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  • Writer's pictureRina

Chapter 80

Tara starts piecing together an escape plan and stumbles across something big.


This chapter is dedicated to Lizigee! Thank you for your generous support!


Disclaimer:

DO NOT publish our edit anywhere else. Especially on social media. Otherwise we may have to stop doing this. Thank you!


Episode 80. About a year (7)


Thonk!


"Aaaahhhhhh!"


Hearing the man scream in agony, I stood up with my axe.


The man's ankle was still intact. There was no way I would cut a man's foot off.


Torture had never been my style.


"..."


I glared at the Scorpion member, and he quickly averted his gaze. For a man who was so muscular he looked tired, like he'd been through the wringer. His face was ashen.


"Hmm. People always make a way out, which means the exit is somewhere else."


"Th... That's ridiculous...."


I took the pouch of luminescent paint from my cloak and went to the iron door. Luckily, there was a 2-centimeter gap under the door.


I put on my gloves, dipped my hand in the paint again, just enough to cover my fingers, and then thoroughly smeared it under the iron door.


"What are you... doing?"


"Isn't it obvious? I'm finding a way out. I must try everything possible, right? And don't talk back to me like that, I'm a lot older than I look, got it?"


Bernard would discover me right away if he came out the black door and came close enough to the warehouse. After considering my options, I slowly examined the storehouse


"By the way, you're the only Scorpion member I've seen since walking into this club. Where are the others?"


"...."


"Well, I'll look into that later, but more importantly, you guys run this club, and I'm guessing you're one of the managers. What's its purpose? Why did you bring me to this warehouse?"


“.....”


"People never act without a reason, like how you shut the iron door even though you knew it would be locked from the outside."


As I spoke, I surveyed the storeroom slowly, noticing nothing but tall stacks of wine barrels.


"Ha! There really is nothing."


".... What...?"


"I told you not to talk back, didn't I?"


"What...?"


"Why aren't there any barrels stacked on that side?"


The man swallowed hard. 


"It's strange, isn't it? It's completely bare, like there's a reason there's no barrels stacked there."


I walked over to the wall. It looked like just another wall, the same  as the others. I clenched my fist and rapped my knuckles against it, stopping short at one spot.


"Ohhh. What's this? Why is there a seam here?"


I pounded my fist on the spot. Just as expected.


I heard a dull thud.


The sound of iron on the other side. 


From a distance, it looked like the same dark gray stone as the rest of the wall, but it was actually an iron door with no handle. It was so deceptive at first glance that I didn't even notice.


"As expected of these bastards.... Of course an intelligence organization has a place like this."


"Wh... What are you talking about?"


"Ha. Stop it, you're a bad liar, just stay put."


"What... I'm not lying...."


But as he spoke, his voice became more and more quiet and inaudible.


I searched around the wall. There must be a device to open it.


After searching around for a while, I strode back towards the man without hesitation.


"This time I'll do it for real," I said. "I wouldn't do something so heinous on purpose, but I could definitely accidentally drop my axe, and I'm not sure if it would kill you or if you'd be lucky enough to get the blunt end. So, tell me. Where's the device? One, two...!"


"There!"


The man must have read sincerity in my expression, because he immediately screamed out the answer.


"Behind the wall wine barrel. Over there. There!"


I moved in the direction the man pointed with his chin and checked between the barrels. It was also a wall, but I wasn't fooled anymore.


There was a wire mesh vent about 10 centimeters across on the wall.


Upon closer inspection, it looked like a real ventilation shaft.


"I need to open this?"


"....."


“Aren’t you going to tell me? Do you want me to try again?”


"Push it with your hand."


I put my hand on it and quickly removed it. Then I walked briskly towards the man, grabbed him by his upper arm, and dragged him behind me.


"What are you doing...?"


"I learned a valuable lesson recently thanks to a certain high ranking person, and I learned it the hard way. That lesson was about the dangers of overconfidence."


The man was quite heavy, but thanks to my new physical strength I was able to pry him off the floor like a stubborn piece of chewing gum and drag him with little difficulty.


"That experience taught me to be vigilant and careful at all times. I only came all the way to this warehouse to check out your tattoos, but something feels off about this. This whole situation feels wrong."


I tapped the man's foot against the vent.


"Still, I'm in this situation, and I need to protect myself as best I can. I'm minimizing the risk. I can't die yet. What if I shove my hand in there and it gets chopped off. I can’t have that,  don't you agree?"


"Ha. No way that would happen..."


Before he could finish his sentence, I shoved both of his feet into the vent. Then straight up.


Thump! Clunk!


I heard the loud rumble of something turning, and then, just like in the movies, the flat iron door on the empty wall began to rise upward.


"Ha! There's actually a secret room... Awesome."


***


In front of a bar in downtown Durben


"... We've only found two ledgers so far. These records show everything up until three months ago, and were just about to be sent to Orlando in the Capital. They've been selling secrets to a variety of foreign nations quite regularly. Take a look, Your Highness."


As Kyle flipped through the ledgers with gloved hands, one by one, two men knelt beside him, their hands tied above their heads.


They flinched at the words 'Your Highness,' and their wrists were tattooed with scorpions. Right beside them was a man they thought they would never meet as long as they lived - the infamous Second Prince.


The tavern had been quickly and swiftly taken over. The area was filled with knights wearing the uniform of the Order of the Phoenix, their faces stark and rigid.


"What else?"


"We've requested preliminary permission for locations outside of Imperial jurisdiction, and for the local quarter, where there's likely another set of ledgers. We've already sent diplomatic requests for cooperation to the Principality of Ga'an, and the Kingdom of Barron's embassies in advance. So we will only need to notify them when we're ready to proceed. According to the intel, there's one ledger for each base and multiple copies."


"It's blackmail, meant to keep the higher-ups in line."


"Yes. I believe the intention behind the bases was to cover their tracks if someone tried to expose them, but there's so much evidence to the contrary, so they've shot themselves in the foot." Kyle nodded in agreement.


"Four years of being at large inflated their ego. bBut they have so much poison everywhere, that everyone who’s tried to steal from them so far has died. It's pretty clever. What about the Capital?"


"The Capital has been swarmed by Security forces. Orlando, the bastard, has been curiously unaware of this, and from what I hear, a lot of people are missing, it's the biggest incident since Scorpion first came into existence."


"We need to find out who the military mole who took the classified information is. Either that, or we need to get testimony from a Scorpion operative who worked directly on this, or the Capital can claim they knew nothing about it."


The ledgers only had initials, no names. The testimony of the Scorpion agents was more necessary than ever.


"Another ledger has been specifically identified as being in one of the social clubs in the Local Quarter. Shall we proceed with the operation, Your Highness?"


"Yes. Walter, you'll be in direct command of the operation and will report any unusual matters immediately. Chris, you follow me."


Chris, who had been standing by listening to their conversation, quickly replied in the affirmative. Walter asked again.


"Yes, Your Highness. Then are we mobilizing the joint Security forces?"


"Yes. I intend to take a closer look.”


Immediately after making his decision, Kyle mounted his horse and headed for the consulate.


***


Somehow, the warehouse was smaller than I expected. But after a moment of surprise, I stepped into the compartment to find another door.


Of course, I didn't forget to drag the tied-up Scorpion member with me. Even if he was tied up, who knows what he might have been able to do if I left him alone.


What could a bound man possibly do? But I was someone who had lived in the most advanced era of humanity. I came from a world where you could unlock a door with your fingerprint, voice or a retinal scan.


How could I be sure that there was no magic in this world? Of course, when I read the book previously, magic didn't exist.


Still, a group like Scorpion, capable of constructing this kind of clandestine device could have made plenty of other tricks I wasn't anticipating.


It would be better if I wasn't here alone, but what was done was done, and I had to prevent myself from unintentionally digging my own grave.


Like how I had entered the Second Prince's annex unprepared. 


Geez that was TMI, enough of this useless chatter. I propped the man up against the corner of the room and began to survey the space.*

 

The air was thick with dust, as if it hadn't been ventilated in a long time. I covered my mouth and nose with my hands and looked around.


A wooden cabinet that occupied half of the opposite wall, as well as a large chest of drawers on the right which reminded me of an airplane luggage compartment.


What could they possibly be hiding in all those cabinets?...

Other than that, there was no other exit, despite what I was hoping for.


"Perhaps I need to push the cabinet?"


I pushed the cabinet, looking all over just in case, but it didn't budge. And there were no other devices.


"Is there no exit?"


"I told you there was no way out."


"Yeah, there really isn't. That means there's a contrapton somewhere inside that opens it."


I glanced at the man. He avoided my gaze.


"Do you happen to have a key here that can open the door from the inside?"


"....."


"Haaa. Do you want me to get my axe again?"


"... There is..."


"Where?"


"Over there."


He pointed to a wooden cabinet in front of him. When I opened the doors, there was a box inside.


The box was about 30 centimeters across and 30 centimeters deep, plainly constructed with no lock.


I put my gloves back on, just in case, and carefully opened it.


“It’s here…”


Inside the box were a key and two thick ledgers.


This was it! What Andrei was looking for.


I took out the ledgers and quickly flipped through them.


The ledgers were filled with names, dates, and amounts. One appeared to be the original and was stamped with the Chief's seal, the other a copy of the same thing without the seal.


"One original, one copy?"


"...."


The man avoided my eyes.


"Right."


This was explosive!


"They've all been looking for these secret ledgers, all of them."


Usually, ledgers were kept to manage a company's financial records. But this was a criminal organization.


The fact that they kept these ledgers in a secret room gave me an idea of how important they were to them.


"I need to think about this carefully, otherwise I might be the dog killed after the hunt."**


What was I going to do with this, anyway?


The fact that the Military was looking for it meant that it was very important. If I passed this on to the Black Society and that fact was revealed, the Military would be suspicious of me. Furthermore, any chances for special advancement would be lost.


On the other hand, if I gave it to the Military, I wouldn't get what I wanted from the Black Society, and they wouldn't have my back anymore...!


I snapped my fingers as a crazy thought occurred to me.


____

Editor’s Note - 


* This sentence contained the abbreviation ‘TMI’ and I spent a lot of time trying to look for the Korean meaning before realizing that it’s been adopted wholesale into Korean from English without any alterations in meaning. TMI translates to 'too much information' in both English and Korean!


** This sentence uses the old idiom 토사구팽 'to kill the hunting dog after the hunt', which basically means to be scapegoated or betrayed by your allies. I previously provided a more in-depth history of this idiom in the editor's notes of Chapter 49!


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3 Comments


ProMama
ProMama
Jun 05

Tara always plotting~

Like

Rina
Rina
May 29

I really love how Tara solves problems!


Like

Laralee
Laralee
May 29

Clever Tara. And your Prince draws nigh.

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