This chapter was brought to you by AnmesicCat, Arteg, and Masadeer.
The Royal Capital Security Force’s Manhunt
Author’s Note: This time, I’ll be writing in third person.
The residences of nobility lined this area in rows. Although there were a lot of big houses, there were very few people walking about, a quiet street. In a secluded corner of area lies the Count of Ritzburg’s estate, the destination of an Investigator from the Security Office; Orth Rickerman. His purpose was to question Count Ritzburg.
In the drawing room of Ritzburg’s mansion, Russell and Orth came to face each other.
“How did the Madam take in the news?”
“Ah… She was exhausted and fell asleep on her bed from anxiety. It’s because our own son had turned into a devil, and was then killed. Even myself, if I could fall asleep, I would like to.”
“…I’d like express my deepest apologies.”
“No, please don’t mind what I said. It is our responsibility that Cart turned out that way.”
“If I may, about your son… Has he always acted presumptuously since before?”
“Please don’t say such foolish things!!”
Russell suddenly raised his voice unintentionally. When he became aware of what he had done, he apologized for shouting loudly.
“I-I’m very sorry… I was overcome with emotions all of a sudden…”
“Please don’t mind it, it’s only natural. I beg your forgiveness for my discourtesy, but I have to ask again. Has he always acted presumptuously since before?”
“Not at all… As you might already be aware, we as nobles must always put our country first. Nobles exist for the people. The Royal Family, together with the nobles exist for the people. Because the people residing in this Kingdom are its national treasures, we should put them first and protect them. I have been preaching that principle to Cart from early on. Although he had excessive pride, he is well aware that people should be protected.”
“In other words, he acted differently back then?”
“…I wasn’t able to observe Cart all the time… Perhaps if we ask my wife or the servants, they might give us more insight…”
“Thanks for speaking with me, I will follow up on it later. So then, when did he start showing such attitude?”
“It began just the other day.”
“Is that so…”
His personality was very different in the Advanced Magic Academy. However, his behavior was consistent with his Middle School days.
In the Advanced Magic Academy, he was regarded as ‘A fool with an arrogant attitude.’
In middle school he was regarded as ‘A prideful noble who cares about the people.’
How can his reputation in Middle school and the Advanced Magic Academy differ so much? It was as if they were describing different people.
During his Middle School days, he seemed to have been a proper nobleman of the Kingdom’s noble houses.
And then at the start of his Advanced Magic Academy days…
“A noble from the Empire…”
“Well… during his middle school days, your son seemed to be a proper member of the Kingdom’s nobility. But after he entered Advanced Magic Academy, your son…”
“…You’re saying he became more like a noble from the Empire?”
“That’s the impression I have of him after he turned into a devil.”
“…Certainly, the nobles from the Empire see their citizens as objects to exploit. Anyone who is not a noble, the general public, aren’t even considered humans…”
The ideals of the aristocrats in Earlshide Kingdom and Bluesphere Empire are completely different.
In the Earlshide Kingdom, the aristocrats exist in order to protect the general public, and it is natural for them to think of every way possible for the people to prosper. This was what King Diseum was telling Merlin about in terms of reformation of aristocrats.
For several generations, the Kingdom had thought about how to reform the aristocracy, and finally came up with this solution. In fact, after Earlshide Kingdom implemented this reform, the lifestyle of the people started to improve. The overall productivity also increased, and as a result, tax revenues increased, making the territories all over the Kingdom prosperous.
In contrast, it is generally considered that commoners exists for aristocrats, in the Bluesphere Empire. The citizens suffer from very heavy taxation, there is no increase in their productivity, and their standard of living is considerably low compared to the lifestyles of the people living in the Kingdom.
In the Kingdom, children under the age of 15 have the right to receive equal education, and education has become semi-mandatory. Because of that, the literacy rate is high, and its citizens are also able to calculate quickly.
In comparison to the Empire, only the children of nobles, and sometimes children of wealthy merchants, are able to go to school. It was possible for a commoner to go to school, however, because they were not provided extra knowledge. Those who were born on the side of being exploited, are not given any chance for a better way of life and remain being exploited.
All because they aren’t given a chance to gain knowledge.
Commoners exists for aristocrats, and they are the ones who benefit from this.
Cart’s words were the spitting image of those of an Imperial noble’s.
“This is… Is there a possibility that he’d been brainwashed by someone from the Empire?”
“Brainwashed by someone from the Empire!?”
“Count Ritzburg, didn’t you find it strange? Just recently, he’d been acting as a noble from the Kingdom, and thought of the general public as people he should protect. Then one day, he suddenly thinks of himself as one of the chosen, and could not tolerate being treated as equals with commoners. What’s your opinion on this?”
“That’s why my wife and I are confused…”
“Your son sounded like someone from the Empire. Could it be that he had contact with someone from the Empire?”
“…Ah, now that you mentioned it…”
“Is there someone that comes to mind?”
“There is this teacher who taught Cart during his middle school days. He has bandages over both his eyes, and he’s someone who is originally from the Empire. I heard that because he is able to use some powerful magic, he caused the Empire some trouble, so he ended up seeking refuge in the Kingdom.”
“And that teacher and your son have contact with each other?”
“Yes, Cart participated in the study research that teacher is going. Also, when Cart was studying for the Advanced Magic Academy, the teacher came here as his tutor.”
“A teacher who originates from the Empire…”
Suspicious. Anyone who heard it would be suspicious.
And so, Orth interviewed all of the employees.
“Schtrom-sensei, you ask? He’s a good person. When I heard he originated from the Empire, I thought he would have strong discrimination against commoners, but there was no such thing at all. Although we’re employees, he speaks to us without any prejudice.”
The result of the testimonies from them were generally like that.
Is there really no problem? However, that teacher only became a teacher just a year ago. And there’s a chance he was the one responsible for turning Cart into a devil.
One year ago.
The timing coincides with the information gathered just a few moments ago. Furthermore, one of his students turned into a devil.
Although there was nothing questionable about the given testimonies. However, all of his actions are suspicious. Therefore…
“The day young master became like that, he also came to visit.”
“Around what time was that?”
“If I’m not mistaken… It was in the morning.”
If it was in the morning, it was before he turned into a devil. Furthermore, after he visited, Cart escaped from his room.
However, there was no evidence. But it was clearly very suspicious.
* * *
After gathering information about Cart, Orth left the house and decided to look for Schtrom who was teaching at the middle school.
But just in case, he returned to the Security Office, and got one of the younger members to accompany him.
The two visited an academy attended by nobles and wealthy merchants, and compared to other academies, it was very luxurious. And inside one of the borrowed laboratory, Oliver Schtrom was there.
“I’m sorry to take up your time when you’re busy, Schtrom-sensei.”
“Sorry for bothering you.”
“No, it’s alright. Would you like to drink some tea?”
“No, please don’t mind me.”
Orth was alert while he monitored Schtrom. Although both his eyes were covered with eye-patches, there was no sense of feeling restraint in his movements. Although Schtrom was probably using some kind of sensing magic, they had no idea how he was doing it.
Because there’s a limit to just inspecting him, Orth decided to ask a question.
“I heard Schtrom-sensei if the from Empire. Please excuse me for asking such a rude question, but under what circumstances lead you to come to our country? If it’s okay, would you please clarify this for me?”
“The reason why I came to the Kingdom… It’s actually quite an embarrassing story. I was actually born from a noble house in the Empire…”
A noble from the Empire… With just those word, Orth’s body stiffened in an instant.
After being defeated during the battle for the right to be the head of the family… I fled and barely escaped from the clutches of my relatives who want to see me dead. As a result, I could no longer stay in the Empire. And thus I took refuge in the Kingdom. Because of a surprise attack back then, my eyes were injured…”
“I see, so that’s how it is. No, I’m really sorry for asking such an impolite question.”
“It’s fine, because you’re just doing your job. Please continue without paying it mind.”
An inoffensive exchange of words. However, what Schtrom had said might not necessarily be true. Which part of it was the truth, and which part of it was a lie? The young member was taking note of the interview. Orth left the note-taking to him, and continued to ask questions.
“By the way, Schtrom-sensei, I heard that you’re looking for children with magic talent to participate in your research study in order to nurture very talented Magicians. Why are you doing something like this? Even though you work here now, weren’t you originally from a hostile country? Do you want to get back at the Empire?”
“That kind of hypothesis is not unreasonable. However, I do not have such intention. The reason is actually a lot simpler.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s because I’m a newly appointed teacher who came from the Empire. And so the criticism towards me is quite strong. I wanted to be able to achieve something so that this academy will recognize me.”
“And that’s what your research study is for.”
“It’s exactly as you say. Thanks to my research study, all the children who participated have increased their magic power. There was also a child who was able to pass Advanced Magic Academy’s examination. And because of that, I was able to establish my position in this academy.”
His actions wasn’t for any particularly noble reason, but for his own self-interest. It was the most natural motivator of human behavior.
There is nothing unusual with the current conversation. Although his face can been seen, because of his eye-patch, it was hard to read his facial expressions. Orth suppressed his feelings, clicked his tongue, and continued with the interview.
“However, it’s quite regrettable this time around.”
“It is as you said. The student whom I was referring to that passed the Advanced Magic Academy examination was Cart. And then it turned out like this…”
“But this incident didn’t damage Schtrom-sensei’s career, did it?”
Then, Schtrom retorted, slightly offended.
“I did not say anything like that! Cart was my cute student! And for that same Cart to turn out that way, of course I am very sad!”
“Sorry for my impoliteness. It was a slip of the tongue.”
“It’s all good as long as you can understand…”
Although Schtrom was agitated, it only took but a moment for him to regain his calm. But is this really his true feelings, or are he just putting an act… If that’s the case then…
“Schtrom-sensei, if it’s alright with you, could I make a request?”
“What is it?”
“Actually, I’d like you to come with me and examine his body that transformed into a devil.”
“You want me to examine his body?”
“Yes. Right now, we’re in the process of gathering experts with different specialties to do examinations. And Schtrom-sensei, since you are a considerably high-ranking Magician, we would like to invite you to listen to what they can find. We would also like to listen to Schtrom-sensei’s opinions.”
“But to inspect the remains of my own student, it somehow makes me feel reluctant….
“Please, we ask this of you. This is for the sake of all mankind.”
“…Haaa~ I understand. I’ll take you up on your offer.”
“Thank you very much. I’m sorry for asking suddenly, but are you good with time after this?”
“It really is sudden… I’m good to go. There is no research study today.”
“Thank you very much. Now then, let us go.”
Orth signaled to the young member, and then he stood up.
“We’re expecting we’ll hear beneficial information from you.”
“I’ll be troubled if you blindly expect something.”
After the conversation ended, they headed towards the Security Office.
* * *
On the other hand, the people from the Military Affairs have been performing investigations around the meadows and fo