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My tightrope act between Charlotte and Bertus seemed to have started for real now. Charlotte actually needed me more at the moment, but I didn’t know what Bertus would do if he found out that I was on Charlotte’s side.

I had no idea how to tackle this issue either. Charlotte would grow stronger with each passing day and she wouldn’t touch me until I found Valier.

So, now to Bertus. How should I deal with him? I decided to come clean, as I would be exposed anyway sooner or later.

I clearly told Charlotte, that I didn’t want to get on Bertus’ bad side as I was part of Class A. I also told her that I was told to watch her to some extent.

Charlotte also didn’t want me to get harmed by Bertus as I still had to find Valier, so she said that I could give him some information on her.

I really turned into a complete opportunist.

In the end, I really became someone weak against the strong. Aren’t I totally like those hyenas from my first life?

“Seems like she’s looking for someone.”

The next day, I talked with Bertus on the terrace of the dormitory.

……In terms of dating simulations, if Ellen’s fixed encounter place was the dining room and the gym, then Bertus’ would be the terrace. Bertus listened to what I had to say and nodded slowly.

He made it seem like this was the first time he heard about that, but Bertus actually already knew this. Therefore, even though it was nothing new to him, I still provided him with information that ordinary students shouldn’t know.

“Hmm…. Did Charlotte tell you herself?”

In the end, I had no other choice but to tell Bertus part of the truth. There was no way that Bertus wouldn’t find out.

“She told me to find him.”

“To you…? Hm…. Ah. Yeah, that would be possible.”

Bertus nodded, perhaps remembering my origins.

“Seems like you already know who she’s looking for?”

Bertus nodded at my question.

“Yeah, I knew that much…. Good. So she hasn’t found him yet.”

Just by hearing that she instructed me to find him, he inferred that Charlotte hadn’t found me yet, so the information wasn’t completely useless to Bertus.

“She probably told you to find him using the Rotary Gang, not you personally…. How is it? Any progress?”

I felt goosebumps all over my body at Bertus’ causal tone.

I never told Bertus about the gang. I planned on telling him today, but he already knew. His attitude, as if it was only natural for him to know, was rather creepy.

Bertus did a background check on me, and didn’t even give any signs that he knew about those things. Just because he didn’t say it outright didn’t mean he didn’t know. By saying this directly to me, Bertus wanted to show me that I was well within his own range of effect.

It wasn’t just the Rotary Gang. He should have also found out about its connection with the Thieves’ guild. I knew he was probably aware of it, but I didn’t think he would mention it like that in my presence.

As I froze up slightly, Bertus grinned.

“You don’t have to get so nervous just because of something like that.”

“If you know, just tell me in advance please. You’re giving me a heart attack.”

“It’s a bit too much to say you’re just from the streets, is it not? So I just looked into you a little. Did you make any progress?”

Fortunately, Bertus didn’t think I was Valier himself, like Charlotte. It probably was hard to accept that the thing they were searching for was right next to them.

However, unlike Charlotte, he didn’t show any malice towards me even after knowing that I was related to a criminal organisation. I had no idea what he was thinking.

Anyway, regarding progress.

“How could there be any? I only have one portrait and not even a name.”

“Well…. I guess so.”

He seemed to have already expected that I made no progress. If I actually did, that would undermine the efficiency of his own forces.

“Did she tell you who he is?”

“No. She didn’t tell me.”

Even though I told him that, it didn’t seem like I was expected to know. Bertus looked at Temple’s scenery while enjoying his milk tea.

“Okay…. Good. The important thing is that I’m also looking for him, Reinhardt.”

“……I figured.”

“If you come across any clues, please let me know if possible.”

“I think it would be best if I don’t find any clues in this situation though.”

“Haha! That’s true….”

If I chose either of their sides, I would become the enemy of the other side, so it would be best for me to not discover anything. As if agreeing to me, Bertus nodded.

“It’s fine. After leaving her like this for a bit more she’ll end up self-destructing anyway. Well, seeing that she even reached out to you, maybe she already did.”

Self-destruction.

Bertus seemed to think that if Charlotte didn’t find me, she would become increasingly more self-destructive. It made me even more depressed knowing what that meant.

Charlotte was focusing all her attention on finding me, so it seemed like she was rather negligent in regards to the fight for the throne. That was the reason why he told me I could just leave her alone and why he was rather relaxed about the situation.

“I didn’t think it would be to that extent though….”

Bertus smacked his lips as if he was disappointed.

Bertus was so wary of Charlotte that he made plans for her to never come back alive, but she ended up coming back. Therefore, he was wholeheartedly preparing to confront her, but the enemy of whom he was so wary of just kept on looking for some boy as if she was obsessed.

Betus seemed regretful. Could he be sad seeing his biggest enemy falling apart like that? It was important to win, but it was also important how one won.

“Okay, if you can’t find him at all, that’s just how it is. By the way, speaking of which.”

As if he was done talking about Charlotte, Bertus turned to look at me. He didn’t seem to be wary of her any longer at this point. Did he not see her as a worthy rival anymore, because she was just focusing on finding some kid? He seemed to think that it was okay, now that he knew where Charlotte’s priorities lay.

“Are you the next master of the Thieves’ Guild or something?”

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“………Huh? Ah…. I know it’s quite easy to misunderstand in this situation, but I’m not. I’ve never even been to the Thieves’ Guild.”

Although I said I had connections to it, I didn’t even know where the Thieves’ Guild was. That was the truth. Bertus was already aware that I was a beggar, but he seemed to think that there were some things about me that weren’t normal for a kid from the streets.

He seemed to be under the impression that it was because I was the next guild master being trained by the Thieves’ Guild. So, I would have already received sufficient training before my enrollment.

I sighed.

“I don’t know if you’ll believe me or not, but I honestly want to cut my ties with them.”

My original plan was to cut my ties with the Rotary Gang after awakening a talent. Somehow, I ended up in this situation where both the Prince and Princess found out about my background after doing thorough background checks on me.

“Why?”

“I don’t want to make a living by doing dirty work. I don’t want to end up dead in a ditch.”

That was also my honest wish. Who would want to spend their life fighting nonstop? My values weren’t much different from ordinary people.

I wanted to idle around and eat comfortably. I didn’t think that was possible for now, so I chose the next best option.

“Hmm…. Really? Are you saying these things that you don’t actually mean because you’re in front of me?”

“Even if that’s true, wouldn’t that mean that you already failed to find out my true background then?”

The person who was aiming to become the next Emperor failed to find out the identity of the Guild Master of the Thieves’ Guild? He’d already be unqualified for that position if that were the case. As if my words were plausible, Bertus burst into laughter.

“Hmm…. So you’re closer to the Rotary Gang than the Thieves’ Guild…. I must say, it’s a bit disappointing.”

“What do you mean, disappointing?”

What was so disappointing about me not being the heir to the Thieves’ Guild? I thought there was a good reason why Bertus stayed calm even after finding out about my background.

“Reinhardt.”

“Yeah .”

“I tend to believe that the empowerment of crime is inevitable.”

“Inevitable, you say?”

Why was he talking about that all of a sudden?

“Even if the Thieves’ Guild was to be uprooted, I believe that another group would take its place.”

Even if one were to dismantle one criminal group, as time goes by, just like weed, new criminals would gather together and obtain power again, spontaneously. Therefore, eradicating criminal organisations resulted in others filling their places, so completely eradicating crime was impossible.

Look at this kid.

“In that case, if one couldn’t get rid of it, wouldn’t it be good to take control of that shady power, to completely own it? If it’s impossible to completely get rid of it, it would be the best option to get rid of the old power and monitor the new criminal power that would fill its place. Being able to handle things that could only be solved by the dark side would be a bonus, of course”

I slowly got an inkling of what he was talking about.

He looked at me with a creepy smile.

“So, won’t you become the guild master?”

I could see now why Bertus said Charlotte would end up self-destructing.

Charlotte only thought of finding Valier through me. She ended up so nerve wrecking just to find Valier.

However, Bertus was thinking of dominating the Capital’s dark side through me.

* * *

In the past, the United States enforced the prohibition of alcohol, which consequently led to the tremendous growth of mafia organizations in America. This happened because if one were to ban easily producible goods, they would be continued to be made illegally, leading to organizations distributing these goods to emerge. If there was demand there would always be supply, and if the production and distribution of said product was illegal, there would be a number of criminal organizations producing and distributing them.

The empowerment of crime was therefore inevitable, because there are always people who covet things they shouldn’t, and someone supplying them.

To facilitate the supply, crime got organized, and thus the concept of organized crime appeared. It wasn’t something that could be stopped.

Bertus judged that such a development was inevitable. Even if he were to uproot them, someone else would just take their place, so he thought it would be better to take control of it. That way, even if a new organization were to appear, he would be able to tighten his grip on it much faster.

So, Bertus wanted me to become the next guild master.

To take control of the whole underworld in the future by first taking control of the Thieves’ Guild.

He could also make use of it for personal purposes other than controlling and monitoring criminal organizations, so Bertus seemed to think that this was a pretty good plan.

So, he proposed to me, who was a Temple student as well as a member of the Rotary Gang, if I had any intentions of becoming the King of the Imperial Capital’s underworld. That was why he thought it was rather disappointing that I didn’t have much connection to the Thieves’ Guild.

The size of our visions were completely different. No matter if this was the right thing to do or not, our way of thinking was just completely different.

Bertus said there was no rush to come to a decision yet, and this plan was far too big to immediately implement anyway.

This was just too big to just decide on the fly, and to be honest, this wasn’t really appealing to me at all. If I were to get involved in a criminal organization like that and absorb it, I’d be forced to do various things. I didn’t even know if I’d be able to do something like that and if my mind would be able to endure it.

So, Bertus ended our conversation after he offered me this.

The guild master of the Thieves’ Guild….

It was true, that there was nothing bad about having power. Actually rather than bad things, weren’t there many good things about it? Besides, Bertus, who was in the line of succession to the throne, said he’d look after me.

I was already part of something that was almost an illegal organization.

And one could do a lot more with an illegal organization than with a legitimate one.

However, I was actually someone with no ambition at all. I never had anything to do with organizational management, so I didn’t know what I’d have to do. Would I really be able to do something like that? My goal was to just eat and live well, nothing more. If it weren’t for the gates, I wouldn’t even have come to Temple in the first place.

In any case, the Prince gave me something to think about, but it didn’t seem like he wanted to push me to become the guild master though.

Of course, he had no reason to actually use me for that. If he really wanted to have the Thieves’ Guild’s guild master in his hands, he could just do it himself.

In the first place, both Charlotte and Bertus knew the whereabouts of the Thieves’ Guild, they just didn’t want to get their hands dirty by interacting with them.

He maybe just wanted to test my usefulness and my abilities.

If that were the reasons, then that would mean that the Prince didn’t have much interest in controlling the underworld yet. If it was really necessary for him, he wouldn’t do it through me. In the end, it was more likely that he wanted to see how ambitious I was and whether my abilities were up to par.

Anyway, there was no rush. It was a decision I had to slowly and carefully think about.

* * *

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One could feel the atmosphere of the Victory Festival even inside of Temple. The training routine itself didn’t change much, but one could feel this overall excitement floating about Temple.

Some students packed their bags in advance in preparation to return home for the period the school was closed. So, while there were a lot of kids looking forward to the Festival there were also some who just looked forward to returning back to their home.

Everyone had different plans.

“The Knights Templar?”

“Yeah, after watching the return of the Knights Templar I’ll go back to the monastery. It’s been a while.”

Adriana was smiling brightly imagining the majestic appearance of the Knights Templar, who would soon return after accomplishing their great mission.

The Five Great Bishops united their forces in an army for the Demon World War. Priests and Paladins of all religions gathered together and played a pivotal role in the Allied Forces, and now came back after leading the church to victory.

Of course, I knew that part well. The Knights Templar would continue to exist even after that, and it’s the place all Paladins and Priests dream to enter. Adriana also seemed to want to join them.

“And then you’re going back to the monastery?”

“Yes, I grew up in the Towan Monastery of the Saint-Owan Grand Duchy.”

Adriana said she grew up in a monastery dedicated to Towan, the god of purity. She was an orphan, but thanks to her outstanding talent, she was able to enter Temple’s Royal Class easily. So, it seemed like she joined Temple starting high school.

By the way, speaking of the divine power of Towan, the god of purity. It would be especially strong against undead. Of course, I wasn’t an undead, but I really wouldn’t get along well with that order.

Towan’s doctrine was fundamentally based on hatred towards Demons after all.

Honestly, I couldn’t remember all the settings in detail, but after living and studying in Temple for some time I was able to relearn quite some knowledge I had forgotten. For me, as this world’s writer, it felt quite strange to have to study the content I just randomly pieced together to set up the Churches and their doctrine.

“By the way, weren’t the paladins and priests of Towan not allowed to get married?”

“Yeah, what of it?”

Adriana tilted her head as if asking me why I asked her something so obvious.

“You shouldn’t decide something like that at such a young age.”

It wouldn’t be too late if you made that decision after you grew up, you punk. You could still become a priest after seeing what the world had to offer, you know? Adriana smirked at this young old man’s whining.

“If you were to worship a god and attend masses, you’d change your mind, Junior. There are people in this world who can live on faith alone. It’s a full life in its own way.”

I felt like she was trying to convert me, to the point where I started to get scared. Adriana slowly brought up this topic and she seemed to think that now was the right time.

Adriana suddenly grabbed my hands and wouldn’t budge at all.

It was rather scary.

“So, do you want to go to a mass together with me after the school closes?”

“P, please don’t do this….”

“You don’t even have to accurately follow the doctrine of Towan. Everyone deserves his grace, Junior. I’m sure they will be able to fix your twisted personality as well. They are all good people.”

At some point, Adriana started preaching to me. No, I was very grateful to her and I knew she was kind, but this was just pressuring!

“Bathed under the Saint’s light, we can all find happiness, Junior.”

Adriana suddenly turned into a church sister even though she wasn’t part of the church yet.

Honestly, I couldn’t agree to that even out of gratitude. She probably prepared various methods to get me to come, both physical and psychological.

Yes, I absolutely knew it would be like that!

She’d use a trick of first gently approaching me and when I was about to refuse she would make me feel sorry and naturally lead me to her church! This would happen once, twice, thrice until I can’t leave anymore….

I thought you liked it… I’m sorry… I didn’t mean it like that… I was just happy to share my happiness with you, I didn’t want to drag you with me… Sorry for misunderstanding… Although, please do come to the next mass! If you won’t come, I’d be very sad…..

That was what this felt like!

Ah.

Sister.

Are you doing well.

I heard you got married….

I was curious about how things were in my old world suddenly….

“I, I’m already part of a different belief!”

Adriana tilted her head as I shouted, appearing like I was about to be dragged to hell.

“Huh? You already have a god you follow?”

“Well. I wouldn’t call him a god or something… But there’s something I believe in.”

“Huh…? Who?”

I looked at Adriana with a determined expression.

Yes, I was already part of a religion.

“Me.”

“……?”

“I, I believe in myself.”

A religion where I was both the only worshipper and object of worship.

In other words, I was the head of the Winning Mentality Church and its object of faith itself!

I believed in myself.

That was my source of strength.

It was even more amazing because it was actually true.

“Eh…. Huuh?”

Adriana didn’t understand a word I said, so she looked dumbfounded for a while.

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After listening to my detailed explanation she slapped my back and told me not to say strange things anymore.

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