Home Post 1369-chapter-35



* * *


The breath of spring was gently melting the earth, and the fresh, vibrant wind infused vigor into every corner. The streets were bustling with people in their lightened attire. And in an alleyway, tucked away in a corner of the bustling downtown, a certain transaction was taking place in stark contrast to the lively and sunlit street.


Robert, who was used to taking money out of his pocket, looked up at his counterpart with a hint of discontent.

“Alright. That’s the exact amount.”

“You’re a daylight robber.”

Despite the reproachful mumbling, Oren, after confirming the amount, curled up one corner of his lips as if satisfied and pocketed the money.

“50 Percs per person. How come you say it was a good deal before?”

Three years ago, after the kidnapping incident, a pact was made between the two people.

Oren, acting as their guardian, would help them escape the mansion, and in return, they would pay him fifty Percs per head.

At the time, the children felt it was a good deal since they didn’t have to worry about getting caught by the butler or the maids while sneaking out, and they could avoid the maids’ annoying interference. Above all, they didn’t have to risk expanding the hole little by little as they grew bigger.

However, as the years went by, Robert began to feel that something was amiss.

“I heard a new restaurant makes really good barbecue.”

To borrow Oren’s expression, it felt like he was paying for his master’s drinking and meat expenses while he ‘sacrificed himself for his disciples and put up with all the trouble.’ Robert glared at his master, who was smacking his lips excessively for someone who was supposedly troubled.

“You’re spending the money that little kids worked hard to earn.…”

“It was my money to begin with.”

“We split it into three equal parts, didn’t we?”

Technically, it was the reward money from the Armanty family vault that Robert gave to Oren, and then the three of them, including Michael, split it. However, Robert, who had never considered the Armanty fortune as his own, didn’t see the need to dwell on that.

He was overjoyed to have his own personal fortune that was beyond his father’s reach, but as he watched the balance dwindle as it gradually flowed into Oren’s pocket, he began to feel increasingly sullen.

After three years of paying tribute regularly, the balance had noticeably decreased. Still, he couldn’t find any words to counter Oren’s nagging.

“Acting all high and mighty like a prince.”


If he were to inherit the title in the future, the entire Armanty fortune would be tied to Robert’s name.

It meant that he would rise as one of the five wealthiest men in the empire. Nevertheless, he, who had never received his parents’ love, didn’t feel like the Armanty successor position was his. He knew it in his head, but he couldn’t feel it.

It was understandable.

The only time he breathed the air of the Imperial capital was when he was a newborn baby with no memory of it, and most of his memories were of this rural Souvri.

“If Michael were here, the money would’ve lasted a bit longer.”

At that moment, Oren casually dropped a remark. He was teasing Robert, wanting to see him flare up. Since Izeline, who didn’t have a penny to her name, always had either Robert or Michael pay her share, the two boys would always fight over who would pay for her.

“There’s no need for that. You prefer it when I pay, don’t you, Izeline?”

“Yes, yes.”

She nodded her head half-heartedly as if she had given up.

Whenever Michael asked the same question, she would always give the same answer. Even when both boys asked her at the same time, her answer was the same. It was the result of being tormented by the same question for three years.

Then, the two boys would fight, insisting, ‘You should let me pay!’ and eventually pressure her to choose one of them. Looking at their eyes burning with jealousy, there was only one answer she could give.

“I like both of you.”

Oren mumbled, missing their childish and ridiculous fight.

“It’s quiet without Michael.”

“You seem to miss him.”

“Of course I do. My beloved disciple is far away.”


He just wanted to watch them bicker like idiots.

Oren, who used to enjoy watching Izeline caught in the middle of the two boys, sighed like he had lost all joy in life. However, as soon as Izeline glared at him, he regained his usual playful demeanor and feigned defeat, shuffling his feet.

“I think I should just leave. See you later, my disciples.”

After a quick glance over the rooftop, he escaped from the dark alley and blended into the crowd. As they watched their master’s back disappear, Izeline and Robert looked at each other as if they had made a promise.

And at that moment…

Perhaps because they were left alone, Robert was slightly taken aback as he felt a strange sense of foreignness in the eyes that met his.

Compared to her innocence and purity, he felt as if he had been stained with darkness. That was why he kept remembering the moment when she had been bathing, even though he had tried to push it to the back of his mind.

As he blinked his eyelids quickly out of embarrassment, a face he had never seen before overlapped with her young one.

The face of a young lady who would grow up to be beautiful one day.

He turned his head forward, his cheeks slightly flushed. Then, as usual, he held her hand tightly. It had become a habit to hold her hand to protect her from bumping into things when they were younger, even though she was now tall enough not to bump into the legs of adults.

“Where should we go today?”

“Let’s just look around for now.”

Izeline replied, glancing at their clasped hands. Although it was a familiar touch, it felt somehow unfamiliar.

When was it?

She wondered when he had grown up so much. As their clasped hands swayed as they walked, Robert thought as he walked through the crowd.

‘Even if Izeline is a little bit taller, I’m stronger.’

It was only natural that he wanted to cherish her as she grew into a young lady. That was why the strange feeling he had felt while bathing must have been the desire to protect her as a friend, whether it was something about her as a young lady or anything else.

Robert felt much better after defining it that way.


* * *


The first time she visited a shopping district was when she was four years old.

There were no other commercial districts near Souvri, so Izeline had been playing in the same place for three years. It felt like just yesterday that she had been absent-mindedly bumping into the legs of giant-like adults, but now she was familiar with every little alleyway.

That didn’t mean she was getting tired of the streets.

Whenever she felt bored, a new store would open. Whenever that happened, Izeline, Robert, and Michael would have fun visiting the new store.

“This is the first time a bookstore has opened.”

Izeline looked up at the sign in wonder.

The wooden sign, which seemed to have been moved from another location or was simply the old sign that had been used before, looked so old that it seemed like it could fall over at any moment. If you weren’t a native of Souvri, you wouldn’t even notice that it was a newly opened store.

“It’s called the Hidden Path Bookstore.”

“The owner must be a real bookworm.”

Izeline looked at Robert as she savored the name of the bookstore, which was somewhere between rustic and quaint. He was also turning his head to look at her.

‘Should we go in?’

‘Should we?’

After exchanging a silent conversation with their eyes, the two of them looked back at the entrance of the bookstore.

Robert took the lead and opened the door.


The old wooden door made a loud noise as if the hinges hadn’t been changed when it was moved. Despite being newly opened, the two of them cautiously stepped inside, feeling a bit sorry for the fact that no one had come to visit.

The musty smell of paper stung their noses.

“Wow. This is amazing.”

Izeline whispered softly as she looked around. The ceiling-high bookshelves and the books placed inside them created an old-fashioned atmosphere. Perhaps because of that, she felt as if she should lower her voice.

“Don’t you think we should have found this sooner? It looks like it’s a hundred years old…”

Robert also whispered quietly as he ran his fingers over the old books. The bookshelves, the counter, the chairs, and everything else.

Everything in this place was old.

“Look at this.”

Just then, Izeline found a very old book among the bookshelves and quietly pulled it out. It was so old that it was a wonder how it had survived the passage of time.

“I think it’s an antique.”

Since it was the first time she had actually seen a book that was considered a relic, she looked at it with wide eyes, sparkling with curiosity. Robert, on the other hand, looked around the ceiling and the floor with an expression that seemed to say, ‘Is there really a place like this?’

“This isn’t a bookstore. It’s more like an antique shop.”

“Huh? Rob, this is…”

At that moment, Izeline’s eyes widened as she read the title of the book in her hand. Robert’s gaze was also drawn to the place where her finger was pointing, and he looked intrigued.

‘The Purpose of Establishing the Stephil Academy.’

It seemed like it was probably written by the founding principal.