Translated by: Miss Ruby
* * *
‘What the hell is this…’
Once Kalian’s eyes adjusted to the darkness and he saw the light reflected in his eyes, he was at loss for words. The place he was standing in right was the depth of the central council which was restricted to authorized personnel.
If not for the fact that he was a Crawford, he certainly wouldn’t have been able to even take two steps at the entrance.
But after that, he was not allowed entry even with his name, Kalian Crawford, and eventually had to sneak inside, using a gap where the security was relatively lax.
Actually, Kalian had known that this place existed for a long time now. But this was the first time he made up his mind to check it out himself.
All this time, he thought he shouldn’t meddle since this was Dominic’s area and apart from certain things, he didn’t involve himself any further in the central council’s affairs.
When an order came from above, he followed it faithfully but honestly, Kalian was not that deeply involved in politics. The only times when Kalian moved first of his own accord was then the situation violated his moral-line or when it was something that could destroy the East’s honor.
That got Kalian the title, ‘The Hero of the East’ or whatever it was called but frankly, he thought he was undeserving of that title.
In fact, there were cases where he deliberately looked away because he didn’t want to be the one to take the lead.
One of such cases was the scene inside the room that Kalian was currently looking into. A work carried out with utmost secrecy, known to very few, even among those inside.
This place was actually an armory.
The black metallic objects shone with luster even in the darkness. Kalian has seen something similar before.
Dominic had used this very same weapon on the dogs in the mansion. However, its shape was slightly sharper than before, it looked sleeker and lighter too.
‘I thought I heard it was still in the experimental stage but it’s already complete?’
The weapons in the rooms were embedded with the same gem that was embedded in Kalian’s sword.
Of course, alchemy had always been used to increase the strength and lethality of their weapons. But this new weapon was completely different from the ones that already existed.
Since it was a ranged weapon, there was no need to fight directly with your opponent so the risk to its user was much lower and its lethality was far superior to a bow. Besides, it was easy to operate so you didn’t need to train long before you could see the weapon effectively.
Due to this, Kalian felt vigilant for a bit, when he first heard about it in passing. Because he knew that if such a weapon was invented, the impact on the world would certainly not be small.
But soon enough, his mind turned to other things and he didn’t think too deeply about it because he thought that such a convenient weapon would not be developed so easily.
However, the number of completed weapons in this room was like no other.
To think they improved and manufactured such a large number of weapons. It was far too much to overlook it and let it pass.
‘Could they be preparing for war?’
Furthermore, according to Genos, the stone fragments they found in the locations where the missing children were discovered were the same as the material used in alchemy.
However, the gemstone called ‘the blessed stone’, wasn’t it supplied and managed by the Central Council in the first place?
If so, then…
‘I have no choice but to believe they are connected to the disappearances.’
Kalian clenched his fist tight. He quietly slipped away from the armory.
The conversation he secretly overheard from the nobles coming out of the meeting earlier lingered in his ears.
“So, the newly developed weapon is going to be introduced at the praying ceremony for the first time, right?”
“Indeed, I heard they are also considering introducing it as a death penalty in the future if the reactions are good.”
“That will be a glorious sight.”
“It won’t be long before the world once again knows the power of the East.”
They were all high-ranking nobles in the East.
But none of them was Salvatores, whose influence was only second to the Crawfords.
Kalian headed towards another top-secret zone in the Central Council’s depths.
The knights standing guard saluted when they saw him.
“You’re working hard. I heard the heretic has been causing quite a disturbance, has there been any other issue?”
“Yessir, they refused to eat the food with sleeping pills, so we threw incense inside and put them to sleep.”
“I want to go inside and check their condition.”
“We have orders from above not to let anyone inside until the praying ceremony.”
Sure enough, entry to this place was also strictly forbidden. Even Kalian couldn’t see the heretic that was locked up separately in this place.
“He, He is the same age as me. H-He has brown hair and yellow eyes and he’s wearing…”
“And, and he has puppy ears and a tail…”
But considering the circumstances, the possibility of the friend that Anne-Marie’s sister talked about being here seemed very high. If what she said was true, then the kid named Leo was definitely a heretic.
As a result, he was investigated separately and the fact that he didn’t have a registered identity became evidence.
None of the heretics arrested so far had such a distinctive outer appearance. Therefore, you could say it was only natural that he was being handled separately.
“My, My friend is not a bad person! He’s my friend, just like the other kids.”
Kalian’s hand, which was touching the sword on his waist, moved slightly.
But instead of causing chaos by pulling out his weapon here, Kalian turned back quietly.
“Well then, keep up the work.”
“Take care, sir.”
Kalian’s eyes were ice-cold as he turned around and walked away.
* * *
The next day, his subordinate, Russell Harpman, who had been swamped with work for a few days because of Kalian’s order, came to see him.
“The movement of the Salvatore family is unusual.”
Russell was no different from Kalian’s limbs so he was the only person in the search division that Kalian could entrust with this job.
Russell lowered his voice and whispered to Kalian.
“I heard they are searching for a weakness in the Crawford house in order to launch a counterattack. It seems they are planning something for this upcoming praying ceremony.”
Kalian’s eyes sank subtly when he heard the report.
He knew the Salvatores wouldn’t just shrink back without trying something, but they were moving faster than he expected.
“Also, there’s this.”
However, there were other issues that Kalian considered more important than them. This would determine how he would move forward from now on, depending on the results.
“This is the result from tracking the Central Council’s movement over the past 3 years with the authority you lent me. It was done in a bit of a rush so there might be some lacking parts.”
Kalian read every single letter of the report. And when he finally got to the last page, he had to swallow.
At some point, the moment of choice had arrived before him.
* * *
That night as well, Kalian stepped into the depths of the central council building.
The surroundings were very quiet.
There was only a soft breeze sweeping through the moonlit hallway.
Kalian moved quietly in the shadows, avoiding the sheer light and he seemed just like darkness itself.
And then suddenly, he heard the voice of someone he shouldn’t be hearing, come from the side.
“I guess you’re also busy running around and cleaning up shit.”
Kalian flinched and instinctively turned his head and at that moment, the moonlight crumbled before his eyes.
Fluttering blonde hair gleamed brilliantly in the dark. His eyes met those of the man sitting casually on the windowsill.
He was dressed entirely in black, but he didn’t cover his face, so his hair and face glistened ever so sharply under the moonlight.
One glance and Kalian immediately knew the identity of the man that appeared before him.
Just before Kalian swung the sword in his hand, Lakis quietly warned him.
“I don’t particularly care, but it won’t be good for you if you cause a disturbance here, will it?”
Instantly, the sword that was about to cut through the air paused.
Lakis was right. But when Kalian saw that calm and composed face, his killing intent soared.
Although Kalian stopped his attack, he was still vigilant and lowered his voice to speak.
“You must have lost your mind. Where do you think this is that you dare show your face around here?”
Their connection with each other was the fact that they engaged in battle not too long ago. Even though Kalian was the one defeated, and he wasn’t even able to inflict fatal damage to Lakis, they were definitely not close enough to greet each other amicably when they met.
“Did you come here on your own feet to get captured by me?”
“I’ll be troubled if you react like this.”
A thin smile, like the moon, spread across Lakis’ lips.
“I came here to make you an offer that will be beneficial to you out of the goodness of my heart. But if you act like this, it makes me want to kill you and get it over with.”
However, Kalian was in the same boat, in that he felt Lakis’ words were a bunch of nonsense.
“An offer? What bullshit…”
Lakis looked at Kalian’s frowning face with cold eyes.
Then soon, he clicked his tongue, as if he was saying he will be patient and let it go. After which, he stopped moving his fingers which were cracking with the bloodthirst.
And when Lakis’ following words cut through the night air and reached his ears, Kalian couldn’t help but suck in a breath.
“Indeed. I am offering a deal as the ruler of the West. To you, Hero of the east in-name-only.”
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