Tuesday, December 27, 2022 @

Chapter 37, Part 2

 Danjo-dai... proper name is one of the government agencies established during the period of the Ritsuryo system in Japan in the actual history. It was established as an agency to investigate and monitor the government, but its actual authority was limited due to opposition from the court nobles and other ministries that did not want to interfere, and it is said that it became an honorable position early on due to the establishment of the Kebiishi (police and judicial chief).
 Of course, this is the Danjo-dai in authentic history. Naturally, the Imperial Court in this world has a completely different history from its establishment to the modern day, with the same proper nouns, but a different position and authority.
 Judicial organizations in Fusō-kuni can be broadly classified into three: the Ministry of Justice, Kebiishi-Cho (the office of the police and judicial chief), and Danjo-dai, which have existed side by side.
 The Ministry of Justice is in charge of the enactment, review, and enforcement of laws in the territories under the direct control of the Imperial Court, as well as trials and punishment of the people. It can be thought of as an organization that combines the Ministry of Justice, courts, and prisons in real life.
 The Ministry of Justice has almost no armed forces apart from prisoners. On the other hand, the one in charge of searching for and arresting criminals is the Kebiishi-Cho (the office of the police and judicial chief). Think of it as a police force under the direct control of the Imperial Court.
 Compared to the above two organizations, the Danjo-dai is smaller in number, but in a sense, it is the most fearsome organization.
 The Danjo-dai is in charge of auditing, supervising, and investigating the internal ministries of the Imperial Court, the nobles, feudal lords, exorcists, some wealthy merchants and powerful families, and their related parties. This institution, which is involved in political matters due in part to its targets, therefore often conducts brutal 'interrogations' when necessary.
 To be more precise, since Fusō-kuni has a strict status system, it is not advisable to use force to 'interrogate' those in power. Therefore, in reality, their sharp fangs are often bared against their related persons, so-called subordinates or vassals. In the original game, depending on the route, the heroine or the main character may be victimized by them, and in some cases, the game may end badly... This is the setting in the game and the official setting book.
 And now... that 'interrogation' was to be executed on me.
 "Oh, you have a nice voice, don't you!!?"
 With that voice, the young man who had been called Iruka smiled with a smile of cruelty and further tied up the ropes that bound me to my body. This is not a rope with the protection of spiritual power blocking that restrains my limbs, but an ordinary rope. It is literally a torture rope, a method of binding for torture. The rough surface of the rope bites and chops at the flesh, and the pressure impedes blood flow and constricts the lungs.
 ...For information, in the original game, by completing certain events, there is a scene in which the overweight homosexual torturers bind the main character naked in turtle shell bondage, torture him on a triangular wooden horse, and finally, drugged and degraded him, sell him to a brothel and turn him into a male prostitute, which is described in unnecessary detail with abundant stills. There is even a traumatic bad ending that is described in great detail...
 "Agggghh!!? Agggghh!? Ugh..."
 My body was tightened so much that I drooped down, screaming like a chicken just before it was strangled. Naturally, I was in a lot of pain all over my body, and my senses were starting to go numb.
 (Haha, I'm going to go crazy if I don't think of something, even if it's a boring thing...)
 Such torture. It could make me lose my mind if I didn't think of something to distract myself from the pain against the onslaught that may or may not end anytime soon.
 How much time had passed since I had been tortured without understanding what was going on? My sense of time is so uncertain that it is hard to tell. Maybe not much time has passed. The question is...
 (...what... do they want?)
 My face is downcast and my expression is weak with fatigue, but my brain is frantically thinking.
 Unfortunately, what they are trying to get out of me is still a mystery. They are torturing me from the very beginning without asking me any questions. It means that they do not trust what I say from the beginning, and they are trying to get me to talk when I am mentally weak due to the pain.
 "Okay. This one's next!"
 I let out a scream of fear as I saw what was about to happen when a bucket of water was placed in front of me.
 "Oh? Aren't you perceptive? Well, you've been through something like this before, so it's only natural. Yeah?"
 Abusive words and the water torture begins without mercy. Resistance was futile with the restrained body.
 The first torture lasted for fifty minutes or more. I was yanked out of the bucket full of cold water by my hair and allowed only a few breaths. The torture resumes immediately. Sixty this time, seventy the next...
 The water torture increased by 10 seconds for the sixth time, that is, I was submerged in the bucket of water until I counted to a hundred, and I coughed again and again as I was brought back to the surface. Then someone sits down in front of me, dizzy, and asks me.
 "Now I have a question. Did you participate in the recent request to exterminate youkai in the underground tunnels, is that correct?"
 The words were strangely enough in my head. I nodded my head a few times.
 "The request was from the chairman of the Tachibana Trading Company, Tachibana Hibiki. Isn't that right?"
 I nodded my head again in my hazy consciousness. Yes, it was Tachibana Hibiki's proposal to Gorilla, I believe.
 "According to the report, the one who was hiding in the underground tunnels was the infamous youkai mother. Is that true?"
 I nodded. I reported it to Gorilla, and so did Murasaki Ako, who was also hiding in the underground tunnels, on the spot. Whether it is true or false is up to the higher-ups, but since we have already reported it as such, there is no point in denying it here.
 "...but it is a lie. In reality, the youkai that Tachibana Hibiki had been keeping in secret in the underground tunnels escaped, and he was busy disposing of them, isn't that right?"
 "Ah... Huh?"
 For a moment I almost nodded my head, but I stopped myself just before I understood the meaning of his words. At the same time, a tongue-lashing sounded out of nowhere. And then, I was plunged face-first into the tub of water.
 "Blub!!? Cough!! Blub, blub...!!?"
 "Lying is not good. You should tell the truth as a good citizen. That's the basis of morality, isn't it?"
 The man who interrogates me, neither mocking nor belittling me, says this matter-of-factly.
 "Don't you think it's too plausible? A youkai monster's mother hiding out in the underground tunnel? It's ridiculous, isn't it? Why would such a bigwig have been hiding so quietly for so many years?"
 He pulls me by the hair and I look up from the water.
 "And don't you think it's too plausible that this past summer a whole convoy of the Trading Company was attacked by a bunch of fox monsters? There are countless lines of merchants traveling in and out of the capital. Why would they attack the Tachibana merchants who have many guards? It seems that Kizuki's people have come to the rescue, just as they did in the capital. It's as if they knew they were going to be attacked from the beginning."
 The man, Ryuuto looks into my face, into my eyes. Then he narrows his eyes and says.
 "Well, shall we continue the investigation? Let's uncover the secret of the treacherous Tachibana Trading Company together and expose justice to the light of day. As a good citizen of Fuso-kuni."
 I knew that those words were not a true search for the truth. But more than that, I got a strange feeling from the way he said it, a cynical and sarcastic tone that made me feel uncomfortable. And then I think back to one of the bad endings of the original game. It's so ridiculous. I think it was...
 "Sob... Sob... Uuu..."
 My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a little girl crying. At the same time, I remembered. I remember my job...
 "That's it, aren't you thirsty? Drink this up...!"
 But I couldn't afford to worry about such things. After all, hell has just begun. With the abuse thrown at me, the water torture started for what seemed like the umpteenth time. My doubts and discomfort, however, fade away before I can contemplate them... before the agony of the lack of oxygen, there's the pain of the rope and the fear...
* * *
 The man... Ryuuto stared with emotionless eyes at the sight of the half-naked man bound in front of him and suffering continually. To him, this gruesome scene of torture did not move him in the slightest.
 "...He has a surprisingly strong heart. I heard that servants have weak willpower."
 "Yeah, that's the way it's been with the guys we've 'worked' with since I started doing this kind of work. And this one is surprising, it's unexpected."
 Ryuuto consults with Kamui, who is standing beside him, whispering to each other in a low voice. The original plan was just to kidnap a little girl... but now they have to go through all this trouble because they have a more important job to do.
 "It's not so difficult if it's just about extracting the memories accurately, but it's tricky to make sure he doesn't break."
 If it were just a kidnapping, the two who had successfully infiltrated the capital would have been enough... but because of an order, it became necessary to summon their compatriots, Iruka, who had successfully infiltrated the Danjo-dai for this purpose.
 "...And what about the old man? For this change of plan? Even though it's an order from that monster, wouldn't it be a problem if he suddenly intervened and changed the plan? That old geezer, wasn't he worried about his face for nothing?"
 "I heard that he was able to persuade him. As expected, he hasn't aged well. To win over a profitable merchant so easily... being an official is a frightening lot."
 "Well, well... is it the advantage of age, then? A monster with a sharp intellect is a very troublesome thing."
 Kamui let out a laugh that bordered on a sneer. Ryuuto read the irony in his tone. This fellow seemed to have been influenced unwittingly since he had infiltrated the Fuso-kuni.
 "So? What are you going to do with that brat? Should we just give her to the old man?"
 Kamui takes one look at the foreign-looking girl bound hand and foot in the corner of the room and asks his leader.
 "No, keep her on hand. The more cards we can cut, the better. We can use her as a hostage, and we can watch her step if we make her impatient."
 Kamui says to Ryuuto, "That's a terrible thing to say with a calm face." He then said he would check outside and left the room.
 Ryuuto glanced at his compatriot's back. Then, as if remembering, he ordered Iruka to pause the torture. He did this so that Iruka would not accidentally kill the man with the torture, which was becoming more and more extreme as he took his eyes off of him. Still, he then resumes his questioning of the coughing and suffering young man in the same nonchalant manner as before.
 ...However, at the same time, a bee shikigami perched on the ceiling wall and observed the situation in the room.
 The bee with an inorganic eye, which does not seem to be a living thing, calmly and coolly continues to watch the scene of the miserable torture being carried out in front of its eyes, without any emotion.
 "...it's strange."
 Shikigami, or more precisely, the exorcist's girl who is watching the situation through her vision, narrowed her eyes and muttered quietly. And then, the shikigami continued to watch the scene that made her want to look away...

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