North x Northwest - Chapter 132
Volume 4 Chapter 132
Translators – Pru and Formidable
When her jaw felt numb as if it had been removed, Lil opened her mouth with difficulty.
Sweat dripped from her forehead right into her eyes, blurring her vision. Lil shook her head and tightly closed them.
‘I need to snap out of it.’
She had no idea what absurd misunderstandings Cesar would come up with if she let herself get lost here.
‘Nothing Cesar might suspect has ever happened, so I just have to act as if nothing happened. That means I have to explain the situation, what should I say? What’s the most convincing thing to say?’
In the meantime, Ed came into view. He sat down on the bed and blinked a few times, calming himself down. Ed soon returned to his composed expressionless face with a relaxed body. Now, it was only Lil who was embarrassed, jittery and denying this situation.
‘But that’s only natural, isn’t it? I’m the one who got fooled… it’s the most obvious fact in the room.’
After rearranging her thoughts, Lil gave an order without hesitation.
“Courant, get Jericho and Alain. Quietly but quickly.”
Courant, staring at Ed as if he were going to kill him, muttered.
“…That was a loud gunshot. What if someone asks about it?…”
It was Cesar who answered immediately.
“Tell them that the doctor attempted suicide.”
Courant closed the door and left the cabin. Lil still had her gun aimed at Ed, but her hands were no longer trembling. She spoke to Cesar in a calm manner.
“What does it say?”
Cesar delivered a powerful blow to the fluttering pigeon, knocking it out. To secure the letter, he lowered the flaccid bird to the floor and deftly opened the communication scroll.
‘It’s fortunate that so far, Cesar agrees to cooperate. I might even be able to get the accusations dropped that we can’t discuss here. Therefore, it’s preferable to reduce the intensity of his doubts first.’
Resolutely, Lil raised her chin.
‘It’s funny how I brainwashed myself like this when nothing has happened.’
However, that feeling was short-lived.
“…It appears to be about the direction our pirate ship is heading… [‘Considering the Bell Rock’s route that has been reported so far, it’s likely to be within the eastern archipelago’]…”
Ed burst out laughing as if he heard something funny.
‘…’The Bell Rock’s route that has been reported so far’…’
The clear sentence filled Ed with a belated surge of rage. It wasn’t until Cesar intervened that he came to his senses as if he had been hit by cold water.
‘I almost fell for it. Didn’t I almost help him destroy the evidence? I’m surprised that someone like Cesar had to intervene to snap me back.’
Before he knew it, his hands started trembling, and he spat out curses.
“You disgraceful bastard.”
Ed raised his eyebrows and laughed at Cesar.
“Aren’t you so damn good at this? You just read it like that and you sound so damn believable.”
When Cesar didn’t respond, Ed, who suddenly lost his laugh, looked straight at Lil. The humiliation and betrayal in her eyes attacked him like a swarm of insects he couldn’t escape.
He gritted his teeth.
“This kind of trust. I’m very envious of that…”
‘It doesn’t matter if it was the intended message or not. I’m sure that Cesar doesn’t know the official officer’s code, but hearing him read it out loud with such confidence is really something else.’
Ed still didn’t take his eyes off her. Lil didn’t loosen up either.
‘There’s a limit to Ed’s impudence. He himself was caught red handed and can still afford to shamelessly raise his face despite betraying me upfront… It’s no use saying my prayers. He isn’t even making excuses for himself… What the hell am I going to do now… Damn it.’
Lil bit her lip.
‘This can’t be it. I think I’m taking this the wrong way…’
Carrying a heavy weight on her shoulders, the scale tipped and pointed into the direction of defending Ed.
‘When I recall every time I was fooled, I should be angrier, but I’m not. I know I should be resentful, and I’m trying hard to feel that way, but the rage that had been snuffed out doesn’t return. What kind of mentality is this? I’m feeling disconnected as if this is all just a bad dream.’
Rather, her days with Ed were much more vivid, and she appeared to be completely possessed.
However, because Cesar had been staring at Lil in silence, she was forced to begin the interrogation.
“What else did you leak?”
Ed laughed at her comment.
“Well, there were so many that I don’t remember.”
“Why? It doesn’t really matter what I say now anyway, right?”
‘Is this really the attitude of a spy whose identity has been revealed? It’s hard to believe. He’s been avoiding many crises with his attitude, but something is definitely different. Perhaps he gave up on everything? But Ed is too particular a person to do that and it doesn’t seem to be in his nature to give up on life as vainly as this too.’
Despite her guilt, Lil continued to speculate.
‘If I think that Ed isn’t a spy, then I should doubt the content of the correspondence. But doubting the message means doubting Cesar who read it… Why would Cesar do such a thing? To banish the guy who might have spent the night with his lover? Can that really be it? Surely, he must’ve looked for me as soon as he woke up… Wait, he might have searched all over the Bell Rock, and not being able to find me, worried him. Then when he heard the gunshot and came looking, he found Ed, who was being called out for being a spy, and me… He then realised that I spent the night here… For that reason, he could have fabricated the message from the pigeon on the spot… But that’s nonsense! Nothing I come up with makes any sense… But does it really matter? There’s no way a Naval message contains mere small talk. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s a telegram from the Western fleet bound to a messenger bird that then flew all the way here. To the Bell Rock, the ship Ed boarded. Even if the message is impossible to decode, it’s still proof that they’ve been communicating with each other…’
As soon as Alain and Jericho entered the cabin one after another, Lil ordered them without delay not even fully informing them on the situation.
“He’s a spy from the Navy.”
“…What did you say?”
Lil avoided further explanation by wriggling the barrel of the gun she was holding. The more she confronted her inner thoughts, the more the scale pointed into a direction it shouldn’t as it couldn’t bear the weight.
“Lock him up. We’ll throw him on a suitable uninhabited island soon, let’s discuss the timing later.”
It had been a particularly rough day.
As soon as the trumpet sounded in the morning, the captain’s office became crowded. This was because the moored ship decided to raise its anchor. After a long time, the Bell Rock was caught on a windy day again and sailed along the course. Due to their resumed voyage, the officers busied themselves around the decks all day long. As she was never being left alone for even a moment, Lil and Cesar still hadn’t had the chance to speak about what had happened in private.
While constantly giving orders and receiving reports, Lil thought of Ed’s disposal. Ed had been chained up and was watched alternately by Alain and Jericho. Those who asked about the gunshot were told it was a suicide attempt.
‘Indeed, that’s better than the lame excuse that it was a mistake. No matter when he disappears, we can simply tell them he succeeded in killing himself and the doctor’s work has been suspended.’
The work on deck didn’t stop till evening. Only then did Lil, Cesar, Alain and Jericho gather in the captain’s room to discuss Ed’s removal. Out of necessity for this meeting, Ed’s warden became the young Courant. Although Lil was worried that Courant might not be able to handle Ed, they weren’t in a position to do anything about it.
Lil declared the sentence without question.
“Isolation. As soon as the sun rises tomorrow, throw him overboard near a deserted island.”
Alain asked disgruntledly.
Lil pressed her lips before she could continue any further.
‘For a prisoner who’s supposed to receive the maximum sentence, the suggestion to delay his disposition until the morning just to increase his visibility won’t make sense…’
Sure enough, Alain banged the table in frustration.
“Are you going to throw him away in the morning knowing there’s a risk of someone seeing him? We should throw him out when it’s dark, like right now. It will be better if this doesn’t reach the ears of guys like Julio. Besides, Captain, won’t the other sailors get suspicious if the doctor has been locked up for a long time? A new patient can come any minute! Anyone can knock on the door of the doctor! If it’s only one or two people, the excuse we use now can work, but not when there are ten or twenty. We can’t lock him up like this. Let’s hurry and dispose of him as soon as possible. We’ll need to go back to Panichi and report this.”
Jericho, standing next to Alain, couldn’t stop fidgeting with his fingers.
“That’s right, we’ll have to tell Anunchio about this disaster… oh, what to do… oh…”
Jericho, with his head down, thumped his forehead. He was so remorseful that tears welled up in his eyes. Because no one stopped him, only Jericho’s lamentation could be heard for a while.
It was Cesar who eventually cut him off.
“No. Our destination won’t change.”
“Navigator. What do you mean?”
“Did you forget that this ship is carrying out the orders of the League? Currently, the Bell Rock is in the process of bringing in supplies necessary for the upcoming war. If the Navy is already this close to the League, we need to hurry, don’t we?”
“I’ll send a letter through another ship when we encounter one on the way.”
“What kind of ship could we possibly encounter on these waters?”
“Didn’t we already come across one?”
“For now, that’s the best thing to do. Isn’t that right, Captain?”
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