“Escapees?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“That’s correct.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Currently, inside the NDF’s office.
Upon hearing this revelation, Yi Ji-Hyuk began counting the number of people standing in front of him.
Short by two?
Aigoo~. Look at these a*sholes.
They fail at rebelling, so the next thing they try is to run away? (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s bemused inner monologue)
Yi Ji-Hyuk tsk, tsk-ed and asked Choi Jung-Hoon.
“Did you call them on the phone?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“They are not answering.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“What about the records of them leaving the country?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“There are no records of them leaving.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Oh, is that right?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk shrugged his shoulders.
Trying to escape from his grasp while still remaining within the borders of Korea…. How foolish could they be?
“Oh-Sik-ah!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
As soon as Yi Ji-Hyuk called out, Oh-Sik appeared through the exploding debris of what used to be the doors of the NDF office.
Choi Jung-Hoon spat out a lengthy groan.
‘And we even got hardened steel leash….’ (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Might as well swap it back to a regular dog leash, mused Choi Jung-Hoon inwardly. What point was there, whether it be hardened steel or titanium alloy, when none of them could tie down that dang Ogre?
Besides all that, why did it have to destroy the dang door, too?!
If you were planning to call it, why didn’t you open the door first?! Even paying for a new door is a part of the annual budget, you know!! (Choi Jung-Hoon’s inner monologue)
“What the?! How could you call for your dog when the door was still closed?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“? But, that’s not a dog, though? It’s Oh-Sik.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“If it can’t even open the door properly, then it’s no better than a dog!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Huh?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk tilted his head somewhat, before hitting the head of Oh-Sik.
It seemed like a light bump, yet the resulting impact noise sounded like a bomb had gone off.
Cold sweat trickled down the backs of all the eyewitnesses present, and then, they began shuddering after realising the severity of Oh-Sik’s plainly-cheating defensive prowess simply by looking at the mini-Ogre pretending to be hurt as it hugged its head.
Since a monster was playing around with a monster like that, even an innocuous little horsing around seemed rather monstrous as well.
“Why didn’t you open the door, you dumba*s?! It’s all blown to sh*t now!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
….And who was the one scolding the poor Ogre for taking his sweet-a*s time not too long ago?
But, there was nothing to gain by arguing with this human being. Other than getting beaten up again, probably.
Oh-Sik could only whimper pathetically and cower on the floor.
Ha, what an inhuman b*stard…
Choi Jung-Hoon slowly shook his head.
What was the point of arguing here? If one were to get bogged down with technicality, then it was Choi Jung-Hoon’s fault for not opening the door on time.
“By the way, why did you summon Oh-Sik?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“You need a dog if you’re going hunting, no?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Pardon?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk smirked ominously.
“A dog?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Did he mean…. this Ogre?
Choi Jung-Hoon shifted his gaze towards the red/black furred “cute little” Ogre.
Sure, it does kinda look like a dog.
Like a dog. Right. Almost like a dog….
However, isn’t it too much still, to treat a terrifying Ogre like a pet dog no matter how one resembles it?!?!
Okay, so you do feed it with dog food, but still….! (Choi Jung-Hoon’s inner monologue)
“Uhm, so, does it have a good sense of smell?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Please, don’t treat this guy like your average dog. My Oh-Sik here, this boy’s like the greatest dog ever in the world.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
That’s an insult, you idiot!
You shouldn’t even try to boast about such a thing!
Meanwhile, the smirk on Yi Ji-Hyuk’s face was growing deeper.
What was that old saying in Berafe?
If one were to step into a forest where an Ogre resided, the Ogre at the end of the said forest would already be on its way to greet you? The olfactory senses of an Ogre shouldn’t even be compared to that of a measly dog.
“In any case, bring me the things belonging to those people, please.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Will it be okay to bring the articles of both at the same time?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Yep. There’s nothing Oh-Sik can’t do, let me tell ya.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
When Yi Ji-Hyuk proudly rubbed the back of Oh-Sik, the mini Ogre lay down on the floor and revealed its tummy.
‘STAHP IT!!’ (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Don’t you have any pride?! You’re an Ogre, for crying out loud! Even if you’re an ‘animal’, don’t you find being treated as a dog humiliating?! (Choi Jung-Hoon’s inner cries)
Too bad, the rest of the world couldn’t get to hear the cries coming from Choi Jung-Hoon’s heart.
Items belonging to the two escapees were hastily found and were brought to Oh-Sik’s nose. The Ogre sniffed for a bit, and then, ran outside the building in haste.
Dangerous gleam of light oozed out from Yi Ji-Hyuk’s eyes as he ran after Oh-Sik.
“….Surely, he won’t show up here, right?” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
Kim Dah-Hyun was busy quaking in his boots at the moment.
By fully utilising the stealth skill that could be called the Kim family’s unique bloodline ability, he was in hiding. In an uninhabited forest approximately 100 km away from the NDF’s HQ, he had dug up a trench and hid in there.
He had brilliantly evaded all those CCTV cameras found throughout the streets, so he believed that no one would be able to track him down.
‘Yes, he won’t find me.’ (Kim Dah-Hyun)
Even if the greatest tracker in history was hired, there was no way that person would be able to locate Kim Dah-Hyun at this rate.
‘That is why you should know what moderation means!’ (Kim Dah-Hyun)
If Yi Ji-Hyuk did things in moderate measures, Kim Dah-Hyun wouldn’t have to run away like this. A human being should know how to behave moderately, after all!
Seriously now, Yi Ji-Hyuk was abusing his charges so much, the Japanese healer that came to help out keeled over from exhaustion and coughed up blood, instead. So, how was Kim Dah-Hyun expected to endure such crazy nonsense?
An Ogre’s kick was enough to rupture his intestines and made him taste bits of his own organs. Yet, he’d be healed in an instant from such a debilitating injuries only to crazily get pummeled again. Repeating this crap for the past couple of days pushed him to the brink of a mental breakdown.
However, up until here, it was still somehow tolerable.
No, the real hell began the moment when the deeply frowning Yi Ji-Hyuk decided to personally participate in the training process.
The monsters limited themselves to simply flinging the hapless humans away. But, Yi Ji-Hyuk did things a little bit differently.
Differently, not as in being more severe and tougher. No, differently as in very sneaky and cheap as hell.
He would suddenly appear behind someone and proceed to kick him in the groin; also, he would deliberately hit the exact same spot over and over again.
And there they were, thinking that Yi Ji-Hyuk was the long-range type. He possessed enough physical power to knock out the enraged and out-of-control Iron Park Sung-Chan where he stood with a single punch.
“What a freak….” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
There was no way Kim Dah-Hyun could endure that crap. He needed to find a way to survive!
Maybe, they would find his whereabouts sometime later down the line. Maybe, he’d get beaten up to a pulp, then. However, he was far, far too terrified of the prospect of returning to that hellhole of training today.
‘At this rate, maybe I can remain free for a month or so.’ (Kim Dah-Hyun)
“Huh. I must’ve suffered a lot. I’m even imagining hearing that damn sound now.” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
That, that stupid Ogre!!
Wow, that growl sounds so real, doesn’t it? If my auditory hallucination is this serious, that can only mean that my mental state is really in a poor shape…. (Kim Dah-Hyun’s inner monologue)
Kim Dah-Hyun’s head slowly rotated towards the direction of the sound.
And from the gaps of leaves and branches brilliantly covering up the exit of the hidey hole, he could see the head of Oh-Sik poking in, its fangs showing up slightly.
‘Am I hallucinating things now, too?’ (Kim Dah-Hyun)
Or, am I dreaming things?
It’d be so much better if this was a dream…. (Kim Dah-Hyun’s inner monologue)
“Uwaaahck?! Hey, it wasn’t a dream!!” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
Kim Dah-Hyun hurriedly shot out from the hole.
‘No, calm down!’
Who was he? He was none other than the Path Drifter!
When it came to sheer speed, none could come remotely closer to him!
If he simply chose to run away rather than to confront, then he should be able to….
It was right then – someone grabbed him by the back of his neck and lifted him up in the air.
Now suspended in the air like a naughty kitten, Kim Dah-Hyun instinctively figured out just who had grabbed him from behind simply from the strength of the hand holding him. His body stiffened like a block of wood.
And to his ear drums, a certain voice that sounded relaxed poured in.
“I found you~.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Thick teardrops fell from Kim Dah-Hyun’s eyes.
While hanging upside down from one of the tropical island’s many palm trees, Kim Dah-Hyun’s eyes could clearly take in the sight of Yi Ji-Hyuk sitting on a beach chair while getting a tan.
‘You rotten son of a b*tch.’ (Kim Dah-Hyun)
Kim Dah-Hyun really despised seeing Yi Ji-Hyuk kitted out in the appropriate beachwear and apparently having fun under the sun, and wished he could spit out in disgust right now.
Also, witnessing Choi Jung-Hoon personally deliver a cup of juice freshly squeezed out of a tropical fruit only p*ssed Kim Dah-Hyun even more.
Seriously, man! Don’t you have any guts? Balls? Whatever?!
You only chuck some canned spam on our way, the very ones working to our bones, yet you even squeeze out fresh fruit juice for Yi Ji-Hyuk??
A man shouldn’t…. (Kim Dah-Hyun’s inner monologue)
Yi Ji-Hyuk received the juice, but he began tilting his head with a confused expression on his face. Then, he shifted his gaze over to Choi Jung-Hoon.
“Looks like something else is mixed up in this thing, doesn’t it?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“No, not possible.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Laxatives? Sleeping pills? Truth serum? Or, drugs?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“No ways.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“….Spit, then?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Ha. Ha. Ahaha….” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Hearing Choi Jung-Hoon’s awkward laughter, Yi Ji-Hyuk’s eyes became rather hostile.
“What the hell? This guy….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Hahahahaha…. There must’ve been some kind of a mistake. Let me change it real quickly.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Even before Yi Ji-Hyuk could finish, Choi Jung-Hoon snatched away the juice like a bolt of lightning and ran away. Seeing this, Kim Dah-Hyun could only swallow back his own tears.
But, of course! Human hearts feel the same pain no matter who you are.
Yes, how could he think differently from everyone else? I mean, anyone would’ve thought the exact same thing when looking at this rotten son of a… (Kim Dah-Hyun’s inner monologue))
“Hah, that guy….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk bitterly chuckled.
Seriously now, if that guy wasn’t the potential future brother-in-law, he’d been….
While madly running away, a sudden chill ran down on Choi Jung-Hoon’s back quite inexplicably. He couldn’t help but wonder why.
Meanwhile, Yi Ji-Hyuk was groaning out.
Even if she was his little sister, he felt a bit apologetic to let Yi Ye-Won sink her claws into hapless Choi Jung-Hoon. So, morally speaking, he should at least do this much for that poor guy.
An ominous, sinister grin formed on Yi Ji-Hyuk’s face. He then sensed a movement behind him and turned his head around to take a look.
A groan escaped from the gagged mouth of Kim Dah-Hyun and he began wiggling within his restraints as Yi Ji-Hyuk’s gaze landed on him.
“And you. You’re also quite amazing, too.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk shook his head in disappointment.
Just how thoughtless could one be, trying to escape from his grasp?
He was someone who had crisscrossed the entirety of Berafe. So, just where could anyone run off to in the small nation of Korea?
“And here I was, taking pity on you and treating you a little nicer because of all the harassment you receive from your sister everyday.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Is that something a guy like you should be saying? A guy who proceeded to mess up a complete stranger’s face?! (Kim Dah-Hyun’s inner monologue)
Kim Dah-Hyun had a lot of things to say, but due to that gag blocking his mouth, only the sounds of “Eup, eup!” could escape from him.
“Not only that, but two of you, no less.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk slowly shifted his gaze down to the sandy ground and Park Sung-Chan’s head poking out of the surface. He was buried in the ground up to his neck with a gag also placed in his mouth.
“Eup!! Eupppp!!” (Park Sung-Chan)
“Really, man! You should learn to be grateful when people start treating you nicely, you know!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
And just who treated who nicely here?!
Just who was it that pummeled a guy silly as soon as running into that said guy, and just who was it that turned another guy into a human support pillar, too?! (the author)
“In any case, it’s still true that one should never take a black-haired animal under one’s wings…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
It turned out to be the same story for yellow-haired animals, too. Speaking from experience, obviously. (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
Yi Ji-Hyuk stood up from the beach chair and reached out. He cut the rope tightly binding Kim Dah-Hyun upside down. Then, with his other hand, he pulled Park Sung-Chan out from the ground.
After the gags were removed, two men stood in front of Yi Ji-Hyuk while remaining nervous and skittish.
They shivered in fear, wondering what this loon would do next, but they ended up hearing something they didn’t expect.
“Yo. Go and join the others.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“P, pardon us?”
“I said, go and join the others.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Why was this guy acting like this now? This guy, who didn’t hesitate to kick someone into stratosphere just because that person dared to complain about the harshness of the training?
“Can we really go and join the others now?”
“Yup. Go ahead.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Understandably, these two men grew increasingly wary when Yi Ji-Hyuk behaved like this.
“I’m very sorry.” (Park Sung-Chan)
“Please, accept my apology.” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
Yi Ji-Hyuk waved his hand around dismissively.
“I hear you, so go and join the others already.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“No, really. I’m sorry about everything.” (Park Sung-Chan)
“I have no excuses.” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
Yi Ji-Hyuk spat out a groan.
Why wouldn’t these two idiots listen to what he was saying?!
“Eish, I told you to go already!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Only after Yi Ji-Hyuk kicked them away did the two men hurriedly join the party happening over yonder involving Oh-Sik and other monsters.
Yi Ji-Hyuk saw that and clicked his tongue. However, his eyes never once failed to capture the movements of everyone there.
This so-called training had two purposes.
First was to let those ability users have a taste of real combat situations.
Even if it was Yi Ji-Hyuk, he had no methods to quickly raise the overall prowess of an ability user since Ether seemed to operate on a fundamentally different way compared to how he used Mana. In all honesty, when it came to wielding Ether more efficiently, those users would probably be better than Yi Ji-Hyuk, actually.
Even if you were the best footballer in the world, that didn’t mean you could potentially coach baseball players to become better at playing baseball. No, the only thing that footballer could do was to change and improve the mindset of the players before each match.
And experiencing real combat would help with that goal.
Not too long ago, they wouldn’t have lasted 5 minutes and died where they stood if Oh-Sik had decided to attack in earnest. And that was if every single one of them had pooled their powers together. But now, they should be able to last for at least one hour or so.
You see, by repeatedly going through one life-or-death crisis after other, they would instinctively find the most optimal way to utilise their powers. Eventually.
And the second purpose was to research how Ether operated.
With his eyes laden with Mana, Yi Ji-Hyuk took in every single movement the users made and analysed them. He memorised how the users circulated Ether in their bodies, and memorised some more.
The world of Mana ‘users’ also started like this – countless experiments upon experiments took place, and during those experiments, equally as many sacrifices had to be made.
As for Yi Ji-Hyuk who was trying to research the Ether’s mysteries, it was indeed a lucky occurrence that he got to closely study those users who were, in their own right, some of the best in the world.
If he wanted to simply make them stronger, there were other methods to choose from. But, those methods wouldn’t have given Yi Ji-Hyuk what he truly wanted.
You see, this particular method would also serve to enhance Yi Ji-Hyuk’s own strengths, as well.
A dangerous light gleamed in Yi Ji-Hyuk’s eyes.
The key to the new future was already lying in his hands. While sensing the Ether slowly circulating within his own body, Yi Ji-Hyuk focused his sight on how it moved in others.
Just a little bit more.
If he got to learn just a little bit more, then he’d finally unlock the new path forward for himself.
Mana and Ether.
If he were able to find a way to fuse and wield these two disparate but not-all-that-different energy forms, then Yi Ji-Hyuk would be that much closer to regaining the powers of the Berafe’s Bringer of Apocalypse…. No, he might even gain a power far surpassing that.
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s gaze lowered a little as he fell into a deep contemplation.
< 77. Anyone unwilling to train? -2 > Fin.