Hunt 20: Misconception
The faculty room is located in the left wing of the Administration Building’s second floor. During weekends some professors are staying behind to finish some more work. The first weekend is a good time to get some work done early so that it would not become a problem later. They check and organize their record, have an early evaluation of their student especially the ones in their advisory class, and then think of a method that could help their learning environment better. Though most of the times, the professors only wants to tell stories about their students, either to get advice from each other or to simply relieve stress.
“Jhalil,” one professor calls. He has long black slightly curly hair tied in a pony-tail and a pair of dark brown eyes. “I heard you are having a problem that’s somewhat like mine.” He says While Jhalil turns to him with a blank stare.
“No,” Jhalil makes a short nonchalant reply. “Your problem is far worse than mine, Arthur.”
“Two students of yours keep skipping class on their first week.” Arthur gestures. “I only have one problem child. She hasn’t come attend a single class this week, always calling in sick.” He pulls the sleeve of his white polo under his dark blue sweater fixing its folds.
“Your problem is that you are handling a blue-zone second year class.” Jhalil answers. “You are absolutely powerless in front of the whims of those little shits.”
“You shouldn’t talk like that, professor.” A female colleague who is sitting close by interrupts. She is wearing a moss green waist length, short-sleeved blouse with band collar and side front closing underneath paired with dark green pants. “You sound like you are sick of your work here.”
“Maybe I am.” He answers without much of a thought. “I’ve been getting a lot of weird ones lately. It seems that Class 1-D is doing well, Miss Zhu.”
She brushes her left sided bangs clearing her line of sight. She pauses recalling how her class is like before fixing her black curly hair in a ponytail. “So far, they are good.”
“How nice for your first year, Xaio.” Another guy says. He is laying his head on his table looking so bored. He has a weird taste of hair style for his brown hair. A tattoo of a snake, a magatama, and a crown is peeking from his right shoulder. “Look, one of my students misspelled her name again in this short seatwork I gave them a while ago.”
“Was it not your decision to teach in the red-zone?” Professor Zhu replies indifferently.
“It’s been a while since we last meet but you are still so cold.” He responds while burying his face on the desk.
Arthur chuckles. “Isaw, you are four years her senior, why are you acting like you’re the newbie.” He walks closer to tap the weird professor’s back. “Let me see.” He takes a peek at the computer screen. “Saintregor. Ah--…”
“Last time she also spelled it with double ‘r’ at the end.” Isaw adds. “Also she got zero on all of her exams. Arthur, what should I do?”
“Uhmm… Even I have not been in a situation as hopeless as yours.” He scratches his head. “Professor Cla--”
“Give up.” Jhalil answers instantly.
“Meanie,” Isaw pouts.
“Hearing you all talk about this reminds me of my old days.” A bearded old man joins in the conversation. He rubs his slightly bald head covered with greyish hair. He is wearing a white polo under a navy blue sports jacket. “Little Claws, even if you say that, we all know how much you love teaching. Two of our professors are here right now because of your guidance.”
“Stop calling me like that,” Jhalil mutters while burying himself back to work.
The old bearded man then pats Isaw’s back. “Young Crownheit,” he continues. “Work hard. The future of these children is in your hands.”
“Thank you, sir.” Isaw responds with a soft smile.
“Where is that other new prof we got this year,” he looks around the faculty room. “The other girl with spectacles; she’s teaching language, if I remember correctly.” He rubs his moustache while recalling. “That youngster gets easily spooked since she’s one of the few ubliss in our faculty. I thought I’d give her a bit of my wisdom after her first week.”
“Sir, she left earlier.” Professor Zhu answers. “She looked extremely tired.”
“Really?” Arthur says enthusiastically. “I’ve seen her talking to one of her students quite often; I thought she was having a good start. She’s handling the blue-zone third years, it looked to me that she is well liked.”
“How about we gather all of the professors for a good drink tomorrow?” The bearded old man says in a laidback fashion. “It’s a good way of getting to know each other. New school year, new colleagues, a rare opportunity to have a welcome party for the newbies.”
“It’s not something you should suggest during weekdays, sir.” Arthur chuckles.
Meanwhile, in the bench area close to the field, Azalea spends her time scanning through an old and ragged journal. She finds it relaxing to loiter in open places. Most students go to the library or back into their rooms, while a number goes to the field for some recreational purposes. Some select groups are already starting to participate and prepare for club activities. Other students who spend their time outside are the sporty type which makes them busy doing their own thing paying no mind to those who are not in their circle.
Suddenly, a number of students come closer to Azalea. She feels no hostility from them so she assumes that they will simply pass-by. However, as they draw closer, her assumption proves to be off the mark.
“Hey,” a blue-zone student suddenly sits beside her. “Are you Azalea Blakewood?”
She lifts her head meeting the student’s eyes. Male, junior, not a member of BK. He has black curly hair that is nicely combed. His eyes are dark brown. Behind him are two other students wearing the same uniform. A girl and a boy; both are juniors. The boy stands beside the sitting student while the girl stands on the other side of the bench, close to Azalea. The set-up made their standing quite obvious. Maybe she should just run and avoid confronting them for the time being but they would probably find her again. It is better to deal with them once and be done with it.
Azalea smiles after observing them. “You must have gotten the wrong person. I shall excuse myself.”
“Wait-!!” The lad raises his voice before Azalea can stand. He shows his PDA. “I just scanned your code, you are Azalea Blakewood!”
Azalea rolls her eyes down to the barcode in the left chest part of her uniform and then smiles. “I must have taken the wrong unifo-”
“Can’t you see your profile here?! Why are you making an obvious lie?! Do you take me for an idiot?!”
“You’re not?” She tilts her head slightly. “I’m sorry, how rude of me.”
“Must I beat her up now, sir?” The girl standing beside Azalea asks while glaring at her.
“Stop,” he sighs regaining his composure. “You can’t win against her.”
“You jest, sir. How could I win against a third year, you all are more knowledgeable and experienced than I am.” Azalea replies with a sardonic tone.
The young sir pauses for a moment. He fixes his eyes to the menacing freshman sitting beside him. “Jokes aside,” his deep voice rings breaking the short moment of silence. “Miss Blakewood, the three of us combined isn’t strong. Furthermore, you know full well that our ‘experience’ is nothing compared to yours.”
“Where might this strong impression be coming from?”
“Aesbyl Region, Surus.” The moment those words left his lips, the atmosphere around them turned heavy. “I am Yoonanju Dentu. These are my two aids; Kei Vicis is standing beside you and Kai Vicis who is beside me. Are you willing to listen now?”
“Fine, what do you want?”
“Just as you heard.” Yoonanju relaxes his posture as if he just gained the upper hand. “In that place, in the slums of the city of Arhbur, a new group is starting to gain power. A group of orphans you know well.”
Azalea stays silent while she listening to Yoonanju’s story. She shows no distinct reaction; a blank expression that presents a calm approach.
“When a nameless group of low-lives suddenly rises to power,” he continues. “The top brass never finds it pleasant. Sooner or later, a bigger more influential organization would want to take it over.”
“Okay, I get your point.” Azalea keeps a natural-looking smile. “Whether they want to get absorbed by another organization or not is up to them. Their decision no longer has anything to do with me.”
Yoonanju chuckles. “That’s cold. What a shame.” He lowers his tone. “Let’s stop playing dumb. You know that is not the only case here.”
Kai moves from Yoonanju’s side to show his tablet. The screen is filled with news articles from Aesbyl Region. It shows that a number of those events date back from 4043 AOT.
“Does these look like a bunch of random events to you?” Yoonanju points at the tablet.
Kai taps an article and then a wanted poster pops up. “You angered a family of nobles in that area. Both the elder and younger sons are after you for different reasons, it seems. It is common knowledge that getting in the bad side of a noble is like willingly asking to get your life destroyed, but you messed with two of them.”
“The bounty on your head is only effective in the country of Surus, that’s why as long as you don’t step back in that land again, you’ll be fine.” Yoonanju explains. Then he browses a number of news about the new mine that is being built and developed outside Arhbur City.
"That’s where the problem lies. If ‘something’ suddenly happens to your ‘friends,’ going back to that country to help them is almost like suicide.”
“They are not weak,” Azalea answers with unwavering tone. “They don’t need me to come and solve every problem that arises for them.”
“So you don’t intend to take responsibility after putting them in the center stage?”
“I did no put them anywhere. I merely lend them a helping hand. Wherever they are right now and whatever success they have are something that they themselves worked hard to achieve.”
“Blakewood,” he says with his tone going even lower while wearing an intimidating expression. “You were the one who risked your life to get this kind of result.” He then turns his gaze to his aid. “Kai.”
Kai browses something in the tablet and then shows it to Azalea. “For unknown reasons, you got into Brandon Shilan’s bad side. That caused him to put a bounty on your head. Few weeks after that, you destroyed large plantations of Lemerus Entus which seriously angered Bart Shilan. You earned yourself two different wanted posters from the members of the same family. One wants you alive; the other does not care even if you’re dead.”
“Wow. What an achievement, congratulations.” Kei says sarcastically. “No matter how you look at it these aren’t something a sane person would do. The flower of Lemerus Entus is the main ingredient for a medicine, and its production is the foundation of the region’s economy. Were you that eager to die that you intentionally pissed off not only the nobles but the people as well?”
“My~ Aren’t you three just picking on me?” Azalea responds teasingly.
“I hope so,” Kai replies while opening another article. “Weeks after your terrorist-like actions, you slayed a B-raked demon alone and gave all the reward, both money and the right for the land, to another demon hunter. This demon hunter then took care of a group of orphans, and then they started a mining business in the area. By that time you already left, never stepping back into those lands again.”
“Normally, one would think that everything were just random events.” Yoonanju continued with an expression as if he just achieved the shortest time in solving a difficult puzzle. He looks straight into Azalea’s eyes. “Nobody saw the whole picture.”
Azalea keeps a neutral look. “Why are you making things sound more sinister than it should be?”
“Is she trying to figure out how much we learned?” Yoonanju asks himself.
“Why did you destroy the plantations?” Kei asks with a more serious tone, different from how she sounds a while ago. “Why didn’t you just leave the country the moment the Shilan brothers put a reward on your head? Why did you need to hunt that demon alone?”
A brief suffocating silence follows the set of questions. For a moment the air feels tense. For a second, they got glimpse coldness in her eyes. It’s almost unreal, like it is an illusion made by their imagination due to the sudden heart-stopping silence.
“Why are you asking?” Azalea says wearing her sardonic smile. “I believe you already have a conclusion of your own. Let’s hear it.”
Yoonanju slightly leans forward then lowers the volume of his voice; low enough that only those close to him can hear. “As everyone knows, the country of Surus benefits a lot from the Shilan’s plantations.” He covers his mouth with his right hand and continues. “However, their main business isn’t in the medical field. It’s Fairy Dust.”
Azalea keeps silent. She is only listening.
“It’s a drug that boosts the user’s power above limit, but at the same time brings severe side effects. It damages the user’s mana circuit and it’s highly addictive. It’s an illegal drug that is very popular among assassins and mercenaries.”
“I’m sure, most of the bounty hunters that went after your head were under the its influence.” Kai adds. “Having a wanted poster under that family is like an ‘order’ to all these drug addicts to hunt you down.”
“You were angry, weren’t you?” Kei looks down on Azalea. “You wanted to get back at them.”
“Had you been in my situation, you would understand.” Azalea responds wearing an eerie smile. “Having the desire to burn it all down is normal.”
“And so you did.” Yoonanju replies without removing the cover over his mouth. “You didn’t just leave or run away. You hunted that demon alone but you gave all the reward to one capable man. He took care of the orphans, and you used your connections with the traveling merchants to help them start a mining business.” He pauses to take a deep breath. “This is where it all connects.” His piercing dark brown eyes turns towards Azalea’s direction. “You destroyed their plantations several days earlier, crippling their main source of money and power. You angered the Shilans farther but it’s worth it. Their backers were displeased. Losing both the influence in Aesbyl as well as the trust of their higher ups, their illegal business started to fall apart. After you disappeared, they were so busy fixing their plantations. On the other hand, the new mine is gaining momentum. By the time the Shilan gets back on their feet, the group that holds most influence would have already changed. They lost their main supply, the fairy dust’s price must have increased greatly, crippling the Shilans for a while means that there are less job opportunities for the addicts. They are now unemployed and most likely also suffering from withdrawals. That where that demon hunter friend of your does a good job, handling rehabilitation and giving jobs to those who are capable. Without this help, how could they survive? They have no choice but to adapt to the sudden change while those who cannot, simply destroy themselves.”
“It seems that your random actions brought a ton of bloodshed in the current Aesbyl.” Kai adds.
“Not only are you slowly crushing your main enemy, you also made sure to rid the place of the irredeemable bunch.” Yoonanju states his conclusion with an air of certainty.
“I know that I’m not much of a nice person,” Azalea says before pulling a dumb looking smile.
“But seeing it in a different perspective I’m starting to question myself. Have I always been such a terrible person?”
“Isn’t it obvious that you planned it all?” Kei raises her voice. “Furthermore, you put that mining group in the center while you slip away from more future troubles.”
“Can’t you see the kind of situation you are setting them into? The Shilan would be the least of their problem.” Yoonanju inquires removing his hand away from his mouth. “Now, anyone who wants to get a hold of Aesbyl will want to take that mine’s cover. It’s going to be a tough and dirty fight as long as no powerful and influential clan is backing them up. I am offering you a good deal. Join our clan and I guarantee, no one will touch you or anyone you hold dear.”
“That answer is way too fas-! Think it over some more!!”
“If you want to back them, go talk to Fred. This is something for them to decide on their own.” She reasons with her usual business smile.
“You set them up but now you are going to wash your hand off them?”
“Everything you said,” Azalea switches to a deeper tone. “It’s half true and half exaggerated rumors spiced with your delusions.”
“Then how do you explain all these?”
“Hmm… coincidence?” She answers with inflated enthusiasm. “Not convincing enough? How about divine intervention?”
“Y-you--!!” Yoonanju clenches his fists and grits his teeth. He wants to let loose of his composure and scream but his noble pride does not allow him to. “Do you really not get it? Had you not been there, that time, they would have been dead. Now, if you severe your ties with them, they are going to fall into the same fate.”
Bone-chilling silence follows Yoonanju’s statement. “Is that a threat?” Her empty lifeless eyes and icy voice sent shivers to his spine. For all he knows, this is the look of someone who no longer has anything to lose.
“O-of course n-…” He feels like his heart froze for a moment. His mind has become blank; his awareness is clouded with the sudden surge of fear. The words he is about to say is stuck in his throat as he struggles to regain his composure. “I should be the one who’s holding the advantage here. Why am I the one being intimidated instead?” He takes a deep breath to calm himself. “No, I’m simply telling you facts.”
“I see. How rude of me.” Azalea responds with a smile. However no matter how light-hearted and kind she makes her voice sound, the light in her eyes did not return. The smile she wears to express courtesy, now only gives off a very disturbing vibe. “If you are that concerned about them, then you better negotiate with Fred.”
Yoonanju losing the advantage he thought he has decides announce the obvious. “You know Aesbyl is just a bonus. What we wish to acquire is-”
“Drop it,” she cuts him off mid-sentence. “I don’t want to take part in your organization’s power struggle.”
“Are you really going to leave those kids in the middle of that chaos just because you don’t want to get involve with us?” Kei refutes. “Are you not going to regret it? What if they get in trouble?”
Azalea smiles a cold one but at the same time it feels heavy. “That is not your problem. I shall take my leave now.”
“So, you are going to help them?” Yoonanju asks before Azalea starts to walk away. She only turns a little, enough for her to see him at the corner of her eyes. Before she could give an answer, he throws another troubling question. “What can you do?”
Azalea stands with her back turned away. The air feels heavy; it is suffocating. “I do not know either.” There is certain strength in her words that commands terror.
“She’s insane,” is what all three of them thought.
She then walks away, quick with her steps yet calm in manner. Several meters away, she chanced on another student, a red head.
“Yoh,” Blair greets while matching her pacing. “I was about to pick you up, you are quick to make odd friends.”
“They aren’t my friends,” Azalea answers regaining her usual mask back on. “We just happen to talk about some stuff but it seems that we won’t get along well.”
Blair stares at her for a moment before turning her gaze back in front. “I thought something was weird… So, I was hurrying up in case you needed resback.”
“I am not starting a fight with them as much as possible.” She answers with a forced laugh. “After that short conversation, I am certain they are not the fighting type. Most likely, they work in the intelligence, information gatherers. What makes me curious is that, why are they trying to take the job of the scouts as well.”
“I don’t get what you’re trying to tell me.”
Meanwhile, Yoonanju and his aids can simply watch as Azalea and Blair walk farther away. He thinks deeply as he replays the flow of their conversation in his head. “Now that I think about it, she mixed things up so much; it’s difficult to distinguish the truth from the lies. Making those obvious lies at the beginning means that she is willing to make blatant lies if she can easily get out of the situation. It makes everything she said after questionable. Was there any truth in it or were all of those just bluffs?”
“Good day, it seems that you are quite lost in your thoughts. None of you even noticed me sitting here.” A freshman with black hair with blue highlights, and a peculiar sword by his side suddenly starts talking to them.
Without noticing when, this noble has appeared sitting beside him, the two aids swiftly moves on defensive stance.
“The younger Naoe.” Yoonanju’s calm tone is telling his aids to relax. “Their Shadow Step famous for assassinations. What is he doing here?”
“Don’t be too nervous,” he smiles kindly, but the tense air suggests something else. “I just want to let you know. I am a very jealous man. It bothers me a lot when some fly starts pestering the flower I’m taking care of.”
“Mister Naoe-” Kei is about to refute but is stopped.
“Leave it, Kei.” Yoonanju gulps. “Are you acting under Kirihara’s orders?”
“Are you in any position to question me?”
He taps Yoonanju’s shoulder and then looks directly into his eyes. “Don’t worry. I have been given the freedom to act on my own. By the way, are you going to report to the young lady of the House of Strange?”
“There isn’t a point in reporting something that shows no positive result.” He answers as delves back into his thoughts. “I’m not seeing something. It’s happening behind the scenes. First, the House of Rouge, now the Naoes under the House of Kirihara?”
“Don’t think too much about it.” The younger Naoe’s voice brakes the flow of ideas in Yoonanju’s mind.
“For your sake,” he continues wearing a half smile and cold stare. “You see, when a fly makes too much noise, I’m afraid I might need to swat it.” He then turns away and vanishes.
Watching him silently and peacefully waltz out of the field area, and recalling his resounding final words leaves them with an ominous chilling sensation.
Homeroom Adviser of Class 1-C
Licensed Rune Adventurer
Homeroom Adviser of Class 1-C
Licensed Rune Adventurer
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The Bewitched Demon Hunter
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