That night, a small party was held in Carpe Diem’s office to celebrate Kim Hannah joining the team.
“I’m paying so drink to your hearts’ content.”
Chohong simpered, raising a bottle of booze into the air.
Thinking that she had escaped from Seol Jihu’s evil clutches, she had planned this event herself.
The team members reacted positively with cheers.
No matter how rich one was, free food and drinks were always the tastiest.
Everyone ate and drank merrily as a huge drinking party broke out.
Surprisingly, Kim Hannah didn’t reject Chohong’s goodwill.
No, never mind rejecting it, she was partying in high spirits, getting along with everyone. Her usual formal attitude was nowhere to be seen.
“Well, this is unexpected. I thought you’d hate parties like this.”
When Seol Jihu struck up a conversation, the red-nosed Kim Hannah took her mouth off a bottle of liquor.
“Company get-togethers are an extended business duty. But here, they went out of their way to throw a party for me, so what would they think if I skipped it?”
Kim Hannah said it was important to participate in such parties to maintain a good relationship with one’s colleagues.
This aspect of her really showed how she became the chief of a large conglomerate like Sinyoung when she wasn’t even 30 yet.
It was then.
Just as the atmosphere was ripening, a light knock was heard from the door.
The clamor of the party made it hard to hear, but Phi Sora, who was near the door, heard it clearly.
“It looks like someone’s here. Who is it? Come in!”
The door clicked open, and a beautiful woman appeared behind it.
Everyone’s eyes widened.
Because Seo Yuhui was standing there with a backpack on her back, a sack in each of her hands, and a sack hanging over her shoulder.
Seo Yuhui walked in groaning before seeing the drinking party and widening her eyes in surprise.
“Oh, um… hello.”
Jang Maldong was thrown into confusion with a vegetable pancake in his mouth.
The attention must have embarrassed Seo Yuhui as she blushed. She put down her baggage carefully and spoke.
“Um… Jihu told me to come…”
Hearing this, one or two people looked back and forth at each other and nodded their heads.
It wasn’t as if the team wasn’t acquainted with her. Given Seol Jihu’s personality, it was likely that he called her over to party together.
But why did she bring all those bags?
Did she bring food?
At that moment, Seol Jihu, who had offered her to join Carpe Diem, shot up from his seat.
“Noona, does this mean that you’re…!”
Seo Yuhui smiled bashfully as she tucked her hair behind her ear.
Her following words delivered an explosive shock.
“I thought hard about it… and I decided to rely on Carpe Diem for a bit…”
Silence instantly descended in the office.
Kim Hannah spat out a mouthful of liquor a beat later, and Marcel Ghionea hiccuped. The vegetable pancake in Jang Maldong’s mouth dropped to the floor.
Only Seol Jihu ran forward and welcomed her with open arms.
“Come in, hurry. Aii, it’s okay. You came at the perfect time.”
Once he took the lead and grabbed her bags, she walked in modestly.
Just like that, Kim Hannah’s welcoming party also became a place to introduce Seo Yuhui.
Only after a huge ruckus were the other members of Carpe Diem able to face reality head-on.
“No way… Really? You’re really joining us?”
“This is insane. I really hit the jackpot entering this team. With the Daughter of Luxuria here, a bright future is practically guaranteed.”
Chohong muttered in a daze, while Phi Sora laughed in disbelief.
With many people muttering to themselves, Seol Jihu noticed an empty hope and spoke up to clarify the situation.
“No, that’s not it.”
He drew the line from the get-go. That way, there wouldn’t be any complaints later.
“Yuhui Noona won’t be participating in any outside activities in Carpe Diem. She’s going to focus on recovery, and I’m going to help her as much as I can. That was the condition for her joining in the first place.”
Seo Yuhui nodded as people glanced at her to ask for confirmation.
It was an open secret that Seo Yuhui had lost most of her ability as a Priest. Simply put, she currently owed a huge debt because she forcefully drew in all of the divine power that could be used in the future.
While she had recovered a little from constantly praying and using the offerings Seol Jihu brought, she still had a long way to go.
The restriction placed on her ability might be resolved through steady recovery, but that didn’t change the fact that she was indebted.
And this debt would only increase every time she used a spell.
As such, the best method was to not use any skill until she fully paid off the divine power she borrowed.
“What Jihu said was still on my mind… so I shamelessly decided to come. I’ll do my best not to disrupt everyone’s activities. Please take care of me.”
Seo Yuhui bowed with an apologetic look.
A hint of disappointment flashed across a few members’ faces, but no one opened their mouths carelessly.
They knew she lost her abilities because of Seol Jihu, their leader, so how could they say anything?
Moreover, it was obvious that saying something like, ‘Eii~ so she’s here to do nothing,’ would only make Jang Maldong yell and Seol Jihu resent them.
Jang Maldong hurried up a moment later.
“Welcome! Aigoo, thank you for coming. Think of this place as your own and make yourself at home. Jihu, well done!”
He made a fuss, which was unlike his usual self.
Regardless of whether Seo Yuhui was officially joining or simply staying, her coming here was a huge shock to Jang Maldong.
Plus, Carpe Diem wouldn’t be taking a loss even if Seo Yuhui did absolutely nothing. Even though her abilities were sealed, what the name ‘Seo Yuhui’ symbolized in Paradise was undeniable.
Although she had worked in temporary teams she formed, this was the first time the Daughter of Luxuria was choosing to be affiliated with a team.
Just this fact alone was enough to gather the public’s attention. And they would inevitably gain hard-to-measure benefits as well.
Kim Hannah called the happily grinning Seol Jihu.
“Have you sent the documents yet?”
Seol Jihu went “Ah.”
He had planned to do so in the morning but forgot about it after teasing Chohong.
Seol Jihu took out an envelope from his pocket and glanced at Kim Hannah. He expected her to immediately yell at him…
But she surprisingly praised him before snatching the envelope out of his hand.
“Cheat keys! You have three cheat keys!”
Babbling on about things he couldn’t understand, she shot up from her seat.
Seol Jihu stared blankly as Kim Hannah ran into her room, saying she would add just one line before hurrying back.
“Ah… no… fuck, why…”
Chohong was wallowing in despair with her hands pressing down on her forehead.
When the next morning dawned, Seo Yuhui woke everyone up with a kind voice.
But she smiled bitterly in the next moment as she felt someone sneaking a secret glance at her.
Although a day had passed by, yesterday’s shock had not fully vanished.
It couldn’t be helped.
What happened was the same as a world-class celebrity coming to live in an ordinary middle-class household.
Seol Jihu, who was responsible for inviting her, was sitting on the couch, smiling gleefully at Seo Yuhui.
Seo Yuhui must have felt his gaze as she returned a gentle smile.
“Why are you smiling, my Jihu?”
“Just that, I like it.”
Seol Jihu replied while swaying side to side. Even his legs were swinging front and back. He was clearly on the brink of dying from happiness.
“Are you that happy that I came?”
Seo Yuhui giggled and lightly pinched Seol Jihu’s cheek.
“Let’s go. You gotta eat before the food goes cold.”
“What do you want for lunch? I can make anything. Just let me know.”
Seol Jihu suddenly grabbed Seo Yuhui’s hands.
“You don’t have to cook. I didn’t call you over so you could make meals for us.”
He looked up at her and spoke with a thoughtful gaze.
“Noona, you don’t have to worry about anything during your time here. And just tell me if you need anything.”
“Oh, really? I’m happy to hear that.”
Seol Jihu wasn’t saying this for show.
His third Level of Cognition was the Golden Rule.
Seol Jihu was devoted to paying back the kindness she showed him.
Right, his intentions were good… but the problem was with his method.
“If you want, I can even pluck the stars and the moon in the sky and give them to you. From now on, I won’t let you dirty your hands at all.”
A flustered look flashed past Seo Yuhui’s smiling face.
“Y-Yeah. I’m happy you would go that far for me.”
“It’s true. I’m being sincere.”
“R-Right. But Jihu, do you know what that means…?”
“Sure, I do! Anyway, I won’t let anyone lay even a single finger on you. Not even the Parasite Queen.”
When Seol Jihu brazenly revealed his intentions, Seo Yuhui gave him a renewed look. She smiled from happiness and an unknown sense of reminiscence.
In the end, Seo Yuhui could no longer hold back and embraced Seol Jihu.
“You talk so kindly and have a good heart… What a shame!”
Rubbing her cheek against Seol Jihu’s head, she showed a blissful expression.
Seol Jihu was happy too, though he couldn’t understand what was a shame.
It was then.
Kiik— Kim Hannah, who came back from her morning workout, froze as soon as she stepped into the office.
Seo Yuhui babying Seol Jihu.
He was really receiving a king’s treatment when he was nothing.
Cold air seeped in from the gap in the open door, making her sides chilly.
“What are you doing now… really…”
Muttering as if she was talking to herself, she snorted and trudged past them.
For the record, Kim Hannah was a 28-year-old bachelorette with no previous dating experience.
For some reason, she was suddenly reminded of her mother, who naggingly kept asking her when she was going to get married because her younger sister got herself a nice man.
Kim Hannah’s grievances only became deeper today.
After sending the newly written documents via a messenger, a reply came back exactly ten days later.
The sender was the Eva Royal Administrator, Sorg Kühne.
Seol Jihu carefully took off the seal of the envelope like a student opening up his SAT scores.
The letter was written in a refined handwriting and tone. Although it was a rather lengthy letter, the content could be summarized as a definitive ‘Yes’.
Along with the words ‘Welcome to Eva!’, the letter contained a postscript expressing their wish to meet Carpe Diem personally. They even asked what time would work best for their visit.
Seol Jihu clenched his fists.
The normal course of action would be to exchange a few more letters before setting a date for a meeting, so Kim Hannah was surprised that they received such a response on their first communication.
It was clear that Eva was just as interested in their move.
As this didn’t seem like a bad thing no matter how he thought about it, Seol Jihu copied down a reply Kim Hannah came up with.
The gist was that they were free to visit whenever they wanted.
And a few days later, something even more surprising happened.
Eva sent a reply, which, on top of them visiting as soon as possible, said Sorg Kühne would personally come.
The royal administrator in charge of overseeing the Eva Royal Palace had revealed his intentions to visit.
“Wow… Usually, even at the land purchasing step, you only have a small chance of meeting the royal administrator….”
Kim Hannah emphasized that a high-ranking official like the royal administrator usually only received reports from his underlings. Then, she read the letter again and again.
In the end, she shot her hands up in the air and shouted.
Seol Jihu laughed inwardly.
The day of the meeting dawned.
All members of Carpe Diem worked busily for this day. They cleaned every nook and cranny of the office, aired out the smell of booze from the walls, and soldered up any cracks.
They did everything they could to make the place clean and professional.
And just to be safe, Seol Jihu began a final inspection while Kim Hannah went out to greet Eva’s royal administrator.
When he called the round guy busy nibbling on rice, the egg paused and turned about 45 degrees backward.
“We have an important guest coming over today. Stay quiet, okay? Eating until you’re full and sleeping is your work anyways, right?”
Seol Jihu requested earnestly while picking off a grain of rice stuck on the egg’s surface.
The egg went back to eating as if nothing happened.
“Hey, at least give me a reply… ah, you don’t have a mouth.”
Seol Jihu sighed and poked the egg that was busy eating.
The egg flinched and bounced angrily.
“Oh, I guess you can reply that way.”
Seol Jihu opened his mouth as if he just came up with a good idea.
“Okay, bounce once to say yes. Bounce 5,000 times to say no.”
The egg paused in the middle of bouncing.
“You bastard, you tried to say no, didn’t you?”
After gently tickling the surface of the egg, Seol Jihu clasped his hands together and pleaded.
“Anyway, please! They’re going to jump out of their seats in shock if you suddenly come out and bounce around the room.”
The egg turned to the side as if it was sulking.
Then, it went back to eating.
“Don’t forget what I just told you! If you do as you please, I’ll turn you into a fried egg and eat you.”
After threatening it severely, Seol Jihu sat down on the couch and waited for Kim Hannah to return with the rest of the team.
And about ten minutes later, the door opened along with a chatter.
“It’s a bit shabby, but please come in.”
A man followed Kim Hannah inside.
Seol Jihu stood up from the couch and got a better look at him.
He had an average height of about 175 centimeters. Most of his central hair had receded, making him look rather bald.
‘He’s… maybe in his 50s or 60s?’
Although his body was covered with a gown, the wrinkles on his face proved that he wasn’t young. Moreover, the hair on his temple was laced with strands of white hair, and the way they protruded up reminded him of Tekken’s Heihachi.
‘This person is…’
Eva’s royal administrator, Sorg Kühne.
His glasses and the way he walked in with imposing steps made him look like an uptight old man. At least, that was the impression he gave Seol Jihu.
But he suddenly paused his steps and bowed toward Jang Maldong respectfully.
“I heard that you retired… I’m glad you chose to come back.”
An aged voice rang out.
“That’s old news. Thank you for coming all the way out here.”
Jang Maldong also replied with a smile. Next, when Seo Yuhui got up saying she would bring some tea, the royal administrator also bowed to her.
“Long time no see, Lady Seo Yuhui.”
“Yes. Is the queen healthy?”
Seo Yuhui replied with a gentle smile.
“She is. In fact, she’s a little too energetic… anyway, I doubted my eyes when I saw the documents. I never even imagined the Daughter of Luxuria’s name would be written there…”
“I have my reasons, fufu.”
“I heard the news. I don’t know what to say…”
“It’s fine. I’ve been very happy recently. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise.”
“I’m relieved to hear that you’re doing well.”
Seol Jihu stared at the courteously talking royal administrator with curious eyes.
Sorg Kühne seemed very uptight from his first impression, but it seemed you really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.
As Seol Jihu activated his Nine Eyes out of curiosity, the royal administrator turned his gaze. Sorg Kühne instantly put on a stern expression before opening his mouth.
“Nice to meet you. The name’s Sorg Kühne.”
He sounded rather brusque.
“Welcome! Thank you for coming all the way here.”
“Not at all. It was most definitely worth the long trip.”
Next, Seol Jihu guided Sorg Kühne to a seat.
“Here, have some tea.”
Seo Yuhui handed him tea that she personally brewed.
Sorg Kühne accepted it with thanks, but he didn’t drink it. He placed the cup on the table and pushed it slightly to the side.
“First… there are a few things I want to confirm.”
He spoke while taking out a few documents from his pocket.
He cut straight to the point. Sorg Kühne, who was staring at the documents fixedly, suddenly glanced to the side.
“Are you the Earthling called Phi Sora who was previously the ace of White Rose?”
“Yes, I am.”
Phi Sora replied apathetically. She didn’t seem all that happy about him bringing up old news.
But when Kim Hannah sent her a sharp glare, she put on a beautiful smile.
“Yes~ I am~”
“Hmm… then the lady next to you must be the Priest Warrior, Chung Chohong.”
“A Templar, to be exact. I’m not a fan of the phrase ‘Priest Warrior’. It just doesn’t sound right.”
Chohong retorted while crossing her arms.
Sorg Kühne replied calmly, then moved his gaze again.
Hugo sat straight with a nervous expression, but Sorg Kühne’s eyes brushed past him.
“And you must be the Archer of Steel…”
“Mm. I have a question for you. I heard several organizations have reached out to recruit you after your return. What is the reason you refused all of them and joined Carpe Diem?”
“I have two reasons.”
It was a sudden question, but Marcel Ghionea replied smoothly.
“The first is because Leader Seol Jihu saved my life. The second is because he can grant my wish.”
Marcel Ghionea closed his mouth and narrowed his eyes.
“…To thoroughly destroy Vulgar Chastity.”
“Ah, photon magic’s Marika Larisa…. I understand. Thank you for telling me.”
Sorg Kühne moved on right away. It seemed he understood Marcel Ghionea’s reasoning perfectly.
Seeing the royal administrator slowly flipping through the documents, Seol Jihu finally realized.
That the evaluation had already begun.
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