Chapter 35 – Turf War (2)
‘Thanks to Chang Sung Hoon, I won’t have a headache over this.’
After recalling Chang Sung Hoon’s actions, Kim Tae Hoon began to organize the details in his head.
The awakened from Messiah had come under Kim Tae Hoon as his hound dogs.
From now on, the awakened would offer up 40% of their monster stones to Kim Tae Hoon.
In return, Kim Tae Hoon would provide for them a safe hunting zone.
‘Quite the smart guy.’
That wasn’t all.
Since Messiah’s awakened are going to be Kim Tae Hoon’s hound dogs, then that meant that the ordinary survivors would have no choice but to follow Kim Tae Hoon.
A gun was the only weapon that was effective against both monsters and awakened humans, but they were in the hands of Kim Tae Hoon and the Mek Clan.
Well, it wasn’t perfect.
‘There are problems that even that clever guy won’t be able to solve.’
Not everyone would be happy with this system.
On top of that, the system wouldn’t be able to control everyone.
Even right now, there are sure to be people who are scheming against him, and amongst those people there are bound to be very clever individuals.
Obviously, issues would crop up in one form or another. Huge conflicts where the instigator and the victim both have to die will probably appear soon.
It was something that Chang Sung Hoon was well aware of.
That’s why Chang Sung Hoon said it was necessary.
‘As long as the snake demon is killed.’
Demon snake’s body.
A powerful symbol, and a powerful shield.
All of the survivors would be indebted to Kim Tae Hoon should he succeed in killing the demon snake, which would result in their desire to protect Kim Tae Hoon since he would become a beacon of hope for them.
‘As long as I kill it.’
In Kim Tae Hoon’s mind, the reasoning was simple.
It wasn’t a complicated issue.
The situation was clear.
“Boss, boss! I was finally able to take a picture! I was able to take a picture of the beast!”
It’s just that it wouldn’t be easy.
The raging blizzard had turned the world white. That was all that could be seen. All traces of the catastrophe that had befallen the world had been covered by snow.
In other words, the places out of the snow’s reach still held the remains of the gruesome tragedy that had taken place.
This was Sinjung Dong station.
The rectangular walls and floor, and the impressively high ceiling, all of it was wrecked as though a bull had rampaged through.
A giant monster was passing by.
The snake had scales darker than the gloom of the lightless station.
However, it was far too large to call it a snake. No other snakes could even compare to it.
It was a creature equipped with tremendous durability, that once again, could not be compared with other snakes.
Tuktuk, even when the snake would only lightly tap the station walls, tiles would cascade onto the floor like a waterfall.
The seemingly unstoppable snake stopped. There was a mountain of corpses.
Although it flicked its tongue in front of the pile, the snake did not immediately start eating. Instead, it used its whip-like tongue to sample the taste of the corpses.
The appearance of the snake backing up was identical to that of a child refusing to eat something because of its picky eating habits.
The snake ignored the pile of bodies and instead moved towards the station’s exit. Its goal was to find a warm-blooded living creature to feast on instead of the cold pile of bodies.
As it began to ascend the stairs, it slowly was exposed to the sun.
It gradually exposed more of its head, eventually revealing the orange eyes embedded in its triangular head.
In the sunlight, it’s eyes were not so much orange, but rather a beautiful gold, however, no sane person would ever dare consider its eyes to be anything but terrifying.
In the presence of its eyes, even the fiercest of beasts would be no better than a small mouse.
It basked in the sunlight, revealing an old wound located on top of its incredibly tough body.
It did not intend to stop there. The rest of its body that had been steeped in darkness began to slowly expose itself.
At that moment, a cold wind swept across the land.
The cold breeze made the snake stop moving. It began to turn its body as the winds swept up again.
The beast returned to the subway station, and resorted to swallowing the pile of bodies.
Like that, the beast and the pile soon disappeared, and from the spot where the snake had retreated from, a camera was silently snapping away.
Everyone who had seen the pictures stiffened.
The picture itself wasn’t very clear, and was in fact quite blurry. In addition, the lighting was very poor, but despite the overall poor quality of the photo, the existence depicted in the photo overwhelmed everyone who had seen it.
An existence far beyond their reach.
‘Good God, we have to kill this thing? What nonsense. No matter how you look at it, it’s on a completely different level than the monsters we’ve fought until now! The monsters on the level of the Black Orc cannot even touch this creature!’
“This is impossible. There’s no way we can kill this beast.”
The first person to say anything despite the situation was Bang Hyun Wook.
Bang Hyun Wook was shaking his head, his eyes as wide and round as the first time he had ever faced a monster.
Hearing Bang Hyun Wook’s voice, Chang Sung Hoon came to his senses. Having come to, his expression stiffened.
‘I miscalculated. To think that it would actually be this strong······ No matter how strong of a monster it was, I thought that our chances of victory would be considerably high if we used grenades, claymores, and other explosives in conjunction with boss’ Telekinesis······.’
The one who was most insistent on killing the demon snake was none other than Chang Sung Hoon.
No, more than that, all of Chang Sung Hoon’s plans were built upon the assumption that Kim Tae Hoon would be able to successfully kill the snake.
He had felt that the odds were in their favor.
Because it was none other than Kim Tae Hoon. Because he had Telekinesis.
Telekinesis had great compatibility with guns, explosives, and other firearms.
You don’t need perfect marksmanship if you control a grenade’s flight with Telekinesis, especially now since the Mek Clan soldiers could be outfitted with rifles, SMGs, grenades, claymores, and other firearms that could allow them to display a much greater firepower than before.
It might not be enough to fight against a dragon, but wouldn’t it be more than enough to take care of a single large-bodied snake?
‘I was wrong. This beast isn’t something we can handle right now.’
But having witnessed a first-person account, that was not the case.
Kim Tae Hoon trying to hunt the snake was like a slightly larger than average mouse trying to hunt a cat.
If it was lucky it would be able to get a bite in, but it wouldn’t change its role from prey to predator.
“Boss, let’s leave it alone for now. If you look at its behavior, you can tell that it hates the cold, so if we just keep throwing in corpses······.”
Because of that, Chang Sung Hoon opted to change his plans.
Listening to what Chang Sung Hoon said, Kim Tae Hoon did not reply. Instead, he began to recall the picture once more.
He kept replaying the photos that had been captured by the installed camera as the snake exposed itself to the sun.
He focused on the demon snake’s body as it revealed itself.
‘It’s skin will be on a completely different level than that of the Black Orc.’
Its hide will be much tougher and much more durable than that of the Black Orc’s.
It wasn’t some blind guess.
The ruined subway station would be very dangerous. It would be like walking through a thorny patch, completely naked.
Even if he doesn’t receive any large wounds, he would accumulate scrapes and scratches.
But despite having lived in the station for a few days, the demon snake did not have any noticeable injuries. Its body was like a beautiful prized glass craft.
However, there was a distinct wound on that strong body.
‘A sword wound.’
Sword of the Commander. A sword whose original owner could never be known. It was a sword that thirsted for blood, and had also inflicted a wound on the snake.
‘This situation is actually much better than when I faced the Black Orc.’ [TN: Wut.]
He had a varied arsenal to select a weapon to use against the demon snake.
The firepower of the Sword of the Commander or Yi Sun Sin’s Arrow was high.
At least this time, Kim Tae Hoon would be able to set the battle stage this time.
As long as it’s not a sudden battle and he had enough time to practice and prepare, then he could fight where he chose.
It was certain. The situation this time was incomparably better than when he fought the Black Orc.
There was only one thing left.
‘As long as I can control my Telekinesis skillfully.’
It was whether Kim Tae Hoon could take advantage of his Telekinesis appropriately. As long as his abilities were up to standard, then there would be no reason for the demon snake hunt to fail.
“Chang Sung Hoon, how much time can we spare?”
Chang Sung Hoon was frightened.
“Are you going to hunt it?”
That was because the ‘spare time’ that Kim Tae Hoon was talking about was the time it would take before the various Awakened that came under his command would start to act up and carry out their schemes.
“Boss, you can’t kill it. It’s impossible!”
Chang Sung Hoon tried to discourage Kim Tae Hoon again.
“How much time do we have left?”
However, Chang Sung Hoon kept saying the same thing.
“It’s not like I majored in psychology, but······ as you know, boss will start to receive the monster stone tributes once a week. From their perspective, they won’t make any trouble with the first shipment. No, rather, even if they don’t want to, they’ll do so in order not to arouse any suspicion. But if there are no results by the time the second shipment comes, they’ll start to doubt you.”
The world right now was unstable.
If all trust and hope in Kim Tae Hoon disappears, then in this situation, they will begin to act out in desperation.
And that would be a catalyst for collapse.
“The first payment will come in 3 days, and if you add a week to that, then I guess about ten days?”
“That should be the maximum limit. No, actually, not really. There might be problems, but if you explain······.”
Although it may not be a hard limit, in Chang Sung Hoon’s mind, there would only be dark days after the ten days.
‘The monster hates the cold. But if you look at it another way, if it gets warmer, it will ignore the pile of bodies. I’ll have no choice but to make living sacrifices······ then it’ll be over.’
In the end, the best way to control the demon snake was through sacrifices.
In order to stall for more time, he had to do what Lee Jin Sung had done, something that was the worst of the worst.
And, this was something that Kim Tae Hoon was more aware of than Chang Sung Hoon.
“What they want isn’t an explanation.”
The hound dogs’ patience was not important.
“Begin training to start the demon snake hunt.”
“For now, stability is the most important. Don’t strain yourself too much.”
“Th, thank you. Thank you for saving me.”
Seeing the young man bow towards her, Ahn Sun Mi could only awkwardly smile.
‘To talk about stability, how ironic. Who in the world could be stable now?’
While Ahn Sun Mi was thinking to herself, a woman approached her.
“Seonsaengnim, a patient in need of urgent care has come. The patient was bitten by a monster. The patient says that they’re an awakened.”
The woman was a former nurse who had joined the Mek Clan with a group of survivors a few days ago.
She was now responsible for taking care of patients along with Ahn Sun Mi, and had opted to call Ahn Sun Mi by the honorific title of Seonsaengnim.
[TN: Ok, so there are a few reasons as to why I decided not to translate ‘seonsaengnim’ into English. The direct translation means ‘teacher’, so like a math teacher or a science teacher. However, the word ‘seonsaengnim’ can also be used as an honorific when talking to or referring to a stranger, a doctor, an older male, or in other various contexts. So with that in mind, I decided to just leave it at ‘seonsaengnim’, but keep in mind that in this context, it means doctor.]
And, she wasn’t the only one.
Ahn Sun Mi was now working as the doctor.
“Where is the patient?”
For now, she was the only one that the patients wanted to see. It was because of her ability. She was the only one with the ability to save them.
She was also an integral member of the Mek Clan.
The world as it was currently, had no access to proper medical care. With no medicine in their hands, they would need to frequently risk their lives to scavenge for them. The absence of antibiotics or antipyretics could lead to death.
Given that situation, there being someplace you could visit in order to receive decent medical care was absolutely incredible.
“Euuuh······ p, please save me, please······.”
“What kind of monster bit you?”
“A dog······ no, I was bitten by a monkey-dog.”
“Did it only get your arm?”
Furthermore, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that a person’s ultimate goal in the current world was to simply maintain their own lives.
Insurance, life insurance– these things were worthless now. In this day and age, there was no reason to ever have to give up your life for anything.
Especially if someone was an awakened.
“What? Yes. It was only my arm.”
Ahn Sun Mi’s eyes promptly focused onto the patient’s right arm.
It was a serious wound. Without proper medical care or facilities, it would be better to just amputate the arm.
“Ready the tools.”
However, after inspecting the wound, Ahn Sun Mi immediately started treatment.
“Brush and knife.”
Even her tools, Ahn Sun Mi held onto a brush and a knife instead of a scalpel or scissors.
They were actions that didn’t make sense.
But, she used the brush to apply her own homemade medicine, and used the knife to smear some of the Mud Troll’s flesh onto the wound.
The once serious wound began to heal at an alarming rate.
“That’ll be 8 monster stones.” [TN: I was eating while translating, and this line almost made me spit my food out.]
The treatment ended in the blink of an eye, and the reparations negotiation started immediately.
“I, I understand Here······.”
The patient’s comrade promptly fished out eight red colored monster stones and handed it over.
Considering how the treatment was completed in such a short amount of time, the others who were waiting in line were surprised to see that the man’s injuries were completely healed without even a scar.
Chang Sung Hoon approached from within the stillness.
“Noonim, how is business today?”
Hearing that, Ahn Sun Mi gave him a sour look.
Chang Sung Hoon reminded her of her little brother who had recently gone off to college. Of course no older sister would flash a smile at a little brother like Chang Sung Hoon.
“What do you want?”
“We’ve discovered another Mud Troll. Well to be exact, it’s more like a Mud Troll’s nest. Presently, we’ve only identified three of them. They turned a five hundred unit apartment into a grave of corpses. Unfortunately, the corpses have attracted large swathes of goblins and orcs, so it’ll take some time to deal with.”
“Did you come here just to tell me that?”
“Of course not. I came here to listen to what you have to say. So, how’d it go?”
Ahn Sun Mi replied with a firm expression on her face.
“Whatever. There was nothing special about the body.”
They were talking about anatomy.
It was about details of a dissection.
The awakened grow stronger by eating more monster stones. But if that was the case, then was there a stone within the heart of an awakened?
Although everyone had their suspicions, there was nobody who was willing to confirm it.
But to be fair, they had never had access to the corpse of an awakened who had frequently ingested monster stones.
To put it another way, the bodies of Lee Jin Sung and his aides would help them solve this mystery.
So of course they would do a dissection.
Unfortunately, there were no results.
When a monster died, it would leave behind a monster stone, but when an awakened died, they would leave nothing behind.
“It looks like the human animal knows only how to consume, not to conserve. Even after the world has changed.”
Ahn Sun Mi tossed a shoulder bag with monster stones inside towards Chang Sung Hoon who had just finished being philosophical.
“Uh, why’d you give me this?”
“Give it to boss.”
“But isn’t this what noonim earned on your own?”
“It’ll only be a waste to be used on me.”
“Boss has suddenly become a pimp. The second lieutenant and noonim are both working hard and dedicating your earnings······ naturally a strong man would be eaten up in this world. But the competitors this time are a cut above the rest······ or are they? But considering how the world has changed, there isn’t really a reason to insist on monogamy now, is there?”
Ahn Sun Mi cut in to stop Chang Sung Hoon’s incessant chatter.
“So what’s boss’ situation right now? Can he really kill that monster?”
Chang Sung Hoon laughed lightly before replying back.
“Our luck is seriously really good. Like really really good.”