Chapter 8: Blushes, Maids, and Convoluted Plots
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As soon as Arc woke up, the feelings of last night washed over him, causing him to shudder. He clicked his tongue, but it almost didn’t feel like enough. He briefly looked at his hand and debated slapping himself. 

Arc refrained from doing as such and managed after taking a deep breath. He had been too emotional last night, but now his mind was well rested. 

Although he still didn’t know why, to his side, Elaine was still asleep. Her limbs were sprawled out in every direction, drool was rolling down her mouth, and her blond hair was all messed up. 

It was a cute sight, but Arc pulled the blanket off her and then quickly retreated to the bathroom, where he took a shower, and because afterwards Elaine was still sleeping, albeit shivering now, Arc teleported himself to the dormitory’s kitchen. It was where he made the snacks he used the previous day. This time he made two large servings of breakfast.

With food in hand, Arc teleported back to the room. The smell filled the room, finally causing the sleeping beauty to stir.

She groggily sat up. Only her bear print nightgown covered her body.

 “Morning, Arc.” Elaine yawned without a care. 

“What do you mean morning? Why are you in my room?” 

“Our room.” Elaine smiled at him before she looked down at her fingers. She counted two of them, lifted her head while sticking out her tongue, and then directed a V shaped pose towards Arc’s direction. 

“...” Arc silently reflected on the past. Did he corrupt and break her?

Perhaps, Arc was staring too intently because Elaine’s face became slightly red. She played with her hair and began to explain herself in a slow tone.

“So… I got promoted. Sort of. Anyways my new post… requires me to live on site… And… it just happens that you were also living here.” Her face was no longer red. She just shamelessly smiled at him. 

“What about Yue?”

“He already has a roommate.”

Arc finally noticed the room had two beds. His own face became slightly red as he realized he basically snuck into her bed thinking that it was his. 

Arc coughed. “Is that so… why didn’t you say anything.”

Elaine tilted her head. “To surprise you… of course!” She laughed. She was trolling him. She didn’t do it often, but occasionally Elaine would have her own streak. 

“Couldn’t you have gotten your own room?”

“Who would make my breakfast, make sure I got up on time, and…” 

Arc furrowed his brow. “I think you need to follow the advice I gave Yue.”

Elaine tilted her head.

“Get yourself a girlfriend. You know, someone to take care of you!” 

“Sure. Why don’t you look around the dorms and find me a man or woman that I can live with right now that would do all that?” 

“... just get dressed and get something to eat.” Arc sighed. Elaine bounced out of the bed and went to the bathroom to change out of her nightwear. 

She stopped when she was next to Arc. “If you really don’t…”

“I don’t mind.” 

Elaine smiled and entered the bathroom. She came out wearing a casual guard uniform. It had the silver lion emblem on the upper right chest. 

Arc waited for Elaine to sit down.

“So, what’s this new position thing about?” He paused and gave Elaine a serious look, “And don’t even think about talking with your mouth full.”

Elaine, who was about to speak, swallowed. “Basically with all the high profile students attending the academy this year, on top of the recent scandals, the higher ups have decided to place me in charge of overseeing the academy’s defense.”

Arc frowned.  “Is it because of General Song?” He and Elaine had a complicated relationship with Aoi Torii’s military and ruling class. It was part of the reason he and Yue attended the White Crow School over the other nine schools of the academy. 

Each school had their own style of curriculum and were sponsored by different powers. It wasn’t a huge thing, but it did promote competition. It was like there were ten very large teams competing against one another. The White Crow School patron was a branch of the military.  

“No. It is because of the principal and the imperial hardliners. Of course, I’m sure that old man played a part.”

“And the Vice Commander?”

“He will continue to manage the guards at large and make sure order is secure within the capital as a whole.”

Arc wasn’t sure if this move was meant to weaken or strengthen Elaine—or if it was of good or bad intentions. 

“Arc, you shouldn’t think too hard while eating.” After finishing her bite of food, Elaine pointed her fork at him. . 

Before Arc could respond, there was a knock on the front door. Arc ominous senses were tingling once again. He even thought to ignore the person at the door but then he looked at Elaine. If he didn’t answer it then she would and that could have unpleasant ramifications.

It seemed to have overdid the flirting the day before, so he could only imagine the rumors if people found out he was living with Elaine. A frown was growing on his face. 

‘Now that I think about it… what was my plan…’ Arc tried to think hard. He had a habit of coming up with a grand plan and going overboard. There were many times where he forgot what he initially wanted because he would become too focused on the process. 

“Arc, thinking too hard again.” Elaine’s voice once again echoed out from behind her silver fork. 

Arc’s frown deepened and then he smiled. ‘Ah, I wanted my image to be terrible. I’m the friend of the hero. This is actually fine.’

The knock came at the door again. Looking through the peephole, he could only sigh as there was a man he recognized in the hallway. The man was shifting his weight back and forth. Embarrassment was evident in his face. He even pulled at the hem of his skirt. The man was actually dressed as a maid. 

“My liege, open up.” 

Arc ignored it at first. He gulped.

“My liege, please… there is a draft…” He pulled at his skirt again, “It is unpleasant…”

Only when his nose felt slightly of iron did Lann open the door. It was only a tad but the shadow instantly surged forward. It bowed at Arc. The man in the maid outfit was bowing.

Arc closed the door and rubbed his forehead. He checked Elaine’s response but she didn’t seem to care. She was just shoving food down her mouth. 

“I thought I said I was going to leave everything to you?”

“And I listened… no matter how much I wanted to see the master...” The man dressed as a maid spoke while rubbing his head up against Arc’s legs. His name was Lab. He had curly light brown hair that couldn’t hide two doglike ears. 

He was the second-in-command, and now leader, of the Children of Sin—the organization that Arc created in the slums. 

‘Fuck, why is he cute?’ Arc shook the man off. “Sit nice.”

“Yes, master!” Lab sat obediently. Although a hurricane of a tail swayed back and forth. 

‘Where did it come from?’

Arc coughed and scratched his cheek. “Um… turn around.” 

‘It’s innocent curiosity… yes… just like the feet…it's normal.’ Arc leaned forward in expectation.  

“Like this?” Lab turned around with an innocent expression. His back was facing Arc, but he turned his head and looked at Arc from over his shoulder.

‘Why are you blushing? Wait does he know?’’ Arc gulped and tried to appraise Lab’s face, which only caused Lab’s face to become redder. ‘I didn’t teach any of my subordinates common sense. He can’t possibly know…’

Arc was getting distracted because of the blushing. He gulped again and turned his gaze down. 

Unsure of the cost, Arc got the answer to his question. The tail was coming out of a hole in the skirt, right above the maid’s butt.

Arc shook his head. ‘I wouldn’t be the dark lord of the underworld if my second-in-command wasn’t cute in a maid outfit.’ Yes, everything was fine. 

“So why did you come here, Lab?” Arc couldn’t look the man in the eyes despite his realization. 

“There are two—”

“You can turn back around.” Arc’s eyes met Elaine’s. She was staring at the maid with dangerous eyes, while drool was coming down her lips. 

“My eye candy...” She mumbled in the background. She poked her empty plate with a fork. Arc snapped his fingers and a bunch of leftover sweets appeared on her plate. 

“Continue.” Arc didn’t, couldn’t, judge Elaine and simply turned back to Lab. 

“Ah, yes, as I was saying there are two events to report. One acquires your attention and the other is something that might concern you.”

“Concern me?”

“Ever since the master left the other organizations in the slums have begun to push back against our organization. We believe it to be the remnants of the Thieves Guild.” 

“Crush them.”

“Of course.” Lab gave a sadistic smile. It somehow fit his costume. 

‘Should I make all my subordinates wear maid outfits… wait I’m not in charge anymore… tsk.’

Arc shook his head. “I’ve been hearing rumors lately?”

“Ah those.” Lab sighed. “That was on our end. We perpetuated several rumors about ourselves to reel in our adversaries… wasn’t that what you wanted?”

“Hmm.”

“Weren’t you always saying that the leaders of the underground should be feared and people should be saying terrible things about us behind our backs?”

“Did I?”

Lab tilted his head. He cleared his throat and took on a pose. “Tremble before me mortal, it is I the Dark Lord of—”

“Stop. Stop. Stop.” Arc waved his hands. 

‘Why is he bringing back up such memories… at least Elaine isn’t paying attention.’ The corner of Arc’s eye sat on Elaine, who was devouring the sweets. It felt like sweat was dripping down his nape, but she didn’t look up. 

Arc waved his hand. “And the matter that needs my attention.”

“Some of your classmates are investigating the slums.”

Before Arc could ask which classmates, Elaine walked past Arc and Lab. She opened the door and then turned back. Her eyes were on the maid and then drifted to Arc. “I wouldn’t mind something like that…” She twiddled with her fingers. “A h-house husband…”

‘What is this fake blush! Your eyes look like they are about to devour my precious subordinate! Also you have cream on your lips!’ 

“Get behind me, Lab!” Arc spread his arms out as if to protect the maid. Elaine continued to stare. Her face seemed to say, ‘Please, I want one… can’t you get one for me?’

Elaine clicked her tongue, but then a smile appeared on her lips. She placed her hand above her mouth and looked into Arc’s eyes. Her pleading didn’t work and now she was going to blackmail him. 

 “Tremble… fufufu… befo… ahah… me mortal…” Elaine was clutching her stomach with one hand and wiping away a tear with another. “You were such a cute kid.”

“If you are going to act haughty, at least clean your lips properly!” 

Elaine frowned, but then when her tongue touched the lingering frosting, her smile returned. 

‘Was it that tasty?’ Although it wasn’t the time, Arc reaffirmed his belief in the power of sweets.

Yet, Lab was thinking something completely different. His eyes went wide. “Is this… big sis… are you returning to your role as Dark Queen—” Elaine grabbed Lab by his face. 

Arc grabbed him so that Elaine couldn’t drag him away. “Why are you bullying my second-in-command!” 

“He… he… insulted me!”

“Big sis, I did no such thing!” Lab shouted, although his voice was muffled because of Elaine’s hand.

“Even if he did, is that your excuse to get violent!” 

Elaine raised her eyebrows. Her face was utterly smug. 

‘Don’t you already know that?’ It seemed to say. 

“You saw it yourself, Arc… he is bringing up dark memories of the past.” Despite the smug expression, when Elaine tried to explain her actions, she couldn’t help but get embarrassed.

“I don’t understand… this was just last week—'' Lab looked back and forth between the two. He gulped.

Elaine and Arc made eye contact. 

‘Alright we just got to dispose of him now don’t we, Arc?’

‘Big sis, let’s get this over with quickly, before anyone shows up.’ 

“We don’t have to do—” Lab, still dressed as a maid, was gagged. At the same time, one of the doors to the adjacent room opened up. Yue appeared with a yawn. He blinked a couple of times.

“Mother? Is that—” He frowned. His eyes darted about trying to understand what he was seeing. 

“Are you guys playing that game again…”

Arc looked at Elaine. Both their faces were dyed crimson. 

‘The body count has gone up.’

‘It has to be done, Arc. Sacrifices need to be made.’

‘I’m sorry, Elaine…’

‘Don’t hesitate now. Do your snappy thingy. Wait you aren’t…’

Arc snapped his fingers and disappeared with Lab, leaving behind Elaine to explain the situation to Yue.  

***

Arc ungagged Lab and without missing a beat, as if nothing happened, pulled out his own costume. He swung a black cloak that covered his entire body over his shoulders and then placed a white mask on his head.

“Lead the way.”

“It is sort of breezy…” Lab tugged on his skirt. “I used this to sneak in but…”

Arc sighed. “You should always be prepared.” Arc threw a black cloak along with some casual clothes at his subordinate. They were in a back alley located towards the outskirts of the slums. 

Lab looked at Arc. “Master… don’t look.”

Arc was calm. He had to become calm. The thought to watch his subordinate change never crossed his mind.

He was innocent and as such was able to calmly watch the entrance so that no one appeared. 

He didn’t have any impure thoughts like, ‘If I can’t see it then no one can.’

No, no such things happened. Lab simply changed without a problem, and Arc’s heart was completely steady—he told himself this. 

Time felt slow, but eventually the two emerged from the shadows with their black robes. “It is just how I remembered.” Arc muttered.

The slums were spotlessly clean. The beggars, who collected revenue for the slums, couldn’t be seen because they were patrolling other parts of the capital. Arc found that begging could be a lucrative business strategy. 

Arc could still see his subordinates though. As he walked with Lab, there were various people dressed in black garbs and white masks. They were playing with the local children, helping the elderly cross the street, and taking out the trash.

Of course, taking out the trash had two meanings—evident by the fact that Arc’s subordinates could be seen escorting trouble makers into various alley ways. There were no guards and thus the Children of Sin, even without Arc, managed the streets. They controlled things with an iron fist. No trash was allowed. 

Their infamy brought a smile to Arc’s lips. He was sure that everyone in the vicinity feared the Dark Lord that controlled the scene from the shadows. 

“We have done our best.” Lab’s proud voice echoed next to Arc. “Do you want to continue—”

“No.” Arc gave the scene one last look, “Bring me to my classmates.”

‘I can’t wait to see them tremble in their boots.’ 

The confident strides of Arc and his second-in-command went unnoticed. They walked for over ten minutes, and everything was peaceful in the slums.

Arc could see his classmates at a street vendor. It smelled of home cooked meals. Multiple bowls were piled up in front of Elizabeth, Sera, Sera’s maid, and Cassius. 

“They are at granny’s shop?”

“Maybe they were hungry.” Lab offered. 

Arc frowned. Two of his subordinates, still in black cloaks, were also eating noodles next to his four classmates. Their white masks were flat against the counter. Their faces were completely revealed.  

“My father talked about how strange the slums have become…” Sera spoke to Elizabeth while eating, “But seeing it in person…”

“The Dark Lord has taken good care of us.” An old lady smiled at the young students. 

One of his men slurped up some noodles and added, “The boss is a wonderful guy.” It somehow felt good to be praised by his subordinate. 

“It seems so…” Elizabeth choked a bit on her food. Her dark eyes didn’t even have a glint of gold at the moment. It was the first time he saw that. 

Elizabeth turned to Cassius, “So what do you think?”

“About Sera’s love interest?” 

Sera stopped eating and looked at Cassius with expectation hidden in her deadpan eyes

“Well… we haven’t learned much about Arc have we.”

“Sorry.” One of Arc’s subordinates apologized. 

“No, thank you for talking to us.” Cassius bowed slightly.

The man scratched his neck and turned to the old lady. “If granny doesn’t know then you probably won’t find anything else about the man.”

The other subordinate chimed in with a playful tone, “We hope the young miss the best in her love life.”

Sera stared into the bowl in front of her, while the old lady smacked the man on the head. “Don’t tease our guests!” 

Arc turned to Lab after watching this spectacle. “Do you know why they are investigating the slums?” 

Surely they didn’t come just because Sera was interested in him? Even if there is a week before classes officially begin, they surely didn't have that much free time. Right?

“While the slums have stabilized because of us, there are still disputes in the border regions. Our patrols also occasionally get into conflict with other groups.”

“Have things been good with that snake of an old man?” 

“Relations with the Black Swan have been decent. We have not intruded on each other’s territory.”

“Yet that old man’s daughter is in my territory.” Arc frowned. “Did they come with escorts?”

“Not that I’m aware of.”

Arc’s aura was stretched out across the entirety of the slums. “Find out who is sponsoring the Thieves Guild and report back to me.”

“Yes, my lord.”

“I don’t like being a pawn.” Arc said this and Lab nodded his head. He didn’t really intend for Lab to hear it and was really just complaining. 

Lab nodded. “Put your trust in!” 

Arc waved off the man. His doglike ears poked out of his mask and his tail continued to wag from the back of his cloak. 

Arc was deep in thought though. His aura felt the presence of a man named Riain. He was the leader of the Thieves Guild and he was undoubtedly moving towards his classmates with an entourage of men. 

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