As I had the key, I considered going back to lodge a complaint, but then I realized that I had not asked her how to use the key.
I stood by the wall with visible irritation, which probably made an amusing sight to any who watched.
Well, I wasn’t sure how much time had passed, but there was no use standing around here. And so I decided to go back to the guardhouse and try to meet up with Daniela.
□ □ □ □
The white, spotless building came into view. It really was pretty. I went in from the front entrance and called for Bacon at the counter. I was quickly permitted to see him and made my way to the designated room.
“Who is it? Only an idiot would say ‘knock-knock’ while banging the door.”
“It’s Asagi. I came to meet Daniela.”
“Ah, it’s just Asagi…”
It’s just Asagi? I was thinking of something to add, when the door opened. Of course, it was Bacon.
“Hey. I haven’t seen you since yesterday.”
“You weren’t called.”
I pushed my way into the room to find Daniela sitting on her chair and looking very bored.
“Asagi. Did you finish what you were doing?”
“Kind of. I’ll tell you about it later. But I just thought I’d drop by to see how you’re doing.”
“Well, then. Take a seat. Bacon is going to make us some tea.”
“Um, I’m actually the captain here, you know? I wonder how you have so little…reserve?”
Bacon went on as he noisily prepared the tea. After a few minutes, he set the tea before us on the table.
“Thank you. …It’s warm.”
“That can’t be helped. This is just a guardhouse. Be thankful you get anything at all.”
I suppose so… In any case, I created blocks of ice and put some into all three cups. It melted quickly at first, but the temperature eventually dropped and the drinks were chilled.
“Alright, that’s better.”
“Thank you, Asagi.”
“Asagi, that’s amazing…”
Bacon looked very surprised as he quickly drained his cup.
“Hm? You didn’t see it on my status card? I can use ice magic.”
“You do realize that I have to look through many of these everyday? I can’t be bothered to read everything on them.”
“So, the scanning is more of insurance in case something happens?”
“Yes, you can think of it like that. And while it isn’t displayed on the status card, our machines will detect the presence of a criminal record.”
Now that was news. What an interesting hidden feature… But I had no need to worry on that account.
“So, are we finished here?”
I asked as I took a sip of the chilled tea.
“Yes. Miss Daniela has given me a detailed description of the events. Once again, I must thank you both.”
That was something that had been bothering me. Couldn’t they have used brute force? Couldn’t the imperial army have done something about Eve?
“You two are new here, and so you do not understand. It was only recently that she had completely taken over Nicora. We were still investigating the situation through our spies.”
Those three men…
“It would have been easier to attack once we knew how strong they were. We had received such instructions. And so we decided to take a cautious approach.”
Soldiers and guards… I suppose they were different organizations with different positions. As I could only make assumptions and felt that it was rather complicated, I closed my mouth.
“Well, there were other problems of that sort, and so we had not made any moves yet.”
“But regardless, I think we would have ended those bandits once the army agreed to move.”
Had they waited much longer, the majority of the population would have been bandits…that was an ending for sure.
“So, I guess we really are finished here?”
“Yes. Sorry to take up your time. And thank you for helping us.”
Bacon stood up and bowed. In spite of everything, I was a little impressed as we left the guardhouse.
□ □ □ □
We returned to the town and wandered the streets, filling our stomachs and buying some to take back with us to the inn.
It wasn’t until we were relaxing in our room again that I started to tell Daniela about what had happened.
“I met the creator of the hollow bag.”
“Oh? Is that not the bag that Russell retrieved from some bandits back in Fhiraldo? How did you recognize this person?”
“Well, I didn’t find out till later. The thing is…”
It was quite late when I finished telling her the story. Daniela became hungry part way into it, and started eating the food we had bought. Her hunger was infectious and so we both ate as I talked.
The food ran out just as my story did. We were sitting back in our chairs and staring at the key that Rachel had given me, which sat on the table between us.
“The only mystery left is how I’m supposed to use it.”
“Hmm… Keys are usually inserted into keyholes…”
Daniela picked it up to take a closer look.
“Yeah, but I’m not sure there is one.”
Daniela held the blade of the key and stared at it.