The Eva Royal Palace was bustling from early morning as the royal family received news of internal conflict after years of peace.
Like being struck by a bolt of lightning out of a clear sky, Sorg Kühne woke up in a hurry. And when he saw a group of Earthlings being dragged in one after the other, he became lost for words.
The members of Royal Pattaya were bound up and showing dazed expressions, dozens of haggardly Federation members were expressing their anger behind them, and one young man remained silent within this uproar.
It was true.
He was half in doubt when he first received the news. But now that he saw the truth with his own eyes, Sorg Kühne was struck with an indescribable emotion.
If he had to describe it, it would be… delight.
It was only a few months ago that he declared he would pull out Eva’s deeply-rooted evils, but he had gouged them out entirely. No one dared to touch Eva’s alliance of organizations, but this young man had grabbed them by the collar and punched them straight in the face.
“You’re here, sir administrator.”
Sorg Kühne barely collected his mind when a soldier brought a woman over. Looking at her, he immediately noticed that the edges of her eyelids were red.
Sorg Kühne stared fixedly at the woman, who had a hood pulled down deep. Kim Hannah bowed respectfully.
“We’re ashamed to cause such trouble on the very day we moved in.”
“You really caught me by surprise. To think you would strike on the first day….”
“We admit that what we did was a little tough. But it was all to follow Her Royal Highness’ will and to protect Eva’s law. It had to be done.”
Kim Hannah mentioned the law, appealing their case.
This incident had already happened. How the matter was handled from now on would determine the intensity of the aftermath. Before then, Kim Hannah needed to prepare a secret hill to rely on.
Sorg Kühne wasn’t a fool, understanding Kim Hannah’s intentions fully. The royal administrator had the authority to meet her expectations.
“I already heard the backstory.”
Sorg Kühne said with a hoarse voice.
“I trust that you have solid evidence?”
“We spared… no, detained ten members. We liberated all the foreign races held captive in the auction house and brought them here.”
At that moment, the soldier cut in carefully.
“We just received a report about a basement in Royal Pattaya’s building.”
“Yes. Um… it apparently had corpses of foreign races on display…”
Sorg Kühne’s expression contorted. But soon, he regained his composure and nodded his head.
“There’s nothing more to see then. Internal conflicts leading to violence are prohibited, but it’s a different story if these were carried out for lawful purposes. Depending on how we frame the incident…”
As Sorg Kühne murmured to himself, Kim Hannah’s eyes flickered with light.
Sorg Kühne walked past her and stopped in front of Seol Jihu, who was sitting on his knees silently.
Seemingly random words came out. Seol Jihu looked up at Sorg Kühne.
“This place is where criminals come. Non-criminals do not belong here. We’ve heard your testimony, so you can go now.”
Sorg Kühne stared at him for a moment.
Understanding his intent, Seol Jihu stood up. As he was being treated as a testifier and not a criminal, he wasn’t bound up in the first place.
After giving a bow, Seol Jihu turned around and headed to the door. Sorg Kühne blankly stared at the young man’s back as he walked away.
[One of the reasons I’m trying to relocate to Eva is to improve humanity’s relationship with the Federation.]
[The main character of that game said this: evil is evil.]
[Lesser, greater, middling… makes no difference. The degree is arbitrary. The definition’s blurred. If I’m to choose between one evil and another, I would rather not choose at all.]
[It means I won’t let either side have their way.]
Seol Jihu had kept his promise.
Although Sorg Kühne never made a promise with the young man, he knew this was a matter he was obligated to take care of.
Saying ‘good job’ or ‘well done’ wouldn’t mean anything. He had to fight with him, take the blow for him, and protect his back when he wasn’t looking. Sorg Kühne knew this better than anyone else.
Eva had long been suffering from an illness, slowly rotting away from the core. But finally, a saving grace had appeared.
If he missed this opportunity, he would regret it for a lifetime.
Sorg Kühne clenched his fists.
‘Come to think of it, during the Haramark incident…’
Sorg Kühne investigated the intelligence report before calling a soldier over.
“Go give the Assassination Guild a visit.”
Light was leaking out of the first floor of Carpe Diem’s new building. Seo Yuhui and Jang Maldong waited through the night without sleeping, and the Yi siblings must have fallen asleep from fatigue as they were sprawled on the couch.
“You haven’t slept?”
“How can I when my brain is wide awake?”
Jang Maldong smiled bitterly, then asked.
“We settled the matter for the time being.”
For the time being. It meant they had only completed the first step in a series of important processes.
“We attacked the auction house, freed the Federation’s foreign races, and attacked Royal Pattaya in the process of rescuing an already sold Sky Fairy.”
With that, the two of them fell silent. They both looked like they had a lot to say and a lot to hear. But Jang Maldong massaged his nose bridge and nodded calmly.
“It must have been hard. Go get some sleep.”
“…Yes, you should catch some sleep too, Master.”
Seol Jihu quietly walked up the stairs without explaining every little detail. Only then did the other members scatter one by one.
Chohong and Hugo followed Seol Jihu, complaining about lack of sleep, while Maria and Phi Sora walked down to the basement, saying they would check out the hot spring.
Only Marcel Ghionea stayed and sat down on the couch. Turning to the entrance, he took out a white crossbow.
Jang Maldong gave him a strange look as he looked ready to fight, and feeling his gaze, Marcel Ghionea spoke.
“It’s just to be safe.”
“We crushed Royal Pattaya beyond recovery. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other organizations in Eva.”
Jang Maldong went, “Ah.”
An Archer had to take every possibility into account, no matter how unlikely it was. In this sense, Marcel Ghionea was truly worthy of his title, Archer of Steel.
“I’m fine. I’ve stayed up for four nights without sleep. You should go catch some sleep, Master.”
Jang Maldong grinned.
“Good work. I’ll leave you to it then.”
Marcel Ghionea loaded the crossbow with bolts and replied calmly.
When Seol Jihu opened his eyes, the sun was already in the middle of the sky. But even after waking up, Seol Jihu stayed in bed for a while.
Lying there in a daze, the things he’d done last night flashed through his mind quickly. Although only a few hours had gone by since then, last night’s memories felt like a dream.
Suddenly raising his upper body, Seol Jihu looked down at his hands.
Last night, he had killed people with these hands. Several people.
‘…It’s the same.’
He still didn’t feel a single thing. Even though he killed other human beings, not a hint of guilt or torment was felt.
Seol Jihu was entirely calm, both physically and mentally, so much so that he felt it was strange.
But if there was one thing that remained on his mind, it was Sombat La-ongmanee.
Of course, Seol Jihu thought La-ongmanee fully deserved everything that had been done to him. But at the same time, he knew his usual self wouldn’t have gone to such lengths.
Something inside of him had snapped, almost as if he had been possessed.
‘Future Vision definitely didn’t activate.’
This ability had a side-effect of making him lose his memory during the time the skill was active. But he clearly remembered last night’s events.
‘Maybe it’s because of Future Vision’s influence…?’
Do I have bipolar disorder or something? Murmuring inwardly, Seol Jihu sighed and looked around.
Then, he made a dumbfounded expression. He realized a part of the reason he felt so out of place.
His room was simply too different from the one he had in Haramark.
‘This is going to take some getting used to.’
Seol Jihu laughed faintly before clenching his fists. Then, he hopped off the soft bed and walked forward on the even softer carpet.
Although he walked in a somewhat stately manner, he faltered the moment he opened the door.
The new building’s complex, grand inner structure overwhelmed him instantly. In the old building, all he had to do was leave the dorm and sit down on the couch.
‘You really should have built this place in moderation, Kim Hannah.’
Looking around here and there, Seol Jihu finally found a map and went up to the tenth-floor cafeteria.
Unexpectedly, someone else was already there.
Kim Hannah was reading a report while drinking coffee in her usual business attire.
“You just woke up?”
Kim Hannah asked without taking her eyes off the report. Seol Jihu paused, then imitated Jang Maldong’s voice as much as possible.
“Did you sleep well, Miss Kim Hannah?”
“Oh, it was you, Master Jang.”
“Alright, that’s enough playing around. If you’re up, hurry up and sit your ass down. You can clown around later.”
Kim Hannah was still drinking her coffee in an elegant manner, not giving Seol Jihu a single glance.
Seol Jihu shrugged and walked over. Only then did Kim Hannah put the paper in her hand down, giving him a pitying look.
“Do you really need to do that right after waking up?”
“Well, I mean… What are you reading?”
Unable to come up with a good response, Seol Jihu changed the subject. Kim Hannah shook her head, then looked down at the paper again.
“The intelligence report from the Assassination Guild.”
A smile of satisfaction spread on her face.
“Sorg Kühne. That old man dealt with this problem fantastically. I almost feel like I received an unexpected gift.”
“What does it say?”
Instead of answering, Kim Hannah gave him the paper. Seol Jihu took it immediately.
The headline said this:
—The Hubbub of Crimes and Unlawful Activities, The VIP Auction House and Royal Pattaya
The report detailed the illegal activities carried out by the VIP auction house, and the brutality of Royal Pattaya’s leader, Sombat La-ongmanee.
It also contained a quote from Sorg Kühne, “All Earthlings arrested and held captive shall be executed in accordance with Eva’s law. The Eva Royal Family will not tolerate any illegal activity that negatively affects the city or even all of Paradise.”
But one thing that was surprising was that Carpe Diem’s name couldn’t be found anywhere.
“He omitted it on purpose.”
Kim Hannah explained clearly.
“Public opinion is often decided by the first article that’s put out. There aren’t any lies in this report, and it’s also easy to get behind saying that people who committed crimes are in the wrong.”
Seol Jihu immediately understood the deeper meaning.
What if the report portrayed Seol Jihu as a hero? What if it reported the truth exactly as it happened?
His fame might go up, but at the same time, some people would also see him in a hostile light.
‘I learned that during that incident in Haramark.’
There was a bigger chance of that happening with this specific incident. Previously, his attackers had tried to blemish his name immediately after he returned victorious from a huge battle against the Parasites. This time, Seol Jihu had attacked other Earthlings.
Kim Hannah continued.
“Simply put, he’s taking on the role of being the punching bag. If the Eva Royal Family publicly says they’re carrying out their law, who’s going to raise an objection?”
“Right… I’ll have to thank Sir Sorg Kühne.”
“You can say thanks out of courtesy, but considering what you’ve done for him, it wouldn’t be enough even if he thanked you a hundred times. Anyway, I’m glad you understand. I was worried you’d be mad about your achievement being stolen.”
Seol Jihu laughed.
Kim Hannah gave an insipid smile.
“People will find out that we were behind it anyway. The other organizations already know, I’m sure.”
Kim Hannah then took out several pieces of paper from her handbag.
“Wanna see? It’s the piece of paper news that came out before noon today. It’s mostly about you.”
Seol Jihu shook his head.
“What’s the point?”
“Oh? You don’t care?”
“Why would I?”
Seol Jihu shrugged.
“Let them bark all they want. I have a lot to do, and I’m busy taking care of my own people. It would be a waste of time worrying about people who hate me.”
“It’s not like I committed some crime against humanity or praised the Parasites. People who are badmouthing me are probably just unhappy with me. Let them be. I’m going to continue doing my own thing.”
Seeing Seol Jihu speak so fluently, Kim Hannah gave a faint smile.
Seol Jihu had really changed after going through so many ordeals. A leader of an organization had to be daring and unshakeable.
Although Kim Hannah had her worries, she liked the current Seol Jihu a thousand times more than the past Seol Jihu who didn’t know where to even begin.
“I’m curious what you’re thinking about.”
“We have to go hit them, of course.”
Seol Jihu spoke simply.
“I found out yesterday just how messed up Eva is. And also that Haramark has quite a high standard. Even if I wasn’t there yesterday, it would have been fine as long as Miss Phi Sora was there.”
“Well, Miss Phi Sora is Master Jang’s finest work and the past ace of Scheherazade’s organization. To be honest, I don’t know what she’s doing here.”
Seol Jihu couldn’t answer this question as he himself didn’t know why.
“Anyway, you’re not wrong, but how?”
“What do you mean, how?”
When Kim Hannah asked back, Seol Jihu gave her a funny look.
“With how much of a mess they’ve been making in Eva, I doubt they’ll be clean when we search them. As long as we find a single wrongdoing—”
“What if we don’t?”
Kim Hannah cut him off and spoke leisurely.
“Jihu, it’s true that they’re unqualified to be an organization. But that doesn’t mean they’re complete idiots.”
She put down her coffee mug and tapped on the report with her finger.
“Considering the Eva Royal Family’s internal circumstances, they’re really stepping up this time. I bet that old man, Sorg Kühne, made these decisions on his own without even telling the queen. He’s prepared to be rebuked. Though, maybe this isn’t something he would get rebuked over.”
“Think about it. You wreaked havoc under the pretense of carrying out the law, and the highest royal administrator, who’s been biding his time, finally took action. The organizations wouldn’t dare to push their luck.”
“Mm… I don’t know. I feel like they won’t just sit still.”
“Who said they’re going to sit still? I’m sure they’re fuming right now while being confused. But as the rulers of this city, they won’t be as do-or-die as you. At least, not for now.”
Seol Jihu nodded his head bitterly.
“They would be doing their best to cover their tracks while collecting as much information as possible. Do you think they’d continue their illegal activities as if nothing happened? I don’t think so. They’ll either be more secretive or halt their operations for a while.”
In other words, barging into their organization building like last night to acquire evidence would be unlikely to work. Unless they were idiots, it was more likely that they would dig traps and wait for them. If that happened, Carpe Diem would be the one in a tough spot.
Fully acknowledging that this made sense, Seol Jihu smacked his lips and crossed his arms.
“Come to think of it, didn’t you say that we could only worry about our next move after crushing Royal Pattaya?”
“I’m surprised you remember.”
Kim Hannah looked away subtly.
“Are you sure? You just came back. Don’t you want to rest a bit?”
“What are you talking about? How can I have time to rest? I started this fight, and there’s no way the other side is going to sit still. You’re the one who told me to go all the way.”
Seol Jihu spoke as if he could only rest easy once everything was over.
[…You, you definitely promised. I’ll never forgive you if you suddenly become content, give up in the middle, or die off by yourself without permission.]
The promise they made at Scheherazade’s inn, Kim Hannah had asked just to see if he remembered. Whether he did or not, his attitude didn’t change.
That was what Kim Hannah liked the most.
“Good, if that’s what you think, then we can get to work right away.”
“Work? You have a good idea?”
When Seol Jihu asked, Kim Hannah’s smile became thicker.
“I do, I do.”
Her eyes curled to crescent moon shapes before scintillating with crafty light that resembled the night sky’s moon.
“It’s not like there are just a couple of organizations. Dealing with them one by one is too much work. Since we’re doing this, don’t you think it’ll be better to bait them and knock them down in one fell swoop?”
Seol Jihu’s eyes flashed. Leaning forward, he asked softly.
“What is it?”
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