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  • Writer's pictureRina

Chapter 76

Updated: May 21


Tara strategizes for her upcoming mission with Leonard.


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


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Episode 76. About a year (3)


Her already wide eyes widened further.


"He said if you don't do it, he'll hand it over to the other person who's related to the safe."


"You're lying, right? Did he really say that?"


"Yes."


Tara clenched her fists tightly and spun, quietly turning her back on Leonard.


She stood there for a long moment, then suddenly said something that made Leonard doubt his ears for a moment.


"Aargh! That crafty son of a bitch!"


He took another step back. There was no way those words could have come out of such a bright, adorable face.


“I can't believe I shot myself in the foot like this! I left the cat to guard the fish pond!”


Leonard took another step back... Then another.


She didn't yell loudly, perhaps because the consulate residence was right in front of them, but he was more startled than if she had screamed aloud. She paced around quietly repeating 'Aghhh!' over and over again.


"Really! The men in this world!"


Then, suddenly, she bent down, lifted up her skirt, and in a flash grabbed something from between her legs.


"Huh. Wh-what?"


Leonard couldn't believe his eyes. It was shocking to see a noblewoman casually lift her skirt like that. He swore the object she'd pulled out was a pink axe. He squinted, but he'd seen correctly. The axe was pink.


He'd never seen anything like it in his 30 years of existence, Leonard found himself unable to stop staring.


He realized later why he'd felt déjà vu earlier. It came from something he'd witnessed several times in the past. The day he first joined the Black Society, when he'd walked into the warehouse to meet with the head of the organization, a thin, handsome man with heavy makeup and painted nails had been screaming at the top of his lungs.


[Aaaaaah! I should have never given them that information! Aaaah!]


The Chief must have known at a glance that his new apprentice was just like him. 


***


When I saw Leonard slowly backing away from me, I realized that I had just flipped up my skirt in front of a strange man while standing outdoors.


It was less revealing than the shorts I was used to wearing in Korea, but in this world, it would be scandalous for a noblewoman to do such a thing. I quickly straightened my skirt back to its original state.


Ah... I needed to calm down. I was probably overstressed, and there was no cure for going crazy like this. Phew... Get it together. Concentrate.


I smiled slightly as if nothing had happened and stepped towards Leonard. He flinched a little, as if trying to stop himself from taking another step back.


"I suppose it's better to learn quickly than to learn it the hard way, right? Who am I to turn down an opportunity to learn from the Black Society? What a gracious offer!"


"...."


Leornard shot me a suspicious glance, but whatever he decided, I was going to get this over with so he could go on his way.


"Phew. Okay. What does he want me to investigate?"


With an incredibly stiff motion, Leonard retrieved a map of Durben and unfolded it.


"As expected of the Black Society, this map is detailed. Even the Military doesn't have this much."


I clapped three times and looked down at the markings on the map. Then, with a nervous look on his face, Leonard pointed to one of the marked areas.


"As you can see," he said, "there are three suspicious areas in the Principality of Ga'an's territory. There are two in the Kingdom of Barron's territory, three in the Empire's territory, and a fourth in the jointly administered Local Settlement, which we'd like you to check out."


I frowned as I looked at the note written where Leonard indicated.


What a wise business name... What was it with the names in this world? Also, why 'Royal'?


"Why? Do you want me to leverage my social status?"


[Royal Durben Club - Wise Clubbing]


"Yes. It's a small club in a housing complex that's only open to the nobility. You're the only other noble within a 10-kilometre radius who is a member of the Black Society. Political exchanges often happen in places like this, alongside card gambling, bingo games, and drinking. Entry is strictly by noble status only."


"Hmm.... So I need to use my identity as a Lady of the Elias family. Okay. In that case, I have a fundamental, basic question for you."


"Yes."


"What would Scorpion be doing in a place like that? This sounds like it's best suited to a law enforcement operation, rather than an intelligence organization."


"...."


"What? You can't tell me that?"


"Yes. He said it would be in your best interest to move forward without knowing."


"Really? Why?"


"Because if you think too hard about it, you'll probably realize...."


"Oh, if you told me, would that cause problems? It's already a pain in the ass. Oh, come on!"


Leonard took another step back.


Whether I liked it or not, I decided to ponder Andrei's intentions.


When he said it was better to act in ignorance he meant that if I knew, it could be used against me later.


"Is it related to my family?"


“…No, it's not."


"Okay. Then it must be related to my work. I work for the Military, so it must be related to that, is that correct?"


"...."


“I guess it’s true since you didn't answer. Hmm… . So, is he saying that if I know and make a move, the Military might catch me? Currently I'm acting on behalf of the Black Society, not the military. In other words, if I achieve results with this and pass those results on to the Black Society, does this mean that it could be bad for the Military?”


"...."


Leonard's eyes widened slightly.


"What if I get caught by the Military? I can claim I had nothing to do with this? Like I was just having too much fun and happened to get caught?"


“....”


“No. What if I misunderstood? Just tell me. Quickly. You can tell me this much anyway. Master Andrei told you to let me guess on my own, didn't he? I know that if I’m wrong, you'll correct me, won't you Leonard?"


"Hmm… Yes. The probability is low that you'll be caught, so there's not much concern. Besides, the Chief said that local soldiers and the nobility often attend these places. It wouldn't be suspicious."


“Tsk. That's why I'm anxious. A strong denial is basically an affirmation! I have a feeling I’m about to get involved in something big.”


I thought it over.


What was the leader of the Black Society up to? Andrei had given me a task but wouldn't provide all of the information. That meant it was related to the Military. The Black Society was an information organization, and Scorpion was also an information organization.


There was definitely some massive intelligence at stake.


Scorpion must be working against both the Black Society and the Military. Of course, the Military wouldn't like it if I found something they wanted and gave it to the Black Society instead. What were they looking for?


"What exactly am I looking for?"


Leonard swallowed hard to clear his throat and answered quickly.


"130613jk."


I glared straight into Leonard's face.


“Just do what you’re told without making a fuss? That's it, isn't it? Damn it.”


"Scorpion's base. It's your job to find out if there are Scorpion members with tattoos, and the Chief gave you much gentler instructions than could be expected."


"Yes... yes... I know I have to do it. He's exploiting my weaknesses so that this poor clueless apprentice can learn a few lessons!" 


I clasped my hands together and bowed a couple of times in the direction of the Capital where Andrei was, then looked at Leonard. He had suddenly taken another step back.


What was up with him?


"Last question. What am I supposed to learn from this job?"


"He said you would learn, 'the basic steps for systematic intelligence operations and effective case resolution'."


"Hmm, so it's okay for me to make my own plans and operate within my territory, right?"


“Ah… Yes! He said you may operate as you wish within your territory.”


I pondered. The Chronicles of Oceria hadn't mentioned any incidents taking place in Durben.


Either that was true, or I didn't remember, and I would have to rely on my own experience to resolve the situation.


Fortunately, and thankfully, I had worked as a script writer and had some experience with undercover reporting. I had scripted two current affairs and culture TV programs in my past life. Research and investigation were the foundations of broadcast television and I was used to tracking down data, people, and events.


"Okay, then, let's do the preliminary investigation first, but we can't discuss this at the consular residence, so finish your checks and we can meet at the teahouse named [3 a Day] in downtown Durben at 1:00 p.m. tomorrow. If any issues arise, I know who to ask for support... Or rather, I want to meet the support team who'll be covering my back. Oh, by the way, from now on Jack will be in charge of communication between you and me?"


"Yes, ma'am. Jack will be in charge of that from the start of the operation until the end, or until I leave."


“I don't want the operation to overlap with the other team’s investigation schedule. So you can be the one coordinating it, right Leonard?”


"Yes. That would be good."


"Okay. I'll see you tomorrow then."


***


Leonard shook his head as he watched her retreating figure.


"I guess you can't judge a book by its cover."


It was true. Tara Elias was different from the typical noble child her age.


Compared to the other apprentices who had come before her, she didn't seem bad. Given the short time he had known her, Leonard did not feel he could give the Chief's new apprentice a positive score quite yet.


He had seen too many people in his life who talked a big game. He wondered if she would be able to act as coolly as she spoke, especially while being thrown into the fray.


"Hmm. I don't think the Chief chose her on a whim.... I wonder what she'll be like in practice. We'll see."


***


The contents of the preliminary report on the [Royal Durben Club - Wise Clubbing] were as follows.


1. One of the six aristocratic social clubs in Durben.


2. Anyone with an aristocratic title can enter.


3. You have to make a reservation in advance.


4. You must participate in at least one form of gambling, such as bingo, whenever you attend the club.


5. In most membership clubs, you have to sign up for an annual membership, but since Durben is a conflict zone, you can sign up for a monthly membership instead.


6. That membership can be used at any of the six Royal Social Clubs in Durben.


7. There are five levels of membership (Bronze - Silver - Gold - Platinum - Diamond).


8. Drug use is common, so don't drink alcohol.


Drugs. Being new to this, I was surprised, but neither Leonard nor Jack seemed surprised.


"It's a common aristocratic hobby. There are a lot of nobles who intentionally visit clubs to use drugs"


As expected of the nobility…


I had met with Leonard at the teahouse, [3 a Day], to exchange reports and discuss the details of the plan.


Obtaining entry to the club wouldn't be difficult. I had nothing to hide since I could attend openly. All I had to do was scour the club's interior, looking for anyone with a scorpion tattoo on their wrist.


But no matter how much I thought about it, something felt wrong.


If the Black Society was moving on such a large scale, Scorpion posed quite a significant threat. The feeling that the plan was somehow inadequate kept nagging at me.


So, just before we left the tea house, I stopped holding back and decided to ask him.


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2 Comments


ProMama
ProMama
May 21

Tara just like I FREAKING KNOW THERE’S A CATCH. 😅

Like

Laralee
Laralee
May 19

and the thot plickens 😁 You be careful now, Tara. Thank you for the chapter

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