The Pavlovici brothers came to visit.
Their goal: to repay the debt of Valhalla sparing and even saving their lives.
Judging by the way they were talking, they seemed to have a rather important piece of information.
Seol Jihu strongly wanted to ask them about everything they knew, but he held himself back seeing the state that Pavlovici and his brother were in.
They were practically shoving food down their throats while their faces were covered in filth. If Seol Jihu didn’t know any better, he would have confused them for beggars.
It was obvious what kind of life they had been living since the last time they saw each other.
And so, Seol Jihu offered to wait until they finished eating, and only afterward did he take them to the reception room.
Pavlovici seemed to have calmed down a bit after stuffing himself.
“To be honest, I’m not a good talker.”
Pavlovici started while smoking a cigarette that Seol Jihu gave him.
“So I plan to recount everything I went through… is that okay?”
Seol Jihu nodded. That seemed better than Pavlovici adding unnecessary commentary and explanation.
“Understood. Now, where should I begin…”
Pavlovici twiddled his thumbs for a bit…
“After that incident, we brothers had to be on the run for a long time.”
And then quietly began his narration.
“It was extremely exhausting at first. We pretty much lived like cavemen. And since we didn’t know when our pursuers would catch up to us, we had to erase our tracks carefully and search for new hideouts periodically.”
Chohong glared while swinging her crossed legs. She looked like she had no interest in hearing about the Pavlovici brothers’ hardships.
“A-Anyway, we got used to living outside as time passed by. We considered going into the city every once in a while, but we gave up on the idea after what happened in Haramark.”
Pavlovici spoke quickly.
“And Earth wasn’t a safe place for us either… We bore with it, thinking of it as rightful punishment until we suddenly got a call.”
“Yes. We were told that Sicilia would seek us out and that we should follow them obediently.”
Pavlovici’s eyes headed to Kim Hannah.
“Thanks to her help, we were able to secure our safety under Sicilia’s protection. In Paradise and on Earth.”
Pavlovici bowed and expressed his gratitude.
Kim Hannah was expressionless.
Seol Jihu had not heard of this before, but he remained focused on hearing Pavlovici out.
“Once we settled down, we focused on doing the job we were tasked with. The first thing was to make a dead man and a missing man.”
Seol Jihu’s eyes narrowed.
The Pavlovicis were originally a group of four brothers. However, only two came today. In other words, the other two…
“Creating the performance wasn’t hard. We had been living outside for a long time, and most people had forgotten about us.”
Pavlovici rubbed his cigarette on the ashtray before continuing.
“Two of my brothers were getting sick and tired of Paradise anyway. I sent them back to Earth in the middle of the night. They have not entered Paradise since. They should be living in a safe hideout provided by Sicilia now.”
“After that, my brother, who is here with me right now, and I separated and went to different cities. I assumed charge in Scheherazade, and he wandered through the other six cities.”
“So you guys showed yourselves.”
“Since when? Be precise.”
“We acted like beggars at first… It wasn’t until the Valhalla Attack Incident that we started to move openly.”
Seol Jihu sent a gaze asking for more explanation.
“Well, we didn’t do much, just spreading Valhalla’s shocking ventures day in and day out. The queen of Eva’s announcement probably was the highlight of my career, if you could call it that.”
Pavlovici paused to observe Seol Jihu.
“I mixed in with the Earthlings… and cursed Representative Seol.”
“What was that?”
“I-I just did as I was told.”
When Chohong blurted out fiercely, Pavlovici hurriedly waved his hand in denial.
“Anyway, the Earthlings were furious at the time, so it wasn’t anything difficult.”
“What did you say specifically?”
Seol Jihu pacified Chohong, who was throwing a fit, and then asked.
“Uh… I talked about the Haramark Incident, pretended to be drunk, and stealthily mentioned how two of my brothers vanished into thin air and said how I separated from my remaining brother in fear… Sometimes I caused a scene at the pub on purpose until the guards came and arrested me.”
In other words, he had mixed into the public eye stealthily and revealed his existence without going overboard.
“Just like that, I continued living like an alcoholic beggar…. Now, this thing… it must have happened a few days after Representative Seol forced Sinyoung to their knees.”
He finally got to the main point.
Seol Jihu leaned forward unwittingly.
“I was sleeping on the streets that day after lamenting my misfortunes at the pub when this person came to see me.”
“She was covered in a robe from head to toe, so I couldn’t see her face. But judging by her thin, high-toned voice, she had to have been a woman.”
“What did she say?”
“She asked if I was Pavlovici and then mentioned the Haramark Incident…”
Pavlovici’s eyes slowly headed to the building outside as if to reminisce about the past.
“I heard there used to be four of you… Why don’t I see the other three?”
Pavlovici, who was sprawled on the ground drunk, looked up at the hooded woman who was looking around his surroundings.
Coming to see him before sunrise and asking about his brothers’ whereabouts…
Pavlovici felt suspicion rising from the depth of his heart.
“I… don’t know…”
Pavlovici twisted his tongue and pretended to be drunk.
“One’s dead… one disappeared… I don’t know where the last is… uhehehehe…”
He dropped his head, letting out a voice which made it hard to tell whether he was laughing or crying.
“Oh, what a shame.”
A monotonous voice rang out above him.
“You guys disappeared after the Haramark Incident… Just what happened to you all?”
In that instant, Pavlovici felt the effects of alcohol escaping his behind. It was because he remembered what Kim Hannah told him strongly.
[What you guys need the most is the justification for living in hiding for years.]
[Don’t ask any questions. Don’t try to pry anything out.]
[All you have to do is act like a deadbeat, who’s constantly living in fear.]
Pavlovici slowly raised his head.
“What happened to us? Hehe, are you asking because you really don’t know?”
“What’s wrong? I don’t know the details, but didn’t Valhalla’s representative generously spare you all?”
“What? Generous? Uhahahaha….”
Pavlovici guffawed loudly.
“He smashed our arms with a mace, made us suffer through all kinds of torture… and even ordered Sicilia to prevent us from returning to Earth. Is that something a generous person would do?”
“I only went on a drunken rant at a pub! It’s not like I was spreading lies!”
Pavlovici raised his voice while gasping for breath.
“Ah, you want to say they spared us? You wanna know something? It was all for a selfish reason. He said killing us wouldn’t reflect well on his image, so he sent us off after having us treated by a Priest. ‘We won’t kill you right away,’ he said…”
“What a frightening guy. If I suddenly disappear or appear as a corpse, you’ll know who was behind it. He won’t kill me carelessly though since he cares about his image so much, hehehe….”
“So what you’re saying is…”
A thin voice flowed out.
“Valhalla will find you and kill you once enough time passes and people forget about the past incident.”
“Kehehe, you have no idea how many times we’ve had people tail us…”
Pavlovici furrowed his brows all of a sudden. He finally revealed a doubtful face.
“Come to think of it… Who are you?”
“Ah, don’t worry, I’m just a passerby. Anyway, am I correct?”
“I-I don’t know.”
Pavlovici backtracked on his butt with his face pale in fear.
“Oh? What’s wrong all of a sudden?”
“I-I’m not saying Valhalla did that… It’s just that my brothers are gone…. I might be mistaken or it might be something else entirely….”
Though the hood covering the woman’s face made it hard to see, Pavlovici could feel a gaze observing him carefully amidst his drivel.
When he rushed up in a hurry, turned around, and pretended to run off…
“Don’t you want to get revenge?”
The mysterious woman’s words stopped him.
“Don’t you want to know what happened to your brothers and who was behind it?”
“Actually, I’m sure you already know. You are here, like this, because you’re too scared and weak to do anything about it.”
“…Who are you?”
“I was a simple passerby a moment ago… but now I guess you can say I’m someone who shares your interests.”
Then, as if she had nothing further to say, the woman slowly raised her left arm, rummaged through her pocket with her right hand, and took out a piece of paper.
Then, she slowly put it on the ground.
“This is a map.”
“Not long ago, I found a ruin hidden deep inside this city. If you’re interested….”
“There is a ruin in Scheherazade? Are you playing with me?”
“You’re free to believe it or not. I only found out by chance. It wasn’t discovered until now only because it’s inside the Scheherazade Royal Palace.”
“Inside the royal palace…?”
Pavlovici’s expression gradually contorted into a frown.
“Mad, you’re absolutely mad. You want me to become a criminal?”
“Aren’t expeditions like that? You have to bear a certain risk to take them on.”
The woman retorted joyfully.
“A great power lies hidden inside the ruin.”
Then, she continued in a suggestive tone, almost like she knew exactly what desperate Earthlings like Pavlovici wanted.
However, Pavlovici did not bite right away.
“Even if that’s true… what’s the reason you’re telling me all this? It’s too sudden.”
“Of course, there’s something I want as well. As for the reason I chose you… it’s because I don’t think you’ll tell Valhalla at the very least.”
“This is an expedition that has to be carried out in utmost secrecy. If you’re suspicious of my intentions, you’re welcome to bring people along to help. But, you know you can’t go around spreading rumors about this ruin, right?”
“Just what is your…”
“That’s it from me. I can’t give you any more information. So, if you’re interested in redeeming your current way of life….”
The woman pushed the piece of paper that she put on the ground.
“The rendezvous point is just around the palace. You will be given a direct route into the palace then. The date will be settled on another day. You can hear the plan out and quit if you don’t think it’s plausible.”
Judging by how confident she was, she seemed to have a surefire method.
Pavlovici gulped in anticipation hearing the woman go so far.
Though he did not erase the suspicion he was outwardly showing, he spoke while looking interested.
“If I can bring my own men… can I bring my brother?”
“A blood-related brother should be trustworthy, so that’s better for me. But, I can’t give you much time.”
“Finding him won’t take long if I ask around…. Anyway, you’re saying that if my brother and I enter this ruin, we will be able to gain this so-called great power?”
“Power won’t be all.”
The woman’s lips, faintly showing under the shrouding hood, drew a soft curve. She spread out her arms.
“You will be shown a whole new world.”
“The woman left after that… and I immediately left Scheherazade after checking out the note. I then called my brother and secretly came to Eva.”
Pavlovici’s story came to an end. He then did a double-take and added.
“If I may give my opinion… I think she changed what she was going to say in the middle.”
“I think she wanted to lure me to the ruin at first but then changed the topic to my brothers. Almost to make it so that I can’t refuse.”
Seol Jihu glanced at Kim Hannah while listening attentively.
She said Pavlovici suddenly came to Valhalla, but he didn’t think so at all.
‘Use of variables.’
Was it when he came back to Eva after the Tigol Fortress War?
[Of course. The Pavlovici brothers were alive and well.]
[If you had something like this, you should have told me about it sooner.]
[Intelligence isn’t something that pops out of nowhere. You need some people to risk their lives on the frontlines. They’re perfect for the job.]
Before using the Divine Stigmata, Seol Jihu gave Kim Hannah the communication crystal that was connected to Pavlovici and delegated the work to her.
In the process of preparing for unexpected situations, Kim Hannah falsified missing cases and deaths, then moved Pavlovici for when an incident really happened.
As a result, the enemy had walked into the bait she set just in case.
“Sorry for not telling you about it sooner.”
When Kim Hannah met Seol Jihu’s eyes, she bowed her head respectfully.
“You were away when I was planning the matter… and a series of incidents broke out after you returned. It wasn’t as if the plan was particularly fruitful, so I did not bother mentioning it…”
Seol Jihu did not care all that much. He had left Valhalla and its operations in Kim Hannah’s hands while he was away, and she had successfully read one move ahead and created such an opportune moment.
“A ruin in Scheherazade….”’
Seol Jihu tapped on the desk with his index finger. There was something that caught his attention.
“Can I see that note?”
Pavlovici took out a white note.
Upon opening it, Seol Jihu saw a map as he was told. It was a complex map leading to a circular region in the middle. Whoever drew it must have taken great care into perfecting it.
“What’s the reason she gave you this map despite setting a rendezvous point?”
“Ah, meeting at the rendezvous point was only to rehearse. The actual date and the method were going to be decided at some other time. It also could have been to earn my trust.”
“Interesting. Setting aside whether this ruin truly exists, the people involved must be close to the palace to have drawn such a detailed map….”
The Valhalla members in the room must have been intrigued as they gathered around the map.
“A ruin in Scheherazade….”
Seo Yuhui also got up with an anxious expression and looked at the map. Soon, a strong look of suspicion lit up her eyes.
A surprised yelp came out.
Seo Yuhui grabbed the map from Seol Jihu’s hands and brought it up to her nose.
“A T-shaped corridor… a rotary that’s intersected by ten roads… t-there’s no way.”
Seo Yuhui’s face paled while she quickly murmured to herself.
Seo Yuhui shut her mouth before finishing her sentence.
Seol Jihu did not know what the deal was, but it was clear that Seo Yuhui knew what that map detailed.
It seemed she just could not talk about it with outsiders in the room.
“Is there anything else you want to tell me?”
“Huh? Ah, no, I don’t.”
Seol Jihu eyed Kim Hannah, and she took out a pouch from her pocket.
Clang! A weighty sound rang out.
Pavlovici’s eyes widened as bright yellow light trickled out of the half-open pouch.
“Take it. You gave us a valuable piece of information.”
Seol Jihu spoke calmly.
Pavlovici carefully studied Seol Jihu before grabbing the pouch.
“Thank you for the info. And if I may give you a piece of advice—it’ll be best if you stay out of Paradise for a while.”
As it was clear that Seol Jihu wanted him to leave, Pavlovici placed the pouch in his pocket and stood up.
“I was already planning to do that. Since it’s still early morning, I will head to the warp gate right away.”
Pavlovici put on his hooded robe again and turned after a bow.
After Pavlovici left, Valhalla held a meeting.
Seo Yuhui still had a mixed expression while looking at the map.
Seol Jihu waited a moment before breaking the silence.
Seo Yuhui, who was unceasingly staring at the map, raised her head.
“You knew about it?”
Judging by her reaction, it seemed she knew about it as well.
“Roe Scheherazade told me personally when I last went to see her.”
“Then did you…”
“No, all I was told was that Scheherazade was built atop Gorad Boga. I did not hear anything else.”
Seol Jihu shook his head.
Seo Yuhui heaved out a deep sigh.
“Just what is this Gorad Boga?”
Chohong asked impatiently.
“Gorad Boga… is a divine vestige. It’s a legendary divine city where a power of god lies dormant.”
“A legendary divine city? Is there a god hibernating there or something?”
“No. There are different types of Gorad Boga, but regarding the one in Scheherazade… you can think of it as a barrier that a god personally cast to protect the city.”
Seo Yuhui continued.
“There are two powers lying dormant inside Scheherazade…. No, it would be more correct to say there is one power split into two stages. The first stage activates a mechanism that turns the entire city into a special territory, and the second stage releases the power of god stored in Gorad Boga to form a powerful barrier that envelopes the city.”
“This is the first time I’ve heard of this. How do you know about this so well, Noonim?”
Chohong asked while blinking.
“Because… I’ve gone inside there once before.”
Seo Yuhui looked down at the map once again.
“I’m sure of it. I remember it clearly because the path there was an unusual maze…. There is no doubt about it. This is a map to Gorad Boga.”
“I’m not sure what all that means…. But this territory and barrier you talked about don’t sound all that bad. In fact, isn’t it good?”
“That depends on how you use it… but yes. To be honest, Gorad Boga itself isn’t really a problem. But….”
Seo Yuhui sighed again and bit her lower lip. After much hesitation, she spoke reluctantly.
“I’m sure you all have heard about the Royal Oath.”
Everyone nodded their heads. As Charlotte Aria had used one not too long ago, everyone was well aware of what it was.
“It refers to the unbreakable oath that the gods made to the mortals…. It goes without saying that this was not the only era where it existed. They also had other names, like the Proof of Castitas belonging to the Rothschear House that served Castitas, or the Promise of Temperance belonging to the Rhetinhen House that served Temperantia.”
Seo Yuhui cleared her throat.
“Besides the Seven Virtues, there was also a family that served Paradise’s Chief Deity.”
Flone’s voice flowed out of Seol Jihu’s pendant.
“That’s right. The Imperial Oath belonging to the Gorgonu House, the Emperors’ lineage.”
Seo Yuhui scanned everyone.
“What I’m about to tell you from now is all hearsay… but when the Parasite Queen first arrived in Paradise, she was apparently in a critical state.”
“She remained hidden, secretly parasitizing living creatures, before releasing all of the Nests in a secure location and expanding her force instantly. Eventually, she managed to devour the Chief Deity.”
“By devouring Paradise’s Chief Deity, the Parasite Queen recovered her divinity to a certain extent. But to state it differently, the essence of her divinity became the Chief Deity’s energy.”
“Sung Shihyun, who found out about the Imperial Oath’s existence, planned and executed a scheme.”
“That was to sneak inside the Empire while the Parasite Queen was busy leading a military expedition to Tigol Fortress, finding the Imperial Oath, and inheriting the authority over it.”
Seol Jihu dropped his jaw.
He could finally surmise the reason why the Parasite Queen backed off from the frontlines.
Sung Shihyun had activated the oath that even gods could not refuse and tried to chase the Parasite Queen out of Paradise.
Though the risk was great, it was certainly a plan worth trying.
As for that plan…
“Sung Shihyun revealed the plan to me and Miss Baek Haeju, and we infiltrated the Empire.”
“It wasn’t easy, but we managed to find the Imperial Oath after much trouble and even talked to the remnant will of the Chief Deity inside the stele and inherited the authority. We activated the Imperial Oath right there and then.”
Chohong asked in a daze.
“It was only half-successful.”
Seo Yuhui smacked her lips.
“The result would have been better if we had executed the plan earlier. Unfortunately, we were a step late.”
“The Imperial Oath activated successfully, but the Parasite Queen had already digested over half of the Chief Deity’s power.
“Though we only found out later, she had corrupted the Empire’s land and turned it into her own, so the effect of the oath was halved.”
In other words, the Parasite Queen had suppressed the activation of the Imperial Oath using the power she digested, and after returning to the Empire in a hurry, she was now controlling her power in her own territory.
“You mean… the Imperial Oath is still in effect right now?”
“Yes, it should be.”
Seo Yuhui nodded her head at Seol Jihu’s question.
Seol Jihu finally understood.
The Parasite Queen was using the vast majority of her recovered divinity in preventing herself from being expelled from the planet. Because the power of the oath would get stronger if she left her territory, she was not able to leave the Empire. Not unless it was for a great emergency like the one at Tigol Fortress.
“Though it was still a great achievement… that wasn’t the only problem.”
Seo Yuhui smacked her lips and narrowed her eyes.
“The real problem happened after the matter. Right after we activated the oath.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter