BBYW Vol. 2 Chapter 16 (WN)
Chapter 16 – Self-Proclaimed Loyal Knight
The men had gathered in a building previously used as a trader’s storehouse, a short distance from the inn where Rossellia Baal and her entourage temporarily resided.
“…the princess’ assassination failed, then.”
“Yeh, Sir, we got the guards and the rest with poison, but then some bizarre folks showed up, so everybody except me died, yeh…”
The man listened to the assassin’s report and snorted.
(Such ruffians couldn’t take the life of someone whose veins course with the noble imperial blood, after all…)
The man did feel frustrated because of the failure of his mission, but realized there also was relief in his heart.
“The interference came from Maxwell, no doubt. They wanted to make the princess feel indebted, or planned to take her hostage…in any case, it’s a wretched situation.”
“Yeh…by the way, Sir, about the reward…”
“How quaint. You have failed your task, have you not?”
The man furrowed his brow and glared at the assassin. The latter flinched slightly, but clearly stated his request nonetheless.
“T-That might be, Sir, but we managed to do half of it, the escort knights are dead. I won’t ask for it all, but at least half, Sir, if ye could…”
“…I see, you do have a point.”
The man nodded, then threw a satchel of coins on the ground.
The assassin crouched and stretched a hand towards the satchel. Before he could reach it, however, the man’s sword swung down on him.
“Fool!! You dare threaten the imperial princess, yet expect a reward!? Know that you cannot put a price on life!!”
The man killed the assassin with a single stroke of his sword and sheathed it once more.
The merciless man, who had dispatched the same person he had himself hired, was then approached by someone.
“Hah, listen to this guy. You’re the one who brought the whole assassination plan to this poor fellow, weren’t you?”
“W-Who goes there!?”
The man turned towards the voice. A silhouette was standing at the door, who knows since when.
The man shone his lantern on the silhouette and recognized it.
“Shana Salazar!! How can you be here!?”
The name of the woman standing behind him was indeed Shana Salazar, a silver-haired beauty and a master of the spear. She was an adventurer from the Baal Empire, presently working as a sort of bodyguard for the Maxwell house.
“Hmm? Have we met before…? Yes, I remember your face.”
The man had immediately recognized Shana, but she couldn’t recall his name. She thought for a while, then struck the handle of her spear with her palm.
“Right, you’re from the First Imperial Army! Under Eis Halphas!”
Shana beamed for a second, but then her expression became perplexed.
“Wait, but didn’t he fall in battle? Wrong person?”
“…I still am a subordinate of Lord Halphas. Unlike you, who left the Imperial Knights.”
“Hmm, yeah, that happened.”
Shana let the man’s accusing words easily slide and nodded casually.
“So? Why is a knight from the empire targeting Lady Rossellia’s life? You’re making a living as an assassin now?”
“Foolishness! My loyalty rests with the empire, now and ever! The Princess’ life too is necessary for the empire’s sake. After taking her life, I shall end mine as well!”
“You’re talking nonsense now. How is suicide a form of loyalty?”
As a knight, as a warrior, Shana could understand the feeling of seeking death on the battlefield. To take your life with your own hands, however, was something she could not comprehend.
Shana cocked her head, puzzled, and the man shouted in anger.
“How could someone like you, who discarded the honor of being an Imperial Knight, ever understand!? Do not stand on Prince Lars’ path to glory, disloyal wench!!”
“I see, so Lars ordered the assassination. I didn’t even need to ask…thanks, I guess.”
Shana sighed and the man hurriedly backtracked.
“T-That is false!! Prince Lars did not order anything!! We have done this on our own accord…!”
“Please, you don’t need to talk anymore. I’m not in charge of finding out the mastermind, anyway.”
Shana interrupted the man and readied her spear.
“I’m only here to capture you. I hope you’ll put up some resistance, at least, but…”
“You…! You have become Maxwell’ lapdog!? You filthy traitor!!”
“I don’t want to hear that from someone who just tried to murder a member of the imperial family. If you have any objections, let your blade do the talking.”
“I-I will cut you down…!!”
The man drew his sword and prepared for battle.
Moments of silence flowed between the two.
The man moved first: he approached Shana at incredible speed, his sword dancing in the air.
In contrast, Shana twirled her spear, with the least movement possible. However, it was enough to knock the blade out of her opponent’s hands and send it flying away.
“I might have enjoyed this a little more before…but in the last few months, I’ve been sparring with a swordsman at a much higher level than you. It’s like you’re not even moving.”
Shana planted a roundhouse kick in the man’s defenseless torso. He crumpled in on himself and fell to the ground.
“They told me to take you alive, so stay quiet and wait.”
“I…I will never…!!”
The man tried to crawl back on his feet, but out of nowhere a dart struck his neck, and he slumped down again.
“Hey, I told you to stay out of this.”
“The battle is over. Lingering here would just be a waste of time.”
Following Shana’s protests, a man emerged from the shadows.
He was next in line to lead the Fangs of Steel, a band of assassins in Dyngir Maxwell’s service, and Sakuya’s older brother, Oboro.
“We must interrogate this man, thus we cannot let him take his life!!”
“I guess it can’t be helped.”
Still disappointed, Shana lowered her spear. Several other silhouettes appeared, all wearing attire similar to Oboro’s, to carry away the unconscious man.
“By the way, is Lady Rossellia safe and sound?”
“Yes, Sakuya escorted her to the young master’s private residence. The only survivors are the princess, one maid, and one knight.”
“I see, I suppose I’ll join her, too, then.”
“Should you not report to the young master?”
Shana shrugged at Oboro’s question.
“I’ll leave that to you. If I’m there, Rossellia will trust us more easily. We go back a long way, after all.”
Shana then left the storehouse. The Fangs of Steel followed, carrying the defeated knight. Lastly, Oboro walked out too, and looked up at the night sky.
“New sparks ablaze…our master is truly loved by the spirits of war.”