Chapter 15 (A) – Predicament
The place that Edgar entered was the central street’s back lane.
Unlike the main street, there doesn’t seem to be that many people using this lane.
In addition, since there wasn’t much sunlight penetrating through, the entire place seemed to be enveloped in a dark and ominous atmosphere.
Suspicious looking buyers could be seen hanging around the shops lined up here.
I could tell that the items that were placed for sale were mostly illegal goods.
Poison bags that were cut off from demons.
Accessories that were stripped off fallen travellers.
I felt like making cynical remarks at the huge variety of shady looking items sold here.
「This is quite a nice place.」 (Regis)
「Isn’t it? It’s also damp and clammy, making this the most suitable place for carrying out bad deeds. It would be perfect if there are no mushrooms growing here though. 」 (Edgar)
「Would it be all right for me to walk through here? 」 (Regis)
「Hmm, I guess it will be fine, isn’t it? Besides, there are shops here that are aimed at nobles too. One of the examples would be shops dealing with poisons.」
Hou, you seemed to be well-informed.
As expected of someone who had lived through the life of a mercenary.
She was able to lead through the dark side of a place.
Besides, I had not realized that there was a place like this in the Imperial City.
It’s frightening to know that such an exclusive place is actually located not far from the main street.
「The public security here is not good so don’t leave my side. 」 (Edgar)
Edgar seemed to have said something reliable.
She would look cool with that line if she wasn’t staggering due to her drunkenness when she said it.
I wonder if she couldn’t decide on something smarter.
「Is that villa or something located on this street?」 (Regis)
「If I were to sleep in a place like this, I would end up encountering robbers. Once I wake up, I will be stripped off not only all my possessions but my clothing too so I’ll refrain from that.」 (Edgar)
It’s highly likely that you will be attacked due to your good looks.
I guess our destination is slightly further from this place then.
As we advanced through the winding path, the number of shops in the vicinity decreased.
Then Edgar stepped into an alley.
As if to flee from Edgar’s boots, rats could be seen springing out.
The cleanliness of the environment here has certainly left much to be desired.
We ended up at a crossroad as we advanced through the alley, and we made another left turn before making numerous more turnings after.
Finally, at a place that seemed like a dead end, Edgar lit up a fire.
I guess it might be hard to see since it was too dark.
「….Etto, it should be around here if I am not mistaken. 」 (Edgar)
Edgar lightly tapped the stones on ground.
Shortly after that, she discovered a large stone that appeared to be slightly protruding from the ground.
When she applied more pressure onto it, I could hear something that sounds like *gakon* as the stone sank.
Edgar then thrust her arm deeper inside and pulled up a handle.
「Soi-!! 」 (Edgar)
As soon as she did that, a part of the ground raised up.
Slight wind could be felt coming from between gap. It appears that there is a basement underneath.
I wonder if that slate was meant to keep the passage hidden.
Once the size of the opening is big enough for a human to pass by, Edgar led me inside.
「It’s been a long time since I last came here. I think the last was during the civil war between the nobles nine years ago. 」 (Edgar)
「Noble’s civil war, was it.」 (Regis)
Speaking of which, I have heard of this incident before. There was a conflict between the southern noble district and northern noble district nine years ago in the Imperial City.
Even though it ended after the King stepped in to arbitrate the dispute, there were heavy casualties among the soldiers and sentries.
Strangely, the concealment of the state between the nobles occurred at the same time, ending the incident and leaving it shrouded in mystery.
At that time, the house of Din received only the post report after the incident.
However, the intelligence network received wasn’t really friendly to the nobles in remote regions.
It made me came to the realization that people who were born in a place like this do not have adequate access to information.
「This was my hideout at that time. I was employed as a mercenary in the southern noble district during then. 」 (Edgar)
「Is that so. 」 (Regis)
「This is a great place. Once you bring the enemies back here, you can even torture them as you like. Above all, there wouldn’t be any witnesses at all. 」 (Edgar)
Stop saying something that sounds so ominous!
I could see a dark sinister shadow looming over your face now, making you look like nothing but a villain!
Although some points were deducted since your cheeks were flushed due to alcohol.
As a result, regardless of how much I overestimate you, you might only look like villain B at the most.
Well, I guess that was because you don’t have a villainous look on your face now.
If you were to put on a dress, tried acting more ladylike and keep your mouth shut, you might even look like a princess to me.
It made me wonder but, why did you put your charm to waste all this while?
It is a mystery that is comparable to the Seven Wonders of the World.
We descended down into a dim underground place.
I could feel the humid air brushing against my cheeks.
It felt strangely warm once I am inside.
As soon as my nose was greeted by a peculiar smell swirling in the air, I understood it well that this place hasn’t been used for many years.
However, it was strange that the temperature was still high even though we were deep inside.
Was there some kind of protection against cold effect here?
Edgar who was in the lead, has a serious look on her face as she touched something with her hand.
「Here is the alcohol……」 (Edgar)
「In the end it’s still alcohol to you?! 」 (Regis)
Edgar started rolling a barrel all of a sudden.
She’s already the incarnation of alcohol.
She still wants to drink more despite being drunk?
Even though it was just a small room, the stockpiles were in abundant.
There were plenty of preserved food in the basement too.
Although, these were preserved food from roughly 10 years ago. Are they still safe?
「Uwaaa…..there are molds growing on the hardtack. The fried meat that I stashed here 10 years ago has shapeshifted into something like a monster.」 (Edgar)
「Isn’t that no good already!? 」 (Regis)
In the end, the alcohol was the only one that was still in a good condition, wasn’t it?
The state of all the food inside here was far worse than the state of a rice cooker that was left unattended for half a year.
I have a feeling that I will likely come across scary things if I were to rummage through this place.
While I was smiling wryly, there was a sudden change of tone in Edgar’s voice when she spoke out.
「Well, this is not my real intention though. You understand what I am saying, don’t you Regis?」 (Edgar)
「Of course. Although, I already noticed it earlier when we were in the city……」 (Regis)
He has splendidly taken the bait.
Edgar’s drunken act worked.
Since her performance looked too realistic, I was afraid that she might have been really drunk.
However, that might be the reason the enemy think it would be easier to aim at us too.
Edgar and I turned to the back at the same time.
Footsteps could be heard resounding through the narrow room.
There are three of us all together.
Turning off my detection magic, my hand reached out to the knife at my waist.
I could feel the thick killing intent overflowing from the other party,
「You’re here aren’t you? Horgos’ assassin-san. 」 (Edgar)
Edgar pointed at the vicinity of the entrance one step before me.
Thereupon, the figure of a tall man could be seen stepping out from the depths.
This guy has been following us ever since we left the magic shop’s area.
The man was stammering slightly in an inhuman way as he exuded a violent murderous urge.
A repulsive voice.
The entire face was concealed by a black cloth, revealing only the area around the eyes.
The parts around his forehead appeared to be bulging slightly. I wonder if he’s wearing a hachigane.
Holding sinister looking Odachi in both hands, he threw that single word out coldly.
(Rin: Odachi is a type of traditional Japanese sword)
「Were you the one who did that to my shop? 」 (Edgar)
「…….that’s right. But, will tell you no more. Taste an eternal death. Will leave only mysteries behind. 」 (Assassin)
「…….Aa. So you’re the Stalin brothers? I was wondering who it was but I can identify that tone and look. 」 (Edgar)
「Stalin brothers?」 (Regis)
What’s that about? I have not heard of it even once.
However, Edgar seems to be well-informed and was able to explain it to me.
「They’re mercenaries that have taken root in the Imperial City. No wait, it’s slightly wrong. Even among the mercenaries, they only work for the VIPs. They’re the masters of assassination. 」 (Edgar)
「So they’re specialists in assassination then. 」 (Regis)
「Originally they were supposed to be carrying out their tasks in a pair though. I wonder if it’s different than the information that I have in hand. 」 (Edgar)
「I see. In other words, you refuse to answer. Based on my intuition, the other person must be carrying out another mission. 」 (Edgar)
The person didn’t seem to divulge the information easily but, it’s a given.
There are probably two reasons why this man—Stalin came here.
The first was a revenge on Edgar for humiliating the Horgos’ faction in the northern noble district area.
And the other one, would be the assassination of the house of Din’s successor, that would me.
It appears that those who look down on Horgos will be thoroughly crushed.
He’s truly a petty person.
「………Will remain silent. Won’t talk about it. Just be obedient, and die. 」 (Stalin)
Stalin took a step towards us casually as he held the two Odachi over his head.
Then, he lunged straight at me after heaving a short breath.
「Otto, I shall be the opponent to the one with the sword. 」 (Edgar)
Edgar walked out and stopped the force of the swing with her sword cane.
The two swords clashed intensely at the same time, creating an unpleasant sound that resounded through the place when the edges met.
「……….you. I know you. Famous for running away right away, 『The Hiding Edgar』. Sword skill, is certainly lower than me. 」 (Stalin)
「I understand that alright. But I’m still a former mercenary. There’s just one thing that I would like to hear from you. Are mercenaries’ abilities restricted to only sword and magic?」 (Edgar)
Edgar asked him provocatively.
「………correct. Other than that, nothing else. 」 (Stalin)
「—You’re a third-rate mercenary. Locational advantage and cooperation are also important to a mercenary. Just like this.」 (Edgar)
Edgar winked at me.
All right, time to go as planned.
I used the magic that I have been chanting earlier.
The spell should be invoked with just a few more words.
This degree of difficulty in learning this magic was actually relatively high.
I have been practising this spell since I was four but, I wasn’t really able to invoke it.
However, I should be able to do it now. No, I must be able to do it.
「Strong and sublime flame of the departed souls, please protect us and purify the flame of evil—-『Fire Shell』!!! 」 (Regis)
I was suddenly attacked by a severe headache.
It hurts. It’s seriously painful that my head felt like it was on the verge on breaking.
But it’s fine.
I’ll show you that I can endure this level of pain—!
The magical power permeated my body and was casted on Edgar at the same time.
Thereupon, she seemed to be wrapped by a sense of comfort as a layer of flame enveloped her body.
All right. Even though it was considered to be a difficult spell among the fire magic, have I succeeded in learning it?
This spell is able to dispel or reduce the impact of fire magic.
On seeing my magic, Stalin frowned.
「…….I, don’t use fire magic. You’re wasting effort. 」 (Stalin)
「No one said that you’ll be the one using it. Do it Regis!! 」 (Edgar)
「Ou!! 」 (Regis)
There were still remaining magic power in me since I had enough sleep.
This situation was influenced by this narrow space.
It’s now or never.
I began chanting while Edgar wielded her sword in order to attract his attention.
「「What do you think will happen if we were to use fire magic in a small place like this!?」」 (Edgar & Regis)
「……is that, your goal? If that is the case, then, I have a trump card myself. 」 (Stalin)
Stalin slashed his sword down violently and fell back one step within that interval.
Was he planning to run away?
That was what I had thought but apparently it was the other way round.
A super-fast incantation was uttered out as he held both swords in his hands.
「The flash from the prison feast that drove me to madness. The Dark God of Ugliness dwelling in the two swords—-『Chaos Stroke』…… 」 (Stalin)
Stalin swung his sword right at that moment.
Something that looked similar to steam could be seen spiralling up.
No matter how you looked at it, a steam consisting a mixture of black and purple colour is nothing but ominous.
「………die, mercenary. 」 (Stalin)
He started wielding his sword as if he was performing a boisterous dance.
The swinging of his sword appeared to be slow sometimes, and ultra-fast at other times.
There were also times when the blade of the sword suddenly disappeared from sight.
I couldn’t read his movement at all.
「….Gu! 」 (Edgar)
Sweat could be seen trickling down from Edgar’s forehead.
I guess it must have been a magic that she has never seen before.
For just an instant, Edgar directed her feet towards the exit.
However, when she took a look at my face, she ended up laughing as if she just recalled something.
「I will not run away. Besides, if I am going to die then I’ll take you along with meeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!! 」 (Edgar)
Edgar thrust her sword as if she has steeled herself.
On the other hand, Stalin was just moving his swords around accordingly at a slow pace.
It was a blow to Edgar’s state of mind.
At that very instant, a lethal attack carrying an absolute scent of death was swung right to the base of Edgar’s neck—–
「――『Cross Blasttttttttttt』——!!!!!!!」 (Regis)
My scream echoed through the place.
I would not be able to make it anymore with just a mere chanting.
Edgar might die if I were to delay this even for a second.
As a result of my choice, I omitted the rest of the incantation.
This skill was insanely high level in difficulty.
However, by putting all that I have at stake, my incantation ended up being successful.
The whole room flared up instantly.
The hellfire engulfed even the ceiling, spreading itself everywhere and coming in between the two, separating them.
Stalin who was delivering the final blow was forced to jump back due to the heat.
That guy has not received any blessing from the fire magic so he would definitely be scorched.
The prison of flames enveloping this area ignited the spilled alcohol, causing the hellfire to spread its boiling rage everywhere.
The fire was so intense that even Stalin jumped back towards entrance as he wasn’t able to endure it anymore.
He might have wanted to pull back since he wasn’t able to proceed with the assassination.
「How’s that!? How about staying here a little longer to play with me? 」 (Regis)
「…….Will refrain, from it. Farewell. 」 (Stalin)
After saying so, Stalin started running towards the entrance of the room.
He made a quick dash when the fire clung to his body
「Hold on there! 」 (Regis)
Ignoring my words, Stalin pushed open the entrance and escaped.
The only ones remaining in this room were Edgar, who was standing in the center looking stunned, and me.
Edgar might have thought that she had died.
She placed her hand on her neck, appearing to be surprise that she was still alive.
「…..what the. So I’m still alive. 」 (Edgar)
Her hands were still trembling, possibly because she has just tasted a considerable amount of fear.
When Edgar turned towards me, I signalled her with my eyes, prompting her to escape from here.
Regardless of how much the spell was able to reduce the heat, hot things are still hot.
Besides, once the effect is gone, we would end up getting swallowed up by the flames.
While assisting each other like a three-legged race, we ascended the stairs and was able to escape to the outside somehow.