Chapter 25 – Conversations.



The man sank into his chair and frowned.

“What, you missed Dakia?”

Hilden, head of the Eastern branch of the Ilech, the organization that ran the shadows of the Northern Kingdom, bowed deeply. He didn’t want to bow down to that foul-tempered mongrel, but he was a rich client, and his job now was to keep him happy.

“Yes. There’s nothing I can tell you, sir. There’s an unforeseen variable that has come into play—.”

“Variables, did you just say variables, huh?”

The man jumped to his feet and shoved Hilden in the shoulder. With just enough force to make him feel uncomfortable. Before Hilden could regain his footing, the man shoved him in the shoulder again.


Hilden landed on his butt on the floor and tried to straighten his face as best he could. Fortunately, 43 years of experience on this surface did not betray him, and he succeeded in creating a perfectly submissive expression.

The man’s blood ran cold when he saw the look on Hilden’s face. The man sank back into his chair and spoke bluntly.

“So, why are you reporting that to me? It’s a variable, and you’re supposed to handle it, that’s what I’m paying you to do. Oh, and you’re not reporting it to me to make me feel bad, are you?”

Hilden slowly rose from his seat and hung his head. He didn’t want to sound like a pathetic failure, but the damage had been done; he’d lost fifteen of the elite he’d spent so much time building in one blow, and even if he had to humiliate himself with a few more ass-kisses, he’d still have to get the client to give him more money.

“Well, I’m afraid I’m going to need some extra money to continue the commission.”

A thick frown creased the man’s forehead.

“What?! Extra money? Did you say extra money now?! How much money have I already given you? Huh? Hey, come here. Dae.”

Chasing after the snapping fingers, Hilden quickly stepped in front of him.


Hilden’s head snapped back with a refreshing slap. If that wasn’t enough, the man cupped Hilden’s cheeks again and again before he spoke with a grunt.

“Explain to me exactly why you need the extra money, and if you give me some bullshit about it being to make up for the losses you’ve suffered, you’re going to die at my hands today.”

Of course it was to make up for the losses, but Hilden had prepared a plausible explanation. A reason that would make sense to the iron man.

“This time,” he said, “the intervening variable wasn’t a normal person.”

“You’re a b*tch, huh? Why do you have such a long tongue? Do you want to get hit again?”

“You foul-mouthed bastard, you should really get your ass kicked and die!

Hilden, the head of the family, thought of the rabbit-like children and held his tongue.

“It was two men who took Princess Dakia Irmel–”

“What, men? Does that mean that Dakia has been running around with two men?”

Sascha reacted sensitively to the two words: men.

“Sh*t. Can’t you stop talking. Really!

Hilden gritted his teeth inwardly and continued.

“Yes. Yes, and this time there are two variables involved, one being Carmen Valtas, the illegitimate son of Ensis Valtas, and the other being—.”

“She’s just a common noble, after all.”

“Carmen Valtas was trained from a young age and became a renowned fighter in the capital—.”

“Oh, never mind. Who’s the other one? If it’s another commoner, I’ll be very disappointed in you, and I’ll have the whole neighborhood talking about how your Ileh just beaten by two commoners.”

That would be bad enough for the bastard, so Hilden quickly pulled out information about the other one.

“The other is Marnak, a priest to the goddess of preservation—.”

“A priest, you’re telling me it’s only one priest and a mere mortal?”

“You must hear me out. A man named Marnak is no ordinary man.”

The man showed some interest.

“What’s not ordinary about him?”

“Marnak, his real claim to fame came in Guise, when he killed a demon that suddenly appeared in Guise and turned into a giant monster with a single blow of his sword, earning him the title of ‘Demon Slayer’.”

“He killed a demon that turned into a giant monster with a single sword? Alone?”

“…Not alone, there were three Education priests present, though they were killed during the battle with the demon.”

“So you’re saying that Marnak could have just finished off what the Education priests did?”

Hilden asked, his interest waning a bit, and then he brought up a second piece of information.

“That wasn’t the end of it, not long ago he single-handedly killed a monster that the worshippers of the Evil One had created with the sacrifice of every living being in Kelton, earning him the distinction of being the Evil One’s arch-enemy, and he didn’t want fame, so he left the city quietly afterward.”

It had been rumored that the Demon Slayer of Marnak had left the city because he couldn’t bear the thought of being worshipped by the Demon Lord’s nicely packaged goods.

Sanae mulled this over with herself, then spoke up.

“But didn’t that come out of your own mouth anyway? Are you sure it was him? He could have lied and said he caught it when it was someone else, and he ran away because he was afraid it would be found out.”

Hilden squeezed his eyes shut.

“You’ll be dead soon, and you’ll never admit it.”

He leaned back in his chair.

“Well, if the rumors are even half true, they won’t be laying a hand on Dakia. Very well, I’ll give you an extra grant.”

“You did it!

The rabbit-like children and bear-like wife in Hilden’s mind grinned.

“But I can’t give it to you right now. I’ve spent so much money so far that I don’t have any money to move right now.”

“Are you not going to give a banquet tonight as well—?”

The man laughed as he patted Hilden on the head.

“Do you think I should cancel my play to pay you? Eh? That’s not even close to what you think, is it?”

“Cancel it, cancel it now!”

Hilden’s soundless shouting did not reach the man, who slowly stretched and said.

“By the way, Carmen, I wonder what Ensis Baltas will do if he dies. He always treats him like he’s his only son.”

Hilden’s face hardened at the mention of the Ensis’ name, which any northern-born man would revere, as if he were calling a neighborhood friend. For he, too, respected Ensis Baltas. Seeing the look on Hilden’s face, the man smirked.

“Enough. If you’ve said your piece, get out of here, it’s almost time for the girls.”


Hilden walked away as quietly as he had appeared. Just as he had appeared.


We all have those times, don’t we?

When you do something with a lot of enthusiasm and then a little bit of regret creeps in afterward.

“I wonder if I could have spoken to Princess Dakia a little more gently, she seemed to be a pretty articulate person.”


My mother yanked on my arm, as if to say, “Who cares about her? I cut the sausage on my plate into small pieces and shoved them into my mother’s mouth as she sat on my lap.


My mother exclaimed, chewing on a piece of sausage and stomping her foot excitedly. When she said she wanted to try it, it was worth it to go downstairs and pay for a separate plate of food.

As I cut the bread into bite-sized pieces and pushed them into her mouth, I thought of Princess Dakia.

The wizard.

I hated wizards. I hated them for being so selfish, beyond narcissistic.

They were the ones who had destroyed my life in the first place, the ones who had tried to blend in and live a normal life in this world. Ever since it happened, I had always had an instinctive dislike for wizards.

Even though I knew that the wizard who destroyed my life and the wizards I encountered were two different people, I couldn’t get rid of my vague dislike of wizards easily, so I wore tinted glasses and consciously distanced myself from them every time.

Besides, I’d already tried to be gentle with a wizard once and ended up scalded, so I figured it would be foolish to repeat the same mistake.

But after what I’d seen of Princess Dacia over the past few days, I couldn’t help but ask the instinctive question, “Wouldn’t she be an exception?


I quickly grabbed a piece of meat and shoved it into my mother’s mouth.



Before my mother could finish her sentence, there was a knock on my door. I said, gripping the handle of my frost steel sword.

“Who is it?”

The answer came after a long pause.

“It’s me, Dakia.”

I pulled my mother’s head into my arms, never letting go of my grip on the frost steel sword. I quickly turned her into a hand and placed her in my breast pocket.

“You can come in.”


She wouldn’t shoot a spell as she opened the door, would she? Luckily, Dakia entered my room unarmed and without casting any spells.

She looked at the large plate of food in my lap and asked me.

“Did you have a midnight snack?”

“Yeah. I’m a little hungry.”

Caught off guard, I picked up the plate and set it down on the table. Dakia stepped in front of me, wearing only a light white cotton robe.

“Do you mind if I sit next to you? I need to talk to you.”


At my nod of approval, Dakia flopped down on the bed, her butt hanging over the edge. It hadn’t even been an hour since I’d threatened her, and I wondered what the hell she wanted to talk about.

Dakia didn’t open her mouth easily. A heavy silence settled over us, and it wasn’t until the weight of the silence had settled in that her lips parted softly.

“Is that why you warned me earlier, because I’m a wizard?”

I didn’t answer right away, as the words cut to the chase. I opened my mouth, which didn’t open easily, and admitted my guilt.


Dakia said, watching the snow fall through the window.

“I knew it, because the way Priest Marnak looked at me was a very familiar kind of look, usually reserved for people who have been hurt in some way by mages.”

I felt a little uncomfortable with her words, because they were pointing right at the ugliest part of me that I didn’t want to face.

I remained silent. Even though I knew my silence would sound like an affirmation to her. Dakia looked at me, her golden eyes sparkling.

“It was my first time, though.”

She spoke to herself, even when I didn’t answer in mute.

“Even with those eyes that hated me so much, all Father Marnak had to say to me was, ‘Be good in the future,’ because usually people who look at me like that want to do bad things to me.”

The brighter she spoke, the more I wanted to hide in a rat hole.

“Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever get over seeing injustice, but.”

Dakia pursed her lips a few times, then smirked.

“Before we do that, I’ll be sure to discuss it with you, as Priest Marnak cautioned me to do, and the only reason I’ve come to you so late at night is to tell you this.”

She eased her ass off the bed and stood up slowly.

“I’ll leave you then, good night. Sincerely, Priest Marnak.”



Admitting one’s faults was never easy. I blurted out the words I hoped wouldn’t come out.

“I think I was a bit impatient earlier, and I’m afraid I’ve offended your Highness.”

Dakia looked me straight in the eye with molten gold and smiled broadly.

“For the first time, you see me properly, and I’m very glad.”

I smiled back at her.

“Isn’t it?”

Dakia nodded once, then spoke up.

“So we’re completely reconciled on this, then, with no grudges?”

“Yes. For one thing, I don’t hold any grudges.”

“Well, neither do I, so now we both have no grudge, and I’ll see you tomorrow morning with a smile.”

With that, and a goodnight, she stormed off. I patted my mother’s hand and said.

“It seems that wizards are just individuals, too, and this foolish son of yours is only today facing the truth he’s been avoiding all this time.”


Enough about her, I smiled quietly at my mother’s plea to finish her meal.

“The food has gone cold,” I said, “I’ll go downstairs and heat it up for you, and then I’ll feed you. I can’t feed my mother cold food.”

I fed my mother the food I had just warmed up, and we locked eyes for a moment.



I opened my eyes to the sound of someone knocking on the door. I stood up and opened the door to be greeted by the rugged face of the innkeeper. Trouble was written all over his face.

“The priest!”

“Yes, sir. You may speak.”

The innkeeper hesitated, then spoke, sounding genuinely sorry.

“A group of men claiming to be the companions of the mercenaries taken by the vigilantes yesterday have blocked the entrance to the town and are demanding that you deliver to them the men who brought their companions to their deaths.”

“You must have given them the men you captured yesterday.”


It was as plain as day. There was no way they could have done that with a bunch of well-armed men. It was the kindest thing this man could have done for us, telling us the truth as it was, rather than attacking us in our sleep and giving us up to that band of mercenaries.

I sheathed my frost steel sword and butcher knife and smirked.

“Tell them I’ll be on my way.”

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