< Prototype (Part 1) >
Before nearing the Busan fortress, Zin stopped at a city around the area. Mok-Gol was destroyed, but Hewl-Jin, a southern city, was safe.
Zin bought supplies such as food, and booked an inn. The old fortress was about a day’s distance for Zin, and he didn’t need to stay at Hewl-Jin. Zin had stopped by this city for another reason.
“You stay right here.”
“Although it’s inactive now, there’s a high risk of exposure to CP in the MCP. If you don’t want to die or become a monster, you better stay here.”
A person who is exposed to Chaos Poison (CP) would become a vagabond. Although the MCP was inactive, there was still a high amount of radiation as well as poison. Ordinary people could get killed or become a vagabond just by approaching the MCP.
“How long will it take?”
“At most a week. I’ll be back before then.”
It wasn’t much of a problem for Leona to stay alone for over a week since she’d received her portion of chips from Zin. She had been wandering by herself and didn’t feel too scared to be left alone.
“Have a good trip.”
Exhausted from their long journey, Leona lay down on the haystack and was ready to go to sleep.
Zin stepped out to the streets of Hewl-Jin. There were trash walls, and there were no monsters around. There were many cities like these that disappeared and emerged.
A population of about seven hundred… Pretty big city.
The beach was close by, but it wasn’t close enough for sea monsters to attack. The Ancient-Korea Peninsula didn’t have many monsters, so a city by the beach was a pretty good place to live.
Which is why I don’t understand how Mok-Gol was destroyed…
Mok-Gol and Hewl-Jin were about a two-day walk from each other. If the Slaughters had attacked Mok-Gol, it would be strange for them to not attack Hewl-Jin as well. And that would have been the same for the monsters. Mok-Gol was destroyed, but Hewl-Jin was safe. As Zin walked around, he couldn’t figure out the reason.
Before leaving, Zin stopped by a medicine store.
“I’d like to buy some anti-venom medicine. Do you have anything good?”
“One chip per bundle.”
Anti-venom medicine was usually a bundle of herbs or leaves that had ingredients to cure venom. And there were many types of herbs that weren’t effective at all.
“Hey, that mugwort has no active ingredients to cure venom. Why did you include it in the bundle?”
Zin criticized the owner, who shrugged it off.
“It’s there to neutralize the bitterness of anti-venom herbs. It makes the anti-venom herbs taste better and improve their efficacy.”
Zin sighed as he watched the owner spit out lies without any hesitation.
I guess he really thinks that way…
Different people had different knowledge since there was no easy method to check for facts. Zin grabbed five bundles of anti-venom herbs. After paying, Zin looked at the owner.
“You a scavenger? I want to tell you that there’s nothing to find at the BMCP.”
The owner advised, thinking that Zin was heading to the closed Busan fortress. Many scavengers stopped by this shop to purchase herbs before going there.
Zin kept on staring at the owner.
“I’m not a scavenger, but shouldn’t you tell that to the scavengers before selling these herbs?”
The owner was nasty in the sense that he would immediately tell the scavengers this right after selling the herbs.
“You can always use the herbs at any time. I think I’m doing them a favor because if they go there, they’ll end up fried from the CP and the radiation. They should thank me instead.”
What the owner said made sense, and he was nosy enough to tell the scavengers about the fortress’s condition.
“I suppose a lot of scavengers have gone to the BMCP?”
“You bet. After the Wargrave dudes moved out, the scavengers went there in droves. And you know what those Wargrave dudes did? They didn’t leave behind a damn thing. Well, who knows? Maybe someone found a pot of gold, and they’re staying quiet. Every month or two, scavengers head to the fortress, but I haven’t heard anyone say that they found something valuable.”
“Hmm… I see.”
Zin thought that it was unlikely to find any good clues by searching the fortress. But he was planning to head to Busan since he was close by. He was ready to see it for himself.
“Well, let me ask you something else.”
“You ask too much without even giving me a chip.”
“Should you be so harsh to a customer who bought five bundles of useless herbs?”
“Haha, you… speak without hesitation. Sure, ask.”
“What destroyed Mok-Gol?”
At Zin’s question, the owner looked confused.
“Yeah, it’s a bit strange.”
“About two years ago, the monsters suddenly attacked the city out of nowhere.”
“… is that so?”
Zin’s face hardened.
“As a result, a lot of refugees from Mok-Gol migrated to Hewl-Jin. If you’re curious, you could ask them. There’s quite a number of them here. About fifty, I think.”
“Ah… Will do…”
“They said that it was an act of a witch.”
“Isn’t that funny? People talk gibberish once they get scared. What era are they living in? Witches don’t exist anymore. They even said that a witch lived among them…”
The owner clicked his tongue as he made fun of the refugees, but Zin couldn’t laugh.
Zin left the herb shop after he’d finished listening to the owner. Zin looked as if he was ready to kill anything. He walked back to in the direction he came from, without visiting the Mok-Gol refugees. He went straight back to the inn where Leona was staying. She woke up as soon as she heard his footsteps. It was a wild animal-like instinct.
“What’s going on, mister? You haven’t leave yet.”
Zin looked at Leona and said:
“I'm going to ask you a question.”
“What’s up with you? What is it?”
“When did you leave Mok-Gol?”
“Why are you asking?”
As Zin kept probing Leona, her facial expression changed. It was hard to explain what was going through her mind. Then she answered with a heavy voice.
“It’s been about two years.”
Zin stood still for a while without a word. Leona silently looked back at him. Zin didn’t question her further, and Leona did the same.
After a long pause, Zin took something out of his coat. When Leona saw it, she stepped back in fear. It was the revolver that Zin had shown her before. Zin walked towards Leona, held the gun by the muzzle, and gave it to Leona.
Puzzled, Leona received the gun. She didn’t know what to do with the revolver as she held it.
“It looks like there are survivors from Mok-Gol here.”
“They’re probably thinking that you destroyed Mok-Gol. It’ll be dangerous to appear in front of them.”
Leona was called a witch and was banished.
Zin had to go to the BMCP, but he couldn’t take her with him. It was safer to let her stay in the city rather than expose her to the monsters. He didn’t want to take her with him.
“If you encounter any danger, use this. Point this at the enemy, and pull the trigger. Even a kid can do this.”
“Uh, I know… I kinda know how to use it…”
It was possible that the Mok-Gol refugees would recognize Leona and attack her. To help Leona, Zin handed her the revolver. Within a short period of time, Zin taught Leona how to use the revolver.
“There are six bullets. Don’t use all of them, and if there are too many enemies, run away.”
“If I run away… what do I do then? Where do we meet?”
“… Finding you isn’t going to be that hard.”
So stay wherever, I’ll go look for you.
Zin kept those words to himself.
Zin looked down at Leona; she returned his stare. She bit her lip and started talking again.
“Do you think that I’m a witch?”
Leona’s voice held a wealth of emotions that was difficult to interpret. With a grin, Zin answered by saying something else.
“After I come back, you’ll tell me everything.”
Zin knew there were moments when Leona had tried to conceal her past, but he didn’t care too much. Leona looked at Zin and asked a question, without a trace of fear, hate, or resentment in her tone:
“I asked you a question first. You answer me first.”
Zin stayed silent for a bit, and answered:
“All the witches are dead.”
Zin’s answer had many meanings, and even though Leona didn’t know them all, she nodded.
She nodded and agreed to tell the whole truth when Zin came back.
After listening to Leona’s answer, Zin said:
“I’m listening. Speak.”
Zin wasn’t sure what kind of emotions were swirling through him. He couldn’t understand the feelings within him. Leona slowly nodded as she looked at Zin.
“I’m a devil hunter.”
Zin said as turned around without looking at Leona. He didn’t speak further.
The following day, near the BMCP (Busan Mass Confusion Point) area. Zin was in front of a concrete wall that was taller than fifty feet. The Wargrave fortress built near the black hole had huge concrete walls surrounding it. No monster would be able to escape and no human would be able to get inside. The fortress walls used to have turrets to shoot down trespassers, but now there was nothing.
There was nothing but tall walls and with no one inside. The abandoned fortress was uninhabitable, and nobody dared to take over the empty fortress.
Some fools would come and stay at the fortress only to die from exposure to the high radiation and CP. It was crazy to stay near this place without any equipment.
The outskirts of the fortress, which had a relatively low level of radiation, had probably been looted a long time ago. Zin had no interest in scouting the outskirts.
The walls looked fine, but the doors were destroyed. Zin entered the fortress. The herb shop owner told him that the fortress was already looted, but that was incorrect information. Wargrave fortresses had inner walls and outer walls. Inside the outer wall, there were military facilities, and Wargrave soldiers hunted the monsters that appeared at the MCP beyond the inner wall.
People did not know about the Wargrave. And they were unable to loot the fortress.