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    Gravitynovels

    A World Beyond / So We Are Told
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    #8

    “Over there, everyone gather around again before you leave. I’ll give each of you a piece of clothing, change into that, and don’t wear any other clothes from now on.”

    Could we possibly do something about his endless ‘show’? Sehyun sighed as he watched Kim Gapjun distribute clothes from his inventory to the villagers.

    The clothes Kim Gapjun was handing out were the villagers’ daily wear that came as a reward for establishing the village. They were basic brown tees and black pants, initial support items with a unity stat. Wearing them continuously, although by just a speck, increased one’s unity. Maybe 2 points in a hundred days?

    It has the advantage of making people work well together during tasks.

    “Hyung, let’s go get ours too.”

    “Okay.”

    There was already plenty of discontent about the clothing issue. Although wearing a school uniform like Lee Jaeyoung could be overlooked, Baek Dohyun was all dressed up in a suit. Kwak Junghan had put on the unique clothing of his race after awakening, but he expressed a firm determination to wear the same daily wear for the sake of uniformity.

    “Why are you lot here?”

    “We’re here to get ours too.”

    “Why would I? Why bother for you guys who aren’t even my citizens? Ah, fine, then become citizens.”

    He didn’t say anything when we were lining up, but the moment we reached out our hands, he lashed out with sarcasm. On top of that, Kim Gapjun kept letting out mocking laughter as if he had seen something utterly ridiculous.

    Watching Kim Gapjun nonchalantly, Sehyun’s eyes suddenly softened. He started to speak gently, hand still extended.

    “Look here, Mr. Australopithecus. If you keep acting like this, I might just go to another village. If I reveal our location there and join them, I’m sure you, Mr. Pitecus, will sleep so well at night. There’s so much competition outside, and…”

    “You son of a…! Ah, just give them already! And what the hell, stop fucking calling me Pitecus!”

    “Ah, can’t help how you look.”

    “What, what?!”

    “You kind of look like a Homo habilis.”

    “Agh…! Ah, my head! My head hurts!”

    Sehyun smoothly snatched the clothes from Kim Gapjun’s hands, who was clutching his head, and turned his back without a second thought. Lee Jaeyoung, Kwak Junghan, and Baek Dohyun followed right behind him.

    “Everyone got one… Once you put it on, it will adjust to your size.”

    “Thank you, Sehyun. I will never forget this kindness.”

    “Hyung, are we going to change here? Can’t we do it inside?”

    “Hmm, the fabric seems pretty low quality.”

    Sehyun casually waved his hand as if to say they were free to do as they wished, prompting him to be led by the hand by Lee Jaeyoung into a hut.

    After changing neatly and tightening their waistbands, they came out to see Kwak Junghan and Baek Dohyun in civilian clothes, holding their previously worn outfits.

    “As for those clothes, since they go into the inventory, don’t throw them out. You never know what might happen later.”

    “Ah, I see.”

    “Take this, it’s the duty roster.”

    “You didn’t get this yourself, did you…”

    “Don’t get it twisted. The duke distributed it.”

    Baek Dohyun handed over the duty roster, and Lee Jaeyoung immediately pressed close. Sehyun lowered the paper so Lee Jaeyoung could see it better, and started to scan slowly.

    Fortunately, Sehyun and Baek Dohyun were assigned to different groups. Baek Dohyun was in the second group, and Sehyun and Lee Jaeyoung were listed in the third group. Each group consisted of five members, and there were a total of four groups.

    “Do you guys plan to awaken?”

    “What about you, Mr. Baek Dohyun? It’s a sensitive issue, so why don’t you share first?”

    Baek Dohyun turned away without a word, as if he had expected that question. He headed towards the well where breakfast was being prepared.

    “It seems difficult for him to open up.”

    “Well, given the situation.”

    Baek Dohyun did as Sehyun had told him, not putting his clothes into the inventory but rather tossing them under a burning hearth as if he’d never wear them again, turning away without looking back.

    However, Sehyun wasn’t the kind of person to worry about each and every person. In a situation where he could barely make ends meet, he couldn’t afford the luxury of minding others as well.

    “Let’s go eat too. Jaeyoung, are you hungry?”

    “Uh… No, I’m alright.”

    “You’re alright? Today’s the first day, so it’ll probably just be thin porridge. Let’s eat it with bread.”

    Sehyun patted Lee Jaeyoung on the back and together with Kwak Junghan headed towards where a delightful aroma was coming from. It was a situation full of sighs, but on the flip side, it was a good environment for living without worries.

    If they could just live modestly, helping each other and managing the village, that would be great. Unfortunately, Elix did not allow for such a life.

    Invasions occur as frequently as meals. For instance, the mid-to-lower empires were desperate to annihilate each other, and there was severe territorial fighting among themselves to secure good positions.

    As a result, many players engaged in aggressive activities to expand their empires, unaware that this was the fast track to their downfall.

    “…It tastes bad.”

    That was the comment everyone made after taking a bite of the meal they received and sitting near a tree. It was called porridge, but it was almost just water – water with a vinegar taste at that. It seemed to be made of soaked mixed grains Kim Gapjun provided, but it was horrible with all sorts of flavors mixing in. Or rather, it was just too sour.

    It wasn’t just Sehyun’s group that felt this way. From various spots, sounds of retching could be heard. Yet, everyone forced it down. They instinctively knew that they had to eat.

    Sehyun, undeterred, held his nose and gulped down the concoction. There was no choice. The morning food gathering group had returned empty-handed.

    “When will it be your turn, Mr. Kwak Junghan?”

    “Ah, I’m on for this evening. I’ll be sure to catch something substantial for you.”

    It seemed the night would be better. Seeing Kwak Junghan’s solemn face and his confidence, Sehyun thought wistfully of internecine conflict but didn’t mention it. Instead, he held his nose and took another gulp of porridge as he handed a piece of bread to Lee Jaeyoung.

    “If we could just stay like this… It would be nice.”

    “No. That’s absolutely not possible.”

    “Yes, I’m aware of that. But still… Living simply, doing our own tasks, it seems alright. It’s safe here, and people are gradually adapting. Isn’t it unnecessary to take on dangerous tasks?”

    A bitter smile lingered on Kwak Junghan’s face. Sehyun understood his feelings, but Kwak Junghan could say such things only because he was entirely unaware of Elix. Tomorrow. By tomorrow, he would painfully realize how empty and ridiculous these thoughts were.

    Even so, Sehyun didn’t dislike Kwak Junghan for having these thoughts.

    “Hmm… Mr. Kwak Junghan. I might not be able to help with much… but I can certainly lend an ear to your worries, so please feel free to talk to me anytime if you’re feeling stifled.”

    “You really are a good person, Mr. Sehyun.”

    “It seems only to you, Mr. Kwak Junghan.”

    With this, Kwak Junghan threw back the contents of his bowl in one motion, not even batting an eye. Watching him, it struck Sehyun that perhaps Kwak Junghan’s species had lost their sense of taste. It was quite a plausible conjecture.

    The porridge with an abhorrent smell.

    It was their first meal in the village that no one wished to experience again. Regretting their first meal, everyone started to take initiative and move into action. The food collection team was particularly outstanding, possessed with a determination to return with fish—it radiated from them even from 100 meters away.

    The menial labor team was no less impressive. They carried large logs with a sense of mission as if they were going to take down a wild boar.

    Seeing the grinning village chief from afar, Sehyun half-wondered if the man had intentionally served the vinegary porridge. How else could one explain such happiness?

    Regrettably, everyone had to eat the same vinegary porridge for lunch. Its taste possibly motivated by the escape attempts during lunchtime, or perhaps inspired by Kwak Junghan’s determination. Fortunately, by dinner, everyone had a fish in their hands thanks to Kwak Junghan.

    The way everyone looked at Kwak Junghan resembled how one would look at a hero – and for a good reason. If it wasn’t for him, they probably would have spent the night hunting wild boars.

    Despite this, as people relished their fish, Kwak Junghan seemed consumed by gloom, with no fish in hand. He simply stared intently at his own hands as if measuring something.

    In the end, Kwak Junghan had to go without eating during mealtime. Not seeming dejected about not eating, he promptly turned away and headed toward the dormitory once the meal completed. There were no more duties for the day.

    While everyone eagerly tore into the fish they had caught, Sehyun momentarily glanced at Kwak Junghan’s broad back. But it was only for a brief moment; Sehyun turned his attention back and began eating the fish.

    The anguish Kwak Junghan had grappled with ended up being shorter than expected—specifically, when Sehyun returned from eating and presented Kwak Junghan with a toothbrush he had haggled from Kim Gapjun.

    “Is this a request for counsel?”

    “Yes. Is that not okay?”

    “There’s no problem with that… I’ll just go brush my teeth first.”

    With a toothbrush dipped in water placed in his mouth, Sehyun stepped out of the hut once again. When he returned after brushing, Kwak Junghan was waiting at the door, looking worse off than during mealtime.

    Sehyun first led Kwak Junghan away from prying eyes to a lakeside behind the village.

    ✧˚·̩̩̥͙˚̩̥̩̥·̩̩̥͙✧·̩̩̥͙˚̩̥̩̥˚·̩̩̥͙✧ 𝑔𝓇𝒶𝓋𝒾𝓉𝓎𝓃𝑜𝓋𝑒𝓁𝓈 ✧˚·̩̩̥͙˚̩̥̩̥·̩̩̥͙✧·̩̩̥͙˚̩̥̩̥˚·̩̩̥͙✧

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