ETH – Ch 51

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Tap.

Right when I was trying to raise my Reflex ability, an item dropped from one of the monsters.

“Holy cow! An item from the start!”

Jung Sooah scooped up the item. It was a cane. A level 2 amplification cane to be more exact. This item helped to increase the user’s chances of successfully casting a spell. It was perfect for manager Kim.

“Oh. Isn’t that mine?”

“You can use it for now. But we’ll be putting it up for auction as soon as we leave the dungeon.”

“I’ll still be buying it so..”

“If you name a cheap price, I’ll vote against it. You have a lot of money right? Didn’t you say that when you got fired, they paid you a healthy amount as severance?”

Jung Sooah trumpeted out loud.

“Kkeung. That’s my retirement fund.”

“But why’d you get fired?”

Cho Youngoo asked.

“LIttle rotten bastards. I made a small mistake and the director tried to demote me and send me off to some rural place.”

“So you got mad and quit?”

“Quit my butt. I went to the director and gave him piece of my mind.”

“What’d you say?”

“To please over look it that one time…but he didn’t listen. And then bam!”

“You hit him?”

“No. He hit me. He’s a hunter too, you see. I used to follow him whenever he went on a raid…bastard.”

“Wow. So you just let him hit you?”

“What else could I do? If I got fired, there was nowhere else for me to go. But then that bastard said this.”

Manager Kim let out a deep sigh.

“If you resign now I’ll give you a good amount of severance pay.”

“So you said yes?”

“A circumstance warranted it. One of the employees I managed went over to the competition, you see. But it was my fault for not spotting it sooner.

“Hm…so that employee was giving the competition company intel.”

“Well I later found out that it was all masterminded by the director. When he thought that he was going to get caught, he just used me as the scapegoat.”

Manager Kim was shaking with anger at this point. From how angry he was, we could tell he wasn’t lying. But you never know what a person is really thinking so I’ll chalk it up to believing half of it. It could also have been that the both were in cahoots and Manager Kim was the only one who got caught. Who knows.

In that time, the monsters finished evaporating. A total of 6 ores dropped – one of them a blisolnite. I stored the other 5 ores into the manual. They were automatically being applied toward the upgrade tab.

I explained this feature as a kind of invisible backpack to everyone. Since there were items that served similar functions, no one thought it suspicious.

But I did sense they were a bit envious.

“Shall we continue?”

The next point was about a 10 minute walk. We were planning to fight if a monster appeared and to move on if one didn’t.

This method would be the best in trying to find survivors as well.

We continued in this manner for several points.

“It’s very quiet, isn’t it?”

Han Joonseok whispered. Somehow the silence made it seem like whispering was mandatory.

There wasn’t a monster in sight.

Were those 9 monsters it?

I motioned everyone to stop.

We were standing exactly where a monster should appear. The ground was covered in weeds that came up to your ankles. When I looked down and examined closer, I couldn’t find what should have been there.

Footsteps, blood, any other hint that someone or something had been here.

“There has never been a fight in this location.”

“Maybe they lured the monsters away? Maybe they ran and were caught by the monsters somewhere else? It could be any number of reasons.”

Han Joonseok responded. That was true.

  1. They might have lured the monsters inadvertantly while running away
  2. They purposely lured the monsters away
  3. They killed the monsters using a spell where the fight might have lasted a minute
  4. Or they never stepped foot here

1 was highly unlikely. If they had been running away, there would have been some caught and killed..which we should have seen evidence of on our way here. But not a drop.

Number 2 was the most likely possibility. And number 3 & 4 were highly improbable.

I tried to look for an area where they might have purposely lured monsters to hunt. There were too many.

But the most likely place was  an area about 50 meters off north of the hill. If I were the hunter, I would have chosen that spot.

***

“Is it here? The spot you were talking about?”

“Yeh. But no sign of anyone here either.”

“It’s going to be hard looking for them this way. What do you think about going to the last point and working backwards from there?”

“Ok. Let’s do that.”

I nodded my head

***

There were a total of 10 monster points at the Baeksapyoung dungeon. Compared to other dungeons, this dungeon was far larger – which resulted in more distance between each point. For this reason, if you wanted to clear the entire dungeon in less than two hours, you had to employ some unconventional methods.

And we were able to discover that method at the last point.

“What…what is this…”

There were dozens of bodies lying around. No monsters though. But seeing as there were dropped items here and there, it was clear that a battle had taken place here.

Altogether, there were 32 corpses.

All but 8 had died here on this spot.

“It looks as if they had lured all the monsters to this spot. Those 9 we encountered were just monsters that slipped through the cracks.”

Han Joonseok surmised.

There were 3 points of entry – each wide enough to allow just three people to pass through at once.

On examining where the bodies lay, it looks like there were about 10 hunters appointed at each of the entrances.

This was thought out.

It was definitely a waste of time for 40 hunters to go as a group from point to point to kill monsters. But it was also dangerous to split the group into 2 or 3 teams to cover more than one point at once.

This was because every point had a different number of monsters. You could get lucky and run into a small number…or you could get unlucky and run into far too many. There wasn’t a way to predict which points would have how many monsters and split the team in that way.

That’s when they probably came up with this.

Instead of dividing up the team, they needed to call the monsters to them. Because the last point had three entrances, they probably used two of the entrypoints to lure the monsters and divide the team according to how many monsters came through via either point. The last entry point was probably left as an escape route.

“Crazy bastards.”

I couldn’t keep myself from cursing.

This was not a plan. In theory, it was a perfect. If the monsters moved in the way you wanted, this would have been the best way to hunt.

But, just because they called out to monsters from 3 points didn’t mean those would be the only monsters to appear. What would happen if monsters from other points decide to join the fray? The 9 lizardmen we had met probably formed a group in this very same manner.

Then I realized one thing.

If they had fallen into that kind of misfortune, there was no way that anyone would have made it alive. If in the small chance they did, they would have either made it out or we would have bumped into them on the way here.

But neither of the two happened.

Then where are the remaining 8?

That was when I heard a monster’s screech from the left entrypoint. An armored anteater popped up from beneath the ground.

KEEEEEE!

Another one appeared to the right. This was a predatory toad. It seemed the two were waiting at either sides…waiting for prey to appear.

The predatory toad swallows whole live humans and digests them slowly. If you are swallowed, it is said that you suffer for 30 minutes to an hour being digested.

“Ah.”

That’s when I realized.

There weren’t any survivors. The reason why the dungeon hadn’t reset even without any survivors was because of one reason.

Within the predatory toad’s stomach…there was still a living person…slowly being digested.

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