Chapter 151

“I’m afraid you are making too big of a deal out of this,” said Sedum cautiously.

“Are there a lot of requests?” 

“They are pouring in like a flood. It’s the most we’ve gotten since our inception.” 

“What about the popularity ranking?” 

“Princess Rain, Chief Biyeon, Chief San, the agents under the second deputy, the Essen crew, and funnily…”

Sedum stopped talking and smiled. He shifted his gaze towards Biyeon. 

“Without a doubt, Third Deputy Ryuin and Fourth Deputy Dain’s agents were included too, right?” 

Biyeon chuckled. 

“As expected…”

Sedum widened his eyes as he stared at Biyeon. 

“Isn’t cleaning up all evidence or pushing the blame the easiest thing to do? If it was me, that’s what I would probably do, I guess?” 

“Did you guess who the client of the contract was?” 

“I have a rough idea who it is. However, I am not certain. Did you manage to find out more information?” 

“No. We don’t even know who the client is. They were all anonymous.”

“He was probably killed by someone after the request had been completed.” 

“That’s correct. One must always clean up all the evidence and make sure nothing gets traced back.” 

“That’s the basic standard procedure. The question is if the request was only made to Dark Guilds…”

“The assassin group, Black Guilds, is already making their move. The most important thing is whether or not a request was made to Shadow Guilds… That would be the worst case scenario.” 

“Black Guilds and Shadow Guilds? How are they like?” 

“Black Guilds is the representative intelligence group that divided the north and the south together with Dark Guilds. Dark Guilds mainly handles spy training, such as advanced tracking and memorization techniques, whereas Black Guilds is more specialized in contract killing.” 

“Hmm… What about Shadow Guilds? Is it really that dangerous?”

“If they are taking action…they are considered the most dangerous. Shadow Guilds is known to be a group consisting of eccentric people with strange talents. I heard that they are people who are well-versed in all types of fields, such as art, music, entertainment, and magic, etc. There are also quite a number of individuals who are masters of a particular field, who sometimes offer their services for people who need their talent in exchange for money.” 

“Has Dark Guilds ever hired Shadow Guilds?” 

“Of course. At times, we do encounter cases that are a pain in the neck to resolve. The problem is that it costs a lot of money…”

“Can I meet them?” 

“It will be hard to meet Black Guilds, but it’s possible to meet Shadow Guilds.”

“Thank you…”

“By the way, is the Essen crew doing alright? Our people are watching over them, but they are still at risk…”

“I think that is good enough. Just let them be. You can help them out only when they are in grave danger.” 

“Hmm… There must be a deeper meaning, right?”

“Freedom is the reason why they are happy to work. Wouldn’t they be upset if they get summoned during the most exciting time of their lives?” 

“What are you planning to do now?”

“I would like to investigate the public works and construction projects that are being carried out throughout the empire and its principalities.” 

“That is not difficult.”

“I also want a list of major customers who regularly buy slaves from the slave market, especially targeting the feudal lords…”

“That is going to take some time. 

“That is going to take a while. It is a very complicated and dangerous business. It has the highest level of interest since all kinds of dirty dealings are entangled in it…”

“And that’s why I’m asking for your help, right? How long will it take?” 

“I will need at least 100 days. The slave merchants are all huge business magnates. It is hard to approach them because they are connected to the military authorities and great mercenaries, in particular, an Absolute Clan, the Ki-Jang Clan, is involved. 

“Cut it down to 30 days.”

“That’s not possible.”

“Someone from the Ki-Jang Clan agreed to cooperate, though?” 

“Gibin?”

Sedum looked at San. 

“Yeah.”

“In that case, I’ll try my best.” 

“Thank you.” 

They discussed with one another for a long time and talked about various things. It felt as though they were old friends talking to each other.

***

“How did it go?” asked the woman.

The people behind the woman wanted to know the answer to that question too. They were the intelligence agents under the second deputy. This was the moment when the female agent they had been waiting for, the person who had the answer to their question, had just walked in. However, the pupils of their eyes were trembling with anxiety. The female agent, Gazelle, had a gloomy look on her face as she entered. She scanned the look on her co-workers’ faces. She was greeted with all kinds of facial expressions. Some of the agents were already about to cry. 

Gazelle opened her mouth and said, “Vacation has been…”

She could hear gulping sounds everywhere. She mischievously.

“Permitted.”

The agents suddenly started exclaiming and shouting - it was as though the room was about to explode. Crying sounds were heard too. 

“It has been four months. We are going home too…” 

“It’s too early to rejoice. We still don’t know what is going to happen to us…” said someone cautiously. He still looked anxious. 

 “Also!” continued Gazelle in her high-pitched voice. The commotion among the agents gradually dwindled. 

“We have a 10-day vacation, instead of 3.”

Once again, the commotion started. At the back of their minds, there was still anxiety. As far as they knew, their new bosses were the type of people who believed that there was no such thing as a free lunch. They waited for Gazelle to continue. 

Gazelle continued, “What you have to bear in mind is that you can do individual activities for four days, but you must move in groups of five during the remaining six days. Each group leader would be given a task.”

“It is your choice as to whether or not you want to complete the task. There will be thirty groups competing. You will be rewarded based on the results of your performance. Now, listen to the deputy’s words and disband into groups.” 

Rain opened the door and slowly walked out before standing in front of them. San and Biyeon were standing behind her. The agents applauded. They were still slightly apprehensive, but the look on their faces did not hide any anticipation that they had. Strangely enough, their attitude towards Rain and the two people had somewhat changed from fear to respect. It was probably due to the moral education they had to go through that made them hate empty formalities and vanity, and were feeling touched by the little things.

They were thrilled. Those were probably the longest days of their lives. It was the most agonizing and nerve-racking period. They slept for only four hours a day, and studied for six hours a day on average. They also had to discuss with one another for four hours a day, and worked for eight hours a day on average. In the minds of these agents, everything that had happened over the past four months was a blur. It all went by very quickly.

Their first assignment was a presentation. They were given a one month deadline. They had to present in groups of five, and a total of thirty groups had to present over the course of three days. The presentation was related to the finance and personnel affairs of the imperial palace. The topic assigned to each group was different. 

“If 27,000 sheets of paper were used in six months, wouldn’t it mean that 4,500 sheets were used per month?” asked Biyeon.

“Umm…”

The agent could not answer and look through the documents for quite some time. 

“By the way, why was there a claim for 13,000 sheets a month? How many do we have left in the inventory currently?” 

“Umm… There were about 10,000 sheets according to the record at that time.”

“At that time? Did you not do an inventory check? I am asking for the current inventory.”

“I will check again.”

Biyeon looked through the document containing the data of the investigation carried out by an Essen agent.

“Three months after the date of the investigation, the current inventory is 5,300 sheets. Based on the average numbers you have reported, there would be at least 50,000 blank sheets. Where the hell did the supplies go? Also, there are so many extras in the inventory, why did you buy more?”

“...”

“During that period, what have you been investigating? How much is 50,000 sheets?”

“1 tongbo for ten sheets…5,000 tongbo in total.  

“What is your annual salary?” 

“400 tongbo.”

“The money you would have earned in 12 years has disappeared into thin air, huh?”

“...”

“Do you think that the construction fees are reasonable? What about the criteria for decision making?

“I don’t know.”

“Do you think that saying you don’t know is the right answer? Even though money keeps leaking out of the palace? The total input cost is 450 tongbo. The price paid by the royal family is 2,000 tongbo. Do you think that is reasonable?”

“...”

“Is the food prices in the imperial palace the same as that in the market?”

“I...don’t know.”

“The price is twice as much in the imperial palace. Do you know the reason why?”

“...”

“Seasonal prices?”

“That too…”

“The prices in winter are higher than the prices in summer. Why is that so?”

“...”

“There’s a place that is a more preferred source of supply, right?

“...”

“Who’s the supplier?” 

“The Jung-Ha Clan.”

“Are they a monopoly?” 

“Yes, they are.”

“Do you think that the profits made by the Jung-Ha Clan is appropriate, compared to the amount of money that they donate to the imperial palace?”

“...”

The agent wiped his sweat that was dripping down. That question itself was a taboo that nobody could say out loud. It was being broken. 

“The next question is about the construction fees of the imperial palace.”

“...”

When the last agent was done with their presentation, not a single breath could be heard within the big hall.

“What is your overall opinion pertaining to the previous report that you have reviewed?” 

“I think it was very unsatisfactory.”

“Unsatisfactory? Not falsified?”

“...”

“How would you improve it?”

“...”

The agents were very shocked for the first time in their life. Their families were even more shocked. The people from large influential families, who had been watching, shook their heads. Princess Rain and Chief of Staff Biyeon were fear itself. They came to realize why Rain was a genius. However, they were even more surprised by Biyeon. She displayed terrifying insight and did not make any political compromise. Her questions were always straight to the point and poor logic was not forgiven. Concocted stories and excuses were certainly publicly shamed. Ambiguous terms had to be clearly defined. Almost all the intelligence agents’ qualifications were questioned and their assessments were at their worst. None of them could refute Biyeon’s logic.

However, there was only one thing that made everyone extremely tense, which was the difference between the original report and the new report of the second investigation. It was the game of truth. That was the purpose of this public announcement. Biyeon publicly exposed how the contents were different from the original report. False reporting was a crime punishable by death. The hidden intentions of the people who wrote the original reports were gradually being revealed.

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