STORYHansaneega@Lee Jongbeom
Undercover Royal AgentPower shrouded in modesty.Under the King's orders, she goes undercover to uncover corrupt officials. Her official seal allows her to draw powers from a higher dimension. Just know, the modest looking person you ran into on the streets might've been an undercover agent. “I saw the taxes were late?”   muttered a large man standing in front of Bar Hansan, which was well-known as a delicious spot. He might have muttered it, but to those who heard him say it felt it was like a bolt from the blue.   “What? What did you say? The taxes are late? I definitely paid half of what I earned last month…” “Oh, there must have been a mistake.” “Phew.”   The man, who was tiny compared to the distracted collector, moaned in a fluster. Then the collector nodded his head, and the atmosphere seemed to then loosen up a little. The owner of the restaurant hastily glanced at his wife and had her bring out the best dishes of Bar Hansan, like the beef tartare, the steamed flounder, and the roasted offal. Then, the wife asked in a low voice,   “What about the drinks?” “Bring out samhae.” “You...!” There’s nothing we can do about it!   The owner shot a dirty look towards his wife, who was trying to scrimp on what she could even in this situation.   The tax collector said, “Were you not informed? The tax on this street is now 70 percent.” “What? 70 percent? No, that’s… That’s too…” “Take care in how you speak. I am not here as a patron.”   The collector jerked his chin towards the people he brought with him. The district magistrate’s men in Western suits were lined up behind him. It was hard enough to deal with the one collector, so what would happen if they all stepped forward? It would be a relief if he was neatly shot to death. He would probably be beaten up to a pulp until he was hung up on the traffic light at the intersection. That couldn’t happen. But 70 percent? This also couldn’t happen. It was because, from some point on, taxes were calculated based on sales, not profits. This was just another way of telling them to close down.   Dammit! How the hell do I get out of this?   And yet, he was scared of the pistols the men in suits carried on their hips, so he couldn’t start complaining. Weren’t they too big to be called pistols? Every bullet that could be fired would make the restaurant as well as the customers…   Wait, the customers?   That’s when he found one girl still sitting in the middle of the restaurant. She even had the guts to raise her hand to call a server. The owner was in shock.   What if she gets shot dead? Why isn’t she afraid?   It was bound for the street to clear when the collector and the men in suits—no, the constables—came for a visit. If you weren’t a man of a certain stature, even walking around in the streets was difficult. It was only natural to be dragged to City Hall to be beaten on a day when you happened to catch their eye with a flaw.   “Aren’t you going to take my order?”   Contrasting what they thought, the customer who was sitting inside yelled and looked irritated. No matter how much they looked at her, she was a little girl, so how did she have such nerve? Perhaps it wasn’t that she had guts. Perhaps, she was just crazy. That made things even worse.   “Why aren’t you saying anything about the 70 percent tax?”   The collector looked at the owner, and he jerked his chin to one of the constables standing behind him. And the constable walked toward the customer. The district magistrate had the constables frequent the gym so their bodies were fit. Their bodies made their auras that much more imposing.   “Hey. Why don’t you leave before you get hurt?” “I don’t have plans to leave until I eat.” “What? This little… Where are your manners?” “Well, where are yours? Can’t you see I’m starving because of you? So who’s the bigger ass?”   The owner thought of his beloved mother. And the constable was flabbergasted.   What did she just say?   It was the first time he’d experienced this since he became a constable. Didn’t the magistrate cover for them when they beat people up unless it was a yangban of a certain class or above? But this little girl had just…   “Can I order now? Or can’t you take my order because of this baldie?”   And that was a line crossed. The constable looked shocked and turned back toward the collector. In fact, the collector didn’t have much—or any, in that matter—hair. It was a fact that he wasn’t really proud of. And yet, the reason why he didn’t cover it up was that he wanted to enjoy people not being able to laugh about it in front of his face. But the little girl had just called him a baldie, and of course, the collector howled with rage.   “Get that bitch first! The owner here won’t be able to say a word either if he sees blood.” “Oh, sir! The customer has no fault in this. I, I will pay!” “Shut up! This is between that bitch and me now!”   The constables were a little wary about how it was a little girl, but they all thought that they’d be rewarded handsomely if they just beat the crap out of her, and they ran at her. They thought it was enough that they didn’t draw their guns.   Then the little girl stood up and pulled on a piece of felt that was stuck to the shoulder of her clothes.   She said in a low voice,   “Freeze. No one move.”   Her words soon made the constables freeze. No, before she said anything, as soon as they saw the gold horse requisition token under the felt, they’d already frozen.   “An amhaeng-eosa has come.”   The girl, no, the amhaeng-eosa, spoke in a low voice again. Then suits were transported from the horse requisition token and started to leap out. At a cursory glance, they were the same as the constables. But a closer look revealed a rather terrifying fact—the constables that had been summoned all looked identical.   “Messenger soldiers... year 2102...?”   The collector stumbled back in a daze, but it wasn’t much use. One of the men was already behind him. The constables lost their will to fight and weren’t even thinking about it. They just hurriedly tossed away their pistols and fell to their knees. They just watched as the collector was dragged over.   “You’re pretty tall. Make him a little smaller.”   The royal inspector had taken a seat in a chair at some point. They did wonder about how the collector was so big that the royal inspector wouldn’t be able to look at him at eye level, but with that single order, the soldiers kneecapped the collector.   “Arghhhhh!” “I told you to make him smaller, not kneecap him!” “Don’t you usually do so?” “Actually, I did want to. I just said that for posterity.”   The inspector looked down on the collector, who was made to roll around on the ground.   “If you wish to keep at least your arms, stay quiet.” “Yes, Ma’am.”   The collector gathered all the superhuman strength he could muster and kept his moans in even with his knees smashed.   “That 70 percent... whose idea was it?” “The, the district magistrate, Ma’am.” “And where is this magistrate?” “He is... currently at a hostess bar, Ma’am.” “Must I go myself to such a vulgar place?” “Absolutely not, Ma’am!” he cried, then turned to the constables and yelled, “What are you all doing? Go, find the magistrate and escort him, I mean, bring him here!”   And so, the inspector was just about to get the magistrate and punish him. But then, one moment, she heard a strange sound, the next, she found herself standing in this odd place.   “Where the hell am I?”   And a guy she’d never seen before was standing in front of her, babbling. It was annoying, so she thought she’d beat him up and then ask questions, but strangely, she couldn’t summon anything.   Am I screwed? Did they kidnap me for revenge? That can’t happen!   In her head, she thought of a million and one things, but first, she asked a question, looking dignified.   “It’s a platform.” “What platform?”   And really, what platform was it? A train platform? But that was an ancient relic, wasn’t it?   “Have you never heard about Stroke in the field?” “I’ve seen it in records. Oh… No way…” “Yes, it’s that Stroke.” “Oh.”   Yes, she had heard of instances like these. But she never thought about it because she was busy putting bad guys away. She also thought it didn’t have much to do with her. Of course, amhaeng-eosa was a powerful figure, but wouldn’t there be people much higher than her on the food chain here? There even were really bad guys who couldn’t be touched at all with just messenger soldiers. So, why?   “I’ve heard there has been no one to follow you in the number of criminals you’ve punished. It’s your choice, whether to lay judgment on the criminals here or to become one of them or to leave them be.” “I have a question first.” “Of course.” “I can’t summon?” “Yet, it is your choice whether or not to lay judgment.” “Wait, what?” “I’ll take my leave now.” “No, you can’t—“   But the inspector found herself standing all alone on the empty field.   “Yup, you’re gone.”   She fidgeted with the token on her shoulder. The token let off a tiny spark, and something did come out. Tiny specks of dust, perhaps.   “This is bullshit!”   And so... What now?