Black Cat Chapter 166: A Keystone on the Highway

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 The city of Krager is known as a strategic point of transportation.


 Krager is at the intersection of the Rudna River, which flows east and west, and the road leading from the royal capital to neighboring Estore, where Viscount Lagart’s party had come from.



 Centered on the Krager Bridge over the Rudna River, the town spreads out on both the north and south banks of the river.


 If Ibouro is like the shopping district of Sugamo, which is called “Harajuku for grandmothers,” Krager is like the Omotesando [T/N: A now tree-lined avenue] of Harajuku, the original Harajuku.



 Even the town on one side of the river is wider than Ibouro and gives the impression of being crowded with people and goods.


 When we left the residence of Duke Letburnes, I had heard that Krager was a big city, so I offered to let him guard us on the magic carriage, but he refused.



 When I asked him why, he said that if a catkin is on the roof, they might be mistaken for a thief.


 One reason is that prejudice against catkins grows stronger the further one goes to a big city, but it is said that catkins actually sometimes take advantage of their lightness to jump on a horse-drawn carriage on the street and steal.



 If you are going to ride on top of a carriage, you need to wear at least leather armor or some other protective gear to show that you are a security person of the carriage.


 Unfortunately, in my case, my armor is made with void magic, so I look like nothing more than a catkin’s child.



 And if I have a bad face with one eye crushed, it is not surprising if I am accused of being a thief.


 I have no choice but to stand guard from the platform, but from the outside it probably looks like a country bumkin who has just arrived in the town of Krager for the first time and is just gawking at the unusual sight.



“Nyango, is everything all right?” (Novak)


“Yes, for now…” (Nyango)



 Mr. Novak, who calls out to me from the seat next to me, also appears to be growing more nervous from the time he entered the Krager.


 He should be familiar with the power of someone who would blow themself, since he has seen it up close and personal with the shattering magic circle during the attack in the village of Flos, although he didn’t receive the blast.



 It would be a natural reaction to fear a suicide bomber who took the lives of so many people in an instant.


 The knights of the Viscount Lagart family are in a formation of three guards on each side of the magic carriage, and two of them are warning passersby that they will attack without mercy if any suspicious person comes running toward them.



“Until now, we didn’t have this kind of heavy security, and people in the street would just wave to us casually…” (Novak)



 I remember how in my previous life in Japan, when the president of the United States came to Japan, the people along the street waved small American and Japanese flags to welcome him, and I guess that was probably the usual scene in Krager.


 Right now, I feel like I’ve been instructed to leave the carriage and watch the magic carriage pass by with trepidation.



“Nyango, when we get to the inn safely, do you want to go see the town?” (Novak)


“Eh? But the escort…” (Nyango)


“Once the viscount party is inside the inn, they should be fine. The inn will be well guarded tonight.” (Novak)



 Viscount Lagart’s party is planning to stay at a noble’s inn on the southern edge of the city across the Rudna River.


 While I was thinking that I would like to see the sights if I could, it would depend on the security at the inn. Then, there was a commotion at the rear of the convoy.



 Viscount Lagart’s party consisted of two knights, followed by a magic carriage with six knights surrounding it, and a carriage with two knights flanking it and carrying the injured knight and the attackers.


 The knight guarding the carriage behind increased the speed of his horse and seemed to be reporting something to Captain Hailwood, who was standing next to the magic carriage.



“Novak, continue at the same speed and don’t stop until you reach the inn unless there is an abnormality.” (Hailwood)


“Yes sir.” (Novak)



 I don’t know what’s going on, but since there was no need to stop and the carriage behind us seemed to be following us, it was probably not a serious problem.



“What was it?” (Nyango)


“I don’t know, but for now our first priority is to get to the inn.” (Novak)



 The reason why tonight’s inn is located at the edge of town is because it was built as a new inn on a large plot of land.


 Surrounded by a moat and iron fence, the large site looks at first glance like a park.



 In fact, there is a large, well-kept garden, and the magnificent building looks like a noble’s mansion.


 It is a two-day journey by carriage from the city of Krager to the center of the Royal Capital, and it is said that some nobles travel here by boat and change to a magic carriage or carriage from here.



 Traveling by ship is said to be more advantageous than traveling by land, both in terms of security and expense.


 It is said that the inn where they will be staying tonight also provides a service to take care of the magic carriages and normal carriages for such nobles.



 After arriving safely at the inn and taking a sigh of relief, I asked one of the knights about the earlier trouble and received an unexpected answer.



“The attacker, the black catkin, escaped.” (Knight)


“Whaaat…” (Nyango)



 Usually, it is mostly the large-bodied races that attack the noblemen’s convoys and merchants.


 So, it seems that the restraints used when they are captured are also sized to match the larger race.



 For Caballero, a catkin, the shackles were loose because they did not fit his size, so they had to have a rope wrapped around him instead of just shackles.


 He cut the rope or untied it, got out of the shackles, entered the city of Krager, and fled when the knights’ attention was diverted to the roadside.



“If Caballero had been escorted back to the capital, what would have been his punishment?” (Nyango)


“He made an attempt on the life of a noble, so he would almost certainly have been executed.” (Knight)


“Is that so…” (Nyango)


“What, do you think it’s good that a catkin like you was saved?” (Knight)



 The viscount knight asked, looking a little angry.



“That’s outrageous. He failed to blow himself once. If he tries to blow himself this time, I can’t think of a way to prevent him, wouldn’t it be difficult to prevent him now?” (Nyango)


“Oh, that’s right… Well, let’s talk to the captain about the security on our way back.” (Knight)


“Yes, I will do my best to help, so please feel free to tell me anything.” (Nyango)


“Thank you, and I’m sorry for saying something about doubting you.” (Knight)



 The knight bowed to me and went to look for Mr. Hailwood.


 Unlike the knights of the Royal Knights, the knights of the Lagart family remain commoners, but they are still respected by those around them.



 When the knight realize that they are wrong, they bow down to me, a catkin, so it must be that the teachings of the Lagart family are wonderful.


 Still, it must have been a big blow that Caballero escaped.



 The information we have extracted from the attackers is still limited, and they should be observed by the guards.


 If Caballero dared to blow himself up again, would the knights and I be able to prevent him from doing so?



 With Viscount Lagart’s permission, Mr. Novak and I decided to walk around the city until dinner.


 The purpose was not to go sightseeing, but to get a closer look at the city and see if there were any holes in the security.



“Nyango, do you see the difference in the atmosphere of the city north and south of the river?” (Novak)


“Yes, I think the other side of the bridge is more irregular.” (Nyango)


“Yes, the city of Krager originally flourished around the north side of the river. It is said that it flourished so that many people and goods heading for the Royal Capital could stay there while they were stranded on the river.” (Novak)


“So, this side of the river is a newer town that flourished later.” (Nyango)


“This side of the river seems to have flourished after the Krager Bridge was completed. Perhaps the city was planned or rebuilt, and the streets and alleys are more orderly, aren’t they?” (Novak)


“Yes, it is. If we were to be attacked in Krager, it would be on the other side of the bridge.” (Nyango)


“I suppose so. The streets are wider on this side, and there are fewer people walking around.” (Novak)



 For example, it would be like the west and east sides of Shinjuku station, before and after the rezoning.


 The west side of Shinjuku also has many skyscrapers and office buildings and wide streets divided into squares, but on the east side, although Koshu Kaido and Meiji Dori are wide, there are a number of narrow alleys, such as those around Kabukicho.



 On the south side of the bridge, there are many large commercial establishments and theaters, and the people on the street appear to be well-to-do.


 However, these people give me a disdainful look every time we pass them.



 Mr. Novak did not seem to be aware of this, but I had never had such a blatant gaze directed at me while walking through the streets of Ibouro.


 I crossed the bridge to the north side of the city and received similar stares from well-dressed people on this side as well.



 Probably for the same reason that I could not get up on the roof of the magic carriage to guard it, catkins misuse their quickness to commit crimes such as snatching and pickpocketing.


 If so, it’s probably not surprising that they would be wary of us, but it’s a little… no, quite a sad fact.



 On the north side of the bridge, the street is narrower than on the south side, and the stores on both sides seem to be closing in on us.


 Perhaps this is the width of the old street, and the bridge was built wider than that, and the town on the south side was built with the street even wider than the bridge.



 The town on the north side is a jumble of inns catering to travelers, stores selling tools necessary for the journey, and lumber wholesalers.



“Meow! It’s rice…” (Nyango)


“Oh, does Nyango like rice?” (Novak)



 I looked along the side of the street to the north and saw a rice wholesaler.


 Looking at the rice lined up in the store, it seems that most of the rice is long-grain, but there is also short-grain rice.



 It was the first time I had seen pure white rice with uniform grains since I was reincarnated.


 The thought of freshly cooked rice makes my mouth water.



“Myuuu! I’ll buy some when we stop by on my way home because it’s a big luggage if I buy it now.” (Nyango)


“Then, ask the Viscount to stop by Krager so you don’t miss out on buying them on the way home.” (Novak)


“Yes, I will.” (Nyango)



 I have to buy a pot to cook rice and I have to buy quite a lot of rice to serve even the members of the chariot.


 Come to think of it, I had completely forgotten about the souvenirs that Ms. Leila and the others had asked me to buy… As I was thinking about it, I suddenly felt a gaze and turned around, but there was no one looking at me.



 Even if Caballero attacks again, he would need to obtain a pulverization magic circle.


 I don’t think he has any companions in Krager, which is far away from Grobrus territory, but I can’t let my guard down because I don’t know how well organized the Anti-noble Faction is.




 On the way back from the Royal Capital, I continued walking through the streets of Krager with the location of the alleys in my head so that the viscount’s convoy could pass through them safely.




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