Forrest sighed and sat down in the chair.
Instead of just sitting down, he sat down limp as if he had lost all his energy.
It was a rare sight for Forrest who always cares about his clothes and posture.
Somehow, Oliver felt that this was also his fault in a way.
The reason was the reaction of Al when he visited the restaurant and Forrest, who exuded resentment toward Oliver.
Forrest calmed down his emotions and poured alcohol into his glass. He poured not just a little as usual, but a lot of it.
Then he just drank the whole thing without savoring it.
Ggul ggul ggul ggul ggul ggul ggul ggul ggul
Forrest, who dropped the crystal glass on the desk with a thud, opened his mouth.
“……It’s been a while.”
A word that was short but had many meanings.
“Yes, it has been a while, Mr. Forrest.”
“Actually, it hasn’t been that long. It hasn’t even been a week. How have you been?”
“Um, I’m fine.”
“That’s a relief. How have I been? As I said before, I’m not good….. If you don’t mind, can you ask me why?”
Oliver obeyed Forrest’s unusual tone for now.
“What happened, Mr. Forrest?”
“A few days ago, a piece of news came to the broker’s public information network. It was news that made everyone doubt their ears.”
“What was it?”
“It was about a wizard lab in District F getting attacked. The source was unclear, and we couldn’t find out where it was, so there’s no way to check….. Thanks to that, there’s a lot of noise on this floor.”
“Um… is it that surprising?”
“Of course. I’ve said this a few times, but I’ll say it again, this city is maintained by a close balance of power. The wizards of the Magic Tower are one of its key pillars. A research lab under the control of such a Magic Tower was attacked… It could be a prelude to a huge event. It’s bound to be noisy.”
Oliver realized that he had done something big.
Still, he never thought it would be this much as he only went there only once.
“…..did you find out who attacked?”
“No, we don’t even know where, so there’s no way to find out who. So some people are saying that it’s just a rumor.”
“Um, wouldn’t that be right?”
“No, that can’t be.”
Forrest answered firmly and poured the drink again. As the thirst was quenched, this time only the usual amount was poured.
He took a sip and opened his mouth again.
“Even though the brokers union is a relatively weak organization in Landa, its ability to collect information is not low. We do business with organizations like Heimdal, and each broker has their own information network.”
“Oh, I see.”
“Thanks to this news, not only us brokers but also the people at the bottom and the rich people are making a fuss. I’m guessing that some crazy guy really attacked the lab without warning, or maybe the attack happened because of the competition between the forces inside the Magic Tower.”
“Do people inside the Magic Tower also fight with each other?”
“Even if only five people lived under one roof, there are bound to be conflicts. Magic Tower is no exception… Either way, if it’s true, it could be a big event. That’s why everyone’s working all night to find out what’s going on.”
“Is Mr. Forrest too tired because of that?”
“Similar but different. I searched for you.”
Oliver was shocked by Forrest’s words. It sounded like nothing, but it also sounded like he knew everything.
“Do you remember the last time you and I met?”
“You asked about Mattel, and asked me if they have sponsorship programs.”
“Yes… I remember. Mr. Forrest told me to just forget, and never go against the tide.”
“There’s another. I asked you to promise me to stay out of it. You refused….. I’ll ask you again. What have you done in the last few days? By the way, if you’re going to lie, please don’t say anything. I’ll be a little sad if you did that.”
“…I went to Mattel.”
Oliver answered after much thought.
He could have pretended he didn’t know or lied, but he knew that won’t work in front of Forrest.
Above all, it seemed to be the least courtesy, to talk honestly, at least now.
After hearing the answer, Forrest closed his eyes without saying a word.
At the same time, he shone with the conflicting emotions of surprise and anticipation.
Human emotions were truly mysterious.
He drank without saying a word, then poured another drink and opened his mouth.
“I won’t ask you the details. You and I are just a Solver and a broker. But let’s just make one thing clear.”
“I am a broker who has a formal contract with you. Be sure to tell me when you do anything this big in this city. You don’t have to ask my permission, and you don’t have to obey me, but please give me a heads-up. Only then I can prepare to respond accordingly….. I have staff who depend on me.”
Forrest spoke with a glow of rationality, a little anger, restraint, and relief.
It was certainly true.
Oliver and Forrest have a formal contract.
Of course, they may be limited to work, but in some cases, what Oliver does might indirectly affect Forrest.
It was like the case when his actions almost cost Merlin’s loan, and once again Oliver felt he had been too careless this time.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Forrest… I won’t let this happen in the future.”
“Well, that’s fine. But, one more question. How was your trip to Mattel Lab? Will there be any more trouble?”
Oliver replied, recalling the words of Merlin.
“I don’t think there will be…. I’ll make sure to let you know if anything happens. I promise.”
“Hmm… that’s good. Have a seat.”
As if he had finally relaxed, Forrest asked Oliver to sit down.
Given the behavior and emotional state, it seemed that this was the end of the topic.
As Oliver sat down, Forrest dried his face by rubbing between his eyes.
He looked very tired, nevertheless, he returned to his original form, locked the buttons, and straightened the wrinkles on his clothes.
“You look very tired.”
“I can’t say no.”
“I apologize again.”
“It’s not necessarily because of you, so you don’t have to.”
“I have to worry about other things as well. And it has to do with what you have to do next.”
“Yes, do you read newspapers?”
Oliver nodded. After taking on Edith’s job, he regularly bought and read newspapers.
“Well, then do you know about the Kell Liberation Army?”
Oliver pondered for a moment. He thought he saw it somewhere.
“……Yes, it was said that it’s a force that the Empire’s army subdued recently… That’s all I know.”
Oliver said it plainly. It was something that happened outside Landa and it was something of relatively less interest.
“I’m glad that you’ve at least heard of it. Kell Liberation Army, simply put, it’s an army that fights for the independence of Northland.”
“Yes, we call it Northland, but they call themselves the Kell. That’s why it’s called the Kell Liberation Army.”
“Um… I see.”
“Yes. It’s been 100 years since Northland was annexed into the British Empire, and they’re still resisting. Anyway, you have to know one thing– they’re persistent.”
Forrest was filled with admiration.
“Why are you talking about them?”
“You said that earlier, didn’t you? The Kell Liberation Army was subdued by the Empire’s Army.”
“But they didn’t take care of everything perfectly. As in any war, some somehow escaped.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes, but it’s not a big deal. Most ordinary soldiers face the wall of reality and return to their hometowns in despair, or hide in the city and just live like that. But the problem is the executives. They’re like seeds that we don’t know when they might sprout. So the Empire is eager to chase after them.”
“And, they think some of them came to Landa here.”
“Yeah, it’s not that weird. Surprisingly, not only domestic but also foreign countries have a lot of fugitives coming here to Landa. Since Landa is the largest city in the world, it’s easy to hide and access information because there are many people. But most of all, it’s a free city with autonomy, so even the Empire’s army can’t come in recklessly.”
“Um, I see.”
“Of course, the parliament and the city council argue over it every year. Well, just understand each other’s position. The Empire wants to root out Kell army executives, Landa does not want its hard-earned autonomy infringed.”
“It must be hard for each other.”
Oliver spoke without much thought. It was something he didn’t know well, and something he had the least interest in, so he did not care or sympathize with it.
In contrast to Oliver, Forrest had a different mindset.
“Then here’s the problem. What should they do to reach an agreement in an appropriate way without conflict between those with different goals?”
As Oliver tried to answer that he did not know, he fell into thought for a moment.
Oliver wanted to know the world quite seriously now.
Then it was necessary to try to know about these problems even if he was not interested right now.
So he thought about it.
“Wait a minute. Can you wait for me to think?”
How to satisfy both the Empire which wants to chase and subdue the enemy and the city which wants to protect Landa’s autonomy at the same time?
Oliver answered after much thought.
“…is the city going to catch the people the Empire wants?”
“That’s the answer.”
replied Forrest, nodding his head.
“Of course, the city also has things to take care of, so they don’t always work for them, but when a big event like this takes place, they have to show their cooperation, so they arrest some big names.”
“…Is it the Solvers who should arrest those big names?”
“Yes, you are surprising me today.”
With those words, Forrest held out a file.
Inside, there was a bundle of documents with black and white photos and brief information about the Kell Liberation army executives.
Oliver ran through the papers.
“12 million, 80 million, 95 million, 250 million… Everyone has a lot of bounty on their heads.”
“From the Empire’s point of view, they’re officially rebels, so that’s enough price. There are wizards and Warlocks among them. There are some guys who attack the Empire troops by themselves. Considering that, it’s not necessarily a lot.”
“Um… I see.”
Oliver nodded convincingly. No matter how much money you have, there is only one life.
“…so they leave it to the Solvers because it’s dangerous?”
“There is that, but there are other reasons as well. Those kinds of fugitives hide themselves in Districts X, Y, and Z. It’s hard for cops to get in there. Rather, it may be harder because they are cops.”
Oliver didn’t quite understand. It was hard to get in because they’re cops.
‘Is it because it’s a lawless area that was out of the city’s control?’
“What are you thinking?”
Forrest asked, looking at Oliver.
“No, it’s nothing.”
“Anyway, all the people who have requested cooperation from the city are obliged to catch the executives on the file. Of course, you’re one of them.”
At first glance, it could be seen as unfair, but it was not so strange when thought of as cleaning the contamination zone.
It was because of this kind of cooperation that the brokers union benefited to some extent in Landa.
“Can I know why they nominated me?”
As if he knew about this in advance, Forrest replied with clear eyes without being uncomfortable or tilting his head.
“The official reason is they don’t want to give it to a person who would mess it up. They want to leave it to someone who’s reliable.”
It was not an unconvincing answer.
It would be safe from the city’s point of view to entrust the work to a small number of people with proper skills, rather than to raise the vigilance of wanted criminals by increasing the number of people. but..… .
“…what is the unofficial reason?”
“I heard city officials are preparing for some project.”
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