Chapter 23 – Napoleon’s Golden Goblet (1)
They were survivors.
“I’ve come from Guro district.”
“We are from Yangcheon District······.”
Survivors from Seoul.
Of course, Guro District and Yangcheon District were located far from the center of Seoul, but regardless, those areas were much closer to the heart of the Republic of Korea than Kim Tae Hoon and his party.
Their circumstances became clearer.
“Seoul is hell now. Gigantic monsters run amok······.”
“A huge dragon with huge wings, it’s hard to believe, but the dragon breathed fire and destroyed buildings and lit all the trees around on fire······ euuuh······.”
“It’s just something we heard, but fighter jets destroyed the Mapo and Yanghwa bridges with missiles.”
The capital of the Republic of Korea, Seoul, was no longer the most populated city in all of South Korea, but, it had also become one of the most devastated area with the most casualties.
Those who heard the story had become white like plaster.
Kim Tae Hoon’s expression also stiffened.
‘The fact that there were fighter jets in the air means that one or more air bases did not fall······ if you look at the situation and the location, they must have flew from Sungnam Air Force Base. But to destroy the bridges······ was it to prevent them from spilling over into Gyeonggi Province? Or was it to prevent any more monsters from entering Seoul?’
Building hundreds of new hypotheses utilizing the new information that he had received, there was no room to consider anything else.
Kim Su Ji approached Kim Tae Hoon and said.
“Major, what will you do now sir?”
She asked, thinking that it would be awhile before Kim Tae Hoon would answer.
She also expected a sensible answer.
However, he easily responded.
“We’ll spend the rest of the day here, and then move on to the next destination after a briefing.”
“Then the survivors······.”
“I have no plans to accommodate the survivors.”
Kim Tae Hoon’s answer was completely unexpected and outside the bounds of what Kim Su Ji thought was rational.
“Kim Tae Hoon Major-nim?”
“I’ll say it again. We will not move with the survivors.”
“Your plan is to toss them aside and move on without them ?”
“I never accepted them, but I guess you can say we’re tossing them aside.”
“They are civilian survivors!”
Not just survivors, but civilian survivors.
As a soldier, if you had any compassion, you would help the survivors.
Who in their right mind would consider such an idea to be reasonable?
Kim Tae Hoon didn’t explain any further in response to Kim Su Ji’s disgust.
Instead, he approached the survivors who were sitting on the floor while trying to light a fire.
The survivors ages, gender, and profession were all different. Their only commonality was a lack of life in their eyes.
Kim Tae Hoon spoke to them.
“We cannot afford to escort all of you to a safe place at this time. Furthermore, we have no knowledge of any safe places in this situation. You survivors must take care of yourselves.”
What came out of Kim Tae Hoon’s mouth were blunt but polite words.
However, not a single person who could appreciate the politeness in his words.
Both Ahn Sun Mi and Bang Hyun Wook froze hearing his words.
They both knew what kind of person Kim Tae Hoon was.
At a large mall, Kim Tae Hoon spoke in front of the survivors.
Afterwards, Kim Tae Hoon left them.
For his own sake and the sake of his goal, he would not brazenly bite off more than he can chew and burden himself with more than he needs.
So it was a guarantee that Kim Tae Hoon’s words were more than just threats, but warnings that he would carry through with.
Bang Hyun Wook immediately stepped forward.
“It’s okay if they go the same way as us, right? No, rather, you said we’ll stay here for today right? Then it’s okay if they stay with us, right?”
Watching Bang Hyun Wook’s face after having spoken his thoughts, Kim Tae Hoon could roughly gauge the thoughts in his heart.
There was nothing more to be said. He saw that Bang Hyun Wook had been talking to a woman of his age from amongst the survivors.
Kim Tae Hoon spoke the words that he had already prepared in his mind.
“I have no intention of stopping you if you want to be a hero, but if you choose to be one then you’ll be on your own.”
“What? Just what are you trying to say······.”
“If monsters are coming after me and entangle themselves within the civilian survivors, then I’ll pull the trigger regardless of their identities. That’s not exactly a heroic action.”
“In addition, the survivors can become very dangerous obstacles to me in the future. There will not be any merits to outweigh the risks.”
Bang Hyun Wook shut his mouth.
There was no point in arguing who was in the right and was in the wrong.
In regards to survival, Kim Tae Hoon was unconditionally correct.
It was the same now.
“If you want to leave the Mek Clan for the sake of being a hero, I can send you off. But don’t think you can come back for free once you leave.”
Taking care of the survivors would be a burden in many ways.
More mouths to feed, less mobility, and more necessities to consume.
But the most pressing matter would be that there would be more people that needed to be protected.
The world had changed where it was difficult to ensure the safety of even one person. In this world, he couldn’t afford to to defend anyone else. Anyone who says they can is either delusional or bluffing.
The surrounding survivors were within earshot of the conversation between the two.
They all knew what could be in store for them.
‘We’re going to be tossed aside?’
‘What the fuck did he just say? They say that they’re soldiers, then shouldn’t they protect us?’
The survivors’ gazes turned black and began to tremble. One of the survivors jumped from their seat and shouted.
“You! Are you going to abandon us now? You’re going to······.”
Kim Tae Hoon immediately responded.
“You won’t even let me speak!”
“What kind of noise is that?”
The survivors started to get scared and got up out of there seats as they looked at Kim Tae Hoon.
Their eyes were filled with fear, their expressions filled with resentment.
They couldn’t accept it.
How were they supposed to accept the fact that a lifeline had grazed their palms, and yet they were now supposed to let it it go?
“You guys are soldiers right? Then you have to unconditionally protect us!”
“Damn it, if you’re just going to wolf down all of the taxes we pay then you have to protect us!”
“Hey you son of a bitch, what kind of human are you? You say the only one who should survive is you?”
Gradually, angry sounds began to come out of the survivors’ mouths.
Kim Tae Hoon gave a simple reply.
Kim Tae Hoon’s brief reply was thick with a killing intent.
Although the killing intent wasn’t visible to the eye, it held a strength that pressed down on the survivors.
He wasn’t a normal human.
Kim Tae Hoon had already consumed the strength of many monsters, and their strength had long since assimilated with his body.
On top of that, Kim Tae Hoon was already an awakened with the ability to exercise his thoughts upon the physical world with his A rank Telekinesis.
His killing intent was like a biting wind amidst the cold weather. His flesh was not lacking in scars and wounds.
In front of his killing intent, the survivors’ anger cooled down.
“Let me make things clear. We’re not soldiers. We are the Mek Clan, an organization for the purposes of hunting monsters. Our purpose is to hunt monsters, not to save survivors.”
Saliva in the mouths were cold and had frozen to the point where they couldn’t swallow, within such a cold atmosphere Kim Tae Hoon spoke.
“Additionally, we hunt monsters to survive. Their existence is a threat to our survival. We have no reason to stick out our necks for your survival.”
There were no questions.
“On the contrary. On your way here, how many did you save, how many did you help, and how many monsters did you kill?”
Not even the sound of breathing could be heard.
“I guarantee you that the reason that the lot of you were able to make it this far was thanks to ignoring the plight of many survivors, but you expect us to help you?”
It was a one-sided onslaught of questions.
“This is a warning. If any of you get in the way of our operations, I will deal with you one way or another. Afterwards, whether you report me to the police or call a lawyer, that’s up to you.”
When Kim Tae Hoon finished speaking, the quiet sounds of a shallow breathing and gulping could be heard.
All of them could see what was going on.
‘That human is a human who might just shoot us with a gun if we annoy him.’
They could see the words he was rattling off were neither lies nor bluffs, but that he really would carry through with his words.
Because of that, there were no longer any survivors who were willing to struggle against him.
Kim Tae Hoon soon lost interest towards the survivors.
He ordered his followers who were watching him.
“We’ll spend one day here at Bucheon Stadium. Siphon the gas from nearby cars, charge your smartphone batteries with car batteries, and scavenge for food from nearby marts and vending machines.”
That was it
Kim Tae Hoon did not warn the survivors that they would be treated as intruders if they entered their territory.
There was no need for him to do so since the survivors already knew.
And like that, another day came to an end.
After the creation of the Mek Clan, Kim Tae Hoon had taught the soldier turned clan members many things.
Of which, he taught them some survival skills, like charging a phone using a car battery, and how to dismantle monsters.
Plus, he instructed them every day.
“The saber-toothed wolf’s skin is thinnest right between the ribs. If you make an incision with a knife in this spot and stick your hand in it, you can find the heart located somewhere in the middle of arm between your wrist and your elbow.”
Today, Kim Tae Hoon was teaching the soldiers how to extract a monster stone from the corpse of a saber-toothed wolf.
Of course such instructions wouldn’t make them into better soldiers, but rather better hunter.
“Hyungnim, I have something to say······.”
Bang Hyun Wook approached Kim Tae Hoon after having stripped a saber-toothed wolf of its skin, bones, and flesh.
Kim Tae Hoon wiped his bloody hand with a towel and listened to Bang Hyun Wook’s suggestion.
“What’s on your mind?”
“Of the survivors, is there no way you can accept one, just one?”
“Just one······ please this is my request. No matter what I’ll take responsibility for everything. I promise there won’t be any interruptions in our operations. I’ll even share my rations as well.”
Bang Hyun Wook had a serious expression, but seemed nervous.
“Why should I give you preferential treatment?”
On the other hand, Kim Tae Hoon was always calm and composed.
He was so calm that it unnerved Bang Hyun Wook.
In the end, Bang Hyun Wook managed to spit out the words he had prepared.
“I’ve been helping you until now, right hyungnim? And, I the rank of my Energy is the highest within the clan. If it’s just hyungnim, it’ll be very difficult would it not?”
He said so vehemently.
“Quite frankly, didn’t hyungnim eat a lot of monster stones from the monsters that I killed until now?”
The way he held his ground was surprisingly strong.
“Ah······. So what I’m trying to say······ I’m not saying that you’re wrong or anything, and I’m not complaining, but what I mean to say is that I worked very hard for you······.”
In the end, Bang Hyun Wook lost his momentum.
Kim Tae Hoon asked Bang Hyun Wook a question.
“I just have one question. What’s the relationship between you two that you would act like this?”
“We graduated from the same junior high school.”
“No, not exactly······ I have a one-sided crush on her······.”
Having said that, Bang Hyun Wook felt embarrassed and a little ashamed.
He was willing to go against Kim Tae Hoon and raise a scene for the sake of someone who was neither a friend nor a lover but rather a nobody who he had a one-sided crush on. If anyone were to see the scene, they would that he was foolish and ridiculous.
However, Kim Tae Hoon didn’t think that Bang Hyun Wook was being too foolish,
“I can understand what you’re feeling. But I still cannot accede to your request. I’m sorry.”
As humans, there was no point in arguing who was morally correct or not.
There was one sure thing about Kim Tae Hoon’s methods, and it was that it had the highest chance of survival.
Knowing that, Bang Hyun Wook’s face creased.
It was hard for him to accept the fact that he was unable to persuade Kim Tae Hoon and that Kim Tae Hoon was unwilling to concede anything in the end.
It was Chang Sung Hoon that ended the conversation.
Carrying a bag, Chang Sung Hoon had approached with a serious look on his face. Kim Tae Hoon’s gaze changed when he identified the bag. He knew what was inside.
Chang Sung Hoon fished out the object that Kim Tae Hoon was aware of from the bag.
“Please look at this.”
Napoleon’s Golden Goblet displayed a soft, golden sheen.
“A red liquid appeared in the goblet.”
Inside Napoleon’s Golden Goblet was a brilliant red liquid sloshing around inside.
Chang Sung Hoon turned the goblet upside down.
According to common sense, the liquid should have definitely fallen onto the floor following the laws of gravity.
However, the red liquid only sloshed around, not even a single drop hitting the floor.
“Wh, wh, what does it mean? What is this?”
This being the first time Bang Hyun Wook ever laid eyes on the goblet, he sported a gobsmacked look on his face.
‘Danger. Will this red champagne make us dream of the danger? What kind of danger is it trying to show us? Will the drink allow us to foresee the danger? Premonition? But why now? Is there a condition?’
Kim Tae Hoon had an anxious expression.
“Boss, the amount of liquid is gradually decreasing. If you don’t drink it soon it’ll disappear.”
Kim Tae Hoon couldn’t afford to be anxious.
Kim Tae Hoon reached for the golden goblet and drank the red champagne inside.
At that moment, an irresistible drunkenness swallowed him whole.
The last things that Kim Tae Hoon heard.
It was the voices of the two who were yelling at him.