(379) Talented secretary
To be safe, after treating everyone, I asked them to remain in their rooms until the treatment results could be determined but they seemed relieved knowing that their curse had been dispelled.
I waited alone in the reception room.
I helped myself to some of the sugary confectionery on the table but it didn’t taste good because it was too sweet. It didn’t taste good, so I kept the other half of the candy in my item bag and drank tea.
While doing so, the deputy mayor came into the room.
He placed the box he was holding onto the table, held my hand, and shook it many times.
“Thank you, Ichinojo-dono.”
“This is just a slight gesture — ”
The deputy mayor said as he took out a leather bag containing coins out of the box and gave it to me. It was hard to tell the value of its contents since the weight of gold or silver coins were indistinguishable (I doubt that it was copper), but it was a pretty big amount anyway. The size of the bag meant there was about fifty — even if they were all silver coins, there would be 5,000 sense?
Since it was a reward, I’ll just accept it.
I helped without expecting any reward — normally, I would refuse to accept any but there might be matters that require money in the future, therefore I gladly accepted it.
“Thank you. So, deputy mayor, about that matter —”
“Yes, the route plan for the airship that the mayor had.”
“Could you show it to me? I am aware that it is confidential but —”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“I’ll try to – eh?”
I was about to make a promise before I doubted what I heard.
“Isn’t it confidential?”
“No? The route plan informs the villages and towns where the airship will land to ensure safety and prevent confusion. When the airship was in experimental stages, the townsfolk panicked thinking that a mysterious monster appeared in the sky. In the case of carriage route plans, there’s the fear that bandits will ambush them if the plan gets leaked but for flight route plans, there’s no possibility of ambush along the way.”
The deputy mayor said as he took out a map from the wooden box.
It seemed to be the flight route plan. A line extended from Mallegory and the dates and times were written here and there.
What a turn of events.
In essence, rather than search for Daijiro-san’s whereabouts, Milky’s book or investigate the airship dock, we could have just come to the city hall from the beginning to achieve our goal.
Daijiro-san took all her research with her from the dock so I assumed that her flight route would have been top secret as well.
It was a blind spot for Carol as well.
“Eh? This is?”
The flight route for the airship was cut off at the easternmost end of the southern continent.
“There is no way of communicating above the ocean and with other continents. This has been all that we have received.”
“If the timing on this map is correct … Daijiro-san and Miri on the airship should already be above the ocean – – they are not on their flight path back and we do not know how many days it will take before they do return.”
“Yes, we do not know when they will return. She would contact us directly before returning.”
“Excuse me, deputy mayor. I have a report.”
The secretary entered and said.
“What is it?”
“Among the people who have been treated, they reported having heard auditory hallucinations. It wasn’t just one or two of them – -”
The ones who have been treated were being isolated until they were tested negative, with the drug used to tell if they have the curse just like the one Suzuki used previously, and were required to report any trivial changes.
Some of them reported hearing voices and since multiple of them reported the same symptoms, they checked with all the 34 isolated individuals and found that 10 of them heard the same voice.
“If it was only about three, I would think it was only a hallucination – – but how did you find out it was the same voice?”
“It wasn’t the same voice; the contents were the same.”
Same content? Perhaps !?
“The world’s salvation – – they seemed to have heard those words.”
“The world’s salvation?”
The deputy mayor tilted his head.
“That is the phrase to activate the curse … if the treatment was late, those 10 people might have their frenzy curse activated.”
“Deputy mayor, this should have already been reported. The victims from the curse who are now Atonement-Seekers have reported hearing those words.”
“Eh? Is that so? Sorry, the reports were piled like a mountain when I received it so I must have missed it.”
The deputy mayor laughed but he should read such important information.
As I had that thought, the deputy mayor asked me.
“Ichinojo-dono, why do you know that?”
“Previously when the devil race girl’s frenzy curse was activated, the slain guard left behind the words ‘The world’s sal..’. Also, when the flour reseller man was murdered and after the man who had turned into a Berserker was captured, he reported that he heard the phrase ‘The world’s salvation’ so I was convinced that was the keyword.”
Naturally, I wouldn’t reveal that I heard about it directly from the devil race girl who should be dead.
“Now that you mention it, I heard that Ichinojo-dono was involved in that devil race incident as well.”
The mysterious man that always appears at the scene – – in detective novels, that would be the prime suspect for the police to suspect. Although the pattern was that it would always not be the criminal.
“I hope you don’t suspect me?”
“Of course. I understand that Ichinojo-dono was called to help treat the people during that devil race incident. In the first place, if you were the criminal, there wouldn’t be a need for you to treat them – – you don’t seem to use the treatment as a means to earn a fortune or seek fame either.”
“That’s right. We paid Ichinojo-kun 5,000 sense as a reward but those famous Practitioners would request greater rewards.”
“Deputy mayor? Wasn’t it approved by the board that Ichinojo-dono would be rewarded 10,000 sense?”
“ … Ah, that’s right. I forgot that I only gave the advance payment.”
The deputy mayor commented and passed me another leather bag about the same size as before.
Was he about to embezzle it if the secretary didn’t point it out?
“Right, for now, the request for security personnel from the Adventurers Guild won’t be arriving anytime soon. Ichinojo-dono, please take your time.”
After I stared at him with reproachful eyes, the deputy mayor felt uneasy and packed up the documents on the table and quickly left.
He was in such a rush that he dropped some of the documents.
“Sheesh – – Daijiro-sama said that it would be perfect if the deputy mayor was an airheaded small-time villain so – – even though he is airheaded, he tries his best to control the situation to protect his position. Please be assured that he has some excellent aspects.”
“That would be good if it was true.”
I commented as I picked up the documents.
They were the extraordinary situation budget for the incident this round.
Such accounting documents were foreign to a person who only did part-time jobs at eateries such as myself. To be able to manage such documents raised my evaluation of the deputy mayor.
“In a sense, those are secret documents so please don’t look at it so much.”
“It’s okay – – well, it is connected to a degree. You may look at it if you are interested.”
“Ah … okay.”
I wasn’t really interested but since he told me it was okay to look, I decided to glance over it.
Uwah, they have used 10,000 pieces of gold coins or 1 billion Sense for this incident.
I could tell that the reason was partly due to the lack of food, the city hall bought up a lot of the food materials. The purpose was probably for soup kitchens and distribution rather than for resale.
“Surprisingly the expenses by the city hall staff are high.”
“That’s because the city hall staff and magic research investigators don’t have the time to return home. Not just food expenses and overtime pay, clothes laundry and replacement underwear fee as well as special allowances all add up such that no amount of money is sufficient. Although it is still peaceful while we can still settle with money.”
“ … I agree.”
If the encirclement continues and spurs the shortage of food, the value of money would crumble. A piece of bread might have more worth than a piece of gold coin.
I wouldn’t want to see such an apocalyptic world.
I knew very well that the value of money was an indicator of trust in the government.
“But it seems that the road to resolving the incident is still far.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes. In fact, we believed that the devil race was the cause of this frenzy curse. But in the berserker incident that Ichinojo-dono was involved in, we heard that the victim heard a voice from somewhere even though they were the only people present. As Ichinojo-dono probably knows. The devil race uses magic to conceal their horns and wings. Perhaps if they wanted, they could use magic to conceal their body as well.”
I had the same thought process.
That was expected. If I came to that conclusion, it wouldn’t be strange if someone else thought of it too.
“ – – I thought so too. But all the staff who heard the ‘The world’s salvation’ voice almost heard it at the same time. It didn’t appear that the doors to the staff’s isolation rooms were opened and we didn’t detect any presence of people with concealed appearances in the rooms. In the end, the hypothesis that the criminal hid their body didn’t hold.”
That was true. In a narrow room, it would be possible to notice a person’s breathing even if they hid their appearances.
I see, so the criminal wasn’t a devil race.
I was slightly relieved.
“Well, it isn’t definite proof that the criminal isn’t a devil race.”
The secretary said as though he read my mind.
“Um, why are you telling me this?”
“I know that Ichinojo-dono’s companion – – the half mini-hume Carol-sama has been investigating about the frenzy curse so I wanted to help.”
He even knew about Carol, this guy was good.
Was it possible that the actual deputy mayor was acting as the secretory?
“After all, it is best to increase the chances of solving this situation as much as possible. If you find anything, please let me know. This is my home address.”
“You give me too much credit. Even if you tell me so much, it probably won’t increase the chances of solving this incident. It just raises my impression of you.”
“I don’t mind that at all. Or rather, I’m hoping for that.”
A cold sweat ran down my spine and I clenched my butt.
Wait, why did this secretary pass me the address to his home?
After all, including this secretory, all the staff hadn’t gone home for days, right? In other words, if I want to bring any information regarding the incident, I should bring it to the city hall, not his home.
If he was able to return home, it would be after the incident has been resolved.
And the moment I saw the address, my queries were replaced by fear.
I knew that I shouldn’t ask any further. I definitely would not ask. I would not like the answer I get even if I asked.
But I held a sliver of hope and tried asking in hopes of the possibility lying at the bottom of the Pandora box.
“Um, now that I think about it, I have not heard your name.”
“Sorry. I’m called Felice.”
I-I see. Phew, it sounded like a female name.
Perhaps she was actually a woman?
“Fufufu, sounds like a female name, right? I was made fun of when I was a kid for having that name despite being a boy. It is a common boy’s name from where I was born.”
“I-I see. I think it’s a great name.”
“I’m truly glad that Ichinojo-dono says that.”
I couldn’t really remember what I said after that.
I continued the conversation with a smile, left the city hall, and returned to My World where Haru and Carol were waiting as if I was running away.