Blood spilled on the ground. Jeong Minwoo's large frame tilted unsteadily to the side before falling down hard with a loud thud. Then, from the seemingly empty space, Hyun Sangmin's figure slowly revealed itself like a ghost. There was a steel bar clutched in both of his hands.
The utterly stunned Kang Seok tried to stand up from the chair, but he couldn't. Shin Sang-Ah was desperately clinging on to Kang Seok's waist with both of her hands tightly interlocked as if the ghost of Nongae had come to possess her. She was also pushing down on him with all of her body weight.
She shouted out while lowering her head in a hurry.
“Uh? Oh! Right!”
Kang Seok had no choice but to watch on helplessly as a chair descended upon his unguarded face. Accompanied by a dull impact and a thud, his head snapped to the left.
Kang Seok then slowly fell to the floor, his face dazed and frozen as a whimper leaked out of his mouth.
“….Who the hell do you think you are to say my sister's name?”
Yi Sungjin angrily spat out while carrying the chair.
Now left alone, Yi Hyungsik dazedly stared at Hyun Sangmin as the latter man spat on the floor in disgust.
“Take a nap.”
One swing of the steel bar later, Yi Hyungsik's upper torso spun as if he was performing a traditional dance, then he crumpled to the ground.
Seol could only stand there and stare at the three of them, still frozen in the middle of trying to throw a spell ball. As he continued to blink in a stupefied state, he ended up witnessing something… interesting.
Kang Seok was pulling out his other paper talisman even as his eyes were swimming from the impact to his head. He almost went unnoticed, but at that moment Shin Sang-Ah, baring her teeth like an angry lioness, pounced on him.
Her teeth tore into his flesh; Kang Seok threw his head wildly while screaming in pain. She didn't stop there though but proceeded to climb up on top of his writhing body and lifted her hands up high.
“In all my life, I…. I…!”
Her wide-open palm powerfully slapped Kang Seok's face.
“I've never, ever seen….!”
“….A damn perv like you who's so fixated on a girl's naked body, you damn son of a bitch!!”
Her third hit was an elbow drop roughly aimed at Kang Seok's nose. Blood exploded out from his nose.
Kang Seok was laid out on the floor like a dead frog, and when her elbow hit its mark, he began convulsing like a person having a seizure. But that must have not been enough to cool her anger, as Shin Sang-Ah stood up while breathing like an angry bull before lifting her foot up as high as she could.
“….She, she wouldn't….”
Seeing this, Hyun Sangmin flinched and stopped his actions of making sure that Yi Hyungsik and Jeong Minwoo would not get up again with the help from the steel bar meeting their faces. And he squeezed his eyes shut when her heel accurately slammed down on Kang Seok's family jewels.
Perhaps Kang Seok had some energy left over as his scream was loud enough to tear open his own vocal cords.
Only then could Seol feel the restriction spell being deactivated. Since the owner of the spell lost consciousness, it was only natural that it would be canceled out.
Seol was able to regain his focus when he heard the wet, sticky footsteps coming from his rear.
It was the monster, Gaekgwi. It would've been strange if the creature didn't show up after such noisy chaos unfolded. Although Seol was confident in being able to kill the monster, he'd rather make sure that an unlucky accident wouldn't happen.
Seol hurriedly carried Yun Seora into the safe zone and then pulled the still-enthusiastic Shin Sang-Ah inside as well.
“Miss Shin Sang-Ah!! Miss Shin! Please, stop!”
“Let me go! Let me go, right now! Do you have any idea how much this bastard…!! I, I….!!”
“It's the monster! The Gaekgwi has shown up!”
“….Eh? ….!?!? Mommy!!”
When Shin Sang-Ah confirmed the monster's terrifying outer appearance approaching them, her attitude did a 180 real fast and she jumped into Seol's arms. Somehow successfully calming her down, Seol carried her back into the safe zone, and only then could the four of them breathe long sighs of relief.
It felt like they had to go through a torrential storm, all thanks to a certain someone.
“Whew. First time ever hitting another person like that.”
Hyun Sangmin's hand, as it pulled out a cigarette, was unsteady. He offered what he extracted out from the packet first to Seol.
Seol was about to pull out his own but quietly accepted that instead.
“Hey, man! What are we going to do about those three outside the classroom?”
“... Should we bring them inside then?”
“You do that, and we are through.”
Hyun Sangmin bitterly spat out his opinion.
Not too long after, the two men looked at the corridor through the classroom window. The Gaekgwi had come closer before anybody had noticed, and was in the middle of slowly devouring Jeong Minwoo.
Seeing the monster chew and swallow the man headfirst, Seol could only feel the sense of astonished disgust.
“What happened just now?”
“Mm? Oh, that! Yeah, well, that boy and I exchanged a look, if you know what I mean. I was the one who signaled Miss Shin over here, though.”
‘Did that really happen?’ Seol felt rather dazed after hearing that since he genuinely had not noticed it. Hyun Sangmin chuckled, sounding rather pleased with himself.
“What? You thought we really betrayed you just now?”
“How did you signal each other?”
“Like this. I just had to show this off a bit, and….”
Hyun Sangmin began fiddling around with a half-torn piece of paper but, ‘it’ happened right then.
Suddenly, the sliding door was flung open and Kang Seok's face entered the classroom. His arm was clawing the floor, desperately trying to reel himself inside.
The two men couldn't hide their surprise. To think that he was able to regain his consciousness so quickly after being pummeled like that. His endurance was indeed higher than average according to his Status Window, so that might have been enough to explain his resilience.
“Where the hell do you think you're trying to enter!?”
As soon as she saw him, Shin Sang-Ah ran hard and kicked Kang Seok's head like a ball.
“K-kuk!! P-please! H-help me!”
“Help you!? You bastard! Have you forgotten all the crap you did already!?”
“Get lost! Get lost!!!”
She stomped down on his hand that was desperately clinging onto the floor. In the end, he couldn't continue holding on, and his body was sucked out of the doorway like a receding tidal wave.
Meanwhile, the Gaekgwi had finished devouring the two lackeys, and when it saw the bloodied Kang Seok, it reached out and grabbed him as if he was a delicious dessert.
“Hey! You, you devour that asshole slowly, okay!? You eat him piece by piece, got that!?”
The Gaekgwi blinked its large eye several times while hearing that. Then it proceeded to chew on Kang Seok from his feet onwards. Hyun Sangmin began shuddering after witnessing all this.
“I, uh, I didn't know she was this insane.”
Seol almost ended up agreeing out aloud with him there.
“And well, there we go, that thing finishing everything up. Though, I hadn't gotten my share of satisfaction yet.”
“Isn't it enough just watching them die like that?”
“Well, I guess so… But still, how are we going to deal with that thing now?”
Hyun Sangmin sighed and covered his face.
They might have taken care of Kang Seok and his lackeys, but a new problem rose up to replace them: the monster Gaekgwi. If that thing decided to camp out in front of the safe zone's door, then they had no answers to that at all. And it was obvious that they couldn't just stay in the safe zone for thousands or ten thousand years either.
“In that case, we better kill it then.”
Seol's voice was refreshingly confident.
Kang Seok's screams that grew louder and louder eventually stopped at a certain point. When Seol opened the window and took a look, he could see a dead body that was missing the entire lower section from below the chest.
Seol then lightly tapped on the window sills. The Gaekgwi spun its head around like a bolt of lightning, faced him, and opened its jaw wide while emitting a chilling, shrill cry.
Seol found the sight of the chewed-up human flesh stuck in between the monster's teeth rather disgusting and unappealing, so he quickly chucked in a spell ball down its basketball-hoop sized throat.
The desired result occurred right away; the Gaekgwi began showing an unusual reaction after swallowing the spell ball. It began falling down on the ground while all of its limbs began convulsing uncontrollably. Its large eye shook so hard that the hidden whites could be seen; out of his wide-open mouth, the monster belched out a thick, dark fog.
'I guess one ball wasn't enough.'
“What did you throw in there?”
“It's a spell ball called 'Poison Fog'.”
Seol answered rather briefly and pulled a couple more spell balls out from his pocket, before asking Hyun Sangmin a question of his own.
“Right. What was that thing earlier?”
“You suddenly appearing out of thin air like that.”
While speaking, Seol carefully took aim and threw another spell ball. The red-colored spell ball drew a small arc in the air and landed perfectly inside the Gaekgwi’s mouth once more.
“Oh, that? I also got a paper talisman through my Random Box, you see. For concealment.”
“Concealment, is it?”
Hyun Sangmin nodded his head while paying very close attention to the suffering Gaekgwi.
“I can stay invisible for a long time, but it gets canceled if I attack someone even just once.”
“Didn't you say you only received 500 Survival points?”
“What the!? Hey, man, let that one go, will ya? In any case, I helped out, didn't I? And, I need to hold a hidden trump ca….”
Hyun Sangmin couldn't finish his sentence thanks to the sudden explosion. Hyun Sangmin mouthed, ‘What the hell was that?’ and quickly took a look outside the window, only to yank the sunglasses off his face.
The Gaekgwi was rolling on the ground, evidently in a lot of pain. And whenever there were sounds of explosion coming from its innards, its entire body took on a reddish hue and began swelling up.
“You, you even had something like that!?”
“Well, I was going to use it just now, but you guys made a move first, so…. Oh, it's running away.”
The Gaekgwi was doing whatever it could to scramble away, but Seol simply chucked another spell ball, which accurately landed on the fleeing monster's back. Next, an explosion of light occurred, and dozens of spiderweb-like things shot out, tightly binding the Gaekgwi to the spot.
It was about here that Hyun Sangmin decided to shut up and simply watch the proceedings unfold. All the enthusiasm he felt had been drained out of his system by now, and not only that, he was too worn out to feel shocked anymore.
'This should finish it off.'
The last spell ball landing on the monster transformed into a clear liquid and rained down on the monster that couldn't go anywhere.
Shin Sang-Ah asked after belatedly approaching them.
“I killed it.”
Seol spoke while pointing at the corridor.
As it turned out, the most powerful spell ball of the four was the ‘Hydrochloric Acid’ one. It even melted that scary monster into nothingness in the blink of an eye.
Within the corridor, a mass of rotting flesh that was once the Gaekgwi could be found lying on the floor.
“Oh, wow…. Really….”
Seol explained himself further as the others showed disbelieving reactions.
“The Guide was right. By drawing a couple of spell balls each, we could've gotten to have fun with this mission. And well, I got lucky with the right combination of spells.”
“Spell balls? Combination?”
“Yes. I spread the 'Poison Fog' inside its body, which served to strengthen the explosions caused by the spell 'Ignite'. I tied down the escaping Gaekgwi with the spell 'Spider Web', and then showered it with ‘Hydrochloric Acid’.”
Shin Sang-Ah's mouth opened wide, and she quickly brought up her hand to cover it.
“….Isn't that a bit…. too cruel….”
Seol and Hyun Sangmin could only stare at her totally dumbfounded— even Yi Sungjin too, as he sat there with his back against the wall.
Dawn was mercifully uneventful.
Inside the safe zone where only eight people now remained, two men were busy chatting to each other in a relaxed manner.
After that chaos had died down, Shin Sang-Ah regained her bearings and quickly treated Yun Seora's injuries. Thankfully, her life was spared, but Shin Sang-Ah had no confidence about the arm and said that there was nothing she could do anymore. Besides, the treatment itself had been delayed, which didn't help.
The four of them discussed, and they decided to stay put until midday. They were thinking about waiting for Yun Seora to regain her consciousness, but also, the main issue was with them all being just too damn fatigued to carry on any further.
While looking on at the trio of Yi Sungjin, Yun Seora, and Shin Sang-Ah softly snoring away, Seol quietly asked a question.
“I don't see that middle-aged man.”
“You know, that guy with glasses.”
“Oh, the guy who gave up on his fami…. Cough. Why? You wanna go out and look for him, too?”
Seol didn't reply, and simply chugged down a bottle of energy drink.
A short period of awkward silence flowed between them before Hyun Sangmin tapped a cigarette loose from the packet.
“Hey, man…. Can I ask you about something?”
“Back then, when you were staring down at Kang Seok…. You were going to use those spell balls, weren't you?”
For the first time in a long while, a thin smile formed on Seol's formerly composed, serene face.
“You were planning to use one, but didn't, right?”
When Hyun Sangmin asked again to make sure, Seol simply nodded his head.
“Why did you do that? Well, the result was good, so there's that, but still.”
“You said it before. Human beings would only reveal their true colors when pushed to a corner…. I just wanted to confirm with my own eyes.”
This time, it was Hyun Sangmin’s turn to become speechless.
Another bout of silence descended upon them. But, a short while later….
“Fuck, so did we pass or what?”
The two men laughed at the same time.
1. A historical figure from Korean-Japanese war. For more info you can check this Wiki link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nongae