Negotiations (4)

… Claudia didn’t go to the hotel on the 11th. But the security camera feeds were presented as her riding to the viewing platform on the 11th.

What was this discrepancy? Could it be cleaned up as human error, or could it be… the result brought about by someone’s crime?

I asked Claudia. “About that night… could you tell me in detail what happened on the 10th?”

The softened air to now cleared up like mist, and I felt as if the surrounding temperature had suddenly dropped.

Sensing that sort of air, Claudia furrowed her brow, and made a serious face.

“… That night, I went to kill the demon lord.”

“That’s the part I don’t understand.”

Claudia tilted her head. I continued on.

“You were living your life in that forest. You’d never been to Grimbeld before, right?”

She gave a small nod.

“How did you know how to get there?”

“Um, there was a map of the world’s countries in my house.”

She answered with a nervous air. “I’d always had a liking for that map, and whenever I was bored, I would often look at it.”

“Even if you looked at it a lot, it was a map of the globe, right? You could remember that?”

On my question, she easily nodded.

… How fearsome, savant syndrome.

“But wait a tick. Even if you know the place, that doesn’t mean you’d be able to get here instantly. Do you know just how much distance there is between the Dark Forest and here?”

The countries bordering the Dark Forest no-man’s land would be the Commonwealth of Sadom, the Republic of Arlegio, and the Military State of Jahziehl.

Each and every one of those countries was considerably far from Grimbeld. If you used a chartered airplane, perhaps around fifteen house?

“… I ran.”

She said quietly, as I thought this child wasn’t a normal girl.

“I see, so you ran here. Nice job.”

“Um, well, thank you.”

For some reason, Claudia’s face was red. Was she embarrassed?

Ahem, I lightly cleared my throat to return this strange air to normal.

“What about food? You don’t have any money, do you?”

“I brought loads of dried fruits and vegetables with me. And I’m fine if I don’t eat for a week, so…”

Come to think of it, this girl, in the shot taken right at the time of her arrest, she was more withered away, but now she looked just a little plump.

“Were the detention center’s meals tasty?”

“Yes. It’s been nothing but bad things since I came here, but the food was really good.”

“I see. Then that’s… good.

Anyways, it seems her treatment in investigations and the center wasn’t bad.

… How unfortunate. If they conducted any forceful investigations, I could have used it to attack the prosecution.

But so be it. If Claudia’s happy, then that’s fine.

More importantly, there’s something I had to probe further into. “Could you tell my about the letter?”

“It’s the letter that became the trigger for you coming here in the first place. Do you remember anything?”

“Umm, the letter had been delivered before I had realized it.”

Claudia folded her arms, looking up and to the right. Perhaps this was her pose of trying to remember something.

She continued. “When I woke up that morning, there was a letter stuck under the door.”

“The door? Of your house?”

“Yes. Nothing like that had ever happened before, so I was really surprised. I didn’t know what to do, so I kept staring at it all the way to noon.”

… Did she not know what a letter was? No, maybe that was natural.

“Was there a sender’s name?”

Claudia shook her head as if it were natural. If she knew that, we wouldn’t be going through so much trouble.

“It only said the demon lord would be coming to the roof of the Westminster Hotel in Grimbeld on November the 10th at the twenty first hour. And to burn and dispose of the letter once I had finished reading.”

… how cautious, I thought. And Claudia’s savant syndrome was really helping me out.

Normally, you wouldn’t remember the content of a letter delivered a month ago. But by the look on her face, it seemed as if she knew it word for word.

“So I… couldn’t stand still anymore…”

Claudia’s words started to become evasive.

“What was the demon lord to you?”

“Something I had to kill no matter what.”

I was contrarily surprised but her response that came much too quickly. She had become talkative, but when it came to the demon lord, her tone changed to a frigid one.

“The demon lord is an evil existence to the world. A detestable existence, and one that can definitely not be allowed to live in it. If you don’t properly kill them, have them draw final breath, they will bring calamity to humanity. The incarnation of evil who threatens the peace of all people in the world.”

… I wonder what it is.

My head felt fuzzy. “Did you learn that from your father?”

“Yes, that doo. But it was also written in the books. There are plenty of terrible things the demon lord had done up to now. Mountains of people were slaughtered without meaning, tortured through cruel means… just reading it made me sick to my stomach.”

I had also read books like that before. But never have I actually believed them.

There were clear traces of editing, and there were photos that clearly snapped a record of a different era entirely, and more than anything, it was over fifty years ago.

… There was no way I could confirm their authenticity. So I didn’t trust them.

But had she come to trust it? Something so warped by the occult?

Seeing as the mere thought of the demon lord had revived her previous wariness and that sharp look in her eyes, I was sure that was the case.

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