Episode 5 – Shadow Keeper (2)
The party fought well. It was actually a little bit surprising. In particular, Lee Hyunsung and Jung Heewon who stepped forward with me were very influential.
The battle composition naturally became the three of us in front with the other three in the rear. Less than a minute after the battle began, a few ground rats were stuck on the ground with their necks pierced.
Lee Hyunsung overpowered another ground rat, wiped the sweat on his forehead and said.
“...I think I can live.”
Once they raised their overall stats, the human race wasn’t that weak.
Even so, Lee Hyunsung’s mentality was very special in this world. A normal human couldn’t be so nonchalant when encountering monsters.
There was a reason why he got the name of Steel Sword in the future. However, the more amazing person was Jung Heewon.
“The pattern is simpler than I thought?”
Maybe it was due to the Kendo skill but every time her sword stretched out, the ground rat was cut somewhere on their legs or tail.
It was a case where Jung Heewon invested most of her coins into strength. Her endurance declined due to it but the power of one blow was better than I thought.
Her sword moved in a terrifying manner through the air.
“Damn, I lost one! Please!”
Her voice trembled as she spoke. Her only weakness was that her stamina was low so her endurance fell.
The ground rats who moved between the party members were moderately smart. After succeeding in scattering the ranks, they ran towards the opponent who seemed the weakest using a hunter’s instincts.
“Leave it to me.”
However, the ground rats didn’t know that they had picked the wrong opponent.
A blunt instrument thrown by Lee Gilyoung’s hands struck the head of a ground rat. The impact was lacking because he was a child but it was enough. The others could help him finish it.
Yoo Sangah’s spear pierced the body of the ground rat. The ground rat twisted several times. Yoo Sangah made a confused expression but she didn’t remove her hand from the spear.
The ground rat lost its energy and fell down.
I honestly thought it would be difficult for Yoo Sangah to adapt but I was really surprised. Usually, it was normal to panic like Han Myungoh standing over here.
As the people were struggling, one person was hiding in the rear. He couldn’t even hide properly and was bleeding near the shins.
I pierced the last ground rat with the thorn and the surroundings became quiet.
I shook the blood off the thorn and looked at everyone. Everyone suffered from minor abrasions except for Han Myungoh, but there were no major injuries.
It was a great first victory.
Yoo Sangah and Lee Gilyoung relaxed and sat down, while Lee Hyunsung stabbed his spear into the ground and wiped at the sweat on his forehead. Jung Heewon lamented as she countered the number of ground rats in the vicinity.
“...Dokja-ssi, how many did you take care of?”
“Four of them.”
“Che, I killed two.”
“I got three.”
My pride was somehow hurt when I heard Lee Hyunsung’s proud declaration. There was only one difference despite my stats. I used a skill and looked at Lee Hyunsung’s attributes window.
Name: Lee Hyunsung
Age: 28 years old.
Constellation Sponsor: Master of Steel.
Private Attribute: Soldier who Turned a Blind Eye to Injustice (General)
Exclusive Skills: Bayonet Skills Lv. 2, Camouflage Lv. 1, Patience Lv. 1, Sense of Justice Lv. 1, Weapons Training Lv. 2.
Stigma: Great Mountain Push Lv. 1
Overall Stats: Stamina Lv. 12, Strength Lv. 9, Agility Lv. 9, Magic Power Lv. 6.
Overall Evaluation: The moment of the attribute evolution is gradually approaching. The person’s trust in you is considerable. The sponsor behind him is wary towards you.
* ‘Starter Pack’ is currently applied.
Hah, the starter pack. This was why he was strong. The Master of Steel seemed to quite like Lee Hyunsung.
The Starter Pack was a coin package that could be used when the average overall stats of the incarnation was less than level 10.
It was a good item that allowed you to learn Weapons Training, a useful skill in the beginning, while raising the level of the overall stats by one.
Considering the fact that most incarnations were being exploited for nothing, Lee Hyunsung was lucky to receive the Starter Pack.
“Dokja-ssi, your complexion doesn’t look good...”
“Ah, no. I was just thinking for a moment.”
Now I was a little bit envious...well, I had the money to buy it. I didn’t buy it. My average stats exceeded level 10 so buying it would only damage me.
Damn, I opened the Dokkaebi Bag a bit early.
“Let’s gather up the ground rats. We need to prepare today’s food.”
“Ummm...by the way, how will we cook it? We can’t eat it like this.”
“We can’t eat it now but there will be a way.”
I guessed I answered too calmly. There was silence among my party members. Lee Hyunsung was the first one to open his mouth.
“Excuse me, I would like to ask you one thing.”
“Dokja-ssi, perhaps...do you know something about this situation?”
Whoops, I made a mistake.
Suddenly, I remembered the regressors in the novel I read, followed by Yoo Jonghyuk’s words.
It was like this. The feeling of a regressor. Usually, these types of things happened to a regressor.
Some replies came to mind. I could shamelessly say that it was a hunch or I could lie like Yoo Jonghyuk.
[The constellation Secretive Plotter is anticipating your choice.]
[A few constellations are anticipating your answer.]
But from a reader’s point of view, the best answer was...
It was to create a situation where I didn’t need to say anything.
[The constellation ‘Secretive Plotter’ nods at your choice.]
“There is still one left!”
Jung Heewon shouted and Lee Hyunsung ran. However, the action of the hidden ground rats was faster than anyone else. It was much bigger than the other creatures.
It dragged Han Myungoh into a tunnel by one of his legs. The nearest Yoo Sangah swung her spear but the situation got worse because Han Myungoh held onto her.
Lee Hyunsung stretched out the handle of his spear but it only hit the ground. The ground rat and the two people had already disappeared into the ground.
[The constellation ‘Prisoner of the Golden Headband’ resents this frustrating person.]
Jung Heewon burst out.
“Ah...I knew I was going to get cancer because of that uncle.”
“...I’m sorry. I was too late.”
Lee Hyunsung spoke in a sad voice. I tapped his shoulder to show it was okay.
“No one could’ve done anything.”
“Should we chase after them?”
I looked at the hole where they had disappeared. It wasn’t an ordinary hole. There was a touch of energy around it. The darkness gave off a gloomy feeling.
I retreated to the back and turned on my smartphone. There was only 5% battery remaining. At dawn, I exchanged one battery charge for food with a person from the marginalized group.
[Your reading speed has increased due to the effect of the exclusive attribute.]
Shortly afterwards, I was able to find the desired passage.
「 ...The ‘Edge of Darkness’ is the habitat of the ground rats and is a type of subspace emitted from the ‘Dark Root.’ The ground rats that breath in black ether instead of oxygen don’t grow naturally unless they are near the ‘Edge of Darkness’... 」
It was a fact that I knew roughly but it was meaningful to review it. That’s right. This was the entrance to the Edge of Darkness. I read about it and put the smartphone in my pocket.
Lee Hyunsung was looking at me with a frustrated expression. I nodded.
“We will enter.”
“But it very dangerous to enter with a lot of people. Lee Hyunsung-ssi and Jung Heewon-ssi will wait here at the boundary. If something happens, I will give you a signal.”
The startled Jung Heewon asked.
“Surely...you don’t intend to go with only Gilyoung?”
“Gilyoung’s ability will be helpful in pursuing them.”
The moment she tried to strongly resist, I raised a hand and called to Lee Hyunsung.
“Lee Hyunsung-ssi. Jung Heewon-ssi isn’t in a good condition so please take care of her.”
Lee Hyunsung seemed to realize something.
“Wait a minute. I am fine!”
“Jung Heewon, confidence is good but don’t be reckless.”
Jung Heewon’s breathing was uneven. She wasn’t completely healed from the poisonous fog.
I left the two people and entered the hole with Lee Gilyoung. It was obviously a hole that was dug down in a vertical slope. But as soon as we entered, we could stand as if gravity was in effect.
It was due to the magic power emitted by the Edge of Darkness.
The darkness was so deep that I couldn’t see anything, so I could only move forward with Lee Gilyoung. Black ether had the property of absorbing light, making a flashlight meaningless. If Lee Gilyoung’s ability Diverse Communication wasn’t available, I might have to use coins again.
“Excuse me Hyung.”
Lee Gilyoung called out to me.
“Did you do it on purpose?”
“When that uncle grabbed Noona and Ahjussi, you let it go.”
I had a moment of hesitation. In the darkness, Lee Gilyoung’s fingertips were strange. Before I could ask how he knew, Lee Gilyoung spoke.
“At that time, I was looking at Hyung’s face.”
He was watching me even in those short moments. A very scary kid. It was no good hiding from a person who was so quick.
“Yes, that’s right.”
The answer was terrible and a message bomb was set off in my head. Indeed, this was a spectacle for the constellations.
[The constellations of absolute good frown at your cruelty.]
[The constellation Secretive Plotter is pressing you with shining eyes.]
“Why did you do that?”
“Because of the habit of the ground rats.”
I decided to answer honestly.
“The ground rats have a habit of keeping their catches in the same place as their treasure. It isn’t just food. Many things that seem rare are gathered. For example, an item. However, the paths are so complicated that it can’t be found unless I follow their path directly.”
Lee Gilyoung was silent for a moment. I continued speaking.
“I expected them to take Han Myungoh. I didn’t expect him to grab onto Yoo Sangah.”
“Then your purpose isn’t to save Noona or Ahjussi, it is the items?”
“Yes. Are you disappointed?”
Lee Gilyoung’s small hand gripped my finger tightly.
“Hyung shouldn’t lie.”
“If Hyung was such a person, you wouldn’t have saved me on the subway. I believe in you.”
Lee Gilyoung didn’t act like a child but he was still a child. Lee Gilyoung didn’t know. To be mature and to be an adult were completely different things.
[Some constellations are touched to tears.]
[200 coins have been sponsored.]
In this world, there were mean adults who would take advantage of such maturity. The hole was longer than I thought and we had to go downwards for quite a long time.
“Hyung, are you a god?”
“Or the main character?”
Children sometimes asked sharp questions. It was because they lived in a world where stories and reality weren’t clearly distinguished. Lee Gilyoung didn’t know exactly what his question meant.
“I’m not a main character. Rather, I always envy the main character.”
“But you still know something about this world?”
I thought for a moment before replying.
“Then I’ll ask you one thing.”
“I will answer it if I can.”
“Once we clear all these scenarios...can we make a wish?”
I was a bit confused.
“Usually there is a reward at the end of these stories. At the end of this story, is there something like that?”
In the darkness, Lee Gilyoung’s breathing was trembling. Lee Gilyoung’s expression when he saw his dead mother suddenly came to mind.
Those who adapted to this world suffered from it in different ways. Some were crazy, some were fanatics and some had irrational optimism.
“Yes, there is.”
I was grateful that this place was dark. It was because Lee Gilyoung couldn’t see my face right now.
“We are almost there Hyung.”
The surrounding black ether was shrinking rapidly. It was evidence that Dark Root was nearby. I tensed up and gripped the thorn.
[A few constellations are holding their breaths.]
I heard the sound of the ground rats somewhere in the ground. As the sound got closer, the sense of space expanded rapidly. I saw a light in the darkness, as if someone had lit a fire.
Then I saw a tattered box beyond that light. The moment I was convinced that I had come to the right place, messages rang in my ears.
[The sub scenario has been updated.]
[You have entered the ‘Ground Rat’s Treasure Trove.’]
TL Note: Some of Lee Hyunsung’s skill levels are less than the first time his attribute window was checked. Probably an author mistake.
Hyung= Term that males use for a male older than them.
Noona= Term that males use for a female older than them.
Ahjussi= Middle-aged man, uncle, mister, etc.
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