Why are you doing this? (1/2)
“Is your party perhaps also going to the Warp Gate at the centre?”
“I’m not making this up. You won’t make it. Don’t go there. We were able to reach Warpgate two days ago. But we failed at 300 meters. Why? We stumbled about, hesitating what to do. Then we decided to retreat. If we made that decision a little quicker than ... Jin-tae would still be...“
“You know the about the conditions to survive right? It’s for the best to hold on for seven days. Your party will never be able to beat that thing. If it weren’t for Jin-tae, we would all have been killed by that monster. We were quite a distant from the monster but it knew exactly where we were."
The conditions for the Boss monster appearing was dependent on the time stayed in each Points. There was also a chance for random appearance but frankly it was unpredictable. Rather than the Boss monster appearing near the Warp Gate, I was more surprised by the fact that the group managed to reached Warp Gate in three days and managed to survive the encounter.
The situation was quite credible as Wu Jung-min and Seon Yu-un reputation would resound all over Hall Plane in the future. The crying face of Won Hye-su came up in my mind. She heaped curses on me while looking at me but this didn’t offend me.
Because I knew so well what it was like to lose a precious person. I was in the exact same position as her back then. After losing Hyung and her, I went crazy for a while. If I collected all the blood I spilt during that time, it could probably fill a few swimming pools.
While walking along I could hear Lee Yu-jung calling for An-hyun. As An-Hyun lifted his head to respond, she whispered rather than talk with her usually loud voice.
“... For saving me back there.”
An-hyun tilted his head and remember, “Aha.” Nodding his head as he recalled shielding her.
"Anyway, your temper is a problem. Kill your temper for a bit and let us live in peace.
If I wasn’t wary of the guy from the start you would be stuck with a sword in your head.”
"He was so frustrating!”
"It’s what it is. Why don’t you try putting at least half the effort Hyung puts into treating others? Or try to resemble half of Han-byeol’s personality. What’s the point of a having a pretty face, when your personality is like a dog.”
"Ha… Half? Really…? Ah…. Hu, Hmph! Su-hyun Oppa is suffering so much because of us. I hate it.”
Yu-jung turned bright red when An-hyun called her pretty and looked away quickly. An-hyun’s looked on surprised at this seemingly girlish act from Yu-jung. This much was a great development already, no arguments had broken out to my great relief.
An-sol who was listening to the conversation between two tightened her grip on An-Hyun’s collar and An-hyun automatically reached out and stroked her hair gently. Seeing the smirk on An-sol’s face, Lee Yu-jung eye’s became sharp. Only the dull An-hyun missed the silent feud surrounding him and was striding forward with careful alertness. Why is it that all the popular men were so block-headed? Tsk, tsk.
We walked at a fast pace for a while and was able to see the Safe Point just as the sun was about to set. And we did not encounter a single monster on the way. The party was happy with our lucky break but this was not something to be delighted about.
We have always been attacked by monsters, except for the short while in the City, after leaving the forest. In serious circumstances, An-sol usually screamed like when she saw the bodies of the Mankeys. I had intentionally led the party into monsters encounters and they were reaping the reward for their efforts.
There were reasonably intelligent monsters surrounding the vicinity of the Warp Gate. Mankey’s were one of the toughest monsters in the Rite of Passage and the party managed to kill five of them. These intelligent monsters probably knew by know that many monsters have been killed by our party. Their sensitive sense of smell allowing them to sniff the dry blood on us.
This was my theory before my whispered conversation with Wu Jung-min. If the Boss monster had been summoned and was wandering around the Warp Gate, all the monsters would have fled that region by now as the Boss monster was on the top of the food chain.
In other words, if we do not encounter any monsters on the way there tomorrow, it was mostly likely we would confront the Boss monsters in front of Warp Gate like Wu Jung-min’s party. It was an ironic situation. We left the City to avoid the Boss monster but we were now throwing ourselves back into the fire.
Of course, there were differences between the two situations. The chance of Boss encounter in the City was 100% but the Boss encounter at the Warp Gate wasn’t so certain.
I thought for a while and a question popped in my head. Conditions definitely existed which defined the perimeters for the Boss monster’s appearance. And there were many survivors in the Rite of Passage besides us. If so, there was a chance that the perimeters for the Boss monster’s appearance were met simultaneously by two or three different groups at the same time. What would happen in such cases? Plus, the situation became even more complicated factoring the high probability of Boss monster appearing near the Warp Gate.
Suddenly I felt like I knew very little about the Rites of Passage. I spent 10 years scraping through Hall Plain and researching everything about it but the Rite of Passage was not part of my research. The only part I remembered was times when other Players occasionally joking about their experiences of their Rite of Passage. Though it was not to the extreme, I still felt quite frustrated.
How much time had passed? We walked for a while and we were soon able to reach the Safe Point.
“It has a yellow roof. But it looks like a hut."
“Thank god we found one today. It’s still a bit early but let’s rest here for today. Hyung, is that fine?”
“Don’t stay over a day. The warning sign is here as well. It’s better than last time, right Oppa?”
“I will go in first. I want to wash up quickly and have a change of clothes. Hehe.”
“Huh? Uh, yeah. Let’s.”
Hastily answered back, everyone gave me a strange look. I shook my head telling them nothing was wrong.
The party continued to stare for a moment before they returned to their chattering again, and I sighed inside. Immature kids. It was because of this that I was uncomfortable being in a party. If I was alone, I would have already entered Hall Plain. No matter how I pondered, there was no decent plan I could think up so I decided to put this matter aside for now.
I realised then that I had become quite relaxed.
In the past where I did not know much and tried my best to survive all the life and death situation crouching on my doorsteps. But it was different now. The idea of cutting down all problems in my way was deeply engraved in a corner of my heart.
“Oppa, what are you doing? We are going to go in first!”
“... I will be there now.”
I slowly headed in after Yu-jung waved her hand enthusiastically. For now, tomorrow’s problem was for tomorrow.
The night was dark. I was sitting on the stairs leading up to the hut for the watch. It was no longer just me and An-hyun that watched through the night. Now the four of us, An-hyun, Kim Han-byeol, and Yu-jung would rotate our watch. We did keep exact time but if we thought enough time has passed we would call for the next person for the watch.
The first person to watch was Lee Yu-jung and I was next to her. The third was Kim Han-byeol, and the last person was An-hyun. One person kept watching for about 2 hours, though I was certain it couldn’t have been more than 1 hour before Lee Yu-jung came and ask me to take over the shift.
Yup. Seeing her avoiding my eyes as she asked to change shift, she must be feeling guilty about it.
I put my hand into my pocket as it was my habit, and felt a chocolate bar inside. Lee Yu-jung had shoved it into my grasp as an apology Seems she kept some of the chocolate in secret for herself. There wasn’t any lack of food or water so I didn’t say anything about it. It was about time to change shift with Han-byeol anyways so it seemed to be a good time for a snack before heading back in.
As I tried to open the plastic wrappings, I felt a can of coffee on my right cheek. Turning to see, I saw Kim Han-byeol hunched over staring at me.
“I see you are hiding food and eating it alone.”
“... I got this from Yu-jung.”
“That’s just like her, though I never saw her concede any chocolates before.”
“She didn’t keep her time. I think she gave it to me as an apology.”
Smiling wryly, Kim Han-byeol sat next to me. Snapping the chocolate bar in half, I gave it to her.
“Thank’s for the coffee.”
Kim Han-byeol was more comfortable with my presence now since I wasn’t as rowdy as Lee Yu-jung. Though there was still a distance between us, it felt it was slightly reduced. In the party, only we were still speaking with honorifics. Having done this since the beginning, it had become something of a tacit agreement.
“What were you thinking so hard about, you look glum. You didn’t even notice me coming behind you.”
I know you were coming, I just pretended not to. Drinking some coffee, I replied.
“Haha, I was out of it for a while. You said I look glum?”
“Yes. You looked tense after speaking something with that man. Was I wrong…”
Was it? I thought I had a good poker face. Rubbing my face unconsciously, Kim Han-byeol tack on confidently.
“What did he say?”
“... It wasn’t anything important.”
“It wasn’t only me that felt it. An-hyun Oppa, Yu-jung Unni and An-sol all feel nervous. You haven’t said anything after your conversation with that man.”
“I was thinking this and that. Everything will sort itself out, I am sure of it. Even if something happens, we will pull through so don’t worry.”
I finished off the chocolate bar and the rest of the coffee in one gulp. Why was it that the more I talked to her, the more I remember of ‘her.’ I wanted to get away quickly. I told her to keep well and was about to climb up the stairs to the hut.
“Please wait. I want to ask you something.”
In novels, manhwa and drama the girl usually just let the guy go without any issue… Why wasn’t she following the trope? I felt Kim Han-byeol was ready to tackle another issue and I screamed inside. I should have seen this coming when Kim Han-byeol wanted to trade her shift with An-hyun. I tried to look friendly as I could as I tried to escape.
“I am a bit tired. If it isn’t urgent is it possible to talk about this tomorrow? I want to go in and sleep.”
“I want to ask you something now.”
“I am not running away anywhere.”
With the conversation becoming more seriously, I tried throwing in a joke but it wasn’t well received. Kim Han-byeol staring at me with her usual cold expression. Again, Kim Han-byeol’s face overlapped with ‘her.’ I unconsciously avoided her gaze.
“I feel like if I don’t ask you this today, I will never have the chance.”
“Ah, was it that question you asked back then? It really wasn’t anything…”
I closed my mouth immediately. Did I just hear her call me Oppa? Don’t misunderstand, I wasn’t a pervert who enjoyed being called Oppa.
“Su-hyun Oppa. That’s not the question I wanted to ask.”
Kim Han-byeol’s face was still cold and calm but it was giving off a different impression than normal. She was angry right now. Don’t run away, that was the impression she was exuding as she looked at me. I realised that she was being absolutely serious right now. Following suit, I began to observe her calmly. And then she asked her question.