122. Of Progress and Sudden Changes in Situation.
Rhodas had hesitated in coming to a decision, but immediately swapped to a series of quick, decisive actions the moment he did. That is, he managed to sortie his troops within the hour.
A part of his rapidity was due to the lack of a need to make any sort of major preparation. He didn’t bother delivering an address. He simply told the guards that they were taking Waint and Bluke into custody, and that was that.
And of course, we ended up having to join them so we could show them to the manor’s location.
『Urushi, can you tell if the lord’s second son is actually there or not right now?』
It would’ve been a huge pain in the ass to end up not finding the Lord’s second son present even after going out of our way to get what was effectively a warrant for his arrest.
The lord had his troops stand by as soon as they entered sight range of our target. Turned out that he was still indeed hesitating, which, honestly, was pretty fair. He didn’t have any real evidence, the only thing he had to go off of was what he probably thought to be a suspicious girl’s testament. He didn’t know exactly who owned the manor, and thus, could potentially have to end up being liable for any damages caused, especially seeing as he was basically about to have the city’s guards assault it.
In other words, it was up to us to take the initiative.
「W-Whatever are you doing!? Return at once!」
Fran dashed out in front whilst ignoring Rhodas’ protests. Our target was the gatekeeper. We didn’t want to end up having to argue with him, and we figured that getting him talk would probably help convince the Lord that we were in the right.
I appraised the man and verified that he was not only a criminal, but also afflicted with the whole heart of evil thing. Only after confirming all that did we strike; Fran silenced him by smacking him in the face with her fist.
We then tied him up and gagged him before healing him and waking him up.
Specifically, Fran had woken him up by kicking him hard enough to bend his spine into something that seemed to resemble a “less than” symbol. She then repeated the process until he finally stopped resisting. 
Only after that did Rhodas finally approach, several aides in tow.
「A-And what is it that you are doing right now?」
「It appeared as but mere torture to me… That aside, who precisely is that man?」
「Dunno specifics. Some enemy.」
「And do you possess the evidence to support that claim?」
「Could tell at a glance.」
「Does that not simply mean that you have none whatsoever?」
Rhodas planted his face into his palms as he shook his head back and forth. He didn’t have the ability to use appraisal, so he obviously had no clue that the man was indeed one of our enemies. Thus, he was probably contemplating what he was going to do about this whole situation.
「Will ask questions now. Answer honestly, no more pain. Make a fuss, death.」
Hearing Fran’s words caused the gatekeeper to nod as fast as he could, with his face as pale as could be. He ended up just sitting there, looking at us meekly after we removed his gag.
「This manor. Who is owner?」
「The place is owned by The Eathra Company. I-I’m just a lowly guard, s-so that’s all I know!」
Hmmm, didn’t look like he was lying.
Dannan, one of Rhodas’ older aides, filled us in on a few details after he happened to catch sight of Fran repeating the unfamiliar name under her breath. Dannan was actually quite the impressive guy. He took on every single chamberlain-esque duty whilst also managing the lord’s domestic affairs. Moreover, he was even about as strong as the average D ranked adventurer. The old man was seriously just a huge bundle of talent.
「The Eathra Company is a subsidiary under Sir Bluke’s Tormayo Corporation. It is known as a rather greedy company, and widely detested as a result.」
The Tormayo Corporation was actually a rather expansive business. It mainly focused around the sale of luxuries to nobles, many of which Bluke would personally introduce to the store. It had so much wealth and influence that not even the Lord himself could really do much to it, at least not openly.
The Eathra Company had The Tormayo Corporation backing them every step of the way, so they were pretty much able to avoid all inspections and audits.
「I recall Sir Bluke stating that he knew little of Tormayo’s subsidiaries as he’d left management of its affairs to one of his retainers……」
Yeaahhhh, no. That was obviously a lie.
「Man named Bluke here?」
「Oh, you’re talkin about the guy that Eathra’s manager keeps bowing to, right? If so, then he’s definitely here. I see him all the time, so I can say fer sure that he went inside a couple hours back.」
「Last question. You, do lots of bad things?」
「Er, well, I…」
A loud cracking sound resounded through the night as Fran kicked the man in the back hard enough to cause tears to flow from his eyes.
「I-I’m sorry, I’m sorry! I’ll answer your question, so please, stop already!」
「Then answer. Shouldn’t have hesitated in first place.」
「I’ve done lots of bad things. I’ve kidnapped women and dragged em back over. I’ve even done myself some arson when the company was faced with competition.」
The Eathra Company was pretty much made to do all The Tormayo Corporation’s dirty work. In essence, the company basically constituted the corporation’s dark side, but they were positioned in such a manner that they could be cut off with ease if their crimes were to come to light. Under normal conditions, their activities would likely have had remained in the dark due to Bluke’s influence, but even so, the company had still gone out of their way to base itself in a location that made it easy for the people involved to cover stuff up.
「And is Bluke aware of all that is going on?」
「I would say that is a reasonable conclusion, given all the factors mentioned.」
Dannan’s response to the Lord’s question caused him quite a bit of grief.
「I can’t believe it… For Bluke, for my own son to be involved in this line of business…」
Rhodas seemed to be the doting type. Or rather, the type that trusted the members of his family unconditionally.
「People that cross Bluke get it bad. I’ve heard he’s killed a few, and sold a few others off into the illegal slave market.」
「C-Cease with your lies immediately… Bluke would never…」
Rhodas continued to protest, but it seemed that he’d started to doubt his son’s deeds. His tone had lacked its usual strength.
「I deprived him of his right to inherit my rule as a result of the intolerable manner in which he had looked upon the city’s common folk, and I had expected him to repent for his misdeeds as a result…」
「It appears that depriving him of his right to succeed has instead caused him to throw a temper tantrum.」
「That can’t be… Bluke…」
Wait wait, did Dannan just call this a temper tantrum? I’m pretty sure this counts as a bit more than just that. They do realize that he’s trying to kill his older brother and usurp his position, right?
「Very well. I will speak to Bluke myself. The testimony to which I have just born witness suffices as enough evidence to warrant action. Guards, I order you, take all who resist into custody, and if you happen to chance upon Bluke… Arrest him.」
「As you will, my Lord!」
We used the gatekeeper’s key to get ourselves within the building’s premises.
We had the sixty person group split in half. Thirty odd troops surrounded the building, whilst the rest infiltrated and performed a raid.
Bluke had a bunch of his men stationed within the manor, but they were unable to stand up to the city’s guards. Hence, they were arrested and detained, one after the other. Resisting didn’t do them any good.
Appraising them led to the conclusion that every single individual had been afflicted with both the Heart of Evil and Enraged status conditions. Did Bluke have all his subordinates drink the magic-infused water they made? I guess the only way to find out is to ask him ourselves.
We arrived in front of Bluke’s door after about five minutes. Urushi had found him with Presence Detection, so we knew for a fact that he was there.
Fran slammed the door open, only to find the man rummaging through his desk. It looked like he’d realized that something was going on, so he was getting some cash ready in order to ensure his escape.
「Nn. Will not give name to criminals.」
「And you believe that you have the right to make such a claim despite trespassing as we speak?」
「Trespassing, she is not, Bluke. Her actions abide perfectly by law, as she is currently in the midst of an investigation with regards to an organization suspected to be engaged in criminal actions.」
「What? Father!? For what reason are you here…?」
「That would be a question I myself would also like to ask. Bluke, for what reason are you within the confines of a criminal organisation?」
「What are you saying, father?」
Bluke started to make an excuse, but I didn’t really care. My attention was directed elsewhere, specifically, at the fact that he was afflicted by the same two status conditions as everyone else in the building.
The hell? Did he drink the magic-infused water he made? That makes no sense. I mean, why would he? And does Enraged have anything to do with the whole Heart of Evil thing? Or are they independent of each other?
A soldier entered the room as I pondered.
「We’ve completed our mission sir. The entire manor is now under our control. We found a few wanted criminals within, but have managed to detain each and every single one. We also came across several young girls believed to be victims of the underground slave market. We’ve taken them into custody for the sake of protection.」
Both the wanted criminals and illegal slaves served to provide indisputable, incriminating evidence. There was no way Bluke could get away with the whole thing by just saying that he didn’t know about it.
「I will listen to all that you have to say once we arrive at the Knights’ Headquarters. However, be aware that I bear not the will to listen to mere excuses.」
「Impossible…! This is impossible! Impossible I say! How did you catch wind of my activities!?」
Did he seriously expect anyone not to notice? Did he think himself an intellectual, and his plan super solid or something? Did he not realize that it was built atop a logical fallacy to begin with?
Like, why did he think he could become Barbra’s Lord by making his father step down from his position? If the ordeal was actually so serious that they needed to arrest the Lord for it, then the country definitely wouldn’t have let his family retain any power. Rhodas’ whole household would’ve gone down with him.
Oh well, either way, we managed to stop the coup, which was good. All we had to do now was to reduce the number of victims by detaining Waint and preventing him from selling anything his stuff tomorrow.
We could cure the abnormal stats conditions that all the people had by feeding them the Recovery Water we’d made. So yeah, all was fine and dandy.
Or it should’ve been, had Bluke not suddenly started screaming.
「B-Bluke? What is the matter?」
Bluke’s body began giving a black aura. Okay, yeah that totally didn’t look all fine and dandy.
『Fran, have him drink the Water of Recovery.』
「Nn. Urushi, hold down.」
Urushi held Bluke in position with his front paws as the man convulsed and continued to scream. Fran approached him and tried to pour some of the Water of Recovery out and into his mouth, but he kept moving and refused to drink even a single drop.
「Urushi, turn upside down.」
Urushi did as he was told and flipped Bluke over so he had his back against the ground. Fran then finally managed to pry his mouth open and make him down several gulps of the Water of Recovery.
『Shit, we didn’t make it in time!』
I’d thought that we finally managed to resolve the situation, but I was wrong. Appraising him didn’t result in what I’d expected.
Species Name: Evil Human (Evil Being)
Status Condition: Insane, Rampaging.
Intimidation: Lv 2
Martial Arts: Lv 1
Evil Arts: Lv 1
Evil God’s Slave
His status page looked exactly like that of a magic beast’s, and his species totally said he’d turned into some type of evil being.  The way his level had reverted back to one almost made it seem like he’d undergone some sort of evolution. That said, his stats were super high for a mere level one’s. He obviously wasn’t as strong as we were, but he probably had the strength to take down a guard.
Good thing he wasn’t an adventurer, or really strong to begin with or anything like that. If that were the case, we probably would’ve been screwed.
And then, it happened. A series of similar screams resounded from outside the manor’s confines.
 It’s this symbol <. This is actually a pretty common description in Japanese novels. More literally, the person is said to be bent into く (hiragana ‘ku’) shape.
 The kobolds were also called evil beings.
50 releases! Hell yeah! That’s like two or three volumes worth!