Each newly appointed squad leaders avoided Yulewen’s sharp gaze and pretended nonchalance.
“Hahaha, the lord has something in mind, I think.”
Former MES leader Zahir, the Security Squad Leader as of today, couldn’t hide his exuberance.
“And what exactly do you think he has in mind? You couldn't be talking about the tournament, nor the election of new squad leaders without a proper conference, correct?”
“Zahir. This is serious. Gorgon is overflowing with people.”
“I know that….”
The outer gates were packed with people trying to enter Gorgon. As soon as the announcement of the tournament spread, countless numbers of people gathered as spectators or participants. Gorgon’s teleportation post and the gate inspection post had troubles trying to handle the sheer number of adapters that were coming through. The only exception was the North gate inspection post.
-Hahaha! Come in, come in!
When the north’s head inspector Carlton was reassigned to the Laws squad leader, James, who was the vice-head, received the position of the head inspector. Thanks to that his subordinates spent a relatively happy time as they watched the streams of guests and money coming in.
Carlton, who was not yet familiar with his position as the Laws squad leader, was perpetually frowning, recalling the negative reports concerning the North Inspection post.
‘I have to go check on them soon….’
Yulewen looked at Carlton.
“Squad leader Carlton, do you have anything to say?”
“Do you not have anything to say about this situation?”
Yulewen sighed as Carlton remained silent. Although they had not held a conference, Jae Hwan did not exactly break the rules by opening that tournament. In times of emergencies, the Lord could forgo legitimate council and requisite up to 3 billion Horen from the Fortress’s treasury, if, half the squad leaders happen to agree upon it. And as expected, Jae Hwan earned the endorsement of half the squad leaders.
Simple. Four of the five squad leaders were killed by him on the day of his promotion to the Lord. Using that chance, Jae Hwan quickly appointed three new people to those positions. And as all those new leaders were appointed due to their amity with Jae Hwan, his proposals could not go through unapproved by them.
Carlton asked Yulewen.
“The Chancellor looks displeased with the Lord’s judgements?”
“That’s not the problem,” Yulewen answered.
“The problem is not of my personal opinion, but the laws of this Fortress.”
Someone cut in.
“Can’t do this, can’t do that, those damned rules.”
She was the new Finance department leader.
“When are you people going to learn to shut up about your laws?”
Yulewen’s face became cold.
“Everything rotates around a point. Rules are what holds society together. The Finance squad leader might be a bit unfamiliar with this, but this is how the world works.”
Yulewen did not like this new leader. He was by some degrees fine with Carlton and Jahir, but this women….
‘This is just wrong.’
Emergency situations aside, how far must Gorgon have degenerated to have for one of its squad leader a mere 2nd adapter pub owner? Yulewen remembered how Jae Hwan brought in this woman called Claire a week ago.
-Fortress or a pub, they are all the same thing. Ones just more bothersome than the other.
The members of the squad were reorganized as soon as Claire came in power. Using the authority she received from Jae Hwan, she mercilessly fired all those useless high rank officials who had been sucking up on other higher ranked officials, and designated those empty positions to normal citizens.
This was only possible because Claire had no connections with the palace.
Of course, the uproars and protests were deafening. That was why there was an enormous piles of complaint letters regarding this new ‘system’ sent by the clans and high rank adapters. Jae Hwan naturally ignored these.
“Don’t look down on me because I’m a commoner, Chancellor person.”
Yulewen was taken aback by these words that evaporated courtesy like alcohol.
“You seem to dislike how the Lord is doing things, but do you know how much resources those changes brought in to Gorgon?”
Yulewen knew that money follows the crowd. And the new tournament in Gorgon was a historical event that brought population density to new heights.
As those visitors expended their pocket money, Gorgon’s financial problems were travelling the other way.
“For example, that tournament you were so opposed about. Do you know where it’s held?”
“I must say I am not so sure.”
Yulewen answered truthfully.
“The north marketplace.”
Marketplace. That was where, due to the recent Forbidden Heavens incident, lots of residents lost their jobs.
“The people there now have jobs thanks to that tournament.”
Yulewen had not considered something like this. To use the jobless to resolve the need for construction workers, and to use the construction to resolve the need for jobs.
“You also know how much damage was caused by that Forbidden Heavens case?”
“About 13 billion Horen…”
“Accurately, 12 billion 878 million 263 thousand Horens.”
Yulewen saw Claire in a new light. When had she researched this?
But his amazement did not end.
“Then I will ask you this,”
Yulewen became a bit apprehensive.
“Do you know how much Gorgon gained the last two days because of the tournament?”
“As I know of it, it’s still under investigation-”
“Around 13 billion 280 million Horen. That’s only the amount we have counted since two days ago. Now, how much more will we profit if this continues? A shit load of money.”
Yulewen’s mouth gaped. This meant that the damage had been completely reimbursed, with interests.
‘But more than that, how did this woman calculate that number….’
Claire smirked, as if she read his thoughts.
“Is it so surprising? I am a pub owner alive or dead. My specialty is counting money and kicking out drunk retards.”
She took out a cigar. She displaced leisure befitting of someone who lived among the most irascible men in society. From the end of that cigar, white smoke of a gaksu horn power billowed out.
“I don’t know what the Lord is actually planning. Whether he is planning to go to Abyss, or fight everything in Chaos. But I know this:
She gazed at everyone present, and spoke with her eyes locked onto Yulewen’s.
“Chaos is going to change.”
Yulewen felt something crumble within him. In Claire’s eyes something shone. It was a light that those who live in Chaos for too long forgot.
Upon closer inspection, Carlton had the same eyes. Also Zahir.
‘Lord… What do you plan to give them? They expect much.’
For the first time in many years, Yulewen felt the winds of change, and the churning waters, and he feared. Feared for that change. But what Yulewen did not notice was his own eyes, shining the brightest.
In four short days the tournament wrapped up the preliminary rounds and progressed to the top 16. The ones who arrived late could enter the tourney by a separate wild card competition. Thanks to the tight schedule, the competition was at its climax four days in.
“The progress sure is fast.”
That was the second Ark, Heaven’s blade, Shin Mu Guk.
The members of the Limitless sect were lined up behind him who was sitting in one of the front rows of the arena, in an orderly fashion. Each one of them possessed the power of a 4th or 5th order adapter, enough to wipe out a small clan by themselves.
Shin had a physique of a scholar. He had a scar on his left cheek, and a hawk’s nose. He looked like a middle aged man, but his true age was over a thousand; he one of the oldest in Gorgon. That was not all. Shin, like the Saint, and the Sovereign of Steel, was from world 12764, the clearers of the master tower. But most important was the fact that he had been one of the 5 strongest warrior in his original world, a world of martial arts.
A shadow came from the crowd and stopped beside him.
“That Kang Hwang Gua. Because of him, it’s not so fun anymore.”
Shin turned his head.
“Bullshiting about killing everything with his fire. All 5th and 4th order adapters dropped out.”
“….. Long time no see.”
Shin looked at the owner of the voice with a happy face.
Chung Heo grinned.
And the next moment, a violent air whirled around them. Nearby adapters trembled from the hostility that drifted in the air. Chung Heo, who was an awakened, and Shin, who was an over – adapter was testing each other’s strength with their pressure. Soon, Chung Heo broke out in admiration.
“It looks like you had a new breakthrough.”
“So do you.”
Shin felt something new from Chung Heo.
As the tension vanished, voices started to mumble around them.
‘It’s the Heaven’s blade!’
‘The Saint is also here!’
To be able to see two of the champions of Chaos!
They seemed deeply moved. Chung Heo spoke as he caressed his beard.
“By the by, how unexpected for you to not join in. You love fighting, as I know.”
“I like duels, not this mess of a pig pen.”
“Huhu, Kang Hwang will explode again when he hears you.”
On the grounds, Kang Hwang Gua was facing off against a young woman. His most prized skill, Sword of the Flame Demon spread fire all over the grounds, but the woman who was wearing something akin to pajamas, dodged all the sparks and flames with surprising dexterity.
Chung Heo opened his mouth.
“That one is quite good. You know who that is?”
“Not sure. Doesn’t seem like the Maid sect…. But I think I know those techniques.”
“A pity, you really are getting old. That’s that guy’s blue clouds phantom.”
“Blue clouds phantom?”
Shin had troubles recalling what that was.
“…. Is it that guy’s skill?”
Shin had mixed feeling on Chung Heo’s affirmation. ‘That guy’ could only be him. Hu Yu, the sovereign of steel, and the man who they cleared the tower together once as comrades.
“Why is his aide in this place?”
“Dunno. But I know that there are at least a few Sovereigns who have something plotted for this tourney.”
It did not take long for the battle to end. Kang Hwang Gua’s sword slipped as it clashed with the woman’s blade, and he lost balance. Because of that, when the woman’s counterattack came, he could not move to dodge or block. He flew into the opposite side of the wall and collapsed.
Cheer broke out from the crowd.
“YEAHHHH!! THE FIRE MONARCH LOSTTTT!!”
Shin narrowed his eyes.
“He was conceited.”
“He wasn’t keeping up with his training it seems.”
With the commentator’s announcement that the tournament will go on to the next stage, the spectators rose to take a brief break. But as they were starting to rise, the security squad leader Zahir ran over from nowhere, and with the mike, announced,
-Everyone, we will start the quarter finals now!
Shin who had been planning to take a quick excursion and look around the place, sat down again and frowned.
“Aren’t they rushing too much?”
“It’s because the Lord is an impatient person.”
“Still… this forced march is….”
His words were drowned by cheers as a man walked up to the floor.
The sect of scholars, the seminary. The one known as the smartest of them was this man, the Ark, Jae Gal Myong.
His gaze swept the spectators with a leisure mien. When he found Chung Heo and Shin in the audience, he smiled condescendingly with his eyes.
“Annoying dumbass. Blinking his eyes stupidly like a goldfish. I should beat him up.”
“Restrain yourself. He’s only a youngling of 400 years. A healthy age to act like that.”
Jae Gal Myong surveyed the spectators for a long time, sending winks at girls he favored.
On the other hand, a different man appeared on the other side of the arena. Cheers once again erupted from the crowd. His fame was not lagging behind the Ark of the Seminary.
“Ha! The one to beat him up in my stead is here!” Chung Heo shouted.
Jae Gal Myong’s opponent was the most famous man currently in Gorgon.
“So that’s the new Lord.”
“The empty spot on the top 8 was reserved for him, I see.”
On the other hand, Jae Gal Myong, upon seeing Jae Hwan, tilted his head.
“Strange. I feel something familiar from you.”
He looked back and forth between Chung Heo and Jae Hwan.
“Are you perhaps his pupil?”
Chung Heo made a disgusted face.
And a few minutes later, a black lump of living bruises flew up into the sky with a weak scream.
Chung Heo opened his mouth seeing that.
“….. You think that crazy bastard is my pupil?”