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Now that the fight is over, the smell of blood was wafting everywhere. The heaps of red ape carcasses that was now laying around was oddly unreal.
In the first exam, killing just the one was enough for me. After barely managing to strangle its neck with a vine, I was in a shocked daze for a while.
But today, 11 of them died at my hands. It was much easier than it was in the first exam.
‘I’m supposed to become used to this shitty feeling? Do I look like that kind of person to you?’
‘Yes, you do look like that kind of person.”’
In the end, the baby angel was right. I’m a person capable of doing that and more. But there are those that seemingly are not.
“Oo-eck!” (Puking noise)
Lee Hye-su was gagging. Seeing her face smeared in tears, the sympathy floods over.
“Are you okay?”
“Yes…. I’m sorry…”
She could barely hold in her crying to reply.
“Why wouldn’t she be okay? All she did was stand around in the back and spectate.”
The openly sarcastic Park Go-chan. Perhaps those words were hurtful enough because Lee Hye-su’s crying gets louder.
‘You didn’t really have a big part either, okay ajusshi?’
Park Go-chan’s clear intentions make me hate him more.
Not just because he’s a dick, but he continues to smother Lee Hye-su this way and suffocate her.
I will protect you but in turn, give me your body; to justify a kind of deal like that.
‘This is big. In order to overcome a situation like this, I myself have to take up the courage and actively fight.’
Lee Hye-su was more useless than I thought, which worries me.
If she continues to be a burden this way, a place for her in the team will disappear. The gazes from the other team members, who see her as just a hindrance, continues to grow colder and eventually it may become just the situation that Park Go-chan wants.
“Hyung, do you think this was it?”
“No way.” I shook my head. “If it was to end like this, they wouldn’t have given us the mission to survive for a week.”
“Anyway, it was like you said, the enemy to fight turned out to be the red apes.”
“It’s a good thing at least that it wasn’t an enemy we didn’t know. But…” I look around at the corpses strewn before the cave and sigh. “We cannot stay here anymore.”
“Can’t we just stay here? We can fight like we did today and endure for a week.”
Perhaps. I am of the mind that we have to hurry and leave this place, but I guess I should ask for everyone’s opinion.
I ask them all.
“I think we should leave before more of the bastards come, but what do you all think?”
“This place is safe.”
Kang Chun-seong disagrees. It’s an important matter so this guy is putting forth an opinion.
“If we fight in the forest, I can’t guarantee anything.”
That is true. This cave here has an expansive space in front of it and makes it easier to fight. But the forest is different.
There are too many things the bastards can hide behind and it’s not only left, right, front, back but they may attack from above from the trees. Such a 3-dimensional attack is much more beneficial to the bastards, who have numbers on their side.
“But staying in this place is just as dangerous.”
“And why is that?”
“First, I will point out the red apes’ intelligence. They not only set up an ambush attack, but they will also wait until nightfall to strike. They also have the decision making skill to go after the fire first.”
My explanation continues.
“In that case, instead of coming out and attacking us first, might they not surround the place and attack us when we go out to gather water or food?”
Kang Chun-seong agrees.
At my opinion, everyone’s faces freeze in seriousness. It’s not a time to rejoice because we won one fight.
“But the fortunate aspect of this is that we killed them all and didn’t leave a single one. We have some time before they may attack again, so how about in that time we look for another base?”
“Me too, hyung.”
Kang Chun-seong, Joon-ho, Lee Hye-su all vote yes and lastly, Park Go-chan nods his head too.
And so, we decide to leave the cave but before departing, I take off the three sets of underwear and socks, one by one.
I wrap them around the ends of the sticks we collected for firewood and put it in the fire.
Hwa leo leok – (swoosh)
‘Oh ho ho, it works.’
I look at my makeshift torchlight and am proud of myself.
“Hyung, is this why your underwear and socks…”
“I wore three pairs.”
Can you not treat me like I’m obviously going commando?
“Wow, hyung, your preparedness is really incredible. I hadn’t thought that far at all.”
The day was still dark, so I hold up my torchlight and lead the way.
“Sylph, can you find out if there is another cave nearby?”
Sylph flits away. In a short while after searching the entirety of a 1.1 km diameter, Sylph shakes her head. Of course, caves probably aren’t that common here.
Thankfully, the red apes are not within this perimeter.
“For now, we will have to walk. Earlier, the bastards tried to flee in that direction so we will go in the direction opposite that.”
As I led the way, the group blindly follows. Perhaps it is due to my role in killing 11 of the apes that even Park Go-chan isn’t hostile and has become compliant.
Somehow, it seems I have become the leader of the group. I didn’t want to be in this position, but the situation strangely became so. Kang Chun-seong was originally disinterested and Park Go-chan’s inhospitable attitude naturally left the leadership role to me.
As we continued to walk, the sun began to rise. As the day grew brighter, I threw away the torchlight and continued to walk.
I did not forget to summon Sylph every 5 minutes and scout the area for 60 seconds.
According to Sylph’s reconnaissance, there are plenty of herbivores like rabbits, deer, and monkeys within this forest.
“It seems there are a considerable number of the red apes here.”
“Have they appeared?”
At Park Go-chan’s question, I shake my head.
“We have been going through the forest since yesterday and we have only discovered herbivores. Compared to how plentiful the prey is here and, aside from snakes and owls, the only predators that remain are the red apes.”
“This forest is their area.”
Kang Chun-seong speaks up.
I nod my head.
“If indeed they use this space as their area, they will be a considerable group.”
And there will definitely be a head to command them all.
That head may be, at this moment, looking on at his 21 dead comrades and consumed in rage.
It is a roar of anger.
The red apes are in fear in concert and cringe.
A physique up to 2 meters. Fur as red as blood.
The outward appearance brags an overwhelming majesty and its owner is full of wrath.
There is a type of red ape called Rode. Every generation there are but one or two that are born with this mutation and they are twice as big and strong as the average type. They have no choice but to be destined to be the leader.
But of course, to get there, they have their own trials they must face.
The current leader had to go through them too.
The red ape, Rode, appeared no different than the average type at birth, but as time went on, the characteristics of the special type start to show.
The existing leader had expressed strong hostility towards his potential competition. Because of this, before the young one was trampled, he had to flee.
Separated from the group, Rode survived alone in the forest through a bitter adolescence.
Then one day, Rode realized he himself had grown as big as the leader and returned to the group. The leader he met was not scary the way he had been when Rode was younger.
He challenged, and he won.
From then to now, it was an omnipotent rule.
Another special type was born, grew and challenged, but Rode won. After defeating two challengers and preserving his seat as leader, Rode emerged as the strongest ruler there ever was.
And this Rode was in a full rage.
Hundreds of red apes shivered in horror. There were plenty of beasts of prey and monsters that flowed into this rich forest. And every time, Rode eradicated them. Leading the pack and at times, using his own strength, he showed the majesty of being a leader.
Their area continued to grow and, without precedent, they reproduced to great numbers. And then from this forest, their breed began to die.
An enemy had come into their domain and so he had sent his subordinates.
But the time had passed and without any word or news, he came out himself and his subordinates were but corpses. And it happened on their own land.
It cannot be forgiven.
He must punish those who ignore his authority.
“Ki-eeeeeek!” Rode gives out an order.
Hundreds of red apes barked and growled their agreement.
Revenge for blood!
The bloodbath to protect their group’s domain was about to begin.
We followed the flow of the small river and walked. On account of not having a canteen, I felt it was a good idea to stay close to water. The river had plenty of large fish and so it was easy to get food too. Using Sylph, rabbit hunting is easy, but prepping and cooking a fish is even easier.
Using a wooden stick, I shaved it sharp to create a simple knife, and using this, Lee Hye-su prepped and cooked the fish. Per my suggestion, she was trying to take care of the small things.
In the fight the previous night, she was a burden and she must have been aware of it. If she doesn’t help even with things like this, she won’t receive any karma and will continue to be of no use.
‘Anyway, it’s weird.’
Observing from yesterday and today, her body physique doesn’t look any different to me than the average woman. It was obvious when she trying not to show that she was tired and her feet were hurting from the walking.
‘Didn’t she say she got the entry level 1 physical strength buff?’
I heard that the entry level 1 physical strength buff was the level of a healthy adult male. It means it’s better than my crappy health condition.
Sylph and I started a fire and she grilled the fish and handed it out to everyone. As soon as the cooking was done, I quickly put out the fire. It’s possible our location can be given away from the rising smoke.
“If you’re all done eating, let’s go. We have to get rid of the smell on our bodies so please don’t forget to wash as well.”
“Ugh, how annoying.”
Park Go-chan is mumbling and washing his hands in the brook. The rest of the group follows my words obediently.
The biggest reason for following the brook is this.
If we follow the flowing water, I’m hoping our body scent might dissipate a little bit.
Normally, carnivores have an acute sense of smell and I think the red ape is no different. It uses tools and has intelligence, but they do look closer to beast than to humans.
As we begin to move, I summon Sylph and send her out to scout.
Like her namesake, she flies away like the wind and returns after scouting and very much unlike her, she isn’t being aegyo* and instead, screams.
(TN: There isn’t an English equivalent word for this. It means to act in a cute manner. Watch this video)
“Is there something wrong?”
Sylph draws a number in the dirt.
Sylph shakes her head. Then do you mean…
“293 of them?”
Sylph is nodding her head.
“What is she saying? There’s 300?!” Park Go-chan freaks out.
“Maybe she means something d-different? Like a group of ants or mice…” Joon-ho asks in disbelief and I ask Sylph to be sure.
“There are 293 red apes?”
“Where are they?”
Sylph spins round and round. I couldn’t tell what that means and I ponder for a while. As Sylph spun around us in circles, I finally understood.
“All around us?”
“Have they surrounded us?”
Sylph is shaking her head.
“So they are dispersed and searching through the forest for us?”
After the fight last night, we had briskly escaped. But the bastards are already all around us!
“Hey you shit, what’s going on! You said we had some time before they came again!” Park Go-chan gets angry at me.
Why are you asking me?
The answer is simple!
They’re moving faster than we are.
Turns out his name is actually Kang Chun-seong, not Kang Chan-seong. I’ll have his name as Chun from now on.
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