Is that…. no, it couldn’t be…. but…. it is…. it is! It’s, it’s, it’s a PATREON!
Chapter 26 – Beefing Up (2)
“I’ve gathered them all here major.”
Late at night.
The winter sun having long since descended beyond the horizon and slipped from view, an unorganized crowd of people were gathered amidst the cold winds of winter night.
‘They’re all here save one.’
The rabble that had gathered consisted of the survivors.
As soon as he was given permission from Kim Tae Hoon······ Bang Hyun Wook approached his crush, Joo Hayun.
He informed her that the Mek Clan was accepting applicants.
If you pass the Mek Clan’s tests, then you can travel with them.
Without a single exception, twenty-two survivors expressed their desire to be initiated into the Mek Clan.
In the worst case scenario, the survivors’ conditions wouldn’t be much different than their conditions right now.
“For now, let me make some things clear.”
Kim Tae Hoon said to those who had gathered.
“First, the name of our clan is Mek, the Mek Clan. Second, all of the monster stones and other miscellaneous items that clan members find through hunting monsters belong to me. Third, my orders must be followed without question.”
Kim Tae Hoon stopped talking for a moment.
He didn’t bother to tack on any sort of warning telling them not to spew bullshit later on.
This wasn’t some new company seeking to hire a large amount of new employees. If anyone decides to make things difficult for him, then they’ll simply be disposed of. There was no need to be considerate towards those who wanted to make a fuss.
Having stopped talking, Kim Tae Hoon’s gaze swept across the crowd.
He looked at their eyes.
Most of the survivors had lifeless eyes. Eyes that had witnessed countless deaths.
Of course, not everyone’s eyes were like so. Even with everything they had gone through, there were still some who looked at Kim Tae Hoon with clear gazes.
The girl that Bang Hyun Wook had approached, Joo Hayun, was also amongst those who looked at Kim Tae Hoon with clear gazes.
‘Looks like she’s still full of spirit.’
Her hair was cut short, the style reminiscent of a cat, which, just by looking, you could tell was a popular style.
According to Bang Hyun Wook, she was aspiring to be an actress. She hadn’t made any sort of huge debut yet, but she was training at an entertainment company.
Of course, Kim Tae Hoon had no real interest in her.
“Alright then, I’ll begin organizing the lot of you now.”
It was his job to separate the good seeds from the bad.
“Do any of you have a background in a field similar to manufacturing or agriculture?”
Four people looked around before timidly raising their hands.
Three males, one female. The girl looked like she was in her twenties, while the boys looked like to be in their thirties.
“That······ I worked in a factory. I wasn’t specialized in anything, I just did some work here and there.”
“I, I was a construction worker. I have considerable work experience. I don’t have a certification or anything like that, but I have confidence in using the tools. I am very confident.”
“I’m a nurse. I haven’t been in the field for too long, but I have confidence in my abilities. Please······.”
Those who had spoken had no power in their voices.
They lacked confidence.
Despite everything they were saying, would they be offered salvation just by these words alone? They were skeptical.
However, amongst the four that had raised their hands, one person was different.
“I’m a lawyer.”
He introduced himself and his former job with a confident look on his face, as though he had been waiting for this question all along.
“For reference, I worked at the Haesung Law Firm.”
It was a strange scene to see a man so confident in himself to the point where he would add a little blurb about where he worked.
Although not the best law firm in Korea, Haesung Law Firm definitely ranked in the top.
Even if you were to sum up the year’s wages of the three others before him, they still wouldn’t be able to reach his income.
So of course he would be confident.
Therefore, he deserved to be treated with respect.
“With the exception of the lawyer, the rest of you are acceptable.”
Maybe if it was a week ago sure, but today? No.
“H, hold on! Are you saying I’m being ruled out? Those three get to pass?”
The lawyer seemed to have a hard time accepting what Kim Tae Hoon had said.
“I don’t know why you were so confident.”
“Well, that’s because the Haesung Law Firm······.”
“Just one reason, give me one reason why I should place a lawyer as a monster’s opponent.”
Trying to refute Kim Tae Hoon’s words, the lawyer closed his mouth.
The light in his eyes was quickly scattering.
So Kim Tae Hoon simply ignored the lawyer and continued speaking.
“Is there anyone who served in the military that was assigned to artillery or tanks?”
“I was assigned to artillery.”
“I also have experience operating artillery.”
Two men immediately raised their hands.
They seemed to be in their mid-twenties, and had quickly grasped what Kim Tae Hoon was looking for.
“Anyone with a Class 1 driver’s license?”
“Me, I have one. I also know how to operate forklifts and cranes.” [TN: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Driving_license_in_South_Korea%5D
As the number of questions increased, the number of people who raised their hands began to decrease until nobody was raising their hands.
“Ready the test.”
Kim Tae Hoon gave a signal.
The soldiers began to move about. They assembled a line of saber-toothed wolf corpses.
They weren’t just corpses.
The corpses had their hearts removed as a part of the monster stone extraction process, and the entirety of the bodies were completely butchered as a result of dissection practice. Basically, the bodies were ruined.
‘Oh my god.’
As soon as they saw the saber-toothed wolf corpses, the survivors’ faces turned pale.
Some of the ones with weaker stomachs began to throw up.
“The test is simple.”
Kim Tae Hoon once again spoke towards the crowd.
“All you need to do is cut off a saber-toothed wolf’s leg. It doesn’t matter which leg. Front, back, left, right, doesn’t matter as long as you bring a leg to me. You have a time limit of 1 hour. The tool······.”
Kim Tae Hoon fished out a kitchen knife, and threw it at the saber-toothed wolf’s corpse that was beside him.
The knife embedded itself deeply into the corpse to the point where only the handle was visible.
“A single kitchen knife. Well then, the test begins now.”
A man exclaimed while cutting away at a wolf’s hide and flesh with a kitchen knife.
“Shit, blegh! Shit!”
It didn’t take long for more resentful remarks to spill out of the man’s mouth.
Those around him who sympathized with the man began to express their discomfort as well.
Some bit their lips, some shed tears, and others cried out.
The Mek Clan soldiers looked at the scene with stern expressions.
Some of them thought inwardly,
‘What’s the purpose of a test like this?’
‘What exactly is he trying to gauge with this test?’
The scene before them was a terrible and gruesome sight.
Furthermore, the test of cutting off a wolf’s leg, although dreadful, didn’t seem to have any sort of connection or usefulness when fighting against monsters.
Kim Tae Hoon had no intention to deny that sentiment.
Cutting the leg off of a dead monster had no real meaning. It might be useful in regards to practicing stabbing bones or organs in the midst of battle.
Nevertheless, the reason why he was making them do this was simple.
‘If they’re not at a level where they can’t even prepare monsters for eating, then there’s no point in letting them join us.’
Can they do it or not? It wasn’t for the sake of whether or not they could cut the legs off.
Kim Tae Hoon didn’t expect much from the survivors in the first place. Whatever expectations he had for them were vague outlines more than anything.
So what was it that Kim Tae Hoon wanted to see? It was their will.
If they lacked the willpower to leave a an unhindered cut on the body of a dead monster, then they would be nothing more than an empty shell of a person who merely breathed and ate.
He had no intention of sheltering such a person.
Fortunately, the survivors had a strong will to live.
No, rather, it was because they had some strength that they had been able stay alive before discovering Kim Tae Hoon and the Mek Clan.
There would definitely not be any shortage of survivors who would consider the path to where they are now as hell.
In the end, all twenty-two of the survivors managed to make the cut.
Having wrestled with wolf hide, muscle, flesh, and bone for an hour, the survivors’ faces were overcome with joy when Kim Tae Hoon declared their success.
“The bodies were cleaned.”
Kim Tae Hoon didn’t shake their hands or congratulate them.
The night had progressed for some time before the test had ended. It was time for them to take a break that had been scheduled beforehand.
Once the sun rises over the horizon, the Mek Clan will move out.
They had a long day ahead of them. They needed to hunt monsters, secure provisions, forge a path, and secure antiques.
And they had to do all of that over and over again. What they needed to prepare for is not today, but rather the bleak tomorrow.
‘It’s finally finished.’
On top of all that, Kim Tae Hoon had been envisioned to die. Within 3 to 5 years, he would die.
His life had a timer.
Nobody could afford to console him or spend the time to encourage him.
‘I need to find a solution.’
Kim Tae Hoon had no intention to let that timer expire.
‘No matter what.’
Like that, the night deepened.
It was 5 AM, and Chang Sung Hoon was having trouble falling asleep.
The cold weather played a part, but it was mostly the visage of a golden goblet that occupied his mind.
‘To allow someone to have a vision of a moment of crisis······.’
Napoleon’s Golden Goblet.
It had shocked Chang Sung Hoon in many ways.
‘It’s a tool that can affect the future.’
Foreknowledge of danger naturally means that you can avoid the danger. It was like altering one’s demise.
I could change the world.
Relics with such power now existed in the world.
‘Are such items an abundant existence in the world?’
There was something that was even more shocking.
‘The world’s gonna go nuts. That kind of thing······ we can’t exactly allow those things to fall into greedy hands right?’
Chang Sung Hoon could be considered a hatchling by society’s standards if you looked at his age. Afterall, his age was similar to Bang Hyun Wook, who was still overflowing with childishness and immaturity in both how he acted and how he thought.
However, Chang Sung Hoon’s experiences were darker and grittier than those of others.
The world that he was a part of was defined and ruled by the word greed.
Chang Sung Hoon had witnessed many things in that world.
Artwork, the degree to which humans would allow their greed to control them for the sake of something that was functionally worthless.
How terrifying it was to witness people discard their humanity for the sake of obtaining the piece of art that they desired.
Greed wouldn’t fit into a human’s basic necessities, but greed of that degree could easily dwarf any of the three human necessities.
Much less in today’s day and age where the power of a piece of art can change the world
‘It feels like I’m an accomplice to crazy bastards with a missile launch button in their hands.’
What was even more frightening was the fact that most of the priceless pieces of art were already in the hands of the greedy.
The situation is the same now.
World-class artwork and historical artifacts would not be in the hands of the everyday person. Greed was in the hands of those who had the power to satisfy their greed.
Now that such pieces of art had an astronomical value, and could be used to effectively fight monsters, would they use that power to bring peace to the world?
At least, Chang Sung Hoon didn’t want to leave his own fate in the hands of those kinds of people.
‘It’s a really fucked up world.’
Chang Sung Hoon eventually gave up on sleeping. [TN: Ouch, never miss out on sleep. I love my sleep, I absolutely could not imagine a world without sleep.]
Even if he were to fall asleep, he would have to get up soon anyways. He would rather get up early so as to organize his thoughts.
Like that, Chang Sung Hoon opened the car door and stepped outside. The cold winds bombarded his body in that early dawn.
He turned his gaze towards a blazing fire. He then looked at the man that was beside the fire.
Kim Tae Hoon was standing in front of the fire.
He was controlling arrows that had no fletching in a way that made them float here and there.
All while sipping coffee from a mug in his right hand.
Chang Sung Hoon walked towards Kim Tae Hoon.
The two struck up a conversation.