Of Letters and Items
Melrosse opened the letter and read it carefully.
“I see… Well done, Black Lightning Princess! We will hereby move to immediately support the princess.”
So the letter really was about guarding the princess. But again, why use a letter when they have magical long distance communicators?
“Why letter?” asked Fran telepathically.
“Good question,” I replied.
“Nn. Faster to use item.”
It seemed Fran and I were wondering the same thing.
“You were of great help,” said Melrosse.
“Ho? What is it young one? Your face clearly shows unvoiced dissatisfaction.”
What!? How did he know that?
It really bothered me that he had accurately interpreted Fran’s expression. Fran was never the type of person to wear her emotions and that was true even now. The change in her expression was so subtle that I’d assumed I was the only one capable of noticing it. I unconsciously appraised him before I could stop myself. Since I’d already gone ahead and done it, I decided I might as well check his skills and confirmed that he didn’t have anything that would allow him to read her mind.
“Could tell, how?” asked Fran.
“Ho. When you have lived as long as I have you can observe what other people often miss.”
Seriously? Just pure wisdom from age? What the hell!.
“…Can use item. Why send letter?” asked Fran.
“Hoho, so it was the letter that was bothering you. There is a significant reason why we chose to use that method in particular. Would you like me to explain it?”
The guildmaster held the letter out to Fran.
“Okay to read?” she asked.
Fran and I took a look at the contents. The letter described how a Basharian assassin was caught in the beastkin country and that the evident danger was reason to provide the princess with additional guards. It didn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary save the code-like numbers that followed the rest of the letter’s content. I glanced at Melrose and found him carefully observing Fran.
“Weird numbers? Meaning?” asked Fran.
“They contain information pertaining to the princess’ destination,” he said. “We encrypt the information for security reasons.”
The guildmaster went on to explain why they used a letter and not the long distance communication tool. It turned out the Basharians also had similar tools, and the concern was that they could eavesdrop on conversations in the beastkin country. Information on assassinations and invasion plans had apparently been compromised in the past. If that was the case, I could see why they would rely on a physical letter for top secret information.
“If we knew the exact methods they used to eavesdrop on us we could deploy countermeasures,” he frowned.
“Not known?” asked Fran.
“Yes, their methods are unknown to us. That is the only reason we fall back on more traditional methods of communication, like letters. Strong couriers like you are essential to the swift relay of information.”
I was using Principle of Falsehood during the entire conversation. All the parts that the guildmaster said about Bashar was true. But the very last part about it being the only reason was a lie. It could be that simply an organization as large as the guild would naturally have one or two secrets. But I couldn’t help but feel bothered that we were used for more than just confidential communication..
I hope we weren’t used for something malicious.
I discussed my suspicions with Fran.
“Nn. Will ask discreetly,” she said.
“Yeah, let’s try not to make an enemy of the guild. If he doesn’t talk then just drop the matter.”
Fran turned to the guildmaster.
“What are other reasons?”
Oi! What’s with that straight-ball question!? There’s nothing discreet about that!
“Hmm?” said Melrosse.
“If need speed, then send letter by bird,” said Fran. “Still hiding something. Wanted me to deliver. Why?”
“Hm. You are certainly right that a messenger bird would be quicker, or some other method of communication too. But we still have our reasons.”
“Not telling. This information is not privy to a C ranker.”
Welp we just got stonewalled by the bureaucracy. Can’t do anything about that.
“Don’t glare at me like that,” he said. “I’ll still tell you what I can. You see, that letter was intended to verify whether or not our country’s guilds could trust you.”
“Some sort of test?” asked Fran.
“No comment. But just like how you are doubting me right now, we were also doubting you since you came to our country. You have yet to do anything to earn our trust.”
And so they asked us to deliver a top secret letter? I don’t know how it proves our trustworthiness, but I’m glad we actually did our job properly and refrained from breaking the seal on the envelope. We were accustomed to being welcomed with open arms in the beastkin country simply because Fran evolved. Most of the people we met had assumed that Fran was someone that would help them in their time of need. But in reality, not all beastkin would necessarily ally themselves with the beastkin country. As far as the guild was concerned, we’d started off on the list of those that couldn’t be trusted, but with this task under our belts we were under far less scrutiny.
“Got it,” said Fran.
“Hoh. So are you satisfied with this explanation?” he asked.
“Very good. We are grateful for the work you have done for us, so we shall give you a suitable reward.”
“Nn. Got it.”
We exited the guildmaster’s room and headed to the counter where we received our reward. By the time we headed to an inn recommended by the Adventurers’ Guild it was well into the night. Thankfully the inn had a receptionist posted 24 hours a day. It was quite suitable for adventurers who did not have consistent schedules and would often request lodging and random times at night..
When we got to our room Fran jumped headfirst into the bed.
“At least take off your cloak.”
“I’ll cast purification on you and clean you up.”
“Come on. Get into the covers too, okay?”
I tucked Fran, who was half asleep, into bed using telekinesis.
Fran was out within three seconds.
Children do need their sleep after all.
Tomorrow’s the day we finally visit the castle. I was a bit concerned about getting around at first, but luckily the guildmaster said that he would provide us with a guide. Hopefully we’ll finally get to meet Kiara, the older catkin who was instrumental towards Fran’s growth. I wonder what kind of person she is. Hopefully someone that will spoil Fran like a child.