God Hunter - Chapter 5
I could discern a few points from running around the mountain for the past two days.
First, there were a countless number of wild animals in Mount Buckan such as rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, woodpeckers. Porcupines, etc…
Second, a number of animals were killed by a stab from long nails.
Third, many traps had been set recently.
The first piece of information was the norm for a mountain, but something was off about the second and third points. Animals being killed by a stab wound was especially troubling.
‘Is it the work of a hunter? Or...?’
Traps were set in several places around the mountain. Notably, there were many traps set here in the past month or so. This meant the presence of poachers or trespassing hunters.
Or… There was another possibility. I still had to consider the possibility that members of Aletheia could have returned as well. Because of this, I hid my presence while I looked for any signs of such activity. If the gate was their goal, I had to prepare for engagement. Thankfully, I had my bird hunting rifle in hand.
Even if they awakened, it shouldn’t have been too long; I definitely had the advantage with my copious experience in battle. But what if they possessed a shotgun or a rifle?
‘That could cause quite the headache for me.’
My current body was limited by physical factors. Even if I could predict the path of bullets, my body had to move fast enough. The maximum range for my bird hunting rifle was barely 20 meters. A shotgun’s range was several times this range.
On the other hand, I had a clear chance over them. They were not aware of my presence. Conversely, I knew they could be anywhere in this mountain range.
I hid my tracks as I moved, and followed their trail. Tracking them was not hard, as they would never have suspected someone following them.
As a result, I found them 12 hours later.
Three unfamiliar men who looked to be in their 30s and 40s were in the middle of boiling ramen in the middle of a small campsite. They didn’t seem to be any of the high ranking figures of Aletheia.
I didn’t sense the fanatic aura that was common amongst the followers of Aletheia either. I hid against a tree and eavesdropped on their conversation.
‘Ah, I’m going crazy. How long are we going to stay in this mountain?”
“Until we find the golden squirrel! We will be rolling in dough after we catch it.”
“But does it really exist? We looked everywhere during the past month, and we didn’t even catch a glimpse of its tail.”
“You saw the pictures. My god! I’ve never seen something more beautiful in my life. Its coat was shining like a bar of gold.”
“Okay, okay. My ear drums are going to self-destruct down if I hear one more word from you.”
“Guys, stop fighting. We’ve been gaining some leads in the past few days. Let’s capture the damned squirrel so we can go home, yeah?”
The oldest looking man with a thick beard coughed and opened his mouth.
“We just have to be patient for a few more days. The squirrel should definitely be around the peak of the mountain.”
“This is the last time I’m trusting you, okay?”
The conversation faded away on that note, and the trio began to dig into their ramen noodles. A smile appeared on my face. This was an unexpected lucky break; I was glad I met them here.
‘A golden squirrel!’
These men had nothing to do with Aletheia. However, the animal they were chasing might have something to do with the gate.
Changes incurred in organisms affected by the gate. Firstly, some aspects were observable with the naked eye such as an increase in size and color. They also grew more aggressive and became stronger. I had already confirmed that the animal corpses littered around the mountain were killed by a long nail. After analyzing the evidence gathered so far, it was highly likely that the golden squirrel was the culprit.
‘The altar of the Ancient One is also gold.’
Organisms mutated into six different colors depending on the type of gate they were affected: gold, titian, violet, azure, white and black. A golden gate had relations with ancient relics or beasts; violet gates were often the nest of powerful beasts or a false god; titian was linked to a rare phenomenon, and azure gates were the residences of a plethora of beast races. As for the rest, the majority of gates were white. Only a small number of gates fell into these categorical colors. In particular, gold and titian gates were considered almost non-existent due to their extremely small numbers.
And for the last, the black gate was a portal straight into the depths of the abyss. One could never step inside and hope to return alive. It was speculated that existences like the Demon Lord came in through a black gate.
At that moment, a query propped up in my mind.
‘There are too many animal corpses.’
Even a mutated squirrel could only do so much. I couldn’t explain how a number of predators were buried around the mountain.
It buried the animals it hunted, but it couldn’t fool my eyes. My first guess was that an animal like a boar was affected by the gate. I followed this train of thought and widened my range of search.
‘To think it was a squirrel.’
Could it… perhaps be a rare variant? An animal who underwent the so-called “rare variation” was in and of itself a monster. I couldn’t take something like that down by myself.
‘The golden squirrel is near the peak of the mountain.’
The location was well within my expectations, Anyhow, I secured this vital piece of information. Even though the possibility of a rare variant made the situation dangerous for me… I turned my head towards the direction of the three men who were engrossed in eating their meal.
‘I’m sorry, but you guys will have to be my bait.’
The tip of a mountain was only a tip in name. In actuality, the area it covered was wide. On the other hand, I was still able to find tracks of the golden squirrel which was clearer larger than ordinary squirrels. I used the entirety of my day to find any traces of the squirrel.
‘The son of a b*tch is exuding unbelievable bloodlust. I can’t find any traces of other animals here.’
Golden Squirrel; its killing methods were beyond my imagination. Be that as it may, the shithead showed plenty of cleverness. It didn’t attack humans and buried its kills underground.
But it still couldn’t control its violent nature.
‘I’ll have to lure it in somehow.’
Rather than facing it head on in its home turf, I had a much better chance at winning if I lured it to my chosen location. By coincidence, the three men I met earlier who had set up a stone trap on the other side of the peak. Although there wasn’t any chance the mutated squirrel would fall for such a trap, I used my time to hunt animals to gather blood. I subsequently gathered the different types of blood and mixed them in one bottle. As the liquids homogenized, an odd scent emanated from the bottle. It would be the perfect tool to trigger the squirrel’s bloodlust.
‘My preparation is complete.’
I shut the lid on the bottle to prevent the scent from prematurely leaking and patiently waited for the sun to set.
“Ah, I’m tired.”
“Let’s call it a day. Starting tomorrow we’ll be luring it in.”
As night fell, the trio quickly fell asleep due to expending their energy setting traps and watching for signs of the squirrel all day. I concealed my presence and approached their camp. This area had the highest chance of the squirrel to appear. It would immediately become aware of any new development; the scent of blood would most definitely drive it into a frenzy.
I opened one of the two bottles of blood and poured it around the tent. I took the remaining bottle and tied it around the entrance of the tent with an angle such that it would pour onto the first person that stepped out of the tent.
In mere moments, a sharp cry pierced my eardrums. The excited cries of a beast were slowly growing louder.
“Wh, What is this noise?”
“Hey~ Get up, something is coming.”
“S*it… Why did you hit my head? What’s coming?”
The three men were suddenly woken and thrown into a disoriented state. They grabbed their fire arms and unzipped the entrance of the tent.
“Wh, what the f*ck was that! Why is there water?”
“Blood! It’s not water, it’s blood! Some bastard must’ve played a prank.”
The blood fell from the bottle and soaked the trio in animal blood causing them to shout profanities into the air. But that didn’t last for long.
“Wait…. What’s that?”
The thick-bearded man spoke as he blinked his eyes. A pair of shining eyes suddenly appeared in the darkness in a night with a half moon. I was hiding in the shade watching this spectacle unfold. A short while passed, and one of the men grabbed a flashlight and shined it on the squirrel.
The first thing that stood out to me was its incredible size and sharp nails that could seemingly cut through iron. It couldn’t even be called a squirrel anymore. It was sniffing the scent of blood emanating from the campsite. The motley group of three all wore a bewildered expression on their face.
“Can a squirrel even grow to that size…? It looks much bigger than the pictures.”
“It’s him alright. Look, look at that golden coat shining even in the night! We’re going to hit the jackpot once we capture it and sell it on the black market!”
“It looks dangerous, let’s stun it with the tranquilizer.”
The men switched their rifles to tranquilizing guns and took aim at the squirrel. It was a situation prompting immediate action.
‘A golden.. coat?”
I felt a shock flash through my mind.
‘Why do I see a black figure then?’
The man definitely said the squirrel was gold, but in my eyes, it was black without a doubt. I never heard of this phenomena before. A gate that showed itself as a different color to different people…
This was not an issue that I could easily brush off. The black color meant the corresponding gate was a direct link to the depths of the abyss from where the Demon Lord was rumored to have emerged from. The vicious demon destroyed the entirety of Korea and slew 499 heroes. One shouldn’t even be near a black gate.
It was at this moment.
The enlarged squirrel turned its head and looked at my concealed location. And the moment Its pitch black eyes made contact with mine, a shock flashed through me.
‘Come, Come to me…”
The voice sounded out again.
‘Come, Come to me…”
It was like a spell. I clenched my head as waves of soul-tearing pain came rushing into my head.
The monster squirrel left the blood soaked men alone and rushed towards me as if I was a target it had to eliminate.
‘Come, Come to me….!”
[The soul transfer has been completed. The process will begin now: 2,880 minutes remaining. The truth-seeking third eye has been invoked. The spell will now act to protect the wielder from foreign harm.]
A message like this wouldn’t appear if I hadn’t traveled back in time.
I felt something flood into me at a rapid speed. I opened my eyes again only to discover my view had changed. The background, people, everything seemed different.
“Ah, father! You’ve finally opened your eyes!”
Someone was grabbing my foot. I turned my gaze downwards and saw the figure of a beautiful woman with six wings holding on to my feet with a fervent expression.
But something was different. Her height and body signaled that she was not a human. Far from it, she was…
‘The Queen of Battle!"
I lost my train of thought. She was the right hand of the Demon Lord who almost destroyed humanity. Her fiery red hair and otherworldly beauty portrayed a ‘violent’ exposition. Hundreds of heroes died by her hands alone. I could never forget that scene.
“You have been slumbering for far too long, father. I will stay beside thee and serve as thy loyal lieutenant.”
The Queen of Battle took a step back and kneeled on her knees.
What? Am I seeing some sort of an illusion? She, who looked down on humans as mere ants, was kneeling to me. Moments later, she opened her mouth and spoke.
“My lord, who sees through all!”