It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (39/76), enjoy~
Chapter 7 – The Real End And The Last Days
The following day, or rather in the middle of the night, needless to say, the whole of Ist was in an uproar.
In the crown prince’s name, the kingdom’s knights stepped into the Tower of Wisdom and seized a number of important pieces of evidence. Since the morning, the search has been carried out, but Viscount Sage was nowhere to be found in Ist.
He disappeared without a trace, and his name was quickly etched as a criminal.
It was just past noon.
Ain left the knight’s quarters to go to the laboratory where Oz was waiting for him after receiving a call that the materials were ready. He was accompanied by Chris.
“I’ll go talk to the guards. Don’t leave this place, okay?”
“I know. I’ll be quiet, so I hope you won’t look at me that suspiciously.”
Chris gave a sly smile and moved away.
Ain remembered that he had a message bird in his pocket. He had been busy since last night and hadn’t had time to check it, but he found that he had already received a reply when he took it out.
“Maybe it was just in time.”
He held it in one hand and let the magic flow. In the end, the voice that Krone had mistakenly sent became a sound.
“I can’t wait to see you. It seems I’ve been more lonely than I thought.”
It was shorter than the previous ones, but its power was immeasurable.
Ain’s heart started to beat faster, and his cheeks turned a faint shade of red. The face of a girl called Krone comes to his mind, and he can’t get rid of it, even though he is in a daze, opening and closing his mouth like a fish.
“…I have to respond quickly!”
Naturally, Ain was at a loss.
Should he use sweet words like in the story? Or should he say something long-winded about how he was thinking the same thing?
But none of them felt right. He couldn’t think of a better word, but in the end, he chose a short one, just like Krone.
“Me too. I’ll be back soon, so please wait a little while.”
It must have taken some courage not to reply, “I want to see you too.” The message bird flashed pale white as before and sent a reply to Krone’s message bird.
Chris returned to Ain’s side just in time.
“It looks like it’s safe to go inside… Ain-sama? Your face is red.”
“…A lot has happened.”
“Um… a lot has happened?”
Then Ain muddled his words and stepped into the laboratory with Chris.
It was right after they entered Oz’s room. Oz welcomed them and immediately started talking about last night’s incident.
“I didn’t expect it to be resolved in a few days…”
Oz gave a half-smile of surprise and praised Ain’s actions.
“I guess I got lucky. It all started when I wandered into the slums by accident.”
“You say that, but no, it’s brilliant. You are indeed a hero. Were the girls taken to an orphanage?”
“Yes. The girls who have homes will go home, but the orphans will be taken care of at the orphanage in the royal capital. Only two of the girls had a chance to work as apprentices in the castle, though.”
He was talking about the sisters, Vara and Mei.
“I thought they were smart, but it seems they used to be commoners.”
“Hmm… and then they became slum orphans?”
“After the death of their mother, they ran out of savings and had no work. Their father disappeared when they were very young, and they didn’t know where he was.”
“The number of orphans is decreasing every year, but there are still many circumstances.”
The atmosphere was grim. Then Ain mentioned another piece of information that was not clear.
“Also, it seems that the mastermind was not Sage.”
“Hm? Does that mean that that man was not the culprit?”
“No. He was definitely the one who kidnapped people. But…”
This morning, Ain received a call from the knight’s quarter.
“According to the knights associated with him, Sage was ordered by someone to go on a kidnapping spree. At some point, he gave them only the boys and kept the girls under his control.”
“…Were you able to get any information on who ordered this?”
“Unfortunately, no. I heard that he was even more cautious than he was in taking the kidnapped people to the Tower of Wisdom.”
There was no information beyond the presence of the mastermind.
“I think the mastermind might be the Red Fox. The unnaturally enhanced Wyvern may have been forcibly enhanced with the Red Fox’s power and techniques.”
There are many things to worry about, but that’s as far as Ain can go. He had to go back to the capital, and there was no need for Ain to join the investigation now. Perhaps because Ain understands this, he has decided to leave the investigation from here to the knights.
“Your Highness seems to be depressed, but you have solved the kidnapping. For someone like me, who lives in Ist, it is very gratifying.”
Perhaps to change his mood, Oz handed Ain a thick envelope.
“Here are the documents about the Red Fox. This is all the information I have on the Red Fox.”
“Oh, thank you! May I have a look at it?”
“Yes, of course.”
He opened the envelope and took out a bundle of papers bound with string. He looked at the title of the first sheet.
“A Study of the Red Fox’s Past Appearances and Movements… huh?”
Ain swallowed his saliva.
“It looks like an amazing document.”
“Now, the question is, what’s in it?”
Although he said that, Oz smiled radiantly, indicating his confidence.
Ain flipped through the paper with the title written on it and was amazed to see the next page of text and maps that filled the paper. It was a so-called distribution map, and the places where traces had been left were colored on the map.
“You could say it’s all over the continent.”
“That’s right. That was the part that took the most time to research at the time. It wasn’t me who took the trouble, but the adventurers who accepted my request.”
“You got all this information from the guild?”
“Yes. In fact, the guild is obligated to preserve information about valuable materials that are brought to them. I took advantage of that and asked them to collect information on the Red Fox, whose population was low.”
Admiring Oz’s research methods, Ain looked at the documents again.
“The magic stone that we saw the other day was also discovered during this research, right? Traces of it have been found in Magna, Ist, and also near the adventurer’s town of Baltic.”
There were also records in rural areas where nothing special was found. With all this information, it’s no surprise that there is a mastermind, a Red Fox who controls Sage.
“To be honest, I thought they lived in hiding a little longer.”
“The Red Fox has a fun-loving nature, for better or worse. It seems that there were many individuals who were quite free, perhaps because of this nature. Some were diligent in reading books, some were driven by a thirst for knowledge and researched many things, and some were skilled with spears.”
“I see. That’s very helpful.”
“I have given you the information, but I spoke too long. I apologize. It’s common for an old researcher like me to talk too long.”
“That’s not true! It was very good information.”
“Yes, that’s very kind of you to say. Well, here’s another document.”
Oz handed another thick envelope to Ain.
“Monsterization… It’s all about materials related to monster evolution. After all, there is no precedent for anything like what happened to Your Highness Ain, and perhaps the material I gave you the other day may be more useful.”
“No! Thank you for everything…!”
“You should visit Baltic at some point. I believe they have detailed information on monster evolution there. The wisdom of adventurers, as opposed to researchers, is also worth examining.”
“I see… Baltic might have some information on the Red Fox.”
“That’s right. So I think you can kill two birds with one stone.”
After nodding at Oz’s words, Ain wanted to check the documents he had just received.
As he reached for it, Chris said to him,
“Ain-sama! We have to get back to the station soon…!”
“Oh, is it already the time?”
“We have to leave for the royal capital in the evening, and we’re running a little late.”
She bowed her head to Oz apologetically.
“I’d like to thank you for your cooperation with the royal family on such short notice. His Majesty told me to be sure to return the favor. The royal knights will visit you later, and I would be grateful if you could spare some time for them.”
“It was a valuable time for me as well, so you shouldn’t mind rewarding… I understand.”
Ain left his seat after hearing the reply.
“Thank you very much for your time, Professor Oz. I hope to see you again soon.”
“Oh, wait a minute. Actually, I have a gift for Your Highness.”
Oz stood up and went to his desk.
“I think it would be better if I brought this to Christina-sama instead of to Your Highness.”
“For me? But, Professor Oz, could this be…?”
“As you may have guessed, it’s one of the Red Fox magic stones I showed you the other day.”
“But… are you sure you want to give us such a valuable item?”
Oz handed the gold engraved box to Chris, who was hesitant to accept it, and he said, “Don’t worry.”
“I’ve already examined it, and it will be needed by Your Highness and the others in the future.”
What a personality. Ain also bowed his head after Chris, glad that he could rely on this man.
“Thank you for everything…”
“Haha, Your Highness shouldn’t bow to people like that.”
“No, I will never forget this favor.”
“I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Your Highness. When we meet again, let’s have a nice dinner together.”
“Of course. I hope so too.”
Ain looked at his watch.
“I’m sorry, it seems to be time. Excuse me for being so rushed.”
“No problem. Please take care on your way back to the royal capital.”
Ain bowed his head one last time and left Oz’s room.
◇ ◇ ◇
On the water train station platform, a train was steaming up, about to depart. Ain and Chris, both out of breath with their luggage, ran to the cabin’s entrance that they had rented.
“Nyaaaaa! Both of you! Hurry up and get in-nya!”
Katima, who was on the train ahead of them, opened the window and shouted loudly.
The train starts moving──.
The bell rings as if to pierce the ears.
It was just about the time that the two of them, who was growing impatient, increased their running speed and managed to get into the train just before the water train departed.
“Hah… hah… w-we’ve managed it somehow…!”
“It’s just barely in time… Well, if I had been late, I would have spent the day sightseeing before going home.”
“Geez, you can’t do that. You’ll make everyone angry.”
“I know. I’m just trying to be tough.”
Chris held out a handkerchief without saying anything, and Ain took it and wiped the sweat from his forehead. She also wiped the sweat from his neck.
“I’m going to drop off our luggage, and you can go to the lounge first.”
After walking down the passageway in the train, Ain stepped into the lounge and saw Katima and Dill.
“Good grief! That was really close-nya.”
“I’m sorry. I had something to tell the knight.”
“Nya? What did you have to tell them-nya?”
“I told them to find the missing Sage as their priority.”
“I see. The crown prince came to tell them in person. That’s very important.”
Not wanting to stand around talking, Ain sat down on the sofa opposite where Katima was sitting.
Then Dill called out to Ain.
“Ain-sama, would you like something cold to drink?”
“Ah… That would be nice. Can you get me two, one for Chris and one for me?”
Dill smiled covertly and headed for the bar in the corner of the lounge.
Since Ain and the others were the only ones in the cabin, they had to prepare their own drinks. However, if it were a cabin for noblemen, they would have their own servants with them, so there was nothing strange about it.
Ain gulped down the drink he received.
“I feel alive again.”
He was finally able to catch his breath. As he looked out the window, he could see Ist moving away.
“I was in that town just a few minutes ago… sneaking into that big tower, right?”
The size of the Tower of Wisdom is exceptional, standing tall in the distance. How did he manage to run up the stairs from the bottom to the top of such a huge building? Ain thought to himself with admiration.
“Nyaa. I will also add that you shut down the function-nya.”
Haha. Ain laughed heartily.
“Good grief… It was full of unexpected things-nya.”
Said Katima, with such an expression and voice, and then changed the subject by saying, “Speaking of which.”
“I’ve rented out another cabin for Vara and Mei-nya. They’re taking it easy over there, but do you want to go check on them-nya?”
Katima said, looking down the other passageway from where Ain had come.
“That’s the passageway that leads to their cabin-nya. That’s the one that leads to the dining cabin or something too-nya.”
But there is a magic tool that prevents people from entering the other cabin without a ticket.
“Let’s just let the sisters relax together for a while. And, Katima-san.”
“What is it-nya?”
“I know I’m late in saying this, but thank you for getting the kidnapped girls clothes and stuff. Dill was also working under the name of the Glacier family, right? I really appreciate it.”
“Nyahahaha! You don’t have to worry about that-nya.”
“So do I. If I could be of any help to you, I would be more than happy to do so.”
They are really good friends, Ain smiled.
When the conversation had died down, Chris, who had dropped off the luggage, stepped into the lounge.
“Chris-san, I’ve asked Dill to make you a drink.”
“Really? I was just thirsty.”
She thanked Dill.
“I got something valuable from Professor Oz. He gave us one of the Red Fox’s magic stones that he showed us on the first day.”
“How did you get it so easily-nya?”
Katima lay down on the sofa with an exaggerated movement.
“Is it sealed-nya? I don’t want to be the one who found out Ain was absorbing it!”
“Oh, it’s okay. It’s in my room, and I’ve heard that it’s sealed with a seal made by Majolica-san.”
“…Then, it’s fine. Ain, if you want to crawl on Chris at night, you have to be patient today.”
“No, I won’t, okay?”
Chris laughed at the exchange between them, but her cheeks secretly flushed. She held the glass in both hands and drank without letting anyone see her face.
Then Katima’s stomach let out a gurgling sound.
“It’s not hunger; it’s more like a shiver-nya.”
With a dry smile, Katima turned her head away and shrugged her shoulders.
“I’m not sure what that means, but… I think it’s a perfect time for the four of us to have dinner together. We could go to the dining cabin and have room service.”
As soon as Ain said that, he remembered Vara and Mei.
“Oh, by the way, we should order dinner for them, too.”
“No, it’s okay-nya. Mei was actually very hungry-nya. They are already eaten-nya.”
“Well, we’d better not disturb them.”
“I told them to call me if they needed anything, so don’t worry-nya.”
The four of them enjoyed their dinner in a friendly atmosphere. Afterward, they took a break in the lounge and talked about their time at Ist, and their time on the water train passed slowly by.