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Chapter 34

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Minister’s point of view.
We proceeded without encountering any commoners or knights, and finally arrived at the mansion.
From the scorch marks on the walls and the traces of magic that seemed to have been shot at the house, it seemed that the mansion had been attacked, but there were no signs of the gate being opened, so we assumed that the place was safe.
However, there was no sign of human presence when I anxiously shouted for the gate to be opened.

“… Are they all holed up inside?”

Hearing no reply or noise, Erbel let out such words.
It’s true that if they were holed up in the house, they wouldn’t be able to hear me. However, shouldn’t there be a lookout standing watch to better understand what is going on outside?
… It’s possible that they have already escaped via the underground passage.

I took out the master key of the mansion I had brought with me just in case, unlocked the gate and pushed it open.
The exposed yard was littered with trash that had been thrown in, and plants that had been destroyed, probably by magic.
I liked those quite a lot, but… I cannot take them with me either way. Let’s give up.

Persuading myself to not feel the stabbing pain in my heart, I inserted the key into the entrance door of the mansion.
The same creaking sound resounded, and a dark corridor spread before us as the door opened without any abnormality.
When I turned on the lights, I noticed that the works of art that had been decorating the corridor were gone, and when I opened the shoebox by the entrance, I saw that everything except a cheap pair of shoes was also gone.
I wonder if it was taken by the mansion’s people to make money at the destination of their escape.
… Let’s hurry.

I told Erbel and the others who were scurrying around the mansion to follow me, and headed for the entrance to the underground passage.
After all, it seems that the people from the mansion have collected everything that could be worth money, as all the money-making items in the corridors and rooms were gone.
I don’t know who gave that order, but I’ll praise them later.

While I was thinking about this, we arrived at the library where the entrance to the underground passage was hidden, and I approached the bookshelf at the far end.
When I looked at the floor, I saw marks near the moving bookshelf left by something heavy being dragged. Realizing that they really did escape, I pulled a red book on the bookshelf toward me.
The bookshelf moved forward with a heavy sound of wood scraping the floor and shifted to the side, revealing the stairs leading to the basement.

In peaceful times, discussions often arose regarding the demolition of the passage due its maintenance cost, but I’m glad I insisted on keeping it. I didn’t think I would ever have to use it, though.
Randolph, who was in front of me, looked back at me.

“I will take the front, but you will have to tell me the directions.”

“All right, I understand.”

Geez, this man really is dependable.

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