Chapter 44 – Seeking the Owners (2)
At a plaza in front of Bucheon City Hall.
It was an area that the city would often use to host special events or festivals. The area itself was large enough that it seemed as though it would never be able to fill up even if hundreds of people gathered.
But despite that, even though hundreds of people could fit, nobody dared to go in.
It was a result of the intense atmosphere brought about by the people in the plaza.
The patterns on the right hands of all those present at the plaza explained why.
The awakened who used their power to hunt the monsters.
‘Just how long am I supposed to wait here?’
‘Damn it, he said the appointed time was 3PM!’
The awakened who had gathered here were those who were a part of parties that operated in the Mek Clan domain and were taxed for their efforts.
If ranks were to be attached, then they would go from 1st to 7th.
They had long since grown accustomed to spilling monster blood. Their spirits were definitely high.
‘······he made us stand out here for three hours.’
‘The sun has already disappeared.’
They had been enduring the cold, knife-like winter wind for three hours now.
Beasts would never be able to match up to them. A beast had no need for this kind of patience.
Nevertheless, it was one of the reasons why they had endured the winds out in the plaza for three hours.
‘Well, nothing I can do. No choice but to endure for as long as I can.’
‘If I have to freeze to death here, I will. There’s no way I can leave.’
‘If we fall out of favor with him, we’ll die.’
Kim Tae Hoon.
The master of the Mek Clan and the lord of these people, he was the one who had called them here.
That was why they had been so patient.
Afterall, no dog would dare not to wait when the master calls.
“Looks like everyone has gathered.”
A person finally appeared before the crowd.
“Ah, it’s cold. It’s really cold today.”
However, it wasn’t the man they were waiting for.
The man who had appeared was Chang Sung Hoon, Kim Tae Hoon’s right hand man. To make matters worse, he was wearing a thick jumper that made them feel warm just by looking at it.
‘This guy again?’
Seeing him, some of the awakened couldn’t help but grind their teeth.
Nobody was afraid of Chang Sung Hoon. There was no reason to be afraid. He was neither an awakened nor even a strong person amongst civilians. He didn’t even carry around a gun like the rest of the Mek Clan’s soldiers.
“Everyone is cold, right? Would all of you like to receive a hot pack? It’s used but, oh well.”
But despite that, nobody dared ignore him.
His words were the same as Kim Tae Hoon’s words.
“Anyways, it’s been awhile since we’ve all gathered like this. This is the first time we’ve all met like this since the negotiations after Lee Jin Sung’s death. Furthermore, there are familiar faces and new faces.”
Because of that, nobody risked complaining, and only stared at him.
‘They’re in a position where they can’t kill me.’
The light in their eyes told Chang Sung Hoon that if it wasn’t for Kim Tae Hoon, they would have killed Chang Sung Hoon immediately.
Looking at their eyes, Chang Sung Hoon simply laughed.
‘Their eyes are just the way I want them to be.’
That was the reason why Chang Sung Hoon had purposefully come three hours late.
‘If their stomachs are full and their backs are warm, they’ll expose weaknesses. Even if it’s a little, this should reveal some of their true intentions.’
He was going to turn the Mek Clan into a guild today. At the same time, he was going to create a clan to function under the Mek Guild’s banner.
They would even support the clan with guns, ammunition, and even relics.
It would be risky, of course.
The gun was a terrifyingly powerful weapon. But anyone who points their barrel at the Mek Clan would face tremendous damage.
You could never trust the black-haired creatures known as humans.
But, they had no choice but to arm at least some of the awakened.
‘This day was a long time coming.’
They could not stay as they were.
It would be foolish to tie the limbs of those who may be able to help you when the situation deteriorates just so that they wouldn’t be able to harm you.
Above all, the intimidation is overflowing.
‘Well, I would prefer someone with the balls to threaten the boss.’
It would be optimal to have someone who would threaten Kim Tae Hoon. There was a limit to what someone could do on their own.
“Well then, let me begin.”
Of course it would be stupid to give without end.
So he had deliberately exposed them to the cold wind for three hours. He wanted to know their inner thoughts, so he chose to listen to their hearts, not their words.
Even if it was a powerful awakened, it would be impossible for them to remain calm after having faced the brunt of the cold wind for so long.
“The Mek Clan is now the Mek Guild. We will also be recruiting a clan to actively work under us. Naturally, the guild will provide the clan with support.”
The cold glares directed at Chang Sung Hoon began to change.
“There are two main items we plan to provide to the clan. The first is firearms and ammunition.”
As soon as they heard that, their eyes began to blaze like a wildfire.
‘We can finally get guns.’
‘This day has finally come.’
The gathered awakened were strong.
Whether it was through consuming monster stones or by making items with monster materials, they all had grown stronger.
But their gathered strength still wasn’t high enough.
Firearms were such weapons that could help them make up for that deficiency. Not only were they powerful, but they were easy to use and effective against many different kinds of enemies.
‘If we can get our hands on some guns, then we could even take down an orange tier monster.’
All of a sudden, guns would give them the strength to take down even orange grade monsters.
It was also one of the reasons why the awakened had been obediently handing over their monster stones.
They were showing their loyalty and obeisance in hopes that this day would come.
As long as the Mek Clan wasn’t stupid, they would never give firearms to anyone who didn’t show a certain amount of sincerity.
“As for the second item…”
His speech didn’t end there.
With a hand gesture, soldiers from the Mek Clan– no the Mek Guild– walked forward while holding onto some equipment.
Anyone who saw them could tell that they were holding onto a relic.
“The Mek Guild will provide an eligible awakened with a relic.”
At that moment, all eyes focused on one thing.
‘It doesn’t seem like just any sort of regular thing?’
‘If he’s showcasing them here, they must be of considerable worth.’
Chusa Kim Jung Hee’s masterful painting caught everyone’s eye. Some of them put their hands in their pockets and fiddled with their smart phones. They were itching to find out the Grade and Relic Effect with the cameras on their smart phones.
But Chang Sung Hoon had no intention to relieve their anxiety.
“These are what we’ll support the clan with. Of course, there are some conditions. And a few of them at that. We’ve already drafted up a contract. It is seven pages long. It was a pain in the neck trying to print this from a printer······ in this day and age, paper and electricity are far more precious than a Rolex Watch.”
Puleok puleok, Chang Sung Hoon shook the contract bundle.
“But before that, let me talk about the key points.”
At that moment, a man approached Chang Sung Hoon’s position.
Everyone gulped as soon as that man made his appearance. Their gulping was an obvious indicator of who this man was.
Kim Tae Hoon.
Sporting a pair of plain cotton pants and a jumper that fell slightly beneath his waist, the aura Kim Tae Hoon exuded as he walked forward with the Sword of the Commander in his left hand was domineering.
It was more than that of a beast.
His presence was second only to that of the Yellow-Eyed Demon, the Black Snake.
“Firearms and a relic. Equipment that is dangerous in many ways. If I give you a gun, how can I guarantee that the barrels won’t turn to us?”
Before long, Kim Tae Hoon stood in front of Chang Sung Hoon, and Chang Sung Hoon stopped talking.
“I’ve taught you how to hunt, I provided a safe place to hunt, and now I’m giving you guns and a relic and how to find relics on top of that, are these not incredible boons?”
Kim Tae Hoon’s sword flew out of its scabbard and revealed itself at the end of his speech.
The sword lodged itself into the ground, so fast that nobody had been able to clearly make it out.
‘What was that?’
‘Did he move the sword with Telekinesis?’
‘What the, that’s too fast!’
It was like lightning had struck the ground.
Everyone simply stared at the sword, as everything had happened too fast.
“I can’t just give these things out for free.”
Kim Tae Hoon spoke aloud.
“The price for establishing a clan and receiving our aid is a finger. It doesn’t matter which one. Just one is enough.”
The Sword of the Command twinkled as though it were smiling.
Since it was a sword that grew as it drank blood, it seemed as though it became excited just merely thinking of drinking human blood.
Conversely, the gathered awakened all felt a tingle down their spine. All of their bodies froze, so much that they couldn’t feel the cold wind.
On the other hand, Chang Sung Hoon and Kim Tae Hoon were relaxed.
They weren’t playing some malicious and childish prank. In fact, this moment was very important.
As it was said earlier, the establishment and support of a clan under the Mek Guild was a double-edged sword. There was no guarantee that they would turn on the Mek Guild once they received guns and ammunition.
There was no reason to give anything out for free.
‘There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Even if there was, it wouldn’t work.’
There was always a price.
However, the currency of the old world, like gold, money, and bonds, could not be used. In the world today, a PET bottle half-filled with gasoline would hold more value than ten Rolex Watches.
It was the same in regards to red monster stones. There were only so many things of value that people could gather, and to be honest, the value of a red monster stone was nowhere near the value of a relic.
Nobody would want to sell relics or guns for such a cheap currency.
But if not those, then what?
If they were too hasty, calamity will befall them.
Therefore, they can collect later. Although they might not be able to pay for it now, they’ll be able to gather the necessary funds and pay later.
That’s the key.
Could they pay later, or did they have to pay now?
‘They need to be willing to at least give up their finger in exchange for our support.’
There’s no way that the Mek Guild would be willing to provide support for those who weren’t even willing to give up a finger for a chance at hunting more monsters and growing stronger.
“I’ll accept applicants now.”
Kim Tae Hoon had finished speaking.
Of course most of them hesitated. No, rather than being just hesitant, they were afraid.
Furthermore, they had been standing out in the cold for three hours without even knowing why. So at that moment, it would be very difficult for anyone to start scheming.
As intended by Chang Sung Hoon, the majority of them were too occupied with themselves to calculate any sort of scheme or plan.
‘Crazy bastard, he wants us to cut off a finger?’
‘He’s not even Yakuza or anything······.’
‘What nonsense. This is crazy. Nobody’s done anything wrong and he still wants us to cut off a finger?’
So it was only natural that nobody would be willing to volunteer right off the bat.
If cutting off a finger in exchange for guns and ammo weren’t crazy, then nothing in this world was crazy.
However, not everyone thought the same.
There were those with a strong will that didn’t hesitate when faced with the prospect of receiving powerful weapons and support.
“I’m willing to receive support.”
“I’ll take the support.”
Two people raised their hands.
They were the leaders of the two parties that had contributed the most amount of monster stones– Yang Jung Hwan in first, and Lee Su Young in second.
Those two had stepped forward without any hesitation.
The two competitors walked towards the Sword of the Commander embedded in the ground.
But as they reached within a stone’s throw away from the sword, it suddenly extricated itself from the ground and entered its sheath again.
It was once again as though a bolt of lightning has struck.
“The founding of two clans is now allowed. Each of the two of you are allowed to choose a relic. Chang Sung Hoon.”
“Finalize the contract.”
Kim Tae Hoon promptly left, leaving Chang Sung Hoon to finalizing the contracts with Lee Su Young and Yang Jung Hwan.
Neither of the two bothered to read through the contract. The two of them immediately signed their names on the contract.
The entire process was wrapped up quickly. The others simply watched in silence.
When everything was finished, Chang Sung Hoon lightly waved his hand at the rest of the awakened,
“Well then, I’ll see you guys again soon. Before I leave, let me give you guys some advice. The boss isn’t looking for something like loyalty. Rather, are you worth investing into or not? If you possess a gun, how well can you kill a monster? That’s it.”
“It’s a contract. Here’s a smartphone with all of the affiliated awakened’s awakened tattoos.”
Chang Sung Hoon handed over the smartphone.
Kim Tae Hoon didn’t look at it. Since all’s been said and done, it’s not like the information would change.
“What relics did they choose?”
“They said they wanted to test them first, so they have yet to choose one.”
“Looks like this group will be able to find a fitting relic”
“A pearl necklace on a pig’s neck will only increase the number of people who want to kill the pig.”
His initial plan was to find owners for the extra relics.
Finding an owner meant handing the relic over to someone who had the ability to use it.
But it seemed like it would be unnecessary now.
So Kim Tae Hoon just skipped ahead to the next thing on the agenda.
“Pass on a mission to the two clans. Tell them to hunt more than one orange tier monster within a week.”
“Should I pass it on now?”
“Is there a need to implement a probationary or acclimation period?”
“I’ll pass it on.”
Chang Sung Hoon nodded his head.
Kim Tae Hoon threw Chang Sung Hoon a question.
“How long until the Black Snake leather armor is done?”
“Park Gabsu said that the prototype should be done by tomorrow. If Boss gives the green light, then he can produce two sets a day.”
Black Snake Leather Armor.
It was a powerful item that could not be compared to any other protective gear that he had owned until now.
However, he would have to showcase ability and initiative worthy of bearing that armor.
“It’s time to find a new quarry.”
“I’ll come up with candidates through Daedongyeojido.”
Saying that, Chang Sung Hoon fished out the Daedongyeojido from his bag.
He immediately flipped to the page he remembered that Bucheon was on.
It was at that moment that Chang Sung Hoon spoke with a stiff expression on his face.
“The green dots around Bucheon City have moved.”