I Alone Level-Up

Chapter 189

Jin-Woo now stood on top of a skyscraper that afforded him a view of the entire city. His eyesight, enhanced to extreme heights through his Perception Stat, began scanning the city from the streets right below the skyscraper all the way to the residential homes located in the far-off distance.

While doing that, his hearing was focused on the noises his Shadow Soldiers picked up.

[Hey, Smith! How have you been?]

[Dear customer, our store doesn’t accept returns based on a customer’s sudden change of mind….]

[C’mon, man. Why didn’t you come to the party last night?]

Pretty much all of them were useless idle talks.

Aside from those, the horns of passing cars, noises from TV speakers, cats meowing, splashes of water from bathrooms, etc. – all sorts of sounds made by a living city entered Jin-Woo’s ears.

Sweat drops formed on his forehead as he utilised his five senses, plus the sixth one to detect magic energy, to their fullest extent.

‘I wouldn’t be going through this much trouble if I just left the Shadow Soldier in Jin-Ho’s shadow….’

Didn’t someone say this before? It was already too late the moment you start regretting it.

The ant soldier he had inserted in Yu Jin-Ho’s shadow just in case had been used to get to Chairman Yu Myung-Han’s hospital room. Jin-Woo became really busy after that, and since he was planning to accompany the kid during their trip to the US, he had forgotten about inserting a replacement.

And the end result from all of that is him working his a*s off like this.

‘Kamish’s shadow is gone, and Jin-Ho’s whereabouts are unknown….’

Veins popped up one at a time on Jin-Woo’s forehead. His already gloomy mood had now hit rock bottom and was about to convert into a storm cloud.

His knife-like glare, sharp enough to almost shoot bolts of lightning, darted this way and that as if he didn’t want to miss a single movement happening down below.

Unfortunately, never mind Yu Jin-Ho, it proved very difficult to find an Asian youth that resembled him in this city.

‘Could it be…. they are not in the city at all?’

To Jin-Woo, Yu Jin-Ho might be a cute little brother, but the truth was, the kid was still a melee-type rank D Hunter. Any ol’ group of regular people trying to jump him wouldn’t work at all.

If the car supposedly heading for the Hunter Bureau’s HQ suddenly drove out of the city limits, Yu Jin-Ho would have realised something was amiss and started resisting his kidnappers.

The sole problem was…

‘The b*stard kidnapping Jin-Ho was a rank S Hunter.’

Jin-Woo immediately widened the scope of his shadows’ movements.

‘His name was Hwang Dong-Su, wasn’t it?’

Jin-Woo didn’t know why that man faked his name and took Yu Jin-Ho away. However, this was about ‘Give and Take’. He was determined to ask for suitable compensation for provoking him like this.

And, if something untoward happened to Jin-Ho for some reason…

A dangerous gleam flashed eerily within Jin-Woo’s eyes.

Not too long after, the Shadow Soldiers expanding their search range sent in countless bits of information that encompassed the entirety of the city.

***

In the end, Hwang Dong-Su really went for it and caused an incident.

An emergency situation descended on the Scavenger Guild once that fact was revealed to its members. Their opponent this time was Seong Jin-Woo.

Just one misstep and Hwang Dong-Su’s life could be forfeited.

He was one of the top aces within the Scavenger Guild and should be considered as one of the core pillars of its combat force, too.

Thomas Andre couldn’t afford to lose someone like that. But all he could do for the time being was to sit in his office and anxiously wait for any news.

“Anything new?”

His subordinate shook his head with a darkened complexion.

“No, sir.”

The frowns on Thomas Andre’s forehead grew deeper by a level.

Tracking Hwang Dong-Su through his phone was impossible since he had switched the device off. The places he frequented had been searched thoroughly by the Guild’s members, but unfortunately, nothing worthy of note had been uncovered so far. It seemed that Mister Hwang had been planning for this day for quite some time.

‘Isn’t he scared of dying?’

No, Mister Hwang was also a rank S Hunter. He should be aware of the differences in strengths between himself and Seong Jin-Woo, at the bare minimum.

Even then, he still went ahead and did something so monumentally stupid. Because he probably had something he could place his bets on.

‘He knows that I’ll step up on his behalf.’

Well, that fool wasn’t wrong with his calculation. Regardless of whether that man would cause another incident in the future or not, he’d still remain as Scavenger Guild’s asset until the contract duration expired.

The Guild saw potential in Hwang Dong-Su’s skills and had invested a ton of money on him. He bravely started this crap with no care for the aftermath because he knew that Thomas Andre would never willingly give up on his assets.

‘….Did I treat my Hunters too nicely until now?’

Thomas Andre repeatedly told himself to strictly discipline his underlings as soon as this issue had been sorted out so they wouldn’t cause another problem like this one in the future.

The Guild employees in the near vicinity had to stay extra cautious, even with their breathing, as Thomas Andre’s upset mood continued to stew quietly.

It was then, his phone suddenly began ringing. Thomas Andre had been waiting too anxiously for news, regardless of what nature it took, and hurriedly yanked the receiver up.

– “We might be able to track down Mister Hwang’s location, sir.”

The voice on the line belonged to Laura. Thomas Andre shot up from his chair.

“How?”

She knew what he was feeling right now, so Laura didn’t pause for a second before she quickly carried on with her explanation.

– “I asked for assistance from the Hunter Bureau and was able to analyse Mister Hwang’s movement patterns for the last three months. I found out that there were a total of three times when he broke away from his usual area of activity and moved to an unknown location.”

‘Very good!’

Thomas Andre nodded his head. Rather unexpectedly, they were able to find a clue sooner than he thought.

“Send everyone to that location. I’ll be on my way there, as well.”

– “Understood, sir.”

Thomas Andre was about to end the call there but hesitated slightly, before raising the receiver up again.

“By the way… how did you convince the old codgers in the Hunter Bureau, Laura?”

The Hunter Bureau had a habit of recording the locations and movement patterns of all the Hunters via GPS attached to the Hunter-issue smartphones.

Of course, they were not an organisation known for giving away their information willy-nilly. Even if it was the Scavenger Guild making the request, the approval process should take several hours at a bare minimum. But to think, they spat out Hwang Dong-Su’s records, just like that.

This didn’t sound logical at all. Thomas Andre couldn’t help but get curious about the methods Laura employed here to convince them.

However, her answer was rather simple in nature.

– “I only told them that if we don’t locate Hunter Hwang Dong-Su as quickly as possible, then there’s a chance that Mister Seong Jin-Woo and you, Master, might collide against each other.”

“Every single Guild member has begun moving, sir!”

Adam White, currently observing the behaviour of the Scavenger Guild, cried out in an urgent voice at his smartphone. The deputy director on the other side of the line quickly asked back.

– “All 100 of them?!”

“I just found out that the raid they were getting ready for has been cancelled as well, sir. All of their Hunters are being mobilised to go somewhere.”

– “What on earth…. Just what is going on here?”

“…”

Adam White couldn’t easily open his mouth here.

A rank S Hunter from the Scavenger Guild used Hunter Seong Jin-Woo’s name and kidnapped Yu Jin-Ho. And then, both Seong Jin-Woo and the Scavenger Guild had begun mobilising.

This couldn’t have been something simple at all.

Not to mention, with the entirety of the Scavenger Guild being mobilised like that, it could only mean that Thomas Andre was behind the move. The ominous foreboding crept up on Adam White and he quickly wiped the sweat off his face.

Sure enough – Adam froze up on the spot after discovering Thomas Andre walk out of the Guild building’s entrance.

‘Heok….’

The American Hunter took a sweeping look around once before climbing into a waiting car. The vehicle then hurriedly set off to an unknown destination.

And it just so happened to be in the same direction where the Hunters of the Scavenger Guild had disappeared to, as well. Adam White did his best to calm his trembling voice and described what he saw to the deputy director.

“S-sir… The Goliath… Thomas Andre has made his move as well. Sir.”

“Is this really alright?”

A man looked at Yu Jin-Ho lying unconscious on the ground and worriedly asked. Hwang Dong-Su to his side nodded his head.

“Look, I’m not gonna do anything bad to him, alright? I just want to ask him about this one thing, that’s all.”

The Guild Master Thomas Andre warned him. He said not to provoke Seong Jin-Woo.

However, Hwang Dong-Su never planned to provoke that man from the get-go, anyway. Why? Because there was one other person beside Seong Jin-Woo that could answer the question burning a hole in his head. That was why.

The question of what happened on that day – the events that took place within the dungeon where his older brother Hwang Dong-Seok, Seong Jin-Woo, and Yu Jin-Ho entered together. Hwang Dong-Su promised Yu Jin-Ho that he’d be freed as soon as he answered that question truthfully.

Unfortunately, Yu Jin-Ho didn’t squeak a word out right until he ended up in such a pathetic, wretched state. The longer Yu Jin-Ho kept his mouth shut, the stronger Hwang Dong-Su’s convictions became, though.

All he wanted to hear was one thing.

[“Seong Jin-Woo killed your brother.”]

If he could just hear that one sentence, he’d no longer have any business with Yu Jin-Ho. But then, with what balls was a punk with a small physique and a naive-looking face keeping his mouth shut against a rank S Hunter? His courage alone was worth praising him for.

‘Of course, his foolhardiness won’t get him off the hook here.’

Hwang Dong-Su lightly kicked the waist of Yu Jin-Ho’s heavily-wounded-all-over body.

“Oii. Wake up.”

Would this be the fourth time the kid fainted and was woken back up again? Hwang Dong-Su’s irritation grew somewhat at Yu Jin-Ho’s tenacious endurance and his kick became a little more vicious than before.

“I said, get the hell up!”

Pow!

“Keo-heok!”

Yu Jin-Ho curled up on the floor as he spat out the pooled blood in his mouth. The third man of Hwang Dong-Su’s group began cackling out.

“Still, this kid’s supposed to be a tanker, wasn’t he? He sure can withstand some punishment, can’t he? A regular person would’ve died by now.”

Hwang Dong-Su’s face now reflected no emotion whatsoever as he grabbed the back of Yu Jin-Ho’s head to yank it up.

“Listen here. I don’t want to kill you. You see this guy over here laughing his a*s off? Let me tell you, he’s a Healer with some considerable skill. He’ll bring you back just before you are about to die.”

Yu Jin-Ho’s blurry gaze was directed to the cackling man, and the Hunter grinned brightly and wagged his finger around as if to greet the kid.

Hwang Dong-Su’s viciously moved his hand.

Yu Jin-Ho’s head, still grabbed by that hand, also had to viciously swing to the side. He now could see the dust-filled interior of a decrepit building. Hwang Dong-Su continued on.

“This here is a factory that closed down over five years ago. You can scream all you want, but no one’s gonna hear you.”

After grabbing and fixing Yu Jin-Ho’s head in the place, Hwang Dong-Su brought his own face right up against the kid’s nose. Their locked gazes grew closer and closer.

“Which means, you will suffer from intense pain forever. That is, until you tell me what I want to hear.”

When they got close enough for their noses to touch, Hwang Dong-Su formed a toothy grin.

“So, how about it? Do you feel like talking now?”

Yu Jin-Ho’s busted lips bobbed up and down but his voice was too small and even Hwang Dong-Su couldn’t hear it.

“What did you say?”

“….”

Hwang Dong-Su tilted his head slightly in confusion and brought his ear near the kid. When the ear was only a few millimetres away from his lips, Yu Jin-Ho whispered softly.

“…..F*ck off.”

Hwang Dong-Su’s expression crumpled instantly.

Ka-boom!

He slammed the side of Yu Jin-Ho’s head on the ground and panted like an angry bull.

“Oii! Did you just kill him?”

The Healer’s brows shot up and he quickly checked for Yu Jin-Ho’s pulse.

“Whew-woo.”

After confirming that the kid’s heart was still beating, the Healer spat out a sigh of relief. Still, there was no doubt that this young and weak Hunter’s life would’ve been cut short if Hwang Dong-Su had used a little more of his strength.

“Mister Hwang, be more careful, will ya? I don’t want to become an accomplice to a murderer just because of money, alright?”

“…I’ll be more careful.”

Hwang Dong-Su acknowledged his mistake.

Was it because of the precariousness of the situation? The man who couldn’t hide his worries from the get-go decided to persuade Hwang Dong-Su.

“Let’s just call it a day and move on. Haven’t you found out all you can by now?”

“What are you talking about? We’re only getting started.”

The corners of Hwang Dong-Su’s lips arched to form a sinister smile. His vicious, cruel nature was pretty much the carbon-copy of his older brother.

The man knew he failed to change Hwang Dong-Su’s mind. Still feeling worried and anxious, he continued to scan his surroundings. And it happened at that moment. He discovered something standing over on the other side of the disused factory.

What could it be?

The man’s eyes narrowed to a slit.

And then…

“Uh? Huh, uh??”

He became surprised by his discovery and pointed in that direction. Hwang Dong-Su and the Healer both raised their heads to take a look. There it was, a High Orc kitted out in black armour standing over yonder.

“….An Orc?”

Hwang Dong-Su stood up. The Healer checking Yu Jin-Ho’s condition also got up from the ground.

“Is there a dungeon break happening nearby?”

Hwang Dong-Su shook his head. If that was the case, their surroundings should’ve become a pandemonium by now.

He extended out his sensory perception just in case and searched for other presence in the vicinity, but he couldn’t sense any other monsters at all. This High Orc was all alone.

“Now that’s pretty bizarre.”

That wasn’t the only bizarre thing, though.

The High Orc was actually shivering.

As a matter of fact, its facial expression contained terror. It looked as if the creature was barely holding back tears threatening to burst out at any moment. And all four of its limbs were quivering from pure fright, too.

“Mister Hwang. I think that thing is terrified of you.”

“….I don’t have time to fool around like this.”

White rays of light began coagulating on Hwang Dong-Su’s clenched fist. He didn’t know where this Orc came from, but now that he had discovered it, of course, he wouldn’t let it just walk away.

Hwang Dong-Su strode right up to the Orc and raised his fist so he could blow the monster’s head clean off. Before he could do that, though…

….The heavy voice of a man suddenly called out from somewhere.

– “Exchange.”

< Chapter 189 > Fin.

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