Part 4: The Three Laws
Jin-Woo shouted out towards the rest of the Hunters.
Their attention shifted towards him in an instant.
Jin-Woo spoke as he met their gazes.
"You must kowtow towards the god statue!"
Hunters began tilting their heads after hearing him.
"You want us to kowtow to that statue?"
Hunters exchanged glances with each other, before loudly cussing out at Jin-Woo.
"F*ck you! What bullsh*t are you spewing here?!"
"What the hell! How can you say something like that under the current circumstances?!"
"Have you lost your mind, Seong Jin-Woo?!"
Kim's face became boiling-red as he began snorting like a bull.
"I had no idea you, Mister Seong, would be like this! If I could move, then I'd have punched you in the face already!!"
Jin-Woo bit on his lower lip.
Six of their comrades were killed by the god statue. So, it was rather obvious that the surviving Hunters would cuss him out when he told them to kowtow towards that abominable thing.
It wasn't hard to understand what these Hunters were feeling at the moment.
'And, the most important thing is....'
The most important thing was, he had no logical evidence to back his theory up. He only had his gut feelings.
Indeed, that was the only way to describe it.
"I'll do as you say."
That voice came from Jin-Woo's back. Everyone's eyes immediately shifted there.
It was Mister Song, effectively the leader of this group.
"Mister Song ahjussi?"
"You are going to kowtow to that f*cking statue?"
Just as other Hunters began to freak out, Song looked straight at Jin-Woo.
"Young man. You've discovered something, haven't you?"
Jin-Woo resolutely nodded his head.
"Is it your instinct again?"
".....Yes. For the time being."
Just now, eleven people survived thanks to Jin-Woo's instincts.
Well, with the death of Mister Joo, there were ten now, but still – if it was Jin-Woo's instincts, then wouldn't it be worth believing it at least once more?
That's what Song thought.
When Song knelt down and kowtowed towards the god statue, the mood had become solemn and silent.
"....He's really doing it."
Seizing upon this opportunity, Jin-Woo shouted out once more.
"Everyone, I beg of you! Please kneel before the god statue. We might be able to get out of here alive!"
Might be able to get out alive.
The impact those simple words carried was quite explosive.
'We might live?'
'We can get out of here?'
'With just one kowtow?!'
The hesitant Hunters began to plop down to the ground, as if they were really kowtowing. The number of them performing the act gradually increased. In the end, even the complaining Kim bowed his head towards the statue.
However, there was no visible change to the god statue. Indeed, those chilling red light still shone from the eyes of the statue.
Jin-Woo felt his heart go cold.
'Was I wrong?'
It was here that his gaze shifted to Ju-Hui next to him.
No matter how generous one was, it was difficult to describe her posture of squatting on the ground shivering, while holding her head in her hands as her kowtowing.
Jin-Woo carefully grasped Ju-Hui's wrist.
She raised her head like a scared cat. Seeing her, Jin-Woo wordlessly nodded his head. Only then did she relax her muscles somewhat.
With that, Jin-Woo was able to slowly change her posture.
There was only one person remaining now. And that would be him.
Jin-Woo knelt down towards the god statue, placed his hands on the ground, and slowly lowered his head.
Finally, something began to change.
"Huh? Uh, uhh?!"
Hunters who had noticed the change first raised their voices.
"The god statue!! Look at the statue!!"
The red light buzzing in its eyes was gradually weakening.
"What the hell? Is this really going to work??"
Eventually, the red light completely vanished.
Hunters began rejoicing loudly.
"The red light is gone!!"
"We made it!!"
The excited Hunters began standing up one at the time. Even then, the statue didn't fire the red beam.
Jin-Woo belatedly raised his head and spat out a sigh of relief.
Just as he suspected – this chamber operated strictly within the set regulations.
'If that's the case....'
Then, this game was far from over. Two more 'laws' still remained. The second law, exalt the god. And the third law, prove one's piety.
It was then.
Accompanied by a goosebump-inducing noise, the entire chamber began to shake.
Jin-Woo's expression hardened immediately.
'As I thought....'
His suspicions proved to be correct once more.
Things were only getting started.
The humongous god statue was slowly rising up from the stone throne.
Hunters were hugging each other while shedding tears of joy until then, but when they realised this turn of events, they all froze up like statues themselves.
"What.... what the hell!! It wasn't over yet?!"
"This, this can't be!!"
None of them could articulate what they wanted to say. Despair rapidly dyed their expressions.
Soon, the god statue completely stood up from the throne.
The 'creature' swept its gaze around once, and began walking towards the Hunters.
Every time the god statue stepped on the ground, the whole world seemed to shake.
It was so tall that its head was almost scraping against the chamber's indescribably high ceiling.
Even when the Hunters were overwhelmed by the statue's sheer size, the thing was gradually closing its distance to them.
"Mister Seong!! Mister Seong Jin-Woo!!"
"What can we do??"
The Hunters who were cussing at Jin-Woo only a short while ago hurriedly began crowding around him.
"Is there a way out of this?"
All these adults were forming tearful expressions as if they'd start breaking down in sobs and wails very soon.
Currently, Jin-Woo was their only hope.
Jin-Woo helped the frozen-stiff Ju-Hui up from the ground and began talking about the second law.
"Exalt the god. That's the key."
"Wait, isn't that...?!"
Kim suddenly butted in as if he knew something others didn't.
"Isn't that what's written on the slate?"
"Correct. Worship the god. Exalt the god. And finally, prove your piety. We need to satisfy all three laws."
Jin-Woo began speaking faster and faster.
Why? The god statue was already a stone's throw away from them.
Everyone's complexion paled as the gigantic shadow loomed over them.
"Let, let me try something."
A young male Hunter who usually kept to himself suddenly took a step forward.
"What the?! What are you trying to do?"
"I've been in a church choir. I'm confident if it's about 'exalting' something."
The young Hunter slowly stepped forward towards the statue while disregarding the dissuasion of Kim. He regulated his breathing while looking up at the god statue before he took a large gulp of air.
"I come to you, Lord...."
His clear voice began reverberating within the chamber.
"....Renew my faith once more..... Bless me with your grace, Lord..."
The statue stopped its march in front of the singing Hunter.
Hunters began gasping out in elation. The god statue didn't move from the spot as if it was absorbed by the singing.
All the other noises in the room vanished. Only the young man's voice could be heard in the chamber's interior.
The young Hunter was encouraged by this and carried on.
"All the weakness found in me... Through your love, I shall overcome..."
Among the Hunters, only Jin-Woo was shuddering from this ominous sensation filling him up.
'This... this is wrong.'
Jin-Woo swallowed up his words several times.
The chamber featured its own set of rules. But the young Hunter was 'exalting' the god statue with the 'rule' of Christianity, not with the rules of this chamber.
Thankfully, the statue wasn't moving – but, could singing that hymn qualify as upholding the rules?
Jin-Woo shook his head.
The only reason why he didn't say anything was solely because he couldn't think of a better way to stop the god statue himself.
It was right then!
The weighty noise reverberated throughout the chamber.
The female Hunter screamed at the top of her lungs.
When the stone statue lifted its leg up, bloody mess of what used to be the young Hunter could be found on the ground as well as on the bottom of its foot.
Other Hunters began screaming in panic and shock, too.
The face of the statue, emotionless until then, was now crumpled in pure rage.
"Run, run away!!"
Hunters dispersed away from the statue in a hurry.
Unfortunately for the female Hunter, she lost her reasoning and stood on the spot while screaming loudly after personally witnessing the death of the young male Hunter.
Jin-Woo was running away while carrying Ju-Hui in his arms, but he turned around so he could go and help that woman out.
But then, Song stopped the youth.
"It's too late."
As if slapping a fly down, the god statue slammed its palm down at the female Hunter.
Jin-Woo inadvertently shifted his gaze away. It was a truly gruesome sight and he couldn't bear to watch it unfold.
"There is no time to waste like this. Are you planning to let this girl die, too?"
Song's words sobered Jin-Woo up in an instant.
It was as he said.
The statue was not walking around anymore.
No, it was actually running around and stepping on the humans it found nearby. Whenever the thing stepped on the ground, the entire chamber shook around, hard.
Jin-Woo gritted his teeth and began running again. Ju-Hui squeezed her eyes shut and held onto him for her dear life.
"Let's split up!"
Thinking that moving around together was dangerous, Jin-Woo and Song ran in separate directions.
Jin-Woo made sure to run towards the furthest corner from the frenzied god statue. However, there was another Hunter who had arrived there before he did.
It was Mister Park.
Park was running with everything he had.
Tears formed on the edges of his eyes when he recalled his family.
Back home, a son who resembled him so much and a wife pregnant with their second child was waiting for him. He couldn't die here, not like this.
Perhaps because he ran with everything he had, he was able to run the furthest away from the statue out of everyone here.
As Park tried to control his heavy breathing in the corner, his friend Kim urgently shouted at him.
Park raised his head after hearing the familiar voice.
Kim pointed at the spot behind Park and cried out.
"Your back!! Look behind you!!"
It was then, something sharp gleamed coldly behind Mister Park.
Park was sliced in half from the top of his head right down to his groin. His cleanly-cut two halves fell to the ground.
The stone statue that killed Park with its greatsword returned to its position as if nothing had happened, exactly like how the doorkeeper did before.
Kim began tearing up after witnessing this scene.
"You sons of b*tches....!!"
Behind him, the humongous god statue was stepping on and killing humans one at the time, and if you ran towards the corner in order to avoid it, then the stone statues located there would start attacking you.
"My arm!! My armmmm!!"
The interior of the chamber swiftly fell into chaos.
Cold sweat dripped down from Jin-Woo's forehead.
His legs were getting heavier. His breathing was getting rougher and rougher. However, his head was filled with only one chain of thought.
'Exalt the god. Exalt the god. Exalt the god....'
The words of the second law circulated in his brain non-stop. The key to unravelling this mystery definitely existed within this chamber.
Something within this chamber that they could use!
However, when the Hunters first entered this place, they had searched every nook and cranny, but didn't find a single contraption nor things that might be some kind of tools.
'No, back then or now, the only things here that can move are the stone statues.'
It was then.
A thought raced past Jin-Woo's brain just then.
'Only things moving in here are the statues?'
Jin-Woo's eyes widened.
"Why haven't I thought of that before?!"
If the only things that could move were the stone statues, then the only thing he could use had to be them, too.
These statues activated when humans got near them, meaning he had to take advantage of this rule.
Even though he was running short of breath, Jin-Woo roared out loud enough to shake the entire chamber.
"Run towards the statues holding musical instruments!!"
< Chapter 4 > Fin.
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