Just like Achim had mentioned, there was a letter on his desk.
It was his confession that described the entirety of the murder case.
As you might have realized by now, demons had a lot of power.
If they were ever to attack a city, most human beings would not be able to fight back.
Despite that, you might be wondering why the cities in this world―― particularly the cities within the Empire that are close to demon territory―― have not run into any encounters with them so far. That was because there were barriers around them.
“T-The church provides most major cities with a barrier, all of which are extremely strong. N-No matter how powerful of a demon they may be, they cannot get past the barrier.”
According to Lily-sama’s explanation, the barriers were actually formed from magical tools that were concealed and installed within each city.
If a demon ever wanted to get past the barrier, they had no choice but to destroy those concealed magical tools.
It seemed that during the incident where there was an attempted assassination of the Pope, the reason why Rates managed to get in was through the guidance of transfer magic.
In other words, as long as we were in the Imperial capital city, Ruhm, we were safe for the time being.
“However, we’re merchants. You can’t just stay put in one city. Even if it’s a little bit risky, you still have to go out sometimes.”
It was then that Achim’s son was captured by the demons.
He had been taken hostage.
“Cato then said this to me: I have your son. Go and poison the groceries that get provided to the Bauer dormitory.”
It seemed that the Balser Company was the business that provided the Bauer dormitory with our food.
Although the people in the Bauer dormitory were already on their guards about potentially being attacked by the Empire and detoxified their own food, Achim somehow came up with a scheme of his own.
Apparently, ingesting a large amount of nutmeg could reduce one’s organs’ abilities to function, so he gradually started increasing the amount that was added into our food.
Since nutmeg was a commonly used spice, it could not be removed using detoxification magic.
However, it seemed that this also served to deceive Cato.
“It may take a while, but by gradually increasing the amount, the toxins will erode their stomachs and stop its ability to function.”
Achim bought himself some time by offering this explanation to Cato.
Even while being threatened by the demons, he struggled to prevent himself from turning into a murderer.
After he had bought that time for himself, that was when we dropped by for our investigation.
I thought that perhaps he had a slip of the tongue or something, but it seemed that it was intentional.
Apparently, he had a curse put on him.
“Don’t even think about betraying me. If I find out that you have or you try to attack me, I’ll have your entire body burned to ashes.”
It was like a geas.
Achim wasn’t afraid to die, but he wanted to do anything to save his own son’s life.
However, there was a vague realization that he had made.
Perhaps his son had already been killed.
Even so, he continued administering the poison while hanging onto that sliver of hope.
That was when Arnaud became an eyewitness.
Achim and Arnaud got into an argument, which ended with him killing the latter.
“Ahh….. It was my fault I got someone who I also viewed like my own son involved in this.”
While the conflict regarding who the next successor would be had never happened, Achim, who had loved Arnaud like he was his own son, had deeply regretted what he did.
“That demon said that he had my son, but he never said that he captured him alive, nor did he mention he would ever return him. So that ended up being the case…… My dear son and wife, I’m sorry, I’d like to join you both as soon as possible, but――”
Achim wasn’t happy with being made to dance in the palm of the demon’s hand.
He was fueled with determination and anger.
“I’ll have to drag something to the grave with me.”
The rest is as we know it.
Achim sacrificed himself to inflict some damage on Cato, and left the rest to us afterward.
He had committed an unforgivable crime, but I thought there was plenty of room to consider what had happened as an extenuating circumstance.
Upon further investigation, it had turned out that Achim’s son was murdered quite long ago.
He was another victim of the demons.
Since the demons have been looking for ways to influence the cities within the barriers, the incident ended up being reported and published in every newspaper available.
Because nobody involved in the incident spoke up about it, the existence of the rebellious forces managed to stay hidden in the darkness.
And since we were able to prove that the incident had nothing to do with the rebellious forces themselves, our investigation had not gone to waste.
“You did well. As promised, we will lend you our cooperation.”
After the case was closed, we managed to meet with Frieda again, along with representatives from Dana and Kico.
Although it was a meeting between the higher-ups of each religious organization, Philine was able to meet with them openly.
As a result of Philine’s growth, she had also promised that Arnaud, who had lost his life in this incident, would receive a proper burial.
It seemed that Arnaud would most likely become canonized within these religious denominations.
And just like that, Philine managed to get backing and a following from both the Ministry of Magic and the anti-government rebellious forces.
“You’re here, Rei Taylor, Claire François.”
A few days after the incident, we were called to see Dorothea.
There were three of us that were invited.
Claire-sama, Philine, and myself.
This was the first time that this combination of people was called out together. I was slightly confused as to why.
“I-I’m here as well, mother!”
As if she was dissatisfied with not being acknowledged, Philine asserted her existence.
“Yeah, you’re right. You came too, Philine.”
Dorothea spoke to Philine with an unreadable expression on her face.
But even so, it made Philine happy enough to smile.
“You did well by fighting off that demon from the incident that had occurred. I’ll give you a reward. Name anything.”
As usual, Dorothea spoke arrogantly with her elbow resting on the arm of her throne, and her cheeks atop of that.
The elderly man standing next to her had a gloomy look on his face.
It seemed that he was getting sick of Dorothea’s poor behavior…… or actually, for some reason, that didn’t seem like that was the reason.
“There is nothing that I want in particular, but if you can, please continue training Alea in her swordsmanship abilities.”
“Ahh, Alea, huh. She’s got great aptitude. She might just end up being the one to succeed me when it comes to sword-fighting. She’s definitely worth teaching. I’d continue doing so even if you didn’t ask that of me. Training her provides me with quite a bit of amusement.”
I felt a bit strange that she considered training Alea amusing, but regardless, it made me happy that she was praising Alea.
Claire-sama also had a proud smile on her face.
“I also don’t want anything in particular. I’ll put it off for now.”
“I’m scared of being indebted to you, Rei Taylor. Well, whatever. I’ll just write this incident off then.”
Dorothea said something I couldn’t quite understand.
She’ll write this incident off?
“And you, Philine.”
“What I would like to ask from mother is――”
“No, I’m not giving you a reward.”
Most likely, Philine saw this as an opportunity to propose a change within the Empire’s foreign policies.
However, it seemed that a wet blanket had been thrown over her.
Even though she was speaking out to her own blood-related daughter, there was no trace of emotion on her face whatsoever.
“You are hereby exiled from the Empire on account of committing high treason.”
Dorothea’s cold voice was heavy and echoed through the entire audience chamber.
This marks the end of chapter 13 (“Capturing the Empire“)! It was a bit on the shorter side, but with the progress that has been made, I hope you all enjoyed it!
The release date for chapter 14 has not been set in stone yet, but it is estimated to come out by the end of this month. As always, the pre-release will come first, with the public release following it one week after.
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