Bud was shaking his body from side to side and flailing around.
However, Cale who was shaking hands with Jopis did not pay him even a glance.
Ron was also clicking his tongue and not looking toward Bud at all.
Bud looked toward Choi Han who was standing behind Ron with desperation after seeing even Ron ignoring him.
Bud could see the innocent smile that appeared on Choi Han’s face. Choi Han slightly nodded with his head before walking past Bud as if it was nothing.
– Hey Mercenary King, I’m here too! Your friend said he will wait outside the fence to see if any of the watchdogs show up!
Raon’s bright voice stabbed into Bud’s mind.
– Hey Mercenary King, I’m glad your f*cking head didn’t get blown up!
Bud did not flail anymore. He just bit down on the gag and lowered his head. He even missed his close friend Glenn’s nagging.
Unfortunately, Raon was the only one paying any attention to the sulking Bud.
– Human! The Mercenary King seems sullen for some reason.
Cale didn’t even look toward Bud before sitting down on a chair Jopis offered.
It was the same old table and chair that he had seen inside the video recording device. Cale and Jopis sat down on the two chairs around the old table.
Ron and Choi Han headed behind Cale without saying anything.
“I can’t have my guests remain standing.”
Jopis pointed at something for the two of them. All three of them could see the bed.
“Lie on it, roll around on it, do a headstand, please use it however you wish.”
‘…She really won’t be easy to handle.’
Cale realized this fact once more as Ron started to smile.
“I do not like the bed, may I do as I wish?”
Jopis looked at Ron for a moment before elegantly nodding her head.
“Of course. The returned owner of the Molden mountain range can naturally do as he pleases.”
Ron and Jopis made eye contact.
Ron naturally knew her identity, and, as mentioned earlier, Jopis was aware of Ron and the return of the Molan household thanks to her dogs.
Jopis met Ron’s gaze with a cold gaze as Ron smiled benignly and started to move.
Her eyebrows then twitched.
“I prepared the young master-nim’s favorite tea in advance.”
The old man wearing an assassin’s outfit leisurely took a teapot and teacups out of his spatial pocket bag. Jopis looked around after seeing him taking out the lemon tea.
Nobody had a change in expression except the red-haired man in front of her.
The red-haired man was looking toward Ron with an unhappy expression.
‘This man is the, ‘young master-nim?’ The fact that he can frown like that toward the Molan patriarch… Must mean he really is his master.’
Jopis had observed the Mercenary King’s reaction as soon as this man had appeared earlier. The way he had looked at the red-haired man with desperate eyes had shown Bud’s firm belief that this man would save him.
‘Even if I lack information about the outside, the fact that someone at the Mercenary King’s level trusts him so much and follows him must mean-’
It must mean that the person in front of her was a highly-skilled individual.
Two cups of tea that the patriarch of the assassin household had boiled were placed in front of Cale and Jopis.
Jopis picked up the fancy teacup that looked like something that would be used by a noble household for the first time in a long while.
“This reminds me of the times I used to drink tea in the palace.”
She then took a sip of tea as she quietly looked at the man in front of her.
Cale made a joke after seeing her observing gaze.
“Can you figure anything out by looking at my face?”
The corners of Jopis’s lips went up.
“Sir, you are young.”
She pointed to Cale.
“And I’ve never seen your face before. Who are you?”
The meticulous woman who did not have a single stray hair focused her similarly meticulous gaze on Cale.
Cale barely managed to stop himself from flinching after tasting the lemon tea that was more bitter than he expected as he started to speak.
“I am unable to reveal everything because I am someone who has a lot of things. Princess-nim, I must first figure out whether the information you have is the information I need.”
Cale could not trust Jopis.
“Princess does not seem to be the proper title for a dethroned person like me. Please cut the crap.”
Cale nodded his head and slightly shrugged his shoulders. She looked at him before elegantly continuing to speak.
“If there are people who can’t say things because they have a lot of things, there are also people who can’t say everything because that is the only thing they have.”
She could see the corners of the red-haired man’s lips starting to go up.
“Then how about we discuss a subject we can both talk about?”
“…I wonder what you mean by that.”
Jopis held the teacup in her hand and only focused on Cale even as the tea was cooling down.
Cale started to speak at that moment.
“Did you not fall for the Illusionist’s illusions because you are a shaman?”
The smile disappeared from Jopis’s face.
“I see that you are feigning ignorance even though you know everything. I am talking about your older sister. Elisneh the First.”
Jopis’s reaction was so amazing it could have belonged in a play before she turned toward the Mercenary King.
“He said you needed the Molden Kingdom’s secrets, but you already knew everything about that crazy bitch before coming here.”
Cale flinched before asking a question.
“…I heard the two of you were close to each other.”
“What’s wrong? Is it because I called my older sister a crazy bitch?”
She put the teacup down and continuing to speak.
“A bitch like her who uses her family is no family of mine. That is why she is a crazy bitch.”
Ron emptied the cold tea and replaced it with a new cup of hot tea.
Jopis stared at the tea and started to speak again.
“I was trying not to say anything about myself if possible, but it looks like I have no choice.”
She recalled the past.
“One day, I realized that I had a special power.”
She petted the head of the dirty puppy that had been by her side since earlier.
“That realization about my shaman powers came as I became this child’s mother and friend. The moment I acknowledged that I was a shaman, I also realized that I was looking at an illusion.”
The fog that filled her mind had dispersed, revealing the truth to Jopis.
‘You can snap out of an illusion right away just by acknowledging that you are a shaman? Are there no other shamans in the Kingdom?’
Cale had those questions but decided to focus on her story for now.
“Furthermore, I also realized that my family, the royal court, and even the entire Molden kingdom was being tricked by that motherf*cking bitch.”
“Are you saying Elisneh the First is showing an illusion to the entire Molden Kingdom?”
Choi Han interjected into the conversation.
“No. There was no need to do that. She acted as a benevolent monarch and covered her horrible deed.”
“Is that horrible deed the dead mana inside the palace?”
Jopis sighed after hearing Cale’s question.
“Oh my, sir, you really know pretty much everything.”
She nodded her head and sat up straight.
“That’s right. I saw the dead mana river once I pushed the illusion away. I saw that river that flows in a zigzag pattern. I attempted to stop Elisneh the First ever since that moment.”
“Why didn’t you tell other people the truth that you discovered?”
Jopis started to laugh after hearing Choi Han interject again. She looked elegant even as she laughed.
“Everybody in the palace, the royal family, administrators, servants, and maids are under the illusion. Furthermore, Elisneh the First has pretended to be a benevolent monarch to the citizens of the kingdom.”
Elisneh had continued to develop the kingdom.
Who would realize her inner mask?
“Nobody believed me. Even the people in the village below who followed me until the last moment could not get rid of the brainwashing if they had been in the palace for even a short duration of time.”
There was a bitter smile on Jopis’s face.
“The reason they chose to follow me was not because they realized Elisneh’s true nature, but because they trusted me more and loved me more than the others did.”
Jopis petted the puppy that was rubbing its head on her leg.
“Of course, these children believe me.”
There was something Cale could not understand as he heard Jopis’s story.
“Why did Elisneh keep you alive?”
She was the only person in the palace who had realized the illusion. Why did Elisneh keep such a dangerous person alive?
Because she was her younger sister? Because of affection for her family?
Cale saw a smile appear on Jopis’s face.
He could also see the corners of her eyes curl up.
“She said she wanted to see me go crazy.”
Her family was in the palace. The brainwashed people were in Elisneh’s hands, pretty much being held hostage in Jopis’s eyes.
Furthermore, nobody even tried to believe her.
“Elisneh said that death was too easy of a price to pay for hindering her. She told me to live in sorrow without being able to do anything until I go crazy.”
There was a sad smile on Jopis’s face.
“So I decided to go crazy.”
The smile slowly disappeared before the elegant woman looked toward Cale and continued to speak.
“To be honest with you, who you are is not important to me. I’ll gladly sell my soul to the devil if I can get what I want. I’ve been waiting for someone to give me such a chance.”
“Am I that person?”
Jopis leaned forward and whispered to Cale.
“You just need to give me my freedom.”
“Your eyes look quite greedy for someone who just wants her freedom. Am I wrong?”
She was silent for a moment before she responded.
“You’re good at reading people.”
Cale raised his hand. He started to speak once Choi Han walked up.
“Get rid of Bud’s gag.”
Jopis remained quietly.
“Aigoo, that’s so much better!”
Bud’s gag was removed. He could finally explain the reason he came to this place.
“I was investigating the Molden palace when I got some information that there might be a maze in the basement. That maze is something only the royal family knows how to get across.”
That was the reason he had come looking for Jopis.
The entire Molden royal family other than Princess Jopis was known for being close and loving. That was why Princess Jopis was the only person they could ask about the maze.
Cale had not heard about the maze from Elf priestess Adite. He had only heard about the dead mana on the way to the fake World Tree.
Of course, Adite might have held the detailed explanation off until they met again.
Cale lowered his head.
The puppy was circling and sniffing him. It then wagged its tail and barked toward Jopis.
“Ruff, ruff ruff!”
Jopis’s eyes opened wide for a moment before she smiled and started to speak.
“Apparently you are not the devil. In fact, you are supposedly a good person?”
“That is complete nonsense. I am a bad person.”
Ron, Choi Han, and Bud all silently looked toward Cale, but Cale did not notice as the three of them had already been quiet.
Cale tapped on the armrest for a bit before starting to speak.
He leaned forward and the two of their faces became close. He then started to whisper.
“I guess we can first consider you to be the ‘guide’ for the maze. And you just want your freedom as compensation. You’ll take care of yourself after that.”
“That is correct.”
“You total scammer.”
“…What did you say?”
Jopis’s eyebrows were twitching, unlike her graceful tone. However, Cale was calm as he called her a scammer.
“The deal seems extremely beneficial only for you.”
Jopis was aiming for the throne.
She would only need to guide them through the maze and in return, she would get her freedom, watch the palace flip over, and earn an opportunity to take down Elisneh.
“It seems that it is very hard to scam someone.”
Jopis did not deny it. Cale took a document out of his pocket and handed it to her.
“I will tell you what we want.”
Bud was currently being held hostage. That was why she had the advantage ever since they got here.
It was now time to change that.
Jopis’s eyes opened wide.
She seemed very shocked. She started to speak after seeing the crest on the first page of the document.
It was the crest of a kingdom on the distant Western continent.
She looked at Cale.
“…You’re not from the Eastern continent?”
The Molan Household and the Mercenaries Guild.
Both of these had started from the Eastern continent.
That was why she had expected the man in front of her to be someone from the Eastern continent’s underworld she did not know about. Either that or she thought he might be another power player at their level.
However, the person’s identity went beyond her wildest expectations.
“My name is Commander Cale Henituse, and I am here as a representative of the Roan Kingdom.”
She asked an ironic question as soon as Cale revealed his identity.
“…Really, who are you?”
She was really curious about the person’s identity.
It was at that moment. Bud who had been peeking at them puffed his chest and started to speak.
“He is the Western continent’s greatest hero.”
Cale frowned as Jopis said hero, but Jopis did not manage to see it.
Ron poured more hot tea into the cup as he commented.
“He is also my master.”
Bud looked toward the shocked Jopis and continued to speak.
“He is someone I am serving as a secretary. Even the entire Mercenaries Guild would not be able to defeat this punk’s group. He’s someone who has already flipped an Empire over. Hahahaha!”
Jopis’s eyes opened wide.
“Ah! He’s also filthy rich!”
Jopis was at a loss for words after Bud said the last part and started to laugh out loud.
‘This Cale Henituse person’s group alone is enough to destroy the Mercenaries Guild and an Empire? He’s also someone who represents the Western continent’s Roan Kingdom?’
“…Is it okay to tell me the truth like that? I haven’t made a deal with you yet. What will you do if I go straight to Elisneh and tell her everything?”
The puppy looked at an empty spot in the air and started to bark.
‘There seems to be a stronger presence even though you can’t tell what it is?’
This dirty puppy was no normal puppy.
This child was intelligent like his mother. Jopis thought that there were many special things about this puppy that she had not realized yet.
Such a child was looking at an empty spot in the air and saying that there is an unknown but special existence here.
An existence so amazing that she herself did not notice.
Jopis could see the calm Cale who was frowning at Bud’s comments.
This person was strong enough that the fact that Bud revealing everything just now did not matter.
‘That’s why they are revealing all of this to me as if it was nothing.’
Jopis clenched the documents Cale handed her.
These were the conditions someone who had much more than she had was offering her.
“You must have come to test me. You came to see whether I was useful or not.”
Cale shrugged his shoulders and shook his head.
‘A test my ass. I came to get this damn bastard.’
Cale held back his sigh at Bud’s exaggerated ramblings and unnecessary boast.
However, Jopis took that reaction differently.
‘If it is someone who can mess with the Mercenaries Guild and an Empire, he should be able to take down the Molden Kingdom easily as well.’
“…You must be a scary person. I apparently let someone who might blow my f*cking head off into my house.”
‘Blow her f*cking head off? Why would she say such a dangerous thing-?’
Cale tried to say something.
“It’s fine. Let me read these conditions first.”
Jopis smiled elegantly as she gracefully flipped the first page of the document and continued to speak to Cale.
“My resolve is not even afraid of devils. It wouldn’t matter to me even if you were someone from the Demonic race.”
‘Wait. I’m not from the Demonic race? In fact, I need to take care of the White Star who seems to have made a contract with the Demonic race.’
“I’m actually someone who is more likely to take down the Demonic race.”
Cale shared the truth with her, and…
“You really are a scary person. I pray that you don’t cut my neck off.”
‘No, it’s not like that!’
However, Cale missed his chance to retort.
The puppy was wagging his tail while looking up at Cale.