Chapter 92. Addiction

One could say that an organization was a societal group in which people gathered under the banner of achieving a common goal. Members of an organization understood each other through frequent interactions and gave their effort in accomplishing a shared goal. Such organizations prioritized profit the most, and given the unique nature of Paradise, different groups were called different things.

One thing to note was that a group’s name did not reflect its power in any way. Usually, the number of organization members determined its title. Small-scale or independent organizations were called teams, groups, crews, societies, or associations, while mid and large-scale organizations were called alliances, guilds, unions, or companies.

Put this way, Paradise’s temple was also an organization. The Temple of Luxuria was an organization of Priests who served the goddess of lust. Described in more detail, this organization once held the biggest influence in all of Paradise.

Of course, this was all a glory of the past. That was when both Seo Yuhui and Sung Shihyun were active. To be precise, the Temple of Luxuria was at the height of its glory before these two Executors split up after a falling out.

Sung Shihyun left for Sinyoung after this incident, and Seo Yuhui announced her retirement from Paradise. Naturally, the Temple of Luxuria’s influence plummeted. But just like the saying, ‘an old eagle is better than a young crow’, the Temple of Luxuria still could not be looked down upon. Given its nature as a temple, there was no need to worry it would fail either.

It was just that its current influence was lacking compared to when it was led by two Executors. Naturally, Priests who could not forget the past glory constantly sought out to revitalize the group.

For example, today. A Level 6 Bishop wearing a miter visited Haramark’s Temple of Luxuria for this exact reason.

“Please help.”

He knelt on the ground. He knew very well that the person he was talking to would feel bothered by his actions. The Bishop’s status wasn’t so low as to kneel so frivolously, and he definitely wasn’t the type to enjoy such indignant actions. In fact, he was someone who liked to flaunt his authority. However, the woman in front of him was more than worthy enough for him to endure minor humiliations such as this.

“The Order’s caste system is breaking down. Please return to guide us, Executor.”

“No.”

A gentle voice cut him off.

“I will not return to the Order of Luxuria.”

She sounded firm as if there was no room for negotiations. However, the miter-wearing man didn’t back down.

“Didn’t you promise? That you would return if we make an expedition to the Delphinion Duchy’s laboratory.”

“I certainly did.”

The woman retorted clearly.

“But the expedition is no longer needed. The laboratory has been destroyed completely, and all members of the rescue team returned alive. The Order never set out on the expedition, yet you’re asking me to keep my side of the promise?”

Her logical response put the man at a loss of words. The woman was well-known for keeping every promise she made. As someone who had watched her for a long time, the Bishop knew that better than anyone else. He had prodded her just to be sure, only to end up being put into his place.

“Miss Seo Yuhui, you may have resigned from your position as an Executor, but you know that Goddess Luxuria has not allowed it.”

“You are mistaken. She allowed me.”

“But don’t you still possess the Apostle’s Authorities? I’m sure you know what that means.”

“I made my intentions clear. You are better off asking her personally if you are curious why she has not taken the Authorities away.”

“…Please, our Order and Lord Luxuria are both rejoicing at the news of your return.”

“If you’re an Earthling, I’m sure you know about how contracts are made within Paradise. I am also just another Earthling.”

Hearing Seo Yuhui’s unyielding position on the matter, the Bishop stared at the floor and bit his lower lips. It had been a long time since he experienced her iciness. Seo Yuhui was known as the Ice Queen within Paradise precisely because no man had ever succeeded in wooing her, including the famous Sung Shihyun.

But having served by Seo Yuhui’s side for a long time, the Bishop knew that wasn’t all there was to it. Although Seo Yuhui was benevolent and generous, she never approached someone beyond what was necessary and didn’t allow anyone to approach her beyond what was necessary.

This didn’t apply to only her romantic life but all facets of it. A man lured in by her outer magnanimity would surely run into her iciness one day. Although most knew they stood little chance, they remained hopeful that they might just melt her heart.

“We have long fallen out of our relationship with the Temple of Gula. Now that you are no longer with us, the number of deserters is increasing by the day.”

“I don’t think it’s proper to call them ‘deserters’. Besides, I was never happy with the way the Order exerted influence on other organizations by using the Priests’ rare healing capabilities and its unique status as a temple.”

“B-But you must know why that was necessary. Even now, outside organizations are trying to steal our Priests away with sweet talk. Some are even using them to interfere in our internal affairs.”

Seo Yuhui didn’t say anything in response. The temperature of the room suddenly plummeted. The Bishop must have been pressured by Seo Yuhui’s cold gaze as he dropped his head until his miter almost touched the ground.

After staying silent for a long time, Seo Yuhui finally opened her mouth.

“That’s quite a problem, isn’t it?”

Flinch. The man trembled. His heart skipped a beat. Could it be?

“But that has nothing to do with me.”

Seo Yuhui quickly put down any hopeful thoughts in the Bishop’s head.

“I have already left the Order. In a way, I guess I am also an outsider.”

“Pardon?”

“So it is none of my business what the Temple of Luxuria is up to or how it is faring.”

“Are you… are you truly saying you will abandon the Order and remain a bystander?”

“Yes, and one more thing.”

Seo Yuhui replied without a moment of hesitation.

“What we talked about today? You can make it public.”

Her words caused the Bishop to blink his eyes in shock.

“I’ll repeat one more time. What we talked about today, you can use it however you want. I don’t mind.”

“What do you mean…?”

The Bishop was about to raise his head and ask but froze stiff on the spot.

‘What?’

Cold sweat flowed down his back. The woman who was modestly sitting on the couch was now in front of him. Seo Yuhui leisurely reached out her arm, took off the Bishop’s miter, and carefully brought it to her eyes.

“So.”

She studied the shining jewel decorating the center of the miter.

“Please, don’t bother me any more than this, Miss Yun Seohui.”

She gave a refreshing smile. Pzzt! The jewel’s light flickered off. This meant one of two things - the other side had either severed the connection or destroyed the crystal. Of course, both Seo Yuhui and the Bishop knew it was the latter.

“….”

After a moment of silence, the Bishop revealed his teeth.

“…You knew.”

“I noticed that you changed the miter’s jewel. I know you aren’t the type to change something like that so easily.”

“Hoh, with just that?”

“Whether it be liquor, clothes, or friends, you always say you prefer old ones.”

Seo Yuhui placed the miter back on the Bishop’s head before returning to her couch. She then continued.

“Go back.”

With just those two words, the Bishop knew that the thin thread of connection they still shared was cut off. He had nothing to say and could only stand up helplessly.

“Do you not blame me?”

“I don’t want to. I understand where you’re coming from, after all.”

“I see.”

“Rather than being devoured bit by bit, it might indeed be better to join hands with Sinyoung.”

‘So she knew everything.’ The Bishop let out a bitter chuckle.

“I know I am in no position to say this, but please, I would be eternally grateful if you came back.”

“My answer is the same no matter how many times you ask me.”

Seo Yuhui never lost her gentle smile from the beginning to end of this conversation. In the end, the Bishop sighed dejectedly and turned around to leave. It was then.

Click.

The door clicked open. The Bishop looked up reflexively and saw a youth trudging into the room.

‘Hm?’

His face was full of drowsiness. His eyes were barely open, and judging from the way he looked around in a daze, it seemed the youth had woken up only a moment ago. The youth was walking half-asleep, but he didn’t look like he was sleeping walking.

After appearing out of the blue and looking around the room, the youth’s gaze suddenly landed in one place.

“This is…?”

The Bishop asked belatedly, but his word immediately came to a stop. Tap, tap, tap, tap. Like a baby with some sort of a sensor on his hands, the youth quickly crawled to his target. Once he reached the couch, he buried his face in Seo Yuhui’s laps.

“Oh?”

Seo Yuhui, who had been watching the youth in a daze, muttered out in surprise.

‘What?’

The Bishop was even more shocked. He had never seen Seo Yuhui allow someone to approach her so easily. Not even once.

“Geez… again?”

Seo Yuhui made a troubled expression, then….

“I told you to sleep quietly… ehew.”

She clicked her tongue and gently stroked the youth’s hair. She seemed to be at a loss for what to do, yet she was clearly patting him willingly. Seeing the youth rub his cheek on her thighs with a happy smile, the Bishop was shocked once again. Not only did Seo Yuhui allow him to approach her, but she even let him touch her?!

‘Im, impossible!’

He almost wanted to scream out, ‘That’s blasphemy!’ He began to doubt whether the woman in front of him was the Ice Queen he knew.

“Ah, this is my fault.”

Seo Yuhui must have seen the Bishop’s culture-shocked face as she heaved out a deep sigh.

“I-It’s Miss Seo Yuhui’s fault?”

“Yes, I spoiled him a bit too much and he developed a habit….”

Seo Yuhui mumbled in embarrassment.

“Excuse us.”

She got up from the couch as if the situation couldn’t be helped.

“Come on, let’s go back to your room. Hurry.”

Drag, drag. The youth was dragged out of the room, his arms still interlinked around Seo Yuhui’s waist as he made his exit.

The Bishop stood still for a long time without moving a single muscle.

*

Chohong had headed to the border region for Seol Jihu. She shook off countless voices holding her back and ran to the border, but she had no intention of jumping in recklessly.

It was just that Chohong had baseless confidence that Seol Jihu was alive. She was planning on patrolling the border region in case she might be of help in his escape.

If she didn’t do at least this, she felt like she would regret it for the rest of her life. However, she received news of Seol Jihu’s return less than a day after her departure. Immediately, she turned her carriage around.

As soon as she arrived in Haramark, she ran to Luxuria’s temple. She grabbed the Earthling working as the reception lady by her collar and strangled Seol Jihu’s whereabouts out of her. As soon as she kicked the door open and burst into the room he was staying in….

“?”

She could see the youth sitting on a bed. She studied him carefully, and indeed, it really was him. She panted to catch her breath…

“You….”

But her mouth automatically closed in the next moment. She had many things she wanted to say to him, but her mouth refused to open now that he was in front of her.

She was both happy and sad. A part of her even wanted to beat him to a pulp. It was a strange, confusing feeling.

“Say something.”

After exchanging glances for a long time, Chohong finally spoke up.

“What are you looking at? You forgot my face in just a week?”

She spoke curtly out of embarrassment, but Seol Jihu showed signs of being confused and taken aback.

“Uh….”

He stammered a bit before quietly muttering.

“Who… are you?”

“What?”

Chohong’s brows twitched.

“Who are you, you said? You… are you mad? Is there a problem with your brain?”

Seol Jihu then put on a dejected look.

“…Yes.”

“W-What?”

“I, I recently got into a huge accident. I can’t remember anything because of it….”

‘He can’t remember anything?’

Chohong’s eyes trembled noticeably.

“Y-You piece of shit! You’re just messing with me again, aren’t you!?”

She shouted angrily, but her voice of shaking. Her heart began to pound as a sense of unease crept up inside her. The way Seol Jihu massaged his temples really made him look like he was confused.

“By any chance… do you know me?”

When he carefully asked her this, Chohong’s legs almost gave in.

“…You….”

She suddenly remembered the moment before their attempted escape. Seol Jihu had desperately reached out with his arm even after he collapsed on the ground. That moment haunted her every night. Why couldn’t she have grabbed his hand?

She couldn’t remember how wrought with guilt she was.

“You really… don’t remember?”

“I, I’m not sure. Everything is just a mess….”

Chohong collected her breath. She couldn’t believe it; no, she didn’t want to believe it. She walked up to him step by step.

“What about Dylan?”

“Dylan…?”

“And Hugo?”

“Hugo?”

“What about Carpe Diem? Samuel? Alex? Ian? What about Teresa? And the Forest of Denial? The Ramman Village?”

“I, uh….”

Chohong spat out every keyword she could think of, but her shock only grew bigger.

“You really forgot… everything?”

“….”

“You don’t remember even a single name? That can’t be, right? Right?”

She was practically pleading with him now. Hearing how desperate she sounded, Seol Jihu dropped his head.

“…I’m sorry….”

When she saw Seol Jihu apologizing for doing nothing wrong, her heart sank.

“Why are you apologizing… you idiot….”

The edges of her eyes turned red, and Chohong sniffled quietly.

“I should be… the one who’s sorry….”

At that moment, the youth suddenly brought his head closer to Chohong’s.

“Ah.”

“?”

“Now that I think about it—”

“Y-You remember?”

Seol Jihu stared at her intently and furrowed his brows. Then, he spoke.

“I think I’m kidding.”

“…What?”

“I’m kidding.”

“Kidding?”

Chohong’s complexion flattened in a daze.

“Yeah.”

Seol Jihu grinned mischievously and added, “This is called tricking Chohong again.”

It was then.

Kwang!

A sudden explosive sound erupted in the treatment room. Seol Jihu’s jaw dropped open. Chohong’s punch had broken the drawer next to the bed.

“You… you….”

Tremble. Her throat trembled as her eyes flickered with a cold gleam. Seol Jihu could even sense a murderous intent rising up in the air. It didn’t take long for him to come to the conclusion that he had screwed up.

“Sorry!”

He immediately brought his hands together and apologized.

“You son of a bitch… you toyed with me…?”

“Sorry, sorry, I won’t do it ever again. Believe me.”

“You motherfucking piece of shit…. Do you know how much I was… worried… keuk!”

When tears burst out from Chohong’s deathly glare, Seol Jihu felt his heart drop a beat in terror.

“Cho, Chohong, I’m really sorry. I went overboard with my joke.”

“Fuck off!”

Chohong spat out a curse and turned around angrily. Seol Jihu quickly hugged her back.

“D-Don’t go.”

“I told you to fuck off.”

“I’m sorry! Forgive me!”

“I’m not going to say it again, you bastard.”

Chohong twisted her body to free herself, but Seol Jihu clung onto her as if his life depended on it. In truth, Chohong could have easily shaken him off, but she couldn’t do so since she knew he was injured.

Soon, after he barely managed to drag Chohong to the bed, he rubbed his palms together and begged for forgiveness. He had no excuses to offer, and after putting himself in her shoes, he truly felt apologetic.

As he was listening to Chohong’s endless cursing, the sound of the door opening rang out. Chohong, who couldn’t bring herself to hit him and could only yell at him angrily, furrowed her brows.

“It’s quite noisy in here.”

“Huh? What are you two doing hugging each other?”

Two women entered the room, each carrying a basket in their hands. The first wore a maid outfit, while the other only had a simple white T-shirt.

“Miss Maria? Miss Agnes!”

The unexpected guests surprised Seol Jihu, yet he welcomed them nonetheless.

“What? Why are you here?”

Chohong asked with a confused expression.

“Obviously because we heard we could visit him now. He apparently fully regained consciousness today.”

“Today? No, so why are you here?”

“What do you mean why? We’re here to wish him a quick recovery.”

Maria retorted as if she was asked the stupidest question in the world.

“You came to wish him a quick recovery? You, Maria Yeriel?”

“He came to my place too when I wasn’t well. I’m just repaying the debt.”

Maria returned a concise answer and gently placed the basket down.

“I’m here… to see my disciple.”

No one asked, but Agnes also mentioned her terrible excuse for coming to visit.

“Would you like some fruits?”

“Huh? Ah, yes.”

“Who the hell cares about fruits? I brought some liquor, so let’s have a party.”

“Are you mad? You’re trying to get a patient to drink hard liquor?”

Maria nodded her head at Chohong’s shouting.

“Your dumbass brain makes sense for once, but still, I’m sure it’s fine if…. Ah, get your hands off the basket! I didn’t bring it for you to shove it down your throat.”

“Leave me be! I need some liquor in my system. Otherwise, I’m going to explode from anger because of that bastard!”

Maria and Chohong bickered as usual, and Agnes calmly peeled fruits on the side. Seol Jihu never expected Maria and Agnes to both come visit him. However, those two weren’t the only guests. In fact, they were just the beginning.

Thud!

A black man kicked the door open just like Chohong. He stomped into the room and immediately embraced Seol Jihu.

“Seol! Seooooool!”

“Hu, Hugo?”

“Aaaaaah! You’re alive! You’re alive!”

“W-Wait, I can’t breathe.”

Starting with Hugo….

“Hey! Seol!”

“I heard the news! Here. Congrats on making it back alive.”

Mikhail and Veronika came…

“You really were alive.”

“Mister Kazuki? You’re here too?”

“You were a member of my team, although it was only for one mission. I need to thank you too…. Ah, take this.”

Ayase Kazuki came…

“Oops, are we late?”

“Why do you look so surprised? I missed you so much.”

And even Ian and Teresa came.

The treatment room quickly became rowdy. The room was already small. Now that it held ten people in it, it was filled to the brim.

‘Wow….’

Seol Jihu felt a bit light-headed.

‘Do I really deserve this?’

Frankly, he was dumbfounded. At the same time, a big grin emerged on his face when he thought they all came to see him. He tried to hold back his joy, but his mouth refused to listen.

“Haha.”

In the end, joyous laughter escaped his mouth. Chohong grumbled, asking what the hell he was laughing about, but his laughter continued without stopping.

‘This is fun.’

He didn’t know why, but Seol Jihu found this moment surrounded by people happy. He was so happy that he wanted time to stop. It was to the point that he… didn’t want to go back to Earth.

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