[PART – 2]
“Is it really dangerous to head to your teacher’s house?”
“Well, not really… the only problem is that my teacher’s house is near the entertainment district…”
Oh, I see.
The east district was filled with casinos and brothels.
After all, there was no end to the number of people who wanted to indulge in gambling and the pleasure gained from the opposite sex.
Even in the prosperous capital of the Kingdom of Light, which claimed to be inviolable and prosperous, there were several places where such people gathered.
The best example of such a place was located near the destination of Hakuto and his friends.
The main streets were relatively safe, but once you stepped into the back alleys, there were many criminal gangs and ruffians, and the area in general was not a safe one.
“Did His Majesty or His Royal Highness the Prince really give you permission to go there? There are people who are involved in the underworld there, and various criminal organizations have also located themselves there. It would be better for you to not go there, Erika, and you too, Hakuto-sama, even if you are a knight.“
“Never go into the back alleys, follow Marie’s instructions, and leave as soon as I’m hungry. I was told that I should follow these rules.“
“They’re very unique rules.”
Without much more than a brief pause, Hakuto began explaining the situation to Glass and Oswald, both of whom had no idea what was going on, as they headed for their destination.
They walked along a well-maintained road that trailed the largest river that flowed through the Kingdom of Light.
Hakuto and his team’s goal was to gain information regarding witchcraft from a male teacher called “Juan”.
Because nobles felt extremely proud to have ‘noble bloodlines’, they rejected assassination and witchcraft as they considered them to be cowardly.
Therefore, the number of nobles who attended Juan’s classes were very low.
Hakuto and Erika, who have experienced actual battles, did not have such beliefs, but they did not care enough to take his class until the incident occurred.
In other words, this will be the first time any of the members here were meeting Juan.
“Isn’t it possible that they’re the murderer?”
“No, he is not. He does not have a large physique, and he’s not even in Alto-sama’s list of suspects.“
“You gave out confidential information about the culprit so easily…”
Glass’s complaint made the young hero realize yet another one of his mistakes.
“I read through the file of information we have about him myself, and he didn’t seem like a particularly problematic person. He is a good teacher and has a good personality, although he is sometimes subjected to unwanted stares at the academy due to the subject of his classes.“
Marie explained to Glass.
“…We’re going to cross that bridge, aren’t we?”
On the other side of the river lied the entrance to the entertainment district which was littered with casinos and brothels.
The stone bridge was right in front of us (1), and the Royal Guards were standing on a watchtower, observing carefully incase any wanted criminals passed by.
Perhaps because it was still early in the afternoon, the entertainment district on the other side of the river did not seem so crowded, even though many people were still going in and out of the major casinos along the river.
The casino of the Scarlett Chamber Of Commerce, “Gorgeous Castle” had an exterior reminiscent of a Japanese-style castle. The casino was popular for its simple games that were not too demanding on the players skills.
And then there was “Arch Qi”, operated by the underworld organization ‘Hermit’. The large Western-style mansion was filled with elegant customers, mainly aristocrats and wealthy people.
“…see that? That one? You can’t go there. They’re definitely cheating. They’re preying on the rich.”
Glass pointed to a Western-style mansion across the river and said, without hiding his irritation and personal resentment.
“I mean, Glass-sama, you gamble? I didn’t expect that… I thought you’re more of a traditional and hard working man.”
Behind Hakuto and the others, Marie gasped as the blood drained from her face.
“Oh, come on, let’s get out of here. We don’t have to cross the bridge, it should be there on this side… Hey, Glass. Can you get some snacks to eat?”
Erika started to make some reckless requests of Glass, probably because she was getting hungry after walking through the street filled with stalls.
“No, no, what about the three rules? We’ll have to withdraw with the investigation team if you feel hungry! Is it all right with you, with the destination so close in sight?“
“….Ah, those three clauses only apply when we reach our destination! Not to mention, we haven’t agreed to them!”
“…Oh, did my father give you an errand to get him a drink?”
A knight resting under a watchtower teasingly called out to a girl in a dealer’s outfit who had come across the bridge from the entertainment district.
“F*ck off! Who would give a drink to a guy like that? He just goes to church and takes care of his kids before work!”
The girl’s tone was rough despite her appearance, but the knight replied to her without the slightest bit of concern.
“Hey, hey, don’t talk to customers like that, okay? You know that bad guys care about consequences! I don’t want to see you getting hurt!“
“Oh, oh, thank you…”
“You’ve got a good job, don’t you? You should save up some money in case of emergencies.“
“I’ve already saved it. Don’t worry about it. I’ve got it on deposit at the store.”
This girl, who grew up in the entertainment district and passed this bridge everyday for shopping, was a familiar face to the knights and was like a cute little sister to all of them.
“Damn. Don’t let my old man find out, okay?“
“I know. You should buy your wife a present or something. She was complaining about it the other day when I happened to see her.“
“No way, seriously…?”
“…is this the place?”
“This is… the only place here.”
Erika repeatedly checked the map.
A house stood alone in a garden that looked like a field, due to the overflowing weeds in it.
The academy teachers were well paid, even if they taught unpopular classes, and it was hard to imagine them living in such a house.
“I have a feeling that he’s an eccentric person… In the meantime, why don’t you knock on the door, to see if we have the right address?”
Oswald, still wearing his hood over his head, suggested to Hakuto and Erika.
Glass and Marie, who were standing on both the sides next to Erica, remained silent, as if they preferred to be left to their own devices.
“Right. Glass, please.”
“Yes, of course.”
Glass, who had received a task from Erika, knocked hard on the door of the isolated house.
After a short wait, the door was opened.
“–What is it…? …Royal Princess Erika!“
A slender man who opened the door and peeked out of the house immediately jumped out as soon as he saw Erika, closed the door behind him, and straightened his posture.
“I am surprised to see you in such a place…“
“…what can I help you with…?”
“Are you… Juan?”
“I’m afraid so…..”
Seeing his poor appearance and his hair that was growing out like seaweed, Hakuto and his friends’ expectations for him faded away.
“…looks like I can knock him down with a single punch.“
Oswald’s unintentional outburst startled Juan.
“Are you going to punch me?!“
“Hey, hey, you’re being rude! I’m sorry… sir. I’m here to ask you something. Can you teach me about witchcraft?”
At Hakuto’s mention of witchcraft, a suspicious look appeared on Juan’s face.
The fact that someone like the princess and her delegates came to ask about witchcraft seemed unnatural to him.
So, Hakuto and Erika asked for his cooperation, giving only the minimum information permitted by Prince Alto.
“…I see. You had such a difficult situation on your hands… Of course, as a citizen and a teacher, I will cooperate with all my knowledge. You can count on me.”
“Thank you!“ Hakuto exulted.
He was probably feeling good that the investigation he was leading was finally moving forward.
Erika, Oswald, Marie and Juan were all smiling.
“…there is a nice coffee shop nearby where we can talk. It is a good enough place that can welcome Her Royal Highness-”
“Do you have a pet?”
Glass’s question interrupted the friendly atmosphere.
“What? Why all of a sudden…?”
Erika and the others, even Marie, was puzzled by the unintelligible question.
“Not really, I don’t have one… Did you hear noises from my house?“
“Yes, there were noises.”
“Oh, then I think it’s the neighbor’s cat or just a mouse. This house is old, so sometimes they come in through holes searching for somewhere to forage.“
All of them let out a sigh and relaxed.
Marie, however, couldn’t shake the feeling of unease that had been brewing in her heart at Glass’s attitude, and she pondered over it.
“I’ve been wondering. Even though there are not many students in your class, you are still a teacher at the academy. Even I live in a better place than tis. If you are an official teacher, you should be paid more than me… It’s just inexplicable.”
He pushed up his glasses with his fingers, complaining and speaking one-sidedly to Juan.
“Uh, what are you trying to say…?”
“There’s a secret basement, isn’t there?”
Juan’s facade of weakness cracked.
“It’s a cliche, but it’s a good thing to remember. Anyone with a secret dark side will quickly build a lair in their basement. From his basement, the sounds of multiple animals is reverberating. The cost of feeding the… animals must definitely not be cheap.”
Marie muttered faintly, doubts forming in her head.
When the man came out, she had caught a glimpse of a clean and beautiful room.
However, he did not let the princess sit down in the room, but closed the door immediately and started talking while standing.
And that’s when Marie understood.
“Oh my God, you can’t be!“
Erika and the others, who still did not understand the meaning behind Marie’s sudden change, were startled by her enlarged eyes.
The only thing on Hakuto and the others’ minds was to catch the person who caused the incident at the castle, and to them, Juan was a teacher who was recognized by the academy.
In other words, he was trustworthy.
That’s why they did not even have a passing thought that Juan could be experimenting… forbidden magic (・・・・・) with animals.
…They had made too many miscalculations in regards to Juan.
Juan was 46 years old.
An assassin rarely survives this long.
Numerous crises arise in the course of their missions, the clutches of vengeance always lurked over them, and the possibility of death always always held an iron grip, regardless of whether the assassin was active or retired.
Only a master ends up surviving till Juan’s age.
Juan’s face lost all its emotion, like he had removed a mask.
Almost as soon as Juan quietly jumped forward, Marie leapt in front of Erika and swung her shortsword down vertically.
Her strong arm, which was trained every day with the individual aim of protecting Celestia, could cut through flesh and bone without mercy, even with only a shortsword.
That was, if she could land a hit.
He easily ducked from the sword’s path, and moved towards his pre-determined target.
As soon as he observed the visitors through the window he had successfully obtained, he understood everything about them. Their weapons, their approximate strength, their muscle tone, and where they stood.
Marie’s dominant hand was her right.
Because of her role as an escort, she used a shortsword, which was easy to maneuver, and even if he avoided the attack she used her dominant hand for, a single-handed slash with her left hand could be fatal.
His plan was to avoid Marie and maneuver to her left hand side, where there was a slight delay in her movement, and aim at the target.
Juan’s eyes become as inorganic as icicles, and his mana surged through him.
His gait, which accelerated further, consisted of quiet and sharp steps that used magic similar to the magic manipulation method taught by Glass.
(He’s fast!) (2)
Marie’s shortsword and the man, who believed he would not lose in terms of speed, were clearly too slow for the magic that was about to be performed.
In addition, a blow to Marie’s elbow deflected her attempt to grab on.
Marie’s barrier, which was designed to protect her, was also easily breached.
Juan performed a sequence of moves that contained the most rudimentary and the most profound part of the assassination technique he had learned.
It was a technique to catch an opponent off guard and strangle him with only a single moment’s lethal killing intent.
Though the recoil would be fatal if it was countered, taking such a risk was viable for someone as skilled as Juan.
There will be no escape.
He thrust a dark weapon hidden under his long sleeves, which flew out like a dagger-
“Brilliant. You have both talent and hard work. That’s why-“
But there was a realm that even he could not reach.
The experience he gained from surviving on the front lines of death, the skills he has cultivated by burying countless targets.
Once someone is recognized as a skilled fighter, and they’re determined to wield their skills, the way they do things becomes insignificant to them. The way they do things will quickly lose it’s meaning.
“—-now, go to sleep.”
Unfortunately for him, the one on the receiving end of his attack was the servant who was standing defenseless next to… Erika.
Translator Notes :
(1) – The original translation here was ‘a stone’s throw away’ as a pun, but that flowed quite odd no matter how much I edited it.
(2) – Brackets represent inner thoughts.
I’ll be back with a new chapter!