Chapter 3

 

⋅⋅⋅•⋅⊰⋅•⋅⋅•⋅∙∘☽༓☾∘∙⋅•⋅⋅•⋅⊰⋅•⋅⋅⋅

Five days’ worth of entertainment.

Orphans without citizenship, like her, couldn’t buy proper land.

This was because merchants were reluctant to engage in trade with them, even if they could pay for the amount.

If the Emperor kept his word and bestowed upon her land, she could definitely make a living with the money that was accumulated up until now. 

Whether it’s farming or homemade handicrafts, at the very least they wouldn’t have to do nasty deeds in order to eat… it was a good deal. 

She could live quietly with her family.

“There’s land that’s owned by the Imperial Family in the countryside that’s untouched by Argo’s notoriety. How about starting a new life there?”

“Even all of my past…It means that it can be covered up.”

It was a tempting proposal that exceeded her expectations. However, the problem lies in that the risks increased with such an attractive reward. 

With a determined expression, Atalante weighed her own life against a happy future. As the emperor looked at her, he smiled deeply.

“Will you do it?”

Her life that she could lose at any time, and a new place to call home as a reward. She couldn’t have both, so it’s the right thing to choose the side that she’ll regret losing more. 

It didn’t take her long to make her decision, and Atalante nodded slowly.

⋅⋅⋅•⋅⊰⋅•⋅⋅•⋅∙∘☽༓☾∘∙⋅•⋅⋅•⋅⊰⋅•⋅⋅⋅

“Atalante, time to go to work!”

At Argo’s deputy head, Yuffie’s call, Atalante stopped cleaning her revolver and checked the time.

As Atalante rose from her seat, she patted him on his dark gray hair a couple of times, like she was treating him as a child.

As soon as her hand touched him, Yuffie beamed. It was a smile that didn’t seem compatible with his large size.

“The Grand Duchy of Blanc? You’re going there, right?”

“That’s right, you’ve remembered it clearly.”

She explained how far the Grand Duchy’s territory was from here again, but Yuffie didn’t seem to understand, and just blinked. 

Smiling, she tilted her head to the side as she asked.

“I’m about to change, are you going to keep staying there?”

As Yuffie seemed to be ruminating over her words, his face turned red instantly as he opened his mouth. 

“I’m– I’m sorry, I’m sorry!”

As Atalante watched the way he ran out of the room as if he were doing a forward roll, she couldn’t help but laugh.

While Yuffie was slow-witted, he was a funny kid.

Taking off her murky coloured shirt and pants, Atalante took out the casual dress that was sent by Emperor Kaiser.

Although she has yet to try it on, the dress that revealed her figure gracefully seemed uncomfortable at first glance.

It made her wonder why she had to wear such a thing.

‘Would people be dressing in even more exaggerated dresses than this at balls or banquets? It’s not easy to maintain an aristocrat’s dignity.’

A small firearm was holstered in the thigh belt that Atalante was accustomed to wearing, and she wore an elegant navy dress over it. 

In about a week from today, she will play the role of a Young Lady from a County that was invited to the Grand Duchy’s regular meeting.

On the night the regular meeting ended, she had planned to become an heartless assassin.

It was the first time she was wearing a dress in her life, and it felt awkward. She needed to make sure that she was wearing it properly.

“Yuffie! Devon! Jenna! Come here and look at me.”

Argo’s executives appeared in the order their names were called.

“You– you’re the best!”

“…Don’t call me for nothing. So troublesome.”

“Pretty, pretty. Atalante, you look like a noble young lady!”

Although the three answers were different, their conclusion was the same.

Without special decorations or simple makeup, Atalante looked remarkably beautiful in the neat-looking dress.

Although Jenna’s description, ‘like a noble young lady’ was a little irritating, she did not necessarily have to point out her friend’s slip of the tongue.

“…Are you really going alone? What kind of a wonderful request is it that you’re not even telling us about it.”

Devon, Argo’s executive and weapon maker, muttered as he messed up his brown hair annoyedly.

Upon hearing that, his twin sister Jenna responded sharply, “What would you do if you were aware?”

“Why is the relationship between you siblings so unpleasant? It’s your one and only blood relative.”

When Atalante spoke with a sigh, the two shouted at the same time, as they had agreed to do so. 

“I know how annoying it is to be born on the same day as that…!”

“I don’t know, but if you two fight in front of me one more time, I’ll make you both share a room.”

Only after they heard her warning, did Jenna and Devon stop staring at each other. If they had to share a room, one of the two might end up dead the next day.

“Don’t let your guard down until I return. You have to be wary of the other organisations.”

“But since this time it’s a long-distance business trip, the reward will be good, right? I freaked out while settling the accounts last month. Those nouveau riche commoners treat us like cheaply-priced errand runners.”

“Jenna.”

Knowing what kind of words she would continue with, Atalante looked at Jenna with a subdued gaze, but she didn’t stop talking.

“No, honestly, isn’t it like that? Why don’t you accept the requests of some aristocrats while you’re at it? We might have to do something much dirtier than what you’re doing now, but the pay is still accept–”

“Hey.”

Atalante took out the firearm that was hidden by her thigh instantly and accurately pointed it at Jenna’s forehead.

Even though she knew that Atalante wouldn’t shoot, Jenna trembled unwittingly due to Atalante’s unique murderous spirit.

“I’m sorry, boss.”

“Watch your mouth. Did you forget what the nobles have done to commoners like us?”

“…I was just saying, I’m sorry.”

“Don’t say that, not even jokingly. I want to be with you for a long time.”

It was spoken softly, but it was a perfect threat.

When Jenna nodded slowly, Atalante smiled and replaced the gun.

“I’ll be back, so take care of this place.”

⋅⋅⋅•⋅⊰⋅•⋅⋅•⋅∙∘☽༓☾∘∙⋅•⋅⋅•⋅⊰⋅•⋅⋅⋅

Atalante had never rode in a carriage before.

The reason why she didn’t buy a carriage was because she didn’t need it, rather than because the price was hundreds of thousands.

It was because riding a horse was much faster. 

It seems like the more expensive ones were better. Atalante stared blankly at the large four-wheeled carriage in front of her for a moment.

As she admired the carriage momentarily, a white-gloved hand appeared in front of her.

It was the Young Lord of Sera County, who would be playing the role of Atalante’s older brother from today onwards. His face crumpled, as if he had seen something dirty.

“I can board it alone.”

Atalante, who gave a light answer, climbed onto the fairly high carriage quickly.

The Young Lord of Sera County, Pietro’s forehead narrowed even further at the undignified gesture that was devoid of aristocratic elegance.

“What were you thinking, Your Majesty?”

Pietro, who had clicked his tongue loudly, sat himself at the opposite side, in a seat that’s furthest away from her. 

The noble and aristocratic Young Lord was probably very annoyed at having to be in the same carriage as a girl of lowly birth for a long period of time. 

“You look pretty decent in a dress…”

Pietro pretended to stare out the window, secretly glancing at Atalante.

It was his first time seeing the ‘small villain’, who was notorious amongst aristocrats. Perhaps it was because she was amazed by the carriage, she couldn’t take her eyes off the scenery of the other window.

Thanks to that, he was able to peek at Atalante’s face through her reflection in the window as much as he wanted.

The pale skin that seemed to have never seen the sunlight before was in perfect harmony with her mysterious eyes.

Her hair, which was left loose without any special decoration, had a slightly darker colour than Pietro’s red hair.

“Hey.”

Unknowingly, Pietro’s curiosity grew and he called her in a voice that was clearly looking down on her.

He couldn’t believe that such a small girl was Argo’s boss when he faced her in person. Pietro was convinced that Atalante was just a figurehead, and the actual boss of Argo was someone else. 

“I heard that you have a big tattoo on your back. Why don’t you show it to me?”

It took at least five days by carriage to get to Blanc’s territory. When he received the Emperor’s order to move with Atalante, it was so preposterous that it left him speechless.

The Emperor had even asked her to disguise herself as his sister. It was unfortunate that he didn’t hear the reason.

Until a few minutes ago, his anger was practically pulling on his neck, but the sight of Atalante’s face made his anger subside like it was a lie, and in its place was vivid desire. 

The carriage that His Majesty had bestowed to him personally was wider, more comfortable, and had better soundproofing than any of the other carriages in Sera’s mansion.

If he coaxed her a little, she’d be pretty good entertainment for five days.

“I don’t want to.”

However, the words that appeared from her rosy lips were completely unexpected.

As Pietro blinked while ruminating on Atalante’s words, soon shouted back.

“How dare a commoner like you speak informally to me, a noble! Have you gone crazy?”

“Look at who’s talking. How dare a Young Lord of a County call me, the boss of Argo, with ‘hey’? Have you gone crazy?”

Atalante, who had crossed her legs without his notice, was looking at him with subdued eyes. A commoner looking at him with rebellious eyes like that… so far, there hasn’t been a single one.

“Speaking of which… Did you plan to do a little something to me?”

She continued to speak in a pathetic tone.

“Pietro Sera. Like father, like son, you resemble your father completely in his ugly ways.”

“Wha– what?

“You’re aware that your father had lost something very precious, right?”

“…How do you?”

Even now, Pietro still vividly remembers the day when the mansion was turned upside down with the sound of his father’s scream. When he thought of his father, who lay on the ground bleeding, his legs would start shaking for no reason.

Atalante answered his question with a gentle smile.

“Because I was the one that did that.”

“If you got it, don’t mess with me,” after adding those words, she turned back to the window. 

But Pietro didn’t turn meek at that sentence, and the words flew past him instead. 

“How, how dare you, to Father…!”

As Pietro turned as red as his hair, rushed at her angrily. 

He reached out to grab Atalante’s hair, but she was a little, no, she was much faster.

“If that was so precious, he should have looked after it properly. Why did he touch a commoner girl that even has a fiance?”

He wanted to ask what that meant, but Atalante caught him by the neck instantly, and all he could hear was a cracking sound.

It was fortunate that he was in the carriage. If it occurred outside, his body would have already been floating a few centimetres in the air.

“Was it a journey of about five days to get to the Blanc territory?”

Without letting go of his neck, Atalante asked in a voice filled with amusement. When fear appeared in Pietro’s eyes vividly, her smile deepened and she continued speaking.

“You’d be perfect entertainment for five days.”

‘That’s what I was going to say…’

Whether it was due to lack of oxygen or out of fear, at the end of that sentence, Pietro’s face turned irreversibly white.

⋅⋅⋅•⋅⊰⋅•⋅⋅•⋅∙∘☽༓☾∘∙⋅•⋅⋅•⋅⊰⋅•⋅⋅⋅