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The 'Mountain Sage' rose from the Middle East as the successor of the legendary a.s.sa.s.sin 'Ha.s.san-i Sabbah'. Their roots date back to the year 1990, when the world had entered a period of rest after overcoming Outcall. It all started from a young Iranian youth who awakened the Gift [Shackles].
This Gift had a simple power - to restrain.
On a smaller scale, it could restrain humans. On a bigger scale, this powerful Gift could restrain even s.p.a.ce and the flow of time.
As if this wasn't enough, the Iranian youth awakened a second Gift, [Void World].
After a thousand years, the successor of the Order of a.s.sa.s.sins had returned.
The youth changed his name to 'Hazen' and officially inherited the Sabbah.
Using his past t.i.tle, Lord of Alamut, he called himself the Mountain Sage and accepted only his direct descendants into the a.s.sa.s.sin group.
Just like that, Hazen began to secretly work in the Middle East. To calm the chaotic political scene, he killed militant leaders by disguising it as accidents and used the chaos that ensued to a.s.sa.s.sinate the Djinns and humans who were the root of it all.
He continued his mission for 30 years.
They had acted so secretly that even Kim Sukho had only recently discovered them. Although Kim Sukho had stepped down from the position of President, his desire for power had never subsided. In his head, the Mountain Sage's Order of a.s.sa.s.sins was the perfect tool to deal with the Chameleon Troupe. Although its founder, Hazen, was already dead, he had left behind a powerful legacy. Kim Sukho liked their meticulous a.s.sa.s.sinations and their sole desire for gold.
As such, Kim Sukho called on them to become the mastermind in the shadows. He eliminated those who opposed him by disguising the murders as accidents and dug into politicians who seemed fishy to find their weak points. Through this, he formed a powerful stronghold that was much more powerful than when he was a president.
Kim Sukho believed it wouldn't be any different this time. Although he had some doubts, the results shown by Hazen's descendants gave him confidence.
Not long after accepting his request, Hazen's descendants figured out Black Lotus' ident.i.ty through a simple yet difficult method of tracking all of Black Lotus' whereabouts. It was the work of their third executive who possessed the Gift [Colossal Search].
Just like that, the 'Kim Hajin a.s.sa.s.sination Plan' started and was almost successful.
No, it already succeeded once.
"Kim Hajin is Fenrir, and Fenrir is Black Lotus."
In a thick darkness, the first of Hazen's five descendants, 'Ha.s.sun', spoke.
They were hiding inside the darkness while waiting for Kim Hajin to show up.
The youngest descendant, Hayre, smiled. It was surprising given his usual cold, emotionless att.i.tude.
"We don't have to report this to our client?"
"Our mission is to a.s.sa.s.sinate Black Lotus. Further talk is unnecessary. Is he coming soon, Hazehre?"
Ha.s.sun asked the third descendant, Hazehre.
"Yes, Kim Hajin will appear here."
With an incredible inference and calculation ability, [Colossal Search] could even predict the future location of its target. Hazehre had already done his work and learned that Kim Hajin would appear near them soon.
The five descendants in hiding all sensed a presence.
They flared up the Gift they all shared, [Void World]. Their bodies turned transparent, camouflaging them based on their surroundings, and darkness slowly spread out. Inside this dark domain, enemies were incapable of activating their Gifts.
Just like their past targets, Black Lotus would also be a.s.sa.s.sinated…
However, the target's voice rang out before they could do anything. The five a.s.sa.s.sins flinched slightly.
But they didn't think they were discovered.
They believed Black Lotus was randomly murmuring as one would when coming back to a dark, empty home.
"Otherwise, I'll go instead."
In the next moment, the target revealed himself.
The five a.s.sa.s.sins all tilted their heads. The target, Kim Hajin, was emitting some kind of an aura.
Kim Hajin called the spirit power he awakened the Author's Spirit Power. The best part was that it could materialize the setting he wanted at any time.
As such, Kim Hajin created a setting with his spirit power. [Catch Field] - a skill that could track the presence of anyone within 500 meters.
In addition, he sent his will to Spartan and called for a trustworthy reinforcement.
Next to Kim Hajin, an eagle and a burly man appeared.
It was then that Hazen's descendants realized something was wrong.
The burly man, Cheok Jungyeong, spoke.
"What is it all of a sudden?"
"Look over there."
Kim Hajin pointed at the direction Hazen's descendants were hiding. At the same time, Kim Hajin's aura shot out and lit up the area.
Cheok Jungyeong furrowed his brows and followed Kim Hajin's finger.
"…Should we run?"
"No, it's already too late."
A husky voice rang out behind them. It was Cheok Jungyeong's voice, and the next sequence of events happened lightning fast.
Kw.a.n.g—! Thud—! Boom—!
The sound of combat rang out.
Although the five descendants did their best to resist, a.s.sa.s.sins were naturally no good in a direct fight. Cheok Jungyeong, who specialized in direct combat, was an unbeatable existence.
It was early morning in Central Asia but dinner time in England. Near Buckingham Palace, a rowdy event was underway.
Lightning shot up from the prison cell Jin Sahyuk created. When the lightning disappeared, a flaming whirlpool appeared along with winds that were sharper than blades. The magnitude of the phenomenon easily surpa.s.sed what could be found in nature.
The series of disasters shook the prison cell Toji was trapped in. Hundreds of magicians poured in their magic power to maintain the cell. Still, dozens of magicians were knocked out in ten seconds as Chae Joochul ceaselessly shook the prison cell.
Toji's scream rang out.
His skin melted from extreme heat but still maintained its form and was cut from the metal-attribute wind, yet nothing could sever his body.
Chae Joochul poured powerful attacks into the prison cell from the outside. The injured Toji screamed in pain.
But that only lasted a moment. After a round of attacks finished, Toji's body regenerated as though nothing had happened. Then, he fell asleep peacefully.
"…He truly is an interesting one."
Chae Joochul stopped his attacks and murmured apathetically.
The magicians who were supplying magic power to the prison cell fainted one by one.
"Amazing. I feel like I'm in a dream."
"As expected of the Immortal…."
Yoo Yeonha and England's Prime Minister couldn't hide their awe, while Rachel stood by with her mouth wide open.
Heaven-destroying natural disasters had just occurred inside a tiny, 30-square-meter cell. The Immortal's power was even more awe-inspiring in person.
"External attacks seem to work, but it looks like indirect attacks from the outside aren't enough to bring him down."
"That was indirect…?"
Rachel swallowed her saliva at Chae Joochul's casual words.
"Wouldn't he have at least suffered mental damage?"
The Prime Minister asked carefully.
Chae Joochul knew that Toji had forgotten pain. Not even 'imagined pain' created from fear, which was far scarier than actual pain, existed in that monster's mind.
"No. Besides that, where is the person who created this prison?"
Chae Joochul took interest in another matter. Although an external supply of magic power was needed, he had not seen an ability that could endure his power in a long time.
Rachel stepped up and explained, "It was created by a Player. She is gone now."
"Gone? So she died?"
Rachel thought Chae Joochul was joking. It was then that Rachel met Chae Joochul's emotionless eyes. From the deep void in his eyes, Rachel felt a chill run down her back.
She squeezed out an answer.
"No, she, she went back to the Tower…."
Chae Joochul then turned away.
"Unless you want to release him from the prison, it looks like someone else will need to handle him. We will need someone who can stop him from regenerating."
Chae Joochul stepped back with dignity. His words, 'someone who can stop him from regenerating', made everyone think of one Hero.
The Sword Saint, Kim Suho.
The man who achieved the greatest t.i.tle for a swordsman while only being in his mid-twenties.
Knowing that Rachel was acquainted with him, England's Prime Minister gave her a heartfelt look. It was then.
"There's no need to call any brats, Old Man."
A deep voice suddenly rang out.
He sounded like Chae Joochul, but his voice felt deeper and more sonorous.
Chae Joochul revealed a hint of surprise as he turned to face the voice.
The government officials surrounding the area quickly parted when they met Chae Joochul's gaze. Like Moses who split the Red Sea, the owner of the voice quickly revealed himself through the gap.
Dark blue eyes, long braided white hair, a scar on his eye, and wide shoulders with a shabby steel sword by his waist.
The man who appeared… was a legend everyone knew well.
It was an opponent Chae Joochul had not met in a long time.
"But I'm a bit tired from traveling…."
The man gave a profound smile.
Realizing who he was, Yoo Yeonha's jaw dropped. The man in front of her was truly a legend.
"So I'll personally deal with him tomorrow morning."
'Dresden's Miracle', where one man slaughtered ten thousand monsters; 'Operation Krahan', where a large Djinn group disappeared overnight… He was the legendary Hero behind numerous tales. Among the Nine Stars, he was known to be second only to s.h.i.+n Myungchul.
'Steel Spirit' Heynckes had appeared in front of them.
Yoo Yeonha couldn't maintain a straight face because of the shock.
Chae Joochul called his name just as apathetically as before. Chae Joochul knew of the side-effect of Heynckes' Gift, so he only gave him a dry look.
"Will you be able to do it?"
Heynckes answered easily, "…As an artifact of the past, it's time for me to help the new generation."
Objectively speaking, there was nothing special about Chae Joochul and Heynckes' meeting as they both kept a set distance and only stared at each other.
But everyone else maintained silence as they stared at the two t.i.tans. To them, they felt like they were experiencing an important moment in history.
But no one dared to take out a camera to take photos. They simply stared at this once in a lifetime moment in a daze.
"…It's been a while."
Only one person managed to muster up enough courage to speak. It was a woman who came as Chae Joochul's acquaintance.
"Nice to meet you, Lord Heynckes."
She was the sole exception.
"My name is Yoo Yeonha, the Chief Strategic Officer of Essence of the Strait."
[Inside Buckingham Palace]
Yoo Yeonha came to stay overnight in Buckingham Palace. It was, of course, due to Heynckes. To plan for their meeting the next day, Yoo Yeonha began to study German, German history, Heynckes' life, and more. She fully employed Falling Blossom's power to look for topics to talk about.
While Yoo Yeonha was hard at work, knocking sounds rang out.
The door opened as soon as Yoo Yeonha gave the permission. As she expected, Rachel carefully walked in. She put down a tray of red tea and dessert on the table.
"…Ah, thank you. I was feeling a bit tired."
Yoo Yeonha smiled brightly. Rachel also smiled back and sat across from her. The two women leisurely enjoyed the sudden tea time.
Yoo Yeonha sipped on red tea while looking over doc.u.ments. Rachel watched Yoo Yeonha work for thirty minutes or so before finally working up the courage to speak.
"Yeonhssi, this is about the guild alliance Essence of the Strait brought up."
Yoo Yeonha looked up at Rachel without speaking.
Rachel became a bit nervous, but she was determined.
If the English Royal Court could form an alliance with Essence of the Strait, then the huge unrest the people of England were feeling would subside greatly. Even the Prime Minister who was trying to escape to Korea could change his mind.
"I was wondering if you would like to team up with our guild… We will do our best to meet any demands."
Yoo Yeonha didn't say anything, so Rachel quickly continued.
"We discovered several artifacts from the Middle Ages recently. If our guilds ally, they can be lent out to Essence of the Strait's members… Ah, and Essence of the Strait can also use rights and interest we possess in Prestige…."
Rachel's carefulness and Yoo Yeonha's leisure began to lead to a negotiation. It was then.
The door suddenly shot open.
Rachel and Yoo Yeonha turned to the door without much thought.
"Haam… You were here?"
Standing there was Evandel, with her eyes half-closed.
Startled, Rachel jumped up from her seat. Yoo Yeonha's eyes also shot open.
Yoo Yeonha had good memory.
But even if her memory was bad, she would have remembered that kid. She was that cute, like a fairy who came out of a story.
But the last time Yoo Yeonha had seen her, the child was with Kim Hajin.
Rachel quickly ran towards the door and picked Evandel up.
"…Wait, wait, who's that?"
Yoo Yeonha asked, but Rachel hid Evandel from sight with her back and shook her head.
"Huh? Oh, it's nothing."
"What? What do you mean, nothing? Who is she?"
Rachel didn't have the confidence to explain Evandel to Yoo Yeonha. In the end, she quickly ran off.
"Where are you going!?"
Yoo Yeonha shot up and began to chase Rachel.
"Tell me who that is! Hold on a minute, I think I've seen her before in Seoul…!"
Tadadadat— Yoo Yeonha shouted as she ran across the hallway.
"Like I said, it's nothing…."
Tadadadat— Rachel ran, almost in tears.
Yoo Yeonha knew that she couldn't catch up to Rachel no matter how hard she ran, so she utilized the tools she had in her a.r.s.enal.
"If you don't come back, there will be no alliance! I was going to do it, but not if you run away…!"
Even so, Rachel didn't stop running away. In fact, she used the power of her elementals to quickly disappear from Yoo Yeonha's sight.
Left in an empty hallway, Yoo Yeonha looked around her surroundings in a daze.
Rachel and the mysterious child were gone completely. Yoo Yeonha wiped the sweat that formed on her forehead.
"What the heck…."
She was left with many questions and doubts.
That day, bizarre chaos emerged in Yoo Yeonha's head.
I returned to the Chameleon Troupe's hideout with Cheok Jungyeong and five prisoners.
Cheok Jungyeong threw the unconscious a.s.sa.s.sins on the floor.
"Why did you bring them back?"
A family of a.s.sa.s.sins, two in their thirties and three in their twenties.
I wanted to interrogate them since people I only knew about through my setting appeared in person.
But Cheok Jungyeong replied with a grin.
"To use for my training."
Though a bit stupid, it was a very Cheok Jungyeong-like answer.
The Chameleon Troupe's hideout was built with magic engineering, so the exit was removable. Naturally, it was possible to lock someone up.
"Will you be fine?"
Cheok jungyeong grinned and smacked his chest.
"Of course! I've been bored, so it's perfect. There's Orden, but there's time until I'll get to fight him!"
Cheok Jungyeong granted the t.i.tle, 'powerful enemy', to Orden.
But we had yet to even set a date for our battle. We only knew that a 'spy' who infiltrated his palace would let us know of a good time.
"These guys have a gift for making critical attacks. So I can use them to train how to avoid critical attacks."
"Um… sure. But make sure to find out who's behind them."
"Yeah, yeah, don't worry about that. Oh right, Boss imprisoned someone recently. Her name's Jin Sahyuk. You know her, right?"
My eyes shot open. Jin Sahyuk?
"Jin Sahyuk and Boss? What happened?"
"Who knows? Boss said she'll use the kid to lure in Bell. Mmmm~"
Cheok Jungyeong stretched.
Bell and Jin Sahyuk, Boss and Bell, and Boss and Jin Sahyuk.
I didn't know what happened, but there was one thing I was sure of.
Given Bell's personality (though I didn't know much about him), it didn't seem like he'd come save Jin Sahyuk.
After a light sigh, I asked Cheok Jungyeong.
"Where is she imprisoned?"
I came down to the lowest floor of Chameleon Troupe's building. Rather than a prison, it was more like an undeveloped floor.
In this empty s.p.a.ce, Jin Sahyuk was curled up like a shrimp with her hands and ankles restrained with magic power suppressors.
She looked feeble, like she hadn't eaten food or drank water in days. She even had an blindfold on to hinder her vision.
What idiotic thing did she do this time to get herself in this situation?
Looking at her, I suddenly felt sympathy. It was a side-effect I developed after finding out about Kim Chundong's past. Kim Chundong and Jin Sahyuk formed most of my recent worries.
Rather than that, why was someone with the highest potential in my novel getting thrashed around all the time?
"…Who is it!?"
Jin Sahyuk seemed to have heard me click my tongue as she gave a reaction. She raised her head to look at me, but she sighed after realizing the blindfold was still covering her vision.
"I-Is it Bell?"
Bell? Did she lose her intuition too after being locked up?
I approached her with a wry smile. Then, I put my hands on her blindfold.
Jin Sahyuk trembled. But she seemed to have figured out my intent as she didn't resist.
"Whew… It's Bell, right?"
She let out a sigh of relief as I carefully lifted the blindfold.