targets or infiltrating areas. As for acting a talk between lovers, it is an industry outside of her professionalism.
「It seems like it was what the requestor wanted strongly. And I heard the sum for it was quite huge. 」
「That’s all? 」
「No no, the problem is why the requestor was that impatient. 」
Without minding Crimson Osprey’s bad acting, Dive Swallow smiled and talked about what he had learned.
「It seems like there’s a royal sponsored banquet in half a month later. And, it isn’t the same banquet that children that haven’t had their society debut can’t attend, this time, even ladies from ten to fourteen are allowed. On top of that, the son of the crown prince, Prince Karst is predicted to attend. 」
「What about that? 」
「Do you still not get it? A banquet where undebuted young ladies can even attend, is almost certain to choose a candidate for empress for Prince Karst, or to let them meet the prince right? 」
「Is that so? 」
「Yeah. Of course, the duke daughter this time is the same as well. In other words, the requestor doesn’t want her to attend this banquet. Dead is the best, but if not, a grave wound will do the trick too, isn’t it like that? If the target is in fear and decided to rest out the banquet, it will probably be enough for the requestor too. If so, the requestor being who is easy to imagine. Another duke, or a viscount. 」
「It’s a story unrelated to me after all. 」
Dive Swallow who was narrating so far with a smile suddenly had a sad expression.
「Why so cold. Do you not think about it? Ladies about your age with no worries wearing makeup and going kyaa― kyaa― over the prince. And you, having to follow orders killing people. Doesn’t it make you feel irritated somehow? 」
「Hatred or jealousy, it’s useless to have such emotions towards a target, even if I do, I’m not an amateur to have it cloud my blade. 」
「That’s not what I meant though……」
Dive Swallow covered his eyes with his right hand, and looked up at the sky. For Crimson Osprey, it seemed like he was trying his best to sigh really.