Chapter 284. After the Setup (5)

The Contracted failed to understand the situation. Everything had happened so quickly, and they couldn’t see properly due to the impenetrable darkness of the night.

A few people were wishfully thinking, ‘The Tutorial just started. What could happen so early on?’

Only a woman who was standing near the middle-aged man noticed that something was wrong and blinked slowly.

“Just now…”

She felt like something splattered on her face, almost like a sprinkler splashed water past her. The woman subconsciously raised her hand and rubbed her face. A crimson liquid that smelled like iron rubbed off on her fingers. Just as she was about to ask what it was, her eyes widened.

The man who introduced himself as a professional hiker swayed greatly. With his head drooped low, he staggered side to side like an inebriated man before suddenly falling down like a crumbling tower.

“What….”

The woman looked down reflexively, her eyes clearly catching sight of an axe sticking out of the man’s head.

Her eyes shot open, as did her mouth. As a stifled breath and a horrified shriek surged up her throat— Paak! The woman abruptly fell with her eyes and mouth still petrified.

Less than a few seconds afterward, another axe flew forward and cracked someone else’s head open. The throws boasted an incredible accuracy. Three people had died in an instant.

At this point, the people who were standing like stone statues began to understand the situation.

“Uh, huh…?”

“W-What the hell was that? What’s going on!!?”

“Fuck…!”

“They’re dead? They’re really dead?”

Murmur, murmur. The Contracted who had yet to accept reality shrunk back. But as if to mock the people instinctively backing away from the corpses, four more axes came flying in.

“Guaaaak!”

Another man screamed and fell. Perhaps because he was moving, the axe missed its mark and struck his shoulder. Though the man survived, he was writhing in pain on the ground like a caterpillar.

This time, everyone saw it clearly.

“Auu, auuu….!”

And starting from this point…

“S-Somebody help…!”

The crowd fell into a mass panic.

“Uwaaaaaaaaaah!”

Some screamed.

“M… Mom…”

Some staggered back at a loss for what to do.

“….”

Some fell on their butts, their complexions pale.

“S-Save me! Save meeeee!”

And some ran for their lives.

A total pandemonium broke loose! All sorts of shrieks and shouting swirled through the empty lot. Meanwhile, the axes were shooting down the survivors one by one. The sniper had yet to reveal himself.

Seol Jihu’s eyes narrowed.

‘As expected.’

The Special Tutorial was completely different from the very beginning. In the Basic Tutorial, the survivors could buy time by blocking the auditorium door, but the Special Tutorial was merciless from the start.

With the starting space being such a wide-open area, the survivors were forced to face an unimaginable pressure from the get-go.

‘What to do…’

It was too late to control the situation. The Contracted were lost in fear, running away in all directions. Of course, Seol Jihu had no intention to control them in the first place. If he did, he would have done so a long time ago.

In this situation, the only choice he had was killing the monster to minimize the damage or letting it be.

Soon, after making up his mind, Seol Jihu turned to Eun Yuri. It was then.

Whoosh, whoosh! A sharp sound cutting through the air approached them. It seemed to be heading in Eun Yuri’s direction.

‘Hmph, who do you think you’re aiming at?’

He immediately moved to block the axe, but he realized soon after that it was unnecessary as Eun Yuri lay flat on the ground like a frog with a calm face.

The axe swirled through the air aimlessly before disappearing into the darkness.

“The other axes all went for people’s heads, so I figured the same would happen to me.”

Eun Yuri quickly hopped up and said as she picked up her bag. She must have been observing the situation calmly.

She was certainly different than a simple Contracted, perhaps because she had experienced the Tutorial and the Neutral Zone before.

Seol Jihu felt himself liking Eun Yuri more and more as he pulled on her arm.

“Come on, let’s get out of here first.”

While everyone else was running around shrieking in a panic, only the duo of the man and woman left the lot through the chaos.

Of course, Seol Jihu didn’t forget to pick up an axe from the ground before he left.


*

After leaving the lot, Seol Jihu and Eun Yuri did not say anything for a long time. By the time the disturbance at the lot was slowly subsiding, Seol Jihu who was leading the way spoke.

“I think the Diary of an Unknown Survivor is the most overpowered item in the Tutorial.”

Although he managed to break the silence, no reply came back. But he didn’t mind it too much because he wasn’t expecting a reply anyway. He continued.

“That diary updates its contents depending on what situation you’re in. You should read it carefully every time something is added. You’ll notice a hint or two if you look carefully.”

The same— no answer.

Looking back, Seol Jihu saw Eun Yuri nodding her head. He still couldn’t read her thoughts from her face.

“Should we have helped?”

The nodding stopped. Seol Jihu inwardly admitted that this was a slightly cruel question, but he was still curious about Eun Yuri’s opinion.

After a moment of silence, Eun Yuri spoke.

“I think you had a reason.”

She replied politely in a quiet voice. Seol Jihu smiled at the roundabout answer.

“The participants of the Tutorial are free to cooperate, but they are also competitors. You must know what I’m talking about since you’ve experienced the third stage.”

In truth, it wouldn’t be bad to help them. After all, helping others was also a criterion that was judged. Knowing how helpful Odelette Delphine was back when they were in the Neutral Zone, he might have helped the others out if they were partaking in the Basic Tutorial.

But the situation had changed.

With the opening of the Special Tutorial, the rewards they could get multiplied. Naturally, ways to earn Survival Points must have increased as well. So judging that they could gather enough Survival Points even without helping the Contracted, Seol Jihu had decided to prioritize monopolizing the special rewards.

Only, he was curious about Eun Yuri’s reaction.

‘How could you not save people who are dying in front of you? I’m disappointed! I won’t enter your organization!’ Seol Jihu would have had a headache if she’d suddenly said that.

Of course, she wouldn’t openly say such a thing unless she was completely crazy. But as always, it was hard to guess what someone was thinking.

“To be honest, even if we helped them, they might come back to bite us. Although some people recognize favors and return them, there are also people who feel like they’re entitled to them. At least, that’s how it was with me.”

“You’re right.”

This time, she answered right away. Seol Jihu gave a sideways glance at Eun Yuri.

“In fact, some people mistakenly think they’re owed favors.”

He expected her to nod silently just like before, but this time, she revealed her thoughts clearly.

‘Hmm.’

Though not even a day had passed since they met, Seol Jihu’s evaluation of Eun Yuri’s personality was ‘quiet’.

She seemed to be someone who rarely expressed her emotions, did not interfere in others’ matters, and only said and acted when absolutely necessary.

He didn’t know what she experienced in the Neutral Zone to act like this, but she seemed to know the inner workings of Paradise.

‘I really want to know about her disposition.’

Looking forward to the moment when the Tutorial would end, Seol Jihu spoke.

“I said all that because I didn’t know what you would think. But at the end of the day, I wanted to focus more on Miss Eun Yuri. That’s it.”

He didn’t say his lingering thoughts, ‘Because this Tutorial is a stage for you and me.’ He was too embarrassed to say it.

Eun Yuri lowered her head slightly.

“…Yes….”

She murmured in a tiny voice. She was acting unperturbed, but perhaps she was a bit shy as well.

Chuckling to himself, Seol Jihu looked around the area.

“Let’s sit down for a bit.”

Eun Yuri sneaked a glance back. She must be thinking, ‘We’re already resting? We just left the lot!’

“There’s something we need to do first — opening the gift boxes. While we’re at it, we can see what’s in the leather bag too.”

One reason Seol Jihu favored Eun Yuri was that she was quick to understand.

Knowing exactly what Seol Jihu wanted, Eun Yuri sat down, pulled down her bag, and took out the Necessary Boxes.

If she were in the military, she would undoubtedly be a grade-A recruit.

“The Necessary Box is a bonus item that gives what you need the most.”

“What I need the most…”

Eun Yuri’s eyes lit up as she repeated Seol Jihu’s words in a daze. Though Seol Jihu did not know what, it seemed there was something she really wanted.

Seol Jihu continued, thinking, ‘It’s probably not snacks.’

“When I went through the Tutorial, I only got three Necessary Boxes in addition to the Survival Points included initially. We figured you wouldn’t need the Survival Points, so we added another box.”

“Got it.”

“If you open the box, a bonus item will pop out automatically. Can you open one up and tell me what you got?”

Eun Yuri opened a box right away. The box melted away and Eun Yuri’s eyes headed midair.

“Mana Circuit Application…?”

“?”

“Something called Mana Circuit Application was added to my Status Window.”

“Ah, an ability.”

Seol Jihu tilted his head. He himself had a powerful mana circuit thanks to Psyche’s Tears, but Mana Circuit Application? It was an ability he had never heard before.

“This is the first time I’ve heard about it…”

Deciding to investigate it later, Seol Jihu suggested that she open the remaining boxes. Coincidentally, all three boxes turned into paper talismans.

He was hoping to get at least one paper talisman, but Seol Jihu fell into thought when three came out.

‘Should I be happy?’

Meanwhile, Eun Yuri opened the leather bag. There was only one item inside — a rope with a blue glow.

“It says it’s a rope that can neutralize a killer.”

Eun Yuri explained as she held the rope in her hands. A piece of info came out. She said killer, not Gaekgwi.

‘Well… I expected as much when I saw the axe.’

Given that the difficulty had gone up, it only made sense for the monster to be far stronger than the Gaekgwi.

It was then. Ssk, ssk. The rustling of grass was heard. Seol Jihu’s ears perked up as his senses were drawn back.

‘It’s from the direction of the lot.’

Seol Jihu stood up with the hand-axe.

The sound quickly drew closer. Judging by the heavy steps, it seemed this person had no intention of hiding their presence.

Was it a killer or a survivor?

The answer was revealed soon. The tall grass swayed left and right, and a slender figure popped out. He was a head taller than Seol Jihu and had unnaturally long arms and legs.

This being didn’t look like a human even at a glance. He had grey skin with blackish-red spots that made him look like a rotting corpse. Other than that, the only strange thing was that he was wearing a white mask with holes for the eyes only.

Just like that, the killer revealed himself.

‘I didn’t think he’d chase after us….’

Seol Jihu clicked his tongue and activated the Nine Eyes. Immediately, he furrowed his brows.

‘Green?’

He had expected the killer to be yellow at the very least.

Bzz, bzz! A cell phone buzzed.

“He’s the axe killer, it says.”

The Diary of an Unknown Survivor must have been updated as Eun Yuri relayed the information right away.

“It says: he enjoys killing survivors with various weapons, and especially enjoys killing escaping survivors by throwing an axe. Also—”

Eun Yuri continued quickly.

“He apparently cherishes his axes so much that he chases after anyone that takes them.”

“Aha.”

Seol Jihu finally realized why the killer chased after them. As if to prove Eun Yuri right, the killer held his left hand out. He was telling Seol Jihu to hand over the axe.

‘I picked it up because I didn’t have a weapon…’

Seol Jihu smacked his lips. It was a mistake if he could call it that.

Was he green because he would quietly turn back once he got his axe?

‘But that doesn’t make much sense.’

Seol Jihu decided to test it.

“Here.”

He threw the axe over.

“Mm… sorry for taking it. I didn’t have a weapon, you see. I picked it up since it was convenient.”

Eun Yuri doubted her ears. Just what was this person trying to do?

“Do you happen to have a spear? I understand you treasure your axes, but a spear should be fine, right? I’d appreciate it greatly.”

The killer did not budge an inch after retrieving his axe. His bloodshot pupils were staring at Seol Jihu through the holes in the mask.

While Seol Jihu wasn’t sure he spoke human language, the killer seemed to have a somewhat dumbfounded expression as well.

Seol Jihu laughed wryly as he scratched his head.

“I mean, there’s nothing I can do if you don’t want to. But I’d be happy even with a javelin, so…”

Eun Yuri opened her mouth, stuttering.

“W-Wait. The diary says he’s the most dangerous one among the killers. It says he kills the survivors on the spot without playing around with them…!”

‘What?’

Seol Jihu blinked rapidly.

‘Among the killers?’

In the first place, Seol Jihu had no intention of getting rid of the killer.

Why? Because that would make the Tutorial trivial. The killer had to run amok so that the other survivors wouldn’t dare to touch the special rewards.

That was why Seol Jihu purposely left the killer at the lot without killing him.

‘But this changes the story.’

Right, since the difficulty went up, it wouldn’t be strange even if there were several killers. This also meant killing one early on wouldn’t pose much of a problem.

“Are you sure?”

Seol Jihu turned his head halfway and asked.

“That there are multiple killers.”

Eun Yuri’s eyes widened. Because at the same time that Seol Jihu turned to look at her—

“Kyaha!”

The axe-wielding killer rushed in like a bolt of lightning.

“C-Careful…!”

As the shocked Eun Yuri shouted…

“Kukikikik!”

The killer instantly closed the distance and swung the axe down with a scornful laugh.

It was then.

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