Necromancer Before Awakening Chapter 28

Episode 28. The Spirit of the Hunter (2)

A week had passed since the hunters, having narrowly escaped annihilation by the trolls, retreated on the back of a giant hound following Kang Sah-hu’s orders. The sheer terror, deeply ingrained in their hearts after facing the trolls, was enough to dampen their will to continue gate hunting. However, once they had entered the gate, they only had two choices: to be killed by monsters or to clear the gate and escape. Naturally, no hunter chose the former.

Even so, both mentally and physically unsettled, they first sought a safe zone and built a fortress atop a cliff, complete with escape routes. Han Si-yeon, who had studied the tactics based on geography, selected the best location. Under her command, the military hunters worked with other hunters to carve the terrain and construct a fairly usable stronghold.

Meanwhile, Kang Sah-hu led key combat personnel from various guilds to continuously reduce the number of trolls through guerrilla tactics. Following Han Si-yeon’s advice, they circled around from the fortress before attacking to confuse the direction, preventing the trolls from discovering the hunter’s stronghold so far. Moreover, since the trolls stuck together to avoid being picked off one by one, they spent a lot of time in their search, which allowed the hunters to hold out for a week without any issues.

“It’s amazing that there’s water in such a place.”

Kang Ji-ye, after checking a hunter’s nearly healed wound for the last time and using the healing hands skill, gulped down the water Kim Ho-myeong had brought her. Focusing on using her skill drained both her concentration and mana, and her forehead was drenched with sweat, her hair sticking to it like seaweed.

After finishing the water, Kim Ho-myeong handed her a wet towel to wipe herself with and responded to her comment. “It’s fortunate indeed. I heard this is the only place where water has been found so far. Not sure how it was found, but the captain did a great job.”

Gang Ji-ye chuckled at Kim Ho-myeong’s praise of his brother. “It seems like he’s still doing great work. It’s amazing how he fights so well without an altar or spirits…”

At the mention of ‘altar and sacrifice,’ Kim Ho-myeong hesitated. “I was curious about that… Was the captain a necromancer even before his awakening?”

“Yes, what?” Startled, Gang Ji-ye, wiping her face with the wet towel and seeing the grease and sweat stain it, muttered to herself about Korea becoming an oil giant.

“Wh-Why would you think that?” She asked nervously, her sweat dripping.

Kim Ho-myeong chuckled at her reaction. “It’s not strange at all. Think about the abilities the captain has shown so far. While other hunters rely on one or two skills, the captain uses his powers like a jack-of-all-trades. Moreover, Ji-ye, you know too well about necromancers for someone who is a priest class.”

“Well, I wasn’t trying to hide it.” Gang Ji-ye shrugged. “Yes, my brother and I were necromancers before our awakening. Of course, I only had the title of a necromancer, but I wasn’t really one.”

Taking a moment to absorb the confirmation, Kim Ho-myeong’s shock was greater than he expected. “Then, can I ask one more thing? How much of his full power is the captain using right now?”

“What, are you measuring his combat power? Am I being scouted?” Gang Ji-ye tapped her ear, playfully mimicking someone.

Seeing her humor about the situation, Kim Ho-myeong burst out laughing, and she soon elaborated, resting her chin on her hand thoughtfully. “It’s hard to put in numbers, but I’ll give you an example. A necromancer isn’t really like my brother who fights so dynamically. If I must compare, it’s like a defense game? You set up an altar in a particular place, mark your territory, and then annihilate within it.”

“So, setting up a defense and annihilating within it…?”

“It’s not necessary to keep it confined, but… You know the game ‘Woowa’ with the boss called ‘Tycoon’? It’s a global game.”

As he nodded, understanding the reference made it easier for her to explain. “Tycoon from that game is quite similar to a necromancer. The only difference is that Tycoon can martially excel on his own. Otherwise, building his own space, summoning minions, casting curses—it’s pretty much the same.”

“Now I really get it.”

Kim Ho-myeong felt a chill run down his spine as he grasped the true nature of Kang Sah-hu’s combat style. Unbeknownst to many, this revelation of the necromancer’s essence, powered by spirits, was staggering enough, even without knowing all the details.

“Ah? Looks like brother is back!”

Hearing bustling noises outside, Gang Ji-ye hurried out. The hunters, who had been dispatched to skirmish with the trolls atop giant hounds, were just stepping onto solid ground, their faces weary. Habitually checking for any injured, Gang Ji-ye sighed in relief upon realising everyone was merely exhausted and there were no injuries.

“Brother!”

She ran excitedly towards Gang Sah-hu as he dismounted the giant hound, her face both grubby and tired.

He looked at her face with a bitter expression and then exaggeratedly took a defensive stance, causing her to look puzzled. “I didn’t expect to see the face I saw at home here.” “…Yaaaa!” Kang Ji-ye dashed forward with joy and launched a dropkick at him, maintaining her speed. Although the dropkick accurately hit his chest, it didn’t inflict much damage on Kang Sa-hu, whose physical abilities had naturally improved while he awakened and hunted monsters. Kang Sa-hu caught the falling Kang Ji-ye and safely set her down on the ground, then brushed off his clothes where her footsteps had marked. “Are you having a tough time?” he asked casually. Kang Ji-ye, who was preparing for another attack, paused at his question. “…Tough? Not at all! The hunting squad has it harder. If I just manage my mana, it’s really not tough at all~” she responded brightly. Kang Sa-hu chuckled and lightly punched her shoulder. After finishing their greeting, Kang Sa-hu turned his head, and the leaders of each organization, who had been waiting for him, were now visible in the distance. “I’ll go and attend the meeting.” “Okay! Come back safe,” Kang Ji-ye cheerfully replied as Kang Sa-hu began to walk away. Following him almost formally, the organizational leaders entered a tent that served as a temporary command post. “Shall we begin?” Kang Sa-hu suggested, and the heads of each organization reported on their respective situations. The first to speak was the guild leader of the Great Korean Guild, who was in charge of fortress defense and daily life. “We’re almost out of the supplies we brought. We tried to save as much as possible, but the next five days will be critical.” After his succinct report, Lieutenant Han Si-yeon and Guild Leader Maeng Yu-na from the Dragon Guild—who were part of the split attack teams—followed up. Maeng Yu-na continued, “During the recent engagement… we lost two hunters. Also, we confirmed the presence of what seems to be the gate’s boss troll in the process.” The word ‘boss’ drew everyone’s attention to her. She continued her report with a grave tone, noticing their focus. “According to what we observed during the fight, the regular trolls measure between 2 meters and 2.3 meters in height, but the one that seems to be the boss… is nearly 3.5 meters tall.” “…It’s a monster,” grunted the acting guild leader of the most powerful hunter’s guild, who had become the leader after losing their guild master. “Moreover, it appears to have considerable intelligence, as it was seen commanding the trolls around it. During our fight, it even managed to set up an encirclement.” “The monster has… tactics…?” “Yes, it certainly seemed tactical. Lieutenant Han Si-yeon here agreed with that assessment,” stated Maeng Yu-na, to which Han Si-yeon nodded. “He’s no ordinary creature.” Kang Sa-hu silently continued to process this information. Even a Forest Lizard from an F-grade gate, though the gate itself was D-grade, posed a significant challenge. If the monster here was two ranks higher than the C-grade of this gate… ‘It could be A-grade.’ While the outside world already knew this was a B-grade gate, Kang Sa-hu, unaware of this, estimated the monster’s rank could be up to A-grade. ‘Hunters alone won’t be enough.’ It was an unpleasant truth, but his experiences had shown that the hunters weren’t strong enough in battle. Perhaps only the guild leaders, a few core members of each guild, and his own comrades would be helpful when hunting the A-grade boss monster. Even then, the rarity of healing-type awakeners meant that, despite having the three largest guilds gathered, there were less than ten hunters who could heal, including Kang Ji-ye. ‘We must… give it our all.’ Kang Sa-hu was deep in thought, and others silently shivered as they saw blue and green lights emanating from his eyes. They had seen this many times during his focus, but it always seemed new. As he finished his thoughts, Kang Sa-hu spoke, “If we go into an all-out battle with the trolls, we stand no chance. Perhaps it would be better to dig traps around the fortress and prepare for a defensive battle.” The acting guild leader of the strongest guild gasped. “Are you suggesting we put our lives on the line with a defensive stance?” “That’s one way. Since the hunters available for battle are limited, another method could involve moving some people to a newly built fortress while the main combatants stay here to fight.” His icy eyes scanned the surroundings, ominous with the glint of his eyes. “Should those in battle fall, the hunters who fled to the makeshift fortress will undoubtedly die.” “……” No one could refute his statement. Indeed, since the trolls had already figured out their tactics, it was clear a new plan was necessary. “Of course, I didn’t say this without thought.” Kang Sa-hu reached into his pocket and clutched the hunters’ soul keys. The energy mass that was neither spirit nor soul coursed through his hand. He calmly suppressed the anger he felt within. “If we take enough time to prepare, we can win.” While his statement was cryptic, everyone already depended on his sober nature and sound judgement, so there were no objections. Silence fell inside the tent. It was broken by the heavy breathing of Lee Yu-rim, who ran in. “Ca-captain!” She gasped for air as everyone’s focus shifted to her, and seeing Kang Sa-hu’s face, her eyelids trembled. “The, the trolls, ha-ve, noticed, us!” Running all out, her ragged breathing unnerved those listening. She seemed to be screaming her last breath. “The trolls! Ar-e, coming he-re!”



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