Bureau of Military Intelligence
Leguna did not return to the inn that night. He could easily make it to the next round, but he didn't feel like drinking with his two companions since their match was the next day. He just popped in to let them know the result before leaving again. He found Gerd a few minutes later.
The middle-aged man had some light injuries, but after visiting a local apothecary, he was back at the training center. When Leguna arrived, he had just returned. He wasn't surprised to see Leguna. He took the kid to a quiet room after dealing with a few minor things.
"Who are you?" Leguna asked the moment the door to the room closed.
"Bureau of Military Intelligence Agent Gerd, No. 9527."
I knew it!
Leguna's chest suddenly felt lighter. The bureau was one of the guild's core espionage institutions in Hocke. It technically reported to the emperor, but in reality it belonged to Wayerliss and the guild. Most of its agents and staff were former Moonshadow members. So, even though it was Hocke's intelligence agency, it was the guild's Chino branch in all but name. He'd read about it in Wayerliss's second notebook. One of the latest missions his teacher had given him was to take command of the bureau.
Leguna stared at Gerd silently.
"You must be Sir Leguna. The chairman told me--"
"I know what my teacher told you. I will not be taking over yet."
Gerd didn't look dissatisfied.
"Then we shall proceed as you wish. But I must remind you that, though the bureau is stable for now, it might fall apart at any moment without your leadership."
"Hasn't the emperor tried to take over?"
"Of course. Hocke is still a young empire. Many of its institutions aren't set up yet. It suffered a severe loss in the war two years ago because it lacked a proper intelligence network. Emperor Larwin had no choice but to ask the guild to get involved. He knows the bureau is also a threat since he doesn't have direct and sole control. He's been trying his best to take control of the bureau since it got on its feet. The chairman was here last year, so the emperor didn't try anything. But now the chairman's is absent..."
He used Marolyt and I to cripple Eye of Arcana. Now it's time for the guild to take the top spot, huh? No wonder he is focusing here again.
Wayerliss's actions didn't cost Leguna anything, he was still offended that the old elf was manipulating him. He didn't want to play along. Gerd was completely unaware of his reservations.
"The emperor knows this is a good chance to infiltrate the bureau. He won't be too blatant though. If he goes too far and angers the chairman, he will lose the bureau entirely. So, he hasn't acted against the bureau directly, yet. Instead, he's been pressuring us from the shadows and trying to get a few spies installed."
"I see," Leguna nodded, "Teacher told me I'll have a helper here. Is that you?"
"Yes," Gerd lowered his head as he spoke, "The informant I have on the lookout noticed you the moment you entered the city. But we weren't sure it was you, so I took this identity and got close to you to confirm your identity."
"And how did you confirm my identity? I don't look anything like I did when I was last in contact with the guild."
"Your gift. We don't have any detailed information on your gift, but we know enough to identify it. I knew it was you when you used that black substance."
His face remained calm, but his heart beat in his throat. He hadn't used Shadowedge much, but the guild already knew enough to identify it at a glance. Their networks really were terrifying.
"I am your loyal servant. What are you order?"
The kid was much younger than he, and had no more strata, but Gerd knew how scary he could be. He knew of the kid taking out two high-order magi, a high-order warrior, and even the chairman's disciple. His age didn't merit respect, nor did his strata, per se, but his ability to kill did.
"Does the bureau know of my arrival?"
"The chairman hasn't announced it, so everyone else is still unaware. Not many were tasked with investigating your arrival. Among those who did, only I know your identity."
"Good." Leguna nodded, "Keep my arrival and everything else a secret for now."
Gerd could tell the kid didn't want to take over. But, since the chairman had ordered him to, he would obey the kid, nonetheless. His plan to climb the ranks via Leguna would be held back, but he had no choice.
He hadn't lost all hope though; he trusted his chairman. Since the elf had made these arrangements, he definitely had his ways. He didn't think he would let the kid just ignore his responsibilities.
"Also, I don't want you in my shadow all the time. I'm just a young adventurer here for the tournament. You're just an old friend of mine."
"As you wish."
"Also. I want you to keep an eye out for someone."
"Annelotte, the galestorm swordsaint's daughter. I want to know her... whereabouts."
I knew it!
"Sir, do you mean the guild's former executive?"
"Former executive?" The word 'former' made Leguna freeze.
"Yes. Miss Annelotte has... left the guild. She refuses to obey our orders, at least. We suspect this is her father's doing."
"Is that so?"
Leguna was relieved to hear Annelotte had left Moonshadow. There wasn't a real reason for his relief. He just felt it was best that she wasn't involved with the organization.
"Yes, that's her."
"Miss Annelotte has joined--" Gerd gaze at Leguna carefully. "--She has joined the empire's magi association."
Why would she associate herself with the imperial family?
"She isn't a member of the association itself. She's a consultant. She's free to do what she wants, just like her father. She's part of the association in name only."
"Good," Leguna sighed with relief. He was terrified that Kurdak was right about some imperial prince courting her.
"She only joined the association because Prince Geoffrey has been courting her. He asked her to join the association so he could meet her more often. She's agreed, and that's why she's now a consultant."
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