We met Nick on the way back
“It’s been a very long night…”
I had not expected to solve everything in one day, so I was quite happy that things had gone so well. And so it was with a sense of ease that Leo and I walked through the rain and made our way to the gate.
Leo barked in agreement and nodded.
Though, it had mostly gone well thanks to Sebastian’s map.
Without that, I wouldn’t have been able to search the buildings, and would have just wandered aimlessly through the slums.
Well, since Deam just happened to be surrounding the boys outside, it was possible that I would have still found them.
And since I had been careful when talking to Deam, he likely did not know that the duke was involved this time.
I would just be a strange man with a monster who had attacked and turned him in…
I hoped that this meant the people of the slums who were loyal to him would not retaliate against the duke in some way…
“Huh, is that you? Brother?”
As we walked down the street, I suddenly heard a familiar voice calling from behind.
I had not sensed anyone approaching, so the effects of the herbs had probably worn off.
After all, it had been several hours since we ate it.
Besides, we had also lowered our guard, now that we had completed our mission.
“It is you, brother. What are you doing here at a time like this…?”
“Ah, Nick. Uh…nothing. In fact, what are you doing here at this hour?”
When I turned around, it was Nick. Just as I had anticipated.
While his face was familiar, his overcoat was not.
He seemed happy to see us, but it was too dark to see clearly.
But given his appearance…he probably looked suspicious when walking out late at night.
“I always patrol the area around Mr. Kalis’s store. Apparently, something has happened in the slums recently.”
“People might end up suspecting you, Nick…”
Apparently, he had volunteered to help keep the peace.
While that was commendable, he still had an intimidating appearance… But I decided to not mention that.
Though, I did wonder if the guards hadn’t taken him in for questioning.
“Ever since you hired me, I’ve been trying to make up for the things that I did. It might be too late for that, but I want to help this town… And maybe that will help with your reputation as well?”
“…I don’t care about my reputation… But if that’s what you want to do, then that’s fine. Still, don’t the guards already patrol this area?”
“That’s just it… Those rascals in the slums have been acting oddly recently. And so have the others.”
Was he talking about those children I had just met?
Well, there could be others…
“Sometimes, they steal food from the stores around here. I suppose they have to, in order to eat. And so the shops try to be merciful about it, you know?”
So the boys had been stealing after all.
But it was for their own survival, so I could not accuse or punish them self-righteously. Well, I didn’t have the authority to begin with.
Besides, it sounded like the stores were allowing it to a degree, as they understood the circumstances.
Though, they probably did call the guards and had them arrested in cases where large quantities or money was stolen… But Nick said that such things were rare.
“It started…a few days ago. I started seeing them a lot more often.”
“Well, you live in the same town. Is that so strange?”
The slums were on the north side of Ractos.
And it wasn’t like each district was walled off.
Leo nodded in agreement.
“No, but… It was not like that before… Well, maybe it’s just me. In any case, I decided to patrol the area.”
“I see. The last few days… I suppose that would be right after we rescued Liza then?”
“Liza. Do you mean that beastkin girl? Maybe…”
Nick tilted his head, and so I told him what had happened that day.
“You took the duke to the slums… How very brave of you! Merely wearing fine clothes there will get you surrounded.”
“Well, we were left alone.”
“…I suppose it was because of good Leo. A large monster will scare others away…”
If I remembered correctly, I had gone into the slums with my regular clothes.
I didn’t know how good they were considered to be, but since they were made by a tailor, they must be quite decent.
And they were always washed at the mansion and kept clean.
Mr. Ekenhart had hidden his face, but was also wearing fine clothes.
Nick was quite stunned that we had gone to the slums like that, but then he remembered that Leo was with us.
Besides, Mr. Ekenhart and I had also been armed, and were ready to defend ourselves.
Thinking of it like that, it had been incredibly reckless for Nick and his friends to attack us that time we first met…