I Alone Level-Up
Park Jong-Su’s jaw dropped to the floor. He was so shocked that he needed some time to process the event his own two eyes had witnessed just now.
‘How could it kill the Arch Lich in one hit?!’
There was an event that catapulted the Arch Lich as a pretty infamous creature among the boss-level monsters. And that would be the incident of the Gold Dragon Guild’s annihilation.
An entire Guild was completely destroyed by a single Arch Lich. Not just any Guild either, but one that was supposed to be quite powerful even within China, no less. But then again, that might have been an obvious result.
The Arch Lich could continuously summon out ‘Death Knights’ any time it wanted to. And one Death Knight was a very powerful undead-type monster that required the bitter struggle of multiple rank A Hunters to defeat.
If you underestimated the boss monster simply because it didn’t have any guards around it initially, then you’d not be able to escape the fate of total destruction.
In the end, a dungeon break occurred from the Gate the Gold Dragon Guild failed to close. China’s own Special Authority-rank Hunter Liu Zhigeng arrived in the nick of time so the incident didn’t turn into a catastrophe, but still, many Hunters got to know the terror an Arch Lich posed through this incident.
That mutated ant summon killed the Arch Lich in one hit. What an astonishing event that was.
Maybe it wasn’t only Park Jong-Su who thought like this, because Jeong Yun-Tae standing next to him also couldn’t seem to close his slack jaw at all.
“Oh, my god…..”
As if he couldn’t believe his own eyes, he asked Park Jong-Su for another confirmation.
“Hyung-nim, wasn’t that an Arch Lich?”
“Yeah, it was. The thing that came out of the Gate during that Gold Dragon Guild incident.”
“If that’s true, then that ant just one-shotted an Arch Lich….?”
Jeong Yun-Tae now formed a completely disbelieving expression. Other Hunters also heard the conversation taking place between Park Jong-Su and Jeong Yun-Tae, and failed to hide their extreme shock as well.
“An Arch Lich?!”
“That thing was an Arch Lich??”
“And the ant took it down in one hit??”
Just as the entirety of the Knight Order Guild’s assault team was being astonished by Jin-Woo’s ‘summon’ that could kill the boss of a rank A dungeon in the blink of an eye….
The multi-talented healer Jeong Ye-Rim, currently sweating profusely while trying to hold back the tide of the undead monsters, was dying of curiosity regarding what happened behind her back.
“What was that? What happened??”
However, her curiosity couldn’t be maintained for long. Something quite surprising started happening right in front of her eyes, that was why.
All those undead monsters, rampaging around as if they were only a moment away from breaking past the ‘Holy Wall’, suddenly collapsed on the ground like puppets with their strings cut.
And then, they didn’t stand back up again.
Jeong Ye-Rim was startled by this sudden turn of event and hurriedly looked behind her. Park Jong-Su was nodding his head.
‘The Arch Lich must’ve had something to do with the defeated undead monsters reviving in full.’
He really did feel utterly dazed and lost at the sight of the crazed horde of the monsters rushing in like a black tidal wave, wondering what would happen to him and his group, but now…
It felt like he could breathe easy again.
Behind Park Jong-Su busy sighing out in relief, the Hunters standing there failed to hide their elated expressions. They were all excited at the idea of exiting from this dungeon safe and sound.
“Hyung-nim, you worked hard.”
“What do you mean, I worked hard….. It’s those guys that worked hard, not me.”
Park Jong-Su used his chin to point and Jeong Yun-Tae looked behind him. The summons were all standing still unmoving and staring at the human Hunters as if to ask ‘Where are we going next?’
‘Well, uh, them standing around like that and not budging makes them look a wee bit cuter…..’
However, one of the ants must’ve felt bored, because, for no apparent reason, it loudly screeched towards the ceiling.
Just like that, Jeong Yun-Tae’s expression that contained a hint of favourable impression towards the creatures flew away in an instant.
Jeong Yun-Tae swivelled his head back and asked his boss.
“Hyung-nim. Isn’t this the same as Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim solo clearing this dungeon?”
“Yup, more or less.”
Park Jong-Su also agreed with that assessment. In the deeper parts of the dungeon, where the difficulty was at its highest, the Knight Order Guild’s assault team did nothing but just followed around the ant monsters.
And those ants were Hunter Seong Jin-Woo’s summoned creatures. In the end, it was the same thing as Jin-Woo clearing the dungeon all by himself, just as Jeong Yun-Tae had alluded to.
‘What a scary power….’
They had seen the extent of his power in Jeju Island, but having witnessed it for real, they had to concede the fact that he possessed an incredible ability.
The fact that the summoned creatures were capable of displaying levels of combat prowess easily exceeding their imagination, and the fact that Seong Hunter was able to freely control these summons, left a deep mental shock in the Knight Order’s Hunters.
“Which means, Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim doesn’t even need to enter a Gate and still gets to clear it by just sending these guys in, no?”
Jeong Yun-Tae spoke without thinking too much about what he was saying. However, Park Jong-Su felt goosebumps break out all over his skin after he thought about what his deputy just mentioned in passing.
The number of summons Hunter Seong brought out back in Jeju Island was at least over two hundred. That was only from those that got caught on camera. So, it was difficult to even estimate how many more he could actually summon out at once.
What if he didn’t even need to make a single move, but simply send out his summons to clear out dungeons….?
‘There must be some exhaustion of magic energy when summoning out and controlling these creatures, so he might not be able to use them all at the same time, but….’
Just half of his summons.
No, even if that guy could only utilise half of that half, his method would be so much more efficient than what other large Guilds could even come up with.
Park Jong-Su suddenly realised that he’d have invested his entire life savings if Hunter Seong’s Guild was a publicly-traded company.
“Hyung-nim, let’s not waste more time and push ahead with merging our Guild with Seong Hunter-nim’s Guild.”
“This guy, really now…..”
Park Jong-Su glared scarily at Jeong Yun-Tae, before his expression became a lot more serious.
“Refer to it as ‘M&A’, okay? M&A. The new Guild created by the best Hunter, and one of the five major Guilds in the country, the Knight Order, pushing forward for the M&A. How nice sounding is that?” (TL: M&A = mergers and acquisitions)
Jeong Yun-Tae flinched grandly.
“You really wanna try your luck with that, hyung-nim?!”
“Think about it. Combine Seong Hunter-nim’s abilities with our Guild’s know-how – even the likes of the Hunters Guild should be terrified by our potential, man!”
Would Vice-Chairwoman Cha Hae-In leave the Hunters Guild and join hands with Hunter Seong for no reason? Of course not.
Elation bubbled up in Jeong Yun-Tae’s face as he nodded, but then, he began rubbing his chin and tilted his head.
“But then, hyung-nim. You honestly believe that Seong Hunter-nim needs us?”
Park Jong-Su tutted and explained in detail.
“Do you really think that Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim will be able to disregard the law if he wants to work?”
“Even if it’s possible for his summons to clear dungeons, he still needs to fill up the minimum headcount for the raid team, no?”
Hearing that plausible explanation, Jeong Yun-Tae’s expression brightened up once more.
“You’re right, hyung-nim.”
As the two men stared at each other with happy smiles on their faces, the ground beneath their feet trembled ever so softly.
Park Jong-Su stopped wasting time. With the death of the boss-level monster, the Gate was starting to close up.
“Well, let’s carry on our discussion after we get out of here first.”
Park Jong-Su loudly called out to the rest of the assault team still waiting for his orders.
“Everyone, let’s all get out of this place before the Gate closes down!”
“You’ll provide all the convenience you can?”
“Yes, that’s correct.”
Jin-Woo’s question was met with Association President Goh Gun-Hui’s assured answer.
Officially, there were ten rank S Hunters recorded in the Korean Hunter’s Association’s database. But, they had lost three now. Two died at the hands of monsters, while one abandoned Korea for America.
From the perspective of the Hunter’s Association, they could not afford to be hands-off in this matter anymore.
They wanted to do everything they could – this wasn’t just the opinion of Association President Goh Gun-Hui, but the rest of the Association as well.
‘Unless it’s the other rank S Hunters…..’
They definitely could not afford to let Hunter Seong Jin-Woo slip away.
Goh Gun-Hui’s eyes gleamed with the light of determination. As the representative of the Hunter’s Association, he had met countless Hunters over the years. Several of them were those whom you’d qualify as some of the strongest in the world, as well.
However, Seong Jin-Woo was the first Hunter ever to make his heart race this madly. Not just as the Association President, but as the citizen of this nation, he definitely wanted Jin-Woo to remain in South Korea.
[“We will provide you with every convenience we can possibly provide.”]
Those words expressed the Association President Goh Gun-Hui’s strong will to keep Jin-Woo in the country. They also contained how highly the older man thought of the young Hunter, as well.
“If that’s the case….”
Jin-Woo thought for a little while, before opening his mouth.
“Will you let me enter high-ranking Gates all by myself in the future?”
When he was faced with a completely unexpected demand, Goh Gun-Hui’s eyes opened up wide.
“Are you asking me to exclude you from the minimum headcount rule?”
Jin-Woo nodded his head.
The regulation regarding the number of raid team members was the minimum safety net in place for the Hunters. It was a policy to prevent the incidents of Hunters entering a dungeon without sufficient preparation and losing their lives.
Did Hunter Seong require such a safety net when his summons could beat down countless rank S monsters? Abruptly recalling a certain scene from the ant tunnel raid, Goh Gun-Hui asked as his expression tensed up.
“By any chance…. The raid permits your Guild will be issued with, are you planning to clear those Gates all by yourself?”
Goh Gun-Hui became speechless from Jin-Woo’s straightforward reply. There was not one trace of worry in his voice.
‘Could it be that he made the Guild just for this…..?’
Did he do that so he could solo-clear high-ranking dungeons?
There were many powerful Hunters throughout the world, but none of them planned their raids in this manner.
But, when the images of this Jin-Woo confidently chatting away, and the Jin-Woo back in the ant tunnel summoning countless soldiers to sweep away the ant monsters, overlapped in Goh Gun-Hui’s eyes, the older man suddenly began shivering almost uncontrollably.
‘A one-man army….’
For Goh Gun-Hui, who had been constantly worried about the unchecked growth of the major Guilds, that proved to be one hell of an attractive concept.
His heart began racing again.
Goh Gun-Hui placed his hand on the chest that began to hurt a little, and formed a bitter smile after comparing himself to the virile and healthy-looking Jin-Woo.
“Will it be difficult?”
Jin-Woo asked, but Goh Gun-Hui immediately shook his head.
“It’s not going to be impossible.”
Indeed, it wouldn’t be impossible, but it’d be quite difficult, nonetheless. That was what Goh Gun-Hui thought.
But, just what kind of man was he? He was the President of the Hunter’s Association, a rank S Hunter, and the member of the National Assembly.
This was a request from not just anyone, but Hunter Seong Jin-Woo. Even if it was a tough request, there would be nothing holding Goh Gun-Hui back from fulfilling it.
And if that was enough to keep Hunter Seong in South Korea, then all the better for it.
“Leave it to me.”
Jin-Woo grinned brightly after hearing Goh Gun-Hui’s confident reply.
One of the things that could’ve proved to be a source of headache got resolved just now.
Jin-Woo smiled and expressed his gratitude, and Goh Gun-Hui replied with a smile of his own.
“I always bring this up, but well, it should be us thanking you, Hunter-nim.”
The large saloon carrying the two stopped at a bit of distance away from the hospital’s entrance.
“Let us speak again soon, Seong Hunter-nim.”
After sharing simple goodbyes, Jin-Woo climbed out of the car.
The news of the victims being transferred to this hospital must’ve gotten around, because there were a lot of reporters camping by the entrance already.
The car stopping a fair distance away from the entrance was all due to Woo Jin-Cheol’s consideration. There was little doubt that another commotion would’ve broken out if the car carrying the Association President came to a stop in front of the hospital and Jin-Woo climbed out from there.
‘It’s times like this that being famous can get really annoying.’
Jin-Woo shook his head and used ‘Stealth’ to conceal himself.
Inside the office of the Yujin Construction’s chairman.
Chairman Yu Myung-Han, who had been taking a nap on the impossibly-wide desk, slowly raised his slouched torso up.
Sunlight entered at an angle through the windows.
He felt his eyelids getting impossibly heavier, and it seemed that he eventually had fallen into a bit of slumber.
On the couch located in front of the desk, the right-hand man of Yu Myung-Han, Secretary Kim, was sitting upright and looking back at his boss.
Yu Myung-Han rubbed his face to chase away the remaining sleepiness and spoke up.
“Looks like I have napped for a little while. How long was I asleep for?”
Secretary Kim looked at his wristwatch and then raised his head back up again.
“Sir, you’ve been asleep for 23 hours and 46 minutes.”
Yu Myung-Han’s hand rubbing his face came to a sudden stop.
“I’ve been waiting here in order to carry out your order of escorting you to the hospital if you don’t wake up after 24 hours have elapsed, sir.”
Was it that illness striking again?
Yu Myung-Han’s face, his hand no longer covering it, was frozen stiff.
He would sometimes fall into a state of deep sleep without any warning signs, and once asleep, it became harder and harder to wake up.
The ‘Eternal Sleep’ disorder.
Although the process was slow, this disease definitely dragged all of its victims to death’s doorway.
Secretary Kim strode quickly forward and stood before Yu Myung-Han.
“Sir, there are two things I need to inform you about.”
“What are they?”
As befitting his nickname of ‘Pokerface’, Yu Myung-Han had already wiped off all traces of worry from his face and reverted back to his regular stoic expression.
Secretary Kim picked up the newspaper resting at the corner of the large desk and politely placed it before Yu Myung-Han.
Somewhat puzzled, Yu Myung-Han quickly picked the paper up and browsed through it. The article dominating the front page was about the event of a Gate opening up in a school somewhere in Seoul, causing the devastating losses of hundreds of high school students.
Yu Myung-Han grimaced after seeing that terrible news.
“What a terrible incident this is. Make sure our company donates something to the school and to the victims.”
“Yes, sir. But, Chairman, that’s not it.”
Yu Myung-Han put the paper down. Secretary Kim bowed slightly and carefully flipped the page of the newspaper, so the next page could be seen. There was a large photo dominating this page.
“This is the photograph I wanted to show to you, sir.”
The tip of Secretary Kim’s finger stopped by at a certain lady within that photo.
“This woman…. Do you recall who she is, sir?”
The photo was of a hospital where the survivors of that horrible incident had been admitted to. Secretary Kim had singled out a certain woman among the many pictured. She was hurriedly running into the hospital’s entrance.
Quite coincidentally, she was someone Chairman Yu Myung-Han still remembered quite clearly.
Yu Myung-Han never forgot a person’s face. And he definitely had seen that woman’s photograph before.
She was none other than Hunter Seong Jin-Woo’s mother.
“But, I thought Hunter Seong Jin-Woo’s mother suffered from the Eternal Sleep, too?”
He had studied Hunter Seong Jin-Woo’s profile several times in great detail.
A person who, according to Yu Myung-Han’s knowledge, should be confined to a bed and unable to move while completely dependent on the life support machines, was walking around looking completely healthy.
The thing Secretary Kim wanted to talk to him about – Chairman Yu Myung-Han finally realised what that was. His hand gripping the newspaper began trembling.
“Can you find out for me what happened in detail?”
As his response to Yu Myung-Han’s praise, Secretary Kim bowed again for a brief moment, before raising his head again. After putting the newspaper back down again, Yu Myung-Han quietly opened his mouth.
“You said there are two things I need to know about.”
“What is the second matter, then?”
Yu Myung-Han raised his head and met Secretary Kim’s gaze. And the light in the latter’s eyes wasn’t so good. This was one of Kim’s old habits. He always brought up the good news first, then spoke the bad news the last.
Secretary Kim displayed some hints of hesitation, before speaking up as if he decided to give up.
“The Young Miss has returned home yesterday.”
As if waiting for that declaration…
The door to the Chairman’s office was flung wide open and an intellectual-type beauty rushed inside.
Chairman Yu Myung-Han’s daugther, Yu Jin-Hui, saw how thin her father had become and tears began wetting her eyes.
“How long have you been like this, Father?”