Chapter 466 - Suspicious Individual and the Simulacrum Model
“Hm? Ah, excuse me for a moment.”
As I was having a pleasant chat with the other dignitaries from different countries, my smartphone suddenly started going off, so I excused myself from them and went to a less crowded place to check it.
Hmm… Eh? From Shizuku? For what reason is she texting me, especially now, during a masquerade? Hm?
Kirigakure Shizuku was one of the three kunoichi girls under Tsubaki from our intelligence team. I checked the message she had sent, and as soon as I saw the title of the message, I immediately frowned.
The message title read “Suspicious Individual Sighted.” There was also a photo attached to the mail which shows a woman wearing a pale pink dress and a red domino mask. At a glance, there was completely nothing wrong about her… Just what exactly makes her suspicious?
“What’s wrong? You’re making such a weird face.”
As I was completely lost in thought about how the woman in the picture looked sus, Elze suddenly called out to me. What do you mean weird face…? I mean… I’m your husband, you know? Are you saying that everytime I frown, my face would look weird?
“Uh, nothing… I just got this weird mail from Shizuku.”
It’s not really something that should be kept secret, so I showed the mail to Elze. Perhaps there’s something weird about it from a woman’s perspective.
“…Those badonkers are pretty big, sus, I’d say. Perhaps, they’re padded.”
“Oi, that’s not what I meant.”
Elze stares intently at the photo whilst viewing it in a strange perspective. I mean… yeah, sure. They are quite big… but, I don’t think that’s the reason Shizuku sent this to me. Right…? Uh, but… Shizuku and Elze are quite similar, aren’t they?… I mean… they’re both flat…
“Just now, you were thinking of something rude, weren’t you?”
Stop! Agh! My arm! It hurts, you know! Kkkk… Man… My wives has such a keen sense of intuition that it makes me wonder whether they always know exactly what I’m thinking of everytime…
Fuu… Alright then, can’t be helped… I can’t call her in the middle of the party, so I’ll just go meet her and ask what this mail is all about.
Fortunately, my clothes were fancy that it isn’t that different from what the others were wearing. All I had to do was put on my mask, and people wouldn’t know it’s me even if I mingled with them.
“Aight. I’ll be going out for a bit.”
“Wait, wait! I wanna go with you too! I want to get out from here.”
Get out… you say? I understand that going to parties that you were not used to is pretty tiring… but, this is, in a sense, an obligation you have to do, you know?
As I was hesitating, Elze clasped her hands together and looked as if she was preparing to beg with her pleading eyes.
“Pleaaasee? Just for a while. Pleasee?”
“…If it’s only for a while…”
Damn it! I can’t really refuse this wife of mine especially with those pleading eyes. It seems that Elze’s slowly getting the hang of using her womanly charms. I mean… It’s pretty effective.
It can’t be helped. I feel sorry leaving the others behind, but I will be leaving here together with Elze with me for a bit.
Right as I was preparing to leave together with Elze, Sakura suddenly came towards us from who knows where with a swoosh.
“It’s not fair that only you two could sneak off somewhere… I want to tag along too…”
“…You were listening weren’t you?”
“Fufun. You know that my ears are pretty sharp, don’t you Grand Duke? This is the gift I received from your divinity, after all.” Sakura said as she looked at me with a smug face. Cute… I mean, she’s right. Her dependent trait『Super Hearing』manifested because she had become my retainer which made her benefit from my divinity.
“And, the Demon Lord keeps following me wherever I go, it’s so annoying… That’s why I want to get out of here for a while.”
“…Ah, that makes sense. I bet he kept on forcing himself on conversations saying, “Oh, our country’s also quite interested in those kinds of things,” right?”
The Demon Lord rarely gets the opportunity to talk to his daughter in a formal way and as a leader of a country, so… it’s not that I don’t understand the reason he’s doing it, though.
“Let’s hurry up and go before the Demon Lord finds us.”
I hope that the demon lord wouldn’t resent me for doing this, but I know it’s already too late for me to hope that.
I activated【Teleport】and transported the three of us to a waiting room on the first floor, then asked them to wear the masks I had taken out. There wasn’t any problem for me, but Elze’s dress and Sakura’s hair stands out a bit, so I used【Mirage】to make their looks more subdued.
“Etto… where’s Shizuku at…”
I searched where Shizuku was using the search function on my phone, and it indicated that she was in a corner of the courtyard. It was hard to identify who the person was because of the mask, but with my phone, it was a piece of cake.
We left the waiting room and went straight through a corridor connected to the dance hall, making our way past the dancing masked men and women in the hall until we reach the courtyard. While on the way, a man tried to call out to Elze, but she spotted him and reflexively clung to my arm as we walked.
“I-it’s better for us i-if we walk this way, got it? I-I mean… W-we’re married, so it’s not weird, okay?!” Elze turned red and started talking as if she was in a panic. Well, it’s a matchmaking party for single men and women, so I don’t think people would notice that we were married. And, walking this way makes me happy as well, so I’m very OK with it.
Sakura said as she rustled to my other side and clung to my arm. The state I am in may not be bad from my perspective, but… If we walk like this, especially in a matchmaking party, we would definitely stand out.
As we entered the garden area of the courtyard, we saw the attendees enjoying themselves in groups. Eh? Princess Ririel wasn’t in the same spot she was in before when I saw her. Did she went off to somewhere? I just hope that the Emperor didn’t catch her messing with her phone again, though.
“Oho, isn’t that Shizuku over there?”
“It’s her? I can’t really tell though because of the mask.”
She’s right. The girl standing next to the fountain don’t have any traces that are similar to Shizuku at all. Though, I was certain that it was her, or at least, that’s what my intuition told me.
The disruptive effects of the mask are working quite perfectly. To be sure, I activated my 『Divine Sight』to check if it really was her, and what I saw beneath the mask was the familiar face of Shizuku. Yup, confirmed.
“Eh? Who’s callin—ah! Your Highness!”
I immediately removed my mask off and revealed my identity to her. These masks couldn’t be removed or forced off by someone, but if the mask’s wearer tries to take it off themselves, they can do it quite easily.
“I saw your text. Ah, these two here are Sakura and Elze, so don’t worry.”
“Ah, I understand. I’m sorry for making you come all the way out here.”
“No, it’s perfectly fine. We were in the mood to go down and leave the floor as well. So? Where’s this suspicious person you were talking about?”
“She’s over there.”
I followed Shizuku’s gaze as she glanced towards a group of around five people and saw the person she was talking about. She was wearing the same pale pink dress in the photo. Her hair was tied up in a bun. She looked kind of like 20-ish, which was quite older than us. There was a pearl necklace wrapped around her neck, and a pair of sapphire earrings on her ear. She looked like an ordinary woman, neither flashy nor plain… though, the only thing I could really say was that she really has those big boings on her.
“Uh, what’s really suspicious about her?”
“You can’t notice it? You see, I’ve been disguising myself whenever I go to infiltrate some country and collect information, right?”
Ah, right. I remember when I was interviewing Shizuku, she said that she was skilled in disguising herself, and I even saw it firsthand. I was so impressed that I couldn’t even begin to imagine how she does it without the help of magic.
“And when I do disguise myself, it’s not just the costume, but the way I act, my mannerisms, and the way I speak needs to be considered in order to match the person I am disguising as, since with just the slightest mistake, I’d be found out. That’s why I have this habit of observing someone… and I find something suspicious about that woman.”
Shizuku explained to me in detail. But even as I took a closer look at the woman, I still couldn’t find something suspicious at all… but… there’s this… uh, feeling? Like, there’s something off about her…
“…She’s too pretty.”
“Eh? Even though she’s wearing a mask, you could tell?”
“No, that’s not what I meant. It’s not her face, it’s her movements, movements, okay? There are no deviations, or rather, hesitations to her movements at all, it’s like she is repeating a fixed movement over and over again.”
At Elze’s words, I once again looked at the woman, but more attentively this time. Ah, I somewhat understood what they were trying to say. The way she laughs and the way she speaks seemed like it was kind of programmed…? Or like, it’s prepared beforehand. However, it might just be us being quick on jumping to conclusions. I mean, maybe, isn’t it just her natural mannerism?
“Grand Duke, she seems kind of… odd.”
“Did you also notice something, Sakura?”
What the hell, man? Am I the only one who can’t notice anything weird about her at all? Ah, I’m starting to lose my confidence… I’ve been called “slow” many times before… but I don’t mean to be slow, you know!
“That woman… Her heart’s not beating and I can’t hear any heartbeat coming from her at all.”
What do you mean by her heart’s not beating!? Don’t tell me… a zombie!?!
…Ney, there’s no way a zombie who could move that well and casually talk to others like that exists… Just what the hell is she, then?
A person without heartbeat… no… something without a heart, but talks and moves like it’s alive.
At that time, an assumption had popped up inside of my mind… I don’t think this is possible, but… don’t tell me, she’s…
I used my『Divine Sight』to peek underneath the mask. What greeted me was a beautiful and neat face of a woman, that anyone given the opportunity to see wouldn’t disagree. I plunged my vision even further, down to the tip of the skin. Usually, I’d be greeted with a vision I’d rather not see. After all, seeing something like blood-red flesh clinging to the bones would really freak you out. But, I had to do it, since if it is what I think it is, then—.
“I knew it.”
“Knew what? What did you see?”
Elze asked as she looked into my eyes, which should have turned golden by now because of using divine sight.
“That’s not a human. That’s a gollem.”
Damn right it is. I have no doubt it is one of those gollems called【Simulacrum Models】1.
And, since there are a lot of gollems out there in the world, they were divided according to their type in order to easily identify them.
First, the【Autonomous Models】that had the ability to act independently. Majority of the gollems were of this type. It also had various variations such as humanoid models, animal models, and miniaturized bipedal models. The 『Crown』series and Elluka’s gollem, Fenrir was also in the same category.
These kinds of gollems requires to have a contract with someone as their master, and would have better performance if they have good compatibility with each other. There were also gollems like Fenrir who can talk, but they’re quite rare.
Next would be the【Vehicular Models.】It is the type where the owner would directly hop on and operates it firsthand. There are also semi-autonomous types of vehicular models where the gollem has its own ego. It includes tanks, trailer, multi-legged models, etc. There was also this rumour that the Magic Kingdom of Isengard had a giant aerial battleship. And speaking of multi-legged models, the merchant Sancho from the Holy Kingdom of Allent also had a bus that was designed like a crab.
These types of gollems did not require any contractual relationships, but they did require keys to make them function. Lots of these gollems were made in factories, but those found in ancient ruins are much rarer.
After that would be the 【Drone Models】which were almost similar to the【Vehicular Models,】 except that instead of directly controlling it and riding the gollem, the owner operates it by either using a remote control or voice commands. These types of gollems didn’t have any will and couldn’t make decisions themselves, which makes their performance lacking compared to the other gollems. The Military gollems, Soldato, fell into this category.
Then, the【Armament Models.】These are gollems that could be worn by their masters or turned into weapons they can wield. Some were originally weapon-like in appearance which then you could use to surprise the enemy by transforming it into something else, like an armor, a weapon, or you could even transform it into something like a power suit. I guess you could say that it’s a derivative from the autonomous models. Before, I fought this gollem called Panzer in Isengard, which I think falls into this category. I don’t really remember it that much though.
And lastly, the【Simulacrum Models.】It was said that these kinds of gollems were designed to have a human-like appearance for people who craved someone to stay by their side, or to accompany them. However, the truth of their origins were uncertain. My gollems Ruby, Saph, and Emerl from the『Etoile』series fell into this category, although they only acted like humans, and didn’t exactly resemble them appearance-wise.
Nonetheless, the body-double of the witch-King of Isengard I fought before and Norn’s maid, Elfrau, looked really just like humans that it’s hard to tell they were gollems at a glance. These types, however, were incredibly rare, though. Perhaps, that woman over there is one of those rare types.
Why is that gollem here, though? What was her purpose in coming here?
“What will you do now, Grand Duke?”
“Even if you ask me that…”
“It’s not like we had a rule that says ‘Gollems can’t participate,’ right?”
Well, you’re right Elze, but you know what? I’m sure she’s not here to find a partner.
She hadn’t done anything yet, but that doesn’t mean I should leave a ticking time bomb alone that would potentially explode later on, right?
“Anyways, I think I should inform the Emperor of Refreese about this. He’s the host for this masquerade after all.”
I used【Drawing】to sketch the gollem’s face underneath the mask on a piece of paper that I could see with my『Divine Sight.』This is useful for finding the real identity of that gollem. If I asked around, I would be able to get the answer for that.
I left Elze, Sakura, and Shizuku behind to observe the gollem just in case, then I used【Teleport】to move on the second floor where the Emperor of Refreese currently was.
“There’s no doubt… This is the face of Miss Imelda… I can’t believe she was a gollem all this time… Grand Duke, are you sure that there’s no mistake here?” Lucrecion, the former crown prince of Gardio, who is now the count of Lowe, inquired to me as he looked over the image displayed on the paper, quite confused.
“Unfortunately, this is true… Did His Majesty, the Emperor of Gardio know about this?”
I turned my head towards the young Emperor of the Gardio Empire, Lancelett Rig Gardio, who was standing next to Lucrecion.
“…No, I had no knowledge about it at all… I mean, I don’t really understand what’s going on…” The Emperor of Gardio said as he shook his head.
Then, I glanced over the pope of Ramissh, which she in turn, nodded and smiled. That meant that her 『Mystic Eyes of Truth and Lies』told her that what the Emperor told us wasn’t a lie.
If that’s the case, then… There must be a plot established here by the family from which Miss Imelda originated. Imelda Tryus is from a noble family that bears the title of Count, after all.
“I can think of three possibilities from this, darling. The first is that Miss Imelda was a gollem from the very beginning, in which case the human Imelda Tryus never existed in the first place. Then there’s the possibility that there was a real human Imelda Tryus who was supplanted by the fake one at some point in time. This seems to be the most likely scenario, however I’m not sure if the switch was made in order to infiltrate this party or the Tryus family. And finally, the last thing that I could think of was that it was simply darling’s misunderstanding.”
“No, no, Leen. Sakura couldn’t hear a heartbeat coming from her, remember?”
“I know, darling. I’m just saying that it’s a possibility we need to consider.” Leen replied while grinning as she heard me complaining about her hypothesis.
“I’ve known Miss Imelda since she was still small, so I don’t think the first hypothesis is correct. I mean, gollems don’t grow after all, so it’s not possible. At the very least, I could say that the human Miss Imelda exists.”
The Emperor of Gardio was a member of a high-ranking noble family, so it was natural that he would be associated with the Tryus family at some point of his life. Which means, the real Imelda was switched with the gollem one… Was this the work of the Tryus family? Or a plot instigated by some unknown third-party?
“For the time being, we should capture this fake Imelda. As the Emperor of Gardio, I can’t overlook this.”
“Umu. As the Emperor of Refreese, I can understand your feelings, but making a big fuss by capturing her flashily in a party like this, trouble would ensue. And we don’t want that to happen now, do we?”
“Still, we can’t leave her alone either. Sure, gollems of her type don’t have any skills and have such weak combat prowess, but they could still harm people. We must act quickly while we still have time, or else we’ll regret it later on.”
Both of the Emperors talked with each other, troubled expressions plastered on their faces.
I could understand what they were feeling. I mean, how could we destroy such a splendid occasion with a flashy arrest? And from the Emperor of Refreese’s perspective, having the matchmaking party called off because of it wouldn’t really leave a good taste, especially since he planned all of this for his daughter’s sake.
Weapons were prohibited to bring inside the venue, and from what I saw earlier when I did a body scan2on her, I didn’t see any weapons similar to what the body-double of the witch-King of Isengard was hiding. However, if she really wanted to do so, she could kill a person around her quite easily. Well, the same could be true for the other attendees though.
Leen leaned in and whispered something to my ears. I see, if we do it like that, it wouldn’t cause such a big fuss.
“Alright then, I’ll be back in a bit.”
“Fufu, goodluck, darling.”
After being sent off by Leen, I once again used【Teleport】to return to where Elze and the others were.
“It went pretty well, didn’t it?” Elze said as she looked towards the fake Imelda slung over my back.
Leen’s plan was straightforward. Sakura and Elze would approach the gollem and draw its attention, and I would use【Invisible】on myself and sneak up on her, touching her neck while I’d use【Cracking】to sever the neural magic circuit nerve line linking her Q-crystal to her brain while it was occupied. When the gollem’s connection is severed, it loses its ability to move. After the gollem finally collapses, Elze and Sakura the would close in and comment how pale and anemic she looked. After that, I’d appear in front of them, clearly visible, and offer to carry her to the infirmary on my back, signaling our escape. Mission accomplished, Ez.
Still, even for a gollem, she’s way too light. These types of simulacrums are actually pretty elaborately made, huh? The two things pressed against my back are so soft… Heh, I wonder what they were made of?
“…Grand Duke, you’re thinking of something indecent right now, aren’t you?”
“W-what!? T-that’s not true! I wouldn’t think of such a thing, especially at a time like this!”
“That’s right. You wouldn’t dare think of something indecent, and comparing sizes while two of your wives are both beside you, right?”
Elze’s eyes were terrifying as she said those words.
No! I wasn’t comparing or anything! I was just curious!
I was sweating buckets, but I still managed to open a【Gate】in a deserted area and transferred us to the infirmary.
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