Book 2: Chapter 49
This was something that Min Ha-rin had never experienced in her relatively short life.
She didn’t even realise when it had ended. The constant flashing of cameras and the rapid spitfire of questions caused her mind to grow numb.
After a while, she couldn’t even remember the answers she gave. If it weren’t for Lukas, she might have said something wrong.
‘I’m so tired.’
It was different from the fatigue that came with hunting Demons. It felt like her energy had been sapped.
When she looked over at Leo, she noticed that he was also tired although he didn’t show it.
‘I just want to rest for 5 minutes.’
And water. She wanted to drink water so cold that it would make her bones ache.
“What are you doing? There’s no time to relax.”
But the witch didn’t seem to have any intention of letting them rest.
Joanna gave her a look as if to ask if she was tired from just this much.
“We’ll be traveling by car, so you can take a rest on the move.”
Was she talking about a vehicle?
At that moment, a black limousine entered the square and gracefully pulled up in front of them.
Min Ha-rin’s jaw dropped subconsciously.
Smiling, Joanna boarded the limousine with elegance and grace before saying.
Lukas, Min Ha-rin and Leo boarded the limousine.
The moment her butt touched the soft seat, she felt like she would sink into it completely. It would only be a small exaggeration to say it felt like her body had become one with the seat.
There were also vehicles in Asia, where she had been most active. However, those had mostly been military vehicles or trucks used to transport personnel or supplies.
She’d seen damaged cars a few times in ruined cities during explorations, but she had never seen such a clean-looking car like this limousine in her life.
‘It feels like I’m floating.’
There was almost no noise, and the ride was smooth. There was even a small refrigerator in the car.
Joanna took some canned drinks from the refrigerator before handing them to them.
“Ah… Thank you.”
She didn’t like this nasty woman, but her conscience didn’t allow her to refuse.
So she simply bowed her head slightly and accepted the can. It was a brand of cola she’d never seen before.
When she took a small sip, the sweet taste and slight fizz of carbonation made her taste buds tingle.
…It was delicious.
Leo’s attention seemed to be locked onto the scenery outside. For Leo, who was born in Britain and never left Europe, the forest of skyscrapers that he could see outside the window was literally a new world.
“Where are we going?”
It was Min Ha-rin who asked.
“To the Headquarters.”
“I thought the headquarters would be nearby since the portal was located in the square. But I guess it’s not.”
“North America is different from the other regions.”
Min Ha-rin muttered softly before taking another sip from the can.
Joanna looked at her with a slightly solemn expression.
Hunters from Europe. Europe was supposed to be the frontlines where hunters fought against Demons constantly. So because of that, she thought the European hunters would be a skilled and powerful group.
Of course, she didn’t think they would be a match for American hunters who continued to grow explosively due to having the best resources and support from the association. But she at least hoped to meet a hero.
This expectation was even greater ever since she heard that this hunter was a guest of Association President Neil Prand.
So why was it only this much?
A woman, a boy, and a self-proclaimed Wizard.
Min Ha-rin was a rookie hunter who’d made a name for herself in Asia. But there was one thing she found strange.
‘I heard that the White Flower is a swordsman, so why can I feel mana fluctuations?’
Min Ha-rin had the scent of a Wizard. At first, she thought it was just an illusion, but now, she didn’t think so.
This woman was at least a 3 star Wizard. She had done something to cover it up, but it was impossible to trick the eyes of an Archmage like Joanna.
In the first place, she had put aside her busy schedule to come greet them. After all, there was no way for her to refuse an order that came directly from the President. Because of this, her expectations had been quite high before she came here.
She never would have expected these three to be the guests she sacrificed her valuable time for.
‘Even though the President said to be polite to them…’
She thought it was stupid.
There was no need to be polite to low-rank hunters.
Joanna’s eyes turned to the grey-haired man.
She could only think of one thing as she looked at this man.
Unlike the other two, who were excitedly taking in all the sights, this man had remained calm from the start. However…
‘He’s obviously bluffing.’
Without a doubt, this man was the most pathetic of the three.
His identity was a mystery, but unlike Min Ha-rin, who had made a name for herself, or Leo, who clearly had a good foundation, she couldn’t feel anything from this man.
It was unpleasant.
He didn’t seem to have any mana, yet he dared to call himself a Wizard.
It was as though he thought it was easy to be a Wizard. For people like this, she felt it was best to destroy their mana rooms so that they wouldn’t be able to use spells for the rest of their lives.
It was at that moment that an interesting idea popped into her mind.
“Hey. Frey, was it? What rank are you at?”
“You can take a guess.”
It was the same answer he’d given before.
“Ah, is that so? Then I think you should be at least 5 stars.”
Although she usually felt that 3 stars was the limit of most average Wizards, Joanna deliberately raised her guess.
In fact, it didn’t matter whether she said 3 stars or 5. In the first place, she couldn’t feel any mana from this man.
So either this man didn’t have the talent at all or he was a measly 1 star and his mana was so pitiful that she couldn’t sense it.
“You can think so.”
Joanna’s eyebrows raised at that.
This man had just admitted to being a 5 star Wizard.
She had to forcibly stop herself from laughing.
There was still some time till they arrived at the headquarters, so she decided to kill time. She wondered just how far this man could bluff.
Then Lukas turned and looked Joanna in the eyes for the first time.
In that instant, Joanna felt like her entire body had become frozen for some reason, and without realising it, she grabbed the hem of her dress.
“Don’t act recklessly.”
It was a murmur that was close to a whisper. It was so soft that it seemed one would not be able to hear if one wasn’t paying attention. Nevertheless, Joanna heard Lukas’ voice as clearly as if he was shouting.
“There won’t be a second time.”(TL: *fangirling*)
She felt and indescribable pressure, like an invisible hand was gripping her heart.
For a moment, Joanna couldn’t breathe. Her pupils shook.
She stared at Lukas with wide eyes, but he had already looked away and was now staring out the window once again.
Not another word was spoken until they arrived at the North American Headquarters.
* * *
The North American Headquarters was housed in an extremely tall skyscraper. Even if they titled their heads 90 degrees, it was hard for them to see the top.
Joanna coughed slightly before opening her mouth.
“This is the headquarters of the North American branch. It’s also called the Pilsky Tower.” (TL: Pilsky, Pil Sky, or Pill sky? Maybe even Philsky)
After saying that, she glanced at Lukas. Joanna’s attitude was different from before.
When they entered the building, Min Ha-rin looked around the first floor before muttering.
“It’s so peaceful.”
It reminded her of a shopping mall. There were restaurants, coffee shops, clothing stores, and even arcades.
People sat at tables that were scattered throughout the floor. Their expressions showed no tension at all.
“…I don’t think they are hunters.”
“You have good eyes. These people are not hunters.”
Hearing Joanna’s words, Min Ha-rin tilted her head to the side.
“Ah. Then are they civilians who work with the association?”
“No. They’re just ordinary people.”
“The public can enter the North American Headquarters…?”
“Pilsky Tower is the North American Headquarters as well as one of the top tourist attractions in Manhattan. Public access is permitted up to the 50th floor.”
Min Ha-rin’s jaw dropped at those words.
The Hunter Headquarters was a tourist attraction?
It felt like her common sense was being challenged. However, this was not uncommon in North America, where attacks from Demons were rare.
Joanna led them to an elevator on the left, which had an ID scanner. It seemed that this was an elevator that could only be used by hunters.
Then, a man who appeared to be a security guard approached them and gave Joanna a wireless earpiece.
“Joanna, you’re here.”
Joanna didn’t respond, instead simply collecting the earpiece, and stepped into the elevator.
A long finger pressed the button of the 125th floor. It was very high up.
Joanna suddenly became silent, and it seemed that she was listening to something from the earpiece in her ear.
When they reached the 60th floor, she spoke again.
“Come to think of it, have you eaten?”
“Good. I’m a bit hungry, so let’s eat first. We still have some time to spare.”
They didn’t have time to spare.
Min Ha-rin complained inwardly, but she didn’t say anything.
After a while, the elevator came to a stop, and Joanna stepped off first as she spoke.
“The 125th floor is the resting area for hunters. It has a restaurant, a lounge, a library, a karaoke room, a game room… Oh. They’re a bit small, but there is also a golf course and a movie theater.”
Huh. It seemed that there was no end to the surprises.
She didn’t expect the resting area to have so many facilities. Probably only North America was like this in the entire world.
Looking at Min Ha-rin and Leo who were glancing around the floor, Joanna continued.
“Each region hides information about American hunters as much as possible. Do you know why?”
“It’s because most people wouldn’t want to leave if they came here. Of course, we would not stop hunters from coming. After all, this is a world where the land mass is large but the people are scarce.”
People were also a resource. This was basically what Joanna was saying.
Then they saw the restaurants.
There were many different varieties.
Western, Chinese, Japanese. There were even Korean restaurants.
Just the slight smell that drifted from them caused their mouths to water. The chefs in these restaurants were definitely top-class.
When they finally sat at a table, Min Ha-rin and Leo tried to decide what to eat. Then, Joanna tapped Lukas on the shoulder.
“Can I talk to you for a minute?”
Wondering what she was up to, Lukas turned to look at Joanna, but she avoided making eye contact with him. It seemed what happened in the limousine was still fresh in her mind.
Did she want to talk about that?
No. She didn’t have the guts to do that at the moment.
Did she set a trap for him?
That was even more unlikely.
Maybe she really just wanted to talk.
Lukas got up from his seat.
“You guys eat first.”
Min Ha-rin and Leo looked curious, but they chose to listen to their Master.
Lukas and Joanna headed to a lounge a short distance away from the restaurant. The glass walls in the lounge gave the customers a clear view of the city.
There were many chairs there, but Joanna didn’t take a seat. It seemed the conversation would end soon.
“The President contacted me. He said to have you meet him alone.”
Joanna pointed to her ear as she said this.
He knew Neil’s personality. So he wasn’t surprised that he wanted to meet him alone without Min Ha-rin and Leo.
It seemed he wanted to have a private conversation.
“You can go to the 177th floor. Well, then. That’s all.”
Then, as if her task was complete, she turned around and tried to leave.
“You’re not going to accompany me?”
“The 177th floor is the President’s private room. Unauthorised personnel are not permitted to enter. Myself included.”
“I’ll take care of your companions. So you can come back here when you’re done.”
Lukas followed her with his eyes for a moment, then he headed to the elevator and pressed the button for the 177th floor.
Neil Prand’s private room.
As the elevator went up, it stopped on another floor.
A man entered from the 159th floor.
It was a middle-aged man wearing a biker jacket and jeans. He had long hair that reached his shoulders, and his beard grew from his sideburns to his chin.
But as soon as Lukas saw this man, he became speechless.
—He was surprised.
You could even say that he was shocked.
The man yawned tiredly as he raised his hand to press the floor button before lowering it again.
Seeing this, Lukas quickly regained his composure. His eyes narrowed slightly.
Only the button for the 177th floor was currently pressed.
In other words, this man was also going to the 177th floor.
To the private room of the Association President that unauthorised personnel couldn’t enter.
…No. That wasn’t the problem.
Looking at this man’s back, Lukas spoke.
The man answered bluntly without looking back.
“What’s your name?”
Only then did the man turn to look at Lukas. His eyes appeared calm and disinterested.
With the sound of arrival, the elevator came to a stop.
(TL: For those who don’t remember, Letip is the third absolute that came to the world)