Chapter 228. Fox Princess, Rabbit Prince (2)

It was likely that they wouldn’t be done with their business after a single day, so Seol Jihu decided to first find a place to stay.

Just as Chohong wanted, they found a room at a luxurious inn to take off their gear before dining at an expensive restaurant.

Then, they made a beeline to the auction house.

His teammates excitedly chatted and laughed all the way there, but Seol Jihu felt uncomfortable. He didn’t know why, but ever since he had entered Scheherazade, his gut had started to throb.

He had attempted calling through the crystal several more times, but the calls did not go through.

‘Do I have to visit the Sinyoung building…?’

They arrived at their destination while his internal conflict intensified.

It was his first time at an auction hall, but strangely, he didn’t feel any excitement.

It was extremely crowded. There were as many people present as the number of items to the point where he couldn’t tell if he was at an auction hall or a marketplace.

But the rest of Seol Jihu’s teammates freely roamed around, being familiar with the place. By the time they came back out of the auction hall, the sun had already set.

The trio of Chohong, Phi Sora, and Maria seemed to have only scouted for items because they didn’t return with anything in their hands despite having busily scurried around the area.

Even Marcel Ghionea had bought only a few chunks of special metals and arrows.

However, Hugo showed them what extravagant spending was.

It would have been better if he had bought things after comparing them over the course of a few days, but he had simply snatched up everything that caught his fancy.

In the auctions, he slammed down overwhelming bids and wasted unnecessary money.

Chohong lectured him to use his money more wisely, but Hugo just grinned wearing the new armor he had just bought.

Seol Jihu had also purchased something. Costing him only(?) one hundred silver coins, it was a cloak with a fur hood that somewhat shielded him from the cold with its thermal insulation function.

Chohong clapped her hands.

"Well, let’s end it here for today. Shall we go taste some of Scheherazade’s liquor now?”

"I know a bar that has really good liquor~”

Hearing Phi Sora suggest a place, Chohong nodded.

"Take the lead. The tab’s on me today. Let’s empty the bar of all they have.”

"Hurray!"

Maria cheered, pumping up both her hands. Chohong chuckled and turned around.

"Seol? What are you doing? Let’s hurry up and go!”

"Huh? Uhh, I’m….”

Seol Jihu trailed off his words.

To go or not to go. He felt conflicted, but he didn’t need to think for long.

Dusk gradually crept around them. If he delayed any longer, he would be forced to push it to tomorrow. He would only feel better if he settled things today.

"Go ahead first. I still have something to do, so I’ll join you once I’m done.”

"What? Where are you going?"

"I have someone I have to meet."

"Just come with us. Is it urgent?"

"You guys are going to drink all night anyways. I’ll be done by early morning at the latest. Maybe even sooner.”

"Eh, fine then. Just give us a call when you’re done."

And so, Chohong and the group clamorously left following Phi Sora’s lead.

When Seol Jihu was by himself, he took out the communication crystal from his pocket and turned his steps. The direction he was walking in was towards the Sinyoung building.

But before he even took ten steps, he stopped in his tracks.

What a coincidence! The crystal was suddenly emitting light.

*

After finishing the call, Seol Jihu hurriedly moved his steps.

The meeting place was downtown. It was on the street where he had first met Seo Yuhui.

Finding a lady waiting under a bright street lamp, Seol Jihu gradually reduced his speed.

Kim Hannah had arrived before him.

An H-line skirt, grey suit, and a small leather bag.

She had always waited for Seol Jihu in the same attire.

Had she sensed his presence? Kim Hannah, who had been expressionlessly staring into the street, suddenly turned her head.

"…You came?"

Seol Jihu stopped his steps.

"I didn’t know you’d be in Scheherazade of all places.”

"I came for you."

Seol Jihu complained.

"Your calls never went through. Just what exactly happened?”

"…."

"Why aren’t you saying anything? Something must have happened to you, right?”

"I’m sorry."

Kim Hannah apologized. She swept her hair back off of her forehead and let loose a sigh she had been holding in.

"A lot of things happened… I didn’t even have time to think about calling.”

Seol Jihu shut his mouth. Kim Hannah’s expression was serious. She looked so lifeless that she almost appeared aloof. Just like a haze about to scatter and disappear in the wind.

"…What’s going on?"

Seol Jihu began choosing his words more carefully.

Kim Hannah gave a faint smile.

"Hey, buy me something to eat, will you?"

Seol Jihu scrunched his eyebrows at the sudden request.

"I haven’t eaten properly for the past few weeks, and seeing you suddenly made me hungry. Ah, and liquor too. Okay?”

Not a few days, but a few weeks.

Seeing Kim Hannah look at him with a face that looked like she’d collapse anytime, Seol Jihu could only nod his head.

The two entered a nearby restaurant.

Kim Hannah ate. Without saying anything, she cleared away all the food with frightening momentum as soon as the plates arrived.

"Someone’s eating well."

Seol Jihu smirked looking at Kim Hannah, who was cutting a steak sizzling on a hot steel plate in half.

"I’m sometimes like this."

Kim Hannah shook her head with her cheeks bulging.

"When I was young, I would binge eat whenever I was stressed out. I usually shop now, but it’s not possible here.”

Seol Jihu wasn’t someone who would lose to anyone in eating, but he restrained himself today.

He would occasionally ask ‘Should I order more?’ to which he would place more orders when Kim Hannah nodded her head.

Her speed slowed down the higher the plates stacked up, but Kim Hannah did not stop eating. Soon, it looked like she was forcibly stuffing food down her throat as if she wanted to suffocate herself and die from overeating.

Kim Hannah continued to eat without stopping for a total of four hours.

They stopped ordering more food by the time it grew dark outside, but she wasn’t done yet.

"You’ll buy me liquor too, right?"

It was liquor after the dinner. Kim Hannah ordered a crazy amount of liquor that would make even Chohong and Maria gasp in shock, and started to randomly grab bottles to pour down her throat.

And after eating and drinking to her fill, Kim Hannah started to talk and Seol Jihu was able to roughly hear about her situation.

"I thought the possibility was… half and half.”

Kim Hannah stared at the glass she was holding up with unfocused eyes. Judging from her brightly flushed cheeks, she was already extremely drunk.

"It was because you grew to the extent that they couldn’t ignore you anymore. At any rate, it was already obvious that it was impossible to hide you after the war.”

"…"

"In the end, they were only left with two choices. To keep me as a link to you, or throw me out and take the matter into their own hands.

Kim Hannah stopped talking and chugged the entire glass. And slamming down the glass hard enough that the wooden table shook, she started to nonsensically laugh.

"The only thing I could do was wait for my superiors’ decision. I honestly thought there was a high chance for it be the former, but…”

Trailing off her sentence, Kim Hannah gestured at her glass with her eyes. Seol Jihu silently filled the empty glass.

Seeing Kim Hannah place the glass on her lips and tilt her head back far enough for her larynx to be clearly visible, Seol Jihu softly spoke.

"I’m sorry."

"What?"

Kim Hannah smirked.

"Well yes, it’s partially your fault.”

"…"

"Who would have known~ A gambling addict that even a Red Mark would have been a waste on to develop to this extent in Paradise… Who would have knoowwnn…”

Her last words were unintelligible as she hung her head. Her body started swaying left and right. She looked as if she’d collapse at the slightest push.

"Nobody… knew…”

The flickering light of the candle placed in the middle of the table dyed Kim Hannah’s eyes in a reddish light. Even while she was drunk, her two eyes were burning with fire.

Kim Hannah intently stared at the candle that was threatening to go off with her head still hanging down.

Suddenly, the words she had heard when she went to find the HR Director flashed past her mind.

[Why did you call to see me separately? You looked rather confident back in the lobby.]

[Send me to the information team. I’ll quietly withdraw from the recruitment team.]

[The information team? Why should I? Everything’s already decided. And so what? I don’t need you to quietly withdraw.]

[…This is unfair.]

[Unfair? What is?]

[You know. That the Gold Stamp wasn’t Sinyoung’s.]

[Uh, hello? Chief Kim? So what? Please, do continue.]

[You know that it was my private property.]

[Meaning how you use it is entirely up to you?]

[That’s not what I meant… I meant that it wasn’t up to me to decide how to use it.]

[Hannah.]

The HR Director’s voice rang clearly in her head.

[How many years have you worked for the company? Then again, has it not even been ten years? Is that why you’re like this?]

[It’s not like you don’t know how to read the atmosphere. Well, it’s not like you don’t know this either.]

[It doesn’t matter how you got it. Whether it’s beneficial or not to the company, that’s what’s important.]

[And if you wanted to have your personal rights acknowledged, then you should have conducted yourself better. If you blatantly bear your fangs, did you think the owner would just stand there looking?]

Kim Hannah clenched her teeth.

[HR Director. Please, just for once will you try to understand my—]

[Well, aren't you a persistent one. I thought you’d at least preserve your last bit of self-esteem. Seeing you like this really disappoints me.]

[But…]

[I told you several times before. Don’t throw yourself away in any situation. You lost the moment you came here to plead. You’ve thrown yourself away.]

[…]

[And you’re supposed to be the greatest scammer there is… Tsk.]

After saying that, the HR Director offered her a small bottle saying it was a farewell gift and turned around.

It was a quick-acting poison. One that killed without any pain. It could be viewed as somewhat considerate.

But recalling this situation made her heart freeze up again.

Kim Hannah subconsciously raised her hand before forcibly lowering it and turned around to escape.

Her hands trembled. Even her thighs were shaking, causing her to repeatedly crash into the wall.

Even while her body shook, Kim Hannah never once looked back. Because if she did, she felt like she would go back. She felt like she would come back out with the poison…

Bang!

Her dangerously nodding head finally hit the table.

"…Son of a bitch."

Her hands above the table were clenched so tightly that the whites of her knuckles could be seen.

"Fucking bastard…."

She silently mumbled to herself and sniffled her nose.

Seol Jihu held his breath.

She was crying. Kim Hannah was crying.

He couldn’t see her face because her head was lowered, but he could tell by how her slim shoulders were shaking.

"Keuk… Keuk…"

A quiet sob leaked through her clenched teeth.

Seol Jihu felt helpless.

People could see her and comment, ‘It’s not that big a deal.’

But Kim Hannah…

[Well, you can criticize me for being materialistic if you want. That gold stamp was my private property. And besides, I didn't want others to steal you from me.]

At least for him, Kim Hannah was…

[If that was the case, then wouldn't it be much more profitable for me if you didn't join and grow stronger outside the company? Mu~ch more, right? You grow powerful and strong and start supporting me, then I'd get to have a proper say within Sinyoung, you know what I mean? Uhuhuhuhu.]

He couldn’t brush off her situation as something trivial.

Kim Hannah was an Earthling that embarked on a new life in Paradise, setting a long career in Sinyoung as her life goal.

But that goal suddenly disappeared from front of her.

'Ah.'

Seol Jihu finally realized why he had been feeling a sense of déjà vu the entire time.

Seol Jihu himself had felt the same when he had been forced to return to Earth after the war.

After wandering here and there without a destination, he had entered the restaurant Jang Maldong had recommended and crazily gorged on the food himself.

Because he felt like he had lost a place of belonging.
Because he thought filling himself up with something would make the emptiness he felt inside a bit bearable.

Seol Jihu sighed.

In fact, he wasn’t sorry. After he had entered Paradise, he had gone through multiple hardships, and he tried his utmost best every single time.

That was it.

Kim Hannah was the same. She had earned the Gold Stamp through serendipity and had tried to use Seol Jihu to achieve her goals in a short time. From a certain point of view, she had gambled against Sinyoung, but in the end, she had lost.

That was it.

Right, that was it.

Only…

"…"

No matter what the case, he didn’t feel good seeing the woman who had tried to protect him helplessly cry in front of him.

Seol Jihu got up from his seat and draped his cloak over her body. Seeing the unending drops of tears falling underneath the table, he silently sat back in his seat.

After staying silent for a while, Seol Jihu suddenly activated the ‘Future-Gauging Nine Eyes’. There wasn’t any special reason other than to check her emotional status.

Speaking of which, this was his first time seeing Kim Hannah’s Status Window.

But before her Status Window came up, Seol Jihu scrunched up his eyebrows seeing Kim Hannah’s color.

It definitely should have been golden.

'This color is…?'

Blue. Choice of Destiny.

He had seen cases where the direction changed from left to right, but this was his first time seeing something like this.

Hao Win’s color had changed the moment he had replied that he would become a King.

He didn’t know how Hao Win had taken his words, but it had definitely influenced his future.

It was the same for Kim Hannah, so he could only think of one possibility.

His recent actions had greatly influenced her, causing her destiny to be decided.

And before he could calm down from the surprise…

Pat!

A vision unfolded before his eyes.

After seeing the vision, Seol Jihu’s eyes intensely trembled.

'What…'

In the vision.

'The….'

Kim Hannah was grinning with a haughty expression…

'Hell…'

…staring down at an utterly demolished Scheherazade.

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