PHA - Chapter 70 - You Can't Avoid Trouble
"This is my home."
"What familiar words these are."
This was the second time Rosa was forced to bring Alice to her house, so she felt very stressed. The person following her was the Hero, after all. Moreover, she even knew an unspeakable secret about the Hero. Unfortunately, she couldn't use this secret to threaten Alice at all.
This was the Hero they were talking about, after all. Rosa didn't even need to think about what consequences would await her should she try to threaten the Hero. At that time, not only would she fail to gain any benefits from Alice, but she might even get exiled to the border. From the rumors she heard, the border was the place where the human and demon realms met. Meanwhile, anyone who got exiled there would be forced to grow potatoes in the freezing land there for the rest of their lives.
"Why did you come looking for me again?" Rosa asked as she dejectedly sat down on the new chair she had bought. "If you only want underwear, you could buy plenty as the Hero."
After thinking it over, Rosa added, "If you are only looking for worn female underwear, it should be easy for you to get them as well."
"What kind of person do you take me for?" Alice felt a little exasperated as she looked at Rosa. Did this fellow think she was here to steal her panties again? "I'm here to ask you about something."
"Ask me about something?"
Rosa was momentarily stunned. Then, she quickly realized that Alice had come here this time for her previous identity as a thief. After all, the thief profession was something that required one to travel around many places. So, any capable thief should have a large information network. Personally, Rosa felt that she had been a relatively successful thief since she managed to get involved with even a demon realm smuggling team. Thus, she didn't find it strange that Alice was coming to her for information.
"That's right. I'll be heading to Holl City in a few days. I'll also be meeting with the Gryffin King," Alice said, not bothering to conceal her tracks. It wasn't a worthwhile secret, anyway. Anyone with a little brain would know that the Hero would have to meet with the human kings sooner or later. "So, I'm here to ask you about the Gryffin King. What kind of person is Chris Hatter?"
"You could've easily found this information on the internet," Rosa said, feeling a little confused. Did Alice deliberately seek her out just to ask about such a small matter?
"I know that the latest political news and Chris Hatter's political experience are published on the internet, but what I want to know is the criticisms people hold toward him. I can't find any useful comments on the internet," Alice said, shaking her head. The information she sought wasn't the formal information published on the internet. Instead, she wanted to know what the Gryffin Kingdom's citizens thought of their king. It would be even better if Rosa knew some unspeakable secrets about the Gryffin King. "Have you heard anything about Chris Hatter when you were still active as a thief? I'm talking about things that can't be searched on the internet."
"Chris Hatter, huh… Now that you mention it, everything on the internet about him is indeed filled with flowery praises. However, it is also a fact that he has managed the Gryffin Kingdom very well," Rosa said after thinking over Alice's question. "At the very least, he has shown no signs of corruption on paper. Although there are rumors saying that he had used dirty tactics when competing for the position of king, these are only guesses. Nobody knows what dirty tactics he used exactly. There is no way such information will remain circulating on the internet, either."
"On paper?" Alice noticed the emphasis on Rosa's words, so she quickly asked, "What about in practice?"
"In practice...Chris Hatter might have some mental problems."
After hesitating for a moment, Rosa obediently confessed what she knew to Alice.
Perhaps those with extraordinary courage might dare to use Alice's secret to threaten her, but Rosa wasn't one of those people. She was only a person who sought to live a peaceful life, and threatening a Hero was a little too stimulating for her. Thus, not only did she not dare to threaten Alice, but she even behaved as if Alice was threatening her. If an outsider were to look at this situation, they might even think that Alice had gotten ahold of Rosa's secret and used it as blackmail.
Alice was a little surprised. This was not something she expected to hear. Based on her research, the Gryffin Kingdom looked to be well managed. The comments netizens had for Chris Hatter were mostly positive as well. Had Chris Hatter's rule been terrible, there was no way the kingdom could suppress the netizens' negative comments even if it wanted to. There were bound to be some sarcastic comments slipping past the kingdom's censorship. However, the fact that Alice failed to find even such comments showed that the Gryffin Kingdom's citizens acknowledged Chris Hatter as their king.
Yet, Rosa was now saying that this king had mental problems?
"It is only a guess, but yes. Chris Hatter has previously commissioned the kingdom's thieves to search for magicians talented in mental magic. He has also hired many mental magic professors to help him," Rosa said, nodding. She felt that this wasn't a secret worth hiding. After all, almost everyone operating in the kingdom's circle of thieves knew about this matter. Only, the kingdom's thieves wouldn't share this information with the public, so one wouldn't be able to find any related information on the internet. "Initially, we simply thought that Chris Hatter was researching mental magic. However, later on, some of us noticed that almost all of the mental magicians that have entered the palace would be dismissed in a state of mental breakdown."
"If they were merely doing research, there's no way they would end up in such a state, right?"
After hearing Rosa's words, Alice felt that her decision to seek out Rosa was correct. If she had simply believed in the comments she saw on the internet, she would've never found out about such a secret.
"Mhm. While the thief profession might not be upright, many of us value loyalty. After seeing the mental magicians ending up in such a state, the thieves that introduced these magicians to the palace naturally investigated the cause," Rosa continued. "After investigating and asking around, they found that the reason why these magicians had suffered a mental breakdown was because the thing they were asked to research was Chris Hatter's mind."
"Chris Hatter hired people to research his own mind? That's interesting."
This was akin to asking someone to perform brain surgery on yourself. By letting a bunch of mental magicians study his mind, Chris Hatter was basically opening up his mind to these magicians and letting them inspect and research it. These magicians might even have free access to his memories. This was an incredibly risky action. If even one of these magicians had ill intentions, Chris Hatter might suffer irreparable damage to his mind and possibly become a vegetable.
These things were considered common knowledge in this world. Alice had also read up on these topics when she was browsing the internet before. However, in the articles she read, such procedures were typically only used on patients verified to have mental illnesses. She never thought that Chris Hatter would actually hire so many mental magicians to carry out such a procedure on himself.
"Which is why we think that Chris Hatter's mind might have a huge problem," Rosa said. "However, at the end of the day, these are merely guesses. Thus far, Chris Hatter has not shown any mental abnormality in public. His management of the kingdom is also thorough and positive. So, you should just treat this as a rumor and don't take it too seriously."
Alice caressed her chin, a meaningful look appearing on her face.
"I already told you everything I know," Rosa said, shrugging when she saw Alice's pondering look. "If you wish to learn more, you'll have to ask the thieves or magicians directly related to this matter."
"Alright, then. Thanks."
Alice nodded in satisfaction. She hadn't originally planned to receive such useful information when she came to find Rosa. She merely wanted to hear what opinions a thief like Rosa had toward the Gryffin King. So, it was a pleasant surprise that she got to hear such a juicy piece of information.
However, despite her satisfaction, Alice did not forget to replenish her ammunition stockpile, asking:
"By the way, you brought your underwear over when you moved houses, right?"
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