The next day.
A rebuttal article was published by the Assassins’ Guild just like Hao Win had said. The Assassins' Guild had narrated the event that happened in the bar listing numerous testimonies as evidence.
In particular, the information news report that they distributed to every corner of Haramark emphasized the fact that a news article meant to slander Seol Jihu had already been written before the conflict at the bar even took place.
In other words, the influential guild had not only suppressed the commotion, but fanned it considerably to deal a blow to the mastermind behind the scheme.
Now that they had raised enough awareness, public opinion would not be shaken easily. Even if a similar event happened again, the people that remembered this case would not blindly believe the rumors, but be skeptical and think, ‘This again?’
Through this incident, an invisible barrier was formed around Seol Jihu for a while.
Seol Jihu also received news that Seo Yuhui woke up by the time he left the royal palace.
Of course, he hadn’t forgotten to find King Prihi and General Jan Sanctus to express his gratitude.
One thing he didn’t quite understand was why Jan Sanctus suddenly started singing about Princess Teresa’s greatness or mentioning marriage cases between Earthlings and Paradisians…
Prihi strongly suggested that if Seol Jihu wished for it, he would let him borrow a wagon and the royal military band. However, Seol Jihu turn him down.
He wanted to quietly return home without causing a commotion.
"You're finally here?"
The Carpe Diem office was the same as usual.
Jang Maldong must have carefully kept the atmosphere in check, as the once chaotic air had settled down.
Seeing Seol Jihu immediately go into his room upon arriving, Jang Maldong let out a sigh.
"It’s not surprising, I suppose. It was his first time being exposed to this side of Paradise… he must be distressed.”
Jang Maldong spoke worriedly.
As he himself had almost retired from Paradise after being unable to endure its hideosity, there was no one who could understand Seol Jihu’s current emotions better than Jang Maldong.
"But he doesn’t look that distressed.”
Phi Sora shrugged after having a peek inside Seol Jihu’s room.
Jang Maldong’s eyes widened.
"Yep. He’s just sitting at his desk studying a map.”
Jang Maldong narrowed his eyes. Phi Sora commented that she had no clue why he was looking at it before plopping down next to Jang Maldong.
"Grandpa. I have something I’m really curious about. Can I ask?”
"What makes you put on such a serious face? It’s not like you.”
"Seol Jihu, that person. Does he suffer from multiple personality disorder?”
Jang Maldong stared at her with a face that plainly asked ‘What bullshit are you spouting all of a sudden?’
“I mean, am I wrong?"
Pouting, Phi Sora turned to face Seol Jihu’s room.
She didn’t know why, but the image of Seol Jihu sitting straight in a chair and being immersed in the map was clearly engraved in her mind.
After thinking carefully about the reason, Phi Sora squeaked in an uncertain voice.
"He’s just so different when he’s in Paradise compared to when he’s on Earth.”
The second day.
Sicilia paid a visit to the Carpe Diem office.
Like Cinzia said before, Agnes had come to hand over the four men that had provoked them in the bar.
"Fuck, I’ve waited for this day to come.”
Chohong spit on her hands and rubbed her palms together while letting out a dark laugh.
Hugo was warming himself up, huffing and puffing, while Phi Sora went to make popcorn.
Seol Jihu and Jang Maldong were sitting on the couch watching Agnes, who had visited the office.
"Noonim! Where are those bastards? Ah, don’t keep us waiting and bring them out already!”
Chohong shouted while swinging her Thorn of Steel. Agnes turned her head around and glanced behind her.
And as she did so, the members of Sicilia who were silently waiting outside the door roughly dragged in four stark-naked men.
A wet sound rang out.
Crimson color stained the ground where their forcefully kneeled legs touched.
The once delighted Chohong suddenly became dazed before scrunching up her face.
"…Agnes Noonim! What’s the meaning of this?”
"I mean, what are we supposed to do if you bring them already beaten half to death? Didn’t Noonim already vent enough during the war only a little while ago?”
"Monsters and humans are different.”
"Ah— that’s just too much!”
Like Chohong said, the conditions of the four were so terrible that one couldn’t bear to look at them with open eyes.
Dark bruises decorated their faces and body, and the blood flowing out of their severely cracked skin made them look like blood humans.
Their joints were creaking, and their limbs were hanging limp as if their bones were all broken. Looking carefully, numerous long thorns could be seen stuck beneath their finger and toenails.
They could not be more unsightly.
The conditions of the three men that were further behind were a bit better than the one in the front.
The man who had directly provoked them had difficulty closing his mouth. Upon further inspection, none of his teeth could be seen, leaving them with a very good guess of what had happened to him.
"I had no choice. I had to interrogate them.”
"Think about the next person in line a little…. They look like they’ll die if I graze them.”
"I left an arm intact for you.”
Agnes raised the man’s arm as she spoke. Like she said, only his left arm was relatively intact.
"Sheesh. Noonim, hold that arm up for a moment.”
As Chohong lifted up her Thorn of Steel, fear filled the pupils of the four men.
Jang Maldong spoke up.
"I heard briefly from Lady Cinzia, but do you have anything else that you found out?”
"They’ve been commissioned by someone. And the person that contacted them seems to only be a middle man.”
Agnes replied as she loosely raised the man’s arm.
Jang Maldong clicked his tongue.
"So they were only using them as a tail in the first place. What about the information guild?”
"We were able to find them faster than we thought, thanks to the cooperation of the Triads, but…”
Agnes lifted her glasses.
"It was only after they retreated. They probably were in the bar, observing the situation and adding onto the article before escaping as soon as the situation went awry.”
"So the bastards who planned, commissioned, and wrote the articles are all different people…”
Jang Maldong let out a low laugh.
A dying pig’s squeal rang out.
Chohong had charged forward like lightning and smashed her Thorn of Steel down on the man’s arm. Broken pieces of bone pierced out of the skin, causing blood to explode out of the mangled flesh. The blood that sprayed out covered Agnes’ face like freckles.
Was he screaming or crying?
The man made an indiscernible noise and wriggled on the ground. Agnes licked the blood on her lips while staring at him squirming like a worm.
"You may do with them as you please. They don’t have any more use, so you should at least use them to vent your anger.”
"Puu," Chohong exhaled and raised her arm.
Small chunks of flesh drew solid lines of blood, as the mace stuck in the man’s arm came ripping out.
Chohong smacked her lips.
"Look at this. He looks like he’s about to die after just a single hit.”
"Aww! I wanted to hang him like a punching bag and beat him until he died. I needed to train anyways.”
Hugo grumbled, thinking it was a waste. Then he spoke again, pointing at the four men.
"Wouldn’t it be better to just sell them off? We’d be able to collect some easy money. I know a good brothel district.”
"No. It’s better to just kill them.”
"Or we could make an underground fighting arena. We need to leave them with a strong enough trauma for their memories to go out of sync. Then they’ll die on Earth too.”
"What about sticking a spear in every single hole in their body? If we pierce the sensitive parts of their body, they’ll probably experience excruciating pain before they die.”
Even Marcel Ghionea who had been quietly standing on the side participated in the duo’s discussion.
Every time an opinion was voiced, the three men kneeling in the back trembled.
They weren’t intimidating them for information. They weren’t threatening them either. Not only had they already told them everything they knew, the other side no longer held any expectations from them.
They were only growling amongst themselves about how violently they wanted to kill them.
They could tell from how nobody had stopped or even opened their mouths when Chohong had suddenly pounced on the man earlier.
That their deaths were already set in stone. No matter how they looked at it, they had no way to live.
"P-Please spare us.”
At that moment, a man who couldn’t stand the terror moved on his knees to grab Chohong’s leg.
"We were wrong. Please forgive us this one time. W-We were really foolish…!”
It was much too late for pleas.
Of course, the reply that came was a rough kick.
"Don’t whine and fuck off! Stop pestering me, useless tails.”
Pak! Chohong heavily kicked the one that begged and turned around to look at Seol Jihu.
"Hey! What now? What do you want to do, huh?”
Seol Jihu was intently staring at the man who was rolling on the ground and the three men behind him.
His Nine Eyes were active.
He had seen their Status Windows and respective colors, and had just finished watching the vision Nine Eyes showed him.
Seol Jihu calmly spoke.
"Go to the temple and bring a Priest. Bring someone that’s above Level 4 who’s able to use Cure Massive Wounds.”
Chohong sharply raised her eyebrows before realizing something.
"Right! We can beat them again after healing them.”
She mentioned how she hadn’t thought about that before clapping her hands once and breaking out into a grin.
"Just wait right there! I’ll be right back!”
"Me too, me too!"
As Chohong dashed out panting, Hugo flew out after her.
Seol Jihu continued talking as if he had been waiting for them to run out.
"Miss Agnes. I’m sorry, but may I have some time with them?”
"Yes? Of course. There’s no need to be sorry at all.”
Agnes tilted her head in confusion, but still turned around.
As she left the room with her members, Jang Maldong and Marcel Ghionea were quick to read the air and got up as well.
“I’ll be sharing a word with Miss Agnes then. Call me when you’re done.”
Seol Jihu silently nodded. And he turned to look at the couch.
Phi Sora, who had been deliciously munching on some popcorn, stopped chewing. After wiping the crumbs that were on her mouth with the back of her hand, she smacked her lips.
"Can’t I just stay? It’s been a while since I got to watch something this fun. I promise I’ll keep quiet.”
But Seol Jihu continued to stare at her without saying anything.
Phi Sora was about to argue with him before suddenly freezing up.
She had seen a blue, ghastly glint flash in the young man’s clear pupils. It was only for an instant, but it caused a chill to run down her back.
As a result, Phi Sora too, got up and cautiously snuck out of her seat.
And as the four men were suddenly left alone with Seol Jihu, a heavy atmosphere descended.
A pressure pressed down on their shoulders so hard that it was suffocating. More than anything else, it was impossible to meet his eyes…
It was as if they were in front of a ghost who had its mouth stretched wide open in a creepy smile, exuding an evil air.
Faced with such indescribable terror, they were almost wishing to return back to when there were still a lot of people in the room.
When one of the men gulped…
"Why did you do it?"
A soft voice was heard. As if their hope was sparked at the surprisingly quiet tone, the man squirming on the ground spoke in an airy voice.
"I’m not here to listen to your apology.”
"Forghibe ush. Mahi bahmuli…"
Seol Jihu smirked and rested his chin on his hand.
"Not that. Nothing will change even if you mention sob stories. They have nothing to do with me anyways.”
The man’s bloodshot eyes visibly trembled.
Nothing he could say would work. After confirming that, the saliva that was pooling in his mouth trickled out.
"Why did you do it?"
The same question.
The man barely swallowed and spoke with his lips trembling.
Seol Jihu finally nodded his head.
The man dropped the head he had painstakingly raised.
He had practically given up all hope when he was captured by Sicilia.
He had given up and had no urge to be stubborn.
"You should have thought about it a little. You get sick if you eat everything that you’re given.”
He was right. Had it ever entered his mind that he’d end up like this when he provoked Seol Jihu?
No, it didn’t. He had thought it would just end as a loud commotion, like the normal sorts at a pub.
Worst case, he thought he would be beaten up until he was almost dead.
It could be viewed as a mistake or plain stupidity.
The moment they schemed against Seol Jihu, the large organizations in Haramark came flying out with the Royal Family in the lead.
It was as if they had disturbed a beehive.
On the other hand, the organization behind them that they didn’t even know the faces of severed all contact as if it was only natural.
They hadn’t realized this difference.
"Do you want to live?"
The man’s dim eyes suddenly shot up.
Then, it stopped. Right around Seol Jihu’s neck.
He wanted to see his expression, but the fear of falling into despair after seeing it assaulted him.
However, as if they were willing to grab onto a rope, even after knowing it was rotten…
"I’ll tell you everything I know!”
"Spare us! Let us live! I’ll do anything that you ask! I’ll even…”
Desperate pleas were heard throughout the room.
"There are two ways you can live.”
Seol Jihu stood up from his place and spoke as if he was making them a promise.
"You can give us the information we want.”
Seol Jihu slowly walked around the man on the ground.
"But that’s impossible. There’s almost nothing you know. Because you’re only a tail.”
The man’s pupils spun in circles, chasing after him.
"Or, you do something that helps us…”
Seol Jihu stopped in his steps.
"What’s your name?"
It was a sudden question. But the man, whose mind was overtaken by fear replied instinctively.
After somehow understanding him, Seol Jihu turned to stare at the three men behind him.
And he spoke.
"By the way, I noticed that all four of your last names are the same. What, are the four of you family or something?”
At that moment, the four men froze. Not that they were particularly doing anything in the first place.
Only, they completely stopped moving while kneeling on the floor.
They had revealed their Status Windows after being unable to endure Sicilia’s torture, but they had only showed them their affiliation and occupation, not their names.
Agnes hadn’t bothered with such a detail as she didn’t place much importance in finding out the names of some thugs that were about to die.
The important question was how this demon had come to know the secret that they had not revealed to anyone ever since they entered Paradise, with the exception of their Inviter and the Guide.
"Place of entry, Area 2. Country of origin, Russia. Date of entry, last March. All four of you are Red Marks.”
Information poured out of Seol Jihu’s mouth.
Without knowing the existence of his Nine Eyes, Pavlovici could only be bewildered.
The startled men secretly turned to look at each other.
Confirming that the group started to waver, Seol Jihu slowly crossed his arms and sat back down on the couch.
"I told you, I know more about this case than all of you combined. My Inviter has quite the information network. I’m sure you’ve heard of Miss Foxy?”
It was a lie. He had not spoken with Kim Hannah lately. Rather, she could not be reached at all.
But the truth was not important. Only whether the enemy believed it or not, was.
Also, Kim Hannah’s infamous reputation as a crook was more than enough to make it believable.
However, it was an unexpected sight to suddenly see all four of them glow blue.
'Choice of Destiny.'
His vision had shown him exactly what future the men had in store for them.
Here, Seol Jihu could make a choice— whether he would change the destinies of the four men or just leave them be.
Seol Jihu made a decision.
If they were going to die anyways, he would at least try to make use of them.
'It’s a waste to kill them just to vent.’
Since he saw their hearts wavering, it was now time to stab.
Gambling with other people’s money was always the easiest.
It didn’t matter if he lost. But if he won, it was free profit.
A crafty glint flashed in his eyes.
Reviewing the vision he had watched once again, Seol Jihu opened his mouth while making a solemn expression.