The Thieves’ Guild was, of course, well hidden. It wasn’t an official group like the Merchant’s Guild—they were just a group of criminals, so their main sphere of influence was in the back alleys of the Wenster Market, where countless branches of the Thieves’ Guild were hidden under the complex maze of buildings.
“There are a lot of guards in Wenster Market, so they should have looked all over the place already. We don’t have to go there.”
“They try not to have something like a fixed headquarters. No matter how big their group is, the Guards could show up at any time and arrest all of them, so they try not to leave any traces.”
Loyar pointed at some completely far-off spots that were not in the Wenster District.
“These guys change their headquarters periodically. Maybe that’s why all the investigations have turned up no clue as to where the Thieves’ Guild is located.”
The fact that the Thieves’ Guild didn’t have fixed headquarters meant that they would have places that were easily exposed. In the Wenster Market, although it was their turf, they only had a few scattered bases there, not their headquarters—they were places they could easily abandon at any time.
“Do you know where they are?”
“Ah. Here, here, here, here…”
Loyar pointed at various spots on the map with her finger.
“…Isn’t that too many?”
The places Loyar pointed at were scattered throughout the whole Imperial Capital, and there were about 20 spots as well. There were so many potential spots that she was afraid they’d run out of time if they went to every single one of them.
“Do you know what these locations have in common?” Loyar answered as if she knew what Eleris would be thinking.
“That… I don’t know.”
“You know what the reservoir is?”
“Reservoir? What is that?”
“Uhm… It’s like a rainwater collection facility.”
Reservoirs were facilities that temporarily collected rainwater to prevent rivers from overflowing when it rained. They discharged the excess water when the water level of the river stabilized.
“It’s so huge that there’s no better place to use as a hiding place. It’s not a public facility, but if one paid off one or two officials who are managing that facility, it’s as easy as pie; they’re using these large underground reservoirs as their headquarters.”
“I don’t really get what it is, but… They use that facility as their headquarters, right?”
Loyar knew that they were changing their headquarters like that because she had once had a close connection with them. However, Eleris only tilted her head.
“Wait, but hasn’t it been a while since the rain really began to pour down?”
It was a rainwater collection facility, but because it had been raining for quite some time, the reservoirs should be pretty full already. Wouldn’t that mean that the Thieves’ Guild had lost their headquarters?
Loyar shook her head.
“No, if one closes the floodgates, rainwater won’t be able to get in.”
In fact, even if it rained, if they closed all the floodgates through which the rainwater flowed, those reservoirs wouldn’t be filled. That was how they prevented their headquarters from getting flooded.
“But if they closed all the floodgates of all the reservoirs, preventing them from functioning properly, it would be clearly obvious where they were. They only close the floodgates in the places where their headquarters are located at the moment and open them up again when they change places.”
“But it’s raining right now, right?”
“…So they can’t move their headquarters at the moment.”
The weak spot of this method was that they couldn’t move their headquarters while it rained. They wouldn’t be able to use an already full reservoir as their new headquarters, after all.
“We just have to find a reservoir with its floodgates completely closed; that should be the Thieves’ Guild’s headquarters.”
At Loyar’s words, Eleris’ expression turned strange.
“…Aren’t you supposed to be bad at using your head?”
“You punk, I’ve been doing things like this for a long time now, so don’t you think I’m getting better at things like this?!” Loyar shouted, conveying that if Eleris wanted to compliment her, then she should do it properly.
* * *
It kept raining.
“Ellen, let’s go in now.”
Ellen sat on a bench in front of Royal Class’ dormitory staring forlornly into the distance.
As Ellen was sitting on that bench completely immobile, Harriet carefully grabbed her arm.
“That person was really strong. You couldn’t help it either. Y-you fought really well.”
From Harriet’s point of view, Ellen still seemed to be brooding over her overwhelming defeat. She thought that Ellen fought well, however, and that she had shown off just how skilled she was.
She thought it wasn’t something she should feel so depressed about. She was also wondering about that summoned sword, but she didn’t dare ask. As if that summoned sword never existed, it had disappeared like a mirage as soon as the fight ended.
“You’re going to catch a cold. Let’s go in.”
Ellen stared at her, hearing Harriet’s words.
“It’s… It’s not because of that.”
Water dripped down on Ellen’s face from her hair.
Perhaps because of the water droplets, it seemed to Harriet as if Ellen had been crying.
“Let me stay like this for just a moment. It’ll only take a moment… okay?”
What was difficult was that Ellen didn’t even consider moving. The sun had already set, making way for the moon.
Why was she sitting in the rain in the middle of the night? What was she thinking?
Harriet couldn’t comfort Ellen.
She wondered if Reinhardt would be able to comfort her if he ever returned.
Harriet didn’t know Ellen well.
However, she had a feeling that she’d become even more miserable if Reinhardt were to comfort Ellen.
Contrary to her words that she’d only be there for a little bit longer, Ellen only sat there staring into the rain for a very long while.
* * *
Harriet returned to the dormitory, leaving Ellen behind. Since it was Friday night, she could see everyone was spending their free time as they liked, as it was the last day of the week before the weekend. Even though she went out with an umbrella, it wasn’t enough to stop the heavy rain. Hence, she looked like a wet mouse.
“Harriet! Where have you been? Why did you only come back now?”
“Uh, ah… Nowhere really.”
“You have to be cold. Hurry up and come inside.”
“Yes, thank you…”
Harriet only smiled weakly at Adelia’s worried words. It was true that she felt cold, so she wanted to take a quick warm shower. As she was about to enter her own room, she saw someone raising their hand slightly from the opposite side.
“Where did you go?”
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Bertus approached Harriet with a polite, gentle smile.
“Did you go out to look for Reinhardt?”
“N-noo! W-why sh-should I?”
Bertus burst into laughter as if he found it very funny listening to Harriet trying to come up with excuses.
He was always gentle and likable ever since he just entered school. Of course, people were afraid of him because of his status outside of Temple.
However, at some point, Harriet started to feel a bit reluctant towards Bertus.
This uneasiness had its origin in her inability to tell what he was thinking, not only because of his status.
What was the difference between someone that smiled all the time and someone who was completely expressionless? That was what Harriet had started thinking those days every time she looked at Bertus.
She found him a bit creepy and scary, not only because of his identity.
“So, how was it? Did you find something out?”
She said that she didn’t go out to look for Reinhardt, but Bertus didn’t even bother calling out her excuses.
“…Not really.” Harriet answered in a crawling voice.
Bertus was still smiling as he nodded.
“It’s alright. Reinhardt is going to be back.”
Those didn’t sound like mere comforting words.
It sounded like he was talking about something that had already been confirmed. It sounded more like a prophecy, so Harriet raised her head.
As always. Bertus didn’t let any details slip.
* * *
Loyar and Eleris started to conduct their own desperate search. They had to check on quite the large number of reservoirs and see if the waterways around it were overflowing.
However, there was a problem.
“Damn it, it rained too much, I can’t tell if the waterways are overflowing because the floodgates are closed or because the reservoirs are full.”
Eleris nodded, hearing Loyar’s anxious words. As it turned out, it was impossible to distinguish if the reservoirs had exceeded their limit on how much water they could hold or if their floodgates were closed because of the Thieves’ Guild.
“I’ll use Life Detection Magic.”
Fortunately, Eleris had a solution for this problem. High-level Detection magic, such as Life Detection, couldn’t be used by just anyone, but Eleris could be called an all-rounder wizard.
“Must be easy, livin’ as a wizard.”
Eleris laughed at Loyar’s words.
“I’ve been reading books for hundreds of years, if I wasn’t able to do this much, that would be rather weird.”
Hearing those words, Loyar started staring at Eleris.
“…Just how old are you, by the way?”
“You beast, do you really think I’d give you an answer after you asked so rudely?”
“Are we talking about race now?”
“Then don’t ask a lady for her age.”
“What lady? A granny, that’s what you are.”
“What did you say, you brute?”
“What? A brute? Not a beast but a brute?”
“If I’m a granny, then you’re a complete brute. After we find His Highness, you’ll get an earful from me, so be prepared. This happened because of you not sharing information. His Highness came to me not long ago, and I told him everything was fine because you didn’t tell me anything.”
“…f*cking hell, how should I have known that this would happen?”
“Shut up. I’m almost done casting.”
Eleris finished casting her spell while bickering with Loyar.
The Life Detection Magic was activated.
“They aren’t in there.”
Eleris gave a very simple answer and got ready to head towards the next destination.
“By the way, how did you hurt your hand?”
While they were moving, Eleris started to ask Loyar something. Loyar’s right hand was wrapped in a bandage stained with blood.
“…I told you that two of Reinhardt’s friends gave me this information, right?”
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“I tried to kick them out because they insisted on following us. One of them completely folded, she only trembled—she might have been a non-combatant. But the other girl remained persistent, so I handled her a bit rougher…”
Hearing Loyar’s recount, Eleris seemed to get mad again.
“…Are you telling me that you got hurt while fighting with a kid?”
“She wasn’t some ordinary brat, alright?!”
“Did you actually become nothing more than a wild dog because you keep calling yourself Irene’s Wild Dog? Now you’re even getting hurt while fighting little kids.”
Eleris was asking her if her power actually regressed in a tone that didn’t betray if she was seriously worried or teasing her.
“I don’t know, damn it. They’re raising monsters in Temple. I was able to overpower her this time, but in a few years, she’d be able to sack me even if I used my full power. That girl…”
When Eleris heard those words, her expression hardened.
She had thought she got hurt after getting careless while messing around with the kid, but Loyar had actually just said that she wouldn’t be able to beat the girl even if she used her full power after the girl got older.
Eleris knew that Loyar wasn’t the humble type. She wasn’t one to say such things.
“What? It wasn’t because you got careless?”
“I did go a bit easy on her, but… she had a strange sword.”
“…Your opponent even used a sword? Against you?”
Eleris seemed astonished, wondering just what had happened. Loyar looked a little shaken as she walked through the rain.
“N-no… She hasn’t used it since the start. Sigh. Seriously. I accidentally… No, it wasn’t an accident. At that moment, I felt like that girl shouldn’t be kept alive. So I got serious against her. Then that sword suddenly appeared in the girl’s hand.”
At first, Eleris was surprised that Loyar had wanted to kill one of her master’s friends, and then she was surprised that a sword suddenly appeared in her opponent’s hand.
“It was a soulbound sword. I don’t know who she is, but she sure ain’t ordinary, and that sword’s not normal either. When I stopped it my hand ended up like this. f*ck, I don’t think this’ll heal quickly either.”
Loyar shook her bandaged right hand.
“You… How could you try to kill such a wonderful kid…? Are you crazy? You’re crazy, aren’t you?”
You dared to try to kill a stranger who came to you just because you were slightly worried about His Highness?
That was what Eleris’ blazing eyes were trying to convey. She was truly furious.
“Th-this isn’t the time for that! We have to find His Highness now!”
“We’ll have a talk later.”
Eleris continued to step forward, full of anger. The way she was talking to Loyar seemed to convey that she should be prepared for what was waiting for her after they found Reinhardt.
‘A soulbound sword?’
She had only heard rumors that Temple was a place that nurtured monsters, but when Loyar came back, wounded in a fight against a child, Eleris started to believe those words.
“Anyway, don’t tell Sarkegaar. He would run off trying to kill her no matter what.”
“…f*ck, wouldn’t it be better to get rid of her? I still think that’s for the best.”
“Shush! If you ever let these words slip in front of him, you will die, I will die, and Sarkegaar will die as well!”
Of course, apart from that, her Lord’s friends were unconditionally precious to Eleris.
* * *
Saturday morning. It was about to dawn.
Eleris and Loyar couldn’t locate their headquarters before they arrived at the thirteenth reservoir, north of the Irene River.
Eleris was able to detect several vital reactions underground. Of course, it was impossible to identify specifically how many people were there and who they were because she could only feel their vitality.
“Okay, I’ll take it from here.”
Loyar, in her role as Irene’s Wild Dog, would retrieve Reinhardt. That was why she couldn’t ask the demonic spy wizard, Eleris, for help.
“Will you be alright on your own?”
“There are some dangerous ones among the guys of the Thieves’ Guild. If things don’t work out as planned, I’ll just transform and kill everyone.”
They were the Thieves’ Guild, a huge criminal organization. That was why they were wildly different from a gang that was just a small gathering of people. Hence there were quite a few dangerously talented individuals among them.
However, if she judged that her Master’s life was in danger, she wouldn’t continue to hide her identity. She first had to secure her Master’s safety after killing all of them, and then think about how to deal with the aftermath.
“It sure feels like you’re truly loyal, and yet you don’t.”
Eleris would continue to watch the situation after casting invisibility magic on herself and help Loyar if things got dangerous.
Loyar began to wander about to find the entrance to the reservoir leading to the basement. There had to be an entrance for people to get inside, not just waterways for water to get in, so she was looking for that.
Loyar started looking around impatiently.
* * *
“Teacher. So what you’re saying is…”
“Why did I turn into your teacher? I’m a great deal younger than you.”
“The-then how should I…”
“You’re telling me that you don’t know what my name is after saying it a f*ck ton of times? Keep this up and I’ll make you lose everything here. Ya hear?”
“No, I know what you’re saying, but… If you suddenly tell me to hand over the whole organization like this…”
“Who said I wanted to take the whole place? D’ya guys have connections like me? Did I try to extort money out of you all?”
“Well… I’d rather give you money though…”
“Ah? That wouldn’t be fair, now would it? You’ve been pouring your blood and tears in all of this, so why would I covet that? You bastards don’t really get what I’m saying, huh?… I never said I’d crush this place or destroy you all, I just want to have a good time, ya hear me?”
“But what? Wanna go till the end? You wanna try me?”
“N-no that’s what I meant…”
While this mysterious quarrel went on, suddenly some noise seeped in from one side of the reservoir, which was just supposed to be a huge empty hall.
-Who are you!
-Where’s Reinhardt, you punks? Imma kill you all!
-Bang! Boom! Clang!
The noise seemed to come from its edges rather than the center which was lit by orange lights. The expressions of the people sitting around the roundtable became rather strange all of a sudden.
“…What is going on?”
And among them, a boy was sitting in the most prominent seat, tilting his head.
Sometime after the fighting noises came to a halt, the assailant soon appeared in front of them, her face full of anger.
The grinning Reinhardt, as well as a multitude of other people, were sitting around this round table.
“Big sis, aren’t you a bit late?”
From Loyar’s point of view, Looking at Reinhardt like that made it seem rather doubtful whether he actually got kidnapped.