Ansen Siegrid stood in the center of his large windowed study, sipping whiskey in the moonlight. In his left hand, he held a letter from his old friend, Baron Dominic.

The letter read,

I’ve sent for the men. It will all be over by tonight, so worry no more.

A chuckle escaped him. ‘Relieved’ doesn’t begin to describe it.

‘Why didn’t I think of this before?’

He looked out the window and sipped his drink again.


He laughed like he had the world at his feet. In a way, he sounded like a madman. He stopped laughing and looked up at the cloudy moon with a serious expression.


Tonight, his weakness will disappear.



* * *



In room 319 of the psychiatric ward at Radecci, a dwarfed old man lived. His name was Bordeaux. He had been a capable man, even serving as butler to the Marquis of Siegrid, but now he was nothing more than an old man confined to a psychiatric ward.

He was slowly withering away and dying.

It was strange to see a man who had been forcibly cut off from the world for fifteen years, unable to reveal the unjust death of his son, and whose face sparkled with life.

The old man had given up everything, accepted only what he was given, and forced himself to live. He spent the rest of the day sleeping.

It was late at night, and Bordeaux was fast asleep. As he clung to his dreams, he heard a strange sound. A squeak. It was the sound of old hinges. At the same time, he felt a chill run down his back.

Bordeaux groggily opened his eyes.

The window was flooded with moonlight, and a shadowy figure stared down at him. It was a man, tall and lean.

“Good morning, sir.”

The man addressed Bordeaux as if he knew him. Bordeaux squinted at the intimate tone. But he still couldn’t make out the man’s face.


Bordeaux’s voice was raspy, as if he’d just woken up and was scratching at metal.

The man smirks at him without replying, and before Bordeaux can finish his question, he quickly pulls a pillow from behind his neck and presses it firmly against his face.

Instantly cutting off his breathing, Bordeaux instinctively struggled.

Without wavering, the man increased the pressure on his arms.

The sound of his fingernails scraping against the bed frame is heard simultaneously with the rasping of his breath. It wasn’t long before Bordeaux’s fingertips went limp.

He presses his fingers against the pillow for several more minutes, then releases them after confirming that the old man’s heart has completely stopped beating.

With a nonchalant expression on his face, the man wiped the sweat from the tip of his chin. He placed the pillow back behind the old man’s neck and tucked his limp arms and legs neatly into the blanket, making it look like the old man had died of natural causes.

He was an assassin who killed people for a lot of money.

This client was a bit of a hassle. Suffocating a target wasn’t difficult, but it took more stamina than other methods and was one that many assassins shied away from.

The job was done, and he was about to leave. From the hallway, he heard footsteps quietly approaching the room. It was a popular pretense he hadn’t recognized in his haste to kill the old man. The assassin ducked quickly.

Not far away, he heard the click, click, click of a key.


A second intruder entered.

The young woman, dressed in the staff uniform of the Radecci psychiatric ward, was Mariella.

“Mr. Bordeaux…?”

Mariella approached the dead Bordeaux, unaware that the assassin was watching her from behind the door.

“You must be the longtime butler at the Marquis of Siegrid, I’m Mariella, and I’m here on orders from my superiors to investigate the disappearance of little Bordeaux.”

The man looked at her back and thought about his client’s order.

To kill the old man in room 319 of the psychiatric ward in Radecxi.

There were conditions attached.

It had to look as natural as possible.

And one more thing.

The most important thing was not to get caught.

That meant eliminating any witnesses.

The man had an aversion to unnecessary killing. Not for moral reasons, but because he didn’t want to extend his work into his life.

‘I’ll ask for extra.’

He rubbed his neck lightly, keeping his eyes peeled for any sign of the insidious intruder.

Mariella stepped closer to Bordeaux. Bordeaux gave no answer, no sign of movement. No wonder, he was already dead.

“If you’re sleeping, I’m going to…”

Mariella put her hand on Bordeaux’s shoulder and drew in a startled breath.

The old man’s eyes and mouth were open.

Mariella lifted the covers and checked Bordeaux’s hand. The tips of his fingernails were mangled and broken. She immediately touched his hand.

‘It’s still warm, which means…’

Mariella lifted her head and stared out the window. The silhouette of a man running towards her came into view.


She rolled her eyes for a moment. There was a small dagger on her thigh now, the one she’d brought with her in case of an accident, but it was no match for a trained professional.

She had two options. She could either fight back against the assassin’s attack, or she could simply flee. Of course, neither the former nor the latter was likely to succeed. As she pondered, the man stepped in front of her. Without giving her a chance to scream, he grabbed her by the throat.

In that instant, Mariella twisted slightly and stabbed the assassin twice in the thigh with the knife in her hand.


As the assassin grabbed her thighs, she pushed him away and ran out into the hallway.

“Haaa, haaa.”

It was only for a moment, but her throat ached from the man’s grip. Mariella let out a ragged breath and scanned the building’s layout.

The Radecci Psychiatric Hospital locks the entire building at night. Now that her man is following her, her options as to where he will run away lie before her.

Between the third floor window and hallway, which one should she choose.

‘This is a psychiatric ward, so they must have made it impossible to escape through the window.’

She quickly ran down the hallway. There was only one destination.

The first floor.

That’s where the guards would be, and the night watchman. No matter how trained an assassin he was, he couldn’t kill everyone in the building by himself. Mariella ran toward the first floor, hopeful.

But hope always betrayed expectations.

“What the…!”

The employees were all sprawled out. Some were slumped over their desks, some were on their couches, and some were just lying on the floor. They weren’t dead, just out cold.

Mariella thought later that the smoke filling the hallway was suspicious. She clamped her sleeve over her respiratory tract.

She could hear limp footsteps not far away, striding without hesitation, as if they knew where she was headed.

She was in the staff room, down the hall to the right of the stairs. The hallway was empty except for a few rooms leading to the staff room, and the man was already at the door.

Knock knock.

The assassin knocked lazily on the door.

Mariella’s pupils dilated. There’s no room to run.

‘Where should I hide? Where?’

The break in her prediction added to her urgency.

She looked left and right like a mad woman, then opened the door opposite to where the assassin was and stepped inside. It was a cubbyhole to store patient and staff clothes.

She overturned a large laundry basket at the end. She scattered some of the clothes on the floor into other bins, then stepped into the one she’d emptied earlier. Overhead, she filled it with the remaining clothes.

Tap, step. Tap, step.

He heard the assassin dragging his feet.


She clamped her hands over her nose and mouth. To muffle her breathing. A moment later, she heard the assassin approach the room she was hiding in.

A state where she can’t see anything and has to rely on sound alone. Every second, every second felt like hell.

Mariella squeezed her eyes shut and prayed fervently to a god she didn’t believe in for her survival.

Tap, step. Tap, step.

The footsteps grew closer.

The assassin was looking around the room, taking it all in. Every now and then, he heara an unintelligible thud, but he couldn’t place it.

Then, when he was right in front of him, she realized it all: the assassin hadn’t rummaged through the basket. He simply stabbed deeply with his longsword. If there were people inside, they were sure to die.

A chill ran down her spine.

Tap, step. Tap, step.

The sound of the assassin approaching grew clearer and clearer. Just as he’s about to stab the basket with Mariella,


The sound of sharp metal clashing came from somewhere. It was the sound of sword against sword.

The sound was coming from near the basket she was hiding in, then farther away, then distant, then suddenly closer. There was also the occasional sound of someone hurriedly grabbing something and throwing it.

Then she heard the sound of running.

A grown man yelling, “Get him!’

Hiding in the laundry basket, Mariella couldn’t see anything, so she couldn’t figure out what was going on outside.

She didn’t know what the sound of the sword was, if it was her side or not that was fighting out there, or if the guards at the hospital had woken up.

All she could hear was the sound of violence.

Unable to do anything, she shivered in her laundry basket, waiting for the day to dawn.

Then it happened.


With a whoosh, the pile of laundry that Mariella was leaning against was lightly pushed up. Her pupils dilated with tension.

“Oh, no.”

Someone holding a lamp looked down at her, clicking his tongue.

“I told you to come up to the capital because it was dangerous, but you went and sneaked in.”

A familiar face.

“What the hell do you think this mess is good for?”

It was Josef.

He slipped his hand into the basket and pulled her to her feet. His mischievous expression was filled with amusement.

“Looks like a tree frog lives in that little head of yours1used to describe someone who has strange, absurd, or nonsensical thoughts. Otherwise, there’s no way you’d rot my insides like this.”

“How did you get here?”

“We had the same idea, I guess. I figured this was the only place that timid human would hide people.”

As he spoke, his eyes roamed over Mariella’s body. A red handprint on her neck caught his eye. Josef gently put his hand around her neck.

“How did you get this? Let’s go upstairs. Let’s get you some medical attention.”


Mariella slapped his hand away. With reddened eyes, she calmly reported the situation.

“Bordeaux is dead.”

“I know.”

“You know?

She frowned. She couldn’t understand.

How could he be so nonchalant when the most important person who could turn the tables was dead.

“If we find out who the assassin is, will we be able to catch them in reverse?”

“Um… I don’t think so.”


“Because I gave the order to kill him.”


In response to her question, he asked back.

“He dared to do this to my beloved Lady Marie, is there any reason why I should let him live?”

The brazenness and arrogance of his demeanor was embarrassing.

She was at a loss for words.

She staggered, dumbfounded, and then slumped back against the wall, helpless. The air around her was thick with emptiness.

Josef, who had been standing still, tracking her movements with his eyes, approached her. He removed his robe and draped it over her shoulders.

Mariella didn’t realize it, but a shallow shiver ran through her body. Every muscle in her body screamed as the tension was released.

“I’m just saying, there wouldn’t have been any useful information gained by keeping the assassin alive. Typically, in those circles, they block out all information except for what’s necessary to carry out the mission.”

She took a moment to wrap the robe he handed her.

“…So what do we do now?”

‘It was such an opportunity.’

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    used to describe someone who has strange, absurd, or nonsensical thoughts
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