< Evade the Hero and Flee! Side Stories – A certain imperial princess’s reminiscence (22) >
#32 Their circumstance: A certain villain’s (?) circumstance
“It’s finished, sir.”
Rummaging through a small house netted us a ton of document piles. Countless many among those documents featured the seal belonging to a duke household of the Merdeia Kingdom.
“With these, it’s beyond the shadow of a doubt, sir.”
“Yup, it seems that way.” I watched the soldiers carry away the last batch of evidence and sighed grandly. “Wowsers. This is a bit too much…”
I might have tagged along to supervise, but in all honesty, I had no idea there would be so much evidence in this place. No, before all that – I had no idea those guys wouldn’t know the concept of integrity or principles to this degree!
We only joked around a few times, but not a single one of the would-be assassins held out.
Some did shout at us, saying that we should just kill them. A couple of them even said that they would rather kill themselves instead, and that’s why we’d never get to find out the truth.
We simply replied with, “We’ve already pulled out your molars containing hidden poison,” which led them to give us the silent treatment.
Although, that didn’t last long, either!
“And I’ve prepared so many things in advance, too…”
I learned various torture techniques from the evil organisation, but they were all just theories.
A novel I read in the past depicted scenes of trainees torturing each other or kidnapping innocents to use as examples, but things were somewhat different in real life back in the organisation.
Trainees tortured each other during class, but that led to a build-up of resentment, which resulted in team kills during assignments. And commotions repeatedly broke out during the torture technique classes, too.
One of the ‘unique’ aspects of an organisation lurking in the shadows was a chronic lack of manpower, so losing agents in this manner was just unacceptable. The organisation believed that agents dying during assignments was already enough, and there was no need to lose more in other ways. Of course, some agents got arrested or even kidnapped due to their ties to the organisation.
In any case, black magic was at the top of the ‘human biological experiment’ to-do list, so most trainees never got their chance back then.
“Bastards! Punks without any loyalty whatsoever! You embarrass every assassin in existence!”
I would love to acquire some experience in actually torturing someone to learn just how much a person could withstand pain, and how far I can push before the subject dies. And as an added bonus, I’d have a perfect story to spook my pupils when I start teaching them again in the future!
To think that these idiots confessed to everything so easily from just a little bit of joking around! I hadn’t even started on the ‘serious’ torturing yet, too. I felt so bitter and dismayed by it. This was why my organisation often made us sing “Loyalty, loyalty!” every day.
“I knew it. The most important thing in any organisation is loyalty!”
Once I get back to the organisation to take up on the mantle of an instructor again… I swear to prioritise instilling loyalty in my disciples. Loyalty to me, of course!
While I was thinking that to myself…
“Truly amazing, Sir Ast! This is already beyond the realm of fabrication. To think that you’d achieve such a stunning result!”
The one to land the truly unexpected blow on the back of my head was…
“Count Maures… Do you mind repeating that again, sir?”
Even if it was done with the justification of ‘investigation’, soldiers from another nation searching through a residence of your private citizen would never present a good look.
That’s why the empire’s investigation team agreed to cooperate with the Peleros’s military in the investigation. For the purpose of arbitration and mediation, Count Maures and several folks from Peleros’s foreign affairs were accompanying the investigation team.
I told him that it might get dangerous but still allowed him to come after learning about how he graduated from the greatest academy in the empire, Arusia. Oh, and he also said his combat ability rivalled that of a well-trained knight, so…
Since he was an Arusia graduate, I figured that he’d be more helpful than me in an emergency situation.
Of course, I wasn’t too chuffed about him getting all chummy with me out of the blue like this. I wanted to ignore him since my goal was to get fired from the imperial court by messing up this investigation, and I’d never get to see him again, anyway!
But to think that he made me realise something important like this!
“I said, you’ve achieved something truly amazing, Sir Ast! We aren’t talking about another kingdom, but Merdeia. You succeeded in uncovering a dastardly scheme by that kingdom, a thorn in our side!”
While dazedly staring at Count Maures busy yapping away, I quietly muttered the word responsible for smacking me in the back of my head.
“Achieve… ment, you say?”
Achievement. It means I did something and got a result from doing so.
Most of the time, that word was used positively, often employed when you succeeded in something you desired or accomplished a commendable feat.
That’s right, I achieved something. Something truly spectacular!
Delivering the remains back to the empire alone would’ve been seen as a successful mission, but I even managed to catch the culprits responsible for the assassinations, too.
It got better, though. I also interrogated the culprits and made them confess, then recovered all the necessary evidence, too! Evidence showing that the empire’s long-time enemy, the Merdeia Kingdom, was behind this scheme!
“It seems that, once we return, I should stop calling you Baron Ast, but a Viscount, instead!”
Count Maures laughed heartily while slapping me on the back. Judging from his laughter, it seemed that he failed to understand my current emotions.
Bloody hell, I screwed up so bad this time!
In that case, the only remaining way is to…!
“Stop that carriage! Raid it, right now!”
“S-Sir Ast? But that carriage belongs to an allied kingdom nearby…”
“No, that carriage is too suspicious!”
…To start an irreparable incident, no matter the cost!
#33 Their circumstance: A certain noble’s circumstance
The horses neighed energetically, signalling our departure from the Peleros Kingdom.
We have achieved our purpose. No, we have achieved something even more.
“As expected of Her Highness the First Imperial Princess’s subordinate!”
Everything got taken care of in the cleanest, simplest way imaginable. That man looked beyond the mission assigned to him and dealt with the root of the problem. He uncovered evidence then deliberately leaked that information out to turn himself into the bait.
A school of naughty fish approached him without realising that and got caught quite easily. And now, they were about to get handed over to the waiting customer (the imperial court) all nicely cooked and everything!
Everything was dealt with so meticulously. It was reminiscent of an expert chef cooking a dish he was intimately familiar with. The process of Sir Ast slaughtering the fish, trimming the vegetables and completing his dish was admirably sleek.
It was hard to believe that the former commoner who had spent only five years in the imperial court possessed such abilities. I even had to seriously wonder if he was a spy from some other organisation!
However, that seemed unlikely.
The empire wouldn’t be disadvantaged in any way by this incident going public. Indeed, it’d be the Merdeia Kingdom feeling the brunt instead!
“As expected, Her Highness’s discernment is something else…”
After getting her hands on Dame Reia, Her Highness the First Imperial Princess also managed to snatch away yet another stunning talent.
No, hang on. Dame Reia was already a celebrity before she rose to the level of a swordmaster. But from what I heard, Sir Ast was merely hired as a low-rung employee to deal with the imperial court’s miscellaneous tasks. And Her Highness took him under her wings as her exclusive butler on the same day, apparently.
She abruptly promoted a fresh-faced newbie, a commoner with an unclear background no less, and managed to bring home such an incredible achievement!
“It seems that time has come for me, too…”
Her Highness the First Imperial Princess has already reached two digits in her age. Starting from the First Imperial Prince, who was slightly older than her… the time for the countless princes and princesses to fight for the right to succeed the throne was rapidly approaching.
The single greatest position in the entire empire…!
This battle would greatly influence not just the imperial family and the nobles taking an active part in the imperial court, but even those nobles living in territories far away from the capital, too.
If I had been one of those nobles in the sticks who was too busy with his own territory to mind the politics of the imperial court, then I wouldn’t have a need to worry about the succession battle. However, I belonged to the imperial court, meaning I’d have to choose which imperial to throw my lot with sooner rather than later.
“For now, it won’t hurt me to get as friendly with Sir Ast.”
It was always wise to increase your allies. No, more than that – even if not as an ally, I’d still have scored big as long as he didn’t end up as an enemy.
Here was the truth that any diplomat worth their salt knew in their hearts: it’s not ‘having more allies’ but ‘having fewer enemies’ that made your life much more comfortable.
“It’s foolish to get into a conflict with a man like that. He may only be a Baron right now, but as soon as we reach the empire, he’ll surely become a Viscount. And who knows, maybe the peerage of Count one of these days, too. Same peerage as me…”
Getting a noble title wasn’t as difficult as you might imagine. But trying to maintain that noble title was difficult, indeed. And trying to get a promotion was even tougher.
The empire’s imperial court was unforgiving.
The number of people being granted new peerage every year was not inconsiderable but just as many nobles lost their peerages.
Those with abilities were granted a peerage, while those without lost theirs. A genius might get themselves a peerage, but if their offspring weren’t as good as them, then the family might not get to maintain their status.
This was one of the reasons why nobles with peerage higher than ‘Count’ that also boasted history and tradition were called upper-class nobles.
Only those families that continued to attain great fame and acclaim generation after generation, and those that continuously produced geniuses to enhance the prestige of their families, could become Marquises and Dukes.
“I’m truly looking forward to finding out just how much further he’ll climb.”
In the extensive history of the empire, the highest peerage a noble climbed up in his lifetime was ‘Count’.
I haven’t been with him for long, but with the abilities and contributions he has made so far, I began believing that Sir Ast would easily climb up to the peerage of Count. As long as his luck held up, of course.
“As such, I should keep observing his march, and then… Mm?”
Just as I was about to immerse myself in a bout of contemplation, my carriage came to an abrupt halt.
I asked the carriage driver. “What happened?”
“My lord. It seems that some kind of an issue has cropped up in the other carriage.”
“Other carriage? The one carrying the criminals?”
“No, my lord. It seems to be coming from Sir Ast’s carriage…”
After hearing that, I decided to open the carriage’s door just a little and take a gander. Indeed, I could hear quite a bit of commotion outside. I paid closer attention and picked out Sir Ast’s voice among the noises.
“What on earth is going on here?”
Once Sir Ast stopped talking, a group of soldiers, including wizards and knights, began moving out. Their destination seemed to be several carriages on standby in a corner over yonder. It seemed that that group of travellers saw our flags of the Karuan Empire and decided to yield the road to us by moving out of the way.
“Is he thinking of chastising them for not moving out of the way quickly enough?”
Even if the empire’s road network was exemplary, the roads outside the capital or large cities were inevitabl
y narrow. As such, it was common to see a battle of wills breaking out when nobles with similar peerage and strength ran into each other on a narrow road where only one carriage could pass through.
“Does that mean he’s still too immature?”
Acting this way within the territory of another kingdom did not present a good look. Especially so when those unknown carriages were flying the flags belonging to an allied nation to the empire. Even if said nation was tiny, it didn’t change the fact that it was still an ally.
Judging from the carriages themselves, they seemed to be a group of merchants. As long as they flew the allied nation’s flags, they should be considered our allies, too. As such, it was not a good idea to pointlessly provoke them.
“Gentlemen, what are you all doing?”
I quickly descended from my carriage and asked the wizards by the rear of the group. The reply they gave me was somewhat different from my expectation, however.
“My lord. Well, Sir Ast said that those carriages are not what they seem, and we need to investigate the reasons for their subterfuge, so…”
“Say what now?”
Just what about them roused his suspicions, I wonder? To my eyes, they seem like your regular merchant carriages, and nothing seems out of place, so why?
My puzzlement was resolved rather quickly, however.
“Slaves! They are slave merchants!”
“Bloody hell! Attack!”
One of the soldiers talking to the merchants began yelling at the top of his lungs after confirming the contents of the carriage. The complexions of the merchants rapidly changed as soon as they were outed as slave dealers. After yanking out weapons from somewhere, they began charging straight at us.
Wizards got caught off-guard since they weren’t expecting Sir Ast to be right this time as well. While panicking somewhat, they began chanting magic spells to assist their fellow soldiers.
“Sir Ast, you… truly are…!”
Even as he rode on a carriage, he instantly saw through other normal-looking passersby and determined them to be slave merchants! Just where was the limit of his abilities!
“I knew it. I should line myself up with Her Highness the First Imperial Princess.”
You could tell the liege’s abilities by looking at their subordinates.
Since Her Highness was capable enough to keep someone like Sir Ast as her loyal servant, she must be the right candidate for me to serve as my liege, too!
And in a not-too-distant future…
This decision proved to be the best one I’ve made in my life.
#34 Their circumstance: Someone’s circumstance
This is a story from when I was still young.
While reading about legends, fairy tales and other books of such nature, I began dreaming about a certain topic.
-I wanna meet my own prince charming!
Yes, that was my dream.
While awake, I read the books and imagined myself encountering my prince. While asleep, I dreamed of becoming a princess and meeting my handsome prince.
Some princes were kind and gentle, but some were what you’d call bad boys. One common theme among these varied princes was fate; fate led them to me, and as fate dictated, they all fell in love with me.
Unfortunately, they were nothing more than just dreams. Dreams that would never come true.
From the day of my birth, I was forbidden from going outside. Even those who could come inside where I stayed were limited, too.
However, I never gave up. A prince will surely come for me one day. That is my fate.
As long as fate exists in this world, my prince and I will be united one day!
But then, on a certain day…
-If you don’t act and meekly wait, fate will never choose you.
Someone’s voice rang inside my head.
For some strange reason, that voice continued to swim around in my head. Even before realising it, I had slipped out of the place I was supposed to guard. And that’s how I got captured by villains calling themselves slave merchants.
They didn’t seem like your average slave merchants, either. They instantly realised that I was not a normal Elf and eventually found out my real identity.
Honestly speaking, I was so scared that my body trembled all on its own. However, there was another reason that made me shiver, too.
This was a desperately dangerous situation. A situation where I couldn’t tell what might happen to me if these humans managed to drag me away somewhere!
And in such a situation…!
“Mm? An Elf?”
It was destiny for my fated prince to appear before me, you see!