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The woman gently placed the food on the table then carefully walked away. Her actions now were definitely different from how she acted earlier. The food that she placed on the table were salad, baked bread, cream stew, and meat pie. We had ordered the A Course, but it was hard to call this an A Course meal. Compared to other edibles, however, I remember it being pretty cheap and tasted pretty good.
We weren’t really eating the food joyfully. As he was hungry, An Hyun was the first to pick up his spoon. Seeing the white steam rise up from the cream stew, I too took a bite. The aromatic smell and light texture filled my mouth and felt like it was melting on the tip of my tongue.
“Oh…this is really delicious! It feels like it’s melting.”
Seeing An Hyun compliment the food, An Sol picked up a piece of bread and carefully took a bite. Moments later, Sol’s eyes widened at the taste and she started chewing faster. Seeing the two enjoy their food made me happy on the inside. However, there was one person that hadn’t touched their food.
Yoo-Jung normally doesn’t consume a lot (other than alcohol), but she wasn’t the type to be picky with food. But right now, she was playing with her food with chopsticks. Seeing the blank expression on her face, she was probably still physically shocked. Well, she was the one that experienced the woman’s magic first-hand, so she was probably affected more compared to the others.
I myself have experienced something similar before, so I was able to somewhat understand Yoo-Jung’s currently feeling. Embarrassment. Disdain. Shame. Helplessness. Only those that have experienced it personally will understand this dirty amalgam of feelings. I felt bad, as it was somewhat my fault. The fact that her mana was no match to that woman’s proved that her skills were inferior.
But this was a necessary process. This kind of thing will be a good experience for the others; who knows how many similar situations they’ll be in in the future.
We were now a group of users that has entered the vast world of Hall Plain. Not only do we have to compete against the other new users, but we have to go against veteran users as well. Comparing the members to the veteran members, my users were no different from beginners. Complete rookies.
They didn’t know what it meant to be hungry. They didn’t know how to act cautiously, nor know whether or not they should meddle in certain situations. In short, they didn’t know what it meant to be desperate. Of course, I’m partly at fault for the way they were; they’ve never left my side and truly acted independently even during the Rite of Passage.
For now, they can say that they were lucky, but if they were to keep acting like this would they even be able to survive the next 10 years? I would say that there’s a 99% chance they won’t. There were so many times when I wasn’t cautious and meddled in situations I shouldn’t have and brushed closely with death.
Right now, we were on the Maginot Line. As the Northern Country was being secretive about their plans, the veteran users were uncomfortable about killing each other since no one knew with whom one’s allegiance laid. For now, at least. The one enemy that people collectively recognize right now were the Vagrants.
However, after the First Alliance War breaks out, the situation will turn 180 degrees. In the latter half, even without committing PK, one will be able to separate allies from enemies. It was also common for your enemy yesterday to become an ally today— and vice versa. Users will have to survive in the rapidly changed Hall Plain.
I was planning on teaching my group some skills so that they can survive when that change comes. First, I needed to change their mindset. There were many chances to open their eyes in Mule, and A Modest Lady was one of them.
After we finished eating, I asked for two rooms. We had six gold coins left and forty silvers, as well as my stash of over a thousand. Food and lodging for a week costs 20 silver, so we had to pay 40 silver total.
I asked the girls to meet us in our rooms after de-gearing. An Hyun kept clenching his fist then releasing. His face was filled with excitement; he probably wanted to leave the city this instant. Yoo-Jung looked pretty down, and Sol seemed worried about her.
Still clueless about the current situation, Hyun spoke while continuing to exercise his hands.
“Soo-Hyun, this means that the four of us will act together while in Mule, right? We’ll catch monsters, explore dungeons and caves, and discover treasure.”
I internally let out a deep sigh. Why do I sigh so much after meeting these guys? The excited An Hyun was suddenly looking at me. I wasn’t planning on heading out at all. Before we do anything though, there was a desperate need to change An Hyun’s mindset. Despite my unusual reaction, An Hyun didn’t stop talking.
“Oh! We have to make a clan too! What do you want to name it? If you ask me, a name like the Golden Lion is way too cheesy…”
“I can’t make it.”
“A different— huh? Are you not going to make one? Why?”
“It’s not that I won’t, but I can’t.”
I scratched the back of my head with one hand, I let out a deep sigh. An Hyun was passionate when it came to combat training, but when it came to Hall Plain’s history or its other intricacies, he would doze off. If he had paid attention, he wouldn’t suggest that we make a clan right now. An Hyun saw the expression on my face and stopped talking.
After a moment of silence, I quietly started talking.
“The four of us lack the requirement of making an official clan.”
“Re…quirement? I heard that you can make a clan even with just one member.”
The requirement wasn’t about the number of members. Hyun had only memorized the easy part. After calming myself, I continued talking. I’m sure that they’ll be embarrassed when they look back to this moment once they were more experienced later on.
Clans are created when users with the same goal gather together.
In addition, not just anyone can make a clan. In each city only residents that have received the Angels’ trust can give details relating to clans. They also operate the Clan Registration Center. It’s fair, but also strict.
There was only one method open to us right now: increasing our experience. Of course, it’s better if we stacked our achievements, but that would greatly affect Hall Plain as a whole; there wasn’t a need for us to right now.
Unlike achievements, there are much more scenarios that can help one garner experience.
Caravans and the expedition will have to report their results after completing their task. They have to visit the temples located in each city and report the results of their task. The temple officials will read the report and if they find the results important, they will either create an Inspection Order or request the clan representative to check the facts.
They were able to check all the information on the report. They could check what monster appeared in which location, the location of a dungeon or a cave, and what their exploration was like. It’s possible that every little result was connected to the report.
When one believes that their performance level is high, they can register to become an official clan, but the group has to be evaluated. Despite receiving hundreds of applications every day only a few are approved every month, proving how strict their evaluation was. Also, once a group becomes an official clan, their potential power can’t be ignored.
After I finished explaining this to them, An Hyun seemed to be amazed. What was amazing about this? Seeing Sol, I could tell she knew this. Seeing An Hyun nod in understanding, I took a step forward towards them. When the three of them had their attention on me, I turned my attention to Yoo-Jung.
“How does it feel to step out into Hall Plain?
“It’s not too pleasant.”
Yoo-Jung answered with a weak voice. I nodded my head and continued talking.
“Are you mad?”
“I feel victimized. I feel angry.”
Yoo-Jung answered right away. She realized how helpless she was earlier. However, knowing that the opponent can still grow stronger was somewhat of an advantage: it revealed to her how far and how hard she has to train to be competitive. As my provocation was effective, I continued talking.
“I’ve said this to you guys several times. Hall Plain is a constantly changing world. You never know what might happen. If that woman just now was a Vagrant, what do you think would’ve happened?”
None of them talked after hearing what I said. I wasn’t done.
“Be cautious. When there’s a great deal of tension you will be brought down, but you need to always exercise caution in Hall Plain. We’re not here to go on a picnic; we’re not here to find treasure. We’re here to survive so that we can return to Earth. Do you guys understand?”
An Hyun, An Sol, and Yoo-Jung all stayed quiet. An Hyun had his head down and Yoo-Jung and An Sol had a sulky face.
“As long as you know why you’re angry, that’s fine. But, there’s no need to feel victimized. That just means you’re that weak. If you feel victimized, train and become stronger. If you don’t want to experience the same embarrassment you did just now, change your mindset and train fiercely.”
I looked at their faces for a moment. I think they’ve somewhat realized their current situation. This meant that it was time to slowly execute my first plan in helping them grow.
I talked in a softer voice than before.
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