Chapter 71: Finally a Tutorial (13)
Once inside, Chi-Woo and Zelit sat face-to-face on the front porch.
“Are you feeling a bit…better now?” Zelit suddenly asked.
“Are you asking about my health?” Truthfully, his condition wasn’t great since he had been pus.h.i.+ng himself every day for the past month without rest even though he had never exercised before. He did rest and eat well in between, but his body was still in an adjusting period. It had only been a month, so there was room for improvement, and even sitting down right now strained his muscles and made his whole body feel stiff.
“My body still hurts, and it’s hard, but…” Zelit flinched at Chi-Woo’s response, but Chi-Woo continued truthfully and said while laughing, “But it’s better than before. I’m no longer collapsing and lying p.r.o.ne anymore.”
It was just as Chi-Woo said. On the first day he ran, he had struggled to even lift his spoon to eat afterwards, but now, he had the energy to wash and eat before going to bed. Hearing this, Zelit misunderstood like everyone else and was horrified. ‘He had been collapsing and lying p.r.o.ne before? That was how severe his condition had been?’
“Is your condition that dire?”
“What? No. I’m sure it will get better if I rest a couple of days.” Chi-Woo shook his head.
“Why…!” Ru Hiana suddenly let out a loud, tearful cry and was about to shout something when Ru Amuh stopped her by saying, “Ru Hiana!” Meeting her disgruntled stare, Ru Amuh quietly shook his head. He could understand her feelings. If they were in any other world, Ru Amuh wouldn’t have stopped her. However, things were different on Liber; any serious injury or deteriorating health simply meant one thing here: death. All the injured or ill could do was to offer themselves as sacrifices. Ru Amuh believed it must be difficult for Chi-Woo to accept his current condition when they were finally making some progress– especially considering that he was burdened with the hopes and dreams of those who had sacrificed themselves. Thus, Chi-Woo must think he had to do something before his body broke down. Ru Amuh wanted to respect his wish. He did want to stop Chi-Woo, but if this was what Chi-Woo wanted, he couldn’t stop him.
Zelit thought similarly. Chi-Woo’s condition had been exposed by Ru Hiana; he must have guessed why the four of them had suddenly visited him. Chi-Woo himself had admitted that his condition was poor to some degree, but he also said that it had gotten better and that he would recover if he rested for a couple of days. In other words, Chi-Woo was saying he wanted to continue partic.i.p.ating in their activities.
Zelit licked his dry lips and said, “We have to find additional food supply.” He went on to explain that thanks to Chi-Woo’s help, they now had a long-term solution to the food supply problem. However, even though Allen had revitalized the land with his powers and sped up the growth of the crops, it would still take more than one night. They still had to endure a transitional period before the harvest with what food they had left. Thus, before their food ran out, they had to find new food supplies.
“Eshnunna told us several likely places.” Zelit spread out the map he brought. The map was detailed; Zelit seemed to have drawn additional details onto the old map. “We originally planned to visit all nine points marked on the map, but we narrowed it down to only five points within four days of travel from this fortress. We plan to start from this location here to take the shortest path…” Zelit pointed at each point on the map and explained. “Ru Amuh and Ru Hiana would be the ones to go this time. Eshnunna would also go as their guide.”
“That’s fewer people than I thought.”
“The purpose of this search is exploration. Even if they find food supplies, they don’t have to bring them back. They just have to confirm the supplies are there.”
“Ah, I see.”
“We still have some food left, and since our purpose is to confirm the supplies’ location, they are to avoid any battle or confrontation to the best of their ability. Even if they encounter monsters, they shouldn’t engage them; Ru Amuh and Ru Hiana are there to protect the others.”
Chi-Woo suddenly had a strange feeling that Zelit was putting extreme care into his word choice and att.i.tude.
“Of course…” Zelit’s lips twitched. “We know a spirit might show up, too. That’s what we worry about the most.” Zelit looked extremely uncomfortable as he continued, “We wish to avoid them, and if we run into them, we would try to escape. However, escape may not be possible depending on the situation…” After hesitating for a great while, Zelit hung his head low and said, “For those situations…we’re hoping you’ll be able to lend us your help…”
Chi-Woo nodded. He understood what they meant. “Um….” Chi-Woo thought deeply. He was finally going outside the fortress now, not even nearby, but a location that’d require four days of travel to get to. And that was the most optimistic estimation; even if they managed to forge an efficient path there, it might take longer to check all five locations. Because of all the experiences he had gone through on his way to the fortress, there was a part of him that didn’t want to go. He secretly agreed with Ru Hiana’s complaint, ‘Why must Senior always step forward?’
‘Still…’ Since coming to Liber, Chi-Woo knew it was unrealistic to expect safety in this world. Although not much had happened the past month, the danger remained, and he didn’t know what threat would come knocking next time. Zelit was preparing for a pressing danger that would soon be upon them. Thus, Chi-Woo understood and empathized why he needed to go. Additionally, there were other factors that could make this trip worthwhile.
‘It won’t be all bad…’ Shahnaz told him before that a person didn’t acc.u.mulate merits just on battlefields. The act of going to find food for heroes whose purpose was to save Liber had a high possibility of being acknowledged, too, and the fact that the situation was especially difficult probably only added to the merit’s value.
And that wasn’t the only incentive. Zelit wanted to avoid battle as much as possible, but Chi-Woo thought the contrary. He couldn’t do anything about physical monsters, but in regards to spiritual monsters? Every time he swung his ghost-busting club, he gained experience points.
“Hmm.” Chi-Woo weighed the advantages and the dangers he would have to face.
Zelit was visibly conflicted as he watched Chi-Woo silently contemplate his choices. There was definitely something different about Chi-Woo. The man had moved faster than anyone else and took the initiative when saving Ru Amuh and ambus.h.i.+ng the ranch. However, Chi-Woo was pondering about his choices this time, and anyone could tell that he was hesitating.
There was no way that Chi-Woo did not know the gravity of the food supply problem. Considering that Chi-Woo helped Allen Leonard awaken his powers to facilitate farming, he must understand it better than anyone. However, the fact that Chi-Woo was not readily stepping forward…Zelit could only a.s.sume it was because of how serious Chi-Woo’s condition currently was.
“I’m not forcing you to go,” Zelit said. “You may refuse if it’s too tiring for you. We’ll deal with it.”
“Senior, you don’t have to go,” Ru Hiana quickly chimed in. “Don’t worry. You can entrust the task to Ruahu, Ms. Eshnunna, and me. Senior, you should rest and take care of yourself.”
Chi-Woo was thankful for Ru Hiana’s concerns, but hearing Ru Amuh was going made him lean toward joining them. Ru Amuh was a top hero among the extremely rare 4-star heroes. Most of all, no parent would let their child go on an adventure on their own. However, Chi-Woo did not immediately reply. Zelit had said it was his choice, so he was allowed the leisure to think about various points and weigh his choices.
“Will you give me some time to think about this?”
“Of course,” Zelit immediately replied.
“Just give me three or four days. I’ll have my answer by then.”
“That is completely fine with me.”
“Senior! What are you thinking? You really, really don’t have to go!”
When Ru Hiana intervened again, Zelit glanced at her and smacked his lips. “I haven’t heard your reply yet…but are you really alright?”
“Haha. Honestly, I hesitated because I’m not sure if I can go in this state. My physical condition isn’t too…”
It was not easy to keep running. Similar to how no student would take the SAT test after staying up all night, if Chi-Woo went out in his current condition, he’d only be a hindrance to everyone else. He was so fatigued that he could barely even walk. He needed to rest, eat, and sleep well to recover and make other necessary preparations.
“Anyway, I’ll keep the mission in mind now that I know about it. I need some time to think, but I’ll be thinking about it in a positive—”
Chi-Woo, who had been speaking while furtively glancing at Ru Amuh, was startled by Ru Hiana’s sudden outburst.
“Did you just hear that?!” Ru Hiana angrily turned towards Zelit and growled, her face flushed in anger. “I told you! I knew he would react this way! I told you not to ask him in the first place!”
“Ms. R-Ru Hiana?” Startled, Chi-Woo tried to stop her.
“What? You wanted to talk to him first?! Don’t make me laugh! You know full well the kind of person Senior is—!”
“Ms. Ru. Hiana.”
Ru Hiana swallowed what she was about to say and stopped. “Uh, uh?” She reflexively turned around and flinched. Chi-Woo’s expression looked as cold as his voice. His eyes looked slightly strained as well.
“Ms. Ru Hiana, I was in the middle of talking.”
“Ah, no. Senior, I was just…”
“I was talking to Mr. Zelit.” Chi-Woo’s voice was low, and Ru Hiana immediately closed her mouth. Ru Hiana’s gaze wavered at the slight anger on Chi-Woo’s face. Her lips trembled.
Chi-Woo sighed and shook his head. ‘I’m grateful that she cares for me, but…’ It wasn’t the first time he thought this way, but it was too much at times.
Ru Hiana looked like she had swallowed something bad, and her chin trembled. “Fu…”
“What?” Ru Amuh’s brows furrowed. “Ru Hiana, what did you just say? Who were you saying that to?”
Ru Hiana did not reply. She closed her eyes and whirled around before running outside.
“Ru Hiana!” Even though Ru Amuh called after her, she ran like the wind and disappeared. Ru Amuh looked like he didn’t know what to do and sighed.
“You should know when to stop.” To make matters worse, Eshnunna also added in her thoughts. When Chi-Woo turned to her in confusion, her eyes narrowed, “You should think about those who care about you.” Eshnunna turned around coldly as well, moving so fast that her skirt fluttered before she went out through the door with rougher steps than usual.
“…I apologize…” Ru Amuh apologized instead of Ru Hiana. “But…” Then he also spoke up with an indescribable expression. “If my promise to you breaks like this…” He gritted his teeth and stared at Chi-Woo. “If it breaks like this…I wouldn’t be able to endure it…” He bowed and turned around.
Chi-Woo blanked out as he was suddenly left alone with Zelit. Like a bolt of lightning from a blue sky, their strange behavior came out of nowhere.
‘I feel like I’m going crazy…’ He clutched his forehead because his head hurt. His precious resting time had been disrupted. Chi-Woo would like to lie down now. Before that, though, he needed to finish this conversation.
“…I’ll be thinking about it in a positive light…” Chi-Woo finished the sentence he wanted to say before.
“I understand, and I’m thankful for that alone. You don’t have to strain yourself.” Zelit had good sense, so he quickly got up. “And…just in case, I’ll look around to see if there’s a hero who used to be a priest.”
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“Ah, that’s a good idea.”
Chi-Woo stretched his body while conversing with Mimi. He rolled around here and there.
[Will you be going?]
Chi-Woo stopped rolling and quickly organized his thoughts. “Well.” Chi-Woo sat up. “I don’t know for sure yet. First…” He got to his feet. It felt too risky to go in his current condition. Just like when he rescued Ru Amuh, Chi-Woo needed to take a minimum of security measures.
‘Even if I make a contract with a G.o.d right now, it’ll be difficult for me to become significantly stronger, right?’
[Yes, that will probably be the case, but it’ll be better than not doing anything.]
‘Yeah, I expected as much. I understand.’
[Are you, perhaps…? With Shahnaz?]
‘No, no. I’m going to wait and see.’ Chi-Woo wiggled his thumb. ‘I’m just going to keep that as an option for now. There’s also other things I need to check.’
[What are you thinking?]
‘It’s too tiring to keep thinking. Why don’t you just read my thoughts yourself?’ After saying this, Chi-Woo immediately imagined Mimi in the most ridiculous image possible and made her fart.
[Please stop! How far are you going to pull my leg?]
While getting angry, she began to read his thoughts.
[One—no, it’s nothing.]
Mimi was about to say something but stopped.
‘Ms. Mimi, do you know?’
[Don’t call me Mimi. And what?]
‘There are two ways to anger a person.’
[Yes, I’m listening.]
‘The first is to stop mid-sentence.’
[…Yes. And the second one?]
[What’s the second one? I’m curious. Please tell me now.]
Chi-Woo smiled with satisfaction. He chuckled inside and secretly thought that his a.s.sistant was really fun to tease.
[Hey, you punk.]
Chi-Woo immediately realized his mistake.
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