Weekly chapters (1/2).
It’s quite long chapter.
cH.41 – Imperial Capital’s Western District
Ares was heading to the Capital’s Western district. To one of the settlements to be exact.
Passing the huge gate, Ares shouted in a loud voice.
[Long time no see!]
After saying so, he went inside. At that moment, a voice came from behind.
[Hold on there, customer. You can’t enter since it’s not business hours yet!…. Eh, hee? Aren’t you that Alan? It’s been quite a while, isn’t it??]
The source of that voice was a young woman with dishevelled clothes. It appeared that she had just woke up, seeing how she hadn’t worn any make up and that her hair was all over the place.
The woman called Barbara laughed merrily, tilted her head and asked.
[How did you get past the guards at the front gate?]
[Nn? Ah, since they wouldn’t let me in, I put them to sleep for a bit.]
[…..so you got in by force….good grief. So what are you up to by coming here today? And when did you return here to the capital?]
[I only returned earlier today. I just want to see Carla. Is she here at the moment?]
[Wait….you are here just to meet my sister?]
Hearing Barbara complain, Ares could only feel a little embarrassed as he heard her continued speaking.
[We haven’t met for a long time and that’s how you act? After you’re gone, everyone here was depressed… Maria even had this face as if the world has ended…. She wouldn’t stop crying….so was Carla. How hard it is just to say goodbye properly!?]
[Ahー, I’ll hear out all of Barbara’s complains later. Right now I need to see Carla. There is something that I need to talk about with her in a hurry.]
[Really now, you won’t even listen….. Sister Carla! It’s a customer! Alan is back!]
Barbara’s face turned bitter upon hearing Ares’ words, but she still complied by calling out loudly.
However, the responses to the call were:
[Alan, you say?]
[He is back?]
[I thought I would never see you again!]
The doors opened up one after another, many women emerging from their rooms. Apparently they were still on break, judging from how casual and lightly they’re dressed and how they hadn’t applied any make up. The women started a ruckus, rushing toward Ares.
Ares, on the other hand, flushed red from being confronted by this many scantily clad women, was unable to react with tact.
[No, please, I’ll talk to you all later….]
[Everyone, be quiet!]
A loud voice resounded in the hall. The place turned quiet immediately. All due to the that voice that carried so much authority in it.
The western district is pretty much the living place for the poor, and its hygiene is questionable at best. However, the district has a well-designed cityscape. At a glance, there seems to have no differences to those at the northern and eastern district…. But anyone would know that it’s not the case, once they set foot inside.
It’s not a place anyone is meant to live in.
House block number 61 is perhaps one of the exception. It’s famous as one of the largest 『brothels』in the capital. Therefore, it’s a place where everyone from all of the districts, even those from the northern district would want to visit.
Other than for its size, this particular brothel was also known by its name:
[House of Black Rose]
The customers ranged from regular civilians to some well off merchants, and even some aristocrats.
It was a woman named Clara who managed such a large establishment..
Her hair was wavy and flaxen-colored. She was also tall and curvaceous, coupled with a stern face. One may feel that it is hard to approach her.
However, at heart, she’s a gentle soul with a strong sense of duty. She took care of all the women working on the establishment, almost as if she was their mother. She’s someone who is always well received by the other residents in the western district.
[Alan? It’s been a while. What kind of business take you to this kind of place?]
[To tell the truth I shouldn’t be back in here so soon…..but the Imperial Capital has changed a lot since my last visit, and that’s exactly why I came to seek you here. I need as much information as possible.]
Hearing Ares explanation, Carla’s face became even more stern.
[We shouldn’t talk about that here. First of all, let’s find a room. Is there any we can use?]
Hearing Ares said that as he looked around, the women started to make noises again.
[Eee~, I want to talk with Alan.]
[Hey hey, are you, still a virgin? Do you still remember the promise?]
[Hold on right there, that’s not something you could say so casually!]
[But you promised me too. I won’t forget about it!]
Seeing this chaos, Carla’s blood vessel bulged even more….then she shouted:
[Cut it out!]
Everyone was stunned once again by her voice.
[We’ll first take care of Alan’s business first. Alan! You are staying overnight, aren’t you!?]
[Un, that’s what I intend to do…]
Hearing this, the women started to cheer and made a fuss once more.
[If you have no customer tonight, then you can talk with Alan! But firstly we’ll go to my room. We won’t know what he needs unless we talk first.]
[Sister, don’t bully Alan!]
[Don’t eat him by yourself eitherー]
Receiving such cheers, Ares followed after Carla with a wry smile on his face. After seeing him off, Barbara then called out to the nearby women.
[Wait a minute. Where is Maria?]
[Eh? If it’s that girl, isn’t she out doing laundry or something?]
[Go and fetch her. This should be a very important matter more than anything else for her.]
Once Ares and Carla entered the room, Carla immediately changed her attitude, dropped on her knees with her head bowing.
[It’s been a long time. Ares-sama. Have you changed since then?]
[Ah, nothing has changed. Then, how about in here?]
[The western district hasn’t changed yet. More people have resided here recently.]
[Does these people come from the countryside?]
Ares tilted his head in question, which Carla replied with a troubled face.
[Not exactly…..they are all refugees from the southern land….most of them are beastmen.]
[What do you mean?]
[The discrimination towards demi-human seems to have intensified in the south….Maria who often went there told us that the violence inflicted by the officials and the church is becoming even worse… the west isn’t likely to be affected as much by this….]
After that, Carla changed the topic.
[By the way Ares-sama. Why are you looking for me?]
[Ah, that’s right. I have a request.]
Ares’ face turned serious upon saying that.
[I want a connection to the man who control the entire western district…. I want Balzac.]
A little further away from the house of black rose, block number 66 was the most desirable place to stay in the western district. At first glance, there are a lot of luxurious buildings here to the point that it can be mistaken as part of northern or eastern district. So why was it so developed? It’s because it’s base of slave traders and illegal organizations.
On that block 66 was the largest and most luxurious building in western district.
The unusual size and the strange architecture makes it stand out among other buildings.
But more than that are the guests visiting the people. Not only common and poor people, merchants and aristocrats would often showed up here on their fancy carriages.
What is actually happening here? Only those who could enter inside knows.
Ares and Carla are heading to such building as we speak.
[This place….it looks thriving as usual.]
[….this place is Balzac’s. Or do you want a bite of it as well?]
Carla called Ares as [Alan] casually. Ares actually preferred it that way since it makes him feel comfortable.
[This place was built soon after you left. Immediately, it became the largest gambler’s den in the capital. Do you have something against Balzac?]
Ares laughed without replying.
And at that point…
[Oi! You, where do you think you and your woman is going!?]
The two of them were halted at the entrance by a young man dressing like a thug.
[Why did some guy like you go in here? You may lose your life, y’know? Ha?]
Seeing the situation, it will be useless even if Ares do the talk. Carla sighed.
[…..you, do you know who I am?]
[Haa? What are talking about? Are you a fool, you bitch…]
[If it isn’t Carla-sama.]
A classy looking black haired man suddenly appear from behind and with his sharp gaze, interrupted the scuffle.
This man dressed like butler who served an aristocrat. It’s obvious that he’s not one of the prisoner from the way he groomed himself. Above all, that large scar on his cheek gave the image of a strong man.
[This sudden arrival surprised me…. Most of the new guys who don’t know you yet….thankfully I happened to pass by and notice you come. And this fellow with you is….impossible!?]
[Ah, Hans. Long time no see.]
Noticing Ares standing beside Carla, Hans’ face visible turned upset.
[My my…..this… Alan-dono, isn’t it? No no, this is a great surprise. I’ll bring you to meet Balzac-sama, at once.]
[He? He? Ha-Hans-san, this people are…]
Seeing the change in Hans’ expression, the thug-looking man panicked.
[You, luckily I passed by here. This woman is Carla-sama. The owner of the House of Black Rose.]
The man immediately crawled down on the floor. He’s even shaking in fear if one would look closer.
[Ah errr…… pardon me…. I didn’t know….]
[Enough. It’s alright. You didn’t know me before.]
Carla looked at this scene with disgusted face. How come such a man was trembling at the presence of a woman…. She couldn’t help but to feel unconvinced a bit. Seeing Carla like that made Ares chuckled.
[You are kneeling to the wrong person.]
Hans said so as he beat the man.
[Ehh?? That, wh-what do you mean…..?]
Hans motioned his head toward Ares.
[This young man here, he’s someone who should be prioritized over anything else. If the boss heard about this, you’ll definitely die on where you stand. Remember this.]
As Ares and co. approached Balzac’s room, a big burly man halted them.
[H-here is b-boss’ room. I-I won’t let you. Proceed.]
Menacingly, the big man blocked the door.
Seeing this, Hans went forward.
[Jonathan, these people are good. The boss would want to prioritize them over anything else.]
[But, Hans-san. Boss, told me to not let anyone in. If you insist, I’ll get angry.]
[No, it’s be okay. I’ll take responsibility.]
Hans forced his way in regardless. The big man, Jonathan, couldn’t help but to give way.
[Boss! I’m coming in.]
Having said that, Hans opened the door. Inside were a man and several beauties lying on bed relaxedly.
[Oi, what are you doing? I’m resting at the moment. Nobody must enter…]
[Boss, it’s really important.]
Hans stood before Balzac.
[So it’s you, Hans. I hope you have a good reason for disturbing my rest, or else you’ll be sorry for it.]
[Alan-sama and Carla-sama are visiting us right now. Alan-sama wants to have a talk with Boss.]
Hearing that, Balzac began to panic.
[Ha…. you say milord come on his own?]
[W-where is milord now….?]
[Just outside the door.]
Balzac turned his sight towards the door. And sure enough, there was Ares over there, smiling at him.
Balzac dropped the glass he held in his hand.
[Boss, the glass….]
[You! Why don’t you say so earlier! ! Prepare a welcome party!]
[Yes. I have already said so….]
[Screw you! Wait, you….]
He remembered that someone else is watching as he scolded Hans.
The cold eyes of a woman who had been staring at him all this time.
He couldn’t decide which one is more frightening, Carla’s jealous eyes, or Ares who had been there smiling at him.
Ah, milord, are you enjoying this?
Balzac then took a deep breath, before issuing an order.
[Fuuuーーーー. Alright. Well, girls! Please leave at once. Oi, you, the one outside. You mustn’t let anyone else enter! You can kill anyone trying to enter! Then….Hans…..please take the man and woman to room next door.]
[Yes! At once!!]
Balzac looked at Hans.
How Hans’ clear cut face seemed to laugh at him. Bastard, I’ll get back you later.
The girls are gone and Ares is in the room next door. At the front of the door is the big burly man Jonathan.
With only four people inside the room, when Ares sat on one of the chairs, both Balzac and Hans quickly knelt down and lowered their head.
[We didn’t know that milord will visit us today…. Pardon us for our carelessness….]
Balzac was a former mercenary. He’s a man with big muscled body and serious face. The title of the king of the slums suited him. And now, such a man is kneeling in front of a boy, begging for forgiveness.
[It’s alright. I was the one who came in without warning. I’ll feel bad if you do this. Please raise your head…]
[Yes…. thank you very much….]
Only after that Balzac and Hans dared to raised their head up.
[Milord….please refrain from doing something like this again. It’s bad for my heart.]
[Eh, it’s in fact interesting. The interaction between you and Hans was a masterpiece. I wish Sigurd is also here to see it.]
[No, please don’t….]
At that point, Hans coughed a little. Then resumed the conversation.
[By the way, Milord. Is there something we need to do for you….perhaps?]
[Ah, sorry. Firstly I have a few things to ask you. How did the gambling den became so booming? Is it just your way to gain information regarding aristocrats and merchants?]
[Yes. As milord can see, the aristocrats and the merchants are the one with the big bets. Don’t tell me….milord wants their money?]
[It’s probably because the arena was closed after The Gladiator Revolt, isn’t it? I think it’s fine. It is said that humans have always been gambling since birth. So, everyone always has a tendency to gamble. Especially the aristocrats who needs some stimulation in their life….once they got a taste of it, there is no escaping it.]
[What I want to know at the moment is regarding the aristocrats. What led them to gamble here. Anything that I can use to bargain with them with them while I’m staying at the palace. Especially… those of the royal families, like princes, princesses and the dukes’ movement.]
Hearing that, Balzac raised a wide grin.
[So Milord has decided to make a move. This is getting interesting. Hans! Bring the written information we have gathered!]
Hans replied then left the room for a while. He returned with a stack of papers.
Ares received it and read the content. Meanwhile Balzac gave an explanation.
[The royal family is still the same. In particular, the second Prince is irate. It seems that he had sewn a lot of grudges everywhere. The first Prince is good at warfare, but less talented in terms of politic. His character is also too rough. Those two will bring trouble soon. The third Prince is ill, not to mention that he’s young and weak. The remaining member of royal family that needs to be taken into consideration…I suppose it’s Princess Cornelia?]
[The fourth Princess? Did she do something unusual lately?]
[The first Princess is drowning herself in luxury and hedonism, she has barely any good reputation in her name left. The second Princess….has a strange characteristic of liking to fight despite her prim and proper appearance. I also heard that she had a fierce personality. The third Princess, although not fully overshadowed yet, she is under great influence from Duke Hellion. It’s only about time that she’ll fully submit. What remained is only the fourth Princess.]
Balzac paused to take a breather then continued.
[I heard the fourth Princess is a modest person, perhaps because the low status of her mother. However, she’s known for her beauty despite rarely making an appearance.]
[Isn’t that weird? How do people know that she’s beautiful if they never saw her?]
[That’s….because she had appeared here in the western district before.]
Balzac got up and explained.
[She’s a weird one among the Royal family members…. She invested her private properties to develop the western district. Particularly, in establishing hospital and orphanage…. To the point that they can stand on their own. Those who saw her testify that she looked like a [Goddess]. When I saw her once…. I must say, she’s indeed very beautiful.]
Ares was intrigued by Balzac’s story.
[Because she rarely attends court and that she has no apparent『backing』, the other aristocrats didn’t really give her any attention. Perhaps, if she ever showed up in a banquet or something, the rumour would’ve spread about her….but that’s not the case. So…. I came into a conclusion that she’s someone that Milord should take note.]
[How rare. Balzac is actually complimenting someone else.]
[At the moment, she’s an indispensable figure to the development of the western district….I would’ve serve her since that’s the case, but that is that, I still wish to support Ares-sama…. I guess I’m being too frank here. Anyways, it’s all written on the paper. Also….]
[Yes. I have one thing that I’m worried about.]
Balzac took out a bag from nearby drawer. It was filled with some kind of a powder. When Ares checked it….his face became stern.
[Yes. If one inhales it, your senses and pains will be paralyzed. There is a risk of losing oneself as well.]
Balzac continued talking.
[As per Milord’s instruction, we forbid the use and sales of such drug here. But… apparently this originated from an area around Torkia….]
[Torkia….? I wonder about that. Can you investigate this for me?]
[Yes! With pleasure.]
Balzac bowed to Ares once more.
[I, Balzac has been waiting for this time to come since I first pledge my loyalty to Ares-sama. My properties, my life, all belongs to Ares-sama. Please make use of it as much as Milord want.]
[Alright. Please do so.]
Ares smiled then added.
[But instead, since you’ve entrusted your life to me, then I expect that you’ll be careful with it. If you can’t do that, then forget about serving me.]
Balzac also laughed in response to that.
[Naturally. My dream is to see the future that Ares-sama envisioned. I can’t afford to die until then.]
Carla thought to herself while witnessing the whole thing. Balzac is the king of the underground society. He’s a man who lived his life by relying on his own abilities without following anyone. But now the very same man is pledging his loyalty to someone. Just how huge of a character this Ares is?
[Well, it’s not like I’m not attracted to this person as well. Not only Balzac, even I don’t want to die until I see it… that future he envisioned.]
Carla looked at Ares in a daze.