Chapter 395. Resolve (1)

“Shall we go to the office? There are a few unwanted people listening in. Well, not that they’ll live to tell the tale.”

Kim Hannah threw a meaningful smile behind Seol Jihu.

One of the captives who met her gaze bit down on his lip.

François Delon. He was a Level 6 White Swordsman from Area 2.

Most importantly, he was from Sinyoung, the organization that Kim Hannah used to be a part of in the past.

How must he feel after meeting his past colleague as an enemy? Not in a battlefield, but as a captive, to boot.

“Alright, we’ll do that. Chohong, throw them all in the jail.”

Seol Jihu readily agreed.

“You’re talking about the underground prison under the royal palace, right?”

Chohong snickered and dragged the captives away.

Next, Seol Jihu entered his office and sat down behind his desk.

“I’ll start with the news about Scheherazade.”

Kim Hannah looked at her clipboard and started in a monotonous tone.

“While the video was playing, Valhalla’s Team 1 raided the Temple of Luxuria’s main branch and successfully captured Roberto Servillo.”

“I heard you guys almost ran into a problem.”

“Organizations within Scheherazade noticed the situation in the middle and rushed to the plaza. They tried to threaten the Triads into stopping the screening of the movie, but they went back reluctantly after realizing that Miss Baek Haeju was there.”

Kim Hannah cleared her throat.

“That small incident was resolved without a hiccup, but the problem happened elsewhere.”

“Where?”

“While a member of Team 1 was rans… investigating the bishop’s private storage, there was a slight holdup.”

Kim Hannah corrected herself in the middle and cleared her throat.

“It must have been when the movie ended. While Team 1 was investigating the bishop’s private storage, Scheherazade Royal Family supposedly sent their guards to the temple.”

“…And?”

“Things might have gotten complicated if not for Team Leader Phi Sora’s quick judgment.”

Kim Hannah spoke clearly.

“As soon as Team Member Yi Seol-Ah notified her of the guards’ arrival, Team Leader Phi Sora changed the plan to joining up with the Triads and leaving. The team swiftly left Scheherazade with the bishop.”

Seol Jihu sighed.

Scheherazade Royal Family dispatched guards to the temple?

Given their close relationship with Sinyoung, they probably didn’t have good intentions in doing so either.

Since the royal families had jurisdiction over incidents that happened inside their cities, being delayed any longer might have made the matter more complicated.

“Miss Maria is in Team 1, right?”

Seol Jihu smacked his lips.

“Tell her to come see me later.”

“Understood.”

Kim Hannah smiled bitterly.

“Anyway, what happened after that?”

“Team 1 safely brought the bishop to Eva and locked him in Eva’s underground prison. The Scheherazade Royal Family naturally became a dog chasing after a butterfly. But it seems they have no intention of giving up because they’re supposedly sending an envoy to Eva. I was told he would arrive tomorrow.”

“First guards, and now an envoy.”

Seol Jihu tapped on the desk with his index finger.

“They should know what their action signifies… Why do you think they’re going so far?”

“It’s most likely to secure the bishop who is the main culprit behind this incident. Because the bishop is related to Sinyoung, and Sinyoung is related to the Scheherazade Royal Family.”

“So because Sinyoung can’t afford to make a move, they’re making the Royal Family move in their place?”

“That seems likely. Sinyoung’s involvement in this incident is clear, so they’re likely finding it difficult to move openly.”

Indeed, a member of Sinyoung was confirmed to have participated in this incident, and François Delon wasn’t a simple, run-of-the-mill member either. To say that they knew nothing of this matter would be a stretch.

“Looks like they at least have some conscience left.”

Seol Jihu chuckled and gave a sarcastic remark.

“What will you do? As the capital of humanity, the Scheherazade Royal Family holds higher authority than the other royal families.”

“Authority? Oh please. Without Sinyoung backing them up, they wouldn’t be able to say a thing.”

Seol Jihu snorted.

“Let the envoy come. I’m curious what he has to say for himself…. Oh right, didn’t you say we had guests from Haramark?”

Seol Jihu waved his hand like the first problem wasn’t anything important and then asked.

“Yes, they must have set out a day after the movie. It’s…”

Hearing Kim Hannah’s report, Seol Jihu’s eyes widened.

“Really? Why are they here?”

“I don’t know the details. They just said they had an urgent matter.”

“An urgent matter… Where are they now?”

“I guided them to Valhalla’s dorm on their day of the visit. They have been waiting for ages. Should I bring them in?”

Seol Jihu nodded.

Kim Hannah bowed respectfully before turning around and leaving the office.

*


“It was an exciting film.”

The visitors were none other than the executives of Sicilia, Taciana Cinzia and Claire Agnes.

“It reminded me of the time I went to see a movie with my boyfriend in an old, back-alley theatre. It was quite memorable.”

“It’s hard to believe Miss Cinzia had a time like that.”

“Fufu, everyone has a time when they’re young and immature. Anyway, B-grade movies have their own cheap charm. Of course, people either hate it or love it… But don’t worry, I enjoyed it a lot.”

Cinzia sat with her legs crossed as she tied a knot with a red lace on her coat.

Seol Jihu smiled quietly. He knew Cinzia hated small talk. Her admission that she enjoyed the movie was likely a way of telling him that she was intrigued in the matter and was fully supportive of Valhalla.

“I’m glad to hear you liked it. The folks over at Scheherazade seem to have found it boring though.”

The corner of Cinzia’s mouth curled up.

“You can’t do anything about their personal taste. Well, not that this movie is a simple matter of personal taste… Anyway.”

She then crossed her arms and asked suggestively.

“I visited today, but I’ve been meaning to talk to you for some time. Have you heard anything from Chung Chohong?”

“From Chohong? No.”

“Hmm, I asked her to deliver a message when she came over to give the enhancement stones.”

“…Ah.”

Seol Jihu shut his eyes.

“I’m sorry. Chohong must have forgotten about it.”

“It’s fine. We would have called directly if it was something urgent.”

Cinzia raised her hand and continued in her unique, lethargic voice.

“I’ll cut to the chase.”

Cinzia did not speak in a roundabout way.

“Something that is very important to Sicilia came up. We looked into it ourselves, but we just couldn’t figure out a way to resolve it.”

“Okay.”

“But then we noticed how interesting things were getting and couldn’t bear to sit still.”

From the sound of it, Cinzia seemed to have come to ask for help.

Seol Jihu opened his eyes and looked straight at Cinzia and Agnes.

A problem that even these two couldn’t resolve? He was already curious, but now he was dying to know.

“What’s the matter?”

“Do you remember the Tigol Fortress War?”

“Ah, yes, thank you for your help back then.”

“Don’t get ahead of yourself. We’re not here to ask for compensation. What I want to talk about are the Executors.”

Executors. As soon as Cinzia mentioned this word, Seol Jihu’s eyes sunk low.

“Before the Tigol Fortress War, humanity had a total of five Executors. After the war, that number decreased to four.”

Seol Jihu nodded.

Originally, the only empty seats among the Executors were the position of envy (Invidia) and gluttony (Gula).

But with the Star of Pride (Superbia) being beheaded by Sung Shihyun’s sword, the empty seats had increased to three.

“Though I say that, there’s no way to be certain how many seats are empty. The trial to become an apostle is something that the Seven Gods bestow to individual Earthlings. So long as they or their organizations remain quiet, there is no way for the public to know. Meaning, it’s entirely possible that new Executors have been selected for both envy and gluttony.”

Cinzia continued slowly.

“I am bringing this up because I received news that Pride has recently selected a new apostle candidate.”

Seol Jihu’s eyes lit up.

“The Executor of Superbia… May I know who it is?”

Cinzia did not reply. She only turned her head languidly and stared at the woman standing next to her.

Seol Jihu, who followed her gaze, jolted.

Agnes, who had remained quiet until now, slowly opened her eyes and looked back at Seol Jihu.

“…You mean.”

“That’s right.”

As Seol Jihu asked half in doubt, Cinzia gave the affirmation.

“Claire Agnes. She had been selected as the new Executor to succeed the old Star of Pride. She’s only a candidate though.”

Seol Jihu almost shouted, ‘No way!’ But after thinking about it carefully, he realized it wasn’t that absurd.

“She’s hindered the Parasites’ plan on the frontlines for several years now. Not to mention, she became a Level 7 for her contributions in the war one year ago.”

“….”

“Moreover, I don’t believe there is a more excellent Archer than Agnes anywhere in Paradise. If you disagree, Agnes will be quite sad.”

Cinzia chuckled.

Though Agnes tried to look unfazed, she must have seen Seol Jihu’s expression as she looked slightly sullen.

Seol Jihu quickly came to his senses and organized his thoughts.

Looking back, Agnes had been involved in almost every incident surrounding the Parasites. She didn’t lose out to anyone in terms of strength either. Simply based on these two points, there was no reason to disqualify her.

There was only one thing that bothered him.

“So Sicilia will have two Executors.”

“I thought so too and was happy at first. The news came at a time when I was feeling bad about Agnes being stuck in a corner even though she constantly battles the Parasites on the frontline.”

Cinzia rested her chin on the back of her hand and added flatly.

“I would have been happy… if not for the absurd trial that Superbia gave.”

“?”

“I wouldn’t be here complaining if they asked her to kill an Army Commander. But that wasn’t it. When Agnes told me about the trial, I doubted my ears, wondering what it was supposed to mean…”

Cinzia stealthily glanced at Seol Jihu.

“Last time I checked, a certain somebody in Eva was doing Agnes’ trial for her. I can’t guess what exactly he’s planning, but that’s what it looked like.”

Seol Jihu’s eyes widened.

“That’s why we put everything aside and rushed over. Because it seemed like my precious apostle candidate would get disqualified without doing anything.”

Cinzia placed her interlocked hands on her knee.

“So, do you have any plans to make a sequel? If so, Sicilia would be more than happy to invest.”

“…By any chance.”

Seol Jihu spoke calmly.

“Was the content of this absurd trial 'to lead humanity’s change'?”

At that moment, both Cinzia and Agnes widened their eyes. Though they expected Seol Jihu to guess the trial, they didn’t think he would get it right without missing a single word.

“Haha, what a coincidence.”

Seol Jihu spoke with a faint smile.

“I wasn’t planning on telling you… but since you revealed an important piece of information, I will also reveal a piece of information of the same grade.”

“Of the same grade?”

“Yes. Goddess Gula has also selected an apostle candidate, and that candidate is a certain somebody in Eva.”

Seol Jihu revealed his secret without reserve.

Cinzia’s brows twitched strongly.

“And the content of the trial that this candidate received is the same as the content of the trial that the Star of Pride candidate received. To lead humanity’s change.”

The two women became dazed simultaneously. They looked like they’d taken a blow whilst unaware.

But the blank stares only lasted a moment as Cinzia soon burst out laughing.

“Ahahahahaha!”

She laughed crazily before wiping the tears in her eyes and giggling.

“Those damned gods… So they knew everything?”

“Looks like it.”

“Well, this is a surprise. I knew you’d get there eventually, but I didn’t think it would be this quick. Getting the apostle’s trial at Level 6… Well, I suppose there’s no rule forbidding it.”

Hearing this, Seol Jihu gave a subtle smile.

“It seems we need to talk a little more.”

“Are you asking me out on a date? Great. I’m always happy to go on a stroll with a young lion.”

Cinzia shrugged and then winked.

“I’m free today anyway.”

*


It wasn’t until sunset that Cinzia left the office.

She exited the building alone and got on the carriage waiting in front of the building.

Agnes did not leave with her.

It was because Seol Jihu requested Agnes to spar with him once the talk finished.

Cinzia agreed given that the master and disciple were meeting for the first time in a while.

How much time went by?

Cinzia, who was calmly organizing her thoughts, looked up at the sound of the carriage door opening.

Agnes was climbing in with her usually neat hair in a mess. Her face was flushed red, her breathing was rough, and she looked rather distraught.

“Why, did he call you Miss Teddybear again?”

“…No.”

“Looks like you gave him a rough beating though.”

“Not at all.”

Agnes grunted as she sat down in front of Cinzia. Then, she spoke.

“It’s the other way, actually. I was beaten up.”

“…What?”

“I lost in terms of technique and suffered total defeat in terms of mana. I lost.”

Agnes huffed as if she was more than a little upset.

Cinzia doubted her ears.

Agnes, who could vie for first place after becoming a Unique Ranker, lost?

“In terms of technique too?”

“Just when I thought I had him, the back of his spear suddenly struck my ribs. I managed to hit his face a beat later, but Representative Seol had lessened the impact by pulling his head back. I lost without any room for doubt.”

With that, Agnes bit her lower lip.

“I don’t understand.”

She shook her head in confusion.

“It’s only been a year. I don’t understand what could have happened to change him so much. It was like I was fighting an old veteran… no, a monster, who came back from the brink of death in countless battlefields.”

Hearing this, Cinzia lowered her head slightly.

“Against a Level 7 who still has the power of a Servant… Hmm, was that why he smiled when I called him a Level 6?”

She murmured quickly and then asked.

“What did Representative Seol say?”

“…He praised me. As expected of Miss Agnes, you’re on a different level compared to those bastards in prison, he said. And then he added, I found a flaw thanks to you.

Agnes took off her glasses angrily.

Soon, the carriage slanted to one side before setting off slowly.

“Boss.”

After a long silence, Agnes collected her breath and spoke.

“If it’s alright with you, I’d like to ask for some time off once we return to Haramark.”

“Denied.”

Cinzia replied right away.

“I understand how you’re feeling, but you should know it too. Things will get very busy. This isn’t the time to be absorbed in personal training.”

“….”

“I didn’t understand why Superbia was trying to back Sicilia, but I finally found out today. It wasn’t us. Not only Pride, but the rest of the Seven Sins are backing Valhalla.”

Superbia made her intention clear.

We will give you another Executor, so stand by Valhalla’s side and help them in their future endeavors.

Otherwise, it didn’t make sense for the content of Agnes’ trial to be a carbon copy of Seol Jihu’s.

“People must be thinking, Ei, there’s no way. That would be too much. But we’re talking about an Earthling who has always proven his doubters wrong.”

Agnes listened silently.

“Know this. The man who fought the Parasites three times and triumphed three times is now aiming his spear at humanity. There is no telling what will happen from now on. Maybe…”

Cinzia trailed off and looked back. Although the wall of the carriage was blocking her view, she was looking in the direction of Eva.

“This is just the continuation of the old Eva Alliance Incident. Only, it’s a little bigger in scale.”

If what Seol Jihu said was true, then not only the organizations that participated in the last incident but also the eighty or so organizations existing in Paradise would have to make one of the two decisions soon.

Either to grovel and submit, or be swept away completely.

Of course, a small number of organizations would have another choice.

To stand by Valhalla and walk alongside him.

Like the Triads, Magicians’ Guild, and the Assassination Guild.

That was why Cinzia was in such a rush.

“Two Executors, a receiver of the divine vestige, and several powerful members… Hehe.”

Cinzia grinned.

“Every flow has its ebbs, all that’s fair must fade. It’s about time to replace the throne.”

From the carriage riding off from Eva’s gate, a soundless laugh flowed out.

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