Wortenia Senki (LN) - Volume 9 - Chapter Pr

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The curtain of night hung heavily over the city of Lentencia. The time was a few minutes after 10 PM. A bit too late to be considered evening, but too early to be considered late night by Japan’s standards. But this world lacked the light of electricity, and by its standards, this was very much nighttime. 

Most people lacked the wealth to keep candles and oil lamps lit at all times. Even for the nobility and royalty classes, the expense of keeping illumination going constantly was hardly anything to scoff at. But of course, since keeping up appearances was part of their lot in life, they still kept them on, though it was certainly financially taxing, even for them. 

But even in this world, there were exceptions to this rule. Namely, the pleasure districts of the cities. True to their monikers, “the nightless cities,” these districts were lit up all through the night. 

That said, this illumination only extended to the main streets and the entrances to the shops. Once one stepped into the alleyways, pitch darkness reigned supreme, and the only light one could find was the twinkling of the stars and the shimmer of moonlight. 

As the drunkards entered the alleyways, leaving only inebriated cheers in their wake, a group of more sober people mingled with them. The members of that group were all of different skin tones. Some had the bright skin and golden hair typical of the north, while others were bearded, middle-aged men with dark skin reminiscent of Arabian descent. And following them was an old man with slanted eyes. A man of Asian origins. 

Truly, a melting pot of assorted races and ages. They were dressed in unremarkable clothes. They didn’t carry weapons, nor were they clad in any armor or the black clothes a ninja might wear when sneaking about. Their clothes were made of cotton and linen, as was customary in this world. 

No one paid them any particular attention as they advanced into the alleyway washed over by darkness. Eventually they stopped in front of a residential building. Before their eyes was a statue of sorts, made up of countless flat stones piled together. 

Perhaps calling it a statue was an overstatement. It looked more like something children might put together as a game; an unstable, fragile shape that could crumble if anyone whimsically poked it with the sole of their shoe. 

But a limited few could see this shape for what it was, and they knew that this was by no means the result of a child’s game. 

The group took out their guild cards from their pockets, and held it up before the dragon carving placed against the building’s door. In simple terms, it wasn’t unlike the security one might see in a large company. A keycard, as it were. Someone in the Organization must have worked in such a company before, and used his experience to replicate that system using endowed thaumaturgy. 

The dragon carving’s eyes lit up for a brief moment, and then the door clicked, signaling it had been unlocked, and swung open to the outside. The group entered the building, where they saw a man sitting with his back to them. 

“They are all here now,” someone whispered into Zheng’s ear, to which he nodded. 

Zheng then turned around. He was a middle-aged, black-haired man. The man’s hair was swept back, and he was dressed in a tailcoat without a single wrinkle on it and a bow tie. 

He stood with his back straightened out, giving the impression of a strict individual. He conducted himself like the butler or assistant for some noble or influential merchant. Setting aside whom he might serve, he didn’t look like the kind of man you might meet in a pleasure district’s alley. It was like going out to take out the trash, only to randomly run into a man in a tuxedo. 

Of course, it wasn’t that one was forbidden from walking around in such an outfit, but there was such a thing as common sense. Certain styles of dress fitted certain situations; it was all down to the occasion. There were no laws on the matter and one wouldn’t be punished for choosing not to abide by this reasoning. 

But even if the law didn’t forbid it, that wasn’t to say there were no forces in place to stop someone from doing it. The gazes of other people had an invisible and yet stark way of stopping one from standing out. And in that regard, this man certainly stuck out like a sore thumb. 

Nevertheless, no one mocked Zheng for his appearance. Every single person present here knew just how fearsome he was. 

“I thank you for coming on such short notice,” Zheng said. “Liu Daijin has given us urgent orders.” 

At those words, all the other men present visibly tensed up, but they nodded at once. Judging by their stiff expressions, Zheng could tell they’d been briefed on the situation to some extent. 

Makes sense... The thought crossed Zheng’s mind. It’s not often that Liu Daijin summons people to his side like this... 

In the five years Zheng had served Liu, there were only a handful of times the old man had given such urgent orders. But whenever such exceptions occurred, it always involved a situation where something critical to the Organization had happened. 

That being the case, the stern expressions on these operatives’ faces were to be expected. But the question of where this incident would go still remained to be seen. 

This is quite the unusual case... 

Liu Daijin’s job was the management and administration of the western continent’s southwestern division of the Organization, while also being in charge of intelligence and counterintelligence against their nemesis, the Church of Meneos. And while Lentencia was Liu’s base of operations, he’d never truly had a hand in managing the city itself. 

In most cases, something of this nature would fall under the jurisdiction of Ruqaiya Redouane, the operative placed in charge of managing affairs in this city. And while Ruqaiya did approach Liu for advice regarding the mysterious man’s familiarity with the Organization’s cyphers, she did not actually ask him for help. 

From what Zheng knew of Liu, he would normally respect Ruqaiya’s position and wouldn’t make a move on his own. Ruqaiya’s rank within the Organization was lower than Liu’s, but she was still in the upper echelons. 

No matter how one examined this situation, it didn’t make sense. 

And despite that, Liu ordered his servant and bodyguard, Zheng, to commandeer a strike force. There had to have been a definite reason for him to do that. 

As far as I can tell, none of the information we have should be that alarming... 

That thought made the slightest ripple spread in Zheng’s firm heart. This wasn’t something he would boast of, but all the information that reached Liu was filtered by him. The information delivered to Liu every day came from across the continent, and its sheer volume meant that someone had to filter it so each bit of information reached its relevant department. 

This meant the amount of information Zheng had regarding the mystery man was either equal to or greater than what Liu knew. 

If anything comes to mind, there’s the incident where Misha Fontaine and her husband were killed...? But... 

They had been informed that the court thaumaturgist of the Kingdom of Beldzevia, one of the southern kingdoms, was dead, slain by someone. As was her husband, captain of the royal guard. Having people of such high standing killed was big news in this world. 

Indeed, the Kingdom of Beldzevia was using all its authority to keep that information from becoming public knowledge, knowing that it would throw their regime into chaos. The surrounding countries were gathering intelligence in earnest, and the entirety of the continent’s south was in a very dubious state. 

But conversely, this was a situation limited to the southern kingdoms. Compared to the scale of the chess board that was the western continent, the situation in Beldzevia was effectively the same as losing a single pawn. And while losing a pawn is a painful blow in itself, even the Organization understood that sometimes things didn’t go their way. 

Just like how a professional player would not bemoan the loss of every pawn, the Fontaines’ deaths, and indeed, Beldzevia’s existence as a whole, weren’t that significant in the Organization’s eyes. 

If nothing else, I doubt the incident at Beldzevia has anything to do with this... But even if it does, what is he planning to do about it...? 

As Liu’s trusted aide, Zheng had loyally carried out the old man’s orders, because he understood, at least to some extent, what Liu was thinking. But this time, Zheng didn’t have a clue about the old man’s intentions. 

Does he have some inkling as to who that man might be? Maybe it’s something that happened before I entered his service? 

Zheng had served Liu for years, and it was a major part of his job to naturally understand what the old man was thinking. An aide who refused to act unless explicitly ordered to do so had no place at Liu Daijin’s side. He had to know what his master was thinking, and begin preparations ahead of time. 

But from the time he received his orders until now, Zheng had been struggling to come to a conclusion about what Liu was planning, and he still wasn’t any closer to knowing. Honestly, he wished he could go back to Liu’s side and ask. Alas, he’d been given explicit orders, and Zheng had to carry them out. 

He placed me in command of a strike force, which means he’s cautious enough to prepare for the worst... 

Even now, Zheng was a servant in Liu’s service, but his true role was that of a commanding officer leading the Organization’s elite force, the Hunting Dogs. His martial prowess and strategic capability made him a match for the generals of Qwiltantia, Helnesgoula and O’ltormea — the three greatest countries in the western continent. It wasn’t for nothing that he’d survived the battlefields of this maddened, bloodthirsty world. 

Truth be told, he was likely the strongest of all the operatives in Lentencia, putting aside Liu himself. This was why he served as the personal butler of Liu Daijin, one of the twelve dragon heads — the de facto leaders and rulers of the Organization. The fact that a man of his status and prowess was dispatched on this mission meant Liu estimated this stranger to be exceptionally skilled. 

I still don’t know what he’s thinking, but... I shall simply do what I was ordered to. 

Zheng exhaled heavily, as if to clear all the air from his body, and then took a deep breath. And at that moment, all the doubts had vanished from his heart, as if he’d switched gears in his mind. 

He’d employed a method of self-suggestion that had been imprinted onto him during his training in the PLA’s special forces. At that moment, Liu had made himself into a precision instrument existing solely for the sake of achieving a singular goal. 

“We’re up against a single target. His strength is currently unknown. He could be a spy sent by some country or the Church. Liu Daijin orders that we test his capabilities and ascertain his affiliation.” 

One of the silhouettes following him raised a hand. 

“Do you have a question?” Zheng asked him. 

“Assuming the target is skilled, do we prioritize capturing them? Or...?” 

Zheng regarded the question with a satisfied nod. As thorough as they were, they couldn’t be confident of their success. Especially given how little they knew of their target. This sort of situation was prone to unexpected developments. 

And this raised the question of how they were supposed to react to an unexpected situation. The fact that question had been brought up was proof that the people gathered here took this mission seriously. 

“In a worst-case scenario where the target proves too much to handle, Liu Daijin has given us permission to dispose of them. Still, no matter how skilled he is, he is only one man. And given our strength and numbers, the odds of us failing to capture him are slim.” 

A vicious smile then crept onto Zheng’s lips. 

“Of course, assuming your everyday work hasn’t tired you out...” 

The other silhouettes shrugged and smiled bitterly. Perhaps it was wry laughter towards this challenge at their cultivated skills, or perhaps a chilly reaction to their superior’s attempt at humor. Whichever it was, the oppressive air that accompanied Zheng’s briefing had been lifted somewhat. 

The people gathered here were operatives working in Lentencia, namely those who were most specialized in fighting. This didn’t mean they were adventures or mercenaries, however. Only three of the ten people gathered here had honed their martial skills through adventurer and mercenary work. The other seven worked in professions that, at least outwardly, had nothing to do with such violence. 

A butcher, a baker, a messenger, a pub’s waiter... Even a beggar, oddly enough. All of their professions were far removed from violence and conflict. But these four were all powerful enough to be considered level four fighters by the guild’s standards, which meant they were first-class warriors. With their prowess, they could go to any country on the continent and be granted a posting within the very heart of that country. 

And every person Zheng had gathered here was that strong. 

Even if they were somewhat fatigued, as Zheng jokingly proposed, the chances of them failing this mission were exceedingly low. 

“You’ve nothing to worry about, Zheng,” one of the silhouettes replied. “We will not fail an order given to us by Liu Daijin. In fact, I’ve got business to attend to tomorrow, so I’d rather we wrap this up quickly...” 

The other nine chuckled sardonically. 

“I’ll take that into account and inform Liu of this. I’m sure he’ll be willing to add a little extra to your compensation.” 

“Heheh, that’s kind of you. Running the bakery has become a little hard recently,” the silhouette said unapologetically. 

Zheng nodded back lightly. 

Good, good... They’re appropriately tense for the situation, but sufficiently composed. Wonderful. 

If they were too stressed before a job like this, there was the chance it would make them freeze in place when it mattered. So while he couldn’t let them completely let go of the tension this situation necessitated, he couldn’t let them be too nervous, either. 

A thread with too much tension placed on it will eventually break. 


Some time later, a man approached the building’s gates from the main street. Judging by his hairstyle and outfit, he likely managed one of the businesses in this pleasure district. He had the neat, tidy appearance typical of a man whose business revolved around the pleasures of the night. 

“Mister Zheng, the customer you mentioned is on the move. We’ve got someone from the store tailing him.” 

Apparently, this was one of the Organization’s members. 

“I see...” Zheng said composedly. “Let us begin, then. You’re all aware of the plan, yes?” 

The silhouettes nodded and disappeared into the dark night, one after another. 

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