< Never Dwell in a Good Place for Too Long (2) >
The elder looked and smiled lovingly at Leona, who looked happily back at him.
“So you must be the kid who’ll be our new family member, right?”
“Can I really live here?”
“We’ve got plenty of rooms, land, and not enough workers, so your presence is very much welcomed.”
Leona became excited as the elder easily accepted her to live in the Point. In a community village, kids were usually unwelcome because they were considered a burden. In some villages where the leaders were powerful, the leader would prohibit childbirth to prevent wasting food on kids.
Leona understood the reality of living in the wilderness, and she kept on nodding with her hands clasped. Now, she would not have to worry about stealing or of dark, scary nights. With that fact alone, Leona felt glad.
“Mr. Elder, I will do my very best.”
“Well then, I must go and prepare a welcoming feast.”
The elder looked at Zin.
“Why don’t you settle here as well? We need a hunter, and a hunter of your caliber is always welcomed.”
“Mr. Elder, Zin may look weak, but he’s the real deal. I’m living proof of that.”
Leona whispered to the elder, but Zin shook his head.
“If you were in the Nest before, you’d know better.”
“Mm… yes… right… that’s a shame.”
Elder sounded regretful, but didn't bring it up again.
Do not hold back a hunter.
A hunter who didn’t wander was not a hunter. A hunter should not stop. Instead, a hunter must always be on the move. A hunter must journey past the wilderness to arrive at their final destination.
There was no reason to live in such a way, but hunters had their rules and convictions. The elder slowly nodded and looked at Zin again.
And when he saw Zin, the elder’s look changed, as well as his words.
“A hunter who lives by the rules. Indeed, I have met a very noble one.”
“I believe there should be at least one fundamentalist.”
Zin laughed as he spoke.
“I urge you to rest for a couple more days. We have plenty to offer you.”
“No, I’ll be leaving soon.”
Zin smiled bitterly, and spoke again:
“I never dwell in a good place for too long.”
“Right… I remember that rule as well…”
Never dwell in a good place for long. Otherwise, one would end up settling down. Because it became harder to leave, hunters tended to pass by ‘good’ places. A hunter always watched out for good people, good villages, comfort and calmness. The biggest enemy of a hunter was not the biggest monster, but an environment that compelled them to settle down. A hunter was done for if they could no longer wander around.
Leona did not understand the conversation, but was aware that Zin and the elder were having a discussion.
“Please leave. I hope your path does not lead back to this village.”
It was a farewell to the departing hunter.
“I wish to not return as well.”
It was a farewell from the departing hunter.
I want this place to remain a place where a hunter is not needed.
I’d also like this place to be remain peaceful.
After saying farewell, Zin took the reward, and left the elder’s building. The elder did not come out, but Leona followed after Zin.
“Are you leaving right away?”
“Really? That’s not good.”
“Not good? What do you mean?”
“Well, you could have stayed a little longer. Why in such a rush?”
Leona scratched her face with mixed feelings. She was able to live in a new and safe village, one with a high wall. She was able to come to this place because Zin had brought her here. And that hunter Zin was about to leave the village.
“A hunter is a human too, you know. Why don’t you take a break?”
It seemed like Leona had something to say, but she ended up mumbling the words and then bit her lip. Zin looked at the little kid and thought about the past. There were memories, illusions, reminiscence, and reiteration. They were all moments in life that ended up as regrets in the end.
“If my goal was to settle down somewhere, I wouldn’t be living as a hunter in the first place.”
“You’ve got some talent.”
“That’s a compliment, right?”
“Yes, but…” Zin said slowly.
“… in this damned world, a person’s the happiest when they don’t have to use their talent.”
Zin had felt strong emotions ever since he accepted the mission from Ard Point, and he believed that he had to remove himself from them.
“This is a safe place, and you will live a life that doesn’t require your talents. In that case, you won’t be living an unlucky life.”
Although Leona was a vicious person, it would not be bad for her to live her life farming instead of killing people out of viciousness.
It had only been a couple of days—at most, four days of fighting and walking. However, relationships can form pretty easily in this world. Humans hate other humans, but they needed each other in the end.
Leona looked at Zin with a heavy heart.
“Mister, you talk with big words,” Leona added.
“Because it’s hard to understand…” Leona continued.
“Can you stay here and explain to me what you mean?”
It wasn’t clear what moment or event had given Leona a tingly feeling. The stray cat that wasn’t attached to others probably felt something in her heart when she started to talk with someone for the first time. It was as if she finally realized that the feeling she had all this time was loneliness. She was growing afraid of being lonely after having someone to accompany her.
Zin shook his head.
“Big words are not necessary to live in this world.”
Zin turned around and added:
“So, just live the way you are now.”
Leona didn’t cry, and the two weren’t close friends yet. But Leona hoped to get to know him better. She hoped to talk a little bit more.
Zin raised his hand and headed towards the prison’s wall. Leona murmured, looking at Zin walking away.
“He’s totally an amateur…”
A hunter left with his back to everyone. A hunter disappeared, leaving people behind. And therefore, a hunter did not turn around to look behind his back.
“Damn, I hope you break your foot while walking!” Leona shouted.
Zin left Ard point without meeting Baek-Goo. He left hastily—after all, a hunter had nothing to do with a village after all the work was finished. Hunters looked for requests, and it was against their code to stay at a village that had no work for him.
Zin had to visit different villages to resolve their issues, and earn more chips in order to prolong his life. He passed several mountains, stopping when Ard Point was no longer visible.
Zin knew that he was rushing himself. It was okay to rest up for about a day. Living by the code was a matter of belief.
As Leona said, it was okay to rest for a bit as a human.
Zin travelled through the darkest hours. Along the way, he met people that he felt worried about. He passed by villages that he felt concerned for. Because he came across these people and villages, he rushed ahead even more. A hunter needed to live alone. He had no friends or companions. A hunter who didn’t live by himself were more prone to dying, and it was not a matter of living by the code, but a matter of surviving.
Baek-Goo would live as a good Captain of the Guard. He wasn’t book smart, but he was street smart. He would protect the Point very effectively.
The elder considered the safety of the people as his top priority, and was willing to spend about 300 chips in order to save the village from danger. Although he was quite old, but so long as he lived, Ard Point would be a peaceful place.
Leona was a the most special kid that Zin had ever met.
A very strange kid.
Zin was able to describe Baek-Goo and the elder in his own words, but it was hard to describe Leona in simple terms. However, Leona’s good traits that appeared as bad traits should help her live in Ard Point.
A hunter would never settle down. If chips were offered, a hunter would find homes for the homeless, would assume revenge for others, and would kill monsters. And once all matters were resolved, a hunter would leave for a different place. One would gather chips to make a weapon, and use that weapon to hunt down a monster to gather more chips. In this never-ending cycle, the hunter wandered in the wilderness for their final destination. The hunter would keep on walking until he arrived at their journey’s end. Zin knew about the power of time more than anybody else. A hesitation of the mind was temporary.
Love the chip more than anything else.
Many codes had led the hunter to this date. Defending something was harder than hunting for something. Holding onto something other than one’s self always brought pain for sure. In the end, because hunters were human beings as well, they couldn’t always live by the code.
After experiencing many failures when trying to defend his dearest things, Zin realized that closing one’s heart was the only way to avoid pain. Hunters who’d been around for a while were cold-hearted and didn’t get sentimental towards anything.
As Zin looked around, he realized something. In front of him was the compass.
East. West. South. North.
Walking from the East, Zin had to pick one direction—West, South or North. But he wasn’t sure where he had to go. If he walked south, he would reach the tip of the Korean Peninsula, and if he walked north, he would reach the broader continent.
I need to head back.
He had no reason to remain in the Korean Peninsula. Even though it had been a while since he’d been to the Peninsula, the land was rather peaceful, and Zin was certain that he wouldn’t earn anything out of this peacefulness.
Should I go through the continent, and head to Southeast Asia… mm… yeah, I should.
If Zin were to extend his lifetime by resolving different requests along the way, the journey would take over a year. Zin was planning to travel leisurely since he didn’t think that the apocalyptic world would lead to another apocalypse. He had another 400+ days of lifetime, and death was still far for Zin.
I should stop by Ragnarligion.
Zin started to pick up his pace. He pondered what he should work on when he arrived at his next destination, which was still far away.
Zin walked for two straight days without sleep. There was no real reason for it, but he kept on walking without rest.
And at one point, Zin realized that something was not right with him.
… I am walking northwest.
He had focused solely on walking, but instead of walking north he was heading to a different direction. Zin corrected his direction and started walking again. He must not have noticed because he was trying to get rid of all the random thoughts in his mind.
Experiencing a human’s hospitality after such a long time proved to be a very troubling matter. Zin smiled bitterly as he had mixed feelings in him. And he kept feeling anxious from time to time.
I feel like I’m forgetting something…
Zin felt as if he’d forgotten something very important. But he couldn’t remember what it could be. That thought kept on popping in his mind ever since he left Ard Point. Zin felt as if he couldn’t figure out which part of his body was tingling. He had a feeling that he forgot about something important and had passed it by. Zin stopped and started murmuring.
“Do I have dementia…?”
There was fear in his voice, which was very unlike of him.