Chapter 186

“I’m not sure if you both know, but the gods on Earth, where we previously lived, had to evolve to survive. At that time, they moved their operations to the modern media and press industry. Someday, it’ll be the same here. They’ll never die or be rid of.”

The man poured out his words in succession like bullets from a machine gun. He looked like a child who was showing excitement for something after a long time of depression.

“The gods… live in the press and mass media, not the church?”

“Would it be more understandable if I told you that it’s just a perspective difference between ‘a place that sells icons’ and ‘a place that makes icons?’”

“That’s a funny yet apt description,” San said as he laughed bitterly.

“Do you guys know what the similarity is with a reporter and a sperm? It was a widely known joke around my time on Earth…”

“What’s the difference?” Biyeon asked as she tilted her head.

“The odds of either one becoming a human are one in 300 million… Hahaha…!”

“…”

“Huh? Was it not funny? Why aren’t you both laughing? It’s a really high-level joke.”

“Well, I guess it’s kind of funny in its own way. I have a feeling that the analogy was a bit too crass.”

A bright smile appeared on both San and Biyeon’s faces. They both turned their heads toward the others. They were finally able to observe the Outsiders' appearance.

Three men and one woman. Very familiar style of clothing. Obviously, the style of their dress was typical of people who lived in the early twenty-first century. This meant that they were all from the same era.

San and Biyeon felt that there was some incongruity and unbalance between their style of clothing versus how old the four looked, but what did it matter?

As San and Biyeon looked at the four, tears started welling in their eyes.

They were so happy and thankful to meet others like them that they were on the verge of crying. In this suffocating world of loneliness, the existence of these people in a completely isolated space… It didn’t seem to matter, for San and Biyeon, whether the four were good or bad.

They were beings and modern Earth people whom they could share the same worldview with. San and Biyeon felt an intense sense of unity with these four. They felt relieved at the prospect that they’d feel a little less lonely now.

However, that was that. It was now time to…

The emperor and the two Han-Sung Clan leaders, who did not understand the conversation at all, were staring blankly at the six individuals.

The emperor and the two leaders of the Han-Sung Clan. They were giant figures who represented the political and combat power of this world.

“Has the problem been resolved?” Hanyoung asked as he looked towards San.

“It seems so. I think it’s okay to talk freely now.”

***

San and Biyeon, the emperor, Hanhyuk and Hanyoung, and the Outsiders were deep in their discussions and deliberations. The award ceremony that was planned had been canceled.

Even the grand banquet that was to follow the award’s ceremony was canceled. No one would complain. It was the emperor’s will and questioning the emperor’s decision was forbidden.

However, all the people in the imperial family, the various high-level ministers in the imperial court, and other officials with great power grew extremely nervous at the sudden change in schedule.

“Has the emperor ever held court with visitors for this long before?” Oyu, the emperor’s general secretary, who was the first seat in charge of royal ceremonies, murmured to herself. She couldn’t hide her bewilderment over the sudden cancelation of events.

“What is going on? His majesty considers the conferment of title ceremony as one of the most important events. How important are his discussions to cancel such an event…?” the third seat, Ryuin, stated while biting her lip. 

A chilling atmosphere flowed through the air with the sudden cancellation of the events. An unfamiliar feeling of confusion and anxiety was creeping over the gathered officials and imperial family.

No one in the imperial family wanted to stop San and Biyeon, who were thorns in their side, from leaving the imperial courts. Perhaps the most welcoming and congratulatory people were the members of the imperial family as they wanted San and Biyeon to leave so that they could continue their machinations.

However, if the long-awaited ceremony was canceled, what did it mean? Were San and Biyeon not going to leave the capital? Also, what the hell were they all talking about for so long in the isolated reception area?

“Is there something else…?”

At some point, some people began to question Rain’s true background. There were also many theories and groundless speculations regarding the origin of the two people Rain had invited into the capital and imperial court. The two people that Rain invited were clearly special. However, they never revealed themselves directly to the public, refraining from the public eye.

What they exposed publicly were only their extraordinary combat power and extraordinary organizational leadership skills. There was nothing strange about these two qualities. Such abilities were virtues that those working under the secretary office should possess.

Most people still believed that the main ideas and strategies revealed and implemented in the various reforms were all ideas that stemmed from Rain, the imperial court’s most learned genius.

However, several disturbing events followed that questioned this initial assumption. The movements of the Dark Guilds and Black Guilds that operated in the shadows had disappeared without a sound once Rain and her two officers took office.

Furthermore, the information gathering network of organizations, the Shadow Guilds, had largely hidden their existence. Even the Absolute Clan, the Han-Sung Clan, had ingrained themselves deeply in whatever pursuits that Rain took on.

Huge armed forces from the Dong-Myung and Ki-Jang Clan, which rivaled the power of the royal family, suddenly entered Prigojin and established headquarters in the capital. They also worked to keep other clans and organizations from entering the capital and maintained a level of stability overall by pushing out other organizations to the outskirts of the empire.

Even more strangely, though the Han-Sung Clan knew what the other two Absolute Clans were doing, they largely remained silent. The other two Absolute Clans were entering into the Han-Sung Clan’s main area of influence, but there didn’t seem to be any struggle or strife.

However, when all of this was happening, no one had conceived of linking these series of movements with Rain’s successive reforms.

Time had passed peacefully. The people’s interest naturally returned to everyday interests when nothing tangible happened from these various changes. Rain’s reforms were on track, and everyone went along with their daily lives without much care.

However, now that it seemed like a turbulent rainstorm was brewing, an entire stormfront came rushing in. It was only around this time that the major powers of the imperial family and members of the ruling families began to feel the signs of crisis.

But before they could react, the situation had already ended.

The veteran warriors from the three Absolute Clans, as well as the Dark Guilds and Black Guild’s warriors… Forces that could not be stopped were blocking the paths that the imperial and ruling families had been taking and were peering into their deepest and darkest secrets.

On another front, the intellectuals of the Liberal University, led by Yurisen, supported Rain’s reforms, and they were voicing out their fierce rhetoric against the tyranny and corruption of the current ruling class. Everywhere, the imperial and ruling families had their businesses strangely checked.

Crucially, when Samyung announced her sudden retirement from politics and rushed back to her hometown without any forewarning, the united front that she had led in the capital quickly collapsed.

As such, the influential powerhouses were silently going through a process of decline without being able to show any signs of resistance or retaliation.

All this was not within the scope of Rain and her office. She and her office were mainly in charge of imperial human resources and finances. 

Then, who was leading all these changes? The quick-witted observers soon turned their eyes to San and Biyeon.

The more they observed the two, the more they saw. The two were far more related to the ongoing changes of the imperial court, capital, and empire than they had ever imagined.

All information from within and outside the imperial family was being collected by the two in near real-time. Even the trivial chatter and complaints that appeared at breakfast time between insignificant officials or servants were being overheard and analyzed.

The individuals who conducted their investigations on San and Biyeon went into the work with a light heart. However, all of them had the same strange experience of feeling as though there was a larger, more extraordinary movement at work. The more they looked and found out, the more they felt their backs sweat with surprise and nervousness. The scale was too large.

The maids and servants of the imperial family had been taken over without a word! They were previously the lifelong supporters of the imperial nobles.

However, as the human resources system changed to a required regular rotation, it was no longer possible to create an ‘inside’ person.

What was now certain was that the imperial and ruling families could not conduct secret underhanded transactions nor data collection anymore. They were slowly being choked and running out of breath. Was even this a calculated action by the two?

Thus, while all of this was ongoing, an announcement about the conferment of titles for San and Biyeon circulated. Almost everyone cheered. Of course… all those who secretly cheered had been looking forward to this day.

They came to the imperial palace to congratulate the two with a smile on their faces and swiftly saw off the thorns that had been poking into their sides. There was nothing more desirable for these corrupt officials than if everyone gathered to finally end this arduous chapter of restriction…

However…

“Nothing is going to happen… damn it. Nothing’s working out…” Ryuin murmured to herself as she deeply sighed.

Winds of Fortune – Chapter 7

“It’s the first time those two are meeting with his majesty, right?”

“As far as I know, yes.”

“What about Rain?”

“She looks very anxious. She just left for her quarters.”

“Okay… I got it. You can go now.” 

After sending off her messenger, the secretary, Gayu, reclined deep in her chair.

The warm evening wind of late spring gently seeped through the open window. She felt her head clear up.

She felt comfortable. A sense of drowsiness came over her. How long had it been since she was able to truly relax?

“I should go see elder brother tomorrow…”

She closed her eyes. In her eyelids, her brother’s youthful days were flowing like a picture show. Before becoming emperor, he was always very sweet and pleasant to be around… Her lips were rising little by little as she fell deeper into her daydream.

***

The long meeting was finally over. The emperor was looking at the ceiling with his waist bent backward.

Hanyoung was sitting at an angle in his chair with his arms resting on his chin. Hanhyuk was staring intently at San and Biyeon, as if his appreciation towards them had not yet been satisfied.

The four members of the Outsiders had already disappeared from the meeting place.

San pulled his chair back a little, put his interlaced hands on his knees, and looked straight ahead with his legs crossed.

Biyeon tilted her head slightly and leaned naturally on San’s shoulder, staring intently at the busts of the past emperors.

It looked like everyone was mentally exhausted. The marathon meeting had lasted for more than twenty hours. Furthermore, these gathered people were the busiest people in the world. It would have been very difficult to gather them all together for this amount of time.

Therefore, almost all their strategies and directions had to be decided within their meeting. They had come to a rough conclusion.

The imperial court’s attendants and secret service detail, who were now allowed inside the discussion area, moved carefully into the reception room to organize the place.

Looking inside, they couldn’t help but collectively hold their breath. It was the first time they saw such a disturbing scene of distressed items strewn across the room and the languid bodies of people relaxing in the presence of their dignified emperor.

“We’ll be heading out.”

San grabbed Biyeon’s shoulder and slowly stood up. An expression of satisfaction hung on his face.

Although Biyeon looked tired, she conveyed her respects to the emperor with a faint smile and bow.

“Thank you, for everything. I guess I should now say that I hope you both can take care of me?”

The emperor pulled his back from his chair and leaned forward as he spoke.

“Please don’t say such things… it’s what we want, too.”

“This majesty envies you both. It may sound strange, but…”

The emperor looked up at San and smiled. If a smile had a taste, the emperor’s current smile seemed to be filled with bitterness. However, this bitterness was not towards San and Biyeon, but the unenviable task that was in front of them.

“Is the emperor of this great empire, who has everything, feeling envious? You are too greedy,” San answered in response to the emperor’s words. A hint of intimacy, as if one was dealing with an old friend, and naturalness that transcended generations and class could be felt in the exchange.

The servants hurriedly covered their mouths to contain the screams that were about to erupt from their mouths. Their anxious eyes turned to the emperor. The emperor had a rather relaxed expression on his face.

“There are many things I don’t have. No… I may have had it before, but I probably have lost it now.”

“In my experience, power is like a sweetener. It’s difficult to be totally satisfied,” Biyeon commented from the side.

The emperor’s eyes returned to Biyeon. Biyeon bowed slightly once more and put her gaze down in a show of respect.

The emperor was about to respond with, “You have a very good wife,” but swallowed his words at the last second.

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