Chapter 8 – Krill Regall (2)
The homunculi were at the center of the chaos .
“Now! Now! This is a special ration provided for the rank match tomorrow! Humans! Eat plenty and bring out your strength!”
The homunculi were distributing hard bread with mysterious meat inside, from a large cart pulled by eight goats . The starving people flew into a frenzy at the first sight of food after several days . 1500 people swarmed the cart like bees and began fighting for any reason whatsoever . In the worst cases, they would start to fight with their weapons and even killed over the food .
Sungchul ignored the chaos and focused on what the Homunculus had said .
‘Rank matches are tomorrow? Did it get pulled forward?’
Rank matches were the most important events in the Summoning Palace . There were four plazas: Blanche, Azure, Crimson, and Scarlet . Within the Summoning Palace, they would hold a death match with special conditions between each plaza . These matches were the rank matches .
In Sungchul’s time, these rank matches would kill off at least a hundred people each time . Sometimes it would cut down a group by half its number . These rank matches also provided plentiful rewards for the survivors . The Summoning Palace’s objective was to raise functional people to integrate with the Other World by using these hellish conditions .
It felt like that objective had changed now . The privileged chosen, the ‘Preselected’, were an indisputable proof of this .
“Now . Watch that . Isn’t it fucking funny? They are crawling like dogs just to eat some rotten bread . ”
“What else are they going to do? They haven’t eaten anything else . ”
While the average summoned were fighting for food with their lives, the preselected were busy mocking them while sitting underneath the shade of the training center . Some silently continued training, but others were embracing their first form of entertainment in a while . Sungchul quietly claimed a corner of the center and fell deep into meditation . One of the common quests required him to meditate at a set time for 2 Intuition .
When the meditation ended, he circled the plaza looking for inscriptions that were hidden along the walls to read aloud . It wasn’t well known, but the Summoning Palace’s inscriptions changed daily . Even the former ‘Death shall set you free’, was now, ‘Life might be painful, but there might also be value’ .
He had continuously worked on common quests so he could gain intuition, but now, he also needed magic power . The targeted hidden class, Echo Mage, required intuition and magic power of 20 to obtain it .
Sungchul scoured through the list obtained from the homunculus and memorized each relevant quest . Especially the long-term quests, or the repetitive quests which needed to be completed first . Sungchul efficiently utilized each moment of his day so he could continuously progress through these quests .
He didn’t slack off on observing the others in his group, especially Ahram . He might be fortunate again and discover an opportunity like with Vestiare’s cave .
As Vestiare’s Memorial had been completed, Ahram’s guiding mage ought to be busy preparing a new growth opportunity for him . They couldn’t guarantee his survival in the trials otherwise . No matter how superior the people in this group were, this place was like the jungle; there would be plenty of geniuses among the crowd who were lying in wait . Careless people were constantly losing their lives around these parts . Sungchul got up as he noticed the sunset .
“Let’s slowly begin our meals . ”
Yuhoon, who had been sweating by the spinning blade dummy, finally called the group together . The few who had grown tired of the endless fights followed along without a fuss . Sungchul woke from his meditation and followed after them .
As he was brushing off the dirt, a man approached him .
“Um… Mister . ”
It was the yankee punk that had criticized Yuhoon during the first day . He was being ostracized by the group along with Sungchul . He didn’t outright refuse socializing with them as Sungchul did, but his outward appearance and brash attitude had formed a barrier between them . He felt particularly competitive towards Yuhoon but didn’t have any particular talents or skill to speak of, so it came off as desperate in Sungchul’s view .
“You wanna eat together?”
He forced the words out with much difficulty . He had a tough exterior, but he was still human and must have started feeling lonely after a while . Sungchul returned a smile .
“Let’s do that then . ”
After the blood pudding incident, Yuhoon had moved the usual eating spot from the forest to underneath the walls . It was more likely to be discovered by the others, but it was less dangerous . As usual, Sungchul sat slightly apart from the group and chewed on his hard bread . The only difference now was that another person was sitting beside him .
Yungjong had been preparing for a government position in the real world . He’d lived a short life of 25, but with an empty smile, he spoke bitterly about how nothing had worked out as he’d planned .
“The competition was so fierce . It wasn’t so easy to overcome half of the youth population in Korea, you know?”
“Is that so?”
It had been a while since he heard any recent stories from the real world . He only managed to maintain his original appearance through several facial reconstructions and surgeries, but the time which had passed in this world hasn’t been short .
“That’s so strange . I didn’t think the government work test would be that popular?”
“What crazy reality are you from?”
It had been 20 years since he had been summoned to the Other World . That was enough time to carve a river into a mountain . He recalled the times he used his bus tokens to get a ride to the roller disco so he could skate along with the disco music .
‘I wonder if those who have reincarnated back are doing well . ’
There were some of the summoned that managed to amass great achievements which allowed them a path to return back to reality, they were called the reincarnators . A few among Sungchul’s old companions had chosen to return back to reality at the cost of the majority of their strength . Sungchul had also felt compelled to return, but he had cleanly given up by now . It was enough for him to listen to currents events through word of mouth .
Snapping away from his thoughts, he noticed Ahram chewing on bread away from the group; it didn’t seem to have any special meaning . As he was about to turn back his gaze, he noticed a new being he had never noticed before . One man was standing at a distance . He was dressed in a conspicuous outfit, looking over in this direction . It was unlike the modern clothes of the other summoned, but rather like the magician’s robe of this world .
‘A magician? It’s interesting to see another human other than a summoned in the Summoning Palace . ’
Sungchul’s eyes sparkled with curiosity .
“Not here… Not here . Hyunsuk that piece of shit…”
The magician in the distance was none other than Krill Regall . He had taken the slave tunnel to the plaza exterior and took quite some time to find the preselected’s group . He only knew one face from the group, but he couldn’t find him . Hyunsuk, the Asian kid with a punchable face .
‘Did he really die?’
He felt terror crawl up his spine as he counted the people in the group . There were 23 people sitting in the circle eating, two less than the amount chosen originally . It was possible that he was within the plaza, but it was more likely that he was dead .
‘Shit . How did this happen? What happened?’
He suddenly noticed one detail . Among the 23 preselected, there was one person without an Observer’s Eye . He had a slim build with an average height . A man wearing military fatigues and old jeans . He confirmed again with his Glasses of Truth, but the man truly didn’t have the Observer’s Eye around him .
‘Could it be…? This guy pulled some kind of trick?”
Krill’s eyes emitted a cold murderous intent . He carefully walked towards the group . It was then that the man in military fatigues began heading towards the forest on his own .
A chance .
Krill felt a twinge of excitement at the tip of his tongue as he followed the man into the forest .
‘I don’t know what your plans are, but I’m planning on making you sing . ’
He had a squeamish personality and didn’t enjoy doing anything violent, but there was no time for him to be picky . He had to get through this disaster at any cost . He kept reassuring himself with these words as he pulled out a magic staff and followed after the man .
“Looking for me?”
An unexpected voice, came from an unexpected direction .
‘What is this guy?’
He was grabbed from behind . However, this was only a newly summoned . He should be able to handle him even without using any of his magic, through the physical strength he had honed from the Summoning Palace’s many quests . He tried to counter the assault while keeping this in mind .
His vision turned yellow in one blow .
When he came to, the man was stepping on Krill’s chest firmly with his foot . He tried to move, but it felt like he was nailed to the ground . He finally realized the man in the military fatigues was no normal person .
“Hey, Magician . Why are you looking for me?”
The man, Sungchul, spoke in a frosty tone .
“Are you looking for your blood charge?”
Krill was ambushed verbally and his weak spot was immediately exposed .
“How is that kid?”
Krill asked desperately . It was all but a crushed dream, but he still pulled, even on his final thread of hope . Sungchul’s reply, however, couldn’t be more blunt .
“He died . ”
Krill’s shoulders finally lost all strength . The word ‘despair’ flooded his mind . All hope disappeared, and the image of the slave hunter who had helped him appeared in his head . What he had thought was crude and disgusting at first was now a vision of his future . It was at this moment that another glimmer of hope appeared .
“Looking for a hole to live in?”
It was Sungchul . He removed his foot from his chest and spoke quietly .
“Help me, and I’ll give you a way out of this . ”
Something shiny fell on Krill’s head . It was a blue emerald .