Chapter 140

“Yes… That’s the answer, but why did I find it so hard to hear those words?” 

Gazelle was about to make a rebuttal but she hastily pursed her lips. All of a sudden, she started getting goosebumps. It was terrifying… 

The atmosphere had changed - San was giving off a different vibe. It was her first time sensing something like that in her entire life. It was so majestic and magnificent that it made one’s mind go blank. It kept spreading, and spreading. A huge jolt rumbled throughout the entire room. 

Clank-

Bam- Bam-

Thud- Thud- Thud- Thud-

The glass bottles laying everywhere on the table exploded like bombs. Fragments of ceramics were scattered all over the place. Documents and papers flew everywhere like a raging storm. Heavy dust fluttered wildly in the morning sun. All the candles that were used to light up the dark corners had gone out. The room was dark once again. In the darkness, she could see light emitting from the man himself. His aura was so bright that it was dazzling, even indoors. Her heart started pounding hard… 

“Let me ask you again. What is information?” The man’s low voice reverberated throughout the place. It rang in everyone’s ears. 

Gazelle collapsed onto the floor and trembled.

“I… I don’t...know.” 

“People, who don’t know what information is, are the people handling it… What a mess.”

San turned around slowly. He looked at Fey and Pioh’s faces, which had turned pale with fear. More than 80 people were staring at San with their mouths shut. The place was filled with fear and terror. 

“Listen to me carefully. I am someone who is going to take orders from His Majesty and work for him. I have heard a lot about your performances.” 

“......”

“Therefore, I hope that you don’t expect me to be fair and impartial, like what you’ve mentioned earlier. Also, I do not trust all of you, and lastly, I do not expect you to trust me..” 

San took a step forward. He could see people flinching everywhere. 

“Hence, convince me. I’m going to expose everything thoroughly. Do whatever it takes to fool me, then, I will give you a taste of hell. By all means, try to get rid of me. Only if you do that, would it then be a proper fight, right?” 

San took another step forward. 

“What is information? Information is like a mirror that allows you to look into your mind. If the mind is clear and pure, you will find the impurities and weed them out. If the mind is fuzzy, you will not be able to find anything. With a dark mind, you will not be able to see anything, even when it’s near, but with a bright and open mind, even things that are far away can easily be seen. If the mind is warped, things that are straight will look warped; if the mind is straight, things that are warped can be identified as they are. Thus!” 

San looked at the second and third captains, Fey and Pioh, before grinning widely. 

“I will start by working on correcting your minds first.” 

Fey and Pioh looked at each other. For some reason, despite the fact that the atmosphere had calmed down, they still felt chills down their spines. 

“Where I’m from, this is a form of punishment used in the military.”

Investigation - Chapter 4

“Do something about it!” 

“Do you think I have any solutions?” 

“Do we have to stay up all night tonight? Is that it?” 

“It’s the second day for me.”

“Are you joking around? Three days is the average here. Even five days is common!” 

The agents working for the second deputy secretary general were so exhausted to the point that they slumped over and laid on piles of documents like boneless squids. The room was filled with the raunchy smell of sweat. There were huge piles of documents everywhere, waiting to be processed by these agents who were laying on the floor. The agents had a black band around their eyes, and they had black-ish grease all over their faces. Their hair had been dirty and disheveled for days. Their official uniform was crumpled and there were ink stains everywhere. It was an ugly sight. 

The day was coming to an end. The final rays of the sunset colored the windows red. 

“Are they coming back now?” 

“How lucky... Damn it.”

“They were brought here from a northern rural village called Essen, right?

“They’ve made it, huh. They are officially employed here in the royal palace - a feat that is hard to accomplish, even for the people from the unrivaled Absolute Clans…”

“How did such a glorious and glamorous place become like that? Even nobodies like them…”

“Shh! Watch your words. If you don’t want to get punished again…” 

“Eek-”

The man lifted his head and looked around. His face was terror-stricken. 

“I heard from my friend from the first unit that they seem to be pretty capable. They said that their computational skills were top-notch, and they are astonishingly good at interpreting data. Additionally, my friend who watched their training in the drill hall said that their combat power was pretty high. Out of the ten people, quite a number of them were special warriors, and the weakest was at least a first level warrior. Isn’t that shocking?” 

“Anyway, how did the second deputy secretary general know about them? She even went all the way to the north to look for these people. By the way, where do they go every day?” 

“I heard that they looked around the palace and did some hands-on training or so. Apparently, the second deputy personally ordered them to do so.”

“What exactly are they trying to do? Do you have any idea?”

“I’m not sure either. Was there anything Chief San and Chief Yeon did that we understood? Let’s finish up what we’re doing. There are only five days left until the deadline.”

“I’m going to die… When are we ever going to finish everything!” 

For the first time in their lives, the agents were severely overworked. Their attitude towards their work was so intense that it was as though they were in the midst of a life-and-death battle on the battlefield. Without a doubt, their minds were in the process of changing. 

The agents were the smartest people in the royal palace. They enjoyed pedantic conversations embellished with brilliant logic and rhetoric. They were accustomed to competing with one another intellectually via intense debates. Although the debates were intense, they were devoid of substance and would often drag on inconclusively in a boring manner, before ending on a ‘political compromise’... Everyone was satisfied. For the most part, these debates had no purpose, and they were rather irrational. 

Paradoxically, the work that the agents did had become really fun. It was a really ‘good thing’  in the sense that no one was responsible. It made them happy. It was like the medieval scholars of World 285, who engaged in intense debates about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. 

However, they realized now that the process could be so simple and concise, after experiencing innovative and unconventional organizational management techniques. Disciplinary punishment! For them, it was hell on earth. After physically experiencing it, the agents realized how cunning and meticulous, as well as persistent and terrifying, the people they were dealing with were. 

They were given a lot of moral education. Additionally, the agents knew that was not all. Their poor imagination was challenged and ultimately, it always resulted in ‘shock and horror’. 

“Why are you doing this?” 

“Because it’s necessary. Mental strength is important.”

“Harsh training as such is unjust. We are people who use our heads, and not our bodies.” 

“Is that so? In that case, you can use your head. Well then, starting from now, gently put your head on the ground. Okay?” 

“I refuse. Please tell me the reason why I have to do that.” 

“The reason?”

“If it is reasonable, I will obey.”

“The information you have acquired pertaining to the royal palace and the people within it is very important. Is it really?” 

“It depends…”

“If that’s not the case, then there would be no need for you to be here. Do you want me to recommend a suitable place for you?” 

“Oh, no. It is important. The information I have is important.” 

“Let’s say there is a group of conspirators. They want to get information about the internal affairs of the royal palace. Should I also say that they need the information you have? If they don’t, then... “ 

“We can just…say that they need it.”

“What if you get caught by them? Will the palace be okay? Will it be unsafe?” 

“It will be unsafe.” 

“Because of you. Right?” 

“Yes…”

“Hence, ensuring that you remain unscathed is a crucial task in itself. Do you agree?” 

“Yes, I do.”

“What would you do if you end up finding yourself in a desperate situation?”

“I will take my own life.”

“Truly an ignorant intellectual. Do you think your enemies are stupid?”

“I’m sorry?” 

“Shut up… Right now, you have three options to choose from. Your first option is to act fast and avoid getting caught. Your second option is to subdue your enemy. Last but not least, if both options did not work, you need to have the mental strength to withstand temptations and torture. Is there anything else you’d like to add?”

“No...sir.”

“Among the three options, did any of them require you to use your brain to handle the situation?”

“No, sir.”

“Then roll over!”

***

“This is unbelievable. Did you verify it?” 

“This is the information gathered by a competent crew. It is correct.” 

“Go there and report back to me.”

“Me?” 

“Who else?” 

“I have a lot of other things to do. I will send the crew once again.” 

“And?” 

“I will make a judgment after looking at the results of the second investigation.” 

“How many years have you been working for?” 

“10 years now.”

“Have you ever worked in the field?”

“Yes, a couple of times.”

“A couple of times? How did you judge a situation if you were not personally in the field and didn't know the details?” 

“I met the person who was in charge of the case, and made a judgment after getting the details from them.”

“Can you make a good judgment just by hearing the details? Do you believe everything you hear?” 

“The authority governing the royal palace is extremely strict. Nobody can make a false statement.” 

“Can you guarantee that?” 

“Yes.”

“Close your eyes.”

“I’m sorry?” 

“What color is this?”

“How would I know with my eyes closed?” 

“I thought you knew without looking?”

“......”

“Open your eyes.”

“What is this?” 

“I do not know. It is my first time seeing it.”

“This is a weapon used by the Dong-Myung Clan. Take a good look at it.”

“Is that so?”

“Have you examined it?”

“Yes!”

“You’re done examining it, right? Now, I want you to describe its shape, color, purpose, structure, smell, performance, as well as its name.” 

“I…”

“After looking at it, touching it and smelling it, you can’t do that?” 

“It’s in my mind, but I find it hard to express it in words. I cannot guess its name and purpose, though.”

“There are a lot that cannot be put into words, right?”

“Yes…” 

“Now, let me ask you once again. How reliable is the information you get from other people? Can you really understand the situation by just hearing the things they tell you?” 

“......”

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