Chapter 24 – Napoleon’s Golden Goblet (2)
Kim Tae Hoon had a number of habits.
Of which, checking his left wrist as soon as he opened his eyes had become a prominent habit.
It was the same now.
So when he opened his eyes, Kim Tae Hoon first checked his left wrist instead of verifying why he was sitting at the passenger seat of a car.
The watch that he always wore entered his line of sight, but he was surprised to see it.
It was because it was a smart watch.
‘Why would I…?’
Kim Tae Hoon didn’t wear a smartwatch.
Although smartwatches possessed GPS capabilities, the battery would die within a mere three days, the body was barely water resistant, the durability was low, and it was prone to malfunctions and hacking. As such, Kim Tae Hoon did not use such garbage gadgets.
However, a smartwatch was currently latched onto his wrist.
It was hard to understand.
But what came next was even harder to understand.
Kim Tae Hoon’s body would not listen to him.
He tried to move his arms and touch the smart watch, but his body would not comply.
Rather, his body began to move on its own. Instead of moving his arms, he turned his head to look out the car window and saw a man approaching him.
The man approaching Kim Tae Hoon handed him a paper cup while getting in the car.
There was some lukewarm coffee in the paper cup.
“There was only some coffee mix left in the water. I was able to remove some of the sugar.”
Instead of being a nice black color, it was a stale, brown color.
It was the kind of coffee that Kim Tae Hoon really disliked. For Kim Tae Hoon, whose only hobby was tasting coffee, mixed coffee was an insult.
However, the coffee mix did not enter his gaze.
Instead, he focused his gaze on the face of the man who handed him the coffee.
It was a man with a scarred face.
To be specific, there were three wounds gouged diagonally across his face, as though he had been clawed by a terrifying monster’s nails.
He was lucky to have not had his entire face ripped off.
However, Kim Tae Hoon was still able to recognize his face.
‘Chang Sung Hoon?’
The man before him was Chang Sung Hoon. It was Chang Sung Hoon, but older.
‘Chang Sung Hoon!’
Kim Tae Hoon tried to call out his name, but he was not allowed to.
Kim Tae Hoon was forced to view everything around his as though he were nothing but a spectator.
“You wished that you could have a cup of coffee before you died. Coffee mix is still coffee, right?”
The wounded Chang Sung Hoon said with a light smile on his face.
Kwa kwa kwa kwa!
A mighty wind that held the strength to shake the world bombarded the car that Kim Tae Hoon and Chang Sung Hoon were in.
Chang Sung Hoon turned his head with a frightened expression on his face.
“Damn it, it’s already here.”
‘What’s he talking about?’
“Chang Sung Hoon.”
At that moment Kim Tae Hoon opened his mouth.
“You’ve done really well until now.”
“Go to Gyeongju by yourself.”
“Meet with Commander-In-Chief Lim Hyun Jun, and deliver my message.”
The car door on Kim Tae Hoon’s side opened.
The spectator Kim Tae Hoon organized everything he was seeing inside his head.
‘Gyeongju? Alone? Commander-In-Chief Lim Hyun Jun, does he mean Colonel Lim Hyun Jun?’
Both Chang Sung Hoon and Kim Tae Hoon stepped out of the vehicle.
At the same time, the trunk opened. From the trunk, various different weapons flew out like living birds, orbiting around Kim Tae Hoon.
Spears, Swords, Bows······.
Kim Tae Hoon eyed each of the weapons revolving around him, then looked at Chang Sung Hoon.
“Tell him to abandon Korea if my hunt fails.”
“Damn it, I can’t accept those words. There’s no need for you to die boss! I’m saying that there’s no need for you to die boss! Plus you always told me boss! That we’re fighting so that we may survive! All of this, just for those bastards······.”
An eerie cry incomparable to the cries of the original beasts of the world rang out.
At the sound of that cry, Chang Sung Hoon’s eyes lost focus.
Having collapsed like a broken doll, Kim Tae Hoon hoisted up his limp body into an upright position in the driver’s seat.
Immediately, the car doors shut and the engine came on on its own.
At the same time, an enormous shadow appeared over Kim Tae Hoon’s head. The wind from before also subsided.
An enormously powerful wind with the strength to rip the trees out of the ground raged around Kim Tae Hoon.
In the middle of the typhoon like winds, Kim Tae Hoon opened his eyes and looked at the owner of the shadow.
Kim Tae Hoon and the monster both looked at each other.
‘It’s the punk from before. That day, that night, the one who passed by that place.’
A giant dragon whose blue eyes shone with immense wrath.
Ahn Sun Mi stood up from her spot after having finished inspecting Kim Tae Hoon’s pupils with a small flashlight she held in her hand.
Standing behind her were Bang Hyun Wook, Chang Sung Hoon, and Kim Su Ji. They were nervously waiting for Ahn Sun Mi’s verdict.
Ahn Sun Mi had a firm expression on her face.
“He is asleep.”
They were surprised to hear such a mild diagnosis considering the firm expression on her face.
“It’s just as I said. Kim Tae Hoon-ssi is in a very deep sleep.”
“So then right now, Hyung nim is······ you’re saying that he’s just having some sweet dreams?”
Bang Hyun Wook’s expression looked as though he heard a load of nonsense. It wasn’t a situation where he would expect to hear such an innocent diagnosis.
“I guess it’s a relief to say the least. I thought that hyungnim was going to die.”
In the end, Bang Hyun Wook could only give off a short sigh in response to the word ‘sleeping’.
It was an apt reaction. The word ‘sleep’ didn’t hold any sort of negative connotation after all.
“Do you really think that it’s a relief that he would suddenly just fall asleep? Who knows when he’ll wake up.”
Ahn Sun Mi’s expression was firm as opposed to Bang Hyun Wook’s reaction.
She only gave a brief response to Bang Hyun Wook’s reaction, and spoke to the other two.
“For now, it’s hard to make any sort of accurate diagnosis. It may simply look like he’s sleeping on the surface, but who knows what the real issue is. Especially since we can’t look at any results from an MRI or a CT scan. We can rule out fatigue as a cause since it’s more likely a result of him consuming an unknown object······.”
A situation where someone would drink an unknown liquid then suddenly fall asleep was very serious to a doctor.
Chang Sung Hoon smoothly changed the topic.
“I know that this is sudden, but who is in charge now that boss has been incapacitated? Would it be Second Lieutenant Kim Su Ji?”
Kim Su Ji was about to answer the question before looking at Bang Hyun Wook.
The soldiers would follow Kim Su Ji’s commands, but Bang Hyun Wook was a different story. Bang Hyun Wook was not a soldier, and had no military training. As of now, Kim Su Ji had never issued any orders to Bang Hyun Wook.
Since Kim Tae Hoon’s presence was absent, the situation in regards to commands was different.
Aside from Kim Tae Hoon, Bang Hyun Wook was the only who could effectively fight against monsters that used Fear.
So did Kim Su Ji have the authority to command Banh Hyun Wook? Or would Bang Hyun Wook act independently?
Neither of them had ever made any concessions in this regard in the past.
That was why Chang Sung Hoon had brought it up. Since they had never come to an agreement in regards to this, now was the time to do so. They definitely would not have the time to do so during a sudden monster attack.
‘Hold on, if hyungnim is unavailable in this situation······.’
Bang Hyun Wook fully understood the current situation.
Without Kim Tae Hoon, Bang Hyun Wook would be the most important power. In that regards, that would mean that Bang Hyun Wook held the same position as Kim Tae Hoon.
‘Do I take hyungnim’s place?’
Bang Hyun Wook slightly turned his head and took a peek. At the end of his line of sight was the sight of flames rising into the sky.
It was the flames of the survivors within the Mek Clan’s domain.
He was afraid of Kim Tae Hoon’s warnings, but it was impossible to let go of his attachment.
Even if he was scared of Kim Tae Hoon, it was impossible to deny that the Mek Clan was the only beacon of light in the current situation.
If he were to deny them this beacon, wouldn’t the only things awaiting them would be darkness and despair?
‘If it’s me in hyungnim’s stead······.’
Looking at the crowd of survivors, Bang Hyun Wook once again recalled the conversation he had with Kim Tae Hoon.
He imagined himself and in Kim Tae Hoon’s place, and began to form assumptions based on what Kim Tae Hoon might say.
“Wait a second.”
Seeing that Bang Hyun Wook was looking at the survivors and was developing concerns for them, Ahn Sun Mi grabbed his wrist.
“I need to speak with him.”
Grabbing onto his wrist, Ahn Sun Mi dragged Bang Hyun Wook off to somewhere else.
Ahn Sun Mi stopped only when they arrived in an area where nobody would be able to hear their conversation.
“Noonim, what is it that you want to talk about?”
Bang Hyun Wook stared at Ahn Sun Mi’s freckled face, waiting for her to say something.
“Get your shit together.”
“I’m telling you this because things have gotten serious. Bang Hyun Wook, get a hold of yourself. Are you thinking of taking the survivors?”
“Well, that, of cou······.”
Object, at the sound of that word, Bang Hyun Wook’s jaw dropped.
However, Ahn Sun Mi did not stop.
“I don’t fully understand what was going on, but back when the boss told you not to get near the survivors, do you know who was the most relieved?”
Things have changed.
If Kim Tae Hoon didn’t wake up, then the fate of the Mek Clan would be within Bang Hyun Wook’s hands.
Bang Hyun Wook was just that strong. After fighting and consuming monster stones with Kim Tae Hoon all this time and having a higher Energy rank than Kim Tae Hoon, it could be said that Bang Hyun Wook was more effective when fighting monsters than Kim Tae Hoon.
There was only one problem.
“It was the soldiers. Our soldiers were the most relieved after hearing those words.”
Bang Hyun Wook was a good fighter, but absolutely could not cover for the others.
“You want to take in the survivors? Then who would have to face the brunt of the dangers? Who would be burdened the most? To be blunt, neither you nor boss would be burdened in the slightest. Because in the end, neither of you would have to change the way you fought.”
It was obvious that Bang Hyun Wook had a lingering attachment to the survivors.
“In the end, the responsibility of taking care of the survivors would fall onto the soldiers. The same is true regarding the risks. Whether it’s boss who always fights the stronger monsters, the risk you face is always big. That I admit. However, the addition of the survivors would not increase that risk for you in any way. You wouldn’t have the time or the luxury to concern yourself with the survivors when you fight against a monster like the black orc.”
That was why Kim Tae Hoon had ruthlessly rejected the survivors.
He had even went so far as to threaten any fledgeling thoughts of even just being in the same vicinity as them.
“But it’s different for the ordinary folk. They’ll eventually give in and fight to protect the survivors. Then what if the soldiers die because of that? Will you regret that you made that choice at that time? Or are you confident that the day where you would regret making that choice will never come?”
Kim Tae Hoon hadn’t made that choice just for himself. He had made that choice for the sake of the Mek Clan’s survival as a whole.
Therefore, there was no point in trying to classify Kim Tae Hoon’s choices as good or evil.
The important point is that Kim Tae Hoon’s decision was for the benefit of the Mek Clan, and as a member of the Mek Clan, he needed to follow the best interests of the clan.
If you don’t like it, then just like Kim Tae Hoon said, you could leave the clan.
In front of Ahn Sun Mi’s questions, Bang Hyun Wook could only remain silent.
Of course, it didn’t mean that he had suddenly changed his mind and agreed with Ahn Sun Mi.
Bang Hyun Wook was at that age where he could succumb to his impulses very easily.
Ahn Sun Mi also understood what Bang Hyun Wook was going through.
He wasn’t even twenty years old yet. He was essentially a newborn in regards to society and had not even experienced a single year in the real world.
That was why Ahn Sun Mi made an effort to advise him as a sunbae.
“We shouldn’t just open our hands to the survivors. Keep in mind. We don’t need any survivors who’ll only take advantage of our protection.”
Chang Sung Hoon’s shout interjected their conversation.
Ahn Sun Mi and Bang Hyun Wook turned their heads at the same time in the middle of their conversation.
The both of them could see Kim Tae Hoon’s silhouette in the car.
The two of them hurried over to Kim Tae Hoon.
“Major, are you alright?”
“Boss are you okay?”
Being closer, Kim Su Ji and Chang Sung Hoon both asked about his situation first.
However, Kim Tae Hoon first checked the watch on his left wrist, then let out a long sigh.
‘It was just a dream.’
A white mist floating up towards the sky.
‘No, it wasn’t just a dream.’
It didn’t last long.
‘Danger······ it’s a crisis that I’ll have to deal with someday.’
He could not afford to sigh.
‘So that’s what it meant by allowing the user to dream of a crisis. It meant that it would reveal the scene of the day I died.’
“Boss! Boss! Boss get it together. Do you want me to hit your cheeks?”
Chang Sung Hoon repeatedly called out to Kim Tae Hoon.
Seeing his face, Kim Tae Hoon experienced many emotions in his mind.
It was strange, and felt like someone else’s emotions were filling his heart.
However, those feelings swiftly faded as he recalled the dragon.
All the emotions disappeared, leaving behind only fear and despair.
Kim Tae Hoon was more desperate than ever.
“I have only one request. Everyone, whatever it is, I just want to drink a cup of coffee.”
A single cup of coffee.