Chapter 0165 Cologne’s Bread
Fifteen kilometers east of Jayclaire, the capital of the Handal Union.
There was a closed city known as Yeast.
It was under the direct control of the Union Government, and as the name “Closed City” suggests, it was a place where only those with special permissions could enter, not just the ordinary citizens, but even nobles.
Cohn was in such a city, where extremely strict controls were in place for both exiting and entering.
The Inbury Duchy, located in the south of the Handal Union.
As a result of the 『Great War』, the country achieved complete independence.
Cohn was a C-rank adventurer in the Inbury Duchy, and at the same time, he sometimes took on jobs as a spy for the Duchy.
After he and Ryo delivered His Highness Prince Willy, the eighth prince of the Kingdom of Ju to the Kingdom of Knightley, he received an order from the Inbury Duchy to infiltrate Jayclaire, the Capital of the Handal Union.
After infiltrating Jayclaire, and performing various intelligence activities, he obtained intel that a 『new weapon』 was being developed in the closed city, Yeast.
The new commission was to find out the details of this 『new weapon』.
The infiltration of the closed city, Yeast, was extremely difficult, but Cohn, with his wealth of experience, managed to infiltrate the city and was about to obtain information at the weapons workshop today.
There was one big question in Cohn’s mind.
In this world, 『weapons』 were often created through alchemy.
The Kingdom and Empire were big players when it came to alchemy…but, the alchemic attainments of the Handal Union was nothing to write home about, to say the least.
In the past, the alchemy of the Union was supported by the Inbury Duchy, which was a vassal state.
However, now that the Inbury Duchy had become completely independent due to the Great War and had become, if anything, an enemy of the Union, the level of alchemy in the Union couldn’t possibly have improved.
However, a 『new weapon』 was said to be under development.
And it was on the verge of being put into actual use.
Where the hell did such grand alchemic achievement come from?
Or, to put it more bluntly, how did they get hands on such a brilliant alchemist?
That was the question going around in Cohn’s mind.
“Guess I will find out once I sneak inside…huh.”
Muttering to himself, the wagon Cohn was driving arrived at the entrance of the weapons workshop.
Although it was called a 『weapons workshop』, it was a vast site, perhaps for the test firing of weapons.
At the entrance, the wagons were subjected to strict checks every time they entered.
“Yo. Cologne Bread here.”
“Oh, Cologne. You’re here again.”
‘Cologne’ was a pseudonym for Cohn.
“I am very grateful for your patronage. My sick father’s medical bills are quite high you see, so I need to earn as much as I can.”
With that, Cohn, as usual, opened up the entrance to the wagon to make it easier for the guards to inspect it.
Cohn does not bring in any strange tools for his undercover investigations.
So it didn’t matter how much the guards turn the wagon down during their inspections.
“All right, clear.”
For a full five minutes, two guards opened and examined the boxes and barrels.
“Hey Cologne, are you heading to the first loading dock again today?”
“No, I was told to bring it to the fifth loading dock today…”
As Cohn said this, the mood of the guards changed.
“The Fifth … then I can’t let you go alone. You two, go with him. And I’m sure you don’t know the way there too right, Cologne?”
“That’s right, thank you. Yesterday, I was asked to go to the fifth, and since I don’t know where it is, I was wondering what to do.”
Of course, it was a lie.
He knew the location perfectly well.
But he had also researched the fact that outside vendors who enter the so-called 『Fifth Area』, commonly known as the fifth loading dock, were always accompanied by guards.
“Cologne’s bread is indeed delicious…and even so, for its reputation to have reached all the way to the 『Fifth』, that’s amazing.”
Having said that, the captain of the workshop guards laughed.
The pastry shop itself was neither a store nor a brand that Cohn created.
It was a small but reputable pastry shop that had been operating in the closed city of Yeast for 20 years.
The reality, however, was that it was a pastry shop that had been set up and operated by the Inbury Duchy Intelligence Bureau since when they were a vassal state.
Normally, the pastry shop would never be used for any outward espionage activities and had always posed as an ordinary pastry shop in the town with no suspicious people coming in or out, but this time, it had received a special order from the home country’s Intelligence Bureau.
The mandate stated, to secure the information, even at the expense of all intelligence resources.
In other words, to gather information on the 『new weapon』 even at the expense of losing the intelligence base ‘Cologne’s Bread’ which had remained undetected for 20 years.
An information base in a closed city like this one was something that could only be secured over several decades.
When he heard about the information that he had to obtain even if he had to lose the undercover base … Cohn, as expected, couldn’t help but be surprised.
It was truly an intelligence operation for the very survival of the country.
The 『Fifth Area』 was the most secluded area of the Weapons Workshop, separated from the other four areas.
Only those who had passed special qualifications and screening processes were allowed to work in this area among those who worked in the alchemy workshop.
“Wow, impressive as always.”
“Yeah. It’s exceptional even among the other workshops.”
The guards leading the way in front of the wagon were having such a conversation.
“What’s so special about this place?”
Cohn asked, joining in their conversation.
“It’s special. Be sure not to do anything brash, Cologne. Since there are guards authorized to use offensive magic.”
“Whoa, that sounds scary.”
One of the guards, looking out for Cohn, gave him the warning.
In the 『Fifth Area』, there were stone towers about 10 meters high all around, which can be called watchtowers, and each was guarded by several guards.
(It would be tricky if I get shot at with bows from there.)
Cohn was holding the reins, thinking of an escape route in case things go south.
After several inspections by the guards stationed in the fifth area, they were finally able to arrive at the fifth loading entrance.
“That was quite the inspection…”
“Right? Told ya this place was special. There are more guards at the loading dock. Of course, you can’t go beyond that point, so you’ll have to deliver your bread at the loading dock.”
The escort guards said.
That was where Cohn’s plan fell apart.
(There are even more guards at the loading dock…shit. And obtaining the information without entering the innermost part is…very unlikely. Damn, I guess I’ll leave the rest to luck…)
At the fifth loading dock, the escort guards processed the wagons and they were allowed to enter the loading dock with the wagon.
There, nearly 30 guards were waiting for them.
(You gotta be fuckin’ kidding me…)
Well, that was unexpected.
The first and second loading entrances, which he had entered several times before, had only two guards at most, but this one had more than ten times that number….
“All right, time to unload. You’re the pastry shop guy, right. We’ll take it from here, both the unloading and the carrying. So just tell us what’s inside each one.”
Cohn replied, and did as he was told.
And finally there were two boxes left.
“Oh, I was told yesterday at the first loading dock that the small box was specially made and specially ordered by an individual called the 『Doctor』 apparently…”
As he said this, the atmosphere among the guards changed.
“Seriously…. Did they mention anything else?”
A man who appeared to be the captain of the 30 guards asked.
“They said to deliver it warm and in person.”
Cohn said, looking around.
Many of the guards were shaking their heads.
“Argh, I knew it…”
The captain muttered quietly.
(Could this perhaps be…an opportunity?)
Cohn was biding his time in anticipation.
“It can’t be helped. It’s the Doctor’s orders. I’ll take him. Two others, come along. Pastry guy, take the box and follow me.”
Cohn hurriedly followed the captain with the smaller box, a specially made box with alchemical tools to keep it warm, the only one of its kind in the whole of ‘Cologne’s Bread’.
(I guess my luck hasn’t run out yet.)
He muttered to himself.
The room to which Cohn was taken was a considerable distance from the loading entrance.
Above the door was a sign that read 『Fifth Maintenance Room』.
The double-opening door was quite large.
The guard captain knocked on that door and entered without waiting for an answer from inside.
Cohn, carrying the box, followed him in.
“Doctor, the pastry guy is here, and I’ve brought him with me. As you’re aware that outsiders are prohibited from coming in here, so I would like if you’d limit your requests within reasonable…”
“Oh, you’re finally here! Come on, over here.”
The elderly man, called the Doctor, interrupted the captain’s quibble and called for Cohn.
The captain, perhaps already used to this, simply sighed.
“I had the 『Special Cologne Bread』 at the director’s place yesterday, and I have to say, it was a masterpiece. That box is a heat-retaining alchemy box, right? Very good, just as I requested. Now, pass me one.”
The ‘Doctor’, who was probably in his mid-sixties, had long, unkempt white hair and an equally long white beard.
He was dressed in what the research institute called a white coat, but if he were to hold a wand, he would look like a grand mage.
Despite his age, he had a fierce gaze and an erect posture that gave a certain intimidating impression to those who come in contact with him.
But what surprised Cohn even more was the very person who was called the ‘Doctor’.
Even Cohn, who was from another country, knew his face and name.
In other words, he was somebody who had been closely related to the affairs of the country for a long time.
But at the same time, he was someone who should not be there.
That’s right, the ‘Doctor’ should be in the ‘Kingdom’, not the ‘Union’.
Not a weapons workshop, but an alchemy workshop, in the Magic University.
He was one of the two leading alchemists in the Kingdom of Knightley, and was also known by his nickname ‘Master Alchemist’.
That was the identity of the man in front of him, the genius alchemist Frank De Verde.
“Yes, this is it. Gosh, It really tastes good. I hope you have the three I ordered? Good, I’ll have the other two.”
Frank, the ‘Doctor’, accepted the two untouched loaves of his Special Cologne Bread and put them in the warming box provided in the room.
“Great, this should keep me going for a while. Um, pastry guy…Cologne, right? I would like to order more for tomo…”
“Nope, that won’t do, not everyday, Doctor.”
As Dr. Frank was about to order for tomorrow, the captain of the guard stopped him.
“Mhmm, what a cheapskate. I know all about the rules, but come on…fine, the day after tomorrow then. Three loaves, same as today.”
“G-Got it, order received.”
Cohn nodded his head in confirmation.
Then he looked suddenly to the side.
There, the front of the wall was a clear crystal window, and at the back of the room beyond the window was….
“Hey, pastry guy, let’s go.”
Urged by the captain, Cohn left the room.
Burning the scene beyond the window into his memory.
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