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‘“First, let’s check our mission.”
Joon-ho and Hye-su immediately reply and Kang Chun-seong too nods his head. Ah, this cooperation. Now that Park Go-chan isn’t here, the starting atmosphere is good.
-Name: Kim Hyun-ho
-Mission: Escape the forest
-Time limit: 20 days
It startles Hye-su.
“We have to wander this forest for that long…”
Joon-ho seems astonished as well.
Even though we are familiar with surviving due to going through the second exam, plus we have done all the necessary preparations, to live in the wild is an extremely difficult task.
Uncomfortable sleeping arrangements, chilly weather, plenty of pests, battling those difficulties for 20 days, it’s no wonder we all detest this. I’m so sick of this forest too.
As the team leader, I decide to calm the group first.
“No need to worry too much. Perhaps they are just giving us plenty of time with the 20 days. If we can get out of the forest, it probably won’t be 20 days.”
“That’s probably right.”
Joon-ho nods his head and agrees.
“Anyway, like the research center predicted, and our mission is to escape the forest, let’s move east as planned.”
I summon Sylph
The wind shapes itself into a slender cat, becoming Sylph. She’s being cute and wrapping her tail around my neck and greets me.
“Scout the surrounding area please.”
She nods her head and swiftly flies away.
“Okay, let’s go.”
I take the lead and start walking.
“Oppa, don’t we have to go east?”
I nod my head.
“Yeah, this way is east.”
“Really? How do you know the direction?”
Oh, she must not have heard of my assist skill I got.
I make a simple explanation about the ‘navigator’ assist skill I got with 100 karma.
“Wow, from now on we won’t get lost then.”
“Well yeah, but not really yet. I only know the general direction, and I have to research this skill a bit more.”
Of course, the navigator assist skill proved itself plenty useful when I went and caught the preparing-for-the-workforce Hyun-ji partying at a club.
After that, I was able to learn a lot about the navigator skill from Cha Ji-hye.
-Navigator (assist skill): gain a sixth sense to know the destination’s location and direction.
*Entry level 1: Know the general direction. (-100)
This is the extent of the entry level 1 navigator.
First, I know the direction but not the distance. I do not know if it’s a walkable distance or an un-seeable distance.
Second, in the case of finding an item or person, I have to have seen the entity before.
My younger sister, Hyun-ji, I have seen before, so I was definitely able to sense which direction she was in. The teammates gathered here together, if they were to scatter into the forests, I can find them.
But for example, let’s say I have to find ‘another examinee in Cheonan.’ That is impossible. Because I haven’t met that person yet.
By chance, even if I had run into said examinee on the street, I do not know definitively who the ‘examinee in Cheonan’ is so I wouldn’t be able to find the person.
The same goes for a celebrity I have seen from TV or the internet. I have never met them in person so the navigator skill doesn’t react.
“If you raise your skill level, you’ll be able to know for sure?”
“I could, but Miss Cha Ji-hye said that its sufficient just to have it at entry level 1. And to use that karma on other skills instead will be better.”
As we walked, I periodically summoned Sylph to scout the surroundings and thus we didn’t feel very anxious.
We experienced enough from the last exam and this forest no longer feels like a foreign place. And the red apes that appeared in this vicinity is an enemy we fought plenty and we aren’t scared.
Because of all that, while we moved, we chatted with each other.
It mainly revolved around my navigator skill, so it wasn’t all useless talk.
“How about this?”
Joon-ho randomly picks up a small rock from the floor.
Joon-ho extends both his fists to me.
“Guess which hand the rock is in.”
I stare intently at both of Joon-ho’s fists but no particular sense comes to me.
“I don’t know.”
“Aw, I guess it doesn’t work for that.”
Joon-ho shows me the rock he was holding in his right hand.
I scout with Sylph and learn that within this whole area, red apes are wandering sparingly.
‘It would be best to avoid a conflict.’
They have already lost their leader to us, a big blow. If they know we have appeared again, they will probably overreact. It is best to avoid them as much as possible and quickly get out of their territory.
A day passes without incident.
I summon Sylph multiple times to scout and we avoid any conflicts.
The most dangerous enemy we encountered today, is but a snake that fell off a tree. As soon as the snake appeared, it got its head torn off by Sylph, who happened to be summoned.
Joon-ho and Hye-su were made extremely uncomfortable by it, but following Kang Chun-seong’s opinion, we butchered it and grilled and ate it. Is it because he’s Chinese? He doesn’t not eat anything.
After dinner, we gather around the fire and talk about this and that, when suddenly Joon-ho gets a stomachache.
“Ah, why does my stomach hurt so bad?”
“Did you eat something bad?”
“The only thing that touched my lips is that snake meat, hyung.”
Joon-ho rubs his stomach and grimaces. It seems the snake meat isn’t agreeing with him and is making him ill.
Hye-su takes out a small pill from the item bag.
“It’s a digestant.”
Joon-ho eats the digestant that Hye-su gives him.
I guess there was a digestant in the first aid items that Hye-su packed. Then again, you can get pretty sick eating in the wild.
“I am sorry.”
A rare apology from Kang Chun-seong. He thinks it’s cause Joon-ho ate the snake meat because of him.
“No, it’s okay, it was tasty.”
“Joon-ho, don’t stand sentry tonight and just go rest up early.”
Joon-ho falls asleep first, and we go to sleep after deciding the sentry order.
Thankfully, the digestant must have worked, cause Joon-ho’s face in the firelight looks alright.
Like that, without any event, the first day passed.
“I’m sorry everyone, because of me.”
The next morning, Joon-ho apologizes to all of us. It seems he feels sorry for missing sentry duty due to his stomachache.
“That’s okay. Is the pain gone now?”
“That’s good. Let’s eat breakfast and immediately get going.”
Hye-su and I together prepare the morning meal. I use Sylph to hunt the most manageable, a rabbit, and Hye-su gathers strawberries and a fruit that looks like a tangerine, and some greens.
“Noona, is that fruit and greens edible?”
“Yep, I learned it for sure, so don’t worry.”
Hye-su received sword training and medic care and also learned how to decipher edible fruits and vegetables.
She trained just as hard as she is weak and her efforts are already paying off.
‘Now that I think of it, we walked all day yesterday and she didn’t show signs of exhaustion.’
Compared to the last second exam, Hye-su has made greatly improved strides. She worried about being a burden going forward, it’s a relief.
We finish our meal and start moving again.
Hye-su, with the weakest physique, got the physical strength buff entry level 1, the body of a healthy adult male, and the march isn’t wearing her out.
With Sylph’s scouting, we avoid conflict with the red apes and walk for half a day.
It is at the point when the darkness starts to cover the vast forest.
Sylph suddenly appears in the middle of her scouting and makes a sharp noise.
“Is it an enemy?”
Sylph nods her head.
“Are they coming this way?”
This time she shakes her head.
But Sylph’s demeanor is unlike her. She is completely different than when she discovered the red apes wandering in search of food.
I think maybe, and ask.
“Is it an enemy other than red apes?”
Sylph nods her head.
“I feel like something just passed us by really quick.”
The others chime in agreement.
“I felt it too. It was some kind of hazy shape.”
“You guys too? I thought it was just a feeling.”
Dusk begins to settle on the forest.
Four human shadows slowly walk on.
“No sound or smell, interesting.”
“I know. How is that possible?
“It’s a creature never seen before in our territory.”
The largest shadow among them speaks up.
“Like there is a creature without scent or noise.”
The other three stop talking and pay attention.
“It is most likely a spirit.”
“Is that true, hyung?”
To the surprised younger siblings, the one called hyung continues speaking.
“A long time ago when grandfather was alive, I heard of it once. He said there is a spirit in this world but it is not alive, but alive.”
“Grandfather said he saw a spirit?”
“A time long ago, when grandfather was banished from our clan one time, he tried to cross a green mountain range to the west.”
“A green mountain range?”
“Uh, that’s the…”
The dongsaengs* are lost in thought.
(TN: What you would call a sibling or a close friend that is younger than you.)
“Everyone died but grandfather, who came here. He said he saw a spirit then.”
“Of course everyone died! It’s so lucky that grandfather was able to survive, even!”
“That’s the elves’ territory.!”
Anxiety spread to the three dongsaengs’ faces. They look at hyung and ask.
“Then perhaps, did that spirit belong to an elf?”
“If elves invade our territory, that’s a big problem!”
“We have to alert father!”
“Don’t act hastily!”
Hyung yells in a large voice. The three dongsaengs don’t say a word.
Hyung growls as he speaks.
“We have yet to verify anything, what good will it be to alert father? Do you want him to think you all cowards?”
“We are not cowards.”
At the mention of ‘father’, the panicking dongsaengs calm down. To them, this father entity is of special existence.
“Let’s check it out ourselves. I have heard that it is not only elves that retain spirits. Grandfather said that there is the rare human who is friends with an elf and learns to summon spirits.”
The hyung’s words continue.
“If it is an elf, we won’t engage, and we’ll tell father. And if it is a human…We will do the same to it as we have the other humans that have stepped foot in our territory.”
The dongsaengs approve.
The night sky’s moonlight comes down through the dense deciduous forest and lights the four shadows.
Their appearance as lit by the moonlight, is a bipedal beast covered in silver fur.
The hyung leads the pack and runs, and the dongsaengs follow after him.
As they begin to run, they start to show their wild nature.
With resilient legs they kick the earth and support their body with their arms, running like a four legged beast.
Their eyes flow with a sparkle, with rolls of bloodthirst. They are the eyes of beasts hungry for blood.
And so the four lycanthrope brothers set out to find their enemy.
(TN: What a lycanthrope looks like.)
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