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Now that their leader is dead, I wonder if they might now back off now.
Humans and animals, when they come into a group setting, they fight for power, and now that the leader is dead, they will probably pick a successor first. But that is no cause to relax, even for a moment.
‘If there was a second in command within the group, they may be able to organize the chaos really quickly. He may quickly become the new leader and chase us.’
Not settling for a hierarchy, but to demonstrate his strength, the second in command, who is placed in leadership, may hunt us down, this possibility is high.
Anyway, for now what is left is to rejoin the group.
‘Oh shoot. Now that I think of it, they should all be escaping now?’
I had said to run if I wasn’t back within the hour.
At the time, maybe it was because I was in front of a woman, but I felt like a hero, like a die-hard protagonist, and with that mentality in mind, had told her to run. Now that the time is here, I’m regretting it. I should have just told her to wait for me!
I finish resting and get up and go.
I did not forget to summon Sylph every five minutes as a guide and scout.
At the end of carefully running back, I arrive at the gorge with the waterfall.
“Sylph, the people?”
Sylph shakes her head.
“Then let’s see where they went by looking for footprints or something.”
At my order, Sylph quickly flew away and promptly returned, and with an adorable front paw, pointed to the left.
From my end I have Sylph, so I should be able to catch up quickly.
They may all think I’m dead, I wonder what reaction they will have when they see me. Never mind, I also want to brag about my achievement in having killed the ape leader too.
If I use this opportunity well, there might be a something-something with Lee Hye-su too. The atmosphere last night was alright, wasn’t it? Haha.
I walk in with a spring in my step.
Lee Hye-su’s foreboding was correct.
The new leader, Park Go-chan, was slowly letting his anger go rampant and unchecked.
“Keep up, faster, faster! We’re not on a picnic, stupid bitch!”
Amidst the violent swearing, Lee Hye-su couldn’t get in a word and just diligently walked on.
In the aftermath of yesterday, she has blisters on her feet. The tennis shoes she wore in preparation for the exam were actually worse for wear in the forest and mountain terrain.
‘Hyun-ho was wearing trekking shoes. This is why.’
He was a thorough man. He was meticulous and careful too.
He did not walk just of his own accord like Park Go-chan. He took into account her pace and had adjusted accordingly. When she was tired, he even said let’s rest and continue.
She didn’t know then.
She now realizes how considerate he had been for her.
‘I miss you…’
Tears come to her.
She had only been concerned for her own safety. If Kim Hyun-ho dies, there will be no one to protect her; that is all she had thought.
But as time passed, she kept thinking about the kind of man Kim Hyun-ho was.
Escaping the front lines of employment and nearly 30, he had lived unemployed and was a man who regarded himself as pitiful because of it.
In Lee Hye-su’s eyes, he was just an average guy. He was not strong from the beginning. He would have been unwelcome to the violence, and must have been a normal guy stricken in fear.
Every second of every minute he must have been scared.
But he had persevered and won through.
‘Even through all that, he had been considerate to me.’
He was indeed a good guy.
It was a cruel thing indeed to only realize so after his death.
A blister popped and a sharp pain and irritation flooded her at once. Lee Hye-su’s legs gave way and she collapsed, sitting on the floor.
“What is it?”
Park Go-chan’s voice is full of annoyance. Lee Hye-su ends up bursting into tears.
“Hu hu huk…!”
“Um, are you okay?”
Joon-ho approaches her and asks her concernedly.
Lee Hye-su takes off her tennis shoes. Joon-ho lets out a shout. Her sock is drenched in blood.
“Fucking bitch, you really got all sorts of shit problems.”
Lee Hye-su feels a sudden surge of anger.
She had not done anything so terrible to warrant such curses. Why it has become such a natural thing for her to receive such verbal abuse from a human like that, it was unjust and angering.
‘I know it is scary. I was so scared too. I still am. But persevere a bit more and cross that mountain.’
Kim Hyun-ho’s words suddenly pop into her head.
‘A bastard like you has no right to be this way to me! Don’t speak as if I have to thank you for saving me!’
The boiling rage inside her led her to courage.
“… just go.”
“Just leave me and go. Then its problem solved.”
“Should I just leave you then? You want to turn into ape food, huh?!”
“I don’t want to live, so just go!”
Her yelling, full of hate, spread out loud and resonated. Park Go-chan’s face shows he is perplexed.
Lee Hye-su glares up at Park Go-chan.
“A good person like Hyun-ho died! I don’t know why I have to live suffering like this. Why should I when a person who was so kind and who worked so hard to live, has died!”
“What, what is this bitch saying?”
Park Go-chan stumbles on his words.
Without a desire to live, there was no reason for her to be weak under Park Go-chan anymore.
The rage that had compounded inside her just erupts.
“And you! Did you think I couldn’t make out your clear intentions? That you would keep swearing and threatening and bothering me, and then later sweet talk to me, that I would fall for it? If I die, I’d rather just die than be with you, motherfucker!”
“This, this fucking bitch!”
Park Go-chan summons his sword and arms his right hand with it. Even so, the once erupted Lee Hye-su was not scared at all.
“Oh, just kill me then. You want to rape me then kill me? That’s all that’s in your dumb skull! But you know what? You think you’ll be safe doing that shit to another examinee?”
At the unexpected stab, Park Go-chan is flustered.
“You’re just strong in the fucking mouth but you’re just as useless as me. Actually, you were just being distracting! In my opinion, never mind a prize, but I think you’ll get a punishment instead? Go ahead and kill me! Let’s see if you’re safe then! Kill me!”
As Park Go-chan slaps her across the face, she falls over.
But the one with a bad expression on their face is Park Go-chan.
Her words have weight.
To be honest, aside from Kim Hyun-ho and Kang Chun-seong, no one was really helpful.
At least Lee Joon-ho has good cooperation. Park Go-chan himself only caused problems. He himself is aware of it.
In a fight he only barely survived, and didn’t make a big contribution. Overall, he may be less help than Lee Hye-su. At least she cooked and did the chores.
He had completely forgotten about it.
That the angel was grading their exam.
Lee Hye-su who had fallen over laughed manically.
“There is an angel, I hope there is a heaven and hell. It’s obvious where you’ll end up.”
The word ‘hell’ made Park Go-chans heart shake ever more.
“I’m not going. Seeing hell here, I’m going to just die and go to heaven. At least I lived my life kindly!”
After puking out all her feelings, Lee Hye-su leans up her back against a tree.
Park Go-chan didn’t know what to do and awkwardly just stood there, and Lee Joon-ho tactfully stared at the two.
“Let’s rest here.”
It was Kang Chun-seong who had opened his mouth.
As usual, without enthusiasm and an expressionless expression, he continued to speak.
“They aren’t chasing us.”
“Oh, now that I look at it…”
Joon-ho now realizes that for a while now, the red apes haven’t been pursuing them. And in the forest, the red apes are much faster than them too.
Kang Chun-seong hangs out on top of a boulder.
Lee Joon-ho too looks around and then sits where he stands and rests.
In the end, they decide to camp here for the day.
But there is a problem.
“What do we do about a meal?”
There is no one with a reply for Lee Joon-ho’s answer.
My rabbit is grilling nicely.
It would be nice if there was some salt, but there is no such luxury as being able to eat this all by myself.
‘I wonder if, right about now, all of them are starving?’
No way. I’m sure they found some fruit, or at least caught a fish from the brook and ate it. There’s four of them, they wouldn’t starve just because I’m not there, would they?
I originally thought I would be able to catch up to them before the evening.
But killing the leader and escaping right after has used a lot of my energy and thus, my walking speed became much slower, and eventually, I had come to the conclusion that I must set up camp alone.
‘Is Lee Hye-su be okay?’
Now that I’m not there, Park Go-chan probably took up leadership. Joon-ho is very passive, and Kang Chun-seong is still closed off to a strange degree.
I can easily picture Park Go-chan walking in the front and dissing Lee Hye-su.
‘He probably thinks I’m dead and he will be in extra high spirits because of it.’
After talking last night with just the two of us, my feeling towards Lee Hye-su have evolved to become a bit more than just simple fondness.
Am I lonely because I’m alone?
Sitting alone in front of the fire, I keep thinking of her.
How nice would it be if she were sitting right beside me now. I imagine the image of us two sitting here by the fire, and promising each other to join forces and survive.
‘This won’t do.’
I pack away my half eaten rabbit and get up from my seat. I put out the fire and began to walk again.
Never mind a meal, the fire is barely started. After hours of trial and error, the fire was barely lit.
The tired group decide on their sentry order and fall asleep early.
Lee Joon-ho finishes the first sentry and changes shift with Lee Hye-su.
“How is your foot?”
“Good luck. If something happens, wake us up right away.”
Lee Hye-su nods her head. Lee Joon-ho falls asleep and she passes the time, alone, staring at the flames of the fire.
She remembers the day’s events.
It was the first time in her life she ever let out such rage at someone.
In those moments, her soul felt free but as time passed it became uncomfortable. It is not guilt. Thinking about what she had endured under Park Go-chan, those curses were not enough.
It is just that due to it, a conflict had emerged.
Not knowing how Park Go-chan’s grudge would take its revenge made her nervous and fearful.
‘Why do I have to endure such…’
At her own situation, the tears come.
It was a car accident.
After working late and on her way home, she had crashed into a reckless passenger car. And when she came to, she was in a blank white world and met the baby angel. That’s how she became an examinee.
After finishing the first exam and returning to reality, she was in the hospital. It was the doctor’s opinion that she was miraculously not hurt anywhere.
Today in particular, she kept thinking how it would have been if she had gave up on the exam and just went on her way to the road to the afterlife.
Passing the time thinking depressing thoughts, Lee Hye-su got up to take care of some business.
Being the only girl, she had to be tactful when taking care of her period needs. That’s why she tended to hold it all in and take care of business at night.
Lee Hye-su left the fire and goes off into the forest for a moment.
Park Go-chan opens his eyes.
‘Bitch, finally, there she goes.’
With a nasty grin on his face, Park Go-chan tip toes in the direction she disappeared in.
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