Search – Chapter 8
Biyeon moved quickly. She was running atop a rocky hill with sweeping views of the surrounding area.
This was the only place where one could peer into the ruins. However, since Biyeon was more than five kilometers away from the ruins, she could only make out faint outlines of the structures hidden within.
The ruins were built and spaced out in an area within a ten-kilometer radius. The ruins had a geometric arrangement as if someone had drawn it from the sky, like the Nazca Lines in her previous world.
‘It’s pretty much a one-way road.’
The road leading to the ruins ran in a straight line. There were cliffs about five meters high on either side of the road, and rough, rocky areas extended on both sides beyond the cliffs. One wouldn’t be able to bring horses or wagons onto that rocky terrain.
The only path one could traverse was on the road that led to the large gate. The gate was like a huge triumphal arch and led to a strange set of ruins that looked like steel structures.
Past the gate and before the steel structure, there were several spires like the Aztec pyramids along both sides of the road. The road, which continued beyond the steel structure, led to a huge pentagonal building, then passed through the building and extended far into the horizon behind it.
On both sides of the road beyond the pentagonal structure, there were no detours. Both sides were enclosed by huge cactus colonies and rough sandstone walls.
Biyeon sat comfortably on a rock and gazed at the layout and shape of the buildings and structures. She occasionally lifted her head to look at the sky and took out her compass to check her bearings. After she sketched out what she had scouted, she jotted down a few notes-
It is an impossible place for people to live-
If there were forests and bodies of water around, would people still be able to live in this barren area?-
There are traces of mountainsides being dug into everywhere. Were they quarrying stone? Minerals?-
If not a residence, what is the purpose of the various buildings? Temples? Defensive fortification?-
Is it glass that’s being used to reflect the sunlight?-
An American coin… The pentagon-figured building… Is this place related to the Pentagon?-
If there is a waterway, where is it? If there’s no surface water, is groundwater being used?
After finishing her notes, Biyeon sighed.
“This is so… exquisite. There’s no way to surmise or conclude anything about this place. There’s no way around it either. Ugh, I’m starting to get a headache.”
Either way, the Forbidden Grounds was a must-visit place for San and Biyeon. The problem was how to protect the others…
“I know you will be dissatisfied with this decision, so I’ve called you all to confirm one last time.”
San had gathered the party for a group meeting.
Everyone was looking at San’s face with a serious expression.
From a distance, Biyeon was organizing her notes with an indifferent expression.
“As you can see, before us, there is a road heading to the left and one heading to the right. Both paths lead to Prigojin. I and Captain Biyeon are going to go on the right path and enter the ruins. This is what the two of us have decided. We know that this choice presents risk and uncertainty. I leave it up to you to decide whether you want to follow us or go on your own way.”
San’s words were sincere and polite. This was because his words were a ‘suggestion’, not a command.
“Can you tell us why you’ve chosen that path?” Seyum, a warrior of the Han-Sung Clan, asked. He had a thick beard and square chin.
Gun looked at Seyum with an extremely anxious expression. However, Seyum didn’t seem to notice or care about Gun’s askance expression.
“I think we deserve to know. Is it because there’s a treasure?” Segyum, who was standing next to Seyum, added on. He had the same look as his brother. They looked like twins with the same haircut. He was stroking his sword while waiting for San to answer.
“There is simply something we must check. It’s regarding why the two of us got placed into this situation,” San replied simply.
“How can you be sure that the answer is here?”
This time, Dongha from the Dong-Myung Clan asked. Her dazzling eyes were shining with interest.
“Nothing’s been confirmed. However, things that originate from our world were found around here, so we thought we should definitely visit. I thought there may be a way around this ruin, but unfortunately, it’s a one-way path. This is the last fork. Now, you all will have to make your choice,” Biyeon replied.
“It is more important than anything else to us. I hope you understand our position. What will you all do now? Furthermore, this choice also applies to Rain and our Essen crewmembers,” Biyeon said in a matter-of-fact tone.
San and Biyeon had found something that could only be found in their homeworld. No matter how risky the venture, they felt they had to check out the area themselves. Even though they were getting used to life here, they had no intention of continuing their artificial life that was built on pillars of sand.
Furthermore, San and Biyeon had been so excited about finding something related to their homeworld that they couldn’t sleep for days…
“I am not going! You all too…” Gun yelled out as if he was spasming. He looked around for confirmation but soon found himself shutting his mouth firmly.
The other people’s reactions were very different from what he expected.
“It would be disappointing if only the captains were to enjoy such an amazing adventure.”
Gibin was the first to answer.
“If rumors spread that the Dong-Myung Clan chickened out, we would be beaten to death before even having the chance to step foot in our own home…”
Dongyoung and Dongha stated aloud.
Others looked at the Essen crew members before making their position known. They were technically warriors, but they were the weakest among the bunch. In fact, they were powerless people. No one outside the Essen crew considered them more than porters.
Furthermore, everyone was curious about how the crew members would react to the people they had followed and served unconditionally. Also, there was also the practical reason that, without the crew members, the others would feel very uncomfortable.
“Please give us a moment to have a meeting,” Yekin said as the Essen crew’s representative. He had a slightly unpleasant expression.
“We will wait!” San responded.
Rain watched the scene unfold with a bitter expression. However, she had learned and become wise enough to understand that she should not rush to judgment, so she didn’t say a word.
While living and working with the Essen crewmembers, her common sense and stereotypes were broken to the point that she questioned many of the reasons why she did things.
The merchants Dobel and Doyo, and their escort guards, including Gatan, also held back from making their decisions.
The crew member’s reaction was within San and Biyeon’s expectations. However, for the others, especially those from noble backgrounds, they couldn’t understand how crew members could even fathom going against their captains’ will. Many people scoffed at the crew members’ actions.
The crew seemed to be clearly against their master’s will. This sort of action was unimaginable in this world. Likewise, the others in the caravan could not understand why San and Biyeon put up with the crew’s insubordination.
If a warrior acted this way, that warrior would have been charged with disobedience and insubordination. In case of disobedience or insubordination, the penalty would be severe. Moreover, if the captain loses the trust of his subordinates, how could one trust the captain’s character?
San looked up at the sky with an indifferent expression. Biyeon sat down a little farther away, still taking notes. In short, they didn’t seem too concerned about the proceedings.
The sky was dazzlingly blue and clear. In this way, time passed.
“I would like to state our decision.”
After a whopping hour of heated debate, Yekin finally spoke up. His eyes were looking downward, and his feet were kicking against the ground. He seemed to be a little annoyed.
“Have you made up your mind?” San asked with a smile.
“From the beginning, none of us were against it. However, we feel that there needs to be some time to prepare.”
“You all may never see this world again. Even if they’re just legends or myths, there must be a reason why rumors spread about the Forbidden Grounds. This time around, we have no idea what the dangers are. I can’t guarantee your safety. Will you still follow?” San said as he stared at Yekin’s face.
“It’s something we were prepared to do from the start. Is there anything different now?”
“Alright. Regarding the other item then. What kind of preparations are needed?”
“We have to prepare the necessities of entering an arid area that may present hidden dangers, make sure that everyone knows their responsibilities and coordinate properly, and time to get used to the new weapons that we brought. Of course, we expect the captain to teach us.”
“How much time do you need?”
“Okay. We did play around a lot throughout this journey, haven’t we? Let’s create an optimal physical condition for any unforeseen circumstance. I will join you in about three days.”
Yekin nodded his head and turned around. Once he turned around, he heard San’s booming voice enter his ear.
“It is nothing, sir…”
Everyone in the caravan was listening to their conversation. Rain gulped.
Her throat had become dry, so she intentionally tried to gulp to relieve her parched throat. Was it because of the dry weather? It probably wasn’t.
Their conversation was very concise and somewhat coarse.
However, she felt ‘it’. Was this what people meant when they talked about ‘absolute trust’? Was this how trust really felt like?
The merchant, Dobel, felt strangely uncomfortable. It’s not that he didn’t understand the conversation. What he noticed was the peculiar way the two parties were conducting their conversation.
Why did the captain ask for the opinion of a subordinate? Also, the attitudes of the subordinates, who seemed insignificant compared to their captains, were even more incomprehensible.
Why was everything so awkward and unorganized?
In Dobel’s view, these were not a group of disciplined people. However, he also felt that this lack of discipline did not mean a lack of organization. Actually, even though he had only been traveling with them for a short period of time, Dobel understood that these people moved more efficiently than any organization he knew.
Was there something he was missing? Dobel made a fateful decision.
‘Two people that I can’t understand. And their crew members exhibit a strange attitude. What are they trying to obtain here? I want to know. If everyone decides to go down this road, we’ll all find out, right?’
Rain also made her decision. Before asking for their trust, she would have to trust them first. She couldn’t fully escape from the feeling that her own worth and value were too high to risk her life for something like this, but…
‘Can I really afford to be someone who puts less trust in them than their crew members?’
“I still don’t understand,” Dongyoung muttered. His hair was frazzled and standing on end from constant pulling.
“What kind of weapon is that… It’s like a toy. I think it’s an arrow propelled by a handheld bow, but I don’t know how it’s used. Also, it has little to no force behind it… and the range is limited. What is it? I’m going crazy… I’m so curious,” Dongyoung muttered over and over as he watched the crew’s training session.
“Well, it doesn’t seem great at all, right?” Dongha said with a slightly annoyed voice as she rolled her eyes.
The Essen crew members were moving in groups of four. Three groups in total. Each group had a sword, a spear, a bow, and a special firearm.
They set up their own formations and started training.
However, from the sophisticated perspective of the warriors from the Absolute Clans, the combat practice of the crew seemed crude and unnecessary. The weapons were wooden swords and clubs used by novice cadets at the lowest rung of warriors, and although the training method was a little unusual, it was far from actual combat.
Only the weapons used by the bard Cecil and the musician Honbi caught the attention of the Dong-Myung clansmen. The two were using stringed weapons on their left arm, with their right arm constantly feeding small arrows onto the stringed contraption. They were moving their fingers to fire.
Though everyone could clearly see what was happening, they couldn’t understand what the weapon was. There was no doubt that it was a short to mid-distance weapon, but it did not have the power to inflict any damage.
Was it something that was used to contain a threat? However, due to the lack of attack power, most of the observers' interest stopped there.