「So? Judging from what happened, is that guy just now ―― Kuzeon your target? 」
「He’s one of them, yes. 」
Deciding that he would lend a hand, Marrieda immediately answered Ardis.
「You had him as a confidant that many years. It should’ve been easy for you to deal with him with your position as the president. 」
Of course, Ardis didn’t know the extent of her revenge. However, if just Kuzeon alone, there shouldn’t be a need to wait for a whole eighteen years.
On top of that, for an association as big as the Litte, it’s not strange for them to have a connection with those that do back alley business.
「It’s not like I kept him as a confidant willingly. 」
Marrieda sighed unlike her usual attitude full of playfulness.
「Leaving that aside. Isn’t it time to chase after them. 」
「You know where he went? 」
It’s certainly not a situation to be talking here, as Ardis asked another question.
「His last destination, yes. Though there’re places that he should be stopping by before then. 」
Saying that, Marrieda as well stood up and left the room. Ardis and Nicole both followed behind her.
「I’ve even made many intricate preparation this time. Purposefully making a mistake in investment, a big bet to save that―― an act like that to make him think that we’re in a tough spot. 」
「Even to the point that people started questioning 『Will the Litte collapse』. 」
In reality, the business was solid, but she made it look like it was almost collapsing, and even spread rumors about it by herself.
「And then an invasion from another country. Previously when Reiten was under attack by demonic beings, it was the same, when logistics are cut off because of the city shutting down, trading organizations that depends on that will be hit the hardest. For Kuzeon, Litte probably looks like a candle fire in front of a strong wind. 」
Marrieda talked as they walked. Only the footsteps of the three was heard inside the quiet building, contrarily there were chaotic noises from outside.
「Even when the other employees left Reiten, he made up excuses like guiding them, this and that and tried to escape. The reason I didn’t allow him is to corner him. 」
「I see, so just now that conversation was referring to that Kuzeon guy abandoning the association huh. 」
Marrieda who was walking ahead nodded without turning back. Nicole and Marrieda’s 『Will he move? 』and 『Probably』 was referring to Kuzeon’s decision.
While talking about it, eventually, they came to a small warehouse in the operating grounds of the association. Arriving there, Ardis tilted his head.
「Why is it not a treasury but a warehouse? 」
If the Kuzeon guy is going to escape, he would definitely embezzle some assets in the chaos. But if that’s the case, he would be heading to the treasury instead of a warehouse like this.
However, Ardis’s confusion was dispelled by Marrieda.
「The treasury is already empty. If Reiten lost and when the Monarchy army invades, under that pretense, we’ve buried it already. Kuzeon knows about it as well, and digging it back up will take considerable time. If money and jewels are impossible, then wouldn’t he set his eyes on the merchandises next? 」
Marrieda laughed because she had already made the first move. Although he could only bring out some, it can still be valuable if he chose expensive goods.
Kuzeon’s movements are grasped by Marrieda perfectly. Eventually, the warehouse that they come to was not lit up. However, when the three approached the entrance, they could hear a grunting voice from within.
「Shit, there’s nothing good left! All of this are so bulky! 」
The voice was from the same Kuzeon that was in the room before. It seems like he was going through the merchandises in the dark warehouse, as rustling noise continued reverberating from within.
「Ardis-kun. Can you put up lights? 」
「Got it. 」
The three had entered the warehouse without getting noticed by Kuzeon. Circling around to his back, Ardis wordlessly made lights out of mana. At the same time, multiple magical light source illuminated the entire warehouse brightly.
Kuzeon was panicking at the sudden occurrence. Looking around quickly, his expression shook when he found Marrieda.
「Of course, there’s naturally nothing good left. Expensive goods that can be carried away easily were all sold out last week after all. 」
「O-Ojou-sama……. T-This is not what you think! 」
Kuzeon started defending himself at the unexpected development.
「I-I was just checking if they were damaged or……」
「It’s not like a stray arrow or magic landed, it would be clear with a glance anyways. Was there a need to search through them in the darkness? 」
Immediately, Nicole rebutted.
「S-Shut up! A mere escort mercenary don’t run your mouth as if you know anything! 」
「Who’s the one that should shut up I wonder. 」
Seeing Nicole snorting, Kuzeon’s face was becoming red.
「Ojou-sama! As I have said countless time already, you should fire this kind of disrespectful barbarian immediately! In the first place, this man is always――」
「You are the one shutting up, Kuzeon. 」
Noticing something from Marrieda’s cold tone and atmosphere, his expression changed to trying to look out for something.
「Hey, Kuzeon. When was it that you came to our association? 」
「What is it so suddenly? 」
「I’m asking how many years has it been? 」
Pressured by Marrieda’s expressionless face, Kuzeon’s pace crumbled.
「……L-Let me think. Was it…… twenty……four years ago? 」
「That’s right. When I was still a toddler, you were already here. 」
「That…… Ojou-sama. What about it……? 」
Seemingly having not an idea what Marrieda was saying, he was confused.
「After that, for four years, you were acknowledged by my father, and was appointed the left-hand man quickly, and was expected to be someone that will be the association’s pillar……. Well, in fact, you are now the number two in the association, so I guess it went according to his expectations. 」
Kuzeon talks to Marrieda who brought up an old story.
「Yes. It was thanks to the former president. If not for meeting him, I would surely have lived a mundane life. Really, the former president is my greatest benefactor. 」
「Then why did you kill him? 」
The peaceful story suddenly froze because of Marrieda’s sentence.
Not understanding what she spoke, Kuzeon’s eyes turned round.
「What……, What are you saying, Ojou-sama. The former president was caught in an ……」
「Do you think I don’t know anything, Kuzeon? 」
Marrieda’s cold smile stopped Kuzeon from acting and explaining the obvious fact.
「I-I think Ojou-sama is misunderstanding something……」
Kuzeon shook his head, indicating that he doesn’t know what Marrieda was talking about.
「I still remember it. It was you who returned and reported the death of father and mother. 」
「Y-Yes. That time, when I was together with the former president and madame. The cliff suddenly collapsed when we were going through it……」
Kuzeon’s shoulders dropped and showed a terribly sad expression. His voice was trembling, and his hand was covering his eyes, seemingly to stop his tears.
「I couldn’t do anything seeing them get buried…… and in the end, only I survived……. However, for the former president who left the last words of 『Take care of my daughter and the association』, I resolved to bear the guilt of being a survivor and returned. 」
「Fu――n. Last words huh. 」
However, Marrieda’s response to that was incredibly cold.
「They should’ve died immediately, how could you have heard their last words? Did you use some soul calling technique? 」
「So, I said right? Do you really think I don’t know anything, Kuzeon. 」
Her usual round maroon eyes squinted. Marrieda’s gaze as if staring at a rotten fruit pierced Kuzeon.
「As the coachman, you slashed at the horse with your dagger near the cliff. Jumping off the carriage that’s going out of control. Laughing at the carriage that both of my parents were in riding off the cliff with a smile. Even using an explosive magic stone to confirm their death, and then pouring dirt over the carriage to make it look like a cliff collapsing. Do you really think that no one saw it and no one knows about it even now? 」
Marrieda said as if she saw it first-handed. In fact, she probably did see it.
However, it’s probably not the reality, but the dream countless times over.
「Wha……! That’s not……」
Kuzeon was stuck with words because of surprise. His body language basically affirmed what Marrieda said.
「What a shame, Kuzeon. Your deeds were exposed a long time ago. You probably laughed at me not knowing anything being a stupid little girl but, did you not realize that you were the one that had been swimming around without knowing anything? 」
「F-From when……? 」
「A certain day from eighteen years ago. 」
Hearing that, Kuzeon’s eyes seemed to regain its calm.
「W-What ridiculous story. Ojou-sama was still ten years old at that time. There’s no way you could’ve known about something like that. 」
Normally, Kuzeon would be right. A normal ten years old child would not be capable of gathering information like that and arrive at a conclusion after analysis.
For people who don’t know about Marrieda’s prophetic ability, they would be convinced by Kuzeon. However, Kuzeon did not know about Marrieda’s hidden ability.
Also, he probably didn’t realize it but, he was so riled up that he forgot to deny Marrieda’s story.
「Fu――n. So your problem is that huh. 」
Getting pointed out by Marrieda, Kuzeon panickily tried to defend himself.
「Ah, no……. I don’t know who told such a ridiculous story to Ojou-sama but, I can assure that it’s a baseless fabrication……」
「It’s fine. As long as you and I both know that it is the truth. 」
With an expression full of irony, Marrieda laughed.
「Either way, it doesn’t change that you were the one that killed her parents. 」
Saying that, Nicole pulled out his sword. Kuzeon’s shoulders jumped.
「By the way, how much longer do you plan to treat me as an ignorant little girl? 」
Realizing that reasoning now is useless, Kuzeon threw something nearby towards the three and started running. However, for Ardis who lives by fighting, his attempt of escaping was slow to the point of yawning.
Ardis judged that it’s more than enough time to catch up and was about to move, but Marrieda stopped him.
「Just don’t. 」
Marrieda conveyed with her eyes that she allowed him to escape. It seems like Nicole had known that in advance, as Kuzeon escaped them easily while they watched.
「You intended to let him escape purposefully? 」
「I said it before right. He’s just one of them. 」
Ardis understood what Marrieda was saying and he asked again.
「You’re speaking like you know where he’s going to run to? 」
「Reiten is now completely surrounded by the Monarchy army, even if he ran, there’s only one place he can go. 」
Marrieda said it with an expression of matter of fact.
「It will be settled tonight right? It will be a mess when the Monarchy army comes pouring into the town. 」
「I know. If I don’t intend to end it tonight, then I wouldn’t have let him escape just now. 」
Was it because of the tension, Marrieda was speaking unlike her usual casual atmosphere, but expressionlessly.
「And since that’s the case. 」
Nicole who tried to dispel the tense air prompted the two with a bright tone.
「Let’s go and settle it already. 」