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The four lycanthropes, with their silver fur, speed through the forest.
Within their clan, scores of their brothers and sisters are teeming. But even amongst them all, these four brothers have the same mother, and have a special relationship with each other.
The eldest son Helgi, born with strength and poise, was distinguished as the next leader of the clan. But Helgi was not overconfident and always held himself lower, and this was enough to earn his father’s confidence.
‘Because I saw, clearly, how hyung died.’
Originally, there were five brothers born to their mother. There was a brother that was three years older than Helgi.
He was a hyung that was very strong.
It was always said that he inherited the most of his father’s blood.
A story spread amongst the clan that the leader would change in a short while. It was said that father’s long time rule was soon to be broken.
But he opened the lid and what did he find.
The overconfident hyung, against his mother’s dissuading, challenged his father. He was engulfed with the desire to hold his father’s position and his wives. He died instantly with a blow to his neck.
Holding the hyung’s smashed neck with one hand, father spoke to everyone.
“I wish that all of you possess the same ambition that rests ablaze in my own heart.”
The brothers looked at their father with awe. The mothers and sisters too looked on at father with envy.
“But right now is not the time. Do not challenge me. Wait a little longer and I will show you a new world. Then, I will welcome any and all challenges.”
A body bigger than anyone else.
A beautiful silver fur coat that shines in the moonlight more than anyone else’s.
He smashed the strongest of challengers with one blow and so, his father continued to reign over clan.
And Helgi realized it.
‘Father has some grand plan.’
A plan far grander than any power struggles within the clan.
Helgi decided to side with his father’s plan. Helgi, like his dead brother, desired for his father’s power and women, but deemed it unfeasible through strength.
Helgi’s decision was right.
After that, all the brothers that challenged their father lost their lives. Father defeated the challengers without a scratch to himself.
As the brothers who revealed their desires with their challenges kept dying, Helgi earned his father’s trust and climbed the ranks in the clan. As a prize, he even earned two sisters from a different mother as wives.
And then other brothers followed in Helgi’s footsteps, and began pledging allegiance to their father, but Helgi was already firmly in place as the second in command.
Helgi’s three brothers from the same mother followed their eldest brother. The followed Helgi, trying to distinguish themselves and looking for an opportunity to earn a prize from father.
How far did they run?
They pick up the enemy’s scent.
“It’s this way!”
“This smell is human!”
As the learn their opponent is human, the lycanthropes grow confident.
To the brothers, an elf is a dubious opponent, but a human is merely food. They know the taste of human blood and lean meat very well.
“Don’t underestimate it. It is said that there are strong ones amongst humans.”
Helgi warns them but the dongsaengs don’t hear it and run even harder.
Their eagerness shines bright in their eyes, competing with each other to make the first contribution.
A weird noise rings from far away.
And the dongsaeng that ran ahead, his skull blows up.
Helgi and his group are completely surprised and abruptly stop.
“What did you just do?”
Having just lost a brother and not knowing how, the dongsaengs fall into chaos.
‘It felt like something flew by.’
Helgi stays composed and thinks.
It felt like something small flew by and then his dongsaeng’s head blew up.
He doesn’t know what it is, but he is sure that it is a new weapon that the human has.
Another brother’s head blows up and Helgi is sure this time.
Helgi shouts as he quickly hides behind a tree. The only dongsaeng left hides his body into the woods.
As they hide, the unknown attacks stop.
‘Every time there is a loud noise, one dies.’
The inside of Helgi’s head becomes complicated.
‘Between the first and second attack, there was some time. It must not be able to consecutively shoot.’
If a rapid consecutive attack was possible, all the brothers would be dead.
Helgi looks at his dongsaeng behind the trees, shaking in fear. Helgi’s eyes become sharp.
“Listen to me carefully.”
As Helgi opens his mouth, the dongsaeng looks at him.
“On one, two, three, let’s jump out at the same time.”
“You idiot. How would we fight against a bastard with a weapon like this? We’re making a run for it.”
“Count. One, two…”
On the count of three the dongsaeng jumps out from behind the woods. But Helgi doesn’t move a muscle and stays hidden behind the tree.
The dongsaeng’s head blows up and his life is futilely lost.
At last, Helgi jumps out from behind his tree. He rushes for his dead brother and takes his corpse onto his back.
A sharp sound is heard again but whatever it is that flew by violently lodges itself into his brother’s corpse, carried on his back.
Using his dead brother as a shield, Helgi keeps running. He runs desperately, so hard that his tail may fall out.
We blankly stare at Sylph, coolly sniping with the Mosin-Nagant.
Sylph is so cute to begin with but now that she’s holding a rifle that’s bigger than herself and shooting it, Hye-su is completely charmed by it. Cha Ji-hye was too, Sylph holding a gun is a real woman trap.
Four rounds of shooting.
And then Sylph shakes her head and hands over the Mosin-Nagant to me.
“How did it go?”
Sylph makes a number 3 with her tail.
“You lost one?”
With a neck like a limp weed, Sylph nods her head. I pick up Sylph and place her on my shoulder and console her.
“That’s okay, you still did great.”
We walk to where the lycanthropes lay dead.
We only saw the lycanthropes as illustrations at the research center, and seeing them in person is a bit of a shock.
With a big build that is a head taller than humans, its hard body is covered in silver fur, with long and sharp nails.
How do you think it feels to come face to face with a monster that seems like it came out of a fantasy movie? I’m completely flustered as to if this is reality or fantasy.
But the stench of blood that stings my nostrils wakes me to this reality.
Hye-su’s face grimaces at seeing the exploded head. But her stomach must have gotten stronger since last time because she doesn’t vomit.
“Uh, it really is a wolf human.”
Says Joon-ho as he carefully taps the lycanthrope corpse with his foot.
“Where did one go?”
Kang Chun-seong asks the question.
Then we realize that there are but only two corpses. Surprised at seeing lycanthropes for the first time, we hadn’t thought of it.
With her front paw, Sylph points ahead. It must be the direction the surviving one took off in.
I finally realize the situation.
“The remaining one must have used a corpse as a shield and run off.”
Says Kang Chun-seong. I agree with his words.
From a lycanthrope’s point of view, a weapon like a gun will have been the first exposure of its kind to it. To think of using a corpse as a shield in that situation, it is a decision that would be impossible unless it was intelligent.
“Oppa, now what do we do?”
I am quiet in my thoughts.
Since one got away, there is a high chance it will return with its group for revenge. They said lycanthropes are good at combat.
But the bastard that made it out alive will have fully recognized the power of the rifle. It won’t be able to just barge on us. Considering its senses are like a wolfs…
At the end of my pondering, I make a decision.
“Let’s keep going. We have to go through their territory anyway.”
“After suffering from the gun, they won’t be able to hastily attack us. But as it gets darker there is a high chance they may attack in the night, so for now let’s hurry and find a safe location.”
Our footsteps become faster than usual.
I use Sylph to scout and search for a safe location like a cave.
But a location doesn’t turn up and after wandering for a long while, we discover a marshy swamp. It looks like it started as a small lake and developed into a swamp.
“The day is getting dark so let’s spend the night here.”
“Will this be okay?”
Asks Hye-su with an anxious expression.
I point to the swamp and speak.
“The bastards won’t be able to cross the swamp, so we’ll back up towards it and look at the other directions.”
“But we won’t be able to run through it either.”
As Joon-ho points this out, I reply.
“Even if we run, don’t you think they’ll catch up to us quickly?”
“We have to let go of the notion of making a run for it from the get go. Only think of winning the fight.”
We set up a fire and arrange sentry duty, but I am nervous and cannot fall asleep. Without Sylph, we won’t know the bastards are near until they are close.
I eventually end up falling asleep and waking up from the anxiety, repeatedly.
In the midst of it, every time I awoke, I summoned Sylph to scout and fell back asleep, and not a while later, woke up again and repeated the same thing again.
I was doing so when a thought pops into my head.
They said all the organisms in Arena have majeong within their bodies. That should include lycanthropes.
I had completely forgotten.
‘How could I forget that. I could’ve have gotten money and sold it, what a waste.’
But at this point, I don’t have the intention to return to where the corpses are to collect the majeong.
‘Next time, I won’t forget, and I’ll collect it for sure.’
Atop a hill where the moonlight shined bright, a hundred and some lycanthropes are assembled.
In the middle of a round circle of the gathered swarm, one lycanthrope was on his knees.
Beside Helgi is the corpse of the dongsaeng who had his head blown off.
Not knowing what, the men and the women gather around, and Helgi has his head held low, keeping his silence.
“The Maria brothers died. They all died except for Helgi.”
“Really? By who?”
“A human? Really?”
“Haha, if that’s the truth, that Helgi bastard won’t have any honor to speak of.”
“You saying the brothers all suffered at the hands of a prey like humans? That Helgi, now that I see him, was he just pretending to be strong but he really isn’t that much at all?”
From here and there, come in the criticisms and ridicules. There is no way Helgi, with his sensitive lycanthrope senses, is not hearing all this.
But Helgi doesn’t get up in anger and instead remains sitting quietly.
At the appearance of one lycanthrope, the whole group falls silent.
A beast that boasts the grandest build, walking erect.
From his shining silver fur that covers his body, there are scars printed in like medals.
He is Helgi’s father and leader of the clan.
The father strides to the edge of the cliff and sits atop a boulder. Everyone respects and fears him. He is the monarch on his throne.
The father opens his mouth.
“What has happened?”
Helgi shuts his eyes and grits his teeth and answers.
“My brothers lost to a human.”
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