The prisoners were led out of their cell and walked to the interrogation room. When they were just imprisoned, they were acting like they were innocent, and claimed to not have had anything to do with the assassination attempt. However, they had come to realize their situation after all the interrogations, and had become more cooperative.
They were told that this day would mark their final interrogation during which their testimonies would be concluded.
“How did it become like this…”
“We were so stupid…”
The two were speaking as if they had committed the greatest sin. The lead investigator was about to open the door leading outside of the interrogation room, but a noise behind the door suddenly caught his attention.
“Stop! Those people are still being questioned…Ouch!”
“Stop! You can’t go further! Cease immediate—“
The investigator was used to hear cries like that from the similar tortures in the nearby cells so she opened the door without hesitation. When the prisoners saw the person on the other side of the door, their faces froze. A jet black haired male stepped into the room. It was the Invulnerable Hero, the Captain of the Darkness God Corps who had survived an ice spear without a scratch.
“He’s going to kill us!”
The two prisoners prepared for their demise when the captain touched the young interrogation officer’s arm, and asked if she would be so kind as to hand over the investigation to him.
“Please wait a little bit! I will surely get the information out of these two!”
The black captain scowled at the officer, yet the young woman returned his gaze. After a brief while the room was engulfed in a divine arts aura and the man drew his hands back.
“I’m giving you half a day,” said the black clad man as he exited the room. The interrogation officer put her hands to her chest and breathed a relieved sigh, and turned towards the two prisoners who were still frozen besides the back wall of the room.
Yuusuke was enjoying a cup of tea with two other interrogation officers in the prison’s break room. He thanked Razshia, the fake interrogation officer, when she returned from the questioning.
“Welcome back. How did it go?”
“Hm, it all went per plan.”
Saying that she would report her findings when they get back to everyone in the palace, the girl walked off towards the changing room to remove her disguise. In the meantime, Yuusuke presented the real officers with some strong liquor and asked them to keep silent about today’s events. That was mostly out of gratitude since Krielov had already talked to the officers before. The two were simply amused by the girl’s performance.
In the secret meeting room at the upper floor of the Volance Palace, Razshia was reporting her findings and the unsettling feeling that the two prisoners gave off.
“Are they bound in some way?”
“Yes, I felt some sort of restraint binding them when they had talked about the incident.”
She did not like the testimonies, even though they did not diverge from the initial interrogations. Instead of a normal interrogation process, Razshia used the method that she was taught while being trained as a spy. She lightly touched the interrogation topic while chatting about unrelated topics. She tried to become their friend, adding Yuusuke’s act to make the two convicts trust her even more.
“Although their testimonies match, there are some minor discrepancies when I switched over to the irrelevant topics.”
Razshia changed the topic and made her judgment based on the way that the prisoners talked to her and how they acted. Even if they answered the same, there were differences in how they reacted to anger, joy, and surprise. The prisoners acted normally when she had talked about unrelated topics, but their emotions became unpredictable when she switched over to the questions about the assassination attempt. It is impossible to show similar reactions to similar questions even with training, moreover, these two guys were just ordinary soldiers.
“They didn’t even notice these changes. I believe that they are heavily conditioned (brainwashed).”
If they were just taught the testimonies, it would be impossible for them to suppress their emotions like that and not be aware of it.
There was no reason to trust their words, however, the power that was strong enough to affect their emotions and daily life like that was too dangerous to be forcefully broken through.
“Hmm… This is quite clear, do you have any idea who would be able to do such a thing?” asked Violet. The princess expected that there shouldn’t be that many people capable of doing such a thing. However, Krielov only shook his head in response. A highly skilled spy would be necessary to do it, moreover, it couldn’t be done just anywhere – there had to be an institution for someone to perform such strong conditioning.
“It is especially difficult to tell, especially when we don’t know how long they have been under such conditioning.”
If they were kidnapped and turned into assassins against their will, then their investigation would go back to the point where the assassination rumors had started to spread. The investigation was at a dead end even with the huge clue that they had managed to get. The atmosphere in the room was grim.
“That’s one interesting conversation that you are holding here.”
Suddenly an uninvited guest’s voice echoed in the room. Isotta and Razshia looked warily at Reifold, who appeared without so much as a hint of a wind arts aura.
“Leave, you self-proclaimed forest gnome!”
“I prefer you to call them the forest tribe.”
“I made sure that the room was empty and the guard outside would not allow even a gust of wind to blow past them.”
“The wind is blowing everywhere, my Princess.”
Everyone was annoyed, waiting for Reifold to tell them why he had come here on this day. The spy announced that he has brought information regarding what Razshia had found out during the interrogation.
Reifold had approached Valerie when she was traveling back from Fonclanc to Trent Rietta. He had learned of a secret Black Market trade route from her. Based on this, he had identified and tracked the Black Merchants, who were hiding out in Fonclanc.
He had gathered enough information to frame the merchant and pressed him for what he wanted to know, threatening to expose him. Then—
“Someone had come to buy strong brainwashing medicine on the day of the Festival of Creation. However, he did not know who the buyer was.”
It was a peculiar potion that the merchant had obtained from someone affiliated with the former Nossentes researchers. This potion was made to be used to train the modified evil beasts and exhibited strong hallucinogenic and will-breaking effects.
He had also obtained a list of the regulars of the store. Almost all the names belonged to the nobles, affiliated with the Ivor family.
“There’s no doubt that this is the work of the anti-Darkness God Corp’s faction!”
“This potion does not last for long. It might be that they were under its effect during the assassination attempt.”
It would not be easy to prove that such a medicine affected the perpetrators during the incident. Also, it meant that getting any further information out of the prisoners was nigh impossible.
“This means that we hit another dead end…”
“Even if we know who did it we cannot do anything to prove it. This is so boring…”
“Fonke, you are before the princess. Watch your language!”
Aisha scolded Fonke for saying careless words again, yet her face showed that she agreed with him. All the corps were frustrated about the unreasonable situation that their Captain was in.
Their enemy was a count. They were certain of that, but could not petition for any official investigation with the proof that they had. Moreover, with their social standing, even if they had the right proof, there was no guarantee that this kind of incident wouldn’t simply be brushed under the carpet.
“They might lay low for a while since they failed the assassination as to not incite the princess, but …”
“Yuusuke must keep his guard up at all times.”
Violet advised Yuusuke to keep at least two of his subordinates by his side at all times and minimize the trips outside the mansion. She also suggested stopping his regular rounds around the middle-class district, where he usually listened to the commoners’ opinions, until everything calms down.
“All of the corps should contribute to this!”
“In this case, I’ll be your escort.”
“I’ll go prepare the communication station with Fonke.”
Fonke considered Violet’s proposal and urged the other members of the corps to prepare for their tasks. While all of this was happening, Yuusuke did not usher a word. He stood there crossing his arms with an unhappy face.
“What is it, Yuusuke?”
Yuusuke was not content with a passive strategy like that and wanted to find a solution that would remove the core of the problem. But when he proposed to use himself as a bait, everyone’s eyes became round.
“It’s not interesting if I’m just sitting around.”
“Hey, hey, Yuusuke, you are not saying…”
Violet was shocked by the aggressiveness that Yuusuke hadn’t shown for a long time. Krielov also disapproved. He argued that Yuusuke doesn’t have much to his name apart from this Hero’s title and the Princess’ backing.
“Vordat belongs to the strongest House, proud of its ancient lineage.”
“Captain, I know what you mean, but this time you are at a huge disadvantage!”
“You might have huge support amongst the common folk, but the other faction is equally as strong within the royal palace.”
“It’s not like I will challenge the faction directly.”
Urged by everyone to stand down, Yuusuke showed a sheepish grin and explained that he has thought of a way to inflict damage onto the faction without directly challenging the Anti-Darkness God Corps faction.
Everyone exchanged glances. Even Reifold, who had melded with the furniture against one of the walls had unintentionally stirred, reminding everyone that he was still there.
“Remember the five-tribe unity plan that we’ve talked about before? I plan to use that!”
Thus, Yuusuke began telling them how he would use the plan, King Esvobus had agreed to, to cause confusion within the anti-Darkness God Cops faction.