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Major companies – Part 4
After he left the station, Takumi was escorted back to Valeria with one of the guards’ carriages. Obviously, Elsa was with him.
Once they arrived and sat on the living room’s sofa, she started talking in a peevish tone.
“Let’s be clear, I’m not here to babysit you or anything like that. I shall simply accept the information that you, residents of Listina’s slums, are offering to me.”
“How to say this… you look quite conflicted.”
“Mirta, you’re way too honest compared to a certain uncooperative someone… Please, watch your back.”
“Hahaha… sorry, but it’s hard to stop him by myself.”
“Since you’re the leader here, can’t you control this situation properly? Otherwise my stomach ache will never pass.”
Watching Mirta smiling bitterly, Elsa sighed again.
“…Anyway, let’s discuss about the illegal gambles. Takumi, is Amberg really behind this? I want to be sure about that.”
“Yes, and all of the others major companies are accomplices. I mean, since none of them can admit something like this publicly, they’re feigning ignorance.”
Hearing that many important figures were actually taking part in illicit acts, Elsa unconsciously grabbed her head.
“Just thinking about it makes my head hurt… So, what are we supposed to do? Honestly, I won’t support any illegal deed.”
“I don’t want you to do that either. Letting you break into the designed place at the start of the party and arrest all the presents is more than enough.”
As he said that, she looked more and more doubtful.
“I know that you’re not the kind of guy who would destroy an illegal business moved only by some sense of justice. What are you scheming?”
“I won’t deny that I’m up to something, but this is not the time to talk about that. Let’s pretend I just want to punish further Gaitsu Ejistan. We must stop the slaves from being brought in there, that’s why I want you to think about the rest.”
“Stop the slaves from being brought in there…?”
“Yes, but it won’t be an easy talk for you. Generally, buying a common slave is a waste of money, since they don’t know how to do their assigned job properly, but if you use them for illegal gambles, you have the chance to regain what you spent, and even more.”
“So letting them kill each other is a way to gain money and to dispose of something ‘useless’…? This is disgusting even for low-life scums.”
Elsa spat out those words without hiding her emotions.
“Gaitsu… betrayed us. Ever since Vatel, who did so much for the slums, disappeared.”
When the former proxy-leader had control on Valeria, he did a lot of unforgivable things.
He didn’t only value money over morality, but even used the authority that Vatel built up without shame. He used his power many times and profited over things that the guards should have done out of duty.
Still, Takumi acknowledged his abilities.
“He is an egoist and a miser… but he’s smart. If we put Vatel’s ideology aside, getting affiliated to Amberg was a nice move for Valeria.”
Even though they had a lot of influence in the slums, they fell behind when compared to organizations of the middle and upper part.
That’s why affiliating with Amberg would have let Valeria become an authorized organization. Valeria would have steadily grown and enlarged its activities.
“Still, he’s slow. To become the top starting from a growing organization would take many years and he’d need to act countless times. If we leave the slums like this and let them degenerate… the government will decide to eradicate them and all of its residents.”
The slums were filled with criminals and orphans. Beggars and good for nothing were also numerous.
That didn’t mean that all of them were bad people, that’s why Vatel decided to grant them a better place to live and tried to change the slums for the better.
To achieve that, Takumi’s plan had to be a success.
The Soft-hearted slave merchant faced Elsa again.
“To be honest, we can’t do this by ourselves. We need people who can hold back the big companies’ private armies. That’s why I need the help of your guards.”
He bowed deeply in front of her.
“This time we are not straying from the will of Mirta Famille. This is not about the slums or Listina… We want to act in the name of the Holy Kingdom of Richtert, and I vow that in the name of our Goddess Filia.”
His words were firm.
A few moments later, Elsa grasped the situation and sighed deeply.
“…So be it. I, Elsa Fairstadt, as the Captain of Guards who protects the slums of Listina, vow to undertake this mission.”
The stiff expression on Takumi’s face crumbled into a smile.
“Jeez… instead of being so carefree, why don’t you always behave like this? If you did, maybe I would listen to your requests anytime.” Remarked an exasperated Elsa.
“I can’t do that. If I wore a serious expression like you all the time, I’d choke to death.”
“That’d be fine with me. It’s… quite late now. Send me your elf for the details.”
“Sure. I have another request, if it’s possible… I want to talk with your big brother about this. When things settle down, can you arrange a place for our meeting?”
“…Do you want to talk with Brother Lux? He is actually racking his brain over this, and it should be more important than everything else…”
“I understand that caring about the judicial affairs needs a lot of hard work. Tell me when he’s free, so that I can adjust my schedule accordingly.”
“I can’t guarantee that, but… okay. If you want to go as far as to talk with the upper part’s guards, I guess we really need to move and coordinate. I will report to him what you said.”
After a pause, Elsa stood up and started to leave the room.
“Right, I didn’t have the chance to tell you something.”
The guard faced Mirta and smiled kindly at her.
“Congratulations, Mirta Famille, new leader of Valeria. You are too kind, but I believe that the slums need your kindness. I’m truly glad that this became official.”
“Thank you very much!”
She smiled back at her friend, who then left the room.
Silence descended on the two who remained there.
“Sorry for not letting you talk.”
Said Takumi with a low voice, and Mirta waved her hands.
“D-Don’t worry! Not like I ever talked a lot before becoming the leader… Also, I understood that you’re doing this for the slums since you even bowed your head to someone.”
Her tender smile made him relax a bit.
“Well, I’ll let you handle this kind of things from now on, so don’t look that sad.”
“I-I’m not! Valeria’s leader can’t be sad!”
“Even the Captain of the Guards acknowledged you. Why don’t we spread a rumor and make her angry?”
“I don’t think that’s a great idea, so let’s not, shall we…?”
Exchanging those light remarks, Takumi stood up.
“Let me handle this, Leader.”
“Yes. I will protect Valeria until you come back.”
She nodded in approval, and he headed towards the door.
As he walked through the almost deserted streets, he talked to the night.
“Kunon, come here, we have to talk.”
From the darkness, someone replied in a cheerful tone, and a petite werebeast appeared from the shadows.
As she approached him briskly, she matched his pace and he started to talk again.
“How much time do we need before the demi-humans I bought will be ready?”
“Uhm… Do you mean until they’re adjusted?”
“Yes. They’re already under our control, so I could mean only that.”
“I think a week will be enough. Demi-humans hesitate to attack people, so they need a little time to get accustomed to fights, but there won’t be any problems as long as the correction unit does its job.”
She answered coldly, like the time she attacked Gaitsu, but her attitude didn’t really change.
“Give them the time to finish, then. If a problem arises, let Karin handle it.”
“Eeeh?! You’re gonna make me wait again?!”
She puffed her cheeks disheartened and he pressed on them with his fingertips.
“No, this time I have a super-hard job for you.”
“Super-hard?! But, something like super-uber-hard?!”
Her eyes shone brightly at those words.
She enjoyed hard tasks, because the harder they were, the more interesting they were bound to become.
“It’s something only you can do. I have great expectations for it.”
“Yes! Leave it to me!”
She replied with an innocent smile.
“Aaah, I’m sooo looking forward to it~!”
It was so innocent that it concealed perfectly what was hidden behind it.
“Well then, I’ll go finish what I have to do!”
With her ears now straight again, she ran back to the darkness with light footsteps, passing by Karin who was approaching them with a casual pace.
Then, the elf started to walk alongside Takumi.
“What was that about? She looked quite happy right now… did you give her food?”
“No, she now has two works to do. One of them involves fighting.”
“I see… well, lately she’s livelier than usual, even for her standards. At least, she’s really enjoying her work.”
“Letting her play every once in a while is my duty. Now, how are things going on your end?”
“Everything is proceeding smoothly. They’re desperately searching for slaves from the nearby towns and even from far away areas, but even though they can’t find anything, they’re not stopping their hunt.”
“I bet Gaitsu can’t afford that. What about the rest?”
“You came up with this plan, so do you really need to hear that?”
“You know how important it is to hear these reports, don’t you?”
“…Yes, I do. I was just saying.”
She pouted slightly, then cleared her throat and recomposed herself.
“Many people from the countryside were sold as slaves, but we already collected them all. Other organizations are taking measures to not get involved with us. Meld’s guides accepted the money and left the place, while the guards and the custom houses’ bribery records ended.”
“Great. How are the demi-humans living in the mountains?”
“Aigle and Lewin said that no one was captured. There were some fights, but demi-humans are especially good in those kind of situations. Some were injured, but nothing more. They had to deactivate traps and provide support to the others from the shadows.”
“Tell me about their logistical support. They never missed the target, right?”
Karin let out a soft sigh.
“We didn’t allow it for this expedition, but… it seems that Aigle used the longbow he’s so proud of. It seems that he blew away the upper or lower part of the body of several criminals.”
“That’s a shame. Still, that weapon would rip someone’s limbs off only by grazing them with one of its arrows.”
“Good grief… and I even clearly said to not draw attention. It seems that he retrieved all the arrows, but if Gaitsu sees those corpses, he might find us out.”
“He’s not stupid, I bet he already guessed that I’m behind this. Or rather, it’s even better if he believes that.”
Takumi replied in a good mood at Karin, who was worried by her mismanagement.
“Let Kunon know about Aigle and tell her to beat him a little. Maybe that demon of a teacher can knock some sense into that bird brain.”
“…If you’re fine with that, I don’t mind. By the way, her work is different from ours, right?”
“Yes, of course. The place is up to you. I’ll allow everyone to go on that day, so you’re free to display your abilities.”
“Hmm… I shall buy more of that oil you bought me and repair my brush. The lack of action was boring me.”
Takumi smiled bitterly at her lively remark and adjusted his expression.
“Well, that will depend on the cornerstone of our plan.”
“You’re right. Now, regarding the most important part…”
“Gaitsu got in touch with the cities from the coastlands and arranged some big ships. He moved the slaves he has in them, and he’s now waiting for the great day, but…”
“What, is there any problem?”
She shook her head and sighed deeply with an annoyed expression.
“I was just wondering what’s going on in your head. Normally, things wouldn’t proceed this smoothly, and you knew that all of this was going to happen two years ago.”
“I did everything to end with this situation. I only had to prearrange stuff and move accordingly. Simple, isn’t it?”
“You’re the only one thinking that’s simple. I can’t follow you.”
She wore a dissatisfied expression while he smiled bitterly at her remark.
“You’re quite amazing yourself, since you can organize and report this amount of information. That’s why I leave the important stuff to you.”
“…Would you say that even if I didn’t have my power?”
She looked at his face with her golden, diabolical eyes which could peek into people’s minds. She could understand when someone lied, but was also bound to perceive what she didn’t want to know. That’s why she couldn’t believe in anyone.
Still, Takumi stroke her head roughly.
“S-Stop! What’s gotten into you?!”
“Don’t push the limits of your power. Your eyes are a burden for your body, so don’t use them like it’s nothing.”
“…I used them exactly because it was important.”
“You already know that I won’t tell meaningless lies. You’d be great as you are even without your power, and even in that case, I would still entrust this work to you. C’mon, try to see if I’m saying the truth yourself.”
A smile spread on his face as their gazes met.
For a brief moment, her eyes’ color looked more intense… then she let out a soft chuckle.
“How to say it… you’re way out of my league.”
“I’m glad you’re satisfied now. If possible, I’d like to see your smiling face more often, though.”
“That’s impossible. I looked for a second and my head is already hurting.”
As she endured the consequence of her actions, a bright expression overwrote her scowl.
“Jeez, how stupid can you be, self-proclaimed Miss.”
“Shut your trap or I’ll keep calling you brat.”
“I won’t deny the truth and I wouldn’t mind being called that from you either. Still, we’re going to have an important job. Don’t use your power thoughtlessly. You can’t risk a collapse now.”
As his hand was now stroking her head gently, his lips curled into a smile.
“It’s time… to let everyone join the party.”
He muttered, and the two figures eventually disappeared into the darkness of the night.