Book 2: Chapter 91
After a while, they received a call from Elijah, and Lukas and Joanna headed over to the Warp equipment with their gear.
Coincidentally, the Warp equipment was located in the mansion where Gullard had been staying in the past.
Joanna made a disgusted expression.
Gullard was no longer around, but the fact that this place had once been his lair made her very uncomfortable. It was almost like stepping into a haunted house.
But the moment she entered the mansion, her expression changed immediately.
“We owe you a lot this time.”
“Thank you so much.”
This was because she found the members of the Gray Sun bowing their heads towards her.
She could tell from their expressions that their words weren’t just to be polite. Instead, their faces were covered by genuine expressions of gratitude and respect.
It was different.
Joanna couldn’t help but think about the praise she received daily back when she was in America.
The youngest Archmage.
The most brilliant female Wizard.
The young woman who would lead America to greater heights.
However, those words of praise were nothing but polite comments.
This didn’t mean that the words were false. However… they didn’t even come close to touching her heart the way these simple words of thanks had.
‘…I was such a fool.’
How had she not realised?
Why had she been so pleased by those perfunctory remarks in the past?
Thinking back to herself at that time, Joanna felt ashamed.
“I… I just did what I had to.”
Joanna avoided their emotional gazes as she muttered those words. She’d tried to answer calmly but failed spectacularly.
She didn’t know why she felt so shy all of a sudden. She hadn’t been this embarrassed even when participating in shows that had hundreds of thousands of viewers.
“She’s completely different from what I’d thought at first.”
“It’s nice to see.”
The members couldn’t help but smile when they saw Joanna’s human side.
Their attitude caused Joanna’s face to flush red.
“Y-, you’re looking down on me.”
“They’re not. They will never forget what you did for them.”
Joanna’s face went blank for a moment as she heard Lukas’ words.
Those words caused a strange feeling to fill her heart. It was different from any other emotion she’d ever felt in her life.
It was a warm and extremely overwhelming feeling that reminded her of the pride or feeling of accomplishment that she got whenever she progressed in magic or was commended by a superior.
“…it’s the same in America as well.”
“What do you mean?”
“People who leave for battlefields such as Europe, Africa, and Asia to carry out missions. People who risk their lives day and night to save others.”
“Of course, the America Association Branch didn’t like them very much. I also thought that they were stupid.”
Despite their strength, those people were always neglected.
In fact, their positions in the America Association Branch could only be described as poor.
“…they always seemed devoted and proud.”
Lukas silently listened to Joanna’s voice.
After a short pause, she opened her mouth again.
“Now, I understand… how they felt.”
“That smile that you just showed was very beautiful.”
Lukas spoke his honest opinion. After all, he felt truly happy at that moment.
Joanna had found the sense of satisfaction that only came with doing good deeds. Her outlook on the world would certainly be different from now on.
She would definitely shine brighter. So even Lukas couldn’t help but admire the beauty of this moment.
But, unbeknownst to him, his statement had sent Joanna’s brain flying hundreds of millions of light years away.
Joanna stood there with an absent-minded stare on her face for a moment before instantly turning beet red.
“W-, w-. wh-, wha-, what did you just…-”
A man appeared behind Joanna, whose lips were flapping up and down like a fish.
It was Kran. He was still dressed as sloppily as usual. With his ragged covering his lips, he spoke in his normal, blunt tone.
“I heard you’re going back to America.”
“Right. Will you come with me?”
“Ha. I already turned you down, didn’t I?”
Then why was he here? No matter how he looked at it, it seemed that Kran had been waiting for them for a while.
Kran frowned when he saw Lukas’ questioning gaze.
“I got a place I have to go for now. I need to fix my broken tools, replenish my equipment, and deal with the soul crystals.”
Kran crossed his arms and tapped his feet on the ground in a strange rhythm for a moment. Then, he spoke in a voice that felt like a mixture between nervousness and irritation.
“It’s called Argento Spell, right?”
“…I’ll remember that.”
After saying those words, Kran turned around and disappeared.
It was only then when Joanna came back to her senses and looked at Lukas with a confused expression.
“What did he stop us for?”
“For the day we meet again.”
“That was the best he could do. We have to respect that.”
Joanna said this, but her expression said otherwise.
She couldn’t help but feel like Kran’s interaction with Lukas was different from anyone else’s. But she wasn’t exactly sure where the difference was yet.
It wasn’t long before they arrived at the Warp equipment.
There, they found Elijah waiting for them.
“Come quickly. All the preparations are complete.”
Joanna, who had been looking around for a while, finally tilted her head to the side.
“By the way, where did Mr. Lee go?”
Naturally, she was talking about Lee Jong-hak.
“He already went back to Asia. He seemed to have urgent business.”
When one considered the position of the Human Dragon, Lee Jong-hak, it was understandable why he wouldn’t be able to stay for a long time. His mission in Africa had already been completed, so it was natural that he’d head home immediately afterward.
However, Joanna couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed in the fact that he’d left without saying goodbye despite having fought for their lives together.
After doing one final check of the equipment, Elijah turned to them.
“You’re heading to the North America Headquarters in Manhattan, New York, right?”
The Warp Portal let out a hum as it came into existence. Elijah gazed deeply at the portal before speaking in a solemn tone.
“…I will say it again. Thank you so much. Frey Blake, this is a favour that I will do my very best to repay. On my honour.”
His eyes then turned to Joanna.
“And you, Joanna Goldberg.”
“Of course. You are also our benefactor.”
In fact, in the final battle against the Demons, the Gray Sun would have been annihilated if it hadn’t been for Joanna. Elijah added with a serious expression.
“When I first heard the nonsense about you being chosen by the Great Mage, I honestly thought you’d hit your head…”
No, how did this man know that?
After thinking that, Joanna realised that everything she’d said had been heard by the Gray Sun.
Crazy. That was crazy.
However, Elijah’s next words caused her expression to change.
“…but now, I feel like it might be true.”
For a moment, Joanna felt grateful. The events that had happened before then had allowed her to build up some resistance, so she was able to better hide her embarrassment.
Elijah looked at her and let out a soft chuckle before schooling his expression.
“Then, I wish you best of luck in America.”
A bright light enveloped them.
It was time to return to America.
* * *
The Warp Portal in Manhattan Square.
They were immediately greeted by bright flashes of light and loud noise.
They were back.
Joanna felt her body relax when she saw the familiar scenery, smelled the familiar scents, and heard the familiar sounds. It hadn’t been that long since she’d left, but she felt like a soldier returning home after a few years.
Lukas looked around before opening his mouth.
“There are fewer people than last time.”
“Oh, my God. What’s with the depressing comment? Can’t you see I’m trying to enjoy the feeling of returning home?”
Lukas’ expression softened slightly.
“It’s because today is a weekday. Besides, at that time, there were more people because of the press confere-…”
Joanna’s voice cut off before she finished her sentence.
This was because she remembered how rudely she’d treated Lukas when they first met.
It was a strange feeling. It hadn’t been that long ago, but she felt embarrassed like she was remembering the mistakes she made during childhood.
“…in any case, we should probably hurry over to the headquarters.”
After saying that, Joanna pulled out the smartphone that she’d kept deep in her bag. Of course, it was a communication device that could only be used in North America.
‘There’s a scratch on the screen.’
In the past, she would’ve immediately gotten a replacement, but now, she only wondered where the scratch had come from.
After fiddling with the smartphone for a moment, she called one of her contacts.
“It’s me. Yeah. I’m back. Right, I’m in the square right now.”
Then she hung up.
Soon after, a black limousine pulled into the square.
It was the man who had been stuck to Joanna’s side the first time they met who opened the door and stepped out.
“You’re back. I’m glad you’re safe.”
“Have you been well, Frank?”
His eyes then turned to Lukas, who was standing beside her. Irritation flashed in his eyes for a brief moment.
Lukas and Joanna. He’d been very upset when he learned that the two of them would be going on a mission alone. Of course, he knew that it wouldn’t matter if Joanna’s personal assistant or manager was to express dissatisfaction since the order came directly from the Association President.
Venting his anger, he spoke in a harsh tone.
“You didn’t cause any trouble for Miss Joanna, did you?”
The sudden shout surprised Frank.
It was none other than Joanna who’d shouted. She even looked at him with a reproachful glare.
“Do I have to repeat myself?”
“N-, no, I’m sorry.”
“Am I the one you need to apologise to?”
Frank bit his lip before bowing his head towards Lukas.
“It’s fine. We should hurry up.”
Joanna nodded before stepping onto the car, followed by Lukas.
Frank looked at their backs with a complicated gaze.
“As expected, America is still the best. I can’t wait to go home and take a bath. With steaming hot water and rose petals. Huhu.”
“Is your house nearby?”
“I have a few, but the one here is the one I use most. Ah, it just so happens that I can see it from here. It’s that high-rise building over there. Although it’s a bit small, the night view is unbelievable, so it’s worth the inconvenience.”
“When it comes to the night view, the food at the Cruise Ship Restaurant is absolutely wonderful. I’ll invite you some time, so come with me.”
What was this atmosphere?
Frank couldn’t help but wonder inwardly as he drove.
He didn’t know what Joanna’s mission was, but now, he was curious.
What the hell happened to cause them to become so friendly in such a short time?
Frank knew just how noble Joanna was. His feelings towards her were closer to those of worship, and even though he was only in charge of chores, he took great pride in the fact that he could assist her in any way.
And as far as Frank knew, the only person that Joanna showed such a friendly attitude to was the Association President, Neil Prand.
No, it felt like her attitude now was even better than that.
Frank stopped thinking about it and slowly pulled over. This was because they’d arrived at the North America Headquarters.
“Wait here, Frank.”
They got out of the car and walked into Pilsky Tower.
Like last time, a man who looked like a security guard handed her an earpiece. Joanna took it and hesitated for a moment. Then, she opened her mouth.
“…huh? Ah, no problem.”
The security guard appeared bewildered for a moment before bowing and walking away.
“It’s a security in-ear. It allows us to connect to the network inside the tower. You can change channels according to your clearance level… Wait a moment.”
Joanna tapped the in-ear as she said that, and Lukas nodded.
Then, Joanna heard something from the in-ear and her expression changed slightly.
“They want us to go to the 58th floor.”
“Is something wrong?”
Joanna spoke with a slightly cautious expression.
“…that’s the emergency room.”
It was the emergency room that only housed critically ill or fatally injured patients.