Over a Barbecue
Rodriguez was afflicted by a serious disturbance.
It was the sixth day. Weed was still sitting down right across from the manor. Rodriguez in his seclusion had been aware of the presence of the intruder from the first day. Rodriquez bet that Weed was busy selling his statues to customers.
‘I need to figure out this man and what he wants from me.’
In spite of his extreme laziness, on the sixth day Rodriguez finally gave in to his curiosity and moved his butt.
“Greetings, stranger. I am Rodriguez. What have you been waiting here to give me?”
“Wow! The Counselor’s out!”
“It’s really him!”
“Rodriguez, the Star of Wisdom!”
The crowd in the line waiting to buy Weed’s statues was astounded.
Sages have something in common—they want to be left alone. Especially so when a stranger claims that he has brought something to be dealt with urgently. Rodriguez finally showed up outside the gate.
Weed fished a handkerchief inscribed with a blue bird from his pocket and presented it to the counselor.
“This is why I bothered waiting for the last six days, Counselor.”
Rodriguez’s eyes immediately were filled with tears.
“Aye, this is Queen Evane’s handkerchief… There are too many eyes and ears here. Why don’t you come in, traveler?”
“Yes, sir. Sorry, guys! I’m closed for today!”
Beaming triumphantly, Weed folded his stall and stood up.
“Let me see, too!”
The crowd cried in protest, some of them even expressing grievance at being left out of the historical moment, but neither Weed nor Rodriguez could care less. Rodriguez then led his guest into the manor.
“Now it’s quiet. Anyone who brings this handkerchief is privileged to tell me one thing.”
“Yes, I know, sir.”
Counselor Rodriguez! He had publicly declared that a man who brought Queen Evane’s belonging be granted an audience. Weed had presented her handkerchief.
“Speak, traveler. I’m all ears for anything you say,”
Rodriguez’s sincere tone portrayed the Sage’s duty when dealing with a fellow man’s distress. But the counselor was only pretending.
While Queen Evane’s handkerchief was invaluable to Rodriguez, he didn’t have the slightest intention to help Weed. Didn’t that contradict his promise? Not really.
Rodriguez urged Weed to speak, and added that he would listen to anything from him. All that the counselor was obliged to do was learn what Weed was concerned about, in order to satisfy his intellectual desire and curiosity, that is all. He never considered actually presenting a solution to whatever problem Weed had.
A number of users had been cheated by Counselor Rodriguez in a similar manner. He had always played along with them, and evaded giving the answers that they had desperately sought.
Aside from his glorious title of The Star of Wisdom, the counselor was widely slandered as Dead End of Quests. Weed didn’t fall for such a childish, naive trick. To begin with, he didn’t trust Rodriguez.
A man is a very weak being. This was what Weed had felt earnestly throughout a year’s preparation ahead of Royal Road—a weakening will and a comfort-seeking body. Weed never trusted himself, so why should he trust Rodriguez who he had not seen before?
“Does it make any difference if I tell you my problem?”
“What do you mean by any difference, traveler?”
“Will you help me when you hear me speak, Counselor?”
“Then, I refuse to say anything. Why bother? It will only get my tongue tired.”
Rodriguez knitted his brows. He pretended that his integrity was soiled by Weed’s paranoia.
“Aye, Weed-nim. Speak to me now! You may lake the liberty of telling me anything you have in your mind. You brought me Queen Evane’s handkerchief, and it is your right to speak your mind,”
Rodriguez said in his coaxing tone.
They were the words that Weed had been waiting for. ‘I will get him to talk.’
Unfortunately for the Counselor, Weed was shrewder than the bunch who Rodriguez had dealt with before. He demanded the final seal of confirmation. “Counselor, will you tell me what I want to know if I ask you?”
“I shall remain silent until you promise in your own words.”
“Eh… listen to me, Weed-nim.”
“It seems Queen Evane’s handkerchief is a priceless object, Counselor. In particular, to my eyes, it means something greater to you. Shall I take it back?”
“Keep it and leave now!”
“Sure. Godspeed, sir.”
When Weed actually took the handkerchief and turned around, Rodriguez held two hands up in the air like a white flag.
“Wait! I hereby promise you in person that I will give you guidance when I hear your request. I have already promised to answer anyone who brings Queen Evane’s belongings. So as long as it is within my capability, I am obliged to do so.”
“Will you make a man’s oath?”
“Of course… But you must do me a favor in return. Someday.”
Weed considered Rodriguez’s counter proposal, and nodded.
The counselor smirked. “What is it that troubles you, Weed-nim? A trifling question could not compel you to stay out there for the last six days.” Rodriguez had his own agenda, though, behind his question, which spoke of his curiosity.
‘Who cares about you? How dare you humiliate me into striking a deal with such a lowly creature as you! Answer you? I will, I will. But my answer shall be the trickiest one, terribly bent and crooked enough for you to pay the price.’
Rodriguez was confident in exacting revenge once he learned Weed’s request.
If Weed wanted to find someone, he would be told about a nephew of a cousin of a mother-in-law of a friend of a wife of the one in question, who he would have to trace back on his own. If Weed wanted to find a place, he would be told of a faraway land with a similar name.
Whether he was suspicious of Rodriguez’s wily trick or not, Weed finally spoke his mind.
“I don’t know what class I should select.”
“Class? Now I see you don’t even have one yet.”
Rodriguez laughed lightly. That was far more trivial than what he had predicted.
He had in mind that Weed would ask for the whereabouts of a secret dungeon, or Rosenheim’s future policies.
A good dungeon yields a fortune to its discoverer, and a policy is valuable if you know how to take advantage of it.
Suppose you learn in advance that the royal court is planning to develop southern provinces next year, you can secure the commercial rights in the provinces preemptively and extract an enormous profit out of them.
A personal recommendation on what class to choose was indeed a piece of cake for Rodriguez.
“I can’t believe such a light question has troubled your soul so profoundly. You didn’t need to consult me in the first place. I advise you to visit an employment agency. Six days are wasted, Weed-nim.”
“I was advised that the Counselor was the one who could make the best judgment.”
“Good. I will recommend a perfect class for you! Show me your stats.”
Weed displayed the stat window for the first time since he had worked hard to improve his stats in the Training Hall.
Weed had played day and night, and the outcome was level thirteen. He could take care of a wolf in no time now.
Rodriguez was stunned.
“Level thirteen, and life of nine hundred and sixty? For your level, you have exceeded fifty in strength and vitality, and a hundred in agility! Training Hall. I can tell you drilled in the Training Hall. Your willpower is undoubtedly admirable.”
Rodriguez lived up to his reputation as the Star of Wisdom that he guessed right based solely on Weed’s attributes. But his surprise didn’t end there.
“You have level four in sculpture mastery, and level six in craftsmanship skill! It is incredible, simply unbelievable! What journey have you taken, I beg to hear.”
Weed told Rodriguez what had happened. One event after another, Rodriguez could not close his mouth in incredulity.
“You have taken most unusual quests thanks to your friendship with the instructor. And—what? Did you succeed Zahab’s will? But you have discarded the opportunity to become a Moonlight Sculptor?”
Wide-eyed, Rodriguez was taken aback. It should be noted that he had hardly flinched at the news of a neighboring kingdom suddenly invading Rosenheim without a preliminary declaration of war.
‘Zahab. Who was he?’
He was one of the absolute powers hidden behind the scenes in the Continent.
Rodriguez had met Zahab a few times through Queen Evane’s influence, and come to admire his sculptural art and sword technique—revering the sculptor’s respectable personality and talents. Rodriguez had made friends with him. It had taken place fifty years before, the companionship between a pair of callow youths. The Counselor had even counseled His Highness to hold Zahab in the court at any cost.
“Hmph, you rejected such a fine class. What sort of class do you want to have, then?”
“Anything lucrative suits me.”
Rodriguez fell into silence.
‘Perhaps this chap is the One. The one I have been waiting for. The Will of the Great Emperor might dwell in him’ — a mysterious class whose glorious traditions can be traced back to the Ancient Age.
Geihar von Arpen, the legendary emperor who had conquered the entire continent—his blood flowed in the sage.
‘He still needs to prove his worth through tribulations. Can he pass the ultimate test? Anyway, it is he who will be tested, not I,’ the sage said to himself.
Rodriguez said in a serious tone,
“I have a quest for you, though you must prove more patient than a caterpillar, more willing to survive than a cockroach, and more stubborn than a leech—or you will definitely fail. Are you qualified for this quest?”
“What’s with that look?”
“I don’t like the way you describe it. But I can tell you proudly that I am ready to do anything.”
“Your confidence touches my heart. You look as if you can even chew maggots to the last drop of juice.”
“Do as I say and the quest will give you a class. I warn you, however, that it will try your life. You are free to leave my advice on the table if you are afraid.”
Weed finally felt some suspicion towards Rodriguez’ scheme.
“Fine. I’m in.”
“Have you ever heard of the Lair of Litvart?”
The Lair of Litvart was coincidentally the destination of the quest that the instructor had mentioned to Weed. Or it’s not a coincidence? You’ll never know.
“Then, I am spared the inconvenience of elaborating on the details. Under your own steam, destroy the cloud of evilness that creeps in that lair. Once the evil is vanquished, you shall be granted the class that is destined for you.”
|Search and Destroy Operation in the Lair of Litvart
There are a hundred monsters inhabiting the Lair of Litvart. Kill each and every one of them at least once, and prove yourself worthy of the honorable class. The completion of this quest will open a right path for your destiny.
Difficulty level: Unknown
Quest Requirement: None
Weed read the instructions over and over, down to the fine print. ‘This ancient so-and-so is definitely plotting something.’
Otherwise, Rodriguez would not have given Weed a quest related to the Lair of Litvart—an underground dungeon of five floors, the lair had been thoroughly explored, most of which was disclosed to the public domain.
Many users were hunting monsters down there day and night. Monsters between Lv. 20 and Lv. 50 frequented the lair, while Weed was still level thirteen.
But the additional stats that he had improved in the Training Hall strengthened him so that he was as strong as an ordinary Lv. 40 warrior. Taking passive skills such as sword mastery and craftsmanship skill into account, Weed was confident that he could take down Lv. 50 monsters.
Destroying monsters in the Lair of Litvart was tough for Weed, yet far from impossible.
‘Something is behind this, something. But I can trust that the sage is not lying to me. No matter what he is hiding from me, if I finish this quest, I’ll certainly get a class.’
The scent of a trap in this quest was unmistakable.
‘It’s not about hunting regular monsters in the lair. Then what?’ Weed’s eyes flashed sharply.
“Tell me, Weed-nim. Will you take it or leave it? For your information, I can’t come up with a better alternative. I will not force you. The decision is yours.”
After a brief moment of mental juggling, Weed nodded.
“With respect, I gladly accept your advice, Counselor.”
|You have accepted the quest.|
“Good. Come back here when you have beaten all the monsters in the lair. On the rare chance that you finish the quest. I have something to give you. It is certain, however, that you will absolutely fail.”
Rodriguez laughed trenchantly.
* * *
Weed headed straight to the Training Hall. ‘I must get there in time.’
Weed’s footsteps moved fast because it was still before lunch break. When he entered the Hall, the instructor was about to stick a spoon in his lunchbox.
“Good afternoon, Honorable Instructor.”
“You surprised me, Weed-nim! I missed you so much.”
“I missed you, too. That’s why I am here.”
“Come over here and sit down. Help yourself before we get down to business.”
“Thank you, sir.”
With a good timing, Weed took care of lunch. The lunchbox was enormous, exactly proportional to the instructor’s triple-X body size.
Subtracting Weed’s portion from the lunchbox was like taking a cup of water from the ocean.
“By the way, Instructor, speaking of the quest you mentioned the other day—”
“Oh, that one.”
“Yes, I’d like to join it.”
“Haha. I knew it was coming, so I asked them to leave a place for you. I’m glad that you want the quest.”
The instructor generously granted Weed’s favor.
|You have accepted the quest.|
|A Clean-up Operation in the Lair of Litvart
Rosenheim Kingdom has been greatly suffering from the monsters, which have risen in number for the last decade.
King Theodarren, righteous and benevolent ruler of Rosenheim, issued a royal degree to order a distinguished knight, Sir Midvale, to explore the Lair of Litvart and root out monsters. Eradicate the monsters in the Lair of Litvart with Sir Midvale and his soldiers.
Difficulty level: E
Quest requirement: Failed if you are killed.
“You have a day left until the troops leave tomorrow. Why don’t you come and stay over at my place?”
“Apologies, Instructor. I should run errands for the mission.”
“Too bad. I wanted to invite you to dinner.”
“Yes. My wife said this morning she was going to cook pork barbecue.”
Weed’s mouth watered at the thought of pork barbecue. Savory and spicy barbecue! This temptation was irresistible.
“To be honest with you, I always wanted to visit your place.”
“Haha, I knew it, too.”
Weed was never ashamed that he was living an obsequious or subservient life.
But… He—he was just sick and tired of rye bread. Royal Road reproduces every aspect of reality, even taste, to the extent that sushi made of fish that was caught minutes ago actually tastes fresh, and outdated food hardens and rots. Rye bread is no exception.
For the last two months, Weed had eaten only rye bread and his tongue was flavored with rye. The sight of rye bread made him feel like puking. A pork barbecue would be especially refreshing. Plus, it was a free meal—priceless.
“Then, I will come back in the evening, Instructor.”
“Sure, Weed-nim. See you later.”
Weed had accepted another quest in the Training Hall.
‘Now all three slots in the quest window are filled up.’
The top quest was about Zahab’s will, which was out of sight for now, whereas the other two quests were a combination set.
‘Now, the problem is that Rodriguez’s quest isn’t what it appears to be… but it doesn’t matter.’Weed braced himself to face the challenge.
In the worst scenario, he would die, so what? He didn’t want to die meaninglessly, but some difficulties were always expected.
‘Now I need to get ready, First, I go shopping for the trip to the Lair of Litvart.’
Weed walked downtown. Pedestrians in chic costumes passed by, while having vibrant conversations. A bunch of users set up kiosks on the street and sold things.
Weed went to the blacksmith’s workshop, and bought a bow and many quivers of arrows.
|Bow of Theo Grande:
Durability: 50/ 50
Multiple shot speed: 4
A short bow that is strung with an Orc’s muscle, crudely built, it has low accuracy but substantial attack power convenient for novices in archery.
The bow cost 1 gold and 20 silvers, but Weed would never pay the full price for anything. By presenting a butterfly-shaped statue to the cashier lady, he surrendered no more than one gold.
He had discovered accidentally that he could win ladies’ hearts with sculpture gifts.
‘Sculpture mastery. It’s only useful on trifling occasions.’
Weed also bought a stock of rye bread, though he was sick and tired of it, bread is at least better than starvation, and when a fight breaks out, it reduces the rate at which the health factor declines. When the health factor falls below 30%, a user slows down, and loses a chunk of life temporarily.
His backpack was filled with quivers, herbs and bread. As soon as Weed was happy everything was present and correct, he went back to the instructor.
“I am done, Instructor.”
“Oh, I see. Let’s go to my place now. I have a guest waiting.”
“Guest? Did you invite someone else to dinner, Instructor?”
“Didn’t I mention her?”
The instructor looked somewhat confused, and then quickly regained his composure.
“She’s a nice girl. I am sure you will like her.”
Strange though it sounded, Weed casually put the matter to one side and relaxed.
The instructor held Weed’s hand and walked to his place. His hand was as hairy as a gorilla’s.
Weed wrinkled his forehead. “You may as well let go of my hand, Instructor.”
“Surely not. I’m afraid you could lose me.”
Weed finally arrived at the instructor’s house.
He had no doubt that when he opened the door, he would see the world’s happiest family with a burning furnace that filled the living room with warm air.
Weed had already been told that the instructor had married a female barbarian, a true love overcoming the barrier of race, but they had not borne any offspring yet.
When the door opened, however, Weed was startled at a girl sitting by the dinner table.
For a moment, the girl’s beauty took Weed’s breath away. The scene that confronted him was idyllic. But he soon came down to earth.
Since the girl was invited to the instructor’s place, Weed had assumed that she was another NPC. She was a user, though, just like him.
By the look of her expensive-looking sword and armor, he could tell she was a high-level user.
That alone was not what shocked Weed.
The girl’s name was blinking in red.
A user can hide his true identity, sometimes pretending to be an NPC as long as he wants it that way, but a murderer who has PKed one or more users is promptly denied the right to privacy.
A red name and a bloody diamond on the forehead—the sign of a murderer. It is the sign of one who has killed a fellow user.
“My, my. Take it easy, Weed-nim. Now you understand why I was holding your hand tight.”
Weed tried to run away, but his desperate attempt failed because the instructor was holding his hand.
“I didn’t know you were so eager to get rid of me.”
“So now you know.”
The instructor smiled treacherously, and Weed relaxed a little. He acknowledged that if the instructor wanted him dead, this man would have rather dirtied his own hands than go to someone else for it.
“Please be seated, let me introduce you to each other. This is Weed. His level is low, but he passed the basic training program perfectly.”
Weed bowed to the girl slightly but she ignored him, hardly tilting her head, “This is Seoyoon. She also passed it recently. She visits my place once a month to have dinner with us.”
“Hi. Nice to meet you.”
Weed greeted Seoyoon politely, but blank-faced, she didn’t even bother moving her eyes in his direction. It was a plain show of unfeigned unconcern.
‘You don’t want to hang out with lowly newbies or what? If I didn’t have to be in the same room, I wouldn’t want to associate with you either.’
At that very moment, the instructor excused himself and dragged Weed into a comer.
“I am sorry. I apologize for her rudeness.”
“No, it’s fine, sir.”
“She’s basically a good girl. She just doesn’t know how to speak. She is the closest thing I have to a baby sister. It seems she is distrustful of people. I invited her because I believed she could open her mind to you. Whew.”
“It’s okay, I don’t mind at all.”
Nevertheless, Weed had no reason to extend his hand to this Seoyoon girl. He found it pointless to get to know a murderer, not even an NPC.
“By the way, do you mind if I give a hand to Mrs. Lancer?”
“Are you good at cooking?”
“Not at all. Still, a hand is a hand in the kitchen. She can teach me how to cook.”
“Do as you please.”
As a barbarian by nature, the instructor’s wife was a giant. Following her orders, Weed diligently sliced pork sirloin and dipped it in sauce. As he was working hard in the kitchen, Seoyoon rolled up her sleeves and entered the kitchen. She felt ashamed to be sitting idle alone at the table.
She came up to Weed, stood to one side and watched him chopping the meat. She stepped in to help, but she didn’t know what to do first. Weed directed her to a mountain of dishes.
“Clean these dishes, please.”
Weed expected that Seoyoon would tum him down, but to his surprise, she took the dishes and squatted on the floor rinsing them. They earned credit from the hostess for their hard work.
“You are doing well.”
“Thank you, Ma’am.”
“You have gifted hands. Do you want to learn cooking skills?”
This proposal was exactly what Weed had been waiting to hear. Or why would he ever bother soaking his hands?
“Of course, ma’am. Thank you so much for your kindness.”
|You have learned Cooking Skill|
As if something had occurred to her as she watched Weed, Seoyoon also asked the instructor’s wife to teach her how to cook.
Cooking Skills—they are simple skills that you can learn anywhere, by paying a membership fee to a chef’s guild or by serving an apprenticeship in a restaurant. No doubt it pays off well.
Pork barbecue on a large tray was finally served to the table. It was roasted yellow, steaming deliciously, the scent mingled with reality in the virtual reality. Weed promptly picked up a knife and a fork.
Suddenly, the instructor took it upon himself to caution Weed.
“You are a guest, Weed-nim. Do not eat too much.”
What kind of host would criticize an invited guest at the dinner table?
He was no longer the manly instructor in the Training Hall. In his place was a vicious Orc exposing his greed for food on the table. An Orc at level two hundred, that was.
But Weed wasn’t the type who easily succumbed to blackmail in the face of such food.
“I beg to differ, Instructor.”
“You are not agreeing with me?”
Weed felt suddenly pressurized, which was more than he could bear. He felt dazed, and his hand holding the knife was shaky.
‘Damn it.’ Weed swallowed and glanced sideways.
He had a look at Seoyoon to see how that fragile-looking girl was coping with it. This was the world of a fantasy RPG game. Level rules. She appeared unaffected.
‘This girl has at least two hundred. And the barbarian wife, too’, Weed thought.
The instructor’s wife, one of the barbarians who venerated the laws of nature, especially the survival of the fittest, ignored the plight of weaklings.
Since a barbarian was physically superior to other races, it was only Weed who was threatened by the instructor’s murderous intimidation shooting from his eyes. Nobody sided with him.
But this was Weed. Was he not the person who could turn enemies to friends, and friends to apostles?
“Honorable Instructor, let me speak.”
Fighting off the trembling in his body, Weed just about managed to open his mouth.
“What! If you have anything at all to say, drop the knife and fork first, then we can chat pleasantly until the end of time.”
“Your beautiful wife displayed such exceptional cooking sense and skill in this meal. I am already intoxicated with the smell, and it fills my head with what it will taste like. Once I eat this, the memory shall be treasured forever.”
The instructor burst into his trademark laughter.
“She is a great cook. I am proud of her.”
“Absolutely. She is your wife, after all. The barbecue looks gorgeous.”
Mrs. Lancer poked at her husband.
She was apparently flattered by Weed’s sweet compliment.
“True, where else can you get a chance to lay your hands on such a delicious meal? Help yourself, Weed-nim.”
As the saying goes, a wife is the pride of the husband.
The instructor proved he was a sucker when it came to his wife. Anyway, the meal was great. Not only the pork barbecue but also side dishes that the hostess had cooked using recipe from the Northern Province delighted Weed’s tongue.
“Yum, yum. It’s so good, ma’am. You’re the best. I am envious of Mr. Lancer that he can eat your delicious meals every day.”
“True, true,” the instructor said, grinning approvingly.
Weed loosened his belt and eased himself. The instructor laughed heartily, and Seoyoon dutifully finished her plate in silence like a French doll made of ice.
Weed rested for the night in the house, and left for the gale of the Citadel early next morning.
* * *
Sir Midvale and his army of thirty foot-soldiers who were dispatched to conquer the Lair of Litvart were encamped near the gate.
“Greetings. Are you Weed-nim?” a knight asked.
“Yes, sir,” Weed said.
A little investigation prior to the quest never hurt. From what Weed had gathered from the streets, Sir Midvale belonged to the Red Order, the key unit of Rosenheim Army, where he had carried out high profile missions. He was recently promoted, as the rumor went, to a Royal Knight. He was a pride of the kingdom, revered as the epitome of chivalry.
“Our destination is far away. It takes three hours on horseback,” Sir Midvale said.
All the other foot-soldiers, except for Weed, were riding on brown horses. He was carrying the backpack, and it never crossed his mind that he needed a horse.
It would not have made any difference if he had been told otherwise, anyway. A horse was a high-priced commodity that cost at least 100 gold.
“Docke asked me for a favor. So I will lend you a horse for the time being,” Sir Midvale said.
“Thank you, sir,” Weed said.
“Vance, bring the horse.”
A soldier brought a sad-looking colt. It was dragged forcefully by its reins, resisting with its two rear legs. Showing two golden teeth and panting, the colt looked like a rascal.
‘If I ride on that horse, my luck is as good as dead for the next seven years’, Weed thought.
“Till the mission is finished, this colt will be temporarily assigned to you,” Sir Midvale said.
|Assigned to the punitive force bound to the Lair of Litvart. This quick-witted colt often tries to outfox the owner. It hates water and refuses to gallop in rain. It needs extra care, or it may die of sickness.
P.S.: Beware, it farts very often.
The stat window for the colt was frustratingly colorful. Weed had once heard that thoroughbreds were difficult, but he found it outrageous that this fragile colt was worse.
“It won’t be for long, but let’s get along, anyway.”
Weed lifted his hand to pat the colt, but it bit his hand immediately.
“How dare you!”
When Weed glared at it, the colt turned around and lowered its rear legs.
“Good boy,” Weed said soothingly.
The moment he climbed on the colt’s back, sneezing al a funny smell rising from the not-so-good-looking bottom –the colt suddenly dropped its head forward, then kicked backward with its two rear legs.
Weed was thrown by the action and landed on the ground miserably. That single attack took seventy points off his life. Obviously, the colt had tried to kill him with that action.
“You damn Arse!”
Between Weed and the colt a bond was formed. They stared at each other as if they wanted to break the other’s neck.
“I will never let you get on my back, you stupid human,” the colt seemed to say.
“I’ll beat you to death someday,” Weed’s expression said.
An unheard-of face-off between man and beast was taking place.
On the point of ugly disaster, Sir Midvale said,
“If you are ready, let’s depart now.”
Sir Midvale and his troops began to march eastward. Weed hopped on the colt’s back quietly and rode on.
* * *
Seoyoon also stayed in the instructor’s cabin. She could not reject his wife’s persistent suggestion to stay over.
She ran across Weed several times in the morning. When she opened the door of the guest room, he happened to pass by it.
But they missed eye contact, pretending not to notice the presence of the other, and excused themselves without greeting.
When Weed left the house, Seoyoon followed him out because she was too embarrassed to be left behind by herself.
With dead eyes, she stared at an empty space where he had been standing minutes before.
“Where should I go now?” she asked herself.
“Anywhere I want to go…” she replied.
There was no such place. At the same time, she was free to go anywhere.
‘As long as I can get away from this painful memory.’
Seoyoon began to walk toward the South Gate. Not that she wanted to go there.
She only wanted to go to the wasteland, a land yet to be fully explored, somewhere rampant with monsters.
She had started her journey near the center of the continent, moving to the Western Frontier in search of stronger monsters to fight.
“I want to see monsters.”
“I can lose myself while I’m fighting them.”
“I don’t need to think about anything.”
“Even the irrevocable truth that I was never loved in my life.”
“Stop, Seoyoon. Stay strong.”
Even though Seoyoon spoke to no one, it was far from the truth that her mind, too, ceased to function.
Below the frozen surface, water was swirling faster as she asked questions of herself, and answered them. However, on the surface, her face was empty of any sign of expression, as though carved from ice.
A repeated conversation. Said this, heard that. Echoes within her mind.
Seoyoon felt less hungry when she fought amid a pack of monsters. She sought bloody battles in a dungeon full of monsters.
Ever yearning for deadlier monsters, she feared no death. She never let the blood flow from battle dry out.
A berserker who showed herself worthy of a life soaked in madness and massacre—that was her, always finding peace on a battlefield.