Only the two of them were still perfectly human. Today’s check-up showed that all the villagers had completed their awakening and manifested as their respective races. Judging by the fact that no one had lost their ‘Elix’, it seemed they were all beginners, fortunately.
The current Elixir was somewhat different from the one during the beta test. The presence of the Great Duke was the difference.
The current Lord Players were not granted Great Dukes. Originally, it was common to be assigned a Great Duke even before establishing a village, but after landing here, the only one who developed a Great Duke was the village chief, Kim Gap-joon.
Of course, for someone who was already in an existing empire, it was correct that they wouldn’t have developed a Great Duke. Sehyun was also the same case in that respect. Then there were people like Kim Gap-joon, whose empires had fallen. Those people should have developed a Great Duke from the beginning, but currently, none had.
If it was a matter of awakening status, there was no way to explain Kwak Jeong-han. Before the village was founded, Kwak Jeong-han had already awakened. Yet even so, he did not develop a Great Duke.
It was after the establishment of the village and when Kim Gap-joon took the position of the village head that he was granted a Great Duke. This meant that the operating method had changed since the beta test.
In other words, here a Great Duke was given only to the Lord Player who established the village as a ‘king’. It was still unknown whether it happened before or after awakening, but it was undeniable that this broadened the player’s range of activities. This was surely to act as a double-edged sword.
Tomorrow is Masokjo day. Depending on whether they live or die, the atmosphere in the village will change from tomorrow.
If expectations are correct, the first thing to arrive would be chaos. Village chief Kim Gap-joon would know this, and Lee Jae-young, who had just awakened and returned, would also be aware of it.
Sehyun let out a long, slow breath and closed his eyes quietly. It must have been a hard day because sleep came earlier than expected.
It was the third night since landing in Elixir.
In Elixir, when a king establishes a village, all the residents that emerge are called vassals.
Where the vassals came from was unknown. It only was remembered that they came through a place called ‘the gate of dimensions.’ Although there had been no questions about this, after experiencing it firsthand, it made some sense.
The number of vassals initially provided when the village was founded was merely five. With these five members, the player had to efficiently manage and grow the village, collecting materials and the like.
As the village developed, and more people could be accommodated through material and magic stone processing, the capacity for vassals increased. And when a player chose to employ more vassals, the same number would trudge out of the gate of dimensions.
The Lord Player, that is, the king, had the ability to nurture talents deemed to have potential among the vassals, elevating their ranks. According to Billvil’s words, humans were the weakest, demonstrating that most races in Elixir were born with combat abilities.
Ranks started at D-grade for most residents from LV.1 and gradually increased. However, this varied by vassal, and it wasn’t easy to develop them due to differences in talent, motivation, and will.
Therefore, despite being born into combat-focused races, the outcome and trust levels varied greatly depending on talent and personality. Some even received assassination threats when they were made to do undesirable tasks.
Thus, as their ranks rose, understanding the vassals’ personality and tendencies was essential. This was why Elixir was difficult—a player’s task to comprehend and cultivate vassals’ preferences, characters, and talents.
The vassals needed to be appropriately nurtured and leveled up because climbing the most crucial ‘tower’ in the village was tied to their survival. However, the tower was fraught with danger and monsters, making it impassable without substantial combat capabilities. Therefore, the king had to carefully select and organize vassals before deployment.
And Kim Gap-joon knew this very well. That’s why he must have organized the first team with the strongest combatants. Moreover, he would have been more aware than anyone of the certain sacrifices it entailed.
They did not know each other’s strengths or had any training. Having never synchronized, the situation might have been even more tragic. Or perhaps, paralyzed by fear, they could have done nothing.
Tragically, of the Masokjo that went to acquire magic stones from the tower in the morning, only one person returned alive.
As expected, the village sank into grief, gloom, and chaos. Just yesterday, everyone had shown enthusiasm about adapting to the environment, but today’s village lacked that spirit.
Many skipped dinner. Some even went to the village chief to plead and wail, begging to be withdrawn from the Masokjo.
“Is this what it was?”
At the sound of Kwak Jeong-han’s stiff voice, Sehyun nodded while sipping the bland porridge tasting of vinegar. Realizing the gravity of the situation, Lee Jae-young also wordlessly ate his porridge today. Cries were heard from here and there.
“Did you know… that those people would die?”
“I knew it would be difficult to return unscathed.”
“Why didn’t you stop them? You could have…”
“If I stopped them…”
Sehyun put down his empty bowl. The gazes of Baek Do-hyun and Lee Jae-young were felt. They were more composed than the others here.
“If I had stopped them, they wouldn’t have simply not gone. If I had stopped them, then I wouldn’t have returned today. You seem to have forgotten, Kwak Jeong-han. I am also part of the Masokjo.”
“And the Masokjo or the raiding team is a very important task. It’s neither stoppable nor avoidable. The D-grade magic stone brought by today’s survivor, as plain as it looks, is more valuable than ten times my life.”
Kwak Jeong-han’shead sunk. As if he wanted to say something further, Sehyun sighed and looked with a determined expression toward Kim Gap-joon, who was coming out to the square. It appeared he had finally decided what to do with the magic stone.
“Just watch. If you see it, you’ll understand why they had to go despite the risks.”
As Sehyun got up, Lee Jae-young, who was sitting nearby, quickly gulped down his porridge and stood up.
Despite my reluctance, Kim Gap-joon was quite intelligent. He had a reasonable sense of how to operate a village and knew how to develop it efficiently. This is why experience couldn’t be dismissed.
So, I decided to trust his decision this time. Hoping that he made the right choice.
[D-grade magic stone will be used for building expansion. A mysterious aura begins to swirl.]
[The Training Center(LV.1), Blacksmith(LV.1), and Ability Development Center(LV.1) have been expanded.]
Kim Gap-joon’s selection was the hero training facility, essential for training vassals needed to conquer the tower.
The eyes of the watching villagers gradually widened. The buildings, wrapped in a blue glow as they expanded, only revealed their true forms after settling majestically on one side of the village. They were sturdy stone buildings.
“Starting tomorrow, everyone must pass through the Ability Development Center and train for 3 hours a day. Instead of complaining to me, if you want to survive, foster the power to preserve your life! If anyone clings to my leg tomorrow, I’ll assign them to Masokjo, so know this!”
Tears were evident in Kim Gap-joon’s eyes as well. He turned his back in a sullen manner and headed back to his house. A person with a soft heart cannot be a king.
If Kwak Jeong-han became the village chief… Sehyun shook his head and emerged from his thoughts.
“I suppose you might get a feel for what the Training Center and Blacksmith are… As for the Ability Development Center, I’ll explain. It’s where you strengthen skills you’ve acquired or simulate battles to get better skills.”
“Is this the village chief’s choice?”
Kwak Jeong-han’s voice carried anger I knew what it meant. Those things must have looked to him like mere ways of driving people to their deaths. Moreover, he likely viewed all the villagers as weak and cowardly.
“Kwak Jeong-han. I don’t know about other things, but I’ll say just one thing.”
“Do you think this is right? Like that village chief?”
“If Kwak Jeong-han had become the village chief instead of Kim Gap-joon, we probably wouldn’t have survived a week.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s the right choice.”
The answer came from somewhere else. Baek Do-hyun. With his sword shouldered, he looked at the Training Center and supported Sehyun’s side.
“You’re blinded by naivety and a sense of justice. If you had given even a little thought to why our village can be safe in this foggy forest, and why the beasts don’t touch the village, you wouldn’t have been whining about justice.”
“Yeah, you fish kid! Why are you fussing at my brother when you don’t even know!”
Kwak Jeong-han’s eyebrows twitched. The mood turned tense, and a stifling air circulated.
“Justice… I admit there’s much I don’t know. What about you, Baek Do-hyun? Have you ever given me a hint? Don’t talk until you give and explain something.”
“Why should I? Somebody naturally talented should be able to figure that out and pick it up, right?”
It seemed like it was going to turn into a brawl. I wasn’t worried about them, but rather about Lee Jae-young, who was wide-eyed and watching in front of them.
Sehyun sighed and tucked Lee Jae-young behind him, then calmed the men who were growling and baring their teeth at each other.
“Training centers and blacksmiths should be understandable… As for the Ability Development Center, I’ll explain. It’s a place for simulating battles to enhance the skills you’ve acquired or to obtain better ones.”
“… Is this the village chief’s decision?”
Kwak Jeong-han’s voice echoed with rage, which I understood all too well. In his eyes, those tools were nothing more than ways to drive people to their doom, and all the villagers were weak and meek.
“Kwak Jeong-han. I may not know about other things, but I’ll say just one thing.”
“Do you think this is right? Like that village chief?”
“If Kwak Jeong-han had replaced Kim Gap-joon as the village chief, we probably wouldn’t have lasted a week.”
“What do you mean?”
“It means it’s the right choice.”
The response came from someone else: Baek Do-hyun. Carrying his sword on his shoulder, he looked at the training center and supported Sehyun’s stance.
“You’re blinded by foolish idealism. If you had even slightly considered why the village in this foggy forest can be safe, why the beasts don’t attack the village itself, you wouldn’t be whining about your sense of justice.”
“Yeah, you blockhead! You don’t know anything, so why are you scolding our brother!”
Kwak Jeong-han’s brows twitched. The atmosphere quickly grew heavy, and a suffocating tension spread.
“Justice… I admit I’m ignorant about many things. But Baek Do-hyun, have you ever even hinted at something for me? Before saying all this, perhaps you could throw me a bone.”
“Why should I? If you were born with potential, you should be able to figure that out by picking up on it yourself, right?”
It looked like a fight was imminent. Not so much worried about them, but about Lee Jae-young, who stood in front of them, eyes wide with concern.
Sehyun sighed and pulled Lee Jae-young behind him, then intervened between the men who were baring their teeth and growling at each other.
✧˚·̩̩̥͙˚̩̥̩̥·̩̩̥͙✧·̩̩̥͙˚̩̥̩̥˚·̩̩̥͙✧ 𝑔𝓇𝒶𝓋𝒾𝓉𝓎𝓃𝑜𝓋𝑒𝓁𝓈 ✧˚·̩̩̥͙˚̩̥̩̥·̩̩̥͙✧·̩̩̥͙˚̩̥̩̥˚·̩̩̥͙✧