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Chapter 18: To the Capital of the Empire (5)

After holding the man’s hand for some time, Rubia began to grasp the situation she was in once again.

Despite holding hands, she still had no idea what was happening around her.

‘So, who exactly are these people?’

There were three people who entered. They all wore the same black robes, indicating they belonged to a single group.

Their strength was extraordinary. A girl with white hair, small in stature, subdued all of her forces as easily as twisting a child’s wrist.

And it seemed she wasn’t even in a particularly high position within this organization.

Then, how powerful must the leader of this organization be?

It was beyond imagination.

And it wasn’t just their strength that was formidable.

Their intelligence. The level of their intelligence was inconceivable.

The fact that she was trying to sell that business to the empire was known only to her and the key figures of the empire.

How on earth did they find out about it?

How could they know so much about the workings of the empire?

A cold sweat ran down Rubia’s back.

In a way, it was expected.

A group with such intelligence and strength couldn’t have just appeared out of nowhere.

So, what was the answer?

It was simple.

The Black Fangs. The organization that has been causing a stir in the empire.

They assassinated the commander of the empire’s knights, and although not known to the public, they also assassinated one of the top leaders of the empire.

They even recently annihilated one of the empire’s elite forces, making them a notorious organization.

Despite committing such tremendous acts of terror against the empire, their purpose remains unclear.

No information about the members of the organization has been revealed, making it a secret organization that seems to shake the empire at will.

It was only then that Rubia realized the predicament she was in.

She had held the man’s hand, feeling a sense of doubt about the path she was currently on after hearing his words.

What if...

What if she hadn’t been persuaded by this man?

What would have happened then?

If she had pretended to accept the man’s offer only to betray him later?

It wasn’t hard to imagine what would have followed.

The leader of a group like the Black Fangs would not fail to notice her deceit.

She would have met the same end as a few others who had tried to dig up information on the Black Fangs and mentioned lies, driven mad and laughing as they plunged a knife into their own head.

Rubia just realized she had narrowly escaped death.

‘It’s a relief. I’m glad I took that hand at that moment.’

While thinking this, she suddenly realized something.

The leader of the Black Fangs had come to her seeking cooperation, and she had readily taken his hand.

Does this mean... she’s now a member?

Her face turned pale in an instant.

She was just reflecting on her life, deciding to mend her ways after a bit of self-reflection, and now she had somehow joined a secret organization.

And not just any organization, but a notorious one that was causing unprecedented turmoil in the empire.

Her hand, which was leisurely pouring tea, started to tremble.

However, she quickly composed herself.

There was no turning back now, even if she wanted to. Even if it was an ignorant mistake, mentioning it would mean immediate departure from this world.

And upon reflection... it wasn’t all bad.

The Black Fangs, much maligned by the empire, had yet to even have their number of members disclosed.

Their security was that tight.

Yet conversely, that man had seen right through everything from her plans to the internal affairs of the empire.

It was clear who had the upper hand in intelligence.

And in terms of force, based on her own experiences, they didn’t seem to be lacking either.

If this organization is truly moving towards a revolution, as the rumors suggest...

There’s a possibility.

Maybe... they could really pull it off.

Rubia organized her thoughts and reached a conclusion.

There’s no harm in being involved.

In fact, it might be quite beneficial.

But the important thing is...

“Do you like tea? ...I mean, do you enjoy it?”

It’s terrifying.

Too terrifying.

How on earth is one supposed to serve the leader of a secret organization who treats a powerhouse capable of crushing walls with a single punch as just another underling?

Rubia felt like she might burst into tears at any moment.

*****

Rubia turned out to be much kinder than I had expected.

In fact, her kindness was so overwhelming that it caught me off guard. Despite my aggressive intrusion, Rubia took my words seriously.

And it wasn’t because she felt threatened and was pretending to listen to us.

Siel had said she didn’t sense any hostility from Rubia.

Although the previous work didn’t feature magic that could read people’s minds, Siel wasn’t the type to lie in such situations.

Moreover, among demons, there are rare ones with the ability to read emotions, so it wouldn’t be strange if a demon contracted with Siel had a similar power.

‘I was even prepared for a confrontation.’

To think she would courteously serve tea with honorifics to someone who had caused such a ruckus.

And without bearing any malice at all.

She was a paragon of virtue like no other.

‘Are all the main characters in this work usually like this?’

Come to think of it, it started with Siel.

She offered half her soul to a demon to save me, even though she didn’t know my name yet.

Lien also left her family-like villagers to help me and embarked on an unplanned journey because of my request.

Both are exceptionally kind and good-hearted.

Considering that there were quite a few unpleasant characters among the protagonists in the previous work, this is unusual.

Could this be the result of the gore-loving developers coming to their senses and aiming for mainstream appeal?

Regardless, it was a fortunate turn of events for me. There’s no downside to having characters with good personalities.

I politely drank the tea Rubia served, asking her to speak more comfortably with me as she was using honorifics.

“I’m truly sorry. It just happened that I had to resort to some coercive measures...”

Such gracious hospitality. I had a conscience, so I felt compelled to apologize sincerely to her.

“Oh, no, it’s fine. These things happen.”

Such a generous response.

I was admiring Rubia’s character when I noticed something a bit odd.

It seemed like Rubia’s eyes were not focused on me.

Now that I think about it, I felt an odd presence lurking behind me since a while ago.

Every time I apologized to Rubia, the sense of menace seemed to intensify.

I turned around to see what was at the end of Rubia’s gaze, but it was just Siel standing there.

Siel was sipping the tea like a cat, delicately enjoying each sip.

...Wasn’t that my tea?

I was about to say something but then decided against it.

From what I’ve learned while traveling together, it’s easier to just let Siel’s peculiar behaviors slide.

Besides, there were more pressing matters at hand.

“I hate to impose, but is there any chance we could receive some support?”

I cautiously broached the subject with Rubia.

This was the biggest hurdle I faced.

I wasn’t particularly worried about asking for help to deal with the mastermind.

Rubia is a good character, after all. If I tell her about the mastermind’s schemes, she would naturally want to intervene without even being asked.

But that’s different from receiving support.

I had no idea how to justify our request for support.

Even if she’s a good character, a businessperson is still a businessperson. She wouldn’t just hand out support for no reason.

And I couldn’t possibly tell her the real reason.

I couldn’t say that this world is actually inside a game and that I need help to prevent the apocalypse I saw in the game’s trailer.

So, all I could offer were vague statements.

Something about needing support to make the world a better place, as if I were some kind of charity organization.

But there was no way she would support me based on such nonsense.

Or so I thought...

Rubia nodded eagerly, as if she was expecting my request.

I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Really?

She would offer support for such absurd, nonsensical ramblings?

I asked her repeatedly if she was serious, and Rubia’s answer was always the same.

She even declared that she could swear a mana oath on it.

“Don’t worry about that cure matter... I’ll make it as if it never existed right now.”

Hearing those words, I finally felt that everything had been perfectly resolved. There had been some issues along the way, but... this was definitely a huge success.

I had achieved both objectives perfectly: securing a powerful backer and dealing with the dark forces.

“That’s a relief.”

“Huh? What do you mean by relief...?”

“I was wondering whether I should kill them. It was quite a dilemma.”

Could things have turned out any better?

Rubia had clearly stated she would not kill the person plotting the scheme but would make the issue disappear as if it never existed.

I’m no psychopath; given the option to resolve things without killing, I wouldn’t prefer death.

So, I genuinely smiled and spoke.

“It’s a relief that we can resolve this peacefully, without resorting to killing. Right?”

A clattering sound followed as a teacup fell to the ground. Rubia’s face turned pale instantly.

It seemed she might have been cut by the broken pieces of the cup.

‘I should send Siel later to heal her.’

With that thought, I shook hands with Rubia.

It seemed likely that we would be seeing a lot more of each other in the future.

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