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Chapter 34: Above the guy who runs, there is the guy who flies* (1)

“…What did you just say?”

The man with a cigar clamped between his teeth, muttered this casually.

His tone was usual.

However, the attendant knew.

This was evidence that the man, the empire’s Second Prince, had reached the limits of his patience.

Involuntarily, the attendant’s legs began to tremble.

It was almost to be expected.

Given the current situation.

It was clear where the Second Prince’s fury was directed.

“The plan has failed... Again, it was the Black Fangs...”

The attendant could not continue.

His throat hurt.

He couldn’t breathe.

“...Displeasing.”

A massive murderous intent was emanating from him.

An ominous aura that seemed inhuman poured out.

It was more than the ordinary attendant could bear.

Yet, the attendant said nothing.

It was impossible to do so.

To the prince, people were merely tools.

Except for himself, everyone was merely a tool, disposable at his convenience.

If the attendant did even slightly annoy him, not only would he be in danger, but his family as well.

Eventually, the attendant writhed in agony for a long time, silently enduring his screams... until he could finally be freed.

Leaving the pale-faced attendant sprawled on the ground, the man lit another cigar and sank into thought.

‘...Where could the leak have come from?’

He couldn’t understand it.

Where could the information about this raid have leaked from?

The security was perfect.

Yet, the Black Fangs had effortlessly ruined his plan again.

Somehow, they had annihilated the troops he had sent, right then and there.

‘It’s no coincidence. It can’t be.’

It was by no coincidence that they were at the black market, and by no coincidence that they had killed all his troops.

There’s a limit to such absurdity.

How could such an unbelievable event happen?

Fools often dismiss their own inadequacies as mere coincidences.

Those who stand above others should not adopt such a repulsive attitude. They must acknowledge what went wrong and fix it.

The man firmly believed this.

‘Indeed, they are not to be underestimated.’

‘Despite sealing their lips with a mana oath, they somehow discerned our plans.’

There must be some method they possess to gather information, one so cunning that it remains undetected.

The man retrieved a holy grail from subspace.

Compared to the previous one, its quality was inferior.

This was the third secret sanctuary, a place where kidnapped children, transformed into mere machines reciting prayers, were held captive.

Unlike the previous holy grail, which was crafted using children who genuinely held faith, this one was made from those deemed unworthy.

But still... a holy grail remains a holy grail.

The fact that it was crafted using the lives of over a thousand people doesn’t change.

‘It didn’t work last time, but...’

He wasn’t clumsy enough to make the same mistake twice.

He suspected that the leader of the Black Fangs had some way to avoid the power of the holy grail.

If so... it was simply a matter of changing the target.

If it wasn’t aimed directly at harming the leader of the Black Fangs, there was a chance the holy grail might work.

“Find out how they’re getting their information.”

As he said this, a terrible scream echoed.

Well, it’s just a minor side effect.

The process of turning children into praying machines inevitably involves some torture.

Naturally, the grudges from the souls melded into the holy grail would accumulate.

However, it didn’t really matter.

The malevolent spirits contained here would be purified by the sigils inscribed by the priests of the Holy Imperial Court.

Once again, the holy grail emitted a brilliant light.

A smile formed on the man’s lips.

A distinctly different reaction from before.

This clearly meant one thing.

It worked.

The investment of precious resources was justified.

This time, he would finally understand.

The clue to that inscrutable organization.

The brilliant light from the holy grail slowly formed into letters. Soon, an answer to the man’s question appeared.

And... his face clouded with confusion.

It seemed only natural.

The characters that appeared before him were utterly incomprehensible.

[ Blood and Bone Gallery*]

“What on earth….”

Words whose meaning he couldn’t fathom.

Could it be some kind of spell?

But that seems unlikely; he had never heard of a spell by such a name.

Among the forbidden spells created for the safety of the imperial family, he had never encountered such words.

What could they possibly mean?

Blood and Bone?

Gallery?

It was impossible to make sense of the connection between these words.

The man clenched his teeth.

The holy grail is limited; it’s not something to be wasted this way.

Currently, he only has one holy grail left.

There’s still a long wait until the next supply, as per the contract with the Holy Imperial Court.

But…

Regardless, the holy grail had been activated.

This fact drove the man to madness.

Had it not been activated, he would have been spared this frustration.

However, the holy grail had clearly worked.

That meant that this was indeed a direct answer to his question.

He just couldn’t comprehend the reply.

…It was time to take a gamble.

‘That must be the name of some organization.’

It’s obvious.

If it’s not a spell, the only reasonable assumption is that it refers to a specific organization by name.

If that’s the case… there might be a rat.

Someone sneaking information to the Black Fangs, cooperating with them in some way.

“Tell me the members and the number of people in that organization.”

Therefore, the man used the last holy grail he had.

And soon…

Strange circles began to wildly appear before the man. None of them resembled human names at all.

Only occasionally, bizarre and incomprehensible characters were mixed among these circles.

The situation was utterly baffling.

Yet, this was just the beginning.

‘…What on earth.’

The man’s expression hardened.

It seemed only natural.

The number of members in the organization.

It was far beyond the man’s capacity for logical comprehension.

‘What kind of intelligence organization operates with over 100,000 members?’

He had ensured the security for this plan was exceptionally tight.

The Second Prince himself could confidently say he had prepared thoroughly.

Yet, that security had been completely mocked by the intelligence organization.

An enigmatic organization of such a scale that its identity had still never been revealed.

The man felt like he might lose his mind at any moment.

Handling just the Black Fangs was challenging enough.

And now another bizarre group emerges. There could be nothing more horrifying.

‘Those Black Fangs...’

Nothing ever goes smoothly once they show up.

The artifact had to be retrieved this time.

It was needed for the operation of the empire’s facility that turns heroes back into corpses.

But somehow, they had stolen all the artifacts that were at the black market.

From information leaks to persistent sabotage.

There’s a limit to how irritating something can be.

The man ground his teeth...

And with a deep breath, somehow calmed his mind.

He wasn’t so weak as to be undone by such things.

Rigorously trained in the science of sovereignty.

As a leader, the man quickly composed himself and viewed the situation with a rational perspective.

‘Dwelling on the past is pointless.’

Now… it was time to counterattack.

Fortunately, he had already prepared a plan for this.

It wasn’t for nothing that he had instructed his knights to capture a young noble at the black market and kill them in the most horrific way possible.

This would be reported through the imperial news as an atrocity committed by the Black Fangs.

The image of a young child, a noble at that, being brutally slaughtered.

In a time when a few ungrateful wretches who had forgotten the empire’s benevolence were weighing the Black Fangs against the empire, there was hardly a more perfect solution.

This would completely reverse public opinion.

‘Certainly, this time I might have lost.’

But he had no intention of being a perpetual loser.

The Second Prince thought this as he smiled.

*****

‘It’s a bit dull.’

That was the only thought I could muster after seeing the statement.

I had managed to shake off that psychopathic girl, and now all that was left was to leisurely board the train and head back.

However, something kept nagging at me.

How to put it… It lacked impact.

‘It really feels lacking without a video.’

The fake Black Fang was certainly one of the empire’s knights.

After all, it was a massacre of their own citizens, nobility no less.

This juicy story was too significant to merely mention and move on.

That’s why, after some deliberation… I called Siel.

Of course, there wasn’t any video evidence.

The empire’s knights weren’t fools.

In a situation where they were disguising as the Black Fangs, they wouldn’t have carried anything that could expose their identity.

But…

‘What does that matter?’

If we need evidence, why not create it?

After all, this was a statement from a terrorist organization.

There was no need to worry about journalism.

“Could you prepare some illusion magic?”

At this moment.

There was only one thing I needed to do.

…It was time to spread fake news across the empire.

[TN: Above the guy who runs, there is the guy who flies: This a korean proverb teaches that even those who excel in a certain field should not be arrogant, as there are always those who are far superior.

Gallery: Gallery here actually refer to Dcinside, which is basically Korean reddit with many ‘galleries’ which are like subreddits.

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