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Chapter 7: The Underbelly of Downtown
Alan and Danis continued down the hidden passage of the house, which eventually led to an underground waterway. Alan continued to ponder who Danis was to be able to prepare such an escape route.
He followed Danis and eventually climbed up a flight of stairs that led back aboveground.
Alan went up the doorway of what he assumed was a warehouse somewhere, and entered the building.
“This area still looks safe.”
Danis muttered this quietly to himself, as he listened outside and confirmed the absence of soldiers’ yells and footsteps. Alan breathed a sigh of relief once he realized he had somehow managed to escape from the soldiers successfully.
“It’s still too early to be relieved. If you’re going to follow me from here, there’s something you need to be mindful of.”
“Something to be mindful of?”
Alan cocked his head to one side. But Danis had a serious tone, so it was probably something that he shouldn’t ignore. As they were chased by soldiers, he didn’t want to slow Danis down.
“Don’t trust people easily in the place where we’re going. And don’t tell anyone that you’re a prince. … and then… “
Danis stared at him as he was speaking, but then trailed off. Alan continued to keep his mouth shut.
Alan was bothered by the fact that he had stopped talking in the middle of his instructions. It would have bothered anyone if what they were listening to got cut off in the middle.
“Huh? What? You’re worried about me, aren’t you?”
When he asked that, Danis looked away as if he didn’t want to speak anymore. Danis moved forward then, and exited the warehouse.
Alan was still a bit unsure about what was going on, but still followed Danis despite being anxious.
“I’ve been waiting for you!”
As soon as they left the warehouse, a man who had been standing at the end of the road called out to them. Alan was startled by this sudden outburst and froze.
Danis was unfazed by this man’s call and sighed at him.
Apparently, Danis knew him.
“Tim, I thought I told you to go back to the base?”
This young man looked to be in his twenties. He had a slender body, and wore a hat over his bouncy, unkempt, chestnut brown hair. The man laughed somewhat gleefully.
“I told everyone properly! It’s unusual for Danis to be so cautious this time, so I’ll accompany you to the base.”
As they were talking, the young man called Tim turned his gaze toward Alan. He was curious about Alan, and leaned a little closer to look at Alan’s face.
Alan unconsciously took a step back at Tim’s intent gaze.
“So? What about this boy here? Danis-san, you seem so protective of him… bufufua!!”
Danis swung his fist down on Tim’s head.
As he groaned in pain, Tim held his head in his hands.
“.. I just got involved in something slightly troublesome. I brought him with me because we were spotted by soldiers.”
Alan wasn’t sure if Tim bought Danis’s explanation, but he eventually took his eyes off Alan and said, “Well, we know where the distribution of troops is thinnest, so let’s go.”
After he said that, Tim started walking ahead of them.
It seemed that they were going to Danis’s main hideout? He said they were going back to their base.
Tim must have been a friendly person because whenever Alan made eye contact with him while they were walking, he would smile. He spoke a little casually, but it didn’t really bother Alan.
However, as they followed their guide, the place gradually became rowdier, despite the fact they were in the downtown area. The few people loitering in the corner of the alley were clearly not normal; they were probably ruffians. They were staring curiously at Alan’s group.
The sleazy laughter and stares made Alan feel uneasy, and he unconsciously grabbed Danis’s sleeve.
“Just stay close to me and you’ll be fine.”
Alan nodded at Danis’s words.
There was a nobility and class system in this country. Although he had learned that the king’s rule was stable, there were inevitable differences in the security and economy in the downtown area. He had never actually been to such a place.
There was no way a prince would come to such a place and even if he did come to inspect the place privately, his safety would be guaranteed by the soldiers.
From Alan’s point of view, the scene before him was a far cry from the civilian town he knew of.
They entered a building located deep within the downtown area which further strengthened this impression of criminality. It looked like a normal house made of bricks from the outside. Alan started to get a faint sense of what kind of person Danis was once he arrived there.
When Danis walked in, the big, rough-looking people around him looked at him, and the men who had been momentarily cowed by him smiled back.
“It’s a good thing you’re back, boss! You’re back early this time, aren’t you?”
“Oh, I told you to stop calling me boss. It’s not my style.”
Alan had initially been frightened and distracted by his surroundings, but then as he heard their words… Boss!?? Alan was startled at how the men had called Danis.
Indeed, he thought that Danis was not an ordinary person. There was also the fact that he didn’t seem to be bothered by the ruffians they had encountered on the way here. It made Alan think he must be different from any person he’s encountered before. But he had no idea Danis would be that kind of person.
“I’d agree with you, but I think everyone here thinks of you as such. And what about that boy…? “
“What?… Ah… ? “
When one of the men, a man who happened to be wearing sunglasses, looked at Alan and questioned Danis about him, all the other scary-looking men turned their attention to him.
Alan was frightened as he was suddenly the focus of all the shady guys in the room. There were stern men and scary-looking men in the castle, but the men here had a different sense of intimidation compared to the soldiers.
Alan was so intimidated that he didn’t know how to react to the question; he took a step back and mumbled a little incoherently.
“I’m going to be taking shelter here for a while. Please don’t hurt me.”
“So you’re a guest. I’m Bourne. Nice to meet you. Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.”
The big sunglasses-wearing man smiled at him, looking disproportionate to his appearance. Alan hurriedly gave a shallow bow.
“Nice to meet you too. Please take care of me. It’s… Adele.”
He was about to say his name when he suddenly remembered that Danis had told him not to let anyone know that he was a prince. Thus, he gave himself a suitable name on the spot.
Alan remembered that Danis had told Alan not to trust him.
“So, what are you going to do about this boy?”
“Well, put him in my room for now.”
”Yes, sir! Let’s go.” Tim replied casually, and then led Alan along. Danis seemed to have something to discuss with the people there. Alan stared at Danis as he turned his back on him before quickly turning his attention toward his appointed guide, Tim.
Alan was led into a room and quickly glanced around it. He wasn’t sure if it was just Danis’s preference or how the building was originally designed, but it was as plain as the house Alan had been brought to when he met Danis.
The presence of bare necessities, like an ashtray, coffee beans, cups, and a few books, gave a lived-in look to the place. However, for a man who was considered as the boss here, there was nothing extravagant to indicate the importance of his position.
“It’s a bit dull, isn’t it? Even though he changes his base and location every once in a while, he doesn’t accept gifts, so I wonder where the rest of the money goes besides expenses for moving locations?”
Tim said this while looking at Alan, and he motioned for Alan to sit down on the couch. He offhandedly made coffee and offered it to Alan, as if he knew his way around the room.
He said, “Danis has been at the center of this place before I came here, but he doesn’t show much attachment to things.”
Alan took a sip of the coffee, listening attentively to what Tim had to say. It was something Alan had noticed too.
Danis always had a somewhat cold look in his eyes. He didn’t seem to get caught up in things, or even look interested in other people, no matter who they were. Even if he knew Alan was a prince, he treated Alan normally as a fellow human being.
“So, that’s unusual.”
Tim murmured this comment in a low voice, and the moment Alan raised his face towards Tim, his vision suddenly distorted.
Alan quickly tried to cling to the couch. His head felt fuzzy; his body felt hot, sluggish, and sweaty. He started to breathe heavily.
The man, Tim, patted Alan’s head gently.
He said, “It’s okay. It’s not like you’re going to die.”
As he said this, the man smiled mischievously.
Watching this scene from the corner of his eyes, Alan slumped into the couch, his mind fuzzy and his body helpless.
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