Chapter 49

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“You seem familiar with who I am,” said Joshua, unconcerned.

“You’re the most talked-about person in the Empire. If I didn’t know that much, I’d be out of a job.”

That was both good and bad in equal measure. A lot of planning had gone into keeping his arrival secret: his small company was divided into smaller groups before they arrived at Arcadia, and Joshua was prepared to act as a member of Viscount Frederick’s family if anyone asked. Yet, despite his best efforts, this man already knew his identity.

From a client’s perspective, it’s a warm welcome. It implies that they’re credible. But, on the other hand, that information could be sold at any time.

It’s almost certain that someone else knows my whereabouts.

Joshua shook his head. He didn’t want this to happen, but it was inevitable—he just couldn’t control all the information on his own.

“I think I know what you’re thinking.” A comfortable smile danced on the man’s normally harsh features. “Let me tell you one thing… At this point, the only people who know your true identity are me and a few of my subordinates. Incidentally, no one has yet to approach us for information about the Young Master.”

“Can you just tell me that? It seems like valuable information.” Joshua laughed. “I can’t even pay right now because I’m a powerless punk.”

“You came without money?”

“Is that a problem?”

“It’s a real pity…” The man scratched his head. “I’m not sure the guy in front of me is really a nine-year-old kid. It feels like you’re an old man who’s seen it all, yet…”

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” said Joshua.

“Well, as I said before, I won’t take any money—it’s a token of appreciation for our first meeting.”

“I appreciate it.”

“...I had no intention of even presenting myself, at first—but I suppose I should, for the Young Master.” The man stood up from his seat. “My name is Jero, branch manager of the Moon Gate in Arcadia. It is an honor to meet the future of the Empire.”

“You’re going to admit you’re the branch manager just like that?”

“The branch managers are an open secret.” Jero shrugged. “It’s not publicly available information, but it’s not that much of a secret.”

“And… keeping it a secret hasn’t helped me obtain information, so it doesn’t seem like a business loss from my point of view.”

Jero sat back down and rubbed his chin.

“That was a long introduction. So, let’s get down to business—May I inquire as to why you approached our organization in this manner?”

“Before we discuss my objective, I’d like to ask you a question. Would it be fair to say that this room means you’re only allowed to pass information up to level 3?”

“That was correct at the time, however…” Jero looked deeply into Joshua’s eyes. “I will supply you with the highest level of information permissible, up to level 1 information.”

“..Why are you giving me so much information on my first time?”

“The same as previously.” Jero shrugged. “It’s a long term investment. It would be a shame to let you walk away when your genius will soon leave its mark on the Empire—or even the continent at large.”

Joshua’s eyes narrowed as he listened to Jero. It might be a gamble, but there were no such things as unpaid favors. If he supplied first-rate information, his demands would be monumental to match. All information handled by the Moon Gate was renowned both for its exceptional quality and its outlandish price.

But that doesn’t imply I need to reveal my weaknesses right away.

“With a pseudonym like ‘Jero’, I would have thought I could obtain at least Earth-level information. It seems like that’s not the case, however.”

“... You’ve impressed me once again.” Jero’s face stiffened. “How in the world did you know that?” He was starting to think one of his personnel was a mole. Otherwise, an outsider wouldn’t know so much about the organization’s internal affairs.

“You supply the customers information, no questions asked—wasn’t that the Moon Gate’s iron rule?”

Jero grimaced and bowed his head.

“...I apologize for my mistake. Tell me what information you need.”

Joshua chuckled.

“I’m looking for something.”

“An object? What might—?”

“It’s an heirloom from the family of Count Orbis, who were wiped out ten years ago. I want to know who owns the item now.”

“The Orbis family…” Jero worked his jaw while he thought. “It’s not difficult. Most of the Orbis family’s property landed in the black market. If we focus there…”

Joshua knew it wouldn’t be as simple as it appeared. The confidentiality and security of the black market are its primary appeal, such that the public is completely unaware it exists at all. Jero could only be so nonchalant because he worked for the Moon Gate.

“Do you think it’ll take a long time?”

“A week is plenty.”

“Good.” Joshua’s grin widened.

“Do you require any other information?”

Joshua hesitated; his next inquiry was extremely sensitive—sensitive enough to provoke a reaction from Duke Agnus.

The Moon Gate appears to be a multinational intelligence agency with no national roots on the surface. I’m not saying anything right now, but… Joshua squeezed his eyes shut and grumbled to himself. … there’s no such thing as a well-kept secret.

If what I know reaches someone’s ears, it could cause a lot of problems. Joshua unconsciously drummed his fingers against the table. It would be good to start by just observing to not draw suspicion. I’ll just say I know nothing if anyone presses me.

If his plan worked, he could get two birds with one stone.

“May the moon bless whoever discovers the red coin buried in the Raulf River—”

“Hey, what—How did you know?”

“You don’t ask customers for personal information—”

“This is completely different! Only a few people in our company know that myth! What is your real identity!?”

“Whoever seeks the Moon Gate will find it, am I right? Well, not for an outsider like me. But it is what you’re looking for right now?

Joshua raised three fingers.

“Three years. Three years, and I’ll find it. There are, of course, conditions.”

“...Are you certain?”

“Didn’t you say I was a long-term investment?” Joshua smiled. “Believe me or not, I will find it.”

Jero pondered for a brief moment before slowly opening his mouth.

“...To be honest, the successor’s competition finished a year ago. It’s an item that no longer needs finding.”

I thought the succession battle would be drawing to a close around this time, but I didn’t expect it to already be over. Maybe it was only natural—the new leader of the Moon Gate possesses such incredible talents, after all.

“...But. That mark is a symbolic object that our organization has sought for decades. Perhaps ‘he’ is eager to find it too.” Jero’s eyes glittered. “Let’s start with your conditions, then we can judge the value of the investment.”

“Great. My conditions are simple: from now on, you will never disclose the information I’m about to ask for to anyone. That’s my condition.”

“Our organization never sells customer information—” Jero clapped his mouth shut when Joshua shot him a baleful stare. “You don’t think I’m telling the truth?”

“I don’t trust anyone.”

“But why?”

“Aren’t you doing this as an investment? I’d like to make an investment as well.”

“... I’ve worked for the organization for decades, but I’ve never met anyone like the Young Master.” Jero shook his head helplessly. “So, what is your request?”

“Draxia Bell Grace.”

“Draxia Bell Grace—!” Jero leapt up from his seat, staring at Joshua with wide, terrified eyes. “Draxia Bell Grace, the War God!”

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