Chapter 145

“But will it be that easy? The food here is rather expensive,” said Hanyoung, as he turned around. 

Biyeon’s eyes widened a little. For some reason, her back felt itchy. That elderly man was not easy. Rain and Hanyoung left. The palace had many cumbersome rituals. It would probably take them a while to greet each other. San and Biyeon decided to take a walk around the banquet hall. 

***

“Who are those people?” asked Hankyo cautiously, as he followed Hanyoung. 

He was a teacher from Han-Sung Clan, a master who had achieved the third rank. The other people were also looking at Hanyoung with curious eyes. 

“What kind of people did you see?” asked Hanyoung. 

“They seem to be rather talented, but they were very rude. How could they speak to you like that…”

“It’s fine with me, though?” 

“Is there a problem? If it’s bothering you, our clan will find a way to deal with it.” 

“You fool… You’re saying that they have something on me, huh.”

“I’m sorry?”

“They are not rude.” 

“I…am not sure.” 

“It’s because they are individuals who have established their own sovereignty. They came from a place where no authority over themselves is recognized. They are their own king and emperor, so who will they submit to?” 

“You’re saying that those people do not recognize the authority of the state?” 

“They do. However, due to the fact that individuals and the state are equal, they are accountable to each other via the contract they have made with one another. This basic contract is called the ‘Constitution’, which states that an individual cannot be imprisoned or confined unless it was agreed upon by the law.”

“That’s difficult… But since they are here, shouldn’t they obey the laws here?”

“What laws? Are there any imperial edicts that dictate how a person’s attitude should be? Leaving out all the minute details about the royal family’s formalities. Ultimately, don’t the laws here reflect the personal will of the people in power? Let me ask you another question. What supports the will of the powerful people here?”

“Hm… Armed forces and money, no? 

“Having one out of the two is enough, right?” 

“That’s what I think.”

“If so, then they are competent enough. Hence, don’t recklessly force our standards on them. I don’t want to start any dispute with them. I will teach anyone who does that a lesson first.” 

“Are they strong?” 

“Yes. Very remarkable, in fact.” 

“Are they stronger than me?” 

Hanyoung stared blankly at Han Kyo. He was a third-rank master… The other teachers were staring at Han Kyo’s lips, which were twitching slightly. They were truly natural-born warriors. Rain was also looking at Hanyoung with curious eyes. Hanyoung picked his ears. 

“Maybe not, if it’s just one of them on their own. However, if the both of them were to join forces, I won’t be able to guarantee a win either. Does that help?”

“That’s absurd!”

“Oh no!”

“Unbelievable…!”

Han Kyo stopped talking and held his breath. Groans were heard everywhere. 

“I was the one who invited those two people. They will probably be very helpful.”

“When did you get to know them?”

“Two years ago. I had the opportunity to spend a month with both of them, while I was dealing with Essen’s business. I had asked a lot, and also heard a lot.” 

“I see.”

“But still, I don’t know their identity. Or what happened to them… They did not seem to be any less knowledgeable than the teachers in the Han-Sung Clan. They possess the knowledge of all the laws and logic in the world… Their power was more of a sight to see. Soun and Sohun competed ten times against them and never won a single time, so you can guess the level they’re at.”

Hanyoung looked at the Han brothers. They nodded. 

“Does that mean that they are...experts?” Han Kyo stammered.

“Yeah… They are able to use the techniques of the Ki-Jang Clan, Dong-Myung Clan, as well as our Han-Sung Clan, with ease. It’s discouraging. Apart from those, they possess countless other martial arts related skills, such as communicating with spirits, pyrotechnics, ventriloquism, etc...”

“Oh my gosh! In that case, aren’t they monsters? How can such a thing be possible!” 

“More surprisingly, they did not have a teacher. They had accomplished everything on their own. Can you guess what this means?” 

“The Creator!!!”

“Yes, someone who finds all the paths in which a human can awaken. We might be able to see the birth of a well-rounded man. Isn’t that the path that the Han-Sung Clan pursues? I don’t even know if that’s the goal I want to achieve myself.”

“Is there a possibility of them becoming our enemy?” 

“I don’t know. That’s because you never know what is going to happen. However, the one thing I am certain of is that they are people who have a bright and cheerful personality. There isn’t a possibility of them becoming an enemy who will not deliberately mess around with pride and dignity.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Also, I like being called ‘elder’. It sounds a lot more friendly, yes? Please do not hinder me from having fun.” 

“Yes, sir…”

Rain, who was next to them, was listening to their conversation. She felt relieved. She had assumed that they were strong, but that was her first time hearing an official performance evaluation. Furthermore, she felt that the relationship between Hanyoung and them was a lot more solid than she had expected. It was because Hanyoung, her mentor that she knew, was a very picky and wise person… 

***

The two people slowly looked around the banquet hall. Their surroundings were noisy due to the ongoing conversations among the nobles, who could not have an audience with the empress. Even though the rumors spread wildly, the majority of the people did not recognize their faces. That was because their daily routine here consisted of them making trips only to their office, the imperial library, as well as the Essen’s drill hall. 

“There’s nothing much here. It’s just crowded with people.” San revealed his thoughts.

“I know, right? I was looking forward to it and having high expectations because it is supposed to be the biggest feast in the royal palace. What is this…” Biyeon expressed her feelings.

“But still, there are quite a few interesting friends, huh.”

“The ‘things’ that smell like chocolate?”

“A lot more than I thought.”

San had a serious look in his eyes. 

[I think they’re at the level of a councilor, though? They are rather strong.]

[Aren’t they the underlings that were sent to the Fallen? The things that made people out of materials.]

[They are called the blood demons. They wander around during the day as well. I was told that they are as powerful as masters…]

[That sucks… Why are they here?]

[Like what Linuel said, could the palace be compromised?]

[I think there’s a high chance. They wouldn’t have made it here without working. If they have infiltrated the palace as well as high society, they must be interested in power too… Has there been any investigation about them?]

[Nothing is known at all.]

[Power… What exactly are they trying to do with human’s power? What is one thing that needs power the  most?”] 

Biyeon thought about it for a moment and answered.

[It will have to be a large-scale construction work. In a traditional society, civil engineering and construction are only possible with strong political power. If you’re talking about long-term mobilization of people and funds…]

[Something...smells fishy, though? Can you do some research on them? I have a bad feeling that this has something to do with Rain’s mission… If you’re unlucky, you might run into the Fallen’s people. Damn it…]

{Alright.]

[Are there any Sages?]

[So far, I haven’t sensed them yet. But you never know. It is very hard to distinguish Sages from men.]

[It is said that the Sages are forbidden to kill people, but what about the Fallen?]

[I don’t know. The Fallen was originally the ‘incarnation’ of the Creator himself for Judgment Day, hence, there seems to be no prohibition against murder.]

[It would be more accurate to say that the Fallen’s camp is much more dangerous. The blood demons are also able to take the form of a human. Somebody must be controlling their intelligence and emotions. It might be contagious. Something like a malignant virus….]

[This means that all the three different alliances that we know have appeared. God-Apostles-Priests, Original Humans (the Fallen)-Councilors-Blood Demons, and Dragons-Sages-Human Awakeners… This isn’t some kind of strategy simulation game… Perhaps it’s a race war…?]

[Maybe we should include the mutated Magic Dragons? Like Magic Dragon Siluone. Now that I think about it, I don’t think he was banned from murder, even though he is a dragon, because they were experimenting with humans. We will have to think about that alliance separately. They’re definitely an enemy of ours that has been identified so far.]

[If the Fallen are behind the imperial work, will we run into them?]

[I’m still not certain if they are an enemy or not. There is no need to consider them as an enemy in advance. However, if they are connected to the guy who called us, we will definitely have to fight… On the other hand, if they belong to the Original One’s side, all judgments will be back to square one. That’s because they sold us to the Fallen. We will then have to personally confront the Original One. Since we have decided to live here for the time being, there’s no need for us to go out and fight intentionally, right?]

[If I’m still alive…]

[What are you talking about? We have to undo the deadline! How much longer will you delay it?]

[The process has not been verified. I will not do it until I am certain that ‘you’ are safe.]

[...]

[Furthermore, from the moment the deadline is lifted, we will have to see if the deadlines of all Magic Dragons and the Fallen have been lifted too. From then onwards, the hunt for us will begin. They said that we are the most important samples. With this level of preparation, both of us will suffer a fate worse than death.]

[When did we ever only do things we’re certain of?]

[Please wait. Don’t we still have time?]

[Seriously…]

San was fuming, while Biyeon was looking at the ceiling. The light from the candle within the chandeliers was fluttering above them. Below them were large groups of people that were moving around limply. 

***

After the banquet, the performances began. All kinds of talents, who were said to be the best in the empire, entered the hall. Everybody’s attention was focused on the square. It was the most interesting entertainment. Rain was tiptoeing in the back row watching the show. 

However, like everything in the world, there would always be one or two strange people regardless of where they went. After yawning, San was looking down at the floor with eyes that were half filled with tears. Meanwhile, Biyeon was looking around with bleary eyes. The section they were seated at was empty. The surroundings felt rather desolate. 

Thanks to Hanyoung’s aid earlier on, the Young-Mu Clan’s loitering scum in front of them went back to their seats. Biyeon gestured and beckoned the maid. The young maid quickly ran over. 

“Are you in charge here?” 

“No, the lady over there is in charge of this section.”

Biyeon’s eyes crinkled. 

“Who has a higher rank? The chief of staff or the head maid?”

“Um… definitely the chief of staff.” 

“In that case, change your statement to this - ‘the maid over there is in charge of this section’. I don’t think there’s a reason for me to hear you refer to her in such a polite manner, right?” 

“I...will bear that in mind.”

The maid noticed the ambience and was trembling. 

“How long have you been working here?”

“It’s been three months.”

“Who assigned you here?”

“It’s the head maid.”

“She assigned a maid who has barely worked here for 3 months to the second deputy? Who did they assign to the other deputies?” 

“Assistant head maids, from what I know.” 

“Tell the head maid to come here.”

“I’m sorry?”

“Don’t make me say it twice. I am going to get mad now. I will give you enough time for your heart to beat a hundred times. Run along.”

“Yes...ma’am.”

The maid quickly left. 

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