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Trap City. (3/4)
The dawn ushered in a bright new day. Having conversed with An-Hyun into the early mornings, we returned to the room and kept a nursing shift through the night. I told him to get some more sleep as An-Hyun was forcing himself to stay awake. He laid by the corner in the lounge for a brief rest but had fallen into deep sleep. With this, I closed my eyes and reflected for a bit.
Though there was nothing to be afraid of right now, being caught off guard was the enemy. Of course, this could just be paranoia, but I was just the kind of a person who took everything to the extreme. For the past 10 years, I never ate till full or slept deeply that now it had now become a habit. Thinking I should get a move on, I was about to rose myself. I could hear a person close to me and so slowly opened my eyes to a figure sitting silently next to me. That figure was no other than An-Sol.
She was looking around restlessly, and when our eyes met, hers became as wide as a saucer. Really, I am not your enemy, there’s no need to be that surprised. So I greeted her,
trying to sound as non-aggressive as possible,
“Morning. You okay?”
“Ah, good morning.”
I laughed with how disarrayed she was but still managed to utter a good morning. Ah, what was wrong with me. Why is it that whenever I see her, my heart becomes weak? Something about her just made me want to protect her. Seeing me slowly raising myself up, she budged hesitantly and spoke in a soft voice.
“I am sorry….”
What is this kid saying all of the sudden? Yesterday, today, it feels like the only thing I been hearing apologies. I gave her a puzzled look which caused her to look down.
“I… what happened… because of me…. It must been difficult…”
Her speech was so muddled that anyone who heard her without knowing the context would misunderstand. Seeing her stuttering like this, I began to worry about this her future. Will she be able to cope with the divergent people within Hall Plain? Will she really become the Brilliance Priest? The symbol of all the female Players and equivalent to the Shadow Queen and the Princess of Execution? Such an unlikely tale. With a look of detachment, I answered her.
“There is no need to apologise. Rather, I heard you did exceptionally well saving everyone.”
“Ah, not really! I don’t remember what happened!”
If I show what I was really thinking inside, she would wilt again, so looking friendly as I can I nodded. Colour returned to her face when she heard my compliment, she smiled a little as she waved her hand furiously. She was really the type to wear her heart on her sleeve. How did she grow up to be so pure and natural?
Suddenly I heard someone call me from behind.
“Su-Hyun Orabeoni. If you are up, please have some breakfast.”
“Huh? Orabeoni? Why are you looking at this maiden with such puzzled eyes?”
“Why are you looking… Damn, yeah I get it, I will speak normally. An-Hyun told me you were watching over Sol. As thanks, I made breakfast. Everyone else ate already so don’t worry about the others.”
“Yeah. That’s the Lee Yu-Jung I know. Thanks.”
Nodding and opening my hand to accept, she placed the plate in front of me with a red face. The menu was the same as yesterday, crackers with tuna on top. I want to tease her, saying that this might be the only thing she knows how to make, but looking at her cool eyes I felt that discretion was the better part of valour.
I bit into one of the crackers. Lee Yu-Jung and An-Sol just sat there silently, watching me eat. I put down the cracker I was nibbling on, with unease evident on my face. Lee yu-Jung blinked expectedly for me to eat more, while An-Sol still sat innocently mumbling about. Everyone seems crazy today.
“Am I some kind of monkey in the zoo? Stop staring.”
“No, no. It’s just the way you eat is fascinating.”
“The way I eat?”
Was it fascinating? Hmmm. Was my eating habit that strange? It was the same as usual… Thinking nothing of it, a thought suddenly struck me.
An-Hyun chews lightly and swallows everything, but Oppa is completely different. You sneak your food in bit by bit, chewing slowly and swallow a small amount. You don’t even eat a lot, so why do you eat like that?”
I couldn’t answer immediately. Lee Yu-Jung’s eyes were unexpectedly sharp. To tell the truth, there was a time I was low on supplies while being chased by Fairies in the Fairy Forest. I kept cutting my food smaller and smaller, eating just enough for me to last the day. This had become a habit. In a caravan, or an expedition, or even before a battle, I never ate till I sate my hunger as to maximise my senses. Satiety had the effect of dulling the senses.
I could never tell them exactly what happened, so I decided to change the subject.
“It’s just a bad habit. When I can, I eat a lot, but in a situation like this, I usually eat in small portions. Rather, I can’t see the other two, where are they?
“An-Hyun and Kim Han-Byeol? An-Hyun said he will keep watch outside and Kim Han-Byeol said she will be on the roof.”
Seeing Lee Yu-Jung easily answering my question, it seems she didn’t suspect much. Inwardly, I gave a sigh of relief. But following the gaze on my back, I saw An-Sol looking at me with vivid eyes. When our eyes met, she laughed out awkwardly. Just what was going on today?
I felt An-Sol was like a child. When a child first meets a stranger, they instinctively become suspicious. They were afraid and nervous of the possibility of being harmed. Approaching a child carelessly would result in tears.
However, becoming friends with a child was easy. At first, you had to set a distance and show that you mean no harm. When the child became curious and toddle toward you, that was the most suitable time to become a friend.
That was just a brief review on An-Sol… Biting on another cracker Lee Y-Jung made, I shifted track on my unsatisfying thought process and was plunged into another theory. Setting the 24:00 time as a counter, today was the second day since we entered the Trap Point. Meaning this place was safe till the clock struck midnight today. Although no one spoke, they all seems to be enjoying this place.
“I wish those two would come in early, there are things we need to discuss.”
“What? You mean what we are going to do from now on?”
“Something like that.”
“What’s it about Oppa. Tell me and Sol first.”
Lee Yu-Jung was crouching with her arms around her knees, looking at me with a puzzled expression. An-Sol looked anxious by my forthcoming proposal. I didn’t know what kind of resistance I would face, by I would tackle it head on. No matter how difficult it would be to convince them, they had to know the truth.
“We should probably leave this City today.”
Just as I expected, they froze on the spot when they heard my proposal.
“I was out on a quick patrol. It’s just like you said Hyung, it’s frighteningly quiet.”
Entering the main door, the first thing An-Hyun confirmed was that the City was suspiciously quiet. Hearing I had something to discuss, we all moved to the living room. Fresh air seems to have set settled Kim Han-Byeol, as she had recovered her usually aloof expression. After checking everyone was here, I spoke.
“Everyone I am sure the an Angel told you something about this Rite of Passage.”
“Maybe. I don’t really remember anything. I was busy fighting with those winged things that I didn’t hear anything.”
I had a bitter smile on my face as I saw Lee Yu-Jung shaking her head in doubt. Putting her aside, for now, I turned faced An-Hyun and Kim Han-Byeol. They thought for a while before they spoke in turns.
“I read the situation but there were too many things to remember…. Like how we have to find our own water and food, that death in this place was real so we should be careful, and to survive we must head to the warp gate at the centre… and there was something else.”
“We have to endure this place for seven days.”
Kim Han-Byeol finished off for An-Hyun. These were the exact words I was waiting for.
“Yes, exactly that. Survive for 7 days. Miss Kim Han-Byeol, do you perhaps remember any other clauses?
At my question, Kim Han-Byeol’s face scrunched up trying to remember
“I do. I remember the angel telling me to never stay in one place for too long. Either to keep moving for 7 days or go straight towards the centre.”
I nodded in agreement and was about to speak, but Lee Yu-Jung cut me off.
“But Oppa Isn’t it safe here? There is a house, food to eat and a place to sleep. Don’t you remember what happened yesterday? We faced nothing but hardship after coming out of that forest.”
“Yes but, Hyung. Do we really have to leave this place? We don’t really have to believe everything the angel said to us.”
Lee Yu-Jung looked hopeful, being vouched by An-Hyun. They already disliked the idea of heading out once more. Turning a blind eye to their hopeful gazes I responded calming to their counterpoints.
“With everyone being so comfortable, I think you are all becoming slothful. Then let’s think in reverse.”
“Think in reverse?”
“Yes. An-Hyun had just come back from his patrol and knows that this city is too quiet. The forest was filled with tense moments, and even outside of it you were attacked. We might face the same thing again if we go out, but…”
“When we go out it would be the same. But…..”
I paused temporarily for effect and continued.
“The angels want us to act in a certain way and this isn’t it. They also warned us to remember? Survive for 7 days or go towards the central warp gate, and never stay still. We need to grasp what the Angels really want from us. Putting two and two together about the Rite of Passage and our situation we are obviously going against their wishes. Don’t you find it strange right now? Compared to everything else outside this city, it’s too comfortable. There’s a lot of food and not even a hint of monsters as well. This must be a trap. I think that the longer we stay here, the more likely that something might happen to us.
“… So Oppa, you want to leave this place because it feels bad.”
“I know it’s difficult to accept this on a hunch I have. But this place is just filled with this uneasiness. I think we should rest as much as we can, grab some supplies and leave. Preferably today if we can.”
Though I was trying to persuade them, I didn’t really have the confidence to convince them to my side. Trying to persuade someone in the face of danger or telling them to leave their safety was very differently. Moreover, I felt my persuasiveness was lacking in this situation. My argument wasn’t completely devoid of logic, but a chunk of it relied too much on prediction and feelings. But there was nothing I could do about it. This was just the difference between those who experienced Hall Plain and those who didn’t
For a moment no one spoke, they were all hesitant and it was clear to see they didn’t want to leave. I could kill the boss monster with ease, but I wanted them to at least go through the course the Angel had prepared for them. The more comfortable they are now, the more they will suffer in Hall Plain. An-Hyun stared hard at me and then looking to everyone else.
“Everyone’s opinion different… So let’s decide by majority.”
“A Majority vote?”
“Yes. But I will put two conditions on this vote.”
I felt amused by this unexpected suggestion. A majority vote, something I haven’t heard in a long time. Kim Han-Byeol responded positively, though still looked at him expectantly. An-Hyun nodded and replied.
“It’s not much of a condition. First, everyone can choose either yes to leave, no or abstain. But they must state the reason for their choice. And second, whatever was decided must be followed without any complaint.”
Hearing An-Hyun’s explanation, Lee Yu-Jung energetic spoke out, certain that the vote will go her way.
“Yes, Yes! No objection. A vote, yes a vote is great. Let’s vote right now. Can I go first?”
“Yeah, it’s best to get something like this out of the way. First, let me put down Hyung’s vote as yes and we already heard his explanation.”
“I have no objection to that.”
“Then… Is there someone with a different opinion? If there isn’t, we will do continue like this.”
As Kim Han-Byeol, An-Sol and I agreed, An-Hyun also nodded in agreement. Looking expectantly at everyone, Lee Yu-Jung began to speak.
For the past couple of chapters, some characters were described as rude in their speech or disrespectful. Like how Lee Yu-Jung is described as talking casually etc.
오라버니 – Orabeoni is a formal version of Oppa.
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