Translator: Silver Editor: Namorax
「Disturbance in Lanbaltic」 Part 1
The western section of Lanbaltic was referred to as Burugo gulf on account of the harbor, the closest structure to the Nozan kingdom, being built in the center of the area. Beyond the harbor lied a small island named Bis that was apparently a popular trade port of the Nozan kingdom in the past.
I was currently staring offshore from the harbor and could slightly make out the island in the distance. According to Gio, the island wasn’t that far away, not even taking two hours to reach by ship.
Two large piers were built along the port and both large and small ships alike were anchored at them. There weren’t many ships leaving thanks to Petros’s restrictions. The occasional guard could be seen patrolling the area and keeping watch over the ships, but their work ethic varied, and many of the guards panicked when they saw Gio heading their way.
Since two days had already passed since the restrictions were implemented, it would be unreasonable to keep this number of ships from leaving.
The harbor was crowded with people and the air was writhing with tension and insecurity. A lot of scruffy looking people were hanging around the harbor and the gentle atmosphere of the city was lost here.
Seeming to have sensed the danger of the area, Ponta had forgone her usual spot atop my head and was wrapped around my neck like a scarf with her head tucked in.
“The refugees from the western regions of Nozan congregate here, making the area quite dangerous…… Although the number of incoming refugees has decreased thanks to the restrictions, they’re bound to rise once they are lifted. Quite the troubling situation. The anxiety and frustration of the residents has also increased thanks to rumors of ghost ship sightings.”
Vice-captain Gio’s voice took on a slightly bitter tone as he explained the city’s current situation while guiding Ariane and me through the harbor.
“Hasn’t the Nozan Kingdom done anything to handle the situation in their western territory?”
If refugees were flowing in from across the gulf, the incident had to be a serious one. A kingdom couldn’t maintain its rule for long if its normal response to situations like this was to sit around with their thumbs in their mouth.
“From what the refugees say, the holy knights of the Hiruku Theocracy have been sent in as first respondents and Army support is on the way.”
The Hiruku Theocracy was just west of the Norzan Kingdom, so it couldn’t simply overlook an incident this close to their own border. However, was the Hiruku Theocracy the only neighboring country that had sent aid.
I asked Gio about it but he just looked confused and said he didn’t know the details.
Unlike the information-oriented modern age of my old world, information seemed to be a rare commodity here. It must take a great deal of labor to amass reliable information, as few people even had a grasp on the conditions in neighboring countries. There could also be a simple gag order on information.
Petros had said that the Hiruku Theocracy had recently been purchasing a lot of slaves. Even if it was really for the purpose of mining mithril…
Mithril weapons were effective anti-monster weapons, so I’d understand using slave labor to mine the ore, but couldn’t imagine their current methods being cost-effective.
While I was in the middle of considering all this, Ariane suddenly poked her eyes from beneath her hood and stared at me.
“Is something wrong Ariane-dono?”
When I looked back at her, Ariane placed her forefinger over her lips and did a quick scan of the area.
“A number of people have been following us for a while now.”
Without moving my head I looked around the area from within my helmet and caught a suspicious looking man turning away from us. However, I couldn’t find anyone else that Ariane had mentioned.
Elven warriors must’ve honed their senses to the point where they could perceive the actions of multiple people at once, or maybe it was something she could do because she was a dark elf. Either way, her perception abilities were beyond normal.
However, what exactly were the intentions of the people following us? Even though the two of us stood out a bit, this was the first time that either of us has been to this city.
Were they related to disappearance of the maid Furani? I couldn’t think of any other reason for someone to follow us, so maybe they were spies sent by the kidnappers.
However, no one should know that Ariane and I have been asked by Petros to search for the missing maid.
But in that case……
I looked at Gio who was walking in front of us.
If the vice-captain of the territory’s knights was in the area, it was only obvious that members of the underworld market would be worried. They might not be following Ariane and me, they could’ve been ordered to shadow Gio.
“Could those guys be following vice-captain Gio?”
When I asked her, Ariane stopped walking and faintly shook her head.
“Their attention seems to be focused on us……”
I was getting more confused by the second. Ariane and I looked at each other while trying to make sense of this. Gio had walked ahead a bit before he noticed we had stopped walking and came back to us.
“Is something wrong?”
Gio looked worried as he came back to talk to us.
After looking at Ariane for a moment, I answered Go’s question direction.
“Apparently, a group of people have been watching us for a while……”
Gio’s eyes bulged when he heard my reply took a look around with only his eyes.
“……Is that true?”
Ariane lowered her voice before she answered Gio’s latest question.
“Though I don’t know why, they’ve been following us since we entered the harbor.”
“Could they be the involved with Furani’s kidnapping……”
When Gio said that a doubt entered my mind.
“Wait a second. Gio-dono. Do you know how Furani was captured in the first place?”
Gio’s eye shifted from the left to right at my question before lowering his head.
A maid that worked for the lord should spend most of her time in the castle. While I didn’t know the details, I doubted it’d be easy to kidnap a live-in-maid without anyone seeing anything. On the contrary, various statements describing the perpetrators should would exist.
“……It was my fault.”
Gio eyes remained downcast as he answered my question in a strained voice.
“I asked her to run an errand outside of the castle. I should have gotten one of my subordinates to accompany her on that errand…… So when Petros asked for a guide I volunteered, believing that I could at least make up for my mistake.
“Why don’t we separate from Gio here?”
When he heard that question, Gio raised his head and rapidly looked back and forth between Ariane and I.
“Why!? I can still help with the sear──”
Ariane raised her hand to cut Gio off before she started to speak again.
“Don’t you think it’d be better if we acted as decoys and drew them out?”
I chipped in to explained her plan to him.
“Hmm. Gio, you’re a well known figure in this city. If we want to lure these guys out, it’d be better if you aren’t with us.”
Gio tried to say something but, Ariane simply asked for his agreement in a calm tone.
“We don’t have much time, do we? We need even the tiniest of clues.”
Eventually, Gio lowered his eyes and hesitantly nodded before speaking in a lifeless tone.
“I understand…… I’ll head towards the harbor’s guard station.”
“Let’s meet up back here In about an hour.”
After everyone was in agreement, Gio went off on his own.
While waving at Gio’s retreating back, I asked Ariane a question.
“Will they take the bait?”
“In the worst case, we’ll split up if they don’t come after the two of us.”
Ariane casually laughed after she replied to me.
I think we’d fall behind if Ariane and I had to go off on our own, but I couldn’t be too careless. I could only pray that the stalkers would take the bait of two people.
I accompany Ariane through the harbor while we occasionally describe the maid Furani’s appearance to a couple sailors and asked them for information. As we asked around, people who seemed to know something would all give vague answers to our questions or refused to speak to us. They probably didn’t want to be involved with the underworld power struggle that Petros mentioned.
Without much in terms of results, we cautiously entered the warehouse district on the south side of the harbor.
While there was a lot of foot traffic on the main roads, the number of people decreased the moment we stepped into the back alleys. It seemed like the warehouses far away from the piers weren’t used much.
Vagabond-like people that were crouching in the alleyways looked at us with suspicion, but they didn’t do anything as their gazes drifted off.
“How’s it going, Ariane-dono?”
When I asked Ariane about our surroundings, her golden eyes took a strange shine to them when they peeked from under her hood and started to smile. Apparently we caught something.
“There are six men behind us and five more closing in from each side.”
We arrived at a large open area between the warehouses as she spoke and ten men were waiting there with large grins on their faces.
When I looked back I saw that the men behind us had blocked off our escape route. The few uninvolved people in the area noticed something was up and quickly left the in order avoid any trouble.
A quick look around revealed that we were surrounded by more than twenty men.