“You don’t have to feel guilty about it,” I said to Jo Hye-Jin.
“What are you talking about?” she asked.
“Well… I feel like I have an idea as to what you’re thinking about. If only I had done my job properly… wasn’t that what you were thinking?” I asked.
“That’s… not true,” she said, hesitating.
I knew what she was thinking about. If she handled the incident properly back then, then things wouldn’t have turned out this way because all she really did was ask the higher-ups to conduct an investigation. But even if she did handle the Small Stone Guild incident well, it wouldn’t change anything and I could guarantee that her actions wouldn’t have any influence over this place.
“Even if you handled it well, it wouldn't change anything,” I told her.
“Mr. Song is only one part of this auction house. As you can see, the outside world doesn’t have any influence on this place. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m sure not even Count Castlerock knows of this place,” I said.
“How could he not know what’s happening in his own land?” she asked.
“Do you think the mayor of Seoul knows everything that’s happening in Seoul? I’m certain some of the people from the count’s castle are here and there are people who keep quiet despite knowing about this place. Are you even certain we’re in Castle Rock? This is being operated in secrecy so we could be at the border close to the Republic,” I explained.
“I’m sure there are many things involved, but this isn’t something you need to trouble yourself with, Yuka. What we need to keep in mind is simple. There are some parts that need to be excluded, but what we’re seeing is part of society and the people here are part of the same society,” I added.
“Part of society,” she repeated.
“There isn’t a world where crime doesn’t exist,” I said.
“I don’t really understand what you’re trying to say…” she whispered.
“You’ll slowly understand.”
Even as I quietly explained to her while walking, I noticed Jo Hye-Jin frowning and she was trying to suppress her anger while coldly mumbling. Of course, she wasn’t angry at me. She was angry at this place and herself for not being able to do anything. She was slowly starting to realize what reality was like. I was certain the reality she was facing now was totally different from the world she had been living up until now. At this point, I thought it would be best to talk to her in a friendlier tone, so I got closer to her and spoke, “They really have everything here, don’t you think?”
“I’m sure people think they can get whatever they want as long as they have money because it’s obvious what these people are thinking,” Jo Hye-Jin remarked.
“You’re right. As long as you have money, you can get anything. It can be a slave, drugs, the opposite sex, and even experience,” I told her.
“Experience?” she asked.
“Yeah, experience. I’m asking out of curiosity, but… have you ever killed anyone, Yuka?” I asked.
I thought that maybe she had done it already because people who had been here for as long as she had must have tried killing people. Her first time was probably inside the tutorial dungeon. There were so many times I had to use my spear to protect my food and everyone in our party, except Park Deok-Gu, had killed someone. Jung Ha-Yan had experience and so did Kim Hyun-Sung. I had also killed a few people in the tutorial dungeon, but I could no longer remember their names.
When I stared at Jo Hye-Jin, I noticed her staring at me as she answered. “I have…”
“I guess it wasn’t a good memory,” I commented.
“It would be strange… if it was a good memory,” she whispered.
“You’re right, it’s not a good memory, but there are people who consider that as a good memory. We free city citizens experience that from time to time, but it’s difficult for nobles to experience something like that and especially here since murder is illegal amongst the imperial citizens. Nobles may have the power to punish ordinary citizens, but they can’t kill an innocent person. Where do you think the crazy people go to satisfy their cravings? I’m certain those kinds of things happen here as well,” I explained.
“No way…” she gasped.
I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw Jo Hye-Jin doubting me. It seemed like she still had hope for humans despite the sight she had seen just now.
When I raised my hand while smiling, I noticed a guide approaching us, and naturally, Jo Hye-Jin looked at me as if questioning my actions.
I didn’t need to explain it to her because there was a guide who was always on standby, ready to answer whatever questions we had.
“How can I help you?”
“I need directions,” I said.
“Okay, where are you headed?” the guide asked.
“I want to test out this sword… is there a place where I can do that?” I asked.
“Of course, sir. Would you like me to prepare a monster for you or…”
“I have other plans right now, so if you tell me how to get there, I’ll go there later. Also, if there’s a place where I can see large monsters, please show us how to get there,” I requested.
“Would you like me to take you there?” the guide asked.
“No, you can just tell me how to get there,” I answered.
“You can follow this path and on the right side, you’ll see exit three. If you follow that path, you’ll see an amphitheater. There’s an entrance fee…”
“Got it. You can go back now,” I said, interrupting them.
“Thank you, sir.”
When the guide left, Jo Hye-Jin looked as if she couldn’t believe it.
“There’s nothing money can’t buy. You can even buy experience here and that includes illegal experience,” I said.
“Is there anything you’ve been wanting to try or wished someone else would do it for you or are there things you could only fantasize about in your head? I’ll pay for it so why not find something?” I suggested.
“I’m joking, of course,” I quickly said.
I was sure what she wanted was to bring this entire place down.
When I continued walking without caring much about her, I saw the amphitheater the guide had mentioned earlier and it was a lot bigger than I thought. It felt like they had moved the old Colosseum underground. Some people were waiting in line to enter and others were talking amongst themselves. When I handed the gold I had prepared, one of the guides nodded and started guiding us.
“The VIP section,” I said.
“There will be an additional charge,” the guide replied.
“It doesn’t matter...”
“Has the match started yet?” I asked.
“It’s currently breaktime. The next match will start in five minutes,” the guide answered.
When the guide left, Jo Hye-Jin immediately started talking. She seemed curious about what was going to happen in front of all of these people.
“Haruka, what kind of match…”
“I’m not sure… I told you it was my first time here, too. If a large monster comes out, it’s obvious what kind of match it’s going to be,” I replied.
“Are you saying they’re going to hunt here?” she asked.
“I don’t think it’s going to be that boring… Do you think people gathered here just to see an adventurer hunt for monsters?” I asked.
“You’ll see,” I told her.
We heard people shouting. Everyone didn’t scream that loud because they were trying to maintain their composure, but there were some who clapped quietly while others cheered. What caught my attention was that woman from earlier. It seemed like she was looking at me, so I tried to ignore her.
‘I’m sure she isn’t looking at me.’
I naturally lowered my head when I heard people shouting and saw a huge monster inside the arena.
I couldn’t really describe the monster. Its head resembled a lizard, but it had six legs. The monster was drooling and it constantly roared to the point that I felt like I was going deaf. The audience that was watching quietly started cheering and naturally, people started appearing on the opposite side of the monster. I was sure they were the ones who were going to fight the monster. There were about 30 of them and they were ordinary people who didn’t even have basic gear with them.
Seeing how there were short fighters, I guess the group was mixed with races that weren’t valuable. They were probably trying to cater to the different types of audiences because I even saw a beautiful elf in the group and naturally, I used Mind’s Eye to look at their stats. Of course, their stats weren’t that great. There were a few within the group who had experience in fighting, but their experience wasn’t enough to defeat this monster. In order to defeat a monster that big, a party of well-trained free city citizens was required, and to make things worse, they didn’t even have proper weapons so there was no way they could take on that monster. After the chains that restrained the monster broke, the monster instantly charged toward the 30 participants. The humans who had lost the will to fight even before this match began started scattering and running all over the arena and then I heard people shouting.
“Hang in there!”
“Just hold on a bit longer!”
‘I wonder if they made bets on those people.’
The sight of the monster crushing the humans so easily was so absurd that it was making me laugh. There was blood splattering everywhere, but no one in this arena was worried about them.
“Save me! Ahhhh!”
Some were banging on the door where they came from and others were pushing people aside to save themselves. It was a pretty dramatic scene, but the people here weren’t interested in the documentary. To them, the participants’ screams and cries for help were entertainment. I guess I wasn’t that bad of a person yet because the scene looked more like a documentary to me. I felt uncomfortable when I saw that half of the people had already died.
Since I was feeling this way, I was certain Jo Hye-Jin was feeling worse than me because she was frowning when we were at the slave auction house. When I glanced over at her, what I saw was a sight to behold.
‘Maybe this was a bit extreme...’
When I saw Jo Hye-Jin’s eyes behind her mask, I noticed the anger in her eyes. When she bit down on her lips, blood started to flow out and there was even blood flowing out from her tightly clenched fists.
‘This is a problem.’
“I know,” she replied, interrupting me.
“Anything rash…” I said, finishing my sentence.
“I… know,” she said.
Jo Hye-Jin said that she knew, but her actions were telling me that she didn’t know that she was supposed to sit still. Naturally, I became anxious because she seemed like she was going to jump into the arena at any moment. When I grabbed her hand, I felt her shaking and during all of this, the others continued to yell. There were only five people remaining in the arena.
“P-Please save me.”
“Save me, please!”
“Please! Someone… anyone, help!”
“I don’t want to die… hnnnngh…”
“I don’t want to die here like this… please… please…”
The participants’ desperate cry for help caused the audience to become angry and their screams drowned out their cries, but I guess Jo Hye-Jin heard their cries for help loud and clear.
I was starting to feel frustrated when I imagined her suddenly running toward the arena. If that happened, then it would be difficult for me to handle the situation. When she slowly got up, I grabbed her hand again, but as Castle Rock’s stubborn woman, she didn’t care about anything around her.
‘Maybe this irritated her a bit too much...’
“Don’t do anything crazy,” I warned her.
“I know,” she said.
“If you jump in there, I’ll die too,” I added.
“Do you want to save them?” I asked.
It was a bit early, but this was the right thing to do.
“Think carefully. How do you think you can save them?” I asked.
The answer was already there, but the important part was whether she was going to say the answer or not. I continued to look at her and even though it was a bit late, she told me the conclusion she came to.
“Buy them,” she said, finishing her sentence.