143 Jang Yeri
A week later, Park Han Cheol and the Greenbelt Clan were sipping beer in a pub. Recently the air around Hadum was bristling because the soreness the city felt after Somorah fell had become much more sensitive.
“Huh, let’s forget everything with a drink.”
They could hear voices of other victims here and there. While it was not a common sight anymore, a week after the thief started stealing other’s weapons, one could still see victims suffering in distress.
“That bastard thief is still active. I don’t know what the goddess of wisdom is doing, not arresting that thief…”
Park Han Cheol stared at Choi Jihye with some surprise. She had been the example of innocence, purity, grace- a model priestess of the goddess. Now, Choi Jihye showed a noticeable change in her personality due to the incident that happened a week ago.
She was straying off the good road little by little as the anger for the weapon thief who stole her lifework and the dissatisfaction for the goddess of wisdom who did not answer her prayers overwhelmed her.
Choi Jihye’s deviations were limited to curses, drinking beer, and being an hour late for prayers, but it was depressing to see her changed.
Park Han Cheol took out a cigarette out of habit and spoke.
“Well, it’s a relief that the thief seems to be lying low recently as he seems to be aware of us.”
It was at that moment Choi Jihye spoke to Park Han Cheol.
“Give me one.”
“I said, please give me one.”
Choi Jihye seemed to be pushing her limits. While smoking cigarettes was not an evil deed, Park Han Cheol was astonished to see Choi Jihye like this. Other Greenbelt Clan members were looking at Choi Jihye with saddened eyes, and Park Han Cheol passed a cigarette to Choi Jihye with an unwilling face.
Choi Jihye coughed roughly like someone who had never touched a cigarette but still puffed away like someone in shock.
“Uh…this, this is nice.”
Park Han Cheol could not help but feel pity at Choi Jihye smoking and coughing away since he also sympathized with Choi Jihye’s wish to deviate from the right path. He felt like he was looking at someone breaking down after losing her house deed and land certificates.
“Isn’t he going too far? I’d rather die…”
“This is just a rumor, but remember that summoner with that crossbow next door? I heard that person also lost his item. People seem to think catching that thief means that the items he stole will be theirs. I heard that the summoner’s item was an attachment on his wrist, and he had the dagger stuck where the item was.”
Choi Jihye sipped her beer before speaking again.
“Today’s beer seems sweeter. Liquor really is sweeter as it is stronger. Oh, I think I’m getting tipsy.”
She had ordered beer diluted with water, and Park Han Cheol wondered where her bluff was coming from. However, he did not point that out since he felt consoling Choi Jihye was the priority.
“The thief would be giving away the weapons to his subordinates since most of the monsters such as orcs and goblins live like that. I don’t know much about demons, but he is maybe constructing a treasure trove as the rumors say.”
“And there…my, my staff…is waiting for me.”
Choi Jihye seemed like she would cry again. Park Han Cheol avoided his gaze at her face, and Ha Joohyung from the Greenbelt Clan began to comfort her.
Their meetings almost always went like this after that incident. The ‘weapon thief’ who was said to steal people’s weapons appeared and disappeared here and there and caused damage to a lot of people.
The astonishing thing was that most of the victims were considered strong, as Park Han Cheol and the members of the Greenbelt Clan were.
The notoriety of the weapon thief rose after time passed, and on the other hand, strange rumors rose. The weirdest rumor was that the weapon thief had a treasure trove near the forest next to Hadum. However, Park Han Cheol wanted to believe it since he heard that the weapon thief did not have the Club of Darkness in his most recent appearance.
‘It may be there.’
There may really be a treasure trove. Even if it was an ungrounded rumor, the weapon thief had to have a base. Therefore, the summoners of Hadum were divided into two categories.
One was people who went outside, leaving behind their weapons and those who stayed as much as they could in Hadum.
Park Han Cheol and the Greenbelt Clan belonged for now in the latter category. They had managed to buy new weapons with their saved points, but the thief might steal their newly bought weapons. The thief was a difficult opponent. Park Han Cheol and the Greenbelt Clan might win if they attacked him head-on, but the weapon thief was smarter than the average monster.
That was the reason why Park Han Cheol and the Greenbelt Clan were not fighting. Those who were going out were either lucky enough to have weapons that recognized them as their masters, or those who had not met the weapon thief. The funny thing was that guilds were still not acting to catch the weapon thief as a group because of individual greed.
Anyway, the best option was to wait until the situation calmed down. As Park Han Cheol was thinking about demons, Ha Jooyoung spoke to him.
“I never thought the scale of the situation would become like this when we were attacked in the beginning.”
“Well, I thought it would happen soon enough and was inevitable, but the state of affairs is in chaos as Somorah fell and the northern region is in war. I heard that all of the blacksmiths who went to mine ores disappeared, and the guards who had accompanied them were discovered as corpses.”
“There are rumors that other cities had taken the blacksmiths, but powerful guilds are not showing much interest in this issue.”
“Well, it’s clear what they are thinking.”
A woman stood up and approached them as they chattered away. Park Han Cheol slowly observed the woman. She was too clean to be a beggar and too covered to be a prostitute. While her voluptuous curves were noticeable, Park Han Cheol was not stupid enough to be mesmerized by the physical appeals of a woman. The woman spoke in a quiet voice as Park Han Cheol stared at her warily.
“Please tell me what you guys were talking about.”
Her attitude was too condescending for thier first meeting, and the woman spoke again as Park Han Cheol frowned at her.
“I’ll pay for it.”
The woman held out a heavy pouch filled with gold coins. While Park Han Cheol and the Greenbelt Clan did not know how she had accumulated so many coins, they also did not need the gold.
Park Han Cheol slowly focused on his magic, and politely opened his eyes since he could not cause an uproar in the pub.
“I’m sorry to say that we must refuse.”
“I can give you thirty times the coins I just put out. Or do you want your stolen items returned?”
Park Han Cheol’s younger siblings rose indignantly at her rudeness, but he raised his hand to stop them. Park Han Cheol felt that the woman possessed strange magic. He was no longer interested in her farfetched offers regarding gold coins or giving back their stolen items but curious about the woman’s identity. Ha Jooyoung and Choi Jihye also began to warily observe the woman as the atmosphere surrounding them grew serious.
The pub was now empty except for them.
However, it was impossible to do something like this in the middle of the city. The woman in front of them raised the hood that had covered her entire face as Park Han Cheol was figuring out what was going on. While she only revealed her features, Park Han Cheol gaped at seeing who she was.
Everyone who lived in Hadum had to know her.
The woman was Jang Yeri, the daughter of Guildmaster Jang Giyoung of the Fallen Throne Guild that ruled over Hadum.
“It doesn’t matter what you know. I’ll pay for whatever you can tell me about the demon who steals weapons.”
Park Han Cheol had to control his face since nothing had gone well when he was involved with the Fallen Throne Guild. Everyone who lived in the east long enough knew that Hadum had masterminded the slavery industry in Somorah.
Hadum was the metropolis of the east and also played a significant role in several illegal activities such as drugs and human trafficking. The Greenbelt Clan did not choose Hadum as their base because they did not want to be entangled in illicit activities.
Park Han Cheol had thought that he had been as cautious as possible against them despite being based in Hadum, but he had never imagined that their paths would cross like this.
“Don’t worry. I will not harm you in any way. You can go back to your ordinary lives after we finish our conversation, and if you do not speak of our meeting, I will ensure that no harm comes out of this.”
“I will also return the items you lost if they come to my possession. If not, you will be given weapons of similar quality.”
The conditions were not bad, but of course irrefutable since there would be retaliation if Park Han Cheol and the Greenbelt Clan refused her offer. Park Han Cheol glanced at Ha Jooyoung, and after getting a nod, he opened his mouth.
They had no reason to refuse since they had nothing to lose and much to gain.