Two as One Princesses
CHAPTER 44: ASSASSINS, THE BEAUTY, AND THE BEAST
It was late at night, the time when the whole capital is likely asleep.
Naturally, Ciel is sleeping right now and I’m doing my sorcery research as usual.
I want to increase the barrier’s defensive capabilities, but I guess I already crammed too much into it since it’s not turning out too well.
While I might be able to manage it somehow if I just ignore the magic power consumption, since I want to keep the barrier up constantly, it wouldn’t be practical if the power consumption is greater than my natural MP recovery.
Though from my experience, given that I’m already fairly deep into this, making something better than what we currently have might be difficult in a short amount of time and there’s nothing I can do about it.
It wouldn’t have been a problem if it was that easy anyway.
Just when I thought so, there was a response from detection.
Our guests seem to be neither animals nor insects, they’re humans.
Six of them to be exact.
Not the number of people to send against one child in my opinion.
So in other words, they’re likely anticipating Ciel to be a hunter higher than D-rank.
In separate pairs, they’re heading towards the door, the window, and this room’s ceiling.
『Ciel, wake up.』
『Someone’s here, right?』
Although Ciel loves to sleep, she wakes up on command as long as she’s informed in advance.
How should I say this? She’s really good at shifting gears, it’s really impressive.
I myself can’t readjust that easily.
『There are two people each at the door, the window, and the ceiling.』
『So, how should we deal with this?』
『We could defeat them and escape, escape without defeating them, deliberately get caught, or defeat them and march into their place headfirst, that should be about it.』
『Ain, in your opinion, are they dangerous?』
『Not at all.
If they were, I would have told you to run away.』
『In that case, we’ll defeat them.』
Saying so, Ciel operates the magic circle we prepared under the pillow.
While it’s nothing fancy, it’s only a revised version of the one we used to tear Alejo apart, every living creature within the specified range—in our current case, approximately everywhere inside the room—will be slashed up just to the brink of death.
Sorcery would be intercepted.
Since all I can do is affix barriers, in addition to keeping the barrier constantly up, I created a spherical barrier that’s nearly invisible for this time.
With this, as long as Ciel keeps feigning sleep, they’ll likely set the trap off on their own.
After a few minutes, the ceiling, window, and door were simultaneously opened and one person entered from each.
I can feel their wariness from the fact that they are making as little noise as possible while having only a few enter inside, but unfortunately for those that just entered, we’re going to have you all bloodied up.
While people that have incredibly hard armor or are more proficient than Ciel in sorcery might be able to endure our trap, there seems to be none of these said people now, as without even taking a few steps since entering, they all collapsed.
It should definitely be painful, so from the fact that they didn’t even make a sound, I can feel a sort of fortitude that can’t be found in any random hunters.
Probably noticing the collapse of the first wave, the second wave entered next, but it was only the two from the door and the window this time who came and naturally collapsed.
The remaining one in the ceiling seems to be only intent on observing since even after some time has passed, he (she?) still isn’t coming down.
「Pick me up tomorrow morning.
Also, it’s a nuisance, carry them back.」
Ciel got up, said so to the 6th person—or rather I asked her to—before closing her eyes and slipping back into bed.
Confirming that the ceiling person hadn’t moved regardless of how much passed, Ciel glared at the ceiling, uttering 「Now.」 in a slightly irritated tone.
While I sensed the ceiling person begin to descend after a startled response, Ciel wholly ignores the moving presence, only saying 『Goodnight Ain.』 in a gentle tone.
In the end, the ceiling person dragged the other five out by pairs and left for somewhere.
From the time we ended up helping a dodgy merchant, the risk of being targeted was practically already confirmed and this would’ve happened sooner or later anyway.
Because of that, I wanted to reach the ringleader and have a talk with them as soon as possible, so that should be enough.
Well, this was Ciel’s choice though.
As morning came, Ciel leisurely woke up.
To be honest, someone has been eagerly waiting for Ciel to wake up in front of our door since some time ago but there’s no need for us to be considerate here.
As Ciel was now wide awake, I asked her 『Should we switch?』 but since she responded with 『I’ll try to do it myself.』 this time, I’ll be focusing on supporting her.
After finishing her preparations, Ciel was greeted with a 「Good morning.」 as she opened the door.
With a dubious stare, Ciel shifted her gaze and saw a very tall—from our point of view—upturned-eyed black-dressed beauty standing there.
Here for me?」
「Pardon my late introduction.
Please call me Atlo.
As requested, we have come to pick you up.」
Then, lead the way.」
『A polite person came.』
『I suppose this means that they’re not just some unruly organization.』
『Ain, do you know what will happen next?』
『I can vaguely guess.』
『In that case, I want you to tell me if I might make a mistake.』
『Even if you do something wrong, it’ll probably be fine.
The assassins were fairly lukewarm after all.』
As we were being guided deeper into the inn for some reason, I continued chatting with Ciel.
A part of it might be because I only had a few options back then, but I don’t fear them as much as I did the repeated assassination attempts back at the mansion.
For that reason, even if Ciel followed unprepared, it shouldn’t be too dangerous.
Although Atlo occasionally looks back at Ciel, we left the inn from what seems to be the backdoor entrance without her even speaking to us.
Beyond the door, the path led to a somewhat filthy street.
While it doesn’t seem to be some sort of slum, it had a vague air of unrest.
After some distance away from the inn, we entered a different building and took the stairs to the top—the third—floor.
Alto knocked on the door, saying 「I’ve brought the guest.」 and I heard a deep masculine voice say 「Come in.」 in reply.
As we entered the room, the first thing I was reminded of was an executive office.
I might be wrong since I’ve never seen an actual executive office before, but it had a classy-looking sofa and table set, and what seems to be the boss’ desk sitting further inside.
The presumed boss had an extremely large muscular build and was wearing tastelessly gaudy clothes.
If he’s next to Atlo, they would give a perfect Beauty and the Beast vibe.
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He has two bodyguards with him but other than them, I can sense a number of other presences inside the room as well.
「Hey little lady, how nice of you to come.
The presumed boss told us to sit down, so Ciel sat on the expensive-looking sofa and immediately a steaming cup of tea was served.
Atlo was the one that served it, but when did she have the time to prepare that?
On second thought, would you mind if we switch for the discussion?』
『Not at all.
Do you have something you want to ask?』
『Could you ask why this current situation happened?』
『I’ll try as best as I can.』
Since Ciel requested a switch, I agreed without any hesitation.
As I thought, talking to men for extended periods of time might still be too much for Ciel.
Instead of abruptly starting with a situation like this, it would be better if she started with talking to a male guild receptionist and the like.
Rather, if I’m being honest, Ciel doesn’t need to work that hard while we’re still in this country.
「My name is Faneed.
Despite how I look, I occupy the underground top.」
「Thank you for the explanation.
You can call me little lady or Blan, whichever you may prefer.」
「An alias, right?」
「Of course it is.
By the way, is this a place for discussion? Or is it otherwise,……」
Saying so, I moved my gaze all over the room.
It’s a bother to count, but there should be at least 20 of them.
Being surrounded by this many people, I can’t help suspecting if they intend to start a fight.
Hearing my words, one of the bodyguards was about to come towards me, but Faneed stopped him.
「This is indeed a place for discussion.
As long as you don’t start anything, I won’t do a thing.」
「Then this means that you would treat yesterday’s as an isolated incident, right?」
Just a hypothetical question but, Miss.
Blan, would you be able to deal with this current situation? 」
「If the people around me are only as capable as last night’s individuals, this much won’t be any problem.」
Faneed raised his hands up, showing a sign of surrender.
While I’m not actually sure if it really was surrender, it seems like we’ll be able to have a proper discussion.
「But before the talk, apologies first.
Pardon our young guy for being rude earlier.
If you have any demands, I’ll hear it.」
His tone turning slightly formal is probably a display of his dignity as someone standing at the top of an organization or something.
As for why he has a piercing gaze despite declaring that he’ll listen to our demands, it probably means that we might get into a conflict depending on what it is, but honestly I have no intention of making demands that would cause confrontations.
In that regard, Ciel probably isn’t that much different.
If she wanted anything, she would have told me about it earlier after all.
「For now, please raise your head.
I don’t have any particular intention to be in conflict with you and your people.
It seems bothersome after all.」
「Ha, ha, ha! Bothersome, eh?」
Faneed raised his head and laughed in amusement.
Shifting my gaze to Atlo, who was standing diagonally behind me, I see her staring at me with interest.
「With that being said, could we start with reaffirming the current situation?
I just arrived at the capital, was urged into an inn, had my dinner drugged, and had assassins sent to me.
So honestly speaking, I can only make assumptions based on the situation.」
「They weren’t really there to kill you, so they aren’t exactly assassins per se.
Still, your assumptions shouldn’t be that far off, if you ask me.」
「Then from your standpoint, you intended to abduct and sell me to some unspecified noble for money, correct?」
We do slave trading too, though it’s not like we just randomly abduct people.
Unusually we act based on proper contracts, you see?」
Faneed let out an exhausted sigh.
Depending on one’s standpoint, he could be seen as a victim here as well.
Not that it’s any of my business.
After all, I’m not really mad enough to get too involved nor do I even feel like doing so.
There are some aspects that make him seem somewhat of a good guy too, but I can guess his contract itself is probably unreasonable to begin with.
「Then outside of that, people with vague identities that wouldn’t cause issues even when abducted should sound about perfect.
Such as me.
I can imagine being the perfect target.」
「Though, who would’ve thought that the collateral I was given was a stolen royal artifact.」
「One last thing, what’s your relationship with the merchant couple that sold me?」
The “stolen royal artifact” line is probably an idiom unique to this world.
Well, I can figure that it means being given a troublesome thing or so.
Then if the merchant couple is a customer of their organisation, I finally have a good read on the situation.
「Anyhow, this will be my first demand but could I have a chat with said merchant couple?
You brought them here anyway, correct?」
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As I said so, Faneed called one of his subordinates—a man that was among those hiding—and told him something.
Without even several minutes passing, the man brought already along a familiar-looking couple.
They seemingly had an extremely frightened look on their faces as they entered, and as they saw me, their eyes opened wide with shock.
Heya~! New Chapter, new characters, and new chatting room, lol.
Things went quite quick this time, with the “suspicious VIP treatment” event’s mastermind (?) immediately coming to light!
As usual with our overprotective Ain, she’s still not satisfied with her currently already abnormal invincibility and continues on the uphill struggle as she’s not getting satisfying results for now as well.
Meanwhile, while Ciel didn’t have much active participation this time, her being irritated at the ceiling guy was cute, lol.
Also, Ain, Blan… Seriously? How much of your mind is occupied by Ciel? (Just kidding, lol.)
As for the new characters, we have some underground people this time: Secretary (?) Atlo and Boss Faneed or as Ain fondly implies, the Beauty and the Beast, lol.
Unlike our lowbrow villains so far, the boss has a functioning brain that runs not only on hubris and impulse it seems.
Well, the man is somewhere on top at least, so it’s only natural that he’s different huh.
Also, it’s just a tiny thing, but I love the idiom thing, it’s a small world building thing that says, yup, there’s been either a lot of royal artifacts that has been sold to unsuspecting criminals so far that it literally turned into an underground idiom or that the one time it happened in the past went really, *really* bad enough to be etched into history.
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