Yuri realized that the thing in Lakis’ hand right now was the flower she had seconds ago. When she was heading to the entrance of the square, she moved the flower from her head to her hand and it seems he saw that.
Lakis held the rose he had taken from Yuri at some point and brought it to his face as if wanting to smell it. Then he slowly backed away. And as he disappeared into the crowd before her eyes…
He crushed the flower in his hand.
The red petals gradually scattered into the air. Only traces of the destroyed petals remained in his place.
Yuri looked at where Lakis disappeared with narrowed eyes. The rose had already been bruised while she was moving through the square, so it was going to wilt anyways.
So even if it was given to her by someone she suspected to be her favorite character, she planned on tossing it in a trash can on the way home. But it seems Lakis had gotten rid of it for her instead.
‘But why did he even take it? Maybe…did he notice that it was me earlier so this is something like a declaration of war?’
Right now, her clothes were changed, and she also didn’t have the ruin’s fragment which Lakis was interested in, so she wanted to think that wasn’t the case.
But somehow, she felt a little wary.
Yuri frowned and quickened her pace again. It looks like she would have to take a closer look at Lakis’ condition when she got home.
* * *
Dark City of Carnot.
In the middle of the city was a towering castle. The sharp castle appeared as dark as soot and its exterior looked like the sharp nail of a beast, or perhaps a rake.
A group of crows cut across the purple-hued sky.
The crows hovered over the black castle, their wings flapping audibly in the air. Then they soon settled down on the castle’s pointed steeple, one by one.
One of them sat by the window at the top of the castle, its wings folded as it trotted to the side.
“Right, so you lost him?”
Beyond the moonlit window, was a chair as large as a throne.
“You couldn’t catch one dying bastard and lost him like an idiot.”
There, a man sitting with his legs crossed was slowly whispering to his prostrating subordinate.
“I-I’m sorry! If you give me one more chance…!”
The new lord of Carnot looked down at the man at his feet, his features half-bathed in shadows.
The men who were crawling at Lakis’ feet not too long ago were now begging for their lives in front of him. Authority, and the thing which made it possible to wield that authority, immense power, was such a sweet thing.
“Okay. You see, I am a generous lord.”
The new lord swirled the wine glass in his hand and his lips curled upwards. The clouds parted and the revealed moonlight struck the man’s beautifully sculptured face.
Charming blonde hair that shone brilliantly even in the dark. Cold blue eyes that were as clear as broken glass. The man’s face was surprisingly the exact same as Lakis’.
“You have a deadline of ten days. Find that fake and bring his head to me by then.”
The red liquid in the wineglass was cast in shadow, giving it a deeper light.
“If you fail again, it’ll be your head on that display.”
As the lord spoke, he tilted his glass over the man prostrated at his feet.
The mild fragrance of the red liquid soaked the man’s hair, dirtying even the carpet on the floor.
It was something that could make someone feel humiliated but the subordinate merely bowing his head repeatedly and swore that he will definitely succeed this time then he left.
After that, the other subordinate who was swallowing drily by the side, realized it was his turn and stiffened tensely.
“Is the search for the ‘mutant’ going well?”
“Yes…! I’m doing my best and putting in all effort possible.”
“Your best and effort?”
At those words, his lips distorted.
“I didn’t call you here to hear such word play. Shall I burn that useless tongue?”
“I-I’m sorry! We’re extracting information from the ‘mutant’ we just secured. It’s making rapid progress, so we’ll be able to find a new mutant soon.”
The hand holding the empty wine-glass moved up and down in the air. And every time, there was a thrumming sound of the wine-glass hitting the armrest of the chair.
“I’ll give you five days. If there are no new achievements by then, I’ll look for someone else.”
In other words, the subordinate’s head would also become an ornament on display.
“I won’t disappoint you!”
The subordinate left the room also feeling the pressure of fire being dropped on his foot.
Now left alone in the room, the man leaned deeper into the chair.
‘Lakis…you should have just died right away.’
His name was Milliam.
He was once the only confidant Lakis kept by his side. But at present day, that had become a past which could not even be looked fondly upon.
It was none other than Milliam himself, who trampled all over their relationship.
Milliam looked out the window, at the moon shining white in the sky. The view over Carnot from Lakis’ room was indeed unrivaled.
《Bite before you are bitten.》
That was the way of life in Carnot.
The eyes of the crow sitting outside the window reflected the icy smile on the man’s face.
Soon, a black feather fell, and the crow flew into the sky. It was an ordinary day, without the occurrence of anything too special.
It was one night’s work.
Part 7: The main characters of the novel are best served intertwined.
After festival was over, I regretted my stupid actions.
‘Why did I steal the ruin’s fragment from the auction?’
Thanks to that, I wasn’t able complete my request as Arachne. Once I realized I couldn’t get any money from my client except the down payment, I regretted it immediately.
All I had to do was win the expensive bid with my client’s money, get paid, then steal it from my client. Of course, that idea that ran extremely counter to business ethics. But it would have been a better choice.
The moment I saw the ruin’s fragment at the auction back then, I was driven by impulse…
But when I thought about it, it’s not like I could do anything with it even though I had it? I didn’t want to do experiments like the people at the research institute, nor did I want to increase my strength by taking another fragment.
But I couldn’t just get rid of it. The price of the stone which I had heard with my very own ears at the auction seized my wrists.
My mind wandered as I stirred the pot with a ladle.
‘Should I sell it on the black market?’
Judging from the price it went up to at the auction, it might sell higher than I thought.
Come to think of it, that auction host.
He definitely said the ruin’s fragment could only be activated by alchemists of the highest grade. I remember him looking oddly confident when he said that as if he wasn’t lying at all.
Then, was the ruin’s fragment really related to alchemy?
Damon Salvatore seemed to know that this wasn’t the philosopher’s stone. Then, did he also know that this thing was actually a ruin’s fragment?
If so, why was he trying to buy it? What was he going to use it for? Was it simply for research? An alchemist’s academic enthusiasm was enormous, after all.
‘Let’s sell it to Damon Salvatore then.’
Although Damon Salvatore’s personality was somewhat prickly in the novel, he wasn’t someone that would do inhumane work. Therefore, he wouldn’t use this to do human experiment like the doctor at the lab in Carnot.
‘I guess it’ll be best to sell it to Damon Salvatore.’
Besides, from what I could see at the auction house, he was willing to pay a high price.
I was seriously thinking about this.
Then I suddenly realized the salt shaker was empty and reached for the top of the cupboard to get another one. But even on my toes, I couldn’t reach the top shelf.
If this was a while back, I would have simply cast a spider web and be done with it, but I couldn’t do that when Lakis was parked right in the living room behind me.
Above all, I had used my ability in front of him on the day of the festival so there was even more reason not to. Hence, I had no choice but to drag a chair over to make up for my shortcoming.
But just as I stood on it and stretched out my hand, one of the legs of the chair made a sound and because the chair was already falling apart, it broke with a loud snap.
My body tipped backwards. I almost shot out a thread reflexively.
But thankfully, someone caught me before I could do that. Sturdy arms were wrapped around my waist, supporting me. When I subconsciously turned my head, I came face to face with clear blue eyes.
The handsomely sculptured face of a man was very close to mine. Then the clean-cut lips which were firmly shut, parted slowly.
 This was formerly translated ‘variant’. It has been changed to mutant.
 I love how this titled is worded. I think the best description is: The main characters of the novel have to get involved with one another. Author uses the words used to describe food like when you say, “Ice cream is best served cold” or “Ice cream tastes best when it’s cold”. I just had to leave the best served in there and ‘involved’ doesn’t work.
T/N: You know, I’m starting to wonder if these endings are supposed to be cliff hangers. I mean, they sort of are?? Maybe? OK, they are.