Chapter 155

“I am Agent Laron from the second deputy’s intelligence unit. We came all the way here on this cold day because of those ‘damn’ assignments given to us by Chief Commander San and Chief of Staff Yeon. Other people say they’re on vacation, relaxing at home… Our agents are so pitiful, right?” 

“Yes, that’s true, but…” Sharen hesitated. 

However, Laron continued, “The both of them said that they are planning to visit this place in five days to check on our assignments since it’s the last day. I hope it won't be cold by then. After all...if you stay out in the cold for a long time, you will catch a cold. That would be terrible, wouldn’t it?” 

Sharen eventually covered her mouth with her hands and held back her laughter. Even if he were to die, this man still would not broach the subject of letting them into her house. In truth…it was much colder for her to be outside in the cold after being in a warm room. 

With the way things were going…she was bound to lose in a long game like this. Sharen glanced at Laron. This meticulous guy with his cheap tricks… 

“Please come inside for a moment.” 

“I have been waiting for you to say that.” 

Laron beamed. He looked behind him and waved. The agents flocked into the house. The head maid, Sharen, called one of the maids over. Once an outsider had been invited in, they were responsible for adhering to the procedures in this place. The maid went to get an observer to be present during their conversation. Nobody was allowed to reveal any secrets. 

After entering, Laron looked around and examined the details of the building without saying a word. Due to the sudden commotion, the maids who were gathered everywhere in casual clothes had an anxious look on their faces as they followed his every movement. The structure of the building was like a traditional house in Beijing, China - there was a small courtyard in the center like a Siheyuan, surrounded by four buildings or rooms, one on each side, with ten people living in each room. There were a total of 40 people living together. Of course, there were areas designated for only men or women. 

Head Maid Sharen ushered all of the agents into the drawing room. Initially, she was not going to let them in regardless, but as soon as she heard him say ‘Chief Commander San’ and ‘Chief of Staff Biyeon’, she changed her mind. Those humans were very famous among the maids. She could not ignore those names upon hearing them. Sharen would not be able to bear the grudges of the maids if she were to do that. 

On this floor, the assessment of ‘them’ was split into two extremes. The older maids and servants were passive dissenters. They feared the two people’s influence. They were wary that their unconventional actions would potentially bring harm to the palace by disrupting the discipline and even lead trained maids astray, resulting in them being unruly and disobedient. 

On the other hand, the other group of people was extremely direct and friendly towards them. They belong to the younger age group. As for ‘friendly’...? That was more of a euphemism. To put it more accurately, they were almost completely obsessed with them. It was not an exaggeration to say that the eyes and the ears of all the maids were focused on them at work, and when they got off work, all the topics they talked about were centered on those two people.  The maids were engrossed in trivial things that happened in their daily lives, as well as incidents that were akin to action films. It was similar to the attitude fangirls had towards superstars in dramas and movies. 

It was quite an interesting sight for the head maid. Ever since they came, delightful occurrences had happened every day in the dull and suffocating palace. Things that were familiar were challenged, and the authority of nobles with no substance was brutally exposed. That was a real-life situation that actually happened. At times, heart-palpitating, refreshing and exhilarating things happened. 

As long as it was related to them, servants and maids would get in line to do it, even if it was work that they hated. This was because they would get to witness the drama at the scene itself. The key areas of the palace were filled with maids and servants. The development of situations everywhere was collected in almost real-time. It would then be broadcasted live through a voluble person. How did someone get broken up with, what happened to a certain noble, what a royal family member requested for...and how it went… 

They might be nervous about the chatter going on within the dorms, but how refreshingly stimulating did it make their boring daily lives? However, there was something both groups had in common.

“Be sure to abide by the basics and principles in front of them. Promises must be fulfilled. Be impartial. Be respectful and considerate towards each other…” 

Haban was listening prudently to the second deputy’s agents’ stories. Sharen, the person who greeted them, was next to her. Haban was the head resident of the entire place, something like the mayor of a small city. Even though he laughed as he listened to the delightful stories during the conversation, the look in her eyes became more and more pensive. 

“Oh wow, that’s ridiculous…”

Other people did not know it; even most people in the palace did not know it either. However, in the world of the insignificant maids and servants, they had a special ability that would never be known to the world. People called it ‘being socially aware’, and a keen sense of smell like the canidae. However, in truth, it was more than that. It was the ability to read intentions from minor changes in facial expressions, as well as the direction in which power flowed. It was also the ability to gauge the strength of an organization and the ability to share measures via a web-like information network and neural networks. 

Each of them alone was as insignificant as a dust particle, but they existed everywhere in the palace. Their services were needed in every single area. They were ‘intellectuals’ who had the ability to read and write documents. Additionally, apart from being able to decipher a person’s psyche from their facial expressions, they were also incredibly active individuals who were able to identify the movements and sounds of any living creature with legs. 

However, there was more. They could adjust the food (taste), clothes (style), the brightness of a room, temperature, and humidity (ambiance), and the service speed could be adjusted via the pace at which they walked, which was directly proportional. If they wanted to, they could capture the ambiance of this huge network in the palace according to their wishes via intentional manipulation. If ‘somebody’ wanted to, they could carry out their will as they wished…

That was very similar to the principles of USN (Ubiquitous Sensor Network). In the course of 500 years since the establishment of this organization, nobody had paid any attention to them. However, for the first time in history, it seemed like somebody was showing interest in them. 

A faint smile crept across Sharen’s face. It was a strange feeling she had never experienced before. From her point of view, the other party was ‘inviting’ her. 

“This is remarkable. How far do they want to go? The genius, Princess Rain, and Chief of Staff Biyeon, whose abilities seem to be endless… 

***

The maids and servants had agreed to help the second deputy’s agents with their assignments. Approximately 150 people carried out their tasks right before their eyes. The agents would live in each dorm, and they would take turns to have three meals with the maids and servants, and give five people the three questionnaires that they had prepared before receiving their answers. They would also have to sleep together and chat for one night. 

This assignment piqued the interest of the head maid and head servant. The questions were clear and made known to everyone. However, the intention behind them was hidden. In any case, this task drew the attention of the curious maids and servants, who would get a taste of participating in a complicated puzzle game. 

“This is going to be fun…” said Haban as he stroked his chin. 

Their request form had Princess Rain’s official seal. The representative head maid and the head servant had to make a very subtle political judgment. Was this Princess Rain’s arbitrary mission? Or did it have the tacit approval of the emperor? Officially speaking, everyone knew that all of Princess Rain’s work and tasks were orders from the emperor. She was clearly someone who worked for the emperor. However, in this case, they could not be 100% sure as it did not have the emperor’s official seal of approval. What if Princess Rain had other intentions? That would mean that the emperor was exposed to danger. Thus, it would be safe for them to reject their request. 

However, Haban and Sharen decided to trust their experienced senses. Their instincts tingled violently. Sometimes there was a need to carry on with their work without getting confirmation. It was not known whether or not now was the time to distinguish friend from foe, or for the nobles’ hands to be stained with blood. This organization might need to be cleaned up too. 

The agents, or those who sent them, were cautiously sounding out their intentions. The assignment would be carried out in a transparent manner, with both parties present. The head maid and head servant studied the questions they had prepared. They wanted to narrow down and eliminate anything that might potentially cause any problems. However, when they saw the questionnaires, the look in their eyes changed slightly. 

Each of the three questionnaires contained the following questions.

[Questionnaire Section 1]

1. Personal Information:

- Name/Affiliation/Employment period/Hobbies/Special skills/Salary/… 

2. General Personal Information:

- What are the three places you want to visit the most

- What is the name of the food you want to eat the most?

- What is the most interesting story you’ve heard?

- Who is the person you admire the most?

- What are three of your favorite colors?

- Is there a god with the highest spiritual powers? 

- What is the personality of your ideal spouse, if you’re married?

- What are the three skills you would like to teach your children?

3. About Life in the Imperial Palace:

- What is the most helpful knowledge?

- What are the skills you want to learn?

- What is the worst kind of boss or nobleman? 

There was no problem. There were no special secrets. The questions were so ridiculously simple that they did not know why they were asking them. However, for some reason, it piqued the interest of both the head maid and head servant. Although they had been living with them for at least ten years, and up to thirty years, they realized that they did not know much about their subordinates’ dispositions. Additionally, they wondered what they were going to use the data for. They also wanted to know what would be revealed about how they run their organization once the data were collected and combined. Just like that, their assignments were progressing amicably. 

In the process of doing the assignment, the agents were starting to get a vague sense of why they had to do it. It gave them a different perspective, and it was a very exciting experience for all of them as well. Being able to peek into these lives on a deeper level was something these individuals of noble statuses could never dream about, and an opportunity they would never get again. 

While the agents had always been around, the maids had been trying to ignore their existence, and now, they were eating together at the same table. They even had conversations about minor things that happened in their everyday life till late at night. It was a really pleasant and amazing experience. Furthermore, the facts they told them about, and the palace they ever knew were entirely different. 

The maids were very wary initially, but eventually, they were able to relax because of the pleasant Essen agents. The fact that it was carried out in their own private space also helped calm their minds. The bizarre atmosphere of having conversations without taking their statuses into consideration was surprisingly exciting. It allowed them to be able to talk more freely and tell their story as per normal. Contrary to the expectation that it was going to be awkward, the stories piqued everyone’s interest, and did not end until it was late into the night. 

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