Chapter 51

“Before claiming your honor, know how to feel shame first! Every one of you deserved to die earlier. Why are you all still lying on the floor?”

The Dong-Myung warriors quickly got up and gathered together after hearing Dongye’s words and stood at attention to hear his orders. 

After that… the Dong-Myung warriors were all kneeling in front of San and Biyeon, asking what they should do. With darkly bruised faces bowed down…

“It was as you said. Running around and working with the support staff really did get him riled up,” San said to Biyeon after assigning missions to the Dong-Myung warriors.

“He’s a smart person. It doesn’t seem like he’s normal,” Biyeon muttered.

“He is an Awakened warrior after all.”

“Huh?”

“He’s an Awakener that knows what’s good for him. He has both honor and a sense of responsibility. His brain is a lot better than the other smooth-brained warriors. In my judgment, he’s a competent commander.”

“What are you going to do now? It looks like we’ve gained his trust, just as we planned…”

“What else should we do? Let’s progress with our plans. We’ll consider how to properly utilize him after carrying out our plans here.”

***

Complete darkness fell in the forest. A large fire was burning in the middle of the base camp square. Around the square, various devices and traps had been placed and installed. All of the hunters would be able to see this fire in the darkness of night, and it would also be the center of attention for all the beasts and monsters in the forest.

Furthermore, it would create the situation that San and Biyeon planned for.

“Hmm- I think our plans are complete now,” San muttered as he looked around the base camp.

“It seems that these friends assigned to us are a little useful now. We seem to be working quite well together?” Biyeon said, looking towards the support staff who were finally taking a breather. On one side, the smell of grilling Archon meat hung in the air.

The warriors were probably going to enjoy a fresh feast with stamina dishes made with the finest ingredients that even royal families could only dream of eating. If the Count knew, he’d probably be jumping up and down…

“Yuren, Yeria, and Jahan!” 

“Yes, sir!”

“Yes!”

San called on the commanders of each company. Among them was the commander of the newly established Dong-Myung warriors company. San had asked them to act as an equal ‘company’, and Dongye readily agreed. However, when conducting their hunting during the week, they would be allowed to hunt independently as Dong-Myung clan warriors.

“The arrangement for the night border watch is…”

“The formation of the night patrol team is…”

“Communication lines and what to do are…”

“The area allocated to the returning hunters…”

“The classification and distribution of spoils…”

“The wounded should be…”

After meticulously laying out orders, San turned to Yeria and asked,

“Has dinner been prepared?”

“Yes!”

“Tell everyone to get together. We’ll eat together.” 

“Yes, sir.”

From a distance, Dongye observed how they were leading the group. He then looked closely at defensive barriers and traps that they designed and built. His eyes sunk deeper and deeper in thought.

‘They’re scarier than I initially thought. It’s like… It’s like they’re not setting up a support headquarters but a sophisticated forward deployment base for operations and combat. Furthermore… the beasts were dismantled and skinned in advance to give off the smell of blood, and the fire was made large to inform the hunters of the base camp’s location and direction. If so, what is their intention? Is this place going to be the main hunting ground? Are they actually attracting all the beasts and monsters?

Dongye was reflecting on his own judgment. He partnered with them in order to ensure the safety of his clansmen. Additionally, his sense of prestige and honor wouldn’t allow him to return empty-handed from this hunting event. Since the morning of the first day, when he encountered an unexpected number of high-level monsters, he was truly running in ‘survival’ mode.

This hunt was very different from previous years. Up to last year, the beasts in this region consisted of Algons, Alpins, and very rarely, Alchins. It would normally be seen as a great success if 3 to 4 Algons were caught with a 12 person group over the course of the entire hunting period.

Even with all the hunters spoils combined, it was difficult to catch more than ten Algons total. The rest were generally Alpins, tigers, and wild boars. In the morning, during their initial hunt, the Dong-Myung warriors sprayed bits and pieces of meat and fresh blood to lure the monsters in. It was the same tactic that they used in previous years. They had equipped their new weapons while awaiting the monsters. 

However, rather than the beasts and monsters they were expecting, it was a whopping 4 Algons that appeared in front of their bait. Unbelievably, the 4 Algons were being chased by 4 Archons… the Archons were behemoths among behemoths… they couldn’t be taken down by the simple bullets that they had prepared.

In that battle alone, three warriors were lost. To make matters worse, a giant crustacean with a mantis’ head chased after the Archons. The wave of ever-stronger beasts drove him to despair.

He had never even seen or heard of the crustacean-like monster before. The crustacean-mantis monster grabbed an Archon and ate it whole. In that gap, they ran like hell without much hope of living. That situation was probably about to unfold again right here, very soon…

‘The problem is, those people knew about that monster, and the monster was afraid of those two...

'The fear exhibited by the crustacean-mantis creature was quite palpable. The moment the crustacean beast saw those two, it ran away like crazy. Furthermore, San and Biyeon both seemed to have transcended the initial Awakened Warrior stage...'

Dongye cracked his finger at this point. His fingertips were still visibly shaking.

‘The motion of moving in a straight line in the air and turning their body’s direction at a right angle is possible only for Han-Sung Clan masters who’ve reached the second-level of Awakening. In addition, San used the Dong-Myung clan’s electrified fist strike… the capacity of the electric shock was at least at the level of a third-degree user…

The same was true of the woman’s rotational motion… in one motion, she folded her joints more than three times while turning on three separate axes. It was a move only second-level Awakeners of the Dong-Myung clan could pull off. In addition, the lights that sparkled at the tip of her sword before piercing the Archon’s skin… he couldn’t even take a guess. Who the hell were they? Why did they come here?

“They seem to be gathering,” Biyeon said as she wiped her mouth with a handkerchief.

“That’s good. Anyway, it’s best to get live battle experience. Besides, we get to earn money and build friendships with precious people. It’s a good situation all around, right?” San said to Yeria as he laughed.

“Sir?” Yeria asked while raising her head.

“It means our guests have come. Shouldn’t we prepare to greet them?”

Episode 2. Book 1: Exploration – Chapter 17

The bright light and smell of meat were essential parts of a feast. It was the same in the mountains. The first to arrive were the other hunters.

As the day grew dark, the rules of hunting changed. The hunter becomes the hunted, and the hunted becomes the hunter.

As they wandered out of the forest, the hunters began to reveal their appearance. With such a big campfire, one was more inclined to feel safe at night. Furthermore, it was better for everyone’s survival to form a large group than to camp in individual small teams. Some of the hunters appeared to have already fought, showcasing scars and ragged clothes.

“Yuren and Jahan!”

Biyeon called the company commanders.

“Yes!” 

“Usher the incoming into their designated spaces.”

“Okay.”

The incoming hunters were puzzled, but they dutifully followed as the support staff led them to designated areas within the base camp. Though most had already eaten a dinner of lean meat and roasted grains, the smell of fatty meat wafting through the air made them hungry once more. Thus, they followed the support staff without argument. In addition, some of the support staff members were Dong-Myung warriors, so there was no reason to argue or quarrel.

Almost all of the teams that were hunting in the mountains flocked towards the visible fire. Nearly 700 people departed in the morning, but only 300 people, less than half, gathered in the square. Some of them appeared to be miserable and full of fear.

Experienced hunters who knew how to evade monsters did not like these kinds of open squares. Strangely, though, today seemed to be an exception. Hunters were flocking to the square as if they had originally promised to do so. Perhaps what they experienced in the forest gave them a good reason to join up with others regardless of their qualms.

The support staff distributed meat to the hunters, requested something, and then led them to their designated areas. While carrying out their tasks, the support staff were slowly realizing their captains’ plans.

Now, all of their sweat and labor in setting up and building various traps and contraptions started to make sense. Furthermore, this bunch of wild, unruly, and rude hunters was willing to take on their roles in this new mission as if it were their duty. They even had expressions of appreciation… 

“Hawk…? It looks like they’re here. Ah! Fuck…. What I wish doesn’t happen always seems to happen. Damn, they’re really just simpleminded bird brains. These assholes…” San muttered. His expression was bitter. His gaze was fixed on the forest ahead.

“It’s a group attack. It’ll be more troublesome than I thought. The hunters who haven’t come yet must already be dead.” Biyeon replied while putting on her leather gloves.

“Why the hell is this happening? This must be related to us,” San quietly said.

“I’ve come up with several hypotheses, but I’m still not sure. At first, I thought it was possible that the experimenters were hunting extensively in the north to capture and replenish their supply of monsters and beasts that we killed when we escaped from the Pi’an. The timing of monsters coming down from the north is roughly similar. But what’s bothering me…”

“Yeah, all of the monsters and beasts were females. Even the crustacean-mantis monster… are you talking about that detail?”

“Yes. Also, they were all carrying offspring. Those three Archons, four Algons, all of them…” Biyeon clicked her tongue.

“What if it’s not a coincidence? What could be the reason?”

“To put it simply, the beasts would increase their population here. It’s not clear why they would want to breed here. There’s still too little information to analyze. Even one Archon is enough to consider an entire mountain as its domain, so it’s not by accident when they move down in groups. Their movement was created ‘artificially’. There seems to be a reason why they’re coming down and entering the human world… but it’s hard to guess what the exact reason is yet.”

“What do you think are the possibilities of this being related to us?”

“Remember what Nil and Null said? We were very important samples. We also overheard stories about ‘clients’ purchasing the ‘summoned’. What if the ‘clients’ were the gods of this place and those same gods were using the summoned as priests? With the priests’ bodies as natural extensions, the gods would be able to collectors information and track us down..."

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