Chapter 137

“I wish you a safe journey!”

“Mhm! You guys take care of yourselves too.” Albus said gravely as he waved his hands at the royal knights who guarded him. He didn’t forget to continue his pitiful act and left a trace of sadness in his tone; right now, he was supposed to be a pitiful person used and betrayed by his fiancée. 

Albus felt amazed that royal knights were now guarding him. Of course, the Windpool family had its own army of knights. However, the royal knights were guarding Albus not because they didn’t trust the Windpool knights, but because they wanted to express their deepest respect and sincerity to Albus. Thus, the Windpool knights didn’t express any discontent in having their roles taken away and they didn’t protest against the royal knights either. 

On the outside, Albus pretended to be swept by sadness, but on the inside, he felt like a king strutting across his residence. 

‘Everything went smoothly.’

Marquess Rouge was in trouble now; his daughter had attacked the Crown Prince unexpectedly, and even though they had to immediately respond to the situation to minimize their losses, the Marquess was in a faraway estate.

‘Even if the Marquess were in the capital now, he wouldn’t be able to do much since it’s true that Evelyn attacked the Crown Prince.’

There were many witnesses—and each of them was a high-class noble. Their words carried a greater weight compared to commoners and mid to low-ranking nobles. Furthermore, they all saw how Albus had flung his body to protect the Crown Prince and received a deep wound as a result. Of course, Albus had manipulated Evelyn so that he wouldn’t receive a serious injury.

“Heh!”

He was so satisfied that he had to stifle his laugh. Like that, he returned to his room and lay on his bed—the bed felt more snug than usual. 

‘I have successfully taken one step forward.’

With this event as the footing, he just had to advance toward his goal step by step. His ultimate goal was to become the Duke and absorb the Rouge family. He fantasized about this rosy dream as he prepared for bed. Today, Albus felt like he would be able to have a very happy dream—if it wasn’t for the voice he heard.

“Albus Windpool.”

Albus’ eyes flashed open. It was a voice he knew. He felt irritated that someone interrupted his sleep, but he swallowed his annoyance back down and got up. A robed figure was standing in the dark room. Albus was simultaneously impressed and scared by the person’s ability. Elite soldiers from the royal army were protecting his residence right now, and moreover, the number of guards was a couple of times greater than normal. Yet, the robed figure had managed to move past the guards and infiltrate the residence.

“This is a surprise.” Albus moved a bit closer to the robed figure and sat at the edge of his bed. His feet touched the fluffy carpet. “Why did you come here? Isn’t our deal complete?”

“…Complete?” A bit of discomfort was mixed into the robed figure’s indifferent, robotic-like voice; he seemed different from last time.

‘Did he not come as a simple messenger today?’ Albus felt an ominous feeling and his expression stiffened.

“Tell me, Albus Windpool. What is the contract we made?”

“…You guys told me the method to ‘manipulate’ Evelyn and helped me with various matters. In exchange, after she became useless to me, I manipulated her again to go to the place she liked best—the lake at the capital.” 

“Did we break the deal on our side?”

“No, you guys accomplished everything perfectly.”

“Then, why did you break the deal?”

“…What are you talking about?”

“We couldn’t secure Evelyn Rouge.”

Albus suddenly realized the predicament he was in. “Wait a moment, please! Are you saying that wrench, Evelyn, didn’t go to the lake?”

The robed figure nodded and said, “There was a breach of contract.”

“Don’t make me laugh!” Albus shouted and lowered his voice. Then, he looked around his surroundings. 

It wouldn’t benefit him in any way if he was caught meeting with a suspicious person, but the robed figure didn’t budge. He simply stared at Albus. 

That frightened Albus even more; thus, Albus lowered his voice and hastily let out some excuses. “I have never broken the contract. I did everything you guys told me to do! Something must have happened on her way to the lake, but my responsibility should’ve ended when she made her escape. I shouldn’t be held responsible for what happened afterward!”

“No, your responsibility was to make sure she arrived at the lake safely. This is your fault.”

Albus gritted his teeth; it didn’t seem like the robed figure would back off. However, Albus had already gotten everything he needed and didn’t plan on accepting the robed figure’s accusations easily. 

“So, what? What are you going to do about it?” Albus dropped all formalities. 

“Take responsibility for your failure.”

“And if I refuse?”

The robed figure didn’t say anything for a moment. Cold sweat dripped down Albus’ back, but he glared with all his might so that he wouldn’t cower, but it was all futile.

“Since we couldn’t gain anything, you have to give back everything you obtained.”

Albus’ heart dropped, but he clenched his teeth and didn’t back off. “How? Are you going to kill me or something?”

“There’s no need for us to dirty our hands. If the royals and the Rouge family learn of the truth, your head will automatically fall.”

“How can that possibly happen—!”

“Do you think it’s impossible?”

Albus was speechless. If he considered the unbelievable skills and information the organization had shown him, it didn’t seem like they would have any difficulties revealing the truth. 

“Y-You don’t even have the evidence…!”

“Do you think we wouldn’t have any?”  

The robed figure’s cold voice tightened around Albus. As if he was using his last resort, Albus spat out, “If you touch me, I’m going to spread all the information I know about you guys! You are not the only one who collected evidence! I won’t die alone!”

“Try doing that. I will allow it.”

The robed figure had a ‘try it if you can’ attitude; he seemed to think that Albus was just bluffing. To his misfortune, Albus’ threats really were all bluffs. 

‘Damn it!’ Albus grew nervous. If he didn’t do anything, everything he worked so hard for might all go to waste. No, it would not just end with that; the Windpool family would be ruined, and his neck might fly off.

“P-please wait a moment!” Albus quickly got up from his bed. He went back to speaking politely.  “Didn’t I work hard according to your plans? If you act like this now, what do you expect from me!”

Albus made an appeal for his efforts to be recognized. However, even Albus didn’t think his appeal would work on the man in front of him. With a tiny bit of hope, he was merely making a desperate attempt to save himself. As expected, the robed figure did not waver for even a moment.

“Bring Evelyn Rouge right now.”

“I-I don’t even know where she is!”

“I will give you two days, and I will come back at the same time. In two days, I expect you to at least know where her whereabouts are.”

“Wait! You can’t just one-sidedly make—"

However, Albus’ words did not reach the robed figure. Even while looking directly at the robed figure, Albus could no longer see anyone in front of him. The man had disappeared like a ghost, but Albus was surprised for only a moment. Fear replaced all other emotions. From what the robed figure said to him, if he didn’t find Evelyn by the set time, the robed figure would really end his life.

‘I have to find Evelyn no matter what!’

He quickly got up. There was no trace of his previous self-satisfaction; only anxiety and nervousness possessed his mind and body.

 *   *   *

After acting as the ‘robed figure’ once again, Zich returned to his lodging. His companions were now back in the capital city. They moved back to the capital, Westillburd, because it would be easier for them to plan ahead and immediately react to unexpected situations. Moreover, it was also because Evelyn, who was used to a life of luxury, had a difficult time adjusting to the rough conditions outside. Of course, Evelyn made no complaints, but Lyla spoke up for her and Zich accepted Lyla’s request. 

The capital’s tight surveillance was not an obstacle for Zich as he snuck Evelyn back to the capital. When Zich went back to his room, Lyla was waiting for him there.

“Here!” Zich threw Lyla’s necklace back to her. “That item has really good abilities.”

“Well, it’s my favorite item.”

The necklace was a teleportation artifact. In order to help Zich infiltrate the Windpool mansion, Lyla let Zich borrow her necklace. The artifact was of such high quality that if Lyla auctioned it, she could easily purchase an enormous estate for herself. Considering that she let Zich borrow it, Zich could tell that Lyla was deeply invested in this matter.

“How was it? Did everything go smoothly?”

“It was easy.” Zich crossed his legs as if to tell her to sit next to him. Then he playfully smiled towards her. “He’s going to experience extreme anxiety for at least two days. While thinking that everything he worked so hard to achieve might all go to waste and he might die, I doubt he can even eat.”

“He deserves it,” Lyla snorted.

Then Zich asked, “How is Evelyn?”

“She’s a lot more stable, but I don’t think she has completely thrown away her trust in Albus Windpool.”

“Well, a person’s emotions are not easy to control.”

“It’s strange hearing that from you.”

“What do you mean? Is there anyone who is more honest about their feelings than me?”

“Well, that’s true.” Then Lyla sadly looked towards the direction of her room where Evelyn was staying. “I hope she doesn’t get hurt too much.”

“It can’t be helped.” Zich got up from his chair. “But we should make her practice so that she can feel a bit more relieved.”

“What practice?” Lyla looked at Zich as if she thought he was going to do something strange again.

“There’s something like that. You’ll see,” Zich replied with a voice full of mischief.

*   *   *

For the past two days, Albus experienced hell. The conspiracy that he planned for a long time had gone amiss at the last part, and his collaborator was now threatening him for his mistake.

‘Shit! Shit! Shit!’

His hand trembled in agitation. Today was the due date that the robed figure had given him. The robed figure was going to come soon. 

‘Should I try to resist?’

However, the robed figures worked in an organization. Even if he defeated one of them, the problem wouldn’t be solved at all.

‘Instead, they’ll probably reveal everything about me.’

In the end, he had no choice but to strike another deal. Without even turning on the light, Albus sat on his bed and shook his leg. Time passed by slowly and seemed to pierce his body like needles.

Creak!

The door opened. Albus raised his heavy head and saw the robed figure in front of him. Albus quickly got up from his bed.

Thud!

The door closed. The robed figure slowly walked towards him and stood a distance away from Albus.

“I was waiting for you.” Albus slowly opened his mouth. “I sincerely apologize, but I was not able to find Evelyn. I’m sure there is something else I can help you guys with! It would also be beneficial for your organization if I move up my rank—!”

“Albus Windpool.” The robed figure cut off Albus’ words. “We found Evelyn Rouge.”

“…You found Evelyn?”

“Yes. So we will give you a new mission.”

The robed figure’s words were threatening as he added, “I hope you don’t make another mistake this time.”

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