Chapter 110

“There are all sorts of nasty and weird people attached to this place. Men and women openly show their affection, many offer their opinions on different ways of doing things, and they have discussions with each other… Sometimes the people here even openly swear about their managers. Why does the Count allow such uncomfortable things?” Gun replied, already forgetting his previous argument with Rain.

“Yes, isn’t it amazing? There are no secrets here. Little things are quickly known, and one can quickly see what happens next. Besides, there are many sources of information from all over the continent here. Do you know what I mean? The leaders here and outside are not going to want a major accident to happen in this place. If things are known outside, there’s a lot of trouble for their overall business.”

“So, this place is safe? Then why would we die if we leave?”

“I’m going to emphasize again, it’s you, not us. What level of intelligence do you think they have?”

“It’s… a lot.”

“Yes… it’s creepy just thinking about how much they have. Won’t they already know what you’re talking about today, and also about your plan to retaliate? I think they’ll know. Can you really feel relieved after leaving?”

“No way! They can’t know that much,” Gun shouted briefly. 

His anxious gaze swung through the room dizzily.

“Besides, the Dark Guilds are here as well. Have you ever heard of the Dark Guilds?”

“Sure…”

“They’re a real national assassination and information-gathering organization. Even if you escape safely from here, you’ll probably die before you reach the imperial family. You won’t even know what happened. Do you know why the Dark Guilds are scary?” Rain asked.

Gun’s face turned red and then blue.

“I have strong guards. There are Awakened Warriors among them as well. I came safely, but I won’t be able to return?”

“You weren’t a target back then, were you?”

“…”

“Even if you go back safely, you won’t be able to live a day in peace. Do you get a sense of your situation now? If I were you, I would choose not to be hostile to them for the sake of your mental health. Although, it may be too late for you anyway…”

“Th-Then… what should I do now?”

Gun looked up at Rain with a confused face. She glanced at his face. The signs of hatred and contempt disappeared from his face and returned to become a child’s face for a brief moment. He probably didn’t notice it himself.

‘This guy is really troublesome and disgusting. At the same time, his situation is pathetic,’ Rain thought.

“They’ll probably go to Prigojin on their own accord. You should go with them then. That’s the only way you’ll live.”

“What? Are you kidding?”

“No, I’m serious. I intend to follow them as well.”

“Crazy… what trickery are you planning? Are you trying to take me hostage?”

“Actually, the opposite is true. If you accompany them, they’d probably feel dumbfounded. To avoid unnecessary misunderstandings, they’ll have to protect you no matter what. It won’t be a problem to kill you when you’re alone, but it’s a real headache to try and hurt you if it’s known you’re traveling with them. Imperial assignments are a bit difficult and scary, right?”

“Is that…will it be… is that how it’ll be?”

“You’re a nuisance to everyone, do you know that?”

***

Rain fell into thought. She used a person to deliver a note to ask the two for a meeting.

‘My written expressions were general, but they’ll definitely understand my meaning.’

Rain’s gaze turned down to the first floor. On the railing below, Gun was talking with the Count. Laughter poured out from Rain’s mouth. It was a slightly twisted laugh. What people call a ‘condescending’ laugh…

Rain was the emperor’s daughter, and Gun was the emperor’s grandson. She would be his direct aunt, but he was very direct and informal to her.

‘My destiny, my reality… The low status of my mother, who was a maid, couldn’t keep me safe from the dangers of this hierarchical society.’

She suddenly recalled her background. It was a reality that naturally came to mind whenever she compared herself with the other imperial family members. It was always something she needed to overcome, like a constant enemy.

Gun’s father is the person most likely to become the next emperor, and his mother is the famous daughter of the imperial Minister of State, from the Jung-Ha Family. The Jung-Ha family is the most powerful family in the Empire… they control the administration, personnel organization of the imperial family, and military forces… no one can touch them. The same goes for the other imperial families…’

She looked back on how she got here. She reflected on her urgency, seemingly having no choice but to come to this remote place…

‘The best genius of the imperial family. The backbone of the existing power. However, my position is dangerous and precarious with no real power and no one to lean on.’

She let out a sigh. She was in a difficult situation. Other families could mobilize enormous resources and talent with the backing of their large families whenever they needed it. Rain didn’t have this backing. She would never be noticed as someone important or noteworthy.

However, new positions were recently created by the emperor. Thus, this unfortunate genius was fortuitously given a critical position in the new government.

- The 2nd Special Assistant seat under the Secretary’s Office –

The Secretary’s Office was in charge of planning, managing, and overseeing the affairs of the imperial family. It was probably similar to the role played by eunuchs in Imperial China. In a modern Korean company, it would be similar to the General Planning Office.

The secretaries, all unmarried princesses, were in charge of handling the imperial court’s secret information. The Emperor’s daughters were not happy, contrary to the glamorous title that was bestowed upon them. They were just useful resources for strategic marriages. On the other hand, once they were married, they were asked to act as informants. The job of being an informant was not something one can do by just selling one’s body.

Therefore, the princesses should receive formal education and training to collect and interpret information. The place where they would receive this education and training was called the Secretary’s Office.

Those who were given positions were forbidden to marry, as they had to handle the imperial secrets for a long time. There was no term limit for these high-level officials, so there was no prospect of any of these princess officials getting married.

Essentially, the princesses shared their fate with the current Emperor. The chief and deputy officers were appointed with princesses born from different empresses of the current emperor. These officers cooperated with each other, but they also acted as a check against things that entangled the family’s interests. Since the princesses’ fortunes were intertwined with the success of the emperor, there was little doubt to whom their allegiance belonged.

Rain announced her existence and dedication to the entire imperial family by taking the second seat in the Secretary’s Office in her mid-20’s. It was a new mission assigned to her by the emperor. This sudden position pushed Rain into the middle of a power struggle, regardless of her will. The intelligent Rain immediately noticed the nature and danger of her work.

The Secretary’s Office dealt with the preliminary review of documents to be approved by the emperor and the authenticity and appropriateness of the information.

Her personal assessment of this work was that the nature of the work itself was power. Depending on the direction in which the secretary’s pen rotates, and how the information was evaluated, the seriousness of a matter was determined, and a person’s neck may be blown away.

From a sheet of paper and a few ink stains, fortunes changed. Moreover, since the work of the Secretary’s Office was the decision of the emperor, it was difficult to perform verification. Who would challenge the emperor’s intelligence and decision? In short, her work would decide which direction the emperor’s blade swung.

Thus…

‘My position is like dancing atop a sword’s blade. Unfortunately, I’m in charge of personnel and finance… The biggest reason the emperor appointed me was because of my ability to handle complex numbers…’

Her dry yet fluffy laughter rang out.

‘No… that’s just a superficial reason… There must be another hidden reason for why His Majesty chose me. It’s because… I don’t have the power to do anything meaningful. This mission is to look into the affairs of the Jung-Ha family, the family from which the second wife of Jun-Kyung Dera, who’s aiming to become the next emperor, comes from…’

The emperor did not believe in his successor. Or maybe he was using Rain as bait to test his successor. This new mission could also signify the current emperor’s checks and balances against competing imperial powers, such as his sons and others. 

Naturally, all of Rain’s actions attracted the attention of both Jun-Kyung Dera and the Jung-Ha family. Their concerns were probably why they sent their most useless chess piece, Gun Dera, to accompany her on this expedition. Perhaps, for the first time, they were looking forward to Gun creating a scene. Rain laughed. Tears flowed down from her smiling face.

‘I probably won’t be able to make it out alive. No matter how safely I plan and move, I’m not able to protect myself and do this job properly. No one wants someone who knows too much. Even my father… I’m just an intelligent consumable.’

Outwardly, Rain laughed with joy when she was given her title and assignment from the emperor. However, in her heart, she wailed in sorrow, crying a river.

She was dragged into the Secretary’s Office to die, and her father, who knew she would die, and the 1st Empress were probably laughing and congratulating each other.

Rain could almost hear their cackling laughter. Regardless, she started her job. Everything in the imperial family’s affairs was entangled. Interests were intertwined like a spider web. And in the imperial court, the ‘definitive thing’ she desperately needed wasn’t available.

She needed ‘people’. Even though she was assigned a job dealing with information, she didn’t have any trustworthy or capable informants, and even if she was given some, they weren’t hers to begin with. They were all double agents, and the imperial information they were dealing with was being passed on to someone else in real-time. The moment she found them and drove them out, she would probably die. Actually, she’d probably be killed before having a chance to drive them out.

This was by no means what Rain wanted. She wanted to build her own organization, and the emperor approved it. The person she wanted had already been decided. They must have strong combat ability to stand up against any threat, must possess excellent abilities to collect and interpret information, and have no political affiliations. Finally, she must be able to entrust her life to these people.

‘There are many talents in the world. But, can I find someone like that outside the Absolute Clans?’

The answer seemed to be ‘no’. The three Absolute Clans and the thirteen premier clans below them were the universities of this world. The force, knowledge, and wisdom created in this world were synthesized in warriors through the clan structure. Self-taught people would find it hard to achieve such feats. Actually, it was almost impossible.

However, Rain couldn’t look to the clans for her needs. This was because the clans themselves were a force and background that carried a lot of political baggage.

What about the top merchant guilds? Merchants were inherently untrustworthy. What about the non-traditional Dark Guilds? They were a group of wanderers who had never learned anything systematically. They would also easily betray if given the opportunity. Mercenary groups? They were butchers with muscles as their heads. Temple people? They were politically out of control.

Rain found no one during the first six months after taking office. She was frustrated. What can one do without people? In the end, Rain sought advice from Hanyoung, the Imperial-designated Warrior, the ‘Philosopher’s Sword’. He was the only person she could comfortably communicate with.

He was a person whom she could open her heart to. He also represented the Imperial military, as he, for all intents and purposes, held the military power of the Empire.

He was regarded as one of the two pillars of the Han-Sung Clan, along with Hanhyuk, the leader of the Han-Sung Clan. Hanhyuk was said to be the best warrior on the continent and a legend.

In spite of his tremendous power, Hanyoung was respected and feared by everyone because he was gentle and wise.

Because of her genius, Rain caught Hanyoung’s eye early on. He taught almost all of the imperial family children. It was very natural for the wisest teacher of the Han Sung Clan, who was in charge of imperial education, and the wisest student to meet and form a bond.

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