Chapter 8

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I’m going to meet you now.

 

As Yuffie had good senses, he immediately noticed who had returned.

 

Yuffie shook off Jenna’s hand and rushed down to the first floor. When a large man ran, with a little exaggeration, it felt like the entire floor was shaking. 

 

“In any case…”

 

As Jenna gazed at the back of his head, a subtle smile appeared on the corner of her mouth. Although she tried her best to ignore it, feelings of regret at the disappearing warmth of her left hand appeared unavoidably. 

 

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“Leave the hideout right now.”

 

The first thing that the boss said to the members that gathered with faces of excitement was shocking.

 

Was she saying to have a party outside? Not understanding the significance of her words, the members looked at her blankly without answering.

 

Come to think of it, the boss looked quite miserable. Even if she was dressed in rags, she had always returned to the hideout in a clean state, but she was dressed in unusual clothing today.

 

It was natural that she looked horrible, because she rushed back in two days without any rest, changing horses three times in between. 

 

“Jenna and Yuffie, Devon, and Mia. Move in these three teams. In a month’s time, gather at the capital of the Kingdom of Paille after observing the situation.”

 

As Atalante’s order was issued, the members quickly lined up. It was because it became a habit to move according to her words.

 

Standing in the front row of the second group, Devon approached her with a frown.

 

“What are you talking about as soon as you’ve returned? You should explain the situation.”

 

“I failed the request. The client will try to kill me, and you guys might be in danger too.”

 

“We only accept requests from commoners. Who in the world can hurt you or us?”

 

“It’s not from a commoner.”

 

Atalante’s ensuing words made Devon and the other members sink into contemplation.

 

Argo was a criminal organisation whose notoriety was contradictory to its scale, and only accepted commissions from commoners. 

 

Most of the requests they took were to threaten the nobles or to retaliate against them, and due to that, Argo’s evaluation was completely opposite. To commoners, they were ‘righteous’ and to aristocrats, they were ‘villains’.

 

“What do you mean it’s not from a commoner? Atalante, exactly… Whose request was it?”

 

Atalante would tremble with anger when it came to nobility.

 

It was only natural, at the thought of how they had been exploited by them for their entire life.

 

But Atalante accepted an aristocrat’s commission? 

 

Unlike Argo, organisations that were commissioned by aristocrats were usually destroyed within a year.

 

That was because nobles had only treated them as foot mats. Organisations consisting of ordinary people being stabbed in the back after accepting requests happened often.

 

“I can’t tell you right now. However, trust me and leave here for a while. No matter what, I’ll protect you all.”

 

She spoke with a determined gaze. 

 

To follow her blindly without being told anything. 

 

It was a hard to accept situation, but no one in Argo looked at Atalante with suspicion.

 

“…We believe in the boss.”

 

“That’s right! But when we meet again at the fallen kingdom, you must tell us what has happened!”

 

As she listened to the words of her members, she became choked up.

 

Atalante hid her reddened eyes by looking at the night air, before ordering again with a subdued voice.

 

“Get moving right away. Be careful, especially the executives that are well known.”

 

“Yes, boss.”

 

After answering her, the members moved in an orderly fashion.

 

Packing simple luggage, reorganising the horses and wagons. As Atalante watched them move, she slowly sank to the ground.

 

“Boss, you’re injured.”

 

One of the executives, Mia, muttered with a worried voice, as she administered first aid to her arm.

 

Fortunately, there wasn’t any abnormality with the bone, but not only was the injury left unattended for a long time, she had overextended herself.

 

It was the first time that Atalante, who always handled her targets neatly, returned in such bad shape.

 

“It’s alright. Thank you, Mia.”

 

Watching Mia treating the wound with delicate hand maneuvres, Atalante let out a low sigh. 

 

Other than that, there were multiple large and small scratches, but it was fortunate that the wound wasn’t deep. 

 

“Atalante!”

 

“Kyah! Yuffie! I’m administering treatment, so go away!”

 

Due to Yuffie’s sudden arrival and embrace, it was unavoidable that Atalante fell backwards. 

 

Mia pulled at him with a shocked expression, but Yuffie didn’t even budge.

 

“It’s okay, just leave him be.”

 

He seems to be making whimpering sounds… Ignoring the rising pain, Atalante stroked his curly hair.

 

“How have you been?”

 

“I’ve missed you, Atalante!”

 

“Me too. But Yuffie, you’re too heavy… Can you move a little?”

 

Did you gain weight?

 

At her added question, Yuffie jumped up happily.

 

“It’s muscles, muscles! While Atalante wasn’t here, I worked out diligently.”

 

“Wow, you did great.”

 

Upon receiving the praise that he had been looking forward to, Yuffie’s eyes twinkled. 

 

With eyes that sparkled like stars, lists of the things that he had done well continued to pour out of his mouth, like a broken dam of water. 

 

With Yuffie’s chattering as the background noise, Mia completed the boss’s treatment, thinking that she handles Yuffie very well.

 

“In that case, see you in a month’s time.”

 

Due to the fast movements of the members of Argo, the preparations to empty out the hideout was completed quickly.

 

Other than the siblings, Devon and Jenna, who have been notorious from a long time ago, the faces of the members of Argo were hardly known.

 

However, no matter how she thought about it, it was dangerous to leave them at the hideout. She couldn’t expect what the Emperor will do to catch her, who has failed his commission. 

 

Atalante ordered for them to disperse, hoping that the Emperor wouldn’t chase after the members of the organisation.

 

“I want to go with Atalante!”

 

Although there was a little delay due to Yuffie’s unreasonable stubbornness, she managed to calm him down by coaxing him with promises to do various things when they met again.

 

“Then this… Take this with you.”

 

After wiping his eyes that were wet with transparent tears, Yuffie took out a few unfamiliar objects.

 

It was round, and it looked like a mirror that reflected their faces. At the sight of the strange object, Devon’s eyes soon widened.

 

“Isn’t this an artifact!”

 

If it’s an artifact, wasn’t it an expensive magical tool made by the magic tower?

 

According to Devon’s explanation, the artifacts handed out by Yuffie were tools to communicate from a long distance.

 

Like he was distributing snacks, Yuffie handed an artifact to Atalante, Devon, Jenna and Mia, in that order.

 

“Yuffie, such a precious thing… Where did you get it?”

 

Jenna asked with a blue face. He didn’t find just one artifact that was hard to get his hands on, but four of them. 

 

As Yuffie looked at the faces of the executives, he replied with a bright smile. 

 

“I took it!”

 

“Aiya…”

 

His cheerful answer caused all the executives to make sounds of suffering.

 

Unlike Atalante, Devon, and Jenna, who had been together ever since their childhood, he had only joined the team five years ago.

 

Truly, doesn’t he have the talent to become a great villain?

 

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After instructing the executives on their travel routes again, Atalante remained in the hideout alone and changed her clothes.

 

She burned the ruined dress she wore from the Blanc Castle, and tied her long crimson hair together tightly. 

 

She didn’t explain any details in case the situation of the members became dangerous, but she had only told the executives of one matter.

 

To be careful of the Imperial Guard.

 

The Imperial Guard, the knight order that was under the Emperor’s direct command.

 

At her words, the faces of the executives turned pale, but nodded faithfully instead of asking for the reason. 

 

“Became X.”

[T/N: It’s a censored swear word >.<]

 

Although Devon uttered a strange exclamation, he also obediently led the members and disappeared.

 

“Now then, shall we go meet the beautiful Young Lady Evita?”

 

After pulling on the bandage wrapped by Mia, Atalante skillfully climbed onto the horse. 

 

Now that she had taken care of the most pressing matter, there was only one thing left that she had to do.

 

Requesting for a refund, no, compensation from the person that gave her the d*mned poison. Atalante intended to find out the truth from her.

 

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“Ohh, what should I do?”

 

Meanwhile, at the same time, there was a person awake in the early hours of dawn from the County of Evita, and her name was Esma Evita.  

 

She was the lovely youngest daughter of Count Evita and also the person that gave Atalante the poison.

 

There was only one reason why she was awake at this time.

 

It was because she had found out about her own mistake late. That also took her a year’s time.

 

By the time she had reached 10,000 steps while circling around her room endlessly, Esma thought that she should confess her mistake, even if it was late.

 

“I gave you the wrong medicine. I’m really sorry, Miss Atalante.”

 

As Esma put her palms together, she confessed her sins to the air.

 

Her eyebrows were lowered as much as possible, with eyes glistening, and a pathetic voice added to the mix. 

 

If she appealed this desperately, it was clear that even if it was the notorious Atalante, she would definitely forgive her mistake. 

 

Given the fact that there weren’t any rumours that Argo’s boss had died, it seems that she hasn’t used that medicine, so it would be fine if she could just change it to the real poison. 

 

Going to that hideout was a very scary thing to do, but there was no other option. 

 

Just as she vowed to write to Atalante the moment the sun rises tomorrow, a familiar voice came from behind. 

 

“I knew it.”

 

It was a voice that was moist, yet captivating.

 

Even though the last time she had heard that voice was a year ago, it was a voice that she could still remember vividly.

 

‘Am I dreaming right now?’

 

When Esma turned to look back stiffly, a pair of eyes like finely cut amethysts stared back at her. 

 

There was only a soft lamp lighting up the spacious room, but Esma could recognise the identity of the woman standing there instantly. 

 

“A–Ata…!”

 

“Shh.”

 

As the woman in the dark whispered with a barely discernible voice, the scream that was about to escape turned into a gulp. 

 

Atalante slowly approached Esma with gleaming eyes.

 

Would such a feeling be comparable to meeting a hungry predator in the forest in the middle of the night? 

 

“The Young Lady has said something rather interesting earlier.”

 

“Hiik…”

 

As Esma, who was sitting on the floor, met eyes with Atalante, she took out a small bottle.

 

It was the bottle containing the suspicious poison that was flowing in the Grand Duke’s body. 

 

As soon as she saw the bottle, Esma turned pale and her eyes trembled pitifully.

 

The trembling intensified after discovering that the bottle was devoid of its contents.

 

“This medicine, what exactly is it?”

 

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