Chapter 156 – Forced Investigation
“I was not able to get Ms. Leticia’s cooperation. I just could not be sure that she was the culprit who had stolen the information.”
I explained the results of our conversation.
“That is fine.”
Mr. Shamus seemed like he was not bothered by it.
“Now, prepare for the operation.”
And so I helped them prepare.
The remainder of the time passed busily.
One thing I realized while preparing, was that they had not originally planned to do this.
And so the preparations were hardly perfect.
The only reason they were moving forward with it was likely due to the prince’s condition worsening.
There was an overwhelming nervousness in the air.
Failure would not be allowed no matter what.
Amidst such an atmosphere, I slapped my cheek to psych myself up.
And then three hours later, I was waiting in front of Count Wilhem’s villa.
The last rays of sunlight were coming from the other side of the mountain.
In the midst of the deep ultramarine, the first star twinkled faintly.
“We are the Bureau for Inappropriate Use of Magic. We will conduct a forced investigation in regards to the assassination attempt on His Royal Highness.”
The great iron gates opened.
And then twenty-one magicians stepped into the villa.
As planned, they quickly started to search the main rooms of the house.
“Ms. Noelle. Can you check the documents in this office?”
Working swiftly and efficiently was what I was good at.
On top of that, I was good at reading very quickly.
I activated Spell Boost and looked through the documents that were discovered.
(Evidence related to illegal activity and the attack on the prince…)
However, I was unable to find anything promising.
Even things that looked suspicious at a glance. If I inspected them carefully, they were completely unrelated.
(Well, it’s no surprise. Since there are so many documents.)
He was one of the most powerful nobles, after all. But as I continued to read, I started to feel that something was strange.
(There really is nothing here about his illegal activities. It is as if he was prepared for this very day.)
He must have known that he would be investigated, and planned ahead.
(But even then, it is all done so well.)
I wondered as I read through the documents.
(Did Count Wilhelm predict that it would happen tonight?)
I had bad feeling.
In any case, I should speak to Mr. Shamus.
“Um, Mr. Shamus. There is something that I’m wondering about…”
I told him what I was thinking, and he furrowed his brows and nodded.
“I was thinking the same thing.”
“Isn’t it likely that any existing evidence has already been taken out?”
“No. Ever since the assassination attempt, this mansion has been strictly monitored. Without a doubt, the dungeon relic and the documents related to the magic formula used to prevent recovery are definitely within these premises.”
“Then we must find it.”
It would allow us to turn things around from this hopeless situation, and save the prince’s life.
But just as I was about to return to searching…
“Shamus Glass, I presume?”
Said a well-dressed man.
“I am Wilhem, master of this house. This forced investigation violates the laws established by the High Court.”
“This investigation is in accordance with the laws of this country. Please refrain from making baseless accusations.”
“No. It is in violation of the new law established by the High Court today.”
“I have not heard of that.”
“It just passed, after all.”
“You are quick to act. How much did you pay this time?”
“We must restrain you in accordance with the justice of the law.”
Count Wilhelm’s soldiers surrounded us.
I could tell at a glance by their movements that they were well-trained.
(He knew this was going to happen.)
We were completely outnumbered.
I tried to activate support magic in order to fight. And then I realized it.
(I cannot use magic…)
It was the same relic used during the attack against me and Ms. Evangeline. The one that restricted magic use.
Everything was obvious then.
This whole investigation was part of Count Wilhem’s plan.
A trap to create this very situation.
(There must be some way to get out of this…)
I scanned my surroundings.
And from the corner of my vision, I saw that Mr. Shamus had taken something out of his pocket.
It was the size of a small bottle… A smoke bomb.
After he removed the pin, it rotated as it fell to the floor.
As white smoke rose into the air, Mr. Shamus pulled my hand.
“Let’s go. We’ll escape into the basement in the back.”
He knocked over one of the soldiers and then opened the door to the basement.
And while desperately fending off the others, we managed to rush inside.
“What should we do! What should we do!”
“There are too many of them! We cannot hold them off!”
The others were panicking.
“Calm yourselves! Just focus on the enemy that is right in front of you!”
Came the sharp order, and then Mr. Shamus whispered to me.
“You. Can you crawl through that vent?”
There was an opening for ventilation that connected the basement to the surface.
While it was quite narrow, I was petite and slender, so it was possible that I would be able to fit through.
“I’m not sure. I might be able to.”
“We will buy you some time. And you will escape through it.”
“But, what about the rest of you…”
“There is no hope of us escaping now. You are the only one who might get away.”
Said Mr. Shamus.
“I’m entrusting everything to you. Find what we need and save the prince.”
This was no time to stop and think.
And so I charged into the dust ventilation shaft and climbed up.
“Believe in yourself. You can do it.”
I heard from behind.
As the low voice echoed, I gritted my teeth and made my way to the surface.
It was very cramped.
While it was clearly not designed for a human to crawl through, I managed to claw my way up.
And then I rammed into the rusted metal lid, and rolled out onto the ground. That was when I heard the sounds of footsteps all around me.
(They surrounded me…! Already…!)
And while I escaped into a narrow alley, it was only a matter of time before my pursuers caught me.
“Find her! She should be close by!”
I heard the voice, and my heart nearly stopped.
I was about to jump out of the alley, but then I heard someone’s footsteps.
(Damn it, they’ll see me…!)
As I held my breath in horror, someone suddenly jumped out of the shadows of the alley. But it was not who I expected.
The person pulled my hand while covering my mouth.
A tall man with a black hood pulled over his face.
Reflexively, I was about to knock him to the ground, but the sound of his voice made me pause.
“Hey, it’s a smoke bomb!”
“They ran to the east side! After them!”
The voices of my pursuers.
We held our breath in the tight space.
After the footsteps passed, I looked up at the hooded man.
The faint smell of sweet vanilla.
I knew it well.
He should not be here right now.
But there was no mistaking it.
In confusion, I said hesitantly,
“Luke. What are you doing?”