Here’s your sixth (third bonus) chapter of Slave Harem for the week.
‘Operation Second Chance’ in the previous chapter has been changed to ‘Operation SE-2’.
Expect the next chapter tomorrow.
By the way, did you guys see the banner?
Don’t just appreciate the aesthetics, apply!
Well then, without further ado, enjoy the read.
“Sorry for much *batabata* ado.”
The Duke leads us to another room.
It’s a conference room which is neither small nor large.
It’ll be enough for us to dine.
“Not at all.”
“We’ll be having dinner here. I have various things to explain.”
You could explain in the previous room, too, you know?
It’s a mystery to me as to why you had to switch rooms.
Now, all the dishes will have to be brought over again.
That’s worker abuse, Duke.
“Is this about all? If so, please leave.”
With all the dishes having been brought over, the Duke instructs the servants.
“Here’s the drink.”
“Thank you for the work.”
“Then, we’ll take our leave.”
The servant, who was carrying the pitcher, bows and leaves the room last.
Inside the room are the Duke, Cassia and us only.
“Here’s the drink. Please enjoy yourself, everyone. It’s just the herbal tea, so rest assured.”
I take a seat.
The Duke and Cassia are across the interposed side of the コ shaped table. On one side are I, Roxanne and Miria.
On the other side of the table are Sherry and Vesta.
“Umm, what is this about?”
Sitting abreast the Duke, Cassia enquires.
So, Cassia isn’t privy to this matter either.
“Sorry for the trouble, Cassia, but it’s necessary.”
“Don’t tell me……is it that?
Or, is she?
Cassia seems to have gotten it.
The Duke nods exaggeratedly.
“Not at all. I knew this day would come someday, so I had resolved myself.”
It seems to be a shock to Cassia.
Is it something bad?
Like punishing the guests?
When Cassia droops her head, the Duke turns toward us.
“There is a custom pertaining to the conference rooms. Once inside, no one leaves until the conference is over. In this case, it’s the dinner. I hope you don’t intend to leave, Michio-dono, everyone, before the dinner is over.”
“Is there such a custom?”
“It’s to ensure that a decision is reached by all means.”
No one is to leave until a decision has been reached, huh?
Is this the election of the pope or something?
Where they perform the test of endurance.
“Strategy meetings are conducted, too, sometimes.”
If no one leaves, the information won’t leak outside until the meeting is over.
It’ll be perfect for a strategy meeting.
“Before further explanation, let’s have dinner first? Cassia?”
You want us to eat?
Oh well. After having come this far, there’s no point in being defiant.
He urges Roxanne and Sherry who were perspicuously anxious.
The reason as to why they are silent is because they cannot question the Duke ahead of me.
Miria, who jumps at the fish, evidently doesn’t care.
“Does Michio-dono know that a noble may lose their title if they fail to subjugate a labyrinth in their territory?”
The Duke faces me and asks.
“If a labyrinth or the monsters run rampant, no one can live there anymore, anyway. Even if one has the title of nobility, it’s worthless. So, it’s natural for them to be stripped of their title.”
When someone defeats a labyrinth, they receive the title of nobility.
By the same token, if someone is unable to defeat a labyrinth, they cease to be a noble, huh?
It’s a harsh system of reward and punishment.
Better yet, candy and whip.
“It’s about the Earldom of Selmar.”
The Earldom of Selmar. In other words, Cassia’s home.
I have been there.
Is it in danger?
So the state of emergency has nothing to do with us or the Duke but the Earl of Selmar.
“Ever since the current Earl came in power, not a single labyrinth has been subjugated. At this point, he hasn’t lost his nobility; however, he is on the verge of losing his peerage.”
“Is it that bad?”
“Currently, the elven titled nobility comprises a Duke, a Marquis and two Earls. Regardless of whether he loses his peerage or loses his nobility, as an elf, I cannot turn a blind eye to this situation. My bad that this matter has no relation whatsoever to Michio-dono.”
The elven titled nobility includes: the household of the Duke of Harz, the household of the Marquis, Cassia’s family – the Earl of Selmar, and one more Earl.
Being Cassia’s family, it needn’t be mentioned that the Earl of Selmar is an elf.
The Earl of Selmar is an exceptionally ugly, plump man.
“Although we aren’t on particularly good terms with other races, it cannot be termed as discrimination. However, as an elf, I cannot hand it over. I hope you understand.”
If the peerage of the Earl of Selmar were taken over, there’d be a risk of the elven titled nobility shrinking.
I get it.
Because only a noble may have the honor.
In other words, they want me to enter a labyrinth in the territory of Selmar.
However, I’m so busy I would even welcome the help of a cat.
Even though the elven nobles cooperate with each other, everyone is supposed to take care of the labyrinths in their own territory.
There are two more still left in the territory of Harz Duchy.
Otherwise, the labyrinth may become considerably tough.
When a labyrinth opens its entrance, it has 50 floors after which it grows bit by bit.
If it’s left unattended, allowing it to grow nicely, losing peerage won’t be unlikely.
If you think about it, the risk will only increase.
So, is that the emergency situation?
He cannot ask me to go by myself and defeat a labyrinth.
The Duke is aware that I’m a 20s floor Adventurer.
The Duke cannot be this absurd.
You don’t mean that, do you?
By any chance, has Gozer been kept away from the strategic meeting for this reason?
“I have decided to overthrow the Earl of Selmar.”
“Although he may beg his way out, it’ll essentially be an invasion.”
He plans on overthrowing the Earl of Selmar.
Like overthrowing government? Or hijacking?
Lending a hand will certainly not end at just that.
In this world, the labyrinths born one after another.
A system of continued labyrinth extermination will have to be established.
After present subjugation of the labyrinths in the territory of Selmar, if the extermination weren’t continued, it would lead to the case of the current Earl of Selmar.
It’s a matter of fact to eliminate the root cause.
Are you really going to overthrow?
If the matter of removal were brought up with the Emperor, it would be rejected on the grounds of rivalry. If the scandal leaked out, it would be terrible.
That’s the way how it is in this world, it seems.
It feels like a military coup.
I don’t understand as to what reason the Earl of Selmar has for not defeating the labyrinths.
Or, the reason may be inconsequential.
Overthrowing the Earl of Selmar may win people’s hearts.
In the absence of results, you change the head. For instance, national team coach in case of soccer.
It is terrible to be fired, not metaphorically.
Furthermore, the Earldom is Cassia’s home, the Earl her relative.
When I try to observe Cassia’s state, she was resolutely putting up a front.
Did she know this would happen?
Which reminds me, she did say that she had resolved herself.
“Therefore, I want to borrow Michio-dono’s strength.”
It isn’t about entering the labyrinth in the territory of Selmar.
What is it then?
“Michio-dono once visited the Earl of Selmar together with me.”
“There was a curtain there with my emblem imprinted.”
During the audience with the Earl of Selmar, there was a curtain with the emblem of the Harz Duchy hanging behind the Earl.
“Can you move there via Field Walk?”
He intends to use me as a penetration corps?
Even though it’s the invasion of the Earldom of Selmar, in this world, the armies needn’t march to the enemy territory.
Even if it were the Imperial Capital, one could move there via Field Walk.
“Despite the appearance, the Earl of Selmar is an extremely prudent man. In order not to let the Adventurers trespass inside the castle, the shield cement seems to have been abundantly used. Although he doesn’t exterminate the labyrinths, he’s proficient at defending himself. You might think it’d be difficult to invade; however, if it’s Michio-dono breaking into the castle, it’ll be a different matter.”
Have you been devising a plan for such a long time?
It was all for this day that you indebted me with the referral to the Empire Liberation Society.
“In other words, a vanguard?”
As an Adventurer who is supposed to break into the castle of the Earl of Selmar, I will be the first to enter.
An unconditional spearhead.
Can also be called a suicide corps.
“The Earl of Selmar may have guessed; however, I cannot wait day after night after day. There may be guards on the lookout to some extent but it won’t be to the extent of posing a danger. In order not to have the operation leaked outside, meticulous caution has been exercised.”
Even Gozer was informed just today.
Even if the tactics were leaked outside, it would be of no use unless the exact time of the decisive action were known.
“Is there no other Adventurer who is able to enter the castle of the Earl of Selmar?”
“I cannot say there’s no one else; however, if I relied on someone unreliable, the Earl of Selmar would sniff the operation out.”
If the Adventurer, who was asked to break into the castle, had a connection with the Earl of Selmar, they would leak the information.
Or worse yet, betrayed.
It would be less likely if they were a neutral party like me.
“It has already come to light that I’m an Explorer, some sort of countermeasure must have already been taken.”
“There’s a possibility; still, it won’t have any effect on the emblem in the castle. If push comes to shove, you’re allowed to produce the proof of trust between the household of the Duke of Harz and the household of the Earl of Selmar. With this, you won’t be attacked unknowingly.”
So, you intend to use the proof of trust for a completely contradictory purpose?
“Is it alright to use the proof?”
“It’s an extremely last resort. You should be able to deal with the minor injuries by yourself. Better yet if you use it in front of a member of the Earl of Selmar’s household. This household and the household of the Earl of Selmar have a deep bond of trust.”
More like selfishness.
However, it doesn’t absolve the household of the Earl of Selmar.
Do you want to remove the current Earl of Selmar and replace him with a substitute Earl?
“In the worst case, I and Cassia will make a run to the emblem in the castle of the Earl of Selmar. You don’t have to be worried about it being of no use.”
“Won’t you need an Adventurer to do that.”
“The Adventurer who came here with Cassia has seen the curtain, too. I just cannot use them this time.”
“It’ll be troublesome, huh?”
After the marriage, there was an Adventurer who came with Cassia.
For when she needs to go back home.
In other words, they’re someone on the Earl of Selmar’s side.
If they were sent as a vanguard, there’s a likelihood of their betraying.
“If you accept, I’ll reward you within my capacity. You may decline, of course. I’ll guarantee you freedom of choice. However, if you decline, you’ll be confined to this room until the execution of the operation.”
Is that why you led us to this room?
With there being a custom of no one leaving the conference room until the conference is over, no one will suspect even if we don’t come out for a long time.
“After I have moved to the other side, what then?”
“During the first transfer, you’ll take a few Adventurers of the order of knights there. After that, you’ll have to make a few more round trips. However, I don’t intend to have Michio-dono fight. As an elf, I’ll do what an elf has to do by myself.”
“There’s always that 1 in 10,000 chance, so I cannot guarantee you safety. Please bear that in mind.”
Does the Duke want me to help him or decline him?
But then, if it were fail-safe, not taking it up would rather be better.
It would be dangerous, don’t you think?
Like the Duke said, even if he’s aware of the risk of invasion through the emblem curtain, it’ll be impractical for him to deploy a defense unit there at all times.
If he had such a war potential, he would put it to use in the labyrinth.
If he did, he wouldn’t be in the situation where he could be removed.
However, there are other methods available, too.
When no one is deployed, the room can be filled with the poisonous gas.
Firewood can be set ablaze in front of the curtain, so whoever came out would fall into it.
A sword can be set in front of the curtain, so whoever came out would be pierced.
However, because it can allow one to escape in a contingency, they won’t do such a thing.
Still, it’s not absolutely safe.
I’d better decline him.
If I accepted, I would be invading Cassia’s home.
“It’s a noble’s obligation to exterminate the labyrinths. Because he didn’t perform his duty, there’s no other choice.”
When I try to observe Cassia’s state, she speaks decisively.
“In case Michio-dono declines, I’ll have to invade from the front which will result in casualties in the household of the Earl of Selmar.”
So, he requested me because he was concerned about Cassia?
Is there no way out?
“I ask of you, please.”
“I understand. The moment I came here, I had already boarded the sailing ship.”
With Cassia asking of me, I have no other choice but to accept.
Provided there’s no sword set up in front of the curtain.