< Breaking an Old Habit (Part 2) >
The next day, Cho-Yul exited his hut with a new and different demeanor, surprising the residents of Weedle.
"Isn't that the young man who's drunk all the time?
"I think so."
There was a reason why they were surprised.
The Cho-Yul who used to stagger around in a drunken stupor was walking straight. He no longer had messy hair or an unclean appearance.
He had tied his hair up and looked as if he had taken a bath. Despite wearing an old grey robe, he looked very attentive.
More than anything, Cho-Yul actually approached and greeted his neighbors instead of ignoring them like before.
"Sir, I apologize for the things I've done during my stay here."
"Huh? What? Are you really the Cho-Yul I know?"
"Yes. I'll be leaving the village to go on a long journey and I'd like to bid you farewell."
Cho-Yul didn't stop at one person. He visited every single resident of the village and greeted them.
All the people whom he visited also wished him good luck on his journey. Many of the residents were surprised by his sudden departure. They hadn't expected him to change so much in just a day.
The residents soon realized that Cho-Yul's sudden change was because of the outsiders. When many of them heard that he had become a different man, they asked him what had happened.
"I have something I need to take care of," Cho-Yul replied. He didn't go into detail with them, however. Cho-Yul visited the village leader last. The middle-aged man stood up when he saw a different Cho-Yul walk into his home.
"Cho-Yul, what's going on?"
"I came to bid you farewell, sir."
The leader had heard many requests from the residents to kick Cho-Yul out before, but he had refused to do so because there would be no place other than the wilderness for Cho-Yul to go. Even though the leader would occasionally reprimand him, Cho-Yul could live in Weedle because of the care the leader gave him.
Before the leader could talk him out of leaving, Cho-Yul spoke.
"My true identity is that of a sorcerer."
"The Group cannot find this village and are confused because I set up the Disguising Sorcery. They have passed by the village at least four times today."
He began explaining the topic of sorcery and the workings behind the Disguising Sorcery to the leader, who didn't know the first thing about it.
"You should prohibit anyone from leaving the village. You won't be able to use chips for some time. The Disguising Sorcery's area of effect is within a one-mile radius of the village. At the moment, you'll have to find a way to survive by cultivating crops."
Cho-Yul also added that it would be best for the villagers to lay low until the Group's power lessened. The leader was still in shock, not certain if Cho-Yul was telling the truth.
If what he had said was true, that meant that he had been protecting the village from the Reavers.
There were other things the leader thought was odd. The climate around Weedle had never been good and the village always had food shortages. However, in the two years since Cho-Yul's arrival, harvests had been bountiful. The people could grow more than enough food and didn't care about Cho-Yul making alcohol with the excess grain.
The village had also been blessed with great weather for the past two years. People were thankful for the great weather.
"Was it you who—" The leader began.
"It's not a big deal for me to control the climate. Anyway, thank you for the two years you've allowed me to stay here."
The leader then realized that the pain-in-the-butt drunkard had actually been the most important person in the village. That drunkard was also about to leave said village.
He couldn't speak as he watched Cho-Yul turn around and walk away. Cho-Yul had transformed into a different person.
"I'm ready," Cho-Yul said as he approached the team.
"Why were you walking around all over the place? You looked like you were saying goodbye for the last time," Zin scolded.
"A personal relationship should never be taken lightly." Cho-Yul didn't tell Zin about the outcome of his fortune telling and Zin didn't ask. Nevertheless, both knew something that Leona and Ramphil didn't.
Cho-Yul had made up his mind, deciding to leave the village for good. Zin could somewhat read Cho-Yul's determination. Since he was fully prepared for their long journey, Zin didn't ask him any questions.
"Now you look like a real sorcerer," he commented instead.
"Thank you," Cho-Yul replied with a smile.
The team greeted each other briefly.
"Are you from Wargrave? I'm Cho-Yul. Nice to meet you." Cho-Yul was not afraid of Ramphil, who wore a Wargrave uniform. He stretched out his arm, which Ramphil grabbed and shook in greeting.
"I'm a temporary executor, Ramphil. Nice to meet you as well," Ramphil replied.
"I'm Leona," Leona piped up.
"And a witch," Ramphil added abruptly.
"Huh, what?" Cho-Yul was surprised by his sudden comment.
"Why did you tell him when he didn't even ask?" She turned to Ramphil, who just shrugged.
"You didn't tell me because I didn't ask you. I am telling Cho-Yul so that he doesn't get caught by a surprise."
"…You loser. You've been mad about it all this time?"
"Yes," Ramphil answered matter-of-factly.
"H-hold on… Can you explain to me in detail?" Cho-Yul asked, extremely surprised. He couldn't understand how a witch could be traveling along with a witch hunter. Cho-Yul looked as Zin, who sighed.
"Let's go. I'll explain on the way."
After listening to the long story, Cho-Yul nodded.
"I see what happened."
There were many stories that were intertwined. Cho-Yul could now understand the meaning of his fortune telling. He realized that the character "harm" had appeared because Leona was a witch. Many years had passed since devils roamed the land. People had forgotten what a devil was. They knew the word "devil," but had forgotten what it meant. Cho-Yul, the descendant of a devil hunter, had also forgotten about the people's hatred toward a devil. He was surprised that the little kid in front of him was a witch, but he didn't think that she was someone who had to be killed.
"Leona, are you able to use a witch's power?" Cho-Yul inquired respectfully.
His extrpolite attitude made her feel quite awkward.
"Hey, can you talk naturally? I feel awkward here." Leona didn't like talking formally and would prefer to converse naturally with Cho-Yul.
"I feel more comfortable talking this way, but you could talk however you like," he answered.
"…You're annoying in a different way than Ramphil," she commented.
"Well, we are a team of weirdos, so what did you expect?" Zin cut into the conversation.
"And you are one of those weirdos, mister." Leona turned to look at him.
"Nah," Zin rejected curtly.
"Mister, you know that you're the weirdest of all of us."
There was nothing more special than a devil hunter who had lived for over two centuries. Zin laughed as Leona scolded him while Cho-Yul looked on in amazement at the devil hunter and the witch fooling around.
In the past, it was said that a devil hunter is treated on par with a devil.
The witch hunter in front of him was one of the devil hunters who had been regarded as ruthless hunters. Cho-Yul couldn't easily picture the current Zin as being one of them.
After goofing around with Zin for a bit, Leona looked at Cho-Yul.
"Oh, you asked about a witch's power, right? I don't really know how to use it."
"You don't know?"
"Sometimes, I sense the power within me, but it's very hard to control."
Cho-Yul nodded as Leona explained her powers. It was his first time meeting a witch. He had studied them before but had never met one.
Zin was the only person who had encountered devils and hunted even them.
"She is a little slow and dumb, so you'll have to cope with her," Zin joked.
Leona pouted. "I know you're making fun of me. Stop it, mister."
"Haha…easy, everyone. I didn't mean to create a feud here…" Cho-Yul thought that it was rather fortunate that the witch couldn't control her power to the fullest.
Zin looked around at each team member and thought about how they would work as a team.
"What a team. Feels like the end of the world," he murmured after a short pause.
Cho-Yul had his doubts about traveling together, wondering exactly what would happen. However, the thought did not terrify him because he had already decided to go on this journey.
A team consisting of a Wargrave executor, a witch hunter, a witch, and a high-level sorcerer was ready to embark. The AV started to move across the plains.
"It was a good decision to join you," Cho-Yul mentioned as he looked at the pile of C-Ration cans. He had tried many new food and desserts and was amazed at the luxury. He thought about how the meal would taste much better with a bottle of alcohol, but if he drank even a single sip, Zin would beat him up.
"I never accepted you as a team member officially. What makes you think you'll be traveling with us?" Zin looked at him with a grimace.
"This is the will of the heaven, grandmaster," Cho-Yul replied.
"You sorcerers, always using that to rebut all arguments," Zin sighed.
Many sorcerers referred to the will of the heaven to explain the cause of any event or action. One could not out-argue a sorcerer when they brought up the will of heaven.
"The world of sorcery is deep and mysterious. Even though you disagree, things will happen as the will of heaven wants, grandmaster."
"Did you only learn such bullshit from your master?"
"Haha, my apologies. This is all that I learned, grandmaster."
"You sorcerers…" Zin shook his head when he heard that.
Leona and Ramphil looked on in amazement at their chat.
"Alright, fine. It's all good. But stop referring to me as 'grandmaster,' will you? It bugs me," Zin said. He really didn't like to be called "grandmaster." It made him feel like an old man.
"Then what should I call you?"
"Call me Zin. I don't like being referred to as an elder."
"But I can't I refer a grandmaster by his name—"
As Cho-Yul spoke, Zin became furious, clenching his fist until his knuckles turned white.
"If I hear you say 'grandmaster' one more time, I will rip you into a thousand pieces."
"It's not funny at all…but okay, I got it." Cho-Yul nodded, realizing that Zin was not in good mood. On the other hand, Leona was surprised by his anger.
"If you don't want to be called an old man, you should stop joking around like one," she chided.
"Well, you have to understand. The hunter has lived a long life," Ramphil added.
Zin became even more furious as both Leona and Ramphil mocked him.
"I didn't mean to be funny." He tried to talk back, then stopped. Leona smiled and both she and Ramphil nodded. They didn't speak anymore.
"No, really! I'm not trying to be funny," Zin insisted, becoming embarrassed.
"Okay, I understand." Leona drank her fruit punch and nodded.
"Yeah it happens," Ramphil agreed.
In the past, he had mocked Leona many times and Ramphil still remembered when he had to roam around the city of Harbin with a smelly rag.
It was their payback time.
"Damn," Zin grumbled in frustration.
It appeared that their team would not be having a friendly and harmonious road trip together.
A couple of days later.
"What's going on?"
They had arrived at a spot where the Heavenly Power Rock was in view. Ramphil stopped the AV when they reached the hill. He backed up a bit and hid behind a rock.
"I see Reavers," Ramphil reported.
"What?" Zin jumped out of the AV and Ramphil followed him.
They both laid down on the ground and observed the Reavers with the binoculars. A group of Reavers camped near the Heavenly Power Rock could be seen.