Hunter Club – Antihero - Ch 1
“Ughhh!” (TLN:끄으응, sound you make when you are in pain )
His head hurt as if was about to explode. Noguduk moaned loudly, while he was half asleep and half awake. As his five senses started waking up, he started to realize one or two people were making a commotion.
“Oh my! I think this uncle is awake!”
The first thing he heard was the flighty voice of a young woman.
“Ha. If he was still dreaming after 30 minute then I would have been able to wake him up with a slap to the face.”
He heard a rough voice of a man, who sounded like he had heard something he didn’t like. Next, the voice of a young woman was heard arguing with him.
“How can you speak that way towards an elder?”
“Jeez. Age isn’t a government office… You want to argue about age even here? Anyways, why isn’t this young man getting up?(TLN: there are two people unconscious) The deadline isn’t too far off. I have no choice. I’ll wake him up even if I have to beat him.”
“Wait…. Ah! This person is also waking up!”
He couldn’t hear clearly, but he could tell there were several people bustling about. Noguduk slowly calmed him breathing, and he carefully opened his closed eyes. His blurry vision started to pick up the outline of the people bustling about. In front of him, he could see a young man and a woman approaching him. Nokguduk’s head was in disarray, so he couldn’t afford to pay attention to them.
Where is this place? Why am I here? Who are they? He didn’t have a single answer to these question.
‘Where is this? Is it the hospital? I’m sure… Wasn’t I hit by a car…?’
Like any other day, he had purchased soju and dried squid before he headed towards his house. It was deep into the night so there weren’t many cars on the road. It was his day off, and the live broadcast of the soccer team he liked was on during this time slot. While being a bit excited, he waited for the pedestrian lights to turn. When the signal turned green, he started crossing the crosswalk… Suddenly, his surrounding became bright and he heard the revving of a car engine right next to him. He turned his head in disbelief, but the bright headlight was already in front of his nose.
He knew he was about to die helplessly, so he closed his eyes tight. That was all he could remember. It wasn’t a distance where he could avoid it. Considering the car was speeding like a raging bull, he would be half dead at the very least. However, his entire body was fine. Hands, feet, body… At the very least, there weren’t any acute pain.
“Uncle, are you awake?”
A woman wearing a white blouse and tight jeans had woken Noguduk from his dreams. She looked young, and she seemed to be in her early 20s. By looking at how she was dressed, she seemed to be a college student.
He stared up blankly at her. No matter how he saw it, she wasn’t a nurse. Neither was she a police woman or an employee from the insurance company. Any ways, he decided it would be better to get the answer from her rather then worrying about it by himself.
“Miss, where is this place? Is it the hospital? Did someone carry me here?”
“Pardon? What are you talking about? Didn’t you come here after you listened to the explanation? ”
On the contrary, the young woman questioned him back with incredulity in her eyes. At her unexpected reaction, Noguduk was also taken aback.
“Explanation? I haven’t heard anything like that. I remember being almost hit by a car…. Any ways, where is this place?”
Now her face was with ridiculousness as if she couldn’t make heads or tail of this situation. This caused the people, who were listening to their conversation, to have a similar expression as the woman. Then they started putting their two cents in.
“I told you. I said this uncle was strange. He is too old. He is a outsider unrelated to the test.”
“Oh my god. Is he really a outsider? Is that possible? Phew. No wonder, there seemed to be an extra person…”
“What will happen to this uncle? Soon, we’ll have to participate in the draft…. When the deadline passes, they said this room will disappear. Don’t we have to take him to the draft?”
“Are you crazy? What can that uncle do? Are you going to be responsible for him if he affects the grade?”
“How can you say that! If we don’t take this uncle, then he will die!”
“Stop. Let us stop. We shouldn’t be wasting our time right now.”
There was a light argument within the group, but a tall man acted as a mediator to settle it for the time being. The tall male was also in his early 20s like all the other people. He had on a blue dress shirt and a dark gray casual suit. His appearance gave him a sense of solemnity. Moreover, there was a luxurious silver glass perched on top of the bridge of his nose. This made him look like a typical white collar business elite.
“My name is Ha-taegyong.”
The man who claimed to be Ha-taegyong gathered Noguduk, and one other person who had also woken up recently. The others followed his orders without any complaints, so he must have implicitly taken up the role of leader.
He was surrounded by young men and young women, so Noguduk felt a little bit numb. He picked up the general mood of his surrounding, but he decided to ignore it for now. He decided to wait quietly for the man in front him to explain the whole story.
Ha-taegyong spoke to the man next to Noguduk first.
“Excuse me, but what is your name?”
The man, who had answered, had a calm face. Unlike Noguduk, he didn’t have any sense of confusion. Ha-taegyon saw Kim-jungin’s reaction and he lightly nodded his head.
“All right. Mr. Kim-jungin. Do you know about the draft and being a hunter?”
In Ha-taegyong’s perpective, the short answer was satisfactory. He didn’t have to explain until his mouth hurt. The remaining problem was Noguduk, who was nervously looking back and forth between him and Kim-jungin.
“What is your name?”
“I’m called No..Noguduk… Where is this….?”
Ha-taegyong slid his glasses up to adjust it. Since he had temporarily become the leader, he had to make the primary decision on what to do with Noguduk. He didn’t know the detail as to why Noguduk was brought to this place, but once he had come to this place it was impossible for him to return. Therefore, the choice was to leave him or not. The answer was obvious.
‘We’ll take him’
This wasn’t his preference, but it was a decision based on the inclination of the group. Once the deadline passed, the ‘Ready Room’ would disappear. The living people, tools and the room would cease to exist. The people gathered here knew that Noguduk would die, but they weren’t cold-hearted enough to leave him behind. Maybe, only a small number would leave him behind.
Ha-taegyong gave an inscrutable sigh before speaking.
“I don’t have time to give a long explanation. In about 1 hour, this room will disappear. If Mr. Noguduk is still here then you have no choice but to die.”
“Wha..what! Die? What are you talking about?”
Noguduk was about to jump up from his seat, but a strong power pressed down on his shoulders. He had no choice, but to sit back down. A sturdily built young man had pressed both his hands on his shoulders. It was a form of demonstration telling him to stay still. Noguduk’s complexion turned pale.
“What..what are you doing? What are you trying to do?”
When he became frightened, Ha-taegyong signaled the youth with his eyes. The youth gradually dispelled his strength, and he let go of Noguduk’s shoulder.
“Mr. Noguduk. Please calm down and listen. I’ve told you this before, but I don’t have that much time to explain this. We have to finish our preparation before moving to another location. If there is some time to spare later, I’ll tell you the rest of the story. Please don’t ask me any questions. Just do as I say starting from now. It won’t be too late to tell you the specific details of the story after we leave this room.”
He still didn’t know what the situation was. The mood of Ha-taegyong and the rest of the people was too serious for him to make a fuss. Noguduk didn’t live over 40 years without knowing when to take a hint. He instinctively knew that it would benefit him to not say anything here, so he slightly nodded. Ha-taegyong saw this, so his explanation must have somewhat gotten through to him. Therefore, he spoke with a satisfied expression.
“We are short on time. Please follow me.”
Noguduk and Kim-jungin followed Ha-taegyong’s direction, and they followed him to the corner of the room. The room was square shaped and it was about the size of a large lecture hall. Each corner had various equipment displayed. Ha-taegyong brought them to a location with swords, bows, clubs, etc. They looked nefarious just by looking at them, and the various weapons were arranged in order inside steel display case.
“Mr. Kim-Jungin. Please select a weapon from here. Also, Mr. Noguduk… Please meditate.”
Noguduk was toying with an iron bar when he suddenly heard that. He replied in confusion.
“What are you talking about? Meditate?”
“Once we entered this place, we were all given power so we could work as hunters. From this place’s terminology, it is called Empowering. If you meditate, it’ll allow you to enter your inner world. You will have access to your Journal. It is a method where you will be able to see the power you were given and verify your current age. Since Mr. Noguduk is an outsider, I can’t guarantee if you were Empowered…. There is no downside in checking your Journal.
“If you insist on it…”
The truth was he didn’t entirely understand what Empowering, Hunter or Journal meant. Still, there was no downside in trying, so Noguduk followed meekly. As directed by Ha-taegyoung, he sat in a lotus position, and he clasped hands on top of the location where his calves intersected.
“It is very easy to Meditate. Mr. Noguduk should repeatedly think about how you usually look, and continue to think about your whole body. The inherent system will naturally react to you. Then you just check the record, and remember it for next time. …of course this assumes that you had been Empowered.”
He spoke with a friendly smile, but his last words were a bit weird. Noguduk closed his eyes, while feeling a bit upset. Then he started slowly drawing his figure inside his mind as instructed by Ha-taeyong.
He used to have abundant hair when he was young, but the heavy workload and stress reduced it. Now there was no trace of hair, and he was a smooth bald headed man. The only thing that became more plentiful was the fat around his stomach. His lower stomach protruded like a tadpole. By merely thinking about it, it automatically made him sigh. Moreover, the weight gained through aging made his limbs plump. His body wasn’t inferior compared to any other Korean older male.(TLN:this isn’t a compliment. He is saying he has a dad body) The only thing he could take pride in was the fact that he was a goalkeeper for his college soccer team. He was tall and had broad shoulders. However, he was buried by fat now. It was basically putting a pearl necklace on a pig.
‘I used to be successful when I was young…..’
Even if he pined for it, the prime of his youth would never return. While cleansing his palate, there was a surprising change.
The figure of the absent-mindedly standing uncle with a pot-belly started to slowly infiltrate into the void, and it blurred.. In front of him, a semi-transparent computer display like a hologram appeared. While Noguduk was being surprised, clear words started printing one after the other inside the rectangle window.[Journal Number : K903-32439] [Name : Noguduk] [Tribe&Race : Human] [Class : – ] [Talent : – ] [Characteristics : – ]
“What the hell is this….?”
This was Noguduk’s first words after seeing the display. He understood the name, but what was the Journal Number? Class? Talent? What was all this? What did the blank space next to it mean? Ha-taegyong said he should check his record, but there was nothing to check. Except for his name, everything else was empty.
Noguduk didn’t have any information regarding the current situation, but his instinct told his that the content of his record wasn’t good.
‘I don’t think the other people’s record will be empty like mine…..’
He was told to check and memorize the content of the Journal. He was wondering if he should lie about it when he heard his name being called from outside his consciousness. The voice was calm and restrained, so it must be Ha-taegyong.
He opened his eyes by a sliver, and he matched eyes with Ha-taegyoung , who was staring at him. He gave out a fake cough after being surprised. As if Ha-taegyong was interested, he promptly questioned Noguduk.
“How was it? Was there a Journal?”
“Cough, hmm…. It was there. What was the Journal number… What number was it?”
He mentioned that the Journal Number had appeared, and he had seen it. Ha-taegyong and the surrounding people all had a surprised expression. According to what they knew, there were only 10 people in the draft. However, there was an 11th member, and it was confirmed that the outsider, Noguduk, had received a Journal Number.
Noguduk feigned as if he was trying to remember the Journal Number, and he spoke hesitantly. This caused Ha-taegyong to lower his hand, and end his words.
“The Journal Number isn’t that important. You have to check your class and talent, so you could pick a weapon suitable for you. For example, if you have talent in swordsmanship then it is advantageous for you to pick the sword. If you have affinity to magic or other affiliated talent then you should pick a Wand.”
“Uh, that, that is….. It was empty.”