“I didn’t do anything.”
Joel, who had a blue bruise on his cheek, said to us when he saw us.
We were currently in an underground area of the Department of Security within the Empire.
In twenty-first-century Japan, it was the same as a detainment center.
Joel had his hands tied behind his back with some rope and he had a sullen look on his face.
“Why would you be taken away by a soldier if you didn’t do anything, then?”
Claire-sama asked with an expression that looked like she was 70% worried, but 30% doubtful.
“I don’t know either. However, there’s this girl that’s been following me around all the time, so I can’t imagine anything else but her setting me up.”
“Is it a case of blind love?”
“No. I didn’t even know her name until I got taken away. She was just flirting with me one-sidedly.”
Joel had a look of sincere disgust on his face.
Was he really speaking the truth?
“I’ll find out a bit more about the situation. Claire-sama, please keep hearing Joel out.”
“Okay, got it.”
After leaving the two of them behind, I went to the above-ground side of the building to ask the soldiers that were in charge more about it.
“Excuse me. I’d like to hear about Joel Santana’s case.”
I called out to the soldier that worked at the reception desk.
“Are you family?”
“No, but I am something like a guardian to him. He was my student back in our home country.”
“Ahh, I see.”
The soldier at the reception desk brought me over to another soldier that was in charge of Joel’s case.
Surprisingly, the soldier in charge was a woman.
“What charges was he arrested on?”
“Assault. He was violent towards one of the good citizens of the Empire.”
There was a color of contempt dyed on the soldier’s face as she spoke.
“I’d like to confirm one thing. Is the person that’s claiming to be the victim a woman?”
“Huh? Isn’t that obvious?’
No, well, maybe that’s the usual assumption, but it’s not like that’s always the case.
“Is there any evidence?”
“Yes. There were several wounds found on the woman’s body, and…… I’m sure those scars will remain.”
The soldier’s face became distorted with pain as she recalled the tragic scene of the injured woman.
“It seems like it’s certain that the victim was injured through violence, but is there any evidence that the culprit is Joel?”
“The victim said so herself. It was still bright out, so there was no mistaking it.”
So the soldier says, but it seemed that the only piece of evidence they had was just a testimony from the victim.
“Is there any possibility that the woman is lying?”
“Why would she need to make up such a lie? If anything, it’s Joel that’s hiding something. He refuses to tell us where he was or what he was doing around the time the woman got injured.”
“Would it be possible if I met with the woman?”
“Don’t joke around! The woman is still traumatized…… And to begin with, letting somebody that’s related to the culprit meet with her is completely out of the question!”
What a troublesome position to be in.
In this world with such underdeveloped sciences and judicial systems, the people here mostly relied on testimonies and witness accounts during criminal investigations.
For me who had lived in the twenty-first-century, such an approach was full of holes, but in this world it was everything.
And plus, it was possible that Joel was actually the culprit.
He was my student, and I wanted to believe in him, but I wasn’t going to let myself be blinded with prejudice.
In the event that he turned out to be the culprit, I would want him to pay for his crimes too.
In any case, we didn’t have any concrete evidence.
Although the soldiers seemed certain that Joel was the culprit, I wanted to go and confirm the possibility that he could be innocent.
“I should meet up with Claire-sama again first.”
“He said that the woman’s name is Berta.”
Claire-sama summarized what she had heard from Joel.
Joel first met Berta in a bar downtown in the Empire.
He was drinking by himself when Berta suddenly called out to him.
Berta was acting all enthusiastic about him, but Joel wasn’t interested in her and ignored her.
Berta had claimed that she worked as a poster girl at the bar to attract customers.
Perhaps she felt her pride being hurt, or maybe she was just that interested in him, but Joel paid his bill off and left the bar.
That was all that happened while they were there.
The next time they met was the same day the incident took place.
Joel had some sort of business downtown, and he ended up running into Berta again at a store.
However, for some reason, Joel stubbornly refused to tell us what happened afterward.
He kept quiet about which store he went to or what he did there.
No wonder why the soldiers suspected Joel to be the culprit.
“Since he’s acting like this, I can’t exactly deny the possibility that Joel really is the culprit.”
“Well, that’s to be expected. But I’m also doubtful that Joel is the type of person to get violent.”
“It’s not like I don’t want to believe in him or anything. However, I also don’t want to believe in him so blindly either.”
That was true too.
Just because somebody we know was involved doesn’t mean that we should be biased.
Now then, what shall we do?
“Claire-sama. Let’s place our faith in him first and then do our best to be skeptical of him.”
“What’s with that contradictory strategy?”
“I mean, I want to believe in Joel’s innocence. And besides, if he really did injure a woman, I can’t just leave it alone.”
“That’s true, but…… Wait a minute, don’t tell me you’re planning to stick your nose into something again?”
“Is that bad?”
“…… Hah…… The look on your face is saying that there’s no point in trying to stop you.”
“If anything, I’m actually looking forward to meddling.”
Claire-sama heaved a sigh. It was incredibly wonderful how she had been coming to understand me so well recently.
“So then, what do you plan to do?”
“First things first, I want to learn more about the case. I want to find out what Joel was doing at the time of the incident.”
“Isn’t that what you tried to ask the Imperial soldiers about earlier?”
“Of course, I heard what they had to say, but I want to confirm it with my own eyes and ears.”
“…… You really believe in Joel, don’t you? That’s a bit surprising.”
“Eh? Did it seem like I disliked him or something?”
It was unthinkable to me that it could even look that way.
“That’s not it. How should I put it… It kind feels like you’re the type that unconditionally sides with women.”
“Ahh…… I will admit that I do have a tendency to do that. However, that doesn’t mean I feel particularly hostile towards men or anything, you know?”
I’m a woman that likes women, so I tend to think more about women.
However, because I’m aware of how biased that can be, in cases like these, I try my best to discipline myself into being as neutral as possible.
It’s almost impossible to get rid of these biases, but at the very least, I think I can prepare myself a bit better as long as I’m aware of it.
“I won’t deny that men have their good points. However, when it comes to romance, I personally do not want them as a partner, nothing more, nothing less.”
“I see. I’m a bit relieved.”
“Even though we’re already married, there are still a lot of things we have yet to learn about each other. It seems like we are still far from burnout!”
“D-Don’t say such dumb things. Stop fooling around. Let’s continue with our conversation from before. Should we split up while finding out more about the case?”
That would certainly be the most efficient way to go about it, but,
“No, let’s go together.”
“Why is that?”
“I want to be with you a bit longer.”
“While that cold gaze of yours is considered a reward in our industry, I was just joking around. Dorothea may have said what she said, but I think we should be on our guards after what happened with Philine.”
“Ahh, I see.”
We took part in rebellious activities against another nation, after all.
Normally, we would’ve been sentenced to death right away with no questions asked.
I don’t think Dorothea is the type to lie, but it wouldn’t hurt to be too careful.
That being said, this was what we decided upon for now.
“Now then, let’s dig a bit further starting tomorrow.”
“Yes, it’ll be a strange date for us.”
“That’s not what this is!?”