Kyrisis was a large city.
Considering how big the Royal Palace was, it wasn’t surprising for the capital city to be proportionally bigger.
Therefore, trying to find Kyrie in this city was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Thankfully, Calian knew what Kyrie was up to around this time, but it was difficult to pinpoint the location.
On top of that, Calian needed something that couldn’t be bought in just any old store.
That’s why he had come up with this insane plan of buying what he needed as well as some information about Kyris from the Secretian spies.
The spies were much more than simply sellers of information. They were real swordsmen who were thoroughly trained to spy on the affairs of a foreign land. That’s how dangerous this place was.
Moreover, Calian’s appearance was very easily recognisable, even just by people who were passing by. If these spies ever took a glimpse of his crimson eyes, the situation would blow up out of his control.
That’s why this whole thing was insane.
“I’ll take you to where the birdfeed is,” said White Eagle – the owner of the shop and the guardian of the spies’ foothold. Since he had confirmed that Calian was not an enemy, he didn’t show any further malice or murderous intent.
‘I guess I still have my days to live.’ Even while thinking so, Calian did not lower his guard.
He followed White Eagle to the back of the shop while trying to stay out of the range of the man’s possible attack.
The spies didn’t know each other’s identities. The number and identities of the spies were never disclosed as a safety measure for when one got caught spying. That way, the other spies wouldn’t be involved in a chain of arrests. For the same reason, the spies never showed each other their faces.
On top of that, the Secretian spies during this time were selected without discrimination of age and gender. Therefore, it wasn’t strange for there to be a spy who was as young as Calian.
Calian placed all his trust on such circumstances and had succeeded in making White Eagle believe that he was a young, newly dispatched spy from Secretia.
“Just give me a second,” said White Eagle.
Calian was surrounded by stacks of miscellaneous junk: empty birdcages, feeders, perches of various shapes, and cleaning supplies, just to name a few.
Even in thick clouds of dust, White Eagle avoided everything with ease. Then, he pulled a wooden stick that was leaned diagonally against the wall, blending into its surroundings.
When Calian heard something that sounded like a metal chain being wound, the whole room started rotating slowly. After a string of soft rumbles and sharp creaks, the room connected to the storehouse of a different property. White Eagle opened the storehouse door that led to a small backyard. They crossed the yard and entered the house.
Calian followed White Eagle past the living room and headed upstairs. After passing another secret passage, they finally reached a large study.
A big table was placed in the middle of the room, and the walls were lined with bookshelves and racks.
“Take a seat,” said White Eagle as he offered Calian a cup of water.
Since Calian was already being severely harmed by the things that he drank, he placed the cup on the table without taking a sip.
White Eagle grumbled,
“That’s right. I used to offer tea, but nobody would drink. It was such a waste to throw out all those expensive tea leaves, so I’m just offering water now. But since nobody drinks the water, either, I could just stop offering at all.”
Calian didn’t seem to be the only one refusing drinks. White Eagle must have been annoyed about his efforts always going to waste.
“I was told not to eat or drink any old thing that is offered to me,” replied Calian, smiling a little. It was Alan who had told him that.
White Eagle nodded.
“I mean, you’re not wrong. You seem like a newbie. We’ll be seeing each other from time to time, so I’ll introduce myself. I go by White Eagle.”
Although Calian already knew his code name, he nodded without letting it show. He had already come up with a name for himself before coming here, and had made sure that nobody in Secretia used it.
When Calian had first met Rumein, he couldn’t help but feel like a swan. Since Calian was different inside than what seemed on the outside, there was no nickname more suitable.
“Yes, it’s nice to meet you. So, what kind of bird feed are you looking for?”
The headquarters sold basic information and items needed for various incidents that one might encounter while acting as a spy. They were the ‘bird feed’.
Calian glanced at the bookshelf, and then at the wall rack.
“One information, one item.”
White Eagle opened his hand.
“Five florens for the information, and three florens for the item. You gotta pay upfront.”
Calian found it strange that White Eagle told him the price before even asking what information and item he wanted. Since the shop was run solely at the freedom of White Eagle, its policies were not reported to Secretia.
“It’s fixed price,” added White Eagle, noticing Calian’s confusion.
Calian wondered if he would be able to get a gold bar for three florens if he asked. Of course, he didn’t actually ask the man about it. He wasn’t about to be treated like an idiot.
Instead, Calian took out 8 gold coins from his pouch and handed them to White Eagle. It was more costly than he had expected, but it couldn’t be helped.
White Eagle took the coins and dragged his chair forward.
“So, go ahead and tell me.”
Calian explained his needs. White Eagle silently stood up and scurried around the room. Soon, he sat back down across Calian with a map and a small object wrapped in paper in his hands.
“First, there’s your item.” White Eagle pushed the small object towards Calian. Then, he handed him the map.
“And here’s your information.”
It was a detailed map of Kyrisis. There was a single dot marking a location.
“So it only exists in Kyrisis?” asked Calian.
White Eagle nodded and jabbed his fists in the air.
“Fighters tend to gather where there are lots of people. This is the only place that’s big enough to have all the features that you described to me.”
In other words, there was a very low chance that Kyrie was in someplace other than Kyrisis,. Calian was even more certain now that the boy that he had seen on the way to the showground was indeed Kyrie.
“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.
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.
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, it was Old Calian’s memories that have him the answer.
Calian had a lot to say, but didn’t bother. He handed over Raven’s reins to the attendant and entered the pub.
The pub wasn’t very different from those in Secretia. The place was filled with the mildew 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,
“Of course, 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.
Original Translation: Wordexcerpt
Edited By: Tani Andris
To explain why Calian chose Swan to those who might not understand, it’s because above the water a swan looks like it’s gliding elegantly without too much effort but in reality it’s kicking it’s feet furiously under the water to swim. Basically it’s outward appearance doesn’t match what’s actually happening.