An unmarried woman shouldn’t be visiting a man’s room this late in the night. However, Sungyoon let her in without any hesitation.
“Would you like some black tea?”
He knew what she liked. Well, it was more of a general guess, because the British typically liked tea.
Sungyoon poured water into the coffee pot to boil it.
“I've run out of all the high-quality black tea I had in my Storage Gem. You’ll have to tolerate the hotel’s teabag.”
“That’s too bad. I was looking forward to it.”
Sungyoon laid two cups of black tea on the table, and the tea's aroma spread throughout the room.
“Mmm. It isn’t too bad.”
“By the expression on your face, there is no way it's any good.”
It was subtle, but Grace grimaced each time she took a sip.
“Should I prepare you another cup?”
“I don’t want to impose on you. All cheap tea taste the same. Also, this is drinkable.”
She took another sip, and this time, her eyebrows slightly shook.
In some ways, it was a funny sight.
She busily stuffed cookies in her mouth as she drank the tea. She looked like a person eating a side dish to get rid of the taste of strong alcohol.
The sipping sounds rang in the room for a while as the two of them talked about their private lives.
However, Grace wasn’t here for the tea.
Sungyoon decided to be direct.
“Are you here about what happened today?”
Grace’s silence was an answer in itself. She being awake at this time wasn't because of fear. She had been a Connector long before Sungyoon became one. Then, after teaming up with him, she had accumulated all kinds of experience, more so compared to the other Connectors.
What they had witnessed today was horrifying, but it couldn't make her heart sink like this.
Sungyoon knew that she was colder and more level-headed than his other party members. Her behavior was out of the ordinary.
However, he had a guess.
“Were there any Brits amongst the dead we found today?”
Grace's hand, which had been about to raise the teacup, came to a stop. She let go of the teacup, which lay several centimeters above the saucer.
The sound of porcelain hitting porcelain rang out. Thankfully, they hadn’t fallen a great distance; the teacup and saucer were fine.
Sungyoon continued to speak.
“We successfully reclaimed Armstrong city. Everyone was happy about our success, but Earth suffered heavy damage in the process. Since most of the strongest Connectors were busy in Armstrong city, Earth's defenses had weakened. It couldn’t be helped.”
They knew it, and they had been prepared for it. However, it hadn’t been a priority.
Everything was further complicated by the fact that Earth was too large to defend. A massive number of casualties was bound to happen.
They had still gone ahead with it in the name of averting Earth's destruction. It sounded cruel, but the deaths were minor in comparison to Earth's eventual demise.
The casualties were a loss that had to be stomached. That was how everyone rationalized it.
“… After our mission to recover Armstrong city came to an end, I went over the entire list of people who either died or went missing in my country. I felt that it was my duty to see their pictures at least once.”
One of the people who had disliked the plan the most was Grace.
She understood the plan had to be carried out, but she was more sensitive to the deaths on Earth than the others.
Most Connectors went to the Moon and the Moon's labyrinths for selfish reasons. The only thing they believed in was their own abilities. Unlike them, Grace had grown up in a special environment. She had been nurtured to think differently.
“Of course, I don’t remember all of them, but I do... remember some of the children.”
Life was precious for everyone, but Grace couldn’t help focusing her attention on the children. The children were defenseless, and their lives were cut down way too soon.
The pictures of some of these children had stuck in her mind, and coincidentally, she had seen one of them today. The child's body had been dismantled in a horrifying fashion.
“I compared the still-recognizable corpses to those in the list of the missing people. A lot of them were on the list.”
Grace’s voice was full of emotions; anger, grief, and hatred were all mixed within.
‘It seems Ms. Grace is holding on to a lot of emotional baggage.’
Sungyoon’s family was fine, so he could react to other events in a rational manner. However, Grace was different. Her country was as important to her as his family was to him.
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
That was all he could say. He didn’t offer platitudes. He didn’t tell her that he understood what she was going through. He didn’t tell her that everything would be ok. He couldn’t do it. He thought about the anguish he would feel if he lost his family. He wouldn’t give a rat’s ass if someone tried to give him cheap platitudes.
“Mr. Sungyoon, I can never forgive the being called Kevil.”
“I feel the same way, and I don’t plan on forgiving Kevil.”
All his party members also felt the same way.
Sungyoon and Grace continued their quiet conversation.
Grace lamented, and Sungyoon silently listened to her.
“Hoo-hooht! I was right to come here. The emotions weighing on my heart have significantly decreased.”
“I’m glad to hear that. However, you should seek out a female friend next time. It isn’t good to be around a man so late into the night. Others might misunderstand what went on here. You can lean on Ms. Emily too.”
“Well, I had thought about it, but Ms. Emily was also in rough shape.”
“… I see.”
Emily had a delicate personality. Her rich battle experience allowed her to somewhat overcome this delicate personality, but it seemed today’s events had affected her in a profound manner.
Sungyoon remembered that her face had been pale when they had returned to the hotel.
“Also, I don’t care if others misunderstand what happened here.”
It was hard to tell if she was playing or not. A peculiar smile appeared on her lips as she picked up her teacup once again.
Sungyoon remained silent.
“Hmm. I guess it isn’t time yet.”
Grace let out a sigh. She looked around the room as if she wanted to find something that would allow her to change the topic. The room had been expensive, but it was a normal hotel room. It wasn’t much different from her own room.
Her eyes landed on the large map rolled up on a table.
“Were you looking at the map?”
“Yes. I was wondering if there's a pattern to the ritual sites. That's why I was marking them all.”
“Do you mind if I look at it?”
It wasn't something he had to hide.
Sungyoon put away the teacups so that they could have an easier time looking at the map.
Grace unfurled the map.
“It's quite detailed.”
She spoke out in admiration.
“It's nothing. I just marked the locations that were reported on. I’m sure other intelligence agencies are doing a more thorough analysis. This is something I’m doing to satisfy myself.”
“I didn’t think about doing this. There are two different marks. What’s the difference?”
“The circle signifies the recent rituals that don't involve any 1st Gens. They are large-scale rituals. The triangle signifies the previous rituals where 1st Gens were sacrificed.”
Grace meticulously looked over the map. She stared at the map as her brows furrowed in concentration. Sungyoon remained silent since he didn’t want to bother her. It would be great if she found something he had missed.
“I wish there was a pattern, but I don’t see it.”
It seemed it was an impossible task for Grace too.
Sungyoon wasn’t disappointed since numerous intelligence agencies couldn’t figure it out either.
“However, I feel a sense of deja vu for some reason.”
Sungyoon stared at her. Grace shrank away, but Sungyoon didn’t plan on berating her for saying something useless.
‘Ms. Grace feels that way?’
Sungyoon had also felt an unknown sense of deja vu when he had looked at the map. It was the reason he continued to look at the map despite calling it a self-serving act.
‘What if the sense of deja vu we felt isn't a coincidence. If so, where could we have seen the same thing?’
Sungyoon and Grace lived completely different lives. It was to be expected since Sungyoon lived in Korea and Grace lived in England. It meant that the thing they saw was probably on the Moon. Moreover, there was a high probability that they had seen it in a labyrinth.
‘However, I doubt we saw something so distinct within a labyrinth.’
His thoughts naturally flowed toward the next candidate.
Sungyoon thought about the pictures engraved in various places in the capital city, the holy city, the Mage city, and the fortress city.
The engravings looked artistic, but they also seemed to be made with the intention of expressing history.
Grace became worried as she looked at Sungyoon, who was deep in his thoughts.
Sungyoon suddenly grabbed her hand.
Grace was taken aback, but she didn’t pull her hand back.
It wasn’t like her to be this flustered. Her still heart circulated her blood faster.
Her face turned red.
“I remember something! I’ll have to go verify it! Please wait a moment!”
Sungyoon ran out of the room, leaving a dumbfounded woman alone in the room.
Grace felt as if he had dumped cold water on her rising passion. Her cheeks turned red once again, but it was due to an emotion different than the one before. It was the complete opposite of the previous emotion. It was 'embarrassment.'
She took steady breaths to calm her heart.
“… I expected it, but it really is a brick wall.”
How did Hahn Jimin break through that powerful wall?
‘Still, I’m in a better place than before. I’ve made some progress.’
In the past, Sungyoon wouldn’t have let her into his room no matter what time it was.
‘Also, I didn’t come here with that intention in mind.’
She had been telling the truth when she had told Sungyoon that she had to unload her restless emotions. The goal with which she came here had been accomplished. Moreover, she also knew it was rude to stay in a room too long without the owner.
With a light heart, Grace returned to her room.
- After receiving your message, we searched through all the special cities.
The Mayor's excited face appeared on the screen.
- We found four likely candidates when we went through all the paintings on the wall and the ceiling. We pieced this together.
The Mayor proudly unfurled a paper. It was a large page, with a large drawing printed on it. It was the map of the world.
- Look at this!
The Mayor started pointing at various locations on the paper. Several small red dots had been marked on this world map.
Sungyoon kept staring at one particular red dot. He couldn't forget that location no matter what. The topography looked a bit different from this map, but it was the location where Kevil had conducted his damned ritual, the location he had been staring at all night.
“What’s the significance of these locations?”
- This is our conjecture, but we believe the ritual to banish Grenoid from Earth had taken place in these locations. A picture of Grenoid drawn near to us supports this conjecture.
“What does my mother-in-law think about this?”
“Ms. Plu-El and Mr. Aruwen agree with us.”
“It isn’t a coincidence?”
- Probably not.
The two men had the same thought.Previous Chapter Next Chapter