There’s a time where I had these sorts of hopes.
There’s a chance that it was because I didn’t try hard enough. There’s a chance that everything could have changed if I had done a bit better. There’s a chance that I wouldn’t be bullied anymore. There’s a chance that my uncle and aunt wouldn’t fight anymore. There’s a chance that Miyeong wouldn’t hate me. Like so, there’s a chance that we could have become a decent family one day. If endeavored. If I just worked hard enough.
There’s a time where I had these sorts of hopes.
There’s a chance that maybe, one day, all of this misfortune will be over. There’s a chance that my father could one day suddenly come back alive. There’s a chance that I could find a bag with a hundred million won inside of it while on a walk. There’s a chance that Chanmi could miraculously receive a revelation and apologize for everything wrong she had done to me. There’s a chance that Miyeong could one day stand in front of Chanmi’s gang and declare that ‘I won’t let you harass my older cousin anymore’. If I’m fortunate. If there is a day that fortune comes to me.
With an unparalleled righteous mind, if a transfer student, who isn’t hindered by any sorts of obstacles, were to one day arrive.
There’s a time where I had these sorts of irresponsible hopes.
Suppressing your ability to vent your emotions is a painful thing to do. Even more so if that emotion is anger.
No matter how much profit you’re able to obtain in the long-run by suppressing your emotions, no matter how much you’re able to calculate it, it will not lessen your pain. Even more so if you’re trying to appeal yourself and laugh while in front of a person who’s trying to ignore your existence. That is as painful for the person as it is difficult for anyone to imagine that person, who’d normally never do such a thing, would actually do it. Since I was well aware of this fact, I decided to praise Sii.
“Miss Sii, you did very well earlier.”
“Yujin, we got her weakness! If it’s the Black Dragon Street, then it’s those thieves. How could she call those sort of people here and share a secret conversation with them!? We should quickly spread this and make Her Excellency······.”
I praised her too soon. I glanced around our surroundings⎯⎯⎯we were in Sii’s room along with Ariya⎯⎯⎯checked our state of security, and spoke.
“Please calm down. Although I had a similar thought when she had summoned Borg, no matter how much I think about it, this isn’t a big case. It can neither be used to threaten nor can it be used to make an exchange with her.”
“Mm~~ is that the case? But Her Excellency said to keep it a secret.”
“Since it can become ever so slightly bothersome. To the Earl, it’d be to the degree of being bitten by a bug. Compared to that, if news about this were to spread, then, although we would also be bitten by that same bug, that bug would most likely be similar to a beetle that’s the size of a fist. She isn’t a person who would forgive anyone that tries to maliciously start a fight with her authority.”
“But Yujin always talks as if you’re trying to provoke her. You even talk informally. Honestly, whenever I watch you do that, my heart pounds.”
“There’s a trick.” I shifted to speaking in this world’s language. “Rather than that, the thing that’s more important right now is the investigation on these Sky Eaters⎯⎯⎯Gongshik(空蝕, Burst Irradiater)”
As you can tell by the chuunibyou style Chinese characters name and the English name, this was a name that the Silver Lion Earl had made but it suited them rather well. Sii made an audible thinking sound.
“Her Excellency said to help the guards······ are you planning to go now?”
“Yes. Thanks to the Earl, I was also able to gather the missing puzzle pieces.”
“I will explain it soon. Wait a moment. Let me prepare a bit.”
I spoke while looking at my iPad. Sii leaned her head towards me from the side and tilted her head.
“What do you mean by prepare······ ah, the character sheets. Are you renewing them?”
“Yes. We also met Borg this time. These sorts of things can’t be delayed and must be done as soon as possible. I’m nearly done······ Okay. Now then, look at this.”
I showed the screen that had appeared on the iPad to Sii.
“······? Weird lines?”
“It’s a spectrogram.” I continued after switching to this world’s language. “Everyone has a different voice, right? That’s because the respective shape of everyone’s vocal chords is different. In other words, we can analyze a voice and make an assumption on who the owner of that voice is. This is one of the technologies from my world.”
“Mm~~ that’s amazing.”
Sii stared at the screen with eyes filled to the brim with curiosity. Ariya also glanced slightly at the iPad screen.
“To analyze a voice and change it into a form that can be visibly seen. How interesting. So, whose voice are we looking at now?”
“Gongshik. The voice of the masked maid who was standing in the front.”
Ariya was slightly startled, but Sii was extremely startled.
“Eck!? W-Where? How!?”
“Do you think there would be no hidden cameras in the places we reside in?”
“Then, also······ the thing······ I, said to Yujin······ last time?”
“Related to the prince······ that······ thing. A video.”
“I have it.”
Sii became red and started to hit my shoulder.
“Mm~! Uu~~! Uuuuuuu~~!!”
I understood her feelings, but it really did hurt. Sii’s strength was abnormally powerful. Nevertheless, if I said something like ‘Should I delete it?’, then my face will probably be blown away instead of my shoulder. That’s why I stayed still. Honestly, a person who ends up filming a girl’s confession and decides to preserve the video deserves to be hit.
Fortunately, Ariya had grabbed Sii’s wrist before my shoulder could become dislocated.
“I don’t know what’s the matter, but calm down. It seems something related to you must have been recorded, but don’t you only say embarrassing things anyway?”
“No, I don’t! And even if I did! I’m! Also a girl!”
“Fair Grace, does that mean you can find out who the person is with just a voice analysis?”
“Don’t ignore me~!”
Sii clung onto Ariya with a tearful face and shook her. I nodded.
“Yeah. As long as I have enough samples, I can find out whether they’re the culprit or not with a 100% accuracy.”
Those words were far from the truth. Even a spectrogram that had been analyzed at the National Institute of Scientific Investigation, while using the greatest equipment in the nation and by the best researchers, would still end up being nothing more than circumstantial evidence. You can’t prosecute someone with just this and it won’t be selected as formal evidence even in the court of law. Let alone, even if I could make spectrograms with this shoddy application, it’s impossible for me to determine who the owner of that voice is with a 100% accuracy.
However⎯⎯⎯there was no need for me to tell these two this fact.
Especially now, there was no need for me to tell these two more.
“Is that so······.”
Ariya fell into thought with her hand pressed against her mouth. Sii was then finally able to regain her composure and she puffed out her chest.
“Then that means it’s over, right!? So who is it? Is it really a person from within the castle? A maid?”
“Not yet. I need to gather more samples in order to be certain. The maid in the back also didn’t utter even a single line.”
“Mm~~ I see. Then why are you looking at it right now?”
“I’m just confirming it. I’ll have to show this to the guards when I go to them after all.”
I spoke while packing up the iPad and some electronic pieces of equipment. Sii glanced at her arm that had once been cut off before looking at me hesitantly.
“Do you plan to go now? It’s already late into the night······.”
Since we had ended up in this situation while I was giving my routine report to the Earl, it was in the middle of the night now. I shrugged.
“Well, we can skip out on the maid work tomorrow with this. Miss Sii will be going along with me.”
“Eck!? B-But, she didn’t say anything about me······.”
“Miss Sii is also one of the people who was assaulted and the Earl herself said that this was important, so there is a good cause. I’ve said it before, but I won’t leave you by yourself until that arm is completely healed.”
Sii’s face became dyed red. Ariya shut an eye.
“The fact that you had said all of that in this world’s language must mean that I’ll be going along with you.”
“Yup. You’re related to the incident as well and you’re also our escort. We’ll be in your care.”
“That is fine by me, however, Fair Grace, if you intend to go to the guards right this instant, may I go a bit later? I have something to say to Alshi······.”
“Sure. It’s late so you can get some rest today. I should be considerate to the couple.”
Ariya’s face became scarlet. The angle which she averted her gaze was 33 degrees to the side.
Sii puffed out her cheeks.
“In any case, I don’t understand. Ariya, I’m saying this just in case, but if you lay a single finger on me, then I’ll scream.”
Ariya tilted her head at a 15 degrees angle.
“You must be insane, Sii. Even if we were the only two girls left in this world, no, in all 12 worlds, I have absolutely no intentions whatsoever to do anything that has sexual undertones towards you. If anything, you’re the one who tried to play with fire by ordering me to do something like lick your feet. Therefore, never again stick that white foot of yours towards me. Or I’ll make it so that you do scream.”
“Yujin! Order Ariya to lick my white toes! Right this instant!”
“Let us go. Miss Sii, lead the way to the guards quarters. Ariya, we’ll see you later.”
Ariya Orgit responded. Sii followed after me with puffed out cheeks.
There were two lines that stretched out with the Silver Lion Castle at their center. The waterway and the rampart. Among the two, while the rampart played the role as a gatekeeper that protected the City of Confinement from foreign enemies, it also played the role as a prison guard that prevented the citizens from moving around freely outside of the city. This job as a prison guard also had the role of dividing the internal structure of the city. From the inner rampart that encircled the Silver Lion Castle, a rampart stretched out and connected with the outer rampart that encircled the entire City of Confinement, dividing the city like a cheesecake.
The guards of the City of Confinement were monopolizing this rampart, that was stretched out like a spiderweb, as a movement route. With that reason, and also with the archaic reason of protecting the lord of the city, their headquarters had to be in the Star Tower of the Silver Lion Castle. Furthermore, they were also protecting the drying area and the generator that I had brought.
“Cres! Is the next shift’s crew not here yet!?”
“There are still 5 hours left, sir!”
“Superior Agripa, there’s a report that a fight has started in the business area······.”
“Damn it, again? Hey, didn’t we go there an hour ago? And yet they’re fighting again?”
Just as Roroa had said, even though it was late into the night, the administrative office of the guards’ headquarters was no different to a war zone. They must have received a prior notice since the moment the guards saw us, they gestured towards where the vice-captain’s room was. I carefully observed the fact that the majority of the guards were young.
“Tsk, at any rate, it’s become weird. Even if a dog has become the assistant commissioner······.”
“You idiot, don’t say that when others can hear you.”
I also listened in on these sorts of complaints.
When we entered the vice-captain’s room, we were able to see Ryungste resting his upper body on his desk while his arms were wrapped around his head.
“Mm? Ah, you are······ Erse, no, you’re Sir Mercè‘s adopted daughter. And the person next to you is Her Excellency the Earl’s, uh······.”
“Please call me Yujin.”
“Speak comfortably. It’s rather discomforting when the person who speaks informally with Her Excellency talks politely to someone like myself.”
I had no reason to decline.
“Ehem. Roroa is currently absent because she said that she had something to do, but she should be back soon. While we wait······ should I make the orderly brew up some tea?”
“I’ll accept that generosity.”
An orderly with a sassy face set down a cup of tea for everyone.
Only the sound of tea being sipped resonated throughout the vice-captain’s room for a while. Ryungste couldn’t endure it any longer and made a troubled face.
“Uhm, Sir Yujin. About this incident, I had, uh, completely entrusted it to Roroa······ We’ve also been completely busy recently. Of course, since I’m her superior, I’ve been receiving the basic reports, but still, as I thought, if we’re to precisely fulfill Her Excellency the Earl’s orders, then I can’t clumsily act as if I······.”
“I understand. I’ll talk to Roroa about it once she’s here. Can you tell me a bit about her until then?”
Like how anyone would normally feel when the topic had changed to something which they can talk about well, Ryungste’s tension settled down.
“She’s a good girl. She’s sincere and clever. Because of how pitifully tactless she is, this old man might end up passing on before his time, but······.”
“As you said, it’s probably like that because she’s sincere.”
“Haa, of course. She isn’t malicious by a long shot. It’s something that naturally happened when all she meant to do was work hard.”
“But if she’s the assistant commissioner, then that means she’s directly below you, right? Despite that, I feel like she’s rather young. Was she also able to move up in ranks quickly because of her sincerity? Or is it because she’s a Saber-Fang so she only appears to be young but she’s actually old?”
“It’s because of her performance, her performance. Although almost every guard, excluding myself, are young fellows, Roroa is the most outstanding out of them all.”
“It seems there are some jealous people as well.”
Ryungste’s face became slightly red.
“Ehem. There are some fellows who prejudice others just by looking at their race. Such shameful fellows. Even though when Sir Ahyeon was here······. Since they lack the skills, they look for whatever they can to bring her down. But it has actually been calmer lately. Roroa excels a lot after all. Thanks to her, it’s been easy for me as well······.”
“She really must be talented. She received the title of knight from a prince, didn’t she? That’s impressive.”
Ryungste became tense once more.
“Uh, mm······ that’s, a bit. Of course, Sir Yujin must have heard about it from Her Excellency as well, and I also agree to it fully, but······.”
“It’s fine. Speak comfortably. I’m not trying to sound you out or anything.”
“Mm, okay······ mm. It was a bit, honestly speaking, it’s true that what she did was rash. She was undoubtedly serving as a guard of the Household of the Earl, and yet she accepted a noble title from another person. Even if it was from the Orange Hawk Prince, actually, especially so since he’s just a suitor and not Her Excellency’s fiance, she should be well aware of Her Excellency’s personality, really······.”
If even Ryungste thought along these lines, then that must mean that this was common sense in this world. Well, even with my own common sense, I understood that this was a case that would displease the Earl.
But, if that was the case, then.
“Let’s say that Roroa is tactless. Why do you think the Orange Hawk······.” Since he’s a member of the royal family, it should be right to add an honorific. “Sir Orange Hawk Prince had bestowed upon her the title of knight? In your opinion.”
“Huu, honestly, he most likely did it without much consideration. Last time he visited the Mage Tower, I heard that he gave some commoner girl an esteemed title. Just because he felt like it. Of course, that is his authority as the Third Prince, and since that commoner girl was a member of the Mage Tower, it must mean that she was that talented. However, that sort of behavior, uhm, the weight of those titles. How should I say it······.”
“It makes them feel cheap?”
“Yes, if I were to say it in common words. That’s why I feel sorry for Roroa. If she intended to stand in line, then she should have chosen her spot better. She’s downright tactless. She really is a Saber-Fang······.”
“Is there a problem with my race?”
Ryungste hiccupped. We turned towards the door and saw Roroa standing there.
“Ah, you’re here Roroa. Ehem, no, well······ we were just talking back and forth and that sort of······.”
“······Wan.” Roroa shook her head. “Vice-captain, it’s fine if you talk about me behind my back, but about my race······.”
“Ah, I said we were just talking back and forth and that sort of popped up. I didn’t speak ill of it······ No, if anything, I was saying that the people who judged others by their race were shameful fellows······ In any case, about earlier, why did you persist so much while in front of Her Excellency? You could have just said I apologize, I’ll mend my ways. Just why are you trying to make this old man pass on before his time, hm?”
Towards the groaning sound that was unique to old people, Roroa sighed.
“Vice-captain, I had no intention to make you pass on before your time, wan. I was just······.”
“Right, you most likely did it for the people. That’s what you do, right? That⎯⎯⎯uh, what was it called, the teaching of that religion of yours. Nevertheless, can you not only make an effort for the people but for me as well? Please, don’t let my granddaughter grow up while not knowing the face of her own grandfather. Are you not able to show at least that much consideration? We’ve worked together for a long time now, haven’t we?”
Roroa had her hand pressed against her forehead as she turned towards us.
“The guests are waiting, wan. I’ll be taking my leave, wan.”
“All right. No, wait. It would be better if I were the one to leave. I was already on my way out. I have to meet Sir Zaho from the House of Naricpitor and the chairman of the Skylight Wind. It’s an important official business meeting. I plan to get off work while I’m there, so you can use the desk and chairs here however you wish.”
Ryungste took out a hat and wore it firmly on his head before leaving the room. Roroa naturally closed the door to the vice-captain’s room and sat on the chair which Ryungste had been sitting on just a second ago.
“I apologize for showing you such a shameful sight, wan. Yujin, and you as well, Miss Sii.”
“No, it’s fine!”
Sii uttered while shaking her head. Roroa laughed slightly before taking something out from her pocket and handing it to Sii. It was a button.
Sii looked confused as she raised the button up. Roroa, who was about to turn towards me while smiling, saw the object and quickly became red.
“Mm? A-aah. Not that, this. This.”
Roroa took the button back and handed Sii a piece of candy. Sii gratefully received the candy and broke it in half with her strength before handing me a piece. I took both pieces, wrapped them up in some vinyl, and put them away.
“We’ll have snacks later.”
Sii made a sullen face. Roroa scratched her disheveled hair.
“Auu······ In any case, I’m sorry, wan. I haven’t been able to sleep well lately.”
“Because of your work?”
“Yes······ I’ve been busy, with this and that. Wan. Thank you very much for taking my side back in the office.”
“Think nothing of it. All I did was say the truth, right? So, what should I help you with? I’m quite good at things like this. Last month was the real estate fraud done by the Fedchants and earlier this month was the false charges against Sii.”
Roroa blinked her eyes a couple of times before her ears pricked up.
“The Fedchant case! Were you the one who solved it!?”
“No, the Earl solved it. All I did was help. Similar to how I’m going to help you now.”
“Okay······ mm, all right. I understand, wan······ Surely, no, as I thought, it was like that.”
Roroa nodded her head a couple of times before looking at me with a face filled with awe.
“That’s reassuring, wan. Certainly, it’s true that we’re lacking in hands here, wan. If you possess an ability that’s capable enough to resolve, no, help resolve the Fedchant case, then, if anything, I should be the one asking you for help. I’m sorry for saying such arrogant things earlier in the office.”
“It’s fine. Let’s get to the main point.”
“Yes. ······Wan, but this case······ everything I said back in the office covers all of the investigations that we had done on our side so far······.”
Roroa fell into deep thought.
“Then for starters, I’ll help you with something simple. Take off your coat.”
“Wan!? E-Excuse me!? What!?”
“Yujin! What are you saying all of a sudden!?”
I answered them by taking out a sewing kit from my bag. Roroa, who was waving her arms, and Sii, who was shouting directly next to me, both calmed down once they saw it. However, instead of taking off her coat for me, Roroa wrapped her arms around her shoulders and gave me a sidelong look.
“Eh, but why all of a sudden, wan······ I did hear the rumors that you were good at sewing, but······.”
“It helps me think.”
“Uhm, I’m asking just in case, but do you not have······ weird thoughts, wan?”
“Yujin probably doesn’t have those kinds of thoughts! Your races are also different······ Mm~~ it’s not possible! Though I can’t say it confidently!”
Sii shouted in an unconfident voice. Roroa cautiously took off her coat and passed it to me. She literally had the body type of a child. Teats that appeared like cherry blossom extracts which were dropped in milk. Except, there was fur growing in a single line from the center of her chest to her belly button.
Once I stared at it, Roroa became flushed and covered that line of fur. Seeing that she didn’t cover her teats, did that mean her race considered that area of fur to be the more embarrassing portion of their bodies?. After removing the buttons that were in a zigzag, I spoke while sewing the buttons back on in a single straight line.
“This coat doesn’t get ruined, right? The clothes Kina wore were like that as well. These don’t seem to rip even after you girls transform.”
“Wan, it’s fine. It’s made from magic lining, wan. Even if it stretches out a bit, like this, only the buttons become misaligned.”
If that’s the case. I started to sew without hesitation.
“Last time, you said that it could possibly be 1 insider and 1 outsider, right?”
“What do you think now?”
“Wan······ Didn’t that thief say that they entered the city 2 weeks ago? Therefore, I think that they’re both outsiders.”
“If that’s the case, then how did they get their hands on the maid uniforms? I’m not sure about any of the undergarments, but if articles of clothing were to disappear, then a commotion would have occurred among the maids.”
“No reports were filed to the guards yet. Did that sort of ruckus not happen among the maids?”
“Wan. That means they either copied the uniform or they may have stolen it from the House of Naricpitor, the family that provides the castle with these clothes. The garment cutter could have also been bribed······. I’ll have to confirm this later.”
“It seems those assailants really put their efforts into this.”
“Exactly. Wan. Moreover, the fact that an organization that works this hard was hired means that their employer must have put in that much effort on their side as well, wan. Yujin. Have you perhaps done something that made you earn someone’s grudge, wan?”
“I’ve done a lot. Some dog bone from who knows what world is acting arrogantly next to the lord of the city. Furthermore, Sii is being bullied by the other maids. Like that, there are many things that make us receive the enmity of other people. There’s probably no one that likes us.”
“Mm, and Miss Ariya······?”
“We have a bit of a connection.”
“Is that so······ Mm, I see······.”
Once more, Roroa appeared as if she were understanding something on her own. I spoke.
“What about you? Did something happen between you and Ariya?”
Roroa showed a perplexed face.
“Wan······ nothing in particular. There was a time that Ariya stole······ and I was the one who caught her, wan.”
I had predicted that this was the case and once I found out that this girl was Kina’s sister, I had a near certain feeling.
However, I reacted to her as if I had never entertained that possibility before in my head.
“Heeh, you did?”
“Yes······ Did you not know?”
“Although I heard that Ariya had done such a thing, I didn’t know which guard had caught her. You did something tremendous.”
“······I’m curious as to what you mean by tremendous.”
“You captured your little sister’s colleague, right? Normally, people wouldn’t be able to do that sort of thing.”
Roroa made a complicated face.
“Even if she weren’t my little sister’s colleague, to us guards, all of the maids are like our little sisters, wan. The superiors you can see if you go up the system are like that as well, wan. Moreover⎯⎯⎯.”
“She’s the daughter of your old superior.”
“Yes⎯⎯⎯ that’s right, wan.”
“Did you not think that Ariya would feel betrayed? It’s already sad that she’s working as a maid since her household had fallen apart, but if the person who was once her father’s subordinate was the one to catch her. Moreover, catch her for something she had to do because her mother was sick.”
“Someone has to abide by the rules, wan.”
It was a low but firm voice. Similar to how she didn’t back down when she declared that it was thanks to Ahyeon that she was able to wear her guard uniform while also standing before the Silver Lion Earl. I could tell that this guard girl, who resembled a dog, had a talent that was difficult to find anywhere else.
I pushed the topic a bit further.
“Of course, someone has to abide by the rules. But there are people who believe that they don’t have to be the ones to abide by them. Additionally, those very people aren’t doing that because they actually disrespect law and order, but because they’re worried that by doing so, it’ll hurt the people around them. Have you never worried about whether your little sister would end up being bullied or not by the other maids?”
“This must be the same in your world as well. Theoretically speaking, if something I did brings harm to my little sister, then it wouldn’t be right. Wan. She’d normally be adored so there was a time that I believed it would be okay, wan. I had also thought that by neglecting it, it would bring even more harm. In the end, the reason why Kina was able to avoid being harassed was largely thanks to Mari’s assistance.”
That Mari. So you’re telling me that she’s nice to anyone that isn’t Sii?
Shall I push her a little more?
“If you’re so thorough when it comes to the notion of law and order, then you should have stopped the Earl earlier this month. Sii was framed and had her arm cut off, you know?”
Sii lowered her head. Roroa looked as if she were ashamed.
“That incident⎯⎯⎯ nothing, could have been done about it, wan. Even if we were to do this or that, Her Excellency the Earl has the full authority of this city. Even us guards can’t do much when it comes to a political matter of that altitude······ but Her Excellency normally sticks to the rules······.”
“Sorry, that was rude of me. That’s right, there are probably things that cannot be helped. But seeing that you referred to it as a political matter, you must be aware of Sii’s situation.”
“Yes······ I said it before, but Abria is my friend, wan. That’s why I know. Albeit, there’s nothing in particular which I can do even if I am aware of it, and I can’t carelessly talk about it either······. I also firmly learned that nothing good can come from awkwardly sticking your head into politics back during the knight title incident, wan.”
There was self-deprecation mixed into those words. I didn’t say anything.
That seemed to have been the correct response. Roroa flapped her ears.
“I think I know why you’re asking me this, wan. Do you think you’ve become a target because of Miss Sii’s situation, wan?”
As I expected, her head worked quickly.
“I just thought it’d be a good idea to put that up in the line of possibilities. Those Gongshik fellows were said to mainly target nobles, right?”
“That’s right······. But what gain could anyone acquire by injuring Miss Sii, wan? Miss Sii was unable to receive recognition, wan. That’s why she’s neither a noble nor is she a prominent figure, wan. She’s merely the adopted daughter of a community leader and nothing more.”
“What if they wanted to send a message? Pass on a message by attacking that blood relative within the Earl’s castle······.”
“That is a persuasive hypothesis, wan. If you exclude the fact that Her Excellency the Earl had personally ordered for that blood relative’s arm to be cut off earlier this month, that is, wan.”
“It’s persuasive even if you don’t exclude that. Compared to when the Earl does it herself, the meaning would be different when someone else does it.”
“Mm, that’s not bad, but how about leaning towards the idea of someone with excessive loyalty, wan?”
“In order to be loyal, they resolved themselves to receive anger and attacked Sii······ while they were at it, they decided to deal with the otherworlder whom the Earl strangely seemed to favor······ Hm. Who would do that?”
“Miss Sophna is a conservative person.”
“Heeh, are you suspecting your superior?”
“Wan······ I’m just giving possibilities.”
“W-Wait a second!”
Sii shouted in a panic.
“I can’t follow the conversation······ where······ so you’re saying that I was the target······?”
“You and Yujin were the targets, wan.”
Sii stopped herself in the middle of her sentence. She must have recalled the time when I told her to not be seized by the thought that something is ‘impossible’.
She thought for a moment before offering an opinion from a different point of view.
“Be that as it may, relating that with Her Excellency the Earl is a bit······ and the fact that you mentioned even Miss Sophna’s name is taking a step too far. If anything, I’m, mm······ I’m the adopted daughter of Sir Mercè Mikatni, right? I’m also the foster-little sister of the director of the mining industry district. How about that part?”
Roroa tapped her lips.
“Certainly, that is an identity which everyone in the castle is aware of, wan. However, hasn’t it been a long time since Sir Mercè had become bedridden, wan? He also doesn’t have a personality that would make other people hold a grudge against him. Moreover, if that actually were the case, then wouldn’t they aim straight for Abria instead of being all roundabout like this, wan? If they did, then they wouldn’t have to take the risk of entering the Silver Lion Castle.”
“M-Mm······ that’s definitely······ so······.”
Sii became dispirited. I patted her shoulder and reassured her.
“Regardless, that was a good point.”
“I agree, wan. A different point of view is always helpful, wan.” Roroa spoke. “Putting aside the possibility that the attack was aimed at Miss Sii. Yujin, is there no chance that the attack was aimed at you, wan?”
“Like I said, it could have been a message meant for the Earl⎯⎯⎯.”
“Not that. I’m saying that it could have been an attack that was solely directed at you, wan. Is there no chance that the grudge you had piled up in your previous world has followed you into this world, wan?”
That was really a possibility that I hadn’t considered.
“There’s an old legend that goes like this, wan. A long time ago, the Fedchants worshiped a god, Higher God Iyanko Niyaon. The apostle of that god had descended and conquered a certain city, wan. That city was ruled under Iyanko Niyaon’s commandment. The commandment of Iyanko Niyaon that’s mentioned here is referring to the saying ‘Anything can be bought with money’, wan⎯⎯⎯A hundred-year-old elderly person can return to their teenage body with money, wan. An amateur who has never held a knife before can start using skills as long as they pay the money, wan. Even the dead can be revived as long as you pay the appropriate amount of money, wan. Although some may like this, it became a mess for the majority of others, wan. The issue was that the apostle of Iyanko Niyaon would have been fine if they had played like that only within their own city, but they had decided to expand their influence, wan.”
“Of course, the world didn’t turn a blind eye towards that, wan. The Twelve Sky Wizards of that time⎯⎯⎯excluding the ones who had approved the city⎯⎯⎯were called together and even the royal families’ first princes of the Kingdoms of the Twelve Earthly Branches had decided to move their heavy fingers, wan. However, the thing which was more memorable above all things was the summoning ceremonies carried out by other religious groups, wan. A countless number of apostles were summoned, wan. The apostle of the god who I subserve, the God of Equality Gainu Warmon, was among them as well. It was the logic that since the opposition was an apostle of a god, they could only be fought by other apostles of gods, wan.”
“An apostle of god can only be dealt with by another apostle of god······.”
“Although there were various theories regarding that, the interesting thing is the fact that among the apostles who were summoned, there was another apostle of Iyanko Niyaon who was summoned by a sect which also worshiped Iyanko Niyaon, but their direction of worship was different, wan. You may have already guessed it by now, but that other apostle of Iyanko Niyaon had carried out the most important role, wan.”
“This old incident became known as ‘The Great Black and White Cat War’, wan. Although a various number of things were suggested, among those, there’s an implication that even back in their world, those two apostles of Iyanko Niyaon were already near the state of being mortal enemies, wan. Even the summoned apostles had a trajectory which they had lived their lives following, achievements they had accomplished, results they had acquired.”
Roroa then concluded.
“And enemies they had made. How about you, Yujin, wan?”
Of course, I also had a trajectory which I had lived following. There were achievements I had accomplished. There were results that I had piled up.
And I had enemies.
Had⎯⎯⎯past tense. Regardless, it was a question whether I could keep that as a past tense or not. Although she’s been going around like a dead person right now, Joo Chanmi was still Joo Chanmi. Furthermore, including the fellow who sat behind me in the manga cafe, she still possessed a lot of followers. Saei did say that I acted neurotic······.
“······Excluding the Silver Lion Earl, is there another way for the people of this world to summon people from another world?”
“I’m not a mage so I don’t know, but······ you heard me tell you about the legend that the apostles of gods were summoned, right? In a way, Her Excellency the Earl’s ability makes it as if she’s riding on a horse in a world where people can only walk and run, wan. Nevertheless, if certain people deemed that it was required, wan, then they would even walk to the end of the world. Wan. Of course, the practicality that comes from the necessity and whether one could shoulder the resources that are required during that process or not is a completely separate matter, but luckily, I’m aware of a group that is able to satisfy both of those conditions. Truthfully, the people who’ve been here in this territory since the previous Earl was still around are all aware.”
The Mage Tower.
“Yujin, what I’m going to say now is also nothing more than a single possibility, wan. Please don’t listen to it too attentively. Is there no possibility that from your world, your enemy, through an organization that is not afraid to antagonize the Silver Lion Earl, was summoned through a completely different summoning process, wan? Thus, is there no possibility that the otherworlder judged that you, the person who’s the same kind of otherworlder as them, would be a hindrance, so they requested the organization that had summoned them to contract an appropriate group, for example, the Gongshik, to eliminate you? Wan. In truth, if you look back at any large incident, then you’ll notice that they have mostly started due to a trivial reason, wan. In a one in ten thousand chance, does the possibility that this assault was actually a skirmish for a proxy war between otherworlders not exist, wan?”
A stillness had settled on top of us. Roroa was staring at me with a curious face and Sii was watching me while holding her breath. I······.
“I feel like you have a rich imagination.”
I first broke the silence with that. Roroa flapped her ears.
“Discussions become simpler if extreme situations are introduced, wan. Also, although I do admit that the scale of that idea was rather large, if you spend your time as a guard for a while, you end up witnessing a lot of unbelievable occurrences. Previously, when I was dispatched to the Bongshin Territory, I got lost and ended up in an unlicensed pioneer village, wan. In order for the people in that village to survive, they had to form a contract with monsters, wan. They’re known as Weken’ villeta(Translating······ Assuming it to be ‘The twisted that crawl’). Since they are unable to breed with their own kind, they’re monsters that require the wombs of other races, wan. Although they call it a womb, they don’t necessarily require an actual female womb. It’s fine as long as they just have the inner parts of a body, wan.”
“The people of that unlicensed pioneer village supplied the monsters with their elderly people.”
Roroa folded her ears and whined for a moment before continuing.
“They tied up the old folks, who had lost all of their teeth and were suffering from chronic illnesses, in the center of the village and made them act as artificial wombs so that they could conceive the children of those monsters. Wan······ It’s disgusting and extreme, but in their positions, it was a ravishingly reasonable solution, wan. You cannot be seized by the thought of ‘that’s impossible’.”
“I agree with that, but still, how should I say it······ my past isn’t interesting. Not only is it common, but it’s childish as well. I lost my parents when I was little and I continued to go to school after that. I wasn’t a being who had a world under his command and, later on, even if I were able to, I will not be able to become that sort of person. My enemy and I are both like that. If you weigh us both, then we’re boring people.”
“Similar to how becoming something because you wanted to is limited to a certain number of people, there are cases where people become something despite not having wished for it, wan.”
“Yeah. I won’t deny that as well. However, as my past is an uninteresting story, and both my enemy and I are boring individuals, there’s a different reason as to why they’re unrelated to this incident.”
Roroa tilted her head.
“Why do you think that, wan?”
“Well, let’s put the motives aside for a moment. We’re nearly getting to the zenith of our discussion so let’s talk about a method that’s substantive. Look at this.”
I took out my iPad. Roroa displayed her curiosity.
“Wan, is this a tool from your world?”
“Yup. Around the time when Ahyeon was here······ it probably existed back then as well but it most likely wasn’t popularized. It’s a convenient tool and it can do a lot of things, but it’s capable of doing this as well.”
I then gave her a brief summary about the spectrogram which I had talked about before coming here. Roroa’s expression changed into a careful one.
“This otherworld technology that can do that voice analyzing thing, is it 100% accurate, wan?”
It was the exact same question as Ariya had asked.
“It’s 100% accurate.”
I gave her the same answer that I had given to Ariya.
“But didn’t you say that their voices were altered, wan? It can do that with even those voices, wan?”
While looking at Sii, who for some reason was snorting proudly, out of the corner of my eyes, I tapped away at the iPad. As expected, Roroa became lost in thought and tapped at her cheek with her finger. She then asked.
“The video of when you were assaulted, you said you recorded it, right? Can I watch it once, wan?”
“Yeah, wait a moment.”
I searched for the video of when we were attacked and pressed the play button.
The video started. Due to the position of where the camera was set up, it was a bottom-up angle that made it feel as if a child had recorded it. No matter how much the technology of hidden cameras had advanced, there was still a limit to things. The image and sound quality of the recording weren’t that impressive. However, in reverse, it evoked a distinctive sense of realism that was similar to that of those found footage movies.
Roroa, who had been watching with a severe face, quietly spoke once the video got to the section where the maid in the front was kicked back and collided against the door sill with the crown of her head.
“So, did you find out who they are, wan?”
“Why’s that? Didn’t you say that it was 100% accurate, wan?”
“I’m still lacking something. I’ll be able to figure it out once I’ve obtained that.”
“What are you lacking?”
“The same exact words as the ones that were recorded in the video. If I’m able to record that and compare the two recordings, then I’ll be able to distinguish who the owner of the voice is.”
I looked straight at Roroa.
“That’s why I’d like to ask you. Utilize the guards and gather all of the people who work in this castle into a single place. Then make them say the same line while in front of me.”
“······Hasn’t the conclusion that they aren’t insiders already been suggested?”
“That isn’t 100% certain, right? That’s why.”
A long silence flowed between us. Roroa scratched the back of her head.
“For now, it’s currently late in the night, wan. Can we not do this tomorrow, wan?”
“All right, let’s do that. Here you go.”
I finished sewing. Roroa received her uniform and looked as if she were in awe.
“Amazing, wan······ for it to be this straight.”
After putting on her uniform, the buttons of which being in a perfect line now, she gave off much more of a professional aura. The strength of lines and angles was great.
“If it becomes misaligned again, then come to me from now on. I’ll even wash it and iron it out.”
“Ah, you don’t have to······ Honestly, I can just leave it to my subordinates······ Ah, mm, Yujin, but in the case that the owner of the voice doesn’t come out among the castle people······.”
“Then that means they’re outsiders. At the very least, the person who spoke would be the outsider. At that time, I’ll have to start considering the chance of this being an instigation by another otherworlder like you had mentioned earlier.”
“At most, that’s just another possibility so don’t mind it too much······.”
“I won’t. Well, let’s think about that after we do this.”
“Yes, then I’ll see you tomorrow, wan.”
After leaving the headquarters of the guards, we started to walk.
It was late into the night. The floating moon was simply scattering rays of clear light throughout the cloudless sky. Albeit, my actual mood while walking through that light was as black as it was while I was still in the basement.
“Yujin, why are you making that face?”
Sii looked up at me with her arms behind her back.
“I just feel a bit stifled.”
“Mm~~? The air, is clean. Try taking deep breaths. Hoo- ha, hoo- ha.”
“What’s with that face!? Really, how rude. When we return, you’ll massage my feet until I fall asleep!”
“Uu, so halfhearted······ but really, why are you making that face? We’re continuously advancing, aren’t we?”
I selected my words for a moment.
“That progress is the actual problem.”
“What do you mean?”
“Miss Sii, what do you think will happen once this incident is resolved? Let’s say that we found the culprits and captured them. What do you think will happen next?”
“Hm? Well, obviously······ ah.”
Sii furrowed her brow.
“Yujin, don’t tell me you’re worried about them. You’re concerned that Her Excellency is going to capture, torture, and then execute them? Of course, she’ll torture them before executing them.” Sii cautiously looked around our surroundings and whispered after confirming that there was no sign of any presence near us. “That’s all she knows how to do. She isn’t even able to do it properly at that. But that’s the natural consequence of what those guys did. No matter how kind you are, I don’t think it’s something that Yujin should be worried about.”
“Is that how you think?”
“Yup. Because those people, attacked me. And they also attacked Yujin! If Yujin weren’t beside me and I was just sitting there absentmindedly, if Ariya didn’t appear. Regardless of whatever terrible thing they intended to do, they would have been free to do anything. If I consider that fact, then whatever punishment they receive seems cheap to me. I’m not kind enough to worry about the enemy.”
Her words were firm.
I felt relieved as well. In that regard, I don’t think I’ll have to worry about our opinions colliding. I also wasn’t kind enough to worry about the enemy.
I, wasn’t kind in any regard.
“I was thinking about something a bit different.”
“What do we require the most right now?”
Sii fell into thought for a moment······ her eyes soon became wide.
“Don’t tell me. Those masked fellows who attacked us, once you find out their identities, you plan to threaten them and make them our comrades?”
It has been 1 week since I told Sii to think on her own. I was a bit in awe. Although there were occasional times where her emotions got ahead of her, she absolutely did not have a bad head.
“That is a possibility of one category.”
“That’s reckless! They’re people who carried out that sort of dangerous action. There’s no way we could tame them. If things go bad, then we’ll be the only ones to be eaten. Moreover, if we get caught by Her Excellency······ as I thought, wouldn’t it be better to perform a meritorious deed by capturing the criminals and delivering them?”
“The negative parts are exactly as Miss Sii had described, however, I wish to evaluate the positive perspectives. For starters, the fact that they’re either not afraid of the Earl or, at the very least, they’re able to suppress that fear. So in compliance to that, the second fact is that they’ll be able to fight against the Earl together with us later on. And third.”
I unfolded a finger.
“The fact that we’ll have a hold of their lives.”
Sii blankly stared at my unfolded finger.
“Those fellows should also be able to tell that the Earl is more angered than imagined right now. If we hold onto that secret, then they will have no other choice but to obey us unconditionally.”
Sii mumbled those words as if she were letting them flow by. Because of her low self-esteem and her overflowing sadism that came from that, the idea of making them follow us must have sounded amazing to her.
However, instead of responding with a nod, she said these words.
“Mm~~······ But Yujin. That isn’t all, is it?”
This was a bit⎯⎯⎯no, this was really unexpected.
“Although everything you said just now is probably true, although that’s probably why you said it with sincerity, and although just those things alone are enough to actually tempt me a lot, still, Yujin. As I thought, those aren’t the only reasons, right?”
“Why do you think that is the case?”
“Well, obviously, that’s because, in the end, Yujin will go and say ‘there’s a limit to making someone obey when threats are used’.”
As much as I thought I had a grasp of Sii, Sii had a grasp of me as well. Everyone is able to grow up and, compared to before, they’ll become capable of placing different things into their line of sight once they’ve done so. It’s something that I had experienced during the 8 Years’ War, and although it was obvious, it was a bit embarrassing as well.
And it was also a joyous occasion.
“As expected, if there’s an option where no one has to die, then that direction would be better.”
With her arms behind her back, Sii giggled.
“Mm~~ that’s right. Just as I had expected, Yujin is kind.”
Like I said, that wasn’t the case. I wasn’t able to say those words out loud for some reason so I merely adjusted my glasses.
Like that, we returned to Sii’s room. The scent of Sii that had soaked into the room welcomed us. Ever since we had moved into Sii’s room, although one of the things that Ariya had endeavored to do was erase that very scent, that effort resulted in Sii’s body odor transferring onto Ariya, something which neither parties wanted. It was so severe that the Ariya of that time would hug her knees in the corner of the room.
The reason why I’m mentioning this was not only because I was reminded of it the moment Sii’s body odor welcomed us, but because Ariya was currently doing that same exact pose in the same exact corner of the room. Sii tilted her head.
“Ariya, what are you doing?”
“······I have no reason to tell you.”
“Ah, whatever! I’m not sure what’s the matter, but do as you wish! I won’t care what~soever after all!”
What happened to that growth she showed earlier?
“You said you were going to meet Alshi, right? Did something happen?”
“This is unrelated to Fair Grace.”
“Yeah. I don’t intend to stick my head into a couple’s business.” I then casually tossed her a question. “You did meet her, right?”
Ariya let out a sigh.
“No, she didn’t open the door for me······.”
Then that means there’s a bit of a problem here.
“······? Are you, referring to me?”
“Yeah. It’s an order. Also, let’s go to Alshi’s room together. This is an order as well.”
“······Fair Grace, what do you⎯⎯⎯.”
“It’s for Alshi’s sake. I’ll explain later. Let’s go.”
Ariya opened her eyes wide. I turned towards Sii.
“Miss Sii as well. We’ll be going immediately.”
“Mm? What······.” Sii, who had sat down on her bed and was in the middle of taking off her shoes, looked at me. “Mm~~ okay. Let’s go.”
Sii slipped her shoes back on and got up. I left the room. Ariya still looked utterly confused, but she eventually followed after us.
It wasn’t long before we had crossed the hallway and stood in front of a room that was a floor below ours. It was a 2-person room that was once used by both Alshi and Ariya, but now that Ariya had moved in with us, Alshi was using this room by herself.
I knocked on the door.
There was no reaction.
“Fair Grace, why exactly······ what did you mean when you said that this was for Alshi’s sake?”
I pounded my fist against the door loudly.
There was no reaction.
“Fair Grace!? It’s the middle of the night right now! Alshi is probably asleep⎯⎯⎯.”
“Miss Sii, break it down please.”
I said while pointing towards the door.
Ariya momentarily showed an expression that made it clear that she didn’t understand, but Sii immediately nodded. With her arm which hadn’t been severed before, Sii reached out her left hand and grabbed onto the doorknob. At the same moment that the veins on her hand could be seen, the doorknob was crushed.
“What are you······!”
Ariya, who was starting to shout due to her surprise, lost her voice in the next moment due to an even bigger shock.
Past the demolished door, there was a small girl who was collapsed. She was in a state where her long, black, ebony-like hair, that reached down to her waist, was sprawled over the mattress. The dim moonlight that was flowing in through the broken window was shining down on top of the small body. It felt as if she had fallen into a shadow.
Into a scarlet shadow.
A dagger was stabbed into Alshi’s chest. The flowing blood was spreading on top of the mattress.
Ariya cried out and ran forward. I took Sii, who had frozen up due to the surprise, into the room as well. I entered the room and examined the surroundings. 1) The window was broken 2) Alshi had been stabbed in the chest 3) It hadn’t been that long since she was stabbed 4) The dagger that was stabbed into her was the same exact dagger as the ones the masked maids held 5) A mask was placed next to her 6) A piece of paper and a pen were placed next to that 7) And Alshi was······.
“Alshi!” Ariya gripped onto Alshi’s shoulders and shook her. “Alshi······!”
Cough. The tiny sound of a cough flowed out from Alshi’s throat. She was alive. Ariya’s lover, the small martial artist type maid was not dead yet.
That was a relief. For now, I grabbed onto Ariya’s hand and stopped her.
“Don’t shake her. Lay her down like that. Keep speaking into her ear. This is an order. Miss Sii, come here and press down on the bottom portion of the wound. Don’t do it too strongly. If your max strength is 10, then use about 3 or 4 of that. Quickly.”
The two flustered girls soon started to do what I had told them to do. I placed a hand on Ariya’s shoulder. Her body had become so hot that it felt as if my hand would be burned. It was to the point that it almost felt as if I could smell something burning. While I was calming her down, I grabbed Sii’s hand and adjusted her strength to just the right amount. I then moved my line of sight towards the piece of paper on the side. Although it was written in this world’s language and the handwriting was a mess, I was immediately able to read it once I concentrated.
The moment I had finished reading it, I heard the sound of someone’s voice from the hallway.
“Just what’s with all the noise!? It’s so noisy that I can’t sl······.”
It was Mari’s voice.
“Mari! Bring a clean towel!”
“Ha? Why do I have to listen to······.”
Mari entered the room and froze. I shouted towards Mari.
“Please! A clean towel and something to tie her with. Something long. Make sure they’re both clean!”
Her hesitation, lasted for only a moment. Mari nodded before turning around and running off. The sound of murmurs from the hallway became louder. We had made this much noise in a place that was a part of the maid dorms. There’s no way that it wouldn’t be quiet.
Think. Think about this.
Shortly after, I shouted.
“Raya! Boil some water! Kina! Bring a needle and some thread and disinfect them in that water! Seri! Bring three others here and clean this room up. Aresa! Chase after Mari and bring back the towel and the other item from her and tell Mari to go and call the Earl here. Tell her that Alshi was stabbed, that she shouldn’t use her summon, and to come here so we can discuss it. Please!”
The murmurs which had no direction a second ago soon became orderly. Like I had instructed them to, Seri and the other maids flinched for a moment when they entered the room, but they eventually proceeded to carry out my request of organizing the room.
“Alshi, Alshi, Alshi, Alshi, Alshi······.”
Ariya wept while her lips were placed near Alshi’s ear. Sii, who was holding the wound and stopping the bleeding, turned towards Ariya.
“Ariya······ don’t worry. It’ll be okay.”
“It’s okay. It’ll be okay. Right, Yujin? It’ll be okay······ right?”
Even if it wasn’t fine, I was going to make it so. Sii followed my response with a nod.
“You heard him. Even Yujin said it’ll be okay. If Yujin says it’s okay, then it’s okay. You know, right? The fact that Yujin is smart. You heard about how he got my arm back, right? That’s why, Ariya······.”
Ariya sniffed. Sii didn’t say anything more and patted her on the shoulder.
It was around that time that Kina had entered the room.
“Woof! Yujin, here’s the towel you asked for and this is okay, right? A washed stocking······ Kyaak, Al-shi-!”
“Thanks. Seri! Receive those from her and hand it to me. Kina, can you quietly leave the room?”
Kina must have also noticed that her body, which had instinctively entered its unsheathed state, was occupying too much space in the room, as she had obediently excused herself. Seri brought the towel and stocking to me just as I had requested.
“Are you going to take it out······?”
“I can’t. Look at the shape of the blade. A professional has to remove it. I’m going to fix the blade in place.”
The needle and thread soon arrived. With the goal of simply stopping the bleeding, I performed first aid while using all of the medical knowledge that I possessed.
It was around then that Mari arrived with the Earl. To be exact, Zia arrived while giving the Earl a piggy back ride.
“Yujin! Who was stabbed!? What happened!?”
My sword. I didn’t think I’d be this glad to hear her voice. However, it wasn’t the time to feel at ease yet.
“Earl.” As if responding to my call, the Earl got down from Zia’s back. “Medicine······ Alchemy Fortress. Anything, summon someone who can take care of this wound.”
Even the respectable Earl didn’t ask for an explanation while in this situation. The Silver Lion Earl took out a medicine bottle from her skirt pocket.
“This. The thing that was used on your arm earlier. It’ll take care of most injuries. In regard to a doctor, wait a second. Let me try to think. Of someone appropriate⎯⎯⎯.”
“I shall take a look.”
It was a voice that I was hearing for the first time.
The voice had also spoken in Korean.
Zia paused. Sii’s gaze became disorderly as well. The maids started to murmur among one another. I turned towards the location where the voice had come from and saw a woman standing there with a staff held in her hand.
I could guess who this woman was.
The exclusive mage of the House of the Silver Lion Earl and the head of the vassals, Sophna nodded. Her yellowish green hair that flowed down all the way to her waist waved slightly as her head moved.
She resembled a willow tree.
She was tall. She looked as if she were nearly as tall as me. Her long, flowing, yellowish green hair had a distinct presence like the seaweed that waved at the bottom of the dark and deep ocean floor. She didn’t look healthy. Her body was skinny and on her face, which was as white as the inner flesh of a tree, there were a lot of freckles. However, I could feel elegance from her yellowish green pupils and the silver cracks that were in the center of them.
The Earl spoke.
“It’s been a long time, Sophna.”
“Yes, Mii. It’s been a month and a half. It would a good idea if we saved our greetings for later. Hand me the bottle. This lady shall tend to the wound.”
As I expected, although it seems this woman also had a large gap between the way she spoke this world’s language and the way she spoke the Korean language, that wasn’t important right now. After receiving the medicine bottle from the Earl, Sophna approached us. She then touched the handle of the dagger that was stabbed into Alshi’s chest with the end of her staff.
The roots that reached out from her staff gripped around the handle of the dagger. It continued to go further down and the roots wrapped around both the blade and the area that was stabbed. Although it should have looked as if the staff were taking root, the movement of the roots was more like flowing water, and in reality, it was faster than that and had no openings. Shortly after, Sophna poured the medicine on top of that. Once she had recited a spell, yellowish green leaves sprouted from the roots and changed the roots into vines.
Sophna tapped the handle of the dagger once more with her staff. The dagger was slowly pushed out from the inside. Although the bizarrely curved blade was drenched in blood, not even a single drop of blood bled out after the blade was removed.
Ariya cried out. Sophna hit her on the head with her staff.
“I understand your feelings, but do not shout.” She continued after switching to speaking in Korean. “Mii, will you tell me what happened here?”
The Silver Lion Earl furrowed her brow.
“I’d like to know that as well. Is Alshi okay? She doesn’t look okay. Also, Sophna, how did you find out about this to have come here?”
“It shall be fine. However, it seems quite the vile curse was placed on the dagger. If it seems to take time, then that will probably be because of the neutralizing process of that curse. And, in regard to why I am here, Mii. It is because I am not actually an old hag with dementia. Would it be fine if I looked over this child a bit?”
“Go ahead. Now then, the explanation of this situation······ Ariya is in that state and I can’t leave this in the hands of Mikatni’s adopted daughter. Mr. Yujin. The urgent problem has been resolved. Tell us what happened here.”
“Since everyone should hear it, I’ll speak like this. Ariya said that Alshi wouldn’t see her so we came together as a group of three. Ariya appeared incredibly anxious to the point that it felt as if she wouldn’t be able to get any sleep. I knocked on the door and I heard the sound of someone escaping. That’s why we broke down the door and entered.”
“The sound of someone escaping?” Zia looked out of the broken window. “······The courtyard. Your Excellency, should I conduct a search?”
“No. Zia, you need to stay here and protect me. The search and investigation should⎯⎯⎯.”
“Has something happened, wan?”
A new voice, but a voice which I also knew. It was Roroa. The Silver Lion Earl’s voice was mixed with annoyance.
“You got here rather quickly, Roroa. Did you just ask what has happened? The maid that had gone to call the guards should have given you the rough explanation.”
“My apologies, wan, Your Excellency. I didn’t come here because I was called, wan. In order to fulfill the instruction which Yujin over there had given······ blood!? Even Miss Sophna is here!? Wan······ just what······ I’ll assemble the guards immediately, wan!”
“Yujin’s instruction? What instruction are you talking about?”
“To gather the people of the castle tomorrow for an investigation······ that’s why I was going to inform all of the maids about it tonight, wan! Your Excellency, Miss Head Guard. So may I go assemble the guards······?”
As she was the Head Vassal, she was also the Head Guard, really, Sophna, who apparently possessed all sorts of important titles, gave Roroa permission. Roroa immediately turned around and sprinted off. The Silver Lion Earl, who was watching Roroa’s back as she went off, clicked her tongue once Roroa disappeared around a corner before turning towards me.
“Mr. Yujin, so⎯⎯⎯I’d like to hear the explanation of this situation. Not the details, but an explanation.”
“This mask, dagger, and what’s written on that piece of paper, take a look at them.”
Zia picked up the items that I listed and handed them to the Earl. The Silver Lion Earl read what was written on the piece of paper with her brow furrowed. The following was written on the piece of paper:
〈Your Excellency the Earl, I apologize. I am one of the two culprits who had assaulted the two. As it is difficult for me to give both the details and reveal the identity of my accomplice, like this, I have voluntarily decided to take this path in order to repent.〉
And, at the very bottom of the page, there was a drawing of the seal of the Mage Tower.
The Silver Lion Earl crumpled up the paper.
“Ah hah ha. What’s, this? Hm? Mr. Yujin, what is this?”
I chose my words carefully.
“I believe that it is most likely an attempt to throw off our investigation.”
“Of course it is! Those Mage Tower bastards, how dare they mess around like this!”
Once more, I chose my words carefully.
“There’s a chance that it isn’t the Mage Tower.”
“How can it not be!? Look at this seal!”
For the final time, I chose my words carefully.
“It was drawn by a pen. As long as it isn’t formally stamped⎯⎯⎯.”
“Yeah, they can attempt to get out of it! Damn it! Since it was just drawn by some person from only God knows where, it can’t be used as evidence against them⎯⎯⎯How dare they! How dare they play this sort of trick!”
“Mii.” Sophna turned towards the Silver Lion Earl. “Calm down and⎯⎯⎯.”
“Stay quiet! You especially!”
Sophna closed her mouth. While baring her teeth, the Silver Lion Earl crumpled the piece of paper and tossed it before turning around.
“I’ll be going, Sophna. Since you’re here, solve this case as the head of the guards. At the very least, show some progress. Do you understand?”
“······I’m sorry, Mii. Even now, I cannot stay here for long. The state of the central water source⎯⎯⎯.”
“Shit! Aaaaah, whatever. So you’re saying that you can only fucking talk back. I’m sorry for bothering you even though you’re so busy. If Alshi dies, then I’m going to kill you. I’ll see you later.”
I turned back towards Sii and Ariya. I gazed at Alshi. I then met eyes with Sophna. Green pupils. Residing within those pupils, silver lines were aimed at me like the blades of swords. The guards assembled by Roroa were going to arrive soon and the maids were in a state of confusion. There was a countless number of anxieties. In order to handle this variable, I had to remain here.
However, the Silver Lion Earl’s eyes were like magma rising up from an iceberg.
“Aang? What is it?”
“Take me with you. I have something to report.”
I said those words.
TL note: Thanks for reading the chapter. We’ve neared the end of volume 3. Things are really starting to kick up and the big reveal is drawing closer. Oh right, I apologize for the blur on the left side of the illustration. I’d usually try to find someone who’s able to fix it, but most of ’em have been busy lately due to finals and whatnot. Honestly trying to obtain high-quality illustrations is hard.
Well, there’s nothing more to say about this chapter. It’s pretty much been the same old stressful work days for me, so I’m trudging along. I continue to translate as I look forward to the day I become free from my mandatory public service.
Anyway, see you all in the next chapter.