Seol Jihu and Philip Muller stayed up all night talking.
They mostly took turns talking, but sometimes intense discussions erupted between the two and they both raised their voices in heated arguments.
The door was shut tightly, of course, and the isolating barrier set up by Philip Muller prevented all sound from coming in or going out.
The turbulent atmosphere that filled the room gradually settled down as the darkness of the night began to fade.
“We should stop here for today.”
Philip Muller’s voice was thin with fatigue from staying up all night.
“It’s meaningless to go on any further. You’re as stubborn as a mule.”
“What a coincidence. I was just thinking the same thing.”
“It’s the director who makes the movie. I wish you wouldn’t interfere with my directorial rights such as the right to decide the content of the shoot, the right to decide which camera angles are the best, etc.”
“There are certain things that I just can’t give up as an actor. I’m the lead, after all.”
“Damn it. If you’re an actor, you should just focus on acting and nothing else. I doubt a movie made by a director who gets pushed around by the actors would be any good.”
Rebuked Philip Muller as he gathered books from the table and stood up.
“I doubt a movie made without the main actor would be any good.”
Seol Jihu retorted.
Philip Muller shook his head side to side, clearly fed up with this discussion.
“…Will you at least reconsider the ending? I’ll get started right away once I get back.”
“I’ll think about it. I’ll contact you when the time comes.”
Seol Jihu rubbed his eyes and yawned.
When he opened his eyes again, Philip Muller was gone.
He must have used teleport.
Seol Jihu got up and stood beside the window with morning sunlight pouring over him.
What he liked most about fishing was the wait.
The skeptical fish that hadn’t even looked twice at the bait was finally beginning to show interest.
The fish was exploring, occasionally giving the lure a quick jerk. If they pulled too early, it would run away.
They had to wait for the perfect moment.
‘Let’s not be hasty.’
Seol Jihu let out a small sigh. Then he walked over to his bed and sunk down on it.
Slowly, he closed his eyes.
After his meeting with the bishop, Seol Jihu refrained from going out.
He even stopped wandering around the city to look for offerings.
He waited patiently as he had promised himself.
Meanwhile, the bishop reached out to him.
He told Seol Jihu to prepare for an expedition and asked if he could tell him where Rothschear’s offerings were.
Because the bishop had given him the valuable holy artifact, Seol Jihu did not hesitate to tell him the location of the offerings. But of course, he feigned reluctance in front of the bishop.
He also asked the members of Valhalla not to speak about his plan. Other than that, he spent much of his time doing various things.
Seol Jihu smacked his lips as he watched Chohong run frantically towards him.
This was what he called the Anti-Parasite Queen Preparation Project.
His first student, Phi Sora, had completed the entire curriculum and was on her way to graduating soon.
She mastered both Thousand-Ton-Pushing Strength and Floral Substitution. Now it was up to her to combine those two skills and achieve Grand Cosmic Shift.
Phi Sora was supposed to teach Chohong, but she herself was still learning, and because Seol Jihu had a lot of time on his hands—
Chohong became Seol Jihu’s second student.
After all, she was one of his oldest comrades and a Level 6, too.
However, as soon as he started teaching, Seol Jihu found that the reality wasn’t as satisfying as he had anticipated.
He finally realized what Black Seol Jihu must have felt when he was teaching him.
Phi Sora was the epitome of a model student.
She was always on time and sometimes even asked for extended lessons.
She studied hard and always bombarded Seol Jihu with questions to the point where he was almost afraid.
He could see that she was getting better every day.
It wasn’t like Chohong lacked enthusiasm.
She seemed really glad when Seol Jihu first volunteered to teach her.
But her determination was weak.
Today, because she didn’t show up at the promised hour, Seol Jihu went to look for her. He found her in her room, still sleeping.
“You know how Yi Sungjin came back yesterday. I went out with Team 1 to celebrate and ended up drinking way too much….”
“But why would you go out with Team 1?”
“Come on, why not?”
“Hey, by the way, I’ve noticed this for some time, but— aren’t we like, really famous now?”
Seol Jihu let out a small sigh.
It was commendable that Chohong never skipped lessons, but she always spent half of her class time chatting away.
At this point, he couldn’t even tell whether she had come to learn or to chat.
“A bunch of people recognized us at the pub yesterday! They asked us about the Spirit Realm Expedition. They were still curious, even though the expedition happened 10 months ago!”
Seol Jihu’s eyes suddenly gleamed.
“So we told them. Why shouldn’t we? The climax of the story was when Ghio shot the World Tree. They kept asking us if that really happened. You should’ve seen Ghio’s face! It was so red. He said it was because of the alcohol, but I doubt it!”
“Anyway, they were so impressed that they offered to pay for our drinks. So I drank to my heart’s content!”
Chohong cackled merrily.
Seol Jihu asked with a smile.
“You didn’t make a mistake, did you?”
“Like maybe you told them what you shouldn’t tell them.”
“Ah, you mean that thing you warned us about? Don’t worry. I kept my mouth shut the whole time because I knew I’d make a mistake somewhere down the line.”
“But is the lying really necessary?”
Suddenly, Chohong leered at Seol Jihu.
“Why can’t we just tell them what really happened? I understand Raging Temperance’s divinity, but why lie about Moirai's Souvenir, too?”
“Trust me, I have a plan.”
“What kind of plan? Just be honest. You’re making us lie to make yourself look cool, right? Because it sounds cooler if you say you used Moirai’s Souvenir to defeat him.”
“Do you really think I care about looking cool?”
Seol Jihu gave a soft chuckle.
“Maybe not before, but you’ve changed.”
“Because now everyone practically reveres you, calling you a hero and a legend.”
“Just—never mind. What would a sparrow know about a phoenix’s plan?”
“What? Are you calling me a sparrow?”
“If you’re not, prove it. It took Miss Phi Sora only one day to master the basics.”
“Fine. Then I’ll master both skills by the end of the day.”
‘Yeah, right.’ Seol Jihu thought to himself before moving on to the explanation.
“Listen up. The basis of Thousand-Ton-Pushing Strength is….”
Chohong listened attentively, her eyes beaming with enthusiasm.
But of course, that didn’t last long.
“Chohong. Your mana is too rough. Try moving it gently.”
“I am moving it gently.”
“Now you’re too rigid. Remember the expression ‘softness overcomes hardness’. I told you, think of inertia or a lever.”
Meanwhile, Maria slowly rose from a crouch in the garden.
She held more than a handful of weeds in her gloved hands.
Not long ago, Maria signed a new contract with Valhalla’s administrator and became Valhalla’s garden manager.
Kim Hannah had offered her a pretty decent salary.
“God, my back hurts.”
She had been up since early in the morning, pulling weeds, watering the garden, and feeding holy power to the plants. Her back ached from overwork.
“Let’s see. That’s enough for the garden, and now I only have the backyard left.”
She hurried her steps, massaging her waist as she walked.
But then she stopped when she heard a series of shouts coming from the backyard.
“Why are you yelling at me? So what if I don’t know?”
“When did I yell at you?”
“You did! Just now!”
“Ugh, I can’t even.”
Seol Jihu and Chohong were arguing there.
Maria clicked her tongue.
“Those two, they’re always fighting these days.”
“Don’t worry about them.”
Suddenly, she heard a voice.
Maria looked back startled. Eun Yuri was watching the pair from the first-floor terrace.
“That’s a common sight in Korea.”
She muttered, putting a straw in her cup.
“It’s a common sight?”
“I’ve seen it many times at my house.”
“At your house?”
Eun Yuri nodded and closed her lips around the straw.
“When my dad was teaching my mom how to drive.”
She then sucked her drink through the straw.
At around the same time.
“You’ve been quite busy lately.”
The bishop and a man sat facing each other in a dark room.
“You asked me to meet you here today. Does that mean you made progress?”
“I wouldn’t call it progress, but I can now say with confidence that the confirmation step has been completed.”
The bishop answered with a faint smile.
“I talked to him at the temple. He seemed to be telling the truth.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes. So I’ve confirmed that the stone bridge does exist, but that wasn’t enough to bring me peace of mind. I sent some men to knock on various parts of the bridge for a more thorough inspection.”
The bishop coughed lightly.
“They spoke to the members of Valhalla at a pub. The whole story falls in place.”
“How can we be sure that they’re not lying altogether?”
“You’re right, that is a concern. But he can’t lie to us about the location of Rothschear’s offerings.”
Seol Jihu told the bishop that he offered contribution points to the goddess to find out where the offerings were buried.
It was easy to determine whether he lied or not.
If the offerings were really buried there, he told the truth. Otherwise, he lied.
“He told the truth.”
The man raised his head in a flash.
“I sent someone trustworthy to check on his claim. He found a huge amount of offerings buried at the site. I saw them with my own eyes through a communication crystal. In both quality and quantity, they’re enough to cure Lady Seo Yuhui.”
“Wait a minute. Didn’t you say that area was within the Parasites’ domain?”
The bishop smiled.
“Don’t tell me you’ve succeeded in the expedition?”
“Please calm down. I’ll explain.”
The bishop raised both his hands in the air.
“I’m asking just to be sure. Do you really believe that Gorad Boga exists?”
“A legend is but a legend. How do you expect me to find a mythical site that existed long before the time of the Empire?”
A corner of the bishop’s mouth slanted upwards.
“It was for a different purpose that I went on the expedition at the time.”
“A different purpose?”
The man’s eyes narrowed.
“Don’t tell me you….”
“Please, don’t get ahead of yourself. Did you know that some Parasites have a sense of self?”
“Get to the point!”
“I hope you won’t misunderstand me when I say that the site believed to be Gorad Boga was near the Parasites border and that I encountered a couple of Parasites while inspecting the area. I won without much difficulty, of course, since I’m a Level 6 Bishop.”
“However, considering the efficiency of the Parasites’ communication, I had no choice but to retreat quickly before more of them came as reinforcements. But as I was about to leave, I suddenly thought of Sung Shihyun.”
“His personality wasn’t exactly charming, but he was once called a hero. You see, he and I were on pretty good terms. I couldn’t help but worry about the safety of my old friend.”
The bishop continued with a snicker.
“I was worried about how he was doing, and curious if he had any intention of coming back. So I left a communication crystal and a letter where the battle took place. Shame on me for being too attached, hmm?”
The bishop’s barefaced impudence forced a peal of laughter out of the man.
“A few days later, I revisited the site. Everything was the same, except, the communication crystal and the letter were gone.”
“Ha! So that’s how you confirmed the offerings.”
The man exclaimed and shook his head.
“You always emphasized the importance of taking caution. You know what they say. It’s always the quiet ones.”
“Please don’t tease me. This time, no matter what happens, we’ll certainly cross the line. And once we cross the line, we must not look back.”
The man drew a breath and then asked.
“…What did Sung Shihyun say?”
“He asked if we could buy some time, preferably 3 to 4 months. He said that the Parasite Queen has been asleep ever since the war ended and that he and the other Army Commanders are still recovering from their injuries.”
“That sounds reasonable to me. The Valhalla forces are quite powerful.”
“I declined. Sung Shihyun doesn’t have the full picture. He was dismayed when I told him that Valhalla would take extreme measures because Lady Seo Yuhui is in a dire state and that the Parasites should strike before that happens.”
“Did you forget our goal?”
The bishop said in a secretive whisper.
“As much as we need their help, we can’t let them run our show. We have to make sure the queen recognizes our worth.”
“So you say. But in the end, you’re just being greedy.”
“Huhu. Perhaps, but we need all we can get. Considering the state Lady Seo Yuhui is in, the awakening skill used to kill Undying Diligence must have been sealed. Also, he must have used quite an amount of contribution points to find the spot where the offerings were buried. This means his level can’t be any higher than 6. Don’t tell me you can’t beat a Warrior who’s just reached level 6.”
“Well, that shouldn’t be too hard….”
The man nodded his head.
The bishop’s smile broadened.
“I’ve prepared a sumptuous meal for you. I hope you enjoy it.”
“Does that mean I can proceed?”
“I’ll contact the Valhalla representative soon.”
“I understand. I’ll get ready.”
“I hope you do.”
The bishop slowly got up from his chair.
He clasped his hands behind his back and stared down at the man.
“We must seize this opportunity.”
“I believe in you, of course. If everything goes as planned, you’ll receive a great reward for your labor. Please look forward to it.”
With quiet laughter, the bishop exited the room, already convinced that he would become the leader of a new era.
The man sat alone in the dark and laughed scornfully.
The day after his fight with Chohong, Seol Jihu received a call from the bishop.
The bishop informed him of the location of Gorad Boga and handed him all the data he had collected regarding the site.
He said he wrote down in his report the whole process of how he had found the site and asked Seol Jihu to persuade Seo Yuhui.
He also warned Seol Jihu to prepare a powerful expedition team in case of a contingency, as Gorad Boga was near the Parasites border.
Seol Jihu immediately began his preparations.
He contacted Philip Muller and talked to Phi Sora and Kazuki privately.
And he reached Seo Yuhui through Baek Haeju.
Seo Yuhui arrived in Paradise the following day.
The level of detail of the bishop’s report impressed Seol Jihu, but he didn’t need it to persuade Seo Yuhui.
[Noona, will you go out on a date with me?]
[Oh my, a date? What kind of date?]
[Let’s go fishing. How about it?]
[Sounds fun! I’ll go.]
That was all it took.
After all the preparations were made, Seol Jihu finally stopped by the temple storage to pick up the Divine Elixirs and Harmonia Magic Square.
That very day, he left Eva in a carriage with his team members.
The final war to determine the future of Paradise was drawing near.Previous Chapter Next Chapter