“……wait, what the heck just happened?”
“Chief Inspector-nim, even though he doesn't have a certificate……"
“Is it because Chief Inspector-nim received the 'something'?”
“Ttek! Don't you dare say that no matter where you go!”
It was a situation created by an unintended misunderstanding.
A number of Adapters disappeared into the fort after being passed through the checkpoint and crossing the drawbridge.
Some took a glance at Jae Hwan's sword while others simply disregarded him as they did not care. The surrounding guards were whispering to each others.
The guards around James were blatantly pointing their hostility towards Jae Hwan. Their burning gazes could be felt on Jae Hwan's skin.
'…… just what the hell is that guy's affiliation?’
After a few moments, two people from inside the checkpoint walked out. They were Mino and Carlton. Mino, however, looked like her soul had fled her body. The reason for that was the binding power of the「Law」that Mino was subjected to.
Carlton opened his mouth to speak up.
“Mino-ssi, please make sure to carry your certificate with you at all times. Also don't forget, bribes are never allowed. If I were to act according to the Gorgon Fortress books of laws Article 7 Section 34 as I had originally intended, you would be detained, but since it's something that Jae Hwan-ssi had requested of me, I'll turn a blind eye to it this time.”
Mino looked towards Jae Hwan's direction with lifeless eyes before Carlton began to talk again.
"Jae Hwan-ssi has already proved his identity."
The object that Jae Hwan had tossed towards Carlton.
It was an expensive treasure called the Neglected Soul Stone created by the Nokmyeongga family of the five great families in the 《Great Lands》.
Although the Neglected Soul Stone was an item that members of the Nokmyeongga family used to prove their identities, the stone itself was famous for other reason.
It was a treasure that forcibly raised an Adapter's Spirit Power.
For example, the blue Neglected Soul Stone that Jae Hwan had tossed towards Carlton was something that could instantly turn a 「Non-Adapter」into a「1st Order Adapter」.
Because the item was so valuable, it was easy for Jae Hwan to prove his identity.
"Since I've already confirmed these soul stones, I'll return them back to you.”
"Looks like you don't need them.”
“The Neglected Soul Stone isn't something that can be given away so easily. Nokemyongga's envoy should do well to treasure it more."
Carlton placed the two stones directly into Jae Hwan's hands.
As Carlton led Mino and Jae Hwan further into the gate, Carlton fished something out from his bosom and finalize the inspection. It was a device that looked like a small thermometer.
“It's a Contamination Meter. As you may be aware, all travelers entering and leaving the fort must unconditionally go through this test. It's so that we may prepare for whatever may happen.”
Contamination? Jae Hwan took a glance at Mino. It was usually during times like this when Mino would explain to Jae Hwan what he didn't know. But the person in person still had an expression like her soul had fled the premises.
Carlton opened his mouth to speak up.
"Because she was stuck in the Law, she may remain like that for a little while."
Jae Hwan nodded like he was convinced by what Carlton said.
"Then let's begin with Mino-ssi."
Bbig- bbig, a small screen appeared in the air as the device made some beeping noises.
[Measurement Results : Safety warning! Soul Contamination level has exceeded 15%. It is recommended that the user take medication as soon as possible.]
Carlton's expression stiffened again.
"Mino-ssi, according to Gorgon Fortress' Laws regarding entry, Article 8 Section 14……"
Mino took out medicine from her bosom and began to drink it.
Next was Jae Hwan's turn. As soon as the device began to blink, Jae Hwan felt as though something had penetrated through his body. The light began to blink rapidly.
Carlton's eyes widened like saucers, this was the first time he had ever seen something like this.
‘Could he be a contaminated soul?'
The results came out in the next moment.
[Measurement Results : Soul Contamination cannot be measured]
Carlton looked like he had just seen a ghost and he looked towards Jae Hwan for an explanation.
“Please forgive me, but we're going to have to try again."
[Measurement Results : Soul Contamination cannot be measured]
Carlton went silent. The meter had never failed before. From the moment he had started working here, no, from the moment this device was built, it had never been 'faulty'. There was only one case where the tool could not measure someone's Soul Contamination.
It was when someone's Soul Contamination was at 0%.
0% Soul Contamination. It wasn't a number that could be achieved simply by eating lots of good medicine. Even Carlton who had been taking measurements for 55 years had never seen a result like this. None of the higher order Adapters within the fort had such clean souls.
Somehow, Carlton was convinced.
“Indeed, that explains why my「Silver Imprisonment」didn't work at all. I have never seen a soul as clear as your's."
Carlton recalled when his「Law」skill failed to work on Jae Hwan and when his inherent skill「Silver Imprisonment」failed to work as well. A person who does not comply with the system has a clean soul? It was a contradiction.
It was a contradiction, but it was also something impossible for Carlton to confirm or deny.
"Well we're all done here, so you guys are free to go."
But unexpectedly, Jae Hwan did not leave.
Having been silent up to that point, Jae Hwan finally opened his mouth to speak.
"Chief Inspector-nim, is it really ok to just let them leave like that?"
The Vice Chief Inspector, James, asked as he watched the backs of Jae Hwan and Mino get smaller and smaller.
It was something that James really couldn't understand.
"James, were you also unaware that people from Nokmyeongga had come to Chaos?"
"I know that……"
He had to know. Whenever someone from the five great families visited Chaos, they would send a message to every fort.
It was none other than the five great families.
They were the only ones who could make deals with the dream manipulating「Nightmares」to visit 《Chaos》without actually having to experience ‘death’.
James knew for certain.
“But no matter how I look at him, he doesn't look like a Nokmyeongga."
Green skin and two antennae.
The Nokmyeongga had very specific characteristics that anybody would be able to recognize at first glance.
Carlton nodded his head.
"I agree. He looked nothing like a Nokmyeongga.”
"……why did Inspector-nim treat him like he was definitely a Nokmyeongga?”
Carlton laughed and then suddenly asked a question.
"James, do you perhaps know what kind of treasure a Neglected Soul Stone is?"
"Isn't it an object that can make an Adapter's spirit power grow?”
Is there anyone who doesn't know what a Neglected Soul Stone is?
If you were an Adapter, then it was an item that you desired.
"Have you perhaps heard of the various characteristics of the Neglected Soul Stone?"
Characteristics? James was briefly taken aback.
Carlton silently removed the white gloves he was wearing.
After a moment, Carlton showed his hand to James.
As though his hands were burned, his palm and his veins were black.
However, his hands definitely were not burned. James was well aware of what that was.
How did something like this happen?
James could not believe his eyes.
Soul Contamination was like karma to the people in《Chaos》. Everyone in Chaos would slowly become contaminated by the various things native to Chaos. Little by little it would accumulate. Once someone's soul contamination reaches a hundred percent, they would suffer from a fate worse than death.
Fortunately, there was a way to slow down or even stop the rate of contamination.
It was precisely eating the horns of the beasts in Chaos.
Those who can consistently consume the 'medicine' created from the horns of the beasts here could survive a long time while avoiding contamination. And as far as James knew, Carlton had one of the purest souls in all of Gorgon Fortress.
But Carlton's soul was now polluted.
And it was only his palm at that.
James hurriedly took some medicine out of his pocket and sprinkled it over Carlton's hand. It was the medicine that he had received from Mino awhile ago.
"……perhaps, did this happen because of the soul stone?"
Carlton nodded his head.
"James, have you ever seen someone who was not a Nokmyeongga be in possession of a Neglected Soul Stone?"
James carefully thought about it.
There were none.
“Don't you think it's strange? For a treasure like the Neglected Soul Stone, it would make sense for there to be many people to attack the Nokmyeongga to get their hands on such a treasure."
That was the conclusion he had come to after thinking for a bit. There are even those from Nokmyeongga who travel alone. If every Nokmyeongga was in possession of a stone, then there should have been many instances where people would have attacked travelling groups of Nokmyeongga.
However, James had never seen or heard of anything like that happen.
"……so it was because of soul contamination."
Carlton nodded again.
"Someone who is not a Nokmyeongga could never handle a Neglected Soul Stone. The only ones who can hold onto a soul stone without suffering from the effects of the contamination are the Nokmyeongga."
If that were the case, then it wouldn't be strange for Carlton to treat Jae Hwan like he were actually from Nokmyeongga. But it was hard for James to understand.
"I've never seen a Nokmyeongga without antennae.”
Hearing that, a wry smile sprouted on Carlton's face as he turned off the silver aura that was fading from his body.
“James, what do I look like right now?”
But James understood what Carlton was trying to say in the next moment.
A man born between the angel race and the human race.
He carried the blood of humans and did not inherit the pointed ears and the jewel in the middle of his forehead that were known characteristics of the angel race. The only thing he inherited from the angel race was their silver aura.
He looked no different from a human without it.
‘I see. If that man is like Chief Inspector-nim……'
But James stopped thinking up until that point.
‘But did Chief Inspector-nim let him pass for such a personal reason?’
James took a look at the side of Carlton's face.
Carlton's exterior gave off a good impression, but there was no way to tell what he was like on the inside.
“It seems like you still have a few questions you want to ask, James."
"Don't worry about it, your doubts are good.”
It was something that he wasn't unwilling to hear.
"It's because I wouldn't have allowed him to pass for that reason if he were a normal person.”
James suddenly came to a realization.
“Was there a Command of Allowance?”
“It seemed pretty urgent. I've gotten in touch with the other party, so it shouldn't be long before they seek them out. Whether or not he's from Nokmyeongga and whether or not he can use the Neglected Soul Stone won't matter.”
Neglected Soul Stone.
An item that boosts an Adapter's Spirit Power.
While rapidly polluting the soul of anyone who used it that wasn't from Nokmyeongga.
A person who could use an item while avoiding soul contamination was in high demand.
A thought suddenly went through James' head.
"…… perhaps, is it related to castellan's illness?"
"I don't know all of the details. But……"
The only certainty was that something big was about to happen in Gorgon Fortress.
Carlton recalled the last conversation he had with Jae Hwan.
“I don't know what ulterior motives they might have."
“But whether I'm a Nokmyeong or not doesn't matter. Because they should already know, right?”
"Of course they already know.”
“Is it ok to just send me off like this? Isn't this against your sense of justice?"
Justice. Hearing that, Carlton smiled.
“One day, there'll come a time when our justice meets again."
Carlton recalled Jae Hwan's terrifying spirit.
If it weren't for that spirit, Carlton wouldn't have been in such a hurry to let him pass. He didn't know why, but he got the feeling that Jae Hwan wanted to fight him.
'No, rather, it wasn't me he wanted to face……'
Carlton silently looked at Gorgon Fortress while thinking to himself.
He couldn't help but wonder what would have happened if he had pulled out his sword or if he had never chosen to reveal the Neglected Soul Stone. Even for Carlton who was proud of his skills, he wasn't confident in being able to face against Jae Hwan.
“Oh right James.”
“According to what Jae Hwan-ssi said, it seems like you were the one taking bribes."
“According to the Gorgon Fortress' Penal Code, Article 34 section 7,……"
James' face grew increasingly wretched.