I Alone Level-Up

Chapter 104

Taking Jeju Island away?

The higher-ups of the Japanese Hunter’s Association remained calm as if they had heard the story from the Association President prior to the meeting. However, the same couldn’t be said about the government officials.

“What on earth are you even talking about?!”

“Are you suggesting that we should wage a war with the Koreans?”

“They have been getting ready for war for the last 60 years!”

“Say something that makes sense, will you?!”

The voices of the government representatives quickly got heated up.

Right now, the proverbial flames from the ant monster incident that fell on their feet were in the process of spreading to their ankles. If they failed to present an acceptable solution to the Prime Minister and to the mass media, just who knows how many sitting here today would lose their posts?

That was why they had summoned the Association President for this meeting, so he could suggest a tangible solution, yet what was he saying now?

The Jeju Island this and that?!

How could they not be incensed when the Association President was yapping on about sheer nonsense in front of these busy people?

If it weren’t for the Hunters guarding the sides of the Association President Matsumoto Shigeo, the government officials would’ve already started their expletive-laden tirades.

‘How can my expectation be on the money this wonderfully?’

Matsumoto Shigeo looked at the barrage of ugly criticism flying in his way and smirked inwardly. Their furious reactions were well within his calculations.

‘Tsk, tsk.’

Matsumoto tutted lightly in his mind, before opening his mouth he’d been keeping close until then.

“Obviously, I’m not suggesting that we should wage war with the Koreans. And I’m also not suggesting that we take the land away by force, either.”

“What was that?”

“Then, just what is it that you’re trying to say?”

“Can’t you stop beating around the bush?”

A corner of Matsumoto Shigeo’s lips arched up.

“We simply make the Korean give us the land on their own volition.”

The riled up mood of the conference chamber rapidly cooled down from the cold attitude of Matsumoto Shigeo. Judging from the strength of the tone of his voice, or from his attitude when saying these words, anyone hearing him could tell that the Association President was being dead serious.

‘……’

The Vice Prime Minister was famed for his ice-cold demeanour, yet he chose to break his silence precisely at that moment.

“Association President Matsumoto.”

He was the closest aide to the current Prime Minister, not to mention his spokesperson on this occasion.

He was attending this meeting as the proxy of Japan’s current leader, so what he said in this place carried as much weight as the Prime Minister’s own words.

“What you said just now…. How will you achieve that?”

A man who could realistically be called the second most powerful figure in the Japanese government was showing his interest in the Association President Matsumoto Shigeo’s plan.

Was it because someone had finally paid attention?

Matsumoto Shigeo became sombre as he proceeded with his explanations.

“The Koreans currently lack the strength to deal with a rank S Gate. That was the situation four years ago when the ants first appeared, and it’s still the same story even now.”

The Vice Prime Minister nodded his head.

Jeju Island was a large island that equalled around 2% of South Korea’s total land mass. They had lost that much land to the monsters, yet were utterly unable to do anything about it, so was there any further explanation necessary?

After the third subjugation effort ended in failure, the Korean government unofficially gave up on Jeju Island.

That was the unofficial story everyone accepted as of now.

“Under the current circumstances, how would they react when we make a suggestion of the Japanese rank S Hunters aiding with the subjugation of the ants?”

The news of the portion of the mutated ants capable of flight should have reached Korea by now. Meaning, they should’ve also realised that it was only a matter of time before the Korean mainland would be attacked.

Unless the decision makers of the Korean government were mad, there was no way they would reject external help if provided.

However….

“Even if we do lend some aid, do you believe the Koreans would hand over Jeju Island like that?”

Just as the Vice Minister alluded to just now, there were certainly a few holes in the Association President’s words. From here and there, several officials began smirking openly as well. Unlike them, though, the Vice Prime Minister carried on in a calm voice, sounding neither ridiculing nor angry.

“Just as you said, Mister Association President, the ants might be taken care of if we lend aid to the Koreans.”

Out of everyone present today, the person most knowledgable regarding the combined strengths of the Korean and Japanese Hunters was the Association President Matsumoto Shigeo. And he was certain of the total defeat of the ants.

There was no disagreement over that.

“However, even if that happened, what is there for us to gain?”

Even though the Japanese citizens had suffered somewhat, ultimately, the ants of Jeju Island were the Koreans’ problem to solve. There was no way they would sacrifice their own Hunters to help out the Koreans.

‘What a nonsensical notion that is.’

The Vice Prime Minister had always been wise to the potential benefits to be gained. And he was inwardly snorting in derision right now. If you concede on something, you were supposed to gain something back in return. That was one of the basics in politics.

If they were to lend out their Hunters, then they had to get something suitable back as compensation.

‘Receiving Jeju Island would be barely on the acceptable level of compensation.’

The Vice Prime Minister showed some interest because his thoughts had aligned with that of the Association President. However, the reply he got instead sounded like an attempt at catching the floating clouds.

Naturally, the interest of the Vice Prime Minister had cooled down faster than anyone else’s.

It was then, the Association President formed a mysterious smile.

“When did I say we’d be helping the Koreans?”

The Vice Prime Minister frowned deeply.

‘Is he trying sophistry with me?’

Just as he was about to reprimand the Association President in a dignified way with the words of “Stop wasting our time”….

‘Wait….’

The eyes of the Vice Minister widened.

The Association President said he’d ‘suggest’ lending an aid, but not about actually lending it.

“You, perhaps…..?”

“It is as you suspect.”

The Association President willingly acknowledged it. As soon as he discovered the utterly shocked expression of the Vice Prime Minister, the Association President knew that man had arrived at the same conclusion as well.

“You’re planning to….. shove the Korean Hunters inside that ant hole, aren’t you?”

As expected of a seasoned politician.

‘So, there was a reason why he’s rumoured to be a rather ‘smart’ man.’

The Association President sent a satisfied smile to the Vice Prime Minister and his rather quick-witted way of thinking.

“When Korea’s top Hunters enter the ant tunnel to kill the ant queen while placing their faith in our supposed ‘aid’, we’ll simply withdraw our Hunters.”

The Koreans had suffered three failures already. If that losing streak extended to fourth, who’d suspect the betrayal of the Japanese Hunters had anything to do with it? No, it was fine to be suspect. By then, everything would be finished already, anyway.

The voice of the Vice Prime Minister quaked noticeably.

“Are you… Are you planning to annihilate the top Hunters of South Korea?”

“The moment a Gate they couldn’t handle opened up in Jeju Island, their fate has been sealed already.”

The Association President once more voiced his own fatalistic world view.

“No, they only managed to sustain their pathetic lives somehow, until now.”

“But, that is…”

“Once their top Hunters disappear in that manner, the Koreans will definitely not feel secure anymore.”

What would happen when mutated ants capable of flight begin appearing in South Korea one by one, with all of their rank S Hunters dead?

Would the Koreans continue playing dumb when that happens?

If it were one or two ants, their Guilds might be able to kill the invading monsters somehow. However, just as the statistics showed, the number of mutated ants would only increase exponentially, and eventually, the entirety of South Korea would be shaken up sooner or later.

‘When that happens, surely they would request aid from other country’s Hunters.’

However, who would be willing to help the Koreans out by then?

China or Russia, with their great number of Hunters, but also with massive land mass they needed to cover, too?

Or, the Americans, who refused to help when the rank S Gate opened up back then?

Or, the North Koreans, who might invade Seoul by bringing over their own rank S Hunters, instead?

‘No, it’d be only us, the Japanese.’

Because, Japan would also be in trouble when the number of mutated ants increases. The Koreans would have no choice but to cling onto Japan, and when that happened, Japan would be able to demand anything from them in return.

‘Koreans might really be willing to hand over Jeju Island by then….’

It’d be as exactly as the Association President had said.

Suddenly, the Vice Minister felt a chill run down his spine. To think, that man was willing to drive another country’s top Hunters to death just to make his ambition into reality….

Wouldn’t a country fall to ruin because of this man if others weren’t being careful?

‘He’s a truly terrifying man, this Association President Matsumoto Shigeo.’

The Vice Minister shuddered from the horrifying scheme of the Association President. However, that wasn’t the end.

The Association President carried on.

“Jeju Island will just be the beginning.”

One by one….

Whenever the Koreans needed the power of rank S Hunters, they would have no choice but to slowly come under Japan’s influence. It was truly possible to swallow up South Korea without firing a single shot.

“…..And those are my thoughts.”

Only after the Association President ended his lengthy explanation did the various cabinet members take their deeply held-up breaths. Those who previously dismissed the Association President as a crazy fool were now listening closely, strands of cold sweat trickling down their faces.

The Association President quietly inquired.

“What is your decision, Mister Vice Prime Minister?”

The gazes of everyone present focused on the Vice Prime Minister.

“……”

The Vice Prime Minister swallowed his saliva.

Currently, he was speaking for the Prime Minister here. Of course, as long as the Prime Minister trusted him, the decision made in this chamber would not be overturned at a later date.

So, carefully, and even more cautiously than before….

After lengthy deliberation, the Vice Prime Minister raised his head.

“How should the government aid you in this venture?”

[You killed a Demon Knight.]

[You have earned 3,000 experience points.]

[You killed a Demon Aristocrat.]

[You have earned 4,500 experience points.]

Each time the Shadow Soldiers killed a demon found inside the castle, Jin-Woo was inundated with the experience points messages without rest.

Preparing for the final showdown on the top floor, Jin-Woo continued to raise his levels diligently.

When there were good rewards on offer, the accompanying risk would also be high, as well.

‘The Divine Water of Life, bonus Stat points, top-ranked Rune Stones, etc….’

When he thought about the rewards he would get after defeating the king of demons, there was just no way he’d slack off on levelling up himself.

[Level up!]

As it so happened, almost all the demons in the vicinity had been taken care of, so Jin-Woo summoned his Status Window to confirm his current level.

[Level: 87]

Before he entered the Demon’s Castle for the second time, his level was 80, but it had already reached 87. Seeing the increased Stats, a smile automatically formed on his face.

‘Nice.’

Jin-Woo tightly clenched his fist.

In the meantime, his Shadow Soldiers killed off the remaining demons. It was a complete victory.

With the battle now over, the soldiers gathered before Jin-Woo as usual. Among them, Iron was the fastest to arrive at his side. As if he was expecting to be praised, Iron puffed out his chest and stood at attention.

Jin-Woo chuckled slightly while looking at the mountainous physique blocking his view.

“You finish with everything?”

Iron nodded his head.

“Are you sure?”

Iron nodded his head even more energetically than before. Jin-Woo smirked and extended out his senses. And then, as he spun around, he also threw the ‘Baruka’s Dagger’ behind him.

‘Dagger Throw!’

His dagger flew towards a certain empty wall in the blink of an eye. But, then….

“Keo-heok!!”

The dagger didn’t hit the wall, but instead stabbed deeply into the chest of a demon hiding there quietly while using invisibility. It had been quietly waiting for Jin-Woo to be separated from his soldiers to mount a sneak attack.

“Euh-euhk….”

The demon could only freak out inwardly at the dagger piercing its left chest.

‘How did he find out?!’

If the demon was a human, that’s where the heart would have been. Meaning, that human male had completely seen through the invisibility magic from a high-ranked demon aristocrat.

‘How could a measly human….?’

When the demon raised its shocked gaze away from his wound, Jin-Woo was already standing beside his target. The demon’s eyes quaked violently.

“But, how….?”

Jin-Woo pulled out the ‘Baruka’s Dagger’ and activated his only close-quarter combat skill.

‘Vital Point Targetting!’

Stab!

The demon that barely managed to hold on from the damage inflicted by the Dagger Throw, ended up dying in one hit from the maxed-out ‘Vital Point Targetting’ skill.

Jin-Woo returned the ‘Baruka’s Dagger’ back to his Inventory, and stood before Iron again.

“So, how will you explain this?”

As if he was feeling sheepish, Iron lowered his gaze and scratched the back of his head. Well, rather than the head, it was the back of his helmet, though. Soon, Igrit also made his return, having killed all the demons hiding in the deeper parts of the castle.

Ng?’

However, Jin-Woo sensed something was different about Igrit.

‘What’s this?’

Jin-Woo observed the approaching Igrit and tilted his head.

Igrit quickly approached Jin-Woo and knelt down, before lowering his head. Up until here, it wasn’t such a strange scene. But, quite unlike from before, Jin-Woo heard the mechanical beep of ‘tti-ring’ going off suddenly in his head.

‘There’s a System message?’

Jin-Woo swallowed his saliva.

< Chapter 104 > Fin.

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