50 – 10. Stalker vs. Stalker (5)
Contrary to common misconceptions, Ivan is an exceedingly practical person.
Just as it is common for terrorism to occur at the academy entrance ceremony. This world was filled with people who clung to unquestionable common sense and those primitive pre-modern citizens who couldn’t believe in it.
However, Ivan doesn’t blame them. It’s because he is a cultured modern individual with an open mind.
Instead, he carries an axe and a pistol.
In most cases, action is more helpful in resolving a situation than persuasion.
This was the catalyst that led Ivan into the Freyanka bomb-terror incident.
The incident started as usual with Ivan trailing Esidiss.
As always, Ivan was following Esidiss. The tail was perfect, the target would be safe, and there were no other threats around. It was just another ordinary day.
“Hmm… He seems to eat cookies often.” Ivan decided that someday he would seize the opportunity to explain the problems commonly associated with the fats, carbohydrates, and sugars found in chocolate cookies.
Esidiss already had an excessive amount of fat in a specific area. It wouldn’t be a problem if he were a sumo wrestler, but if he ever had to wield a weapon in the future, it would work against him.
Let’s prepare some dried carrot chips as a snack substitute. Ivan nodded, trailing behind Esidiss.
After a while, Ivan suddenly felt a gaze and turned his head.
“What are you doing, mister?”
Isabel, who was staring at him with a rather stern look, appeared.
She slowly turned her eyes and frowned upon seeing Esidiss in the distance, directly in front of Ivan.
For some inexplicable reason, it seemed like something unpleasant had happened. But there was no need to worry.
Ivan runs an orphanage. It means he is experienced in soothing children whose judgment has been clouded by inexplicable matters. Moreover, he has never done anything to upset Isabel.
“Why are you looking at Esidiss?”
“Esidiss. You’re stealing glances at Esidiss right now.”
“It’s a misunderstanding.”
He had never stolen glances. He was just confidently carrying out his security duties.
The only unexpected thing for him was that Isabel, who should be attending classes at this hour, appeared in the correctional facility.
“I saw you outside the window… Well, is my class more important now?”
“…? It is important. Students shouldn’t skip classes.”
If she were a freshman, he would have forcibly dragged her into the classroom, but had Isabelle forgotten that she was receiving full financial support for her tuition from her home country?
Ivan spoke, rolling his tongue.
“If you’re not a full scholarship student, you should focus on your studies. Yansk University is an expensive school, you know.”
“Well… ugh! That’s true, but! No, why do you keep changing the subject?! Why were you peeking at my sheet music?”
“That’s not something you need to worry about.”
Isabelle made a deeply wounded expression. It was incomprehensible. Why would she be hurt by advice to concentrate on her studies and not to bother with his security duties?
However, Ivan, being a kind person, knew how to comfort a teenage (not really) student going through confusion for some unknown reason. (Of course not.)
As a thoughtful adult, Ivan decided not to give a lecture like “get back to class” to a teenager experiencing turmoil over inexplicable issues. Nodding his head, he stepped back.
“No, where are you going? Explain, explain yourself before you go! Give an excuse or something! Ugh!!”
Leaving the panicked Isabelle behind, Ivan quickly disappeared. Isabelle, still staring blankly at his retreating figure, sighed in disappointment.
“Where should I tie him up? I might need to tie him up and teach him how to have a conversation with people….”
During class, she had suddenly seen him by the window and slipped out unnoticed.
Following Ecdysis, who was passing by, she noticed him scribbling something in his notebook.
Considering his personality, he might be up to something, but still.
“I boldly approach, and he just walks away from me…?”
Isabelle chuckled and washed her face a few times.
She had a goal now.
The ‘Zone of the Supernatural’? Yes. Does that mean entering that zone is the only way to deal with that crazy guy with a sword?
She needed to quickly step into that zone, rise to the level of defeating that man by any means necessary.
Capture him, neutralize him, tie him up. Slowly. Thoroughly. She would have to teach him the basics of common sense one by one.
Volunteer work. Yes, with the heart of doing volunteer work. If I don’t, who else will help that poor elderly person (not really).
Ecdysis was once again wandering, unable to find the practice room.
The orchestral ensemble rehearsal, which included a group performance evaluation, was the most dreadful class for her. No one willingly included her in their group.
Therefore, she walked sadly in the midst of her sorrow.
“The practice room lacking one member is Room 154.”
Suddenly, Ivan popped out from the side and approached her.
“Your class is [Ensemble Practice 1]. If your absences increase here, it might become precarious sooner than later.”
“H-How can that…?”
“Now is not the time to worry about that.”
Ivan pulled out a suspicious notebook from his pocket and spoke quietly.
“Midterm results: Ensemble Practice D, Harmony and Counterpoint C, Vocal Performance and Aural Training B+, Chamber Music C, Orchestral Ensemble D, Music Theory B+. Overall, theory grades seem to be better than practical evaluations. However, having an average grade in the mid-2s is a problem.”
“Why did you apply to the music school?”
Ivan stared at Esidisi with piercing eyes.
Having never imagined hearing such words from the guy she thought was just a stalker, Esidisi swallowed hard and lowered her head.
Why? Well, because she wanted to.
Not with weapons, but with musical instruments.
Esidisi carefully chose her words, fidgeting with her fingertips.
“Instruments, instruments are… bridges connecting people, I suppose.”
Esidisi’s eyes widened at the unexpected laughter.
She stared blankly at Ivan’s face, then hesitated, raising her hand unconsciously. Palms wide open, slowly.
Covering the scruffy, captivating beard with her palm, revealing only the bridge of the nose and the eyes.
In that gap, Esidisi’s trembling eyes met Ivan’s deep gaze.
“Could it be…? No, but Uncle is dead….”
“Take care of your health.”
Ivan, being an efficient person, didn’t waste time entertaining Esidisi’s banter. What this kid was thinking was a secondary issue. There were more important matters at hand.
Even if it meant preventing more absences to fill that miserable grade.
Ivan led Echidius to the front of the orchestral practice room in the BonGwa Building, then handed him a lunchbox while Echidius continued to mumble in a daze.
Inside the snack box were dried carrot chips.
“Take care of your health. Einar cares more about your health than your studies. But that doesn’t mean you can skip classes. It’s too late now. Go inside.”
Ivan pushed the stuttering Echidius into the string ensemble practice room and checked his watch.
By the time the ensemble class ended, Mord’s lecture would also be over, and there would be no need to guard Echidius any longer.
It’s going to get busy.
Ivan chuckled as he walked away. Now he just had to guard Isabelle for the night.
It was an ordinary day, like any other.
A day like that continued for the third day.
Guarding Echidius during the day and patrolling near Isabelle’s house at night, the peaceful days of a rural guard continued.
The Central Bank of Prichanka, the Satera Circular Theater, St. Jansc University, St. Chereita Cathedral, and the North-Prichanka Central Police Department all exploded simultaneously on that fateful day at a specific time.
That night, Prichanka burned white.
Ivan walked slowly, conscious of the gun in his holster.
It was the third night of patrolling in front of Isabelle’s house.
When he circled her house for the third time, he realized that he had encountered a passerby three times, each time at roughly the same distance from Isabelle’s house, but from different points of origin.
“His weight is shifted to the right. Right-handed, armed with a gun on his left hip with a chest plate inserted.”
Ivan casually walked past the suspicious man, turning his gaze away.
“The fact that he’s wearing a chest plate means there’s no ballistic detection. This guy is a field agent.”
The suspicious man scanned his surroundings briefly before disappearing into the darkness of the street.
Slowly counting to three, Ivan closed his eyes quietly.
Chasing a target with heightened vigilance from behind is amateurish. A trained agent never pursues in such a manner.
Magic flowed through Ivan’s body. Slowly, with a sensation that tightly coiled around his nervous system like chains.
When he opened his eyes again, he was already stepping into the flow of time where falling leaves drifted slowly.
Slowly, and deeply, he took a breath. His activated senses began to dissect the scent in the air.
It is said that a mouse can detect all the animals on a mountain slope in the wind that ruffles its fur. The olfactory sense of animals is often like that. It far surpasses the density of human olfactory epithelial cells.
But a supernatural being can come infinitely close to that. Forcing the sensory organ itself to activate and dissect the awakened sensory organ under a comma, it is the ability to perceive and analyze.
Not all supernaturals can harness such senses. It’s not a talent but rather a realm of training. Most awakeners of supernatural senses tend to channel their training into combat skills.
However, Ivan was different. He was more specialized in this field than in combat performance.
No, to be precise.
He honed capabilities in this area more outstandingly than any other supernaturals.
Target tracking and assassination, small-scale combat, disruption of target points, and reconnaissance of enemies.
Even within the group known as the best reconnaissance unit in the United Kingdom, he boasted unparalleled expertise hidden among the elite.
Ivan slowly exhaled the breath he had taken, moving his steps.
Numerous scents flowed with the urban breeze passing through the city buildings.
Exceptionally developed senses induce empathy. Ivan was now walking, gazing at the ‘scent trail’ shining brightly in the darkness.
Slowly, without haste.
Straight towards the prey.
Once a target is encountered within Freichankaya, it can never escape his senses.
Ivan moved with measured steps.
Leisurely, patiently, until the target crawled into his heart.
From Noble mtl dot com