The Regressed Son of a Duke is an Assassin chapter 178

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The Regressed Son of a Duke is an Assassin

Chapter 178: The Black-Haired Demon (3)

Name: Schultz.

He had no surname and knew neither the faces of his parents as an orphan who has roamed through various cities since childhood, picking up an assortment of jobs.

At the age of seventeen, he caught the eye of a retired knight-turned-mercenary of the Ushif Empire and joined a mercenary guild known as ‘Red Horse’.

Possessing unnoticed talent, he was quickly taught fencing and specialized skills necessary for mercenary activity by his comrades, drawing much attention and being called a promising recruit.

However, just two years after joining the mercenary guild, Schultz left.

Dismissing his companions’ queries, he simply stated he no longer wished to do such dangerous work.

His rationale was reasonable.

Given that the rewards of mercenary missions were higher with increased danger, he had witnessed far too many colleagues meet their deaths, enduring countless brushes with his own mortality.

Indeed, the real reason for his departure was that he felt uncomfortable with the dirty deeds often necessary to earn money, which inflicted upon him a lingering guilt.

While his peers ridiculed this as a pointless sentiment, Schultz was profoundly influenced by such ignoble feelings.

Eventually, Schultz crossed into the Garam Kingdom upon hearing of laborer recruitment at the Vito mines.

He used the alias ‘Sion’ when crossing into the kingdom.

About seven years ago, he had been a cigarette peddler in the neutral city of Lambert’s red-light district when a boy caused a stir by single-handedly overturning the continent’s most notorious criminal city. Oddly enough, despite many witnesses, none could remember his face; what remained was just the name ‘Sion.’

Schultz, feeling admiration for someone of a similar age, had since continued using this alias.

Mining turned out to be less taxing than anticipated, and the pay was comparably good.

Thinking that a few years’ work here would amass a modest fund sufficient to avoid starvation, Schultz presumed most laborers arrived with such goals.

However, the atmosphere at the mines was peculiar.

Conversations about when someone would steal mana crystals and escape were frequent, alongside stories claiming several already had, now living in riches elsewhere.

Such occurrences perplexed Schultz: capture meant immediate forfeiture of laborer status and enslavement to the mine’s slaves.

He couldn’t understand why people went crazy over mere shiny stones imbued with a bit of mana.

Former slaves, now confined to separate work zones, were inaccessible for him to inquire further.

“Shall I just check it out myself?”

Perhaps infected by the workplace’s complacency, Schultz yielded to a nagging curiosity.

Yet, by bad luck, he was caught by the lord.

The lord likely harbored a grudge from when Schultz intervened against the daytime beating of a laborer.

Faced with potential enslavement, Schultz was resigned to a head-on confrontation.

There were powerful individuals in this wide world, and the lord was no mere bumbling pig in size – he was akin to a demon in a pig’s skin.

His strength had roots far beyond sheer muscle; the enlightenment came with a grim lesson.

Quickly battered and nearly dead, Schultz faced a meaningless demise.

Had he anticipated such an end, he would have continued the life of a mercenary.

Regrets notwithstanding, he prepared to meet death gracefully—until the black-haired demon appeared.

“What were you doing on the dawn of that day?”

“Got up early, as usual, and proceeded with my morning exercise.”

“There should be several witnesses, so my alibi is solid.”

The investigator, scrutinizing Schultz’s records, could hardly hide a look of dissatisfaction.

“All right, we might summon you again later, so please wait in your quarters for now.”

Nodding, Schultz promptly stood and left the room.

The investigation seemed troublesome.

Understandable, given the sole survivor – Schultz himself – currently maintained silence.

With no honorable actions to report, why voluntarily come forward?

He had erased all traces with his signature darkness magic, so discovery seemed unlikely,

unless that black-haired demon spoke out.

With ongoing investigations, a temporary halt to the mining activities was decreed, effectively putting laborers under enforced respite.

While the enforced break felt more like confinement, it didn’t appear to be ending anytime soon.

As Schultz lay in bed, thoughts of the demon haunted him.

Although termed a demon, the figure seemed human-like and had even healed and saved Schultz from death – practically an angelic being to him.

Considering the context, it seemed the man had appeared with an intent to kill Lord Vince from the onset.

But why?

Did he bear a particular grudge against the lord?

And why save the one witness – Schultz – willing to speak of it?

With questions begetting questions, sleep eluded him.

“Enough!”

Eventually, he rose and headed out into the night – his destination, the mine.

The late hour did not deter the congregation of individuals investigating the site.

Standing out would only provoke unwarranted suspicion.

Realizing perpetrators often return to the scene felt out of place,

especially since he was the only one spared in that incident.

Returning would entail only the risk of eliminating the potential complication he presented…

“Suddenly!”

Sometimes, with no sign or evidence, a thought strikes with certainty.

A sense of foreboding washed over him as he walked the deserted, mist-enshrouded streets of the night.

Recently, he had passed a hooded man – the man who now, like a struck pickaxe, drove a profound realization into Schultz’s mind.

‘It’s that man!’

Schultz turned rapidly, only to find the empty street devoid of any figure.

How could someone vanish in mere moments?

Despite racing thoughts, the mine’s status remained unchanged.

There was neither sign of the man nor indication of his arrival,

despite waiting in the forest for nearly two hours…

“Yawn.”

The overpowering sense of futility compelled him to consider returning to rest.

But as he turned, unexpected paralysis took hold.

-Swiss

A chilling fog encircled him.

At its heart, only ten paces ahead, sat the black-haired man on a rotting tree stump, looking at Schultz with an intense gaze.

When had he arrived, unnoticed?

Absorbed in the mine, he’d neglected his surroundings – but how had he missed even the slightest sound?

Was this being truly a demon and not a man?

Frozen amidst fear and doubt, the demon rose.

Schultz realized the foolishness of once considering the man an angel.

Years as a mercenary hadn’t gone to waste.

Surely one wouldn’t seek out eye contact without reason?

Look at those red eyes suffused with killing intent – an unmistakable messenger of death.

Curiosity can indeed attract calamity – despite being spared, he should’ve remained still as a mouse.

Now his newfound lifeline was at risk of being cut.

Amidst this realization, Schultz thought of a final strategy.

“Bam!”

He fell to the ground, his forehead to the dirt.

“I have been searching for you, noble sir!!!”

The approaching man halted abruptly.

“I have said nothing about you to anyone! For reasons unknown, you showed me mercy, and I now seek you out in gratitude! Please, take me under your wing!”

Sweat from his head forming puddles on the ground,

“……”

Despite receiving no response or even the sound of a footstep, Schultz was too petrified to lift his gaze.

After an indeterminate wait, possibly longer than his vigil at the mine, he was greeted only by the relentless march of insects upon his drenched limbs.

Fearing that the black-haired demon might simply leave him to desiccate, Schultz finally glanced upward.

“……?”

Nothing.

No one was there.

A frantic sweep of his surroundings yielded only the silent, desolate forest – devoid of life.

“What is this?”

In his perplexed state, he wondered if it had all been a midsummer night’s dream, lingering bewildered in place.

* * *

“Sion!”

He’d normally awaken at the faintest call, but today, even vigorous shaking barely roused him.

“What is it?”

“The investigators wish to see you again!”

Schultz’s heart plummeted.

“Do you know why?”

“How should I know? It seems someone from Garam Magic Society has come to look into this event, and they wish to reexamine certain things, isn’t that so?”

Garam Magic Society?

People were sent from Garam Magic Society for this case?

Struggling to shake off his stupor, Schultz felt overwhelming confusion.

“And why are you sweating so much? You never sweat, even while working.”

“Ah, well! I must go!”

Hurriedly, Schultz left the room towards the lord’s quarters, knocking on the door.

No response.

“I am Sion, an Vito mine laborer. May I enter?”

“Come in.”

A girl’s indifferent voice beckoned from within.

Upon entering, Schultz halted mid-sentence.

Despite anticipating a female based on the voice, the sight of a real girl caught him off guard.

With a sky-blue ponytail, she was disarmingly cute.

Her dark eyes, chillingly stern…

“Nice to meet you, Mr. Sion. Please, have a seat.”

Dumbfounded, Schultz complied.

“Is Sion your real name?”

She asked suddenly, her gaze on his record rather than him.

“An alias.”

“I suspected as much,” she said to his surprise.

“I’ve reviewed the miners’ records. Your magic attribute is darkness, right?”

“…!”

Schultz responded calmly amidst the panic.

“Does that relate to this case?”

“Of course. To both the case and why I’m here…”

His frown deepened with confusion as,

“Lunev, may I come in?”

(To be continued)

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