Chapter 4: Gotta Expect a Terrorist Incident on the Academy Admission Train (II)
When kids question why the United Kingdom is named so, Ivan suggests they take a peek at a train map instead.
During the war against the Demon King, the expansive railway system, serving as the lifeblood connecting cities and nations, ferried crucial military supplies.
These metal beasts cut travel times drastically—what once took over ten days by carriage now merely took a day. They were the unsung heroes of the war.
“Who’s arriving first?”
“It’s Einar from Drovian, sir. Princess Ecdysis is set to depart first!”
“Still January, isn’t it?”
“Who arrives two months early for the Manlita opening day? Even among royals! She’s incredibly diligent!”
“It seems Princess Ecdysis had a tough time in her hometown! People in Drovian probably find playing musical instruments amusing.”
“Oops, did I forget to mention? Princess Ecdysis applied to the Conservatory. She’s a major in the orchestra, specializing in the violin. Impressive, right? The bloodline of ‘that’ Einar, the King, has a knack for the violin.”
Ivan paused, struck by those words.
The Einar he recalled, pre-kingship, was a wild man wielding axes, collecting orc and minotaur heads.
“Hahaha, look, ‘little’ Ivan! This is how you wield an axe!”
Don’t daughters usually take after their fathers…?
No, that’s not it.
Despite several years passing, Ecdysis remained in Ivan’s memory as a little girl who adored her father.
In truth, she hardly resembled him, to everyone’s relief.
Nonetheless, she was about to become the strongest conservatory student. Ivan left a brief comment.
Ecdysis didn’t resemble her father in appearance or personality, but she certainly had an affinity for wielding an axe.
“By the way, sir, are you certain about this information? Causing an actual train terror?”
“Who? I mean, there are too many suspects, but… she’s the daughter of King Einar. If caught, you’ll face the Blood Eagle punishment for sure.”
The Blood Eagle was a favored folklore game among Drovian citizens, similar to traditional Korean games like Yut nori or Dano swings1, at least in drawing a crowd.
The specifics were too gruesome to explain in the Krasilov Kingdom’s refined society.
“If you take the shortest route from Drovian to St. Jan’s Academy, here.”
Ivan disregarded his words and drew a solid line on the route map.
One of the trade routes linking the Krasilov Kingdom and the Drovian Kingdom.
“And probably around here, Igorevichi Station. This area seems most plausible.”
“How can you be so certain…? No one would reveal the location for a terror act, right, sir?”
“Well, it’s set to explode near the border.”
The potential perpetrator behind the terror act remains unknown and unpredictable. He’s distanced from frontline action and intelligence agencies, yet speculation arises.
If there’s a recurring terror, the ‘why,’ ‘who,’ and ‘how’ need to align.
“The target would undoubtedly be Princess Ecdysis.”
“Well… If a terror truly happens, that could indeed be the case.”
Certainly, to stoke conflict between Krasilov and Drovian.
“So, if they aim to implicate the Krasilov Kingdom, the terror must happen within our borders, right?”
“Um… uh, yes, that makes sense.”
“But after Igorevichi Station, this route crosses three military zones.”
While trains might be susceptible to terror, these zones offer added security. Not entirely surrounded, but the route passes through at least three strongholds, a design primarily for military use.
“As it approaches the capital, security naturally tightens, making Igorevichi Station the most vulnerable.”
“Oh… yes, that’s true.”
“When is Princess Ecdysis scheduled to depart?”
A train terror demands substantial resources. Everyone involved loses years, even decades of infrastructure from the moment the incident occurs. The losses far outweigh gains from sabotaging a civilian railway.
Even if it were an attempt on King Einar’s cherished daughter, the losses would be immense. An incident on the train lacks clear accountability, making it challenging to escalate beyond a conflict, cooling diplomatic relations.
Stirring vigilance for such modest goals is seen as futile. Hence, the Krasilov royal family invests only minimal security.
This is the ‘common sense’ of this world—a rational judgment. Yet, Ivan’s ‘common sense’ differed, as it was official.
Four peaceful years have passed since the Demon King’s disappearance. Ivan’s anticipation of a train terror isn’t typical, especially when it’s merely about a foreign princess’s arrival and the usual receptions in the capital station.
“I’ll need to do this three more times.”
With a heavy sigh, Ivan stepped onto the train platform. Besides the Saintess, only four members of the hero party were departing from abroad.
For ‘Academy Entrance Train’ safety, he had to secure all five entry routes—a tiresome task in this otherworld.
Ivan boarded the train, pressing his temples firmly.
As Ivan departed towards the border, his junior headed to the palace to report.
“Your Highness, Sir Dmitry Cherkatov is at the palace.”
“In court, I’m the Royal Chancellor.”
“Yes, Your Grace.”
The opulent office exuded grandeur, housing Princess Elizaveta Kirillovna Krasilova. Amid a cluttered table, she absentmindedly toyed with a pen.
“Sir Petrovich has left.”
“Exclude what’s known.”
“They suspect a train terror. Time and place seem quite clear.”
Elizaveta halted her pen play.
“Did Vanca have an informant?”
“No, not in the past 4 years.”
Running an intelligence organization relies on managing human resources for effective operations.
Although Ivan’s actions were speculative, there was a sense of ‘certainty’ in him.
It felt like four years ago when he embarked on his last mission, making claims of a terror act without evidence, almost as if it were common knowledge.
Had someone other than Ivan made such a claim, Elizaveta would easily have dismissed it as ‘unreasonable.’
“This information might turn out to be nothing, but Sir Petrovich is active again. Your Grace, the legend hasn’t died at all,” Dmitry remarked.
The credibility of the information is a secondary issue. Since Ivan set off alone without requesting support, even if the information were wrong, there would be no loss at all.
Dmitry recalled his first encounter with Ivan, noting his instinctive ability to suppress any signs—a fundamental skill for an eradication unit.
Even in identifying an unseen position and height behind a closed door, Ivan’s preparedness for any potential threat was remarkable, a skill not common among active agents.
A faint chuckle echoed across the table, a sound Dmitry hadn’t heard in three years.
“Assign someone to document Vanca’s daily activities. Compile it for an urgent report available for inspection anytime.”
“Why not attend personally if you want it reported that way…?”
“If that were the case, I wouldn’t have sat idle for four years.”
Elizaveta chuckled and resumed writing.
“It’s better to reunite at a more opportune moment, a more perfect timing.”
“Anyway, instead of making empty chatter, go and defend your country, soldier. Go!”
“Yes, Your Grace. Agent Dmitri Cherkatov will proceed,” replied Dmitri with a troubled expression as he left the Eastern Chambers.
How can it be considered romantic and noble when every action of yours is meticulously observed and documented?
Well, Dmitri would certainly feel terrified if his lover engaged in such behavior.
When Dmitri’s agents reached Igorovich Station, they found three neatly wrapped body bags, but Ivan Petrovich was nowhere to be found, the crime scene meticulously cleansed of blood.
At that moment, Ivan was running through the woods with an axe.
1. Dano Swing
2. Yut Nori
3. Blood Eagle