A few days had passed.
It had been raining hard ever since that day. It did stop, sometimes, but it would just rain even more after.
It seemed like the rainy season had started.
Charlotte told me that we should start our investigation after the rain stopped and put the Demon Gods’ Church case on hold.
Really, it was Ellen—not Charlotte and the investigation—that mattered.
She didn’t just not come to the training room…
She didn’t even do her morning workout anymore, and she didn’t appear in the dining room at the times she’d usually eat some snacks, either.
I couldn’t help but know what was going on.
She was avoiding me. She tried to evade any situation in which she was likely to encounter me unless she couldn’t help it.
Even when I saw her in the dormitory, she would only pass me, pretending that I was air. Normally we would not really greet each other or act all close—we would just practice together when the time came and eat together.
However, things felt different from usual. Even when she didn’t greet me, she used to at least still make eye contact with me. Ellen didn’t even look at me—she was completely ignoring me.
I had a lot of secrets, and I couldn’t reveal any of them. Ellen eventually couldn’t help but be reminded of her brother.
A person that cared for her but never told her anything, someone that knew everything about her but never told her anything about himself.
She didn’t want to be close to another person that was like that. She was sure that I would only end up making her sad, so she decided to just avoid me.
In the end, the newspaper club didn’t manage to achieve their original goal of slandering me and ruining my reputation. However, that whole ordeal made Ellen realize a different truth, creating trouble for me in a different way.
It was difficult.
People like Harriet, who would just get irrationally angry, were rather easy to deal with because we could still hold conversations.
However, Ellen was really calm and simply concluded that it would only hurt more to be close to me, so she acted the way she did. She didn’t even try to find out my secrets or spread rumors about me for acting suspiciously.
She was very open-minded and told me her secret first, but she never asked me why I never told her anything about me.
She just quietly pushed me away.
Her feelings were understandable.
If she were to continue to be close to me while I didn’t tell her anything, it would only stimulate Ellen’s trauma; she would keep getting reminded of her brother when she looked at me.
So for the next few days, I just swung my training sword on my own without Ellen. I didn’t know whether she locked herself up in her room or trained somewhere else because she didn’t want to run into me.
I was beating up a scarecrow with my training sword. Ellen and I wouldn’t really talk while sparring, as it was a time to focus on our swordsmanship.
However, I felt really bored because I was doing it alone.
And besides that, there was another problem.
-Whack! Bang! Whack!
There were three people who regularly appeared in the training room:
Ellen, Cliffman, and me.
When Ellen and I sparred with each other, Cliffman would just whack the scarecrows on his own, whether we were there or not.
However, since Ellen hadn’t shown up there in the last few days, Cliffman seemed to feel the strange atmosphere around me because my expression was still so stiff.
You guys fought, didn’t you?
He was able to tell that much without having to ask. It was the first time Ellen hadn’t come there for such a long time during that semester. He seemed convinced that this was the cause.
f*ck, it was awkward.
I had never talked to that guy before, and he had only been focused on his training up until then.
I could feel him f*cking pitying me!
-Whack! Whack! Whack!
We didn’t exchange any words, but I had that weird feeling that we were sharing some kind of comfort and appreciation towards each other.
Idiot, if you did something wrong, go and apologize immediately.
What? Huh. Ah. I don’t know.
We hadn’t said a single word the whole time, but it strangely felt like we were having that kind of conversation.
Was that what one called a soulmate?
He even spoke to me when I was leaving after I finished my training.
That was the first conversation I held with Cliffman, with whom I hadn’t spoken since my admission in March.
* * *
It was raining all the time, so I couldn’t really go out for my morning workout.
I had no one I could talk to. If I told someone that Ellen seemed to avoid me because I had too many secrets, wouldn’t they get curious as to what my secrets were? And, to begin with, I couldn’t just tell everyone that she felt uncomfortable around me because I reminded her of her brother—Artorius—and the trauma he caused her.
I couldn’t tell those things to my classmates or even my seniors. I hadn’t spoken to Ellen since.
“…Hey. Can I talk to you for a sec…?”
In that way, she would just pass me by without even facing me.
Like that the weekend came around before I could solve a single thing.
Those who were quite sensitive to the change in atmosphere noticed that there was a strange air around Ellen and me. Bertus was an example of that; he somewhat seemed to understand the situation, but he didn’t want to interfere.
He looked at me as if to tell me, “I don’t know what happened, but be strong.”
Only Bertus and Cliffman managed to guess what was going on.
“…Did you guys fight?”
…And Harriet de Saint-Owan.
“What do you mean, fight?”
At my words, Harriet tilted her head.
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“… Isn’t it called a fight if you suddenly don’t talk to each other at all after you were practically joined by the hip?”
Were we that close? Wasn’t that expression kind of strange? We weren’t that close with each other, right?
“That’s right. Seems like she had enough hanging out with a weirdo like you for so long.”
And that girl…
She somehow looked kind of happy.
“Well, you looked so pitiful that I decided to hear you out.”
She seemed motivated to give me advice to help me get through my predicament. In the end, she actually wanted to help me, didn’t she?
“It’s fine. It’s nothing like that.”
“… What’s with this? I really want to do my best to help out. Tch.”
However, it wasn’t a problem I could tell her, so I had no choice but to only extend my gratitude to her.
“Thanks for caring, though.”
“Whwhat?! It’s not like I’m caring about you or anything!”
Harriet’s face turned tomato red at my empty remarks. I smirked. Normally, that would have been the best opportunity to drop another line, but she really might have been worried about me, so I decided to leave it.
“Did you… really not fight?”
“It’s nothing like that.”
Harriet didn’t ask any further, as she was sure that I wouldn’t tell her anyway. Although, I felt happy to know that she did care about me. She was probably like Adriana—she saw me as a bad guy at first, but we somehow ended up in a good relationship somehow.
I wondered if that had something to do with human nature.
Or it might have to do with my appearance, as Bertus said.
Harriet and I were just staring absentmindedly out of the window in the hallway.
It was raining. Harriet muttered something as she watched the heavy rain drenching everything in water.
“It sure rains a lot.”
“I know, right?”
“It’s raining so much, the river might overflow.”
“…Is that so?”
The Han river might overflow because of the continued heavy rainfall. Yeah, that could happen.
“I actually planned on going to the riverside with Adelia this weekend. That river overflowing ruined everything.”
Come to think of it, Ellen or the Demon Gods’ Church weren’t that important at that moment.
It seemed like the Han River had already overflowed…
So what happened to the Rotary Gang that lived under the Banpo Bridge? Had they been washed away?
“Huh? W-where are you running off to all of a sudden?”
“I have to go somewhere!”
They didn’t get all washed away, did they?
Translator – KonnoAren
Proofreader – ilafy
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* * *
I immediately grabbed an umbrella and ran outside of Temple.
It hadn’t turned into a storm yet, but the wind was still very strong, so it was impossible to not get wet even if one had an umbrella. When I got on the mana train to the place where the Bronze Gate Bridge was and got off again, an unbelievable scene unfolded before me within the heavy rain.
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The muddy Irene River was certainly overflowing. The access to the riverside park was obviously controlled by the guards, but even if they didn’t take control of the situation, it wouldn’t have made any difference.
The entire park had already been locked down.
The places under the Bronze Gate Bridge, where one could usually see the gang members drinking and playing dice, were also completely submerged.
It seemed pretty clear that everything got destroyed. Something like that didn’t happen in a day or two, so it didn’t just happen that day. They didn’t get washed away in their sleep, did they?
There weren’t many people around because of the heavy rainfall, and the people that were around seemed to be passersby. The gang members didn’t seem to be anywhere around either. I walked over to the guard who was guarding the park’s entrance. He looked rather pitiful standing in the rain, only wearing a hooded coat without an umbrella.
“What’s the matter?”
“Hey, do you know something about those guys living under that bridge?!”
“Huh? Ah. Those guys? Why are you asking?”
The guards seemed to know about the Rotary Gang. They did stand out quite a bit, after all.
“What happened to them?”
“Aah, they should’ve run away pretty early on. I mean, they have eyes as well. What’s the point in staying under there if they’d just get swept away and die?”
Fortunately, it seemed like nothing serious happened to them.
“Although, those messy shacks and everything else got swept away. It’s actually rather refreshing that things got cleaned out like that.”
…However, it seemed like something else happened that would pose a big problem.
Also, if they weren’t under the bridge, where were they? It was raining, so they probably went somewhere where they could protect themselves from it.
“If it continues to rain so often, we probably won’t see those beggars gathering under that bridge again. But it wouldn’t change anything because they’d just flock to other places.”
“Where are those other places?”
The guard sighed.
“They probably went to the Wenster Market over there. There aren’t any other places where one can hide from the rain around here, you know? It’s also filled to the brim with beggars.”
The Wenster Market Alley near the Bronze Gate Bridge.
It seemed like there was no other place they could have gone to hide away from the rain in that situation.
* * *
There was a large market street where Seoul’s express terminal area should have been. While Yongsan’s Shopping Street was a market aimed at adventurers, that huge market street mostly sold food and other daily necessities.
Although the market was open for business, there were only a few people around, perhaps because of the heavy rain. Fortunately, there were awnings and roofs covering the market, blocking out the rain. It certainly looked like a good place to hide from the rain.
Of course, my purpose for going there wasn’t to shop, so I just went into a quiet alley with no people in it. I’d just have to find one of the gang members and ask them where Loyar was.
I wanted to help take care of things, but I had to find her first. I also wanted to talk to her in general.
To be honest, I also wanted to confide in someone about my head-breaking situation. The only people I could think of who I could tell about what happened with Ellen were the three demon spies.
Of course, telling Sarkegaar might be too dangerous; he’d probably run rampant on the streets shouting that we had to kill her right away as soon as the name Ellen Artorius came out of my mouth.
I honestly thought that Loyar probably wouldn’t think much of it, but would she give me a proper answer? It probably was best to talk about it with Eleris.
However, since I was already there, I thought I might as well talk to Loyar about it.
I ended up shaking someone that looked like a beggar pretending to sleep while squatting in that alley.
“Hrmm… Hm. Huh? What d’ya want?”
“Are you a member of the Gang?”
“Gang? What gang ya talkin bout… Shut up and piss off!”
The beggar slapped away my hand and shooed me away as if he didn’t want to get caught.
Was that guy unrelated to any group? Well, not all beggars around there were part of the Rotary Gang. According to what the guard told me, that place was originally filled with a lot of beggars.
It was also true that I felt rather impatient because I was wandering around alleys located between the buildings and not where the shops were. Water was pouring out of drainage channels, and the places that had no eaves were letting the rain down unhindered.
Even if it was the Capital, it was still a place inhabited by people. Perhaps because the market buildings were pretty much concentrated there, a lot of trash was scattered about in the alleys. No one would probably notice either if someone died in there.
I felt like I shouldn’t have gone there. What if I met gangsters not part of the Rotary Gang?
“Hey kid, this ain’t a place you can just go in and out of.”
Sure enough, as soon as I thought about it, some bastard that basically had gangster written on his forehead appeared before me in that alley, looking at me and talking to me like that. Judging by his appearance, he didn’t seem to be a beggar.
“Get out of here before ya see some bad shit.”
Fortunately, it seemed like he thought I had lost my way, so he kindly told me to get out. Just because they were bastards didn’t mean they went around beating up everyone they came across. I was going to ask him about the Rotary Gang, but stopped myself.
I had a strong feeling that I shouldn’t stay there for too long.
“Ah, yes. Thank you.”
I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it because my opponent also didn’t seem to want to fight me. At first glance, he looked like some ruffian, but was he the type of guy who had a soft spot for kids? Well, he might also think that he wouldn’t get much money out of me even if he fleeced me.
However, that bastard suddenly called out to me and stopped me.
“Ain’t that the Temple sigil engraved on that umbrella?”
Since that umbrella was provided by Temple, it had its sigil emblazoned on it. I wasn’t wearing my school uniform, but he seemed to recognize that sigil.
“Yeah, what about it?”
I tried to avoid that situation, but then things became quite annoying.
“If ya a Temple student, then ya must have lotsa money, dontcha?”
He was originally going to let me go because I was still a kid, but after he noticed that I was a Temple student, he changed his mind.
It was true that it was quite the serious offense to harm a Temple student, but that guy probably thought he’d get away with shaking me off, at least.
“Imma look inside ya pockets for a sec.”
I didn’t really bring that much money, but I definitely had some on me. That guy seemed like someone that had a soft spot for kids, but his attitude made a 180 as soon as he found out that I was part of Temple—which only rich people could attend.
He slowly approached me.
“Money sure is nice, isn’t it?”
“No need to worry, kid. If ya just give me some money, imma send you on ya way…”
I used Type B.
Type B was the preset dedicated to close-quarters combat.
I punched him in the abdomen before kicking him in his groin.
In an instant, that man collapsed into a pile of garbage, letting out a moan.
“Who are ya to tell me that, huh?”
Who was he to decide whether I could leave or not?
It was up to me whether he left that place walking on his own legs or crawling, to begin with.