The Royal Council referred to the eight organizations that had control over Eva. It was funny to attach the word ‘royal’ when no royalty was present in the council, but it was hard to laugh knowing the truth.
Because the decisions made by this council had actually affected the state administration on numerous occasions.
Today, inside a secret room in Eva, the Royal Council was hard at work. With one missing, there were only seven people present, but that didn’t pose much of a problem as this missing person rarely showed up unless it was for an important matter.
The topic of today’s meeting was naturally Carpe Diem’s move.
Of course, as the Royal Council reigned as a king in Eva, it wouldn’t be strange for them to ignore Carpe Diem as a mere small-scale team. After all, no matter how high their standard was, they should be helpless against the eight organizations’ numbers.
The problem was the Triads.
Since it was impossible for the two to be moving at the same time through pure coincidence, it could be surmised that they were working together.
With the two tied together, the matter of the move was an entirely different story.
“They will come.”
Someone spoke with a calm voice.
“The Triads already completed their move.”
Someone else tacked on, tapping on the table.
“Carpe Diem is currently making their way here… Damn it, why couldn’t they just set up camp in Haramark? What’s there to eat here that they’re making such a long journey?”
A frustrated voice rang out, and the six, no, five other people sympathized deeply. Only Park Dongchun pretended to nod while continuously reading the atmosphere.
As the head of Dongchun Merchants, Park Dongchun was a member of the Royal Council as well. In terms of position and authority, he was one of the three ‘Middles’.
Just like how an organization had an internal hierarchy, the Royal Council had a hierarchy as well.
1 Strong, 3 Middles, 4 Weaks.
In reality, there was a funny story behind how this hierarchy was established.
The original composition was of four Middles and four Weaks. While two Middles and four Weaks were forming alliances and vying for supremacy, one of the Middles that was spectating quietly, stealthily reached out to the royal palace to advance to the sole Strong.
By enthroning the Queen, the Strong started to exercise powerful mandates, causing the two Middles and 4 Weaks to feel threatened, reconciling and joining forces.
After a long time of keeping each other in check, they had come to a middle ground and had chosen to divide Eva among themselves.
Among the organizations, Dongchun Merchants’ position was ambiguous. It was one of the two Middles that was spectating the others’ conflict, but when they showed signs of joining hands and going against the Strong, Dongchun Merchants had maneuvered to the alliance’s side.
As a result, they were neither in a favorable nor an antagonistic relationship with any other organization.
The point being, the eight organizations, which once quarreled like cats and dogs, perfectly divvied up Eva’s interests and no longer interfered in each other’s territory.
And whenever an external influence threatened their interests, they would unite to resist it.
‘We’ve managed to make do until now, but now…’
Although the eight organizations had small misgivings with each other, they were doing well until now when uninvited guests were approaching.
The Triads and Carpe Diem.
“Well… Can’t we be a little optimistic? Carpe Diem’s Seol Jihu is an Earthling of incredible achievements. There’s no guarantee that Tigol Fortress wouldn’t fall again, so someone like Seol Jihu coming here shouldn’t be our biggest concern…”
“And what if the Triads are coming here? This is not Earth, but Paradise. They’re just dogs who are running away after losing to Sicilia…”
Two people offered their hopeful thoughts.
“This isn’t such a simple matter.”
But an old man refuted in a depressed tone. This was the man who had spoken up first.
“Carpe Diem’s fighting prowess is one thing, but this Seol Jihu also has very complicated connections. Starting from the Daughter of Luxuria to Elder Jang, and even if that Kim wench…”
As a grave voice flowed out, Park Dongchun glanced at the man who was talking.
He was the leader of the Ochoa Cartel, one of the Middle organizations. His nationality was Mexican, coming from Area 4.
“Of course, the Daughter of Luxuria is now only a symbolic figure with no combat strength, Master Jang has retired once, and that fox bitch was kicked out of her own den… But we cannot deny that they are not to be trifled with!”
He acted like a gentle businessman on the outside but was a true devil on the inside.
His main source of income was a slave market disguised as a business. He was the key figure in ordering the capture of Federation members, sparing no means necessary to achieve his goal.
Of course, his targets included Earthlings and Paradisians as well.
“The Triads aren’t to be underestimated either. Yes, they lost to Sicilia. But don’t you all know how batshit insane that organization is?”
Park Dongchun’s eyes rolled to the other side, landing on a short, stumpy man with crew-cut hair.
He was the leader of Royal Pattaya, another Middle-level organization. His nationality was Thai, coming from Area 5.
La-ongmanee was an evil bastard who didn’t lose out to Garcia. In his early days, he expanded his influence by loan-sharking against the already poor Paradisians. And when they would fail to pay off their debts, he would sell them as slaves or drag them into the sex trade.
He was rumored to enjoy same-sex relations while having the cruel hobby of sexually torturing young boys. However, the truth had yet to be ascertained.
But at the end of the day, both Garcia and La-ongmanee were indisputable sons of bitches. It was so much that Park Dongchun considered himself a saint in comparison.
“Can’t we stop them from registering as organizations?”
“We already tried, but that damned Sorg Kühne took the matter into his own hands…”
As the discussion continued, Park Dongchun noticed everyone’s gazes gather on him. La-ongmanee was glaring at him from the opposite side of the table.
“Why did you sell them that land!?”
When their eyes met, he burst out in anger.
It was obvious what La-ongmanee was trying to do. He was trying to pin the blame on someone in a fit of frustration.
Of course, since they hadn’t been affected directly, they wouldn’t do anything to Park Dongchun. But in case something did happen, La-ongmanee was setting up the council’s opinions to turn him into a sacrificial lamb.
“What did you want me to do? Seol Jihu barges into my office with that fox, demanding me to sell them a plot of land. Do you honestly think I can say no in that situation?”
Park Dongchun put on a wronged expression and protested. Dongchun Merchants was one of the three Middle-level organizations. He had the right to speak out.
“What you could have done? Make excuses, of course! Isn’t that your specialty!?”
“Hah, you make it sound so easy. Fine, let’s say I somehow did refuse them. You think you guys can do the same?”
“You idiot! What’s forcing us to sell our land!?”
La-ongmanee burst out in rage. Park Dongchun coughed before speaking.
“That fox already knew I had land available to sell before coming.”
“Jesus Christ. I bet you were blinded by money and sold it off. What are we gonna do now?”
Park Dongchun smacked his lips.
“Well, since things turned out like this… why not just wait and see what they do? We don’t have any intel on their plans, after all.”
La-ongmanee, who was about to go off on another fit of anger, suddenly put on a flustered look. The other five members, excluding himself and Park Dongchun, were all nodding their heads.
A faint smile hung on Park Dongchun’s mouth.
The fuming La-ongmanee suddenly tilted his head. The Triads could maybe be set aside since they already had a branch in Eva. But why wasn’t everyone riled up about pressuring the person who cooperated with Carpe Diem?
At that moment, the sole woman in the council snickered.
“Gee, the more I think about it, you are really evil, Mister Dongchun.”
“Eii, it was a fair trade. Isn’t it fine if everyone is happy?”
“But still! How can you think to sell that land? I almost feel bad for them.”
“Come to think of it, how did you manage to sell it off? Against the infamous Miss Foxy, no less.”
Garcia also joined in on the conversation, expressing his interest. Hearing this, the dazedly staring La-ongmanee quickly opened his mouth.
“Wait, wait, what’s going on? I feel like I’m the only one who’s not following this.”
“You haven’t heard the rumors about that land?”
When the woman asked in a cheerful voice, La-ongmanee raised a question.
“It’s that cursed plot of land. You know, the one where everyone who enters, dies.”
“What? A cursed plot of land…? Oh, that place! That wasn’t a rumor?”
“Not at all. Over ten incidents happened there, and dozens of people have died so far. None of them managed to pass four months.”
When the woman spoke in a firm voice, La-ongmanee blinked repeatedly. It might be a coincidence the first couple of times, but starting from the third time, it couldn’t be a coincidence.
“But… they might be different…”
“I doubt it. Even a High Ranker Priest from the temple of Invidia was found with his stomach cut open after one month.”
“It was so bad that Mister Money Demon over there tried to hand it over to me! He offered me that plot of land for a cheap price. I got curious and did some research, and lo and behold, it was a no-good land.”
When the woman sent a sideways glance, Park Dongchun sneakily averted her gaze. La-ongmanee gave him a renewed look.
“You sold it? Really?”
“Of course, I sold it. What, you think I’d say I sold it without selling it?”
Park Dongchun replied curtly before taking out a piece of paper and tossing it. When La-ongmanee saw the contract for the sale of the property, his eyes widened.
“Iya~ You didn’t even take a big loss.”
“I didn’t take a big loss? Do you see how many gold coins I lost out on?”
“If the rumors are true, there shouldn’t have been anyone else trying to buy it, right?”
La-ongmanee chuckled and tossed the paper back.
“So, how did you sell it? Against the fox bitch.”
“Ah, well~ It wasn’t much~”
Park Dongchun put on airs and spoke.
“It hasn’t been long since she left Sinyoung. How much authority could she have in Carpe Diem? It looked like she was simply seeking protection, so I focused on winning over Seol Jihu.”
“That’s right. I just scratched his back a little, and he held his chest out. Man, you guys should have seen Miss Foxy’s face~”
Park Dongchun wagged this index finger up and down, making La-ongmanee burst into laughter. Similar laughs rang out beside them.
“Fuck, you scummy scoundrel! You’re the scariest one out of all of us!”
La-ongmanee giggled and looked around the room. His complexion was a lot brighter than before.
“Ah, you should have told me earlier! Everyone looked so depressed that I thought we were in deep shit!”
“It’s true that they’re coming here.”
That was just how human psychology worked. After hogging a jar of honey for a long time, they wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing it with someone else.
“Anyway, since there isn’t anything we can immediately do, just watching them doesn’t seem like a bad idea… Three or four months should do.”
Park Dongchun mentioned in a suggestive tone, stealthily glancing around the room. Then, the corner of his mouth curled up. It was a sinister smirk.
“…What do you guys think?”
“If it’s just four months…”
La-ongmanee replied without reserve and then got up. He put on his jacket and walked out of the conference room.
“Then let’s go with that. We’re not justified in hindering them, so we’ll keep an eye on them for the moment.”
Garcia also got up. As the meeting began to adjourn, Park Dongchun inwardly smiled with satisfaction.
“Let’s see. We’re almost done here… Hmm?”
A part-time worker, who was straightening his back and wiping his sweat, suddenly widened his eyes.
Swish, swish! The broom was moving by itself, cleaning the garden.
The shocked worker rubbed his eyes and took a closer look.
And the broom was leaning against the wall as if nothing had happened.
“What? What happened this time?”
Having heard his scream, the worker’s colleagues rushed in.
“Broom? What about the broom?”
The worker’s speech trailed off. “Did I see it wrong?” Murmuring to himself, he tilted his head.
“No… I definitely saw it….”
“Jeez, what are you saying all of a sudden…”
The worker’s colleague clicked his tongue and patted his back.
“If you’re tired, go back and rest. We’re almost at the finish line, so don’t jinx us.”
“The construction’s almost over. I shouldn’t say this since I’m the one who built this place, but I wonder how long they’ll last here…”
The co-worker trudged out, leaving those words behind.
‘Was I seeing things because I was tired? Maybe I should tap out for the day.’
The worker stood still for a while before trudging off. Then, he abruptly turned around.
The broom was still in the same spot as before.
Carpe Diem arrived at Eva when dusk was on the verge of blanketing the city.
A new city, a new road, and new people. Passing them by on the way, Seol Jihu finally arrived at their new base.
No matter how many times he looked at it, it never ceased to give off an imposing aura.
In truth, he was imagining a reasonably sized modern building, but Kim Hannah had built a medieval castle in the middle of the city.
Kim Hannah spoke proudly as she saw the teammates looking on in amazement.
“This is Carpe Diem’s new home.”
The words ‘new home’ moved Seol Jihu. Soon, everyone rushed inside. Kim Hannah quickly chased after them, handing each of them a piece of paper while saying, “You’ll need it.”
Apparently, it was a map of the building.
The magnificent, ceilingless entrance door was made of steel and stood like a Roman arch. When the team pulled this door open, the inside scenery spread out.
A white pathway connected the entrance to the main building. A refreshing, green garden could be seen on the left, and a beautiful blue lake sat on the right, surrounded by lush trees and shrubbery.
At the end of the pathway, two branching stairways led to the main building, while large bonsai trees were planted in the middle, giving off a delicate, clean scent.
Despite being in the city’s downtown area, the place was full of the scent of nature. Smelling this rich scent, Seol Jihu tilted his chin up.
A ten-story building, was it?
Rows of neatly arranged Roman arch windows reflected the sunset glow, giving the building an awe-inspiring magnificence.
But the interior was even more magnificent. As soon as Seol Jihu stepped into the first floor, he thought, without a shred of exaggeration, that he was at a ballroom.
Seeing his teammates staggering around as if they were drunk, Seol Jihu stared at the map.
‘The first and second basement levels are hot springs, the first floor is the lobby…’
After reaching the tenth-floor cafeteria, Seol Jihu dropped his jaw in astonishment.
‘Just looking around this place is going to take a few days.’
Seol Jihu walked slowly as he studied the map.
How much time went by?
After scanning through the ten floors, Seol Jihu walked back down to the first floor, looking a bit tired.
His first impression of the new home was… well, he couldn’t quite put it into words. The corridors were too complicated to navigate, and there were too many rooms. It looked like the perfect place to get lost in.
“How is it?”
As he was sitting in front of the front door stairway to cool his head, a pleasant voice rang out. Kim Hannah was walking out with a cheerful smile. Seol Jihu sighed.
“I don’t know. It hasn’t really hit me yet.”
“Don’t worry. You’ll get used to it once you start living here.”
Kim Hannah chuckled before sitting down next to Seol Jihu.
“Anyway, we really ended up coming to Eva.”
“What are you going to do first?”
It was a simple question, yet was full of many meanings.
Seol Jihu fiddled with the poor egg he had in his pocket. He had a clear goal. The problem was ways and means to achieve this goal.
To put it bluntly, if he stormed out to the streets and yelled, ‘From today, I am Eva’s King!’, he would only be treated as a lunatic.
What should he do to become Eva’s representative?
Surely, that was what Kim Hannah was asking as well.
“I don’t know. What do you think?”
It wasn’t that Seol Jihu was completely lost, but he returned the question back to Kim Hannah. He wanted to hear her thoughts.
Kim Hannah laughed, then spoke clearly.
“Seeing it once is better than hearing it a thousand times. Come with me.”
Kim Hannah shot up like a rubber band and crossed the garden like a cat. Seol Jihu, who was staring at her fixedly, quickly chased after her.
Strolling around the downtown area, Kim Hannah suddenly asked.
“How much do you know about Eva?”
Seol Jihu tilted his head.
“I don’t know. That it’s a Priest city, I guess?”
“Well… that’s not wrong.”
Kim Hannah nodded her head, walking ahead of him.
“Do you know this?”
“That Paradise has more queens than kings.”
Seol Jihu’s eyes narrowed slightly. Kim Hannah had been saying incomprehensible things since a while ago. But it was highly unlikely that Kim Hannah was saying a bunch of nonsense. She must have had her reason for bringing these things up.
“Other than Caligo and Haramark, the other five cities are all being ruled by queens. What do you think is the reason?”
“…Because of the war?”
Kim Hannah applauded.
“The long, drawn-out war not only lowered the population, but also affected the sex ratio. Not just for commoners, but also for nobles and royalty.”
Kim Hannah tilted her head slightly and let out a nasal hum.
“Mm— At best, the ratio of men to women should be 3.5 to 6.5. And most of these men have been conscripted to the military.”
Kim Hannah turned her head and glanced at Seol Jihu.
“Eva is the same.”
“The current queen, Charlotte Aria, was the middle child of the three siblings. She lost her parents and younger brother to the Parasites’ attack, and her sole remaining older brother died in a war against the Federation. Most of Eva’s nobility also died or abandoned their titles and escaped.”
Before he noticed, Seol Jihu was enthralled by Kim Hannah’s story.
“Of course, there were nobles who maintained their allegiance to the royal family until the end…”
Seol Jihu immediately realized she was talking about Sorg Kühne.
“Think about it. What would Earthlings have thought, seeing a young queen left alone as the sole ruler of such a geographically advantageous city?”
Seol Jihu didn’t answer. But he could guess the answer from the things he had seen and experienced until now.
Kim Hannah hesitated slightly, but finally continued her story in a determined voice.
“To be honest… I’ve been wanting to tell you something after we came to Eva.”
She spun back and gazed at Seol Jihu fixedly. Taking a few steps back, she asked.
“How was Haramark?”
What did this mean?
“Haramark is known as the City of Crime. But did it really feel like one?”
Seol Jihu furrowed his brows before shaking his head.
Haramark was once one of the worst be-all-end-all cities in existence. Paradisians and Earthlings opposed each other, and Earthlings took part in mudslinging fights with other Earthlings.
But that was before Seol Jihu entered Paradise.
After the internal strife ended, Haramark hastily stabilized the city. The royal family actively negotiated with the rebels, and Sicilia became the royal family’s partner and seized control over all Earthlings. So much so that Earthlings would run away at the sight of Agnes and the Triads would be pressured to move.
In other words, the royal family had skillfully taken control of the situation, only being possible thanks to Sicilia honoring their agreement with the royal family.
“There is no such thing as an eternal war. A war will end. Whether that be in a constructive way or a destructive way.”
Thinking about it this way, it could be said that Haramark’s internal war came to a constructive end.
Then what about Eva?
“So, what I want to say is…”
Kim Hannah turned back to the front again before continuing.
“Not all royalty are as competent as Princess Teresa and King Prihi.”
Her voice even sounded cold.
Kim Hannah suddenly came to a stop. Seol Jihu stopped subconsciously, his eyebrows going up. He finally realized.
The surrounding people, the surrounding scenery, no…
“Take a good look.”
As if everything was a lie, Seol Jihu’s surroundings changed instantly.
He didn’t even feel like he walked a long distance. But…
Looking around in a daze…
“…is the true face of the city that you’re trying to become the king of.”
Seol Jihu became speechless.Previous Chapter Next Chapter