Ch 50 – Poker Face (1)
Neike and his group entered the basement of the Hero Department and found themselves in the interrogation room.
Their eyes widened at the sight before them—Theo and Rok stood facing each other.
On the other side of the glass window, they saw Instructor Francis, whom they knew well, sitting broken.
Although he seemed outwardly normal, it was evident to Neike and his group that something was seriously wrong.
'…He's completely out of sorts.' No one uttered a word.
However, everyone present knew that Theo had implicated Francis as a suspect.
Eshild blinked in surprise.
What's going on?” “Professor James.” Theo interrupted Eshild and turned his gaze to the professor who had brought Neike and the others.
“I asked you to bring Jang Woohee.
Just one person.” “Ah, uh…” Taken aback by Theo's tone, Professor James stuttered before finally speaking up.
“Since we've apprehended the suspect, I thought it would be best to bring the entire first-year investigation team…” “Send out everyone except Jang Woohee.” Without even looking at James, Theo directed his attention to Rok, who was in charge.
Neike and the others, excluding Jang Woohee, couldn't help but shiver.
All students except Jang Woohee, leave the interrogation room.” “But, but…” Aisha glanced at Theo and Rok, hoping for some acknowledgement.
Yet Theo didn't spare her a glance.
There wasn't even a hint of contempt in his eyes.
He stood there, arms crossed, solely focused on the glass window.
No care for the people who had doubted him.
Rok narrowed his eyes.
“Don't make me repeat myself.” “…Fine.” Reluctantly, the five—Neike, Piel, Aisha, Andrew, and Eshild— made their way towards the door of the interrogation room.
Before leaving, Aisha cast a shaky glance at Theo, her eyes filled with uncertainty.
He remained standing, arms still crossed.
It was clear he had no intention of engaging in conversation with them.
“…” Theo's cold demeanor silenced them all.
Once they exited the interrogation room, Theo turned his attention to Jang Woohee.
“Jang Woohee, could you help me decipher these letters?” “Okay.” His demeanor remained cold, but his tone was polite.
Jang Woohee found his peculiar behavior somewhat perplexing, but she couldn't refuse his request.
If anything, she could earn a favor from the mysterious man who had a trait similar to hers.
After all, Jang Woohee didn't have any particular attachment to the first-year investigation team.
She promptly picked up a letter and began deciphering it.
“······.” She quickly skimmed through the first three paragraphs; there was no need to read any further.
The unconscious instructor, restrained within the interrogation room, was undoubtedly the culprit.
'But how did he know that I can decipher these coded letters?' According to the professor who had approached her, Theo specifically requested her assistance.
'There's no way he could have discovered my identity.' Jang Woohee had meticulously concealed it, the fact that she was affiliated with Equilibrium—an assassination group involved in most major events across the continent—and that she was even the child of the group's leader.
She had kept it all hidden, leaving no trace behind.
After receiving an order to graduate from Elinia Academy's Hero Department with exceptional grades, she had not been in contact with the organization.
Jang Woohee glanced at Theo, then quickly averted her gaze.
'It's strange.' Only a select few within the organization were aware of her true identity.
Naturally, the academy believed in her fabricated background as an individual hailing from the Eastern Empire.
With that thought in mind, Jang Woohee spoke up.
“There's no need to read further.
The person in possession of this letter is the culprit.” Numerous questions swirled within her mind, but she refrained from voicing them.
There were many ears in the vicinity—Orcs, an elf writhing in pain while clutching her thigh, and professors.
“······.” Jang Woohee gazed blankly at Theo.
Whether he was feigning ignorance of her feelings or genuinely unaware, Jang Woohee couldn't discern his emotions from his expression.
Thoroughness is commendable.
Could you decipher the other letters as well?” Theo nodded.
“Sure.” Jang Woohee swiftly deciphered the remaining letters.
Nothing had changed.
The instructor, tied up in the interrogation room, was undoubtedly the culprit.
If she was 99% certain after reading one letter, she was now 99.9% certain after examining them all.
'I'll need to have a separate conversation with him to see how much he knows.' If he proved to be a threat, she could simply eliminate him.
Even at the tender age of 14, such a task was effortless for her who already possessed the skills of a high-level assassin.
“There's nothing out of the ordinary.
The person who exchanged these letters is the culprit.” With those words, Jang Woohee glanced at Theo and Rok.
“Professor Rok, your instructions.” Theo directed his gaze towards Rok.
Theo's eyes seemed to hold a hidden smile.
'Hmm, look at this guy.' A twisted smile appeared at the corner of Rok's mouth.
From confirming the suspect to making the arrest, Theo had taken care of everything himself, but was leaving the follow-up in Rok's hands.
“Student Jang Woohee, I won't inquire about how a mere student possesses knowledge of the cipher text that even eludes the professors.
You say the person who exchanged these letters is the culprit.
Can you take responsibility for that?” “Yes.” “Understood.” Rok nodded slowly.
In any case, they needed to swiftly resolve the situation in the magical dungeon.
Further delay would undoubtedly deal a severe blow to the Hero Department's reputation.
“Then, Jang Woohee, I request that you transcribe the decrypted contents of this letter immediately.”
The interrogation of Francis concluded more swiftly than expected.
Rok was a seasoned professional.
To extract a confession directly from the culprit's mouth, Rok accomplished this without resorting to physical means.
He slid the deciphered secret letter toward Francis and casually mentioned his girlfriend in the imperial capital, careful not to overstep any boundaries.
Then, Francis lowered his head and confessed to the charges.
'As expected, one cannot become the head professor of the Hero Department without reason.' Obtaining the confession took no more than 10 minutes.
I didn't have much involvement in the process.
In the meantime, I idly toyed with the [Amplification Orb], nestled in my pocket.
With this, one mission was accomplished.
Rok was meticulous, but he wasn't the type to take credit for another's work.
There was a high likelihood that he would announce the capture of the culprit of the magical dungeon incident and the team responsible for it.
'However, if word spreads about my team's success, it will attract unwanted attention.' From this point on, such incidents and accidents would occur with regularity.
Drawing the focus of 'Turning White,' the primary antagonists of this tale, would be a foolish move.
Their threats were too severe given my current circumstances.
'Neike will also be targeted by Turning White after this incident.' It would be best to inform the public that the first-year investigation team, excluding myself, apprehended the culprit.
They would view it as a positive development.
But I must carefully consider the pros and cons.
They would carry the burden of guilt for almost apprehending an innocent individual.
Even Andrew, who had fallen under Turning White's influence in the original story, possessed an inherently good nature.
Even if the future had changed, his essence would have remained the same.
…Having summoned only Jang Woohee, the others gathered around and anxiously observed me.
What they want most is for me to keep my mouth shut.
For a hero, reputation was just as important as abilities.
Being labeled as suspects who falsely accused an innocent person during their school days would haunt them for life.
My sudden change in behavior is suspicious.' But their accusation is still an accusation.
Even if they are just kids in their mid-teens, even if they had no ill intentions, they must face the consequences of their actions.
Of course, I had no intention of directly punishing them.
At the time, I was filled with anger, but now I'm completely rational.
'Well, it's not like they abandoned me in a dungeon and ran away.' Punishing them would only provide temporary satisfaction, with no long-term benefit.
The chances are extremely slim…
but they might become desperate enough to do something drastic.
'Hmm, how should I handle this?' I didn't utter a word to the faculty investigation team or my own team about Neike and the others pointing me out as a suspect.
I also told both the faculty investigation team and my team not to mention who was responsible for apprehending the culprit.
No one seemed to object.
Instead, they just gave me a subtle glance.
'What kind of price should I demand…
Let's give it more thought.' With that in mind, I led my team out of the interrogation room.
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