“Now relax. It’s better not to move yet. After about an hour, you’ll be able to move around.”
She smiled and left.
Dongye stared at her back, speechless. In less than five minutes, he magically returned from the throes of death to life. He took a deep breath. The aura and scent that she left behind were now deeply ingrained into his being.
His Awakened senses recognized that his body was already fully recovered. It just took time for his bones to fully heal and harden…
He looked up at the sky. The setting sun dyed the sky red. It was a magnificent sight to behold.
‘Who are you two? People who have the water of life. People who can connect the way of life with their hands. Who are these young trailblazers who have already reached the Awakened Warrior level?’
Exploration – Chapter 16
Nightfall and darkness in the mountains came quickly. The surroundings were already starting to get blanketed in darkness.
It was an evening in the woods where one could hear the cries of monsters everywhere.
As darkness fell, the spring evening air was getting as cold as that of winter. In the mountain’s basin, where the temperature was dropping quicker, steam was coming out of the supporting staff members’ mouths and noses.
They were busy. They were so busy they didn’t have time to think. Their captains were constantly instructing and ordering them around, and all those instructions and orders had to be fulfilled in the right place and at the right time.
They worked ferociously like a storm. One’s responsibilities didn’t end once one finished a task. They could never rest if their colleague’s work wasn’t finished. In their entire life, they had never had to move so breathlessly. The expressions of all the support staff were drained of life. Perhaps it was a tragic expression that only those who went to the cusp of death and came back to life would have.
“Phew- is this the end?” A support staff warrior named Baggin said as he sank down on the floor after laying the last stone down.
“Yeah, we’ve finished piling the stones.”
Another support staff warrior named Chewi was looking around while wiping the sweat endlessly flowing down her face.
“The group tasked with building barriers is still struggling.”
“Their work progress is still better than the Archon dismantling group. There’s little progress on that side. We’re done, so let’s take a breather and then go help them out.”
Baggin and Chewi took a short breather and then got up to assist another group. As they ran, their eyes constantly searched for the two captains. They felt a sense of nervousness.
San was seen carrying a large log on his shoulder, while Biyeon was skinning an Archon with her hands.
Their sense of nervousness came from the way their bosses were working ‘naturally’.
“Phew- I really can’t understand them…”
“I’m so nervous right now that I feel like I’m going to die…”
Something that they couldn’t dare imagine with their ‘common sense’ was taking place here on a daily basis. As far as they knew and experienced as low-ranking warriors, the people of their captains’ status were beings who always gave instructions and enjoyed their own leisurely ‘play’. However, their bosses were relentlessly instructing and giving feedback to their subordinates and, without exception, fulfilling their own share of duties.
Their previous bosses used their ‘fist’ to severely punish their subordinates according to their personal judgment, a common occurrence in this era. However, these captains of theirs were completely different. They always acted first. In particular, the more dangerous, dirty, and difficult the work, the quicker they were to do the work themselves first and show a ‘demonstration’. Furthermore, they finished these demonstrations very quickly. They seemed to be faster than artisans who specialized in the field. In addition, the support staff had to quickly learn these new approaches and work right away by applying them in the field.
The speed of work was linked to further work. The work was exhausting just to follow along. And one more thing…
Their captains’ instructions were somewhat unclear. They always talked about goals, but how to achieve those goals was largely left to the judgment of the workers. The support staff was told who, until when, where, and what to do. However, the captains didn’t tell them why or how things should be done. The captains said that they had to figure it out for themselves. Regardless, the one thing they were certain about was…
For the support staff, this method was uncomfortable, caused anxiety, and was extremely difficult. It was much more comfortable, safer, and easier to do what they had always done previously. They didn't know that it would be such a burden to have to ‘think’ and take ‘responsibility’.
In any case, their captains’ strong abilities, new organizational principles, and a general curiosity about everything were radically changing the crew’s attitude toward their bosses. Their attitude was moving toward ‘absolute’ and took actions with meaning based on a shared ‘creed’.
However, these support staff members did not yet have the authority to judge right or wrong and did not have the social standing to gain information to judge 'morality' and 'efficacy' in the real world, so only their future bosses would probably know the consequences of these minor changes.
“They’re also very busy,” Yeonri said in a low voice while glancing to the right.
“Shush! This person… be careful with what you say.”
Yeria raised her finger to her lips and gave a warning. However, there was a very subtle smile around both women’s lips.
Where they previously gazed, the Dong-Myung warriors were hard at work, positioning and setting up barriers after recovering from their injuries ‘again’.
About 30 minutes ago…
The Dong-Myung warriors were leisurely lounging around, checking on their equipment and resting. However, after their leader, Dongye, recovered and got up from his bed, the atmosphere changed completely. As soon as Dongye got up, he looked around and found Biyeon. The first thing that entered his eyes was Biyeon working with the support staff with her sleeves rolled up. Then his gaze turned toward the Dong-Myung clan members who were leisurely lounging together. They were gathered together and chatting comfortably. Dongye stood in place, constantly moving his head, looking at the two scenes with his mouth tightly closed.
Dongye called one of his senior warriors. Jahan was considered one of the rising stars within the clan. Dongye’s voice was clear but very low.
“Yes? Ah! Captain, you’re up. Do you feel bett…?”
Jahan got up happily and tried to show his respects to Dongye. However, he couldn’t finish his sentence and tightly shut his mouth.
Dongye’s cool eyes were warning him to not waste words. Dongye took out a metal baton from his waist and was fiddling with it in both hands. He kept his gaze on his baton and muttered in a monotone voice, “What is the pride of a warrior?”
“How should we protect the honor of our clan?”
Jahan stopped breathing. Dongye’s eyes rose up from the baton and were right staring right at him. His voice was getting lower as he spoke. Dongye’s voice was as low as the dying evening breeze. The other clansmen stopped talking. Now, everyone was standing up and looking at the two with nervous faces.
“Ask. Are you ‘very’ noble and special?”
“After completing the clan’s apprenticeship, have you just abandoned the clan’s values of cooperation and dedication?”
“Dong-Myung warriors must be very noble. The likes of a countryside estate must not mean anything to you. Even the captains hired by this countryside Count are insignificant people to you. Do you really think so? Where did your words go? Now answer.”
“Ah… no… no!”
Jahan denied vehemently with his eyes wide open. Suddenly, a scary thought passed through his mind. Then, goosebumps started popping up on his back. How did they just leisurely lounge in front of those ‘beings’?
‘If both San and Biyeon didn’t allow it, there was nothing we could do. Also, if they wanted, all of us would have died quietly in this place.’
The realization that this was still a hunting ground, with hunters disappearing and dying wordlessly even now, passed by Jahan’s mind. The fact was that they had already lost 3 compatriots to the Archon just a few hours ago. Now, in front of these ‘existences’, who lightly killed the three Archons as if they were rats… the image of the Dong-Myung clansmen lounging around mindlessly clearly popped up in his mind. Suddenly, his hands started tingling. A chill ran through his body.
‘Were we acting like stupid kittens in front of ferocious tigers?’
Finally, once this thought popped into his mind, he started regretting his previous actions. Furthermore, their rest was not something that was ‘permitted’ but taken as a matter of ‘fact’ because of their preconceived notions of themselves and their place in society…
“We were saved. What should we do in return? Everyone, answer.”
Dongye’s question rang in their ears. His voice rang in their heads louder and louder.
“Definitely… I will have to pay it back with my life.”
The warriors answered slowly with difficulty. Their voices seemed forced and meek.
“Huh! This is very… terrible and embarrassing.”
Dongye sighed for a long time. Soon his hand flew through the air.
Jahan’s body floated to the side and rolled a few times on the ground. His broken teeth protruded out of his mouth with blood freely spilling out. Dongye moved towards the next warrior while shouting. The sound of his slaps reverberated throughout the forest. Embarrassingly for the clansmen, everyone in the forest would hear and see what had just happened.
“So, this is how we repay our saviors? Is this your noble position?”
The next warrior’s jaw turned and his body flipped in the air a few times. Dongye’s footsteps swiftly went to the next warrior without hesitation.
“The prestige of being a noble and the honor of being a Dong-Myung clansman amounts to only this!” Dongye shouted out.
A warrior was momentarily parallel to the ground before rolling head over heel on the ground.
“Today, with my hands, I will reap all of your honor and positions.”
The last warrior foamed at the mouth before falling backward.