Chapter 196. Paradise and Earth (2)

Seol Jihu doubted his ears for a second. He had definitely heard it clearly, but understanding it was a whole different issue.

A pub was a place where people could enjoy themselves by drinking and making noise. This didn’t apply to all bars, of course, but Eat, Drink, and Enjoy, at the very least, could be said to have always been a clamorous shop.

While it couldn’t be denied that Hugo’s voice was a bit loud, it didn’t account for them to have to ‘shut the fuck up and drink silently.’

Unless they were intentionally trying to pick a fight.

This was why Seol Jihu felt uncomfortable with those words. He couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was, but he felt a strong sense that something was wrong.

Just like the time he had stepped on the stairs leading to the top floor of the emperor’s mansion. That feeling that if he took another step, he would cross the line drawn by the enemy.

Suspicion preceded his anger.

However, it was impossible to expect the drunk Hugo to make a rational decision.

Thud.

"What did you fucking say?”

Hugo jumped down from the log table and growled in a threatening voice. It was clear that he had lost his rationality.

Of the four, a man whose nose was as red as Hugo’s taunted him.

"Fuck, anyone listening to you would think that you fought the war alone. What? Kowtow? Fucking bullshit… Ah, what? Did I say something wrong?”

"Hey, hey! Stop it. They’re the Carpe Diem.”

"What about Carpe Diem? What are they going to do about it, huh? Did I say anything wrong?”

When the three other men on the table tried to stop him, the man raised his voice even higher.

Fine. They participated in the war with their lives on the line too. Hearing that they had to bow down wouldn’t make them feel so good.

Seol Jihu muttered this under his breath and decided to endure. He endured because the uncomfortable feeling in his chest didn’t go away.

"He’s right. Hugo, your words were a bit too crude.”

Seol Jihu stood up while giving a smile.

Behind his back, he could hear Jang Maldong suddenly whisper, "Sungjin," followed by a quiet bustling noise from behind.

"If it upset you in any way, then I apologize. We’ll lower our voices.”

Seol Jihu made a clean apology and persuaded Hugo to return to his seat.

"Why do you need to apologize to those worthless bastards?”

Chohong grumbled in a low voice. The man subtly narrowed his eyes and curled up his lips.

"Ah, really?”

The man kicked his chair and steadied his dangerously swaying body.

"Aiyaa! The rising war hero is mediating the situation! He even personally apologized. Oh my, just what am I supposed to do!?”

When Seol Jihu did not react and silently turned around…

"Kyaa~ He won’t even bother with me. Or is he holding back? I guess your heart has broadened after getting both fame and women!”

“….”

"Ah, that’s right. I heard that you’ve recently been coming and going as you please inside the Daughter of Luxuria’s house!”

Seol Jihu stopped. Why was he suddenly bringing up Seo Yuhui?

"That bitch is so see-through. She’d always reject everyone, acting like an iron wall or something. Now that a decent guy appeared, she immediately snatches him up.”

Slowly, ever so slowly, Seol Jihu looked back. Then he unhurriedly turned his body around as well. The man was sneering at him with all his teeth on full display.

"Isn’t that right? It’s not like we don’t know which goddess she’s serving. If she was honest, who’d say anything bad about her? It’s because she acts so pure even when everyone already knows the truth, that’s what makes her look so fake.”

'…What?'

"So, was the Daughter of Luxuria tasty? Her jugs looked okay enough for me to at least taste it once! Hey, tell me what it tasted like. As a fellow man, I’m dying to know.”

Seol Jihu’s eyes slowly widened. The only reason his fists didn’t shoot out was—.

"Don’t."

Because Jang Maldong had unknowingly appeared next to him and was tightly holding on to his arm.

"He’s doing that on purpose. He’s trying to get you to act.”

Seol Jihu forcibly calmed his ragged breathing. He didn’t fail to notice one of the man’s companions who tried to restrain him sneak a glance over.

Jang Maldong stepped up.

"Just stop it here and continue drinking. We’ll leave soon.”

As he said that, the man glaring at Jang Maldong gave a crooked smile.

"Sure sure. We must. After all, that fam~ous elder hath speaketh. We absolutely must obey. Heh, I can’t even freely drink because of these nuisances.”

He snickered before spitting on the ground.

"Heh, they don’t even have any conscience. Because of whom do they think that Haramark became like this?”

It was a taunt meant for them to hear. Seol Jihu’s face, which he had barely relaxed, darkened frighteningly.

"For what greasy benefits did a retired old man crawl back in for—”

THUD! The man couldn’t finish his sentence. It was because a violent explosion sounded out.

"Sora!"

Jang Maldong sharply shouted while holding down both Hugo and Seol Jihu.

Phi Sora quickly shot up to restrain Chohong.

Chohong was fuming while staring murderously at the enemy. If she had her mace with her, she would have already thrown it at them.

The tavern became so quiet that one couldn’t even hear the sound of breathing.

During this powderkeg situation, Yi Seol-Ah was at a loss for what to do and could only fidget. And when she turned to look at Seol Jihu, she involuntarily gulped.

Seol Jihu was calmly observing the men; he wasn’t even glaring.

But just by looking at him from the side, her body suddenly lost all its warmth. She became terrified as if she had seen a ghost.

There was no helping it.

Yi Seol-Ah had only ever seen one side of Seol Jihu all this time. This was her first time seeing him confront an enemy.

At that moment.

"Fufufufu."

All of a sudden, Jang Maldong’s low chuckle broke the suffocating silence. The men’s eyes narrowed.

"You’re laughing? This old man must be going senile.”

Then Phi Sora smirked with a bored face.

"Idiots."

After forcibly pushing down Chohong into her seat, she mocked them.

"You should have at least targeted him when he was alone. We have five Level 5s on our side.”

"What?"

"Hey! Do you think we became High Rankers through a silly game? Just me alone, I’ve seen idiots like you tens of times.”

After ridiculing them, she poked Yi Sungjin. The boy started and blankly blinked at Jang Maldong. Only after Jang Maldong nodded did he slowly lift up his arm.

In his hands was a crystal ball emitting a faint light.

It was a communication crystal.

—Move it to the side a bit more.

A lethargic voice sounded out.

—I can’t see his face.

Yi Sungjin hurriedly adjusted his arm.

A stunned expression flashed across the man’s face at the same moment that Seol Jihu turned around to look behind him.

In the crystal…

—Hmm.

A woman was sitting in a chair with a cigarette in her mouth. With her arms folded and legs crossed, the woman was shrouded in an overbearing aura.

Haramark’s representative organization and the boss of the South’s War Hawks.

It was Taciana Cinzia.

Several gasps sounded out in the crowd as they didn’t think even in their wildest imaginations that she had been personally observing the situation.

"Is it a face you know?"

Jang Maldong asked.

—No. It’s not a face I’ve seen in Haramark.

Cinzia unhurriedly shook her head with an apathetic look.

"Which means… it’s as I thought."

—Then again, it’s about time it started. Seeing that you called me right away, Elder must have already anticipated it.

"But they said they participated in the war.”

—Bullshit. Well, I don’t know if they’ve fought somewhere else, but it surely wasn’t Haramark.

She denied it like it was a joke.

—Agnes, have you seen them before?

—No, it is my first time seeing them.

While she wasn’t visible in the crystal, a cold voice rang out.

A large number of eyes turned to stare at the table that the men were sitting at. Strictly speaking, while the drafting call was made in all of the cities, the only place the battle actually took place was at Haramark.

The man looked around with a flustered face and hurriedly shouted.

"Are you t-threatening us?”

—Threatening?

"Why would Sicilia involve itself in such a trivial matter—”

—Because it doesn’t look like a trivial brawl at a bar. You might be able to convince me otherwise if you admit that you were just joking around.

Cinzia calmly replied.

—All that aside, Sicilia and Carpe Diem have established friendly relations, so I think that’s enough for me to intervene.

"Sophistry!"

The man shouted it was unfair, but his voice came out trembling. Something was terribly wrong. Having felt the flow of things, his shout was closer to a plea.

"I only—!"

—Enough!

Cizina cut off his shout, evidently annoyed.

—You don’t seem to recognize the situation you’re in right now. Do you think I’m someone you can bicker with?

"Then!"

—And sophistry or not, everything will become clear once we investigate. I’m the type that likes to take action instead of arguing over this and that.

"No, I—!"

—Then, shall we play a game? Whether you’ll speak or not speak.

Cinzia rested her chin on her interlocked fingers and grinned. Her slightly exposed fangs looked extremely dangerous.

—Will we be faster or your legs? Well, I’ll bet my limbs that an information guild is behind you.

The man’s face turned ashen.

—Ah. Do you know?

Cinzia chuckled as if she suddenly remembered something.

—There’s nothing more dangerous than a mother beast whose cub has been touched.

"W-what?"

The man scrunched up his face.

Cinzia lifted up both her hands and shrugged her shoulders.

—Try and run as much as you want. Agnes?

Agnes’s reply was not heard. That made things more terrifying. A sudden silence ensued.

A moment later, one of the four men knocked over a few chairs before turning to run away. And following him, the rest of the men began to run for their lives.

"It’s Agnes! Agnes is coming!"

"Ahhhh!"

Even the innocent bystanders were running, screamings their heads off.

"Uh… Uh…"

The man began to retreat backwards before suddenly turning his body and dashing out.

"Catch that bastard!"

Chohong loudly shouted and tried to stand up, but—

"Leave him."

Jang Maldong stopped her.

"Stay put. The moment we touch a single hair on them, we will be giving them an excuse to act.”

"Still!"

—Just wait quietly. Why? Are you worried that Agnes will lose them?

Cinzia laughed.

Chohong stopped her actions at those words. Suddenly, Seol Jihu saw a black cloud of smoke sneak out after the escaping man, but he didn’t call out or do anything to stop it.

Jang Maldong opened his mouth.

"Thank you for your help."

—It’s not even worth a favor.

Cinzia took out the cigarette in her mouth and gave a relaxed smile.

—We’ll take care of the rest on our side. It’ll be best if you head back now.

"We were planning to, but why? Did something happen?

—As it happens, I’ve just received another call. You’ll know once you get there.

And after saying that, Cinzia got up from her seat.

—For the details, I’ll come visit tomorrow… or the day after at the latest.

The call ended with those words.

"What now…."

Jang Maldong smacked his lips looking around at the havoc left in the pub. And he placed a hand on Seol Jihu’s shoulder, who was standing still like a rock.

"You did well to endure."

Seol Jihu did not reply.

"I will explain everything later. Let’s go back for now.”

He only nodded slightly.

*

Seol Jihu did not say a single word on the way back. His teammates also just silently followed him. Only Chohong and Hugo occasionally let out huffing sounds, unable to calm their anger.

Seol Jihu was the same. While he looked fine on the outside, an inferno was raging inside him. He was literally burning inside.

It had been a good day. But now, everything was ruined. Those guys really excelled in getting on others’ nerves.

Seol Jihu tightly clenched his fist. If he had pulled out his head, if he had spooned out his leering eyes, or at the very least, if he had punched out all of his teeth…

All sorts of violent thoughts flashed through his mind. It was to the point where he even felt angry towards Jang Maldong for holding him back.

At the same time, he was also curious about the reason behind the provocation. They weren’t just saying ‘Please hit us.’ It smelled of a scheme. A conspiracy. They might not have even been drunk.

And so—

When his thoughts were biting the tails of more thoughts in an endless loop…

“?”

Seol Jihu stopped his steps.

"What is it?"

Marcel Ghionea quietly expressed his confusion. An unexpected scene was unfurled in front of them.

Countless torch lights lit up the street. To be more accurate, hundreds of people were walking around the street in front of the Carpe Diem office.

Soldiers in armor and priests in white robes were mixed in the crowd. In the chaotic disturbance, a white-robed priest sneaked a glance at Seol Jihu before brushing past him.

Just what exactly was happening?

Seol Jihu’s eyes quickly scanned the scene in front of him. And he realized one thing. The people weren’t crowding around the Carpe Diem office, but rather the building across the street.

In other words, Seo Yuhui’s house.

And by the time he realized that fact, the door to Seo Yuhui’s house creaked opened and a person walked out, causing Seol Jihu’s gaze to naturally land on that person.

A moment later.

After confirming the person’s identity, Seol Jihu’s eyes grew as wide as lanterns.

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