Major companies – Part 3
When the new festival came to an end, it was already evening.
A long time passed since Takumi was dragged into the spartan room by Elsa.
Only a desk, two chairs and some lamps were in it.
Takumi kept moving, making his chair creak, while Elsa, who was sitting in front of him, had her arms folded.
Her eyebrows were twitching out of anger.
“…Takumi, why did you start that uprising? Tell me sincerely.”
“I’ve said it many times, Elsa. It was just a party with all the slums’ inhabitants. I also think we were a little too loud, but I’ve already apologized for that, haven’t I?”
“Oh, that was ‘a little’ for you?! Fool!”
Her tied hair swung as she slammed her fist on the desk.
“We could hear your screams from this very station, and to reach you, the cause of that tumult, I had to push my way through a crowd of drunkards! Do you know how hard it was?! None of them listened to me, and I couldn’t understand a single word they were saying!”
“Oh, I see. I didn’t know about that, but I’m still the culprit, so it doesn’t matter.”
“Are you not regretting your action? You aren’t, are you?! Is that it?!”
“Well, the slums are always noisy. If you’re that neurotic, you’ll ruin your skin.”
“Mh…? You’re so considerate, Soft-hearted slave merchant, but I’m a guard and also a knight. Do you understand that treating me like a woman insults me?”
“Nonsense. I’d never try to insult the daughter of the Fairstadt family.”
“Then what was the point of your words?”
“You’re fun when you’re angry, so I wanted to tease you a bit more.”
“That! Is! It! You wanted to insult me!”
As her face flushed red from anger, she kept hitting the desk over and over again.
That was exactly the fun reaction he wanted to see, but she didn’t seem to be aware of it.
“Yesterday you even told me that you didn’t have the time or the intention to cause troubles! Remember?!”
“I said ‘tonight’, didn’t I? Meaning that today, which is the day after the Harvest Festival, I could cause all kind of troubles.”
“Just don’t do that! That’s why people like you are…!”
“Oh, c’mon, calm down, Captain of the Guards. I didn’t let you drag me here only to tease you.”
“Tch… Okay, fine. This isn’t the first time you’ve done something like this, and it won’t be the last. If you really did it as a celebration, there’s no need to dig any further into the matter.”
“Wow, you’re super honest today. Let’s be friendlier with each other, ‘kay?”
“Listen, can you please realize that I don’t want to be your friend…?”
The knight’s anger disappeared, leaving her pleading with a tearful voice.
The commotion of the festival and her daily work must have worn her out considerably.
“I’m trying my best as a knight, but people are envious since I’m a woman. I tried to keep an eye on Mirta because I’m worried sick, and ended up accepting the slums’ Captain of the Guards’ role that no one wants, and now here I am, talking with the embodiment of exasperation itself…”
“Yeah, whatever, can I go home now? I don’t wanna listen to your sermon.”
“If you keep this up, I will hit you.”
“But you still haven’t. I’m deeply moved by your kindness.”
“You’re always like that. I can’t just ask my subordinates to handle you, so I have to take this responsibility myself… the last guy who tried, resigned and returned home.”
“Well, Listina is a big city. It’s normal for someone from the countryside to be overwhelmed.”
“I bet you did something, didn’t you?! Oh well, he was being too friendly and randomly touched me. Also, he looked at me in a strange way, so I’m more at ease now that he has left.”
“That’s great. If a guard were to make a scandal, even your dignity would have been tainted. You were lucky that he went away before he could try to lay his filthy hands on you.”
Takumi started to whistle shamelessly, and Elsa clenched her fist as she tried to hold her anger down. In the end, she sighed deeply, as if surrendering to resignation.
“So? Every time you let me catch you this easily, something bad is going to happen.
What is it this time?”
“Nice guess, that saves me some time. I let you arrest me because I didn’t want people to see us talking in public, even if you might think it wasn’t necessary.”
“Just spit it out. I’m listening.”
“Well… you should have already heard about this.”
She looked at him puzzled.
“Recently, illegal gambles are spreading in the slums.”
“…How do you know about that?”
“Do you really want to know that now?”
“Well, no, but realizing it, it hurts…”
Her face stiffened, and she let out the deepest sigh of her day.
“Sorry, Takumi, but I won’t tell you anything about that. Even though I’m looking for information, I won’t exchange any for money.”
“Of course, I can’t buy information from the Captain of the Guards with money. Also… you don’t have any, right?”
Takumi smiled faintly as he noticed her reaction.
“Rumors about them are spreading. You know that they are hosted in the slums and that the average customers are nobles with lots of free-time, but you don’t know who is behind this, so you don’t really have a lead… am I right?”
“…To be accurate, the guards deployed in the slums don’t have enough power to keep investigating by themselves, so they gave up… As knights, I wonder where their pride and dignity went.”
“Those thoughts stem from your family’s teachings. A common person wouldn’t think of opposing evil and risking his life despite its family and rank.”
Elsa was part of the Fairstadt family, one of the three major families in Listina. They had a long and honorable tradition and have been taking care of judicial and royal affairs for generations.
They had a strong sense of justice, and were like the embodiment of fairness, so it was normal that the guards were a little intimidated by one of its members.
“…I read records about those illegal gamblings. Enjoying slaves fighting each other to death isn’t humane.”
Her fist started to tremble while she imagined that.
Takumi smiled at her.
“Hey Elsa, they shouldn’t get away with this, don’t you think?”
“Of course! As a proud knight of Richtert, I can’t allow such inhuman acts to be performed!”
“You’re not alone, your subordinates think the same. They always have to deal with scum, but they’re not intoxicated by their power like the upper part’s guards, right?”
“Exactly! They can suppress you guys when needed and never miss a day of training!”
“Then can we tag along and crush those criminals?”
“Yes, we should punish those evildoers! Wait, what?”
Takumi wore a toothy smile while looking at her gaping mouth.
“Come with me, I’ll tell you the details at Valeria’s.”
“Eh? No… are you serious?”
“Of course. Those guys bothered our leader too, so I wanted to draw a clear line between us and them.”
“N-No, wait a minute. Do you even know who are we going to crush? If there’s someone important involved, the nobles won’t remain silent.”
“Where did you put the knight’s pride you were talking about a few minutes ago?”
“I-It’s still here, I’m not hesitating! I want to arrest them with my own hands, if I can, but… I don’t have enough information. Nobles and clerics are privileged in the slums. They can be visited only by a few people and only in private places, so even if we start a public investigation, they’d destroy all the evidence as soon as they notice that something’s going on.”
Frowning her brows, she let out another sigh. Elsa lived in the slums, so she knew very well how things worked there.
Looking at the disheartened girl, Takumi opened his blasphemous mouth.
“The illegal gambles are set up by Amberg, one of the four major companies, and its affiliated organizations. They use several places, like the company’s buildings or secondary residences offered by investors. The next event will be held in the basement of one of Marquis of Kelbeg’s houses two weeks from now.”
Unable of processing all that information, she could only reply in a dumb voice.
“Yeah, you’re welcome, Elsa. I can even tell you how much of their private forces will be deployed. If you really want to capture them and you’re not like those cowards of the slums, we can do this.”
He smiled with confidence.
“Your answer? Don’t just wave your justice around, this chance will bring the guards a lot of merits. Taking this opportunity is up to you.”
He admired her dumbfounded face for a few instants, then started speaking again.
“Oh, and don’t ask me how do I know all of that, please.”