Chapter 24.2: I Mean No Harm
“Thank goodness,” murmured Calian.
Anyway, five florens for a single marked map, huh… Calian took the two items and stuffed them in his inner pocket, feeling a little cheated.
Just then, White Eagle pulled out a piece of notepaper full of writing. When he saw Calian hesitating to take the paper, he grinned widely. “Instructions.”
It didn’t seem like a horrible deal, after all. Calian let out a little chuckle and took the paper. He stood up and left the house through its main entrance without going back to the shop through the storehouse. As he looked around, he could tell that the house was just behind the bird shop.
Instead of walking back to the shop, Calian called his horse in a low voice. “Raven.”
Not long after, he could hear the clip clop of Raven’s hooves. Raven was walking towards him, only his white band visible in the dark. Calian quickly climbed onto Raven and rode away from the shop. Soon, he reached a moderately bright but unpopulated cafe and pulled out the map and the instructions.
— Be careful. It’s quite a dangerous place.
Calian scoffed as he recalled what White Eagle had said and muttered, “As if it would be as dangerous as you.”
In order to reach the location on the map, Calian had to go back out to the road he took to get to the shop. After carefully reading and memorising the instructions, Calian burned the map and the instructions with the candlelight that lit the entrance of the cafe.
* * *
Concern settled in Calian’s eyes.
He wasn’t lost because he had burned the map. The map was precise, and there was only one place that was still open nearby. What concerned Calian was none other than the name of the shop that was printed above the entrance to the two-storey building in front of him.
— Sispanian’s Strong Scent of Alcohol
Of course it had to be here.
Calian was standing in front of the pub that he had been baffled at while he was heading towards the bird shop. He lowered his gaze and stared at the entrance in defeat.
“Who in the world names their shop like that? Sispanian is a member of the royal family, too. Won’t they get punished for insulting the royal family?” he grumbled.
Since Sispanian didn’t act as a queen after Hatsua’s death, it’s difficult to say that Sispanian is a proper member of the royal family, answered Old Calian.
Calian had a lot to say, but didn’t bother. He handed over Raven’s reigns to the attendant and entered the pub.
The pub wasn’t very different from those in Secretia. The place was filled with the mildewy smell of years-old oak barrels and the unique bitter-sour scent of hops. Soon, a server approached Calian.
“Do you have anyone else with you?” they asked a little stiffly. They seemed suspicious of this customer who had stepped into the pub in the middle of the night with a hood draped over his face.
“I’m here by myself.”
The server tilted their head when they heard Calian’s youthful voice. His age didn’t matter in the bird shop, but it did in the pub. Instead of offering any explanation, Calian took out a silver coin and handed it to the server. The server understood its meaning and lowered their guard right away.
“Let me take you to an empty seat.”
Calian shook his head and followed the instructions that were written on the paper. “I’d like to go to the fourth floor.”
It was very clear that the building only had two floors. However, instead of telling him that there wasn’t a fourth floor, the server replied, “Please follow me.”
Since Calian had just been in a similar situation, he stayed alert as he followed the server. Because it was already late into the night, most customers were already wasted and Calian could walk around without attracting many eyes.
They walked past five or six tables and turned around the corner, where a thick wooden door was located. The server took out a key from their pocket and opened the door, gesturing Calian in.
“Please head in this way.”
Calian nodded and stepped into the room. The server turned on the light and closed the door behind Calian without further explanation. Calian listened as the server’s footsteps grew softer.
Calian quietly looked around. The space seemed to be furnished for about four or five people to drink in: a rectangular table, a cabinet, a rope with a handle used to call the server by ringing the counter bell, a framed abstract painting, and some built-in hooks for coats and jackets.
At a glance, the room just looked like a secret meeting area. Nothing stood out in particular. Of course, that wasn’t the case for Calian.
Butterflies, third from the left. The instructions had kindly specified what he had to do. Calian calmly walked over to the wall on the other side of the room and stared at the butterfly-shaped tin hooks. He pinched and twisted the third hook out of the six that were attached to the wall. The hook turned slowly, and when it was almost at a 90-degree angle—
It was stopped by something. Calian let go of the hook and pushed the cupboard that was placed in one corner of the room. Although he hadn’t used much force on it, the cupboard slid smoothly to the side. A downwards staircase appeared where the cupboard used to be.
Calian took a deep breath and started walking downstairs, his hand placed on his knife.
It was just bright enough to watch his step, so it wasn’t hard to walk downstairs. After descending the stairs for a while, Calian paused his steps.
“Third floor.” To his side was an entrance labelled with the number 3. “The gambling grounds.”
The entrance was covered with a dark cloth. Between the curtains, Calian saw silhouettes of a few men sitting around a round table. Calian turned away from the 3rd floor and continued down the stairs.
After descending almost twice the number of stairs as he had gone down to reach the third floor, he began to hear shouting. Not long after, the stairs ended at an entrance labelled with the number 4.
“I guess this is it.”
The shouting and cheering noises were now deafening. Calian breathed in, and breathed out. He stepped inside without further hesitation.
Calian had just stepped into a fighting arena.
This is where he would find Kyrie, the swordless swordsman.