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  • Writer's pictureRina

Chapter 78

Updated: Jun 5

Tara's espionage commences and she finally catches a lead.


This chapter is dedicated to RedPeony! Thank you so much for your support!


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Episode 78. About a Year (5)


There was no tattoo on the guard's hands.


“Bernard Smith, my escort knight.”


"Please wait by the wall so as not to disturb the patrons."


"Understood."


Before I opened the door and walked in, I wasn't very interested in the noble social club. I'd never been to one before. But as soon as I entered, my interest, which had previously been at rock bottom, suddenly skyrocketed as I beheld the opulence before me.


A sweet aroma pervaded the club's interior and seemed to slowly envelop my body.


But it was the kind of scent that you wouldn't notice unless you paid attention, but I was too busy taking in the expansive space before me.


"Wow! It's pretty big!"


It didn't look that big from the outside, but the main lobby on the ground floor alone was at least 1,400 sqft.*


If you add in the various rooms, the interior was at least 2,100 sqft.**


The marble floors were covered with red carpeting, and the windows were draped with green curtains, making it impossible to tell the time.


Instead, the interior was brightly lit by an ornate chandelier hanging from the ceiling, so it wasn't dark at all.


Spendidly dressed club members flocked around the edges of a bar set up in the central lobby of the mansion which sold liquor and cocktails.


As Bernard and I walked into the club, we were greeted with a few brief glances, but no one seemed to pay us any mind.


Perhaps my drab dress helped to repel their attention.


Moreover, since Durben was a place where three countries intersected, there were many wanderers, and few nobles stayed here long unlike thoseunlike like those in the Capital.


Like them, we were the average patron, ordinary wanderers who had no interest in attracting attention.


“It will look strange if I keep moving along the wall, so I’ll check the people in the hall.”


"What?"


I didn't realize it at first, but this was a club after all, and it was pretty loud inside. Bernard spoke a bit louder.


“It will look strange if I keep moving along the wall, so I’ll check the people in the hall!”


"Oh, okay. I'll start by checking the first floor."


The atmosphere was more akin to a party at 11:00 PM than 3:00 PM in the afternoon. There were a total of six large rooms on the first floor, all dedicated to playing cards.


Aside from the nobles coming in and out of the rooms, Iii just needed to keep an eye on the occupants.


"Hmmm. I don't see any..."


I checked the dealers and servants in each room, and they were all clean. Back in the lobby, Bernard shook his head.


"Let's check the second and third floors."


We scoured the bingo parlour on the second floor, and the lounging room on the third floor (where many types of tobacco were being sampled), but we didn't find a single person with a mole on their wrist, let alone a tattoo.


After an hour of going back and forth from the first floor to the third floor several times, we tentatively concluded that there were no members of Scorpion here.


I hadn't expected to find anyone, given the small odds, but I was pleasantly surprised by this result.


"No. Isn't this too easy, Bernard? Did Andrei seriously expose Jack just to make me do this?"


"You think it's easy because there's no one looking for you, and besides, you're not a trained member of the organization, and you're in a place where only nobles are allowed, so it's a job for a novice like you."


"Ah. I see, that was hasty of me. Hehe. That's right. I should be grateful that it's easy. It's definitely harder than I thought it would be. The smell of this place and the people..."


At first it was hardly noticeable, but after an hour or so afterof entering the building, the thick, sweet odour clung to my entire body and made me feel slightly numb.


The increasingly thick scent had started to dull my thoughts.


Intoxicated by alcohol and drugs, club patrons touched each other's bodies way too casually, even though it was clear that they were strangers to one another.


And there was a constant stream of laughter in the air. If I hadn't been warned beforehand about the drugs, I would have been horrified.


"Stop laughing, we need to wrap this up and get out. Whoo..."


"Am I laughing?"


"Yes, you have been for a while."


"Well, you're smiling too, Bernard. Ugh, this is weird, hehehe. Anyway, let's quickly finish and get out of here. I'm thirsty."


I was thirsty because I hadn't drank anything the whole time I was here.


If I felt like this just by smelling it, I would be in big trouble if I drank anything.


Leonard had warned me in advance to be careful since there may be traces of illegal substances mixed in water, beverages, and alcohol.


Because of the fourth rule of the social club, 'Whenever you come to the club, you must participate in at least one form of gambling,' Bernard and I entered one of the gambling halls on the first floor.


After just four rounds of cards, 25 gold had been removed from my membership card.


So much for enjoying gambling with other people's money.


I'd intended to lose all the money on my card. However, because of a stroke of beginner's luck or my relief at having completed Andrei's assignment, I kept winning when I tried to lose and losing when I tried to win.


So after five more games, I still had 25 gold in credit left over.


I picked up my next hand, thinking it would be my last, but was surprised to see what I'd been dealt.


All I needed was an ace of spades and I'd have a straight flush.***


Wow! Did I really need to lose this hand? 3,000 Ocerian coins. That was enough to break the heart of any gambler.


I glanced over to Bernard with a repentant smile on my face, and noticed his expression was strangely pale and grotesque.


I knew he was intoxicated by the scent in the air, but his grimace was unusual.


‘What's wrong?' I mouthed silently.


‘It's happening.'


Oh no. Not again.


No matter how diligent Bernard was about taking his medication, he couldn't help the occasional episode no matter how tense or relaxed he was.


It just happened a lot less often now that he was on medication.


Well, that was the 'chronic' part of chronic illness. Was it truly chronic if it could be easily cured by medication? He needed to take it for at least a year.


I groaned and shook my head in disbelief.


‘Hurry up and come back.'


After seeing the words I mouthed, Bernard came up behind me, sweating profusely, and whispered in a low voice.


"S...Sorry. I'll take care of it quickly."


"No, no, no. Don't rush. It'll be worse for your body if you rush it. Take it easy. Take your time."


Bernard's face turned red as he waved his hands in the air, trying to say he was okay. He clenched his teeth and whispered urgently.


"Just finish this round and get out. We're done... and I'll meet you by the front door."


“Hehe, yes, understood.”


And just like that, Bernard was gone, and I was dealt my last hand.


Oooooh, the ace of spades! I had a straight flush!


When would I ever have another chance like this? With an inward cheer, I waited for my tablemates to call their hands.


With a big grin on my face, I leaned back and scanned the other players.


Drunk on incense, I had no poker face at all. It was the same for everyone else in the room.


Or, rather. Everyone was smiling and laughing, I suppose that was a different kind of poker face.


I glanced around the room, thinking idly, and then turned my attention back to the cards.


"....!"


My head snapped up in surprise.


I'd caught a glimpse of a hand reaching for the doorknob at one of the entrances. There was something black on the back of his hand!


I jumped to my feet in surprise.


"Hey, Miss, it's your turn. Here you go. What do you say, ho ho ho ho?"


An old noblewoman grinned from ear to ear and tugged on my arm.


"Ah! Hahaha. I'm ah...."


Ironically, with a bright grin on my face, I folded my hand, leaving my straight flush on the table and hurried out of the room.


I caught a glimpse of the man in a black servant's uniform at the end of the hallway and then he was gone.


I didn't have time to think. I followed him.


The man crossed the central hall, opened a black door next to the balcony and left the hall. The color of the door made it hard to make out, even when you stared directly at it.


Since when had there been a door there?


I hadn't found a single suspicious person so far, so as soon as I saw him, I followed him. I slightly cracked open the black door.


Ah… This was where it connected.


There was a small garden in what looked like a fenced backyard.


I stepped into the garden. It was chaotic and poorly tended. I closed the door behind me. To my surprise, everything was quiet.


I couldn't hear the noise from inside the club, even though it was quite loud in there.


The soundproofing was very good. Where did he go anyway?


I glanced around, and caught a glimpse of a stone staircase leading down. The top of the brown-haired man's head disappeared at the bottom.


There he is.


As I moved in that direction, I stopped dead in my tracks.


I dug into the pockets of my cloak, pulled out one of the two pouches Leonard had given me and opened it.


“Of course something happens as soon as Bernard leaves due to his bowel issues. Could it be that Bernard will get safely promoted to a general in the future by avoiding a dangerous situation due to his IBS? Hmm. Perhaps it's bad that I'm curing his chronic irritable bowel syndrome then? Hehe.”


Muttering nonsense to myself, I opened my pocket and quickly put on my gloves, smearing a generous amount of blue luminescent paint on both of my hands. I slightly opened the black door I had just come out of and applied the paint on both sides of the doorknob.


“Ha… I was hoping I wouldn’t have to use this….”


I quickly dashed toward the stone stairs, and when I turned around and looked back at the black door, the blue paint was clearly visible.


That's good.


I stopped and looked towards the end of the stone steps and saw nothing but bushes.


Where did he go? Was I looking in the wrong place? That was weird.... Surely this was the right place?


The only thing I could see beyond the bushes was the wall that marks the boundary of the building.


What? Where did he go?


As I was thinking about it for a few seconds, I heard a sound coming from beyond the bushes.


Clank.


The sound of an iron door opening.


"There he is..."


I climbed down the stairs and cautiously moved forward through the bushes, which were as tall as I was, and saw a green iron door that matched the colour of its surroundings. It looked like the entrance to a warehouse.


Upon closer inspection, it was only about the size of my bedroom in the Capital.


I looked around and couldn't see anything aside from the warehouse. Or rather, it was more accurate to say that there was nowhere else to go.


Most likely, it was a liquor storehouse. But that was assuming this was a real club. If the man from earlier was a member of Scorpion, that meant this was their base.


I was almost at the door before I turned myself around.


"Tsk. This is how people die in movies and novels, especially when they're alone. I should hide and wait, especially since I don't need to do anything except verify it's them."


It was obvious that the man was going to leave the same way he came, since there wasn't anywhere else to go.


I could check it later, and even if that wasn't possible alone, I could wait for Bernard before going in.


With that out of the way, I quickly pulled off my gloves and stuffed them in my cloak pocket, then looked around for a place to hide.


Hmm. That would be good.


The trees in the garden next to the warehouse were so dense that they covered the fence.


I quickly moved towards the wall on the left and cut through the plants to find a place to hide.


Once I cleared a spot, I lifted up my narrow skirt, put one foot down, and pulled myself into the space.


The dense tree couldn't bear my weight and leaned away from me.


"Whoa. As expected, I really need to push to get in....”


I moved closer to the wall, leaving one leg sticking out.


Clunk.


Shit, I fucked up.


The sound of the door creaking opening echoed in my ears, sending a chill down my spine.


"...What are you doing in a place like this? Miss?"


____

Editor’s Notes -


* Here Tara says this space is approximately 40 pyeong. A pyeong is a unique unit of measurement for floorspace used in Korea, China and Japan. 1 pyeong equals about 3.3 meters squared, therefore 40 pyeong =~ 132 m2 = 1400 sqft


** The original size was 60 pyeong =~ 198 m2 = 2,100 sqft


*** A straight flush is the second best hand you can get in a game of poker. Here's a poker cheatsheet for reference. According to one website I found when looking this up your chances of being dealt a straight flush is 0.00139%, so Tara was right when she thought this might be a once in a lifetime chance for her.


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3 Comments


ProMama
ProMama
Jun 04

I’m laughing at bit at 2000 sq foot being seen as huge for a recreation hall, ngl.😅

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Rina
Rina
Jun 05
Replying to

Same, LOL. As a North American that's not as impressive as it should be.


Also IDK why I chose meters squared as my unit of choice instead of sqft in this chapter. I went back and updated it since it's a bit more intuitive, haha.

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Rina
Rina
May 29

Tara is way smarter than your average horror movie character, but even she trips up sometimes!

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