Chapter 8: A Hunter and a Stray Cat (3)
As soon as they opened the safe door, Zin heard the earth shake with a loud boom. Leona’s face stiffened, and Zin stood still, frozen.
“Shh… be quiet.”
Zin lifted Leona onto his shoulder as he looked at the shaky ceiling. Leona realized that it was not the time to resist, and she let Zin carry her. Zin moved slowly up the stairs, minimizing the sound of his footsteps and breaths.
The hunter thought:
Walking sound, two feet. Large-sized.
Howling sound, living animal.
—craack! gnaw! slurp slurp—
Zin organized his thoughts as he walked up the stairs. The building was in danger of collapsing, and Zin needed to evacuate from the basement as soon as possible, but he didn’t hurry. Without seeing them, Zin figured out what sort of beasts were out there based on their sounds.
“Large-sized beasts that walk on two feet, hunting corpse hunters….”
Instead of heading outside, Zin continued to climb up the stairs to the rooftop. The sun had set, and it was dark all around—turning on a lamp would be suicidal.
The beasts were shrieking while they ran away from the new predator, and some were screaming while getting eaten. And then, another scream rang out.
Quite a different sound than before. If it’s got at least two vocal cords, it must be a mutated beast.
Mutated beasts were made up of a mix of different beings and did not have ordinary body organs, but strange-shaped ones instead.
There were corpses and the signs of death everywhere, and a beast was eating corpse hunters.
The hunter thought:
It was a beast which was infuriated by the thought of the corpse hunters defiling their bodies upon death. It hunted down corpse hunters, and with each kill grew bigger in size. It was an amalgam of hatred formed from malice and resentment. The maneater was a beast that hunted down other beasts.
There were different methods to attack and overpower different beasts. As soon as Zin realized it was a maneater, he rushed to the rooftop of the building.
About a hundred and fifty feet away, Zin saw a twenty-feet-tall beast annihilating its surroundings. Leona was able to see the scene as well.
“Wha…what the hell is that…?”
Leona grew petrified as she looked at the horrendous monster. The monster appeared to be a mix of many slabs of flesh joined together, with many hair-like tentacles waving freely. And the tentacles were grabbing any corpse hunters it could find, eagerly stuffing them into one of its three mouths.
The monster walked with two feet, using its hair-tentacles as twisted ropes while it ate up the corpse hunters.
The horrifying sounds continued and all that remained of the beasts were pools of blood. The appearance of the monster was more than enough to cause a person to faint from horror. Leona had never seen such a monster and did not expect to encounter one so massive. However, Leona didn’t look fazed.
“It looks like an ugly piece of crap.”
Leona’s words were those of disgust, not of horror. Just as Leona spoke in that manner, Zin suddenly said:
“As you’ve said, today’s our lucky day.”
“Lucky day? With that thing rampaging in front of us?”
She wasn’t horrified per se, but she knew that the situation was dire. She was puzzled at Zin’s words.
“That thing will chase away all the corpse hunters.”
As mentioned, hunters managed to survive because they were quite knowledgeable.
“That monster doesn’t prioritize humans as targets. It will start attacking us after getting rid of all the corpse hunters.”
They were safe for the time being. That is, ‘for the time being’.
The world was a wild ecosystem, and the humans were not at the top of the food chain. Therefore, beasts fought against each other and ate one other. For the beasts, humans were just a type of prey. They didn’t eat humans and some didn’t even bother with humans.
Zin and Leona watched the maneater as it lay waste eating the corpse hunters around the ruins of Zado City. Ghouls, beasts, and poisonous dogs; all got sucked into the maneater’s mouth.
“So, you’re telling me that we’re safe for now, but we won’t be in a bit?”
“Then I think we should be running for our lives right now.”
Leona argued, but Zin shook his head.
“What do you think will happen after that thing eats a lot of beasts?
“…it’ll get full?”
Zin almost laughed out loud at her simplistic and straightforward answer, but he held in his laughter as he didn’t want to make a sound in front of the monster. Although Zin didn’t laugh, he looked pretty amused.
Leona couldn’t possibly laugh while looking at the ugly-looking monster.
“Does that monster look cute to you? Why are you freaking smiling?”
Zin had no words for Leona’s attitude, but he let her be herself. Certainly, Zin was looking cheerfully at the maneater.
“I’m glad because it’s doing all the hunting for me instead.”
“What are you talking about?”
“A monster that eats a lot of monsters will throw up all the chips it devoured.”
Leona understood what he meant. And she felt astonished.
“You… you’re going to hunt that thing right now?”
While letting the maneater hunt others, Zin planned to take advantage of the maneater and hunt it down. Leona thought that running away from the monster was more important than trying to hunt it down. But, Zin looked at Leona, as if he didn’t understand why Leona was agitated.
“What’s so weird about a hunter hunting?”
In truth, there was nothing strange about it. A hunter lived to hunt, and not, for example, to sell merchandise.
Leona nodded at Zin’s logical-sounding words.
“Not at all.” And she added:
“But you’re freaking weird.”
Leona thought that hunting the monster was a crazy thing to do, even for a hunter.
The maneater walking around Zado was not very nimble, but its tentacles were swift. The tentacles stretched out and snatched up the beasts, shoving them into the maneater’s mouth.
Leona said nervously:
“By the way, isn’t that monster getting bigger and bigger?”
“You’re correct. Overall, it gained some body mass.”
“Can I run away by myself?”
“Then your prepayment of 500 chips will be mine. Not a loss for me because it’s more chips than the reward for my original request. If you want to leave, go ahead.”
“Hey, hey, shouldn’t you be following my orders?”
“It was a bodyguard request, not a slavery contract, so I don’t have an obligation to follow your orders.”
“Whatever you’re babbling, I take it you’re just going to do whatever you feel like.”
“You get it.”
Leona felt angry, but she had no choice but to stay close to Zin. Although she was a gutsy kid, it was impossible for a kid to navigate through a field of monsters. Avoiding danger only to encounter bigger danger was foolish.
Even though Leona was not sure what was more dangerous, she felt drawn towards the somewhat reckless hunter’s confidence. Leona was no different than Zin by the fact that she was a vagabond wandering around the wilderness. And the thing that kept her from getting killed was not her boldness.
It was her intuition and her decisiveness to act that kept her alive. And this time around, her instincts were telling her to stick with the weird hunter.
The maneater was too busy eating, so it didn’t bother with Zin or Leona.
Now’s the time.
Zin took out a finger-sized lantern from his coat. It was such a small lantern that it looked like a small container. There were dark spots inside the crystal lantern.
Leona shook her head as she looked at the object. She wasn’t sure what it was, exactly. But, she grew surprised when she saw a small miracle happening because of it.
The lantern started resonating with sound as darkness spilled out of it. The darkness surrounded the lantern, with a radius of about the size of a basketball. But it wasn’t quite darkness, to be precise.
It looked like a small sphere; as if one had plucked out a ball from the dark sky. As if conjuring a small galaxy, the black sphere contained a night sky scattered with stars and planets.
Zin boldly stuck his hand inside the sphere and took something out. Leona was left speechless as she saw this supernatural event unfold in front of her.
With a strange sound, Zin took out a huge gun and some ammunition from the small sphere.
“Wha…what is this?”
“I used a charm to utilize the void.”
“What do you mean?”
“Think of it as a bag that you don’t need to carry around. Although this thing doesn’t have enough space…”
Zin checked the ammo for the sniper rifle as well as the equipment’s condition as he looked through its scope.
“It’s got enough space to house a couple of guns.”
As Zin turned off the lantern, the void disappeared. People called it ‘void storage’, and the small charm was made up of alien’s blood. The devil hunters used these charms to conjure the power of the sacrificial blood. The blood couldn’t invoke the horrifying and devilish power of the monsters, but it was small enough to be used in many useful ways.
The power of the charm wasn’t strong enough to kill others, but Zin used the charm to store bulky or heavy items inside the void.
In truth, the most troublesome matter for wanderers was carrying stuff around rather than fighting off monsters.
The void storage acted as portable storage and was something that Zin often utilized even though it wasn’t a powerful charm. Zin referred to the void storage as a ‘bag’ instead.
Leona was astonished at what she’d just witnessed. But her next comment was very practical.
“That’s soooo handy….”
Leona became interested in the ‘bag’ when she remembered all the things she’d had to throw away because she couldn’t carry them along. And above all, it was her first time seeing a rifle, so she wasn’t sure what Zin would use the metal object for.
As the maneater continued to eat, Zin quickly finished inspecting his rifle. When hunting, being efficient was more important than winning. Spending 30 chips to hunt down a monster that yielded 10 chips was an inefficient hunt. Maximizing the reward with the least cost was important. So, Zin didn’t take out the largest caliber firearm.
Zin took out a .308 Winchester, a custom Remington 700 model that used 7.62mm ammo. The sniper rifle was not new, but it was in clean and excellent condition from regular maintenance and part replacements.
Regardless of the rifle’s power and efficiency, a rifle was useless against a monster of such size. However, Zin loaded two rounds of ammo into the rifle. The monster was about three hundred yards away, and Zin didn’t need to use the scope. Sniping required skills, but the monster was so huge that even an aimless shot would hit it.
However, Zin looked carefully through the scope.
And he took a shot at one of the monster’s mouths.
“Ahh!! What was that?”
Leona shouted as she saw the gun barrel explode with a bang for the first time. But a more surprising thing happened afterward.
The bullet hit the maneater, and one of its mouths exploded into pieces. It was unbelievable that a single bullet could be so destructive. It seemed as if a bazooka had hit the mouth instead. The 7.62mm bullet’s jacket was full of blue-chip powder, which exploded as soon as it hit the target.
It was a regular bullet, but it had exploded like a shotgun shell as soon as it hit the target. A micro tank gunnery, or a missile. That was the bullet that Zin had used.