… Ahem, after clearing my throat once to clear up the air.
“What I want to request of you… is evidence collection.”
I gave a brief outline of the trial. But even so, I had a duty of confidentiality to my client; I could only give the feel of the incident, and that I needed to investigate the defendant’s house at all costs. I didn’t touch the core of it.
On my words, Jessica nodded as she fervently took memos. As she scribbled notes with her utmost effort, her gestures made me recall the motions of a squirrel eating.
“So to summarize…” Jessica wrote as she spoke. “You want me to go to that Dark Forest place, and conduct an investigation?”
That was a strange way to put it. Could it be this girl…
“Ah, but the way, there’s something I’d like to confirm with you.”
“Yes? What could it be?
She was making a crisp expression. Perhaps this was her serious mode.
“Do you know about the Dark Forest?
“Hmm? I know it. It’s got to be a forest.”
Without a single cloud across her face, she gave a cheerful reply.
… No, that’s true. But what is this? She isn’t wrong, but I get the feeling she was gravely mistaken somewhere.
“I don’t know its specific geography, but can you get there by tram?”
“… Tram wouldn’t work out.”
Jessica replied with a tilt of her head.
I moved what I’d prepared beforehand from my bag to the table.
Jessica looked into it with a curious look on her face.
“An airplane ticket. You’ll be taking an airship from Grimbeld to the Commonwealth of Sadom, but you’ll only be flying for that leg of the trip. The rest you have to walk.”
“Then I’m travelling abroad!”
As her face suddenly lit up, I found myself at my wit’s end, but anyways, I pushed talks forward.
“By the way, do you have a passport?
“Ehehe, of course I do. I’m a freelance mercenary. I have one, I’m telling you. And in this day and age, is there anyone who doesn’t have one?”
… Claudia didn’t have one.
… No, she doesn’t have a nationality in the first place, so she can’t have one.
“So what am I supposed to do? Will I be guarding you?”
“No, you don’t have to guard me.” I took a sip of coffee. “I have other things to do.”
“I’ll be heading to Westminster Hotel to investigate the crime scene. I’d like you to go to the site alone, and investigate around there.”
“Okay, so just investigating. That sounds easy!”
I unintentionally spat out my coffee. “Are you alright?” Jessica handed over a napkin, so I accepted it and used it to wipe my mouth.
“Um, I’ll just throw this out here, but did you know the Dark Forest is designated quarantine zone?”
“Yes, I know!
For some reason, Jessica sounded happy. Does this woman understand the gravity of the situation? I almost felt like slapping her.
“It’s that, right? It’s a bit of a dangerous place, so you can’t let your kids go near it.”
… Wow, she’s not wrong, but what is this. I get the feeling she’s completely off.
“And wait, how old are you anyways?”
“Eh? You can’t just ask a girl how old she is.”
“No, you’re not even at an age where it matters, right?”
Jessa gave an, “Ehehehe,” as she awkwardly scratched her head.
“The truth is, I’m eighteen.”
… That’s way too young. “What about school?”
“I finally got into college, and I do plan on attending. I’m doing mercenary work to earn my tuition.”
“College, wait, didn’t you apply for a scholarship? Then hand them out to almost everyone here?”
“I did apply. But that money, I kinda gambled it away and…”
… Ehe, she laughed, “Ah, but I still have more than half of it left. I can’t help but need another hundred thousand.”
Hundred thousand? She emphasized that word.
“I-I see. Hmm, so you only need another 100000G?”
“Hmm, let’s see. Yep, that’s right. I need another 100000G.”
To be honest, I didn’t have the funding to hire a skilled mercenary. That’s why I searched for a freelance mercenary, but even so, I had been prepared to pay five hundred thousand.
But a hundred thousand, is it?
I looked at her. Noticing she was being watched, Jessica laughed and made an awkward expression.
… This girl definitely doesn’t know the market value of mercenaries.
For a moment, a dark emotion welled in my head.
Ah, that’s no good. Just what was a thinking, trying to cheat this girl? But hiring a mercenary for only a hundred thousand gold was quite a charming offer.
“By the way, do your parents know you’re doing this job?”
“Ah, um, truth be told, I don’t have parents.
“Eh?” Surprised as I was, I made a victory pose within.
“I lost them in an accident three years ago, and since then, I’ve started doing these mercenary jobs for the income.
“I see, that must have been tough.”
I sympathized. But inside, I thought.
… Meaning, if this child dies, no one will bear a grudge against me?
When a mercenary died, the most troubling thing would be the bereaved family demanding consolation money. Since they’re signing onto dangerous jobs, they should be more than resolved for death, but even so, the family would often demand reimbursement.
When taken to a normal trial, first off, the employer never loses. But the one before my eyes was an eighteen year old girl clearly not fit to be a mercenary.
If I hired such an innocent girl as a mercenary, and she died, I’d definitely lose in court.
… But if there was no one to sue, there wasn’t the concept of loss in the first place. And if she died, I wouldn’t have to pay the request fee.
I gently grasped her hands, and spoke. “Your words have moved me. I’ll hire you.”
“Really? Um, thank you Mr. Daniel!”
Seeing her face light up like that, I felt as if I had deceived her.
… I haven’t, right? I just skillfully concealed the truth, right?
Ah, I’ve become quite the filthy adult, that’s the sort of feeling I got.