Save a slave named Shion from Lord Raizen's territory.
That was the trigger; There wouldn't be a moment riper than this. There were no security cameras in my room: it was perfect. The play I've been orchestrating so far was about to crescendo. Luciel watched.
"What is it, Kei-sama?"
I made an evil grin.
"What is your relation to Lord Raizen?"
"You won't be able to lie to me. You must tell me the whole truth if I ask you as per the [Contract]. You can't break it either, that has to be done 7 days in advance."
Flustered by the sudden attack, she slightly took steps backward. But, she couldn't run, that would violate the inviolable [Contract] magic. She had to tell the truth to me now that I asked.
"Shall I finish what you're thinking right now?"
"What does she know? Why now of all times?"
Her face drained pale. I need to inspire as much fear and powerlessness as possible for the effect I'm aiming for.
"Come on, say it."
I tried being a bit more forceful.
"Y-Yes, Kei-sama. I am a spy for Lord Raizen sent to monitor the Kyuris."
"As I figured."
I pulled out a recorder that's been carefully taping the entire conversation thus far and showed her. Her eyes shine blank with terror as she crumples to the ground.
"This confession, what would happen if I showed my parents?"
Her face was cramped in confused agony.
"I'll answer your questions now for you, I need you to understand your situation after all. First, why did I suspect you of being a spy? It was pretty obvious actually. I knew that I was going to get a personal servant sooner or later, but what stirred suspicion was the fact that you were chosen. First of all, my dad told me to act friendly to you--when I was 4 and you were first introduced. This would allow you to become my personal maid in a natural way, he was aiming for that result."
"Just because of that, you became weary? Weren't you only 4 when that happened!?"
"Just because I was 4, does that mean I couldn't be cautious?"
"This was your big mistake, Tania. You underestimated me. Your fondness of children blinds you to their potential. 'This is how children should behave.' 'This is what children are capable of.' You labeled me pointlessly. When I asked for the condition of you to always tell the whole truth, you accepted it. You probably thought, 'What's the worst a child could ask?' It would probably be fine, or so you thought. But, at any time, the one question I started off this talk with now could've ended it all for you if asked. You didn't think that through, you should exercise caution even if your opponent seems to be harmless and incapable. Anyways, with the condition I set, I could unearth your secrets and glean personal information bit by bit as well."
"You set up a trap like that when we first met...?"
Her stomach twisted. What are you? her face seemed to say. I continued on.
"I thought you were suspicious, but I didn't know the details. So, I decided to look a bit further. I could easily find your application to be my maid in my dad's files and so I did. Sifting through it, the first thing that popped out to me was your recommendation for outstanding service by Lord Raizen. That in itself is suspicious.
Why is someone like you getting away with such a big shot's recommendation? What happened in those 4 years you worked there to warrant such an attitude? This connection began my worries of you being a spy of Lord Raizen. Anyways, looking at the application overall, considering age and the written notes for your interview, the result for admission was clear knowing how my parents act. You would 100% fail to land the job.
My parents are sticklers when it comes to their children, they wouldn't accept anything less than perfection. So, why did they accept you? The only reason I can think of is your relation to Lord Raizen. But, why would my parents care if someone was recognized by another noble? They don't have a say in our family, do they now? You're exactly right, they don't. Unless there are more to the relations between Raizens and Kyuris than what meets the eye: secret relations."
It doesn't seem like she knows. I'll leave that aside for now.
"Now, tell me the whole truth, Tania. Why are you working as a spy for Lord Raizen? I doubt it's pay, and knowing your personality from our time together, you wouldn't do this of your own volition. You value yourself and what's close to you dearly. So, I surmise that you are being blackmailed by Lord Raizen. It's a guess though.
What secrets do you have? I don't believe you would commit crimes worthy of hiding, or make a stupidly disadvantageous [Contract], and you don't seem to be someone who would be in possession of something super valuable. So, one thing remains."
"What are you trying to say?"
"I deduce that a family member--your sister is being held, hostage by Lord Raizen. You, in an attempt to ensure her safety, are working as a spy against the Kyuris. He's controlling you through these threats and forces, that's why someone like you will work for someone like him."
It might be a close friend who's held hostage instead, though I don't think Tania's normally closed heart would allow such a deep friendship.
"This was another one of your misses. You allowed me to ask all those personal questions and get closer to you, thereby allowing me to collect information efficiently. Being a child really has its perks of loosening the defenses of adults. Anyways, I want to hear you say it with your own mouth."
I smirked and pointed to the recorder while giving her some room to breathe and collect her speech. Stuttering slightly and understanding, she spoke,
"I, Tania Taru, am a spy for Lord Raizen to monitor the Kyuris. My sister was threatened to be killed if I didn't. I had the necessary stealth and acting skill which is what Lord Raizen thought was valuable for this mission and the reason I was chosen. It was enough for me to be blackmailed due to the quality and because he knew I wouldn't take on the role if I was asked normally. In the end, I was made to agree to a [Contract]. The conditions were to spy on the Kyuris by becoming Kei Kyuri's personal maid until Lord Raizen no longer needed it, and my sister would stay safe in the meantime."
Her acting skill was nicely shown by the way she conducted herself over the years as a perfect personal servant of mine. I gave a satisfied look.
Her voice grew deathly weak now.
"What is going to happen to me?"
"Well, I have your fate in my hands. If I send this recording and edit it to only your confession, you'll be punished. Lord Raizen will find out, and the [Contract] to keep your sister safe will be null as your job would've been lost."
Haha, it's me doing the blackmailing now. Her eyes began watering.
"So, are you going to do that?"
"I have a better plan."
"A new [Contract], one that will make the old imposed one meaningless. You will obey my every command, no matter what it is."
"If that's what it takes to save my sister, I accept."
You should be more cautious, well, I got what I wanted. In spite of this, I didn't feel any magicule change; The [Contract] was unsuccessful. Did the magic itself recognize this as an unfair trade? I guess I have to put more on the line, well, I have that leeway.
"Let me say something a bit more. With this, I'll definitely save your sister from Lord Raizen. By that I mean I'll physically get her out of there. You won't have to worry about his influence over you anymore."
She is definitely alive due to the [Contract] imposed on Tania. Anyways, about saving her sister, the old Tania would've vehemently rejected the idea, saying that it was impossible for me to do that. But, if I inspired the right feelings and pushed the right buttons this whole time, she should be hoping. She will think that I might have a chance, that it might be possible. I need to appeal my value, that's why I'm unloading this all right now. I need her to see that I have the ability, even if it means revealing my true nature. It won't matter once she's sworn complete loyalty anyway.
"My sister can be saved?"
She had jeweled tears in her eyes.
"K-Kei-sama, please, save my sister!"
I grinned at the new [Contract] established.
"First things first, you can't tell anyone about the conversation that just happened. Don't worry, your sister will be safe."
Now then, I have a perfectly subservient pawn. One with an inviolable [Contract] holding her neck.
At the moment of attack, you speak the words that turn everything around. Without time to think, they are precisely converted and dyed my own true colors.
Anyways, the ultimate goal is covertly infiltrating Lord Raizen's territory to extract important people. This is why I thought it was the perfect moment to take control of Tania. It would be killing two birds with one stone with both saving her sister and Luciel's first assignment. It all really comes back to efficiency, what a troublesome life I lead indeed.
Though I couldn't see Luciel due to her lack of presence, I could imagine her chuckling away. I believe there is one more person I need to save too...
"Good, now, I've pretty much defined Lord Raizen's nature. To put it bluntly, he's a scumbag who uses other people as tools for himself. He rules with self-interest as well. Looking at the economic history and rumors of the Raizens over time, you can make out a recent decline with his taking of the head position.
He seems to like to blackmail others, getting their valuables and turning them into his weapons; He brings despair to those he enwraps his hands around. His servants, whenever I saw them, had no light in their eyes as if they were forced to even live. I wonder what they were threatened with. Oh, and he's probably working with my dad too."
These are the secret relations I spoke of. I believe they only apply to Shin Kyuri.
"What? Shin-sama too?"
"Who were you accepted by as my personal maid that convinced my mother that you were a good choice by telling me ahead of time to make a friendly interaction? Who seemingly interacts with Lord Raizen the most from here?"
When I went into the house's cellar and met the old merchantman, why was he imprisoned for such an unfitting reason made by my dad? It didn't seem to be a lie, I can usually see through those things. So, why would he do something so out of character? It was because it wasn't his decision, but Lord Raizen's decision against the merchant for some reason. This set some hypothetical power dynamics in my head, but my first meeting with the person himself solidified it.
"When I saw my dad and Lord Raizen, my dad was fidgety and overly courteous. After hearing all the information, I know that there's a good chance my dad has been blackmailed too."
"Then, if that's true, what is your dad being blackmailed with?"
"He isn't dumb enough to make a disadvantageous [Contract], nor is he the kind of person to bear an unforgivable crime that had to be covered up. In fact, he's too nice to even be considered for that: a pushover. He isn't in dire straits economically, so what could be kept from him? This is once again, like your situation. His close relations were likely being threatened. I thought maybe a friend was held hostage until I asked my dad about his family.
He said he had a sister, and when I asked where she was, he dodged the question. I could be assuming things here, but it's likely that she is the one being threatened to keep him under control to that extent. I wonder how she got into the hands of Lord Raizen. Well, that's that. Anyways, my dad probably couldn't fight back even though he has power. Even if an army marched into their territory, what he wants might be easily snuffed out in an instant meaning it's not reasonable, to begin with."
"So, it's the same type of situation."
"We'll save both his sister and yours, don't worry."
I have a plan.