The ‘thing’ Jin-Woo pointed to was a pillar of a building. More specifically, several pillars being constructed alongside the body of Kamish.
It was evidence as good as any that they were building a structure to house the dead body of the Dragon.
His eyes shot open incredibly wide after seeing that.
Sure, the monster had died eight years ago. The higher the ranking of a dungeon, the greater the value of the monsters that came out of it. The monster corpses would be dismantled into pieces and be used up where they would be deemed most needed.
That was why he didn’t hold any hopes of Kamish’s corpse remaining intact until now. Because, various countries, corporations and/or laboratories willing to buy the Dragon’s corpse would’ve formed a proverbial long-a*s queue around the corner all those years ago, or so he thought to himself.
But then, the remains of Kamish, as seen on the photograph, were in an utterly pristine state. There were traces of the intense battle it had been involved in, yes, but the corpse was pretty much free of any artificial, after-the-fact damage.
The moment he thought of the possibility that Kamish’s corpse could still be around…
….Jin-Woo’s heart began madly pounding away.
“Could it be that America has been storing Kamish’s intact corpse until now?”
“W-well, yes. We have, but….”
Adam White couldn’t really understand Jin-Woo’s current reaction at all.
They were talking about a Rune Stone that all Hunters alive in this world would drool over non-stop, yet he didn’t show any interest in such a valuable article and began talking about a dead monster, instead.
However, Jin-Woo’s attitude was far too serious to steer the topic of this conversation back on the right course.
Jin-Woo pointed at the photo again.
“Where is this place? Let’s go there right away.”
“I’ve been willing to humour the requests of the Hunter Bureau until now. I’m pretty sure that I have the right to demand this much from you.”
Adam White didn’t expect the situation to go down in this direction and couldn’t hide his fluster anymore. However, he also realised that strictly speaking, this was not a bad result at all.
Between Hunter Seong Jin-Woo and the Hunter Bureau that Adam was working for, anyone could figure out that the party desperately needing the other side’s cooperation was, of course, the latter.
The Hunter Bureau was trying to attract Hunter Seong Jin-Woo’s interest. That’s why they tried with Madam Selner’s ability initially. And when that fell through, they resorted to using Kamish’s Rune Stone to rouse the young Korean Hunter’s interest.
But then, the spark was lit from an unlikely source, instead. This was at once a crisis and an opportunity for Adam White.
‘….They said I was free to use any method, didn’t they?’
Adam White quickly recalled what the director and his deputy said after they had gathered the agents working for the Hunter Bureau.
They said – ‘do whatever it takes to get on Hunter Seong Jin-Woo’s good side.’
In order to increase the odds of him moving to the States, even if only by a little. If the Hunter Bureau was in possession of something Jin-Woo wanted, then for the sake of the relationship between them, that thing should be offered up immediately regardless of what it was.
….So they could get into this young man’s good books.
Adam White remembered this incredibly important end goal and cleared his throat so he could speak up.
“Actually, even I do not know where Kamish’s corpse is being stored at the moment. The extent of my knowledge is what the higher-ups are prepared to let me know, unfortunately.”
Jin-Woo nodded his head.
For sure, Adam White seemed a bit too ‘young’ to know every single secret the organisation he worked for might keep. But, he sounded far more confident as he spoke, which seemed to contradict the contents of his words from a second ago.
“However, if it’s you making this demand, then I believe the higher-ups will give the go-ahead pretty easily. I’ll have to make a report anyway, so do you mind waiting for their reply for a little while?”
Jin-Woo’s expression brightened instantly.
The odds of the skill ‘Shadow Extraction’ failing would increase proportionally to how long the target had been dead for. And Kamish was killed off eight years ago. The odds of failure were just simply too high.
The possibility of bothering a lot of people, not to mention wasting their precious time for what could ultimately turn out to be nothing was pretty high, too.
However, how should he know without giving it a shot in the first place?
Even if the odds were extremely low, even if there was only a chance of ten thousand in one, no, ten million in one, the moment he somehow succeeds in extracting the Dragon’s shadow, he’d end up with possibly the most powerful Shadow Soldier ever in history.
Just thinking about it made his heart madly pound away.
Even if he failed, the only thing he’d lose would be his time. When compared to what he stood to gain if he succeeded, well, this was one gamble worth taking, that’s for sure.
As long as the Americans permitted it in the first place, of course.
Jin-Woo quickly asked Adam White.
“We’re on our way to the Hunter Bureau, right?”
“Since I’m going to wait anyway, why don’t I go there and wait, instead?”
Jin-Woo’s overly passionate interest caused Adam White to form an expression of a man not knowing whether to rejoice or be saddened.
The Director of the Hunter Bureau also formed a similar expression, as well.
He shifted his head to the side just in case, and sure enough, his deputy right next to him was also forming the same sort of an expression. So much so that the director couldn’t help but wonder, if he were to look into a mirror now, wouldn’t his face look like that?
“Okay, so. Seong Hunter-nim is in the building with us?”
The director had to confirm it one last time. Adam White wordlessly nodded his head.
“But, what about the Rune Stone? Didn’t he say anything about it?”
They decided that using up Kamish’s Rune Stone was worth it if it meant they got to reel Seong Jin-Woo into the US of A.
Well, a Hunter with an American passport getting stronger was pretty much the same thing as America getting stronger, at the end of the day. But, now…
“No, sir. During our trip, he almost never spoke about the Rune Stone once.”
“Huh-uh… this is troublesome.”
The director could only rub his chin after hearing Adam White’s answer.
Both Thomas Andre, as well as Seong Jin-Woo – it always proved to be so difficult to predict how these Hunters standing at the apex would behave next.
He even thought that possibly, one’s way of thinking would undergo a drastic change after becoming a top-ranked Hunter in the world.
“So, what he really wants is to view the Dragon’s corpse?”
Adam White nodded his head, his expression full of confidence.
He wasn’t feeling bad at all at the moment. From the get-go, his role was to bring Jin-Woo to the negotiating table and have him take part in it.
And with Jin-Woo willingly walking into the Hunter Bureau HQ, Adam White had pretty much fulfilled the role he was tasked with. As for the rest, it’d be up to the higher-ups holding the deck full of negotiable items at the ready.
The person with the final say in the matter, the director carefully pondered this quandary, before speaking to Adam White.
“I wish to discuss this matter with the deputy director first. Please leave the office for a little while.”
Adam White stood up to leave from the office; once he left, the director turned around and spoke to his deputy with an awkward expression.
“This… What do you think is the reason for that man wanting to see Kamish’s remains?”
“I wonder…. Well, one thing we can be sure of is that he’s not a tourist. It’s likely that Kamish’s remains possess a greater value than its Rune Stone to him.”
The value of a skill was truly unimaginable. Many Hunters at the top flight would not hold back on their cash reserves in order to purchase a Rune Stone they needed.
Even if it cost tens of thousands, hundreds, even millions of dollars.
It wasn’t as if they had too much money and didn’t know where to spend it, so they were walking around showering their surroundings with cash.
No, a skill was basically the strength a Hunter possessed, and that strength was directly linked to said Hunter’s survival.
‘Even then, seeing that corpse once is much more beneficial than getting his hands on a Rune Stone, is that it….?’
The thoughts forming inside the director’s head was then articulated into words by his deputy.
“It seems likely that it’s related somehow to Seong Hunter-nim’s ability.”
The Hunter Bureau proudly boasted the best information-gathering network of any organisation on Earth. So, rather obviously, they had gathered quite a hefty amount of info on Jin-Woo.
And that was the reason why they could leverage both Madam Selner’s ability and now, even Kamish’s Rune Stone. That was why they thought that….
“Wasn’t his ability only applicable to monsters he killed himself?”
After he killed ant monsters, ant soldiers were added to his arsenal, and after he hunted down the Giant-type monsters, Giant soldiers made their appearance next.
The more battles he fought, the stronger Hunter Seong Jin-Woo would become. That was precisely the reason why the Hunter Bureau wished to make Jin-Woo an American Hunter at any cost.
However – what if he could create summons out of corpses of monsters that had died a long time ago, and more importantly, the ones he didn’t even kill in the first place?
“Oh, my god….”
The deputy director’s eyes grew extremely large.
“He’s planning to make Kamish into one of his summons!”
His voice trembled uncontrollably.
That man was thinking of turning the worst calamity humanity had faced into his summoned creature. No wonder he couldn’t care any less about a Rune Stone.
The director resolutely shook his head.
“That cannot be allowed. We simply can’t let one individual wield that much power.”
“But, sir, if we refuse to accept his demand this time, it’d become far harder to maintain an amicable relationship with him moving forward.”
Jin-Woo being in the Hunter Bureau’s HQ to wait for an answer easily showed how high his expectation was.
It was simple logic, really – if one refused the other’s request because one couldn’t trust the other party, then the relationship of trust would break down completely.
The director’s forehead creased up greatly as he fell into deep contemplation.
If their guesses were correct and Hunter Seong Jin-Woo did really make Kamish into one of his summons, then his powers would become impossible to control for any one nation or organisation.
His summons revived right away even after getting destroyed, didn’t they? What if Kamish possessing the infinite regenerative power appeared as an enemy?
Indeed, the associated risk was simply too heavy for a chance to maintain a good relationship with a lone Hunter. The director asked one more question before he could make his decision.
“We have Thomas Andre, a Special Authority-rank Hunter, as well as nearly fifty rank S Hunters recruited from various parts of the globe. Is there really a reason why we should continue pursuing Seong Jin-Woo?”
The deputy hesitated for a little bit before making up his mind. He had been delaying making a report because its content was not verified yet, but he decided to bring it up anyway.
“There is a good chance that Seong Jin-Woo is a brand new Special Authority-rank Hunter. Sir.”
“What was that?”
The director shot up from his seat.
“Agent White made a report about a week ago. Hunter Seong Jin-Woo can use psychokinesis.”
With the sole exception of the lone Healer-type, four of the five Special Authority-rank Hunters all possessed an ability to exert physical change to objects without actual physical interaction.
Many strong people had appeared before and after those five had entered the world stage, but even until now, only four people possessed that power.
The Hunter Bureau was the only one to have figured out that similarity among the Special Authority-rank Hunters, and the organisation had even designated that power as the prerequisite for being labelled as one of the Hunters exercising rights equalling a nation.
But now, Hunter Seong Jin-Woo was discovered to possess that power, too?
A certain thought suddenly fleeted in and out of the director’s brain. He wondered if Hunter Seong Jin-Woo was a gift from God to America, now that she had lost one of her strongest weapon, Christopher Reid.
‘God bless America.’
God’s blessing always seemed to accompany the United States of America.
Soon, the director’s expression changed.
“Do you see him as someone worthy of our trust?”
One’s abilities could be assessed subjectively, but the issue of trust would always be viewed from an objective perspective. The deputy spoke up of his opinion on Jin-Woo, which was formed from what he had witnessed so far.
“Can you imagine what would’ve happened if someone pointed a gun at China’s Liu Zhigeng or Thomas Andre?”
“It’d be horrific.”
Both Thomas Andre and Liu Zhigeng showed no mercy towards their perceived enemies.
That someone in the hypothetical situation would either die or, at a bare minimum, lose the arm holding the gun if luck was on their side.
“However, Hunter Seong Jin-Woo wasn’t like that. He was someone you could still talk to and defuse a tricky situation without violence.”
The director lowered his gaze a little and nodded his head. Meanwhile, the deputy carried on with his explanation.
“Also, let’s not forget about the matter of Japan. Didn’t he solve the dungeon break crisis that no one wanted any part of, all by himself, while not making much of a demand from the Japanese?”
It was a complete contrast to Russian Hunter Yuri Orlov, who demanded an exorbitant sum of ten million dollars a day from the Japanese government.
The director’s decision-making process didn’t last for long.
His lips remained tightly shut in a straight line for a bit longer, but he stood up from his seat.
“I shall guide him personally. This could be a very good opportunity to witness and observe his ability from up close.”
The deputy’s expression brightened up a notch as he also stood up from his seat.
“By the way, where exactly is Kamish’s remains stored, Director?”
Hearing that question, the smirk formed on the director’s lips.
“Have you ever wondered why our HQ has twenty underground floors?”
Jin-Woo climbed aboard the special elevator with the guidance of the Bureau’s director.
“I wished to speak to you in a more relaxing environment, but… I’m sure this is what you want, yes?”
Adam White translated the director’s words into Korean almost at the same time. Jin-Woo nodded his head to say yes.
The elevator carrying the director, his deputy, Adam White, and finally Jin-Woo himself speedily climbed down to the basement floors.
‘To think, they’d build the Hunter Bureau’s HQ on the very spot where Kamish had been killed….’
Should Jin-Woo chalk this one up to America being, well, America?
In any case, he was told that the remains of the Dragon Kamish would be stored intact forever in order to honour and remember the lives of every Hunter who valiantly sacrificed themselves to stop the worst calamity in human history.
The elevator finally opened its door on the 24th basement floor. The staff members waiting for their arrival greeted the four guests to this floor.
They must’ve been soldiers originally, judging from the dignified manner of their salutes. The director nodded his head to greet them back and continued to guide Jin-Woo further in.
“Please, this way.”
Jin-Woo inwardly swallowed his saliva.
When the door with several layers of strict security finally opened up, a chilling breeze brushed past his cheeks.
‘No, that wasn’t a cold breeze.’
Although faint, he could feel magical energy infused in the air. There was no need to even wonder just who this magic energy belonged to.
Ba-thump, ba-thump, ba-thump!
His heart palpitated hard upon realising that his odds were not zero, after all.
Even though it had been eight years, the remains still emitted some amount of magic energy. So, just how incredible would its power be after turning into a Shadow Soldier?
Jin-Woo calmed his heart that was racing fast enough to explode and wordlessly followed after the Director.
Eventually, his steps came to a halt in front of the truly massive open dome brightly illuminated by countless spotlights overhead.
And there it was, the remains of Kamish.
The body was perfectly preserved as it were – exactly as it was from that day it managed to kill several hundreds of elite Hunters before also getting killed off by the five remaining Special Authority-rank Hunters.
The Red Dragon!
Even Jin-Woo momentarily forgot to breathe at the creature’s truly overwhelming presence.
“Actually, all electricity used in the Hunter Bureau’s HQ comes from Kamish’s Magic Crystal.”
The director proudly explained where all the energy used to preserve Kamish’s remains came from.
However, Jin-Woo’s ears were not picking up on any of his words. His gaze was already firmly fixed on one spot.
Seeing that fervent gaze, the Director realised that the moment had come.
“….Hunter-nim. Are you satisfied now?”
“Everyone, back away.”
Jin-Woo spoke to the people behind him, causing the staff members to raise a noisy fuss.
“Director, what is that man trying to do?”
“Kamish’s remains is our country’s national treasure!”
Too bad for them, though, the director loudly reprimanded them right away.
“I already gave my permission!”
In that instant, all unnecessary noises disappeared.
Before they came down here, they had concluded their conversation. Jin-Woo made a promise that nothing would happen to the remains. And just like how the deputy had done, the director decided to trust Jin-Woo’s words, as well.
“Let us observe what will happen next.”
As Jin-Woo had instructed, the crowd retreated to a far away distance. In the meantime, he extended his hands out towards Kamish. And then, he quietly spoke up.
As if it was waiting for that, a message popped up in his view along with a ‘Ting!’
[Shadow extraction has failed.]
[Two more attempts remaining.]
Jin-Woo’s expression didn’t change. He calmly moved on and attempted the extraction for the second time.
He wished to take control of the greatest monster there ever was. His voice, now containing his desire, echoed and reverberated throughout the interior of the underground dome.
When that happened, all the spotlights located on the ceiling suddenly began flickering. And from somewhere unknown, a streak of brilliantly chilling wind blew in.
Screams of a Dragon roared out from some place that was impossible to locate and caused almost everyone present in the dome to cover their ears in a hurry.
The only person who didn’t lose his cool in this chaos was Jin-Woo, and no one else. He quickly spotted Kamish’s shadow spreading wide on the floor.
‘Did I…. Did I succeed?’
It was then – his eyes opened super-wide.
A certain something was slowly rising up from the shadow. The rising shape enveloped in the rising plumes of black smoke was…. undeniably a Dragon.
“Uh?! Uh, uh!!”
“What, what the… What the hell is that?!”
The staff members freaked out and took several steps back. Even the director and his deputy, who already had a pretty good idea on what Jin-Woo’s ability was like, forgot to breathe in that moment.
The Dragon loudly roared into the air before discovering the human by its feet and stopped its bellowing.
[Were you the one summoning me? Oh, King of the Dead, Shadow Sovereign.]
< Chapter 187 > Fin.