What was of the man who opened the birdcage – Part 1
Two weeks after Lize had become property of the Queen, Lux called Takumi to see him in his office. It was within the castle.
“Hi, slave merchant. This time you’ve really met my expectations in a positive way.”
Lux looked totally different from the last time as he spoke in a good mood. On the other hand, Takumi let out a listless yawn.
“Yeah, whatever, I’m glad to hear that… Have I ever mentioned that seeing you Fairstadt in a good mood kinda pisses me off? Because it does and it’s strange. Maybe I’m getting why Kunon gives her worst when she’s around you.”
“You could’ve spared me your dumb remark and avoided pissing me off too. But well, thanks to you the Queen has dragged me into her plan, so I’ll turn a blind eye for now.”
“Thank you. Why did you call me all the way here, anyway?”
Lux straightened himself, a sour expression on his face. He knew their conversation wasn’t going to be pleasant.
“Let’s start from the good news. The Queen has assigned your knight subordinates their territory. It’s the place you asked for.”
As he spoke, Lux took out a document from his desk and handed it over.
“Finally… now many things are going to be easier.”
“Many things, huh…? I can’t let my guard down when you’re involved… What are you up to this time? Don’t go too far, or you’ll have to face a bothersome guy.”
Lux squinted his eyes slightly as he pushed the conversation on.
“Elvis has acknowledged you as his enemy. It would be better if you don’t draw his attention too much.”
“Do you think I’ll stay put only for this?”
“Of course not, but he’s surely the most bothersome person in the entire kingdom. What I’m about to say goes for you too—the scariest people are those who are hard or impossible to read.”
Lux propped his chin with his hand while tapping repeatedly on the desk with a finger.
“He wasn’t only behind Archbishop Crest’s law formula’s experiments. I heard he was in contact with many major companies of the northern districts during the former empire, and he also has contacts with Denmerg. He must be searching for something and hiding his true objective… but gathering information about him doesn’t help to piece everything together.”
No matter how inexperienced Lux was, he was still an Overlord with all the privileges it included. This meant that if he couldn’t figure out what Elvis was planning despite doing his researches on him, the Fortesea’s leader was particularly good at covering his actions up.
“The only thing I’m sure about is that he’s planning something from the shadows. Keep your eyes peeled, okay?”
“Yeah, sure. So I should also find a way to gather information about him and share them with you?”
“I knew you would’ve gone straight to the point, but I don’t want you to do anything reckless. To be honest, it would be a hard blow if we were to lose you now.”
“…Meeting your expectations brings as many fruits as problems, you know? Nobles have been sending me petitions since our official fight was announced.”
Takumi shrugged his shoulders lightly while Lux’s grimaced, patting his stomach.
The nobles saw magic as something peerless and none would’ve expected for mere demi-humans to squash that one-sidedly. The obvious consequence of such an absurdity was a lingering feeling of distress for those who had been looking down on demi-humans for so long.
“On the other hand, we’re now heroes for the slums, aren’t we? This is the first time in history that some demi-humans earn the title of knights.”
“Well, you’ve been heroes for a while now. The heroic major company that fights injustice, the heroic knights who ascended from the slums… and the heroic monster hunters, I guess.”
Lux handed over an envelope to the slave merchant.
“Let’s get to the bad news. Elvis Fortesea ordered the new novice knights to exterminate some monsters.”
Takumi scanned the documents in the envelope quickly while Lux filled him with the details.
“They’ve been assigned to Renunt Village, which it’s been attacked by monsters. Kunon and Karin are to eliminate the monsters and improve the village’s morale. This way you will also shut the skeptical nobles down by showing them your abilities.”
The next moment, Takumi made a sour expression.
“…You’re kidding, right?”
“Can’t you see Elvis’ official stamp down there?”
“I don’t care if it’s authentic. Can’t I just burn this down and go home?”
“Congratulations, you’ve been accused of treason. The jail will be your new home now.”
Lux smiled bitterly in front of Takumi’s deep sigh.
“Don’t worry, Renunt Village is nearby the foot of Meld mountain range in the North. That’s probably why we get report of minor monsters attacking the village. That shouldn’t be a problem for you guys, right?”
Monsters were living creatures in their world.
Sometimes the magical power on the earth made some beasts outgrow. These oddities were called ‘monsters’, as they were usually dangerous, and there was often need to eliminate them.
Still, the minor ones weren’t that dangerous.
As for the few times that one of them outgrew, even a strong man who grasped the basis of martial arts or a woman who knew how to build and lay traps around could capture them without much effort.
“Well, your order from above is essentially to make a good impression on your boss. Now, no matter how minor these monsters are, we received a lot of reports about their attacks. It might be hard to deal with all of them without a magic knight if there are too many, but try to deal with it and protect the village.”
“…How many reports did you receive?”
“Perhaps dozens? None of the nearby village reported serious damage, though.”
Takumi’s expression warped in an instant, hearing those words.
Then, his usual smile returned to crack his face.
“…Well, as long as we don’t have to hunt some major monster or have to deal with insane requests, everything’s fine.”
“Where is your usual ‘it’s gonna be a piece of cake’ sort of arrogance?”
“I mean, as long as we have to deal with minor monsters or middle class ones, it might only be a hassle… but the major ones can use magic, you know?”
The middle class monsters had humongous bodies, but it ‘merely’ took several men to defeat one.
On the other hand, the major monsters not only had humongous bodies, they could also use magic. This meant that their size usually placed them at the top of the food chain, and their magic simply confirmed that position—they could literally be man-eating giants.
The worst part was that monsters not only feasted on humans, but on their magic formulas too, which meant they had to be vanquished as soon as possible.
“If one who can use advanced magic was to appear, this country might be done for.”
“You’re right. We handled them the few times they appeared, but I remember some years ago the majority of the magic knights had been deployed to bring one down. Probably only the heroes in the west city-states could have faced it alone like us.”
“Yeah, fighting a monster like that would be a huge pain in the ass. But humans are still scarier than monsters.”
“I agree. Elvis sent you this directive for a reason. I’m sure he’s planning something… and you should consider Kiad taking his revenge too.”
Lux crossed his arms on his chest, wearing a sour expression.
“I heard he has changed in a bad way. The guards in the upper layers said his arrogance is gone and he always looks tired and almost emaciated. He hasn’t set foot outside his mansion once yet.”
“Oww, poor thing. I did something horrible.”
“Please, I know you don’t feel sorry at all… honestly, he deserved it. He was rather unpleasant to see, so you have my gratitude.”
Lux shrugged his shoulders, then faced Takumi with a sharp gaze.
“Anyhow, just be careful, okay? You still have lots of things to do.”
“Yeah, sure. Guess I’ll cut my subordinates some slack for once, then.”
Lux was even more puzzled to see Takumi’s merry expression.
“I mean, Renunt Village has some hot springs, right? We got assigned there, so we could take a breather and enjoy a bath for once.”
“…Don’t tell me you asked for a place in the middle of nowhere like that only for this reason.”
“What, is it so wrong? I like bathing and I love hot springs. The reason I accepted the Queen’s request has been half for Lize and half for the hot springs.”
“I don’t know why I feel like that’s not all there is to it… also, I think I’m getting why you’re this happy…”
Lux felt all his strength drain away while Takumi put all the documents in his bag.
“I’ll take my leave now. I have a guest today.”
“A guest…? Oh, Archbishop Crest?”
“Exactly. I heard she was ordered to get along and deepen her friendship with the major company Suzuran by the Queen. Our chief is in high spirits since this morning.”
“Oh… Mirta is? That sounds good, doesn’t it?”
A bitter smile thinned Lux’s lips as he recalled Mirta when they were younger.
“By the way, can I borrow Elsa for a bit?”
“Sure thing. If I let her handle you, my stomachache will surely get better.”
“Don’t force your stupid stomachache on each other, siblings.”
“I don’t want to hear that from its living cause. Go have all the fun you want.”
Takumi exited the room the next moment with light steps, closing the door behind him. Lux could finally let out a soft sigh of relief.
“I can’t read you at all…”
His words were directed to the door the bothersome slave merchant had just closed behind him.