A group, led by a man wearing a black suit and a grey jacket, entered the building.
The man lifted his hand in a greeting, with a cigarette in his mouth.
"What's with that face? Did you see a ghost?"
The man joked, seeing the woman frozen in place like ice. Noah Freya stuttered.
"You, you are…"
"The Triads. Hao Win."
The clear answer made Noah Freya doubt her ears.
"…No way. The guards were definitely…!"
"Ah, those guys?"
Hao Win smiled as he shoveled his ears with his ring finger.
"They're not from the Triads."
"They're just stray dogs."
"This is the problem. People think anyone wearing a black suit is from the Triads."
Hao Win said this despite wearing a black suit himself.
"Which brainless Earthling would fight in a suit? Think logically, hm?"
Noah Freya stood dazedly at a complete loss for words.
"Yang Yang was it… I will praise you on the fact that you guys made your move after checking that the stray dogs had joined the bar, but…"
The corners of Hao Win's mouth curled up after a moment of silence.
"But, you wouldn't have guessed that the ones that are fighting at the pub were actually from the Triads."
Noah Freya went ‘Ah’ after furrowing her brows. With her intelligence, she understood the situation pretty quickly.
"It's pretty complicated, actually. We called for 200 stray dogs, you see."
Noah Freya's expression became distorted. They didn’t just call three or four people to serve as scapegoats but actually called 200 people? Their goal was evident.
"It can't be."
"Yes, it can."
Hao Win chuckled.
Noah Freya's face had lost its brightness.
"Well, let’s call it a prank within a prank."
Hao Win spoke as he took out the half-burnt cigarette from his mouth.
"I would love to mess with you longer, but…"
White smoke escaped his nose.
"Sadly, I am a busy man. I need to head straight to the pub after this."
Hao Win shrugged his shoulders and threw his cigarette away. The cigarette, still with a hint of ember, flew through the air and left a burn mark on the ground.
It was then.
An unexpected scream echoed in the lobby. Noah Freya stopped grinding her teeth and changed the direction of her sight.
One of the men on standby staggered then fell. There was a single arrow stuck in his neck. Noah Freya looked up reflexively before helplessness flashed across her face.
Although she couldn’t see it in detail she could clearly see the plentiful number of shining lights flashing from the top floor.
Even all of the guards had not left. Just like Hao Win said, the stray dogs had only pretended to leave and had hidden themselves on the top floor.
In other words, the whole city of Eva was under either Hao Win’s or Miss Foxy's control or maybe both. But the realization was far too late.
Ping, ping, ping, ping!
Sharp, wind-splitting noises rang out, followed by sorrowful screams from all directions. The Archers who went upstairs to search had all been wiped out and the only ones now remaining were the Warriors.
Unsurprisingly, there was nothing they could do against enemies shooting arrows from over 10 floors above them. On the other hand, the sniper on the top floor was able to shoot their arrows without any worry.
That wasn’t all. The option of fleeing had also been erased as the ones that entered through the entrance had started shooting as well.
The lobby was filled with utter chaos in no time.
Even in such a situation, Noah Freya moved with haste. Pulling up two corpses as a shield, she searched for a structure to hide. Unfortunately, the openness of the lobby made it so that there were no perfect blind spots.
As arrows flew in consecutively and the number of lifeless bodies increased, the pressure on Noah Freya increased, and it was clear that it would only keep increasing as the number of targets decreased.
Once almost everyone collapsed, she would surely be marked down as well. When that happened, escaping from this place would be impossible. She had to figure something out before then.
Just as she started to plan her next move, she abruptly turned her face. An intense stimulation struck her cheek. One of the Archers must have moved to shoot her. Noah Freya gritted her teeth.
There was no more time to hesitate.
Even now, she was losing one meat shield after the other. She had to gamble while the enemy’s targets were spread out.
Having resolved herself, Noah Freya threw the corpse away. Then, she protected her head with the shield and headed straight for the entrance. No matter the success rate, she decided to breakthrough. If only she could approach the door, the Archers upstairs would not shoot unless they were exceptionally confident in their ability.
Noah Freya sprinted forward like a wild bull, gripping her sword tight.
And so, she failed to see a pole-like arrow that passed by her just now make a U-turn like a living creature and fly back at her again.
In the end, it accurately pierced through her shin.
At first, it was merely a sore feeling as if it just passed by. Soon, the pain burned through her calves.
Noah Freya subconsciously stopped sprinting and fell on her knee. Grimacing heavily, she clenched her teeth and pulled herself back up.
That was when she could clearly see— a Warrior, not missing the opportunity and pouncing forward. Noah Freya’s expression turned to despair as the female Warrior’s long hair fluttered in the air while she swung down a mace full of thorns.
Boom! Along with the sound of a balloon popping, Noah Freya's head exploded. Her brain tissues burst into pieces like a firecracker, flying everywhere, and her body fell to the ground.
A Level 5 High Ranker Warrior had died a pitiful death.
Soon, the lobby was filled with silence.
The men on standby who were chatting with each other just a moment ago were all on the cold floor like hedgehogs.
"I heard Noah Freya had some skills."
Hao Win lightly applauded as Chung Chohong shook the blood off her mace.
"It sure is handy having two High Rankers around."
"It would have been a piece of cake even if it were one-on-one."
"Sure. Anyways, I've left traces of additional support coming in. I should head out now."
"Go ahead, I’ll follow you soon."
Although Chohong laughed scornfully, it was true that the sniper upstairs created the perfect opportunity to attack. Although she also couldn’t see clearly, she raised her hand as a show of thanks.
“…What a simple weapon."
Kazuki, who was on the 10th floor raised his hand in response.
Omar Garcia was heading to the pub. It was soon the meeting time they had decided upon.
'Why am I not getting any messages?'
It was slightly concerning that he hadn’t heard back from Yang Yang, but he didn’t worry about it too much.
After all, erasing all traces, not only in a single building but the whole area, was not a simple job. He might also be enjoying himself on the job, unable to hold back his lust.
No matter the case, Omar Garcia did not think the plan would fail.
"You’re just a pack of filthy dogs who lost to Sicilia and got kicked out!”
"What did you just say!?"
Omar Garcia’s assumption was turning into certainty as he saw the scene of the confrontation from afar. Countless people were surrounding the pub from the outside as if there wasn’t anything more exciting than watching a fire spread from across the river.
Omar Garcia was satisfied seeing the crowd gathered like a huge cloud.
'There are plenty of witnesses here.'
He stopped for a moment, climbed up to the rooftop of a nearby building, and observed the situation.
In the center of the crowd, all sorts of curses were being thrown around.
There were some who even crossed the line while acting, like shoving the other side or throwing tableware across the pub.
The atmosphere was heated. The instigator from each side must have done an excellent job as the air was blazing hot. It would not be an exaggeration to say they were about to pull out their weapons and fight until the last drop of blood.
“Now, now, why don't we both calm down and call it a day? Take it easy."
As the argument started to turn more violent, a man in sunglasses tried to pacify the situation. However, he was met with scoffs and jeers.
"Call what a day? After you made this mess!?”
"Just let him go! What do you expect from a coward who ran away from Haramark?"
As they mockingly laughed at him, the expression of the man in sunglasses worsened.
"You must be drunk. You avoid shitheads because they’re pitiful, not because they’re scary.”
"Shithead? Did you just call me a shithead? Did you all hear that?”
“Want us to beat you up so you can't even shit properly? Huh?"
The man in sunglasses, silently watching the loud conversation, turned away. No, he tried to turn away.
"Hey, you can't just leave like that."
A man extended his arm and fiercely grabbed the sunglasses-wearing man's shoulder.
"…Get your hand off me while I’m being nice.”
"Fuck that. You can't leave without resolving the situation."
"Resolve? It was just a small altercation between drunk people.”
"Yeah, yeah, whatever. If you are dying to leave, then…"
The man affiliated with the Eva Alliance spread his legs sideways.
"I'll let you go if you apologize on all fours, crawling."
The face of the man in sunglasses slightly filled with fury.
"Take that back."
"Why would I?"
The man from the Alliance smirked as he chuckled.
"Why, does it feel like shit? It must be. You're getting back what you guys do on Earth."
The man in sunglasses intensely stared back.
"Oh, now you’re glaring?"
The man from the Alliance smirked before stopping right in front of the bespectacled man and shoving his face forward.
"Decide. Apologize on all fours like a dog or die trying to run away."
The man wearing sunglasses, who was staring fixedly at the man from the Alliance, snorted.
He spoke with a low tone.
"Didn’t expect to hear that from people who are shivering in fear from a mere team."
The Eva Alliance-affiliated man's expression froze.
Then, he let out an empty laugh. He had been in an uncomfortable mood for the past few days. In a way, the man in sunglasses had hit his sore spot.
And the price for poking at his sore spot was— Thwack!
Hit in the face unexpectedly, the sunglasses-wearing man took several steps back as he swayed side to side. A small clamor broke out from the spectating crowd.
The attack did not end with a single punch.
The man from the Eva Alliance’s side used both his hands and feet to viciously hit the Triads’ man.
The sunglasses-wearing man landed on his buttocks in an unsightly manner before coughing. His eyes were crying out about the unfairness of the situation, almost as if to say resorting to fists was going too far.
However, the shattered pieces of the sunglasses on the floor reflected a smirking image of the man who had punched him.
The man from the Eva Alliance was actually scoffing at the Triads— or rather, the stray dogs who were pretending to be the Triads.
For sure, he might have been too rough dealing with them. Since he even used mana in the heat of the moment, he had technically ended up starting the fight.
But it didn’t matter. After all, they were not the actual Triads, but simple stray rogues. They must have thought that picking a fight and leaving was all they needed to do, but in reality, they could die here.
To be exact, it wouldn’t matter even if the Alliance members really killed them. The important part was reality.
For the persuasiveness of the situation, he was authorized to kill one or two men. But, he was ordered to adequately take a little beating if that happened.
And after that, before each group would go all out to kill each other, the leader of each group would step forward. Omar Garcia would sincerely apologize first and settle the matter with a promise of proper compensation.
Committing murder in the city was a heavy crime, but if both sides agreed to peacefully settle the account by themselves, the royal family would have no justification to step in. Because not only did they lack the power to interfere, but they voluntarily would not do so, to begin with.
"Get up. This isn't over."
With this reliable plan on his back, the man who initiated the fight acted relaxed in front of the fake Triads’ member.
He hadn’t planned on killing these stray dogs at first. After all, they were pitiful fellows who didn’t know the underlying scheme. But, he had changed his mind when the man poked at his sore spot.
"Aren’t you going too far!?”
The man was shouting with a shaking voice, but the Alliance member didn’t bat an eye.
"Get up. I’ll be damned if I let you guys walk home in one piece. You dogs have been getting on my nerves lately anyways. This is the perfect opportunity. I’ll kill you all!”
The man in sunglasses growled with fury seeing the Alliance man act all high and mighty.
"Fuck! You really wanna have a go? Huh? Wanna have a go?"
“Oh? I’m down if you are.”
The Alliance man did not miss the chance to mock his enemy. He looked back and shouted aloud.
"You hear that guys!? Mister Triads over here wants to have a go with us!”
"Oh, is that so?"
"Then they'll get what they're asking for!"
The members of the Eva Alliance jeered as if they were waiting for the chance to do so. Some of them even pointed their weapons across the pub or pulled on the bowstrings.
Even though they knew the whole situation was scripted, they were entirely carried away by the atmosphere as it reached the climax.
Then, the injured man on the floor smiled faintly. Although it was for a split second, the corner of his mouth twitched.
"Hear me out, everyone!"
Next, he stood up and shouted.
"Not only did the Eva Alliance mock the Triads first, but they also refused our attempt to make peace by making unacceptable demands! And as if that wasn’t enough, they even attacked us first!”
Although both parties held responsibility in mocking each other, the rest of what the man said was all true.
The first one to point their weapons at the other side was the Eva Alliance, and they were also the ones who threatened the other side with intent to kill.
Meanwhile, Omar Garcia, who was waiting for a chance to jump in, frowned.
Although things seemed to be going according to the script, he felt that something was out of place. It was as if the members of the Alliance were being dragged into an abyss because they were too absorbed in their roles.
The member of the Alliance who was throwing and catching his dagger again and again scoffed.
"The hell are you talking about. So what?"
The man on the ground, or rather the executive of the Triads, Ming Jie, did not speak any further. Instead, he raised his arm to give a signal.
Then, the Priests who were quietly chanting released their divine spells all at once. Opaque shields covered every member of the Triads in layers, and the rest raised their crossbows instantly.
The alliance member finally realized the strangeness of the situation. Omar Garcia looked spaced out as well.
This development was clearly not in the script. The problem was that this matter had already escalated severely.
"No, wait. Are they actually pissed…?"
Before Omar Garcia could fully organize his thoughts, Ming Jie roared.
This was the moment that the massive Eva Alliance which ran the city…
…Fell for the fox's trap.
Soon, the area was filled with the sounds of arrows splitting the air and the screams of Alliance members who were struck by a sudden bolt of lightning.
The escort mission ended. During the mission, Seol Jihu did his best to start conversations with the foreign races. However, he only received cold reactions in return.
No matter how he tried to engage, they would only return short answers. The Beastmen especially stayed on their guards, growling and raising their tails and ears if Seol Jihu approached them even a little.
It was a sign of extreme alertness.
Although they didn’t openly ignore him or express enmity, it was obvious that they were uncomfortable with him around. To be more precise, it was, 'We won't be rude to you since you helped us.' Nothing more and nothing less.
One thing he noticed during this mission was that the resentment of the Federation members towards the human race was stronger than expected.
This situation shouldn’t be compared with when he met the Cave Fairy Yuirel, but… Seol Jihu realized how grand his dream was of wanting to make up with the Federation members.
In the end, they arrived at the border region without any fruitful resolution.
The Beastmen left without a word. But contrary to Seol Jihu’s expectations, the other foreign races didn’t leave right away and waited.
"We have something to say."
One of the Federation members stepped forward and spoke. It was a Sky Fairy.
"I’ll be straightforward. What do you think about moving to the Federation?”
Seol Jihu's eyes widened from hearing these unexpected words. More than the fact that they spoke up, their suggestion was more surprising.
"We're not asking you to come right away."
The Sky Fairy added.
"It's not realistic to ask you to come alone either. You could bring along your companions as well."
"Are you being serious?"
Seol Jihu asked out of curiosity.
"A flower doesn't bloom in a trash can."
The Sky Fairy continued.
"Of course, there is no absolute certainty in the world. But even if a flower miraculously bloomed, it would quickly wilt from the filth and the odor. Won't that be too pitiful and unfortunate?"
Seol Jihu figured that the flower the Sky Fairy was referring to was him.
"Although the Federation is comprised of many races, each with their own conflicts, we are joining hands to fight the Parasites. Everyone's heart is united as one."
That was precisely the utopia Seol Jihu dreamed of. True paradise wasn’t so far away.
"You shouldn’t have to think too hard about this. We have the environment to fully support the hero who killed Undying Diligence. The Beastmen might not be so welcoming, but that much can be resolved in time…"
'So they knew…'
What they said wasn’t false. The Federation really was the perfect environment for Seol Jihu to grow and flourish.
This felt very different from the time when Undying Diligence offered him to join his side.
If he took the Sky Fairy's offer and moved to the Federation, how much would he develop? With the active support of the Federation, what incredible achievements would he accomplish in the future?
It would be a lie if he said he wasn’t tempted.
Unfortunately, he had no intention of accepting the offer at the moment.
"Thank you for the offer, but…"
"That's unexpected. You must have experienced it already."
The Sky Fairy answered quickly.
Seol Jihu smiled bitterly as the Sky Fairy made it sound like she knew everything.
"If my companions and I can defeat the Parasites by moving to the Federation, we will do so with no second thoughts. But with only the strength of the Federation…"
Seol Jihu trailed off. He was suggesting that the Federation and humanity had to join hands.
The Sky Fairy’s reaction was hard to understand.
"I get what you're trying to say. But that is just a fantasy. Although the number of soldiers may be important at times of war, what is really important is unity. There is nothing more alarming than an incompetent leader or ally."
She sounded like she had half-given up already.
"I understand since it hasn't been so long since you've entered Paradise. But reality and fantasy are vastly different."
"I understand your intentions. By the way, we plan to report everything we went through to the higher-ups. Of course, that includes all that you've done for us as well."
Seol Jihu wanted to tell them not to. To forgive the humans just once. But soon, Seol Jihu realized how selfish his thoughts were and had no choice but to stay silent.
The Sky Fairy lightly nodded and turned away.
The rest of the foreign races started to leave one by one as well. As he was watching them, one woman looked back.
Lacia, was it? It was the woman who asked him to help find her child.
She looked at Seol Jihu with a slightly nervous gaze before bowing. The child in her arms did the same.
Seol Jihu smiled and waved at them.
Then, once they all left, he let out a big sigh. His mission still had a long way to go.
'A trash can, huh.'
It was a sharp, but an accurate description.
But it did not mean that there were no possible solutions. Though it may take some time, they could clean up the filth and replace the empty space with fertile soil.
‘Everything should be fine, right?’
Seol Jihu fiddled with his communication crystal before turning around.
He led his companions on the trip back. But unlike his expectations, something had happened. No, it wasn’t a simple 'something’. The whole city was in chaos.
By the time Seol Jihu successfully returned from his mission, the filth-filled trash can known as Eva was emptied out by over 90 percent.
All in a matter of a few days.Previous Chapter Next Chapter