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Victoria gets involved with some questionable people, and Kyle follows through with his side of the bargain.
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This edit is primarily based off of Thamalasca's original version of this chapter and includes some of her original editor's notes. So thank you Thamalasca for letting me re-edit this!
Episode 184. About 10 months (61)
In the Capital, on Lackton Street, there was a place called [Donnie's Gambling House, a solver whose hands are faster than the eyes]. Victoria stood in the office with a dissatisfied expression on her face.
The incessant creaking of the chair grated on her nerves, but she didn’t show it.
The man repeatedly pushed his chair back and forth while continuously puffing on a cigarette emitting a pungent smoke.
Normally, she would have immediately said something, but that was not important now, so she held her peace.
"This is big…. Hehehehehehehehehehehe."
'Ugh, what a vulgar man.'
The heavily smoking man put his papers down.
“These days, the security department is a bit tenacious, so a risk allowance will be added. 250 gold now and 250 gold after. Come over and sign here. The balance is to be paid immediately upon completion. And as you know it's all cash, Ma'am! Huh.”
“Don’t you dare call me 'ma'am'. And do your job well! Then you'll be paid immediately after it is finished."
Victoria gingerly grasped the man's outstretched quill with her fingertips, and signed the contract with an elegant flourish.
Johanna was her childhood nickname.
“As you wish. Well, you've already used us twice, so you would know. Before the chief died, when drunk, he would boast about how successful the client’s two previous requests were until my ears bled. I thought that he was talking out of his ass, but in the end, he wasn’t bluffing after all! Hehehehehehe.”
'Two requests… I had forgotten about the one 8 years ago…'
A cold chill engulfed her entire body.
Victoria's face hardened as she remembered the request from 8 years ago. She had only been thinking of the one from 28 years ago…
“Are you saying that you’re spreading information about the requests I’ve entrusted to you?”
“Whoa… Don’t worry, keeping secrets is the cardinal rule in this business. You don't have to remind me of that.”
Victoria had little faith in the man’s words or his shallow smile, but she tempered her anger, since she didn’t know any better alternatives.
“That's useless! This better be worth the price I’m paying for this!”
"Yes, Ma'am, of course. Just like back then, we will deal with it. Don’t worry. Hehehehehehe.”
Victoria Elias jumped up from her seat. Then immediately opened her bag and threw 250 gold pieces on the desk.
The man hurriedly shoved the stack of money into his pocket as if someone else would snatch it up.
"You’d better be prepared if anything goes wrong…”
“Haven’t we completed the previous tasks perfectly? Hehehehehe… Don’t worry, there are no angry customers here… Hehehe…”
"… Fine, I will trust you with this."
Victoria covered her nose and went to the door.
The man took off his hat and crossed one leg, then took a deep bow, as per the nobility’s custom. He was quite satisfied with his salute, despite the fact that his belly protruded in ridiculous fashion. He smiled.
But Victoria opened the door before the man could raise his head and left.
“Sheesh! And that’s what you call a noblewoman? … A cunning old witch is more like it! Kekekeke…”
He spat on the floor and proceeded to call his men to the basement for a meeting.
Meanwhile, the newly hired carriage driver opened the door for Victoria to get in. He then pulled out a notebook immediately after the carriage door clicked shut and scribbled down the name [Donnie's Gambling House, a solver whose hands are faster than the eyes].
“Hurry up!” Victoria commanded in a high-pitched voice.
“Yes, Madam!” The coachman replied as he quickly sat down on the drivers’ seat.
It hadn’t been as easy as he had thought to infiltrate the Elias Family, but fortunately, the Countess’s servants were often fired, the coachman thought, driving away.
Inside the Berquinn Caves.
He thought she would refuse. Just like she did in the barracks during the last Hunting Contest.
Kyle remembered that day very vividly. That day… And the moment he was refused a kiss in the hunting ground barracks.
[I don’t think physical contact should be the price of a favour.... Especially in the absence of mutual intentions... Intimate contact should only happen when both parties are in agreement.]
But she accepted right away. That meant…
… It meant that it was no longer a burden.
Kyle instinctively knew it was better not to ask any more questions. However, his need to understand was greater.
She snapped her head up.
“Please, promise me one thing in return.”
“If, after kissing you, I don’t feel anything for you, please give up easily and completely.”
'That’s highly unlikely…' he thought. However, seeing her determined look, he knew if ever he said those words out loud, she might decide to close her heart to him just as it was about to become his.
Instead, he said, “What if you feel something after we kiss?”
As if confronted with a difficult problem, she bit her lip. Seemingly having made up her mind, she answered.
“I’ll think about it then.”
“Don’t force yourself.”
“If you don't burden me… Then I’ll think about it.”
Kyle nodded slowly.
He sprang up from his seat and strode towards the entrance of the cave.
“Then let’s start. I'll leave, so you can take off your wet clothes and cover yourself with the blanket. It should be enough to cover you.”
I was embarrassed, but by thinking about it as a medical treatment, it felt more bearable.
"Yes, Your Highness."
The rain had stopped, and the world was quiet. I quickly wrapped myself in the blanket and lay down with only my underwear intact.
Returning to the cave, seeing me lying down wrapped in his blanket like a cocoon, Kyle grinned and looked down.
“We can proceed like this if you want, but…”
Like a jack-in-the-box, I sprung up before he even finished his words.
He sat down at my feet.
"Oh, you should have told me!”
Pretending that nothing had happened, I turned my body as naturally as possible, hiding my embarrassment, and sat down with my back to him.
I turned my head around.
“We have to sit face to face, alright? So, don't move."
I squirmed again at his words, as he quickly came and sat down in front of me.
"I don't have to take off my blanket, do I?"
“When I told you to take off your clothes, I only meant for them to dry quickly. Did you notice that it is you who’s been having these strange thoughts this whole time?”
As he said, my clothes had been spread out neatly to dry on a rock opposite us.
‘When did he? … Oh, he’s quick…’
I rolled my eyes in embarrassment.
“Huh… It's not that weird, what nonsense… Hmm… So … Now, what?”
“Stretch out both your hands, like this… and take regular deep breaths.”
Kyle's large hands clasped mine and he closed his eyes.
I stared at him as he sat there with his eyes closed. On close inspection, he had long and nicely drawn eyebrows…
How long had we been sitting here? After a while, Kyle whispered softly, eyes still shut.
“… Stop staring, close your eyes and focus. I'll start now."
I closed my eyes tightly as if I were at fault when, really, I hadn’t done anything wrong…
A hot and powerful energy started flowing slowly up my arms and into my body.
My peripheral nerves at the tips of my fingers and toes tingled.
That strong energy slowly spread in a steady stream throughout my body. I reflexively opened my eyes.
And for a moment I doubted my own senses.
What was that…!
A thin, transparent film had formed all over his body. As if alive, the transparent shroud flowed slowly through my arms like a stream of water.
… Awesome! This really was a fantasy world!
"Breathe. It's being disrupted. Concentrate!”
Kyle's determined voice echoed low in the cave.
I closed my eyes again, eagerly awaiting… No, accepting…
That Qi, the pure Aurore, continued to flow non-stop from his hands into mine and throughout my body.
How long has it been since he started…?
Oh my gosh! This was real!
Something I had only seen in novels and movies was happening to me. Who would have thought that I would ever experience this in my lifetime?
Was this really the kind of experience you can expect when you transmigrate? Yes, I was poisoned as well, but that was something that was more likely to happen, even on Earth.
To be honest, I didn't expect much when he told me that he would share his Aurore and get rid of my chills.
My highest expectation was a slight improvement of my stamina. But this was totally different.
My body was so warm that I couldn't even remember what shivering felt like.
As if I had been given a large dose of caffeine, my vision became clear and my head lighter.
As I was feeling better, elation came over me. I had this weird feeling that a hop and a leap could send me soaring into space. My whole body couldn’t contain the overflowing energy coursing through it.
Oh my God, what a full sensation.
A smile bloomed and I gazed up at him brightly.
Maybe he felt my gaze because his own eyes slowly opened and focused on me.
A deep frown. Beads of sweat covered his forehead, unlike me, he didn’t seem to be in a good mood…
Biting the corners of my twitching lips, I held back the laughter that wanted to leak out.
"Stop. That's enough. Haaa…"
Kyle slowly pulled his hands from our overlapping grip.
The middle of my palms radiated heat. My body felt light and very warm.
This was literally the best thing ever. I felt that I could easily run a marathon right now and not even be winded.
No matter how hard I tried, the corners of my lips kept twitching upwards.
“Oh my gosh, how do I feel? I feel as high as a kite… No, like I’m on steroids! … Ah! Not that I’ve tried them before!”
“Ste… What? What do you mean?"
“Oh, nothing … I just feel awesome.”
“I know, really. This was so very… Very… Wow… If it was like this, you should have done this for me sooner…”
I couldn't help it this time. I smiled with blissful ease.
"Ha! Have you no consideration for your benefactor?"
"Oh, I in that case, I take back those last words. Hehe."
With sweat beading on his forehead, Kyle closed his eyes again and sat up straight.
“Don’t disturb me. I need to concentrate for a while.”
You also saw this in movies. Both in the East and the West, Masters controlled their energy this way.
I sat still and watched him. He stayed like that for quite some time, maintaining his breathing slow and steady, completely unperturbed.
The thin, transparent shroud I saw earlier vibrated slightly all over his body.
It took my breath away. I intuited the way he controlled his Aurore was exceptional.
When would I ever be able to witness something like this again?
If there were changes in my body just by receiving it, then what changes could have occurred in him, who could freely use it?
He truly was an incredible person.
Outside, the rain had stopped. I could hear birds chirping and running water. Inside the cave, it was quiet except for the occasional dripping sounds.
Time passed in the silence. He slowly opened his eyes as if he was finished.
Eyes… that made me anxiously swallow…