** I changed blue from the previous chapters to indigo. The dragon, the monster at Mt. Paektu and the monster at Mt. Halla are ranked indigo, not blue. As denoted by ROY G BIV, indigo would be the second highest tier of monsters. **
Chapter 42 – United (3)
All creatures strive to survive.
And so as all creatures strive towards survival, an ecosystem is born.
These monsters of unknown origins had developed their own ecosystem.
While the apex predators openly and actively sought other creatures to prey on, the smaller and weaker monsters that lacked the ability to do so could only scavenge around the debris looking for dead bodies or the remains of another predator’s meal.
In that location, a large rock had fallen.
A terrifying and tremendously strong serpent that had taken Bucheon City as its own territory had died.
It was the death of a hegemon.
To conceal such an event was an impossibility.
News of the death of the king had spread far and wide, and with that was came the backlash.
This was especially true for the most ambitious of monsters.
Rather than staying content with becoming the leader of a mere herd of monsters, those that wanted to take over the Black Snake’s former territory began to make their move.
As the one who had trampled over the Black Snake and became the new hegemon, it was Kim Tae Hoon’s role to take the spoils.
His blackened right arm, like a giant hammer, smashed the skull of a Monkey Dog who was a head taller and whose body boasted a larger build than his.
Fragments of the Monkey Dog’s skull and chunks of its brain splattered onto the floor as twelve other Monkey Dogs finally caught up to the sight of their chief’s body falling onto the floor.
Like a snake, Kim Tae Hoon weaved between the Monkey Dogs, launching his fist towards their heads.
It was as though the world was frozen and Kim Tae Hoon was the only one moving.
It wasn’t simply because Kim Tae Hoon’s speed was fast.
It was accuracy.
Kim Tae Hoon’s fist appeared out of nowhere like the wind, aiming towards a Monkey Dog’s red eyes located behind its jutting snout.
It was superhuman.
No other words could describe the unsurpassed accuracy and speed that Kim Tae Hoon possessed as he obliterated a monster in nothing more than an instant.
‘It’s not enough.’
Kim Tae Hoon had swiftly adapted to the ability he had obtained from the Black Snake, and had made it his own.
That was the reason. That was the reason why he was able to throw himself towards the monsters that were attracted to the scent of the warm blood and engage in a melee.
“I have nothing to say.”
“Just who is the monster······.”
The survivors that had deemed Kim Tae Hoon as savior couldn’t help but admire him more and more.
Because they were unceasingly dismantling monster corpses, their increased familiarity with the sight of dead bodies left them more and more amazed, their admiration only increasing.
Although all of this had been wrought by Kim Tae Hoon’s hands, he was not satisfied with what had happened.
‘Two of them.’
He couldn’t be satisfied.
‘There are two monsters at the same level of the dragon on the Korean Peninsula.’
He could feel the wretchedness of the world with his own body. It would be impossible not to know how fucked up the world was at this point.
But now that the feeling was stronger than before, it had a greater effect on his mindset.
Although he had thought that there would be monsters second only to the dragon, he had found out that there were in fact two of them, with one residing on Mt. Paektu and another on Mt. Halla.
The monsters were basically gatekeepers at both ends of the Korean Peninsula.
Considering how large the Earth was, the Korean Peninsula itself was tiny.
If there were three on the Korean Peninsula, then how many more terrifyingly strong monsters would there be in the rest of the world?
That wasn’t all.
‘Although with good fortune I managed to defeat the Black Snake, there are still dozens of them in the surrounding area.’
Just as Chang Sung Hoon had explained, Daedongyeojido was like a radar.
Powerful monsters, like the dragon were shown even if they were far away, but not the weaker monsters unless the distance was not too far.
Despite that, Daedongyeojido revealed the existence of nine creatures under the monsters at the dragon’s tier were denoted as blue dots.
Furthermore, there were so many yellow and green lights that they couldn’t immediately count how many there were.
‘Yi Jin Sung, that punk wasn’t lying.’
The land that Bucheon sat atop was the only area situated between green and blue lights.
‘Bucheon is lucky.’
It had survived only because it was wedged between greater powers.
‘Definitely dodged a bullet.’
Of course, despite that, it wasn’t actually good news.
A smaller country wedged between stronger countries might benefit a few times, but eventually, they’ll be destroyed.
The truth came from history.
In fact, the large population of humans was what was supporting the various new ecosystems that had arisen. Because there were so many humans, monsters could easily capture and eat them.
But humans weren’t like plankton. Neither did humans lay eggs like fish did.
Although humans were populous now, their numbers would inevitably sharply fall as monsters consumed more and more of them.
Since monsters have no hand in promoting human reproduction, they would eventually resort to seeking out an area with a high human density. Therefore, Bucheon would end up becoming something like a monster’s promised land.
There was only one solution.
‘We have to take the initiative before they attack us.’
Kill or be killed.
Before the monsters get stronger, they needed to take advantage of mankind’s strength and stock up on food and technology whilst promoting the survivors’ abilities and zeal.
At best, they could kill the orange and red eyed monsters in the area, but it wouldn’t be nearly enough to satisfy Kim Tae Hoon.
He was starting to feel impatient.
‘We can’t continue just like this. At best, with our current strength······ we won’t really be able to do anything.’
However, a prompt whisper from Chang Sung Hoon swiftly did away with Kim Tae Hoon’s impatience.
“Boss, the goblet has filled up.”
Bucheon City Hall.
Located in the center of Bucheon City, it was repurposed to be used as the Mek Clan’s headquarters.
There were many things that indicated it as such.
Mek Clan’s soldiers patrolling the area while armed with firearms was a sufficient evidence pointing towards that fact. Another indicator was the returning awakened hunters.
“The sir has returned.”
“Master, I’m talking about master.”
“The sir! Messiah!”
The survivors residing in the vicinity of Bucheon City Hall who frequently pinned their hopes on Kim Tae Hoon was also proof.
“I’ve heard that he was able to kill more than a hundred monsters this time, do you think it’s true? And all by himself, too. I heard he used only his bare hands as well.”
“A hundred monsters all by himself with nothing but his bare hands? How does that even make sense?”
“It really doesn’t make sense, but with all the bodies piled up, wouldn’t it probably be more than a hundred?”
“But bare handed······.”
“C’mon, we’re talking about the person who killed the Yellow Demon with one stroke, for someone like him, this would be child’s play.”
The world was still steeped in desperation.
Communications were down, there was still no sign of any news from the army, there were monsters freely roaming all over, there was an absence of other survivors bearing any sort of news, and the situation had deteriorated to the point where food had now become difficult to find.
All of this was compounded by the cold, wintry weather. Those who suffered from hunger while suffering from the cold would begin to wish for the sweet release of death.
Nobody would dare think that they could turn the situation around.
They could only hope.
“Does he plan to exterminate an entire monster clan?”
“I hope he ends up killing all of them.”
If anyone was going to turn the situation around, it was Kim Tae Hoon. The only way they could allow their hopes to grow was by pinning their hopes on the first hunter, Kim Tae Hoon.
Kim Tae Hoon was sitting in a padded chair within the city hall, a golden goblet in his hand.
At first glance, he looked like an arrogant boss.
However, looking at the sloshing liquid, Kim Tae Hoon’s unsightly expression whilst looking at the unspillable liquid within the goblet detracted him from the appearance of an arrogant boss.
His expression was not good.
‘What alternatives can we even take?’
Napoleon’s Golden Goblet.
This mysterious and mystical golden goblet that incited unpleasant visions had only become more mysterious.
Without notice and without warning.
Of course he would be curious. He wanted to know what the golden goblet filled with wine would reveal.
On that contention, Chang Sung Hoon made the following conjectures.
“This is just my opinion, but I think that Napoleon’s Golden Goblet let’s you take a peep at your fate. But the goblet does not make it convenient to do so. The moment your fate is altered, there should be a sort of cooldown before you’re allowed to view it again. That’s why the goblet only just now filled up again. It takes time before you can see your altered fate.”
It was a pretty good guess.
If one’s future and fate were compared to a program, then you could say that it would take some time to hack into it in order to read it.
It’s only possible that it would take some time.
‘The fate of the world had changed.’
If his conjecture was correct, then the red liquid once again appearing within Napoleon’s Golden Goblet was proof that Kim Tae Hoon’s future had changed.
It was also indication that Kim Tae Hoon’s death at the hands of the dragon was changed.
Of course this wasn’t just for fun.
Afterall, who knows if Kim Tae Hoon’s lease on life was further shortened in the altered future.
If that were to happen, then that would simply be an unfortunate event.
If everything he did for the sake of survival ultimately ended up shortening his life, then he wouldn’t even be able to swear.
Of course he would be scared.
Nevertheless, Kim Tae Hoon didn’t hesitate. He downed the goblet in one go.
At the same time, Kim Tae Hoon’s body collapsed.
“Open your eyes! I said open your eyes!”
A woman’s crying and shouting pounded against his eardrums.
“Open your eyes! Kim Tae Hoon open your eyes!”
She was crying out repeatedly.
Although his eyes were still closed, Kim Tae Hoon recognized the speaker because of her voice.
‘Ahn Sun Mi.’
Soon after, a woman entered Kim Tae Hoon’s gaze.
There weren’t many differences between the Ahn Sun Mi here and the Ahn Sun Mi in real life. Her freckled face was still the same, and her body was mostly unmarred.
The only difference was her now long hair. The length of her hair was an indicator of how much time had passed.
‘What year is it now?’
But that alone wasn’t enough to differentiate between whether or not it’s been one year or five years.
Furthermore, that was all that Kim Tae Hoon could see at the moment. Kim Tae Hoon’s eyelids grew heavy again.
At this moment, Kim Tae Hoon knew.
He recognized that his nose was right before death’s gateway. He lacked even the strength to speak with someone, so he couldn’t solicit any clues from any conversations he could have.
‘To be in such a situation······.’
It was the worst.
Was he going to die without getting any information? Was this opportunity just going to be wasted after having waited for so much time?
What was he supposed to glean from this situation?
Kim Tae Hoon sighed. He could only recite his grievances in his head.
He once again heard her voice again.
“What I’m about to say, I say in hopes that the you in the past may listen through a vision. I don’t know when or if the day will come where you envision this moment but······ ready yourself, let me tell you your wish list.”