Today, I had been called to Crane’s office
It’s been a week since Max said he would speak with his client. Either the meeting has finally been set or Crane has discovered their client’s identity.
With this thought in mind, I made my way to his office.
When I arrived, Crane spoke to me with a rather annoyed tone.
“There’s something important you need to know about Lady Sophia.”
“…eh, what do you mean?”
It didn’t have anything to do with Max’s client. While being scared to hear the answer, I nervously asked Crane this.
“That’s, umm, well…. Several of the staff and others have overheard Lady Sophia’s umm…sweet moans coming from Lady Alistair’s room.”
No matter how I think about it, this can mean only one thing.
Sophia and Alice, alone in Alice’s room together — it could only be that. Sophia used her ability to relive Alice’s memories. I told Sophia that if she got Alice’s permission, she could relive all of our intimate moments together.
…however, I never expected Alice to agree.
If Sophia uses her ability to do that, she’ll experience that memory in an instant. In other words, if Alice’s memory lasts an hour, everything she experienced in that time will be transmitted to Sophia at once.
…I wonder if she’s okay. I feel like it’s too late for me to do anything now. She’s basically a small magazine that’s had an encyclopedia’s worth of knowledge crammed into her.
“Oi, Leon, are you listening?”
“Yeah, sorry, I was just thinking about something.”
“Are you okay? I know it’s hard to imagine that Lady Alistair is turning you into a cuckold by stealing Lady Sophia from you, but it’s also possible this may just be a misunderstanding.”
“…I’m not a cuckold. Well, that may not be entirely true….”
Sophia’s partner — the one making her feel good — is essentially Alice’s memory or just Alice. I shouldn’t think too much about it; it may cause irreparable damage to my heart.
I cleared my throat and told him I’d check in on Sophia.
“Ah, please do…. Now, for the main reason I called you here. I’ve received news from the Guild that the date for the meeting between that adventurer and his client has been set. You’ve also been asked to attend.”
I let out a sigh of relief when I heard that last line.
If the client wasn’t willing to ever sell the liver, they’d never agree to meet with me. There at least seems to be some room for negotiation if they’re allowing me to attend.
“When will we be meeting?”
“It seems it will be this afternoon.”
“That’s a bit sudden.”
“The client is in a great hurry.”
“…in a hurry? Does that mean you’ve found out who they are?”
“Yes. I obtained that information earlier today.”
“I’d expect nothing less of you.”
These were words from the heart, but Crane didn’t seem to agree.
“To be honest, it’s all thanks to you. If you didn’t approach me that day, my territory never would’ve become so rich…and many of my people would’ve died.”
“No, I think it’s all thanks to your efforts, Crane.”
Why did he suddenly bring that up? Then, Crane said, “I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate it.”
“So, if the client were a merchant or a noble of equal rank, we could have bought the liver by using our combined political power to get them to sell it to us.”
I want to get it no matter how hard it may be. It was then that I noticed Crane was speaking in the past tense.
“Are you saying the client is someone that holds a lot of power?”
“…more than you can imagine. To put it into context for you, Crown Prince Alberto would struggle to stand against this person.”
“They’re that powerful…. Just who could they possibly be?”
“…they’re said to be a shadow always watching over Rizelheim. A shadowy figure that runs the country from behind-the-scenes.
An ominous figure that operates in the background.
It thought it may be Patrick, but this person doesn’t seem related. Unless Patrick has paid this person.
“Who is this person?”
“That’s…. I’m sorry, but I can’t say.”
Crane bit his lip and turned away. I could even see his shoulder was trembling slightly.
What kind of person could make Crane so scared? I don’t know who could possibly have so much power, but I know I should avoid turning them into an enemy.
Fortunately, I’ll be meeting this person to talk business. It’s entirely possible we can both gain something from this.
“You’re sure that this person is willing to negotiate.”
“Well, it will really depend on you. I’ve heard that this person is ruthless to their enemies but quite benevolent to their allies.”
Benevolent to their allies? Despite this person being a shadowy figure, they may not be so evil. Well, either way, I have no choice but to meet them.
Later in the day, I went to a cafe for the meeting.
By the way, I came by myself. I didn’t think bringing Crane or Sophia was a good idea. Crane is afraid of whoever this client is and it would be bad if the client found out about Sophia’s ability.
I’d love to have Sophia with me, but it would be pointless if I ended up making the client angry. And that’s why I decided to leave Sophia behind.
Max and Melissa were already waiting for me in the designated private room.
“Sorry, did you wait long?”
“No, we just got here recently. Our client will be here shortly.”
“That’s good then.”
I sat down in the seat closest to the entrance and noticed Max and Melissa were both watching me.
“…what is it?”
“Nothing…. It’s just, shouldn’t you be sitting at the head of the table?”
“…I don’t recall revealing my identity to you.”
I know I told Remy but I don’t think I told them.
“Oi, oi, what do you expect when you offered us a thousand gold?”
There’s no chance I’d be a commoner.
But, if that’s the case, it seems like they don’t think I’m a nobleman. They’re probably thinking I’m the son of a wealthy merchant.
If they thought I was a nobleman, they’d probably change the way they speak.
“Today, I’m just here for business. Besides, I don’t like it when someone holds their social status over others.”
And I’d feel more comfortable if they kept speaking to me more casually.
“Well, I’m not going to complain if you’re okay with it. While we wait is there anything you want to know about?”
In order to obtain the liver, I have to be smart in these negotiations. Since Sophia isn’t here, I should gather as much information as possible before the client arrives.
I decided to first ask about what type of person their client is.
“You’ve said that your client is your benefactor, right? What type of person are they?”
I know that he’s thought of as the ‘Ruler of Shadows’ to anyone that really knows who he is, but I wanted to know how they felt.
“Ah, about that, we really don’t know much.”
“…eh? What do you mean?”
“We told you before. They are our benefactor that saved our fathers. The request we received was actually from Melissa’s father, Garrett, on behalf of our benefactor.”
Max was the one that answered me. I feel like I’ve heard that name somewhere before…. Where was it?
“How exactly did this person help your fathers?”
Crane mentioned that this person was merciful to their allies. I asked them this, hoping to understand this person more.
“Our village was abandoned by the Lord during the famine a few years ago. The village was facing certain destruction, so the adults in the village…resorted to thievery.”
I cocked my head to the side, certain I had heard this story before. However, Max seemed to think that I was reacting negatively to the fact that his father became a bandit. He quickly resumed speaking.
“Of course, I know that that’s an unforgivable act. I accepted the fact that my father deserved to be punished and gave up on ever meeting him again.”
“That’s right. But after a while, our fathers reached out to us and told us they were saved by a nobleman. They were living as criminal slaves, but the noblemen treated them well and they claimed they were living comfortably.”
After listening to the two of them tell their story, I was beginning to have little doubt in my mind. The moment I was sure of who this benefactor could be, the door opened.
The person that appeared was someone that shouldn’t be there — the true Ruler of Shadows. Somehow…I felt like I was experiencing deja vu.
The negotiations with the client seemed to have ended before they began.