Chapter 45

Episode 2. Book 1: Exploration – Chapter 12

They put a little salt on their palms and quickly swept it into their mouths. The movement was natural and fluid. Their facial expressions were calm and relaxed, but their bodies were already accelerating to their maximum limits.

All their senses, including sight, hearing, and touch, expanded rapidly, beginning to explore a little over a kilometer radius.

They smelled a faint but familiar smell. Even now, they carried around a significant stockpile of it in their backpacks. It was the scent of that ‘drug’, nectar.

Or it could also be the scent of a person tamed through nectar. Their keen senses were scouring the vicinity for the drug’s owner.

They didn’t rush. They methodically scanned their surroundings.

The salt spread throughout their accelerated bodies, making them shudder involuntarily. The salt was a sophisticated nano-machine that activated the non-verbal communication channel which they used to eavesdrop on Nill and Null.

They combined their intake of salt with a bit of nectar to better scan the surrounding communication channels. Their 3rd Stage Acceleration heightened their senses to the maximum. They would be able to capture even the weakest of signals.

San and Biyeon alternated in searching for open channels while the other concealed their presence by generating appropriate jamming frequencies.

San and Biyeon’s senses led them to one place. It was about 50 meters away.

There were quite a few people crowded around with four people standing in the center.

Their outfits were very unique. They wore loose bright blue robes with a bronze clasp on one shoulder, which was embossed with a special pattern.

“Hmm-”

San fixed his gaze and narrowed his eyes. Biyeon was looking around their surroundings with a keen eye.

“Ah- They’re the priests from the Temple of Diana!” Yuren mumbled after following their gaze.

“The Temple of Diana?” Biyeon asked.

“Yes. You probably don’t know about them because you’re foreign to this area. Goddess Diana is a very famous god of hunting. Whenever there’s a hunting festival like ours, they come and bless the hunters. They also provide medicine for injuries and for those who are injured.”

“She’s the Goddess of Hunting… Then who are they?”

“Those are Goddess Diana’s priests. They are entrusted by the goddess to pass their blessings onto the people. They also perform sacrifices and rituals to bless a hunt.”

“Then… what kind of medicine do they sell?” she asked as casually as possible.

Her voice must have sounded full of curiosity to Yuren. He eagerly answered, “I heard that it’s called holy water, blessed by the Goddess herself. There are two kinds, one is pink and the other is sky blue.”

“When do you use the pink water?”

“The pink medicine water is very valuable. It is said to possess divine powers of recovery, allowing injuries to heal very quickly, which is especially important during a hunt. That’s why some people call it a healing potion. It is very expensive, but nobles and rich hunters want to buy it regardless. It’s also popular because it makes one feel refreshed and energized after consuming it.”

Yuren took a breath before continuing.

“There are stories that say the undiluted form can even bring people back to life. They call this undiluted form nectar, or rejuvenation. Nectar is so precious that the chief apostles (priests) of the temple and kings are said to only have a few bottles.

“What about the sky-blue medicine?”

San asked this time. He also asked in a passing manner. However, the light in his eyes was slowly darkening.

“That’s… it’s a bit weird… I don’t believe it myself, but people say that it helps one find where the game is. In some people’s stories, it is said that spirits and fairies living in the mountains guide them with whispers. It’s hard to believe, but still, many people buy it. It’s relatively cheap. Still, seeing the apostles and shamans carrying it around makes me think that it does have some effect.”

Yuren looked towards the priests as he responded excitedly. San and Biyeon looked at each other with shock written across their faces.

[A god… even in a place like this…] San commented through their non-verbal communication channel.

[It’s surprising. We need to learn more. It may be that our location tracking has already started.]

[What do you think?]

[We have to confront them one way or another. As we’ve always done…]

[Hmm? Seems like you’ve changed a lot? You don’t seem scared anymore.]

[I haven’t changed fundamentally. The proper reaction to these ordeals has been pounded into me. I don’t want to be like this either. It’s going to happen one way or another, right?]

[Hmm…]

[I’m not picking up any signal. If it’s anything like how Nill and Null communicated, we should be able to hear something. But, even though Ive opened all the channels, I can’t hear any meaningful conversations. That probably means they don’t know of our presence yet or are pretending like they don’t know. If it’s a ‘god’… if they’re the kind of god we know, there’s no safe corner for us to hide, especially in this world.]

[This isn’t an information society. Their information sharing systems probably aren’t so good, right?] 

[Lets watch and observe some more.]

They were non-verbally communicating their intentions. Their channel was now wide open. They were in a state of peak tension for the first time since the battle of that last eventful day.

“How many gods are there?” asked Biyeon, turning her head towards Yuren.

“There are many gods worshiped everywhere, so there are countless gods in each and every region. If we put all the gods of the world together, they’ll probably number in the thousands. In addition, spirits and dragons are looked upon as gods. What kind of god did you worship in the place you two are from?” Yuren asked with a face full of curiosity.

Perhaps myths and legends were the sources of adventures and dreams for all young people. The people here believed that gods really existed.

“Us? Well… it’s similar as here,” she replied while lightly shaking her head.

[These so-called ‘gods’ are pure scammers.] San stated to Biyeon

[Isn’t it more correct to say that they’re defective products rather than scammers?]

Biyeon responded with sarcasm

[They’re no different from drug dealers. Tch…]

They were staring at the Temple of Diana priests. At a distance of about 5 meters away, they closely observed the priests.

The crowd was densely standing together and listening to the priests. Their act was closer to performance than a religious sermon. The atmosphere was tense and had a divine feel.

In San and Biyeon’s channel, a message from a certain being was clearly ‘heard’. Its existence was similar to Nill, but the feeling and intensity were very different. The message was clearly being passed on to the priests, but the priests were acting completely aloof as if they weren’t able to hear the message. Most of the priests were showcasing unnecessary actions, telling stories of praising the Goddess Diana and offering up sacrifices in her name.

The god’s message stated:

[Mighty beings who have received the blessing and power of God will descend into your world… They are one man and one woman. They will be human heroes and will show the glory of God by subduing the wicked that disturb the world. The time is imminent. The world will be cleansed. Therefore… all the people of the world shall recognize and worship them in their lives and during their hunts…]

Though the message rang clear in the channel, the story conveyed by the priests was drastically different, “The goddess Diana gave her blessing for the hunt. The blessing of the goddess will come upon you, and a tenth of the harvest must be dedicated to her altar…”

San and Biyeon’s faces were oddly distorted. They didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

[The reason we weren’t able to catch the open channel initially was because the great ‘god’ was focusing her output on those young children of hers. This neighborhood’s god is really suffering because of her dumb priests. Wow…]

[They seem like priests, but they sure don’t listen to their god. I’m not sure if I should be happy about this… but they’re still well-seasoned scam artists. Almost like a Korean pseudo-evangelist or local shaman...]

[But they do have a fairly good routine down, don’t they? If I didn’t know better, I would believe that a real god would request things in that manner.]

[Well, this ‘god’ will probably reach her limit soon. Woah, she’s really laying it thick on the communication channel. Wow- she even increased the sensitivity level a few levels…]

“Hmm?”

Biyeon stopped speaking in their non-verbal channel. San’s expression slightly hardened. The crowd was murmuring.

“Oh-oh! It looks like a message is coming down!”

Suddenly, a man who seemed to be the chief priest began shaking like a possessed person and started muttering unintelligible words.

However, San and Biyeon’s expressions became cold.

“So… Ugh... two… will come… euk…”

San and Biyeon slowly turned and left the crowd. They left as if melting into the scenery, very naturally…

The priest stopped muttering and slowly stood tall. His eyes completely changed. He looked at the crowd with a stern face and imploring eyes.

All those who caught his gaze flinched.

Before long he opened his mouth to speak once more. Even though he was a man, his voice changed to a woman’s voice. There was a sense of dignity and ethereal quality to his voice.

He dictated a code-like declaration that was difficult to understand and constantly cut off. He was speaking in such a roundabout way, like the ambiguous messages spread by the prophets on Earth.

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