༺ Old Acquaintance (3) ༻
I slightly furrowed my brow.
I came here thinking it would be relatively clean since I didn’t want to get involved in needless matters, but with this, the situation changes.
“Yeah, a favor. We’ve been having a hard time lately too.”
When I thought about her skills that I had seen with my own eyes, it was hard to trust that the former ace of the Empire’s intelligence department and the current queen of the underworld was having a hard time.
Seeing my displeased reaction, Sylvia continued her explanation with an impatient voice.
“Recently, some crazy organization has been causing chaos, and the underworld is in complete turmoil now. You know about it, don’t you?”
Is she talking about the ‘Empire’s Future’?
Come to think of it, back then, the mob kidnapped and sold other races and immigrants in the black market.
The black market she mentioned must have been referring to the underworld market.
Sylvia shivered slightly as if recalling the situation at that time.
“A few days ago, intelligence agents and royal guards stormed the underworld, and do you know how many shops had to close their doors because of it? Customers are scared to come down here. We’re suffering losses in our business.”
No wonder the streets looked deserted compared to the reputation of the underworld. It seemed that Elizabeth had handled the matter well.
Suddenly, a question came to mind.
“There must have been other races sold here.”
“Yeah, there were.”
“What happened to them?”
“What kind of question is that?”
Sylvia put on a cunning and venomous smile, completely at odds with the innocent country girl’s face.
“Of course, we took good care of them and handed them all over to the royal family.”
It was a virtuous deed that didn’t match her expression.
Moreover, the fact that she was making such a face with the innocent country girl’s appearance made the dissonance even more intense. How long was she planning to keep that disguise?
Come to think of it, Sylvia had always been like that.
She may have seemed like a cold-blooded assassin who had tasted the dark side of society and carried out all sorts of dirty deeds with her own hands, but in fact, she had a subtly delicate inner side and maintained certain boundaries.
Perhaps the reason for this was that Sylvia had once grown up in this brothel. That’s probably why the women on the streets below called her their older sister and followed her.
Of course, the reason she didn’t harm the other races wasn’t solely out of compassion. It must be because she was Sylvia, and she must have been aware that the other races handed over by the ‘Empire’s Future’ were like ticking time bombs if they were mishandled.
Despite this, I felt my heart gradually relaxing and after a moment of hesitation, I slowly spoke up.
“…Tell me what the favor is.”
“Really? Truly? No backing out?”
“I’m just going to listen for now.”
“It’s okay, it’s okay. It’s not that difficult of a favor.”
Sylvia got up from the bed and walked towards me with a subtle smile.
“Are your skills still the same?”
We decided to get information about Ella’s whereabouts in a week.
Information brokers don’t just provide information when asked, they need time to conduct their own investigations and combine the information.
In the end, we decided whether to grant Sylvia’s favor in a week.
Principally, a down payment should be received, and the balance should be received after the job is finished, but she said she wouldn’t take something like a down payment since we’re close.
Simply put, Sylvia was planning to revive the downsized underworld market.
They would have to act cautiously under the watch of the imperial royal family for the time being. Still, in a few weeks, the royal family’s interest would wane, and she was planning to prepare an event to attract customers to the underworld then.
The content of her favor was to lend a hand briefly during that time.
I finally accepted on the condition that I could refuse at any time if the information prepared in a week was insufficient or if I changed my mind.
It would be fortunate if today’s events were worth it, but I couldn’t hide my anxiety in one corner of my heart as I rode the tram back to the academy.
A week later, when I obtained information about Ella.
If the worst-case scenario I imagined turns out to be a reality.
Pondering over a problem that won’t be resolved through worrying has no meaning in the long run.
Burying the numerous thoughts deep in my mind, I rode the tram back to Opal Black Dormitory.
Having gone to the underworld, it was already past evening. I had planned to start having meals with Saladin from today, but it seemed like I would have to postpone that schedule to tomorrow.
However, when I returned to the dormitory.
“I can’t delay this any longer! Instructor Eon!”
Gwyn was waiting for me at the entrance with a confident look.
I wondered when she started doing this, but she was already dressed in her training outfit and standing at the entrance of the dormitory with a practice sword.
I let out a light chuckle at her figure blocking the door alone.
“Anyone would think you’re not the sword saint’s, but a disciple of a great warrior.”
“It’s nothing. Let’s head to the training ground.”
“Ah, yes! Got it!”
At my words, Gwyn’s face brightened, and she excitedly ran towards the training ground.
While other students screamed and struggled every time they trained, she seemed to genuinely enjoy practicing her swordsmanship.
Maybe Gwyn’s real talent was more about enjoying that kind of attitude than her swordsmanship.
I had only desperately tried to become stronger by wielding a spear on the battlefield, but I had never experienced pure joy in the process of becoming stronger.
I took out a practice sword at the training ground and faced Gwyn.
Without particularly taking a stance or showing off any aura, Gwyn’s eyes were filled with tension just by knowing that I held a sword.
“Let’s start from the beginning.”
“Yes! I look forward to your guidance!”
The essence of this training was to help Gwyn find her own Rock sword.
However, it was unreasonable for me, who was neither an official practitioner of the Rock sword nor a sword master, to teach Gwyn about swordsmanship.
That’s why I didn’t actually teach her anything.
All I did was attack Gwyn with the Rock sword.
The moment Gwyn’s and my swords collided, I felt a shock as if two massive rocks were smashing and breaking against each other. Then, Gwyn was thrown onto the training ground floor.
Gwyn didn’t let go of her sword even as she rolled around on the floor. She quickly shook off the shock spreading throughout her body and immediately got up to challenge me again. Each time, I defeated her with the Rock sword.
That’s right. This training was a method in which I attacked Gwyn with the Rock sword, and Gwyn gained enlightenment through the process. Although it was a simple and crude method, it seemed to give Gwyn a sense of accomplishment.
Drenched in sweat and after swinging her sword to the point where she could no longer move, Gwyn collapsed on the training ground floor, letting go of her sword.
In contrast to Gwyn gasping for breath, my breathing remained undisturbed.
Instead of the immobile Gwyn, I sheathed the two practice swords in the rack. Then, I calmly spoke to her.
“Are you okay?”
Gwyn took a moment to catch her breath, and slowly opened her mouth as her breathing gradually stabilized.
“…Okay? I feel better than ever.”
She spoke, slightly raising her upper body.
“The downward swing you showed me at first, you used the stance of the Thousand-Year Cliff, right? I never imagined you would use a method of striking down with the power of your entire body while withstanding all attacks in place… The same went for your other attacks. I never thought I could use the Rock sword like that…”
I couldn’t find an appropriate response to Gwyn’s explanation. I had just learned that they called it the stance of the Thousand-Year Cliff.
I had merely imitated it after thinking it would be fine to apply it like that when I saw the sword saint deflect the sword.
However, if Gwyn thinks that such a method has been helpful, that would be enough.
“Just use it as a reference. After all, this sword doesn’t suit you either.”
Gwyn’s eyes became serious as she nodded her head, and then suddenly let out a short sigh.
“I wonder what my master would say if he saw me like this.”
“Are you worried about that?”
“No, it would be a lie to say I’m not… but I’ve already made my choice.”
Gwyn’s gaze seemed to become hazy as if she were looking at something far away.
“I think the Rock sword is not just about blocking and counter attacking. If I continue learning the sword with you like this… I feel like I’ll be able to see the essence of the Rock sword that my father intended to teach me.”
I nodded slightly.
“Then I can increase the intensity even more than now.”
“…Even more than now?”
“You don’t have to if you don’t want to.”
Those words seemed to provoke Gwyn’s pride, and she clenched her fists and shouted with determination.
“I’ll do it…!”
The day after the lesson with Gwyn ended.
Saladin did not come to class.
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