Executors, unlike hunters, work for Wargrave alone, and don’t received payment. It seemed likely that lieutenant Charl was an executor, and had descended into the Peninsula to take care of this matter.
‘She did look pretty young, but if you assume she was a rookie, it’s not much of a stretch.’
It’s plausible that Wargrave would have sent a rookie to East Asia, notoriously pretty innocuous compared to other areas of the world, to gain a bit of experience. This lended credence to the idea that lieutenant Charl was an executor. Actual rank isn’t important to an executor.
Executors have the power to oppose even a Warlord - leaders of Wargrave - when they believe they have a legitimate reason. Executors, therefore, are an entity unto themselves, independent of the prevailing Wargrave hierarchy. Such is their status that they even strike fear into Wargrave soldiers.
This was of course information that most normal people in the wild didn’t know. Zin knew because, well, he was Zin. It gave him food for thought and judgment.
Leona sat silently, noticing that Zin was lost in thought. Leona’s powers of perception were animal-like. She didn’t disturb Zin when he was serious like this. Zin, on the other hand, wasn’t perceptive enough to notice Leona’s tact.
‘What could be so important to make an Executor run like burned rabbit…’
Something must have occurred to her to make her leave that quickly. That much is clear.
There are two Wargrave facilities on the Peninsula. One in Seoul. One in Busan. There ended up being two Mass Confusion Points on the Peninsula - one each in Seoul and Busan. Seeing as how Wargrave has a fortress at every MCP, they would have built one at Busan as well.
‘But the Busan MCP has halted any operations. The fortress was abandoned soon after…’
It isn’t common for MCPs to stop operations. For whatever reason, however, the Busan MCP did just that. Monsters no longer appear there. Zin heard the news when it happened, and he even came back to the Peninsula to check. That was 30 years ago already.
The fortress was heavily fortified and guarded by Wargrave soldiers at the time. Zin, despite his curiosity, did not attempt to break through the guards. He was therefore unable to do any recon related to the incident.
He could only conclude that something must’ve happened.
‘I had a feeling that they must’ve been doing some kind of experiment in Busan at the time...seems like I was right.’
Suspicious as the scenario might be, there were countless other suspicious things going on in the world as well. There was no need to get especially curious. But this one felt a little different.
Normally completely independent monsters form a pack, attack, then destroy themselves. What if that wasn’t a random occurrence, but an accident caused by something? Or could it even have been intentional?
Lieutenant Charl would have known about BMCP’s shutdown and any facts related to that. Or maybe she had a hunch about something. The reason she showed so much interest in this strange incident may be related to that. Zin recalled something Beck Gu had said.
‘This is the work of a devil.’
Zin didn’t believe Beck Gu at the time. If anything he was borderline shocked. Yet Jado had fallen just how Beck Gu predicted. A bitter smile flashed across his face.
‘Beck Gu - you had a bit of foresight, didn’t you?’
Zin couldn’t help but think that what Beck Gu had said was true. An executor from Wargrave seems to think that an abandoned fortress in Busan and the destruction of Jado are related. The destruction of Jado may also be the work of a devil. What the heck was Wargrave up to in Busan?
A hunter judges.
‘Lieutenant Charl is a Wargrave executor.’
‘BMCP’s dormancy and the shutdown of the Busan fortress are related. A Wargrave experiment must’ve played a role in that.’
‘Jado’s destruction is also related to that Wargrave experiment.’
‘It’s worth checking out what that experiment was.’
“Looks like finding a place for you to live is gonna take a bit longer than expected” said Zin as he stared at Leona.
“I’ve gotta head south.”
Leona’s expression, not surprisingly, let Zin know that she was unhappy. They were supposed to be headed north, but they kept going south.
“We’re going to Busan.”
There was a high probability that they wouldn’t learn anything. But thanks to Charl’s chips, Zin could abide a few days wasted. The lieutenant’s urgency was solid proof of Wargrave’s previous carelessness. Zin was almost certain that there would be a clue, or something close to that, in Busan.
“Get some rest. We’ll head south tomorrow.”
“Ughhh…” sighed Leona, once again disappointed that her journey promised again to get longer. Going to the southernmost part of the Peninsula, then turning around and coming all the way back north - that would take at least a month.
“We’re supposed to be going north...why do we keep heading south?”
“I’m curious about that as well.”
“...you’re the one who said let’s go south!”
The two were foregoing their plan to return to Ard Point, and instead heading to the southern tip of the Peninsula. They had left Ard Point, and continued to head south. Zin also saw the absurdity in their situation.
Wasted time is wasted life. While this is true for everyone, it’s especially true for Zin. He didn’t have much time left. Important decisions like this required extra precaution and thought. Zin, of course, didn’t tell that to Leona.
“Didn’t you say that your hometown was in the south?”
“Yeah. I don’t even piss in that direction” said Leona, with a disgusted look on her face.
“Something must have happened to you there.”
“Who said anything happened to me?”
The child of a whore.
It was obvious that Leona was treated poorly - by kids her age or by adults. Doesn’t matter. The more horrible the environment, the more horribly people treat each other.
Regardless of how low and humble people live, there will always be someone who looks down on others. When you look down on others, you begin to feel superior. Zin didn’t find it funny that people in filthy rags disdained people wearing slightly filthier ones.
Barbarism had found its way back into the world. Seeing how ideas of position and rank were once again taking hold, Zin couldn’t help but feel that history was flowing backwards.
Leona laughed, thinking about the past.
“Well, I’m not one to sit back and take a beating.”
“Ha, seems that way.”
“Let me tell you a hero story. I once had a 5 on 1 fight.”
“Interesting. You don’t seem like the type to take a beating from that many people.”
Leona clenched her fist and smirked.
“It’s easy with a bunch of cowards. You can’t kill them all in a lopsided fight like that. No matter what they do to you, as long as you manage to beat one of them to death, the others will run away in fear.”
“Hmmm I see. How did you beat one of them to death when it was 5 on 1?”
It’s easier said than done. The numbers just aren’t on your side. It’s much more likely that you’d be beaten before you have a chance to take one out.
“Girls have an advantage in fights like that” said Leona confidently, pointing at Zin’s crotch. Zin couldn’t help but flinch and ruffle his coat.
“Boys have a real easy weakness - their balls. Just attack there. Get ‘em to the ground in one blow. After that, you just, keep going. Then even the ones who aren’t getting hit close their legs in fear. Hilarious!” said Leona, cracking up.
“That’s what I did from the beginning of a fight. Everyone lost their minds! Later I heard one of his balls burst.”
Leona wasn’t the type to show mercy. If she was attacked, she was prepared to fight to the death. Considering that boy’s balls were pummeled with all her might, it’s more of a surprise that one actually survived.
Leona’s story didn’t surprise Zin as much as when she pointed at his balls. He couldn’t believe the kid - pointing at his balls without any hesitation.
“....the world is going to the dogs.” Zin could feel this degeneration in a number of different ways. Leona chuckled. Leona was ripe for the pickings when it came to being looked down upon in her hometown, and her personality couldn’t have helped. Leona added,
“Add to that the fact that I killed my dad, and I’ve told you everything. He came at me and tried to grab me, calling me a witch or something.”
So she had to run away. She had no fond memories of her hometown, and that was natural. It was easy to believe that she was not happy when they turned south and headed in that direction. Zin burst into laughter.
“A witch?!? I guess there are still towns where people believe that. Fun.”
“It’s not fun at all being called a witch!” shouted Leona, her eyes were alight with anger as she continued.
“Someone who doesn’t even know what a witch is calling someone else a witch...they just don’t like me, that’s why they say that.”
“People do use that word like that. In the past and now.”
“I hate it when people say it like that. It’s cheap. If you wish I were dead, tell me to my face. Isn’t that more honest?” asked Leona, shrugging her shoulders. Leona had a good point, but it was a difficult issue. Zin couldn’t help but smirk a bit, thinking of the world before the devils disappeared.
Even though witches have disappeared, people still used the term just how Leona described it. Leona frowned as she thought about the past. She lifted her head suddenly, as if she remembered something.
“That’s right. You’re a hunter, mister. You must know what a witch is.”
“I do. It’s a type of devil.”
“Witches are a type of devil?” repeated Leona.
“There are several types of devils, and witches are one of those. They don’t share any specifics with other devils. People just decided to call them that.”
People merely decided years ago to group the worst monsters together and call them devils. Just because different monsters were all called devils, didn’t mean they shared any similarities.
“Then what exactly is a witch?”
“They have many distinct features, but first and foremost witches control other monsters.”
“They control other monsters and force them to become their slaves. Understand?”
“Controlling other monsters? Is that even possible?”
“Of course. Witches rule other monsters.”
Monsters, just like people, have characteristics, personality, and will. Witches are able to conquer all of those and make monsters move for them.
If the destruction of Jado was indeed caused by a devil, then it was almost certainly at the hands of a witch. Witches are capable of forcing monsters who are usually enemies, or monsters who almost always work alone to join forces.
If this indeed was the work of a witch, it’s worse than anyone could possibly imagine.
“Witches can make themselves stronger by enlisting other monsters. To put it simply, the can make a city of monsters. They can make the monsters fight, or make a battle plan and use them strategically.”
That basically means that a witch can create and control an army of monsters, if it’s good enough. They can control the monsters so they don’t just attack randomly. Witches are terrifying for that very reason.
“A witch was able to conquer and control Alaska in the past. Not that you’d understand that.”
Witches have taken over large swaths of land and established nations of monsters. Of course that’s all over now and just a thing of the past.
“That’d be amazing” said Leona, not considering for even a second the gravity of Zin’s explanation.
“Haha. That’s an interesting take.”
“Wouldn’t it though? It’d be safe, with all the monsters protecting the area. And if you need chips, all you gotta do is cut one of them open.”
“Hmmm, I guess if you were a witch that’s how you’d think.” Leona burst into laughter at Zin’s remark.
“How cool would it have been if I really were a witch, like those assholes said?” said Leona. What she meant was that it would be nice to have all that power - she wouldn’t have to struggle so hard. Zin completely understood, and couldn’t help but show a slight bitter smile. He also saw countless faces of people who died, accused of being witches. Remnants of his past quickly filled his mind to the brim.
‘Explain the difference between devils and devil hunters.’
‘How will you go on living if you kill the last devil?’
‘Explain the difference!’
‘How can you hope to live in a world without devils?’
‘You can’t say.’
‘What are you going to live for, devil-hunter, when there are no more devils?’
‘You guys are just devil-killing devils.’
‘You will come to miss me.’
‘The minute your time on this earth runs out, you’ll realize how much you really loved us.’
‘Kill me. Kill me I said!’
“Mister?” Zin found himself slowly returning to reality, as Leona poked him in his ribs.
“Why do you look so out of it? Are you sleepy?” asked Leona as she frowned, confused. She was staring at Zin, who had stopped in his tracks.
“No. I’m not sleepy.”
Zin bit down and grit his teeth in order to extract himself from the images of his past. He was finally able to take another step forward as he felt the pain in his gums.
“What the heck. Your face looks like shit” said Leona. She was looking at Zin as she moved ahead of him. Zin didn’t answer. There are certain memories that don’t disappear over time, and just get stronger. There were times when Zin struggled under the weight of these memories, which had become even more visceral with the passage of time.
People carry more and more burden on their shoulders the longer they live. Zin had more on his shoulders than anyone else in the world.