19-19 Disturbing movements

 The prince was sitting at his desk in his office, wearing a gray cloak for going out, with a difficult look on his face.

 Just a moment ago, the prince had gone into the city himself to gather information.
 However, he had not been able to obtain any useful information.
 What he saw of the royal capital was peaceful.


"We have to get a clue and take action as soon as possible...

 The prince thought.
 Something will definitely happen now.
 We have to look for the signs.
 I've instructed our intelligence officers to gather as much information as possible.
 Don't miss even the smallest anomaly that's happened recently.

 Pick up bits and pieces of important events from the trivial information lying around the city.
 That's what I'm doing now.
 Ever since I came of age seven years ago at the age of fifteen, "You understand the situation in the country better than anyone else, and use your subordinates to deal with it appropriately..." That is the only thing that my father, the king, has ordered me to do.

 What we're doing now is canvassing the public.
 It's a solid procedure, no doubt about it.
 However, I'm not sure that such a leisurely investigation will produce results in this tight situation. ......

 I don't have enough time. We need more hands.
 The prince was now in a hurry.

"Someone's coming .......

 The prince suddenly felt footsteps in the hallway and put the classified research material he was reading back on the shelf.
 These light footsteps were not Dalken, the chief of staff.
 If so, it was someone from the intelligence unit that had ordered the investigation.
 After a short wait, he heard someone knocking on the door.

I'm here to report an emergency.
Come in.
Come in.

 The man opened the door, walked into the office, saluted, and opened his mouth.

I'm ....... The Goblin Emperor has appeared in the Forest of Monsters.

 Surprised by the report, the prince stood up and removed the hood of his robe, which was still on.

"A goblin emperor? ......? The damage is ......?
The goblin emperor has already been defeated by the hands of Lord Linneburg and Lord Noll. So, no obvious damage has been confirmed. A watchman who was standing by nearby has rushed to investigate and deal with the situation.

"Leanne and that guy from ......?

 The Goblin Emperor is at least classified as a Class A danger, the same as the Goblin King.
 The goblin emperor is at least as dangerous as the Goblin King, and can only be defeated by a group of gold-level adventurers.
 Certainly, it would not be surprising if he could be defeated by the same man who killed the Minotaur.

 But if I had been alone...

 If Lean had been alone, he would have been killed.
 A cold sweat ran down the prince's forehead.

After that, we also made contact with Mr. Linneburg to confirm the situation, and he handed us this. It was embedded in the goblin's forehead. It's the same high-purity magic stone as the other day.

The goblin emperor's forehead was implanted with a magic stone to give it power... Wait, what is this ......? I'm not sure what to make of this.

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 The prince had some knowledge of this.
 But what he found was a magical stone of such purity and size that he could hardly believe his eyes.

I'm sure you can imagine how powerful a goblin emperor this would be,.......
"Well... I'm not sure what to make of it, but I'm sure it's a good idea.
"I'll bet. This is... abnormal.

 It's not every day you see a magical stone like this.
 The other day, the magic stone in the sorcerer's ring used to summon the Minotaur was also of ridiculously high purity, but the size of this one is off the charts.
 Both are of the highest quality, rivaling those used in national treasure-grade magic tools.
 How did they get hold of these magic stones?
 And to implant them in goblins, as if they were disposable...

 Who... did this?
 The incident was led by the Magic Empire.
 I don't have to think about it, but I can figure it out from the situation.  

 However, a magic stone like this - the only one known at present is the Demon's Heart, which is rarely produced in the Holy Mithraic Kingdom.
 Are they really in league with each other?
 It's not a good idea to think about it now.

"...... must have been a serious threat. I don't know how the two of you were able to defeat it alone.

I'm sorry. In addition, the demon initially hid itself with a high level of concealment, hiding in the Forest of Monsters without anyone noticing. According to Linneburg-sama, it's probably been there for a few days or even longer.

"...... What? What do you mean by hiding ......?

 I'm not sure what to make of this.
 I'm not sure what to make of it, but I'm sure it's a good idea.
 What in the world is going on?
 I'm not sure if it's because of the unknown magic tools that the Magic Empire is developing with the knowledge from the labyrinth relics.

 In the first place, how did they get such a huge body to this country?
 It's not like they loaded it onto a carriage.

 You don't think he manipulated the demon to walk?
 No, it's possible.
 But how?
 Or... no, there's too many things to think about and I'm getting nowhere.

 It's a bad habit of mine to get hot-headed at times like this, the prince thinks.
 It's at times like this that you need to keep your cool.

I've been in hiding for a few days now, or ...... something, have there been any signs of that?

It's a good thing that you're not the only one who has a problem with this.
 However, the master of the adventurer's guild said three days ago, "The number of goblins in the Forest of Monsters is decreasing, so I request an investigation. Depending on the results, I would like to limit the number of requests for goblin extermination", he sent a report to the Royal Guard.
 Since it is common for goblin populations to decrease depending on the time of year, it is likely that the matter was put off until later.

Three days ago. ...... It's possible that the same thing is happening in other areas.
I haven't sorted it out yet, but I've compiled a report on the missing persons and suspicious incidents that have occurred in the last few days, as you requested.
Thank you. Let me see.
Here it is.

 The prince took the thick stack of documents that the man had presented to him, and looked through them, flipping through them quickly, one by one.
 At the same time, he carefully read each report and organized them in his mind.

 At first glance, they were all seemingly unrelated stories.

 I couldn't sleep at night because of suspicious noises.
 The number of lost cats and dogs is increasing.
 My grandfather went for a walk yesterday and never came back.
 The forest in the neighborhood has suddenly become quiet.
 My husband, who had been very serious, has suddenly disappeared.
 For the past few days, the livestock have been unusually frightened and troubled.

 The prince carefully read them one by one and drew the places where the events occurred one by one on the vast map of the royal capital spread out in his mind.

 At first glance, there seemed to be no connection between these countless events.
 But as he sorted them out with a skeptical eye...
 Little by little, a coherence begins to form.
 Each of them is happening around a certain place in the neighborhood... and gradually, it becomes clear.

 A bunch of reports of unusual and inexplicable phenomena that have been occurring in recent days.
 When the information gathered by the agents is superimposed on the map...

 Over the past few days, there have been "dozens (・・・・)" of locations in King's Landing where unexplained phenomena have suddenly increased.

 The prince's skin flushed when he realized what it meant.

I want you to form a team that can use [Concealment Detection] and [Concealment Removal] and dispatch an investigation team immediately to the locations I'm going to tell you about. Also, call the [Six Saints] ...... for an emergency meeting. As soon as they gather, I'll ask for the king's judgment on the situation. Understood? ......? All right, hurry up!

 As soon as the prince raised his voice, the man immediately left the office and ran down the corridor.

 The prince could not help but shout loudly.

 A man in his position must keep his cool.
 Even so, the prince was now extremely irritated.

"d*mn it!

 The prince raised his fist and slammed his desk with a stack of documents.
 Blood seeped into his fist.
 This was unusual for the prince, who always tried to act calmly in public.

 But the prince could no longer remain calm.
 How can anyone be calm in front of this situation?

 Why didn't I see it sooner?
 If I had known sooner, I could have taken care of it.
 But this...
 In this situation.
 We're behind on everything.
 Even if we take the fastest action now...
 It might all be too late.

 Anxiety and anger welled up in the prince's heart.

 This anger was directed at the prince himself...
 And the person who caused it.

 The prince's frustration reached its limit in the empty office... and exploded.

"What the hell, what the hell is this ......? What the hell are they doing here? What the hell have we done? What do they think they're doing to human life?

 I was aware that the Magical Empire wanted the relics of the Labyrinth of No Return.
 But to go this far...

 Until now, I thought that although their demands were troublesome, they were someone that I could negotiate with at least at the same table.  
 But I was wrong.
 The other party no longer thinks of us as someone they can talk to on an equal footing.

 Do you really want the resources of the labyrinth so badly?

 The location of the potential threat in the prince's mind.
 And what does that mean?
 It means...

"This is not ......, this is like ......!

 The prince plopped down on his desk with his bloody papers and muttered in a voice of despair.

I'm not sure what to make of this.