Chapter 117: Union (4)
Noel Freya stopped abruptly at the front of the group. She felt several presences approaching her, but she quickly relaxed her guard again when she saw who they were. There were a few people coming down the canyon, and they had their hands raised to show that they had no intention to fight; among the group, she even saw two familiar faces.
“You all are…”
“It’s me. I came as part of the fifth recruit. You remember me, right?”
As the fifth recruit who had been their guide appeared, the procession became disorderly. Noel Freya was surprised, and Ru Amuh was likewise surprised. He thought the previous recruits would only set out after a couple of weeks, but it turned out they were already on their way to the capital. That should be impossible without knowing the situation in the north beforehand.
“I see…” After hearing a simple explanation, Noel Freya nodded. “From what you told us… His predictions had been exact. I’m glad I listened to you.” Noel Freya smiled, and Ru Amuh tilted his head in wonder.
* * *
When Chi-Woo saw the capital, the first thing that came to his mind was that it was s.p.a.cious. It looked like a place where humans could live, and if only they had people bustling in it, it would’ve been perfect. It suddenly dawned on him now that he was in another world, and he was. .h.i.t with an unfamiliar feeling. When they first got out of the forest, they had been forced to turn away even though the capital was right in front of them. Though it took them quite some time, they eventually succeeded in getting to this place. While thinking this, Chi-Woo went outside, intending on choosing a house for himself while wandering around.
‘From now on, this place will be where we will design new dreams and futures.’ Chi-Woo thought. The streets were cleaner than he had expected them to be, but in no way exceeded their expectations; corpses of their companions and monsters had simply been removed, and cleaning the place up still seemed like such a daunting task that one wouldn’t know where to even start—especially the areas that showed signs of a long period of abandonment and lack of human care. Chi-Woo supposed the condition of this place would get better once the previous recruits joined them. From what he heard, the total count of heroes exceeded much more than 2,000, and the natives amounted to around 10,000. These numbers excited Chi-Woo.
“How nice.” Though it still felt quite empty now, Chi-Woo could sense positive energy from everyone he pa.s.sed by. Heroes and natives alike were bursting with joy. They were all happy that they had left the fortress, which reminded them of a chicken range and arrived at a place more suitable for human living.
‘It makes you think people are really fickle creatures.’ When they arrived at the fortress from the forest, they felt like they had the whole world in their hands. But soon, they found the fortress to be too small. Now that they were in the capital, they felt the same feeling they had felt on the first day at the fortress. But Chi-Woo was pleased by this progression—although it seemed like an impossible task to fill up this gigantic place, perhaps there would come a time when they began to think the place was too small for them and moved out again. Of course, this scenario was probably far off in the future, but one could dream. Yes, dreaming was more important than everything else. It would give him motivation and hope to live for the future.
It was different from the time they were at the fortress. Chi-Woo didn’t have a shred of desire to waste all the things he gained on his way to the capital. He would use them as fuel to make a furnace that would not be easily extinguished. A smile stretched his lips outwards as he imagined his future.
At that moment, a couple of wandering recruits sighted Chi-Woo.
“Huh? Are you better now, sir?”
“h.e.l.lo, sir.” The recruits bowed politely.
“Yes, I’m all better now. h.e.l.lo.”
Except for heroes like Choi Chi-Hyun, it was rare for heroes to greet other heroes with such politeness. After all, they had strong pride as heroes who had also saved at least a World themselves. Like Allen Leonard had said, Chi-Woo’s rank had been established among the fifth, sixth, and seventh recruits. Chi-Woo was so highly respected that even if Chi-Hyun came to claim a leaders.h.i.+p position, they might consider Chi-Woo as another possible candidate. This was truly an astonis.h.i.+ng feat considering all the legends that were attached to Chi-Hyun’s name; and as Chi-Woo and the recruits continued to exchange greetings, they heard a familiar voice.
After turning in the direction of the noise, Chi-Woo was taken aback to see Eval Sevaru waving his hand brightly at him.
“What? You are still alive?” Chi-Woo said, unable to hide his surprise.
“How are you feel—huh? What? Did you think I died or something?”
“I didn’t see you for a long time, so…”
“Hey… Come on, man. You are b.u.mming me out. We went through all kinds of ups and downs together.”
‘Ups and downs?’ It would have been more convincing if Ru Amuh had said these words; it didn’t seem to mean much coming from Eval Sevaru. But of course, Chi-Woo was still grateful for the time Eval had stepped forward when they had a conflict with the sixth recruits.
“Where have you been?”
“Me? Well, I have been at the fortress. Unfortunately, the yongmaek you created for us didn’t have much of an effect on me. Hm. Come on, you’re making me a bit embarra.s.sed now.”
“Ah…” Chi-Woo scanned Eval from afar. Now that he thought about it, it was strange. Eval was easy to spot when the situation was comparatively safer, but he was nowhere to be found when something dangerous happened. It was the same in the forest, the fortress, and even at the capital.
‘Perhaps.’ Chi-Woo looked at Eval in sudden realization. Perhaps this hero was sort of a safety indicator. If Chi-Woo could spot him, it meant the situation was good; if Eval was nowhere to be found, the situation would soon turn bad. ‘Could his existence be some kind of an alarm?’ Chi-Woo thought.
“Anyways, I’m glad I found you. I was planning to pay you a visit.” Eval fake coughed as Chi-Woo simply stared at him, and then he searched his pockets.
“You were looking for me? Why?” Chi-Woo asked.
“Don’t say anything and just take this.”
Eval grasped Chi-Woo’s hand and suddenly placed a pouch on top of it. It felt quite heavy.
“What is it?”
“What could it be but money? Just in case, I also put in some valuables.” Eval scratched his nose and laughed. “I took them while looking around the houses. I emptied them all of valuables.”
“You just took them?”
“Yeah. They are ownerless goods anyways. Why? Does it go against your morals?”
“Not only that… Aren’t they pretty useless?”
“How can you say that they are useless?” Eval said, astounded. “Bro, listen to me. Didn’t you hear what the fifth recruits have been saying? The previous recruits are going to come here.”
Chi-Woo then recalled how Zelit told him that the economy was still alive in the central region.
“Of course, the value of money has exponentially fallen since bartering is rampant. But the important thing is that money hasn’t completely lost its worth.” Eval Sevaru seemed to find enjoyment in teaching Chi-Woo as he continued pa.s.sionately, “Bro, remember this. Since currency is still being used, money can also be a form of power. You know what they say about the power of wealth.”
“Yes. Well, I guess that’s true.”
“Things are really going to change around here. So much that the times we had to eat hardened mud will be merely an old tale. That’s why we have to prepare for the future like this. You understand?”
Chi-Woo tilted his head. While confusing, Eval’s words did seem to make sense.
“The capital is really great. There are still a lot of places to raid, so you should take your time looking around, bro. Try going to the expensive places first. Ah, I almost forgot. You didn’t get a house yet, right?”
“Want me to look around with you?”
“It’s all right. What about you, Mr. Eval Sevaru?”
“I already got my own place. Honestly, I don’t like my place too much, but the location is pretty good.”
“Where is it?”
“It’s from here—to there.” Eval Sevaru drew a long line before him with his thumb. Chi-Woo was flabbergasted; Eval Sevaru was not just pointing at one building, but a whole block.
“I told you. I’m going to take control of a lot of areas with the inn at its center.” Eval Sevaru made a self-satisfied smile as if he felt full just looking at his property. Chi-Woo shook his head. However, he didn’t forget to make a mental note to be watchful of this hero in the future.
* * *
Chi-Woo’s life didn’t change much since he arrived at the capital. His daily routines were similar to when he was at the fortress. He ate well, slept well, and rested well. His other tasks involved picking a suitable house to stay in and cleaning it. And of course, he didn’t forget to train. Chi-Woo didn’t listen even though Eshnunna was worried and told him to rest since his body was not fully recovered.
Now that he thought about it, after making a firm resolve to get stronger, he had never gone a single day without training unless it absolutely couldn’t be helped. Like eating food and breathing, training had become a natural part of his life. While running along the capital’s wall at daybreak, he suddenly heard an alarm. He tapped on his left wrist to turn on his device. He’d received a message.
The message asked him if he was awake, and if he saw this message, please reply as fast as possible since they were around Shahnaz’s vicinity. Chi-Woo’s eyes widened. Ru Hiana and the others must be really close by if he could receive the message.
‘Already?’ Zelit had told him that it’d take them at least 1 to 2 weeks to come back and possibly more. Chi-Woo didn’t know what had happened, but his heart began beating fast. Chi-Hyun—he would soon see his brother. Chi-Woo became very excited, but he forced his fiercely beating heart to calm down and decided to finish his exercise first. Then he sent a message back to Ru Hiana. Chi-Woo was about to return inside and share the news but soon realized that this was unnecessary. Zelit was running towards him in a hurry from far away.
* * *
Chi-Woo waited. The sun had fully risen. Chi-Woo had already exchanged several messages with Ru Hiana, and he was too anxious to stand still. He already messaged Ru Hiana if she’d seen Choi Chi-Hyun. The reply he got was, ‘No. Why?’
Why hadn’t she spotted him? Was his brother such a special and high-ranking hero here that he wouldn’t even meet her? Even though he was a cold person, Chi-Woo didn’t think his brother had such an annoying personality. All kinds of thoughts pa.s.sed his head. He thought about asking one more time but ultimately decided against it. According to Ru Amuh, Ru Hiana had keen senses and was very quick to catch on to things. Rather than making her suspicious, it was better to wait here quietly for his brother since they were already close by.
As if to respond to Chi-Woo’s wishes, people gathered at the gate began making a commotion. He even heard people saying that they could see the recruits. Soon, Chi-Woo anxiously climbed up the city wall. Then he saw it—a large group approaching from far away. As the outline of the group gradually became clearer and clearer, he was finally able to get a good look. The procession seemed to span about ten thousand feet. The fact that so many people were moving at once in this world and arriving safely was basically a miracle itself.
Chi-Woo thanked the witch inwardly and waited with a thumping heart. Then the procession pa.s.sed through the city gate. There was a small cheer, and several people clapped. Since there were only about one hundred of them on his side, the welcoming ceremony was too small to be called one, but regardless of their number, the heroes and natives sincerely welcomed the newcomers.
Since they had been living like members in a small village, it was both strange and novel to take so many people into their fold at once. Chi-Woo also clapped, all the while scanning the newcomers carefully. However, he didn’t find what he wanted—no matter how hard he looked, he couldn’t see a trace of his brother.
‘Is he in the far back…’ His thought was interrupted when he saw a pair of familiar faces.
Ru Hiana and Ru Amuh found Chi-Woo first and approached him. Since they had already exchanged multiple messages and made a fuss, he only exchanged a brief greeting with them. Then, after this, Ru Hiana brought up an unexpected topic.
“By the way, senior, if it’s alright with you, do you have some time to spare?”
“Yeah, that’s alright with me. What is it?”
“The guide of the central region wants to see you. She wants to see you and share a short greeting.”
Guide—Chi-Woo’s ears immediately perked up. Since she had been guiding such a large number of people, she was probably high up in status. Perhaps she might even be connected to his brother.
“But she’s a bit…”
“If that’s the case, I should definitely go. I’ll go immediately.” Ru Hiana was about to say something, but Chi-Woo had already left.
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