< Disasters Don't Discriminate (1) >
It took about a week to travel to Busan. If Zin was traveling by himself, it would have taken a shorter time, but since was Leona following him, he had to pace himself for her.
Leona followed Zin with all her might. During their trip south, Zin had to decide whether to fight off the monsters or not.
There were some Points and towns along the way, but Zin and Leona weren’t welcome as they didn’t need a hunter.
“Such hospitality, pffft.”
“Smaller villages tend to be unwelcoming. Ard Point was more of an exception.”
“Do they think you’re a Reaver even though you’re with a kid like me?”
“Never hurts to be extra cautious.”
Leona was frustrated that the villagers didn’t welcome them, and she flipped her middle finger at the villagers who were watching them leave.
“B****es! You better hope for a good life!”
Leona cursed and spat out. They were almost out of food to the point where they had to hunt monsters for their meals, but the villages still didn’t accept them.
“You are one picky eater, kid.”
“I’m really not picky. But the food you suggested… they’re just nasty.”
“What did you eat when you were roaming around? You haven’t starved to death, so you must have eaten something to survive.”
“Any edible grass… stuff like that. I couldn’t hunt monsters, and I didn’t want to eat them either.”
“It may taste bad, but you need to eat enough protein at your age.
You gained some weight while traveling with me. It tells me that you didn’t eat enough before.”
Leona was gaining weight, and she was adding some bulk to her arms and legs. Zin didn’t skip any meals, and Leona kept consuming protein and fat-eating meat. Leona was getting more fit than before.
“I definitely feel less fatigued than before…”
It was obvious that she’d gain more energy by eating meat. Although it wasn’t tasty, Zin fed nutritious meat to Leona.
“Eh. I’m getting used to the meat anyway.”
Leona said with a bright smile. There was no point in being sad, and it was better to have a positive mindset. Leona firmly believed that her mood and feelings impacted her health.
Zin smiled and replied:
“Well then today, we’ll have some poisonous dog ribeye steak sautéed on ghoul oil.”
“… You’re fooling around, aren’t you?”
Leona replied with an upset voice, and Zin added:
“It’s a diet plan that’s full of nutrients. You should be thankful.”
“I feel like barfing just by listening to it!”
“It would be funny to see that.”
Leona was fuming, yet she had no choice but to eat whatever Zin prepared.
And Zin actually served up some poisonous dog ribeye steak sautéed with ghoul oil.
Leona chewed on the meat that looked as if it came from the devil’s pan, and commented that it was actually pretty good.
After eating an early dinner, Leona and Zin moved on.
“Where would Charl be now?”
“Well, we’ll meet her if we have the same destination.”
But, Zin was sure that Charl was heading to the BMCP. Either Charl or Zin could arrive there first.
However, if they were to meet with Charl, Zin wasn’t sure how she’d react.
Leona looked around and walked.
Around them, there were ruins of a city with collapsed buildings.
“Watch your step. There might be sinkholes.”
Collapsed cities were more dangerous than the wilderness. Especially in bigger cities, where one could find sinkholes where basements had collapsed. And it was common for the ground to sink when someone stepped on weak spots.
Just like an abyss, Leona and Zin came across multiple giant holes.
They looked like tunnels cut vertically across the city.
“My hometown had a similar atmosphere.”
“Is that so?”
“Yeah, many kids went far out to play and got killed as the ground collapsed. I know a bit about sinkholes. You don’t have to worry about me.”
Zin and Leona walked through a firm path between sinkholes. Zin walked carefully, and so did Leona.
“Going far away from the village… kids.”
It was very dangerous to stray from the village.
“Well, kids always played treasure-hunting games.”
Zin wondered how kids would hunt for treasure in these ruins.
“Well, if you search very well, there are things that adults don’t care about much.”
“What would that be?”
“Stuff like dolls, toys, hairpins, or clothes. Shoes. Adults don’t care about those, but they’re valuable to kids.”
Leona pointed at the buildings and their windows. Kids searched those places to look for treasure.
They were searching for their treasures, not the adults’ treasures.
There were many treasures for the kids that adults didn’t care about.
“The rare items were things like plastic robots. Especially if they were transforming robots. When someone found one, the kids would fight over it. The robot would get destroyed as they fought over it. The kids would destroy it if they couldn’t play with it. The kids would cry and yell, and on the next day, they would look for treasure again… Doesn’t that sound silly?”
Leona giggled as she remembered her past. They were innocent but silly kids. Zin said to Leona:
“I guess you had some fond childhood memories with your friends.”
At Zin’s words, Leona’s face became gloomy. Before she was singled out, she’d had some good memories with her friends. And she was happy thinking about those times.
“I was a kid, so I played with them. But it got old and boring. So, I stopped playing.”
Zin knew that Leona was lying and trying to act happy, but he didn’t point it out. Leona was still a kid. It didn’t look good that Leona was trying to think about her sad past.
Cities were built to utilize spaces as efficiently as possible. There were buildings constructed, and holes drilled. After the collapse of the cities, old structures fell down. Zin and Leona had to walk cautiously to make sure they didn’t pass a weaker area of ground. By contrast, mountains and fields were safer.
Cities had many spots to hide in, and people hid in those places to take cover. But monsters also hid in those places, waiting to attack.
Ruins were the perfect places for monsters to hide for an ambush. And it was the same for humans.
In the wilderness, one had to watch all four directions, but in the city, one had to also look above and below.
I don’t think there’ll be much here, but…
Zin was carefully scouting the surroundings. The sun was setting, and they had to find a spot to rest through the night.
Zin and Leona kept walking through the ruins until it grew dark.
There were no monsters, and some wild cats were walking back and forth between buildings, meowing as they did so.
And all of a sudden, Leona shouted:
“What’s the matter?”
“I see something here…”
Leona bit her lip as she looked around.
“It’s so familiar…”
Leona pointed at a statue that fell down. It had rusted over so it was hard to figure out what it was, but Leona talked as if she already knew. Zin understood what was going on.
“Was this your hometown?”
“It looks very familiar. All the cities looked the same, so I wasn’t sure… But now I know after seeing this…”
In the body of the statue, there was a word engraved on it –
“Hmm, you said that you didn’t want to come back to your hometown, right?”
“Well, I didn’t mean it that way…”
Leona started carefully looking around as the sky turned dark.
“The fact that we can see this statue means that we’re in the middle of the city.”
However, it was dark all around without a single light turned on. They were in the center of the village, but there was no one to be seen. Zin hadn’t even passed a trash wall.
Leona’s hometown was a village without a wall. As Leona gazed at the statue, she smiled.
“Everyone must have died.”
Leona shrugged, and she didn’t look sad or mad at all.
Somehow she had come back to her hometown which was now a pile of ruins.
“It must have been a while ago since I don’t see any corpses.”
There was no way to figure out if monsters or Reavers had destroyed the village. But it was probable that they’d destroyed everything.
“I know the place inside out, so why don’t we rest since it’s dark?”
“Yeah, it’s time to rest…”
Leona was brave enough to suggest staying the night among the ruins of her hometown. Other people would have tried to leave the town as soon as possible, but Leona did not display any sadness, fear, or terror.
To top it off, she added:
“If monsters, not Reavers, destroyed the village, I know of a place where we might find something to loot.”
Zin nodded as she smiled.
Leona and Zin didn’t have much in common, but when given the opportunity, they were always ready to scavenge the area.
Leona picked the fourth floor of a building that used to be a supermarket as their place to stay.
“The other buildings looked unstable, but this building was the most stable and was also the tallest. The other buildings looked like they’ve collapsed.”
All the windows were shattered, and the wind was blowing in, but Leona knew that picking higher ground was good. Leona’s survival instincts surprised Zin once again.
Leona was in charge of scouting the area, and Zin decided to watch out for any incoming monsters or Reavers.
Zin watched Leona walk to the first floor of the building.
Zin thought that Leona must have started roaming the wilderness a couple of years ago. And it appeared that the village of Mok-Gol had collapsed quite a long time ago.
Most of the items would have already been looted, and most of the food would have gone bad.
Zin wasn’t at the highest point of the city but most of the buildings had collapsed, so Zin had a clear view of the area. Even in the dark, his good vision could scout the area. He had slightly better vision than most people.
And small differences like that were worth a lot.
It looks like the cats have taken over the village.
Zin nodded slowly as he watched the cats stroll through the ruins at night time. No dogs were around. Wild dogs didn’t bark as long as they weren’t provoked. They formed packs to hunt, but there were no signs of a pack of dogs.
They could use the cats as food, but Zin decided to wait for Leona to come back.
There is no benefit in hunting cats.
Though weak, cats had spiritual power, and they were used in some magics. It wasn’t good to hunt for spiritual monsters in a place so steeped in death.
And it was a dangerous action to take in a village full of cats without the presence of a single wild dog.
Zin did not take actions that were considered unlucky as a superstition.
After monsters appeared in the world, the line between fact and superstition grew vague. Some superstitions became facts, and some facts became lies.
Science became a religion, and was no longer generally trusted.
And Zin didn’t know how to trust it anymore as well. As a person who had witnessed many tragedies stemming from superstition, he knew what actions to avoid.
And at that time, Zin heard a sharp noise.
It came from far away, and Zin looked at the direction the sound came from.
It was a sound of an alarmed cat. He took out a monocular, and looked at the area. It was dark, but the moonlight provided enough light for him to see.
He spotted a cat—an arrow had struck its side. It was trying to climb a wall, and then fell down.
There were five men with bows, and they were killing the cats. Each of them carried a sack, and after pulling out the arrows from the dead cats, they put their corpses into the sacks.