Chapter 8 – Smuggling Investigation
The story Tor heard from them as they ate through their bowls of soup pasta went like this.
They had heard reports of silvercrafts of unknown origin being discovered within Durande.
And then such reports started to come more often.
The twins then secretly checked the Ubaz company’s books and saw that the number of orders to workshops outside of the city were increasing year after year.
But the profits were insufficient when compared to the amount that the orders had increased. In the first place, it was not likely that it would all fit into the storage house.
And when they checked the Ubaz company’s storage house, it seemed that the items were not in stock.
Investigating this while avoiding the eyes of Haran, Ubaz employees, and Magic Centipede was time consuming. And now the tax collectors were starting to act, and this issue regarding the lack of gold coins was coming to the surface.
They would have to have a way of going against Magic Centipede in order to continue their investigation, and so they had hired Tor.
“So Magic Centipede and Haran are making money off the book through fictitious orders. And that money is being sent somewhere out of town. That is your suspicion. But aside from the fictitious orders, it’s all your imagination, isn’t it? Do you have any way of proving it?”
Nearly everything that they had said was speculation based on circumstantial evidence.
It was also strange that twins didn’t denounce Haran for the fictitious orders alone. This suggested that they didn’t even have enough evidence for that.
Tor himself did not have a positive view of Haran or Magic Centipede. And he did not think that smuggling was beneath them.
However, it was also true that they couldn’t act without evidence.
“It’s as you say, Mister Tor. We need proof.”
“And during this time, great quantities of money will be gathered to Ubaz for the reporting and paying of taxes.”
“In other words, it’s time to settle accounts. That includes paying Magic Centipede.”
“And you could say they have prepared the groundwork for carrying out the money illegally.”
When one of the twins ate, the other started talking.
“So you are going to see how Haran moves?”
“We think that he is already moving.”
“We are going to start moving now in order to grab him by the tail.”
“And I will be there in case you need me, eh? And what about the others?”
“The officials of Durande are also investigating. We believe that they are suspicious of Magic Centipede.”
“And I suppose the manager shares information with you?”
The twins took a bite of duck ham at the same time, and then touched their cheeks and tilted their heads as if one were the reflection of the other.
“It’s so good.”
They hardly looked like two people who were talking about a large-scale criminal investigation.
Tor wanted to make some joke about this, but ended up saying something completely different.
“However, should you really be continuing the investigation?”
“What do you mean?”
They asked him with puzzled expressions.
Tor realized that he had better explain himself, and so he reworded it so that they would understand.
“Haran is objectively the person in charge of the Ubaz company, isn’t he? If his crimes come to light, it will be a big scandal. Your monopoly on salt might be taken away, and your entire business might crumble. It could be the end of the Ubaz company.”
According to what he had heard at the guild, it was their parents who had built Ubaz to what it was today. It was all that they had left of their parents.
Surely they would not want it to come crashing down? Unless they meant to find evidence before the Durande officials, and quickly drive Haran out first.
Depending on which path they took, the amount of time they had left would vary. And if it was to be the latter, they would have to use force.
As their guard, he wanted to know which direction they would take.
The twins put their forks down and with serious expressions, looked straight at Tor.
“There is no anesthetic when it comes to the economy. So you might as well bear the pain and quickly amputate the root of the problem.”
“The sweat of the people becomes funds. The blood of the people becomes debts.”
“Durande’s economy is already ill.”
“If things continue, it will get worse until it dies.”
“We must move for its benefit. It’s the natural thing for a merchant to do, is it not?”
“Move to avoid losses. You don’t have to be a merchant to understand that.”
Then they smiled a little sadly.
“The company belonged to our parents. And their knowledge was shared with everyone who worked there.”
“Sadly, we are the only ones left who still understand them.”
“And so it is necessary for us to act.”
“Even if what they left us is no more, what we learned will remain.”
“After all, we have two heads.”
So, they had already decided.
Tor realized that he had been foolish to ask. And he felt a great deal of respect for them as he continued.
“Where are you going to start searching, to be precise?”
“There is one piece of information that is crucial.”
“The method for smuggling. That’s it.”
“And so comes the arduous task of questioning people.”
“After we finish eating, we will head to the inn that Magic Centipede uses.”
“At this time of the night? Surely there will be no one to talk to.”
Besides, if it was an inn used by Adventurers, it was unlikely that the employees would talk about customers. Even more because Magic Centipede were a large group of over twenty people.
But it turned out that the twins were not going to interrogate people working at the inn.
“When it comes to food for twenty people, you can expect a lot of leftovers.”
“Hey, you don’t mean…”
“Yes. We’re going to question the people who come at night in order to eat the scraps.”
They were talking about vagabonds.
Not the kind of people that these two well-bred young ladies, who ate with the best manners, would usually talk to. Who knows what would happen?
The two noticed his expression and chuckled.
“Mister Tor. Can we rely on you to protect us?”
Realizing that his clients intended on running into danger head first, Tor could only sigh. And he decided to just enjoy what was left of his meal. It was as delicious as its high price suggested it would be.
If he could eat this well, then maybe the job wasn’t so bad after all.