「Sales have been sluggish. It’s just the luxury soap and milk soap being sold. The ordinary soaps are not selling……」
Haruto sighed after seeing the report.
When Asuma Shokai and Samaras Shokai fought in Claris, the customer base of Asuma Shokai is the lower middle class while Samaras Shokai’s customer base is the upper class. Asuma Shokai utilized the fact that its their home ground and took advantage of their personal connections to get upper-class customers from Samaras Shokai.
However, this time they’re in the strange situation where Asuma Shokai’s customer base is the upper class while Samaras Shokai’s customer base is the lower middle class. Samaras Shokai started to manufacture soap and was able to sell favorably although it was of lower quality. This is because the damage to Asuma Shokai’s reputation is great.
Nonetheless, it’s true that Samaras Shokai’s main product, the bubble-berry fruit, is pushed considerably by Asuma Shokai’s soap. Now, if anything, they were evenly matched with Samaras Shokai.
「We have to somehow manage the damage to our reputation. Baseless rumors are so troublesome」
There is no remedy since it’s completely false. Moreover, the rumors have no sign of calming down since the upper management of Samaras Shokai are constantly fanning the flames.
「It can’t be helped. We can only fight rumors with rumors. Since our rumors are real, it would have an instant effect」
The idea that Samaras Shokai is evil slowly spread. It’s inevitable since they’re really suspicious.
「It’s more like we’re doing politics more than business」
「Politics, huh. Either way, it seems like a group of children quarreling」
Mutually beating and backbiting each other, spilling bad rumors everywhere. They’re both insidious deeds. It doesn’t look like what an upright adult would do.
「It’s unexpectedly like politics. Just that it’s on a wider scale than a kid’s group fight. Well, the adults are more insidious. Besides, we are fighting over money or power, whereas children are more on emotions. Maybe we’re even a lower level than children」
Bertrand said with a bitter smile.
「This is our life. It can’t be helped that we become more sly. We must win」
All they have to do is win.
「Haruto-kun, I’ve looked into the demon grass. Can I report it~」
Pudding said. Since he’s still not sure with only Aisha confirming it, he brought a mercenary and chose Pudding since Pudding’s judgment is excellent. Actually, he wanted to bring Rusk, Rang, or Tart, but he’ll be worried about the security on Claris and the other cities.
「Aahh, it should be fine」
「Then, I will report it. It’s about seven years now since the demon grass has been circulating. But it’s been 25 to 26 years ago since it last circulated. It’s one of the Yakuza groups in Shufelt that carries out the distribution. I heard that Yakuza group started selling demon grass seriously seven years ago and has overturned other Yakuza groups with its financial strength. The other Yakuza groups have been pressured lately. That means, most of Shufelt demon grass are sold by that Yakuza group」
「That means, that Yakuza is different from the other Yakuza, they should have a route to be able to distribute such a large amount of demon grass」
In short, since there is a large amount of demon grass, there are organizations that cultivate enough of it to satisfy the demand in Shufelt. That organization and that Yakuza group signed a monopoly agreement.
「But if the organization can cultivate it on their own, there’s no need for a monopoly. To set a high price, they would make the Yakuza groups compete with each other. In this way, they would get more profit」
「In other words, that Yakuza group, and the organization is on good terms. It means that they have more relations than business partners. For example, if the leaders are the same. Then they wouldn’t need to worry much about making money. If we believe in Aisha’s sense of smell, that organization is partnering with Samaras Shokai. In other words, Reinard is the most likely culprit. Although we know he’s dangerous since he was able to hire assassins, he’s likely to be also connected with the Yakuza」
In this way, they can explain the reason why Samaras Shokai has such a strong presence in Shufelt. If they mobilize their advantage in numbers, they can control the rumors.
「What do we do? If you pass this information to the Governor’s Office, that man will definitely get the death sentence」
Bertrand asked Haruto and Roa.
「With ties to an anti-social organization and the illicit production of demon grass, they will certainly collapse even with just this……regarding Roa’s parents, we don’t have direct evidence that he killed Helen and Rivas. I don’t know if we’ll find it even if we looked」
「It doesn’t matter since we’ll start with the demon grass. As long as the public acknowledged that he killed my parents, Reinard will be judged by the law. There’s no meaning if we can’t achieve that」
The victory condition of Haruto and Roa is the death of Reinard. But if he were judged as a murder accomplice, he would be put in jail. If he were imprisoned as a result of the trial, it wouldn’t achieve their purpose. But their revenge will surely be granted as illegal smuggling of demon grass results in the death penalty, even though it has nothing to do with Roa’s parents.
「It’s a shame that we can’t make that Roro talk. If we caught him at that time, we wouldn’t even need to come to Shufelt」
「But it’s meaningless if we’re killed by Serius」
Haruto and Roa deeply sighed.
「Ne~ ne~, I haven’t finished talking yet. Can I continue~? 」
「I don’t mind. It was my bad to interrupt」
Pudding continued the conversation.
「When I looked further into their relationship of that Yakuza and the demon grass, I also found out that human trafficking is being carried out behind the scenes! Congratulations. I don’t think I have to explain why the Samaras Shokai is collecting slaves from this? 」
Pudding said happily. Kidnapping and demon grass are important sources of income for the Yakuza. If they are profiting from selling demon grass to that extent, trafficking will of course also be done on a large scale.
「How is it? Since Samaras Shokai is connected with that Yakuza……it would be troublesome. I was able to talk to the Yakuza groups who are hostile to Samaras’ Yakuza group」
「So, are able to grab something? 」
「They want to see Master. Ah! I dropped Haruto-kun’s name and position. They only know that Haruto-kun hated Samaras’ Yakuza and wanted to crush it」
Pudding proudly said. Because the job of mercenaries often involves such dark parts, they don’t especially feel any aversion against the Yakuza. Especially Pudding who takes pleasure in work as long as she gets paid. There’s also the fact that she went to Haruto from Eugene’s place to accompany her older brother.
「What should we do? I don’t want to get involved with those who talk too much」
「Isn’t it fine? It’ll be okay if you wear a mask」
Roa said. It may be okay if he just listens for a while. Also, the enemy’s enemy is your friend. In other words, Haruto can see those Yakuza groups as an ally.
「Not mixing good and evil is the basics of politics. There’s no problem if it’s only a little. In the first place, if you’re going to expand the trade area anyway, you have to get involved with those guys」
Bertrand said in a harsh tone. That’s true. Haruto came to that conclusion after being troubled.
「I understand. Let’s meet. For the time being, why don’t we prepare masks and voice-changing devices? 」
Three people went to the back alley of Shufelt.
「I’m sure they’re waiting around here~」
Pudding……White mask B said to Haruto……white mask A.
「Something’s wrong with my voice……it will take time to get used to it」
Aisha……white mask C said.
Pudding is the introducer, while Aisha is the escort of Haruto. Roa wanted to go, but there’s no meaning even if she comes, and it’s dangerous, so she was left behind.
「Sounds suspiciously perfect. Us three」
White mask A said in a mechanical voice.
「Ah! There. O~i! 」
Pudding spoke to a plump man who came forward. The man raised a confused voice.
「E~tto, who are you? 」
White mask B took off her mask.
「It’s me. Pudding Alamode. The current name is white mask B. Ha-, that’s not it. This is White Mask A, my master. Here is White Mask C, the escort. White Mask A-kun, this is Tom-san」
White Mask B introduces the plump male. It’s an obvious pseudonym. Even someone like Haruto can tell.
「Hello Tom-san. Nice to meet you」
「Eehh, that’s a nice mask」
Tom said with a contorted face. He seems to endure his laughter.
「Then let’s get right to the point, Let’s talk about the Yakuza groups who’s been getting ahead lately」
White Mask A and Tom began to speak. They first talk about the reason for the meeting and their position. Naturally, they omit the parts that are not convenient to each other. Although with Haruto’s『Blessing of Speech』, he can understand the other party.
Tom’s real name seems to be James Watson. He seems to be an executive of the Yakuza group that has the greatest power among the Yakuzas hostile to Samaras’ Yakuza. White Mask A said that he is also hostile to Samaras’ Yakuza. He said that he has information and will talk after meeting face to face. By the way, the information they got is about their suspicion that Samaras Shokai is cultivating demon grass.
「I see……it’s possible that your relatives were killed by that Yakuza group. So, do you want to talk……about what position they’re in and how they died? 」（It depends on whether it’s a legitimate person or not）
Haruto carefully chooses his words.
「They are people of decent position. They had connections with politicians and had a decent asset. They do not have any relationship with the Yakuza. As to how they’re killed, they were disguised as robbers and was killed. They seem to have hired many mercenaries, but they’re all killed」
「I see. It’s obviously a professional job. Did they make a move directly, or did they kill in the form of a request? It’s certain that they’re involved in any case」（It’s hard to think that the Yakuza will directly cause such a big crime. Especially if they have a connection with the politicians. But if it’s a request. ……then the assassination guild）
The words Assassination Guild appeared among Tom’s real intentions. It’s a dangerous organization just from the name. Haruto carefully listened.
「I also looked into various things. Then I understood that there’s the existence of an Assassination Guild. But I don’t know anything other than that. Do you think that the Assassination Guild is involved? If so, what is the Assassination Guild? 」
As Haruto says so, Tom has a frown on his face. Especially on the words Assassination Guild.
「That is……I can’t tell you. Can I ask you not to tell any information about that? 」（I can’t tell them about the Assassination Guild. I’ll be yelled at by the boss. It depends on his informaton）
Assassination Guild seems to be quite a dangerous organization. It seems posting any information would be dangerous.
「There is a suspicion that Samaras Shokai is cultivating demon grass」
As Haruto says so, Tom rounded his eyes.
「I see. We were also monitoring them……as I thought. Nevertheless, with this level of information, I can’t tell you about the Assassination Guild」（Assassination Guild is a secret among secrets）
Haruto sighs. He doesn’t seem to want to tell him. When it comes to power, they have to listen to it.
「Is that so? Then it can’t be helped. White mask C! 」
White Mask C took the bag and held it towards Tom. Tom subconsciously took it.
「Wha-what! ……This is? 」
Tom takes the bag that White Mask C handed over and took a breath.
「G, gold coins……」
「There are fifty gold coins in there. Please tell me about the Assassination Guild. Here are another fifty gold coins if I like your answer. Is this fine? 」
「In other words, 100 gold coins! 10 million Doria! It’s my pleasure to speak」
In this way, he got the information about the Assassination Guild.
「Did you know about it? 」
「It’s rumored. But I didn’t think that it really existed」
「In short, the Assassination Guild is a different organization from the Yakuza? But well, if we destroy the Yakuza, it would not matter」
「According to the rumors, it seems to be an organization that is good at hiding. Well, they even put poison in the back of their teeth, so we have to catch them red-handed」
However, they do not know when the opponent will strike. It’s stupid to wait for the enemy to attack. It’s more advantageous to be on the side that is attacking.
「Well then. How about luring them into a trap? It’s the basics of hunting」
「A bait. Like what? 」
「You know the information about the demon grass. Wouldn’t they definitely attack you? 」
「That’s a good idea. The risk is there, but it’s better than waiting like this」
「No, it’s dangerous」
Haruto stopped it. It would be better to tell the Governor’s Office about the demon grass and capture Reinard as soon as possible. Like this, the risk will be smaller, and they can take revenge without fail.
「I don’t like it. Since then there would be no point. I know what I’m saying is selfish……but I want Reinard to get the death penalty for murder! 」
Roa stared at Haruto. She strongly opposed Haruto and said that.
「Fine. But we have to make the best preparations. For the time being, we have to make Serius be on our side. It will be bad if we don’t get rid of him」
Serius alone can overwhelm the desert people. With Serius there, it’s difficult to secure safety regardless of how many mercenaries they gathered.
「That’s why I have an idea」
Roa smiled meaningfully.
Serius was troubled.
Does he want to stay in Samaras Shokai, or cross to Asuma Shokai?
Serius likes money. But he loves his life better than money. Serius is hired by Reinard because Reinard’s influence is strong and the pay is good. If you serve a man with power, there is no danger of dying.
However, Samaras Shokai has been waning recently. Serius knows nothing about business. Bubble-berry is actually much worse than soap. Reinard is trying to rally using the Yakuza and Assassination Guild, but it’s a poor plan. Walking the royal road with evil ways is difficult.
In the first place, Serius does not have the talent to seek a good master. 『Blessing of War God』is stronger protection compared to ordinary snow people, but his brain is normal. If Serius can seek out a good master, he would now be serving under Emperor Westoria. He would like to beat his past self who entered the camp of Prince Pentax easily thinking that he’s incredible.
But at that time, Prince Pentax was clearly superior, and Prince Westoria was obviously inferior, so it’s reasonable for Serius to serve Prince Pentax.
He wants to be hired by Asuma Shokai if possible. After all, Reinard is a criminal. Even the dull Serius can understand it. After all, he’s going out with dangerous people. Perhaps that accident in the past is masterminded by Reinard. If Reinard gets caught, he would be in danger. After all, he also attacked the house of Asuma Shokai’s chairman.
（Are~? Speaking of which, why is the Chairman hostile to that redheaded girl? ）
Reinard is a very secretive person and absolutely won’t tell the details.
But regarding murdering someone, the Chairman Asuma is enough. There is no reason to kill the girl. It’s irrational.
（Oh well, it’s useless to think about it）
It’s evident that Reinard is smarter than Serius. There is no point in thinking.
Serius decided to think of positive things. Serius’s dream is to live a luxurious life with the money he saved. Having seals, whales, sea dragon, and cowberry is enough. Somewhere warm, with lots of rich, cultural and entertaining food. Then he would get a cute bride from the West and drink sake while enjoying a happy life.
「Ah! I’m sorry」
「No, I was careless too」
He bumped into someone while lost in thought. It’s a girl with brown hair. The girl left as if running away from Serius. He caught a glimpse of her face and thought that he’d seen her somewhere before. But he doesn’t know where he saw it. In the first place, brown hair is not uncommon in Kirishia. Perhaps he saw it in some store or something. And because she was a pretty girl, he remembered it.
（Speaking of which, there are many cute girls among the Romano and Kirishians）
Serius began thinking about something new again.
He noticed the discomfort in his pocket after walking for a while, it’s somewhat light. He tried touching his pocket.
「Are? Nothing? I don’t have my wallet? Why! ! 」
Serius cried for the first time in a long while.
A/N: Recently, I’ve been posting two chapters. Well, actually I wanted to post yesterday but I didn’t make it in time.
By the way, I registered to twitter today. I wonder if I should put the twitter URL in the author’s bio?