Chapter 137

Investigation - Chapter 2

Rain took a deep breath. This place always kept one on their toes. It was the closest, and yet it was also as far away as the edge of the earth; it was as hot as fire, but also as cold as ice; it was a friendly place, yet uncomfortable at the same time. It was a place that drove one insane. Also… 

“It’s a place where my father lives. A place where the emperor of the empire resides.” 

“You may now enter,” the chief general secretary informed Rain. 

Rain composed herself and took a step. Her steps were heavy. Very heavy. Her forehead was already sweating. 

In the midst of a myriad of portraits hanging on the walls, the busts of great emperors greeted her with every step she took. The paintings of magnificent war heroes watched her as she walked through the vault; she felt someone glaring at her. 

“It’s been a while. I think it’s been ten months?” said a deep voice. 

“May glory and blessings be upon you forever, Your Majesty!”

“Have a seat and make yourself comfortable. We have a lot to talk about.” 

The emperor sat on his high throne and beckoned Rain. Regardless of who it was, everybody had to be at least three meters away from where the emperor was seated. The throne room was divided into three tiers, where different people of different rankings would stand when they wished to have an audience with the emperor. The lower ranking officials were positioned at the lowest tier, the Taeshin officials were in the second tier, and the chancellor and the emperor’s immediate family members would be in the first tier. The throne was so high that even at the first tier, the throne was still approximately one meter higher, hence anybody on the first tier still had to look up. The area behind the emperor was covered entirely by drapes, hence, nobody knew what was in there. 

“Right, did the mission you requested go well? I think you asked for two years if I remember correctly…” 

“Yes. I made some small achievements,” said Rain calmly. 

The emperor nodded his head. He had such a calm look on his face that it was hard to guess what he was thinking. 

“That’s a relief. Are you planning to start working now?” 

“Since I have found some people, I am thinking of setting up an organization and coming up with some procedures.” 

“Alright… Now I’d like you to tell me what happened. You passed through the Forbidden Grounds, right?”

The conversation between the father and daughter lasted nearly two hours. No one else was present. The conversation was finally coming to an end. 

“Make the preparations as you deem fit.” 

“Thank you.” 

“You may leave and get some rest.” 

“I wish you great health and a long life.” 

Rain took a step back and left the hall. The emperor closed his eyes and folded his arms. No emotions could be read from his facial expression. Silence ensued once again. Only the sound of insects flying into the fire of the burning wax could be heard from time to time. 

“What do you think, Jiwoon?” muttered the emperor with his eyes closed.

“There were no false statements.” 

The reply came immediately. It was not known where the voice came from. 

“She has changed a lot, right?” 

“She seems more calm and composed.” 

“Just that?” 

“She looks like she has gotten stronger too.” 

“Yeah… It does seem that way.”

The emperor was lost in thoughts. There was a moment of silence. 

“What kind of people are they?”

“They are of unknown origin and background. However, the strength and power they have displayed are extraordinary. Furthermore, there is a referral from the warriors.”

“Referred by Hanyoung?”

The emperor finally opened his eyes.

“Yes…”

“Haha- This is very interesting. A referral from a smart and picky friend…”

“......”

“Let’s wait and see what happens. This might be more interesting than I expected. Is there anything else I should know about apart from this?” 

“The three families - Sa-myung, Young-mu and Jung-ha, are the busiest.”

“What about the second child?” 

“The second prince, Junkyung, went to visit the Han-Sung Clan.” 

Morning came around. 

***

Rain left for her office. Due to the nature of her job of managing royal documents, her office was very spacious. There were individual stacks of books and document boxes behind her. On the left and right, there were writing paper and ink sticks that were organized by color, which was placed next to the storage furniture. In the middle, there was a wide desk and a simple round table that was used for meetings. 

Seu-euk- 

She gently swept her fingers across the round table. It was clean. In other words, someone had maintained the state of her office while she was gone, even though it was unnecessary. She plopped herself down in the armchair, before leaning back and sinking into it deeply. She could see the high and round ceiling. The room was becoming rather bright as the morning sun shone through the window. She took a deep breath. 

There would be a meeting in an hour’s time, led by the secretary general. Rain hated that meeting the most. Currently, the secretary general was the emperor’s younger sister, Gayu. There are five secretarial offices under the secretary general, and each of them was headed by a deputy secretary general. The structure was similar to that of the Planning Department. 

Rain was in charge of personnel and finance as the second deputy secretary general. Originally, it was a department that did not exist. However, it was created because of the emperor. After being promoted to the second deputy secretary general, before she knew it, she was of higher status as compared to the other princesses, such as her aunts and older sisters. Naturally, Rain became the object of envy and was subjected to their threats and intimidation. 

Each deputy secretary general was backed by different families, and they were in a cooperative relationship, unwittingly or not. From these families’ point of view, they were not pleased with Rain’s appearance, as she served as a threat. The secretarial office was a complicated and sophisticated place. They had to inspect, categorize and judge the authenticity of the documents that were sent to the emperor. Thereafter, they had to mobilize the intelligence network of the huge organizations that they each oversaw, before putting together all the information of the situation at hand. Lastly, they would write down their personal opinions on a separate document for the emperor to refer to. The emperor would then make a decision based on that document. However, those were not the only documents sent to the emperor. The same issue at hand would be investigated by the other people working for the emperor in secret, who would then report back to the emperor. The emperor would then cross-check the documents. Hence, false information and exaggerations would mostly be filtered out. Anybody who submitted a false report would be eradicated immediately. However… 

“This is a less than ideal world that does not work like that.” Rain cracked her knuckles. 

“The people who rule the palace are much more cunning and clever, at least enough to escape close surveillance. The princesses and their subordinates, who are in charge of the secretarial offices… They have been making things up on their own and manipulating information for their supporters. Horrible people…”

She leaned her head back and she shook her legs. The intelligent lady critically examined the situation further. 

“The other secret intelligence organizations have to also be considered corrupted. As for the information that the emperor is receiving… It’s highly likely that the information was fabricated by everyone in the royal palace who are secretly colluding with one another. The emperor probably appointed me to this position because he knows about it. Even though I’m just a bait that is used before being thrown away…”

Rain smiled bitterly. However, her chest did not feel as heavy as before. This was something that she could not tell anybody - not that she could even talk about it in the first place. Besides, there was no one she could trust. She was too smart for her own good that she ended up becoming seriously ill from all the insane frustration and fear, which she had now recovered from. 

Rain smiled. The first meeting. Her deep subconscious worries had to be put to rest. And also, the frank and shocking conclusion that came spilling out without hesitation.

As for the conclusion?

The fact that the emperor’s decisions could be deliberately distorted by someone else meant that his power was not secure. 

Who was telling the truth? Or who was trying to prevent the truth from coming to light? If it was an ‘influential force’, it would be the greatest threat to the emperor’s power, whether it was a son, another opposing force, or someone else… 

Hence…the emperor started his hunt.

Rain got up from her chair. She opened the door with a lot of force and left. At the same time, all eyes were on her. Their gazes conveyed all kinds of opinions. Cold piercing stares that were full of scorn, pity. All of them were full of contempt… The people who glared at her were from the intelligence unit of Rain’s secretarial office, which was under her direct control. The three captains did not put in much effort to be polite with her. Rain smiled coldly to express her feelings pertaining to the reunion. Their faces seemed to have hardened a little. 

“Trash…”

The areas involving money and people were the most difficult and had the strongest influence. In other words, it was where injustice and corruption could easily be found. Now that the 24-years-old ‘clean and clever’ princess had taken over that powerful position, it was frustrating and scary for all of them. 

Rain took a deep breath. How sick did this place make her feel? Almost everybody was her enemy. Even the three intelligence organizations which were directly under her could be considered to be her biggest enemies. A gap, a slip of the tongue, and a misjudgment could effectively destroy her. 

*Will be translated and reuploaded

Suddenly, the faces of two people came to her mind. At the same time, Rain’s frowning face started to brighten up. Just thinking about them made her happy. They who never stopped smiling even when they were facing death and frustrations. She was with those people now. Everything had changed over the course of one year. The biggest change of them all was Rain herself. 

“It’s worth a shot…”

When Rain arrived at the secretary general’s office, the attendant opened the door for her. The operation was already underway. On both sides… 

***

Cold stares. It was so cold that it made her feel cold too. All eyes were on Rain at this moment. Rain’s reappearance came as a big shock to them. In a system where budgets and manpower could be freely moved, when people were unable to manipulate the situation in their favor, the backlash from the organizations was beyond imagination. Additionally, those people were the ones who could not afford to have the wrong person inspect their work. 

“It’s been a while. What were you busy doing? You even came back as a hero huh?” said an elderly woman with gray hair. 

There was underlying sarcasm in her tone. Her name was Gayu. She was the younger sister of the current emperor - the secretary-general of the royal family, a powerful woman with a high position. 

“It was an opportunity to see the world,” answered Rain briefly, looking at everyone who was present. 

The five women sitting at the oval table were staring at her. 

“You’re starting work tomorrow? Did you find the people you were looking for?” asked Ohyu, the first deputy secretary general from the General Affairs department, who was in charge of the royal family’s customary formalities and protocols. She was also Rain’s aunt.

“I think they are quite capable.” Rain responded briefly once again in a businesslike tone. 

“Well, I don’t know what kind of capable people they have in the north, but it looks like you’ve had a great time. We were overworked every day, though. Shouldn’t you at least pretend to feel sorry for us?” This time, it was Ryuin’s turn to be sarcastic. She was the third deputy secretary general, who was in charge of audit and criminal affairs. Even though she was Rain’s older half-sister, she was lower than Rain in rank. 

“Anyway, I am back now. I will have to take over all the duties that I was in charge of.”

The secretary general, Gayu, smiled and pushed a small document box towards Rain. Rain looked into the box. There was only one thin file in it. Was that the only document she needed to take a look at? 

“The document contains all the work procedures and outstanding tasks that need to be completed. The person in charge will explain to you everything in detail. You can refer to the data you need in my library. However, I will not permit the documents to leave the library, as I need to refer to them too. If you are curious, you can read them after getting my permission.”

“Understood.” Rain looked at Gayu for a moment before nodding and replying meekly.

Gayu’s eyes widened for a second before narrowing 

“You’re smiling? In the past, you would have protested using all kinds of reasoning.”

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