We soon moved to a different place.
There were no other people in that garden, but just in case, we headed towards a place that was less likely for people to go to.
The topic of our conversation needed to be kept of utmost secrecy, so we had to be extra careful.
We eventually arrived at the trail behind the lateral mansion.
It’s the same path that led to the clearing where Cassion regularly trained.
The tops of our heads were being shined down upon by the blazing sun.
However, as we entered the trail, the shadows blocked the sun.
A gentle breeze, blowing in from an unknown place, tickled the leaves.
That wind brushed past one, twice, three times through the trees and birds, gradually becoming stronger.
Until the point where the breeze gave off a cool, refreshing feeling as it finally reached us.
The wind sounded like the ocean’s waves.
With the sound of the wind accompanying us like a friend, we walked silently side by side, saying nothing at all until the entrance of the forest was far out of sight.
“Do you think he’s been provoked properly just as planned”
Cassion nodded, then replied.
Though he still seemed displeased.
“But rather than that, I should have been the one who did it.”
His voice, too, still held a semblance of hostility.
Without a word, I just stared at him for a moment, then soon answered as I shrugged.
“Don’t you think that might have been less effective though A guy like that would shake greedily when a gold bar is being dangled right in front of his eyes, you know.
If you’re the one who came forward, then you would have provoked only his anger, not his greed.”
I said nothing but the truth.
Whether or not he really had something to say back, Cassion stayed silent.
Our plan was to rouse David’s greed and make him more determined to ‘do whatever trick there was to beat Cassion’.
So consequently, for the sake of a landslide victory, David would be sure to pull out whatever underhanded, nasty tricks he had up his sleeve.
‘I heard that he has a penchant for drugging his opponents’ food.’
At any rate, it was cunning.
Just as much as his physique was large, so too was his shamelessness.
We’re going to take full advantage of his cowardly methods.
The name of the game was, ‘Falling for my own scheme’.
The inevitable conclusion was that he would be humiliated, would lose the match and we’d also catch him at his weakest.
Was there a plan more perfect than this
Cassion remained silent for some time, thinking hard.
Once again, the breeze passed by amidst the silence.
As the green foliage shone beneath the sun’s rays, the fluttering of the leaves made the shadows beneath them dance beautifully.
Eventually, the man’s closed lips opened once more.
“But I hate that you have to be looked at like that just because of me.”
Ta-dak, ta-dak. The sound of his footsteps was even.
Focusing on listening to those footsteps, I asked back.
“Because of you”
“Isn’t it because of me that David was singled out as my opponent”
“No It’s because I got angry when he trash talked like that yesterday Your opponent got selected in any case, so just give it your best shot.”
As I denied his guess, I chuckled lightheartedly, as though amused by a misstep.
At the same time, I glanced towards Cassion’s side profile.
Covered by the shadows, the man was motionless.
A short question and a short answer had been exchanged.
Cassion nodded slowly.
Then, one, two, three steps.
He strode forward in the same cadence as the sound of the passing breeze.
I thought that you were trying to remove that label on me.”
To keep me from being mocked and looked down on.
Now, even the added whisper had a hint of laughter.
Though it didn’t sound like genuine delight.
The footsteps stopped.
Cassion had walked past me.
One step, two steps, three steps.
Just three steps.
Slowly, the man stopped there, three steps away from me.
His back was wide.
Perhaps wider compared to when we first met.
Beneath the shadows, the hair that was supposed to be the shade of the dark blue evening sky, now looked completely black.
His hair also was cut short before he entered the mansion, but now it was a little longer.
The breeze from who-knows-where blew once more, as gentle as a wildflower.
The man with dark hair slowly turned around.
And our eyes met.
“What, then am I really wrong”
The question was repeated.
I could hear no laughter in his voice this time, but there was a smile on his lips.
I stared at him for a moment before I nodded.
How paradoxical, maybe, but what spilled through my lips was what’s truly wrong.
Truthfully, he was right about what he said.
I explained my plan to the three people yesterday.
Although I didn’t elaborate on why I selected David as Cassion’s opponent.
Roughly speaking, it’s like an act of retribution against him for what he said at the training hall.
Diana and Logan seemed to believe this.
However, that wasn’t my true reason.
Regardless of whether he swore at me behind my back, I didn’t care about getting even with him about that.
I’m not such a petty person to do that.
In the first place, this body wasn’t mine and I’m not really the one he’s talking ** about.
Even if more guys like him appeared in a truck and swore at me, it would be nothing but the background noise of dogs barking in my perspective.
I did somehow get ticked off when he mentioned something about being a ‘criminal’s daughter’.
Indeed, the reason why I chose David as Cassion’s opponent was, as Cassion said, to quell the negative public opinion about him being my escort knight.
To be honest, since it’s true that Cassion entered the mansion and was about to get a high position through nepotism, it’s only natural that he’d be received negatively to some extent.
The key words here were ‘to some extent’.
As of this moment, he’s already being called ‘street rat’, but it’s not like he’s being cursed at and harassed to the point that his human rights were being violated.
But if I don’t nip it in the bud from the very beginning, everyone would look down at Cassion as being nothing more than a ‘street rat’ for as long as he’s living as Maxwell.
‘I can’t stand it.’
Even though Cassion didn’t seem to care about this, while he’s living here…
At the very least, I want him to have a better life as Maxwell.
Not as a helpless man who’s surrounded by enemies, but to live with a little peace of mind.
Of course, technically speaking, Cassion was still currently surrounded by enemies.
But, well, let’s set that aside for a moment.
Then, what’s the best method to remove that ‘street rat’ label on him
What’s the best way to rehabilitate the negative image of a parachute employee
Honestly, what’s happened, happened.
The fact that he entered this place through a route filled with more fortune than everyone else—this would not change.
That’s what could still be changed was other people’s opinion by demonstrating just how capable he actually was.
For example, to show results.
‘If I just picked a knight who’s been in the knight order for less than two years, as Damian had suggested, it would definitely be a piece of cake for Cassion to win.’
But that would be all.
It’s not such a feat to triumph over an easy opponent.
People would just say, ‘Well, who couldn’t’
They would look down on Cassion’s efforts and skills regardless and continue undermining him somehow.
The leader of all the harassment.
The situation would be different if Cassion were to win over the person who’s holding the most power right now.
It wouldn’t be coincidence, neither would it be luck.
A close fight would be shown, and then once he beats the one on top…
‘It’s only a matter of time until the others’ opinions will change.’
Because, when faced with real talent, people will finally shut their mouths.
That’s why David was chosen.
He was at the center of the people against Cassion, and at the same time, he was the knight who’s ranked at the top in terms of skill.
Besides that, it would be easy to catch his weak points because all this time, he has only been using ‘underhanded tricks’.
As long as there was a need to say ‘just in case’, shouldn’t all insurance be prepared beforehand
Just like with Diana.
Anyhow, the requirements had been met in many ways here.
I didn’t feel the need to explain all this to the others, so I just used the excuse of seeking vengeance for the trash talking that David did.
Perhaps it’s not because ‘I don’t feel the need’ to do it.
‘It’s just, because Cassion shouldn’t be looked down on.’
I don’t want the truth to be found out, is all.
But in any case, he noticed.
He knew what’s going on.
What a strange guy, Cassion was.
He looked like he’s a bit dense, but at the same time seemed to be a pure person who would hold out his heart on his sleeve.
Sometimes, that innocent face would just strike me so sharply.
It’s really all too strange.
And also frightening.
He kept seeing through me, kept being so aware of me.
At the end of the day, I’m even afraid he might notice that I’m a different person beneath this shell.
Being found out to be a fake by someone who’s close to me would only be troublesome to me.
‘Katie was about to die back then, so it didn’t matter, but here…’
Cassion cannot die.
I lifted the corners of my lips.
A perfect arc.
Because I had been wearing only the shell of other people for a while now, this mask was familiar.
So, don’t look inside any more than this.
One, two, three steps.
I walked forward and stood next to Cassion.
Like lamps, his black eyes followed my movements.
“It’s good that you’re quick-witted, but don’t try to read into things too much.”
Hearing what I said, Cassion’s expression grew blank.
His voice was full of questions, but all I did was walk past him.
* * *
Leaving behind the subdued atmosphere of that moment, we walked side by side again and continued our earlier conversation.
“Does it bother you that you’re going to have a match with David Just in case, there’s also the second best—but you know, just as what he’s called, he’s just the second best.”
As though the air around them had never grown somber, their conversation felt the same as the usual.
“I have to go against him.
Of course I will.”
And when Cassion answered, it seemed like there was a glint in his eyes.
This was a satisfactory response.
Even if he was faced with a more skillful opponent, it wouldn’t be good to tuck one’s tail before trying.
Even if you lose, don’t worry.
If the situation doesn’t permit you winning, then we can just switch over to Plan B.
But you know, you’re going to win anyway.”
“Well, frankly speaking, I think you can win at the level you’re at now.”
“You believe in me”
The question seemed to just want me to repeat what I’ve said.
As if he just wanted to hear me say, ‘Yes.’
Raising one eyebrow slightly, I nodded.
I believe in you.”
It was a firm answer.
After hearing this confirmation, the look in the man’s eyes relaxed.
With his eyes now curved, he looked very happy with this.
Pushing down the urge to smile as well, I spoke instead.
“If you have to, you can use magic too, just don’t get caught.
No one should know that you’re a mage, so do it secretly.”
I was being serious, but I heard a sigh from him beside me.
“Are you talking about that from last time The 〈 Practical Magic Spells to Use During an Actual Fight That No One Would Notice 〉”
“Yep, that one.
Did you practice”
Even as I waited, there was no answer.
A stiff expression and a blank gaze.
His reaction was enough of an answer for me, and this time, I couldn’t hold back my laughter.