“… A Goloyan child seems to have the greatest aptitude.”
“Hm. Then I must expect more hostility.”
Goloyans were nearly identical to humans; as a result, it was no wonder they maintained very friendly relations with them.
“It doesn’t matter. In fact, it’s a good thing. As non-human hostility against humans becomes more apparent, having Directors of Surveillance who are on good terms with humans will maintain that balance.”
“… I’ve kept the secret as promised.”
“The seat of Director of Surveillance will be inherited by those capable of receiving the Old One’s memories. But… as you have requested, Yoo-rah nim, they will not know that their power comes from the Old One. Even now, the current Director is acting cautiously of your intentions.”
“I see the child is quite capable.”
“They may interfere with your goal.”
“Don’t worry. I’m not that impatient of a person. I don’t expect immediate results. There will always be another time. For you see, I have time on my side, long enough to outlive an elf.”
Elicia was the last person who knew Yoo-rah, the first outsider, well. And she would soon depart from this world.
“At first I thought I knew what your goal was… But now, I don’t know.”
“That’s natural. Even I’m starting to feel numb about the project. It’d be nice if it succeeds. And if it fails, there’s no helping it.”
“And you’d still…”
Elicia didn’t finish, but Yoo-rah could guess what she was going to ask. She answered with a bitter smile.
“What should I do? Time has been cruel to me and even robbed me of my desire for vengeance. Does that mean I should stop now? No. Countless people have already died from the decisions I’ve made in the name of this goal. If I stop now, their deaths will become meaningless. Who knows, maybe someone will stop me.”
“It will be painful.”
“I’ve tasted pain many times already.”
“It will be lonely.”
“… That can’t be helped.”
“… Though I cannot bless your future, I pray there will be peace in your life.”
Elicia closed her eyes, and her breath shallowed. Yoo-rah quietly watched as Elicia passed, her face sunken in grief.
“Peace, I can’t have that. If there is hell, that is where I belong. I won’t stand for anything else.”
“Is it complete?”
“Ah, welcome. Would you like some coffee?”
Yoo-rah began making the coffee for Won-Hoo and asked.
“Do you really think this will work?”
“Definitely. In a life or death situation, it’d almost be disingenuous to claim health reasons for quitting. I’ve certainly never seen it before. We will be able to find our compatriots much more effectively with this. Even now, I’m tempted to light one up and take a puff.”
Won-Hoo sipped on his coffee, but his eyes were fixated on Yoo-rah, silently begging her to show him. Yoo-rah smiled and revealed a palm sized pack, placing it on the table. Won-hoo pushed his coffee to the side and carefully opened the pack.
“Wow! You even made it look more like a cigar?”
“Yes. I could mass produce it in the shape of a cigarette, but that would make its purpose meaningless.”
“True. If it becomes too widely used, it’ll just make our job harder.”
“Yes. That’s why I fashioned it as an herb that benefits your airways. Surprisingly, it can clear up not just your airways but purify the body as a whole. I’ve named it Choyu leaf.”
“Choyu huh… Haha. Then I guess I’ll be the first person in this world to smoke this thing.”
Won-hoo grabbed the choyu leaf and was about to light it, when Yoo-rah quickly spoke up quickly, realising she’d forgotten something.
“Oh by the way, the choyu leaf has an unexpected side effect.”
“What? A side effect?”
Won-hoo immediately took the leaf out of his mouth. Yoo-rah smiled gently.
“Yes. It seems that mana begins to course through your body when you smoke it.”
“Well, it does, but the amount is irrelevant. And it dissipates the moment you finish smoking. But its effect is rather extraordinary. It will purify your body of all the filth and stagnant fat from your body, to the point where you wouldn’t need to go on a diet.”
“… That’s a side effect?”
This could be the holy grail for not just smokers but also those trying to lose weight. Calling it a side effect felt wrong. Yoo-rah snickered, watching the confused Won-hoo in.
“It is a side effect. In fact, I discovered this by accident. One of the test cases was a criminal on death row who was arrested for rape. Disgusting cretin. He had a hideous and constant erection—and the attitude to boot. But as soon as he smoked a choyu leaf, he couldn’t get an erection.”
“So I’ve tested this with many other test subjects, and came to the conclusion that when you smoke the choyu leaf, you will generate a small amount of mana inside you, but your sexual desire almost completely dries up.”
“Wow! So you’re literally making yourself impotent?”
“Yes. There’s no helping becoming impotent if you smoke choyu leaves regularly. But the desire will come back slowly when you stop. Ah! I might be able to negate this side effect with some more time in development, but I don’t really see the need for it.”
Won-hoo’s face brightened when Yoo-rah brought up the possibility of negating the side effect, only to be immediately dejected. Won-hoo looked down at the choyu leaves in his hand, his eyes filled with the weight of the world.
He wanted to smoke. But he’d become impotent if he did. Then he’d lose one of the few things he could enjoy in this world. This was a world without the internet or TV. Once the sun set, the nights became dreadfully long.
“Hng. I guess I’ll give it up.”
“Wow? You’re giving up? At least give it a try—you’ll return to normal once you stop anyway.”
“Smokers can’t quit because they’re arrogant enough to think that they’re capable of stopping whenever they want. The fact that there aren’t any lasting effects is the most tempting of temptations.”
“Huhu. If you say so.”
Won-hoo dashed his lips in disappointment, but then he perked up with a very mischievous smile.
“Why don’t we keep this a secret between you and me?”
“There are people who’d gladly smoke this even if it’ll make them impotent. It’d be almost painful to watch. Could you imagine the entire world having this burden? If I’m the only one who knows, then only I have to pity them.”
“Wow! That is devious.”
“I learnt this from my captain.”
“Huhu, tell me more about him.”
“Did you know I was his subordinate before the war? I swear, he was the master of abusing loopholes. I bet he was the only person in the world to have the balls to stay in his room when the Commander was coming to visit.”
“You think you’ve found him?”
“Yes. This fellow, Isaac, was given the order to fix up New Port City, which was an impossible task to start with. And he did so by turning the city into a gambling den, referencing Macau and Las Vegas. He has been designated a confirmed invader.”
Yoo-rah frowned upon hearing the explanation.
“That’s troublesome. I’ve purposefully kept that city out of sight because it will be one of our prime staging areas. It’d be a dilemma if all the spotlights turned to it now. ”
Won-hoo shrugged at Yoo-rah.
“There’s no stopping it now. That place has become the eye of the storm.”
“A provincial war broke out with Marques Duberon. It started with a small conflict with the successor of Duberon, who went mad after becoming a Type 4 Invader. Central—I mean Directorate of Strategy and Dark Royale—wanted to secure him by giving New Port City over to Marques Duberon.”
“… Nobody knew about this happening?”
“As you know, we’ve been focused on chasing the bastard who took the key.”
The Queen sighed. As the saying went, humans would always remain humans. Despite having received another chance at life, treachery rose from humanity’s ranks once again. And that traitor took the most crucial part of the plan with him.
“I assume Isaac’s already jailed, considering the disparity in strength between Duberon and New Port City. And I don’t have a good reason to bail him out…”
The Queen frowned and pondered what she’ll need to sacrifice to bail out Isaac without drawing suspicion, when Won-hoo scratched his cheek and answered.
“If that were the case, I wouldn’t have told you that I think we found it. This Isaac cornered the Marquis Duberon’s army and burnt the city down.”
“He burnt his own city?”
The Queen asked again in great surprise, and Won-hoo simply handed her the report. The Queen quickly read the report and whistled in astonishment.
“Wow. He’s completely mad.”
“Right? This is very similar to the plan we used to blow up Po-hang. In fact, this one is much easier to execute. War in this world is just a sport compared to ours.”
Won-hoo ridiculed, having been a veteran of the front lines in the past.
“But that alone isn’t enough to confirm that Isaac is Joon-young. The brothers, the current Emperor and Ismael, who took over Dark Royale, are both incredibly capable. So much so that I’m amazed. The moment we start focusing attention on Isaac, Dark Royale too will turn their attention to him. We can’t approach him carelessly.”
“You don’t need to worry about that. The Emperor and Dark Royale will be doing our work for us.”
“True. We simply have to wait since all invaders from the 3 eastern nations will be sent to me as the agreement dictates.”
“But the one thing that concerns us is that the key was heading toward New Port City.”
“Please, what are the chances that this key will fall into the hands of Isaac? This isn’t some novel.”
“I never thought a place like this would exist. It’d make an excellent tourist attraction.”
Isaac muttered as he looked down into the black abyss as the elevator travelled down. It was akin to the Cave of Swallow—something he’d seen on international tv.1EDN: The Cave of Swallows is an open-air pit cave in Mexico. It’s the largest known cave shaft in the world and the second deepest pit in Mexico. Image for reference. Source: Wikipedia.
The elevator travelled down for an hour, and Isaac was starting to think if it was going into the core of the planet. Finally, it stopped, and the elevator arrived at the base of a shrine.
“Indiana Jones would like this place.”
Isaac was taken aback by what he saw when he came out. The cave went so deep that sunlight couldn’t penetrate. But the faint glow from the cave’s walls lit up the place mysteriously.
“What is this place?”
Isaac was told of the endangered elder races from the Dark Royale and immediately moved to secure them. But these “hostages” willingly followed Isaac—it was almost as if they didn’t know the meaning of the word.
The last survivor, the Druid, had already died long ago when Isaac arrived. And when the hostages saw that the Druid had passed, they began demanding that Isaac needed to go somewhere.