It seemed that looking for the white headband girl was the right choice.
Adam Galaev must have recognized her uniqueness and asked for help. In that case, the story was simple. Seol Jihu just had to ask for her cooperation and use the girl as the pathfinder to enter the region with the so-called warped space.
The spring that led to the Spirit Realm must be there.
“I have a request.”
Seol Jihu cut to the chase.
“So what you’re telling me is…”
The girl’s eyes twinkled after listening to the story of the Federation’s visit to Eva with interest.
“Your ultimate goal is to save the Spirit Realm.”
“Right, it would be great if you can revive the World Tree before the upcoming war…”
The girl displayed a dreamy expression as if she just heard something amazing.
“That is why I need your help.”
The girl in front of him was the key to this entire thing. If she refused to help, rescuing the Spirit Realm would become an impossible dream. And so, as Seol Jihu was about to make a careful request…
“I’ll help you.”
The girl answered yes in a quiet, yet energetic voice.
“W-Will you really?”
Seol Jihu couldn’t help but ask. He was preparing a long speech in his head to convince her. At the very least, he thought she would ask for something in return.
“Mmm, if you’re asking why, I actually have three reasons…”
The girl raised her index, middle, and ring finger before folding the ring finger.
“First, you’re trying to do something good. By helping you, I will be getting myself good karma, so that’s already a plus.”
After a reply that made her sound like a shaman, she folded her middle finger.
“Second, you saved my life and my older brother’s life at the Banquet. It’s only proper that I help my benefactor. And finally…”
With a sweet smile, she wiggled her index finger up and down.
Then she poked her cheek with it again and smiled bashfully.
Seol Jihu became lost for words for a moment but smiled back quickly.
‘I’m glad. I’m glad.’
Seol Jihu sighed in relief hearing the girl’s unexpectedly easy agreement to help. Next, he turned his gaze. The burly man was still maintaining his silence. Seol Jihu expected him to cut in at least once, but he kept quiet.
“That’s okay, right, Oppa?”
When the girl asked, the burly man raised his head and finally opened his tightly shut mouth.
“You’d probably go even if I said no.”
“Well… I guess it doesn’t matter. We were planning to try it once anyway. The only difference is the time.”
Seol Jihu’s complexion brightened. However, the burly man wasn’t done talking.
“But, I want to add a few conditions.”
“Listen until the end. Since he’s making the same request as that Magician, I plan to give him the same conditions.”
“It’s fine. Go ahead.”
Seol Jihu nodded his head. This was easier for him as well.
The burly man turned and faced him.
“I’ll be frank. I have two conditions.”
“First, given what your ultimate goal is, I assume you’re going to bring a formidable team with you.”
That went without saying. The burly man seemed to want a powerful team since the trip could be considered an expedition.
“Of course, I plan to form the strongest expedition team that I can, even if I have to ask for outside help.”
“I’ll trust that you’ll keep your word. Then for the second…”
The burly man fell silent even though he said he would be frank. After staring fixedly at Seol Jihu who was blankly staring back at him, he spoke quietly.
“…Please protect us.”
Seol Jihu’s eyes widened at the abrupt request.
“I heard about your accomplishments. You became the Eva Royal Family’s partner organization, no?” The burly man continued, “I’m asking if you can protect me and my little sister with your strength. Without asking anything.”
Seol Jihu wanted to ask what he meant by that, but upon hearing him say ‘without asking anything,’ Seol Jihu swallowed his words.
“Could you be on a Red Notice…?”
“No. We aren’t criminals.”
Seol Jihu still asked just to be sure, and the burly man denied it strongly.
“Then can you at least tell me who your enemies are?”
“There’s more than just one or two people.”
“The name of the organization will do.”
“We don’t know.”
The burly man replied brusquely.
“I know it sounds strange, but we don’t know who they are exactly. We can’t even figure out what they want from us. All we know is that there are people in this world who do not like us and that they are making things inconvenient for us. That’s all I can tell you.”
Seol Jihu’s expression turned stiff. It was because it didn’t sound strange. After all, he had experienced something similar in Haramark.
‘Come to think of it.’
He suddenly remembered Stage 3 of the Banquet. At the time, Ira, the God of Wrath, had called the burly man ‘Heaven-Slaughtering Star’ and said he was an enemy who must be killed.
And back then, Seol Jihu had refused.
Though this was certainly something he should look into, he wanted to focus on the matter at hand for now. It didn’t seem like a bad idea to watch over them until then.
Seol Jihu spoke after organizing his thoughts.
“I will have to listen to the details later, but I promise that as long as we are working together, Valhalla will protect you and your sister under its name.”
The burly man took his back off the wall once Seol Jihu gave his word. Standing straight, he looked tall enough to touch the ceiling.
“I’m Oana Halep.”
The girl also chimed in as she waved her hand. It was then that Seol Jihu realized they were introducing themselves.
“I’m Seol Jihu.”
The girl, no, Oana Halep clapped as if to congratulate the deal being made.
Seol Jihu smoothed down his chest. He finally came this far. There was only one thing left now…
“So just where is this place?”
The claps suddenly stopped. The eyes of the smiling Oana Halep widened.
Seol Jihu suddenly had a bad feeling.
“I don’t know the place either…”
And his bad feeling quickly became a reality. Seol Jihu barely held himself back from coughing.
“You don’t know?”
“No, I thought you knew, Oppa.”
The girl spoke while shaking her head.
“I wasn’t told where it was. It didn’t sound like Sir Adam Galaev knew it either.”
Seol Jihu’s breath stopped. Until now, he thought Adam Galaev went missing in that place. But what Oana just told him overturned that hypothesis.
In that case, was there another reason that the Magician went missing?
“It’s true that he came to see us, and it’s also true that we accepted his request. But we never got to work together. We couldn’t just sit around and wait for him when we didn’t even know where he was, and we weren’t in a good situation at the time…”
Oana Halep trailed off.
“Most importantly, Adam Galaev failed to keep his side of the deal.”
Vlad Halep clarified.
“The support of the Eva Royal Family and the Evangeline organization that he spoke of never arrived. So there was no reason for us to risk danger and carry out our side of the deal.”
Seol Jihu went ‘Ah’.
Was that why he was so desperate to get Evangeline Rose’s help in the letters?
Seol Jihu had to work hard to control his legs from shaking. An indescribable frustration flooded in like a tsunami.
Even though he was so close…!
Suddenly, a question arose in his mind.
If Adam Galaev didn’t know where this place was, why did he think there was a warped space there?
“Hold on, does that mean there’s someone else who knows this place?”
“Yes. He didn’t give a definite answer, but that was the gist of what he said.”
Oana Halep continued.
“I told you before, right? That Oppa and I helped him out once while we were in Eva.”
Seol Jihu dazedly nodded his head.
“I’m not sure you know because it happened long ago, but in the past, there was a huge incident in Eva.”
Seol Jihu’s eyes narrowed. The contents of Adam Galaev’s letters suddenly crossed his mind.
“It happened like a bolt of lightning from a clear sky. A Level 6 Archer suddenly started an indiscriminate massacre in Eva, not differentiating between Paradisians and Earthlings.”
[To tell you what I have been up to, I am still investigating the past incident.]
“I was there during that incident, and she was thoroughly possessed by something. I asked the lustful spirit and helped her get it out. It was quite simple, really.”
[I found the Priest girl from the Temple of Invidia who solved the incident back then.]
“Sir Adam Galaev came to see me after that incident, so he must have observed my ability carefully back then. He said he found something to support his plan while investigating that incident.”
“And that something is—”
“Well, we have no way to know for sure.”
Oana spoke while twirling the ends of her white hair.
“But since he mentioned that incident, wouldn’t he have investigated the perpetrator? You know, the woman who got locked up in the Eva prison afterward.”
Seol Jihu’s eyes lit up. He would have to look into the matter more, but he was starting to understand the last line in Adam Galaev’s third letter.
[We need her help.]
The last missing piece of the puzzle was found.
And thus, Seol Jihu returned to Eva after going round and round. With the Halep brother and sister, of course.
After leaving Marcel Ghionea to guide them, he took Kim Hannah and headed to Eva’s prison. Seeing the worn-down building, he was filled with an unknown sense of bitterness. Perhaps the Saintes Mesures of Sidus wasn’t pointing to Jung Sua from the beginning, but to the perpetrator of the indiscriminate massacre, ‘Hoshino Urara’.
However, Seol Jihu shook his head in the next moment. Even if that was the case, Oana Halep was someone he needed, so the trip wasn’t made in vain.
Hoping this to be the end, Seol Jihu opened the door. The warden expressed his bewilderment at Seol Jihu’s revisit but didn’t stop him in any way. Opening the steel bars leading to the basement floors, he only warned him to be careful.
Kim Hannah knew the way there. Apparently she had talked to Hoshino Urara out of curiosity during one of her previous visits.
“This is it.”
They arrived at a cell that was no different than where Jung Sua was imprisoned. The only difference was that there was no wastewater and trash.
The inside of the cell was dead silent. After looking inside through the peephole in the steel door, Seol Jihu furrowed his brows slightly.
He could see someone sitting in the corner of the cell. It was the back of a woman with bleached, bob-cut hair. She had a smaller physique than what Seol Jihu expected, and she was staring vacantly into the wall.
But there was one thing Seol Jihu couldn’t understand. It was that she was naked when every prisoner was given a prison garb.
Seol Jihu let out a dry cough, then knocked on the steel door. Because they were in an enclosed space, his thumps echoed out.
“Miss Hoshino Urara?”
Her shoulders jolted, clearly having heard his voice.
“Can we talk?”
The woman got up while swaying side to side.
A husky, slightly hoarse voice flowed out. As she was still looking at the wall, Seol Jihu was about to talk to her again when—
Kwang! The steel door suddenly shook violently.
Kim Hannah drew a heavy breath and shrunk back, while Seol Jihu also backed off in surprise.
The peephole filled up with a smeared neck before they noticed. Hoshino Urara had moved from the corner of the cell to the door at a terrifying speed. With backsteps to boot.
A hum flowed out.
“It’s not the warden’s voice~”
Then the woman slowly turned back. Soon, a pair of round eyes furtively looked up at Seol Jihu. They were filled with curiosity and an undecipherable expectation.
“Uw—oah! It’s real! A man I’ve never seen before!”
The woman hopped like a frog before gluing her eyes to the hole. She then stuck out her tongue with a silly smile, like a war refugee suffering from starvation who just found food and water.
“Oppa, Oppa~ Can you let me get out?”
“Let me out, hmm?”
Hoshino Urara. Her name clearly indicated that she was Japanese, but she had a weird accent where the tone of her speech went up at the end.
“If you let me out, I can do whatever you want~ Whateeeever~”
She winked and licked her lips, most likely trying to look seductive. Seol Jihu cleared his throat.
“There’s something I’d like to ask.”
“Oho. Will you let me out if I answer?”
“Do you know a spring?”
“Spring? Like the season? Or do you mean the bouncy piece of metal?”
“No, I’m talking about the body of water.”
“Oh, well, there you go. It’s a body of water. I answered your question, so now let me out. Hurry!”
She was quite a scatterbrain. Seol Jihu shook his head to focus.
“I’m not talking about the dictionary definition.”
She tilted her head before giving a sidelong glance.
“Then did you mean it metaphorically? Like water that comes out of Oppa’s you-know-what.”
“I’m not joking here.”
“Sorry. You must have meant water that comes out of my lower hole.”
Seol Jihu scrunched his face. Hoshino Urara cackled and slammed on the door.
“God! I’ve never seen anyone so crazy! Coming to see me and suddenly blabbering on about some spring. Are you one of those crazy people?”
Seol Jihu wanted to return those words right back at her, but he endured it and continued.
“A place with warped space.”
The laughter ceased.
“You must know Adam Galaev.”
Hearing this, Hoshino Urara’s face changed colors. She put on a slightly more serious expression.
“…What, he sent you here?”
“No, Adam Galaev is currently missing.”
“Misssiing? Then what, he didn’t betray me? Or wait, maybe he did.”
She rambled to herself.
“Miss Hoshino Urara, you know where that place is?”
“Yeah, I do.”
Seol Jihu clenched his fists. He finally got the answer he wanted.
“It’s because I went there that…”
Hoshino Urara was about to say something but suddenly shut her mouth.
“…Wait, wait, wait. I have a question. The fact that you’re asking me this…”
She sent a suspicious gaze. Then, she grinned and exclaimed, “Ah!” Her smile made her look like a clown.
Hoshino Urara lowered her voice by several notches and whispered.
“You know what I’m gonna say, right?”
“Okay. One, two.”
On the count of three, she lied down and then shouted.
“I’ll tell ya if you release me~!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter