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“We are going to my mountain cabin in Chonchon county, how does that sound? It’s a small summer house in the backwoods so there aren’t any people.”
Asked chairman Park Jin-seong.
I nod my head.
“Yes, if it is with you.”
“Haha, and why is that?”
“Excuse me, but because if need be, you will be the hostage.”
At my words, chairman Park Jin-seong laughs aloud.
“You are a clever fellow. I like that.”
“It’s an honor.”
The guys in the driver and passenger seats must not like that, because they look uncomfortable.
The car takes the south road for about an hour when we arrive at our destination.
We come to a narrow mountain road in the city of Jincheon-gun in Chungbuk and stop at its end where the summer house is.
The guys up front got out first and open our doors.
“This is my summer home.”
Surprisingly, it’s an average summer home. He is the chairman of a large corporation so I was expecting some grandeur.
“Why did you build a summer home in a place like this?”
I ask out of curiosity.
Chairman Park Jin-seong just smiles.
“It’s a hunting preserve. And right now is the hunting season.”
“Even up to last year, I would come every year and spend a few days hunting. I thought I wouldn’t be able to make it this year.”
With a happy face, chairman Park Jin-seong heads towards the house.
From the house, another man, about the same age as the chairman, comes out. He is an older man with an adequate build for maintaining the summer house.
Chairman Park Jin-seong opens his arms wide and speaks.
“I’ve come again, my friend.”
“Oh my, chairman!”
“What chairman. Just call me by name, I said.”
The groundskeeper rushes towards chairman Park Jin-seong for an embrace.
“Chairman! I thought you couldn’t come this year and I was worried.”
“Tsk, you heard about that too?”
“Yes. I worried so much after I heard.”
“You must’ve heard it from my son. It’s always the case, you must go when it is time, don’t worry.”
“Hu hu huk (crying sound)…”
“Aigo, why are you crying, friend? Prepare for hunting.”
The old groundskeeper headed inside, and chairman Park Jin-seong looked to me and asks.
“Do you know how to hunt?”
“We can do breakfast casually while we hunt. How about it?”
“That is not a problem.”
That’s all I did in the Arena.
The old groundskeeper comes out with rucksack stuffed full of something, two rifles, and a good-sized shepherd dog. It looks to be a trained hunting dog.
I take over the rucksack and it is pretty heavy.
When chairman Park Jin-seong hands over one of the shotguns to me, I shake my head.
“I have my own gun.”
Chairman Park Jin-seong takes his rife and ammunition, and the German shepherd’s leash, and heads out to hunt. He halts the guys who want to follow along.
“We will go just the two of us, so stay here until I call for you.”
“Okay, let’s go.”
And like that, we began hunting.
The richest man in South Korea, the protagonist to the greatest success story, chairman Park Jin-seong, hunting, just the two of us.
Looking at chairman Park Jin-seong who is trekking hard up the mountainside, I am overcome by an odd feeling.
“You seem tired, will you be alright?”
Chairman Park Jin-seong sits on a rock and catches his breath.
“My body is broken now so this is what happens from a little hike. Tsk, I was lively even up to last year, this is just the end.”
Chairman Park Jin-seong’s face shows signs of lonely regret.
Seeing that, only one thought crosses my mind.
That conversation with the groundskeeper earlier, and chairman Park Jin-seong’s request…
“The business you have with me, it’s about that as well, isn’t it?”
Chairman Park Jin-seong grins.
“You are indeed clever.”
It’s probably a terminal disease.
To overcome a disease that cannot be treated with modern medicine, the final method, he has chosen the Arena.
He is invested enough in this method that he has come to see me, a rookie examinee, personally. He probably has the information that I have a main skill very different from everyone else.
“Now that no one else is here, would you mind showing me your gun? I would like to see it.”
The Mosin-Nagant appears and I grasp it in my right hand. Perhaps chairman Park Jin-seong has met many other examinees and is used to it, because he doesn’t look a bit surprised.
Instead, chairman Park Jin-seong, when he sees my Mosin-Nagant, his eyes that had been drowning in anxiety, suddenly liven up.
“Wow, that’s a Soviet Union gun! Let me see!”
As I hand over the gun, chairman Park Jin-seong becomes like a kid getting a present.
“Wow, it looks nice. Even though this thing is older than I am.”
“Do you know guns?”
“Of course! I’m am a huge gun maniac. I started hunting because I loved to shoot. I’ve collected a lot of rifles and revolvers at my California summer house. I have a Russian and Finnish Mosin-Nagant too.”
Guns must indeed be a man thing.
Chairman Park Jin-seong inspects and touches the gun all over.
“But did you not have enough Karma, is that why you are using this old-fashioned gun?”
“You should hurry and gather enough karma and switch to an automatic.”
“I would like to do that too.”
“Haha, anyway, what should we do? My body condition is worse than I thought so I don’t think we’ll be able to hunt. Darn, I really wanted to shoot…”
“Then we’ll hunt quickly. Will you be able to walk an hour or two?”
“That much. You think it’s possible?”
As Sylph is summoned, chairman Park Jin-seong’s eyes grow wide.
“What is that?”
“It’s a spirit.”
“Spirit? Ah, a spirit summons? That’s why they said you have a special main skill.”
I order to Sylph.
“Tell me where the closest living animal is, please.”
Sylph nods her head and quickly disappears. A moment later, Sylph returns and points to the left with her front paw. Then she draws a number 174 into the ground.
“Is it a rabbit?”
Sylph shakes her head.
“Deer? An elk?”
Sylph keeps shaking her head.
Then, Sylph nods her head.
I speak to chairman Park Jin-seong.
“She says it’s a wild boar. Let’s go.”
We walk together and chairman Park Jin-seong continues to stare at Sylph, perpetually interested.
I give Sylph another order.
“Get rid of all our smells and noise.”
From then on, our footsteps couldn’t be heard.
Chairman Park Jin-seong is even more amazed.
Then Sylph points to the front.
I look ahead, hiding my body behind a thick bush, and I see a wild boar. He’s a rather big bastard, and he hasn’t caught on to our being there.
“Would you like to shoot?”
“I would. Leave it to me.”
Chairman Park Jin-seong aims for the wild boar with his rifle. Just in case, I aim my Mosin-Nagant on it too. If chairman Park Jin-seong misses his shot, my plan is to shoot the boar before it has a chance to run away.
But I didn’t need to.
The rifle goes off and blood explodes from the boar’s thigh. Due to Sylph’s noise elimination, the shot made no sound.
To the faltering boar, chairman Park Jin-seong sends another shot.
This time, the body.
The wild boar died just like that.
“Yeah haha! We did it!”
Chairman Park Jin-seong is so ecstatic he could jump. He didn’t know that he was still capable of hunting in his dying from a disease body.
“That hunting could be this easy, a spirit is incredible.”
“Yes, it is incredible, Sylph sure is.”
At my compliment, Sylph taps my cheek with her tail and plays aegyo.
“Damn, I don’t think we’ll even need the sandwiches we brought. How about this for our meal? The summer house old man is really good at cooking this kind of stuff.”
“Hold on a second. I’ll call my guys to come fetch this boar.”
“No, I can just take it.”
“Huh? This big of a boar?”
I approach the dead wild boar. I grab its back legs and chuck it over my back. This several hundred-kilogram wild boar is lifted effortlessly. Thanks to the physical strength buff entry level 5.
“You must have mastered the physical strength buff. This level, is this about an entry level 4?”
“This is level 5.”
“Really? Wow, you are now a third turn, your progress is fast.
He is neither an examinee or research center employee but he knows a lot.
It is evident, how much interest chairman Park Jin-seong has in the Arena.
I carry the boar and we return to the house and the summer house is excited.
Chairman Park Jin-seong’s entourage and the summer house groundskeeper as well, are astonished.
“Oh my, you caught a wild boar?”
“Haha! How’s it? For an oldie counting down today and tomorrow’s, this is pretty impressive, isn’t it?”
“Ah, you are incredible, chairman!”
“Hahaha, no, no, this fellow caught it. We haven’t had breakfast yet, so cook this for us, hurry.”
“Yes, of course. You must be starving. I’ll take care of it right away.”
The old man begins to skillfully dissect the wild boar.
He splits the belly and after taking out the innards, slits the ankles, and with the help of chairman Park Jin-seong’s entourage, he takes off the hide. Looking at how skillfully the old man does it, I stare on in awe.
Chairman Park Jin-seong talks about it as if complimenting himself.
“Truthfully, that old man is the real master of hunting. Even if I didn’t send him his checks every month, with a gun and a dog he’d probably eat really well still.”
“Yes, seeing how he is working that boar, it doesn’t look to be his first or second time.”
I’ve worked on several animals while in the Arena to see that the old man is extremely skilled in this.
After a long while, we can finally eat. With the freshly caught boar, we grilled some of the meat with a spicy sauce. Like chairman Park Jin-seong said, the old man is a killer cook.
Eating with a corporate chairman, I thought it would be somehow luxurious, but this isn’t bad either. Not to mention, it would have been burdensome for me to eat at a formal high end restaurant anyway.
Seeing how he even enjoyed our hunting together, I think chairman Park Jin-seong wants to carry on an amicable relationship with me.
When we finish our meal, the old groundskeeper hands us each a glass of red wine.
“Thanks. We’re going to talk, just me and him.”
The old man and the entourage leave.
In the summer house front lawn, it is just me and the chairman.
Chairman Park Jin-seong takes a sip of his red wine and savors it, then opens his mouth.
“What is the most important thing in this world?”
My answer has no hesitation.
With a satisfied expression, chairman Park Jin-seong nods his head.
“Yes. That answer has to come immediately. When you get that question, nothing else, like money, can cross your mind.”
“You know why I search for examinees, and why I am interested in the Arena?”
“I am like you guys. I am trying to live. When a person is born, they will eventually die, but I am still alive, so until my eyes close, I will try to live.”
“So, I will ask you point-blank. Do you think there is a way to cure my illness?”
“Maybe. There is a healing potion to treat wounds, so wouldn’t there be some kind of item to cure disease as well?”
“As far as I know, there isn’t. That answer is from asking many examinees and as of yet, no one has a result. The Arena has things to fixing wounds, but nothing for making illness better. That world is far behind ours in medicine.”
“But the one hope I have is in a skill.”
“Yes. That healing potion is made through magic. Like that, my hope is that there may be an examinee with a skill that heals illness.”
Wait, a skill?
As I hear that, skill synthesis runs through my head.
… but how?
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