“Damn it all! Another failure!”
The man, having just received his awaited report, slammed a fist against his desk in agitation. The report in question covered the details of the attempt to subjugate the dark guild Yelquchira, going into its failings and the subsequent annihilation of the people assigned to the task. Another thing it touched upon was the wholesale demise of the Hero Party.
“Damn it! Longmann, that useless oaf! His death alone wouldn’t have been of much consequence, but he just had to drag the others into this… what was he thinking?!”
The man rekindled his memories of Longmann, the vanguard of the Hero Party that had been summoned into his world. While he had gone out of his way to at least hint towards Yelquchira, he most certainly hadn’t expected that doing so would lead to such an exaggerated display of self-damnation.
“A-hyuhah! What did ya expect? The kingdom marked that dark guild as a top-level threat, so did most guilds. And he decided to take them on. It’s doesn’t really matter how many little guppies you send into battle; they’ll all get pummelled either way.”
There was another man present and unabashedly addressing the seething figure, heaving peals of gruesome laughter that no sane mind could bear for long. Far from being worried for the other man as he assaulted his desk, he seemed to derive a great deal of amusement from the spectacle. The baleful shout that was sent his way did absolutely nothing to curb his tongue.
“A bunch of grey guild members dying? You can sweep that under the rug. Those royal knights were part of your little clique, so I don’t see that being much of a problem. The Hero Party, though, that’s real bad news for ya. They weren’t your pawns, were they? They were the kingdom’s. The king’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, don’t get me wrong, but even he can’t afford to let this pass without dishing out some kind of punishment. Doesn’t really matter if you’re the prince at that point, huh?”
“I demand that you be silent!”
The man did not cease in his boisterous laughter, even as a dagger-like glare was shot towards him. Its sender, whose pure anger had already impelled him to pull at his hair, was none other than the man first in line for inheriting the throne – the prince himself.
“I understand my own situation just fine, how can I not?! There’ll be nothing that can pull me out of this hole I’ve dug myself into, not at this rate…!”
“Oh, come on now. I wouldn’t say that.”
Read the original on https://dao.ist
“What… What do you…?”
The prince suddenly looked at the man with eyes that carried a gleam of hope, completely at odds with how he had presented himself thus far. One should not be fooled – the man would have had no qualms in choosing to indulge in the crown prince’s prolonged suffering. He had merely surmised that having him break down so quickly would not work in his favor.
“You just have to push this whole thing on some poor, random sod. There was some noble involved, wasn’t there? Quite the annoying one, if I recall.”
“Are… Are you saying I should use a noble as a scapegoat…?”
“That I am! You’re the prince, aren’t you? Just twist this to your benefit, and that fool of a king won’t even notice. The princess, on the other hand, might be just a little too astute for that.”
The obnoxious laughter peaked as he presented the prince with the temptation. The prince, though greatly repelled by the sound of the man’s cackling, saw the merit in his suggestion.
“Hmph! That bint’s claim to the throne is weaker than mine. I have more power than she does in this castle, that’s a fact. Whatever doubts she can raise, I can crush with ease.”
“Ohoh! There we go, that’s the prince we know! A real scumbag!”
Hardly a way to address someone who would rule over the kingdom at some point, but all any would-be admonisher would be met with was that man’s gut-wrenching laughter. Not that it mattered. Even if the man decided to let others know of what had been discussed here, there was no one who would believe him. Though he was an adventurer by trade, one attached to a guild no less, there was no one who would lend any credence to what he had to say.
“By the way, why are you so set on Yelquchira? Not that I mind, of course. Quite grateful for it, in fact.”
The man, with his laughter, seemed to insinuate that he would love the chance to take the dark guild on despite the reputation they had made for themselves. The prince couldn’t repress a small shudder at this discomforting display but answered him nonetheless.
Read the original on https://dao.ist
“If I can get you and your people in my employ, I have every reason to suspect that she could, potentially, do the same to them. Having them actively working against me would be far too much trouble.”
“Real creepy stuff, the slimy underbelly of politics! Wouldn’t it be wiser to just get Yelquchira on your side, though?”
“If I did that, I’d have you people to worry about.”
“True, that! You’re definitely not wrong!”
The crown prince heaved a sigh.
Though one of the man’s earlier statements seemed to imply that the prince had set his sights specifically on Yelquchira, the situation was, in truth, reversed. It was the man who had done so of his own accord.
“Guess that means we’re that much more powerful than them, eh? More ruthless, too!”
“Yelquchira barely show their faces. As far as the people of the kingdom are concerned, your guild’s made a much worse name for itself.”
“Oh, please! That alone won’t cut it, you know? If you go to the nobles or anyone else with some kind of rank, you’re gonna find a whole lot more people afraid of them instead of us! A real spit in the face, that!”
The common people, most of whom never left the world shaped by their kingdom, had little knowledge of what went on beyond its borders. Most had never even heard of a dark guild by the name of Yelquchira. But in sharp contrast to them, anyone who counted themselves among the upper crust, either through their position within the kingdom or their ranking within an official guild, had learned to fear them without exception.
The direct cause for their fears seemed to be the master of said guild, but even so, the prince had long since begun to harbor suspicion that nothing was really known about this figure, not even among the more highly ranked of the people. His reasoning was a result of there not being a single soul that could properly articulate what it was that made this person such a horror.
Read the original on https://dao.ist
He was inclined to believe that their predecessors had told them of the terrors this elusive figure had wrought many generations ago. With the people of the kingdom being comprised of humans, a hundred years was all that was required for the original people who relayed these stories to pass away.
With all the people who had actually borne witness to the guild master’s power long departed from this world, all that was left of his tales had been passed on unceasingly through word of mouth. Based on this assumption, the prince had thought that Yelquchira would be defeated without too much trouble… but then the people and squadrons he had sent to take care of the task had kept turning up dead, completely annihilated.
“Aargh… Look, I can’t say I know what’s going through that head of yours, but dealing with Yelquchira –”
“Then that’s where we come in, ain’t it?! What else did you even hire us for, huh? You want us to get rid of them, don’t you? I get it; they’re a real pest. Don’t you think the timing for that’s perfect right now?!”
The man’s response was just what the prince had expected it would be. It wasn’t a hand he was too keen on playing just yet.
But at this point, there was no one else he could reliably entrust with opposing Yelquchira but this man and the people he worked with. In the prince’s mind, no cost was too great if it would allow him to sit in the throne one day.
“Very well. I’ll send you people an official request.”
“Ohoh! There ya go, prince! Good work! You know, I totally might’ve killed you if you refused!”
An outrageous statement to make, yet the man said it without any signs of trepidation. The prince, now fairly used to this sort of thing, chose to remain unaffected.
After all, when considering the man’s background, it only seemed all the more logical that being his only company in a hidden room posed a certain amount of danger. And the prince was hardly some weakling that could be killed on a whim.
“A formal request to defeat the Army of Salvation, Yelquchira, is hereby issued to the Iron Queen, Eicaenin.”
“Request received and humbly accepted!”
With practiced and refined motions, the prince wrote out his official request and handed it to the man. He, in turn, roughly yanked the document from the prince’s hand.
“Aghyahyahah! Oh, which guild will prove to be stronger… I can’t wait to find out!”
As the man’s distasteful cackling once again became prevalent, the prince merely looked on with a slightly perturbed gaze.