While Ryouma was moving as fast as he could to save Elia, the rest of the squad except for Shiva and Remiri were with Oslo’s group in the emptied halls of the inn’s cafeteria.
The atmosphere was solemn, so solemn in fact that they had barely taken a sip from the tea Heckard prepared for them. They waited and waited in that tense atmosphere, leaving their cups to cool, until finally, the people they had been waiting for came: Remiri and Shiva entered the cafeteria.
The girls all rose up upon seeing them enter, while the adults remained sitting.
The first to speak was Rheinbach.
“Any news?” [Rheinbach]
“A couple of related items, but nothing that could pinpoint exactly where Elia is.” [Remiri]
While feeling vexed, Remiri caressed the space slime atop the table.
After the girls managed to catch some people that were watching them, Remiri stepped in to make them talk.
“The curse of obedience?” [Rheinbach]
“They’re all pawns. They don’t know anything, so it’s useless.” [Remiri]
“Wait, they might be just pawns, but they’ve got to have a boss or something. We could just catch that person and then make him talk.” [Riera]
Remiri just shook her head at Riera’s suggestion, while it was Shiva who actually answered.
“Unfortunately, they really don’t know anything. You’ve heard of ‘dark gold’, right?” [Shiva]
“Yes, it’s an illegal moneylending business operated by the Dark Guild.” [Riera]
“Right, these people dabbled with dark gold without knowing what they were getting into. When the time to pay came, they were very troubled.” [Shiva]
“The Dark Guild used that as an opportunity to get them to help in their business. They were eager to help since it meant reducing their loans. One way they were used was to manipulate information. They would spread rumors of finding a mysterious corpse or a magic jewel mine.” [Remiri]
“...And I guess they would be very eager to kidnap adventurers, since they would be able keep the belongings of their victims, and it would be a simple matter to bring their guild card and say they stumbled onto their corpse. If that adventurer was reported missing, he would quickly be marked ‘KIA’, and that would be the end of it. As for the body, they could just say they burned it to keep them from turning into an undead. No one would think it odd for some financially troubled adventurer to go out of town either.” [Oslo]
After hearing Shiva and Remiri, Oslo spoke out his thoughts. Anger could be felt from every word he spoke, but no one remonstrated him, as everyone felt the same.
“There are plenty of people who would do anything as long as it benefited them. The Dark Guild specifically picks out such people to walk in to the guild and hand out the guild card of a missing adventurer. Even the leader of these people we’ve caught would be such a person, so there’s not much point in—” [Remiri]
It was then that the master of the inn, Heckard, suddenly entered the cafeteria.
“Dear, please calm down. What happened?” [Nell]
“Nell, a bird came with a letter. It’s from Ryouma-kun!” [Heckard]
“Give it to me!” [Shiva]
Shiva quickly read the letter, and after gulping, he spoke the contents to everyone.
“He’s found the kidnappers!” [Shiva]
“What happened to Elia and Ryouma-han!?” [Miyabi]
“Ryouma’s safe, but it seems the deal was a diversion. He managed to catch the kidnappers and made them talk. According to them Elia’s being taken west through a hidden route.” [Shiva]
“West!? They’re headed for the border!” [Nell]
“They’ve thought about this... If they manage to take her out of the country, we won’t be able to follow her!” [Barrack]
Everyone tensed when Nell and Barrack pointed out that fact. Shiva continued to talk about the details written in the letter, but when he got to the last parts, he turned to Heckard.
“It says here to ask you about the location of the cave. The entrance to the underground passage is supposedly somewhere near the city in a sealed cave.
If I recall correctly, you spoke to Ryouma about some cave near a dump site a few days ago. If you know please tell us where that cave is.” [Shiva]
“I know that place! That’s where the entrance is?” [Heckard]
“According to this Ryouma got them to spill the beans after tying them up. The dump site in Troll Canyon is one of the entrances they gave. The other entrances aren’t very far from the dump site either.
I know from experience that these sort usually prefer some place that’s neither too far nor too close to carry out their vile deeds. I plan to propose a search around the dump site, but yes, we do at least have one sure lead.” [Shiva]
As Shiva said that, Heckard took out a map to give directions to the cave.
“Will you also be departing for the cave? Everyone seems like they’re about to go.” [Sebasu]
Sebasu said as he faced Oslo’s group.
“The 6 of us here have already recovered.” [Oslo]
“According to your story, those bastards have something to do with my little girl. Well, if that’s the case, I can’t be standing around here, doing nothing.” [Nell]
“I won’t be satisfied unless I beat them all up myself.” [Barrack]
Oslo’s group seemed like they would come even if refused, but before the group could respond, the four girls also voiced their desire to come.
“Please let us fight too!” [Riera]
“We might be inexperienced, but we’re willing to learn!” [Michelle]
“We want to save Elia no matter what!” [Kana]
“Please take us along!” [Miyabi]
The decision was up to Rheinbach’s group.
“Hmmm... Jumping into the fray is a bit... Considering you’re doing all this for my granddaughter, I—” [Rheinbach]
“Why not just bring them?” [Remiri]
Just when Rheinbach was thinking of refusing them, Remiri suddenly interjected. At that Rheinbach decided to take Remiri and Shiva to a corner to discuss for a moment.
“What are you thinking?” [Rheinbach]
“Those girls know how to fight. And besides, you know just as much as I do from that earlier talk that there are enemies among the guards and adventurers here. These six adventurers here are fine, but we don’t know how far the Dark Guild’s influence goes. Do you really think it wise to leave these girls in such a dangerous city?” [Remiri]
“According to Ryouma’s letter, we’re not in a situation where we can afford to split our forces. I agree it’s dangerous to leave them here, but... If we’re taking them, they’ll have to obey every order. They can’t be allowed to do as they please.” [Shiva]
Shiva had a stern face on him, but he agreed to take them along. In the end, Rheinbach reluctantly agreed.
“Alright, we agreed to take you along. But before we go, I want to absolutely make sure that you know what you’re getting into. This trip will be dangerous. Are you willing to go despite that?” [Remiri]
The four girls grit their teeth as they nodded to Remiri.
“If you’ve made up your minds, I won’t ask again. But before we leave, you’ll have to leave a will. Write on it that you’re coming on your own volition regardless of the risks. Got it?” [Remiri]
“Rheinbach, lend me Sebasu.
Sebasu, I need you to bring me to the border patrol. I need to tell them about the Dark Guild and the criminals trying to run through the borders, and have them tighten security. If these kidnappers our headed there, they might just catch them somewhere along the way, who knows.” [Shiva]
“Understood. Are we going right away?” [Sebasu}
“Yes. As for everyone else, please finish whatever preparations you need. We won’t take long.” [Shiva]
At those words Oslo’s group left the cafeteria with Heckard, while the girls went to their rooms to write their wills, and Shiva and Sebasu left through dimension magic.
The only ones left in the cafeteria were Rheinbach and Remiri.
“...Remiri, what’s the point of writing a will?” [Rheinbach]
“I just figured if they were going to get cold feet, they might as well now. I don’t actually have any intention of putting those wills to use. Think I’ll let them die? Not under my watch.” [Remiri]
“Right. I think I better double check my preparations.” [Rheinbach]
The two left in the cafeteria quietly hardened their resolve.
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