Chapter 3 – Forsaken Cathedral (1)
The homunculi gathered around the survivors and began counting their numbers .
“How many of the trash survived? At a quick glance… Keke! Around 1500?”
Among the homunculi, there was one that was abnormally large . He wore a white hat and as the leader of the homunculi he called himself the Drill Sergeant . All of the homunculi gathered around him .
“There are exactly 1534 heads!”
“Tsk! Not even reduced by half? Such a disappointment, however, I am a benevolent homunculus . ”
The Drill Sergeant’s tone was not only shrill and cracked, but also loud, so it had no problems reaching its audience . It sounded unpleasant, but it still bore through into the ears . Sungchul also had to listen to his voice .
‘Is it the same guy from 25 years ago? He’s still alive . ’
The Homunculi usually lived short lives . Not only were they treated harshly by their masters, they were often also cannibalized by their fellows . It seems that this homunculus had used his large stature to survive for this long .
“Now! Now! Trashy humans! This gracious Drill Sergeant shall bestow a great benevolence upon you . This is a week of rest! Please use this week well to adjust to this new world!”
The homunculi filed out after the Drill Sergeant .
This announcement snapped the people into conversation .
“W-where is this? Just where is this?”
“My phone… There is no signal, not even wifi . ”
“This is a dream… it has to be a dream…”
Most of the summoned tried to conform to their surroundings so that they could preserve their sanity . So meaningless, the smart ones will approach the problem realistically and tackle it a step at a time .
‘This week isn’t a gift, but a death sentence . ’
There were no rations or water in this place . Only people . Other than the wall protecting them from the demonic creatures, there were no merits to staying in this place . People would have to venture beyond the walls to survive . Or they would have to eat other people .
Sungchul stuck with the crowd and observed the situation . A short while later, a few people started to move . They moved in a way that could be considered erratic in the eyes of a normal person . Some circled the plaza and others pretended to swing a blade in the air . Normally people would think that they had lost it, but Sungchul saw things differently . There was an Observer’s Eye on top of each one of these ‘lunatics’ without exception . They were getting their instructions through the summoner, and being taught how to survive through the situation . While others were frozen in inactivity, these small quests would quickly add up and make a critical difference in the end . There were also some proactive normal people .
“Excuse me . Are you by yourself?”
A middle-aged man in a ragged suit made his way through the crowd to form a group . He had worked through everyone who had ignored him, insulted him, or refused him to gather ten people . Watching that man, Sungchul began recalling an old memory .
‘Thinking back there are those kinds too . Spouting annoying nonsense like, ‘a bundle of sticks is harder to break’ to gather people . ’
A particular woman’s silhouette came into mind and his eyes grew cold . But there was no more time for him to soak in the past . Sungchul quickly followed the group of twenty walking past the plaza walls . There was one person in the background who thoughtlessly called out to him .
“H-hey . ”
Sungchul’s eyes slid over to the voice .
“Got any cigs?”
Sungchul didn’t even bother acknowledging him any further .
Past the walls, there was a forest deeply steeped in demonic energy that was awaiting them . It was home to the demonic creatures . Those with the Observer’s Eye were the first who dared to cross the barrier . They weren’t just the average ‘pre-selected’ either, if one were to look at their large number .
‘They must have the backing of a large guild . ’
The Summoning Palace was a neutral faction under the protection of the God of Order .
Any single group with power wouldn’t be allowed to freely abuse their authority . To influence the Palace, it would require greasing every palm and that would be no small sum of wealth . It would take a major faction to bring several dozen officials under their sway . All of these points meant that this group was exactly what Sungchul had been looking for . He nonchalantly slipped into their group . The younger men and women gave him a glance before ignoring him completely .
In this awkward silence, two more people joined the group .
“25 people… I think that’s everyone . ”
A stylish man in a suit was the first to speak out; everyone focused their attention on him . It must have been nerve-wracking, but he still continued calmly .
“I apologize if I seem forward, but that’s just how it is . My name is Yuhoon Lee . ”
He received a reasonable response from the group . Everyone other than a squinty-eyed man with bleached hair seemed to welcome his attempt at breaking the ice . Yuhoon continued to direct the crowd after gaining their approval .
“Can everyone hear their guide’s voice?”
Everyone’s head nodded in response .
“… . ”
Sungchul also calmly nodded his head and continued to observe their Observer’s Eye . There were slight differences in their shapes . It represented each individual summoner’s magic . At this moment, Sungchul’s eyes flashed with a strange light .
‘Some annoying magicians are involved this time . They probably tapped into their candidate’s sight and hearing . ’
However, the magicians that Sungchul was involved with usually had ‘High Rank’ attached to their titles . The necromancers he would chase down on his average day could conjure up thousands of undead on their own . Compared to magicians of their caliber, these summoners would be apprentices at best .
‘Not bad . I should stick with these guys . ’
By Sungchul’s expectation, there would be hidden quests attached to the training course prepared for these 24 people .
“First off, my guide has notified me that time is very precious . There is no time for us to dawdle . After a brief introduction, I believe we should quickly move on with whatever our guides have directed us to do . ”
Yuhoon approached the people around him first, casually introduced himself and enticed a friendly atmosphere . No one approached Sungchul, and that was because of his unkempt appearance . It was extremely difficult to obtain decent clothes in the Other World, much less stylish ones . He had tried relatively hard, but he currently only wore some worn out military fatigues like some sort of homeless veteran . He also hadn’t had any hygiene products with which to wash for a while now, so he didn’t smell too great either .
The teenager in hip-hop clothing and the 20s something women covered in brand-name products spoke with their backs towards him . It was a clear sign of rejection .
Sungchul didn’t particularly mind . There were no benefits in him caring about that, all he wanted were the hidden quests . However, someone noticed him from afar and approached him .
“Hey mister, why are you standing here alone?”
He looked up wondering who it might have been . It was Lee Yuhoon . He spoke with a wide smile maintaining eye contact and a hand outreached for a shake .
‘What a trained courtesy . ’
He had dealt with a lot of people before . A clear instinct told him that Yuhoon might not be as friendly as he appears, but he accepted the handshake anyways .
“Just Kim . Please call me Kim . ”
“Then, we’ll have to compromise with using Mister Kim . ”
When introductions ended, an eerie glow emitted from deep within the forest . The group slowly gathered together and turned towards the light .
“Kekekeke… . ”
It was a familiar laugh . Not unexpectedly, a homunculus revealed himself from the darkness . The glow was coming from the lantern he held in his hand .
“You have already gathered here, humans!”
Sungchul recognized this homunculus by his voice .
‘Drill Sergeant . ’
He was significantly larger than the average homunculus, and also revealed a significantly more sinister set of razorlike teeth as he greeted the group . He stood at the height of everyone’s stomachs, but they all understood just how savage and powerful this midget-like creature could be . How could they dare look down on the larger Drill Sergeant?
The Drill Sergeant reveled in the humans’ fears and smiled gleefully as he looked over them .
“Do not fear, please! Humans! This Drill Sergeant is but a smart homunculus! I have senselessly killed those trashy humans, but to the selected few, I will be willing to grant a service . . ”
The Drill Sergeant tottered back through the forest with his lantern in hand .
“Follow closely, please! Humans! You might just die to some monsters if you fall behind! Kekeke!”
Everyone stood flabbergasted at this situation .
“I think we can follow him . That’s what my voice is telling me . ”
Yuhoon lead the way in following after the homunculus . The others also followed after their impromptu leader helplessly . Only two people stayed in their place .
“Ah, shit . I really don’t like that bitch . ”
The Yankee spat out a quick bit of profanity before following . Sungchul quietly moved after him .
The homunculus lead the group to an abandoned cathedral . On top of the cathedral’s steeple there stood a rectangular ornament, this was the symbol for the God of Order . The God of Order was one of the five gods that ruled over the pantheon .
“Come in, please! Humans!”
The Drill Sergeant stepped in first . The rectangular ornament filled with a strange light as he stepped into the cathedral .
“Woah… What? This…” disparate words of admiration spilled out from the group .
There were sarcophagi with open lids within the cathedral . There were 25 in total .
“Now . Now . Humans! Don’t dawdle and step into whichever one that suits your fancy, please!” Homunculus spoke with a smirk .
One by one, everyone eventually began lying within the sarcophagi . Kim Sungchul also found one somewhere in the middle and laid down . The sarcophagi began levitating with power, and the lids closed shut on its own . They could clearly see bright letters floating within the suffocating darkness that surrounded them .[You have found the martyr’s sarcophagi and laid down with resolute hearts . ] [Determination of the martyr uplifts your body . ]
Effect: +10 Strength, Dexterity, Vitality (Region Restriction: Summoning Palace)