11. First Encounter, First Obstacle (5)

How about you drink and eat something? There is still a little time. You are normally murdered when it is really dark already. The system joked.

‘Can’t you say it a little more humane?’, I grumbled. By the way the system and I treated dying as some sort of event instead of, well the ultimate end, I slowly lost my sense of reality. This world may still be a game but I was alive as well as everyone around me. Normally, nobody would have noticed the advancement from a game to a world so my whole existence was something like an anomaly.

“Where here. This is the Clock Tower Room and since it can get really loud, there won’t be any disturbances but are you really in danger?” Carnelian pulled me out of my depressing thoughts. He walked into a large empty room and showed me the snacks and blankets he prepared.

“An assassin.” I mumbled astonished. This hideout was far larger than I expected.

“An assassin! Are you sure? Shouldn’t you call your guards and inform the academy? Isn’t it even more dangerous to be here? No, let’s go straight to the principle…”

I had to grab his arm to hinder him from leaving. “It’s fine. My guards would just be meaningless victims. I tried that already.”

“What?” He asked bewildered. “You tried?”

“Ah, I meant that they won’t be of any help. That bastard even broke into the Duke’s estate which is heavily guarded and I know who sent him. If the assassin really comes again tonight I will just run to the Prince.”

“You mean the Prince sent!”, he immediately held his mouth. “Ah no, I mean.”

I smiled and hushed him. “Let’s just eat a few snacks. But you don’t have to stay, you know. It may be dangerous.”

He reassured me repeatedly that he wasn’t fine leaving me alone and to not worry about him since he had plenty of experience as an adventurer before we really started eating the snacks. Every movement we made reverberated through the room but I held no hopes that the same would apply to the movements of that cat-eye.

If it were one of the nights before, I would be reassured with Carnelian’s presence thinking that the assassin wouldn’t make any moves against him or on me as long as we were together. It was just that the system’s words kept nagging me.

“I won’t leave”, Carnelian said before I could even utter a word. “What? Your face was nearly screaming what you worry about. Aren’t you afraid? How can you be sure an assassin is waiting for you? Even saying it is the same as in the estate?”. His dark brown hair covered a bit of his glasses.

“Aren’t you the weird one? Staying when you don’t know this?” I countered.

“Maybe”, he chuckled. “But really, why don’t you at least stay with your maid?”.

I tilted my head. We were sitting on the ground atop a blanket with barely an arm’s length between us. “I told her to rest early after she got me some important information. I don’t want to involve her anymore in this. Also, I have no evidence for any of my claims therefore I cannot just stay with His Highness. That’s why I am hiding.”, I shrugged my shoulders. “If I had to say, it is just a feeling. A very clear feeling that cat-eyes will be coming again tonight and that he won’t be as merciful to my guards and servants as last time. Disappointing, right? You can really go. These are just some ramblings of a bored noble’s daughter.”

Carnelian abruptly turned his head straight, a little flustered. “I don’t think so. You don’t seem to be the type to make a fuss over nothing. How about we rest a little? I brought a few more blankets, you’re really pale.”

Thankfully I took one of the two blankets. “You know, this is really improper.”, I joked. “Not long ago, I admonished someone who behaved like this. Somehow I feel like I can’t go out in public anymore. Feels like I am losing.”

“Eh? Ah! I’m sorry! When I was out with other adventurers nobody cared…”, he muttered some inaudible words while making some space between us and I couldn’t hold it in anymore and burst out laughing. After I gathered myself a little, I pacified my new friend. “I’m joking, I’m joking. I wouldn’t take something like that to heart though this really is improper for a noble, so let’s keep it a secret, okay?”

He agreed after pouting a little more.

‘Hopefully, nothing will go wrong tonight.’

Carnelian was the first to fall asleep after boasting about his strong endurance. Though he did tell me why he was so exhausted today. Apparently he helped out in a nearby orphanage which was raided by magical beasts and monsters these last few days. Outside experiences were also really important for a knight major and very tiring so I just left him to sleep. I didn’t want to involve him anyway.

‘What time is it, system? I asked in my mind.

It is shortly after midnight, normally, you would already be fleeing from the assassin.

‘So it seems like the hideout is quite good. Are you allowed to tell me whether the Prince’s whereabouts are the same as in his schedule?’

No, my view in this world is solely limited to you and your surroundings. The most I can do is warn you in case your senses fail you.

I sighed. ‘Thought so. Since it is time for cat-eyes to appear, I should check the Prince’s location. Otherwise I might not be able to reach the Prince before I’m killed.’

I told you, it is highly unlikely that the assassin will change his habit of observation just because of a few Loops.

‘He already did last time. It’s better to be safe than sorry.’

I trapped the blanket over Carnelian’s shoulders before I made my way through the empty room. My steps reverberated loudly in the silent night. I abruptly came to a halt.

“Are you sure you want to act when your client send a messenger to your Guild?”. I was still too late.

“Share Status Window”, I said into the calm night. It was something I learned from the system not long ago. Everyone could see his own Status Window and one was able to pry the general information as well as Stats with Skills however one could also just share his Stats and Skills voluntarily. A decent organization would never ask for your Skill information but it was typical to share one’s Stats. And that was exactly what I did with the assassin.

“As you can see, my situation right now is very dangerous. Even though my Stats improved largely just some time ago, right now, they are forcefully lowered. Maybe it is a curse or something,” I chuckled mockingly. This was a lie but I had to explain my weird Stats to him to make myself seem more convincing.

“I wouldn’t be able to run away anyway should you target me and my guards are just playthings to you, so how about verifying whether this order is still valid. As an assassin skilled and brave enough to go against a Dukedom you should know who your client really is, right?”

My heart was pounding in my chest and my head began to feel dizzy because of the stress. There was no answer but also no attack. This was the first time for me to survive after revealing my knowledge of him snooping around me. I exhaled.

“I am starting to walk to your client”, I said in case any sudden movement would make him change his mind while I still shared my Status Window with him.

‘Can you pinpoint his location with the shared Status Window?’

Let me try…

I nodded, I had now reached the end of the room but before I could rejoice I paled at the system’s words. “He’s got nothing to do with your orders and he is fast asleep. I gave him some of my sleeping tonic to ensure he wouldn’t interrupt us.”

Right now, the system told me that cat-eyes was staying right next to Carnelian. My heart beat like crazy.

That said ‘tonic’ was just a tea but I couldn’t impact Carnelian any more than this. At the same time I shared three of my skills, Awareness, Sense Enhancement and Enemy Detection. Even though they were affected, they could still explain my knowledge of his whereabouts and dissolve his doubts.

“Just leave him be, my reputation is bad anyway so I can just tell him how I was mistaken about tonight”, I calmly declared while I simultaneously tried to pinpoint the assassin’s whereabouts.

Was it an invisibility skill or a camouflage skill or… At this point, my body clearly told me to hurry up because my nose started bleeding and thankfully that seemed to be the trigger to finally lower his cautiousness.

He is moving towards you. The system reminded me so I decisively turned back to the door. “Let’s go.”

With a handkerchief pressed against my nose I again made my way to the Crown Prince study. I had to move very slowly and carefully since my eyesight was strongly impacted by my low Stats and I stumbled more than once. The blood gushing out of my nose just wouldn’t stop and painted my elegant and expensive dress with blood.

If somebody were to see me right now, they would think I was a ghost!

As expected, the guard standing in front of the study paled at my sight, not knowing what to do. I just passed him and entered immediately, my body needed to rest urgently.

“What!?”, the Prince jumped up from his chair. “You-! What? What is with you?”

I didn’t bother to bow since my physical condition wouldn’t allow me anyway. “Prince Aiden, didn’t we agree to call back your dog?” I asked blankly, forgetting how that dog was standing besides the door, listening.

The killing intent increased tremendously and my breathing halted for a moment.

“What are you talking about? I already sent a messenger to the capital- I mean, we never agreed on anything. You just burst into my lounge! And what are you doing right now? Why are you here with such an appearance.” He arrogantly waved his hands and shouted for his guards.

“So you really want to challenge my father?”, I asked while stumbling forward. “Do you really think you are not responsible for how I look right now?”

Bewildered, the Prince took a step back and bumped against his chair. “Do you even know what I have been through?”, I asked him in a low and threatening voice without caring for any onlookers.

He sent this assassin! He was the reason my Stats were forcefully lowered and I had to engage in a cat and mouse game with a killer these last few days.

“How about being poisoned? Have you ever felt that pain of being slowly poisoned to death knowing the culprit but being unable to do anything?” Sophien did. And I knew how frightening it was to die without knowing.

“And now you want to chase me away after hiring an assassin and getting cold feet? Either man up and endure the wrath of my father or just think before you do anything!”

“G-guards! Take her out!”, the Prince was pale and shaking all over. Anger and fear blended together on his face. “And get me a damn transmission stone.”

The guard who witnessed everything still standing aghast in place. “Hurry up! What are you doing?” The Prince screamed. All these blind fans of his should see him at this moment. Would they still fawn over him? Probably. They would fawn until he made a mistake big enough to revoke his Crown Prince position.

“Pathetic”, I said to the Prince and turned. “I can walk out alone.”

The door closed behind me and I stood still.

“Listen to his transmission. He will revoke his orders, the other messenger will probably arrive in two days.”

I began walking.

“If there is anything left to discuss, I am in the Clock Tower Room.”

+ 10 Emotional Points

Villainess Reputation currently 55/100


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