༺ Bitterness and Joy (1) ༻
“Since you’ve learnt something new, you should try it out, Mr. Assistant.”
Odile urged Siwoo, who kept staring half-dazedly at his palm.
She seemed to be curious about his new skill.
In fact, Siwoo wanted to immediately try out this new shadow magic that he learnt.
He believed that if he could apply his knowledge of magic into it, he could cast more advanced spells than what the Homunculus had used earlier.
“I can’t do it.”
Siwoo let out a bitter smile.
“The magic circuit in my body is tattered, I can’t use them even if I want to.”
Externally, he barely had any wounds, just the 12 holes from the needles he injected himself with and a swollen ankle. However, internally, his condition was considerably worse.
He still felt intermittent pain due to his magic circuit overheating from all the mana he took.
“Aww, well let’s just return to the mansion for now.”
“Alright! I’ll ask Master to heal you! Her treatment should make you feel better quickly and getting her help is more effective than just letting it be!”
Was that really okay?
Letting her heal Siwoo’s body meant that he’d be revealing the fact that he had used magic.
So far, there were already three people who knew that he could use magic, Sophia and the twins.
After pondering about it briefly, Siwoo stated his refusal.
“Don’t worry about it.”
While it was true that he had saved her precious apprentice witches, the fact that he engaged in a physical relationship with them remained.
He pondered about the possibility of them getting out of trouble if they could just keep their mouths shut, nevertheless, he was still worried about it.
After all, a witch who had lived for more than a hundred years should have accumulated enough experience to find out whether something was suspicious or not.
“Are you afraid that someone will find out that you can use magic?”
“You don’t need to worry about that, we’ll cover for you! You might even get an amazing reward!”
The twins’ excitement to bring him to their master made Siwoo wonder whether they had considered the repercussions of that action or not.
After once again refusing their offer, Siwoo began to sort out the situation.
In fact, when he thought about how to cover up this situation smoothly, his head started to spin.
Nearly half of the Latifundium trees were destroyed and there were clear traces of battle in the area. He wondered how they could cover this situation up?
“Hmm… What should we do? How could we return our favor to Mr. Assistant?”
“But, even if we were to tell Master that we’ve subdued the Homunculus, she might not believe us, especially considering that Mr. Assistant took the Egg of Gnosis.”
“Is there no magic that can restore this place to its original state?”
“This kind of mess is impossible to clean up.”
To be honest, Siwoo didn’t hold much hope for a positive response when he asked that question.
As the three of them stepped outside the spirit mountain, they discussed various plots to deal with this incident, but they realized it was too big for them to handle by themselves.
It was obvious that the Gemini Household would take notice of Siwoo in one way or another.
“…I can’t come up with anything. Let me think about it a little bit more.”
Despite them saying that it was okay even if their Master found out about this, the twins still looked nervous.
Seeing it made Siwoo feel anxious.
However, their worries immediately became irrelevant.
It was because of the people who appeared in front of them after they left the Spirit Mountain.
““Hey, you little troublemakers!””
Two women approached with quick strides at the same time. They lightly bonked the heads of the twins.
What else was there to say?
They were the masters of the twins and the current Count of Gemini.
Albireo1TL/N: Albireo is the name of a star system in the constellation of Cygnus. The system consists of a binary star, Albireo A and Albireo B, which appear as a single point of light to the naked eye but can be resolved as two stars through a telescope. Gemini.
And Deneb2TL/N: Deneb is a name of Arabic origin that refers to the brightest star in the constellation Cygnus. It means “tail” or “tail of a hen” in Arabic. Gemini.
Since this was an unexpected encounter for him, Siwoo could only observe the two Geminis, Albireo and Deneb after boarding the carriage.
To be more specific, he could only observe their appearances as they severely scolded the twins.
“Master, it isn’t like what you think…!”
“Who told you two to enter the Spirit Mountain on your own?!”
“Didn’t Sister repeatedly tell you two that place was dangerous because she sensed a disturbance in the mana flow?!”
“W-We were in the wrong…”
At first, Siwoo wasn’t sure what to say.
The situation was quite unexpected for him.
Because he had only seen the mischievous twins, he thought that Count Gemini would be just as lively and energetic as them.
However, now that he saw them in person, he found out that they were dignified ladies.
“So, a Homunculus appeared!”
“While we were distracting it, Mr. Assistant suddenly went ‘Bang!’ and eradicated it with magic!”
“Look at these little brats! Getting excited as if they’ve done something great!”
“Oww! It hurts! It hurts!”
Despite her scolding the twins, the master was still a mother-like figure who cherished them like a kid and prioritized them above all else.
“Go over there, stand up with both your hands up.”
After a noisy thirty minutes, filled with explanation and scolding, the carriage quieted down a bit as the twins stood side by side with their hands up.
“Phew… Deneb, prepare some tea please.”
Albireo, who seemed furious, tucked a strand of her dishevelled black hair behind her ear and approached Siwoo who was sitting frozen like a statue.
“I heard you saved our two troublemakers, is that correct?”
She brought up the topic first.
Apart from her black hair and purple eyes, which were remarkably similar to Odile’s, their appearance was completely different.
Either that or it was her ample breasts, which were as lavish as Sophia’s that gave off that impression.
At first, she showed suspicion toward Siwoo, but as the twins’ explanation went on, the look in her eye changed.
They were filled with nothing but goodwill, perhaps due to the twins’ fervent attempt to defend him, as they uttered chants of praises upon him.
“Ah, I only did what I had to do.”
“Oh my, how humble of you.”
As Siwoo respectfully bowed his head, responding to Albireo’s words, Deneb poured tea into his cup.
The latter seemed to be the younger sister among the two.
What surprised Siwoo the most after seeing the two Counts was Deneb’s appearance.
Despite them being twins with identical appearances and builds, like Odile and Odette, there was a noticeable difference that was visible between the two.
The snow white hair that distinguished Deneb’s appearance from Albireo.
Likewise, her eyebrows and eyelashes were also in the same color, giving her a mysterious, almost divine-like aura.
This was probably the reason why they were known as the black and white twin.
Siwoo nodded inwardly.
“You’re a slave from the modern world, aren’t you?”
“You don’t even have a brand, yet you were able to cast a spell of this caliber. Aren’t you an impressive one?”
Tea time started as if it was a matter of course.
Siwoo felt an inexplicable tension from the two.
Two pairs of nearly identical eyes were staring intently at him.
“Thank you for your kind words…”
“Hold on, before we continue…”
Deneb reached out both her hands to his cheeks.
As her fingertips, which emitted a pleasant scent, gently touched Siwoo’s cheeks, he felt the lingering pain in his body completely disappeared.
“Your body was in a very bad condition, so I treated you.”
“How do you feel?”
“T-Thank you very much. I feel a lot better now.”
The result of her action amazed Siwoo.
In less than a second, all the pain that he had been feeling disappeared.
His messy, tattered magic circuit, his swollen ankle, both were healed in an instant.
Gemini, the family that was bestowed the noble title of a Count.
They were well-known for their magical tools, but their proficiency in magic was relatively unknown.
“I appreciate your courage to save our troublemakers, but please refrain from using such reckless magic in the future.”
“Yes, I’ll keep your words in mind.”
“Still, it’s impressive that you were able to use your wits to take down an Homunculus. I’m genuinely impressed.”
“It wasn’t much, really…”
Siwoo bowed his head deeply once again.
For the same reason as before, he found himself in another uncomfortable situation.
Right now, they were treating him as a benefactor.
After all, he was basically a hero who saved their beloved daughter that they raised with utmost care.
However, if they were to discover what he had done to the twins’ rear hole, would they still treat him the same way?
“Since I owe you a debt of gratitude, it’s my obligation to repay it.”
“If there’s anything you desire, please do not hesitate to ask.”
Despite their unusual way of speaking, Siwoo was able to digest their words and meaning clearly. Their words were concise and precise, leaving no room for any misinterpretation.
It was as if they were sharing each other’s thoughts.
Regardless, Siwoo had already decided on a response if they were to inquire about what he wanted.
“Could you perhaps, allow me to leave Gehenna?”
He couldn’t take back the words he had already spoken, but he still felt dejected.
After hearing his requests, the two people in front of him fixed their gazes on him.
Even though his request wasn’t particularly a difficult one, the Count remained silent for a long time.
Feeling increasingly anxious, Siwoo spoke up.
“Is it impossible?”
“No, it isn’t. On the contrary, I can grant it to you easily. Your request is just a little unexpected.”
Was there anything surprising about someone getting tired of living as a slave in this place?
As Siwoo tilted his head in confusion, Deneb continued her explanation.
“I thought that someone like you, who managed to bring down a Homunculus in such a difficult circumstance would have more affection and enthusiasm toward magic.”
“And since there’s no better place than Gehenna to learn magic, I thought you would stay here.”
Their words were correct.
When Siwoo first started studying magic, all he wanted was to get out of Gehenna.
But as time went by, his thoughts changed.
Originally, magic was merely a means to an end for Siwoo. But, as he delved deeper into it, he gained a new sense of achievement and curiosity.
Not to mention that the sight of Ain that he witnessed today had a lasting impact on him, leaving him with a sense of shock that caused his heart to race in excitement.
“But, I want to go home.”
He still wanted to go home.
Siwoo missed everything back in his homeland. From Coke, to fried chicken, pizza, loud noise of cars, the smog-filled urban landscape and porn in full HD.
“Is that really everything that you want?”
“Don’t forget that what you received is the grace of the Gemini Household. We can even give you citizenship and hire you as an assistant to aid us in our magic research.”
The Geminis couldn’t understand Siwoo’s modest wish.
However, their interest in the matter faded away quickly.
To Siwoo, escaping from Gehenna was a lifelong wish and this table was the place for him to negotiate and achieve that freedom.
Meanwhile, to the Geminis, returning one slave to the modern world was merely an errand.
It was an easy request that wouldn’t leave them with any repercussions.
“Alright, I’ll take care of all the formalities right away.”
“Who owns you? If you’re from the Academy, then it must be the City Hall, correct?”
At that moment, something that he had overlooked came to mind.
“Well, actually, I’m Ms. Amelia’s exclusive slave. Would that become a problem?”
“You’re an exclusive slave?”
Siwoo noticed a momentary look of embarrassment on the Geminis’ faces, though they managed to brush it off quickly, perhaps to maintain their dignity.
That change in expression made Siwoo feel an ominous feeling.
“What to do about this…?”
They let out a light sigh.
And Siwoo’s foreboding turned into reality.
“In Gehenna, an exclusive slave means that particular slave is considered as a private property. If you were owned by the City Hall, then I could just pay you to set you free, but in your case, I’d need Baron Marigold’s permission first.”
“You don’t need to worry much though. As long as I offer adequate compensation to her, I doubt that she’ll keep you against your will.”
Had he foreseen this outcome, he would have refrained from becoming Amelia’s exclusive slave even if he had to endure more hardship.
As Siwoo’s expression darkened, regretting the decision he made back then, Albireo opened her mouth to speak.
“Don’t worry too much about it.”
“I will prepare a fitting enough compensation for her.”
Was that all?
The witches sipped their tea and didn’t say anything else.
“So, when will I be able to go home?”
“I have to attend to my duties as a Count and I need to gather the materials needed to negotiate with the Baron.”
“Everything should be done in about a week?”
Just a week?
He had been waiting for five years for this opportunity.
Waiting for another week was practically nothing.
Siwoo, who managed to obtain his free coupon to freedom, concealed his desire to do a somersault right there and then.
Still, it felt like his three years of researching magic had been for naught.
Then again, without it, he wouldn’t have gained this opportunity in the first place.
“Thank you very much!”
“Don’t mention it.”
“I’m just repaying my debt.”
He wasn’t sure how Amelia would react to this, but surely nothing unexpected would happen, right?
After all, the Count of Gemini was known for their wealth.
Even Amelia would be delighted with the wealth they offered as a compensation to repay their favor to Siwoo.
“Alright, let’s go check on the Spirit Mountain’s condition first. Troublemakers~”
Odile and Odette, who were still standing in the corner with their hands raised, rushed towards the table with frightening speed as soon as the conversation ended.
“Have you two expressed your gratitudes properly?”
“Remember that if you’ve received a favor, regardless of status, it’s only appropriate to express your gratitude toward that person.”
“It isn’t just about repaying it with things of value, but also about showing your sincerity by bowing your head.”
Albireo and Deneb took the initiative and bowed respectfully to Siwoo.
“You’ve really done me a difficult favor to repay.”
“Please let me express my thanks once again.”
“P-Please lift your heads, t-this is too much.”
Siwoo was surprised beyond words.
Even though he had saved the twins, Siwoo was still a slave, meanwhile the Geminis were Count.
They were one of the seven Counts in this world.
“Showing appropriate manners to others is a virtue that nobles must uphold.”
“May the blessings of mana be with you on your way.”
One by one, the Geminis kissed the back of Siwoo’s hands, who was unsure on how to respond, before pushing the twins’ backs.
““Thank you so much for saving us, Mr. Assistant!””
The twins politely bowed, hiding their smiles as they tried to hide their awkwardness.
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- 1TL/N: Albireo is the name of a star system in the constellation of Cygnus. The system consists of a binary star, Albireo A and Albireo B, which appear as a single point of light to the naked eye but can be resolved as two stars through a telescope.
- 2TL/N: Deneb is a name of Arabic origin that refers to the brightest star in the constellation Cygnus. It means “tail” or “tail of a hen” in Arabic.
- 3ED/N: it looks like this, more or less