Ju-Hui’s complexion was incredibly poor; Seong Jin-Woo was deeply taken aback by this sight.
“What’s wrong? Are you ill somewhere?”
“T-there. Over there.”
Jin-Woo’s eyes followed Ju-Hui’s trembling pointing finger. She was pointing at the giant god statue. More specifically, she was pointing at the god statue’s face.
Jin-Woo could only tilt his head in confusion because it looked pretty much the same as before.
Ju-Hui stuttered some words out.
“The, the eyes… The eyes of the god statue moved towards us. Just now.”
Jin-Woo looked again several times, but nothing seemed to have changed. There was no visible change to the god statue.
“Eii… I’m sure you’ve made a mistake.”
However, it seemed like Ju-Hui didn’t hear him; her head stayed lowered, and as she held onto Jin-Woo’s arm, her entire body trembled even harder.
‘Hang on a sec here.’
Even Jin-Woo picked up on this strange but ominous sensation now. The world was eerily quiet. So much so, it felt just too bizarre.
Even the sounds of the flames burning on the torches could not be heard anymore.
In the meantime, Song’s voice continued on as he read the contents of the slate.
“Worship the god. Second law. Exalt the god. Third law. Prove your piety. Those who do not keep to these laws shall not leave this place alive.”
It was then.
Everyone was jolted back to their senses at the sudden explosion of noise.
“What, what was that?!”
“Where did that sudden noise come from?!”
The first person to notice the change in the situation was none other than Jin-Woo. Because his senses were running at full tilt already, he could tell where the noise was coming from right away.
“The door!! The door is closed!!”
As soon as Jin-Woo shouted out, everyone shifted their gazes towards the doorway. The door they left open was now firmly shut close.
“God d*mn it! I can’t stand this!”
The Hunter who was the first to oppose the idea of continued exploration of the dungeon began spitting out cusses as he took large strides towards the door.
“I’m going home, so you all can have fun with a boss or treasures or whatever.”
That Hunter glared at Song with an expression that contained all of his dissatisfaction before he spun his head around and angrily grabbed the door handle.
It happened, then.
Song’s eyes grew extra large.
The area above the Hunter’s neck suddenly vanished. The headless body powerlessly collapsed to the ground.
Hunters began screaming their heads off.
The stone statue that smashed a human’s head apart with a steel mace returned to its original spot next to the door, as if nothing important had happened, its body completely covered in fresh blood.
“That, that thing can move?!”
“What the hell?? Does that mean every statue in here can move, too?!”
“We gotta fight against these things?”
“I couldn’t even see that d*mn thing swing the mace, so how can I?!”
Unlike others here, though, Jin-Woo knew the truth.
….Their troubles only had just begun.
Didn’t Ju-Hui say it earlier?
“The, the eyes… The eyes of the god statue moved towards us. Just now.”
‘If what she said is true….’
A chill rapidly ran down his spine.
Jin-Woo forced his stiff neck to turn around so he could look behind him.
The stone statue of the god was looking down at him.
Part 3: Commencement of the attack
It was then, the god statue’s two black eyes changed to red.
Was this the instincts of a Hunter?
No, the instincts of a living being were sending out urgent warning signals.
Something was coming.
Something none of them could contend with!
Jin-Woo turned towards the other Hunters and cried out as loudly as he could.
Almost at the same time, red beams of light shot out from the eyes of the god statue. Jin-Woo hugged Ju-Hui and threw their bodies to the floor.
The beam shot right by the spot Jin-Woo had been standing.
A tenth of a second.
No, he survived by one-hundredth of a second.
That was definitely too close for comfort.
Unfortunately, not everyone was as lucky as Jin-Woo.
Those who were swallowed up by the red light evaporated where they stood. Only the ashes of what used to be human Hunters remained where the beam flew past.
The screams came not from the dead Hunters, but those who witnessed their final moments from the sidelines, actually.
“What the f*ck was that?!”
“How, how can such a thing even be…”
The remaining Hunters began freaking out.
Out of the seventeen Hunters, only eleven survived.
Not one of them had ever experienced such a powerful attack before in their lives.
‘I barely made it because he told me to get down.’
‘If it wasn’t for Mister Seong’s shouts….’
Hunters stared at Jin-Woo while nervously swallowing their saliva. Jin-Woo turned out to be their unlikely saviour. Without his timely warning, they could only imagine what would’ve happened to them and that thought sent chills down their spines.
While still lying prostrate on the ground, Jin-Woo glared at the god statue.
Its eyes were still glowing in red, but it did not attack again.
‘Is the attack… over?’
Jin-Woo looked underneath him. The scared-silly Yi Ju-Hui was trembling in his arms.
This was the reason why she worked for the Association and not for a big Guild, and participated in simple raids like this one, even though she was nominally an excellent Hunter with a rank as high as ‘B’.
Ju-Hui’s breathing was getting rougher by the second.
He couldn’t let her be like this. He had to do something.
Jin-Woo was about to raise his body up, thinking that he gotta do something here, but then, someone grabbed his shoulders and pushed him back down, hard.
“Don’t get up.”
It was Mister Song, somehow next to the youth before anyone had noticed it. Jin-Woo was flustered, but still did as he was told.
Song then shouted at the other Hunters.
“Nobody move! Stay exactly where you are!”
Song looked around before focusing on Jin-Woo.
“Only those that moved got killed. Those who listened to you and got down survived.”
“It seems that way.”
Song tilted his head slightly.
“I thought you warned us because you figured something out?”
“No, well, I just felt something dangerous was coming, so….”
A flash of light brushed past Song’s eyes just then.
‘His instincts are pretty good, in other words. He’s a rank E Hunter? If only his abilities were a bit higher….’
Just as Song stared at Jin-Woo with a rueful expression, Jin-Woo too found a little bit of leeway to check out the older Hunter’s condition.
And the youth’s eyes opened up wider after finding something pretty terrible.
“A-ahjussi, your, your… Your arm?!”
“This is nothing. I can still hold on.”
“But, but, still….”
Jin-Woo swallowed down his saliva.
Song’s other hand that wasn’t pressing down on Jin-Woo’s shoulder, his left arm, was gone.
Song studied Ju-Hui’s conditions for a bit, before he took off the T-shirt he was wearing, and while not even showing the enormous amount of pain he must be feeling, he wrapped up what was left of his left arm.
“Help me tie up the end, please? It’s difficult to so with only one hand.”
Jin-Woo could only nod his head then.
They were able to somehow stop the bleeding for now.
Rather than a scream or a pained moan, Song let out a long sigh. It was a sigh containing ten years’ worth of experience as a Hunter.
Now that the first-aid was over, Song’s gaze became a level sharper as he studied his surroundings. Although the god statue stopped attacking them, their situation hadn’t improved in the slightest.
And like so, seconds continued to tick by.
“Just why do we have to suffer like this, this…..”
A few Hunters even began shedding tears now.
“We can’t stay like this forever!!”
The patience of the other Hunters was running out as well. Jin-Woo agreed with that sentiment, though.
‘Right, we can’t stay here forever.’
But, what could he possibly do here? If Song’s suspicion was correct, then the moment they moved, they’d get attacked.
And, even if they got lucky and managed to evade the beams and reach the door, there were the two stone statues guarding the doorway to worry about, as well.
They were a big problem too, actually.
The movements of the doorkeepers were so fast that he couldn’t see it with his eyes. Could he or anyone else open the door and escape before those statues attacked them?
It sounded completely impossible.
Which meant that the annihilation of the Hunters was just a matter of time.
‘Wait….. A matter of time?’
When his thoughts arrived there, a strong sense of disharmony filled him up.
An event that couldn’t have happened, but it happened anyway.
But no one else seemed to have picked up on “it” yet.
‘Something… We missed something here.’
Without a doubt, the answer to their salvation hid in that ‘something’.
It was then.
Song shouted at Mister Joo, who was at the far end of the group.
“Shut up! Who knows when that thing will start attacking us again!! But you want me to stay here and wait?!”
Mister Joo was a close-combat type Hunter.
These types of Hunters possessed far, far superior physical abilities than regular human beings. On top of this, Joo was about to sign up with a big Guild after his skills were acknowledged by them not too long ago as well.
“I’ll not die here today.”
While keeping low to the ground, Joo put all his strength down to his legs.
His aim was at the doorway.
The muscles on his legs were swelling up fast.
Song could only mutter out to himself.
Right then, Joo kicked the ground and exploded forward.
Meanwhile, Jin-Woo hurriedly turned his head to look at the god statue. Just as he suspected, the eyes of the statue were fixed on the back of mister Joo.
And then, the chilling red ray shot out from those eyes.
The beam slammed on the back of Mister Joo.
The female Hunter screamed at the top of her lungs.
She must’ve developed a leak, because a puddle of yellow liquid formed where she was squatting on the ground.
The expressions of the Hunters froze, hard.
“Oh my god….”
Mister Joo no longer stood where the red beam flew past. Only the pair of ownerless ankles could be seen now.
One of the men with a weaker constitution began emptying the contents of his stomach.
Jin-Woo’s expression also crumpled as well.
As expected, the god statue could easily finish them off if it felt like it. It’d be easier than stepping on squirming bugs, actually.
‘If that’s the case, then…. Why hadn’t it?’
It could kill them, yet it hadn’t done that.
This was a completely different pattern of behaviour compared to the monsters that attacked as soon as spotting human Hunters in their vicinity.
These statues only moved if certain conditions were met: the doorkeepers that only attacked if someone approached the door; the eyes of the god statue firing that red beam if someone moved.
It was like a game with a set regulation.
‘Hang on… Could there be some kind of rules in this chamber?’
It was here that a piece of puzzle found its place in Jin-Woo’s head. He began recalling the contents of the stone slate Song was reading not too long ago, that was why.
‘The laws of the… Karutenon temple, was it?’
‘Regulation’ was ‘rules’, and ‘rules’ could be ‘laws’ as well.
The key to their safe escape from this camber had to be buried within those warnings found on the stone slate.
“….Worship the god.”
That was the first law.
“Mm? Did you just say something?”
Song shifted his gaze back to Jin-Woo.
Instead of a reply, Jin-Woo simply placed his index finger on his lips. It was a sign asking for a bit of time to think.
‘If my thoughts are right…’
Jin-Woo slowly rose up.
Song hurriedly tried to stop the youth, but Jin-Woo shook his head while carrying a determined expression.
‘….Doesn’t look like he gave up on living.’
Song nodded his head.
Jin-Woo kept his eyes trained squarely at the god statue and carefully stood up.
Almost right away, the eyes of the statue were fixed on Jin-Woo.
And as expected, the red beam was fired in his direction.
If he got down to the ground a moment slower, it’d be his face melting away, instead of a few strands of hair on top of his head!
Lying face down on the ground, Jin-Woo breathed in and out quite heavily.
“Heok, heok, heok, heok.”
He nearly died just then. The moment the statue’s eyes met his, he thought he was going to die for sure. He somehow did dodge it, but his legs wouldn’t stop shaking from the fear.
Still, he learned something important just now.
‘It’s not attacking someone who’s moving around.’
As long as he was squatting low to the ground, he could go anywhere he wanted to and the statue’s eyes would remain still.
However, if one stood up, then the red beam would be fired without hesitation.
‘The d*mn thing only attacks if we breach a certain height.’
That was why Jin-Woo bet his life on proving this theory right just now.
And now, he was sure of it.
The meaning behind the first law, that was!
< Chapter 3 > Fin.