Chapter 276. Winter’s Struggle (1)

—Going beyond the founding of an organization, Valhalla rises to the position of Eva Royal Family’s partner organization in a short time.

The news spread to all regions of human territory in just four days. Valhalla had already been attracting attention since the moment they toppled the giant Eva Alliance.

Valhalla, led by Haramark’s War Hero Seol Jihu, did not stop there and succeeded in toppling Evangeline. By taking the partner seat of the royal family, they crossed the finishing line of their recent actions.

Given the huge scale of this incident, it was only natural for the Earthlings’ attention to be drawn. This, of course, included the big shots and the influential organizations of each region.


*

The northeastern city, Caligo.

“Hnnng.”

A straight-faced woman made a nasal sound as she read the news report scattered on the streets.

“When I met him during the Banquet, I thought he was a slightly interesting guy…”

After reading the article for a long time, she mumbled to herself.

“But he turned out to be a really interesting guy.”

The corner of her mouth curled up. Her straight face began to be riddled with interest.

“Good.”

After muttering meaningfully, she threw the paper aside and turned around.

*


The northern city, Grazia.

“Ah, fuck, is this true?”

A woman chattering at a pub screamed in surprise.

“That son of a bitch really became the representative organization of a city?”

“That’s what they say.”

“Well, fuck me! We can’t even try to fuck with him now.”

“What do you mean?”

“Ah! Argh, this is driving me nuts.”

“Aha, your teeth?” Seeing the woman rubbing her jaw, her comrade cackled. “Quit dreaming. I looked into this representative, and he has more than a few crazy bitches by his side. You’ll end up breaking all your bones before you can get anywhere near him.”

“Ah~ There goes any chance of me getting revenge~”

“Revenge, my ass. You had no intention of getting revenge anyway.”

“What am I gonna do about my poor teeth?”

“Isn’t that obvious? Nothing. You’re going to do absolutely nothing. Or if you want, you can close your eyes and ask him to take responsibility.”

Hearing this, boisterous laughter burst out from their surroundings.

“Kyahahaha! You’re gonna ask him to take responsibility for breaking your teeth!? Are you fucking crazy!?”

Even the woman whose teeth were missing cackled.

*


The western city, Odor.

“…How long does it take to get to Eva from here?”

A young man sitting with his legs crossed asked as he sipped on a cup of coffee. His Servant-lover-best friend looked at him curiously.

“Why? Do you plan on going?”

“Yep.”

The young man affirmed as he read the newspaper carefully.

“What gives? I wouldn’t expect that from the man who should have become the Star of Sloth.”

“That’s because I didn’t choose Acedia.”

The young man replied lightheartedly and continued.

“Besides, I’ve been interested in him.”

“Since when?”

“Since I saw him tenaciously chase Undying Diligence, kill him, then go crazy against the other two Commanders like a demon.”

“Ugh, I saw that too. He was a little scary.”

“Rather than scary…”

The young man trailed off and looked blankly into the air as if to reminisce that moment.

“He was odd.”

“Odd? In what way?”

“He reminded me of Sung Shihyun.”

The woman frowned.

“That son of a bitch?”

“He might have been arrogant, but he had the skills to back it up.”

The young man spoke calmly.

“You have to admit what you have to admit. Even I wouldn’t have come out victorious no matter how many times I fought.”

“So what, you’re saying they’re the same person?”

The young man shut his mouth at his lover’s sulking tone. Then, he shook his head with slight hesitation.

“No, it’s hard to say that. They’re certainly different.”

“?”

“Though he and Sung Shihyun share a similar vibe, they’re different in subtle ways….”

He paused for a long time before continuing.

“How should I say this… The greatest? The strongest? I felt like I was seeing the pinnacle.”

“Ehew, what the heck does that mean?”

“I don’t know, it’s hard to describe it. He shouldn’t have been in Paradise for even a year at that point, but he looked like someone who toiled away in this world for over 10 years.”

The young man shook his head roughly like what he was saying didn’t make sense to him either.

“That’s why I want to go. So I can see and feel him out more clearly.”

“So you’re basically saying you want to go to satisfy your curiosity. That’s pretty much what I expected.”

“That’s only a part of the reason. Seeing as how he left Haramark, he must have a vision he is trying to fulfill. I have more than a couple of questions I want answers to.”

The young man got up with staggering steps.

“When do you plan on heading out?”

“Since they became Eva’s representative, I’m sure we’ll hear from them soon. Oh, by the way—”

The young man pushed his glasses up and looked back at the woman.

“Our association’s rising star, Othello Delphine, was his acquaintance from the Neutral Zone, no?”

“…It’s Odelette Delphine, not Othello.”

The woman closed her eyes and sighed.

“At least remember the name of your own kid.”[1]

*


Eva’s sky was clear and quiet, but Valhalla’s building was buzzing loudly.

Seol Jihu had been running around like a headless chicken since early morning. Starting from the Triads and the Dongchun Merchants to Sicilia and others, Valhalla was getting calls from around all the human territory.

They were all calling to congratulate Valhalla on becoming Eva Royal Family’s partner organization. Although being called ‘Valhalla Representative’ and not ‘Seol Jihu’ was a little awkward, it helped him realize his new social standing.

After spending a stormy morning, Seol Jihu was finally able to take a breather around noon.

“I’m here.”

“Then I’m there.”

“Pyak.”

“What, you want one too?”

“Ppi.”

“You know, you’re pretty cheeky for a little chick.”

Valhalla’s members were busy playing a game. With a map of the city spread open, they were counting their chickens before they hatched, going, ‘This is mine’ or ‘That’s mine’.

Seol Jihu sneaked around them and escaped to the grand conference room. After sitting down at the head of the table, he closed his eyes and sighed.

He was a bit exhausted from everything that had happened recently, but he didn’t feel too bad. In fact, he felt like a huge burden had been lifted from his shoulders.

This morning, he had gone to the palace and received total authority over five districts of Eva. He had finally achieved one of the three goals he set when he came to Eva.

They were all grand visions that he was not sure he could accomplish, but in the end, he had achieved his first goal magnificently.

For Seol Jihu, the sense of accomplishment outshined the happiness from rising to a high position. Opening his eyes, he gave a deep sigh.

As he looked around the empty conference room, his eyes filled up with a dream.

He accomplished something huge, but he was only getting started.

Using the goal he recently accomplished as a stepping stone, he had to race toward the second goal. And before he could do that—

Kiik. Seol Jihu’s thoughts cut off, and he turned to the entrance.

As the door slowly opened, a ponytailed woman wearing a neat business suit walked in. It was, of course, Kim Hannah.

“Congratulations.”

Kim Hannah smiled as she walked through the middle of the conference room.

“Thanks.”

Seol Jihu clearly expressed his gratitude as well. Kim Hannah didn’t respond. She walked toward him silently, then placed her butt down on the corner of the table that Seol Jihu was facing.

Smiling charmingly, she asked.

“So?”

“?”

“How do you feel? You’re sitting in the seat that only seven people in Paradise can enjoy.”

“What a strange thing to ask.”

“Tell me. I’m really curious.”

She didn’t sound like she was asking jokingly. In fact, she seemed to want to hear the answer no matter what.

“It’s nice.”

Seol Jihu answered simply.

“It’s nice, but…”

Then, he sighed and revealed his inner thoughts.

“To be honest, I feel a little anxious. Urgent, too.”

“Anxious?”

Kim Hannah asked back as if she didn’t expect this response.

“Anxious about what? Well, I guess technically there are still some things, if I think about it.”

“About the Parasites, I mean.”

Seol Jihu nibbled on his lips.

“They’re quiet. Almost too quiet. I thought they would somehow respond to their defeat in Arden Valley, but there hasn’t been anything.”

Just what could they be planning to be so silent?

“…I guess so. Although they say no news is good news, that doesn’t apply to the Parasite Queen.”

Kim Hannah nodded her head in understanding.

“What did you mean by urgent?”

“The second goal.”

Seol Jihu spoke in a low voice.

“It’s related to what I just told you about. I feel like I need to accomplish the second goal before I can breathe a sigh of relief.…”

Seol Jihu trailed off, then shrugged his shoulders.

“It’s just, meh. I don’t know what thoughts you have about it, but…”

He looked up at Kim Hannah, who was staring down at him quietly, before continuing.

“I feel like I need to rush to achieve the second goal. That’s the only thing in my mind right now.”

Kim Hannah smiled faintly.

“You know what I sometimes feel?”

She took out a few pieces of paper from her handbag, then put them down in front of Seol Jihu.

“I feel like you don’t know how to be satisfied.”

“What?”

“I’m praising you. I like people who keep their promises.”

Saying things that were hard to understand, she slid off the table. Seol Jihu stared at Kim Hannah as she walked farther away.

“Kim Hannah?”

“That report…”

Her unique business voice rang out in the conference room.

“…is a brief organized summary of the direction Valhalla will take from now on.”

A light flickered in Seol Jihu’s eyes. Kim Hannah’s manner of speech suddenly switched completely. Rather, the entire air around her changed.

Clack, clack. After stopping at exactly the tenth step, Kim Hannah turned around.

“I planned to do this a long time ago, but…”

She cupped her hands together, stood tall, and spoke with her eyes lowered.

“From today onwards, I will be speaking to Representative Seol with respect for all official matters.”

Her courteous manner of speech made Seol Jihu blink rapidly. He glanced at the report in front of him, then waved his hand.

“Eii, it’s fine. Just act like you normally do. That’s better.”

“….”

“It’s awkward when you speak so formally.”

Seol Jihu tried to liven the atmosphere with an evasive smile, but he could only stop smiling in the next moment.

Because Kim Hannah’s attitude made it seem like she was not fooling around.

Feeling awkward, Seol Jihu scratched his head.

“Do you really need to?”

“Yes.”

Kim Hannah replied without a shred of hesitation.

“I must. Because you, Representative Seol, are no longer the leader of a small team that can be found in any city.”

She was telling him to carry himself with the dignity that befitted his position.

Seol Jihu smacked his lips. To be honest, he didn’t really like it. Rather than distancing himself and acting stiff just because he had a higher position, he felt it suited his style more to laugh and have fun together.

But he figured there had to be a reason Kim Hannah was saying this. She must think it was necessary for their future plans.

Seol Jihu somewhat understood where she was coming from. As their force grew bigger and more people gathered together, people’s relationships would increasingly grow more complex.

When that happened, all sorts of problems might occur, and some may even lead to falling outs.

In such a complex web of relationships, an organization needed a strong core to withstand the waves that could shake its foundation.

[I figured it wouldn’t be bad to work under a leader who’s fair in settling personal affairs.]

He remembered the words Kazuki said to him a long time ago.

An organization’s representative had to be fair. Although it wasn’t bad to be lax and comfortable with ordinary members, there were also times when they needed to be sturdy and unmoving like a rock.

To not be swept away.

Kim Hannah must have brought this up for this reason.

“Currently, Valhalla is not doing so well internally.”

Interpreting Seol Jihu’s silence as an acknowledgment, Kim Hannah continued.

“I am not talking about the atmosphere. Although Valhalla became an organization representing a city, it is not a group that befits the position of the royal partner. Strictly speaking, that is.”

Seol Jihu nodded. Looking back, they had climbed to this position through war, strength, and strategy. They had skipped all the intermediary processes that any new organization would need to go through.

Like the saying, those who live by politics die by politics, those who flourished by war would fall by war.

This must have been what Kim Hannah was worried about.

“I understand your concern regarding your goals, but now is not the time to be hasty. Rather than starting something new, it’s time to do what should have been done already.”

Not starting something new, but coming together internally and strengthening the foundation.

Seol Jihu asked while grabbing the report.

“What do you think needs to be done most urgently?”

“There are several things. Recruiting new members, calling forces who share our values to Eva and forming an alliance, these are both important…”

Kim Hannah took a brief pause before continuing.

“But the most important thing is to set up a proper internal structure.”

“….”

“And I’m talking about a complete overhaul to the current structure. It’s already late. The more we delay it, the more difficult it will get.”

Seol Jihu listened silently as he had been told this a few times before.

“In this world, there are no organizations without structure. An army has a ranking structure, a company has a corporate structure, and even internet clubs, cafes, and mothers’ associations have separate admins or managers.”

Kim Hannah cleared her throat.

“What’s important now is finding out what structure Valhalla wants to implement. What structure we use will decide the organization’s direction and nature.”

And this structure must adhere to the representative’s goals. An organization with a focus on making money would implement a merchant group structure, and a commercial or comprehensive for-profit organization would implement a corporate structure.

Then what about Valhalla?

“Given Representative Seol’s goals, a military structure would be the best fit…”

Kim Hannah mentioned an idea. Seol Jihu felt slightly averse, but he did not show it externally. He already knew that Kim Hannah did not mean Valhalla should limit its members’ freedom like an army, but should only bring and implement its structure.

“I get what you’re saying. Now is the time to really do this.”

“Yes. Even if we recruit more members, we will only be getting stronger without a clear plan. An organization needs a working system to be united. Only then can new members quickly adapt to an unfamiliar environment and will have the necessary power to accept them.”

“So you’re saying recruiting comes afterward.”

“Yes… or so I would like to say.”

Kim Hannah smiled bitterly.

“Unfortunately, we are short on time. It looks like we will have to simultaneously carry out internal restructuring and recruiting.”

Seol Jihu wanted to ask why, but then remembered an important upcoming event.

“The March Neutral Zone.”

“Precisely. Come to think of it—”

Kim Hannah asked as if she just remembered something as well.

“Didn’t you say you had something you wanted to tell me regarding the March Neutral Zone?”

“Yeah, hold on just a sec.”

Seol Jihu rummaged through his pockets and took out a small notebook.

—Eun Yuri and Odelette Delphine prepared a final trump card.

This was something Seol Jihu himself had said.

He didn’t know who this Eun Yuri was, but given that she survived until the final war and prepared a counterattack, she had to be someone extraordinary.

“I have her name…”

He immediately wondered what he would answer if Kim Hannah asked how he got her name.

‘I guess it doesn’t matter.’

But then he realized he could just make up a reason.

Seol Jihu stopped worrying and asked.

“It’s Eun Yuri.”

“Eun Yuri?”

Kim Hannah’s tone went up like she heard an unexpected name.

‘Wait.’

Seol Jihu thought Eun Yuri had yet to become an Earthling. This was because he did not see her name in Ian’s records.

Since his past-future self mentioned her, she should be a renowned expert. Since her name was not on the list, Seol Jihu had figured she had not entered Paradise yet.

Seol Jihu took his eyes off of the notebook and looked forward.

“Eun Yuri… It’s been a while since I heard that name.”

Kim Hannah tilted her head with a look of surprise.

“Yes, I know her. I know her very well.”

Seol Jihu’s eyes narrowed.


1. 'Kid' here isn't in the literal sense (at least, I don't think so). It's probably child as in disciple or member of his own organization (it's kinda vague though).

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