Chapter 153. Extravagant Meals

There was a matter that couldn’t be glossed over with laughter, but once Hugo came back, Seol Jihu took time to introduce the new members to the teammates.

“I’m Yi Seol-Ah! Please take care of me!”

“Ooooooh!”

Hugo’s reaction was greater than what Seol Jihu anticipated. When he saw the healthy, innocent girl greeting him brightly, he instantly broke out into a big smile.

“You said you’re an Archer?”

“Yes, I’m a Level 2 Archer.”

“A Level 2 Archer? So a Hunter then?”

“No, I’m a Tracker.”

“Ah~! So a future Tracer has joined our team!”

Hugo smiled with a hearty laugh and placed his hand on Yi Seol-Ah’s shoulder.

“I’m Richard Hugo, a Level 4 Barbarian Warrior. You can call me Hugo. No, how about Hugo Oppa~?”

“Y-Yes. Hugo Op… Oppa.”

“Aigo! Yes, yes! Let’s get along from now on. If anything’s troubling you, just let me know!”

Seeing Hugo strut his chest out and laugh, Seol Jihu smiled bitterly. He had an idea as to why Hugo was so happy.

For the record, when Yi Sungjin said, ‘I’m Yi Sungjin. I’ll do my best,’ his only response was an apathetic ‘Yeah.’

Chohong stared at the dancing Hugo with disappointment before scanning the siblings who greeted her.

“Level 5 Templar. Chung Chohong.”

Her short introduction made the siblings noticeably nervous. The fact that she was a High Ranker meant that she was at least in the top 10% of Paradise’s Earthlings.

In other words, they had just found out who the strongest member of Carpe Diem was.

“Since Leader and Old Man both approved, I don’t have much to say. But….”

She spat out the cigarette butt she was chewing.

“Don’t hold me back. As long as you keep this one condition, we’ll get along well. That’s all.”

“What are you trying to look cool for? You’re showing off just because you’re a High Ranker?”

“The fuck did you say?”

When Hugo rained on her parade, Chohong immediately took out her Thorn of Steel. However, she had no choice but to drop it in the next moment.

This was because Jang Maldong had raised his cane.

Seol Jihu stared at Chohong, Hugo, and the flustered Yi siblings as they conversed within themselves by asking and answering questions. He couldn’t help but feel something welling up inside him.

Carpe Diem’s active members had now increased to five. Including Jang Maldong, they had six members.

When he thought about how a team with his ‘color’ was slowly coming along, he was deeply moved.

He even felt like he was in a new territory, as Dylan’s shadow finally seemed to be fading.

But there was one thing that still bothered him.

‘Phi Sora.’

With a somewhat bitter face, she was staring at the rowdy office while biting down on her lower lip.

Seol Jihu sighed inwardly.

In the end, he had taken her in. It was because of Jang Maldong.

Although Jang Maldong hadn’t asked him directly, it was clear he couldn’t turn his back on his old disciple, whom he had taught with his heart and soul.

Seol Jihu had noticed his true feelings when Jang Maldong firmly said ‘no’ despite showing signs of being troubled.

Seol Jihu was somewhat forced to take Phi Sora in, but that didn’t mean he had done so unconditionally.

First, he told her to not interfere with Carpe Diem. In other words, he was telling her to be a leech. He especially emphasized that she should not interfere with the siblings and if she did, he would kick her out immediately.

Second, she had to leave in a month. It was only natural, as it didn’t make sense for a High Ranker to not have the ability to make money.

Phi Sora protested, ‘I’ll stay put as long as no one bothers me first,’ but accepted the conditions anyways.

It wasn’t that Seol Jihu didn’t know Phi Sora’s value. This was especially so considering that she was a ‘True’ High Ranker, which was evident from her ability ‘One With the Sword’.

‘I am tempted….’

But if he considered his priorities, his team was at the top.

Moreover, even if it weren’t for the Yi siblings, Seol Jihu felt somewhat uncomfortable whenever he saw Phi Sora.

This was because he felt her ‘Black and White’ disposition was strangely similar to his own ‘Golden Rule’.

‘Well, she might really only want to stay for a bit.’

In the first place, he wasn’t sure whether Phi Sora wanted to join Carpe Diem. So, he decided to end his thoughts there.

It wasn’t as if he was all that excited about the prospect, so what was the point in counting his chickens before they hatched?

‘I might as well focus on more productive things.’

*

Morning sunlight knocked on Phi Sora’s nose.

Waking up, she saw the beat-up furniture in the room and her worn-out bed, and broke out into uncontrollable laughter.

She had been living the life of a queen just a few days ago, so she couldn’t help but find her current pitiful situation laughable.

But she was only sneering at herself. It wasn’t as if she was struggling physically from shame.

She had lived as a slave in the past, so she quickly adapted to this barren environment.

But there was one reason other than the current environment that made her let out an empty chuckle.

To say it in a straightforward manner, it was Seol Jihu’s attitude.

‘Funny, really.’

Of course, it wasn’t as if Seol Jihu was required to recruit her, but Phi Sora took pride in being desirable no matter where she was in Paradise.

The Royal Guard class had a perfect balance of offense and defense, making it the number 1 class of choice among anyone looking to recruit Warriors.

And to be clear, with Phi Sora’s abilities, she practically had a free pass to join any other team.

If Seol Jihu took a step back and just pretended to coax her, she would have been more than happy to play along.

‘What am I lacking anyways?’

When she remembered Seol Jihu unhappily giving her an ultimatum, heat of anger rose to her head again.

‘What, he thinks he’s that special?’

Considering how much she hinted at wanting to enter Carpe Diem, she truly thought it was proper that he at least asked her.

‘Shouldn’t he be thankful that I’m willing to enter such a small team in the first place?’

She was grumbling only because she didn’t know Seol Jihu’s disposition. But soon, she witnessed something that made her correct this thought.

Seol Jihu had previously visited several organizations to notify them of him becoming Carpe Diem’s new leader. And now, those organizations were ‘returning the visit’.

Among the criteria that measured a team’s capability, ‘relationship with neighboring organizations’ was very important.

In this sense, Carpe Diem’s connections with Seol Jihu as its center far surpassed Phi Sora’s.

The first visitor was Teresa Hussey.

“You’ve been pretty busy lately, huh? I understand.”

“Eh? No, not really.”

“But you should come home from time to time. I’m getting lonely eating my meals alone.”

“Um, my home is here.”

Phi Sora was confused as to why Teresa Hussey was wearing an apron on top of her armor, but that was beside the point. What mattered was that a royal princess had personally come to visit Seol Jihu.

Phi Sora had heard about the Haramark Royal Family being different than the rest, but this was still a surprise. She couldn’t even imagine Scheherazade’s princess, who valued formality, visiting an Earthling personally.

Next was Kazuki.

“How have things been recently?”

“It’s as you expect. Japan Business Federation is always threatening me.”

“I see.”

“Don’t worry. I’m resting under a reliable tree known as the Triads. That man, Hao Win— he’s quite trustworthy. I didn’t actually think he would keep his promise this well.”

Japan Business Federation’s Ayase Kazuki was a name Phi Sora had heard of.

Haramark’s rising star, and one of the few lucky Earthlings taught by the King Maker and even raised by the Daughter of Luxuria for a short time.

Being close with a High Ranker on the cusp on becoming Level 6 was certainly a plus.

Next, Phi Sora was also surprised by the black suit army, or the Triads’ visit, but what really caught her by surprise was the south’s war hawk.

And this war hawk was even one of Paradise’s infamous Six Crazies.

Even Phi Sora knew how to pick her fights, and she had, of course, heard of Claire Agnes’s notoriety.

There was a well-known tale of her inviting an enemy executive during Haramark’s internal conflict and personally cutting apart his subordinates’ body parts and serving them on a platter.

This tale was so famous that it threw Paradise into an uproar for a time, and some even called her the only psycho who was comparable with that member of the Six Crazies who was locked up in Eva Royal Family’s underground prison.

But even against this terrifying demon, Seol Jihu giggled courageously and handed her two dumplings, asking her to accept the two ‘mean buns’. He was then beaten up until the brink of death.

“What, no! I was just~ giving! A gift!”

“Shut your mouth! You think I wouldn’t hit you just because Master Jang is here!?”

“S-Save me! I’m inno… cent!”

“I said shut your mouth! You thought I wouldn’t notice!?”

Smack, smack, smack.

Agnes kicked like a psychopath, while Seol Jihu flopped on the ground from every kick like a fish out of water.

Although Agnes’ kicks were strong enough to break Seol Jihu’s bones, as Phi Sora knew how Agnes’s horror tales were created, the two of them only seemed to be fooling around in her eyes.

In other words, Seol Jihu was close enough with Sicilia’s Demonic Instructor to joke around.

After Agnes left, Phi Sora looked at Seol Jihu, who was lying on the ground coughing, and made a complicated expression.

‘This team… might be more incredible than I thought….’

But neither Phi Sora nor Seol Jihu knew that a truly shocking visitor was yet to come.

*

Around noon, Seol Jihu finished his discussion with Jang Maldong and summoned everyone to the office.

“We’re going to Huge Stone Rocky Mountain.”

Hearing this, Chohong paused in the middle of lighting her cigarette. Hugo also froze in place, with his mouth open and a fruit in his hand.

Next, Chohong calmly took out the cigarette from her mouth.

“Right, we gotta train the newbies.”

Hugo stealthily put down his fruit and asked.

“When are we leaving?”

Seeing their indifferent reactions, Jang Maldong smirked.

“Who knows. Probably tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow.”

“I see, tomorrow….”

Chohong and Hugo nodded their heads and exchanged glances. Then….

“Return alive!”

“I’m getting outta here!”

Doom, doom, doom! Clunk!

Koong, koong, koong!

They immediately ran for their lives without caring about anything else.

“Mooooom!”

Even Phi Sora screamed and started running out of the room…

“Ah.”

But she then remembered her current situation and breathed out a sigh of relief.

Yi Seol-Ah had been burning with enthusiasm for the upcoming training, but when she saw the door creaking back and forth from the sheer force of Chohong and Hugo’s exit and Phi Sora’s scared-as-hell face, she quickly became confused.

“Idiots.”

As if he had expected this, Jang Maldong clicked his tongue before glancing at Phi Sora who was stealthily sitting back down.

“Why did you run away?”

“I don’t know. When I heard the words ‘Huge Stone Rocky Mountain’, my body reacted on its own….”

“I see that you still like to exaggerate.”

“Exaggerate? Grandpa, don’t you know I shat out blood every day there?”

“Blood, my ass. Stop scaring the kids.”

“No—! I’m not trying to scare them. I’m just telling the truth!”

Jang Maldong seemed to think Phi Sora was making things up, but as Seol Jihu had experienced the training himself, he knew Phi Sora wasn’t lying or exaggerating in the slightest.

After all, bloody nose was an everyday occurrence, and his stool was almost always mixed with blood as well.

Seol Jihu shook his head before calmly raising his teacup.

“Looks like we won’t see Chohong and Hugo for at least two days.”

“I’m sure they’ll stay put in their little hideouts and come out when they think we’re gone. It’s too obvious.”

“Should we wait? Maybe they’ll change their minds and come….”

“Haha. If that happens, I’ll burn my hands and eat my hat.”

It was then.

Shattering everyone’s expectation, the sound of light footsteps walking up the stairs rang out.

Soon, through the door that was still open, a shadow slowly peeked in.

‘Eh?’

Jang Maldong, who was seriously contemplating having to burn his hands and eat his hat, saw the visitor and was startled to the point of having his jaw drop to the floor.

When his gaze met the visitor’s, the latter smiled brightly.

“Hello.”

Seeing Seo Yuhui politely cusping her hands together and bowing to her waist, Phi Sora’s jaw also dropped to the floor.

The Daughter of Luxuria had come to visit Carpe Diem’s office?

‘T-This team is really…!?’

Jang Maldong must have been shocked out of his mind as well, as he hurriedly shot up from the couch.

“Um, excuse me, may I enter…?”

“C-Come in! No, please come in!”

Seo Yuhui walked in gracefully and rejected the seat Jang Maldong offered before modestly sitting down next to Seol Jihu.

“What brings the Daughter of Luxuria to a shabby place like this…?”

“As you probably know, I moved to the building in front recently. I wasn’t able to say hello because I was busy, but I finally have some time…. Plus, I’ve always wanted to meet Master Jang Maldong.”

Her courteous use of honorifics put Jang Maldong at a loss for what to say.

“Hoh! An honorable guest like the Daughter of Luxuria addressing this old man so politely… I’m embarrassed.”

“Please, don’t say that. Everyone knows how much Master Jang….”

“No, no, it’s you who….”

Judging by their conversation, this seemed to be the first time they were meeting each other.

But seeing as how Jang Maldong continuously nodded his head and smiled at Seo Yuhui’s words, it seemed like he held quite a favorable view towards her.

Of course, that definitely was to be expected, as Jang Maldong was one of the few Earthlings who truly thought about the well-being of Paradise.

And Seo Yuhui was unlike most others who only sought profits in front of them. The legendary contributions and altruistic actions Seo Yuhui performed for the sake of Paradise was more than enough to earn her Jang Maldong’s favor.

Furthermore, they also shared a strange similarity in that they had once retired from Paradise and returned because of a certain someone.

In any case, after talking for a long time, Jang Maldong grinned from ear to ear.

“Thank you for coming today. It’s truly an honor. Although this is our first time seeing each other, I have always considered you a trustworthy ally and have respected you from the bottom of my heart.”

“You flatter me. I’m not worthy of those words. You also don’t have to speak so formally.”

“In any case, I hope we can maintain a good relationship. Please feel free to ask us for help if you need anything. We will do our best.”

Hearing this, Seo Yuhui’s eyes gleamed sharply. She spoke as though she had been waiting for these words.

“Um, then….”

“Hm?”

“I apologize, but can I borrow a pair of helping hands? I’m unpacking my belongings, and it’s been difficult doing it alone.”

Unpacking? Jang Maldong immediately turned to Seol Jihu who was sitting in a daze.

Seol Jihu tilted his head, but when he remembered the Banquet and the debt he owed Seo Yuhui, he immediately shot up from his seat.

“I can help.”

“Good! Give your all!”

“Ah, thank you.”

Seo Yuhui smiled bashfully and expressed her gratitude. She seemed happy that things had turned out just as she hoped.

“We can help too!”

Yi Seol-Ah, who was quietly watching until now, kicked Yi Sungjin’s shin and stood up with spirit.

“No, it’s okay.”

However, she was shot down by Seo Yuhui’s clean rejection.

“One person is enough.”

Seo Yuhui replied with a gentle smile…

But was Yi Seol-Ah wrong in thinking that she was saying, ‘You’re a bother’?

According to elders, women’s senses were incredibly sharp and precise.

Sensing that something was off, Yi Seol-Ah tilted her head. However, she had no choice but to watch the happily humming Seo Yuhui leave and the oblivious Seol Jihu chase after her.

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