PDM Chapter 52
At that moment, the man’s gaze shifted to us, the guests. I took an unconscious step back in unexplained tension, and Takan hid me behind him. Contrary to his aloof demeanor, his fists were clenched.
“Oh, guests.” The man spoke in a gentle voice and descended the remaining steps. I could see the corners of his lips rising.
The man’s peculiar expression made the hair on my arms stand upright, and my whole body was soaked with tension. I flinched as I grabbed Takan’s shirt.
Did no one else see his eerie smile? Come to think of it, the surroundings had been strangely quiet ever since.
I looked away involuntarily, and my eyes widened.
Those who bowed their heads slightly turned their heads to look at us. The countless eyes on me felt suffocating.
Bloodshot eyes stained with greed.
In an instant, a sharp intuition ran through my head.
They were neither guests nor villagers like us. No, were there villagers here except devotees in the first place?
It occurred to me that this might not be simply a group of Quetray’s forest believers.
My grip on Takan’s shirt tightened.
“Are you okay?” Takan asked, turning his head to me. I nodded at him, feeling reassured.
Meanwhile, the man had completely descended the stairs and approached us with open arms.
“Welcome,” he said, his voice deep. “Thank you for coming. I am Carje, the person in charge of this inn and its members.”
The exaggerated hospitality made me wearier.
Carje stopped at a close distance and grinned like a predator. “The number of people who want the hourglass is increasing, so Quetray will be pleased.”
If anything, he looked proud. Carje put his hand on his chest, and after bowing, he held out his other hand to me.
“Why are you so scared? The monsters can’t come out of the forest, so it’s safe–”
“Get rid of that,” Takan said, slapping his hand away.
Carje’s face hardened at once. He stared at his hand with a cold look.
“Master, are you okay?”
At that moment, a roar broke the heavy silence, and chairs fell to the ground.
Everyone got up from their seats and stared at Takan.
Leader? I narrowed my eyes, doubting what I heard. As if it were a religion, they called Carje their leader.
“A-are you alright?” The man who guided us to the inn rushed over and looked at Carje’s hand.
He squinted at Carje, constantly examining his hands with no sign of red marks, much less wounds.
The man’s behavior seemed like flattery rather than pure concern.
Carje could obviously see through the man, but he merely smiled warmly. Then, when he waved his hand, the man bowed and moved away.
“Did you say that your parents’ ghosts follow you?”
The man’s face darkened at his question. Carje tapped his shoulder and said, “Don’t worry. You will be able to forget it. You deserve to see the hourglass left by Quetray.”
The man’s eyes widened comically, and he bent over, ecstatic. “Thank you, thank you, Leader!”
A sigh of disappointment broke out among the people. The others also seemed to have regained their appetite and started eating again.
I narrowed my eyes and watched the scene.
Previous conversations revealed that Carje knew the exact location of the hourglass. That meant he was the guide, and it was the reason the people treated him like a deity and followed him.
It seemed they had their own clear discipline.
I couldn’t let go of my doubts about Carje, but we didn’t have time. Kyle would be chasing us no matter what.
Carje beckoned, and the man took a step back.
“Thank you, thank you!”
I let go of Takan’s shirt and stepped forward. When Carje felt my presence, he turned to look at me contemplatively.
After taking a breath, I put my hand in my pants pocket and patted the necklace. I gave one earring to the boy and the other to Takan, so all I had left was the necklace.
The necklace clanged when my hand brushed against it.
“I’ll give you a reward, so please guide me to the forest,” I said in a low voice.
I couldn’t hear an answer for a while, so I thought hard to see if there was anything else he wanted.
“I would like to see your face first.”
Carje reached out to my hood. I pushed my face down as I stepped back and pressed down the end of the robe. I hurriedly bowed my head.
I no longer needed to hide my face or features, but I had to be vigilant in case Kyle pursued them all the way here and interrogated them.
“What are you doing?” Takan reached out and stopped Carje.
Carje frowned, but after a while, a mask of a smile appeared on his face.
“You’re a shy person. Please understand, it’s because I’m sensitive to what happened a while ago.”
A while ago? When Takan remained on guard, Carje raised his hands and retreated.
“Well, let’s gradually get to know each other.”
“Gradually get to know. This is urgent.” Takan lowered his voice, revealing his discomfort.
Carje did not give in and called the woman sitting atop the stairs. “Rafnel, please guide the female guest to the trainee’s bedroom.”
“Trainee?” Takan asked, one eyebrow raised.
Carje turned to Takan and looked him up and down arrogantly, and Takan’s frown deepened.
“Especially tell her what to do to be saved.”
Carje turned around completely with a suspicious smile. Takan, who looked like he had finally reached the limit, approached him.
“Hey, right now…!”
At that moment, the manager stopped in front of Takan. The handsome manager held a sword with one hand, his eyes fixed on Takan.
Takan swung his hand in the air while trying to take a stance to draw his sword, as was his habit. He cursed under his breath when he remembered he didn’t have it with him.
Carje looked back at Takan, shrugged, and laughed in that breathless kind of way.
Takan sighed, brushing his hair. When he looked back at me, he looked calmer. “Let’s just go to the forest. Whether it’s the path or the hourglass, I’ll find it.”
“Takan.” I shook my head.
There was no easier way than this. I had the goods to satisfy Carje’s greed.
I felt a strange sense of dread in the man’s eyes.
I knew those eyes. I knew it very well. I’ve had it for years, maybe even my whole life. The skin that had been filled with greed and abandoned even the slightest bit of conscience as a human being was just like Father.
Carje took the necklace I had in my hand so he could see it better. The necklace, which had fallen from my grasp, shook and clanged.
“Will this be my reward?”
Carje’s face was half-concealed by his hood. His lips, already slightly open, parted widely.
“Oh, you have something to offer to God!”
After quickly grasping the situation, Carje rubbed his hands with a greedy smile. Then he rubbed his chin in contemplation.
“Hmm, that’s good. So let’s do this.”
“Once you are assigned a bedroom, we will take you to the resting room. As it is a risky job, I should know who the customers are,” he said firmly as if he could not concede that alone.
Suddenly, sighs erupted everywhere. The eyes of those who had been silent turned to me with envy. Furthermore, the villager who had guided us to this place glared at me.
“You’re a trainee who just got here,” the villager gritted. Didn’t he just gently guide us through the inn? He was incredibly hostile.
Carje, who tapped the manager on the shoulder and whispered something, turned around.
“I’ll see you later.” Then, he passed the woman upstairs and ordered, “Please show the female guest to the bedroom, Rafnel.”
The woman called Rafnel nodded to Carje but didn’t move. She clenched her teeth, her gaze glued to the ground until Carje’s shadow disappeared.
When Carje was out of sight, a commotion broke out in the crowd. As they sat upright and ate their food, the air buzzed.
The manager took the lead and looked back at Takan. Takan stayed in place, rooted in his spot.
The manager’s eyes rose at his lack of cooperation.
“What are you doing and you’re not following?”
“I’m going with this woman.”
The manager smiled with a shocked expression on his face. He smoothed his thick beard and gave off a sinister smile.
 교주님 is usually used for religious sect leaders
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