Chasing after the escaping Kuzeon, they were heading to the central streets where mansions of nobles were lining up.
But as expected, being far from the city walls, it’s natural that attacks from the Monarchy army doesn’t reach.
However, it as well couldn’t stay completely uninfluenced. The surrounding buildings were all lit up, and the people walking down the normally quiet streets were unusually more noisy.
Ardis and the others walked down the streets passing by several carriages and private soldiers on the opposite running somewhere hurriedly.
While that happened, Marrieda advanced in the central streets. Ardis was starting to suspect that they were heading straight to the central street where many nobles live at.
「I’m getting a bad feeling but………. Can you tell me where are we heading already? 」
「Do you know about Count Emires」
「……I heard about him. 」
Ardis knew the name that Marrieda mentioned. It’s one of the names that Ardis heard from Sharu after asking her to investigate 『Nobles that looks like escaping』.
「That Count Emires or something is the culprit? 」
「That’s right. He’s the perpetrator that had killed my parents just for the sake of monopolizing Litte’s newly pioneered gold ore trading route. Kuzeon was just an ambitious lackey that followed the Count’s plans. 」
Ardis cringed his face at the direction of the story. Hearing it on the way, he came to understand her will for revenge painfully well.
However, if the opponent is a noble, then her revenge doesn’t end easily. The class difference in social status is not easy to get rid of.
「So? Don’t tell me you’re filing a complaint to the Count guy? 」
Ardis who knew the answer but asked it anyways was replied with Marrieda’s mutter.
「――He will pay for what he did. 」
Although he had expected it, Ardis asked Marrieda again after understanding that it’s gonna be a handful.
「Hey, Marrieda. 」
「I’m hired as an escort, right? 」
「That’s right. 」
「But what I’m doing next looks more like a bad guy’s job though? 」
Ardis brought up a term that would always be mentioned by the archer Norris.
「That’s not my intention. The bad guy is me, Ardis-kun is just there to protect me. 」
「Though it’s obvious they will regard us similarly. 」
Ardis was stupefied at Marrieda’s explanation.
「Well well. You can just stay back and protect Ojou. I will play the role of a sword. 」
Nicole from the side hit Ardis’s back strongly.
「However, it’s troublesome to make a move on a noble you know? Leaving aside myself, if the two of you living in this country killed a noble―― aah, that’s why it must be now huh. 」
Ardis was glaring at Nicole for a bit while grumbling but, he came to realize Marrieda’s intentions in the midst.
「Yes. If it’s now when Reiten is getting invaded, it will be thought that the Monarchy army was the one that killed the Count. And luckily for us, the Count is actually one of the more powerful figures in the Reiten army. It’s easily imaginable that the enemy army would send an assassin to kill him. 」
「And in the first place, if Reiten lose, nobles or royalties what not, their power will be meaningless. And when the Monarchy army comes inside the city, no one will see who killed who in the chaos. 」
Nicole added on after Marrieda’s explanation. Leaving aside during peaceful times, it will be a different story when it’s an emergency situation.
In this situation that a country might get destroyed, one lone noble’s life or death is insignificant.
That’s why, Marrieda had chosen this timing to exact her revenge.
「Don’t worry, since neither Ojou nor myself has any intentions of involving innocent people. The enemy is just the Count and Kuzeon. Naturally, their escorts might get in the way but, as long as they don’t come for us, we won’t make a move. 」
Hearing Nicole’s words, Ardis was more or less relieved. Even though for a revenge, Ardis don’t wish to involve non-combatants that aren’t even related.
If Marrieda is not going to cross that line, then Ardis has nothing more to say.
「That’s Count Emires’ residency in question. 」
Eventually, the three arrived at a large eye-catching building even among the others in the central streets. And it’s not like there’s only one mansion there.
The building itself is ten times larger than the Litte’s building, and besides that, there were also villas and gardens in the residency.
If commoners can build their houses within the residency, then it’s not a surprise that a few hundred can live inside comfortably.
「Don’t tell me we are going in from the front right? 」
「Rest easy, that won’t happen. 」
Ardis asked just in case, on the other hand, it was Marrieda who answered stupefied.
「In any case, it’s not easy to infiltrate with that many guards on watch, there’s probably a need to be a little forceful to get to the Count’s place. 」
Hearing Nicole’s words, Ardis had an idea as he said 「If that’s the case」.
「I can make some disturbance nearby to make it easier. 」
「It’s not a good idea to involve unrelated people. 」
「Don’t worry. It’s not like I’m going to hurt someone, and the one crying is not the commoners either. 」
Ardis wiped off Nicole’s worry, and Marrieda then asked.
「Are you going to make some disturbance in the nobles’ residencies? 」
「It’s just stray attacks from the Monarchy army landing somewhere within their residency with no one nearby. On top of that, somehow only targeting nobles with infamy. 」
Interesting, Nicole who had such a face refrained from saying more.
「So can you give me some time? 」
「……Alright. I trust Ardis-kun. 」
Despite saying so, he could still feel Marrieda is impatient.
Ardis can relate as the chance of fulfilling her revenge is right in front of her eyes.
「I will return within ten minutes. 」
Specifying a time for Marrieda’s sake as well, Ardis walked away from the two.
And then, after getting to a corner with no one around, he called out the girl’s name who was a secret company.
「Sharu. Are you here? 」
「I’m here. 」
From the darkness, Sharu with her town girl getup appeared. Since there’s not much time, Ardis went into the main topic immediately.
「You know which nobles’ residency is it that had been doing some shady business? 」
「There’s more or less shady business with every noble. If not, they can’t keep being one. 」
Was it a set rule, or her own values, words of prejudice came out of the girl. Ardis looked at Sharu with a complicated expression, and then rephrased his question.
「……Then, what about the residencies of the nobles that are the worst? 」
「There’s two, three. 」
「Take me there. There’s not much time, so let’s go up. 」
Saying so, Ardis did not wait for a reply from Sharu and carried her with one hand and flew up the sky. Below is the night town of Reiten brighter than usual getting sieged by the Monarch army.
With flame magic continuously fired from the Monarchy army, there were buildings near the city walls going up in flames here and there.
「There and there, that one there also has bad fame. 」
「Got it. 」
Confirming the residencies that Sharu pointed out, approaching one of those, Ardis waited for a timing. An attack from outside the city walls flew inwards.
There’s no way their attack would ever reach the central streets. What he needed was the timing when they attacked.
Ardis matched the timing with the attacks from outside, creating fire balls, and shooting them towards the residencies that Sharu pointed to.
Naturally, Ardis didn’t do it with intentions to hurt innocent servants or escorts. The fireballs landed on places that he confirmed was void of any human presences like empty building or the garden.
「Alright, next. 」
But whether the Monarchy army’s attacks can reach or not, it’s not something Reiten could ever know. As long as he matched with the timing of the attacks from outside, the people would just believe easily that the Monarchy army’s attack can reach the central streets.
And just like that, Ardis circled around residencies that Sharu pointed out, and then blew fireballs into empty places.
The sudden explosion brought chaos in the surroundings. Chaos started spreading in the central streets that had been sitting peacefully without getting involved in the fire that the downtown suffered.
Ardis who confirmed the result landed back on the ground, separating from Sharu and returning to Marrieda and Nicole.
「Now, even if a few more stray attacks hit the Count’s residency, no one would be suspicious. 」
After briefly explaining to the two, Ardis similarly made a fireball and blew it within the Count’s residency where there’s no one around.
There were several villas in the Count Emires’ residency. And the fireballs landed on one of them directly.
「We’re under attack! 」
「It’s a stray fireball! The other residencies around were hit as well! 」
「Their fireball can even reach here!? 」
There were angry yelling here and there within the residency. As Ardis planned, they’re thought to be fireballs from the Monarchy army.
「Their guard would loosen now that they’re busy with that. 」
「That’s helpful. I thought we were going to start cutting down people but, it’s easier for me too if we avoid unnecessary fights. 」
「There’s a gap there. Let’s get inside. 」
While confirming the guards’ movements with mana detection, Ardis constructed an infiltration route in his mind.
At that time, Count Emires was meeting a man in his office. However, the two are in fact not the same class of people. One of them is a noble holding the count peerage, the owner of the residency, Count Emires.
And the other is Kuzeon that had just escaped from the Litte’s warehouse.
「So that little girl saw through your plans, and you’ve escaped to my place huh. 」
The elderly man who was sitting on a luxurious chair did not try to hide his displeasure as he criticized.
「I-I’m terribly sorry. 」
While shrinking back, Kuzeon was apologizing from a desk apart. Naturally, he was standing.
「Has she realized my involvement? 」
「As expected, she couldn’t have……」
Fuu, as the Count sighed deeply and laid back on the chair.
「It’s already eighteen years huh. And you said it during that time, that 『Litte is already as good as in my hands』. Am I mistaken? 」
「N-No……. It’s as Your Excellency said. 」
Kuzeon answered despite looking afraid. Even if it was the Count’s mistake in memory, he is not in a position to point that out. Even more so when the Count was speaking none other than the truth.
「And I have said so as well. 『Get it under control within three years』. 」
「And so? Not just three years, it’s already more than ten years, but you did not succeed. Not just that, the grown little girl got her position back. It seems like you were awfully confident on your own capabilities but……, in the end, you’re only this much huh. 」
「Something like that……is……」
「It’s great that the gold ore trading route is within my hands now. However, the reason I personally made the effort is that there was profit to it. Don’t tell me you don’t understand that much. 」
It was at the time when Kuzeon was stuck for words and the Count was sighing. Suddenly, a tremble passed through the mansion, and the whole building shook.
「W-What happened? 」
The Count’s question was answered immediately by a servant that arrived to the office reporting.
「The east villa took an attack from the Monarchy army and is burning! 」
Hearing the report, the Count stood up.
「What!? Here is the central streets! There is no way their attacks can reach so far! 」
「However, it certainly landed. And not just this residency, residencies of other houses were also affected. 」
「Guh……, what a mess……」
The Count stood up at the unbearable situation but, he immediately gave out instructions to the servant angrily.
「What are you standing there for, quickly go put out the fire! The villa there is my predecessor’s favorite! Never allow it to be burnt down! 」
Seeing the servant exiting the room quickly, the Count sat back on the chair violently.
「That…… Your Excellency. 」
「Annoying! Shut up now! 」
As he yelled at Kuzeon, the Count put his arm on the desk and started muttering.
「What kind of army they’re moving? Crossing over oceans. Attacking day and night. Magic that can reach this far……. Reiten is already―― hopeless―― escaping in time――」
Eventually, his thoughts were compiled, and the Count rang the bell, waiting for the escort standing outside the room to reply.
However, the escort that should have responded immediately did not. Replacing that, there was a dull sound coming from the door of the room.
Once again, the Count rang the bell, but even as he waited for a while, the door to the room didn’t look like it’s going to open.
「Oi, is there no one! 」
The Count losing his patience yelled out, and then finally, the office door slowly opened.
「There’s no one coming. 」
What came back was an unexpected girl voice. The door that opened showed a figure that shocked both the Count and Kuzeon.
「I’m sure this is our first time meeting, so I suppose I should greet you. But I’m sure you know who am I, and also why I’m here right? 」
With a chilly smile, the young president of the Litte business association was walking into the office.