Chapter 102. Exercise in Futility (1)

"Hey, let's just take care of him."

At first, Kang Oh wondered whether he could use the spy or not; but now, all he wanted to do was get rid of him, if for no other reason than to deal with that unbearable itch he felt on his back. 

"How?" Eder asked.

"What do you mean 'how?'. We talk to him!"

Kang Oh suddenly turned around and beelined towards the spy. He pushed the brush aside and stood before the bandana-wearing man. 

"O-Oh..."

The bandana-wearing man was clearly taken aback.

"Hey."

Kang Oh grabbed the player's throat.


[You are performing a hostile act.]

[If it escalates any further, you may be labeled as a criminal. Please be careful.]

[The opposing party can attack you.]

[The opposing party's attack will be considered self-defense.]


Kang Oh wasn't worried about the system messages.

He wasn't going to escalate this any further, and he'd already taken the initiative too!

"Hey!" Kang Oh yelled.

"Y-Yes!?"

The man was shocked.

"Why do you keep following us? Are you trying to ambush us or something?"

"N-No."

"What do you mean 'no'?"

"I'm not trying to... ambush you."

"Then why are you following us?"

"I'm not following you... either."

"I think I saw you at the entrance. So you're saying that you've coincidentally been walking the same path as us?" Kang Oh said with a sharp gaze.

"Yes! I-It's a coincidence!" the man replied desperately.

"Ah, so it was a coincidence, huh? I'm sorry. I must've misunderstood," Kang Oh smiled and let go of his throat.

"T-That's alright."

"But if I see you again... I'll kill you." 

Kang Oh frigidly whispered, 'I'll kill you.' into the man's ear.

"!!!"

"I'm not stupid enough to let you walk free when you could ambush me at any time. If you're so sure that you won't be discovered, then feel free to keep following me." 

Kang Oh stared coldly. 

The man avoided Kang Oh's gaze. 

"Let's not see each other again, ok?"

Kang Oh tapped his shoulder and returned to Eder.

"Let's go."

Kang Oh took the lead.

Eder took a look behind him. The bandana-wearing man had no intention of following them anymore.

He stuck right next to Kang Oh.

"Wow! As I thought, you’re really good at being evil!"

Kang Oh had skillfully threatened the bandana-wearing man. 

"I just told him to stop following us. What's wrong with that?" Kang Oh asked.

"You didn't tell him. You threatened him."

"I didn't threaten him. I just persuaded him."

"Ah, so 'I'll kill you' is a way of persuading someone, huh. I learned something new today."

Eder exaggeratedly nodded his head.

"Oh, you heard that?"

He'd definitely whispered that.

"I lip read you."

"Ahem. We've gotten rid of our tail, so let's start gathering information for real."

Kang Oh's objective was the white monkey.

However, he didn't have enough information on his target. Not only that, but the Asta Guild were impeding him too.

It was at times like this that he needed to gather even more information!

* * *

Kang Oh and Eder, who'd lost their tail, explored the forest whilst fighting off Grancias.

Unfortunately, they couldn't find the white monkey.

Instead, they occasionally encountered some of the Asta Guild members.

"Those guys must be from the Asta Guild too."

"Probably."

"Phew. If it was going to be like this, then why did they even bother following us?"

Eder sighed.

"They must not want others to see them when they find something."

The Asta Guild secretly glanced at Kang Oh and Eder, tracking what they were doing.

But they were just watching; they didn't take any action against them.

Until now, that is!

When Kang Oh and Eder were about to head east, three members of the Asta Guild stopped them.

"You cannot go any further," the largest of the three said.

Kang Oh's eyes glinted.

'The monkey's past this point it seems.'

It was obvious.

"Why not?" Kang Oh asked, assuming a slanted posture.

"Our forces are hunting right now. Spectators are not allowed, so please leave," the man strongly said.

"And if I don't?"

"Then... We'll have to use force."

The man drew his weapon and the other two men beside him did the same. 

'Seriously, these guys think they're all that just because they're in a guild.'

Kang Oh furrowed his brow.

Then, Eder poked Kang Oh's side, seemingly asking, 'Are we going to fight?'.

'No.'

Kang Oh slightly shook his head.

Beating these guys up was tempting, but it wasn't time yet.

If they fought against the Asta Guild now, then they'd be hunted down before they caught the monkey.

"Phew. Scary. I should go a different way."

Kang Oh shrugged his shoulders and travelled west with Eder.

"The monkey must be in the east," Kang Oh said.

The Grancia Forest was divided into 5 different regions: the northern, southern, eastern, western, and central region. 

"Indeed. But if they keep blocking us, there's no way we'll get the monkey."

"That's not necessarily true."

Kang Oh grinned.

He'd received lots of situational information.

First, there were a ton of Asta Guild members. Second, they weren't able to catch the monkey despite their numbers.

'I don't think it's because the monster is incredibly strong...'

If that were the case, then they wouldn't have any members to spare. They would've withdrawn their spy and those blocking the entrance, since they needed everyone they could get their hands on.

But considering how things were going, it seemed like they couldn't catch it.

Which meant...!

'You can't catch this thing by just chasing it.'

They'd brought this many people, yet there still weren't any signs of a fight; this meant that the normal way of fighting a monster wasn't applicable here.

If that's the case, then...

'There must be some special method to catching it (e.g. a special item, luring it out, or attacking its hideout).'

"Do you have any good ideas?" Eder asked.

"I don't think you can hunt the monkey normally," Kang Oh said.

'It's not easy to catch!'

Eder nodded his head.

"So we should try finding its hideout first."

"Its hideout?"

"Yeah. The Asta Guild is frantically chasing after it, so it should have no choice but to return to its hideout. We'll aim for it then."

"How do you propose we find its hideout? Can your Hyper Intuition skill be used that way too?"

Eder tilted his head.

"I dunno. But if my Hyper Intuition does activate, then it probably has something to do with the monkey."

"So you're saying that even you have to search every nook and cranny of this place."

"We're looking for different things. Those guys are looking for the monkey, while I'm looking for the hideout. That's a huge difference."

"Whatever you say."

Eder snorted.

"It is different. You know, you've been pretty snarky lately."

It was as if Kang Oh was shooting lasers through his eyes. 'Why I oughta...!'.

Eder's expression seemingly said, 'Oh, right.'.

"Ahem!"

He avoided Kang Oh's prickly gaze and bowed his head.

"Let's do well."

Kang Oh tapped Eder's shoulder.

"Yes!" Eder replied immediately.

* * *

Whack!

Asta's guildmaster, Arcol, kicked a nearby tree.

"Man. We lost it again."

"Tch. Yeah."

Vesta clicked his tongue.

When they had discovered that the invisible monkey was in the east, they had formed an impenetrable perimeter around it. 

Despite that, the monkey used its ability and just leisurely walked out of their perimeter.

Its invisibility was truly one of a kind.

Dye wouldn't work on it, and neither would detection magic or tracking skills.

It was perfect invisibility, one which would erase even its own presence!

'If we're able to obtain this invisibility...!'

Vesta thirstily licked his lips with his tongue.

"Is this really invisibility?" Arcol asked, looking suspicious.

"You saw it yourself. It became transparent like glass and disappeared. And it was called an invisible monkey inside the adventure journal," Vesta said.

"I saw it, yeah, but you can't say with absolute certainty that that was invisibility."

"What else could it be?"

"It could be teleportation or something like that."

"The effect of teleportation is diff..."

"Whatever the case, we can't go on like this," Arcol interrupted.

Vesta scowled at the words, 'we can't'.

"Are you saying that... we should give up?"

"No. We have to succeed, since we've used up so much of our guild members' time and effort."

"Then?"

"Take about 10 guild members or so, and gather some more information on that monkey. This is just a hunch, but... I feel like we've made the wrong move," Arcol said.

"Got it."

Vesta also felt like they needed something else to get them out of this situation.

"And from this point forward, we're not going to capture it. We're going to kill it."

Arcol's eyes were filled with killing intent.

Thus far, they'd tried to capture the monkey using various methods. However, none of them had worked.

Thus, they only had one choice left.

"That's a little... There's a chance that I can't get what I want from a monster corpse."

A Monster Scholar like Vesta could extract a monster's special ability, skill, or magic from their corpse. 

Of course, there was a chance that he would fail as well.

"It can't be helped. At this rate, some of our guild members will leave or rebel. We also can't stay here forever. The other guilds will catch the scent and come rushing over. What if one of them is one of the 5 great guilds?" Arcol said firmly. 

"Hoo, I got it."

Vesta hated to admit it, but Arcol was right.

"We'll try to capture it alive, so try to find some information."

Vesta nodded his head.

From this point on, the Asta Guild's capture mission had become a kill on sight mission.

However...!

Will they actually get that chance?

* * *

Kang Oh and Eder began searching for the monkey's hideout.

Whenever they saw the Asta Guild, they would halt their search and act like they were hunting.

After all, they couldn't show any signs that they were searching for something.

"Phew. There are more over there."

Eder nodded his chin towards an Asta Guild member.

"I hope the monkey shows up again and draws their attention," Kang Oh said.

"What if they manage to catch it?"

"They probably won't. If they could catch it, then they would've caught it earlier."

"That makes sense."

Once they left the Asta Guild member's sight, they returned to their search for the monkey's hideout.

They looked between rocks, through underground tunnels, and even below and above the trees.

A short while later...

Kang Oh and Eder began searching through the Grancia Forest's central region.

There were all kinds of rocks, boulders, and pebbles here, but no trees in sight. Since there weren't any trees here, there weren't any Grancias here either.

Not only that, but they didn't see the Asta Guild members here either, so Kang Oh and Eder could focus entirely on their search.

"Has your Hyper Intuition picked up anything?" Eder asked.

"Not yet. There's a chance it won't activate."

Hyper Intuition pointed out items that held some secret or hidden areas.

However, he wasn't sure whether it would activate or not when he found the monkey's hideout.

"Excuse me? Then how will we find it if your Hyper Intuition doesn't activate?"

"Let's worry about that after we've searched the forest."

Kang Oh shrugged his shoulders.

"Oh, god. I hope your Hyper Intuition finds something."

Eder clasped his hands together and prayed.

A short while later...

Kang Oh, who'd been searching between all sorts of rocks, suddenly stopped. 

"Huh?"

This feeling... the feeling that something was suspicious and that something was here!

Once he saw the square-shaped, flat marble in between the rocks, his Hyper Intuition flared up.

"What's wrong?" 

Eder approached him.

"This is it!"

"What?"

"I said this is it!"

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