I just sat there vacantly inside the tent and thought about this.
If I continued like this, then I won’t be able to do anything. I’ll be only swept up by the festivities and Paramal.
No matter how happy I was about the life in this place, and no matter how much I want to stay here even after this round, I must do what I have to do.
I didn’t know if this was out of the hardworking attitude I became accustomed to or if it was due to obsession. However, I was feeling the unpleasantness of putting off what I should do.
Instead of kicking myself over this, let’s think about what I can do to resolve it.
It won’t matter how firmly I make up my mind. Once I get to the streets, meet people and drink Paramal, then I’ll forget all about what I am supposed to do.
I should move while avoiding people as much as possible.
It would be alright if I fly at a high altitude using Talaria's Wings.
Next, I need to decide the time for me to make the move.
The best time would be when there are the least number of people around.
It’s already evening, but it would be better if I waited until the night.
The effect of Paramal inside my body will fade even more by then, so it is a good decision in many ways.
I lay down again as I thought that.
If I am going to wait until the night, then it would not be a good choice to stay awake with my eyes wide open.
My will had weakened a lot.
If I am to continue thinking about useless stuff for hours while being awake, I might end up wanting to come down from the rooftop and drink Paramal.
A while back, there was a time when I wanted to eat sweet treats over and over and then some more as if I was addicted to sugary substances.
The symptom came with extreme lethargy.
Back then, what faded the symptoms away was sleep.
I spent the time by sleeping, and while I was sleeping, I was staying away from the sweets.
Like that, only after spending the time away until the symptoms subsided, I finally felt like I didn’t want to eat sweets anymore.
I had to maintain steel-cold focus to find information and identify the target. In order to do that, I had to stay away from Paramal for a while.
So, I decided to go to sleep.
I lay down and closed my eyes. I felt good, just a little.
It has been half a year since I could no longer sleep comfortably inside stages.
I was able to fight off sleepiness easily, so it was convenient. However, I was not able to sleep even when I wanted due to the insomnia. It was a painful illness.
However, now, after two weeks since I came to AoAeo island, I could close my eyes and sleep anytime I wanted.
Although I stayed away from festival and Paramal for the day because I had something to do, doing this reminded me how great of gifts they were to me. They were like blessings.
After I finish everything I have to do and resolve all of my suspicions, what should I do next?
If I find the target too?
Do I need to kill the target and leave this place?
No, that’s not it.
I can answer this question with certainty.
I won’t be clearing the stage in this round.
It might be the next round. Perhaps it might be the round after the next.
Anyway, it won’t be in this round.
I didn’t want to just let go of the bliss I was feeling now.
I will have to leave this place one day. However, that day would be after feeling enough of the happiness and preparing my heart for the leaving it all behind.
When I could shake off all those foolish regrets as well. When I am ready to go on again…
I don’t need to hurry.
I am more than happy to be here, so…
Deep inside my heart, I had a feeling that I might end up living in this place forever.
I really might do that.
To me, this world, the AoAeo island is the greatest blessing and happiness I could ever receive.
I might never be able to escape this place.
However, even if that happens, that won’t be so bad.
I’ll be happy in this place for eternity, so…
As I thought about those, my heart felt lighter.
Instead of hesitation, my desire to quickly find information about the place and go back to the festival grew.
At least for the day, I’ll be able to focus on searching for the information and the target.
I felt proud of myself. With that, I fell asleep.
* * *
[Round 18, Day 17, 23:00]
I woke up from my sleep and checked the time. It was 11 pm.
I really slept through the whole day today.
I looked outside the tent. Before I realized, the rain had already stopped.
I went outside, put the tent away into the inventory and stretched my body.
After that, I thought about eating some meat jerkies to quench my hunger. However, I feared that I might want to drink Paramal if I put anything in my mouth, so I decided not to.
I should drink all I want after finishing the work for the day.
Perhaps because it was late at night, the street was relatively empty.
Of course, there were many who were energetically playing around even in this late hour.
I’m sure there are many who are chatting away loudly while drinking Paramal cocktails. Moreover, I’m sure there are a lot of people who are having intimate encounters at the moment.
Anyway, so, there weren’t that many people on the street.
I brandished the Talaria's Wings and went up to the sky.
I increased my altitude. I tried my best to not get connected to the people’s emotions.
I had not drunk Paramal for a whole day, so its effect had become diluted. However, it was not gone.
As I thought, as I raised the altitude, the effect of Paramal weakened.
Paramal’s effect was affected by the distance, view and recognition of presence by others.
Just flying through the dark night sky could reduce its effect to sufficiently low level.
The first destination was AoAeo’s government office.
I already had checked its location a few days ago, so I was able to find it right away without getting lost.
I lowered the altitude and entered the main door of the office.
Perhaps because it was middle of the festival, or perhaps because it was late, the office was empty.
It bothered me that I would be sneaking in here to look for things in secret, but thanks to that, I could look around all I want as I wish.
I was walking through the deserted corridor of the government office. However, out of the blue, I heard someone scream.
I was surprised. I looked at where the scream came from. There was a man. He appeared to be an employee of the place. While sitting on his chair, he was lying on the desk.
“Kuhuk! Hmmm….. Kuhuk!”
It was not that he was dying. He was sleeping like that and snoring.
What a bizarre snoring sound.
For a moment, I watched the man snoring, going kuhuk-kuhuk.
I worried that he might really die sleeping like this. So, I shook his shoulder and woke him up.
“Um… Huh? Ho? Why are you here, Ho… Aaaaaaauuuuuummmm… What time is it?”
“It’s past 11 pm.”
I knew the man.
I met him a few days ago at the bar.
“Your name is Byoung, right?”
Byoung nodded and yawned.
“Uuuhaaaaam. I was going to shut my eyes for a bit, but I ended up sleeping until 11 pm. What brings you to the government office? On top of that, you came in such a late hour.”
As he started to have a conversation with me waking up completely, his emotions started to pour into my head.
I could feel his curiosity about me being here at this hour, his gladness in seeing me, and his desire to go have fun at the bar with me who just happened to show up.
They were ordinary emotions. However, for me, I could not be more thankful for such.
They were clean, kind and honest.
I thanked him greatly just for exhibiting such emotions toward me.
Also, I wanted to go to the bar with him.
I bit my lips and fought off the temptation.
No matter how happy I was, I did not want that right now.
I was not saying I wanted to be unhappy.
I just didn’t want to get swept away by it.
I was happy, but it would be the true happiness if I enjoyed it when I wanted.
This was a matter of pride.
I suppressed down my desire to go play with Byoung. Instead, I asked him to find information with me.
I was asking him such a bothersome thing to do in middle of the night. However, he gladly said accompanied me.
I was thankful.
* * *
“This is surprising.”
I read the paper which was packed with numbers as I said that.
In the paper that Byoung found for me, it did not contain the content that I was looking for. However, it contained something that definitely concerned me.
It was about the number of people who resided in AoAeo island.
From what I already heard from Hyang, I knew that everyone who lived in this island were immigrants.
From the report, over nine percent of the foreigners who came to participate in Paramal Festival also settled at the island.
This is too many.
Thanks to this, the population in AoAeo island had been growing exponentially.
Considering the rate of increase… I even wondered if it would be possible to hold the festival properly because there were way too many people.
This year looked like it was already approaching the full capacity.
The streets, restaurants, bars, and everywhere in the island were packed with people.
If the current number of people stayed in the island, and if more foreigners were to be added to the mix next year…
Next year, the number of people gathered here would definitely pose a problem.
It would be enough to cause problems for holding the festival.
“What is it?”
Byoung asked me from the back.
It is probably because of the uncomfortableness I was feeling.
His sense of concern for me was being transmitted to me.
Feeling the sensation, I haphazardly excused it.
Considering the numbers, assuming that there is some kind of plot hiding in the shadows of AoAeo island, it must be this year where it all happens.
It could be that I’m worrying too much. I am hoping that I’m worrying too much. However…
Besides this, I didn’t find any other information that could serve as clues.
Although the following was not a part of the information we dug up, Byoung did tell me an interesting and plausible story.
“Yep. Well, it seems they actually did post guards and all that before the festival started.”
“Why? What kind of crimes are there?”
Crimes in AoAeo island?
I have never heard of or seen crimes here.
In fact, for the past 17 days, let alone any serious crime, I have never saw once a customer leaving before paying.
“Theft and kidnapping or other kinds of crimes seem to be or not seem to be occurring. That’s what I’ve heard.”
What could that mean?
“I’m saying they are only on documents. The victims are not reporting them, so we cannot be sure if such crimes actually happened.”
“Where did such suspicions come from?”
Crimes happened although there are no victims?
“It seems that the families of the tourists who participate in the festival occasional make inquiries. I don’t think we can be certain about these, but they probably posted guards since there were inquiries.”
“I have never seen any guards?”
“I’m sure you have not.”
From his brief answer, I could figure out the gist of it.
The guards who drank Paramal in middle of the festival would not believe that crimes and that criminals exist in this heavenly island.
Anyone who drank Paramal would never harbor animosity toward others. Also, anyone who is at the AoAeo island, and those who know about the effect of Paramal, would not refrain from drinking it.
So, the guards who concluded that crimes do not exist in this place will just go and enjoy the festival.
Crimes in AoAeo island?
That would be so unbecoming of the place.
Reports of crimes without evidence or victims…
“The people back home probably sent those inquiries because the people who came to the island to enjoy the festival spent too much money or ended up settling down here.”
I could only continue to nod after hearing Byoung’s opinion.
Usually, it was only natural to think that way.
* * *
With Byoung, I looked around the government office and gathered data. After that, I resumed my flight to head to a place that had once been the holy temple of the ancient religion.
I really wished I could go with him, but sadly, I had to refuse.
Today, I was going to finish all matters that were bothering me. My plan was to relax and play starting tomorrow.
After flying briefly without any difficulty, I was able to arrive at the place marked as the place of holy temple of the ancient religion.
It was a pretty big area.
In the middle of the area, there was a platform that was moderately high.
There were traces of things indicating that there may have been structures above this platform.
With the platform as the center, there were ruins of tall pillars everywhere.
It seemed this place definitely was the place where the holy temple once was.
Although it was late at night, there were quite a few people walking around the area.
There were some people chatting while sitting at the area with snacks and Paramal in their hands. There were people who were dancing and those who were watching.
As usual, it was pleasant to see them.
I wanted to join them.
The place where the holy temple used to be didn’t have anything suspicious in particular. So, I was really thinking about joining the people. However, I found someone.
There was a tall man.
The man was wearing a fluffy robe.
The robe was coming down to the knee. Below the knee, I could see that he was wearing a thick pants.
These were the problems.
The man’s robe was dark purple. His pants was black.
It was late at night, so it was hard to tell the color. However, I could be sure of the colors after squinting my eyes at him.
That man was the target of the clear condition.
There are so many people gathered in this plaza, but I noticed the man. Actually, it was not unusual that I thought the man stood out.
He was strange.
His behavior and the expression on his face were both strange.
His face was super stiff. There was a sign of frustration on his face. As for his behavior, it seemed he was not caring about the people around him at all.
Moreover, no emotion was flowing out of the man.
It seemed this target was not sharing emotions with others.
Ah, I get it.
That bastard did not drink the Paramal.
I became curious about the man’s identity.
Could he be the one hosting the festival?
Perhaps he is a priest of the ancient religion. Maybe he is one of the alchemists who are said to have restored the Paramal.
It is also possible that he came from the royal house. Perhaps he is not related to Paramal at all.
There were many possibilities. However, I did not have enough facts to make certain of any of the hypotheses.
The target was just sitting in middle of people. With bored face, he was just writing something on his notes.
Um… What should I do?
I pondered about this for a brief moment, and then I came to a conclusion.
I should find out who he is.
Also, I should learn information about what the target is trying to do.
Also, I should not kill him right away.
I should make full preparations so that I could kill him when I make up my mind to clear this stage after getting a full rest in AoAeo island for a few rounds.
After all, although I am not intending on leaving this place right away, I will be leaving eventually. So, I should gather information about the target.
All right, I should do it this way.
After finishing making the decisions, I thought about how to approach the target without being noticed while the man was in middle of many people.
I think it would be hard for me to approach him without being noticed when the place is so busy like this.
It would be easier to make him come to me.
First, I used the Overwhelm and Soul Steal at that target.
I focused the effects on just him so the skills would not affect the other people.
Out of the blue, the effects of the Overwhelm and Soul Steal were felt by the target, and the target’s look on the face had turned dark.
The target suddenly got up and looked around.
I waved my hand and let him know who I was.
Next was using the Soul Cry.
He was recognized as enemy. So, due to the effect of the skill, he won’t be able to escape me. He will come to me, the one who used the Soul Cry and is trying simultaneously to avoid the people.
This is perfect.
I slowly stepped back and used the Soul Cry.
As I thought, the target started to walk toward me. He looked as if he was mesmerized.
Things were going as I planned. I was feeling satisfied. However, at that moment, the target put his hand under his clothes and brought out a purple gem stone that was shining brightly in fluorescent color.
“ . ! . !”
Toward the sky, the target shouted words that were incomprehensible to me.
I had heard this tone and pronunciation before.
It was at the 16th Floor.
Those were Rune words to activate magic.
At that moment, everyone at the plaza turned their head and looked at me.
They were burning with a powerful animosity toward me.