Chapter 15 – Out of the frying pan
With the Dream Lord Podarge subjugated, the Dungeon was enveloped in a white mist and started to break down and disappear.
The scenery changed and the four of us were standing in front of a cliff deep inside the forest where the entrance of the Phantasmal Beast Tower was located.
“….so, there isn’t anybody else aside from us here. If the culprit was foolish enough to stay, then things would’ve been much simpler.”
Izabella searched our surroundings with her gaze, then let out a sigh.
If the person who brought about the Wandering Lord was still inside the Dungeon, they should’ve appeared right here close to us.
However, it seems they are not the type to leave behind evidence like that.
“….was it really someone from my family, I wonder. It’s true that everyone is devoted to trying to earn the position of the next family head, even risking their lives in the process. It’s even true that some of them disdain me. But I still wouldnt’ve thought that any of them would do something like this.”
Snow said in a disbelieving tone.
“Ojou-sama….one cannot know the true face of people. It’s not the straightforwardly evil people that we need to fear. The truly vile people are the ones that wear the thickest masks to hide themselves.”
“However, no assassination attempt like this ever happened during a succession contest within the Howlod Family thus far.”
“So it’s possible that this wasn’t done by an heir candidate, but someone that backs one of them.”
Izabella and Snow were talking about the assassination attempt via Dream Lord that just happened.
Since the incident this time could’ve failed depending on the movements of the Podarge, finding the culprit is especially difficult.
Everything that was done returned to nothing together with the Dungeon once the Dream Lord was defeated.
That means no evidence could be found anymore.
“They were very thorough…. Using bandits to wear them down, then leading the Dream Lord to them. Are disputes among the nobles always like this?”
Luce glanced quickly towards me.
It might not be that persuasive coming from me, who was exiled after being deemed worthless, but…. as far as I know, nothing like that happened with the Edvan Family either.
The Edvan Family only gained its current position thanks to the sheer prowess of former Lords.
Compared to other families, ours was always distant from politics and didn’t have as much influence as other Count families.
In contrast, Marquis Howlod’s family is one of the top five most influential families of the kingdom.
Because of that, internal discord should be much more prominent.
I also had a suspicion myself.
The know-how to make use of this Dungeon and the meticulousness of not letting themselves be seen at all….
It’s the same modus operandi as with the Graveyard of Sorrows.
These were most likely done by the same people.
Even before this, it was clear that the Howlod Family was suspicious and getting mixed up in its internal disputes like this does nothing to alleviate this concern.
However, for a highly cautious culprit, their objectives seem very inconsistent.
I have a bad feeling that we are being led around by the nose somehow.
I carefully inspected the top of the cliff, but I did not see any sign of someone being there.
“What is it, Elma-san? Did you see something?”
Luce imitated some binoculars with her hands over her eyes and followed my gaze.
“I was thinking that…. if they go out of their way to create an incident like this targeting a daughter of a Marquis, then normally they would at least try to confirm the outcome.”
Whether they lived or died would be known sooner or later.
Even so, after doing something big like this, wanting to confirm it in person is what most would feel.
Especially since there is a cliff right here that’s perfect for that.
And yet, there are absolutely no signs of people here.
Perhaps they didn’t want to take any risks at all.
Very thorough of them.
“A very unsettling opponent.”
There is no mistake that they exist, and yet only an empty contour of them could be detected.
Snow gestured to Izabella to lean closer.
Izabella lent an ear to her right away.
“Hmm, mhmm, I see….yes, I understand.”
Izabella straightened her posture, then looked in our direction.
“Elma, you don’t need to concern yourself about this. The culprit this time will be handled by our Marquis family. You two saved the lives of ojou-sama…..let us thank you one more time. Although it’s a mark of shame for the next head of the family to be saved by simple adventurers….she accepts that this is her current reality and intends to focus on bettering herself….or so she said.”
“Ah, uhm….yes, thank you….”
I would prefer for her to directly say those words to us instead….
Snow is a powerful and determined person who is proud to be part of the Marquis family, but…..as they say: ‘God does not give two gifts’, so she is pretty bad at interacting with others.
After calming herself behind Izabella, Snow pursed her lips and seemed to resolve herself, then she jumped in front of us.
“Y-y-you saved our lives, which I’m also very grateful for, but….the image of you two overwhelming the Podarge was simply awe-inspiring! You were very cool! I want to become strong like you and become a head of the Howlod Family worthy of the name! That’s why….uhm, I’m truly thankful for everything!”
Even while blushing heavily, Snow said this in one go.
After finishing what she wanted to say, she immediately ran away to hide behind Izabella’s back again.
I was taken aback by her actions, so before I knew it some words slipped out.
“Thank you….It’s an honor to hear that from the next head of the Howlod Family.”
Snow had a stiff expression behind Izabella, but hearing that a large smile bloomed on her face.
“It’s rare to see ojou-sama open up like this…..”
Izabella said this in a happy tone, but then suddenly her expression changed and she stood in front of Snow, as if to protect her from something.
“I-I’ll say it now, as a commoner don’t even think you could seduce ojou-sama!”
She said while swinging her arms as a warning, then she kept pointing at me with a finger.
“What are you saying, Izabella!?”
Snow looked at Izabella aghast.