Chapter 17 – Marquis Harden
“I am grateful to you for saving my daughter, Elma-kun. Lately, there have been a lot of unsettling incidents near La Colina.”
Marquis Harden thanked me.
“….sorry for making you worry, father.”
Snow bowed her head.
“It’s fine. As someone who aims for the seat of the next Lord, risking your life is expected. Be it by underhanded means or by simple luck, only the one that manages to gain the common people’s support….and also manages to survive can inherit my title.”
Said Marquis Harden with a smile on his face, not even looking at Snow in the meanwhile.
It’s almost as if he’s saying that he doesn’t care if she survives the struggle for succession or not.
He might even be hinting that Snow only managed to survive this time by simple blind luck.
“Do you also consider the incident within the Phantasmal Beast Tower a part of this succession dispute, my Lord?”
“E-Elma, you! What are you saying to the Lord!”
Izabella raised her voice while glaring at me.
“It’s fine, it’s fine. No need to shout like that. It ruins the taste of this especially prepared fine meal.”
Marquis Harden hushed Izabella.
“Of course, it will be investigated. Such schemes are only good when not discovered. If there is someone in this family who would be so stupid to try an assassination that’s so easily exposed, then I will execute them myself.”
Marquis Harden squinted his eyes and smiled in a creepy manner.
“Though….only if the one responsible is indeed part of the family….”
“Do you expect that not to be the case, my Lord?”
“Elma-kun….in other words, you want to know my opinion on the recent string of incidents that happened near La Colina, right? You were hesitant to ask me about it directly, so you tried to dress it as justified concern towards my daughter….didn’t you? How terrible, trying to test people like that, Elma-kun.”
….mostly right on the mark.
My concern wasn’t really just an act, but I did indeed wanted to approach the topic in a roundabout way.
I wanted to know how much the Howlod Family is involved in the attacks on the territory by using the Dungeons, and if those had any relations to what happened in the Phantasmal Beast Tower.
It’s not impossible that Marquis Harden is behind all of that after all.
“Hmpf, it’s probably nothing more than a diversion. Those bastards really underestimate me.”
I had no idea what Marquis Harden was talking about.
“You don’t need to worry, I put great importance on what happened in the Graveyard of Sorrows. Say, Elma-kun. What kind of people do you think were behind that incident?”
I hesitated to answer.
Should I feign ignorance or tell the truth here?
I’m glad that Marquis Harden got right into the heart of the matter by bringing up those incidents, but I still can’t be sure that he’s not behind it all.
Furthermore, telling him my true thoughts is not without its dangers either.
But, being able to speak to Marquis Harden like this is a rare chance.
In my opinion….this incident could ultimately lead to putting the entire kingdom in jeopardy.
If a method of using Calamities via Dungeons as weapons gets out, who knows how things might end up.
In this world, the living sphere of humans is being eaten away by Dungeons to begin with.
If sparking Calamities from Dungeons becomes a matter of politics, then humanity will most likely tear itself apart and disappear sooner or later.
“….the people responsible are most likely more informed about the Dungeons than the kingdom and they think they can use that knowledge to achieve some kind of objective. I think that the recent series of incidents might be test runs for that.”
“Hohoh! In other words, you are saying that my Howlod Family that manages this territory where high level Dungeons tend to pop up is suspicious?”
Marquis Harden asked in a cheerful tone.
Luce’s, Snow’s, and Izabella’s expressions froze.
“E-Elma-san, Elma-san, this is bad…. Let’s just apologize, okay?”
Luce anxiously gripped my sleeve and whispered to me.
“I just wanted to ask if you had any suspects in mind….”
“Indeed, I do have at least one.”
Marquis Harden had a wide smile on his face.
“Information about Dungeons that exceeds that of the kingdom….is not that easy to gain. Indeed, I also have some information that I’ve kept to myself, but I still couldn’t have done something like this. So I was also wondering. Where could those people have come across knowledge like that? However, something similar also happened recently.”
“Out of the blue, an adventurer appeared out of nowhere, and as if blessed by the gods themselves, keeps piling up amazing accomplishments one after the other. I wonder, what could be guiding such a person? Don’t you think those are similar in some way?”
Taken aback, I closed my mouth.
Is he talking about me….?
Marquis Harden must already be aware that Luce and I were part of the party that defeated the Evolved Dream Lord in the Graveyard of Sorrows.
No, I should expect him to know about even the Centipede Pit before that.
The Heavy Knight is just an inconsistent tank Class without the [Smoldering Fang of Madness] Skill Tree.
In this world, the less damage potential you possess, the less opportunities you have for leveling up.
For a high ranking noble like him, someone like me, who keeps rapidly advancing out of nowhere with the help of a peculiar Skill, must seem like a bizarre entity.
And indeed, with the help of the walkthrough information and all the data pertaining to Magic World I analyzed, I could have intentionally caused those Dungeon Calamities if I wanted to.
That means that I am more informed about the Dungeons than the kingdom.
Did he go out of his way to meet me because he was suspicious of me….?
Marquis Harden kept observing my expression with his bulging eyes.
However, he suddenly let out a full belly laugh.
“Don’t worry, I just thought I would mention it. Hahah, everyone has some secrets or questionable facets about them….You could easily convince yourself of someone’s guilt if you only look at those. It’s best to remember to not stick to a notion overmuch.”
Marquis Harden resumed eating like nothing happened at all.
In the frozen and awkward atmosphere, only he kept happily chewing on the meat.
I have no idea how serious he was about his suspicion of me.
Maybe he was half-serious, maybe he wanted to dodge the question, or perhaps he wanted to make fun of me, who brought up suspicions about their involvement.
….now I understand the reason why my father, Izas, hates Marquis Harden.
An overbearing, cold, prideful person like Izas and a subtle, crafty, and mean-spirited Marquis Harden.
There is no way those two would ever get along.
Izas must’ve been made fun of and poked at by him a lot in the past.