Not a single cloud was visible in the clear, quiet morning sky, but by the time afternoon rolled around, dark clouds rolled in and heavy rain began pouring down.
As the wheels of the carriage bounced up and down on the rough terrain of the vast field, they left a long track in the mud.
It was quiet inside the carriage.
A total of four people sat inside. There were five members in total, counting Hoshino Urara, who was sitting on the carriage roof.
Eun Yuri was dazedly staring into the air, moving her fingers nimbly as if playing on an invisible piano.
Someone who did not know her might think this as strange, but Chohong knew that she was a Magician and didn’t think too much of it.
In fact, her indifferent gaze was fixed on another person across from her—a young man sitting in the corner of the carriage and a woman using the young man’s thigh as a pillow.
They were Seol Jihu and Seo Yuhui.
Hmm, hmm. As a sweet humming voice rang out, Seol Jihu lowered his head and looked down.
“You’re not going to sleep?”
“Un. I was going to, but I can’t sleep for some reason… Why, is it uncomfortable?”
“No, not at all.”
“Then can I stay like this a little bit longer? My neck is so comfy right now.”
“Sure. And try to catch some sleep. I know you’re not feeling well.”
Seol Jihu carefully placed his hand on Seo Yuhui’s eyes.
And as the large, warm hand covered half of Seo Yuhui’s face, a pleasant smile bloomed on her face.
“Auung~ I can’t see~”
It was clear to anyone watching that Seo Yuhui was squirming in happiness.
Chohong furrowed her brows. The way she rolled her head left and right and savored Seol Jihu’s thigh was unsightly, to say the least.
“Noonim, are you sure you’re sick?”
In the end, she asked openly.
“Yes? Ah, I’m fine right now because of this.”
Seo Yuhui raised her left hand with her eyes still closed. The emerald ring on her finger shone brightly, flaunting its beauty.
Chohong leaned forward to take a closer look.
“What’s that? A ring?”
Seo Yuhui spread her fingers out.
“Jihu gave it to me~”
She seemed to be boasting. The way she waved her hand, it was like she was showing it off for everyone to see.
“He said it was a gift and personally put it on my finger.”
For the record, the ring was on her left ring finger.
Eun Yuri glanced at Seo Yuhui. She then looked down at the ring on her own left ring finger before sighing and shaking her head.
“So what is it?”
“It’s an artifact that holds a large amount of holy power.”
Seol Jihu replied when Chohong asked with an unsure expression.
“The bishop received it from Luxuria-nim when he became a Level 6. Yuhui Noona might run out of holy power on the way, right? This ring takes care of that problem. There should be no problem for at least ten days.”
“Aha, so that’s why…”
Chohong nodded her head before doing a double-take. She glared at Seol Jihu and then turned away with a snort. She seemed to be saying, ‘Who the heck asked you?’
Seol Jihu chuckled. It seemed Chohong hadn’t forgotten about the argument they had a few days ago while training.
As Seol Jihu stared at Chohong, the corner of his mouth curled up stealthily. His expression seemed to say he just thought of something good.
Clunk! At that moment, along with a sharp scream, the carriage door shot open.
A woman drenched with rain swooped inside like a nimble gymnast.
It was Hoshino Urara.
“The coachman said he’ll have to stop the carriage soon!”
Seo Yuhui shot up.
Chohong grabbed the Thorn of Steel, and Eun Yuri began to chant a spell.
When Seol Jihu picked up the Spear of Purity, Hoshino Urara looked around the carriage and then nodded.
“He said we’d have to set up camp earlier than expected because the Horus got tired from running in the rain.”
A silence descended.
“You guys got that?”
Hoshino Urara placed her hands on her waist and strutted out her chest.
Soon, Chohong’s fierce kick ensued.
Hoshino Urara was sent flying out of the carriage with a squeal of a dying pig.
“That crazy bitch. Hey, close the door.”
Seo Yuhui went back to lying on Seol Jihu’s thigh, and Eun Yuri closed the door shut.
“Uaaaaang! I’m sorry! Don’t leave me behiiiind!”
They could hear Hoshino Urara chasing after them while screaming loudly.
As the raindrops got thicker, the carriage came to a complete halt.
They were supposed to arrive at their destination either today or tomorrow, but they fell behind in schedule due to the sudden, heavy downpour.
Valhalla’s main team set up camp and took care of dinner with Seol Jihu’s ramen.
As this was Eun Yuri’s first expedition, Seol Jihu handed her something that he specially prepared for her.
Eun Yuri looked down at a pair of "silver" chopsticks and a "glass" cup.
Seeing how everyone else had wooden chopsticks and paper cups, she scurried up to Seol Jihu and angrily threw the silver chopsticks and glass cup on the ground.
By the time dinner ended, Hoshino Urara arrived at the campsite, panting.
After watching her lick every drop of soup from the pot like a starving dog, the team members gathered inside the tent and set up their sleeping bags.
Seol Jihu laid down on the sleeping bag that Eun Yuri prepared for him and fell into thought.
‘I wonder how they justified this matter.’
A fundamental question popped up in his head as he rummaged through his thoughts.
But it wasn’t really a problem. It was clear that the traitors were making a move, and he had made preparations against it.
Thanks to Seo Yuhui, he could be a step ahead of them and react accordingly.
‘Still, aren’t things going a bit too smoothly?’
If Seo Yuhui didn’t prepare such a well-timed trap, then Seol Jihu really might have fallen for the traitors’ tricks despite the Future-Gauging Nine Eyes. That was how scrupulous the bishop acted.
‘He hid lies within truths.’
However, Seo Yuhui saw through his lies perfectly.
Not only that, but she also predicted his every movement.
Almost as if she knew the bishop would do this.
Like she’s experienced everything once before.
Of course, Seo Yuhui was an Earthling who had been active in Paradise for a long time, so it was only natural that she knew more about its politics than him.
It wasn’t so strange thinking about it this way, but still…
‘If I go to the temple and ask if I can spend contribution points to see the dream again, would Gula-nim agree?’
As he tossed and turned in deep thought, he suddenly caught sight of someone.
It was the person who hadn’t said a word to him ever since they left Eva.
Seol Jihu wiggled up and laid down next to her.
Chohong moved away without saying anything.
To the opposite side.
Seol Jihu chuckled blandly before rolling to her side once more.
He whispered her name, but no reply came back.
But once he lifted his leg and placed it on her…
She reacted immediately.
“Ah, so comfortable.”
“I told you to move it.”
Seol Jihu coughed sternly.
“Is that any way to talk to your dear husband?”
“Are you crazy?”
Chohong snorted with her back facing Seol Jihu.
“Husband, my ass. If you don’t move your leg before I countdown from three, I’ll break your leg. Three.”
“I’ll return those words to you. You’ll regret it if you don’t face me before I do the same.”
“Jeez, are you Hugo? Sulking just because I was a little strict…”
“Did I say anything wrong? You have to focus when you’re learning. Were you that hurt that I asked if you were coming to the training simply to play with me?
“Alright, you’re dead...”
Seol Jihu shouted.
Seo Yuhui, who was sitting next to Eun Yuri and learning yoga poses that were good for the body, turned in a startle.
“I have something to ask. How do vows work in Paradise when a Priest swears on their god’s name?”
Chohong flinched. She could clearly feel pressure from the leg that was placed on her body.
“When a Priest swears on their god’s name? That’s not something they do so easily… Not Priests, at least.”
“Yep. Priests have the closest relationship to their gods among the four basic classes, so a vow made on their god’s name places a heavy restriction on them that rivals an oath. That’s why Priests with even a little thought would never make vows on their god’s name.”
Meaning, Chohong was completely thoughtless.
Seol Jihu grinned.
“What if they signed a contract? It was an informal one though.”
“Then they’d really have no way out. But why are you asking all of a sudden?”
Seo Yuhui asked while doing a butterfly stretch.
Seol Jihu stared at Chohong with a snobbish look.
“Three, two, one… Aigoo, where did I put that contract again?”
“Well, I guess you don’t need to call me Dear Husband. Darling~ Oppa~ Master~”
Chohong shook in her sleeping bag.
Then, she slowly turned around and faced Seol Jihu.
Her face had reddened inside the sleeping bag and was turning purple in rage.
“You’re… still on about that…!”
“I have a good memory. You better respect me because I still have the periodic table of elements memorized.”
Seol Jihu snickered before putting his other leg on top of her.
“Auu, how comfy. Chohong Pillow is the best.”
“Y-You’re so shameless!”
“Be quiet, pillow. Also, please take good care of me tonight.”
Watching this, Seo Yuhui could only tilt her head, not knowing that Chohong had once made a bet on Kim Hannah and herself coming to Valhalla.
She stared at the duo before excusing herself from Eun Yuri’s yoga class and getting up.
“Jihu, don’t do that.”
“Huh? Ah, I’m just fooling around.”
“Still, Miss Chohong hates it. Take your legs off, okay? If you really have to, put your legs on this noona later.”
“Argh, it’s fine!”
Chohong suddenly shouted.
“It’s not like this is the first time he’s doing this. I’ll just live with it.”
“Plus, you’re sick. Just go to sleep in peace away from this bastard.”
“No, you see, my lifeforce is inside Jihu’s body…”
Suddenly, the conversation took a weird turn.
The two women bickered for a while before finally compromising.
Seo Yuhui would have Seol Jihu’s upper body, and Chohong would have his lower body.
Suddenly having his face in Seo Yuhui’s embrace and his legs on top of Chohong, Seol Jihu blinked rapidly. But since it was comfy, he decided to be satisfied with how things turned out and went to sleep.
Seol Jihu had a dream.
He was alone on a boat with Seo Yuhui, riding on the calm waves of a beautiful sea that was scintillating under the glow of the setting sun.
He seemed to be lying down on the boat, and Seo Yuhui looked happy with him in her arms.
[It’s finally just the two of us.]
It was undoubtedly a peaceful dream.
[My little rabbit.]
But for some reason, a chill went down his spine.
[Run away! Hurry!]
[Oh? Black Rabbit is here too!?]
Black Seol Jihu suddenly appeared out of nowhere and ran away with him.
[White Rabbit~ Black Rabbit~]
When he subconsciously opened his eyes in the middle of the night, he found himself soaked in sweat from head to toe.
The carriage ran for another four days before coming to a stop.
Where they got off was the start of a mountain range that was beyond Haramark and past the Forest of Denial.
As Haramark’s surrounding region had stabilized in recent days, the range of area that was deemed safe for travel had increased.
Valhalla’s main team started their march with Hoshino Urara as the header. They were heading toward the direction of the former Delphinion Duchy.
The march went without a hitch as Hoshino Urara was a Unique Ranker Archer and Chohong had taken this route before when she went to rescue Seol Jihu, who was trapped in the laboratory.
Perhaps because they were in a mountain, night came rather quickly.
Valhalla’s main team marched for almost an entire day before arriving at their destination.
Because the bishop gave them a detailed roadmap, it wasn’t hard to find the place.
There was just one problem.
“Huh? This is that Gorad Boga place?”
Chohong frowned as she looked around her surroundings.
All she could see was a dense forest filled with trees and overgrown bushes.
She couldn’t see anything like a trace of a city that was once ruled by a god after his birth.
If anything, the darkness of the forest gave off a bleak, creepy feeling.
“What’s up with this place? For Huge Stone Rocky Mountain and Mount Peléeom, it was easy to see vital energy in the atmosphere.”
“We’re talking about a myth from thousands of years ago. They say even mountains and rivers change in ten years. It’s not that surprising for this place to look like this.”
Chohong smacked her lips.
Seo Yuhui also tilted her head.
“What do you think, Noonim? Can you feel anything?”
“Mm… I do feel holy power, but I’m not so sure….”
“Oh, you do? Then maybe Seol’s found the right place.”
“It’s just… a little strange…”
Seo Yuhui continued in a doubtful tone.
“I can feel small clusters here and there, but they’re not connected. There aren’t that many, and they’re far apart. Moreover, they’re clusters of holy power, not vital energy.”
“Hmm? Holy power? What do you mean?”
“Priests convert vital energy into holy power by praying in areas of high vital energy concentration. But this is refined holy power. I’ve never heard of a place like this existing.”
Chohong scratched her head.
Seol Jihu met Seo Yuhui’s eyes.
The two of them nodded their heads slightly at the same time.
“But Noona, there’s still holy power here, right?”
“Mmn, yeah, but…”
“Then why don’t you try praying here? I’ll take a look around in the meanwhile.”
Seol Jihu opened up a straw mat.
Seo Yuhui carefully kneeled down, closed her eyes, and locked her hands together in prayer.
“Chohong, set up camp next to Noona. Miss Hoshino Urara, be on the lookout for anything suspicious. Miss Eun Yuri, follow me.”
Seol Jihu started walking right away.
He took a dozen or so steps before suddenly stopping and kneeling down.
Eun Yuri, who was following him while looking around, jumped in a startle.
Terrifying energy that could not be described with words erupted from Seol Jihu’s body. She could not feel even the slightest impurity from this mana.
But what surprised Eun Yuri even more was that the boundless energy split into thousands of thin threads and spread out in all directions.
If Roselle saw this, she would undoubtedly exclaim, ‘What a beautiful application of mana!’
Meanwhile, Seol Jihu’s eyes waned as he stared fixedly at the ground.
A chuckle escaped his mouth before he rummaged through his pocket and then placed his hand on the ground.
He tapped the muddy earth and then got up.
“Miss Eun Yuri.”
“You saw me moving my mana just now, right?”
“Can you do the same thing?”
Eun Yuri tilted her head at the sudden question.
“I’m not sure. I’d have to try.”
“What about splitting into a few dozen strands and sending them in one direction?”
“I should be able to do that.”
“Great. Then remember the spots where I’m stopping.”
With that, Seol Jihu started walking again.
Eun Yuri stared fixedly at the spot Seol Jihu had been standing in before chasing after him with light steps.
Kneeling down, rummaging through his pocket, and then placing his hand on the ground. Seol Jihu repeated the same set of actions dozens of times while circling around the campsite.
“There’s more than I thought. Can you remember them all?”
“Y-Yes, I can, but…”
Eun Yuri stared at Seol Jihu curiously.
She had kept quiet so that she wouldn’t unintentionally bother Seol Jihu, but she couldn’t figure out why he was stopping at these places.
“Alright, here’s the thing…”
Seol Jihu lowered his voice and spoke.
After listening to his explanation, Eun Yuri became even more puzzled.
“So… that’s the signal?”
“Yes. Me raising this spear.”
Seol Jihu smiled and tapped the Spear of Purity.
“Think of it as a cue. You know, kind of like how a movie director gives a signal before filming.”
Eun Yuri rolled her eyes.
She understood what he was asking from her. She just didn’t understand why.
And so, just as she was about to ask him…
“What are ya doin’~!?”
An uninvited guest barged in.
It was Yishino Seolara’s older sister.
“Miss Hoshino Urara, what happened to being on the lookout?”
“I did it and then came here. It got too boring.”
Eun Yuri furrowed her brows.
However, Seol Jihu didn’t get angry. He had brought Hoshino Urara on this trip, specifically calculating that she’d act this way.
If he wanted someone who would do their given duty faithfully, he would have brought either Marcel Ghionea or Kazuki instead.
“Anyways, I’ve been watching ya for a while, and it sure looks like you’re doing something interesting.”
“You were burying things in the ground. And also…”
Hoshino Urara stepped closer to Seol Jihu.
“This, this. What happened to it?”
“What happened to what?”
“You know, the pendant that you always wear around your necklace. Why isn’t it with you today~?”
“So suspicious~ I can smell the fun from a mile away~”
Hoshino Urara closed her eyes and sniffed.
Seol Jihu grinned. As expected of a Unique Ranker Archer, her attention to detail was impeccable.
Hoshino Urara opened her eyes and then smiled.
“Now tell me! I wanna know!”
It was then.
The man and woman turned their gazes simultaneously.
Seol Jihu to the left, Hoshino Urara to the right.
Soon, a scream rang out.
It was from the direction where Seo Yuhui and Chohong had set up camp.
Hoshino Urara exclaimed quietly.
“Those two must be heated up.”
In the next moment, as Hoshino Urara lowered her center of gravity to catapult herself out, Seol Jihu reached out and grabbed her shoulder.
“Promise me something before you go. Look at me.”
Hoshino Urara slowly turned to the side.
“From now on, listen to me carefully. If you do, I’ll show you something fun and exciting. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.”
“…I get what you’re saying…”
Hoshino Urara raised her eyebrows slightly.
“But didn’t you hear that scream?”
“I did. That’s what I’m saying. I’ll let you have some nice fun.”
Hoshino Urara’s widened eyes slowly returned to normal.
“Oho. I knew I could trust my dog’s nose. Well, if you say so…”
Hoshino Urara slowly stood up.
Eun Yuri stared at Seol Jihu with a look of fluster.
The scream just now was most definitely from Seo Yuhui.
Seol Jihu’s group was far away from the campsite. There was a chance that they might be late even if they ran there. So why—?
At that moment, Eun Yuri’s eyes lit up.
“Let’s go. Make sure to put on your most shocked, hurried face.”
Because Seol Jihu had just raised his spear.
He had given the awaited cue.
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