From what I knew, it was a pretty expensive item so not just anyone could get it…
Then again, for a Crawford, that price was cheap.
“Then, I look forward to your kind cooperation.”
“Ah yes, me too.”
And a while later, the two of them stood up and exchanged fishy pleasantries. I wanted to know what was going on but both Anne-Marie and Kalian zoomed out of the coffeehouse like they were busy so I couldn’t find out what they were talking about in the end.
* * *
At the black market located near the eastern and western borders.
Perhaps due to the fact that Crawford had swept through the place, the entire area was as quiet as a graveyard. Of course, with the nature of the black market itself, activities began at night rather than day so that also contributed to it. But even so, everyone was playing it especially safe today.
The illegal slave trading site that was tackled head-on was particularly empty today. It was impossible for them to avoid a crackdown from the Crawfords as they had been caught engaging in the kidnapping of free people, children included, and even dealing in slavery. So you might say that the illegal slave trade closed down after that day. But in actuality, their headquarters was somewhere else.
“F*ck, we even lost the mutant we finally got, you foolish bastards…!”
Actually, the ones caught by Kalian’s surprise raid were merely the henchmen, the main backbone survived. Among them, Norden who was directly in-charge of managing the illegal slave trade, was once again in a very bad mood.
He was not around when Lakis was invading his business, so he was not brainwashed. The same went for his other subordinates who were in the headquarters with him right now. But because all his men that were at the slave market had already been taken by Crawford, they didn’t know about the strange things that had taken place there.
“What about the new mutant? Where is it? Didn’t you say you found it last time?”
“Uhh, somehow, all our search groups have been wiped out…”
“These incompetent idiots!”
Norden flew off his handle and beat up his follower for a while. Then panting with rage, he sent out all the people in the room, sank into the sofa and began to rack his brain.
The situation wasn’t good at all.
This work was a direct order from Carnot. But talk less of finding a new mutant, they even let the one they already had escape.
“F*ck, at this rate, won’t I get buried too?”
“Oh, you know?”
But the moment after he gravely muttered to himself, he suddenly heard a man’s voice in front of him. Norden looked up in shock. To his horror, a white-masked man sat in front of him.
He was so surprised, his heart almost leapt out of his chest. Forget not hearing the door open, Norden didn’t even sense anyone around. How could he not sense that someone was in his room until they were sitting opposite him, right in front of his nose?!
Was the guy already hidden before he came into the room?
Even if that was true, it didn’t make it any better. It didn’t change the fact that while an uninvited guest sat down with ease and shamelessly put their leg on his table, he didn’t notice anything. The guy even had the bottle of wine that was on the table in his lowered hand.
“Who the hell are you…!”
Norden screamed as he jumped out his seat. Then the masked man tilted his head to the side. The intruder’s white mask was lifted up slightly so all Norden could see was the man’s mouth.
‘Dammit, the cabinet is too far!’
He felt cold sweat rolling down his spine. He was completely unprepared and defenseless because he didn’t expect to meet an unwanted guest like this.
“Which organization are you from? What do you want?!”
Despite Norden making so much noise that it could be heard outside the door, the man didn’t look bothered in the slightest. In addition, even though the people outside should have heard his voice, it remained deathly silent. In that moment, a strange sense of anxiety washed over Norden.
“No one will come even if you wait.”
As though reading Norden’s mind, the masked man in front of him formed a suspicious smile.
“I’ve already recycled all the trash outside.”
Red blood dripped from the man’s hand resting on the armrest of the chair. Norden quickly made a dive for it. He was trying to get his secret weapon which was hidden in his room in case of emergencies.
“Looking for this?”
But as soon as his hand touched the cabinet, a chilly voice brushed past him. And at the same time, he realized his cabinet was empty.
Norden’s eyes bulged and he whipped around. Then he noticed that the man had drawn very close before he knew it and the item in the man’s hand filled his sight.
“Wow. It cost those research bastards a fortune to get a few of these at an auction and to think I’m seeing this there. Unlike how you look, you must be rolling in money, huh?”
The white egg-shaped gem, boasting an enormous price, became powder in his hands and sprinkled to the floor.
“But you give me this kind of cheap alcohol to drink. Makes me lose my appetite.”
Then the man carelessly dropped the wine bottle in his other hand.
The very next moment, the masked man’s strong hand gripped Norden’s neck. Norden couldn’t help but be shaken because he didn’t expect such an intruder in broad daylight.
“W-What do…you want…”
Norden barely managed to croak out a few words from his clutched vocal cords. Then a lazy voice flowed from under the mask.
“What a smart one. Right, to live, you have to give it everything you got. Even if you roll over like a dog, better to be alive than in the next, right?”
His bloody fingers tapped Norden’s cheek lightly. But what the man said next didn’t make sense to Norden.
“I’m going to look into your head a little now.”
“Honestly, I didn’t really use this when I first got it so I’m a little clumsy. So there’s a very high chance of destroying your mind.”
After the odd tone rang in his ears, the masked face in front of him tilted slightly again.
“Well, I don’t think it matters.”
Clear, light blue eyes shone frostily behind the mask. And finally, the dark shadows of the man’ hand slowly covered Norden’s eyes.
“You’re dead either ways.”
* * *
‘Like I thought, the ones gathering the mutants are a false front.’
As Lakis exited the black market sometime later, there was a suspicious smile at the corner of his lips. He already had a guess, but their range of activities really didn’t exceed his expectation.
Milliam, who betrayed him, looked exactly like Lakis now and was using his ability. But to think he was now looking for other mutants.
Lakis didn’t know what route the guy took but he was certain the bastard had the ability to replicate powers that had already been absorbed from the ruins.
—But Lakis, if that bastard really stole all your abilities, wouldn’t it be faster and more reliable to mess with his brain and make him obedient when he’s off guard?
‘I probably would if he stole everything.’
—Right? It’s not like you’re limited to being a pushover to that guy, you could just take the chance and use it…
From what Lakis could tell, the power the traitor had stolen from him was only the powers he had shown in front of other people. So was it possible the traitor could only absorb an ability he had seen personally?
Lakis had to verify that idea before he went to Carnot. Because if that was true, the bastard didn’t know that Lakis had other hidden abilities. And it was also necessary to know if the traitor had abilities he had stolen from other mutants. Which is why he went through the trouble of looking for Odin, the information dealer.
But perhaps he should say it was fortunate that the finding of mutants had a reward attached to it, because the people didn’t have any sort of unity. So although the first mutant caught by the slave traders exposed Yuri after torture, they were very few people who knew about Yuri’s existence. But just in case, he was wiping out all the search groups that were scattered all over the place after that day.
And now, it was time to resolve his issue with the Crow. Lakis began to head to where he would meet the information dealer, Odin.
* * *
As soon as he saw Lakis, the tied up Odin squawked.
Odin was still restrained in the form of a crow. It was Odin who initially wanted to act like he was an ordinary crow but after Lakis bound his limbs and locked him up for a few days, he was now full of spite.
“You prick! What did you do to Arachne! Even if you’re the king of Carnot, you can’t…!”
Lakis gazed at Odin and coldly ordered. A mysterious gleam flashed through his blue eyes and immediately, Odin’s beak shut close.
“I’m glad you stopped acting like some random crow, but this noisiness is not doing it for me.”
The place they were in currently, was an empty warehouse. Lakis carelessly kicked the wooden crate littered on the floor to make a seat from himself. Then he sat down and stared at the struggling crow before removing the restraint.
 If it wasn’t clear, this just means he’s dealt with all the trash outside.
 He says it cost the research people ten fingers which I assume means a steep price, hence, a fortune.
T/N: I’m starting to think Lakis loves the word ‘Shut up’.