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Chapter 75

Updated: May 19


Tara gets an unexpected mission from Andrei which she's reluctant to take.


This chapter is dedicated to red_rahl! Thank you for your support!


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Episode 75. About 1 Year (2)


"I'm sorry, Miss. I was too complacent. I should've been paying attention to it, but I've been too comfortable. I'm sorry, Miss. I was wrong.... Huu...Heuk."


Her shoulders shook, tears dripping down her face.


She looked down at Beth, as she apologized over and over again, and deliberately held back from consoling her.


"The fact that you only noticed the Black Society’s envelope in my presence, means that it was not there this morning. That tells me that you must have neglected my cloak and left it before bringing it in this morning, am I right?"


"Heuk... Yes, Miss. That's right."


Beth nodded so hard her head was about to fall off.


"And you didn't even look at the cloak until after all this had happened, correct?"


"Yes. Yes, my Lady. It was wrong of me."


"The Black Society crosses the threshold of my home freely and I condone their behaviour , as long as I am Andrei's apprentice, they will do nothing to harm me. But you are different, I consider you one of my own, and I trust your words and actions deeply. That's why I could lose my life over a single thoughtless act. These things make me an easy target. So, Beth, I want you to be more careful in the future, because the more trust we share between us, the more we have to guard that trust. Do you understand, Beth?"


"Yes. Yes, My Lady. It won't happen again, Miss. I was wrong, Miss."


"Good. What happened between now and when you last saw it?"


"I always drink water as soon as I wake up, but today my water, which I left for myself last night, was missing, so I didn't drink it, and I was thirsty."


"It seems to me that you would have left the cloak up in my room, so why did you move it?"


"Well, the cook and Jack, the hall servant, were rolling in a big barrel of water, and they said it was freshly filtered. They offered to let me have a quick drink, so I just... I put the cloak down on the hall table for a moment, I'm sorry, Miss."


"Oh, I see. Who suggested it?"


"Jack."


Ha. That guy. He'd been hiding so well this whole time, but by revealing his identity so blatantly meant he'd been given permission to get caught.


"Yes. Alright. Beth, just try to remember this for the future. I'm going to have a lot more enemies back in the Capital once I'm working in the Palace. And back at the Elias mansion as well. There are going to be a lot of people who will try to take advantage of our relationship, so you need to always be vigilant and careful. I want you to make sure you check and check again multiple times from now on. Do you understand?"


"Yes, Miss. I'll keep that in mind. I'll be sure to. I... Do you mind if I go downstairs and take another look at your dresses in the mending room?"


The dresses would be fine. But Beth wiped the tears from her eyes with the back of her hand and shot me an intense look that said, 'Please, please, please let me try again.'


Haaa, she was so softhearted.


I smiled brightly and nodded my head.


I watched Beth as she walked away, the Black Society envelope in hand. She looked worldly and serious.


After watching her for a moment, I pushed my hair out of her face and opened the envelope.


[As soon as you see this, go to the stables behind the residence - Black Society]


"They've been quiet all this time... Did they discover something big?"


Before I came to Durben, I had asked Master Andrei to do a background check on my siblings.


I wondered if it was related to that, but then quickly shook my head.


"That's not enough of a reason to expose Jack. By exposing him, they're saying that I'm part of the Black Society, and they want to remind me of that fact. It also means that there is something big enough to warrant exposing him... If they've called me into this situation... Do they need me? I suppose I should go find out."


I donned the cloak Beth had brought and went to the stables.


What awaited me was not information on my siblings, but an outrageous demand from Andrei Pitt.


***


The stables behind the Consulate. Morning.


Leonard took up a position in a blind spot behind the stables, where they were  invisible from all directions.


The apprentice looked much thinner than he'd expected her to be. She pulled her blue cloak over her head, hiding her tiny face, and began to read the message that Leonard had delivered.


‘He said she was 18... What is this young lady doing here... '


Leonard was starting to doubt his Master's judgement.


As he waited for her to finish, the new apprentice lifted her delicate face and asked.


"So suddenly?"


"What? What do you mean?"


"Here, look."


[...Come to think of it, I've met all of your demands, while you've done nothing as my apprentice and have never acted as such. If you hadn't left for Durben you would have already started, so now seems an opportune time to begin.]


"Oh… yes. You just happened to have a lot to learn, so he said it was the right time."


"Tsk. So that's what that man wants... Or rather, what Master wants."


She continued reading intently. Perhaps lingering on the section about furthering her progress.


"Hmm... Do they run away often?"


"What?"


"Here, this part."


She pointed to a section of the letter with her long, white index finger.


[You aren't going to run off with all the information I've given you to get this far before you even start as my apprentice, are you? My judgement told me you aren't like those small-minded, despicable bastards, am I right?]


"You can't just show it to me like that."


"I wouldn't show it to you for no reason. You're the one who can answer my questions... Um so, what am I supposed to call you?"


"You can call me by my first name. I am first-class messenger Leonard Bench, and you may address me as such. You are the Chief's apprentice, so you are just below him in the hierarchy and must be respected."


"Ah... I didn't become his apprentice because I wanted deference, but if those are the rules, then so be it. By the way, how many of his apprentices ran away?"


“Around ten or so.”


"Phew. So many? That's kind of concerning, isn't it, Leonard?"


"…I have no idea what you mean."


For a moment, he'd almost answered in the affirmative, Leonard covertly sucked in a breath.


"Hmm, ah. Well, this is the first time we've met. Maybe later, when we know each other better."


She patted him on the shoulder with a smile.


Leonard furrowed his brow glancing back and forth between his shoulder and the apprentice, who stood intently reading the letter.


"Master has been haunting me like a paranoid dragon.... because he wants to keep an eye on me in case I run away?"


"Ah... Well, he told me to keep an eye on you."


"Keep an eye on me, I see. No wonder he exposed Jack for this. I haven't been in the Black Society long, so I wonder what could possibly need me for?"


“....!”


Tara Elias turned her attention back to the letter, as if Leonard's answer didn't matter.


Leonard swallowed hard.


[I don't mind exposing Jack, my apprentice will understand it.]


[Do you think she'll realize that Jack is one of ours?]


[Well, with a little thought, it's entirely possible. She'll probably wonder why I'm suddenly exposing him now, though].


Leonard looked at Tara Elias, who was still reading the letter in front of him, with new eyes.


Her side profile was visible, and he could see a slight frown of concentration on her brow.


He watched her pout her lips and 'hmmm' in a whole new light.


She was deeply concentrated, seemingly turning her thoughts over in her head. Leonard couldn't help but stare at her half-concealed profile.


"...I know that I look different, but if you stare at me without blinking like that, you're going to cause some kind of misunderstanding."


"What?"


Leonard took a step back, genuinely surprised.


It didn't sound like something he'd expect an eighteen-year-old noblewoman to say.


"What... What do you mean by that...?"


"You were looking at me closely. Why? I am really so far beyond your expectations? I mean, I've lost a lot of weight, but I'm not mesmerizingly beautiful."


"Oh. I've just never seen the Master take such a young apprentice before… Excuse me."


"It's all right. I am stunningly attractive, aren't I?"


"No. I didn't mean that, I just meant that it's the first time I've met such a young...!"


Tara didn't even wait for Leonard to finish, folding her long, white fingers together one by one. 


"So, let's get this straight, shall we? One. There may be a base for an intelligence organization called Scorpion here in Durben. Two. Master Andrei wants me to survey the proposed location and identify any Scorpion operatives there by the scorpion tattoos on their wrists. That's it."


"Yeah, that's right."


"And Scorpion knows the identities of many of the key operatives in the Black Society, which is why fresh faces are being used for the ground work. And I'm being sent because I'm a rookie. Hmm... It's almost like he's trying to teach me the business by working from the bottom-up. Isn't that a bit old fashioned?"


"It's what the Chief wants."


"Hmm... I don't feel good about this..."


Tara spun slowly in place for a moment, lost in thought, then asked with a questioning look in her eyes.


"But if these Scorpion members are stupid enough to have a scorpion tattoo, why would they show it to me? The head of Scorpion was mentored by Master Andrei, so he’s definitely capable. How do you know they don't have someone in the Black Society like we often do? Do they know that the Black Society is looking for their base?"


"He said he didn't care if they knew, and that by the time they did, it would be too late. And they wouldn't be ready for it."


"Hmm."


Tara tapped her chin, as if gathering her thoughts again.


"So you're saying they might know, but we plan to move before they do?"


"Yes."


"Well. If it were me, I would try to keep Scorpion distracted so they wouldn’t pay any attention, and I'm sure Master Andrei has a backup plan."


"......"


Leonard stifled the exclamation that threatened to escape him.


"Is there anything else you're curious about?"


Tara grabbed her chin and paced back and forth in the same spot several times before raising her head and looking up at him.


"Is it dangerous? Of course it's dangerous. No, I shouldn't be in too much danger."


"What? Oh..."


In Leonard's estimation, based on his 15 years of experience working for the Black Society, the risk level of the job that Tara had been assigned ranked at about a 1.5 on a scale from 1 to 10.


But that only applied for someone who had trained for undercover work, for Tara, who hadn't been trained that way, it was probably a 3.5 risk level.


"Since you're not trained in infiltration, you might be in danger, but don't worry. There will be trained team members stationed at multiple locations. Master says this will be a good learnin opportunity for you."


"Hmm. Well, I think he's pushed this on me in a fit of grumpiness, rather than thinking about what I could learn from it. He thinks he's been suffering for me all this time with little in return, don't you agree?"


"....."


Leonard had to hold back yet another nod of agreement.


Strangely enough, the new apprentice had almost made him squirm more than once.


"Aaah. Why does this feel so off? Can't I just start my apprenticeship after I get back to the Capital? I've got a lot on my plate right now, and I need to make up some points. But in movies... I mean, in novels, side characters who get into situations like this always die. Especially since I'm now spending time in a place like this...."


[If she doesn't want to do it, then say this.]


Leonard cleared his throat as he recalled what the Chief had said.


"He said if you refuse to do it, I should say this."


"What?"


"130613jk."


For a moment, Tara stared, unmoving, as if she had misheard.


A few more seconds passed.


"Huh. No way."


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4 komentarai


Ahahaha that damn locker is biting her in the arse 🤣

Patinka

ProMama
ProMama
05-09

Why does it feel like this bro half a step away from buying her a beer and gossiping about the boss if he actually could? 😅

Patinka

Laralee
Laralee
05-07

Hooray! Thank you for the chapter. It's always fun when Tara manages to disconcert people and overturn their expectations

Patinka
Rina
Rina
05-07
Atsakymas:

We should have many more chapters coming soon, so stay tuned 😉

Patinka
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