“Earlier, you told me that you could guarantee everything you’ve heard was the truth. Hence, I will be reviewing and verifying all the documents you have submitted over the last ten years. That’s okay with you, right?”
“If a single lie were to be detected, you would be dismissed. Do you agree to that?”
“No, that’s not what I meant…”
“The royal family’s command is absolute. And so, when you ask your enemies on the battlefield what their weakness is, they will give you an honest answer, right? Is that correct?”
“Oh, no. It’s not.”
“If you ask the people who took advantage of the royal family how much they’ve benefitted, they will give you an honest answer. That’s because anyone who has stepped foot into the palace is a refined person with a clean conscience. Am I right?”
“If you’ve reported everything they’ve said, you and them are in the same boat, right?”
“You’re being too harsh!”
“Both of you have exactly the same interests, isn’t that right? It would be great if what you reported was the truth, but in the event it turns out to be false, you will have to cover it up. You are going to be the one hurting yourself by submitting false reports… Ultimately, you are going to be put in a position where you have to defend them. If it continues and accumulates, you will end up playing the role as their backer. Regardless of what they do.”
“That makes sense…”
“Shut up… Let’s put everything together. There are four possibilities - you’re incompetent; you’re ignorant; you’re an accomplice; or you’ve been negligent in your duties. Pick one. Which one do you prefer? I’m sure you’re well-aware of each of their consequences.”
“Since you don’t want to go, there’s nothing I can do about it. I’ll just have to think about who to send instead.”
“I will go.”
“Didn’t you say you don’t want to go? Even if I send you there, wouldn’t you simply listen to what the people you’re comfortable with have to say?”
“I will carry out the investigation based on principles.”
“How can I trust you?”
“I will go with an Essen agent.”
The agents did not simply suffer in silence. They fiercely rebelled and protested with all their might. They refused to cave in with every fiber of their being. They even tried to appeal to sympathy, but none of those things worked on those two people. The agents could not win with logic, and they were unable to use physical means to subdue them. The two people did not waver in the face of power and background, or money. The agents could not even overpower the both of them with intelligence, which was their specialty. The last thing they could do was to use the family card and file for a mass appeal to the superiors. However, that was something they could not choose to do.
The lengths at which the different families went to, when it came to planting their family members within the secretarial offices, were beyond imagination. Besides…
“There is no hope now…” said a female agent named Yuyu from the Sa-Myung Clan.
She looked very bummed out. There was a crumpled letter from her family in her hand. Her pale hands were shaking a little.
“You got one too, huh,” muttered another woman with a blank look on her face.
Her name was Dodo. Her hands were on her forehead as she tilted her head back. Tears were rolling down her ears. The contents of the crumpled letter in her hand were still screaming in her head.
“Regardless of the circumstances, you have to persevere… Do not get in trouble. Keep up, no matter what. If you fall behind, you are not a member of the family…”
“Damn it. If I die here, will they take my corpse to the cemetery?” Yurise tried to hold it in, but was about to cry.
Next to them, there were piles of paper that were as tall as them. They had to process and sort them out, as well as make a report, without anybody’s help. More than half of the documents required them to do some calculations. They stared blankly at the ceiling. The thought of doing those tasks made them shudder. They never had to do such an exhausting and lowly job before in their entire lives. Wasn’t it their job to just study and release a statement on what the hands-on staff had written and summarized?
They were reorganizing all the documents and investigation data reported by the agents over the last two years. The documents had to also be reclassified and reanalyzed at the basic data level. Thus, it was essential for them to know about ‘field knowledge’. The agents were asked to personally make a public statement (briefing) pertaining to the summarized data. Through the public statement, their capabilities would be clearly demonstrated and reassessed.
Rain did not receive any work assignments from the secretary general, Gayu. She had only received three sheets of paper. She was unable to do any work without the knowledge of the contents. Rain went with the ‘ignorant’ method, instead of getting permission from Gayu to read the documents. Needless to say, it was one of the ideas that Biyeon came up with.
However, the agents were more nervous about their tasks because of other reasons. As they were carrying out their tasks, they had a hunch that things were not that simple. Firstly, all data was prohibited from being taken out. This rule applied not only to the second deputy, but also to the former secretarial offices, as well as any direct imperial organizations. The emperor immediately approved this radical measure. Secondly, all data had to be reclassified and reorganized by an agent who was not the original person-in-charge. The rationale behind this was distinct - past data would be fully intact and secure. Furthermore, in that way, nobody knew who was dealing with whose data. Every truth that had been distorted and covered up would be revealed again. As such, the fearsome boss would get to identify the agents’ true competence, disposition, as well as what was going on behind the scenes.
All the agents were holding their breath as they worked. As they carried out their tasks, they shuddered thinking about how clever and astonishingly meticulous the two foreign superiors were. The two people knew how to manage time. They had always properly allocated the workload of tasks that were running on a tight schedule to the agents. Through one-on-one talks with individuals, the work schedule was thoroughly calculated, and the schedule was finely adjusted according to the situation. Hence, the room for prior consultation and mutual manipulation or rigging would be eradicated in the first place. Due to the nature of public statements, there was no way for anyone to sabotage it.
Before they knew it, they were overwhelmed by excruciating fatigue, tension, as well as unimaginable fear of the ‘outcome’ that would come to light. All the different families and clans would be paying close attention to what they did. It was clear that the outcome had the destructive power to determine the fate of their families.
The flow of money and people would be revealed… And that would mean that personal connections and money flow of hidden organizations would be exposed. The agents, their families, as well as powerful imperial organizations, were on high alert. However, they had not made a move yet. They felt that everything was moving too fast. But unfortunately for them, it was a normal pace in San and Biyeon’s world…
“I did not expect her to fire a core agent. Rain is really going to start a fight with everyone - not only the princesses, but all the nobles too! Has the power struggle started by any chance? What will happen to us?” whispered Fey, whose neat hair became disheveled because of the heavy workload. She looked drawn and exhausted.
“We won’t be able to get away with it. At the very least, we will be fired. All fifteen of them, ten yesterday and five from the day before, were dismissed. The representatives from their influential families came and protested wildly, but the princess refused to budge,” said Third Captain Pioh, who was handing over documents instead of swords. His dirty ink-stained fingers were shaking.
“Even the heads of the families rushed here and demanded to negotiate. Ultimately, the families wrote a memorandum, stating that they will not intervene, which, in truth, meant that they’ve surrendered.”
“The third deputy, Princess Ryuin, was hopping mad. However, she does not have any solutions either. Nobody was making any accusations, so there was no reason to intervene.”
“Even the secretary general was not hiding the inconvenience, the other princesses are using their intelligence network to try to dig up Princess Rain’s motives. I have already received a third offer from them.”
Fey closed the documents. Her face was full of anger and anxiety.
“Ha… I personally do not understand this at all. Princess Rain is making too many enemies right now. The influential families will never leave her alone. The same goes for the other princesses.”
“That’s what I’m saying! Why would a smart genius like her do something like that? That’s the stupidest thing she could ever do! The other princesses did everything they could to build a good relationship with the influential families… Doesn’t she know that not only is it good for collecting information, it is also good for the royal family? She would not be disloyal to His Majesty by strengthening her relationship with the nobles though. Is being upright and righteous alone enough? We are the only ones who are going to die in this power struggle. Damn it!”
“Right now, the situation has changed. Up until now, Second Deputy Rain must have been more cautious because of the ‘altered’ information written by the agents in advance. That’s because of the possibility of a backlash she might face, if she recklessly informed His Majesty. Previously, she said that the Sa-Myung Clan were negligent in their duties, but she got into a lot of trouble because it was not true, right? But right now, there are two people who are nothing like humans…”
“Humans? They are definitely not human beings. They are monsters without a doubt!”
There was a moment of silence with heavy resignation.
“The emperor is on the second deputy’s side. Perhaps, we might be wrong about it. Maybe she’s not a card that’s used once before being thrown away…”
“Ahh- I regret everything...seriously…”
Fey lowered her head. Tears dripped down the back of her hand. Pioh bit his lips. There was blood around it.
“Are you not going to do anything about it?” asked the third deputy, Ryuin, with much difficulty.
Secretary General Gayu and the other three other deputies were present. They looked very serious and solemn.
“And what if I don’t let it go? Rain is exercising her rightful authority over the organizations. She did not do anything wrong,” replied Gayu, as she slowly moved the teacup away from her mouth. Her face was expressionless.
“The powerful families and people within the royal palace have been submitting a lot of pleas and appeals. It is very difficult for us to leave this issue unattended for long. It is a lot more serious than we expected. We have to take action as soon as possible.”
“Right now, there are other things that are amplifying my anxiety. Their actions might lead to a huge catastrophe. The powerful families are demanding the secretary general to step up and control Rain’s actions.”
“We are also anxious,” said the first deputy, Ohyu, cautiously.
“They were surprisingly organized and swift, which means that they had started making preparations a while back. Right now, under imperial orders, we are not allowed to take the documents out of the secretarial offices. By approving that rule, it shows that His Majesty already does not trust us…”
“It’s a vote of no confidence from His Majesty…” muttered Ohyu.
“It’s like being discarded. Or left to die,” said the fourth deputy.
“Do you want me to tell you something more shocking?” The secretary general stood up and grinned.
All eyes were on her.
“Another imperial order has been issued today.”
“All plans involving the movement of funds and personnel have to be approved by Second Deputy Rain. All intelligence organizations managed by the agents of each secretarial office will be dissolved and merged into two different ones. The Investigation Department will oversee all investigations, and the Armed Forces Department will oversee all armed forces. Also, all investigation activities will be carried out as a team by the Investigation Department and the Armed Forces Department. Last but not least, both departments will be under Rain. What are your thoughts on it? Pretty interesting, huh?”
Everyone’s mouths hung open. Everyone knew what that meant.
“Oh my goodness… she has completely taken over the authority over the personnel and finances of the secretarial offices.”
“Furthermore, all the private organizations planted by the powerful families within the palace have been absorbed and integrated…”Previous Chapter Next Chapter