Chapter 46

“I am Diana… a god… mighty beings with the power of gods… the world… came down… a man and woman…”

San and Biyeon moved slowly through the crowd. While listening to the priest’s voice in the background, they smiled bitterly.

Though they couldn’t confirm, the message seemed to be aimed at them. With nectar and salt, they were able to eavesdrop on a familiar messaging channel. It seemed the gods used the same protocol…

[This time around, our opponent is a god of this world... Then whats the relationship between the Sage that we saw before we escaped and this god? What’s the meaning of this weird message?] San asked.

Biyeon held his hand tightly. Her tightened lips lightly trembled.

[It’s… it’s like hearing a declaration that the next experiment will begin. I feel like we’re sitting upon a large chessboard. Goddess Diana... What if the god we’ve heard of is this god? It means that the Master and this god made some kind of deal.]

They grew nervous. They still didn’t know what the rules were in this ‘game’. However, from the moment they’re discovered, they’d be chased and pulled around by the oracle’s fated message or the public opinion that the god's temple would create. In the end, they’ll have to act according to a predetermined plan, and their fate will always be interpreted as the will of the gods, whether they live or die.

Though they may be safe for now, their expressions didn’t relax. They knew that they wouldn’t have much control over their decisions and actions if they left things as they were. They would once again become ‘puppets’…

“Letprepare for an operation. My mind is exploding with anger,” San said as he put his hand on her shoulder.

“Shall we have a drink? Its hard to handle and process all this with a sober mind. Ah! I'm really getting pissed off, too.”

Yuren, who was following close by, tilted his head.

He couldn’t make sense of these people’s thought processes and conversations…

‘Why are they angry all of a sudden?’

Episode 2. Book 1: Exploration – Chapter 13

The morning air was fresh.

As spring deepened, the fields and mountains became full of life.

The mountainside was lush with greenery. The dawn dewdrops were still floating atop the pine leaves. The dewdrops started to shimmer and shine brightly from the sunlight that passed through the canopy and down onto the lower foliage leaves.

The vast valley land was green, and the mountains were adorned with red flowers. The gathering for the hunt was held in the Count’s square. Almost everyone in the estate attended this important event.

From the rooftops, the balcony windows, and the high places that could overlook the square, people gathered.

The women dressed in their finest clothes, held presents in both hands, and stood by the side of the road, waiting for the end of the event and for the procession of valiant hunters to pass by them.

They would deliver a gift to the man of their choice and pray to the goddess of hunting for his safe return. For the residents, this event was much more important than just an annual hunting event. It was to ensure their livelihood. The hunters would struggle against the beasts for the benefit of the residents, so that the residents may live on this land without constant concern and fear. Living near the forest was dangerous. Many people died from monster and beast attacks. Thus, this war-like hunting event was a godsend for the residents.

“How many people are here?” asked San.

“Around six to seven hundred,” Biyeon replied.

“What’s their level of combat power?”

“By my approximation, the average warrior is around a Master Warrior level (1st Stage of Acceleration).”

“How many people do you need per Algon?”

“At least 10 people need to group up to contend against one Algon. The groups seem to be organized into 20 people each.”

San and Biyeon were starting their new job. San’s job title was ‘Special Captain’. It was a newly created position. It was created because San’s request aligned with the Count’s needs. In the Count’s eyes, these two had excellent fighting power, but they weren’t familiar with the outside world nor did they prove any command ability.

In addition, since full trust hadn’t been established, it wasn’t possible for the Count to entrust them with a province-level military unit. San and Biyeon also wanted to refrain from taking added responsibilities as well.

They asked for and were granted an ‘abnormal’ mission with a 20-person unit. They also requested that the unit keep its original name.

Their main job responsibility was to organize the hunting event from a base camp and resolve any problems that may arise in the other parties, such as medical emergencies. They were also tasked with overseeing the management and trading of spoils obtained from the hunt and mediating any disputes.

This last task was usually given to a powerful clan since one needed to bargain with tough hunters and fierce warriors from all over the province.

Though operating the hunt was burdensome and grueling, it brought in a huge sum of money, 40% of the Count’s total annual revenue. The Count may have been able to use someone in-house to execute this important task, but there was virtually no one within his estate who possessed the level of power and knowledge necessary to properly carry out this duty. Thus, in the short term, the Count delegated this work to San and Biyeon.

Pu-ooh-

The gathered group received Goddess Diana’s blessing. Afterward, a trumpet sounded, announcing the beginning of the hunt. The groups of hunters moved onward towards the forest.

Spring flowers were sprinkled in front of the procession. Virgin women approached the person of their choice and delivered their prepared gifts, mainly embroidered handkerchiefs or hand-crafted ornaments engraved with encouraging words. Lines formed in front of the famous and well-known warriors. If one were to marry one of these warriors, there was a high probability that they would live a much better life.

The festival after the hunt would be grander and more colorful. Men and women would reunite during that time, probably enjoying a sweet time together.

“?”

San stared at a woman standing in front of him and blinked his eyes. Actually, it was an entire line of women. He lifted his head and looked further. The line extended quite far. He glanced beside him.

“You must feel great? You seemed to have already made a lot of fans,” Biyeon said as she looked at the long line of women in front of San.

“I wouldn’t be the one talking,” San replied as he looked behind Biyeon.

Behind her, a line of sturdy warriors and noblemen lingered around, glancing at San…

“It’s a strange custom. Are they afraid of quarreling?”

“Unless a couple is officially marriedI heard that having relations with the opposite sex is one’s freedom. Anyway, since most single people are put into arranged marriages, shouldn’t single people enjoy their freedom and sexual relations while they can? Since there’s no guarantee that one can marry another based on one’s own will, there’s no future to consider or think about either. Anyway, what do you plan to do with them?” Biyeon asked.

“What do I plan to do with them?” San replied, momentarily confused.

“Those people over there.”

Biyeon motioned with her chin. She was referring to the 20 support staff members assigned to them. They were awaiting their orders.

There were five women among them, one of whom was tall and strikingly beautiful.

She was a rare female Master Warrior who worked on wealth management and personnel affairs in the Count’s estate.

The problem was…

“That’s the Counts second daughter, ‘Yeria’, right?” San asked.

“Want to make a bet? I bet 10 won she wasn’t assigned to our group for any extraordinary personal ability,” Biyeon remarked.

“Hey… let’s give them some leeway. By the way, you must be feeling pretty good since you have so many people waiting to talk with you. I’d like to say upfront, I don’t have any money, so consider your future husband wisely,” San sarcastically stated.

He stamped on the floor and got up. A young noble lady presented something to him with her face dyed red. In her hand was a finely embroidered handkerchief woven with cotton. She had embroidered her name. He smiled as he received the gift. The handkerchief smelled of the soft spring flowers as if perfume was recently sprayed on.

“You are a very beautiful person. Your name probably matches your beauty too?” San respectfully said as he handled the gift gently.

“My name is Seria, the first daughter from the House of Sennen. I wish you luck and fortune Captain San.”

“Thank you.”

The second woman handed her gift to San.

“My name is Yepe, the second daughter of Baron Pannen. May Goddess Diana’s protection be with you!”

“Oh! May god’s blessings be with you too Lady Yepe!”

Biyeon was staring at the unfolding scene.

Contrary to his earlier cold demeanor, his expression now was very warm. She liked that naturalness about him. The natural dignity he exhibited was refreshing and beautiful. He didn’t hesitate to express his inner thoughts, and he didn’t shy away from showing his honest feelings. Above all… he was a man who kept his promises. She had no doubt about that.

Biyeon suddenly fell into thought.

Who was his wife? What kind of woman was she? Did she know that he was keeping his marital promises even now? The fatal temptation of a terrible drug that was difficult for any human to handle, and the person who was desperately upholding his marital promise of ‘faith’ during a long cohabitation period with a woman within that small space…

“Excuse me…”

Biyeon looked back. A pretty handsome face was looking at her. He wore a gorgeous blue outfit. Looking at the shape of his clasp, he was a pretty high-level official.

Behind this handsome figure, many warriors and nobles were standing in line. They were awaiting her attention.

“I am Jahan of the Dong-Myung Clan. Will the lady wish me luck?”

Biyeon turned around and faced Jahan. She gave a smile. Jahan felt his back cool as the temperature suddenly seemed to drop.

“Catch a lot! Well wishes for you to catch 10 Algons should be enough, right?”

“Yes?”

“Would you like me to wish a rat on top of that for good luck?”

***

The hunt began.

San and Biyeon built a camp in the vacant lot located in the middle of the entire area where the hunting would take place. They would spend roughly three days here and move on to the next hunting area. Their job was to store and manage what the others hunted. In addition, in the event of an injured person, emergency treatment was provided. In the case of an emergency, they were responsible for supporting reinforcements.

“Chewi, Baggin!”

Biyeon called upon two staff members. Two warriors jumped up quickly in answer to her call.

“Starting from here, cut down every tree in a ten-step radius. Put the trees over there.”

Yes, Captain!

“Wegang, Yeonri, Saman” 

“Yes, Captain!”

“I want you three to dig from that rock to the bottom of this tree. You need to dig a long trench as deep as my ankles. I also want you to dig some holes and place tree trunks in them to make a fence.”

“Yes, Captain! Right away.”

The ‘specially commissioned’ support staff members didn’t have time to think. They were all veterans who worked on the Count’s estate. They were experienced and skilled. However, this new commander was unlike any other they had in the past.

Their work wasn’t anything like that of last year.

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