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A meeting between Tara and Andrei…
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Episode 160. About 10 months (37)
"Wow. You've lost weight, junior! I didn't believe Leonard when he said it, what's your secret?"
"Haha. It's been a while, senior. How have you been?"
Cezanne Miller was a bartender at Drunken Dragon and Andrei’s disciple.
“Oh. I'm so glad that my cute junior is back! By the way, don't lose any more now, junior. It's a pity that your chubby cheeks are gone! They looked just like cotton candy, such a shame!"
Very out of character, she twisted her body and looked at me with hearts in her eyes.
I was originally embarrassed that she expressed such affection, but strangely I didn’t dislike it.
"Hehe. Yes, senior. I'll keep that in mind. Is Master still busy with guests?"
"Yes. It will take some time since these guests booked in advance. You'll just have to wait a minute. But didn't the Knight want to see me?"
I almost burst into laughter when I saw Bernard staring straight ahead in an upright posture.
“… Mango juice, please."
Ugh, he was a robot.
“Oh, Sir, did you know that you go well with this juice?”
Cezanne blinked her eyes and looked at Bernard's face. Then, Bernard, who had only been looking at her, suddenly blushed.
"I didn’t know."
"Oh. You didn’t know? Well, now you do. Haha. Somehow, Knight Bernard and mango juice are a very strong combination. Doesn’t it feel refreshing?"
“… Is that so?"
Oh, dear Lord…
“Really. And you?”
"Ah! Water. Thank you."
"Very well. You're so cute! But even after class is over, you won’t stay here, right?"
Trick question. The real question was, 'Are you planning to take over my domain?'
She gave me a sharp look that didn't match her smile, but I didn't care and smiled back.
"Yes. I have a lot of other things to do."
“Okay. I trust this won't change. Well, if you have a change of heart, I can make a different choice. Hahaha."
Cezanne's eyes looking back at me were still sharp, but they didn't seem to contain any hostility.
“Here you go. Water and mango juice.”
Leaning on the bar, Cezanne looked at Bernard with a smile as if the most important thing in the world was to watch him drinking mango juice.
He, on the other hand, was staring straight ahead, searing a hole in the wall as he drank mango juice. Unfortunately for him, his neck had flushed red, giving him away.
'Bernard, you are such a prude, after all.'
Cezanne asked a few questions, but Bernard didn't answer. Still, she didn’t give up and kept trying.
I forcibly took my eyes off this rare sight and checked today’s plan in my head once more.
I had two plans in total. Among them, I would disclose to Andrei the most appropriate one according to the situation.
'Yes. I have no choice but to tell you. I don't know what you’ll believe.'
As Bernard waited outside, Andrei and I sat down at the round table.
“Ah… I received a letter from the Ministry of Public Safety and Security stating I was to be investigated, so I thought they sent the wrong one again. But there is such a thing… Hmm. So, you ask me to cover for you?”
"Yeah. The Security Department will most likely ask about it.”
“… But how did my disciple know that that day, it was going to happen around that valley, no, at the Tandra Forest hunting ground?"
“Well, from the case with the Dragon Fruit, to learning chops and conducting research, well, that’s it. My disciple really does like newspapers, but I would say in this case it’s too unrealistic. Besides, you're telling me you gave me an excuse. Hmm…"
Andrei looked at me with a very serious expression for a long time. He wasn't suspicious yet, but you could argue that he had taken the first step in that direction.
“I thought you would.”
Andrei's eyes twinkled at my words. Eyes full of curiosity. He thought this was going to be a lot of fun. He was straddling the line between doubt and amusement.
"Yes? Okay. So, when you gave Prince Kyle an explanation, did he believe it?"
Andrei jumped up from his seat. Then he went back and forth in the same place, and he continued.
"Haha. Yes. Well, we communicated, and if it's my network, I can get that kind of information in advance, so it's plausible. It isn’t even farfetched. But the strange thing here is that my disciple made excuses for circumstances she normally couldn't have explained. Doesn't that very fact mean you are cheating? Does it have anything to do with the series of assassination attempts? Maybe you have another Master. Or you are a double agent, what are you doing?"
He was smiling brightly, but his eyes, staring at me, were gleaming sharply, as his suspicions began to rise.
I swallowed and spoke as calmly as possible.
“It can’t be. There is no benefit to me being a double agent."
"Then what? You're acting like you know what's ahead!"
“Not only that, but based on that premise, you are trying to solve a serious crisis, and how the hell did you know that such an incident would happen on the hunting grounds?”
"You’re also a teacher," I calmly admitted to Andrei without denying it.
His brow furrowed in an instant as confusion filled his eyes.
Andrei, feeling thirsty, gulped down the mango juice Cezanne had brought him.
‘Is today mango juice day?’
"What? Does that mean I got it right? Which one? Knowing what's ahead? Or knowing what's ahead and trying to solve problems that will come along?"
I pondered for a moment about what to say. Andrei was drinking the remaining mango juice while waiting for my words.
Andrei spat out the juice he had been drinking. It would have been funny if it weren’t for the circumstances.
“Here, take this.”
I took out a handkerchief.
"You look strict, but you carry something like this. No, that’s not important right now. What are you talking about? You know the future?"
There was only silence for a while. Andrei, looking even more confused than before, wiped his sticky hands on a silk handkerchief full of rose patterns.
Then he put his hands together and raised them high. He turned to the sky, his eyes closed, and with an earnest face, he proclaimed:
“… This humble man believes that his disciple borrowed the power of God for a while. It's because I've suffered for a long time, and I never meant to commit blasphemy, God. Please awaken the spirit of this lowly person with the mercy of a noble and exalted God and forgive him."
Observing Andrei’s desperate prayer that came out of nowhere, I retorted, “You don’t believe in God.”
“It’s a selective belief. Trust me now."
‘No, isn't this more like blasphemy?’
“Master, lightning will strike, then. Repent quickly before being punished."
"Okay! Stop talking nonsense. So, what? You look into a crystal ball and see the future? Or are you a visionary prophet? Or are you the 5th child of the Elias family? Or, possibly, Andrei’s first disciple in a long time from the largest intelligence organization in the Empire?"
‘What, self-congratulatory praise at a time like this?’
"Hey there. Master, it's not like that…"
But Andrei was launched into his antics and didn’t want to listen to me.
"Oh my, God. This is such a sudden confession. So, this is what an disciple, who just received a revelation from God, looks like, huh? It's quite a sudden change from a down to earth to a shamanistic image, isn’t it?”
"No. It's not a prophecy!"
Taken by my sincerity, Andrei asked, “Then what? How did you know beforehand?"
I took a deep breath and confessed in all seriousness.
“I read it in a book.”
"A book that predicted the future. To be exact, it is an unfinished novel."
As if the flow of time and space had stopped, Andrei looked at me without blinking. I waited for his reaction.
How much time had passed?
The shoulders of my teacher, who had suddenly bowed his head, began to shake a little.
Other than his shoulders, whose movements were amplifying, he didn’t move.
‘I hope he’s not crying…’
“… Huh. Puh huh… Heh heh heh heh… Puh huh…”
Then Andrei raised his head and covered his mouth with both hands to prevent any sound from leaking out.
His eyes were filled with laughter and tears.
"Hmm... Hmmm... Kekekekekekekeke! I saw it in a book. Hahahahahahahahahaha… Ah… Ah, hey… My stomach hurts… from laughing so much… Geez.”
Unable to bear it, Andrei, who took his hands off his mouth, gave me a look filled with ridicule and sarcasm and smiled . He grabbed his stomach, then wiped the tears forming at the corners of his eyes.
“Don’t laugh. Because I'm serious."
If I had a Death Note, he'd be the first name I’d write in it.
I folded my arms and simulated how I’d kill Andrei, waiting for him to speak properly.
“Whoa, come on now. Stop joking and tell me. How did you know? Did I add someone unknowingly? Did you spot any suspicious signs? How?"
Yes. What would you do if you told the truth to a non-believer? No matter how much you told the truth to someone who didn't believe what you were saying is the truth, how could you get it across as the truth?
There was something else that Andrei wanted to believe was the truth.
If you asked me to change my point of view on this issue, not including that it was the truth, I wouldn't believe it either, 'You read it in a book…'
I took a deep breath and decided to use the lies I had been thinking of as an alternative.
“Actually, it started with an old woman.”
"Are you tired?"
"Yes. Did you know that it was only recently that we, the Elias family, were almost wiped out by the incident with the Dragon Fruit? Victoria has paid a heavy price for getting involved in that absurd case."
"Yes, I do."
“And at that time, before I went to be investigated as a witness, do you remember what you told me in the wagon, ‘The timing of the two incidents is so exquisite’?”