In accordance with Seo Dawon’s plan, we decided to monitor how Ru Hyerin would approach Lim Jisoo. The task was divided between two teams; Garam-ie and Choi Kyung-sik would each play a role in observing Lim Jisoo’s movements for 12 hours.
And, in order to aid our monitoring, we unpacked and moved some luggage into another hotel near the one Lim Jisoo was staying in. We went through all this trouble in order to fully maximize the use of the servants’ skills.
The servants stated they could use their skills if they were some distance away from me, their master, but the farther they were the less potent their skills would be. Furthermore, their minds would be beset by mental stress.
I had never heard of this penalty before, but none of the servants raised any objections or contradictions when Seo Dawon informed me of this limitation. In order words, he spoke the truth: the further the others were from me, the less capable they’d be. Everyone was already aware of this.
In addition, the flimsier our bond, the less they could exert their abilities.
In other words, Seo Dawon and Lackey may rarely experience headaches, stress, and loss of concentration even if they were quite far away from me, but other servants, especially Choi Kyung-sik and Woo Ragi considering their low ‘friendliness’ or ‘affection’ stat, would be nervous even if they were just outside the range of my home.
I was surprised by their unexpected weakness. “What do you mean by ‘lose concentration?'”
“We kept thinking about you.”
“…What?” When I heard Seo Dawon’s answer, I couldn’t help but be conscious of the gazes looking at me for some reason.
However, Seo Dawon adopted a serious tone, abandoning his usual joking demeanor. “It’s true. I keep thinking, ‘I’ll have to return by your side quickly.’ Worries like, ‘What if someone infiltrates your home while I’m gone and put you in danger…’ fill my head. I couldn’t concentrate on my own tasks because I kept checking your status constantly.”
“That must have been…difficult,” I answered, bluntly.
‘Was this why the servants always seemed so strangely insecure and restless…?’
However, even after listening to the Mage’s explanation, I couldn’t believe that Choi Kyungsik, who always smiled so vaguely, or Woo ragi, who became annoyed whenever our eyes met, would think like that.
‘Anxiety… Perhaps Seo Dawon feels that sort of emotion because it’s him… Choi Kyung-sik or Woo Ragi probably feels annoyance…’
I stared at those two in disbelief, but neither seemed interested in me. They remained still, neither denying nor confirming this new revelation. So, I focused on the operation planning that followed the lull in the conversation.
Anyway, because of that penalty, Choi Kyung-sik had to stay with me to prevent him from deteriorating to uselessness. The speed at which we overpower Ryu Hyerin was the key to this plan, so any mistakes or poor concentration had to be prevented as much as possible.
There was much foot traffic around the hotels here; our movements may be filmed or we may attract witnesses. So, to increase the chances of success without consequences, we considered observing from within the Royal Palace hotel–Lim Jisoo’s hotel. However, since there was a possibility that Bae Jaemin would make a surprise visit, we eventually decided on another hotel just 3 kilometers away from the Royal Palace hotel.
I decided to speak my mind, “This feels similar to the Park Hoseok case–the way we follow and observe the target.”
“Unlike then, though, Ryu Hyerin will already be aware of strange happenings and possible dangers, so she’s sure to be wary. Furthermore, the fact that her power–her attribute–is opposite to yours is something to be cautious about.” Kim Olim answered as she unfurled the map and checked the nearby roads.
After contemplating her words, I realized that Lady Luck blessed us in many ways when we captured Park Hoseok. We hadn’t visited the Jeju Island villa during the holiday season, so there were few people around at that time. The fact that Park Hoseok actually came exactly as he was summoned–to a location we specially chose–meant that we were halfway to success by the beginning of our operation.
However, our current operation would take place in some of the busiest locations in the hub; there were many department stores and restaurants near the hotel, so people wandered around day and night. Furthermore, as was usual in most downtown districts, public officials from the official User’s Association regularly patrolled the area as security detail. If Ryu Hyerin called for help, we would risk being exposed.
I kept looking at the crossed-out routes and asked Kim Olim, “About Ryu Hyerin… How is she at combat?”
“It’s meaningless to ask about her combat capabilities. Ryu Hyerin is a High-Pirest who can use [Holy Descent] 1 Descent as in ‘God’ descending upon the mortal plane. [/en_note] … If she attempts to flee while in that state, it’ll be troublesome. As you can glean from the skill’s name, she would literally be under God’s protection.”
Since I was ignorant of a High Priest’s Power, I couldn’t even recklessly state that we’d be fine due to Kim Olim’s outstanding abilities.
Furthermore, I was concerned that no other servant refuted the Paladin’s words. In particular, Seo Dawon remained silent and continuously stared at the map; I could feel that he was seriously considering that possibility.
However, I still strived to speak whatever came to mind–after all, I wanted to be of some help as well. “Then, why don’t you get rid of the chauffeur first–just like you did with Geum Miyoung?”
“Ryu Hyerin, she… She usually drives herself around. She makes it a hobby.”
“And, if she’s trying to keep her visit with Lim Jisoo a secret, there’s an even greater chance she’ll travel alone… Though, that’s only a guess.” Kim Olim said quickly, as if she knew everything about Ryu Hyerin.
If I were ignorant, I would have thought the Paladin joined Ryu Hyerin’s fan club…They must have had a pretty close relationship before the guild’s downfall. Furthermore, her expression while gazing at the map was so ferocious, I couldn’t help but flinch. Her current energy couldn’t be compared to when she killed Geum Miyoung.
‘In a way, more so than Seo Dawon, Kim Olim is…’
…How should I put this… She looked even more emotionally agitated. I suppose one could describe her fierce anger as a gripping obsession.
I looked at Kim Olim through the corner of my eye; crazily enough, Seo Dawon, who had been engaged to Ryu Hyerin, was calmer than the Paladin. As soon as he felt my gaze, the Mage opened his mouth. Looking towards Choi Kyung-sik, he asked, “Is there anything you can make that can follow a target–like a familiar?”
Choi Kyung-sik looked completely flustered at that question. He crumpled his brows, “I’m an Alchemist! Are you serious?”
“You’ve really improved your whining skills.”
“Well, I could make a mini-golem. That’s no big deal, but… The contraption will definitely stand out too much. Also, its durability will be weak enough that even Ryu Hyerin could trample it beneath her feet.”
Everyone in the living room fell silent; no decent methods arose from our brainstorming session.
‘So, if Ryu Hyerin were to run away, it’ll be disadvantageous for us, right?’
Looking down at the map, I recalled my servant’s conversation. Then, without thinking much, I opened my mouth. “Hey, this is just my idea, but…”
“Rather than worrying about Ryu Hyerin escaping… Mmmn… Why not entice her to chase after us? So, we can throw a bait that’ll secretly place Ryu Hyerin on our trail.”
However, when the servants’ red eyes simultaneously looked towards me, I felt a bit awkward and wondered if I had said anything wrong.
Woo Ragi asked bluntly, “What would be the bait?”
While I stammered at Woo Ragi’s words, it was Choi Kyung-sik who unexpectedly answered, “Why not summon Guildmaster-nim for a little while as lure? We just need to be clever and not directly expose his face–just a few side profiles or his back.”
“If I were Ryu Hyerin-ssi, I would become curious and follow in secret.”
However, I thought differently. ‘If I see someone who looks like my fiance–the fiance that I killed with my very own hands… If that were me, I’d never follow because I would be so scared…’
However, the servants nodded their heads as if they thought it was a good idea.
“Knowing her personality, she’ll definitely do more than follow.” Kim Olim mumbled to herself before shutting her mouth.
Seo Dawon lowered his eyes as if he were contemplating and tapped his fingers on the table. “I’m alright with acting as the lure, but I can’t make her feel threatened… She can’t sense that anything is off with the situation. Ryu Hyerin must not contact anyone else or give up in the middle of her chase.”
At those words, Jung Garam raised his hand, “How about using some drugs? Like making her feel momentarily fuzzy?”
Choi Kyung-sik agreed, “I do have a few [Seductions] left.”
Seo Dawon continued to contemplate for a while longer before shaking his head and explaining, “That’s good, but, we’ll have to lure Ryu Hyerin to a deserted place… Specifically, we’ll need something to definitely lower her vigilance and induce curiosity within her.”
As I listened to the mage, I looked down at Lackey, who lounged by my feet as it assembled toy blocks.