𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐄𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐝𝐡𝐨𝐨𝐝 (𝟐)
It was a simple but true statement. Going to a place where formidable beasts appear was not for hunters, but for mercenaries or knights.
Even in this world where aura and inner strength were scarce and magic was rare, there were monsters.
The particularly strong beasts that were difficult for humans to deal with were precisely these monsters.
When such monsters appeared, people called for mercenaries or knights. It was curious how they could deal with creatures several times stronger than ordinary beasts without guns, but from the stories passed down, it seemed possible to confront them.
‘Well, there must be a way.’
In the past, when there were no guns, people would have hunted beasts with just spears. The people here were no different.
“Yes, I’ll take the lead.”
Joseph was one of the few people in the village who had permission to enter the forest. While others would be severely punished if caught, Joseph was allowed to hunt there.
Joseph was responsible for managing the forest to keep others out, guide Sir Gessen if he wanted to hunt in the forest, and serve as a soldier in case of war.
Of course, Joseph had no intention of fulfilling the last duty. If a war broke out, he planned to pack his belongings and flee. He had run away to this place and had no intention of becoming a human shield for the nobles.
‘𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘢 𝘱𝘦𝘤𝘶𝘭𝘪𝘢𝘳 𝘯𝘰𝘣𝘭𝘦.’
Joseph thought about Johan, who was following him through the forest. This was not the first time he had hunted with Johan.
━𝐀𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐉𝐨𝐬𝐞𝐩𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐡𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫? 𝐈 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐨 𝐡𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐲𝐨𝐮.
━𝐈’𝐦 𝐬𝐨𝐫𝐫𝐲, 𝐉𝐨𝐡𝐚𝐧-𝐧𝐢𝐦.
When Joseph first met Johan, he bowed his head and bit his tongue. Sir Gessen had so many sons that there were more than a few who came to him to be hunting attendants.
Of course, he couldn’t accommodate all such requests. Strictly speaking, only Sir Gessen had the right to make such a request. The other sons did not have that right.
Fortunately, Joseph had an excuse.
━𝐈𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐨 𝐨𝐧 𝐚 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐞𝐫 𝐡𝐮𝐧𝐭, 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐧𝐞𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐦𝐨𝐛𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐳𝐞 𝐬𝐨𝐥𝐝𝐢𝐞𝐫𝐬, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐈 𝐝𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐚𝐮𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐭𝐨 𝐝𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭. . .
A noble’s hunt was different from a hunter carrying a single bow into the hunt.
The noble’s attendants followed, and soldiers followed to guard those attendants. It was more like a hunt where beaters drove the animals towards them than a traditional hunt where they searched for animals.
Naturally, it cost a fortune. Even the nobles couldn’t do it casually. Especially not the not-so-wealthy Aitz family. Moreover, the sons of the Aitz family did not have the authority to make such decisions.
Joseph thought Johan would complain and back off. He was prepared for insults or spitting.
‘𝘑𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘥𝘰𝘯’𝘵 𝘣𝘦𝘢𝘵 𝘮𝘦 𝘶𝘱.’
But the answer that came back was unexpected.
━𝐍𝐨, 𝐈’𝐦 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐭𝐚𝐥𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐚 𝐡𝐮𝐧𝐭 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐬𝐨𝐥𝐝𝐢𝐞𝐫𝐬. 𝐈’𝐦 𝐭𝐚𝐥𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐚 𝐡𝐮𝐧𝐭 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐚 𝐡𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫. 𝐈 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐨 𝐨𝐧 𝐚 𝐡𝐮𝐧𝐭 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐨.
━. . .?!
Joseph was taken aback. And he was disgusted.
“What nonsense. . .”
Wanting to go on a hunter’s hunt. It was clear that a noble’s child would get bored in a few hours. And if he acted rashly and got hurt. . .
But he couldn’t refuse. If he refused here, even the good-natured Johan would surely get angry.
━𝐃𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐫𝐲. 𝐈 𝐰𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐢𝐧 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐟𝐨𝐥𝐥𝐨𝐰𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐲𝐨𝐮. 𝐄𝐯𝐞𝐧 𝐢𝐟 𝐈 𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐡𝐮𝐫𝐭, 𝐈 𝐰𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐛𝐥𝐚𝐦𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮.
━𝐖-𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐚𝐥𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭?
Joseph, who had his inner thoughts exposed, blushed. It was a mistake to think that Johan was easy to deal with because he was young. Johan was smarter than he thought.
In the end, Joseph went hunting with Johan, albeit reluctantly. And it didn’t take long for him to have to admit it.
Johan wasn’t lying.
Johan was surprisingly patient for a noble. He followed the insignificant hunter’s instructions without complaining, waited when told to wait, and didn’t complain about camping in the cold night dew.
Thanks to that, the initial worry had long disappeared. Instead, curiosity arose when the worry disappeared. 𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘰𝘯 𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘩 𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘨 𝘯𝘰𝘣𝘭𝘦𝘮𝘢𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘰𝘧 𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘬𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘢 𝘩𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳?
Knights would scoff at it, but the skills of a hunter were not easy to learn. Moreover, Joseph’s skills were even more so.
The method of tracking the traces of animals, the method of walking quickly in the forest without making a sound, the method of setting traps according to the animals, the method of camping avoiding beasts and bugs. . .
When a war broke out, it was not for nothing that hunters were used as scouts.
However, no matter how much he thought about it, it was not a skill that nobles should learn.
“Joseph. What are you doing?”
“Ah. . . Yes! I’m sorry.”
Joseph was startled and shook his head. It was a mistake that should not be made, even if it was the beginning of the forest, to think about other things.
“Is this a footprint?”
“Yes. You found it correctly. It’s really a nobleman’s excellent skill. It’s not something anyone can find. Originally, it’s not easy to find footprints when the weather is like this, but you found it, it’s definitely Johan-nim. It must be that God recognizes you and helps you.”
“. . .I see.”
Johan nodded with a twitching face. Such a flattering compliment.
‘𝘐𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘢 𝘨𝘶𝘺 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵?’
But Joseph couldn’t help it. There were many nobles who got angry if they didn’t do so.
“Can I set a trap right away?”
Find the footprints of the beast, and set a trap on the path where those footprints lead. This was the first method Joseph taught.
“Look closely. The footprints of the usual blue dot deer are dug deeper. It’s definitely a pregnant female. Females, especially pregnant blue dot deer, are more sensitive than usual. If you set a trap recklessly, you may not be able to catch it.”
Johan nodded his head. To Johan, who had lived in the city all his life, every teaching of Joseph was touching.
“Then what should I do?”
“You have to avoid its sense of smell, so you’ll use this herb powder. The combination is. . .”
“Red cake grass with Akinen tree and small devil grass. Right?”
“. . .Yes. You remember well.”
Experienced and cunning hunters also knew the knowledge of herbalists. A hunter who can make various medicines by combining common herbs was respected in the village.
And Joseph was a hunter among hunters.
“If you sprinkle this herb powder, it will be confused because its sense of smell is paralyzed. No matter how sensitive it is, it won’t notice the trap. Now you can install it.”
Johan’s skill, who had done it several times, was familiar. He skillfully carved a tree and hung a spear, and put a resilient rope. The moment you touch it, the spear will fly and pierce the body of the deer.
“You did well. Now let’s install a few more.”
There was no hunter who set only one trap. And Joseph didn’t usually aim for deer. If you catch a lot of animals like deer, you could be caught by the feudal lord.
What Joseph usually caught was rabbits or badgers, foxes or birds. He could catch wolves if he wanted to, but he usually didn’t. Unless it appears in the village and attacks people, there is no need to do so.
“What’s that wolf?”
“. . .?!”
Joseph turned his head in surprise. Far away, a black wolf was staring at him through the dense trees.
This was not an area where wolves appeared. To see the territory of the wolves in the forest, he had to go further for about a day. Moreover, there were no signs of a wolf appearing. Footprints, feces, characteristic claw marks. . .
‘𝘐𝘵’𝘴 𝘢 𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘺 𝘸𝘰𝘭𝘧!’
Joseph realized that the wolf was not the one he usually saw in the forest. Its fur was so glossy black and its size seemed to be twice as big as other wolves.
‘𝘊𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘪𝘵 𝘣𝘦. . . 𝘢 𝘮𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘳. . .!’
Among the beasts, those who were born with great strength and continued to fight and survive were unusually large. These beasts behaved and moved differently from ordinary beasts. Even savvy hunters didn’t want to deal with these exceptional beasts, monsters.
“Johan-nim. You must never act rashly!”
Johan didn’t show it, but he knew how dangerous the situation was. Seeing Joseph like this, he realized that the wolf was an unexpected enemy.
Moreover, the oppressive atmosphere it exuded was no joke. Even Johan, who had never seen a monster, thought, ‘Is that a monster?’
‘𝘐 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘢 𝘴𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘥. . .’
As the son of a knight, Johan had received a longsword. It was a bit old and unimpressive, but it was considered a proper weapon in this village.
The problem was that Johan didn’t know how to use a sword!
He felt more confident fighting with his bare hands than with a sword.
“Slowly. . . don’t provoke it and back off.”
With that, Joseph put a pouch filled with powder that beasts hate between his fingers. Then he picked up his bow and strung an arrow.
‘𝘗𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘦. . .’
He was confident in his archery skills, but he wasn’t confident against it. Joseph prayed that it wouldn’t follow him.
The wolf suddenly turned around and disappeared into the dark forest. Joseph let out a sigh of relief.
“Let’s run away quickly!”
Emerging from the forest, Joseph panted and said,
“It looks like a monster no matter how you look at it. I should tell everyone not to go near the forest for a while. Just my luck to see a black wolf. . .”
Among the hunters, the black wolf was a bad omen. Johan thought as he saw this.
‘𝘐 𝘨𝘶𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘐 𝘤𝘢𝘯’𝘵 𝘨𝘰 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘯 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘢 𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘦.’
Joseph was a good teacher. He answered everything Johan asked, perhaps because of the difference in status. He wouldn’t have bothered if the other boys in the village had asked.
But he couldn’t force a frightened Joseph to go to the forest. It would be dangerous for Johan too.
“I understand. You’ve worked hard too.”
“No, it’s not. It’s amazing that you, Johan-nim, are not flustered.”
“Yeah. Yeah. I understand, so rest well, and let’s talk again when the wolf is gone.”
Johan sent Joseph away and sat down on the desolate hill in front of the village. For a while, he had to stay still and train near the village.
Johan was startled. There was a guest under the tree where he usually sat alone.
‘𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵? 𝘈 𝘣𝘦𝘨𝘨𝘢𝘳?’
It didn’t look like a person from the village at a glance. Judging by the shabby luggage thrown next to him and the thick, worn-out coat he was wearing while sleeping, he was clearly a wanderer.
Even the serfs of the village couldn’t treat Johan casually, and if he was a wanderer, he could kick him out. But Johan didn’t do that.
‘𝘐𝘵’𝘴 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘭𝘦𝘦𝘱 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦.’
Johan moved his steps and moved to another tree. And he started exercising. His muscles tightened and made a creaking sound from the tree.
“You’re doing something interesting. Are you the son of Sir Gessen?”
Johan stopped exercising and turned his head. The old wanderer had already gotten up and was looking this way.