Chapter 88 - The assassin goes out
I was in my room planning out the assassination of the Second Prince, because I was about to go meet Nevan of House Romanlung, so I wanted to have a worthwhile conversation with her.
I had in my hands the Second Prince’s schedule that Duke Romanlung handed me over.
…From the beginning, I thought if I was going to kill him, I could only do it on a certain date I had in mind, but for the sake of certainty, I re-examined his schedule.
[I knew it, the National Foundation Festival. If I’m going to kill him, it has to be then.] (Lugh)
The National Foundation Festival was a celebration held once a year.
Because of the demons’ emergence, there was a possibility that it would be cancelled this year, but it was going to take place after all.
And that was when the Second Prince would come out of the castle, and participate in the parade.
The problem with killing a prince was that there were no other options than death from a disease or an accident.
The target was a prince, so if he was assassinated, the mastermind would have to be apprehended lest the nation lose its prestige.
The government wouldn’t pin the blame on the first sucker they could find just because they investigated them, but if they couldn’t find the culprit, then they had to get a scapegoat ready in order to preserve the country’s dignity.
…To be honest, this would give me a guilty conscience, and there was no telling what sorts of unexpected repercussions it could cause. There were all kinds of forces who knew all sorts of ways to exploit to their advantage the fact that the prince was assassinated.
So I could only make him die from an accident or a disease. And even in the case of an accident, the guards or anyone potentially involved in the occurrence of the accident would be pronounced guilty of felony, so I could only go for death by illness.
There would be no need to phony up a culprit if he died from illness at a time like this. Additionally, this would make for a decent threat to Countess Granfelt and her cronies.
[So if they think he was poisoned, it’s an instant failure, huh. Well isn’t that just annoying.] (Lugh)
I took a look at the needle in my hand.
This was one of my assassination weapons, a poison-coated needle. The poison was one that caused some interesting symptoms, and no matter how much research people could do in this world, their only conclusion would be that it was due to a disease.
But the problem was the timing to drive it into the target.
I had to make it look like a fatal illness, it would only take one shot if I sniped him with it, but if I was going to use a needle, then I needed to get close to him.
If the target wasn’t royalty, I could’ve sneaked into his bedroom and attacked him in his sleep.
But this stunt was impossible to pull off in the royal castle.
On the floor occupied by the royal family, there was a barrier that activated itself the moment someone other than royalty and the guards stepped in. It was a divine tool that could detect the wavelength of souls. It was impossible, even for me, to trick a divine tool made by an inhuman being. Once you stepped into their rooms, the barrier would activate no matter what you did.
I was confident that I could kill the prince, hide, get past the security, and make my escape even if the barrier was running. But the barrier running meant that as soon as the presence of an intruder was made clear, it didn’t matter if the prince died of an illness or anything else, his death would be recognized as an assassination anyway.
I was also confident that I could outsmart the guards and get them to deactivate the barrier through subterfuge, but there was no way I could rely on support that would make me leave traces behind.
That’s why I planned to get the Second Prince during the National Foundation Festival parade, when he would be out in the open.
[…Although, it seems that Duke Romanlung would rather I kill him during Meena’s party. Or maybe he’s just trying to test me.] (Lugh)
The schedule also included attending a party hosted by Countess Granfelt, the public persona of the snake demon Meena. It was even printed with an eye-catching layout and font.
If his death was ever recognized as an assassination, it was game over. But there was one single exception to that.
It was if the government could pin the blame on the temptress who had ensnared the Second Prince.
For example, if he were to be killed at a party hosted by Meena, then they could force the role of the scapegoat on her.
A simultaneous elimination of the broken puppet and his manipulator. This would be the most efficient way to get the job done. …If the manipulator wasn’t Meena, that is.
Normally, if Countess Granfelt was pronounced guilty of killing the prince, all the guys she had ensnared would cut ties with her to avoid collateral damage.
However, the Second Prince was so broken he had to be destroyed. So based on that, rather than cutting ties, I’d say they would fly into a rage, and maybe even go on a rampage instead.
And more than anything, there was no telling how that demon would react. If posing as Countess Granfelt became a hassle to her, who knew what horrible disaster she would bring upon the kingdom…?
This was probably what I was being tested on. To show me that I couldn’t do anything that would deliberately draw attention to her.
[This should be interesting.] (Lugh)
I took a long hard look at the Second Prince’s schedule, and as I thought, I had to kill him during the National Foundation Festival.
Not only was this festival going to be heavily guarded, but I also couldn’t afford to let anyone suspect me at all.
I hadn’t felt this excited about an assassination in so long.
…A job that was impossible even for first-class assassins. That’s what got me fired up.
The next morning, I received a letter brought by a carrier pigeon.
It was Nevan’s reply to my request that I sent her the other day for a visit.
[“Would you like to come this afternoon?”, she says.] (Lugh)
She was pretty impatient.
Duchesses were busy people. So she must’ve pushed herself quite hard to clear her schedule.
That was apparently how much importance she gave to our meeting.
[Uugh… Lugh, it’s too bright.] (Dia)
[It’s time to wake up. Breakfast will be ready soon.] (Lugh)
The light coming through the window woke Dia up, then she sat up and rubbed her eyes.
She wasn’t wearing anything, so her lovely chest was exposed.
[It’s already this late? I didn’t get much sleep last night since you wouldn’t let go of me until late.] (Dia)
[You mean you wouldn’t let go of me.] (Lugh)
Dia slipped out from under the blanket and pulled out a change of clothes from the closet.
[You know, if I showed this closet to anyone else, you’d be in trouble. They’d either suspect you of cross-dressing as a hobby, or call you a harem-having bastard.] (Dia)
[…I guess.] (Lugh)
In this closet, there were clothes and underwear for Dia and Tarte.
The reason why Dia had so many of her clothes in it was because we were engaging in our activities as a couple. Not too long ago, Dia didn’t want us to do it in the mansion because she was too embarrassed, but before I knew it, she didn’t mind anymore.
And because Tarte had been traumatized by the loss of her family as a child, we would often sleep together whenever she felt lonely. My room was closer to the kitchen, and going back to her room just to get changed every single time was a hassle.
Just as Dia was finishing changing, I heard a kick on the door.
[Lugh-sama, Dia-sama, breakfast is ready!] (Tarte)
Tarte’s cheerful voice echoed.
Hearing this, I realized that another new day had begun.
After breakfast, we set off in our carriage.
It wasn’t pulled by just any horses, but by horses that had been slightly improved by using the mana that had been passed down from generation to generation in the Tuatha Dé family, making them pretty much like monsters.
After lots of experimentation, we finally managed to stabilize the operation.
However, since they had a rough temper and were hard to control due to their superior speed, only a limited number of people could use them.
A certain aristocrat obtained overwhelming speed by using actual monsters, but this kind of approach also existed.
[Say, I know it’s a bit late to ask, but who are you meeting with?] (Dia)
[Ah, right. I’m meeting with the daughter of House Romanlung, Nevan.] (Lugh)
[Whoa! I was wondering who it was, turns out it’s the Shining Princess.] (Dia)
[Oh, so you’ve already heard about her?] (Lugh)
[Of course I have. Her name echoed all the way to the kingdom of Soigel, after all.] (Dia)
Nevan was also a celebrity.
She was breathtakingly beautiful, capable of using the extremely rare light magic, and she even had some great achievements to her name.
[I’m surprised you got a big shot like her to hear you out.] (Dia)
[…Ah, so I didn’t tell you yet. The Romanlung are the bosses of Tuatha Dé. They’re the ones who decide if the requests made by the royal family are in the best interests of the country or not, and how to make the best use of our killings for political purposes. And of course, this is top secret.] (Lugh)
Their public and secret personas couldn’t be linked to each other.
If no connection was made between the two, then even if the involvement of Tuatha Dé in an assassination was revealed, all they would have to do was cut ties with Tuatha Dé.
However, if that connection was ever made, the revelation would negatively impact both House Romanlung and the royal family.
That’s why Romanlung and Tuatha Dé had ostensibly had no relation with each other.
[But then, are you sure it’s alright for us to drive a carriage into their territory like this in broad daylight?] (Dia)
[It’s okay. Because today, I’m going there as the Holy Knight. …It’s in the form of a request from the royal family. The content of that request also makes perfect sense. I almost can’t believe that they were able to lay the groundwork in just half a day.] (Lugh)
The heir to a mere barony visiting a dukedom raised more than a few suspicions, but if said visitor was the Holy Knight, then it was a different story.
[I’m starting to feel nervous about meeting the Shining Princess. I wonder what she’s like. Is she as beautiful as the rumors say?] (Dia)
[She was absolutely gorgeous.] (Tarte)
[How do you kn—? …Oh, right. Back at the tea party you had at the castle, Duke Romanlung and his daughter showed up with the princess, didn’t they?] (Dia)
Dia sulked a little.
She wasn’t allowed to attend our meeting per request of the other party.
Even now, she was still feeling a little upset about missing out on the garden that Alvan was proud of calling the most beautiful in the world.
And then, we arrived at the Romanlung domain at last.
After driving by large farmlands, ranches, and orchards, and passing through a metropolis that rivaled or even surpassed Milteu, we were finally approaching our destination.
It took us a long time to get there since we entered the territory. The reason for that was simple: it was too vast a territory.
[…Is this really only one territory?] (Dia)
[They have everything here.] (Tarte)
[Ordinary aristocrats prepare, polish and improve the assets of their own territories. Some are good at farming and export food, some focus on the business of their commercial cities, and some have industrial cities that dig mines and process them. But in the case of the dukedom of Romanlung, there is no such bias. Farming, stock raising, industry, marketing, everything here is top-notch. That’s why the sharp-tongued noblemen sarcastically refer to the Romanlung domain as ‘The Romanlung Empire’. They do everything in one domain. They’re the most powerful nobles in all of Alvan.] (Lugh)
They had been breeding and educating themselves for hundreds of years to create the ultimate human beings.
For that purpose, they continued to greedily collect superior blood and teachers from all over the world.
As a result, they had high-spec citizens, wisdom gathered from all over the world, and a network that extended in all directions.
They created a synergistic effect. Also, those high-spec people competed with each other and grew even further.
The result was a prosperity that was also associated with the Romanlung Empire.
…The name ‘Romanlung Empire’ was meant as a sarcasm, but at the same time, it was a name that inspired fear.
Every noble was afraid of Romanlung. They even claimed that if the kingdom were to split in two, in a situation where it was Romanlung versus the rest, Romanlung would most likely come out on top.
It was my first time seeing the Romanlung domain, but at first glance, I even thought that this was the current culmination of what humans had achieved.
Finally, we arrived at our destination.
Tarte and Dia were leaning out of the carriage, their eyes wide open. And I, too, was taken aback.
[Whooaa…! It’s amazing! This castle is absolutely marvellous!] (Tarte)
[It is, but this is too much! I mean, Lugh, is this really allowed!? Are you sure the royals won’t get mad at them for building something even more impressive than the royal castle!? If anyone did something like this in Soigel, they’d be accused of disrespecting the crown and crushed on the spot!] (Dia)
The castle. It was more beautiful, more majestic, and more functional than any castle we had ever seen.
Even the magnificent royal castle paled in comparison.
[This castle was built last year. It’s theoretically the greatest castle that can be built with the most advanced craftsmanship. In terms of scale and performance, the historic castle in the royal capital doesn’t compare. …It’s true that a nobleman building a castle more impressive than the king’s isn’t something to praise. However, Duke Romanlung is allowed to do so. Because he’s done more for the king than any other aristocrat.] (Lugh)
Though I said that, it was more likely because the royal family and the other nobles didn’t have the power to pick a fight with Romanlung.
[Say, Lugh. I’m just speaking hypothetically, but if Romanlung ever felt like it, would they be able to take over the country?] (Dia)
[I think they could’ve done so anytime before I was born.] (Lugh)
This was the truth about this country.
The only reason why the Alvanian Kingdom could remain the Alvanian Kingdom was because the Romanlung had pledged their loyalty to the king.
With this much power, they had authority over all the other nobles.
And despite having so much power, they were wielding it for the sake of the country.
[Well then, let’s go. It’s almost time for our appointment.] (Lugh)
The castle was surrounded by a huge lake crossed by a magnificent bridge. There were several fish swimming in the clear lake, many of which were edible and known as delicacies. It seemed to be used both to defend the castle and farm fish at the same time, as it was typical of Romanlung to seek efficiency.
I braced myself for what was to come.
…I’m going to meet the monsters that rule this country on their home turf.
If I let my guard down, they’ll devour me in no time.
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