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Joonbum gazed at the 22-foot tall Gartz through his scope. It fearlessly lumbered toward them, moving steadily through the snow.
‘No wonder why the Ainos think they will die without using the venom!’
The Ainos were really strong people. They had both the knowledge and skill to survive in these dangerous mountains. But this monster was much more dangerous than anything else on the mountain.
The monster seemed to be angry at the drone that was flying annoyingly in front of it. The distance quickly closed as the monster moved toward the hunting group.
“Joonbum, ease your breath.”
Doral tapped on his shoulder and Joonbum tried to relax.
‘Everyone’s looking at me.’
There was no way to relax; this was not an ordinary hunt. There were entire Ainos tribes that had gathered to hunt this monster and Joonbum was at the center of it all. He felt the anticipation and concern of everyone around him.
‘I can do it. I can do it!’
He kept repeating this thought to calm himself as he began aiming at the large head size of three watermelons. It moved around a bit, but its huge size made it a conspicuous target. The distance closed as he steadily aimed. It was now very close.
The Gartz roared at the drone and took a step closer.
Joonbum pulled the trigger and felt a strong recoil kick into his shoulder. The shell blasted through the sky at the monster and the accumulated snow around the rifle popped into the air.
The round pierced right the bottom of the Gartz’s eyes, flinging its head backward. White blood poured out from it. The Ainos watched in astonishment. The first shot had luckily penetrated its head.
Joonbum was murmuring as Doral quickly warned him. Joonbum again took aim at the Gartz. The monster did not fall down and had pulled itself back up. The head came back up along with it.
‘It regenerated already!’
The wound on its head had already closed. The Gartz, now vaguely aware of what was happening, began looking around, not minding the drone. It seemed to be furious from the pain.
Joonbum pulled the trigger the moment the monster roared, hitting it right in the forehead this time. The cracking sound of its skull breaking was clearly heard even from such a distance. The monster fell down to the ground. Its huge, 22-foot tall body created a large upward stream of snow as it fell, hiding it from sight.
Everyone fell silent and watched. Joonbum and Doral also quietly watched as the snow blocked their vision. Joonbum caught his breath and looked at the place where it fell.
A loud noise suddenly broke out, shocking Joonbum. The 22-foot tall monster jumped up from the snow and began charging towards Joonbum.
‘I’ve been spotted!’
In just a few moments, it had closed in quickly. Joonbum pulled his trigger again, but it only made it dwindle a bit. The monster seemed to be able to withstand the power as if it was now used to the shock.
Joonbum stood up with the assault rifle in hand. He started firing away at the monster, emptying the magazine in seconds. Most of the bullets pierced its head as it was now very close. The face of the monster seemed like a beehive with white blood pouring out from all the bullet wounds. Its body started to sway.
At that moment, Doral threw a spear that pierced through the Gartz’s neck. The Gartz then jumped at them with its arms outstretched. Joonbum and Doral threw themselves backward.
The Gartz slammed heavily on the ground as it reached towards them. Joonbum and Doral barely managed to avoid its attack by rolling quickly through the snowy terrain. Joonbum quickly threw away his rifle and took out the shotgun on his back and began firing at the Gartz’s head.
Continued shots poured upon its unhealed face and the Gartz began screaming. It lost its balance and fell to the ground, writhing in pain. The wounds healed quickly but the monster twitched and writhed about abnormally, not being able to stand up.
‘It’s a success!’
Joonbum’s eyes opened wide at the sight. It was as he planned, the bullets were still inside of its brain and healing the tissue did not help it recover. Its brain was now malfunctioning from the damage.
Joonbum felt all his energy rushing out of him as he fell down to the ground. Doral also sat down.
“It’s scary, eh?”
“Yeah. No joke.”
Joonbum laid down on the ground and let out a long sigh. A white cloud was floating through the blue skies above. It was so peaceful.
“It’s always dangerous to deal with the Gartz. That’s why we use poison to avoid any accidents.”
Joonbum now understood why the Ainos gave up making top-grade potions and resorted to using the venom. It was hard to imagine dealing with such a monster with just bows and arrows.
“You’ve done it!”
Howen approached the monster and punctured its head with his spear. Everyone began gathering at sight of the Gartz helplessly trying to move.
“Tie it down.”
The warriors began tying the monster down with iron chains. When they finished, they laid down their weapons and gathered around.
“It’s been a long time since we made a top-grade potion.”
The older warriors mumbled in thought. Some gathered around Joonbum and his weapons. The warriors from other tribes were especially interested and eagerly listened to Gazlow and Pree-an, who explained the weapons in detail.
“Oh, yes. Thank you.”
Joonbum drank the whiskey that Doral handed over to him. It gave him sudden warmth and spread throughout his entire body. He was able to calm down and stop shivering.
“Haha! I was like that when I first joined the Gartz hunt.”
Joonbum now was able to focus his senses and observe what was going on around him. The warriors from each tribe filled their big kegs with the Gartz’s blood. It had enough blood for every tribe as it was really huge. The monster’s breath grew shallower as they gathered more of its blood. Soon, its heart stopped pounding and the blood stopped flowing as well.
When they finished gathering the blood, they began skinning it. There was only flesh left on the snow soon after.
“The hunt is a success! Joonbum Jang of Bran is our hero of the day!”
Everyone cheered in excitement and began chanting in a loud voice.
Joonbum blushed as they began chanting his name in unison. Doral pushed him on the back.
‘Ugh! It’s so embarrassing!’
It was embarrassing, but a strong sense of achievement also filled him. He was filled with pride and deep satisfaction.
“We’ll go back to the camp for today and resume hunting tomorrow! Move out!”
Everyone began moving and Joonbum followed.
“Are we leaving it like that?”
Joonbum pointed to the body of the Gartz and Doral shook his head.
“No. It’s now our bait. There will be another Gartz coming for it from the smell. They have a good sense of smell, you know. We’ll wait and hunt down any that come. Your share is done so it’s now up to us.”
Joonbum nodded. The hunt to create a top-grade potion was successful. But top-grade potions were only effective the first time. Any subsequent use resulted in only having a middle-grade potion effect. So it was now time to hunt down Gartz for middle-grade potions.
When they arrived back at camp, there were people who had come from town with news and food using Galims.
“They sure look really nice. Just like unicorns, but much larger.”
Joonbum looked at a group of Galims grazing to the side. It was the same kind of horse that Joonbum had been gifted before, which he named Nite.
These horses were fast and strong and also very resistant to the cold. Its horn was sharp and its kick was strong enough to break bones. It also ran quickly without putting up a fight if it considered the opponent to be stronger.
Joonbum turned to see Mayze, who was smiling as she approached him.
“Sunsook told me to tell you that she’s done bringing in the fuel. Fuel storage is full now. Is there anything else you need?”
“Oh, uh, no. That should do.”
Joonbum answered awkwardly. Mayze smiled and scratched her speckled nose slightly.
“Is it still awkward?”
“Huh? Oh, erm, no. Not at all. Just, uh, I’m not good at talking with beautiful- uhm.”
“Beautiful? You mean me?”
Joonbum stopped speaking abruptly. It was true that he always had a hard time speaking confidently to women he thought were attractive. Mayze silently eyed Joonbum, who was blushing with embarrassment, and smiled. Joonbum felt his heart drop at such a beautiful smile.
“Oh! No-no, I mean, yes. I don’t mean you are ugly- no, I mean-”
“It’s alright, it’s alright. Hehe! Look at your face, it’s so red! Let’s warm you up a bit. There’s hot stew being prepared.”
Mayze reached out, grabbed his hand, and began pulling him. Joonbum, unable to react from shock, just followed her lead.
Doral and the others were watching them.
“Mayze finally made her move.”
Doral blinked in shock as Gazlow nodded.
“Joonbum’s not good with women, you know.”
Pree-an, who had been drinking a beer, agreed.
“Mayze waited long enough.”
They all grinned at the sight of the man and the woman.
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