“That is something neither Sorg Kühne nor Evangeline Rose could do.”
Jung Sua’s pupils trembled. She looked very moved.
“Yes, you are certainly not Evangeline Rose, but you are like a mother to me.”
The queen spread her arms out, and Jung Sua walked into her embrace as if she’d been waiting for it.
“After losing your parents at a young age, you stood back up by yourself and came all the way here. I’ve always been thankful for that.”
“Queen, I swear I did not conspire with the Alliance.”
“I know, I know, I’m sure there is a reason you were in contact with those thugs. Evangeline Rose did the same thing. I know you were both doing it for me.”
“Yes, I was only communicating with them to keep an eye on them, and even when I called them recently, it was only to tell them to stay put.”
Jung Sua took this opportunity to pour out words of explanation.
“But my situation is so intricately woven that no one believes me.”
Charlotte Aria patted Jung Sua’s back.
“I’m sure there has been a misunderstanding. I will resolve it for you, so don’t worry.”
“I’m sorry, it’s all because of me… I think it might be easier if—”
“Halt. I told you, trust me. Remember when you acted all high and mighty and told me to stop bottling up my feelings and rely on you? Looks like it’s time for me to say that to you now.”
“W-When did I act high and mighty?”
“I’m kidding, I’m kidding.”
Charlotte Aria consoled Jung Sua for a while. Once the latter’s complexion turned brighter, the queen told her to rest well and saw her off.
Less than ten minutes after Jung Sua left, a voice rang out from the other side of the door.
“Your Majesty, the royal administrator Sorg Kühne would like an audience.”
Hearing this, Charlotte Aria’s tranquil expression changed.
Pressing her forehead with her dainty hand, she breathed out a long sigh. She looked reluctant. However, she replied as if she didn’t have any other choice.
“Let him in.”
Valhalla held an opening ceremony as soon as the official registration was over.
Kim Hannah said the purpose of the ceremony was to covertly announce, ‘Eva belongs to us and the Triads,’ but on the surface, it was a simple event to tell the world, ‘We made an organization.’
Of course, it had internal significance as well. No longer a small team with comparatively fewer restrictions, this ceremony would be the chance for the new organization’s members to kick-off together.
Despite the grandeur of the word, in reality, the opening ceremony was really a gathering for the members to say, ‘Let’s work well together.’
Before starting the opening ceremony, Kim Hannah drew up an insignia to represent Valhalla — an intersecting drawing of a white spear and shield — which Seol Jihu liked quite a bit.
Putting the insignia on a golden flag and hanging it on the building’s main entrance, the building’s splendor was elevated by a level.
To be honest, Seol Jihu was worried whether people would even know about this ceremony, but his worry turned out to be in vain.
—Congratulations! You finally made an organization!
“It was actually a bit late. Things happened, you see.”
—I heard. I have many questions to ask, but first and foremost, have you met Charlotte Aria?
“No, not yet.”
—Ufufufufu. She’s going to be a tough nut to crack.
First, he received a call from Haramark’s Teresa Hussey.
—I heard what happened. You actually waged war on your first day there?
“That’s what ended up happening…”
—How unfortunate. I should have listened to Agnes. A warhawk like you should really be with us.
“Is Miss Agnes doing well?”
—She seemed disappointed that you left without saying anything.
Taciana Cinzia also called to congratulate them.
The Triads’ Hao Win and Kazuki came to visit personally since they were in the city, and even the Dongchun Merchants’ representative came to visit.
“Aigoo, Aigoo, I don’t know if someone like me can be here…”
“Of course, it’s okay. Come in. Grab some food.”
“Aigoo, thank you. Then I’ll be shameless… Hehe!”
Park Dongchun rubbed his hands together as he spoke subserviently. Then, he really panted like a dying horse because the cafeteria was on the 10th floor.
After walking up the stairs in agony, he put down his heavy bag and drew deep breaths.
“S-Sorry… my stamina isn’t that good….”
He collected his breath before sighing.
Kuhum. After clearing his throat, he untied the stringed bag he’d lugged over. He then placed a small box on the table before respectfully handing it over with both hands.
“This is my gift to Representative Seol to congratulate Valhalla’s founding.”
“Aah, it’s nothing special, just a small show of sincerity. It’s really nothing, so I hope you won’t feel uncomfortable. You can take a look. It’s true!”
Seol Jihu stared at the luxurious, palm-sized wooden box with a renewed look.
Inside the box were dozens of neatly-packed cigarettes.
“Have you ever heard of cigarettes that are good for your body?”
Park Dongchun spoke confidently.
“Huhu, they’re real and the true pride of the Dongchun Merchants. We haven’t started selling them yet, but we’re confident they’ll blow up the market once we figure out how to mass-produce them!”
“Oh? There are cigarettes that are good for your body?”
“It’s true. You see the dry grass inside? The thing that’s glowing like delicate moonlight? That’s not tobacco, but moonlight leaf. It’s processed from a rare leaf that only grows in Paradise.”
Park Dongchun gave a long explanation, piquing Seol Jihu’s interest.
A cigarette that is good for the body? For heavy smokers, it was really the cigarette of their dreams.
“If you can bring them to Earth, they really will blow up. An instant sensation, for sure.”
“Yes, yes, but these moonlight leaves are hard to find in humanity’s territory….”
Park Dongchun scratched his head as he smacked his lips. He looked like he wanted to say something, but chose to remain silent.
Seol Jihu closed the box. A gift like this, it should be fine to receive it.
“Ayu~ Not at all. Just give it a try and let me know what you think about it later.”
Park Dongchun laughed foolishly before taking out something else, saying, “And also—”
This time, it was a large parcel.
“Please take this as well.”
“It’s nothing big, just an offering with divine energy.”
Seol Jihu’s eyes widened.
“Y-Yes, I heard the rumors… I hope it can be of help… Hehe!”
Seol Jihu planned to refuse the gift at first, but it was hard to do so given Seo Yuhui’s circumstance. When it came to offerings, he wasn’t in any position to be picky.
‘T-This person… he’s pretty shrewd.’
That wasn’t all. Park Dongchun kept saying it wasn’t anything special but continued to take out gift after gift. He had brought one for each member of Valhalla, with Flone being the only exception. He even brought top-quality food to feed Little Chick!
Seol Jihu chuckled, not knowing whether he should be happy or flustered. Of course, he knew why Park Dongchun was doing this. Park Dongchun was trying to gain his favor.
From what Kim Hannah told him, Park Dongchun had apparently given them a hint about the Alliance’s ambush before it happened. While he didn’t reveal everything, the hint had been obvious enough for anyone to understand it.
In a way, that was a contribution.
Furthermore, on the night of the incident, the Dongchun Merchants and Red Hwaru had refused to move even with the Alliance’s request. And now, the Eva Alliance no longer existed, and even the organization, Evangeline, was on the brink of destruction.
Only the Dongchun Merchants and Red Hwaru were untouched.
‘He must be anxious.’
To be frank, Valhalla could easily ruin the two organizations by tying them together with the rest, but Kim Hannah suggested leaving them be for now.
Having a merchant group in the city was important for times of emergency, and she said that a talented merchant like Park Dongchun was hard to come by.
‘Now that I think about it, Mister Kazuki praised him too.’
In truth, Seol Jihu didn’t have any plans to ruin the two remaining organizations. But that didn’t mean he planned to leave them be.
If they would surrender the interests they had been enjoying and backed off on their own, he was ready to spare them. Of course, that was under the premise that they would follow Valhalla’s rules.
“Oh yeah, I heard from Kim Hannah.”
“Ah, ah, it’s not worth your mention… Well done! You truly did excellent work! I always hated those pieces of trash. You have no idea how happy I was when I heard they were all rounded up!”
Park Dongchun spoke excitedly as he clapped.
Weren’t those people your allies? Seol Jihu chuckled inwardly before continuing to speak.
“I like people who keep their promises.”
Park Dongchun blinked rapidly.
“You made a promise with me at the border region, remember? I read Kim Hannah’s report recently. It seems you’ve been keeping true to that promise.”
“Ah… Haha! Of course, who do you think I am? I am the man of wits! No, the man of trust, Promise Park! To become a magnate, keeping your promises with your clients is a must!”
Seol Jihu smiled at Park Dongchun’s chatter, then said.
“I’d like to talk to you sometime soon. Not today though, and with Red Hwaru’s Rouge-nim as well. You two helped us in the last incident. I feel I should give proper thanks to both of you.”
Park Dongchun wasn’t an idiot who wouldn’t understand what this meant. His complexion instantly brightened.
“Thank you! Thank you!”
He bowed multiple times, almost too subserviently, before looking up with a warm smile.
“Ah, speaking of which… may I bring someone else along as well?”
“A lady named Shin Sang-Ah. Do you know her?”
Seol Jihu’s eyes widened. This time, he was really surprised. He never expected to hear that name from Park Dongchun.
Shin Sang-Ah. She and Seol Jihu were from the same Area, and they had met during the Tutorial. Seol Jihu got to know her by stopping Kang Seok from harassing her.
From what he could remember, she became a Priest after the awakening ceremony in the Neutral Zone, leading her to a rose-colored future.
“Yes, I do. Is this really the Miss Shin Sang-Ah I know?”
“Of course. We found out by coincidence as well. Because my subordinates kept begging me to do something about her mouth…”
“N-Nothing. Anyway, if it’s alright with you, I’d love to bring her with me… Sang-Ah has been wanting to see you as well.”
“Yeah, that’s fine. I want to see her too.”
He had been wondering about his friends from the Neutral Zone, so he had no reason to refuse this offer.
“Is Miss Sang-Ah doing well?”
“Yes, she’s well. Too well. Now if only we can do something about her mouth…”
“You said that before too. What do you mean by that?”
“At first, I was curious just how bad it must be to make the other guys throw a fit… Well, it’s good that she explains in detail. That’s all good, but every time anyone tries to ask her something, she just goes off, saying, ‘This happened during the Tutorial…’”
Seol Jihu’s simple question had unexpectedly turned into Park Dongchun ranting on and on, but the atmosphere became brighter in exchange.
It was then. Just as Seol Jihu was happily listening to news about Shin Sang-Ah, a man walked into the room.
Marcel Ghionea approached Seol Jihu and whispered in his ear.
“You’ll need to come down real quick.”
“Huh? What’s wrong?”
“There is trouble in the lobby.”
Marcel Ghionea sounded quite serious. Seol Jihu tilted his head. Wasn’t Kim Hannah in the lobby? There was trouble when she was in charge of guiding people who came for the opening ceremony?
Seol Jihu turned to Park Dongchun. The latter must have taken the hint as he nodded and spoke.
“Aigoo~ I must have been here too long. I’m fine, so please greet the other guests!”
“Yes, feel free to grab something to eat while you wait.”
“Yes, yes, I’ll introduce myself to everyone else in the meanwhile as well…”
Park Dongchun looked left and right, his eyes flashing.
Seol Jihu quickly got up. As soon as he made his way to the stairs, Marcel Ghionea followed after him.
“I’m not sure, but Miss Kim Hannah seemed to be taken aback.”
Kim Hannah was taken aback? That was hard to believe.
“What, did Eva’s queen come to visit? Or was it Evangeline’s representative?”
“It’s neither, but…”
At that moment, they arrived at the first floor. Before fully taking the last few steps of the staircase, Seol Jihu looked around the first-floor lobby.
He could see dozens of people waiting in front of the main entrance, watching.
Seol Jihu’s eyes narrowed. Quickly running down, he saw Kim Hannah’s back. She looked calm on the outside, but she was stiff like a frog in front of a snake.
As Seol Jihu approached her, he could see a figure peeking out toward Kim Hannah’s right.
“There he is.”
A woman leaned forward slightly with her hands behind her back.
Seol Jihu paused subconsciously. The woman’s face was familiar.
She boasted dazzling beauty, and after seeing Seol Jihu…
…She gave a beaming smile and shouted in a bright, clear voice.Previous Chapter Next Chapter