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  • Writer's pictureRina

Chapter 77

Updated: May 24

Tara begins her secret mission by using strategic fashion choices.


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


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Episode 77. About a year (4)


"Hmm. So you said this organization, Scorpion, was founded by a former student of Master Andrei's. How long has it been around?"


"Less than four years."


"They're pretty new! But if the Black Society is pulling off such a large-scale operation against them,  they must be pretty intimidating."


"... They're no threat to the Black Society, but they have gotten quite large."


"I understand your pride in the Black Society... But, if Scorpion is a threat, it means that it’s grown to overwhelm other organizations in some way. What kind of advantage does it have that led to such growth? I don’t think could be legal… What’s special about them?


"They have connections in high places."


"How? They must be exceptionally intimidating if they've managed to obtain that kind of backing. What could it be...?"


I was lost in thought, my head spinning with possibilities.


"I don't think the Andrei I know would use me as an unwitting pawn for something so big. He must have a backup plan, right?"


"...."


As I pondered what edge Scorpion held over other covert organizations, I heard a half soundless whisper.


"...It's in the name."


Huh?


"Leonard, did you just give me a hint?"


"What?"


Leonard looked away, as if he hadn't heard my question.


Still, I snuck a glance at him, hoping to figure it out.


"If you were going to do that, you should've just told me outright. Pardon? In the name? Scorpion... Scorpion... Poison?"


Expecting a silent response this time, I was surprised to see him hold up two small pouches in front of me.


"Ha! That's correct."


"Huh? What? Did the Master send these?"


"Yes. He said that the apprentice he chose would be able to think ahead."


"Hmm. That's only because you gave me a hint."


"Still, you managed to deduce that much, didn't you? Scorpion is a despicable organization. They use poisons that are banned by the rest of the intelligence community."


"So these are...."


"Yes. This one resists venom and poison, but it's not a universal antidote. It's more of an 'anti-toxin' that resists poison. If you think you've been exposed, take it immediately. Because it's a broad-spectrum anti-toxin you'll need to get the correct antidote for that particular poison and re-dose yourself after exposure. It's only a temporary measure. Keep it with you."


Huh... The drug use in social clubs is bad enough, but poison... That's just plain dangerous!


I looked at the pouches with concern and shook my head. I didn't want to do this. I wanted out.


As I continued to shake my head, Leonard sighed heavily and said.


"...If you're scared, you can always run away. The threat the Chief made yesterday won't be carried out. That's the kind of man he is."


"Yes.... I want to run away. I do."


“...?”


"But I won't. He took me on as an apprentice. I have to show him that I'm not like his other runaway students. If I fled every time I was scared, I wouldn't be here at all. I'd have escaped this southern shithole a long time ago."


I tucked the pouch away and gestured my chin towards the other pouch he held with a questioning glance.


"...Oh, and this one. If you find someone with a tattoo, or if things get dangerous, use it."


I nodded, looking inside the other pouch he handed me.


"Hmm, that's a pretty good idea. I see. I'll take care of it."


"Again, this is unlikely to be their base. But it can't hurt to be careful. I hope you don't have to use either of these two pouches."


"Yes, sir. I'll be careful."


***


November 3rd, the day of the operation.


Tara's official residence.


"Miss, Prohibition has been lifted!"


Beth excitedly rushed into the room with the newspaper Niels had sent her, and stopped dead in her tracks at the sight of me.


"Oh. Miss?"


Wide-eyed, Beth brought her hands to her mouth and just stared at me, as if she had forgotten to breathe.


"Ah, yes. It's loose.... It's gotten looser than before. This dress really does emphasize my waist too much. I'll have to alter it when we get to the Capital. Beth, come here and button it up in the back. And give me the newspaper."


Beth seemed unwilling to move, even as she watched me struggle to fit into the light grey dress in front of the full-length mirror.


I buttoned it up behind my back and whirled around to look at my reflection. 


"What's wrong, Beth?"


"You look ridiculous."


"Right? Ha ha. Even you think so? This was a good choice after all! My red hair makes me stand out like a sore thumb. The dress goes all the way up to my neck, so it covers almost everything and the black lace hat covers my hair. It's completely inconspicuous, isn't it?"


The skirt was so narrow that, from a distance, I probably looked like some kind of silver fish. I laughed.*


"If anything draws attention, it will be how ugly it looks. You're not really going out to a party dressed like that, are you?"


"Uh. Not a party, a social club."


"Wow. Isn't that even more important? Back in the Capital, the Countess dressed up more for social clubs than she did for parties. She often said that she would always get higher-level gossip by attending them."


"Beth, that's not what I'm here for. Come on, close the back for me. Why are there so many buttons? Phew."


Beth dragged her eyes away from the dress and quickly walked over to me.


"Yes, Miss. But Miss, now that you've lost weight, shouldn't you dress up more beautifully? You've got such a pretty face, but you don't put more effort in. Do you want me to do your makeup? I'm good at makeup."


"No, I don't need it. If I look pretty wouldn't that draw too many admirers? That would be very inconvenient. Ho-ho-ho-ho."


“....”


"Why aren't you laughing, Beth? Don't tell me you thought I was being serious? Give me the paper, and where's Bernard?"


"Oh. he's waiting downstairs."


Beth walked over and handed me the newspaper, then went to start buttoning my dress.


I turned my back to Beth and focused on the newspaper.


[To congratulate the Imperial Army on its great victory in the war against Skandoa, and to repay the Imperial citizenry for their unstinting support and assistance to the Empire and its military, the Imperial Palace has issued an edict to lift the Prohibition that has been in place for the past three years.


The following is the full text of His Majesty's decree.


To the Imperial Subjects of the Ocerian Empire.


The victory of our nation was never in doubt, and we have never before bent the knee to the provocations of our enemies...


October 15, 1815.

Imperial Palace Daily]


Having confirmed the lifting of Prohibition, I looked at my reflection in the mirror with a determined heart.


It couldn't be helped. I had to keep going...


"Tell me, Beth. How do I look?"


The grey dress draped over my black stilettos shoes, revealing only the tip of the toe.


The dress buttoned all the way up to my neck and the sleeves cinched at my wrists. A small black hat sat atop my braided hair with black fishnet lace which wrapped around the back of my head and the side of the hat. Beth took it all in.


As she did so, her face crumpled more and more as if she didn't like what she saw.


"Miss, if you could just take off your hat. It looks like you're in mourning...."


"That's it, that's exactly it. Come on, let's go. I have work to do today. I'm very busy."


Now Beth was distressed by my constant busyness.  I had been active day and night since arriving in Durben, but today I was especially busy.


This morning I had finally received a letter from the Military stating that my transfer request was pending.


I didn't expect much because my score was still too low.


When the transfer request form I'd sent with my hard-won scores filled out came back without any results, I’d been flabbergasted.


I had given up on the Second Prince's Palace. Getting to the Capital took precedence.


The Prohibition had actually been lifted, and things were moving faster and faster. I only had about a year left.


I needed to return to the Capital before then, and I would have to change jobs to get into the palace.


The only way to do that was to take a leave of absence. If I'd had more time, I wouldn't have made this decision. It would be a painful choice to give up the opportunity to become the Second Prince's closest aide.


But what the heck? Even if it wasn't the best, it was the next best thing.


There was only so much time I had left, and not enough to worry about fairness.


I wrapped myself in my black cloak and tucked the two pouches Leonard had given me into it.


As I descended into the hall, Bernard looked at me and gave me a short nod of satisfaction.


"Did you pack your axe?"


"Yes. I'm used to it now, it doesn't even bother me."


The handheld pink axe Bernard had made for me was strapped to my leather garter belt and attached to my thigh.


Oddly enough, it wasn't bulky. It was nothing like a dagger, but it was small enough that it didn't impact the line of my skirts.


"Good. Where is it? In the pocket?"


"Here. I have it."


"Take good care of it. Your dress is pretty by the way. Let's go!"


I doubted my ears when he said that, but I didn't protest. One should respect personal tastes after all. Instead, I decided I'd have a more in-depth discussion with Bernard about beauty standards later on.


"Um. Uh. Let's go!"


Bernard had initially been reluctant to let me do the job, but had stopped complaining when I told him he could come with me.


He also didn't think it would be too dangerous.


[You're getting back-up. We just have to check for tattoos on their hands and necks, it won't be hard. Besides, it won't be too dangerous because I'm going with you.]


[Haha. I guess so.]


I suppose overconfidence in character for a future general.


"Miss, here's your fan."


Beth rushed over to retrieve the black lace fan I'd forgotten to put away.


"We're having steak for dinner tonight, so come back early."


Oooooh! Alright. I had some work to do today. Let's get it over with so we can dine on steak tonight! Steak!


I cheerfully shouted "Steak!" and walked out of the hall with Bernard.


***


In front of the [Wise Clubbing], at 3:00 PM.


An hour after the club opened, I handed the membership card I'd purchased to the guard at the door.


The guard grimaced at my outfit, but after a moment's hesitation, he realized that the membership was platinum and happily signed it.


There was currency value in the membership pass, and my platinum pass maxed out at 50 gold. Having it implied I would be spending all of it.


Master Andrei refused when I asked for a discount, but spent a lot of money on Black Society work. In that case I had no choice but to spend it all!


_____

Editor’s Notes -

Time to go undercover! 


* Specifically Tara thinks that she resembles a 은갈치 - a silver cutlassfish (Trichiurus lepturus) a small silver fish that is commonly used in Korean cooking. Google it if you want an interesting visual!

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2 Comments


Rina
Rina
May 29

A lot of commenters liked Tara's dress in the manhwa and I kind of do as well. That being said though it's funny to me how concerned Tara is about Bernard's aesthetic taste 😆

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ProMama
ProMama
Jun 04
Replying to

Seriously, Tara worrying about Bernard’s taste amidst all this had me 💀🤣

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