Chapter 16 – The Institute
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"How are you able to activate the Sigil?" Simonne asked while they were walking.

"...I experimented it for a bit." Kaiji let out a dry chuckle.

"But when?"

"The day when you and the coachman that time went out to see if we can enter the town without a trouble."

"...?" Simonne furrowed his brows and tried to remember everything since that day. "But we're only gone for a half day that time."

"Yeah. What's the problem with that?" Kaiji tilted his head in confusion.

"..." Simonne abruptly stopped from walking. "...You mean you're not joking?"

"Why would I?"

Simonne paused for a moment before speaking, "...An average person who merges with a Sigil undergoes in a state of coma for two days, sometimes even four days because of energy debilitation." He looked at Kaiji.
  
  
"...That means..."

 
 
"Hey! Why did the two of you stop?" Saki, who was now apart from them in a few meters called out.

"...Wait for us!" Simonne responded.
   
   
   
---
  
  
They easily passed on through the guards that were posted around the entrance because they immediately recognized the two familiar faces— Saki and Simonne, and shared some short greetings between each other.

After that, the three of them entered the main building and passed on through the wide courtyard.

Kaiji felt something chilly and quickly scanned his surroundings.

'Why are they looking at us like that?' He thought.

What he saw were countless number of people, of whom were about the same ages as him, staring back at the three of them with their cold, narrowed eyes.

"Don't mind them." Simonne said.

Kaiji couldn't help but ask. "Why are they looking at us like that?"

"...It's my fault." Simonne sighed. "I've even dragged you down together with me. But you don't need to worry that much, they won't treat you coldly if you keep yourself away from me after this."

"Keep myself away from you?" Kaiji laughed. "Why should I? I don't even know them all in the first place."

Simonne unconsciously smiled.

"But what actually happened?" Kaiji asked again. "Just what did you do to make them treat you like this?"

"It's about Welfer."

"Him again?"

"Yeah..." Simonne chuckled. "He's treating me like his greatest enemy ever since the first time I came here. And... well you see, his brother's one of the most popular person here and everyone's trying to gain his favor someway or another. And now, almost everyone thinks I'm a man without morals."

"...I see."

He didn't expected that his companion would actually be this infamous in his own place.
    
   
   
"Who's that?"

"I've never seen him before, he might be a new one."

"Tsk tsk tsk, that Simonne even got another person now to deceive."

"You're right."
   
     
    
Several murmurs stirred up among the crowds as they stared at Kaiji and wondered to themselves who that person might be, while either giving him a pitying or a frigid look.

As the three of them trodded the path across the courtyard, the people in front of them made a way for them to pass through, as if they were afraid to even touch them.

Kaiji stared at the two people, Simonne and Saki, before him and noticed that the both of them seemed to be already used at the unfriendly treatment being directed towards them. They didn't even spared them a single glance, only looking at what's on the front.
   
  
Several minutes later.
  
   
The three of them passed through a long hallway, rooms filling the walls side by side and made a turn at the two forkings at the end. After that, they ascended up through the staircase until they've finally arrived at a dark wooden door, seemingly made from a wood of dark oaken tree.

Saki, who stood at the very front of them all, gently raised her hand and knocked the door for a few times before an aged voice rang at their ears.

"Come in."

With the permission finally acquired, Saki entwined her fingers upon the round knob and slowly pushed the door open.

*Creak*

"Good afternoon, Master Morth." Saki greeted as she quietly lowered her head and smiled. "There's someone he—"

"Simonne!" The aged voice from earlier cut her mid-sentence, the delight in his tone was quite evident.

White strands of hair covered the entirety of the old man's scalp of whom was about the ages of sixty, nicely complementing with his white robed garb that cascaded all the way down to his feet. His face had several wrinkles etched upon his face but his overall features could be considered to be amiable.

"Master." Simonne greeted in response and warmly smiled as he as well lowered his head. "I'm back."

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