There was something I learned by the time the meeting was over.
There were more unknowns in this case than I had first anticipated.
When Claudia should have headed to the scene on the 10th, why were the security camera footages swapped to make her appear on the 11th?
Who delivered the letter to Claudia’s house?
Why was the victim chosen in the first place?
What was the holy sword supposed to be to begin with?
And more than anything, what irritated me most was… the demon lord.
He was supposed to have come to an end fifty years ago, in a world war this country didn’t even take part in, so what relation did he have to a brutal present-day murder case?
And there was one more unknown… the hero.
For some reason, the demon lord and hero were involved in this case. Both sides were major players in the Great War. They definitely did once exist in the world, and were true flesh and blood. But both of them were somewhat shady.
By the time I noticed it, it was already passed noon, and the sun was beginning to make its way downwards. Even when there wasn’t a cloud in the sky when I entered the detention center, now large black rainclouds were making their way to cover the sun.
… It would be best I hurried.
I broke into a jog as I made for the station. If I used a taxi, it wouldn’t take much time at all, but thinking of what was to come, it was best I economized as best I could.
Demon lord and hero, demon lord and hero, demon lord and hero…
They were already dead, the both of them. The dead don’t come back. Humans gone from the living could never lay hands on the world.
Yet why were the living so insistent to cling to the deceased? They should just forget about them already.
Time-wise, perhaps it took around thirty minutes? I arrived at the station-front.
The rainclouds had completely covered the sky, and the moment I reached, a light downpour began to fall.
A step ahead of being soaked by the rain, I reached my destination building. Approachign the entrance, the sensor reacted, and automatically opened the door.
‘Welcome. You have reached dispatchable soldier corp DSC.’
As the door shut behind me, a mechanical voice flowed in out of nowhere.
Yet the building was quiet. There were few human traces, the floor tiled of black and white marble well-polished, with a majestic air drifting about.
… I felt I had gotten the wrong place. As the thought crossed my mind, a voice called over.
“Welcome to DSC. Do you have an appointment?
Looking around, I found a woman in her twenties. With a rugged title like dispatchable soldier corp, I had imagined a scarier person to come out, but the person standing before my eyes was a meek woman eternally unsuited to a shady atmosphere, as she politely gave her greetings.
“Um, no, the truth is today would be my first time using your services. I would like to hire a soldier…”
“So you’re a first-time customer.”
The woman gave a soft business smile. “Then let me explain our company’s system. Please come over here,” she said, leading me to the white counter.
Wearing what was likely the company’s uniform- a gray vest and skirt over a white dress-shirt- she said, “Please sit here,” as she urged me towards a counter seat.
“Our firm is a private soldier dispatch company. Warriors, knights, magicians, body guards, rescue squads, hunters, we possess excellent soldiers who can fulfill all sorts of missions.”
“Um, if possible, I’m searching for someone strong… who would be the strongest?”
“A strong soldier? If you don’t mind me saying, sir. Our firm employs experts of every genre. Warriors skilled in combat, hunters specializing in monster hunting, guards who will protect you from all sorts of danger. Based on what sort of strength you are looking for, the appropriate soldier will differ.”
“Ah, I see.
I ended up agreeing.
Dispatchable Soldier Corp. I’d know its name for a while now, but this would be my first time using it.
It was hard to say the world was always safe. Grimbeld was a country with comparatively high public safety, but if you took a step out you’d find extraterritoriality. There, what protected everything wasn’t the law, but overwhelming power.
This alone, no matter how many ideals you spoke of, would never lead to anything. Since I was doing something dangerous, I couldn’t help but require adequate power.
There was a mountain of things I had to investigate to solve this case.
The crime scene, the camera’s footage, the victim… and the Dark Forest.
If I were only investigating within Grimbeld, I wouldn’t have to worry so much for my safety.
But the Dark Forest was different. That was the most dangerous no-man’s land in the world.
It wasn’t the sort of place a single lawyer could leave unscathed. In order to investigate it, I needed the support of someone powerful.
“Truth be told, I’m going to be travelling abroad for work-related purposes.”
I tried explaining my circumstance in a nutshell.
“I’ll be making a business trip to a bit of a dangerous place, so I’m searching for someone who could act as a guard on site.”
The female staff made her business smile, placing an A4-size slim touch panel display on the counter.
Touching the display with her slender index finger, the dark screen suddenly lit up.
After the company’s logo popped up, a muscular, stern-looking man appeared on the screen.
“He is our company’s new guard we have high hopes for. Before signing a contract with our firm, he spent five years as a mercenary on the front lines of a conflict zone. He’s a specialist of weapons and combat, and will eliminate any sorts of danger for his client. He’s the best sort of person to accompany you overseas. Also owing to his long career in foreign lands, he is well versed in a number of languages.”
“Hmm, how reliable.”
I looked at his history, a little excitedly. But seeing the item on the very bottom, meaning his contract fee of a 20000 gold hourly wage, I turned despondent.
… His salary is higher than mine… I can’t hire him.
“U-um, I’d like to browse a few more options…”
“Certainly. By the way, do you have any requests?”
“Yes, theirs is a limit on my budget, so if possible, someone with a lower hourly fee.”
For a moment, I felt her business smile twitch, but she immediately returned to her original gentle face.
“Understood. Then let’s see, how about this one? A female magician, Radya. She’s a user of the ancient dark magic Hades, and if it’s within a one kilometer radius of her, she can completely erase any lifeform in five seconds.”
… I get the feeling she’s even more amazing than the previous person, I thought as I looked at witch Radya’s overly-exposed, voluptuous chest.
“Um, I do understand that she’s amazing, but isn’t she expensive as well.”
“As expected of our esteemed customer. You’ve good eyes.”
I got the feeling I was subtly stirring her up. It was a bit of a nice feel.
“Female magician Radya’s contract fee would originally be 30000G per hour, but if it’s now, I’ll give you a special discount of a whole 15000G.”
She said it frightfully cheerful, but I didn’t let the small print at the very bottom of the display slip by.
※Magician Radya’s special package includes a two-year plan.
… I ain’t hiring her for two years.
By the way, cancelling the contract part-way through would cost 1000000G, or so was written.
I recalled my account’s balance, and reaffirmed that the world ran on money after all.