Chapter 149

Exploration — Chapter 9

The performance was over. The two people’s faces gleamed as they waved at Rain. However, the second deputy, Rain, shook her head. She promised not to cry in front of them ever again, but what should she do with all her endless tears? This was the first tribute she had ever received in her entire life, and it was solely meant for her. 

Regardless of what anybody said, they were genuinely comforting her and cheering her on. It was moving but comical, and at the same time, everyone could sense their steadfast resolve. 

“I appreciate it, but…do they have any idea what a huge mistake they have committed? Everyone in the imperial palace was watching them, including the empress herself. What a bold and reckless act!”

Rain looked up. Even though they were just being themselves, Rain felt that she should do something in return with sincerity. 

Clap clap clap-

She applauded with pride. That was all she could do for them for now, and it was good enough for them. As long as the third empress was alive, and as long as the family that supported her was strong and powerful, Rain was applauding all by herself in a place where no one else could. However… 

Clap clap clap- 

The sound of applause echoed from the third floor. Even though it only came from one person, it reverberated through the room magnificently. Everyone shifted their gaze towards the direction of the sound source. Han Young! It was him. 

Shortly after, the Han-Sung Clan’s teachers started applauding too. Clapping sounds were heard coming from the second floor too. Who could it be? It was Yuri Chan, the fourth empress, representing the Yuri Clan. 

Applause was heard coming from another side as well. It was the Je-Young Clan, the family where the generals of the empire were from. Soon, intermittent applause was heard coming from all over the place. They were people of a different disposition, contrary to those who were walking on eggshells. 

“As expected…”

Biyeon looked up and grinned. It was a meaningful smile. Biyeon and San slowly made their way towards Rain. The head maid and other maids stood respectfully in front of them. They tried as best as they could in their current situation to express their respect and desire.  

“Why are you smiling?” 

“Well, we were applauded.”

“Ahem. But still, it’s lame. You seem to care for it, though.”

“The applause this time has a lot of underlying meaning.” 

“Like what?” 

“Intentional rule-breaking and bold challenges always allow people to make comrades.” 

“They are brave people, huh. Are they the third empress’ political rivals?” 

“Among others. They are people who show a favorable interest in what we do; people who feel that there is something wrong within the palace, but have not been able to step forward due to the lack of evidence. They are probably a group of suppressed loyal subjects.” 

“Ho- This will be very helpful for me in the near future.” 

“Everything is going to be clearly exposed now. They were unable to come forward because of Princess Rain’s weak position. Now that Rain has confirmed that she has strong backers and armed forces, it gave them enough confidence. I thought that the strength of a third level was necessary and sufficient.” 

“Won’t the counterattack from that side be pretty strong?” 

“In any case, we are already public enemies. Regardless of what we do, it will not be more dangerous, right? However, from now on, those hiding in the dark will have to pay more attention to the people who have applauded. The people who have applauded have in fact openly showed their support for the second deputy. Now the front lines have been revealed clearly. Once they have been revealed, they will make a move quickly. The moderates, as well as the people who have been playing both ends, who have been observing the situation, will also have to pick a side. It’s more than I expected, though. I’m glad.” 

“By any chance...is this what you have expected from the start? If that’s the case, the dance practice…”

“No comment…”

Biyeon walked off first. San chuckled. However, for some reason, he felt a chill down his spine.

“Women are scarier…”

***

“Ho- Those are some incredible skills and guts. Princess Rain found some outstanding individuals. Just like what they’ve said...she’s truly a genius!” said a personable elderly woman with gray hair 

She was none other than Empress Yuri Chan, the first person to clap after Han Young. She was a powerful figure from the Yuri Clan, where the fourth empress was from. She was making her way downstairs. The other clan members and warriors of the clan were following behind her. 

“The rumors about them being Awakened Warriors were true,” added Han Yoong, her chief general from the Han-Sung Clan, who was also a Third Level Awakened Warrior. 

His face was flushed and his voice was a little shaky. 

“I was surprised too. It is said that Awakened Warriors don’t show their skills, but when I saw them, I felt that they were incredible superhumans.”

“No. Awakened Warriors are not at their level.” 

Han Yoong shook his head.

“Are you saying that they are better?”

“At the very least, they are above the third level. Awakened Warriors! Seriously…”

“How are they, compared to you?”

“To be honest, I won’t be able to handle one of them. How did they get there at such a young age… Even the great genius of the Han-Sung Clan is now at the second level.”

“They’re that strong?”

Yuri Chan widened her eyes.

“That’s just based on what they’ve shown us. The problem is that it doesn’t seem as though they’ve fully revealed their strength.”

“Han Jung isn’t here today?” 

“I heard that he’s currently traveling. If he was here today, perhaps he would have been extremely shocked.”

“If they are escorting Princess Rain, who can lay a finger on her? 

“It would be hard for anyone to do that without the help of the Absolute Clans. At the very least, it would require a Fourth Level Awakened Warrior. However, as you already know, the generals of the kingdom are third-level warriors, and the marshals are fourth-level warriors. There are no more than twenty fourth-level warriors in the entire world. What kind of powerful figure can hire one of them?” 

“Are you saying that it’s impossible?”

“They cannot be suppressed by physical force. Instead, the focus should be on building a strong defense.”

“Ultimately, it is a story about winning and losing in a battle of wisdom and justification. The rival is Rain the genius… Even though she is lacking in experience, she is going to be hard to deal with over time. Quite a number of forces are going to be in trouble. ”

“Is it intentional? The place and time are out of the ordinary.”

“Is that so…? Hmm, come to think of it, there is no better opportunity than this when it comes to staging an intended demonstration of power. This is only the beginning. Are you saying that they are highly tactical too?”

“I suppose.”

“In any case, it is also something that makes me feel ashamed. Those young people are risking their lives by doing that…” 

Yuri Chan glanced around before continuing, “From today onwards, the sphere of influence could change. People are starting to move.” 

Yuri Chan suddenly noticed a young girl at the back, who had tagged along this evening. 

“‘Sen’...an intelligent and pretty child. I think she’s twenty this year?”  

***

People flocked into the huge empty banquet hall once again, as if they knew for the first time that Rain was there… The maids were busy lighting up the candles in the place and arranging the seats once again due to the sudden influx of people. Rain was briefly taken aback by the new development of the situation. She stood there staring blankly at the people who were returning to the hall, before shifting her gaze towards the two people. What were the two of them thinking at this moment? She could see Biyeon crinkling her eyes. Being the bright woman that she was, Rain knew the exact reason why. 

“Empress Yuri, how are you?” Rain smiled brightly as she greeted the empress first. 

“I heard that you were here, but I did not manage to say hello.” 

Empress Yuri Chan gave an awkward smile and nodded. The Yuri Clan had traditionally been a family that supported the emperor. However, both parties did not engage in any business transactions with one another. Nonetheless, she was one of the people who had observed Rain’s plight from afar, feeling sorry for her. Right now, she was personally reaching out to Rain, who did not know the political significance of this meeting. 

“I am the one who’s thoughtless and did not say hello first. I am rather embarrassed that you had to go out of your way to look for me. I hope we get along with one another from now on.” 

“I have experienced a lot of emotions today. As a fellow member of the royal family, I feel very ashamed. If you ever need my help, please feel free to let me know. Wouldn’t the outcome be better if we discuss together?” 

“Thank you. It will truly be of great help.” Rain chuckled. 

Yuri Chan turned to look at San and Biyeon. Her eyes widened slightly. Biyeon had taken off her simple(?) dress for the performance. Her appearance unintentionally caught the attention of almost everybody. As a matter of fact, it was just the usual outfit that she wore underneath because she always had to be prepared to go into battle. She was wearing form-fitting shorts, thin archon leather tights, and gaiters with sneakers. Needless to say, it was an extremely uncommon outfit in that era. If not for the performance earlier, many people would have frowned at that outlandish outfit.  

But right now, through the performance, a new perspective, which had become familiar, had changed their perspectives. They enjoyed the honest appreciation of the beauty of the bold curves of that woman’s body. 

“Can you introduce me to those two people?” 

Rain called out to the two individuals. 

“Nice to meet you. I am San.”

“I am Yeon.”

“I am Yuri Chan. I am in charge of the empire’s trade policy. I thoroughly enjoyed your wonderful performance. Let’s get along with one another,” said Yuri Chan, as she looked at San. 

Upon closer look, he was a handsome man with bright eyes. 

“By the way, there are some questions I need to ask you regarding your performance earlier...is that okay?” 

“Please go ahead.”

“I saw that the theme was coexistence - preparation - conflict - resolution… Was I right?” 

Yuri Chan looked at San. San slightly widened his eyes. He thought for a moment before opening his mouth slowly to answer her.

“I think it’s more accurate to say remedy, rather than conflict, and dissolution, rather than resolution.”

Yuri Chan looked at San for quite some time before nodding. 

“Indeed…”

The people listening to their conversation were tilting their heads to the side. What was the theme of the performance? The performance from a while ago replayed in their minds. As the pieces started falling into place, they started to look more guarded and wary. If it was true, that would mean that it was prepared through elaborate planning. If that was the case, these people were the ones who gathered them. 

Apart from Yuri Chan, Rain met with several other people. Even though they were powerful figures, they either lacked information or were too far from the axis powers. It took great courage to get to this place. They could also sense that something strange was brewing within the imperial palace, but they were unable to figure out what it was. 

The one thing that was certain was that the emperor’s will was conveyed to all the forces via Princess Rain. That could also be a sign that the next power struggle within the palace was about to begin. The emperor seemed to be distrustful of the secretary general and everyone working in the secretarial offices.   Everyone was extremely guarded and vigilant. They carried out investigations in secret, but they could not find anything. 

The meaning of this situation was clear. A real crisis was coming soon, in a very covert manner… They could not tell the difference between a friend and a foe. Was Rain the emperor’s bait, or did she present this true will? Everyone was isolated and anxious, uncertain about everything. 

The strength shown by the two people got rid of the anxiety pertaining to Rain at once. Right now…the attitude of the nobles towards these two people had changed dramatically. Not a single person spoke to them informally. Their bizarre outfits, as well as their unconventional speech and behavior, were receiving a different kind of attention. Being a star was like that. 

Several people readily reached out. That was the intended purpose of the banquet hall to begin with. There were two different distinct banquets held in one place. Rain looked up and smiled. 

“The two sides are hereby divided. The first phase has been completed.” 

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