༺ Infiltration ༻
“Young Master, did the meeting go well?”
When Frey emerged from the dark cellar and left the information guild, Kania was waiting in the carriage.
“Yes. I completed all the tasks I had to do.”
Frey climbed onto the carriage and uttered a brief reply as Kania quietly nodded her head in response. After staring at her silently, he frowned faintly and questioned her.
“Kania, what did you do to my collar?”
Kania slowly averted her gaze in response to those words.
She averted her gaze even further and furrowed her brows, then she began to stare blankly at me.
“Tell me quickly, what did you do?”
“I just cast a simple spell to thwart anyone’s plans of harming the Young Master.”
“But why did I feel black magic when it activated?”
“It must have been because of your mood.”
Her gaze shifted towards the window again as she spoke. I clasped her face and pivoted her face towards me. I glared daggers at her and received a smirk in response.
“Everything I do is to benefit the Young Master, so don’t worry.”
“…I believe you.”
I was slightly skeptical, but decided to trust Kania due to our bond. I started the carriage and spoke.
“Well then… Please give me the report that has been delayed for this past week.”
“Alright. First of all, we should talk about the Moonlight family and the Young Master’s… friends.”
Kania cast her black magic to apply soundproofing magic within the carriage. She retrieved a notebook from her pocket.
“In conclusion, the Elder’s Council has collapsed and the Secret Head has fled.”
“Damn, I guess I couldn’t get him.”
“Yes. But with this, Young Lady Serena has risen from a puppet to the real head of the family, so I believe the outcome is somewhat favorable.”
Despite hearing those words, I sighed, and then spoke with a grim expression on my face.
“Well, that’s good and all… but Serena’s ‘Curse of Familial Subordination’ is the issue.”
In response to those words, Kania’s expression darkened as she spoke.
“Is there really no method for breaking the ‘Curse of Familial Subordination’?“
“Even my ancestor, who knew everything about this ‘game’, was incapable of finding a solution to this curse and one other issue in particular.”
“What is that other issue?”
“Ah, that’s my…”
I was about to reply to Kania, but I quickly came to my senses and shut my mouth firmly.
“Young Master? Why did you stop speaking?”
“It’s nothing. The other issue isn’t even mentioned in the prophecy.”
I closed my eyes and began to recall the contents of the prophecy.
My ancestor’s complaints, which continued for what seemed like eternity, ended with these words.
I’ve never experienced his world firsthand, so I can’t understand it completely, but I can roughly grasp his meaning.
In short, there is no way for me to increase my lifespan and life force currently.
Well, I’m unsure why, but lately there have been numerous errors in the prophetic book, so maybe there might be some hope…
“Young Master, what are you thinking about?”
I had been contemplating for some time. Only after noticing Kania’s worried expression did I come to my senses.
I think it would be better to focus on the current situation rather than having vague hopes for something that was built on ideas with no particular foundation.
“Next report, about tracking the scroll merchant…”
“You couldn’t locate him, correct?”
“…Unfortunately, I couldn’t.”
Kania lowered her head in shame. I sighed and spoke again to reassure her.
“It’s fine. I’m not trying to rebuke you.”
“In the first place, he might not be someone we can locate.”
If the person we are looking for is the one who sold the scroll to the Demon King in the finale of the second ordeal… maybe this was a hopeless investigation from the beginning.
I made Kania search for an anonymous person who was even able to deceive the Demon King all by himself.
“Then… would you like for me to abandon the search?”
“No, let’s increase our efforts, even if the expenditure and risk increases.”
Still, we can’t just concede. After all, lazy folks were never graced by victory.
“Alright, now, for the final report.”
Kania cleared her throat and began to report again after her inquiry.
“The Church recently withdrew the requirements for volunteer work at the orphanage.”
“Huh? Why… Ah.”
My expression became puzzled in response to those words. I then recalled that I had ordered Dmir Khan, the Second-in-Command of the Demon King’s army, to pressurize the Pope.
“It was a result of my actions. To be honest, volunteering was fun… but the chances of getting caught were far too high.”
“It was the correct decision. The orphanage is full of staff anyway, so it won’t result in any issues if the Young Master doesn’t volunteer.”
With a smile on my face, I briefly glanced at Kania before speaking.
“Let’s create a charity later.”
As Kania frowned in response to those words, I spoke in a cold sweat.
“No, that’s… Originally the plan was only to donate to the orphanage, but whenever I went to perform volunteer work, it felt so pleasing to see the smiling faces of the children. There are also other reasons…”
“Is that so?”
“Yeah, so, if the circumstances allow for it, a charity…”
“…Do we have any capital?”
I replied with a confident expression on my face.
“There is still a large sum of secret funds that my father has provided me. If it’s insufficient, I’ll acquire the rest by robbing the Demon King’s treasury.”
“…the Demon King’s army won’t do anything?”
“That’s right, I’m receiving funds from various different sources. It’s obviously dirty money, so I’m a little reluctant, but I wondered if I could use it for a good cause…”
In response to my words, Kania heaved a sigh and spoke.
“I understand what you are saying. However, unlike an orphanage, a charitable foundation requires several times greater time and manpower.”
“I understand that if we rush setting it up, the setup could go awry. I’d like to set up the foundation slowly over time…”
As Kania replied and wrote in her notebook, I spoke with a worried expression.
“If it’s too difficult, don’t overdo it. I can assist with the charitable foundation so if you just focus on the orphanage…”
“If I entrusted such a thing to an idiot who said that creating a charity foundation would heal him rather than spending money for his own needs, we’re sure to run into problems. So, I’ll take care of it.”
Kania smiled as she uttered those words.
“Thank you, Kania. I’ll do my best to deal with the cleanup and administration.”
“You don’t need to thank me. I’m your aide.”
As Kania bowed and spoke, she immediately inquired with a sharp gaze.
“By the way, what is that ‘other issue’?”
I flinched briefly in response to those words. I averted my gaze and spoke.
“It doesn’t really matter, so…”
“Tell me, Young Master. I need to know everything to assist you.”
“…If we set up a foundation, the main scenario in the future will become much easier.”
In response, Kania inquired with a puzzled expression.
“Shouldn’t you have said that from the beginning?”
“I just… I didn’t want to burden you with a large amount of work.”
Kania bowed her head suddenly as I spoke with a slightly embarrassed expression.
“…Thank you for always worrying about me, Young Master.”
For a brief moment, silence ensued in the carriage.
“By the way, Irina was talking about Lulu earlier.”
As my whisper broke the silence, Kania, who had her head lowered, began to glance at me secretly.
“Kania, could you send me into Lulu’s subconscious?”
Kania frowned in response to those words.
“It’s possible, but I wouldn’t recommend it.”
“The subconscious mind is a very dangerous place. Aside from the minds of people like the Young Master, all sorts of threats may be lurking.”
Kania cleared her throat mid speech before continuing again with a serious expression plastered on her face.
“Even when entering the subconscious space of ordinary people, you could potentially lose yourself. When penetrating the mind of a mentally unstable person such as Ms. Lulu, there is no guarantee of your safety.”
I looked at Kania’s serious expression and contemplated for a moment, then sighed and spoke.
“So, you’re in danger too?”
“…I’m fine, because I’ve penetrated a lot of people’s subconscious.”
“Alright, then it looks like I’ll have to infiltrate her subconscious.”
When I reached that conclusion, Kania stared at me with a stunned expression.
“…Did you even hear what I said?”
“Yes, you said I’ll be safe if I’m with you.”
As Frey stared at Kania with a questioning expression on his face, she let out a deep sigh. .
“Please take care of yourself, Young Master.”
Before I could respond, the carriage began to rattle. I scratched my head and gazed out the window.
“We’ve already arrived. Then, let’s visit Lulu.”
I exited the carriage and began walking towards the mansion with Kania, who displayed a dissatisfied expression.
“…She’s still sleeping.”
Although it had been quite some time since they left to visit the information guild, Lulu was still fast asleep.
In fact, it would be more correct to say that she had fainted rather than been asleep.
Did I hit the back of her neck too hard? Next time, I’ll have to adjust my power before I hit her.
“Are you ready?”
“Yes, I’m ready.”
“Again, never come in contact with objects or beings in Lulu’s subconscious, and if the administrator of her subconscious appears…”
She had stated that she would be fine with sending me into Lulu’s subconscious. Yet, Kania was already warning me for the fifth time. She was clearly quite worried.
“Kania, let’s stop now and send me in. Lulu will wake up at this rate.”
I interjected, and only after urging her, did Kania begin preparations to dive into her subconscious.
The dark mana that Kania summoned emerged and engulfed Lulu and myself.
“Keep in mind, you must beware of the administrator.”
As I overheard Kania’s words through my fading consciousness, I was sucked into Lulu’s subconscious.
“Oh my God…”
“It’s more serious than I thought.”
As I arrived in Lulu’s subconscious, what appeared before my eyes were various weapons.
“Why is her subconscious space filled with objects that could be utilized for self-harm or suicide?”
“It is likely Ms. Lulu’s most fervent desire being expressed.”
“You mean her suicidal thoughts?”
Kania nodded her head with a firm expression in response. Even for her, who had entered the subconscious realm of numerous humans, the subconscious space in Lulu seemed quite dangerous.
“This is pretty dangerous.”
Unsurprisingly, Kania began speaking to me with a nervous expression on her face after surveying our vicinity for some time.
“Of course, I’ve seen many more bizarre and terrifying subconsciouses than this one. However, what worries me is the abundance of weapons. If the situation goes awry, we’ll have to make an emergency escape.”
I nodded with a nervous expression and scanned our surroundings.
“…Uh, someone’s over there?”
A child resembling Lulu was found in a crouching posture. I pointed in her direction and spoke, but Kania widened her eyes in response.
“It’s strange. The administrator of a subconscious ordinarily would never reveal themselves, often taking any means necessary to stay concealed…”
“Is it because Lulu lacks affection?”
“That reasoning would make the most sense. And, if it were true…”
Kania spoke in a low voice as she stared at the crouching Lulu.
“…She seems to be craving ‘love’ far more than I had ever imagined.”
I swallowed my saliva and slowly began to approach Lulu.
“Young Master, are you really going to converse without suppressing the administrator?”
“Yes, you said that if we attempt to overpower the administrator, it can become uncooperative. So, let’s attempt to talk to her.”
“Be careful, Young Master.”
Kania summoned black chains and aimed at Lulu, ready to fire at any given moment. Noticing her use of magic, I gazed forward with a reassured expression.
I spoke carefully after reaching Lulu, who was still crouching down.
“Shall we talk?”
The events that occur in the presence of Lulu, the administrator of this subconscious space, would not be instilled in the real Lulu. Therefore, I spoke in the kindest voice possible. Yet, Lulu remained silent for some unknown reason.
“Lulu, don’t keep ignoring me, talk to me…”
I squatted down in front of her, and the moment I carefully raised her head, I couldn’t help but panic.
“Ha ha ha ha ha.”
The head that I lifted was in a complete mess.
She had dozens of cuts on her arms, a red mark around her neck, a face full of scars and bruises, and dark circles under her eyes.
Her nails were chewed up, her body covered with cuts and bruises, and her legs helplessly limp.
I’d seen individuals with such conditions before. However, if this was the real Lulu, and not the administrator of her subconscious, I would probably have died from shock.
“Frey… Are you Frey? Hello.”
As I was deep in my thoughts, she greeted me with her eyes open.
Before I could receive Lulu’s greeting, she began speaking in a soulless voice.
“I’ll use you. I’ll receive your attention and affection, and I’ll break the stigma on me, even if it’s just a twisted form of affection in which you treat me like a pet.”
“You’re going to become miserable. Everyone who ever cares for me has been trapped in my curse.”
Of course, I’m more miserable than Lulu, so I’m unaffected by her stigma. Thus, I had a composed expression in front of her. Upon noticing my expression, her expression became noticeably darker.
“Why? Are you afraid of being unhappy? Are you afraid?”
“No, I’m not afraid…”
“You’re a villain. You deserve to die. So, there’s nothing wrong with using you. Rather, it’s for the benefit of society.”
“Hey, Lulu? Can you hear me?”
“I’m not guilty. I didn’t do anything wrong… uh…”
Lulu didn’t seem to care even as I waved my hand in her face. She spoke to herself when suddenly, a panicked expression materialized on her face.
“I didn’t do anything…? I did do something.”
“What do you mean?”
“M-My misfortune enveloped all the students… This attack was because of my curse… because of my misfortune, everyone almost died…”
A deep wound began to form on Lulu’s body once those words were uttered.
“It’s my fault… It’s because of me… I should just die. I’m trash. Because of me, innocent children…”
“It’s not your fault. I’ll explain why, so listen to me for a moment…”
“It’s all my fault!!!”
I tried to converse with her somehow, but she wouldn’t talk to me at all.
“Lulu, please listen… GAH!”
– Crunch… Crunch…
“All… it’s all my fault… hehe…”
The moment I spoke to her with a glimmer of hope in me, an unknown grip began to pressure me.
“I must die… Yes, if I don’t die, the world will be in danger… So, one day, soon…”
The chains that Kania had summoned enclosed Lulu after an unknown force lifted me into the air.
The unknown force released me from the grip and dropped me to the floor once Lulu was chained and lifted into the air.
“Young Master! Are you alright?”
– Schluk! Schluk!
“It hurts, it hurts, it hurts… It hurts…”
I stood with the support of Kania who had sprinted towards me with a pale face. I noticed Lulu being shackled and raised in the air, her body visibly being torn apart by invisible knives as her blood percolated from her newly produced orifices.
“…Oh my god.”
In the next moment, all the weapons in the subconscious space materialized in the air and pointed at me and Kania.
“Because I have to endure this insurmountable pain… I just desire death.”
“Young Master, brace yourself.”
When an ominous noise was emitted from between Lulu’s lips, Kania, who had been observing the situation anxiously until then, whispered to me.
“I think we need to make an emergency escape.”
As Kania uttered those words, the weapons in the air began gravitating towards us all at once.
In response, Kania released black mana from her body and distorted the space around us.
“Hold on a little longer, Young Master.”
Kania whispered to me in a soft voice as I was grinding my teeth while enduring the excruciating pain.
– Crack! Crack!
Kania held me in her arms. I gazed in Lulu’s direction before slowly losing my consciousness.
“I have to die… but…”
The weapons Lulu had summoned with the intent of eviscerating her and us came to a halt before shredding her body.
I opened my eyes to the floor of the mansion, heavily gasping for air.
“Young Master! Are you alright!?”
Normally, I would have attempted to reassure Kania by stating there was nothing to worry about, but this was one instance in which I couldn’t.
It felt as if my body was being torn apart by the unfathomable pain while I was being squeezed by an immense grip.
“Kania, are you alright?”
Due to the immense pain paralyzing me momentarily, I belatedly inquired about Kania’s safety.
She stared at me with a worried expression and spoke.
“In truth, the emergency evacuation was designed for only one person to escape… If the Young Master escapes with me, it is natural for problems to occur.”
I nodded my head blankly in response, then glanced at Lulu lying unconscious on the bed and fell deep in thought.
“So, what are you planning to do?”
After contemplating for what felt like eternity, Kania quietly inquired.
“Using her subconscious as confirmation, we can affirm that Lulu is currently in a poor mental state, is that correct?”
“And, the reason is because of the ‘stigma of misfortune’ enveloping her. You agree with this statement, right?”
“Yes, but why do you keep asking questions like that…”
I watched as Kania tilted her head as she inquired. I quickly signed and replied to her inquiry.
“…Well, there’s only one solution.”
Kania frowned deeply and spoke.
“T-Then the Young Master will be penalized…”
“I’ll have to regulate the amount.”
I responded calmly and added in a low voice as her face began to configure an expression of bewilderment in regards to my absurd idea.
“…It’ll be alright.”
Lulu, who was lying flat on the bed, struggled to open her eyes.
“I want to die…”
She muttered the usual words she uttered everytime she woke up and began to groan as she tried to get up.
“Are you finally awake?”
She scrambled back with a startled expression on her face upon noticing me beside her.
“Ah, don’t move. You’ll get injured again.”
She questioned me while wearing a bewildered expression on her face when I spoke to her in a soft voice in contrast to my customary cursing.
“Is your arm alright? It was injured, so I took it upon myself to treat it.”
In response to those words, Lulu gazed down at her arm and found a luxurious bandage covering her arm. She inquired with a trembling voice.
“W-why are you being nice to me…?”
Hearing that, I…
“What are you saying…”
responded while stroking Lulu’s head with an expression suggesting that it was only natural for me to do so.
“…If my pet gets hurt, her value will decrease.”
The time has come to save her.