“Nooo… I’m being abducted by a foreign barbarian… he’s going to assault me!”
“Stop ruining people’s reputations! I’m trying to save you here, ok!”
Raishin rebuked her in a loud voice. Holding on to the negligee-clad Henri, he was sprinting through the forest in the dead of night. From a bystander’s point of view, this could only be a kidnapping in progress.
Yaya was right behind him, while guarding the rear.
Henri had no idea what was going on, but she stopped her futile resistance.
Once the luggage he was carrying had settled down, Raishin could pick up the pace. Dashing clear off the main street, he stopped precisely between the gate and the Gryphon dormitory.
“This should be good enough. If we get any closer to the gate, the guards will notice us.”
He lowered Henri. He still couldn’t feel any sensation in his bad right shoulder.
“Please… explain what is going on.”
Henri timidly spoke up. Glancing over at Yaya, he noted that she looked like she had questions of her own as well. Now that he thought about it, he never did explain in detail to her too.
Nodding, Raishin opened his mouth, a hint of cross examination in his tone.
“So basically, the reason why Charl has been on her ridiculous rampage is because you’re being held hostage, right?’
He thought she would have tried to conceal it, but to his surprise, Henri nodded frankly.
Yaya tilted her head in bewilderment.
“What do you mean, Raishin?”
“Henri said herself that she’s scared of dying. That means it’s not that she ‘wants to die’, it’s ‘it would be better if she was dead’.”
“Eh… Why is that?”
“I thought about it too. One explanation stood out; if she were to die, then someone’s— Charl’s ‘weak point’ would be effectively gone. Once I reached that conclusion, I understood why the scary dragon girl’s recent ridiculous behaviour. In a nutshell, someone has told Charl ‘Kill the Headmaster or your sister dies.’”
It was simplistic reasoning. Even Yaya was able to connect the dots inside her head.
“Ah, so that’s why you called Shouko… You suspect there’s something embedded inside her body.”
“Yeah. It might be a magic art in the form of a bomb, or some sort of poison.”
That was why he had gone to all the trouble of getting Shouko down, to take a look at Henri.
“But in the end, there was no such thing attached inside her…”
“From the very beginning, Henri was under constant surveillance by a certain someone.”
“Henri has attempted suicide seven times. Even so, she’s still alive and here right now. Which means there was someone who has been stopping her. Someone who would be extremely troubled if their hostage were to die.”
Henri clenched her fists and stared downward at the ground. Her expression was that of one on the verge of tears, which meant Raishin’s conjecture was essentially the truth.
“You’re right… but it’s useless. There’s no way I can escape. It is simply… not possible to bring me to a place where I can escape this surveillance.”
“That’s not the plan at all. The running stops here.”
Yaya and Henri’s voices rang out in unison.
“We’re dealing with a bunch of professional villains, aren’t we? Once they find out I’ve stolen their hostage, obviously they will—“
Raishin’s ear twitched and he grinned.
Although the person himself had come to a complete halt, the air he had displaced did not. The gale generated stirred up the sand and caused Yaya’s hair to become dishevelled.
While Henri let out a sigh of despair, in contrast Raishin was grinning happily as he spoke.
“As expected, that was a quick reaction. You’re such skilled hunting dog, we didn’t have to wait long.”
“If I weren’t skilled as a butler how could I ever hope to serve the young master adequately?”
Butler. Looking at his attire, Raishin finally understood. Although his suit appeared to be tailor made and looked high class, there was some restraint in his manner and he gave off a plain air than was more suited to an ordinary person. However—
“A butler with tinted lenses? Are you some kind of delinquent butler?”
“Butlers are allowed to wear casual wear as well you know.”
Raishin eyed his opponent warily.
This was the same person who attacked him underground earlier. He had a slim frame, and although he didn’t bring along an automaton… Raishin could still feel some form of hidden magic energy inside him. Perhaps he really was a magus.
“You don’t look like you’re from the Kingsfort side… or are you?’
“Hm, I wonder about that?”
“If you really are a butler, you’ll be spilling your guts after a little introduction to pain… but I guess not, huh?”
“Even if that was the case, what then?”
“I would forcibly continue investigating, find your rotten-in-the-head master, and then drag him out into the open.”
“Isn’t that the case? How else would you want me to classify someone who kidnapped Henri and forced Charl to assassinate the Headmaster?”
“… It’s true that the young master’s brain is in a state of constant excitement, and the young master would much rather scheme than eat. With such a warped mentality, sooner or later the house of Granville is bound to collapse. “
“Oh, you really are quite the skilled butler. Did you just tell us your boss’s name?”
“If I weren’t skilled as a butler how could I ever hope to serve the young master adequately? However, I won’t say I’m completely perfect. If I had to name a flaw for example—“
He smiled lightly, but his voice was as cold as ice.
“I would say I’m a little quick to anger.”
In a swift motion, he flew to a tree by the road and crushed it with a kick.
The wood snapped without resistance. Behind those glasses, Raishin could see an irrepressible anger burning inside his eyes. It seemed that he took great offense to Raishin badmouthing his master.
Telling them his master’s name was his own version of a death sentence.
He wasn’t going let anyone live to tell the tale, puppet or human.
“Let’s go Yaya. We’ll crush him, and then go save Charl!”
The curtain opened on a battle they couldn’t afford to lose.