Chapter 61

“Truthfully, I’m not confident that I’ll win in a battle against Captain San. Actually, I would assuredly lose,” Jahan responded with a reddened face.

“Yes… it would be difficult,” responded Dongye while rubbing his chin. He didn’t seem angry. He was trapped in his own thoughts of what he had just observed.

He had also been lost for words in the beginning, so he didn’t find fault with Jahan’s response.

Dongye wanted to see San fight. Though he had seen him fight in the forest against the beasts, a warrior’s true fighting ability and skill shone when fighting against another warrior. As Dongye wished, he was able to observe San fight. However, rather than any epiphany or understanding, he was left with a belly full of aches… he was unable to properly assess and understand San’s combat style or ability. In the end, he was left with more questions than answers.

What he saw was an untrained sword moving about ungraciously. It was to the point of comedy. At some points, San’s movements seemed unnatural and forced.

However, Dongye wasn’t a simple fellow. All twenty or so of San’s battles were handled slightly differently. San had won all of his battles absolutely and without mistake. Can that be explained as a chance happening? Even a passing dog would laugh at that assessment.

His mind couldn’t make sense of what he saw, so Dongye had to feel with his body…

He tried replicating San’s movements, comparing his body positions and matching them with San’s image. He even tried to bring out the same level of power from those awkward movements. What would Dongye be able to understand from his body’s reaction? He finally discovered something. It wasn’t something that he could conclude with his mind. It only came after applying San’s movement physically through his own body.

The explanation was not kind. Dongye’s body shook.

‘Partial movements… to be able to produce the highest impact within the least amount of time… he developed movements that demanded maximum muscle usage, extreme focus, and flexibility to strike on any axis. When I tried putting together his various motions, my muscles and bones screamed out in pain. My twisted muscles couldn’t handle the sudden directional changes or tension. His movements are… they’re too crazy!’

Dongye muttered in a low voice to Jahan, “Remember what you saw. It’s an Awakened limiting his level to that of a Dark Warrior. He also used various skills and abilities that are close to the ones we use in the Dong-Myung Clan.”

“…”

“In order to perfect his movements, he must have cracked and broken his bones over a hundred times. He must have also pulled and disconnected his muscles over a thousand times. Even though I recognize his movements, there’s no way that I’d be able to repeat what I saw. Unless I retrained how my muscles and bones worked, there’s no way that I’d be able to exert such power from such weird angles…”

Dongye gave a dry laugh while turning his attention to San. A large group of warriors had already laid down their swords and offered their surrender.

***

The morning rays were starting to sting his skin.

A  refreshing gust of wind and its fragrance of flowers flowed across the estate. Count Essen was excited about today’s prospects. For at least the next ten days, a large number of visitors and merchants would visit his territory. There were already many merchants setting up shop within the castle walls. They stayed and opened shops in designated areas where the Count allowed. Everyone awaited the hunting party’s return with high expectations.

The Count had already heard information about this year’s harvest through the advanced group who came to request additional transportation assistance. They spoke of rare beasts and amazing achievements that he had never heard of before.

Almost everyone in the manor came out. The procession would soon arrive.

“They’re here!”

The crowd began to murmur. People cheered. Spring petals fluttered in all directions. In between this cacophony of cheers and the blowing petals in the air, a procession of hunters marched toward the main square.

The Count and his family came out to greet them. He wore a formal family uniform and ceremonial sword, revealing his regal upbringing and dignified status. He looked toward the entrance. He was accompanied by his three wives and thirteen sons and daughters.

Behind him was an altar dedicated to the Goddess Diana. The temple priests were lined up uniformly on both sides of the altar.

The Count had a subdued expression. He was immensely happy, but he refrained from openly looking happy. He had already heard about what had transpired in the forest from Yeria, who came to the castle at the break of dawn. The result of this hunt and of his specially commissioned captains far exceeded his expectations.

The results were both incredibly wonderful and satisfying.

Although many warriors were hurt and their pride tramped on, he didn’t see any issues with how the problems were dealt with. The warriors had a fair duel, so the other parties wouldn’t object. Furthermore, they made their vows to duel in front of the Chief Priestess.

Though all of the renowned and powerful clans and organizations participated in the duel, they’d probably keep the results silent, as they wouldn’t want to be embarrassed about losing to a single person.

Crucially, the Dong-Myung Clan agreed to San and Biyeon’s initial terms and distanced themselves from the duel. Dongye had also stated that he would stand as witness to the results of the duel. Thus, one large issue was easily resolved.

At first, the Count had trouble believing Yeria. The story she told went against common sense. The Count simply thought that, since San and Biyeon were both Awakened Warriors, they would be able to handle most warriors who would participate in the hunt. However, based on his understanding of Dongye, the Count had trouble believing that such a cunning person would help his commissioned officers without something in return. Especially since Dongye was part of the Dong-Myung Clan, an organization much larger than his estate.

Therefore, the Count wondered if there was an agreement or negotiation between his captains and Dongye. The Count was nervous about his precarious position if there was an agreement. He grilled Yeria on the details of what happened in the forest. It was only after confirming her story over and over that he started understanding the situation and feeling relieved.

Yeria was usually cynical in evaluating people and was not accepting of even the smallest of mistakes, so her explanation gave the Count confidence.

The Count looked upon his daughter. He felt a sense of coolness in her retelling of what happened in the forest.

“Before you left for this year’s hunt, you asked for a choice. Have you made your choice now?” The Count asked Yeria after she finished retelling the story.

His voice was soft. The Count wanted to know what this skillful daughter of his was thinking.

“I still… I don’t know. I feel very confused,” Yeria replied calmly with her hands folded and neatly placed on her knees.

“What do you mean? Did the standards for making your decision change?”

The Count looked at his daughter with puzzled eyes.

She was a wise and beautiful daughter. She deserved to choose her own path, and she had a lot of options to choose from. Yeria’s hands trembled. The Count could see her nervousness.

“The only thing I know for sure is that I don’t have a choice. They weren’t simpleton warriors who only possessed strength, nor were they nobles who were outspoken. They weren’t like any people I know.”

“Were they that different…?”

The Count waited for his daughter’s next words.

“Their way of thinking was as free as the wind, their attitude was as pleasant as the sound of the water, and their actions were as unstoppable as a monsoon shower. Also… It seems unlikely that any of my skills would impress them. I couldn’t understand any of their actions or ways of doing things until they taught me. Really, this whole adventure was just confirmation of my naivety and stupidity.”

Yeria’s monologue-like voice continued on. The Count felt that his daughter’s voice was sinking deeper into the recesses of her soul.

“Thats why… I feel… like I’m insignificant and worthless for the first time. Funnily… realizing that fact made me happy. So, I’ve decided that I want to be closer to them. Although, now I probably have to ask them for permission…”

The Count raised his head. He woke up from his thoughts. He had to get prepared to give thanks to the warriors and hunters who participated in his estate’s hunt. In addition, it would be the beginning of a new festival…

He slowly turned around. Two phrases were circling in his mind constantly….

‘Chosen Heroes’… and ‘Good Relationship’…

***

A long procession flowed through Count Essen’s main square. The procession of spoils obtained from hunting went out first. They were followed by the hunters and warriors who participated in the hunt. The procession arrived with cheers coming from the lords, territory residents, and merchants.

Lastly, at the end of the procession line was the Count’s specially commissioned support staff. They marched in an orderly manner, a slight distance away from the hunters and warriors. No one cheered for them.

San and Biyeon were at the end, speaking between themselves in quiet voices.

“It seems like a neighborhood event is being held. It’s a festive mood.”

“Yes, it is. It seems like all the residents came out to celebrate.”

It was the most spectacular event of the year for the territories people. However, from the perspective of the two, who were accustomed to the splendid and noisy performances of modern Earth, the festival seemed humble and unpretentious.

The atmosphere felt like a bustling rural marketplace for them. 

The two had on a warm smile as they walked slowly, appreciating the welcome event from a distance.

The nobles and wealthy commoners who dressed in their best clothes looked like modern-day little children who were happy to be on a field trip. Carriages of various shapes were set up on the side of the road. Young men and women stood on their tiptoes to glance at the passing people. They were joined by sun-tanned servants and slaves who were awaiting their orders…

The two felt like soldiers returning after some rough training in the spring sun. The smell of sweat and countryside manure gave off a friendly and warm atmosphere.

“Is the ledger prepared to be handed over to the Count?” San suddenly asked Biyeon.

“It was well organized except for the Dong-Myung Clan’s share. I’ve already told the Count through Yeria in advance.”

“How much is our share?”

“I’m not sure. I don’t know the market prices of the spoils, so I couldn’t calculate an exact figure. Since we’re due 10% of the Count’s share, our share will be quite substantial. Moreover, we were contracted to take 60% of our own hunted beasts, so we have the right to two Archons and three Algons.”

“Our performance this time around was pretty good. Did you hand Dongye the bullet samples?”

“I gave him five K1 rifle bullets and three pistol bullets. His reaction was interesting.”

“What did he say?”

“He said he could probably recreate the bullets, but he wanted to see the physical weapon firsthand.”

“That sounds about right… he’s smart. I would have wanted to see the physical gun too if I were him. How should we proceed with him?”

“If his clan has the ability to reproduce modern weaponry, I think it’s best that we ask them to manufacture the rifles. Long-distance weapons are essential in all operations. The problem would be the cost…”

“One Archon should be enough. It’s considered precious and priceless. If we were to sell every part of an Archon, it’ll probably be several times the total annual income of this estate. If we run out of money later, we can always hunt some more Archons. By the way… How is the geographic mapping of this world going?”

“It’s tough to obtain information. People here don’t have the freedom to move around. They’re usually limited to a radius of approximately 30 km from where they live. Virtually no one has ever gone beyond a 30 km radius boundary. Even the nobles of this region have only roamed around the neighboring big cities. I think the only way I’ll make headway is if we meet a large-scale merchant guild.”

“How fast does information spread here?”

“There doesn’t seem to be any means of long-distance communication. There seems to be a light-transmitting-based communication system, but it’s just a simple signaling system. Conveying complex messages through that system would be impossible. The fastest means of information delivery is through horses. It seems that 300 km per day is the limit using horses. Furthermore, horse-riding is only done during the day, since there’s no streetlight system to illuminate the road during the night.”

“Hmm- If that’s the case, there shouldn’t be any big problems if we use guerrilla warfare. If we hit and run, it’ll be difficult for anyone to find us. The problem is the ability of those Sages who supposedly live amongst the residents of this world…”

San glanced ahead. A few steps in front of him, Dite was walking forward. Her steps were graceful and full of dignity. San clicked his tongue.

“Fortunately, even though the Sages have flowed into the human world quite a long time ago, they’re probably few in number. It’s also said that most of them are holding positions of the highest-ranking aristocrats who can dominate high-level information, so it won’t be easy to move along the main thoroughfares.”

San used the non-verbal communication channel.

[She must have practiced a lot…]

[Huh?]

[Dite. Doesn't the way she walks look elegant?]

[Is that so?]

[Who would believe, looking at her now, that she’s lived an arduous life like us? She’s both the Chief Apostle of the Goddess of Hunting and a virgin priestess… Hmm. She’s a walking contradiction. Do you think the gods here want true, unfettered, and pure faith?]

[I don’t know…]

[I… I get goosebumps whenever I think of the stories I’ve heard about the gods and nectar. Are they really the very gods that we’ve known in our own world? Does it feel real to you? Did we really talk as equals with a god?]

[Wouldn’t you say that a god here is closer to an intelligent energy creature? The Earth we lived on was similar. The gods also revealed themselves only through prophets and apostles. They would also speak through human vessels…]

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