Chinuavi

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As I was enjoying a quiet moment inside the boss room of the Skeleton House –

It was as if time had suddenly slowed down, and the world became quiet.

And afterwards,

[Adventure King serialization resumed]

[Chapter 9 – The Destomb Mafia (1)]

[Belongs to the realm of the ongoing chapter]

[Enigmatic Squatjaw is the subject of character evaluation in this chapter]

Finally, a new chapter had started. 

I took a sip of coffee and stared at the message on the hologram window.

Although the chapter had started, Leo and his party were not yet in the city.
The chapter begins with a scene on the road leading to the city.

It’s the start of a long arc, but there’s nothing special about the scene.
Leo’s party face off some mafiosi who are members of ‘Death~’[1], one of Destomb’s many mafia organizations.
Naturally, from that point onwards Leo and his party come under the notice of the mafia.
And so, the story unfolds.

From there, it’s a very simple series of events.

One organization attacks Leo’s group.
As soon as it’s dismantled, news spreads to the next organization, who now take over and continue attacking.
Once they are destroyed, the news reaches the Mafia Coalition.
Then the Coalition’s frontline combatants attack.
Once they’re demolished…

Until the Black Shadow picks up the baton, it’s just repetitive, piecemeal dismantling of the entire Mafia Coalition.

Moreover, the chapters aren’t clearly divided either, so it’s difficult to even know where Chapter 9 ends and Chapter 10 starts.
It’s like a single level to go through both chapters.

This is why I’m treating this storyline as one single arc.

“… If you ask why I say it’s not any fun –”

The reason why the storyline that could have been plenty exciting actually passed by without the slightest bit of tension, is very simple.

Because the mafia is weak.

They have nothing to show off other than some ‘one-off extras’.

If they had been enemies with enough capability to instil tension in Leo and the rest, I would have remembered a different impression of them.
Because the mafia had enough potential to be great plot material beyond just being a stepping stone to reach the Black Shadow.

And so, that was my goal for this chapter.

Elevating the mafia to become more interesting and valuable enemies for the protagonist and his party.
In turn, that would lead to a rise in my value as the Black Curtain, the dark secret hiding behind the mafia.

My top priority for achieving this was, naturally, the conservation of our strength.
However low the ability of an extra, even they can be strong in numbers.
In addition, to realize my strategy, I needed as many mafioso as possible.

To summarize, we had to avoid meaninglessly spending our strength by randomly attacking Leo and his party.

The problem was –

[Warning!]

[Intention to violate plausibility has been detected]

[Acts are prohibited by preceding plot]

[Silence is enforced for 30 seconds as a cumulative penalty]

I couldn’t just move around the mafia at will.

In fact, the first thing I tried was to call in the mafia organization slated to first encounter Leo and the team.

Because it would be much more effective and intimidating to surround them in force after they entered the city, instead of a meaningless skirmish even before they came in.

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But a warning message flew in immediately.

There was nothing I could do unless I at least tried to satisfy the plotline already laid down in advance and the author’s intended plans.

“Hmmm…”

Well, that didn’t mean I was all out of moves.

I looked back at the ‘Seven Rings’ standing next to me.

“Are you ready?”

“Sir, everything you ordered …”

“Let me confirm one last time.
We aren’t going out to fight, instead we have to avoid conflict as much as possible.
Because our purpose is just to throw a lure.”

“Yes, yes.”

This ‘Seven Rings’ guy was quite a diligent student, to say the least.
Even though I hadn’t had much time to educate (?) him, he’d already become an obedient kid.
Given a month or two, he might be ready to die with just one word from me?

It was just last night that I brought him back to the Skeleton House, and put the ring back on the fat boss.

“And you’ve told the fat guy to gather all the organizations in the Coalition here today?” 

“Yes.”

It was hard to say if the purpose of this chapter was to show the fighting prowess of Leo and his party.
Were that the case, the mafia would’ve been set with higher stats from the start, or at least the plot wouldn’t have called for them to make those separate, small attacks.

In my opinion, all of this was just to heat up the atmosphere before the coming grand battle.
It’s just that a rather high number of extras was spent to do that.

In other words, the ‘tension’ mattered more than the ‘battle’.

As long as the sense of tension remained high, it didn’t matter if the contents differed a bit here and there.

So, the order I gave to the mafia was to ‘observe’.

Show up, but don’t take action.

Observe, but don’t collide.

Of course, I had no idea if my order would be obeyed in full.
If the author was dead set on pushing his own plot, my orders notwithstanding, there would be a fight.

However, as long as he realized that my intended development wasn’t that different from the one he’d originally envisioned, and the effect wasn’t bad either, the writer shouldn’t impose any special restrictions on my strategy.

‘The author isn’t some stupid kid…’

And it was much better for the author if I could make the mafia put on a strong front.
Because of the terrible evaluation the readers originally had of this chapter.

From what I remembered, the author got horribly insulted by the readers, saying he’d just added some meaningless filler, until the focus of the narrative finally changed to the Black Shadow.

To be honest, I wanted to holler to the sky until he heard me.
I’m going to pump the story full of excitement, so just listen to me.

Then,

“Did the atmosphere change suddenly?”

Haka, who had been watching me from a corner, spoke quietly.

“Did you notice?”

“All of a sudden, you looked into the air and started muttering to yourself, and then you immediately reconfirmed the orders.
You can’t miss all that as long as your eyes still work.”

This guy… he’d been pretending to be indifferent, all the while peeping and staring at me in secret.

Hmmmm.

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I had to stop habitually staring at the hologram.

“I think they’ll arrive soon.
Those guys.”

“How do you know? Was there a report?”

“Maybe just a feeling?”

“…”

“Something like that.
Rather, are they coming?”

After forming our temporary alliance, I’d only made a single request of Haka.

To call in the Black Shadow Squad[2].
Before the mafia side was completely crushed.

“I’ve already made a request for support… But I can’t just take you completely at your word…”

“Looks like you didn’t do it properly.
Please request once again right away.
Because I’m in a hurry.”

“… Don’t order me around.”

“I’m sorry, but I’m asking you to fulfil your promise, not giving you an order.
Weren’t we supposed to be allies? If I ask you something, you have to listen to it properly.
And those guys are really strong.
Far from what the mafia here can handle.
Maybe… even against the Black Shadow headquarters the result won’t be certain.”

Hearing that, Haka let out a short laugh.

“I made you a promise, so I’ll keep it, but you’re underestimating the Black Shadow too much.”

“I’m not.
If you don’t believe me, go see for yourself.
And not just a quick peek, go check it out properly.”

Haka seemed to think it over for a while.

“I’ll go.”

He quickly left the room.

“Hoo…”

Done.
Now that even this guy had been sent out, I was mostly finished dealing with the author’s plotline.
In the original, it was this chapter where Haka first saw Leo.
Of course, it was just a sneak peek.

Anyway, all that was left now was to wait for that guy, who’d get surprised seeing Leo in action, to call in the Black Shadow Squad.

“How long will it take…”

Assuming that Haka sent out a ‘red telegram’ announcing an emergency, the ETA of the Black Shadow Squad should be one to two days.

Until then, there was nothing for me to do.
Other than to periodically issue orders to retreat.

It was only after the chapter finally started, that I finally got some free time, for a day or so. 

But this time was something I desperately needed.

I hurriedly prepared to leave.

Then,

“Oh, I almost forgot.
Isn’t that a Coalition member called El Viego? Call that guy in.
I have something to tell him.”

“El Viego?”

“Yeah, he’s a former mafioso from Goldam City.”

“All right.”

“I’m going out for a while.
If you even think about trying anything, you’re dead.
Understand?”

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“I understand.”

I left the boss room straightaway. 

Now it was time to go meet a precious figure.

A hotel suite in downtown Destomb.

I was listening to the conversation from outside the door.

“Back in the day, old man Yellow-Grass-in-the-Rain[3] told me something.
If you want to know someone new, try the three worldly qualities[4] before you talk to them.
Three worldly qualities.
Have you ever heard of it?”

“Three worldly qualities?”

“Yes.”

“What is that?”

“It’s a way of interpreting the world.
It’s also a kind of game.”

A black question mark seemed to appear on Cocoa’s face.

What kind of bullshit is this? Seemed to be her thoughts.

Because of her own past experience, no doubt.

The goblins spoke very ostentatiously, and there had even been rumours that the author used complex words without knowing what they meant.
So, it was better to just keep nodding vaguely than try to understand them.

“For example, something like this.
Let me describe you in three qualities.
Ummm… furtive, nosy, tawdry.
How’s that?”

“Nonsense.
Those three words have nothing to do with me.
I am a cute, sweet, pretty girl.”

“That is of course true.
Those three are your interpretation.
And the three kinds I mentioned are my own interpretation.”

“Your interpretation is wrong.”

“Rightness or wrongness is hard to impose on three worldly qualities.
It’s usually wrapped up in ambiguity.”

“…”

This seemed like a good time to intervene.

I opened the door and went in.

“Got nothing to say, I see.”

“Squatjaw! This guy’s weird!”

“You’re just too young to understand.
Heh.”

I looked at the cunning little goblin, who simply looked back at me with a calm smile.

This guy’s name was Chinuavi.
Famous in the goblins’ den for being gentle.

And among the goblins, the expression ‘gentle’ indicated a great ‘anomaly’, a ‘different species’.

“You are the one who has a purpose for me.”

“Huh? Me? Wasn’t she the one to trick you into coming all the way here?”

“It is true that the little lady over there offered me some tea with her, but I did not follow because of her charm.”

“That’s a lie.
I saw you drool over my legs.”

“As you might be able to guess, that’s not true.”

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“Okay, then why did you follow me?”

“It’s a bit embarrassing to be asked that.
I had no choice but to follow.
Because the little lady was looking for me and even calling out to me again and again.
Besides, looking at the situation, the person who actually had some business with me was somebody else.
It was something I’d never even considered possible… so I couldn’t contain my curiosity.”

As Chinuavi finished speaking, his bright green eyes met mine.
As if he was trying to pierce through my innermost heart.

In fact, his words and actions were quite natural.

Once Cocoa found him, she called him out.
He must have found this outrageous.
Because this would’ve been impossible for any ordinary human being.
To be honest, I hadn’t even thought that Cocoa could bring him back so quickly.

And when he actually had a conversation with her, he found out that someone had ordered her to contact him.
This would have been even more bizarre.
As if someone had noticed his own ‘difference’.
Also, that someone was behind this unusual little kid.

Maybe he thought I even knew who he really was.
So, no matter the reason, he had to follow.

“Can you satisfy my curiosity?”

“Yeah, sure.
It’s nothing difficult.”

The goblin looked quite startled at my words.

“Oh? Really? Then I won’t humbly decline…”

“Wait, wait.
Ah, but it’s not free.”

I hurriedly stopped him.
The greedy goblin.

“… Then?”

“Well, you see.
I also want something from you.”

“… What do you want?”

“You’ll understand if you listen.
So, shall we make a bet with what we want as the stake?”

And the moment I uttered those words,

“Bet… What kind of a bet are you talking about?”

Chinuavi’s eyes gleamed with interest.

His pupils looked red with excitement.
The eyes of a gambler, really excited about a bet.

‘Now that I’ve come this far… can I win?’

When the goblins appeared in the work, the author used this expression.

A race of crazy, problem gamblers.
Whatever the game, they’d fight for a week straight in order to win.
Innocent bad boys who become crueller than anybody else in front of a bet.

They were monsters against whom no human, even the invincible Siana who’d never lost a game, could guarantee victory.

I calmed my heart and steadied my trembling breath.

I had no choice but to try.

Editor’s Notes:

[1] 데스 (des, lit.
death) is also a homonym of the Japanese ‘desu’, and can be used either way.
So, the translation here is a compromise between the two.
Just to note, these characters are also present in the name Destomb, meaning you’re supposed to interpret as death-tomb.
See Namu Wiki.

[2] 본대 (lit.
main unit) can mean the main army unit or one for a special task.
Translating 검은 그림자 본대 as Black Shadow Squad.

[3] 황개초비 (pronounced ‘Hwanggaechobi’) is being translated as Yellow-Grass-in-the-Rain.
In contrast, Chinuavi (치누아비) remain unchanged.
Mostly goblin names will stay as they’re pronounced unless very unwieldy, like this particular example.

[4] 세상의 세 가지 (lit.
worldly + three + kinds).
가지 means kind/sort/type, where each kind is distinguished based on some quality or characteristic.

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