“Is this really New Port City?”
The image of New Port City Myurena had was one of violence, corruption and filth befitting its infamy, but what stood in front of her seemed no different from any other urban district in the Empire. The street stretching out in front of her was clean and furnished with artists and musicians performing their craft and exhibiting their skills to the bypassers. People enjoyed meals and tea in the restaurants and merchants laid their goods in the streets as they attracted customers.
Most of the pedestrians were women, and they all had elves following behind them like a butler chasing after their master.
Myurena also wished to talk and eat with a handsome elf like the others, but could only look at others with envy since she had no clue as to where she was supposed to apply for the service. After looking through some of the shops, Myurena decided to enter a restaurant to ease her aching legs and appease her growling stomach.
Myurena finished her meal and washed it off with a cup of tea. But she felt alone. Everyone who sat around her were couples, radiating in happiness as they seemed to be in their own little world. Myurena’s interest was quickly dropping. She began to consider leaving New Port City after this tea, when suddenly a push on her shoulder made her spill the tea she was holding.
Myurena let out a scream and quickly stood up to look behind her. An elf could be seen standing behind her, his face showing a faint smile. He took out a handkerchief from his pocket and handed it to Myurena.
“I apologise. It seems I’ve made a mistake.”
“Sigh, no it’s fine. Be more careful next time.”
In all honesty, Myurena’s temper was urging her to make a scene. But her rational mind decided that being angry against an elf over such trivial thing wasn’t worth the time and decided to accept his kindness and wiped at her pants.
“My name is Miller.”
“Huh? Okay. I am Myurena of Rogenic Family.”
“Hahaha. This must be my lucky day, to feast my eyes on such a beautiful woman.”
Myurena paused on drying her pants after listening to Miller’s words. His voice was off-tone and awkward. She wasn’t sure what he was trying. The elves were famous for being oddballs, and she has a hint of suspicion that he knocked her shoulder to make a move on her. But this suspicion was let go quickly. There was no way he could attract anyone with that awkward act.
Myurena tried to give back the handkerchief after wiping off most of the tea, but Miller interrupted her with a wink.
“Dear me, I guess this is it for today. I’ll see you later, pretty lady.”
Myurena stood dumbfounded by Miller’s words, and he quickly turned around to make a run. Shouts could be heard from afar, chasing after Miller with their harsh, coarse voices.
“Found him! Over there!”
A mob of thugs could be seen chasing after Miller ferociously. Soon after, Miller was surrounded by them and began to fight through the mob using swift and elegant moves as expected of an elf. Civilians tried to run away from the scene as best they can while shops and tables were destroyed left and right as the fight continued on.
What was strange was that the people around Myurena weren’t running away from the scene; instead, they were cheering like this was a fighting match. As if inspired by the cheers from the crowd, Miller, who knocked down the four thugs on their backs, kicked off the walls to stand on top of the building’s roof.
“Get down here right now!”
While the thugs shouted out in outrage, Miller maintained his composure as he looked to Myurena. When their eyes met, he smiled gave a small wave before quickly disappearing. Meanwhile, Myurena was confused by everything that was happening. She couldn’t understand the differing reactions she was seeing. On one side were the merchants and shop owners who crawled on the floor, scared by the mob of thugs, while around her stood pedestrians who seemed to enjoy what was happening.
‘Huh? What’s going on?’
One of the thugs quickly approached Myurena who was still confused at this sudden turn of events.
“Oi! You! You were with him before!”
“What were you speaking with him? Are you with him?”
“What was that?!”
Myurena’s temper was a feisty one, one that wouldn’t lose to anyone else in a fight. One glare from Myurena and the thug flinched, his threatening attitude vanished. It was instead replaced with urgency as he seemed unsure of what to do next, and Myurena fell deeper into confusion.
Why did the thug falter after a single glare when he was the one who started to threaten her?
What was even more confusing was the conversation they had with each other.
“C-captain, she’s a guest. Calm down.”
“I, I know.”
“If the guest sends a complaint, it’s us who gets the stick from the Lord’s Representative.”
“That’s why I’m holding back now. H-Hey, you! Ahem, consider yourself lucky! And don’t even think about seeing that man from before. It won’t end pretty if you get mixed up again. Remember this!”
So many things seemed wrong with this threat. His unnatural posture and awkward tone didn’t match his forbidding face. But even as he delivered this threat, his voice was trailing off and became a whimper by the end of it, and throughout the whole thing, he was slowing inching away from Myurena. This didn’t seem like a threat no matter how she saw it.
“Sigh… What is all this?”
Myurena felt a wave of overwhelming regret in coming to New Port City. She immediately turned to leave New Port City, but the sight of the broken shops and the shopkeepers who cried in misery stopped her from moving on. What also infuriated her was how the women and elves laughed at the situation from the side. They could have at least given a look of pity or charity to them, yet they were enjoying this situation to the fullest.
Myurena thought that even if she was going to leave now, she should most definitely complain so that this would never happen again. She called out the waiter to pay for her meal and began to walk toward the City Hall.
As Myurena disappeared out of everyone’s view, the cries from the shopkeepers began to quiet and then stop.
“Is she gone?”
“I think so?”
“Shh! Keep going until we get the order!”
“Cut! End of Act 1! Hurry up and move! Clean up the streets! All actors participating in Act 2 are to move to their designated place!”
Someone shouted aloud among the crowd, and everyone from the shopkeepers to the thugs who caused the scene quickly cleaned up the mess they made, while the onlookers applauded and cheered them on.
“Bravo! That was excellent acting!”
“Hohoho. The villains still seems awkward but the shopkeepers seemed so realistic.”
“Hehehe. Thank you.”
The women threw coins at them and flattered them with praise, and the shopkeepers and thugs showed their gratitude as they cleaned up the mess along with the coins littering the streets.
“Man, I know this is an order but what are we doing?”
“Who cares? As long as it pays well.”
“I just feel sorry that we get paid for something like this.”
“Hehe. Maybe we should become professionals.”
Myurena entered the City Hall with the aim of turning it upside down, but she couldn’t even manage to see Isaac. Instead, she was seen by one of the employees from the Civil Affairs Division. Myurena had no idea as to why a graduate from the Campus was working as just an employee of Civil Affairs, but she couldn’t unleash her temper against someone who could be her sister or brother-in-law’s acquaintance. She politely and calmly gave her complaint to the employee.
The employee’s name was Trentor, and he apologised with a bow. The act seemed polite with a hint of awkwardness, but Myurena glossed over the fact thinking that it must be awkward for him to work in Civil Affairs Division after graduating from the Campus.
Myurena was about to leave after finishing her business, but Trentor gave away tickets to enjoy buffet and concerts performed by famous singers from Gabelin for free as an act of apology, which changed Myurena’s mind.
She had gone to make a complaint, yet she was given free meals, tickets to concerts, discounts and souvenirs. It would be extremely rude for her to leave without at least using some of the gifts given to her. She thought it was their desperation to keep the customers in which forced him to do so, so she decided to stay the night in New Port City and booked a room run by Rivolden Merchant Guild. The hotel replied that they have received word from the City Hall and gave her a room spanning an entire floor, addingto on Myurena’s feelings of guilt.
Baronesses were indeed higher-class citizens in the grand scheme of things, but they were the lowest of the low when considering the pyramid of aristocracy. The Rogenic Family was especially so with its short history and weak foundation. It was a title that was received by her grandfather, who was a rare case as someone who received a noble title without graduating from the Campus.
So although she lived a life of plenty, she never lived a life of luxury because of her family situation. And for the first time, Myurena witnessed what a luxurious room truly meant.
Myurena desperately tried to act calm out of her pride, thinking that she couldn’t possibly make a fool of herself here and now. But the moment hotel employee left after moving all of her baggage, Myurena looked to see if anyone was around before throwing herself onto the bed with a squeal.
This room alone was enough to convince Myurena that the trip was worth it. Even the room her sister stayed in for her honeymoon wasn’t at this level. Myurena was impressed by the room back then too, but compared to this room, it was nothing. She couldn’t stop herself from laughing at the thought of bragging to all of her friends that she got to stay in this extravagant, astronomically expensive room.
‘I bet they’ll be deathly jealous. Ronette will have sleepless nights after hearing this.’
Myurena chuckled to herself as she imagined her friends’ reactions of envy. She remained there on the bed, sinking deeper into its soft and comforting mattress. Just when she was about to fall asleep, she heard a loud bang and the door to her room was breached as a group of men rushed into the room.
“Kyaa! W, what is this!”
Myurena screamed and looked at the uninvited guests. Six or so men wore their black hoods over their heads, and the woman who seemed to be the leader stood at the front. For a group of people who barged into the room so confidently, they were oddly hesitant and looked to each other for a moment.
“Oh, hohoho. D, did you think you can trick us?”
“I, if you hand over the goods, w, we will let you go. I, I mean, we’ll let you live.”
Myurena was at a loss for words. Them invading into her room was one thing, but she could clearly see that woman whose face was bright red and stiff was repeating a line that was whispered to her by the group of men standing beside her.
At that moment, the window of her room shattered and Miller, who escaped before, entered the scene.
There was an awkward stare between Myurena and the woman. The woman screamed even before Myurena could react to the noise.
Embarrassed, the woman quivered with her bright red face. Only when the man behind her nudged her on the side with a whisper did the woman regain her calm and began to speak at Miller.
“Blue Wind of New Port! I, I knew you’d come!”
“Red Rose of New Port! I, I have already revealed all of your schemes!”
“A-as expected of the Blue Wind! T-to see through our scheme! B-but if we destroy the evidence, I, it’ll be our victory!”
Myurena’s head turned each time the invaders and the elf exchanged dialogue. The scene held so little tension and the actors were so pitiful in their skills. A play performed by the most amateurish of actors would have held more interest to Myurena. When she began to think why she had to suffer through this, her temper began to surface.
“What is it that you want with me?!”
The outburst from Myurena made everyone in the room flinch in fear. They all looked at her for a moment, and then turned back to each other.
“I’ve already hid the evidence.”
“T, that woman probably holds the evidence!”
“Hey! Are you listening to me?”
“Huk! How did you know?”
“Oh, ohoh! It’s a trivial matter with our information network!”
“Make haste and leave at this moment, pretty lady; I will stop them from chasing you with my life. You must hold on to the handkerchief I’ve given you no matter what.”
“What is this bullshit?!”
“D-do you think I’ll let you! G-get them!”
Myurena’s outbursts went to deaf ears, and the group ignored her completely as they talked to their own. Now they clashed at each other, but even with her untrained eyes she could see that it was poorly choreographed. The men jumped backward even before the punch landed and they continued to let out grunts as they acted, performing this awkward scene to their fullest.
Myurena reached the point that even being mad at this situation was too much of an effort, and decided to watch how it will end with folded arms. Miller approached her, gasping for air despite the fact that not a single drop of sweat was on his face. He seemed to make an expression of anger as best he could.
“Kuu! As expected, it isn’t easy. We must run.”
“H, hng! There is no place to run! Just surrender quietly!”
Miller rolled out from the group of men at the end of the woman’s words.
Myurena could feel her head throbbing when she saw the group of men make a path for Miller to roll through then let out words of praises such as ‘he’s fast!’ and ‘Amaizing’.
“Let us escape first, lady.”
“Where do you think you’re touching?!”
When Miller approached Myurena to grab onto her waist, she shouted out in irritation and swung her fist at his face. Everyone was surprised by the sudden turn of events. Miller grabbed onto his face as he made grunts of pain while the woman screamed.
“Kyaa! Why would you hit him!”
“Ouch! That must’ve hurt.”
“Is she really a noble lady? How could she resort to violence like that?”
Miller grabbed his face as he moaned in pain, while the woman pranced around constantly mumbling ‘what do we do, what do we do’ to herself. The men behind the woman whispered to each other, speaking ill of Myurena. Watching it all, Myurena felt she didn’t deserve such treatment while at the same time felt a sense of guilt.
“T-that’s why I’ve been asking what is going on!”
Myurena shouted, and everyone recoiled yet still hesitated to speak. But in the heat of the moment, the woman flinched and then pointed to the broken window which Miller entered from and spoke.
“T-they got away! Hurry, we must go after them!”
“Damn! Let’s go!”
With a war cry, some of them escaped through the window while others left out the door they originally entered from. The group left the room like a storm and only Myurena and Miller were left in the desolate room.
“Ugh! How dare they ignore me like this.”
Watching Myurena grind her teeth in anger, Miller was slowly distancing himself from her while he still clasped his face. But Myurena quickly noticed Miller’s act, and their eyes met.
“If you don’t tell me exactly what this situation is all about, I will be the first noble lady to beat down an elf in history.”
Each and every pop of Myurena’s knuckles was at best, horrifying.
Miller stepped backwards with a stiff smile, but soon he found himself backed into a wall. Realising there was nowhere to run, he looked to see if there was any help, then sighed.
“Well… Alright. I’ll explain to you what has been happening. I am an agent of Centural.”
“I have been sent here to investigate when Centural received word of an evil organisation that has been trying to take over New Port City. I have been collecting intelligence in secret, and wrote down the names of all the bosses and lieutenants on a handkerchief …”
“Are you making a sick joke! Centural? What is that? All you’ve done is add a single letter on Central! What? An evil organisation? Taking over New Port City? What kind of an organisation would want to take over New Port City, which has been thoroughly taken over by criminals already! And why would you write down the names of secret organisation’s leaders on a handkerchief!”
“T, that’s what the script said so…”
“Script? What do you mean a script?”
“D, didn’t you ask for the spy course?”
Myurena could remember in the back of her mind that she did tick one of the courses without putting much thought into it.
“I, it’s just that you came too early and the scenario wasn’t exactly complete…”
“Scenario? What scenario? Was this all just an act?”
“… Seriously? Then even the fight in the street was all an act?”
“What kind stupid situation is this!”
Myurena’s cry of frustration shook the hotel.
“The spy course reported that it has failed.”
“I’d be amazed if it didn’t, considering all of the actors have never watched a play in their entire lives. How about the other guests?”
“It is unexpectedly popular. Some have told us that they would like to experience other courses, while others wished to experience a scenario which is written by them.”
“Go and see if you can hire famous playwrights and authors for the job. Everyone dreams of becoming the protagonist. It’ll sell well.”
Cordnell nodded with complicated feelings inside him.
“I didn’t think such method would really work.”
“Someone said this before. Women are beings that feed on dreams.”
“But even if there is a rise in the number female guests, it’ll still be difficult to expect an increase in the profit of our casinos. Most women tend not to gamble in the first place.”
Isaac clicked his tongue at Cordnell, disappointed by his words.
“If women enter New Port City freely without any issues, men will also have no problems in visiting us too. Then the women can spend their time shopping and participating in the plays, while the men spend their time gambling. It’s a win-win situation for both of them.”
“I’m sorry to say this, but there aren’t enough amenities in the city for all the women to enjoy their time here.”
“What do you mean there aren’t enough of them? All we have to do is make them. What do women like the most to spend their time with?”
“What, you don’t know? You don’t have a girlfriend, do you?”
Cordnell felt both sad and angry as he retorted back to Isaac’s pitying eyes.
“… But you don’t have one either.”
“Do you think there’s a woman out there that would like to have a relationship with someone whose future is uncertain at best and could die at any time?”
“Contact the Seven Grand Merchant Guilds and tell them to set up shop in New Port City. All of the goods sold by the Seven Grand Merchant Guilds will be sold in this place. All you need to do is place enough shops in this building so that it’d take an entire day to even visit every shop in the building.”
“But we already have that in Port City.”
“Even better. Tell them to pack up and move over to New Port City.”
“Tsk! Why do you even call yourself a merchant when you only look for safe ways to earn profit? All of the Ceta District is owned by me. If I succeed, all of the properties and land in Ceta District will rise in value with me. I’m giving it to you while it’s cheap. I won’t give any discounts later even if you cry at my feet.”
“D, did you buy all that land with that already in mind?”
“When real estate makes a hit, it’s always a home run.”
Myurena felt cheated. There were a lot more visitors to New Port City than she had expected. Most were women, and they enjoyed their time as they went on dates with the handsome elves.
But unlike them, Myurena had to suffer through that mind boggling situation because she didn’t apply for Escort service and replied to the letter without much thought. Leaving behind Miller who was sulking that he wouldn’t be getting paid because of the failure, Myurena went to watch the famous band from Gabelin to ease her empty mind. From there, she saw more women who were victims of similar situation.
They exchanged the experiences they had with each other, and Myurena found out that this childish attempt of a play was unexpectedly popular. She was also impressed by Isaac, who came up with the idea to use the entire city as a stage to be sold to the public.
Myurena headed to the Sky Bridge to leave New Port City.
“Hm, I’ll make sure to do it properly next time.”
She spoke those words as she turned to look at New Port City for the last time, when suddenly…
She felt a sharp blow at the back of her head.
“What do you mean next time! I told you time and time again not to associate yourself with New Port City!”
In an attempt to avoid Eliza’s burning gaze, Myurena hid behind Philip’s back, pleading for his help with tears in her eyes. Philip made an awkward smile at the difficult situation he was put in.
“Where do you think you’re hiding! You’ll get your punishment when we get back home!”
Eliza could only do so much despite her anger, as doing any more may tarnish her reputation. They were in the eyes of the public, and she couldn’t show herself punishing her sister in the open. She resorted to only glaring at Myurena for now while Myurena dropped her shoulders and followed behind them like a criminal being led to prison. But even at this moment, she couldn’t help but look back at New Port City quietly.
She had acquired some sense in business, and according to her own calculations, there could be significant profit to be made if she were to open a shop in New Port City, selling specialties from her own province. And if she became the manager of the shop, she would have the perfect excuse to visit New Port City every month and enjoy that strange play, that time as part of the audience.
“Hurry up this instance!”
“Hiing, I’m going.”
Myurena tried to act as pitiful as possible to make sure her devious scheme isn’t found out. It seems as though she will need to lay low for some time.