“You’re going to have to watch your behavior. You can ignore our wishes just because your rank is high, or recklessly abuse your authority, but it will be difficult for you to control what we do. Regardless of how much the emperor trusts you, you don’t work alone, right?” said the fourth deputy secretary general, Dain, icily.
She was responsible for the distribution and management of supplies in the palace. It was also where money was always needed.
“I heard that you’re a smart girl, so you will conduct yourself properly. Do you get what I’m saying? I hope that we can be on good terms from now on. We are a family, we should not be fighting with one another.”
The fifth deputy secretary general, Youngin, wore a gentle smile on her face. She was responsible for the health and education of the royal family. She was also Rain’s older half sister, but since her job was rather detached from the power struggle, there was not much clashing between the both of them.
Rain gave a short and simple reply, “I will bear that in mind.”
Her firm and resolute attitude did not give them an opening to pick on her any further. They were not expecting Rain to react that way. Just like that, the brief meeting ended. She had been away for so long, so they did not have much business to discuss with each other. In truth, it was mainly because they felt uncomfortable around each other.
Rain walked back to the annex connected to her office. There were three organizations, which were assigned to her, waiting there for her. The corridor to her office was long. She felt piercing gazes all over her body with every step she took. Suddenly, Rain stopped walking. She slowly made a full turn, looking at every single person who was staring at her. Slowly...and calmly.
Thereafter, she said softly, “I’m back.”
“The second deputy secretary general looks slightly better now though? She seems to have recovered from her sickness, right?” said the first captain of the intelligence unit.
He was a brown-haired muscular man in his 40s. He crossed his legs and rested them on the desk, before leaning into his chair and sullenly looking up at the ceiling.
“It’s gotten a little colder. The good days are almost over. The thought of seeing that stern face every day makes me sick,” said a woman sitting by the window, stroking her chest.
She was the second captain; a woman in her late 30s with sharp features.
“But wasn’t it fun?” Ito smiled.
“What do you mean by fun… It was a pain in the neck. She is too smart, it’s hard to gloss over anything and escape detection. The constant nitpicking is unbearable. ”
Fey shook her head.
“But still more well-liked than Pioh, who openly sabotages and rebels, right?” Ito looked at Pioh, the third captain, who smirked.
“I wonder if she is going to burst into tears again.”
“She did look pitiful. The emperor gave her a stern warning.”
“What an unfortunate princess…”
For a moment, there was silence.
“But didn’t they pass through the Forbidden Grounds?” asked Pioh, while he wiped a sword. He was a lean man in his 40s.
“I’m sure she was hiding amongst the skilled people and went along with them. A hero? What bullshit… According to the rumors, the two people she brought back with her from some rural area called Essen are highly skilled experts,” said Fey as she flipped her hair to the back.
“And so…?” asked Pioh as he carefully placed a strand of hair on the blade of his sharp sword, cutting it in two.
“Even though I don’t know who they are, but highly-skilled experts? Highly-skilled experts, my ass.. Why would experts be in such a rural place to begin with? Anyway, since she’s back, we have to be good to her. Aren’t we the direct subordinates of the second deputy secretary general, the proud genius and big shot in the royal palace?” Fey laughed.
“Yeah we have to serve her well. We have been doing a good job thus far, haven’t we?” responded Ito, while smiling. It was a greasy smile.
They were people who knew who the real ‘influential people’ were. They also instinctively knew what exactly these influential people wanted. Additionally, they were people who did not want to risk their own lives for the sake of their young and anxious superior, whose fate was still unknown.
First Captain Ito’s mouth was open. He could not believe the situation he was currently in. Ito was a special warrior from the Hansun Clan. A year ago, after the princess was appointed as the second deputy secretary general, being assigned to her was a lifelong misfortune for him. Why was a pair of ordinary-looking man and woman looking around the office and building, claiming to be his superiors?
The forty agents in the office were focusing their attention on them. Earlier on…
“Who are you?”
“First Captain of the Intelligence Unit, is your name Ito?” asked the woman.
That was the first thing she said after pushing the door of the office open before scrutinizing him from head to toe.
Ito’s hand was already on the hilt of the sword. However, he looked at his opponent with keen eyes first, examining her, like what a captain of the Intelligence Unit would do. The woman’s outfit was one of a kind. Even though she was a woman, she was wearing a pair of strange-looking baggy pants, and a leather jacket over a simple top made from wool that came up to her neck. As for her face…
Ito frowned. Instead of looking at her face, a familiar document came into full view instead. The document was stamped with Rain’s seal and had her signature on it. Beneath her seal and signature was the emperor’s official seal, glimmering clearly in gold. This was what was written on it:
Job position: Chief of Staff under the Second Deputy Secretary General
Jurisdiction: Authority over the three Intelligence Units. Person-in-charge of finance and personnel affairs in the second deputy general’s secretarial office.
“Can you remove your hand off the hilt once you’ve confirmed the details?” said a voice coming from behind the paper.
Ito was still staring at his opponent with his hand on the hilt of the sword.
“What kind of joke is this? I did not receive any notice at all!”
He slowly reached out and took the document from her. The woman’s face came into view once again. There was an amused look on her face, which captured people’s attention.
“I’m guessing you’re someone pretty high up? Are you telling me that I need to get permission from you to carry out your superior’s orders? Or do you think I’m impudently fooling around with the emperor’s seal here in the royal palace? Are you…a complete idiot?”
“I…” Ito shut his mouth.
His hands were trembling. The document seemed to be real. However, even though his head acknowledged it as the truth, his heart was unable to do that at all. Why did he have to bow his head to a nobody like that? He needed an actual confirmation.”
“I will meet with Princess Rain and confirm it with her myself…”
However, Ito could not continue speaking. He caught a glimpse of the woman’s movement, which left behind a faint silhouette. However, he could not see the end of it.
The first blow landed below his left thigh. Ito’s left knee gave way and hit the marble floor.
Almost at the same time, his right jaw jerked and an incredibly strong blow jolted his head. At the end of Ito’s violently shaking and unfocused gaze was his sword that was spinning in the air. The point of his sharp sword was approaching him without hesitation. Very accurately…
The point of the sword entered his open mouth. It went over his tongue and was now heading towards his uvula. For the first time in Ito’s life, he was experiencing fear that made his hair stand on end. He could not move. He could not speak or scream either. Warm blood pooling in his mouth and he felt the cold blade slowly brushing against the inside of his mouth. He was in a state of panic. Bloody saliva was dripping from his mouth that was wide open. The area below his chin was getting soaked in blood.
“You are going to see Princess Rain? Is the princess your friend? So, you have never been a subordinate of the second deputy secretary general huh. If that’s the case, who have you been working for up until now?”
“Uh- uh- uh-”
Ito had never wanted to give an earnest reply this badly before. However, he could not move his tongue. His eyes teared up and frantically rolled around in a desperate bid to convey his thoughts… However, the woman was not looking at him.
Biyeon haughtily glared at everyone who was present. Her gaze shifted very slowly, as if she was turning a camcorder. Not a single agent moved in this huge space. There was almost absolute silence.
Biyeon grinned and said with a clear voice that echoed through the room, “Nice to meet you. My name is Yeon. Let’s try to get along with one another!”
“This is a very interesting place. It’s completely corrupted.”
Investigation - Chapter 3
Rumors normally spread fast, but they certainly spread even faster within the palace. Information about the two people, who were invited by Rain, circulated throughout every organization. By lunchtime, what had happened in the morning had already spread to the entire organization under the secretary general. By evening, all the intelligence organizations and the leaders of every family knew about it.
“They got their asses kicked?”
“I told you that 35 out of 43 people got carried away.”
“What did the First Captain do? Wasn’t he very strong himself?”
“He got carried away too.”
“Right now, the second and third units are in a state of emergency.”
“How can this be? Are the subordinates under the third deputy secretary general not going to do anything about it? Violence amongst the agents is strictly prohibited, right?”
“Yesterday, it was the other way around. I find it hard to believe it too.”
“What do you mean?”
“Apparently, the agents begged them not to call the criminal officers.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“The ‘woman’ took out a small book and opened it, then she called out their names one by one and verified them. After that, out of nowhere, the agents were given a slip of paper with their names on it…”
“And? The agents did what the woman told them to do. Very nicely too… They even renounced their physical rights(?) on the condition that they did not notify the criminal officers. In the process, they completely wiped out 35 people, including the first captain, who was in a very bad condition.”
“Oh my! Who the hell is she? The monstrous woman?”
“Shh! Watch your words. Do you want to be carried away too? The woman is disgustingly good at gathering intelligence. She probably knows the strengths and weaknesses of all the agents here. We really have to be careful now.”
“Life is going to be really tough now.”
“It will get better with time. Have you ever had a superior who was not extremely gung-ho when they first started? This time, the situation is a little more serious but we’ll find out sooner or later. Anyway, it’s best to stay out of the way as much as possible.”
The second and third intelligence units were in a state of emergency. Due to the untimely emergency, a total of 80 people, 40 from each unit, were guarding their workplace. The second and third captains, Fey and Pioh, were extremely anxious. For now, they had contacted the families and princesses they had connections with. However, they had to make a contingency plan. Officially, they were under the command of the second deputy secretary general. Even if people called her a weak boss without powerful backers, nobody in the organizations could stop Rain now.Previous Chapter Next Chapter