「Just how selfish can you possibly get!?」
Serid began to yell in his usual, loud manner the moment we got back to the ship.
「What were you doing!? You attacked the enemy without awaiting even the slightest bit of consent!」
「No problem. Sank all enemies.」
「She does have a point. I fail to see any issue, Serid.」
「You fail to see any issue!? She engaged the enemy by her lonesome and thereby neglected her duty to protect the prince! That, that is the issue!」
It didn’t seem like he was going to be satisfied regardless of what Fran did. My guess was that he was likely acting like this in order to try to belittle her achievement or something.
「I will admit that you deserve some praise, as you accomplished the feat of sinking an entire fleet of pirates by your lonesome. However, the method you employed was nothing short of inconsiderate. Your assault caused wave after wave to batter our ship. We were sent into such a state of disarray that the vessel even capsized. We managed through the application of water based magics, but regardless, you very evidently put their highnesses in harm’s way!」
Okay, you know what? I take that back. I’ll admit I messed up. I never even considered that we might end up hitting our allies.
『We should probably apologize.』
「Hmph. I mind it not so long as you understand the consequences of your actions.」
Oh god damn it. Now he’s got this cocky look on his face. It really makes me want to hit him..
The pirate we brought back to the ship had awoken. All the excess noise Serid made had probably forced his unconscious mind back into the realm of sentience.
「W-What the!? Where the hell am I?」
「What happened to my subordinates?」
『So they’re dead in the water?』
「Explain yourself! What exactly are the two of you discussing?」
Serid immediately yelled in an irritated tone as a result of the fact that Fran had started casually talking to the pirate.
「Is that one of the pirates?」
「Then hand him over. This task will be mine. Guards!」
A nearby soldier immediately adhered to Serid’s orders. He grabbed the pirate’s arm and immediately lifted him to his feet. I didn’t get what he was doing. Was he trying to steal all Fran’s glory? And where was he going to move him?
「Taking him? Where?」
「I will bring him to my cabin for the purposes of interrogation. I forbid you all from joining me in the endeavor.」
「You think I could possibly leave a task as important as this in your hands?」
Okay no. That made literally no sense at all. Firstly, he wasn’t the one who captured the pirate, and secondly, he wasn’t letting us so much as observe his interrogations. Like what the hell! I can’t tell if this is just another form of harassment, or if he’s going to ask about something that he didn’t want the rest of us to hear. Either way, he was being overly suspicious.
Seeing his actions reminded me about the whole thing with the assassin. I was pretty sure that someone had helped the assassin sneak in, most notably someone with the power to sway the inn’s guards to such an extent that they would create a sort of opening in their defense net. Moreover, it was a bit weird that the ship we were on didn’t have any sort of escort. I know that we were currently aboard a vessel that prioritized speed and all that, but it really shouldn’t have gone effortless given that we had royalty on board.
Thinking about it quickly made me realize that Serid probably had enough power to arrange both the aforementioned oddities.
Throwing more facts into the pool only made him seem even more suspicious. The only problem was that I didn’t have any sort of evidence. We could just say that one of skills allowed us to see through lies, but, there wasn’t any way for us to prove that we really had that skill, so it had no function as far as evidence went. We could torture him until he decided to confess his wrongdoings, but that wasn’t exactly what I’d call the best evidence either.
Fran and Serid’s underlings had began glaring at each other as I thought things through.
The situation was starting to look bad, but, the tense atmosphere was suddenly broken by the pirate as he let loose a fearless laugh.
「Hahahaha! Well, if it isn’t the Fyrias Kingdom’s chamberlain. Don’t think I don’t know exactly who you are, Serid.」
「W-What are you…」
「I may be a pirate, but I’m no fool. Even seafarers like us have more than enough of an intelligence network to figure out exactly who our clients are — regardless of whether or not said clients are landlubbers like you.」
Okay, woah. Did he just say that Serid was one of his clients? That’s not something I can just hear and leave be.
「E-Enough of your nonsense! Someone silence this madman immediately.」
One of Serid’s soldiers raised his blade, but Fran moved in between him and the pirate before he could swing it.
「Want to hear more.」
「He is but rambling! There is nothing to hear.」
「Will judge after hearing.」
「Are you perhaps attempting to frame me for colluding with the pirates? Unacceptable! Guards! Arrest her immediately!」
「Serid, what in the world are you thinking!?」
「I-I am but ordering the arrest of one who has committed the act of treason! She is attempting to frame me for collusion, of which I had no part! Do not interfere! I will ensure that the sin also falls upon your shoulders if you try to so much as assist her!」
That’s a nice excuse he’s got there.
It seemed that Serid was still underestimating Fran because of her appearance. He most likely thought she was a mage given the attacks he’d just witnessed, so he probably assumed the soldiers could take her close combat.
「Drop swords in less than 10 seconds. Will forgive.」
「Y-You think you can beat us, little girl?」
「We have you surrounded! It’s your loss.」
Fran raised me and readied herself for combat, but Serid’s soldiers continued to look down on her despite that. They had stayed within the ship’s interior throughout the trip’s duration, so they knew little of her abilities and even less of Urushi’s. They had assumed that she had used spells or magic tools to crush the pirate ships, so they thought they could best her so long as they stopped her from chanting.
The prince, however, more than understood the extent of Fran’s strength. He was worried for the soldier’s lives, and so he quickly positioned himself in the middle of the encirclement. The expression he had on his face clearly indicated that he went in knowing the consequences, and that he was prepared for death should it come.
「Lower your swords, all of you! Serid, what sort of fool are you?」
「I am but subjugating a rebel, Your Highness.」
「You cannot best Fran. Soldiers, lower your swords lest you bear a deathwish.」
「Hah hah hah! What an intriguing joke, your highness. Do you truly believe that our country’s soldiers would lose to such a small, pathetic child?」
「Prince, I see that I must prove you wrong and reestablish your faith in our countrymen. The Fyrias Kingdom’s soldiers are men of valour, and now, they shall demonstrate that precise fact. It is but a shame that their foe is a mere girl.」
「C-Cease this right this instant!」
「Do not heed the prince’s orders! Do it!」
「Sir! Yes sir!」
The soldiers chose to obey Serid over the prince. They immediately rushed Fran down in order to attack. Their faces gave away that they weren’t actually intent on killing her; at most, they wanted a limb or two. Moreover, their movements indicated that they were fairly proficient at combat.
「Can’t be helped.」
But they were no match for Fran, and so, the battle ended in an instant. Fran cut down two of them, I sent two more flying with magic, and Urushi pinned down another. All of the men that had opposed us had collapsed, save for Serid.
「I-Impossible… How could it be!」
Fran completely ignored the now stiffened up chamberlain and instead turned to face the pirate.
「I’ll tell you whatever you want if you agree to let me live.」
「Nn. Agreed. Will spare.」
「Heh, alright. The deal is sealed.」
「First. Involvement with Serid.」
「He offered us a job. So basically, he’s one of our clients.」
「Shut your mouth immediately, you lia-」
Serid tried to cut the pirate off and stop him from talking, but Fran gave him a quick smack and knocked him out. Well, that’s one less source of noise.
「E-Er, right. It happened sometime in the evening two days ago.」
Apparently the pirates had a secret base set up somewhere in Dharz. They often used it to buy supplies and gather information. Someone had purposefully sought out said base in order to hire them for something.
Specifically, they were asked to attack the ship we were on. They were told that the Fryias Kingdom would have a few members of its royal family on the boat. Their job was to kidnap and murder those precise individuals. Moreover, arrangements would be made so that the ship would remain without any sort of armed escort, and it was even said that the people on board would surrender immediately.
「Client was Serid?」
「Yeah. It was one hell of a dirty job, but so we did a bit of investigating. Tracking the requestor informed us that he was one of that old fox’s subordinates.」
「Well, we were going to get paid a ridiculous amount, and we figured we could threaten Serid and get him to pay up even more. So yes, we did.」
Alright, so my guesses are on this whole thing being a part of a power struggle, but why go so far just to kill the twins? I mean, they were sixth and seventh in the line of succession. They weren’t even anywhere near the throne.
It looked like we were going to need to dig a little bit deeper if we wanted to figure out exactly what was going on.