We were currently about 60 kilometers away from Manripo.
Walking would take at best 10 hours – not an impossible distance, but not worth doing either.
We ultimately decided to leave the car in an area that was bare of all grass and trees. Why? Because monsters could be hiding anywhere. We didn’t want to be surprised later when coming back to the car.
We decided that we wouldn’t stray any further than 1 km away from the car and started on our hunt.
We didn’t walk 50 meters when we came across a goblin. Goblins never travel alone so we started looking around for the rest of its group.
“I’ll take care of this one.”
Han Joonseok raised his stalker. For a monster that we were already prepared for, just one stalker was all that was needed to take it down.
The arrow that had flown over 50 meters, impeccably ripped into the goblin’s neck.
Sooah raised up her thumb and made a pose. Of course this was basically due to the arrow’s ability, but that’s what a hunter is – someone raised up by the ability of items and equipment and skills.
We walked up to the fallen goblin’s body and inspected it.
There was the arrow in its neck…but there was another arrow lodged in its back.
We had only shot one arrow. Then where did the other one come from?
“Who is it!”
I drew my sword and swung my head to where the sound was coming from.
A male holding a longbow came out. He had a green headband on that had a feather of the same color attached to it.
It wasn’t just any headband. It was a level 2 item that, using the mockingbird feather, camouflages the wearer with his/her’s surroundings.
This kind of item could actually be even more useful than a lot of high level items.
If you didn’t have a counter or another item, you were at their mercy. Because you wouldn’t see them coming. Of course once your location is revealed…that’s a different story.
“I had my eye on that monster first.”
“But we were first to make the killshot.”
“Well….agreed. I guess there isn’t really a point in arguing over who killed it first. In exchange, can you lend me your ear for a moment?”
He did seem a bit suspicious but I didn’t feel any evil intentions from him.
I scanned the area around us first. You couldn’t be too careful – there might be more of his crew hiding around. And they could be hiding in plain sight if they also had the mockingbird feather headband.
Luckily there weren’t too many places to hide around this area.
The shrubs were too small to hide behind.
When I confirmed there really weren’t any other people, I walked towards him.
“Are you alone?”
“Yes I am.”
“Can you wait just a moment?”
I went back to my party.
Manager Kim spoke first.
“Who the hell is this guy?”
“It seems he’s a solo hunter. He looks to be about a level 2 and I don’t think he really has any ill intentions. It just seems he has something he wants to discuss with us.”
“Is that so. It’s not a bad idea to at least listen to what he has to say.”
“He might ask to join our party too.”
Jun Sooah spoke up. That was a possibility. Especially since there weren’t any party number restrictions like there were in the dungeons.
Other than contribution distributions, there wouldn’t be any issues in adding more people to the party.
Additionally if we were short on profit, all we had to do was just hunt more monsters.
We decided to hear him out. After I invested the ores dropped from the monster into my manual, I went to the car with the archery guy.
“I’m Park Hanbum. You might have guessed but I’d like to join your party.”
He said. I already had an answer prepared for such a request.
“That would be difficult. Adding someone we cannot trust to the party is just asking to put our lives in danger.”
“Do I look like such a bad guy?”
“You can’t judge a person just from their outside appearance.”
“That’s true…such a pity. Then I’ll see you again next time.”
He didn’t seem disingenuous. I grabbed him from leaving. I had some more questions for the guy.
“Just a moment. I’d like to ask you something.”
“How did you come to this place alone. You don’t seem to have a car…”
“I have a motorcycle way back there. I hid it from sight.”
“Then why are you hunting solo?”
“Ah…my skill is hunting while hidden so it works better alone rather than with parties. Thanks to that, I was able to pull in a good amount of money the past few days – I didn’t have to share any of it with another person. But I came to a realization. If I hunt alone, I run the risk of being robbed of monsters…and maybe even my equipment or life…by other teams. Do you know just how long I waited hidden out of sight so that I can kill that goblin?”
“Two hours. And that was taken away in the blink of an eye by your team. And it’s getting worse with the influx of hunters that are coming in daily.”
“But another monster will appear if you just wait.”
“That isn’t true.”
Park Hanbum shook his head.
For a moment, I didn’t understand what he meant.
“You’re saying they don’t regenerate?”
“At least not in the places I was at.”
“That’s…a bit…odd isn’t it?”
Usually, no matter how much you killed a monster again and again…they would appear again.
That was why fortresses were usually built in rural areas to keep them away.
Laying down asphalt was also something else we did to try and keep the ever regenerating monsters away.
“There’s no record in history of something like that ever having happened…”
“Well…this is a new land. Who knows what the laws of monsters are around here.”
Han Joonseok said. I guess that would be an easy answer.
But there needed to be a reason this was happening.
First, the level 1 and 2 monsters that had disappeared with the monsters were probably transported over to this land.
So instead of this land being part of a new system, it was probably the byproduct of the old system.
But the old system had regenerating monsters.
There’s only one reason why the monsters were not regenerating here.
“Have you thought of something?”
“No….this is merely speculation but…”
But it wasn’t impossible. It was just…
“It might be that this new land is a dungeon in itself.”
“But if it’s a dungeon, then shouldn’t dead people’s items disappear?”
Han Joonseok made a good point.
“Yes. That’s why it’s all speculation. But this huge land that appeared out of nowhere. And the monsters that immediately appeared as well. If this isn’t a dungeon, there is no other explanation.”
“Hm….that’s true too.”
“Of course whether or not this is a dungeon isn’t important. The important thing is that it will be hard for us to come by another monster.”
“We need to move to a different location.”
“But team Ezekiel is pretty much blocking all roads. I tried a bunch of times but they won’t budge.”
Park Hanbum said.
“Are you thinking of traveling on foot?”
Cho Youngoo spoke up. If we did that, we would have to throw away the car. It was probably not an appealing prospect for him.
Manripo was now about 100 km to the north. It would be too much distance to cover without a car.
“We need to try and see if we can push through somewhere.”
“We’re only 8 even if we included Mr. Park Hanbum. And those guys will not stand by while we try to push through. It’s true that we’ve come this far with a bit of wrecklessness on your part, partyhead, but this is not something that will be resolved so easily.”
Han Joonseok said with a worried look on his face.
“So you’re saying they’ll fight back.”
“That’s the most likely reality.”
“What are your thoughts on taking on that risk?”
Han Joonseok scoffed at my question.
He knew what I was saying.
“….you want them to fight back.”
He said quietly.
It was a big problem if the monsters were disappearing without regenerating.
Hunters were coming in in droves.
We needed to do something to find new land and get to the dwindling number of monsters before they were all gone.
“Do you think…that the government knew things would turn out this way?”
Bae Yeonkyoung asked. This girl was sharp every once in a while.
“Could be. That might have been why they offered up partial ownership. I didn’t understand why they would make such a proposition but that might be why…”
“Then we could assume that other teams have made their moves just as team Ezekiel had.”
“Yes. It might be team Ezekiel in the south but if we go further somewhere else we might find mercenaries or some other pro teams.”
“Ultimately it looks like we just might end up serving honorary hunter roles without being able to do any real hunting.”
Cho Youngoo said with an annoyed look.
I felt the same annoyance.
We were a group of new hunters. Hunters who were not able to join any other teams.
But we had caught a glimpse of the riches this land that could have been ours.
Land of opportunity. The West Sea.
Where you could earn as much as the work you put in and rise up in levels quickly to become a real hunter.
But it was a silly pipe dream. We were naive.
I knew what had to be done now. We needed to build a team.
The hard part was convincing people.
Convincing them to put their lives on the line to fight against team Ezekiel.
Would there be anyone willing to do that and join our team?
Surprisingly, my problem was solved with the help of Manager Kim.
When I looked up, a number of buses, trucks, and cars drove up behind our car. Clouds of smoke kicked up into the air.
It felt like the scene of a movie.
“Hm….what kind of magic did you do?”
“Hm? What? Me?”
Manager Kim wiped his brow as he answered. He then said as if it were no big deal.
“It wasn’t even that hard…something like this.”
“How did you get together so many people? It couldn’t have been easy. And it’s for something as crazy as fighting against team Ezekiel.”
Han Joonseok responded.
“Normally it would be difficult but this is a special case. Everyone came here with big hopes. There are also probably alot of people who were not able to hunt for a long time due to the disappearance of dungeons. I would assume that there are also a number of them who were having a hard time just surviving for want of money and food from the lack of dungeons. You just need to say the right things to them.”
“But I still don’t see how people would want to go through the trouble.”
Cho Youngoo said.
He was looking around at all the vehicles gathered. It seemed he still couldn’t believe they were all here.
“So I said we would take responsibility for them. I told them not to worry and follow us.”
“But that’s a lie right?”
Jung Sooah said.
“Of course. You think that team Ezekiel will just peacefully let us through? I’m sure they’ll try to kill every last one of us.”
“But will it be ok? What if they said something later?…”
“They just needed the right excuse to do something like this. They were just afraid to do something on their own. They don’t really expect us to take care of them….they just needed us to give them that reassurance. Of course someone might say something later on. But if we were concerned about something like that, we shouldn’t have tried something like this in the first place.”
“It feels like we’re putting people in unnecessary danger…”
“Don’t worry. It’s my guess but I don’t think we’ll face too much backlash.”
“Do you have some kind of plan?”
I asked. Manager Kim gave a smirk and said.
“No. I just feel it in my bones.”
His words sounded kind of prophetic.
And it happened just in that way.
The closer we got to the road that team Ezekiel was blocking, the number of vehicles following us grew and grew.
Around the time we arrived to our destination, there were over a hundred cars behind us.
At this pace, we would get to the spot with over 200 cars.
How the hell did this happen?
As soon as a group of 20 some vehicles moved together, the rest of the people who needed an excuse were converted just as Manager Kim had said.
Would team Ezekiel be able to block all of us from passing?
“Now, I think it’s time for party head to say something.”
Manager Kim patted my shoulder. I nodded my head and got out of the car. Clouds of dust all around me…and I could hear the boom boom of running car engines behind me.
Sooah said as she looked out of the window.
One by one, people were getting out of their vehicles. Hundreds of them. And there were even more still in the vehicles.
As soon as I started toward the barricade, I could almost hear the members of team Ezekiel shaking in their boots.
Among them, one of their bows caught my eye.
Level 3 Grassland Horn Bow.
An item that raised shooting accuracy. Put simply, it allowed someone to easily make a moving shot.
The owner of this bow was a man with a pretty big build. He was probably the boss here.
“You, you need to all go back or else…”
When it seemed awkward, all the vehicles behind me began to rev their engines.
The roar of engines only grew louder and louder.
My heart was starting race.
I was getting antsy.
I shook my shoulders up and down and said.
“Are you going to shoot me?”
“You, you think we’ll let you pass if you do this?”
“I’m just putting it out there but…I can’t stop those people from doing anything at this point. If I die here, they’ll storm this place…with you still standing here. What do you think will happen then?”
Shake shake shake.
The hand that was drawing the arrow in the bow was shaking almost comically now. It was game over. They only had about a dozen men at the barricade while we had about a thousand behind us now.
“Shut up! Not even one of you will pass!”
Big guy yelled out as if to shake off his fear.
“Hey dumbo. You think that any of us would come all the way here just to turn back quietly?”
“If you don’t want to die, back off!”
“Are you a parrot? Say something else why don’t you.”
We were going to fight anyway. If we let it drag out and government officials showed up, we would be in a pickle. We needed to get it over with.
They had all drawn their bows.
I stretched my arm out into the air.
Cho Youngoo’s shield appeared instantly in my hand and every single arrow bounced harmlessly off.
“Heuk? Where the hell did that come from?”
A few of them fell to the ground from the surprise of seeing me draw my shield from my storage.
“Leave your equipment on the ground and go. Then I’ll let you live.”
“This, this nobody bastard…?”
“Who’s calling who a nobody bastard?”
I raised my hand to signal.
An arrow flew out from our car and hit its mark. Han Joonseok’s stalker.