「What the heck! 」
One corner of the Shadow District. A different building than when they had the operation briefing three days ago, a bald man yelled.
His voice was heard by three people. It was the remaining that had made it out alive from the attempt of assassinating the duke daughter.
Including Crimson Osprey who didn’t participate but only spectate and Dive Swallow who had participated as one of the assaulters, only a total of four had made it alive.
「Don’t be noisy. 」
A tall man said so annoyed towards the bald’s anger.
「It was certainly unexpected. 」
The tall man who was also one of the assassins that had survived going against the Countless Swords Sorcerer sighed at the opponent’s absurd power.
「It’s not even unexpected! Ten of us like this now, we even threatened insiders to help us infiltrate, even aimed for a timing when there’re no escorts nearby, and even thirty of those stupidly expensive stones, how can someone who wasn’t even holding a proper weapon can make us like this! What the heck is that sorcerer! Why the hell can a wooden sword cut someone! 」
The shouts of the bald demanding for answers were exactly what everyone there felt. But of course, no one here can answer any of those.
What they only know is the mercenary known as 『Countless Swords Sorcerer』 is a monster far exceeding their common sense.
「No use yelling over what had been done. 」
「That’s right. Not like anyone can resurrect with a complaint or two. 」
Crimson Osprey and the tall man were trying to reprimand the bald’s violent words. But of course, that was met with displeasure.
「Then are you telling me to jump into death! You all are fine with that!? Hey you, Dive Swallow. You say something too! 」
「So loud. 」
When the bald was asking for Dive Swallow’s opinion, there was another fifth person who entered the room.
「Though probably no patrols will be around here, there’s a limit to being careless. 」
It was a short man dressed up like a laborer who entered the room. Closing the door behind him, while being looked at by the others, he moved to an empty space and declared one-sidedly.
「Now then, let me hear your report. 」
「Keh, a carrier pigeon dare to be so self-important. 」
Beside the bald that had taken a bad attitude, Crimson Osprey reported what happened to the short man.
The short man confirmed with the other three, and when he heard all he wanted, he left the room without saying anything. Just before he left, 「Standby until the next members arrive, they said. 」, that just made the bald even more displeased.
「Crap load! Are you telling us to go against that kind of monster again! 」
It’s natural. Even if the attempt failed this time, it’s not like that will make the requestor or the organization give up. But of course, knowing the sorcerer is stronger than expected, even the organization won’t be so stupid to send everyone expecting to face him the next attempt.
「They’re not stupid as well. They will avoid that next time. 」
「Hmph, as if we have a choice! Damn it! 」
The Countless Swords Sorcerer is an instructor of the duke daughter and not an escort. That means that they just have to aim when the sorcerer isn’t around.
Of course, the escorts around the duke daughter would be many folds now that the first attempt failed. But the next attempt will surely be done by many more members and power. Following after the tall man that exited the room without saying anything, the bald exited as well while expelling his anger everywhere.
Crimson Osprey who was about to follow them was held back with an arm on her shoulder.
It was Dive Swallow who stopped her. It was a mission where only six returned among ten, even Dive Swallow’s words were few. His usual spirit was gone, it felt like his emotions were absorbed by the furious bald.
「Crimson Osprey……. What he said just now, what’s your thinking? 」
Such Dive Swallow asked Crimson Osprey. Without saying, it’s clear that Dive Swallow is feeling the same anger as the bald.
「Just as he said, no use talking over what is done. 」
His usual casual atmosphere had gone somewhere, Dive Swallow’s expression was serious.
「Being used like a tool, survive if we’re lucky and it’s another mission immediately after. Will it continue until we die? 」
「That’s right, that’s our role. 」
「I’m done, I’m fed up, with this life of getting exploited and thrown away. 」
「……Is that so」
Crimson Osprey just answered blankly to Dive Swallow’s question.
「Hey, Crimson Osprey. Don’t you think this is a chance? 」
「For what? 」
「The chance to leave the organization and escape. 」
It was a simple thinking, Crimson Osprey thought after hearing.
「The event this time should be a handful for them too. After all, six elites in the capital had died, with the mission still uncompleted. The organization will surely put everything in the next attempt. There should be less pursuers if we go in the dark now. 」
「Just leave if you want? 」
Crimson Osprey thought nothing of it. She wasn’t going to stop him, nor is she reporting him to the organization.
「Is that all? 」
She wordlessly swiped off Dive Swallow’s hands, and tried to leave but she was once again stopped.
Crimson Osprey turned around once again emotionlessly, but unexpected words were thrown at her.
「……Won’t you join me? 」
Unusually, Crimson Osprey’s face distorted.
「You understand it too right? There’s no knowing how long you will live with this going on. If so, then together……」
「Don’t decide for me. I never said I will help you. 」
「Not that. I’m not asking you to help. 」
Emotions more than words, Dive Swallow shook his head.
「For you too, rather than this organization……. And I too……, no, together we――」
「Not needed. I’m not unsatisfied with the current situation. 」
Faced towards Dive Swallow who was looking for words, Crimson Osprey refused clearly.
「That’s because you don’t know the outside world. You have only lived inside the cage of the organization. If you just glanced 『Outside』 for once, you must understand how senseless our treatment is. 」
It’s true that Crimson Osprey’s worldview is small. Unlike Dive Swallow who disguises as a normal merchant and has many contact with other people and had even activities outside the capital, Crimson Osprey who had never set foot outside the capital only had few people she normally contacts with.
It was because every mission that Crimson Osprey was assigned only needed that much.
「……I’m planning to head west of the capital tonight. If you change your mind, come to the inn, 『Anemone Sprouting Winds』 at twenty-five hours. I’m waiting at the furthest room on the second floor. 」
「……I won’t 」
With Crimson Osprey still refusing, Dive Swallow said his last petition before he left the room.
「Think about it. Don’t look away from your questions. There’s not much time. If, if you want to leave your cage, then you must come tonight. I will take you outside that cage. 」
That’s Dive Swallow’s last words exchanged with Crimson Osprey.
The next morning. A garden near the capital’s west gate, there was a male corpse floating in the fountain.
「You didn’t get affected huh. 」
A short man’s first words as he came to Crimson Osprey’s living quarters.
「What do you mean? 」
Facing Crimson Osprey who decided to play the fool, the short man in a laborer outfit was smiling staring at her. It was the same carrier pigeon that came to receive the report from the four people regarding the assassination attempt yesterday.
「Well, no one thought you will follow Dive Swallow in the first place. 」
In other words, Dive Swallow’s actions were seen through by the organization from the beginning. The corpse found in the morning is Dive Swallow, it was something she understood without the short man elaborating.
Even Crimson Osprey didn’t know how the information leaked. But as expected, the eyes and ears of the organization is formidable. Even though they screwed up badly with the assassination attempt, it seems like they had no problem dealing with one of their members that showed suspicious behavior.
「I mean, he was a fool too. He could’ve quickly left the capital in the night, but he was lurking around the west gate till almost dawn, it’s like he was looking to die. 」
The cold smile caused Crimson Osprey’s eyes to shake a little.
「What? Something you want to say? 」
Though Crimson Osprey was being rude, the short man took out a small charm from his pocket and threw it at her.
「What is this? 」
Receiving it with one hand, Crimson Osprey was looking at the short man with a suspicious gaze.
「Dive Swallow’s memento. You must’ve seen it dangling down from his waist with a chain before, right? 」
Crimson Osprey looked at the charm on her palm.
It was a small pill-shaped charm about three centimeters wide, made from carved wood and a leather wrapping over it. It wasn’t shining like a metal, nor was it glittering like a jewel.
It was a plain accessory made of only brown shades, it didn’t look like something a fashionable person like Dive Swallow would use. But certainly, it is the same thing she had seen before dangling from Dive Swallow’s waist. The short man saying it’s a memento, it’s certain that it’s Dive Swallow’s property.
「Why give it to me? 」
「Are you pretending? Or you really don’t know? 」
The short man was appraising Crimson Osprey with a sharp gaze, but he quickly changed his expression and turned around, and raised his hands lightly.
「Well, either way. Sell it or throw it, do whatever you like with it. 」
That’s all I have to say, the short man said so before disappearing from Crimson Osprey’s place. A short period after the short man had left the scene, Crimson Osprey was staring at the small charm on her hands with emotionless eyes.