Kim Su-Hyun, Beginning the Rite of Passage.
Translated by End.
This suddenly reminded me a lot about the TV program I used to enjoyed. The show was about your usual run-of-the-mill people being placed in life threatening situations. The show said the people in such circumstance only acted rationally for 15 minutes. After that time I think it said that their reasoning disappeared and the people ran on pure instinct or whatever. If what the show said was true, did the people I was leading pass this phase already?
Currently, we were on catching our breath in an elevated area on the high hill within the forest. Rather than a gentle hill, it was more of a steep path that sapped everyone’s strength. Breathing deeply, I turned around and look down from where we came from. It was just as I predicted. In just a short moment, the clearing we were in was packed with Deadman that crawled about.
Looking at the now fist-sized clearing, everyone was deep in thought. If we were just a step slower, it was self-evident that we would have become monster food. That energetic, smart mouth lady must be feeling the creeps as she was rubbing her arms.
They all had complicated expressions on their face. There were monsters about, and their lives were in danger. Having accepted such reality, their faces were dark with negativity and pessimism. But that was something I wouldn’t be helping them with. Now it was time to stand back observe quietly. While I had their basic information, I needed to see how they reacted to situations.
“Huk! Huk! Shit…. What the f*ck are those things?”
Having just climbed to where we were, Park Don-Gul was still breathing heavily. Looking at him, I shook my head in disapproval. If he just stayed quiet, he would have been somewhere in the middle of the group. But after all, the danger we were in previously was because of the rock he kicked. What I mean is that he was the source of the cause. If I was him, I would have stayed quiet in shame, but it seems he was thick-skinned and had no shame.
Giving out a sigh, I turned my head and saw that An-Sol was still crying on An-Hyun’s chest. For a moment, I thought it was quite the pathetic sight. But I did learn one thing during this situation. If the crying An-Sol was the same person as the Brilliance Priest, her future was guaranteed to a point. Her Luck Attribute was 100 points, and that should certainly get her passed the Rite of Passage. However, the results spoke otherwise. What I just found out was that the future can change in the slightest different action.
Having felt my gaze, An-Hyun, who was wiping the tears off An-Sol, nodded in my direction. He seems to have realised that the person who fired the arrow at the Deadman was me. I could see the gratitude in his eyes. Nodding back in acceptance, I turned my gaze back down the hill we were on.
I am not sure if it was some monsters near us or if it had followed us from the clearing, but there were two more Deadman trying to climb the hill. Nonetheless, the Deadmans couldn’t run at us full speed.
When they find a prey, the Deadman runs extremely fast in a straight line. Despite that, if they make a turn or on a high elevation, their rush speed becomes significantly reduced. They can still climb hills, but a knife to the head before they managed to get up and that’s that.
While the panic was less than the initial reaction to seeing the Deadman, there were still shrill of shocks. I am really sorry Lee Bo-Rim, but I have no plans to save her if I absolutely have to. The duet of screams Lee Bo-Rim and An-Sol performed still didn’t sit right with me, also with her Player Status, I just couldn’t find a use for her. She was blessed if she lived but was most likely doomed to die.
‘I should be seeing a reaction from them about now…. To unite, separate or maintain the status quo.’
If they wanted to talk to their heart’s content, taking care of the those Deadman coming up was a priority.
Then. An-Hyun began to move. It seems he left his sword in the clearing as he set An-Sol aside and picked up a fist-sized rock. I was in the middle of loading an arrow into my crossbow when An-Hyun started, I wanted to see what he would do so I stopped momentarily.
If given a knife, I wonder how many guys in South Korea could hit a target at a distance? I wanted to see if it was skill or fluke that managed to cut off that Deadman’s arm back then.
Different than before, An-Hyun was discreet as he measured the distance and the direction and threw it with all his might. And the result….
“Really, they are not such a big deal.”
An-Hyun’s stone throwing skill was impressive. With a Puk sound, the rock succeeded in breaking through the Deadman’s head. Seeing the monster collapse haplessly, I saw a hint of realisation enter An-Hyun’s eye as he finishes off the other rather simply.
“Yeah. They are not a big deal. So don’t get a big head for killing those two.”
However, it seems that Park Don-Gul was exasperated at the weapon An-Hyun grasped. Still, An-Hyun wasn’t about to just let that go, he stopped walking and stared at Park Don-Gul.
An-Hyon’s mouth gradually opened to speak.
“This is all due to you, Ajussi. So thank you.”
“Eh? What are you talking about now?!”
“That monster that attacked our Sol just now, there was this heavy thing inside its chest. Thanks to that, I knew that a rock can go through the monster.”
Park Don-Gul seems to have caught the sarcasm, as his face immediately became red. An-Hyun’s words were blatantly stating that the cause of all the problem in the clearing was all because of the rock he kicked.
“Y’all think that because I kicked that rock we are in this situation? How do you know that rock was from me?”
“I don’t recall saying. Just thank you.”
Such impudence from An-Hyun seems to have drove Park Don-Gul mad. Yet, he seems to have realised something as he rather growled out his responses.
“F*ck you, you think you are all hot shit and stuff? Don’t you know it’s because of that girl that we almost died?”
“Yeah, shithead, that crazy bitch next to you. Everyone is following just fine and dandy, and here she is, not even a kid but can’t even stand up by herself.“
An-Hyun’s expression hardened. It seems he couldn’t respond to this accusation and kept his mouth shut. Feeling sorry for the accusation that her brother was suffering, An-Sol gently dabbed at her tears.
“Ah, I hate pretentious pricks like you. Think and tell me who was at fault here.”
Still, we had the smart mouth lady with us. Without a doubt, she did not stay still. As she immediately leaps in support of An-Hyun, Park Don-Gul’s expression became twisted.
“Ya bitch. If you don’t shut your pretty mouth, I am really going to kill you. Mhmm?”
“And you shithead. If you were like me, I would have kept my mouth shut out of shame. Causing such mess like you know shit. And trying to appease that pretty thing.”
“These damn miserable idiots really want to die today….”
All three were in the wrong, but Park Don-Gul seems to breed hate inside. He seems to have realised that the mood was turning against him as he shut up once more.
Just as we were coming out of danger, we plunged ourselves back into a petty squabble. At this level, it wasn’t simple animosity but full-blown vendetta. I once again felt that eroding heavy feeling rushing back inside. Out of habit, I groped for my cigarette but it was impossible I would such thing on me now. The idea of just cutting off Park Don-Gul to advance faster was slowly gaining ground.
Nonetheless, I decided right from the beginning to observe. It was still grating on me that after all the work I put into bringing them to this point, they had reverted back.
Whatever that had happened, in a small corner of their minds, they still remember what occurred in the clearing. What could I possibly do to make them into a single group? No matter how much I pondered, I didn’t have a eureka moment. In the end, I decided we need to speed up and start moving. Strictly speaking, this place wasn’t really a safe place.
I intentionally made a loud sound loading my crossbow and without fail, everyone’s eyes were on me. Waving off that everything was alright, I fitted the arrow into the crossbow and met everyone’s gaze.
“For now, those Dead…. Hm. Those monsters, we should make it a priority to avoid them.”
“Everyone knows that already. But what can we do?”
‘This crazy bastard really wants to die.’
I barely kept my temper as I really wanted to stuff my arrow into Park Don-Gul’s mouth. Still, if there were only two of us right now, I would smash his mouth in a heartbeat.
“Right now, even if we unite, I don’t think it will be enough. So arguing amongst ourselves, I believe, is a waste of time. I will leave my place for a while. I think during that time it will be good for everyone to discuss and come to a consensus for our next course of action.”
I laid out a sound argument without the need of repeating myself. Of course, there would be questions, but the thing that was really unexpected was the one who asked.
“Why are you leaving your place? If we are having a discussion, won’t it be better for everyone’s input?”
The person who asked was one of the two women who I wasn’t able to observe the Player Status. She had a cold expression and looked about the same age, though one or two years younger. Without me knowing, she reminded me of another person with a familiar countenance.
‘Stop pestering me and figure it out by yourselves.’
“… Those monsters could jump out at us like in the clearing. Just in case I shall keep watch. So once the discussion is over, please call me.”
“… Please don’t go too far out.”
I was a bit slow in responding but thankful, I managed to avoid causing needless suspicion. No one would argue against keeping watch in a dangerous area.
After saying so, I began trekking down to a spot I saw which looked like suitable concealment point. After having walked a fair distance into the forest and hiding myself, I activated my Magic. The senses on my whole body multiplied, and I could feel my vision and hearing becoming sharper. From where I was, they won’t be able to spot me. Though right now I could even hear their breathing, and had no problem observing them.
Having left the party, a cold ambience returned on the hill. The dreary feeling those Deadman emitted down below the hill was more encouraging than the mood of the party. I am not sure if their mouth were glued shut as no one step forward. Everyone had different expressions on their face, but the one to see was Park Don-Gul. As if he was thinking something serious his face was scrunched up and then changed to a grin, and back again. Was he really not a psychopath?
Time flowed. In manhwa and fairy tales, the hero always appeared and everyone survived well and good. Though it looks like in this party, there was no perfect leader to trust in. Wasting time like this was not the best of plans. As more time flowed, the anxiety in people’s heart grew, and it was likely that they would lose their rationality and act on instinct.
In that moment, two different women stood up.
Cautiously standing in the middle of the party was Lee Bo-Rim. Having stood up simultaneously, the smart mouth lady seeing her, sat back down on the ground. It seems like she was going to hear Lee Bo-Rim’s stance first. With hesitance in her eyes, Lee Bo-Rim looked at everyone and spoke slowly.
“Eve, everyone, you all saw the monster just now. Truthfully…. I still thought this was a bad dream while the Assistant Angel was speaking to me, but I have no choice to accept that his is reality. I am scared. I am really scared, that I think I am going crazy. I am sure others are like me as well.”
There was no one who refuted her. Having felt everyone was focusing on her words, there was more confidence in Lee Bo-Rim’s speech now.
“Truthfully, it was all thanks to that person on watch that we managed to survive. Even then, he is the same situation and we can’t really rely on him forever. Right now, I think we should stop fighting, unite together and look for a path to survive.”
While it was a stereotypical speech, Lee Bo-Rim’s words held the core aspect of the Rite of Passage. Unite and act. It looks like her word held some persuasion as the dead atmosphere in the hill changed slightly. And the dead looking Lee Shin-Wu finally opened his mouth.
“Then Nunna, what do you think we should do from now on….?”
His last words were hard to hear, but everyone could grasp the intention. She had come far as what I had said before, and to say the plan that came after. However, Lee Bo-Rim didn’t seem to have thought so far ahead as she spoke hesitantly.
“That…. I don’t know really know…. Only that, from now on, we shouldn’t argue and exchange our opinions calmly.”
Having preying on the morsel of an opportunity, Park Don-Gul found his chance and stepped forward.
Unlike before, Park Don-Gul was more gentle and composed. Seeing that, I immediately frowned. At first glance, he looked honest, but he couldn’t fool my eyes. I recognised the expression for what it was, a very well practised act. Without a doubt, that guy was planning something devious.
====== Translator’s Note ======
시방 – Park Don-Gul is using a dialect for the word ‘Now.’
English is a diverse language, but I haven’t come across a different dialect for now, but I think ‘Y’all’ provides the best fit in the context while keeping in character.
지지고 볶다 – Stop pestering me and…
A literal translation would be – stir and fry it. The phrase can be used like that but, in this context, it’s an expression to say you are annoyed and to stop bothering you. I thought about mixing it like: Stir it, fry it, but stop pestering me and figure it out yourselves. But I thought it would be misconstrued and giving an image of cooking when there is no cooking.