[Prologue] [Chapter 1] [Chapter 2]
Riviere, the Unprayer
Raindrops were falling from the sky.
My clothes had become sodden a long time ago, and they clung persistently to the brick-layered ground.
The tips of my fingers which were still able to move a little grasped a piece of paper while trembling slightly. The paper was also completely sodden, and the words that had been written on it were no longer legible.
That alley, lined with modest houses, was utterly devoid of other people. It was filled with silence, and I felt a sense of alienation, almost as if the world had turned its back on me.
I was alone and on the verge of death, lying on the road.
—I wonder, just where did I go wrong?
Despite the slightly serious atmosphere, I assure you that I am merely unable to move because of hunger. Also, I mentioned that it was raining, didn’t I? That’s not quite right either. The truth is, there’s a winged dragon that lives in the neighborhood that is currently taking a bath while splashing water everywhere.
Also, I’m hungry.
At this rate, I’m gonna die.
…Well, in any case.
Despite being on the verge of death, my mind was actually working quite actively when that happened.
I heard a dull sound accompanied by a sharp jolt of pain, and a woman’s voice followed immediately after. I only realized that the back of my head had been kicked when I heard the same voice saying, “Oh sorry, I seem to have kicked you by accident. Are you okay?” coming from above me.
Hey, hey, hey, hey, tormenting a child on the verge of death? You would need to die several times to atone for that sin!
I looked up at her with a gaze that was filled with a slight amount of hostility, and an expectation for a sincere apology and compensation for the trouble. She had a rather surprised expression on her face. Her expression even seemed to say, “Hey, this person is still alive.” Is that any way for a person to react after kicking somebody?
After looking me in the eye for a while, she slightly tilted her head and said, “Well, do you have anything to say?” without changing her expression at all. Hang on, does she think that it is my fault for lying around on the road?
The longer I looked at her, the more mysterious she seemed. She had sleek, glossy red hair and her eyes that were looking at me from above were such a deep blue that it felt like I was getting sucked into their depths. She was holding an umbrella above her head that was decorated with a small silk hat, and it was at this moment that I realized that I was no longer being drenched by the splashing water.
The outfit she was wearing looked like mourning clothes. She was wearing an elegant long skirt that looked like a dress, and there were gray-colored frills sticking out of her sleeves. I also noticed that the gloves she was wearing while gripping the umbrella were completely black as well.
Despite the fact that she was completely covered in black, her face was very white and beautiful.
“If you lie on the roadside like this, it will be troublesome for pedestrians. As a matter of fact, you are causing trouble for me right now.”
I did not open my mouth to speak at all, probably because I was slightly entranced by her.
Okay, okay. It wasn’t like that.
I simply could not muster the strength to speak.
My throat was moist because of all the drops of water that had flowed into my mouth since earlier, but my voice had completely withered away.
Apparently, I was a lot closer to my body’s limits than I had thought.
My vision began to get progressively more blurry, and the woman who was supposed to be right in front of me appeared to be moving farther away as though she was on the other side of a window.
I somehow managed to just squeeze out that word after trying my best and lost all my remaining strength.
The piece of paper gently fell from my fingers.
At the same time, my vision was plunged into darkness.
“….Seriously. Such a foolish child.”
For some reason, only that cold voice clearly reached my ears.
And then I died. Probably.
Oh, I’m alive.
Awoken by either something that smelled delicious or my stomach’s demands for food, that was the first thought to cross my disoriented mind, even before the fact that I was in an unfamiliar place, or that my usual clothes had been swapped for a pair of embarrassingly pink pajamas with a cute pattern on them, or even the fact that I could see the woman from earlier skilfully cooking something in front of me.
Actually, what the heck is this?
“Oh, you’re awake. I’m making some food now, so wait a bit.”
She spoke to me without turning around.
Seriously, what the heck is going on?
Still confused, I got out of bed.
Looking around, I saw that I appeared to be in her room. It had an aged wooden floor, pure white walls, and was equipped with the bare minimum required furniture. Light from the midday sun made its way into the room through the window, and I could see that laundry had been hung out to dry in the balcony, swaying with the gentle breeze.
Dark green slacks, a white shirt, a brown jacket, and a newsboy cap—they were my clothes. The pocket watch that I usually stashed in my slacks had been taken out and placed on the table, where it was quietly recording the passage of time.
I gave the watch a fleeting glance.
I see, it looks like I was out of it for a good two or three hours.
“I’m sorry for kicking you earlier, it was an accident. I had no idea that you were on the verge of dying from starvation…. I assumed that you were just drunk senseless and so I treated you harshly. My apologies.”
While apologizing repeatedly in a dispassionate tone, she placed simple fare like bread, salad, and stew on the table in front of me.
Along with plates for two people.
“This is… Well, let’s just consider it my apology.”
She sat down on the chair opposite me and suddenly smiled.
……Damn, I think I’m about to fall for her.
“……Thank you very much…… Really, thank you very much……”
“This isn’t something that you need to thank me for. Also, you don’t need to be so polite. We appear to be around the same age.”
“Eh? I’m seventeen, though.”
“Yes, so let’s stop being so formal.”
Ah, she’s not going to tell me her own age, I see.
“By the way, why were you on the verge of dying in a place like that?”
After slightly tilting her head and asking that question, she said, “Ah, feel free to help yourself” while picking up a piece of bread and stuffing it into her mouth.
I placed of serving of salad from the serving bowl onto my plate and transferred a forkful to my mouth—ah, it’s delicious! How can an ordinary salad be so delicious I can’t stop shoveling it into my mouth I think I could eat this for all eternity—ah, the stew is delicious too it’s so delicious that I might die!
Seeing me cry while eating, she stiffened slightly.
“Waaaaaaaah….. It’s so tasty…. It tastes like my mother’s cooking……”
“I don’t have a mother, though.”
“Can you please stop making jokes that are hard to react to?”
“I wouldn’t mind even if this was my last meal…… This is more than enough…. Waaaaaaaah…..”
“Oh, about the reason why I was lying there on the verge of death.”
“You’re pretty quick at switching tracks, aren’t you?”
You could also say that I am finally regaining my usual mental state after getting some food in me. Or perhaps you could say that I had been revived from the abyss of death.
“Umm… I’m not sure where to begin….”
Using a spoon, I scooped up some stew while thinking about everything that had happened to me until now.
“Instead of reacting to the food with every bite, just tell me the reason already.”
I was made to tell her everything.
“McMillia-kun, you’re fired. You don’t need to come to work from tomorrow. I know you’ve been working hard until now but I just felt that I have too many people around here, you see?”
“I’ve decided to become independent and join a brass band…. So I’m shutting down the company. Sorry, but this means that we’re bankrupt.”
“Ahem…. To put it frankly, our company is bankrupt as of today.”
“McMillia-chan, you’re fired. Thanks for your work until now.”
“You’re fired.” “We’re bankrupt.” “Fired.” “Fired.” “Bankrupt.” “Fired.” Bankrupt.” Et cetera.
I think that I have lived a very unfortunate life.
The days that I have lived through after leaving the orphanage at fourteen years of age weren’t exactly fulfilling.
Every day was filled with work and struggling to get by on my meager wages.
Every time I find some work, the business either goes bankrupt in three months or I end up getting fired. And then I have to find a new place to work and the cycle just repeats.
I have pretty much never been employed at the same place of work for a long time.
“……Screw this. I’m pissed.”
It’s not surprising that I grew tired of living my life in that manner. And so, three years after I decided to stand on my own feet, I was at the limit of my patience.
Or perhaps the growing instability of this country as a whole was just getting to me.
[ Is that prayer really necessary? Please exercise restraint when praying in the cathedral. Prayers should be for the good of all. ]
As usual, there were posters with that message put up along the main street that led to the cathedral.
Although the design of the posters and the wording had changed over the years, these warning posters had apparently been posted along the street for many years now. There were so many of these subtly threatening posters that the people who traveled along the main street to the cathedral were already tired of seeing them, but every single one of those people ignored the warning regardless.
This country’s unique and most important legacy was the [ Prayer ]. It was a miracle that had been bestowed upon the cathedral that sat at the heart of this country that floated upon the ocean.
If you go to the cathedral and pray, there is a very small chance that your wish will come true—or so the rumors went.
I had not prayed a single time in my life, but I had heard that there were apparently a lot of people whose wishes came true.
How many of this city’s upper class gained their riches because their wish came true? How many people overcame their incurable diseases because they clung desperately to their prayer? Of all the happy couples in this city, how many of them went to the cathedral to pray?
Every one of the prayers belonged one of three categories; praying for success, for glory, or to overcome something.
That is why the people of this country went to pray at every opportunity. After all, there was a convenient method to have your wish granted, and it was never really out of your sight so long as you lived in this country.
That is why they clung to their prayers.
[ Due to the fact that people have been praying in the large central cathedral since the day this country was established, it is becoming difficult for the cathedral to maintain its usual function. Everyone, please stop praying in the cathedral. Let us all aim to live a life without prayers. ]
It had been nearly twenty years since the previous princess of the country, Marinarise, had made that proclamation to the people and prayers of any kind had been completely banned.
In return, the citizens rose up in revolt and eventually overthrew the princess. The title then passed to her younger sister, Fione.
Fione was the one who had implemented the idea of putting up posters around the city. The current king took up a stance of absolutely not intervening in any issue. It was probably because of what had happened to his older daughter, who had taken forceful measures and ended up losing her position.
However, it was completely pointless.
As if to prove that, there were a large number of people who had overcome the barrier of species to assemble in the cathedral even today.
A story of some demons:
“Hey, listen to this! Some time ago, I prayed here to run into a cute female knight.”
“Oh, I see. How did that turn out?”
“I was nearly killed by a female knight.”
“I mean, the wish came true but… No, I get the feeling that that wasn’t quite what I wished for.”
A story of some humans:
“I wish to become a billionaire. I wish to become a billionaire.”
“Hey look, that person is at it again…..”
“Ugh. He’s is always here, praying.”
“There’s no way his wish will come true.”
“By the way, what are you praying for today?”
“Hmm? I am going to pray for things to go smoothly between Alex-kun and me.”
“Oh? But I’ve been going out with Alex-kun since last week.”
A story of some therianthropes:
“I want to go out with a human girl.”
“But we are covered in fur.”
“It will be hard to get a human girl to go out with you.”
“I wish to turn into a human soon.”
No matter how you looked at it, the cathedral was filled with only vulgar individuals.
Seriously, everyone who goes to the cathedral to pray has such wishes, and since the cathedral grants even wishes like these, I can’t bring myself to like it.
Even I found myself lining up with those people before I had realized it.
The fact that I was surrounded by selfish people was very irritating, but more than that, I was irritated with myself because nothing ever went the way I wanted it to.
That is why I decided to go to the cathedral as well, as a way to distract myself.
In short, I just couldn’t take it anymore. In more ways than one.
You could also say that I just wanted something to cling to, no matter what.
And so, I got in the line.
My turn came after I waited for around an hour.
The interior of the cathedral was completely white. The arched ceiling was a great distance above me, and it was so magnificent that just looking up at it made me go weak in the knees.
Every time I walked forward, my footsteps echoed. It is a custom to enter the cathedral alone, and so the only footsteps that echoed in here were my own. That was the only sound I heard in that place. It felt like a completely different world that was insulated from the vulgarity outside.
On the far side of the cathedral was a stained glass filled with a myriad of colors. Just before that was a statue of a person I didn’t even know the name of, and I went down on one knee in front of it and clasped my hands together.
“Please make it so that I never get fired from a job again!”
I yelled that in a loud voice.
“Please make it so that any business I work for never goes bankrupt ever again!”
While I was at it, I yelled that too.
By the way, I also cursed at something while I was there.
In that way, the very first prayer of my life came to an end.
“What happened after that?”
“My wish came true.”
“Then why were you lying half-dead in the street?”
“That’s because I was never able to find a job again after that.”
I didn’t notice anything different until quite some time had passed after I finished that prayer.
I don’t mean to boast, but since I worked at so many different companies, I was pretty sure that I didn’t fall behind ability-wise when compared to anyone else. In fact, I was pretty much perfect when it came to interviews. That’s why, by the time three years had passed since I started working, I almost always got hired at any company that I applied to.
Despite that, from the day after I made that prayer, I strangely started to fail in interviews. I wanted to work, but I could not even get into the workplace.
Feeling frustrated, I combed the bulletin boards where job recruitment offers are posted and applied to a bunch of companies, but I was rejected at every single one of them. In group interviews, completely inept people who could not even frame a coherent response to a question were hired while I was rejected. Even such things became quite common.
Left with no other choice, I ended up whittling away at the savings that I had built up until then to see to my daily needs until one day, I finally realized something.
This was probably the result of my wish coming true.
“Basically, you couldn’t be fired or lose your job due to a company going bankrupt if you never got hired in the first place, is that right? It looks like you had a pretty troubling curse placed upon you.”
“……A curse, huh?”
I was talking about a prayer, but sure, it might be more appropriate to call it a curse.
“—Anyway, I don’t think I need to explain what happened after that until today. Even though I had realized that it was because of the prayer, there isn’t really much I could have done about it, right? I tried to pray again wishing for the previous prayer to be canceled, but that didn’t work.”
Nobody in the country knows the probability of prayers coming true. There are some people who have their prayers granted on their first try, like me, and there are also people who have been praying for the same thing for several years and are yet to see it come to fruition.
Looking at it from that angle, I’m not sure if I should consider myself lucky or unlucky. Is it okay if I get mad?
“So you’re saying that you were not able to work even though you wanted to, and ended up in that state after burning through all your savings?”
“That’s right. I thought I was gonna die.”
My days were filled with walking around to different places of employment while praying for my previous prayer to be canceled. I tried every single job offer that was posted on the bulletin board, but the result didn’t change.
And then finally, my savings ran out.
The only thing I could see in my future was death, unless I found a job right away.
“And so, I was on my way to a strange shop called [ Recress Riviere ] today.”
The piece of paper that was in my hand when I had collapsed was the application form for that job.
“It seemed like a really shady place to work. The job advertisement flyer had [ Looking for a living human who is willing to work as hard as a slave, is capable of keeping secrets, and doesn’t interfere with matters that have nothing to do with them ] written on it, after all. Still, the pay wasn’t too bad. It definitely sounds like some sort of sketchy job, right?”
“Eh? No way….”
Did I say something weird? Oh well, it doesn’t matter.
“Well… I would normally never go to an interview for a job like that, but in my present condition I don’t really have the leeway to worry about such things, so I decided to go.”
“However, judging by what happened, you weren’t able to make it there, right?”
She spoke to me while taking a sip of coffee after her meal.
That’s exactly right.
“I was so weak with hunger on my way to the store that I couldn’t walk anymore and collapsed. And then, a neighborhood winged dragon decided to take a bath at that exact time which resulted in me ending up in a confusing state of getting drenched even though there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky.”
After that, as you know, I was saved by her and I am currently having a relaxing cup of coffee after my meal.
I barely managed to come back from the brink of death.
……Although it is a fact that the prayer of misfortune that affects me hasn’t changed one bit.
She just gave me that short reply and put her cup down on the table.
“It looks like you’ve had a rough time, McMillia.”
“You’re calling me by my first name already?”
My name came up multiple times while I was telling her my story so I did think that there was no need to formally introduce myself again at this point, but isn’t that way of addressing me a little too familiar?
“It’s fine, isn’t? Are we not friends?”
“We only met for the first time a short while ago, though.”
What’s more, you kicked me during our first meeting.
“Even so, we shared a meal under the same roof.”
“……I just prefer to address people without honorifics, that’s all.”
I don’t really understand that logic, but if you wanted to do that then you should have said so from the start, right?
“Anyways—I guess I am just fated to never work again. Alright, that brings my story to a close.”
I lowered my shoulders in an exaggerated manner.
There are still people lining up in front of the cathedral to offer their prayers.
The fact that it was restricted by the government made no difference to the people who were just living in the present—Hang on, in the first place, I went to pray because I wasn’t able to continue living in the present!
My, how troubling.
How should I live from now on? My future looks extremely bleak. I wish the government had some public assistance programs… Throw me a bone here, Municipal Territory-san.
“Seeing as you are in such a shitty situation, I have a good proposition for you.”
She was looking directly at me.
“Prayers that have been tinged with misfortune, and prayers that have been affected in some strange way by the cathedral which is undergoing some major issues—There is just one way to remove such prayers that are little better than curses.”
“By saying another prayer to nullify the earlier one, right?”
However, she shook her head at my reply.
“That’s not it. You don’t need to do something so convoluted. There is a way to get rid of the curse itself directly. Simply put, there is a method to dispel it.”
A way to dispel it?
“……How do you do that?”
“Uwaah. You look incredibly suspicious…”
Well, of course. I might not have the right to say this after getting food for free, but I am not a trusting person by nature, despite my appearance. There’s no way that I would go, “Really!? Yay! That’s amazing!” after hearing something like that all of a sudden. Even I’m not as big an idiot as that.
“Even if what you say is right and there is a way to dispel the prayer, how exactly would one do that?”
Still, there’s no harm in just listening to what she had to say. I asked her that while tilting my head.
That was her reply.
What is this person talking about? While I was thinking that while looking dazed, she continued to speak.
“To tell you the truth, it’s my job to remove prayers— or rather, curses that have been granted.”
She even looked pretty confident while saying that.
She had the power to dispel prayers—nay, curses.
Those words of hers were like a ray of hope to someone like me whose future was filled with nothing but darkness. At that moment, the woman in front of me looked like a goddess, and not only was I on the verge of saying something like, “Seriously? Well then, please dispel my prayer I beg you,” I was also half out of my seat, leaning towards her. However, I managed to hold myself back at the last moment.
“……Are you being serious about that, Miss?”
“What did I say about being formal?”
“……Are you freaking serious right now?”
“I’m completely serious. I’m sure it sounds hard to believe at first, but I do indeed have that power. And then there’s you—cursed to live a life without hope. It’s like fate caused our paths to cross. Or perhaps one of us prayed for this to happen?”
It was then that I suddenly realized something.
Please cancel the prayer—I had certainly wished for that several times over the past few days.
“……Can you really cancel a prayer?”
“But how do you do that?”
I’ve never heard of such a thing.
She raised her hand and showed it to me. Her white, slender fingers were pointed at me.
“I have to touch you. That’s all it takes. Just by doing that, I can cancel a curse that binds you.”
I unintentionally narrowed my eyes.
I mean, are you really, really seriously saying that?
“Your eyes tell me that you can’t believe it.”
“Yeaah… Well, yes.”
“In that case, do you want to give it a try?”
She stood up while saying that, and for some reason sat down next to me while saying, “There’s no harm in trying something out.”
She was looking at me from so close by that our feet and shoulders were almost touching.
“……Aren’t you a bit too close?”
“It’s easier to talk when we’re close by, right?”
“Are you sure you don’t mean that it is easier to touch?”
Looks like I hit the bullseye. This woman is a little too easy to read.
“O-Oh well, let’s put that aside for now.”
She tried to wave aside my words in a strained manner.
“So, what do you want to do?”
“……It won’t hurt, right?”
“Hey, why aren’t you saying anything!? Stop it, don’t move your hand towards me! Stop!”
“It’s fine, it’s fine. It probably won’t hurt. Ufufufufu….”
I desperately held her back as she tried to touch me with her hand.
What the hell is this?
“I haven’t dispelled any curses lately so you could say I’m a little backed up. My right hand is throbbing. Hey, let me do you.”
“What the heck is up with that painfully juvenile reason!? You’re scaring me!”
“Really, it’ll be fine. Even if it hurts, it will only be for a moment.”
“That means I’d die, right!? Stop it! I can’t feel anything but anxiety right now!”
“I gave you food, didn’t I? You should at least bear with this much.”
“You already said that that was to make up for kicking me!”
“Unfortunately, the coffee isn’t a part of that!”
“Could you not equate my life to a cup of coffee!?”
“Oh? But that coffee was made from the highest quality beans, you know?”
“Is my life worth less than the highest grade coffee beans……?”
“It’s called Kopi Luwak, you see, and it is extremely rare.”
“At least refute my statement, dammit! Also, isn’t that coffee made out of shit!?”
In more ways than one!
I’ve never tasted it until now, but even I’ve heard of it! Isn’t that the shitty coffee that is made from beans selected from the feces of random civets? The only thing it has going for it is the rarity! Don’t give people stuff like that to drink!
“Haa… This is why amateurs are such a pain. Just because the method of gathering the beans is a little special, you shouldn’t go around saying that it is of poor quality when you don’t even know anything about it. Its value is only known to those who have an idea of its price and have a discerning palate.”
Just when I thought that she stopped struggling against me, she folded her arms and let out a sigh.
What she was saying made sense logically, but shit is still shit, you know? Even if it is beautiful shit, it’s still shit, right?
In other words, she’s saying that my life is worth less than shit? Hey, that’s a really shitty thing to say to someone.
“Well, what did you think of the taste?”
I dropped my gaze to the table and looked at the two cups. Both of them were already empty.
“It was very delicious.”
“Right? You can’t tell the worth of any coffee until you’ve tasted it.”
I groaned and agreed.
Actually, now that I think about it calmly, isn’t this a once-in-a-lifetime chance?
Even though she did kick me, if not for her home cooking, I would now be a sodden corpse on the side of the road. I was basically dead when she took me in, so I should at least listen to one of her demands or I’ll come off as ungrateful.
What’s more, in the infinitesimally small chance that she was telling the truth, I won’t lose anything by listening to her.
You could even say that there are no bad sides to this offer at all.
In the end, I decided to stop thinking.
“……Be gentle, okay?”
After saying that, I turned to face her. Perhaps she decided to meekly listen to my request, as she gently extended her hand and touched my cheek.
Her surprisingly cold fingertips sent a chill down my spine.
“It’s okay. It’ll be over soon.”
After saying that, she put some strength into her fingers.
An indistinct, pale blue light welled up from her fingertips and enveloped me. Despite her cold fingertips and the color of the light, it was warm like the sun on a spring day.
The pale blue light that covered me uniformly from head to toe eventually broke apart with a crackling sound, turned into beads of light, and vanished.
The light vanished like ephemeral foam, and as she had promised, it was over in the blink of an eye.
The warmth had already disappeared without a trace before I was fully aware of it, and her cold fingertips reluctantly left my skin.
“……There, it’s done.”
And then, as though nothing had happened, she went to sit in the chair across from me.
How do I say this, that was a very anticlimactic ending.
“Umm… Was the prayer really canceled with just that?”
“Yes. Of course.”
“I can’t really tell if the curse has been lifted or not, though.”
I mean, the only thing she did was to release some light from her hand. Despite whatever effect that might have had, I couldn’t feel anything different.
“Oh, that’s simple enough.”
However, nodding as though it was the most natural thing in the world, she pulled a piece of wrinkled paper out of her pocket.
It was the application form for the shady job interview that I was supposed to attend today—the shop of Riviere, The Unprayer.
“That reminds me, I haven’t introduced myself yet, have I?”
She then went on to say this.
“My name is Riviere. I am the owner of the shop called [ Recress Riviere ].”
That’s what she said to me.
“Would you like to work for me?”
She added that on as well.
So basically, looking at it from her perspective, it went something like this.
Riviere, The Unprayer who specialized in canceling prayers, had been in a fix as of late because of her slowly increasing clientele that left her understaffed. The increase in the number of customers was due to the cathedral, which had been acting up in recent times. However, Riviere was not exactly gifted in people skills, and since her job advertisements only had suspicious things written on them, she didn’t get many applicants.
At such a time, she just happened to find me, who had just happened to collapse on my way to attend an interview at her shop.
So, just as this incident had been stroke of good fortune for me, it had also been a stroke of good fortune for her.
I suppose this is what you call a win-win situation!
Or you could also say that I fell for her trap perfectly!
“Still, it’s true that there are no demerits for you, isn’t that right?”
“No, but still, Riviere-san…”
“Stop using honorifics with me, please.”
“It’s just as you said, but I guess I just haven’t accepted it yet, or maybe my mind hasn’t caught up with this reality yet….”
Don’t you think things went a little too well? Not only did she save my life, but she also got rid of my unpleasant circumstances and even offered me a job… Is it okay for me to be blessed to this extent? She won’t sell my organs at some later date or something, right?
“I don’t think there’s a problem. You were unhappy all this time, so just think of it as getting an equivalent share of happiness now.”
“From what you’ve told me, it seems you also had a curse which caused you to not stay employed for longer periods of time, right?”
“Hang on, what sort of curse is that?”
This is the first I’ve heard of this.
“I wonder if someone had a grudge against you at some point? As you know, even good-for-nothing wishes are granted in this country. That’s just how things are.”
“In other words…”
“There is a good chance that someone prayed for your misfortune.”
“I already canceled it so it doesn’t really matter at this point, but… In any case, you could never keep a job for long until now because of circumstances like that.”
However, it will be different from now on.
No matter what happens, or whose wrath you incur, I will protect you.
While whispering that, she placed a pen and paper on the table.
“Will you agree to be my assistant?”
She was not exactly overflowing with kindness. However, it didn’t look like she had a hidden agenda either. I was held captive by her deep blue eyes that looked like they would suck me in if I looked into them for too long.
In all my years of working, I have seen many different types of people.
That is why I knew. The wonderful adults that I looked up to as a child, the ones who behaved like proper grown-ups, were an illusion. I knew that the world was filled with scummy individuals who had eyes that looked like stagnant pools of water, people who yearned only for their own profits and whose natures had not changed for the better in any significant way since the time they were children.
That is why they never stopped praying.
However, she was capable of stopping those prayers.
Also, she was so mature that it was hard for me to believe that we were around the same age—in fact, her eyes were clearer than those of any person whom I have seen in this country to date. She was like an untainted maiden.
Her beauty was entrancing.
Was there any reason to hesitate when faced with such an opportunity?
That is why I picked up the pen without any hesitation.
“Well then, I’ll work you like a pack mule until the verge of death, so prepare yourself. My shop is so deep into the black market that even the word ‘black’ does not do it justice.”
“Hahaha, you must be joking. I know that you’re actually a good person, Riviere.”
“Oh? That’s a pretty familiar way of speaking to someone whom you only met a few hours ago.”
“Come now, we shared a meal under the same roof, didn’t we?”
“Be that as it may, how do you want to split up the installments to repay your loan?”
A loan? What is she talking about?
“I have a rule of not taking loans. Even today, I was about to die while having no loans to my name.”
“Oh? In that case, how do you plan to pay the dispel fee of ten million Lein? Are you going to sell your organs?”
“I said that I would dispel the curse, but I have no memory of saying that I would do it for free. Make sure you work hard to pay it back, okay?”
“Thank you so much for accepting my deal. If you had refused, I would have had a lot of work on my hands right about now. With the cleanup.”
She placed one of her hands upon my shoulder.
“In any case, welcome to Rivere, The Unprayer. Glad to have you here.”
What happened to my vision of her with eyes clearer than those of anyone else?
Were my own eyes clouded? So in the end, I was made to believe that my path of retreat was cut off and I only had one path left to follow? Hey, that’s exactly the kind of thing that gangsters do! That’s horrible!
“Excuse me, is there a cooling-off period or something?”
“I’m sorry, we are a black-market establishment so we don’t entertain things like that.”
I knew it, this was a shady job after all! I can’t take this!
[Prologue] [Chapter 1] [Chapter 2]