Chapter 15 – Stranger

Jiwoo stood up in surprise.

The night was already deep, and it was already dark both outside and inside.
The window was open, so she tried to judge the situation outside there, but it was in vain.

She had a limit to seeing by relying on moonlight alone.
Even though it was dark outside, it was too dark.

“GAAAAH!”

Another terrible shriek rang out.
Jiwoo’s shoulders flinched, but she couldn’t stand still at the strange aura from outside.

As the Akarna, what she felt now was clearly a miasma.

Such a thick energy was the reaction that would occur when a person died after being eroded to the limit and exploded miasma around.

And usually, that didn’t end with just that person dying.
When the miasma exploded, the spread miasma went to the surrounding area and annihilated the area itself.

It was for that reason that those injured by the beast were expelled from the group and died in a distant place.

The empire has made an inexorable effort to eradicate casualties like this.
No matter how much they strengthened the borders of the empire and sent relief forces to severe places, the damage caused by the beasts continued.

It was no exaggeration to say that it was precisely because of this contagiousness.
Even fewer and fewer people were wanting to be dispatched there.

If they apply as a relief force, when they get unlucky, they could be affected by the miasma.

In a word, only the Akarna could really solve this level of miasma.

But she was also conflicted.

Even though Lanceil was an exception, Jiwoo knew that she would have to hide her abilities here.
The temple used Akarna themselves, but also served as her protection.

As much as the Akarna was able to remove the miasma, there were so many people who wanted to use her that the heavens and earth would be covered by their number.

That’s why Lanceil was extremely vigilant and reacted sharply when he first proposed to go with him.

ㅡIf you want to go back… It’s better not to reveal more about you here.

These were words that Lanceil had told her, and in fact, from the moment Jiwoo came into this village, she did not have a very good impression of this place.

As the Akarna, she had no choice but to use her power for people while carrying out relief operations— No, ‘rescue’ operations.
She has seen so many things that she can’t help but wonder what kind of group people would end up creating in a disastrous situation.

And it was largely divided into two.

The first would be a group that embraces the weak without giving up until the end.
Such a group would be easy to deal with as the Akarna.

No matter how catastrophic it was, they wanted to live with a minimum level of human morals, so they did not abandon their societal reason and help the underprivileged.
She knew that they would be grateful if they got help, and they knew shame.

Among them, there were many who entered the temple and wanted to become the new strength of the temple.
But there was a big downside.

They did not have a very high survival rate.
Unless there were one or two talented heroes, it was impossible for a group to survive long.
Still, Jiwoo always liked people like that.

The second group was a group that would mercilessly abandon or use the weak.

Those who were injured by the beast or the weak old people were thrown out of the group, and women were used as s*x objects.
Most of them invaded the first group and repeated looting and exploitation.

And if a group of the second kind would find out about the existence of the Akarna, they would abduct and use her for their own benefit.

There were times when she almost faced dangerous circumstances, so even though Jiwoo was suffering from life in the temple, she could not easily leave the temple.
It was obvious that she would become a prey to the caste system within the empire, and a victim of such a group outside.

When Jiwoo went to the place where she had to do rescue work, she used to judge them first by looking at how many women, children, and the elderly were accounted for in the group.

And Lanceil’s group, this green village, was among the worst of the worst by that standard.

There were only young men here.
There were no women, children or the elderly.

In fact, she was favored by someone named Lanceil, and she had a good impression of him, but she did not want to make hasty judgments about the group that Lanceil belonged to.

But inevitably her first impression of this group was not good.

If she showed the Akarna’s power prematurely in a place like this, it was obvious that things would go bad.

“Ghaak! Huaaackk”

As she continued to think seriously, she heard the shouts again.
Jiwoo clasped her trembling hands together.

However…

As a human, she couldn’t pretend that she couldn’t hear such hair-raising shrieks.

“Kuuhkk! Hwaah!”

As she pondered, the screams grew louder.
It seemed like there were multiple people in danger near this place.

The moment she erased it, she remembered what Lanceil said when she accepted his hand.

ㅡBear with it, I will send you back after you recover first.

ㅡYou’ll send me back?

ㅡYes.
I will send you back to your hometown safely.

The only thing she could believe in was Lanceil’s promise.

Jiwoo always expected people and got disappointed in the end, trusting people made her miserable.

She was becoming more and more miserable because she was a person who could not lose her expectations despite repeated disappointments.
She couldn’t let go of that character in her even though she knew it, so she was always taken advantage of.

She was sure she’ll make the same mistake again this time.

ㅡI’m so happy, Akarna.

However…

‘Lanceil.’

If she’s only been disappointed with people a couple of times in her life while living as the Akarna, she would need to be prepared this time, too.
But if a person who’s been disappointed a thousand times got disappointed once more, it won’t be a big deal.

It’s okay.
Be it 1000 times or 1001 times, it’s the same.
Let’s go.

Her worries were brief.
Jiwoo kicked the door open and went out.

 

 

* * *

 

 

It was dark all around, not even a torch was lit.
Fortunately, there was something like a glowing flower bud that was illuminating the way, but it wasn’t as bright as a torch.
Relying on the moonlight, Jiwoo walked to find the epicenter of the shrieks.

“Aack! AAAH!”

As soon as she thought she had lost her direction, she heard another piercing shriek again, so Jiwoo quickly turned her head in that direction.

She must have walked for some time at a brisk pace.
In the distance, Jiwoo saw people gathering with torches.
And there was something big and black over there…

‘Is it a beast?

Jiwoo moved her steps towards it.
But it was then.

The black figure, which was surrounded by people, began to wriggle and move, and then quickly approached this way.

Tak.
Tak.
Tak.
Tak-tak-tak-tak!

“…..!”

She was so startled that she couldn’t even scream.
Without even having a moment to defend herself, it approached Jiwoo.
It was when Jiwoo was going to be attacked.

“Kyaah!”

It was as if a huge beast the size of her ran up to her, so Jiwoo screamed, devoured in fear.

Jiwoo, who could not hold her body, collapsed to the ground and slammed the back of her head hard.
She clutched her head and groaned.

It was a miracle she didn’t faint.

[ Stop! Don’t shoot! ]

Before she could ascertain what had hit her, she heard someone shouting urgently.
Their footsteps also hurriedly headed this way.

[ It’s the outsider! ]

[ Why is the outsider here! ]

A roar was heard from all sides.
It must have been the people who were holding the beast.
And Jiwoo later confirmed the identity of what attacked her.

“A p-person?”

She was shocked.
It wasn’t a beast that attacked her.
It was a person.

Someone who was seriously injured, too.

The arrows in his back were dripping with blood and miasma.
It was so dense that it seemed as if his entire body was surrounded by a black mist.

“Kuhk.
Uugghh…”

Of course, the person hanging on to her seemed out of his mind.
In the meantime, he instinctively looked for a way to live and seemed to cling to her.

“Kku-ugh… Kuuhhkk”

While Jiwoo was trying to judge the situation, someone approached her.

“Get away, stranger.
You know it was dangerous, so why are you here?”

He was pulling a bow.

“What are you trying to do?”

“I’ll kill him before dawn.”

Jiwoo frowned.
A feeling of disgust arose.

“Are you killing the weak in this way?”

Jiwoo, who used to be short on words in this world, spoke everything straightforwardly.
When she said that, everyone around her was furious.

[ Weak? ]

[ Nonsense! For you to say that Helka is weak—!]

“When she is a stranger who knows nothing!”

Someone shouted.

“I’m offended by what you’re misunderstanding! Helka is the most important person to us!”

“This is his dying wish! We’re doing this at his request!”

[ Do you think that we are doing this because we like it? ]

The imperial language and the language they spoke mixed.
It didn’t seem like the situation Jiwoo had envisioned.

“Then that’s enough.
I apologize if I misunderstood.”

“You still don’t understand? He decided to die this full moon…! If it’s too late…”

“Because I can treat him.
Stop it.”

Everyone was set abuzz.
Their reactions were full of incredulity.

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