In the Intis embassy of the City of Generosity, Bayam.
Helene sat in front of a dresser, looking at her beautiful yet somewhat frail reflection. She sat there in a daze for several minutes.
Her escape from the Black Death had been filled with anticipation and torment She was afraid that any tiny mishap would cause her to be discovered by pirates or adventurers, causing her to be caught by Vice Admiral Ailment Tracy once again and making her lose all her freedom. She would then never be able to return to her hometown and return to the life she originally enjoyed.
Only when she used the meager connections left by her family did she manage to hide inside her country's embassy and obtain a ticket to leave the sea, providing her a little relief.
However, this still wasn't enough to make her feel at ease. She believed that everything would only be truly over when she stepped onto the Northern Continent
With this in mind, Helene couldn't help but raise her right hand and touch her cheeks which weren't considered fair but was sufficiently healthy. She realized that her exquisiteness had improved significantly since her time as a sea merchant. She felt like time had reversed, making her mistake herself as returning to her days as a young lady.
In fact, after entering the Intis embassy, she had an additional choice other than escaping the sea—cooperate with the Church of Storms, Loen's military, or the embassy. By using herself as bait, they could capture Vice Admiral Ailment Tracy.
But after considerable thought, she finally gave up on this plan. She even begged her family elder who was an officer in the embassy to keep the information of her hiding in there from others.
Regardless, she ultimately didn't cause me any actual harm. Many a time, she indulged and satisfied me... Apart from every night... every night... But that's only on the surface... Amid her recollections, Helene quickly blushed red.
Those intoxicating nights, the fiery passion from having limbs intertwined with each other, and the unimaginable pleasure flashed past her mind, leaving her unable to compose herself.
Helene slowly took a deep breath before exhaling.
She shook her head and made her pining for freedom, her homeland, and her family occupy her heart again.
She once again looked at her reflection and coiled up her drooping red hair.
Then, she thickened her eyebrows with makeup and darkened the contours, making her facial features sharper and pronounced
After this round of make up, Helene looked more androgynous, with a maculine air to her.
Finally, she took off her clothes and used a cloth to flatten her chest She then wore a white shirt, a black vest, men's trousers, and a double-breasted frock coat
Finally, she took a silk hat and wore it on her head, hiding the coiled red hair inside.
At this moment, her reflection appeared more like a handsome young man than a lady. Her emerald-like eyes specifically seemed to suit her getup, giving her an alluring level of profundity.
Helene patiently waited until someone knocked on her door.
She picked up her luggage and walked out the door. She followed the good friend of her senior family member all the way to the side door in the embassy's garden.
A carriage was there waiting for her. It was to send her to the harbor where she would board a liner and head for the Loen Kingdom’s Pritz Harbor. There, she would make a detour to return to Intis.
Helene had anti-tracking Beyonder powers. She carefully observed the surroundings, including the carriage driver.
A thin and virile local. Doesn't like wearing hats. His looks are identical to the one I met before. He looks a little nervous, but that's normal... After Helene did her final checks, she thanked her family senior's friend, carried her luggage, and boarded the carriage.
As the wheels started to roll, she pursed her lips and looked out the window, watching one Intis parasol tree after another being quickly left behind.
This gave her an inexplicable feeling as though she was back in Trier.
It was a huge city filled with sunshine, located in the region of the Ryan River and Srenzo River. It was a radiant and enchanting scene with all sorts of roses. It was a place with bustling arts and humanities, a sacred land for artists, musicians, and novelists.
That was Iritis's capital. After Emperor Roselle rebuilt it, it was in the true sense of the word, a world-class metropolis. It was also Helene's hometown. She grew up there and often cried when she saw it in her dreams.
After an unknown period of time, Helene suddenly felt something was amiss. The surrounding streets were turning more deserted and remote.
As a sea merchant, although she spent most of her time in the Fog Sea and wasn't too familiar with Bayam in the Sonia Sea, being a Sequence 9 Hunter made her sufficiently alert.
"Is this route correct?" Helene moved from her seat and carefully asked the carriage driver.
She was prepared to jump off the carriage and produce a fireball at any moment
The carriage driver didn't look back as he continued looking forward. He said with a sycophant smile, "Honorable Lady, this route is closer, and it's not that easy to get into jams.
"As you know, Bayam was built years ago. Back then, there weren't that many people or carriages. Many streets are narrow. Around noon and in the evening, it's very easy to encounter jams. Walking would be even faster than taking a carriage."
Is that so? Helene thought about it and believed his explanation. This was because she had encountered such situations in several cities.
Trier is still the best. When Emperor Roselle reformed the old city districts, he had the foresight to widen the roads. There's sufficient space even today... Helene had this thought flash through her mind when she heard the horse pulling the carriage neigh, seemingly in pain.
"Wait a moment It seems to have stepped on something." The carriage driver stopped the carriage to the side and jumped off.
Helene originally didn't think much of it, but sweeping the area with the corner of her eye, she realized that they were in an uninhabited quiet alley.
Her heartstrings tightened as she didn't hesitate to attempt breaking through the carriage walls and escape.
Regardless of whether it was an overreaction or not, she believed that it was necessary.
At that moment, an intense horror surged out from the bottom of her heart. It felt like she had been locked onto by an extremely hungry monster.
The pressure she felt at a spiritual level left her hesitant She didn't dare to rashly take action.
Following that, she heard a deep voice.
"I won't harm you.
"I have some questions for you."
Helene's mind raced as she quickly considered the options placed before her.
Ultimately, she didn't rashly escape. She sat back in her spot under the tremendously terrifying pressure.
She planned on assessing the situation first before adjusting her plans.
The door to the carriage opened, and the thin and virile local carriage driver walked in. He sat opposite Helene, and he was none other than Faceless Klein.
In order to act as the carriage driver, he had specifically practiced how to drive a horse and carriage. This was a technique he had failed to properly learn while he was on the Tingen City's Nighthawks squad. Due to the little amount of time he had, he didn't master it sufficiently and could only use Creeping Hunger's aura to successfully make the horse obedient.
At the same time, Danitz, who was hidden nearby, quickly ran over and took the carriage driver's seat and began driving the carriage.
His round felt hat was pressed low, and he was dressed like a real carriage driver.
Helene bent her back in a guarded manner, like a leopard who was ready to pounce at anytime.
She felt that the gaze of the man opposite her was sweeping through her forehead, her eyebrows, her eyes, nose, mouth, neck, chest, waist, and legs. It left her extremely uneasy.
She had encountered such gazes and methods of sizing her up back in Intis, in Trier, and during the days when she was out at sea. It was something that disgusting perverts filled with sexual desires possessed.
But this time, she strangely didn't feel insulted. She didn't have the feeling that the man would rip off her clothes or was fantasizing about something abnormal.
Instead, he looks like he's studying food... He's like a icy-cold snake that's slithering across my skin... Helene finally couldn't bear it as she asked, "What questions do you have?"
After fully grasping her looks and features, Klein leaned forward and placed his arms on his thighs in a natural manner. He slightly clasped his palms and said, "Have you heard of a person named Jimmy Necker?"
Helene took a few seconds to recall before firmly shaking her head.
She slightly frowned and asked in a daze, "Have you gotten the wrong person?"
"He's a tycoon, someone who likes to collect things. Have you heard of such a person from Tracy?" Klein asked again.
Tracy... Helene sighed secretly and replied seriously, "No. She never mentioned a tycoon who likes collecting."
Klein looked at the red-haired lady's eyes and said with an unhurried tone, "Then, does her room have any ancient documents regarding the Southern Continent's Balam Empire?"
"No. She's not someone who enjoys reading documents. She hates reading. She even gets me to read novels to her." With that said, Helene revealed a bitter smile.
"What novels does she read?" Klein asked without a change in tone.
"Those classics by Roselle, as well as any contemporary romance stories," Helene answered frankly.
"Does she have a collector's room?"
"Yes, but apart from her and a few mysterious visitors, no one is allowed entry, including me," Helene said as she recalled.
Klein fell silent for a few seconds as he maintained an unchanging posture.
"Tell me your story."
"Mine?" Helene pointed at herself in surprise.
Klein nodded gently without repeating himself.
Helene said after momentarily being dazed, "My story is very simple.
"My father is a member of the former Sauron royal family of Intis. He received quite a bit of wealth, but he lost himself to alcohol, mistresses, marijuana, and gambling, causing him to eventually go bankrupt
"In order to repay the debts, I chose to accept some conditions raised by the family and became a Beyonder. I then went out to sea to become a sea merchant"