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    “Huff, huff…”

    The taste of iron filled his mouth, and his throat stung. Even the air he inhaled seemed to inflict wounds on his delicate mucous membranes, causing Geon-joo to frown.

    Even when his breath caught in his throat, he couldn’t stop running. His feet trampled the muddy ground, his arms pushed through the heavy air, and his eyes darted left and right, searching for a way out. His mind raced, analyzing the direction of his next step while his body didn’t rest for a moment.

    It was an unavoidable situation.

    The moment he stopped running would be the moment he greeted death.

    “Ha, ha.”

    ―Growl, bark! Bark!

    The wolves chased after the frantically running Geon-joo. It wasn’t just the four-legged beasts pursuing him. Behind the dozens of wolves, six werewolves capable of bipedal locomotion followed at a slower pace.

    They weren’t running at full speed.

    They were simply keeping up, waiting for the victory cry that the wolf-type monsters, acting as hunting dogs, would howl.

    It was a hunt without their best effort.

    For the werewolves, chasing a B-grade hunter like Geon-joo was nothing more than a form of amusement.

    Even that would only remain valid until the scent enveloping Geon-joo’s body reached the werewolves.

    “That crazy bastard!”

    Before starting the special training, Sa-yoon had smiled affectionately at the anxious Geon-joo and took out something from his pocket. It was none other than an arousal-inducing agent that drove monsters into heat. Geon-joo naturally regarded the suspiciously pink perfume bottle with skepticism.

    Not wanting to repeat what he had experienced in the car twice, Geon-joo sensitively asked what it was, but Sa-yoon didn’t even respond and just sprayed the liquid on him without hesitation.

    It was nearly impossible to avoid the fine liquid particles, so Geon-joo raised his arms to prevent them from reaching his face.

    Suffice to say, if he had known it was an arousal-inducing agent, he would have taken off his clothes and used them to block the liquid before discarding them.

    If he had done that, he wouldn’t have been running like a madman right now.

    ―Grrrrrr!

    ―Whine, whine!

    The wolves chasing Geon-joo drooled and made threatening sounds, and at times, they whimpered, trying to make the fleeing prey falter. To avoid being enticed by those sounds, Geon-joo ran even faster.

    His heavy breathing covered his ears.

    The sound of his panting drowned out the monsters’ cries, and his feet, pounding against the ground, prevented him from having unnecessary thoughts. However, there was a limit to his stamina. Although he had been running without a moment’s rest, at some point, his legs lost strength. Eventually, Geon-joo tripped over a protruding tree root and fell spectacularly.

    Thud!

    His body rolled harshly along the mountain path, and his arms and legs collided with trees. Dull pain struck him, and his skin stung. His flesh was scratched, his bones ached, and it was utter chaos.

    ―Bark bark!

    The wolves, closely pursuing Geon-joo, seized the opportunity of their prey’s fall and pounced on him.

    “Ugh!”

    Geon-joo had no time to ease his pain and had to raise his sword to counter the snapping teeth of the wolves colliding with him. Thump. The sound of footsteps was heard. It carried a weight different from the wolves heavily pounding the ground with their four legs as they charged.

    Werewolves.

    They, who had been observing the entire situation with their vision several times better than ordinary wolves, were approaching him.

    “Are you okay, pretty boy?”

    When his eyes were momentarily engulfed in fear, a voice was heard above his head. The annoyingly cheerful voice, out of place in the situation, made him come to his senses. Geon-joo shifted his attention back to the wolves that had pounced on him.

    Although they were strong, being monsters raised by werewolves rather than simple wolves, they were still below A-grade. It was manageable. If only there weren’t fifteen wolves surrounding him.

    Still, he couldn’t give up.

    Sa-yoon was helping him by sending his energy from above to prevent more than three wolves from approaching him at a time, so Geon-joo had to deal with about three wolves on his end.

    ―Growl, bark! Snarl!

    Clack clack.

    The wolves, blinded by arousal and with impaired judgment, howled and scratched Geon-joo’s sword blade in an attempt to bite their prey. Watching the sharp fangs grind against the blade, Geon-joo frowned as the monster’s saliva dripped onto his face, and he raised his foot, which felt as if it was fractured, to kick the monster.

    ―Yelp, yelp!

    “Ugh!”

    Although it was the wolf that was kicked, a groan also escaped from Geon-joo’s side. Geon-joo, grimacing at the pain shooting up from his ankle, inhaled deeply. There was no time to rest. Two other wolves took the place of the one that had been sent flying. One of them climbed onto his stomach, while the other tore at the collar of Geon-joo’s clothes from behind.

    Suddenly, he thought it was fortunate that what Sa-yoon had sprayed was an arousal-inducing agent.

    If what he had sprayed had been something that stimulated appetite, the wolves would have been drooling and biting into everything that caught their sight, not just pouncing on him.

    To think that he had to consider this as a blessing.

    Thinking that his situation was quite shitty, Geon-joo groaned and swung his right hand to strike the face of one wolf while extending his left foot to slam into the abdomen of the other. As he simultaneously inflicted blows, the wolves momentarily faltered, and Geon-joo, not missing that opportunity, rolled his body and rose to his feet.

    When he stood up on the ground, he felt a tingling sensation in his legs and staggered. Only then did Sa-yoon, noticing Geon-joo’s injury, narrowed his eyes.

    He had no intention of helping yet, but if Geon-joo had been injured from the start, it would hinder this training. Sa-yoon slightly lowered his gaze to the presence he felt beneath him and confirmed the six werewolves. Seeing them slowly putting strength into their thighs to end their amusement after witnessing Geon-joo staggering and falling again, pounced by a wolf, Sa-yoon activated his frost energy.

    ―…Keh, keh!

    A sudden chill assailed the wolves. Feeling as if an intangible force was grasping their necks and dragging them backward, the wolves flailed their arms, struggling to break free. Sa-yoon ignored their pitifully whimpering cries and confirmed the back of Geon-joo, who had already shaken off another wolf and was running away.

    “You guys can go a little later. Our pretty boy isn’t in good shape.”

    Was it because people’s temperaments changed when they lived long? It was a big problem that his heart kept softening when it came to his pretty boy.

    This time, he had planned to push Geon-joo without cutting him any slack and make him realize on his own what to do when surrounded by enemies, but seeing Geon-joo limping, he didn’t have the heart to send the werewolves after him.

    He wished Geon-joo would quickly heal himself.

    Sa-yoon had already given Geon-joo plenty of potions before starting this training. It was also an option for Sa-yoon to suppress the movements of all the monsters to give Geon-joo time to treat his wounds, but doing so wouldn’t cultivate his survival instincts.

    Geon-joo had to personally escape the pursuit, secure a safe zone, and recover from his injuries. That way, the next time something like this happened, he would be able to respond without panicking.

    Sa-yoon couldn’t always be by his side, so at times like this, he needed to repeat realistic combat training safely.

    “Does he know that experience is something you can’t buy even with money?”

    It’s something others are desperate to have.

    Well, maybe not to the point of being desperate, but lower-ranked hunters still sought to accumulate as much experience as possible and confront higher-ranked hunters with their proficiency. If they were to witness Geon-joo’s training, even if they didn’t envy him to the point of dying, they would think that they’d like to try it at least once.

    There was a high-ranked hunter who could mediate to a safe degree, and they were gaining experience under his protection.

    Muttering to himself that Geon-joo would realize how precious this experience was once he left the field, Sa-yoon watched as Geon-joo persistently stabbed his sword into the nose of the wolf chasing him.

    He was applying the fact that wolves relied more on their sense of smell than their sight.

    “He has improved.”

    If it were before, Geon-joo’s top priority would have been to run away, so he would have focused on that, and his attacks on the monsters would have been limited to a restraining level. But now, he knew how to consider both escape and attack simultaneously.

    Confirming that Geon-joo had run away to a considerable distance, Sa-yoon released the rest of the wolves he had been suppressing with his energy. With a distance of over 3 kilometers, it should be enough for Geon-joo to shake off the pursuit and find a safe zone.

    The wolves Sa-yoon released were merely a means to motivate Geon-joo to find a safe zone more quickly.

    ―Howl!

    As the wolves were released, the werewolves howled as if demanding to be set free as well. Yelp yelp, bark bark. When one of them howled, the others followed suit.

    ―Awoooo!

    Sa-yoon frowned at the creatures that had even started howling in the end.

    “Why are you so noisy? Did you get hit with the arousal agent?”

    Rebuking them in a chilling tone, Sa-yoon released his frost energy more meticulously. Creak, creak. The corners of the werewolves’ mouths froze, and soon their entire mouths were encased in thick ice. Only after confirming the silence after giving them custom-made muzzles did Sa-yoon comfortably expand the range of his senses again to track Geon-joo’s trail.

    ‘Ha, ha, ugh!’

    He heard heavy breathing mixed with groans, as if Geon-joo was treating his wounds. It seemed he had found a safe zone.

    Did the count increase?

    Achieving a perfect escape count of 3 or more.

    That was the outcome Sa-yoon had aimed for in this training, so he called up the clear condition window to check. He had opened the window with some expectations, but contrary to his anticipation, the perfect escape count hadn’t increased by a single point. Finding it strange, Sa-yoon flew towards Geon-joo’s trail.

    Just as he was wondering what had gone wrong.

    ―Huff huff!

    The sound of a wolf panting was heard, followed by Geon-joo swearing.

    You crazy son of a bitch!

    It was unclear whether that curse was directed at Sa-yoon or the wolf. To assess the situation, Sa-yoon moved until Geon-joo came into view, and he saw a man struggling under a wolf amidst the bushes.

    Thwack thwack!

    Geon-joo’s hand fiercely struck the wolf, and his sword pierced its neck, but the wolf, as if forgetting the pain, pounced on Geon-joo, consumed by madness.

    “It has lost its mind.”

    It was a side effect of the arousal-inducing agent.

    It must have inhaled too much of the scent and gone berserk. Clicking his tongue, Sa-yoon checked Geon-joo’s condition. His broken foot seemed to have healed. His foot had recovered, and his eyes hadn’t lost their will to live, so Sa-yoon was about to let the situation unfold and see if Geon-joo could handle it himself.

    At that moment, a wet tongue licked Geon-joo’s face in a long stroke. Geon-joo’s body instantly stiffened.

    ―Whine!

    The werewolf, dragged along by Sa-yoon’s movement, gasped and struggled within the muzzle, whimpering as it was suffocated by the energy. Sa-yoon narrowed his eyes and looked down.

    “That damn dog.”

    It was licking someone else’s property as it pleased.

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