Chapter 197. Paradise and Earth (3)

The person who closed the door behind him and walked out was none other than Kazuki. Seol Jihu looked befuddled.

Why was Kazuki coming out of Seo Yuhui’s house? Why?

Seol Jihu raised his hand and shouted.

“Mister Kazuki!”

Kazuki, who was walking out while looking down with a serious look on his face, suddenly stopped. After glancing at the direction of Seol Jihu, he looked left and right before slowly approaching him.

Kazuki gave a furtive glance at Seol Jihu, then turned to Jang Maldong.

“Where have you been, sir?”

“We’re returning from the pub.”

“The pub… then you have an irrefutable alibi. I’m glad.”

“Alibi?”

Seol Jihu’s voice went up. The word struck him like a bolt of lightning from the clear sky. At the same time, an ominous thought crossed his mind.

Kazuki calmly spoke.

“There has been an attack.”

“?”

“Lady Seo Yuhui has been attacked.”

Kazuki explained the situation simply.

“…Huh?”

Seol Jihu became speechless the moment he heard this.

Seo Yuhui Noona was… what?

He could hardly think, his mind suddenly blanked out and his speech stuttered.

“What… what do you mean… attacked…”

“Can you give us a proper explanation?”

When Jang Maldong asked with a solemn look, Kazuki shook his head.

“I’m just as confused as you are, sir. I wasn’t expecting this either. I got a call from the Royal Family in the middle of the night…”

“Just tell us what you know.”

“…Yes, sir. Just know that my information is limited as well. Plus, the situation had already been taken care of by the time I arrived.”

Kazuki took a brief pause before letting out a short sigh.

“We would have to ask Lady Seo Yuhui to be certain, but it seems like she was expecting an attack.”

She was expecting an attack? Seol Jihu stared at Kazuki with a pained face. Ever since a while back, he couldn’t understand what Kazuki was saying.

“Continue.”

But oblivious to Seol Jihu’s internal struggles, Jang Maldong urged Kazuki on.

“Around and inside her house, traces of a fierce battle have been found.”

“The Daughter of Luxuria is a Priest… so she must have had guards, secretly.”

“Most likely. That is the saving grace, but… there’s a problem…”

Kazuki bit his lower lip.

“The attacker seemed to have known that Lady Seo Yuhui would be prepared.”

Jang Maldong furrowed his brows.

“What does that mean?”

“The four people guarding Lady Seo Yuhui were powerful, but the eight attackers weren’t your usual hoodlums either. Plus…”

Kazuki paused before unhappily smacking his lips.

“When I went inside, smoke containing sleep-inducing substance and aphrodisiac substance filled the house. It seems they employed all sorts of dirty tricks.”

Seol Jihu shuddered. Aphrodisiacs were a powerful substance that forcefully stimulated sexual desire on top of deranging one’s mind.

He couldn’t believe that such a shocking incident occurred in the few hours that he was gone. It was as if he was having a horrible dream.

“Where’s Yuhui Noona!?”

“…Noona?”

Kazuki frowned before seeing Seol Jihu’s expression and straightening his face.

“She’s fine. At least, there isn’t a threat to her life.”

“At least?”

Knowing that these two words could have a frightening implication, Seol Jihu couldn’t help but ask again.

“Lady Seo Yuhui contacted the Royal Family and the Temple as soon as she noticed the attack. Troops were immediately deployed, and she was able to hold out thanks to her four guards putting their lives at risk to protect her. Unfortunately, the perpetrators seemed to have escaped.”

Seo Yuhui had reacted rather quickly. Just like Kazuki said, she must have expected an attack.

No, that wasn’t what was important right now.

Although Kazuki said her life wasn’t at risk, Seol Jihu felt like he had to check up on her with his own eyes to feel relieved.

“Anyways, there are more than a few suspicious points. We chased after them immediately, but they escaped through a carriage waiting outside the castle gate. We could only surmise that a rather crafty organization is behind this attack.”

“Can I see her now? It will be fine if it’s just for a little bit…!”

Kazuki, who was murmuring to himself, shook his head.

“I heard that Luxuria’s Priests transported her to the temple. Since the attack just happened, seeing her right away would probably be difficult.”

However, Seol Jihu wasn’t listening to him at all. The moment he heard the word ‘Luxuria’, he began to run at full speed.

He could hear someone calling his name from behind, but rather than looking back, he roused his mana. Activating Festina Earring as well, he arrived at the temple in the blink of an eye. Whether he could enter was another problem. It was just as Kazuki said.

“You cannot meet her.”

A woman blocked his way to the intensive care unit and refused flat out. No matter how much Seol Jihu pleaded and begged, she gave the same reply along the lines of ‘Go back’ and ‘Seeing her isn’t possible’.

When Seol Jihu refused to give up even then, the woman growled.

“God damn it. Listen here, I know who you are. I know that you’re Haramark’s war hero and someone Unni cherishes a lot. The problem isn’t with who you are.”

When she referred to Seo Yuhui as ‘Unni’, Seol Jihu shut his mouth.

“Just like the guards who protected her, Unni is drunk on a curse-like drug. Just being near a source of yang-energy might give her a seizure. We barely managed to calm her down. Do you really want to barge in there and mess that up?”

Seol Jihu couldn’t make any excuses when the reason he was being refused was because of health concerns.

“…I understand. My apologies.”

In the end, he couldn’t find the right words to say and simply turned back.

“I understand how you feel, but don’t cause any unnecessary ruckus. You aren’t the only one who’s on the verge of exploding with rage.”

Leaving behind the woman gritting her teeth, Seol Jihu trudged down the stairs and saw Jang Maldong hurriedly running up.

“Let’s head back.”

“….”

“There is nothing you can do now other than wait.”

Seol Jihu knew what he meant. He also knew that he was right. But his heart was too restless for him to just stand by and do nothing.

An indescribable rage boiled inside him, like a volcano that was about to erupt. He barely managed to rein in his anger and croaked out with a hoarse voice.

“Tell me.”

“…About what?”

“You said you’d give me an explanation.”

To be precise, what Seol Jihu was mentioning was about a different matter. But he couldn’t care less at the moment.

“No matter how hard I think about it— I just don’t get it.”

“….”

“Even if she was outnumbered, she had guards with her… and her strength is on par with an Army Commander….”

That was one of the biggest doubts in his mind at the moment. He couldn’t believe that Seo Yuhui, who was one of the living legends of Paradise, was almost assassinated so easily.

It didn’t seem like Seol Jihu would budge until he heard an acceptable answer. In the end, Jang Maldong sighed after staring at him for a long time.

Then, he started speaking.

*

Seol Jihu’s steps looked dangerous on his way back to Carpe Diem’s office. The way he swerved every few steps, any onlooker would fear his body snapping in half.

[Lady Seo Yuhui… is currently suffering from a terrible internal injury.]

When Jang Maldong’s words crossed his mind, his legs went limp once again.

[I don’t know the details either, since I only heard about it.]

[A Ceremony, by nature, is a manifestation ritual that comes at a high cost. Since she used a Level 9 spell in an already weakened state, she must have suffered a terrifying recoil.]

[She would have healed herself already if it was possible. But from what she told me, she’s lost her abilities as an Executor as well as her abilities as a Priest. The current Lady Seo Yuhui is no different than a low-level Priest, who can’t even be compared to High Rankers.]

[She pleaded with me not to tell you. She said you would suffer from a guilty conscience…]

The ordeal finally made sense in Seol Jihu’s head. The enemy must have received information about Seo Yuhui’s critical injury and attacked her while she was weak.

‘But why…?’

After reaching the office, Seol Jihu stared at the building on the opposite side. He remembered what Seo Yuhui said to him at the intensive care unit.

[I already recovered. I have no trouble carrying out my daily activities.]

Why did he not notice it earlier? No, did he even give it a single thought?

Seol Jihu clenched his fists as he walked up the stairs. Thinking about it now, there was no way Seo Yuhui would be perfectly fine.

But he had no idea about her condition and kept visiting her lightheartedly. He shuddered at his own stupidity.

Breathing hard, he opened the door. Bright light struck his eyes.

There were two people sitting on the couch. Chohong was collapsed and wheezing with a reddened face, while Phi Sora was silently drinking liquor by herself.

Their eyes met briefly. Then, just as Seol Jihu was about to pass by—

“Don’t waver.”

An indifferent voice grabbed his ankles.

“The idiots who threw a fit at the pub should only be the tail. A tail can always be cut off.”

Seol Jihu slowly turned to face Phi Sora. She took her mouth off the liquor bottle and burped.

“Their goal is to agitate you. The moment you fall into their trap and react, they will have accomplished their first goal.”

For some reason, he recalled a conversation from the past.

[Why is everyone so bent on harassing me?]

…What did Kim Hannah tell him back then?

“Miss Phi Sora.”

Seol Jihu spoke with a subdued voice.

“You’re strong. And calm.”

Phi Sora smirked.

“Why, it doesn’t fit my nickname ‘scumbag’?”[1]

She continued with a smile.

“Well, to be honest, this isn’t really my problem. You think of me as a bull too?”

Seol Jihu stared fixedly at the sniggering Phi Sora. He did see her as a bull in the past. In a way, her actions were often straightforward and bull-like as well.

“My brothers and sisters from White Rose never called me that once. And that’s the same now.”

However, Seol Jihu had a different impression of her now. To be more precise, he saw her in a new light ever since they talked at the restaurant.

“You know, once I got strong and started making a name for myself, annoying flies started to approach me. Like those idiots from today.”

Phi Sora forced out a smile.

“Hah. It’s absurd even now…. Anyways, back then, I didn’t hold back. At times, I cursed them out much harsher than they insulted me. At other times, I beat them up to a pulp.”

“….”

“And before I noticed, I’d gained the title ‘scumbag’. When I didn’t change the way I acted even then, this image got solidified. Before all this, I was treated like a dragon that rose from rags to riches.”

Clang, clang. Phi Sora shook the liquor bottle and shrugged.

“Well, that’s how it is.”

Seol Jihu asked.

“…Aren’t you frustrated?”

“Why wouldn’t I be? But I’ve given up.”

Phi Sora sighed, then sprawled down on the couch.

“Dear, don’t waste your energy and just sleep. If you become agitated over things like this, you won’t last long in Paradise because you’ll tire yourself out.”

Seol Jihu nodded his head without saying a word. Then, he went back to his room and lay down on his bed. Although he was physically exhausted, sleep didn’t come so easily.

When one got mad, their facial muscles would tremble and their skin would become hot. Only now did Seol Jihu realize that he had been in this state the entire time.

Enduring wasn’t hard. Waiting and seeing how things develop was certainly an option.

The problem was that his brain wouldn’t stop thinking and raised endless questions. Understanding the cause of the incident and the exact account was a problem on a completely different level.

‘Who?’

Who ordered those men to provoke him at the pub? With what purpose?

‘Why?’

Why did this mysterious organization employ such underhanded tactics to attack Seo Yuhui?

‘Seo Yuhui Noona isn’t the type to incur resentment.’

Moreover…

‘Aren’t we on the same team?’

From the moment they entered Paradise, all Earthlings were given the same duty. Everyone, without exception, had to take on the same enemy. The Parasite Queen would be the one who would be most elated if Seo Yuhui died.

After tossing and turning for a long time, Seol Jihu eventually got up from his bed. While walking in circles around his room, he suddenly caught sight of a stack of papers.

These were the records that Ian left behind, something that Jang Maldong told him to take a day off and read.

Fixing his gaze on the records, Seol Jihu grabbed them as though he was entranced. He sat down on his desk and gently caressed the faded cover. He looked pensive as he moved his hand vacantly.

‘If only Master Ian were here….’

After a moment of nostalgia, Seol Jihu slowly flipped the first page. What appeared with a familiar handwriting was—

—Al Zahra (Iraq)

…a name. It was a name completely unknown to him. Below, a detailed report was written.

—An Archer. The first Earthling to have ever become a High Ranker. She was recognized for her contribution in stabilizing the Scheherazade area and developing new land. In honor of her achievements, the Royal Families named a nearby town Zahra.

‘What’s this?’

Seol Jihu continued reading.

—Alvaro Skroke (Philippines)
Founder of the large international organization PAX, with the mission being to work for peace in Paradise.
He took on support missions for all regions of Paradise without discrimination. He was also the Earthling who persuaded the Royal Families that humans absolutely had to join hands with the Federation.

—Eleanor Luna (England)
A genius in exploring ruins. She discovered countless ruins with her fantastic searching ability and established a huge merchant association using the money from selling artifacts.
Claiming that Earthlings would have a hard time adapting to Paradise with just the Tutorial and the Neutral Zone, she used her own money to establish an academy for each of the four classes. She also supplied the driving force behind the birth of two Executors.

—Joshua Claflin (Germany)
A graduate of Luna Academy and the first Executor. Chosen by the God of Sloth.
Having discovered the Parasite Queen’s ploy to contaminate Kapyshan Kingdom’s land and spread a deadly plague, he attacked Kapyshan Kingdom.
Defeating an enemy army six times the size of his own, he conquered the kingdom and purified the corrupted land.
To prevent the recurrence of this incident and to build a cooperative relationship with the Beastmen Alliance, he strongly recommended that all Royal Families join hands to make Kapyshan Kingdom a base of operation.


1. Her nickname was previously translated as ‘doormat’. Scumbag is a more accurate translation.

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