AIWTRO Side Story 4
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Keira didn’t know whether to be happy or sad about the state of the country’s investigative powers. She timidly replied.
Keira: “It’ll…work out.”
“I’m worried it will be lost forever. Haa, who would do such a thing…”
Keira felt a cold sweat running down her back as she stared at the pensive High Priest. The other two eyes of the goddess statue seemed to be looking down at her.
‘Ha, I have to return it to its place as soon as possible.’
Keira: “By the way, there are so many guards in the square. Why are there so many people gathered here?”
If they increased the number of guards after it was stolen, it was no different than losing a cow then fixing the barn. The High Priest answered the question she had been wondering about for several days.
“Although the third eye of the goddess is the most precious jewel, the first and second eyes are also valuable. So shouldn’t we prevent further theft?”
The biggest obstacle to returning the gem was the guards lined up in the central square. It would be a breeze if they got rid of them.
‘The problem is how to get rid of the guards…’
Originally, she had intended to convince them to reduce the number of guards by saying it would be more efficient to use this large number of people differently.
However, they were there to prevent further theft, so that’s not possible.
Keira: “There’s nothing we can do if it’s to prevent further theft, but it’s a shame. If they could be used differently, the investigation might proceed faster…”
“Ha, I think so too, but is there any other way? It will be a national disgrace if the other jewels get stolen.”
Does that mean he agreed that it’s an inefficient method of investigation?
Keira: “Then why don’t we do this?”
Keira: “The Grand Duke’s knights will guard this place, so the Imperial family and the temple’s forces can focus on chasing the criminal and getting back the gem. We’ll help.”
“A-are you sure?”
The high priest’s face brightened.
“If that’s the case, it would have been nice to have made a request to the grand duchy earlier. You are always willing to step out to aid the Empire and the temple.”
She felt Zeke and Joseph staring at her in awe. They were obviously wondering when she learned how to lie so skillfully without blinking an eye.
Be polite and cooperate. Keira poked Joseph in the side with that thought in mind.
Fortunately, Joseph was quick to understand.
Joseph: “W-what Her Ladyship said… is right. The statue of the goddess has been damaged… We can’t just sit still.”
Joseph sounded like he was reading an educational textbook, but the thrilled priest didn’t seem to notice at all.
Even Zeke expressed his willingness to cooperate.
The High Priest almost burst into tears, but he wiped at his eyes and asked.
“But will His Grace allow it?”
Keira: “There’s no need to worry. How deep is his faith.”
Of course, she didn’t really know the depth of her father’s piety. She wasn’t particularly interested.
“Haha, it seems I was worried for nothing.”
Joseph: “Of course. If we tell His Grace, ‘the goddess statue was damaged!’ He won’t turn a blind eye.”
Thus, all members of the Parvis Knights had to stand guard at the square.
They were in the basement of the Knights’ quarters. Then, in the late morning, the lights were unexpectedly turned on.
Keira: “Then, let’s start the briefing.”
All the knights were sitting huddled in the narrow basement. Keira, who was in the front, tapped the board and said.
Keira: “Capital guards and the Parvis knights will guard the central square until the case gets resolved. That means the number of guards is half and half.”
Reina: “I have a question.”
Keira: “What is it, Dame Reina?”
Reina: “Can’t we just tell them to leave the central square to us?”
Keira: “They might get suspicious. If the gem suddenly returned as soon as our knights held the post, people would suspect us.”
Aha. The mystery was solved, and Reina returned to her seat.
Shortly thereafter, Keira’s briefing resumed.
Keira: “For now, we will divide our people into Groups A, B, and C.”
She drew three large circles on the board.
To sum up the operation:
First, for a few days, the knights will stand guard with the capital guards. Second, look at the appropriate time and set the day for the decisive battle(?). And third, enact the two-way operation.
“A two-way operation?”
Keira: “Right. Groups B and C will wait in the central square, while group A will make a fuss in the capital. A small explosion in a deserted place will draw attention. Then Group B will have to lead the majority of the capital’s guards. If Group C and a small number of capital guards are guarding the central square…”
Keira drew another small circle on the board.
Keira: “Zeke will return the jewel near the statue. Then the capital guards will try to chase Zeke, right? Group C’s job is to let them go while pretending to chase Zeke. Aren’t they quicker than the capital guards?”
The exclamations burst out at the pretty plausible strategy. If the operation could proceed as it is, the situation would be safely resolved.
Keira took out a file folder and continued.
Keira: “I have the list of people who will stand guard with us, but most of them are regular soldiers.”
“There would be no reason to deploy anyone higher than knights since we’ll be there.”
“Yeah, so it shouldn’t be that hard to get rid of them.”
If they got the gem back, the scandal would be out of the public’s interest over time. Although there would be criticism for not catching a thief properly…
She sympathized with the guards, but there was no other option. It was impossible to turn an innocent person into a criminal.
‘I’m sorry. It’s not like Zeke really did it on purpose.’
While expressing her apologies in her heart, Keira continued.
Keira: “Well, then, about making a fuss in the capital for phase one. Does anybody have any good ideas on how to draw attention specifically?”
“Ah, I do. As I said before, using explosives would be a little dangerous, so I thought of another method. How about using an artifact that mimics the sound of an explosion…?”
“The distribution of people in each group seems to be…”
As the day dawned, the outline of the operation became more and more clear.
At the central square in the heart of the capital, people in uniforms quite different from the guards wandered around with their swords.
Passers-by stared at the knights they rarely saw, and Arthur muttered in dismay.
Arthur: “Wow, I never thought the day would come when I would stand guard at the square… It’s very new.”
“Be quiet, Arthur. After all, you can’t say you’re not to blame for this situation.”
“Why me? I didn’t do anything!”
“Are you going to say it wasn’t you who let the Young Master drink so much that day?”
Arthur: “I didn’t expect something like that to happen when he went out to get some fresh air! No, how did he even get to that height while being so drunk…!”
Keira: “Both of you, be quiet. We stole… No, do we need to advertise that we brought it by mistake?”
The two immediately shut up at Keira’s low criticism. She almost said in the middle of the square that they stole the gem.
‘It’s the end of today’s anxiety.’
Keira looked up at the goddess statue with the empty forehead and sighed inwardly.
The sky above the statue was turning a dark color.
The moment of decisive battle(?) was right in front of her.
In fact, as soon as they stood guard in the square, she wanted to return it immediately, but if the jewel returned as the Parvis knights helped, there’s a risk of arousing public suspicion. Because of that, they had to wait for a few days.
However, wandering around the square as she’s plagued with guilt would end today. She would really sleep with her legs stretched out tomorrow night.
Keira: “Zeke is preparing well, right?”
“Yes, I heard from Sir Alex earlier. He’s waiting nearby. As soon as he hears the explosion, he will move instantly.”
“Tell them to burn the clothes he wore to the square immediately.”
“Yes, they also took care of the ignition artifact.”
It wasn’t unusual to be nervous because she was afraid that things might go wrong.
If discovered, Zeke would suffer the most.
When Joseph saw how uneasy she looked, he softly spoke.
Joseph: “Don’t be so nervous.”
Keira: “…is it obvious?”
Joseph: “Yes, quite. We’ve rehearsed several times outside the castle, so there should be no problem.”
Keira: “Hmm, I guess… ”
Among the capital guards present, there was no one capable enough to keep up with the knights’ speed.
So, it would be safe to say there’s little chance of failure, but since her younger brother’s safety was at stake, she couldn’t help but feel nervous.
‘Sir Joseph is right. It’s nothing to worry about.’
She couldn’t think of a scenario of why things would go wrong. Unless there were unexpected variables, of course.
…But, as always in life, things don’t go as planned.
Time passed, and it was the time when the crescent moon rose.
Arthur, who had been yawning, began to stare into the dark alley. And then, shortly after, his eyes widened and he panicked.
Arthur: “G-Grand Duke?!”
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