Akugyaku no Black Maria

Chapter 7 – The Melancholy of Shizuru

“Yes! Thank you again sir, you saved us every time!!”

After leaving the headquarters, Shizuru headed for the slum
People making money off lending money with excessive interest to cornered people, the very model of disreputable.

Several of such shady men were simultaneously making a 90 degree bow to Shizuru.

“I’m very sorry again as well, our Cassie is hopeless … I’ve told her again and again to return what she borrowed but still …”

Recently she’s practically had her ears shut pretending not to hear.
It’s already imprinted on everyone who lends money to Casca other than Shizuru that Shizuru will be the one to return them.
An unreasonable queen.

After returning the money without incident, Shizuru walked along the capital’s east ward’s main street.

His purse had gotten rather light.
Have to get some more cash out from the hidden stash in the clinic, Shizuru muttered to himself.

Incidentally, he didn’t leave much money in the slum headquarters.
Because Casca will discover it with her animal intuition that were better than Lady’s and end up using them all.
She wouldn’t listen to anything she’s told, and doing so would only make himself more angry instead, so Shizuru gave up.
Therefore he didn’t leave money in the headquarters.

“Doctor Shizuru, good morning”
“Ah, good morning. Nice weather today, isn’t it”

Several of the people that passed him by greeted him bowing their heads like this.
Shizuru politely greeted each and every one back.

Being a skilled physician that could use healing magic, Shizuru was well known throughout the capital.
In particular, within the east ward which was his operating area, one person out of every three could tell where his clinic was by memory.

After all, medical technology outside healing magic in this world isn’t very advanced at all.
The existence of magic that could heal injuries and illnesses on the spot slowed it down somewhat.

Also, magic users were a rare existence in this world.
The ratio of people who has magical power, the holders, were one in every hundred people.
And then they were divided into eight attributes, colors, and of them only white can use healing magic.
Furthermore, there’s nothing that says that every one those white magic holders have to study healing.
One would be very lucky if one gathered a thousand people and could find a healing magic user among them.

For that reason, if Shizuru were to find another job right now, he would have gotten one before the day was over.
He had been sounded by nobles and the like, seeing whether or not he would like to work for them exclusively.
In addition, Shizuru was a magic beast handler who owned the high rank magic beast Lady.
He would be welcomed anywhere other than those areas that have a culture of shunning magic beasts.

And yet, there’s a reason why he stayed even though he really wanted to leave Black Maria.
There are actually several, but one of them was simple and clear.

“… if I quit, they’re going to chase me down and have me hanged …”

Black Maria was an organization that based its trade on secrecy.
Of course, since they needed to get customers to sell their services to, they do put their name up here and there throughout the capital, but anything beyond that won’t be known without thorough investigation.
If anyone carelessly mentioned that they wanted to leave, they would need to be erased for the sake of information security.

“There’s none of our targets that are still alive no matter how noble or rich they were … where can I go if I ran away”

To begin with, Shizuru almost never left the capital ever since Richelieu picked him up seven years ago.
He only left the capital to visit nearby satellite towns several times, a real city boy.
He didn’t have any connections outside the city, and he wasn’t familiar with the land, either.
So in the end, he had no chance of leaving Black Maria.

Another day, another thought about leaving. It was still far in the future, and without even a decent plan, he sighed.
While he was deep in thought, Shizuru arrived in front of his destination, the clinic.

He took out a key from the inside pocket of his suit and pushed it inside the keyhole.
— then he noticed something strange.

“Hm … ?”

He didn’t feel the lock coming open.
The door wasn’t locked.

Shizuru thought, did he somehow forget to lock?
The security in this world was bad. Even in the shining capital, there were criminals like thieves, robbers, kidnappers, and rapists all over the place.
He would never have forgotten to lock the door even if he were half asleep.

“Uuugh … please not a thief …”

Shizuru weakly grumbled, then opened the front door.
There was a bell at the door, but if one knew the trick one can enter without ringing it.
He also used good hinges on the doors, too, so they didn’t creak.

Shizuru gently laid down his bag and took out the knife from its side.
He put his hand down on the floor and held his breath for several seconds.

“… one person. The bathroom”

Even if half unwilling, he wasn’t an assassin for seven years for nothing.
He could figure out the number of people in a simple one floor building like this and where they were from the vibrations they make.
It was a skill Shizuru didn’t want to have, but it’s his principle to use what he had.

“Fuh …”

He exhaled and erased his presence.
Unlike the battle experts Casca, Lady, and Richelieu, Shizuru did not have great fighting abilities, but he made up for it with tricks.
Due to the fact that he’s a doctor, he could stop the sound of his heartbeats whenever he wanted, and even temporarily appear dead.

Without making any sound, he went straight through the hallway to the bathroom.
The house wasn’t big to begin with, so he quickly arrived.

“(Why do I have to even use the knife outside of a job …)”

Shizuru hadn’t sharpened his knife since he used it last night, but it was already sharper than an ordinary knife.
He had grown used to the knife, it was already a part of his own body. Shizuru gripped it, he pushed the bathroom door open and snuck inside.

— he saw a human shape.
He continued onwards, aiming the point of his blade at the back of their neck.

But right at the same time, something took up half of Shizuru’s field of view.
The muzzle of a gun. The business end of a gun painted matte black and obviously well maintained at just a glance.

Both Shizuru’s knife and the other person’s gun were pointed at one another.
And because of that, both people stopped in their tracks, giving them both a chance to see the other’s face.

Then he noticed.

“Ah …”

The other person was a young woman.
To be more precise, a young woman he knew well.

She had a well-groomed face, only to be ruined by her severely stagnant eyes.
She was wearing black lace underwear, and had a toothbrush in her mouth.
Her long blue hair was wet, she had likely just came out of the bath. Droplets of water fell making a twink sound.

Shizuru observed for some time, blinking several times.
He then muttered the name of the woman holding the single shot rifle.

“… Ludmila?”

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