The Japanese government offered up a suite in a five-star luxury hotel for Jin-Woo so he could rest in comfort until his departure from the country.
He was planning to use ‘Shadow Exchange’ to go back rather than waste time waiting for a plane, so he was thinking of refusing their gesture of goodwill.
“Please, help us to avoid the fate of being labelled as people who had poorly received the saviour of their nation. We beg of you, Hunter-nim.”
….But then, he ended up changing his mind after hearing the desperate plea of the Japanese government.
The very first impression he got after stepping into the hotel suite that reputedly cost over $3,500 per night was, ‘Is it really okay for me to spend a night alone in such a huge and luxurious room?’
Jin-Woo studied the gleaming furniture that sparkled brightly as if they were purchased only yesterday, before walking over to the window to look outside.
This allowed him to take in the sight of the cityscape all at once.
He heard from somewhere that the better the view, the higher the real estate price would get. And as expected, the view of the city draped in the darkness of the night was as arresting as the exorbitant price the suite had alluded to.
‘And to think, such a city was about to go up in flames by a bunch of monsters.’
Jin-Woo recalled the sight of the ruined city of Tokyo and tutted to himself. In fact, he felt relieved that he got here just in time before things could get even worse for Japan.
‘….Let’s just go to sleep.’
After a few nights spent camping outdoors, this one night spent in the hotel proved to be rather bloody fantastic.
His departure time neared and employees from the Japanese Hunter’s Association came to escort him.
“Good day to you, Hunter-nim.”
The Association employee tasked with guiding Jin-Woo greeted him using fluent Korean.
“We have readied the vehicle that will take you to the airport.”
What excellent timing it was since he was beginning to feel bored, staying cooped up in the hotel room. Jin-Woo went and picked up his bag that had been discarded in the corner of the suite somewhere and returned to the door.
“Let’s get going right away.”
Just as Jin-Woo was about to leave the suite, the employee saw the state he was in currently and formed a flustered expression.
“H-Hunter-nim…. By any chance, don’t you have any other set of clothing with you?”
It wasn’t as if Jin-Woo couldn’t understand where this reaction of the employee was coming from. Blood and sweat stained both his shirts and pants, serving as clear evidence of the intense battles he had gone through during the last few days.
‘I was trying to be as careful as possible, though….’
From the get-go, it was plainly impossible to evade every single drop of the massive quantity of blood spewing out from bodies of the Giants. Since the rest of his clothes were in a similarly sorry state, all he could do was to helplessly shrug his shoulders as his reply.
The employee suddenly broke out in a grin and politely made his inquiry.
“If it’s alright with you, may we be permitted to prepare an extra set of clothing for you to wear?”
That was one of the better suggestions he heard the whole day.
There was no reason for him to walk around with blood-stained clothes like this, and also, he hadn’t done anything wrong either so he was disinclined to sneak around like some kind of a criminal, too.
The employee figured out Jin-Woo’s answer from his brightened expression and spoke up with a smile.
“We’ll have them ready right away. Please wait here for a little while longer.”
The extra clothing must’ve been prepared in advance, because it didn’t even take ten minutes after the end of the employee’s phone call for several men to hurriedly rush in to the suite carrying many business suits.
Jin-Woo formed a bit of a suspicious expression, which prompted the employee to answer with a happy smile.
“We thought that something like this might happen, so we had them ready in advance.”
Jin-Woo watched as the business suits were sorted into different colours and sizes in an instant, and somehow managed to keep the gasps of astonishment to himself.
For something that was prepared ‘just in case’, wasn’t this just all too well organised?
“If you need anything else besides your clothes….”
Jin-Woo quickly shook his hands around.
“Nonono, it’s alright.”
The services he received so far had already been amply satisfactory. He could already see that the Japanese Hunter’s Association was trying to do their utmost best here.
Jin-Woo scanned the displayed business suits before picking the one that seemed to fit his size. After swapping out his duds, he stood before the mirror to take a look.
Maybe because all the prepared suits were high-end items, he came across as a completely new person.
‘Hey, don’t I look pretty cool like this?’
A smile automatically bloomed on his face. He fixed the ends of the suit and turned around. The Association employee who panicked earlier about the lack of other apparels began gasping out in sighs of admiration.
“Those look very good on you, Hunter-nim.”
“Let’s be on our way now.”
“Understood. Our staff members will carry your luggage for you, Hunter-nim.”
Two burly Association employees strode in as if they were waiting for this moment and picked up Jin-Woo’s stuff.
He could sense the Japanese Hunter’s Association’s desire to make sure that he wouldn’t even need to lift a finger from their extremely considerate treatment. He was still treated like royalty even when walking out from the front entrance of the 5-star luxury hotel.
And soon, the black sedan carrying Jin-Woo headed off towards the airport.
When he got near the airport’s vicinity, Jin-Woo began realising why the Japanese Association was so particularly mindful of taking care of his appearance.
Because he could see throngs upon throngs of people outside the moving car’s window. And there were even more people beyond them.
Jin-Woo became utterly speechless and silently stared outside, while the Association employee spoke to him in a clearly excited voice.
“Everyone gathered here today all wanted to see you at least once before you depart, Hunter-nim.”
One couldn’t even argue that this sea of people was forcibly organised either, as there were simply too many of them for that.
“Just how many people have shown up here today?”
“It’s not an exact amount, but we estimate over one hundred thousand, Hunter-nim.”
The vehicle carrying Jin-Woo quietly glided along the road that had been cordoned off tightly. When they went around a corner, there was just as big a crowd of people, no, maybe even bigger than before, waiting to greet Jin-Woo’s car.
“Seong Hunter-nim, you’re a hero that saved Japan.”
From Jin-Woo’s perspective, he simply did what he was capable of doing. However, what he did was not something anyone else could do. No, only he was capable of doing it.
The Japanese people had no choice but to shiver in despair after seeing the Giant-type monsters through TV broadcasts, from social media, or even with their own eyes.
No one wanted to help out with the national-level crisis unfolding in Japan. Instead, they all opined in one voice that the country was now doomed.
But then, from their neighbouring nation, South Korea – the man who could possibly be more famous than the country’s own president, the leader of the Korean Hunter’s Association, Goh Gun-Hui, made an announcement which reached the ears of the despairing Japanese people.
[“There is one such person. There is one Hunter who wishes to go to Japan and get rid of the Giant monsters.”]
Countless Japanese watching the press conference live held their breaths and focused on their TV screens.
[“Just who is this Hunter?”]
After the reporter asked that question, Association President Goh Gun-Hui pressed his lips as close to the microphone and made his reply.
[“It’s Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim.”]
It was an already well-known fact that Jin-Woo had killed off every one of the rank S ant monsters occupying Jeju Island all by himself.
The three letters of ‘Seong Jin-Woo’ coming out from Association President Goh Gun-Hui’s lips caused much upheaval within the entirety of Japan. For the Japanese people, Jin-Woo was their sole ray of hope.
And a week later.
Just as he promised before setting off from Korea, Jin-Woo had completely annihilated the Giant monsters from the Japanese mainland and was about to step on the road back home.
Perhaps it was inevitable that the countless Japanese had gathered to see him one last time.
The Association employee explained that, if it weren’t for the country going through the chaos of cleaning up the affected areas, even more people would have turned up today.
He then added this bit at the end.
“Honestly speaking, our Prime Minister also dearly wishes to meet you to express his gratitude as well, Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim. May we impose on you for that small matter for a little while?”
The expression of the Association employee was much more serious than ever before. Jin-Woo could easily guess the amount of pressure from the higher-ups this guy must be under.
Unfortunately, what he didn’t want to do initially, he still wasn’t interested in doing it, even now. Jin-Woo answered in the same way as he did when he was asked the first time.
“I don’t want to waste my time doing something unnecessary.”
The Association employee ended up laughing out after witnessing Jin-Woo’s direct attitude and nodded his head in understanding.
“Haha… I understand.”
As they continued to make small talk over this and that, the vehicle carrying them had eventually arrived at the airport’s entrance. As usual, Jin-Woo calmly exited from the car and stepped on to the pavement.
But, in that exact moment, he was showered by the outpouring of passionate hand claps coming from everywhere.
Jin-Woo looked around at the gathered crowd.
“Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim!”
He couldn’t understand anything they were saying to him, but then again, every one of the lights gleaming in their eyes, their voices, and their gestures helped him to overcome the language barrier altogether.
Their bottomless gratitude and respect were transmitted in the air and he could sense them all.
Beru, watching this spectacle from within his shadow, quickly engaged him in a chat.
‘Oh, my king. Your loyal subjects are expressing their genuine adulation and awe towards you, my liege.’
‘It’s not like that.’
‘Oh my king, perhaps it is for the best that you wave your hand and acknowledge your subjects….’
‘Hey. I said it’s not like that.’
Where did this guy see and learn all this weird stuff from?
Jin-Woo was about to ignore Beru’s advice and turn around, but then, he stopped in his treks to ask his ant soldier a question.
‘By the way, do other ants enjoy it when you, you know, acknowledge them, as you said?’
Beru replied in a very proud voice. As a matter of fact, if he was standing outside the shadow right now, he’d definitely have formed a commanding, imposing expression, too.
‘But, of course, my king.’
That was to be expected, though. Beru did possess a skill that raised up the morale of the ant soldiers with nothing but his screech, after all.
Jin-Woo nodded his head. All these people came to see him off, so was there a reason not to greet them back, which was something even an ant could do?
Jin-Woo stopped and turned around towards the crowd again. He hesitated and awkwardly raised his left hand, before waving it around at the people watching him.
The sounds of clapping became even more energetic and they were soon accompanied by the loud cheers, as well.
Clap, clap, clap, clap!
Only then did he notice that the Association employee tasked with guiding him vigorously clapping hands as well. The edges of the man’s eyes were even reddening up with emotions, too.
“Thank you very much, Hunter-nim!”
“We’re grateful for everything!”
The Association employee’s nose had reddened by this point as well, and he addressed Jin-Woo as he wiped the edges of his eyes with the sleeves of his shirt.
“Let us get going, Hunter-nim. The plane should be leaving soon.”
Jin-Woo slowly lowered his hand.
Even then, the sound of clapping didn’t cease. They continued on and on, even as his back disappeared from the view of the gathered crowd.
The plane carrying Jin-Woo taxied off amidst the sending-off of over hundred thousand people.
A certain well-known Japanese columnist wrote and published these words.
If the top leader of their nation were chosen through nothing but the support from its citizens, then they would have seen their very first non-native Prime Minister elected on that day.
In the opulent mansion owned by one of the five Special Authority-rank Hunters, Christopher Reid.
He suddenly woke up in the middle of the night.
The cause? The noises from the surroundings.
As one of the very best Hunters acknowledged by the world, he’d not be able to fall asleep even for a single day if he were to mind every little noise he could hear.
And that was precisely it. He didn’t wake up because it was too noisy around him. No, it was the exact opposite.
‘Why is it so quiet around here?’
All sorts of ambient noises he could hear if he concentrated just a little were gone as if they were all a lie, to begin with.
He kicked off from his bed and opened the bedroom door. He couldn’t pick up on the presence of several hired help who should’ve been located in various spots of the mansion.
As if he had entered an abandoned house, there was this deeply creepy and eerie atmosphere permeating in the air.
Christopher Reid wordlessly stared at the empty corridor, before walking over to grab a wine glass left on the table and came back to the doorway. And then, he threw it in the corridor.
The wine glass left his hand and drew a gentle arc in the air, before hitting the floor to shatter into bits and pieces.
However, there were no sounds still. Not even one.
At that moment, a powerful chill crawled up his spine. He realised that something that could not happen had happened.
His sharpened senses were sending out warning bells. They were warning him that he was now facing the kind of danger he had never experienced before. His instincts strongly advised him to make a certain action, right now.
He quickly moved away from the doorway. He ran to the bedside bureau to pick up his mobile phone resting on top, and at the same time, he yanked open one of its drawers. There was a piece of crumpled paper resting silently within.
These words were written on its surface.
– If you need help, please call this number. The President of the Korean Hunter’s Association Goh Gun-Hui will connect you to that man.
The deputy director of the Hunter Bureau left behind that note with the steward before leaving.
Christopher Reid learned of this fact a bit later and flew directly into a rage. He was thinking of disposing of the note right away, but then, he couldn’t bring himself to do so after the worried face of Madam Selner kept lingering on in his mind for some reason.
‘Did the Madam actually predict a moment like this would come?!’
He didn’t know the answer to that. But, if he wanted to find out, he needed to survive first.
Christopher Reid quickly flipped the note over. The Association President Goh Gun-Hui’s phone number was written on the back. Apparently, the Korean man was fluent in English. So, there shouldn’t be an issue with the language barrier here.
As soon as Christopher Reid made this call, he’d get the help from Mister Seong.
He was rather certain of reading the obituary of that Korean Hunter a couple of days after the fool flew to Japan. After all, it did seem like the boy had overestimated himself a bit there.
However, Christopher Reid’s thoughts went through a very quick change after watching the feats of the summoned creatures that guy controlled. The skillset possessed by Mister Seong was indeed all real.
Madam Selner did tell him this before.
[“Hunter Seong Jin-Woo. If it’s him, he might be able to protect you.”]
Since she said those words, there could be some substance behind them, too.
Christopher Reid quickly dialled the number.
No, he tried to.
Unfortunately, his fingers had to stop moving once he felt the presence of people behind him.
It was too late now to ask for help or let someone else know of his situation. Christopher Reid put the phone and the note down and quietly stood back up again.
The first person he saw after slowly turning around was a blonde man with a bright smile etched on his face. One of this man’s hands was even tucked in his pocket – a display of utter leisure.
Such a relaxed demeanour would be rather impossible to find from a normal person invading the residence of a rank S Hunter, and not only that, a Hunter boasting one of the highest levels in the entire world.
Christopher Reid asked.
“Who are you people?”
The blondie in front of his eyes, and two more behind this one. There were a total of three intruders.
It was already unknown whether he’d be able to fight off just the one in front, and to think, there were two enemies of similar calibre present, too.
A drop of cold sweat trickled down Christopher Reid’s forehead. And just as this drop slid past his brow, past his temple, and all the way down his cheek until it reached the point of his chin….
The blondie began speaking up.
“If you keep trying to accommodate these humans during your struggles, you won’t be able to save a single thing, oh Fragment of the Brilliant Light.”
And worse still, his voice sounded truly bizarre as if it didn’t even belong to this world in the first place.
Christopher Reid’s brows shot up real high.
“Just what the f*ck are you saying here??”
The blondie watched the agitated Christopher Reid react and raised his finger to press it against his lips.
“Shh. I wasn’t talking to you.”
The blonde’s fluent English this time caused the eyes of Christopher Reid to grow wider still.
A being that could speak both the language of man as well as the language of monsters as freely as he willed it – as far as Christopher Reid knew, no such person existed in this world.
The finger leaving the blondie’s lips then pointed to the heavens above.
“Up there. I was talking to the dude up there connected to you.”
Of course, Christopher Reid couldn’t make heads nor tails of what this blonde man was talking about. But he was sure of one thing.
He was sure that this blonde was completely looking down on him right now. Christopher Reid’s angry voice powerfully reverberated outward.
“Do I look like a d*mn pushover to you?!”
Crimson light exploded forth from his eyes and soon, vicious flames began whipping around all over his body. In fact, his figure became crimson in colour as well as he grew larger and larger in size. The furniture caught by his expansion were all knocked and shoved away.
His new appearance as the angry flames enveloped his entire body was that of the God of Fire! Now easily four metres tall, real flames were spitting out from the creature’s eyes.
“At the bare minimum, I will take down one of you with me!”
Christopher Reid’s punch collided with the wall and caused a massive explosion.
The two men behind the blondie stepped aside to avoid the debris from the exploding wall and revealed themselves in full.
“Spiritual Body Manifestation….?”
“A human can manifest a Spiritual Body?”
They looked on at Christopher Reid’s new appearance with some amount of interest. Meanwhile, the floor Christopher Reid stood on began boiling and melting down.
For the first time since the worst calamity ever to befall humanity, the ‘Kamish raid’, he prepared himself to die today.
The flames wrapped around him became even more violent as if they were about to explode and began swallowing up everything surrounding him.
And as the vicinity was being swept away by his vicious flames, he stood in the middle of this storm of destruction and roared out loudly enough to shake the earth itself.
“Die, you f*cking monster b*stards-!!”
< Chapter 182 > Fin.