Develop 125

Chapter 125 The Method of Judgment

Edited by: Kanaa-senpai

 The morning after the commotion, I received a report from Diana in my office, unable to get sufficient sleep due to what had happened last night and feeling overwhelmed by drowsiness.

 ”Yawn… I’m sleepy.”

 ”Master Neil, are you listening to the report?”

 ”I’m listening attentively.”

 The report mainly concerned the trio, and after their capture, Gaadhir-san interrogated them, but we didn’t obtain much valuable information

 According to the individuals themselves, they weren’t hired by anyone. They had sneaked in, thinking that if they could learn the secret of the crops that grow out of season, which have recently become famous, they could sell that secret to interested parties at a high price. However, Gaadhir-san and Diana mentioned that it’s highly likely someone behind the scenes was pulling the strings.

 The basis for their suspicion is that the equipment and instruments the three had brought to investigate the settlement were quite extensive for individual preparations. While the spirits found them, finding a means to transport them to the settlement without attracting attention becomes limited.

 One option is the item box. Since most of the equipment brought in this time was relatively small, with only a few larger items, they could probably be extracted through the item box.

 However, the magical tools of the item box itself are quite expensive, and a safe storage facility for the equipment is also necessary. So, unless you’re a noble, it’s unlikely for an individual to have them prepared.

 Since no item box magical tools were found among their belongings, the possibility of an item box being involved seems slim unless it was left in the forest.

 The next possibility is a “courier.” Couriers are individuals who make a living by transporting goods, just as their name suggests.

 They will transport anything as long as you pay them, ranging from everyday goods like groceries to prohibited items and even people or livestock.

 It might seem like transporters are involved in illegal business, but being a courier is a legitimate profession recognized even publicly.

 This is because transporters focus on the size and weight of the cargo and the destination, while taking a hands-off stance regarding the content of the cargo

 However, since this is an official job, they do not undertake the transportation unless it is not obvious at a glance that it is a contraband, for example, by mixing it in with other packages.

 Despite being an open secret, the reason why the existence of courieres is officially recognized is that there are many individuals in positions of power who want to secretly send items without revealing their contents.

 The authorities understand that couriers are being exploited for criminal activities, but cracking down on them would also put themselves at a disadvantage, so they turn a blind eye to it.

 Let’s leave such knowledge about couriers for now and get back to the main topic.

 Assuming the trio used a courier to reach the settlement, the cost of such a service is by no means cheap.

 As mentioned earlier, couriers consider the size and weight of the cargo, as well as the destination, which are crucial factors in determining the price.

 The courier receive multiple packages from different clients and transport them to the designated destinations together.

 Clients need to pay according to the destination, but the more clients sending packages to the same destination or through the same route, the lower the individual cost.

 Conversely, if you want to send a package to a remote location with no other clients, the transportation fee will be higher due to the lack of shared costs.

 Considering that there are no other clients who would want to send packages to the settlement, if the trio indeed used a courier, the cost would be significant.

 Moreover, if they unloaded the cargo from the carriage along the way, making a secret entry on foot without drawing attention, they would likely have to pay hush money as well.

 If they truly utilized a courier, they would have had to pay a substantial amount. Unless they were well-prepared with rewards and upfront payments, which seems unlikely, it would have been a challenging method to employ individually.

 If there were another method, it would involve personally loading the cargo onto a carriage without using a courier. While it is possible for individuals to procure a single carriage, in order to remain undetected, they would have to disembark from the carriage along the way and hide it somewhere.

 Leaving the carriage itself aside, they couldn’t abandon the horses that pull the carriage in the middle of the forest. They would need someone to take care of the horses until the trio returns, or someone to retrieve the carriage after the trio disembarks.

 The method they used to infiltrate is unknown, but regardless of the method, it would require considerable financial resources or personnel involvement. So, it was highly likely that people other than those three were involved.

 Moreover, another reason to suspect that someone was behind them was an item among their belongings.

 ”The Hanahaku Knife… They had quite a dangerous item.”

 ”Please handle it with care. Even a slight cut, even with your fingertips, can—”

 ”I know. That’s why I keep it sheathed like this.”

 Diana warned me, and I placed the knife I was fiddling with on the desk.

 Hanahaku’s knife, a knife with a reputation for being the favorite of people who assassinated people for a living.

 It wasn’t just an ordinary knife, as assassins wouldn’t favor such a mundane weapon.

 This knife possessed a unique ability that was convenient for assassins. It instantly absorbed any bodily fluid, including blood, from a wound. If someone were stabbed with it, they would turn into a mummy in less than ten seconds. The dried body is so fragile that it can be easily folded by hand.

 Thus, there would be no traces of blood or bodies left at the scene, delaying the discovery of the assassination. If everything went well, it would be handled as a missing person case.

 The Hanahaku Knife was a useful tool for assassins, but it was considered contraband in any country. Its manufacture and ownership without permission were strictly prohibited.

 Therefore, obtaining it required connections to the underworld, and even nobles would need exorbitant amounts of money.

 It was inconceivable for someone with such an item to be a mere citizen driven by greed for money.

 Most likely, they were involved with the underworld, and there was a high probability that they were hired to uncover the secrets of the settlement by someone else.

 At that time, one of the three mentioned something about “trying to conceal” when they leaked that they had the Hanahaku Knife. It implies that they killed Zora with the Hanahaku Knife, intending to take away and cover up the body, and I intervened by jumping in through the window.

 In the end, it was the right decision to jump out of the window, even though it was reckless. Diana scolded me firmly, reminding me that one wrong step could have resulted in me being stabbed with the knife and killed.

 ”So, what do you intend to do with them?”

 ”That’s the most difficult part.”

 They broke into the laboratory and took hostages.

 Although no one suffered physical harm in the end, we couldn’t overlook it, and some form of punishment had to be imposed as they were criminals. Unfortunately, there is no court in this settlement where we can pass judgment on criminals.

 Additionally, the tricky part is that even though this settlement is an enclave, it falls under the jurisdiction of the Count Atmiras, and if we take them elsewhere, we would have to use the lord’s court in the Count Atmiras.

 The nearest court from the settlement is in Denal, but naturally, it is not under the jurisdiction of the Count Atmira’s court. Handing the criminals over there would be equivalent to saying, “We can’t handle it ourselves, so please take care of it over there,” which would be seen as weakness in a society where prestige is highly valued.

 I personally wouldn’t mind, but I want to avoid a situation where the entire Count Atmiras is scorned because of my actions.

 That leaves us with the method of self-remedy, where the affected parties resolve the issue themselves without involving the court

 In other words, it is a private punishment, and it can be done by an individual’s discretion, but it also has the advantage of solving the problem quickly.

 The difficulty lies in finding the right balance. It was a challenge to determine what kind of punishment would satisfy the surrounding people and gain their acceptance.

 If the issue were solely about breaking into the laboratory, it would have been easier, but they took Zora hostage.

 If a lenient sentence were given at this point, there might be dissatisfaction from the Sincere Dwarves, further complicating the problem.

 ”By the way, how did you explain it to the Sincere Dwarves?”

 At that time, the Sincere Dwarves were staying at an inn located away from the mansion and were unaware of the commotion, so they didn’t wake up or come over.

 ”I explained the situation to them early in the morning. Then Master Ronim wanted to meet Master Neil to thank him.”

 ”I don’t really need any gratitude… Oh, I see.”

 While pondering how to satisfy Zora, her family, and gain their acceptance, I realized that there was a means of directly asking the individuals involved.

 Thinking so, I immediately instructed Diana to call for Ronim-san and the others.

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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.

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