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It’s a tight schedule.
I lead my teammates in as fast a pace as possible.
‘We have no time.’
If I were the lycanthrope leader, I would extinguish the village rebellion as fast as possible. There is no need to give the villagers ample time to prepare for the fight.
What I can be sure of is that they will not attack the village hastily.
They will know that we are with the villagers.
Fearing the power of the rifle we have, they won’t attack rashly and will behave carefully.
The longer the fight, the better.
The longer it gets, the more time we will have to escape.
‘About now, will the village people will have realized we ran away?’
The chief, who is accustomed to petty tricks, will have probably have caught on by now.
But it’s no use.
The dice has already been rolled, and even without us, they have no choice but to fight. If they were to surrender now, there is no guarantee that the lycanthropes would forgive them.
You get older, and you get eaten.
How can you live under that kind of fate? I have no confidence that I could live such a pitiful life without a future.
That’s probably how they villagers feel now.
What they needed was something to explode that pent-up powder keg. Its exploded now, and they’ll fight with reckless abandon.
The fact that hundreds will die due to me weighs heavily on my heart.
‘My eyes were indeed not wrong. Didn’t I say so? Examinee Kim Hyun-ho is a person plenty capable.’
The baby angel’s words cross my mind.
‘Every moment, your decisions and action were bold and cold. What average person could do as examinee Kim Hyun-ho did? Now do you realize that you are not an average person, but a very special human?’
I carelessly spit out profanities.
“What is it?”
Asked a surprised Joon-ho. Hye-su and Kang Chun-seong are looking at me too.
“Do all of you think what I did was wrong?”
“Was there another option besides sacrificing the villagers?”
The atmosphere becomes solemn.
“You were right.”
The one who said that was Kang Chun-seong.
“The people in that village are not simply weak and kind. If you had not caught on to the chief’s plans, it is clear what fate we would have suffered.”
“Those people tried to kill us so that they could live. As a human, instead of upholding morals, they prioritized their own survival, and we are merely making the same decision. If they had approached us with goodwill, we would not have made this decision.”
“…You think so?”
“I do, so do not think anything of it.”
Joon-ho and Hye-su both say a word.
“I think you were right too, hyung.”
“I didn’t think you were wrong either, oppa. It’s just… I just found this situation where we had to make such a decision to be harsh.”
“I understand. I didn’t make that decision because I liked it. Okay, let’s go.”
I continued moving. My teammates followed.
Kang Chun-seong that said if they have approached us with goodwill, we would not have been able to make this decision.
… Would I really?
Had they been kind people, would I have been unable to use them?
I cannot be sure.
What kind of person I am, how these exams are changing me as a person, I cannot be sure.
More time will pass, more exams experienced, and in time it may come that I do not suffer this anguish. Emotion may erode down and I may thirst for it.
After becoming a person like that, will I still be able to laugh with my family?
‘I don’t know.’
Let’s stop thinking thoughts like this.
First, I have to survive.
We walked absent-mindedly. We don’t say a word to each other, and just walk.
Finally, an exhausted Hye-su speaks.
“Let’s rest and continue.”
“Oh, sorry. Now that I think of it, we didn’t rest once. Are your feet okay?”
“Not much of a problem but the blisters have popped and it’s a little uncomfortable. I’ll treat it for a bit.”
We rest for a short while.
Hye-su tooks off her shoes and socks. Her tiny foot has exploded blisters and is a mess.
Thankfully, we have a really good healing potion. 19th turn Yoo Ji-soo’s team gifted us the healing potion.
Hye-su opens the healing potions stopper and pours a very small amount onto her foot and spreads it like an ointment. Then, surprisingly, the injury from the broken blister quickly closes.
Joon-ho and I look at it with wide open eyes.
“Wow, that result is really immediate.”
At that rate, I think even a large injury will get healed right away.
After treating all her wounds, Hye-su puts her socks and shoes back on.
I summon Sylph.
“Sylph, scout for us please.”
Sylph quickly disappears somewhere.
But she returns much faster than usual and lets out a sharp cry.
We are surprised and stand up right away.
“Is it an enemy?”
Sylph nods her head and moves quickly and draws a number with her body.
The number is ‘1.’
Sylph nods her head.
“Is it a lycanthrope?”
I think maybe not so I ask, and this time too, Sylph nods her head.
Only one lycanthrope has followed us. What is it thinking? Has it forgotten that the number of lycanthropes that have died because of us is 13?
“And the distance?”
Sylph draws a number 272.
‘Okay. One shot with the gun.’
The Mosin-Nagant appears in my right hand. I take out the bullets I had stored in my pocket and load, and hand it to Sylph.
“Let’s finish this now.”
Sylph nods her head and quickly gets into shooting position and then pulls the trigger.
The shot rings long.
“Did you get it?”
Sylph shakes her head.
Sylph shot the gun and didn’t get it in one shot? Sylph would not have made a mistake.
“Shoot until you get it.”
Then, Sylph shoots 4 consecutive shots.
As she is done with the loaded 5 bullets, with an awkward expression on her face, she looks at me.
I give her another clip with 5 bullets.
Sylph loads it quickly and begins to shoot again.
Tang, click, tang, click.
Sylph keeps shooting.
She’s shot this many times and she still hasn’t got it?
I think maybe, and ask.
“Is it holding something like a shield?”
Sylph nods her head.
‘I knew it.’
Last time, one of them used its buddy’s corpse as a shield and ran off. It seems this one has heard of the incident and is using a similar approach.
“Everyone, get ready. Something isn’t right.”
Joon-ho and Hye-su take out their respective weapons.
Sylphs lets out a stinging scream. It sounds like she is warning us. When we are surprised by her sound, something flies in like a flash.
With a terrifying sound of impact are cries of the throes of death. It’s Joon-ho’s voice.
Hye-su screams out loud.
What on earth has happened. I turn around behind me.
I am so shocked I cannot say anything.
An arrow is pierced in Joon-ho’s chest. Very deeply into his heart.
Joon-ho’s eyes are in a wide eyed state, without a gaze, dead.
He is just there, dead.
When just a moment ago, he, Joon-ho, he was alive.
“Sylph! Get rid of all the arrows that come at us!”
But it is a measure that is too late. Joon-ho is already dead.
‘It would have been good to know just a little sooner!’
I get angry at myself.
It is using a shield, and possesses intellect similar to a human’s. If that’s the case, I should have thought of it possibly using weapons.
I felt like blaming Sylph.
Why did she not alert us to this fact! Why did she only cry out an alarm and not block the arrow that flew in at Joon-ho!
It is the limits of a spirit who cannot talk and without a command, cannot do anything proactively.
Then, Joon-ho’s shield and spear disappear. The owner has died and his items too, have ceased to exist.
Sylph quietly alerts me.
Another arrow that comes flying.
This time, Sylph uses her wind dagger and shatters the arrow.
The arrow is sliced into many pieces and scatter on the ground. It was an arrow aimed for me.
“So you are the spirit summoner.”
From the front somewhere, a stately male voice can be heard.
It’s a lycanthrope.
The bastard keeps talking.
“Ho, that item that the spirit is holding is that problematic weapon.”
“A form with a long shape and a hole… so the iron gets shot from that hole? Then I just have to avoid to where that hole is pointing.”
Its impressive observations and decision making.
“It appears you only have one of that weapon. But that makes this too easy?”
“Our silver clan too, but lycanthropes disregard humans too much. That’s why we don’t use very many man-made things. But if used well, the results are very good. Like right now.”
This bastard is remarkable.
I suspect it so I ask.
“Are you the lycanthropes’ leader?”
A flexible mind that knows how to use human items.
This is the leader that introduced ‘ranching’ and grew the silver clan’s numbers by five times.
The conversation halts there.
The enemy is hiding somewhere and doesn’t say anything more, and we can do nothing but prepare for the next attack.
Another arrow flies in. And Sylph uses her wind dagger to eliminate the arrow.
The actions and behavior of the silver clan’s leader who will not actively attack seems strange. As if time is on his side so he has no reason to hurry…
I now catch on to what the silver clan’s leader’s plan is.
The bastard knows about the spirit summons. He knows very well that the time for keeping a spirit summoned is limited.
He is waiting for Sylph’s summon time to end!
“Sylph, where is he?”
Sylph points to her one o’clock with her front paw.
This time, with her tail, she draws a number 16 in the ground.
It is a close distance.
Then attacking the bastard right now and seeing to a victory is the best and wisest plan. As time gets dragged out, our team, with a limited spirit summons time, will be at the disadvantage.
But then, Sylph draws a number on the ground.
Then she erases the numbers and fixes another number.
I’m surprised and ask her.
“He’s backing away?”
Sylph nods her head.
I feel a chill creep over me.;
The opponent has retreated far back enough so as to not be hit by the spirit’s attacks.
The opponent accurately knows that spirit summons is timed and that the farther away from the spirit, it’s power diminishes.
His plan is clear; that by sustaining a moderately far distance, he is planning on a dragged out battle.
If I try to save on the spirit summons time and send Sylph back, he might come closer again and shoot more arrows.
I have to frequently summon Sylph and save on the spirit summons time.
‘The opponent is too smart.’
My heart is beating and thudding hard.
The fear creeps in.
With what and how will we fight a monster that is not only strong but also intelligent?
I cannot get a grasp of how to overcome this situation.
First, we have to move.
“Let’s go. We have to escape.”
Asked Kang Chun-seong.
“He wants to slowly get into a long battle. As time goes on, we are at a disadvantage. There is no other option but to escape out of this forest.”
“Oppa… what about Joon-ho…”
Asks Hye-su, close to tears…”
Seeing Joon-ho lying there dead with an arrow in his heart, I feel as if my heart is ripping. I feel like he may get up any second and call me ‘hyung.’
“… let’s go. We have to go.”
I take the lead and walk, and Hye-su follows, holding back tears.
Kang Chun-seong walks in the back and watching our rear.
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