A blonde young man in his early twenties shot the person before him a glare. "What?"
"...That Simonne guy. He arrived just now."
The blonde person inadvertently stood up in his seat. His lips formed a cold smile as he ask, "Where are they now?"
"They're heading straight at here."
The blonde young man pondered for a moment before saying, "Let's greet them at the entrance." His smile creased up even higher. "...Before anyone else could."
"Well..." The coachman rubbed his beard and smiled. "We have to go on our separate ways from hereon. We were all glad to accompany you two along the way."
"It's the same for us." Simonne also smiled as he stood beside Kaiji. "We wouldn't have arrived here that early if it's not for your help."
The coachman nodded at his words. "Well then... I guess we should leave now." He said as he whipped the reigns.
Simonne and Kaiji nodded.
The horse raised its forelegs as the reigns once again lashed down its body and galloped into the distance, pulling up the wooden carriage behind it.
"Goodbye!" Kaiji waved his arms.
"Haha! See you too, kid!"
One of the three brawny men sat behind the carriage facing at Kaiji and waved his thick arms as well while flashing a wide grin at their direction, saying his last goodbye.
It did not take too long for the carriage to vanish in their sight as they were devoured in by the overwhelming crowd.
"...Bye!" Kaiji finally lowered his arms and turned to look at his companion. "So, where do we go next?"
"We'll head for the Institute." Simonne said as if it was the most common thing in the world.
Kaiji's face twitched. "You mean head there straight? We won't even stroll for a moment?"
"Even just a night at an inn?"
Kaiji sighed. "...Alright."
Simonne chuckled. "Don't worry. I'll buy something for you in return."
"Oh!" Kaiji's eyes sparkled. "What will you buy?"
"Anything you want."
"Then, I want that."
Simonne turned to look at where Kaiji pointed his index finger at and saw a counter where blades of various kinds were placed neatly in arranged rows. Daggers, shortswords, longswords, broadswords and plenty of others were displayed on the counter, while some of the few were hanged on an upright sheet of wood. There were also some small parchments in front of all the items that indicated their prizes— most of them were pretty much affordable, ranging at 5 to 20 coins of gold.
Kaiji nodded and pointed at a dagger— a rather long one even.
"...Isn't this just the same dagger with the one that you already have?"
"Exactly!" Kaiji nodded. "I wanted to wield dual daggers. J̶u̶s̶t̶ ̶l̶i̶k̶e̶ ̶S̶e̶o̶n̶g̶ ̶J̶i̶n̶ ̶W̶o̶o̶!̶"
Simonne made a wry smile. "But double daggers might be a little too hard for you to wield, since it requires excellent coordination between your both arms. And it might not prove to be that useful in real fights because you wouldn't be able to use a shield or some kind of protective gear with your other arm. You'll just risk your defense in exchange of better offense with that."
"But can't I use the dagger as a shield already?"
"This..." Simonne tightly knitted his brows and pursed his lips. He wanted to say that although it is indeed possible to block an attack using a blade, the chances of doing that in a dagger is too slim because of its short length. Only experts in using such daggers can do that— and being an expert requires years and years of arduous training, so he wouldn't really recommend it. But seeing the intense sparkle in Kaiji's eyes, he decided to give up the thought.
"...Alright." Simmone sighed and grabbed the dagger Kaiji had pointed out. He then took out about a dozen of gold coins from his pouch and counted it to make sure it's in exact amount. The parchment in front of dagger says: "12 gold coins", so clearly, he needed to take out the same number of coins as well.
"Here, maam." Simmone handed out the coins to the woman that tended behind the counter.
"Thank you, dear! Please come again!" The woman replied in a merry voice.
"Here." Simonne casually threw the dagger to Kaiji and took back the remaining gold coins in his palm to his pouch. "We should get going now." He gestured at Kaiji as he began to walk away.
"Ok." Kaiji caught the dagger in his hand and responded. He was now actually used at Simonne simply throwing things in the air, so he caught the dagger with a little proficiency. Stuffing the dagger in his belt, and with a slight feeling of excitement because of his new weapon, he run as he tried to catch up at Simonne's walking pace.
"Wait a moment." Kaiji secured the last strap that connected his dagger's sheathe and the belt as he called for Simonne. "Wai—"
Simonne turned around. "...What?"
"..." Kaiji felt his lips turn dry. "...Did you see that?"
Kaiji looked around his surroundings, but eventually gave up. He shook his head. "Nevermind."
"Maybe you're seeing things." Simonne chuckled and turned back at the front. "Let's go now."
Did I see that right? That person with a silver hair just now, why do I feel like I've seen her before?
After a few hours of traversing the smooth pavement made from a special stone across the town, they've finally arrived at the end of the path. From a distance, a looming shadow of a five-storied structure gradually came into sight. Another thing to note was that aside from the large structure in the middle, an enormous circling metallic fence surrounds the area of around a hundred of meters or more, serving like a wall that divides everything inside from the outside world.
Looking around, Kaiji noticed that other than the structure in front, no other buildings seemed to dare to near the place.
"Is this the Institute?" He asked.
"No." Simonne shook his head. "This is just one of its branch."
"...I see." Kaiji nodded after hearing that. Thinking of it now, just how much big do the main structure of the Institute was? Looking at the already huge building at the front made himself shiver at the thought.
"Hm?" Kaiji somehow caught a glimpse of a person ahead the path. Wait— there is indeed someone. No. Dozens of them.
Simonne's face turned gloomy.
"You've actually came back." Someone laughed.
"Why are you here?" Simonne glared daggers at the person before him.
"Why?" The person in front— a blonde young man in his early twenties chuckled.
"...Of course, it's to greet someone."