Author: Dawn

The afternoon had passed, and the sun was starting to set. With every jolt of the carriage, the elongated shadow swayed.

It had been a dull journey. The distance from Duke Brusek’s residence to the capital of the Empire was quite far.

In an attempt to stretch and relieve my fatigue, I was about to yawn when the coachman tapped on the carriage wall.

“Get ready. We’re almost there.”

I opened the window slightly and stretched my neck, and there, at the end of the horizon, I saw the towering white walls of Asrai.

Finally!

I felt genuine excitement that the end of this boring journey was approaching.

There had been quite a few difficulties along the way.

Although we stopped in some villages, we camped frequently due to taking the fastest route possible.

‘It was quite suffocating being confined to the carriage.’

While it was possible to practice mentally, it was challenging to use time efficiently.

There were many occasions when even brushing my teeth was a challenge due to a lack of water.

The solution was simple in those cases—I simply skipped meals.

Since I was swinging my sword without even eating, the coachman sometimes looked at me as if I were a madman.

‘But at least I was able to ride in a carriage.’

One of the advantages of being a spy was that the operational expenses were usually generous.

This applied not only to Haisen but also to other places. It was the same when playing games.

As the missions were difficult, they provided conveniences in other areas. Otherwise, the likelihood of betrayal would increase.

Anyway, thanks to that, I was able to ride in a carriage.

‘I wonder if the others have already arrived.’

Denif would have reached the capital before I left Haisen, and Orhen would have arrived a little later.

Finding the secret base was the issue, but I hoped they did well. They weren’t foolish.

Suddenly, the moment of departure came to mind. Orhen had teary eyes in front of the duke’s mansion.

Denif said he was fine, but I was slightly worried about Orhen. Recent events had been tough for her.

Well, I could only hope she adapted well.

“That is Chenarus’ white wall.”

In the midst of my daydreaming, the distance between me and the capital seemed to be closing.

In the vast plains, I could see the tall and sturdy white walls and, beyond that, the towering white palace.

That was the famous White City.

Chenarus, the capital of the Kaiyan Empire. It was known as the city where all buildings were predominantly white, hence the nickname.

Even though I felt it while playing games, seeing it in person, the overwhelming grandeur exceeded my imagination.

Perhaps because it was the capital of the Empire, there were quite a few people trying to enter. Due to the time, the number of people leaving was low, but still.

The carriage gradually slowed down. The decreasing speed seemed slower than I expected, but it was bearable.

After a while, a bored-looking guard came out and scanned the carriage from top to bottom.

“Identification pass.”

It seemed like they made a judgment based on my appearance, and their words were brief.

After handing them the prepared identification pass, the guard checked it and looked at me.

“What is your purpose for coming to Chelnarus?”

It was a question that they didn’t ask to the people who passed earlier.

Perhaps it was because the combination of a relatively young me and the coachman seemed unfamiliar.

“I came here to join a mercenary corps.”

Mercenaries were present throughout the continent, but the capital of the Empire was one of the well-known hubs.

Top-tier mercenary groups participated in noble conflicts and wars between countries due to their strategic location in the heart of the continent.

That was why intelligence agencies often masqueraded as mercenary groups.

The guards exchanged glances among themselves and laughed.

“Young master seems to have read a lot of novels, judging by his appearance. Especially since he brought the servant along, intending to become a mercenary.”

“How many of them come with hopeful dreams?”

“That’s the coachman’s fault, bringing a kid like that.”

The coachman coughed in response to the continuing remarks.

Although openly condescending, I wasn’t particularly pleased, but I had intended to appear this way from the beginning.

In a world where it was not difficult to become a knight or noble as a mercenary as long as you had the ability.

Well, even nobles use their own knights or armies as mercenaries.

In fact, it was natural for the guards to criticize the coachman.

It was quite common for children from mediocre households to join mercenary groups with aspirations of social advancement.

Still, I deliberately made a dissatisfied expression. Acting wasn’t that difficult.

The guard handed me the pass.

“Take care of yourself, kid. Real combat is not like the imaginary world.”

“Mind your own business.”

I deliberately snatched the pass quickly.

“That brat has quite an attitude. It’s just a word of concern.”

“Leave him alone. He’ll manage on his own.”

I heard the guards laughing as I walked ahead. The coachman, who still owed me money, hurriedly followed.

The coachman suggested going to the accommodation he knew, but I immediately refused.

That was the end with the coachman; I needed to find the headquarters. After handing over the remaining payment, I headed towards the square.

As the capital of the Empire, the place was bustling with people.

Even if I was cautious, I couldn’t help but collide with others, and pickpockets were abundant at first glance.

Suddenly, the memory of my first day in this world came to mind, and a smile leaked out.

‘Now, where should I start?’

Since we each mentioned our desired destinations and received separate clues, we didn’t know what the others were about.

But the clue given to me was decidedly vague, no matter how you looked at it.

-Imperial capital. Ravens cry above death.

Since it was the password used in the last mission, I asked if it was correct, but Marhan simply nodded.

Phiri seemed to be playing a little prank, but there must have been some connection.

While traveling to Chenarus, I pondered over the map.

There were three predetermined targets for the first day.

‘Ravens cry above death.’

When I heard those words, an image of crows flying above a battlefield filled my mind.

It was too literal, but I couldn’t leave it unchecked.

That was why the Imperial Cemetery, where there might be a place with crow symbols, came to mind.

Next, the execution square with gallows came to mind, and the last one was the garbage incineration plant.

If human death was too literal, it could also refer to the death of an object.

And the garbage incineration plant was located in the slums, making it a good hiding place for spies.

‘Hmmm, I’m slightly hungry, but should I eat dinner?’

No, if I started thinking about brushing my teeth, I’d have to book a room, and just the thought of it was annoying.

The duke or Marhan would probably scold me if they saw this, but honestly, even eating was a bothersome task for me.

Although I had to brush my teeth, my body was tired, so even when I was at the mansion, I ate out of obligation.

I thought it would be better to quickly find the headquarters and resolve everything there.

‘For now, let’s look for the cemetery.’

* * *

“Ha, damn it.”

Where the hell is it?

I’d checked all three places, but I hadn’t seen anything related to ravens at all.

I checked as thoroughly as possible, so I didn’t feel like I missed anything.

Finding the spy hideout was the task at hand. It was impractical to check every suspicious place one by one.

The imperial capital.

It was not just Haisen’s spy hideout. It was not wise to wander around aimlessly.

‘They must have given me a clue that can be recognized at a glance.’

Huh. I arrived around evening, and now it was clearly night. Looking at the sky, midnight was approaching.

Because it was an unfamiliar place, I had to move around like an ordinary person, so it took a bit more time.

I was a bit restless since I didn’t have time to eat. I slightly regretted it.

Should I have eaten? My mind felt a bit sluggish.

‘Did I think wrong?’

By now, that seemed likely. I probably started off on the wrong foot. Let’s rethink from the beginning.

Ravens cry above death…

Could it be related to the culture or history of the Empire? It was possible.

I learned about various countries from Lena, but nothing immediately came to mind.

‘It’s probably not in a place with a lot of actual ravens, right?’

It was a more direct thought than before, but considering the spy hideout was close to death, it couldn’t be completely dismissed.

Hmm, this is going nowhere. It was getting frustrating, and I was filled with various thoughts.

‘Is it not?’

If it were Phiri, I couldn’t say for sure. I hadn’t known her for long, but she had a mischievous style.

She might have expected me to twist my thoughts and played with me. Should I check it out?

‘Huh?’

Just as I had that thought, something faintly came to mind from the depths of my memory.

I grasped at the vague memory and recalled something I had briefly heard in Lena’s class.

‘The story of the sun-hating raven.’

It was one of the legends of the Empire.

In ancient times, the sun was always shining, and the black-bodied ravens hated it, so they flew up to the end of the sky, grabbed the moon, and brought it down.

In the process, they froze to death without knowing it. Anyway, because of that, day and night were created, and time was born.

And…

There was a monument in the Empire commemorating this legend. It was the clock tower in the southern square.

‘Ah… Why couldn’t I remember this?’

Well, it was mentioned briefly and passed over.

To be honest, it was quite remarkable to suddenly recall it, but there was still some regret.

It was a bit frustrating to say ‘Eureka,’ but I thought I could find it around there.

The curfew was approaching, so the streets weren’t crowded with people.

‘Is that it?’

The massive clock tower in the southern square. Come to think of it, there was something familiar about it.

When Denif first appeared, signaling the start of the main story, he blew it up.

Wait.

If Haisen’s spy hideout was here, could there be a connection?

In an instant, the clock tower I had briefly seen caught my eye. Why? I didn’t know the reason.

Something felt off.

In a fleeting moment, the clock’s hands caught my eye. The hour and minute hands were shaped like the sun and moon, respectively.

And the second hand… it was in the shape of a raven.

The second hand ticked, moving in rhythm. When the raven pointed to 12 o’clock, the clock chimed with a “dong” sound.

It was the sound that indicates 11 o’clock.

Ravens cry above death.

I didn’t think about the sound of the bell, but it felt like pieces of the puzzle in my mind suddenly fell into place.

‘I found it.’

Amidst the brief joy, doubts resurfaced.

But where exactly was the hideout?

The clock tower couldn’t be the hideout. Should I revisit the square?

No. Let’s focus on the given clues. So far, the clues had been pointing to the clock tower.

Let’s go in and take a look.

Why didn’t they place a bomb inside the clock tower in the movies?

Perhaps it was because it was always darkest under the lamp, and the clock tower could indeed be the hideout.

If there was nothing there, I could search for it.

Expanding my senses with Winds and cautiously, I entered the inside of the clock tower.

There was nothing on the first floor. No indication caught by Winds. The same was true for the rooftop of the clock tower.

Did I make a mistake?

I was contemplating that while looking out over the city from the top of the clock tower.

“Kid.”

At the place where I turned my head in response to the familiar voice, Phiri was there.

With the white city enveloped in darkness as a backdrop, Phiri’s long hair fluttered. Phiri smiled with her shadowed face.

“I thought it would take a few more days, but you came earlier than expected?”

Author's Thoughts

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Dawn

Hello! If you any questions and if you found any errors on my translations, please do @ me on our discord server (@_dawn24) since I might miss your comment here. And also, I really appriciate your support by buying the advanced chapters or just giving me some donation, thank you!

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