Chapter 102

“Do you dare speak to us this way? Do you know who we are? Don’t you know this outfit and crest?”

“I don’t want to know. Why do you think I should be curious about something you didn’t want to reveal in the first place? Wouldn’t you have taken a nametag if you really wanted me to know?” the innkeeper replied.

“You? Did you just say those words to me?”

“Then what should I call you? Weren’t you the ones who didn’t even write down pseudonyms to get into the city? Oh, do you know how to write? That’s weird… the information desk people even help illiterate people write down their names… Didn’t you refuse in the end? Wait, why are you getting mad at me?” the innkeeper glared with a confused yet frustrated expression.

“What if I barge in?”

“The Han-Sung Clan warriors sitting over there will be very happy to have some work. They’ve been very bored these days.”

“Han-Sung Clan?”

“If you think they’re too difficult to contend with, there’s some lighter-weight Dark Guild warriors over there. It’ll probably be more exciting ‘discussing’ with them.”

“Dark Guild?”

Gibin and his colleagues looked around the reception area. They sensed incoming foreign auras one by one. These auras were also reacting to the aura that Gibin and his colleagues had sent out. It was as if the foreign auras were inviting these newcomers to a 'nice' chat.

It also seemed as though the foreign warriors were begging them to do something so that they could pick a fight… Gibin blinked his eyes rapidly as he sensed a growing number of foreign auras.

“Innkeeper! How much is the price of the accommodations here?” A woman with a nametag in the group asked the innkeeper. The innkeeper’s attitude suddenly changed. He read the name on the woman’s nametag and answered immediately with a bright smile on his face…

“Ah! Miss Rain. The price is 1 Tongbo per day. According to the rules, if you purchase goods of more than 10 Tongbo in this town, room and board are free for one day.”

“Is there a bathroom inside?”

“We have separate bathrooms for ladies as well as private bathrooms with hot water. If you wish, we can even serve you with meals delivered directly to your room.”

“That sounds fine… I’ll stay here. It’s probably much better than the shared accommodation over there atop the hill. So, are we splitting up here today?” ‘Rain’ said, looking at the rest of the party. Her smile was full of playfulness.

“Damn it… let’s go!” Gibin shouted while blushing.

“Go where?” 

“To get a damn nametag…”

The innkeeper, who looked at their departing backs, smiled broadly with his white teeth exposed. San and Biyeon had said that in their world, they called this process of identification as a ‘login’. I guess some people really have a hard time with that concept…’

It really was a sight to behold, especially because…

The young Gibin, the most prodigious genius in the history of the Ki-Jang Clan and one of the ‘five legends’ who would lead the next generation of warriors on this continent, along with Han-Sung’s ‘Hanjung’ and Dong-Myung’s ‘Dongin’, was thoroughly embarrassed in this remote countryside area on this fateful day...

***

Rain undressed in her inn room. She sat on the balcony and took a break.

The Sarong tea that she asked for and that the innkeeper brought was fragrant. The scent spread throughout her room. Yellow butterflies were dancing crazily near the flowerpots next to her window. She took a deep breath. She felt a lot better.

‘This place- It’s better than I thought. Maybe I can find what I want…’

Upon hearing her teacher’s story, she decided to come to this place. However, she didn’t have many expectations. The road here was difficult, and she constantly wondered what great people would shut themselves in this corner of the world. However, she now felt that it was a good choice to come here.

She had already seen and felt a shocking amount.

She leaned against her armchair and gazed at the rural scenery in the spring evening's dying light. She touched her face. A smudge of makeup mixed with dust appeared on her fingers. She’d already eaten dinner, so she wouldn’t have to go out again today. Now, she could rest…

The warm evening's spring breeze came in from the fields and blew her hair lightly. She was calmly organizing the many things she had felt and seen throughout the day. The inside of the Essen estate was a different world. First of all, there were so many different races that it could be said to be a world fair of races.

Moreover, humans and all kinds of intelligent species got along well here. The flying Avian species, the amphibious Akum species, as well as the various legendary and mythical races could easily be found here. They were all doing business in their own stores on the estate's grounds. That alone provided surprising sights. Also, all the shops were surprisingly clean and well decorated.

What surprised her most was the way they traded. Prices were presented transparently to everyone. All the information was released, even to competitor stores. In addition, packaging and transportation costs, and prices for bulk purchases were specified in clearly marked tables.

Surprisingly, there were no quarrels between the merchants. It was also a common occurrence to see one store owner guiding a customer to another store if the customer couldn’t find what he or she was looking for.

How was this possible?

There were many things she saw for the first time in the world. Almost everything was a first for her. Although Rain prided herself in having touched or known most of the objects and goods of this world, everything here was new to her. This was because most of the goods here were not raw materials but ‘processed’ goods. She couldn’t begin to describe the materials and processes needed to create such novel goods. However, she knew that all the wares for sale were very useful goods even at a glance.

Furthermore, there were crowds of large merchant guilds in this remote area, and it was very common for them to negotiate with these individual vendors. How did Count Essen accomplish this? He wasn’t a high-ranking warrior, and he neither had the power nor the financial power to defend such complex deals that were going on endlessly within the estate. Rain tapped her finger on the armrest of the rocking chair she was sitting on.

What had happened here in the last couple of years?

Currently, Count Essen’s estates were vast. After the Marquis of Norian was forcibly removed, his estate was absorbed by the Count. Although the action could have created a diplomatic issue, the Dong-Myung Clan and Han-Sung Clan happily supported the transfer.

For some reason, the biggest victim, the Ki-Jang Clan, didn’t raise any objections. The outside world thought that the Ki-Jang Clan's lack of interest was probably due to the fact that the Marquis Norian estate was a very barren and troublesome area, so there was no reason for the mighty Ki-Jang Clan to care.

The Count’s estate continued to expand. In addition to the annexation of the Marquis of Norian’s territory, the surrounding self-governing forces that spanned vast forest areas and deserts were also absorbed into the Count’s estate. During this process, the Han-Sung Clan and Dark Guild’s influence and power were greatly utilized.

In this way, the northern mountainous region of 100 km in all directions and its surrounding areas were united for the first time as a single force, and they were entering an era of unprecedented stability and peace due to the mutual interests of various strong forces.

She heard that there was a special being, yet unknown to the world, who harmonized and directed all of this. This being was at the center of this web of mutual interests.

Those who knew, knew, those who didn’t know, didn’t…

So, it wasn’t a secret per se. Yet, no one knew what was actually going on. Rain came to check it out for herself.

She didn't know if this place could provide what she was looking for.

(e07_09)

Happiness – Chapter 2

There was still a lot of unmelted ice in the mountains, so cold water flowed continuously in the lower streams. The water was so cold that one’s hands would tingle and become numb in an instant. As the water passed through the valleys and waterfalls, the amount of water increased, and the current became stronger.

The waterways merged into a narrow passage and flowed down again after it spun a large waterwheel. The clear water that was spinning the waterwheel splashed down as the sunlight reflected off the splashed droplets, creating small rainbows.

Along the valley was a large rocky cliff area. At its base, several inconspicuous wooden buildings were built across a fairly wide area. The buildings were situated in a way to harmonize with nature.

From a high vantage point, one could see the Count’s territories at a glance. Also, the scenery opened up to the left and to the right of the valley, like a scene depicted in oriental ink paintings. Near the river in front, the appearance of green weeping willows that rose up above the water gave one a feeling that the area was slow, easy-going, and cozy.

“How much money should I pay?” 

“30 Junbo.”

“How much is the tax?” 

“3 Junbo.”

“Then how much is your share?” 

“Uhm… 27 Junbo.”

“That’s right. Good job,” San’s thick voice rang out. 

“This is the end of today’s class.” 

“Thank you for your instruction!” shouted the class representative.

“It was fun!” the children said in unison.

“Thank you.”

All the children stood up and bowed.

San also bowed to the children politely.

With a smile on his cleanly shaved face… He observed the children rushing to organize their material and head out for the day. After the children arranged their seats, they organized all the materials used for learning and returned the school supplies back to their original places.

San’s overall physique was solid and well-balanced. On top, he wore a simple t-shirt for ease of movement, and on the bottom, he wore jean-like trousers. Expensive Archon leather was used as the material, but no one could probably tell.

“Shouldn’t you prepare for the next meeting?”

A slim figure, holding a small pink parasol, was waiting for him while leaning slightly against the classroom's front door. She wore a navy-blue polo shirt woven with wool and a dark indigo blue skirt that went down to her ankles. It was not a very often seen combination in these parts, but it looked pretty stylish and sensible.

San’s eyes grew wide before they returned back to normal. Suddenly he felt dizzy. These days, this kind of dizziness became more frequent. It wasn’t a big problem though. It was only for a moment…

This woman was the cause of his trivial problem. The more serious problem was that she was always by his side. He heard a loud laugh within his mind. For a brief moment, he heard the term ‘brain-destruction’ pass through his mind.

“It seems that Miss Biyeon Kim has finally found a person she likes?” San murmured bluntly while pulling on his collar.

“Oh! Spring has come. It’s natural for a woman to pretty herself,” Biyeon responded as she checked the scent at the end of her sleeve to see if it was too overpowering.

“I’m very curious about what you’ve been researching these days?”

“I’m developing a mental technique that synchronizes the desired image in the mind of the other person and projecting that onto myself.”

“Congratulations. I think you've succeeded, but the purpose of its use seems to be somewhat frivolous.”

“It hasn’t been perfected as a special move. I haven’t succeeded in making one man fall in love with me.”

Biyeon looked up at the sky and tightly clenched her little fists. Her small fists trembled in the air as she raised her hands to curse at the sky.

At that time, San made a strange expression while his body trembled.

San continued looking at Biyeon with his mouth closed.

He was looking at the figure of a woman standing upright in front of him in a very modern outfit. Biyeon interestingly followed his gaze as she scanned her own body. He always looked at the flow of her lines, the outline of her gait, and the condition of her overall body. He was always concerned with the status of her body.

There was no place where his eyes couldn’t reach. However, in his gaze, there was no sense of lecherous stickiness. His facial expression reflected a plain appreciation for a human body. That was his way and his honest attitude toward her ‘human’ self. His respect and love for her transcended any worldly desires of lust.

His actions were no different from a designer who was appreciating a piece of masterful work. Thus, she never refused his gaze…

San, after having looked at the Biyeon’s appearance from top to bottom, rubbed his eyes. At the moment, she was dazzling and glowing brighter. Still, a little sigh couldn’t be stopped from coming out of her mouth. 

'What can I do about this side effect of blindness?'

Several major problems had been resolved recently. Although they were still in the early stages, they were able to deduce a crucial clue to get out of Siluone’s bonds. Meaningful progress had been made.

There were many changes that they’d gone through over the last couple of years. Of course, some of these changes weren’t very desirable.

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