Even when the bugs chomped and bit at him with terrifying intensity, Hwang Dong-Seok remained steadfast and waited for the chance to counter-attack.
….To make sure that the aggro wouldn’t deviate from him even if the damage dealers landed a crippling blow to the enemies.
‘This should be enough!’
With that thought, the real hunt had finally begun. To hunt, the real reason why the Hunters were called Hunters in the first place!
Hwang Dong-Seok roared out.
Along with that short but manly shout, all the accumulated firepower of the team poured out on the marauding insect horde.
The pained screams of the monsters rose up from here, there, and everywhere.
Jin-Woo stood at the back and observed this situation as it unfolded. That was the contractual obligation he had to adhere to for this raid.
He inwardly simulated how he’d fight alone as his eyes continued to take in the battle happening in front.
Jin-Woo had to suppress his urges to rush out there several times already. He could see so many open gaps within the ranks of the monsters. And he also spotted the Hunters missing those gaps and continue to commit simple errors.
So, how could he not feel frustrated when he was not allowed to do anything and simply had to stand around?
Even then, the damage to Hwang Dong-Seok’s team proved to be surprisingly non-existent. It was all because their teamwork was rather excellent.
It seemed that the relaxed demeanour of Hwang Dong-Seok before the raid began was not just for a show, after all.
“Jin-Seok-ah! 11 o’clock!”
“Hyung, they are coming from your right, too!”
“Joon-Tae, Seok-Min, Gyu-Hwan!! Take care of the right!”
“Cheol-Jin, your wrist’s swollen up. Retreat to the rear.”
“Hwang hyung, this ain’t much to fret about.”
“You wanna go back only after sweeping clean the entrance? We don’t know how long this raid will take, so stop being hasty from the get-go. Control your pace, got that?”
Perhaps because they’ve been working together for so long, they were able to communicate quite smoothly. Being able to communicate quickly like this would inevitably result in an excellent teamwork as well.
It was a world apart from the ragtag bunch of Hunters brought together by the Association.
‘What’s more surprising is that this kid turns out to be pretty handy, too.’
Jin-Woo’s gaze shifted over to Yu Jin-Ho next.
When a monster bit into his shield, he kicked it away and swung his sword quickly at it. The expensive sword easily separated the monster’s head from its body.
For a newbie rank D Hunter, he was defending himself admirably well.
‘His kick-a*s gear is filling up the hole left behind by his lack of skills and experience, huh.’
Indeed, it was not for nothing that pretty much all Hunters struggled hard to get themselves good equipment.
When their gazes briefly met, Yu Jin-Ho quickly raised his thumb up.
Because of his expressions that looked as if he was desperately pleading for a positive response, Jin-Woo was left with no choice but to reciprocate the same gesture as well.
Looking rather satisfied now, Yu Jin-Woo turned around.
Whatever the case may have been, the end of the battle was drawing nearer. Once the coast was more or less clear, Hwang Dong-Seok issued another order to his dongsaengs.
“Don’t forget the magic crystals! We split them exactly nine ways!”
“This is my favourite part of the raid.”
Hwang Dong-Seok confirmed his giggling dongsaengs collecting the loot, and walked closer to Jin-Woo.
“Aigoo, we survived all thanks to you.”
“Well, you were the first one to alert us about them monsters coming up from above, weren’t you? How did you know, though?”
“It was…. a gut feeling.”
Jin-Woo came up with a half-cooked story on the spot.
Quite obviously, he couldn’t come out and say that his Perception Stat was high, now could he?
“Oh, really? A gut feeling, huh…. Well, we got lucky today. I don’t even want to imagine what might have happened if we didn’t discover them in time… whew-woo.”
Hwang Dong-Seok patted his chest while speaking up.
It was then.
One of the Hunters rummaging through the carcass of the insect gestured at Hwang Dong-Seok to come closer.
“Hwang hyung, please come over here for a sec.”
The dongsaengs had all gathered in one spot. So, Hwang Dong-Seok went there to join them as well.
“Something’s a bit off about these crawlies.”
The Hunters parted ways when Hwang Dong-Seok arrived, allowing the bearded man to squat down and take a look at the surroundings. He couldn’t spot anything out of the ordinary, though. No matter where he looked, all he could see was the dead insects.
“What’s off about these?”
Hwang Dong-Seok tilted his head.
One of the dongsaengs pointed at the leg of the insect monster closest to him.
“I’m pretty sure that wound didn’t come from us.”
Hwang Dong-Seok’s expression crumpled slightly. He took a closer look before raising his voice.
“Looks like…. something took a big bite out of it, doesn’t it?”
“Right? That’s not the only one with wounds like that, you see. Looky here. This one, that one over there, and over there, too. Looks like that one’s missing a pair of wings as well. Could these creepy crawlies have been beaten down already before fighting us?”
Hwang Dong-Seok’s expression hardened even more.
Now he realised why the battle went off so smoothly when compared to the number of the monsters they had to fight.
“Could it be that…. these things were fighting against something else?”
Although it had been for the briefest of all brief moments, Jin-Woo still sensed the gazes of the several members of this team landing on him.
Their eyes shifted away as soon as Jin-Woo displayed a hint of sensing them. With this, he was certain now.
‘As I thought….’
His initial suspicions proved to be correct.
Seeing that their teamwork was so good, they must’ve been fighting together for a long, long time already. And without anyone dying, too.
However, would such a thing be possible without a Healer backing them up?
No matter how good Hunters were, they were still humans at the end of the day. Inevitably, they would slip up sooner or later. Well, only a short while ago, didn’t their formation nearly break apart from the attacks of the bugs?
A bigger picture finally formed inside Jin-Woo’s head and a subtle smile formed on his lips.
‘Maybe…. I can use them to my advantage.’
As long as they acted within his calculations, that was.
Hwang Dong-Seok smiled and stood back up.
“Well, now. Why don’t we go in a little bit deeper? We might be able to clear this dungeon rather quickly if this keeps up.”
Hwang Dong-Seok deliberately spoke up with a loud voice.
He didn’t do that for the sake of his dongsaengs. Well, the original members of the team were already surrounding him, to begin with.
In the meantime, Yu Jin-Ho smiled brightly and approached closer to Jin-Woo.
“Hyung, did you see it? You saw it, right? With this, I kicked some serious monster a*s today, didn’t I?”
Yu Jin-Ho swung the sword around in the air. Seeing this, Jin-Woo quietly asked him.
“Hey, that sword and the shield, they are really expensive, right?”
“Pardon? Ahh, when I told my dad that I’d be participating in my first raid, he got them for me.”
“Well, in that case, I think you should keep your wits about you, too.”
Jin-Woo lightly patted Yu Jin-Ho on his shoulder and followed after the other Hunters walking deeper inside the dungeon.
“What is he talking about now, out of the blue?”
Yu Jin-Ho tilted his head in confusion before chasing after the departing group.
The cave seemed to go on forever. However, bizarrely enough. they hadn’t come across a single monster as of yet.
Since the dungeon was shaped like a long cavern, there was no way that they’d miss each other, too.
“Could it be that the crawlies at the entrance were everything?”
“Eii, no way.”
“Now that would be really strange.”
“Still, there should be a boss at the end, right?”
“Without one, why would a Gate remain open, then?”
The opinions of the Hunters were shared among themselves as they roam the expansive but empty interior of this big dungeon.
Hwang Dong-Seok in the lead suddenly stopped walking. He stopped so abruptly that people behind him ran into his back.
The Hunter whose nose had slammed into the head of the guy in front asked with a sullen expression.
“Ouch, what the heck…. Hwang hyung, what is it?”
“Gyu-Hwan-ah. I need a light over there.”
Joh Gyu-Hwan controlled the ball of light floating up in the air and redirected it further up ahead, exactly where Hwang Dong-Seok had been pointing at.
All the Hunters spat out low groans.
The torn wings, legs, torsos, and even heads of the bugs – remains of the various dead bugs were strewn about everywhere as far as the light shone. The further into the cave the light got to, the greater the amount of the remains they could see. And also, a huge chamber located at the end of it all.
“That’s the boss’s room.”
Someone muttered out softly. Hwang Dong-Seok nodded his head.
“Everyone, get your equipment ready.”
The Hunters quickly armed themselves. Nervousness was evident on the expressions of everyone present.
With Hwang Dong-Seok leading them in, the rest of the Hunters cautiously and silently entered the boss’s ‘room’. However, their silence only lasted for a few seconds afterwards.
The Hunter with a red nose cried out. He was none other than the guy whose nose slammed into someone’s back of the head.
Originally, it was forbidden to shout out too loudly inside a dungeon. Because there was a possibility that a monster they didn’t have to fight might hear the noise and run towards where the Hunters were.
However, none of the others scolded the red-nose for his mistake.
“How much could all of these be?”
“It is a real jackpot, innit?”
Everyone was way too busy gasping out in admiration and happiness, that was why.
“Wait a second.”
When Joh Gyu-Hwan fixed the beam of light high up in the middle of the air, the situation within the room became clear for all to see – as well as the jewel-like stones jutting out from one of the walls of the cave.
“They are mana stones!”
“The entire wall is made up of them!”
These mana stones reflected the light attractively and caused the eyes of the Hunters to sparkle brightly in greed as well.
They were one of the treasures that could be found inside dungeons.
Although each stone possessed a lower amount of magic energy compared to a magic crystal extracted from a monster, they almost always were found in large quantity, so if one were able to mine them, one could earn a substantial profit.
Besides, the mana stone deposit they had discovered was incredibly large. The entire wall of the huge cave was actually filled up with these stones.
“Let’s do a quick calculation.”
A Hunter with a mathematical brain began moving his fingers in a hurry.
“If we can mine them all, we could be earning as much as ₩1,000,000,000. Even if we split nine ways, we’re looking at a payout of over ₩100,000,000 per head.”
Smiles formed on the faces of the Hunters.
Yu Jin-Ho had been staying at the back until then, and when he heard those words, he began poking Jin-Woo’s side with his elbow.
“Hyung, show me your copy of the contract.”
“Just trust me on this one. I’m pretty knowledgeable when it comes to law, you see.”
Jin-Woo shrugged his shoulders once and handed over the contract as requested. Yu Jin-Ho walked over to Hwang Dong-Seok while carrying that.
“Excuse me, seniors? I wanna ask you about something.”
The eyes of the celebrating Hunters immediately focused on Yu Jin-Ho next. Yu Jin-Ho flapped open Jin-Woo’s contract and showed it to them.
“Mister leader, this is Jin-Woo hyung’s contract. As you can see, there is no clause about splitting the treasure beside the magic crystals earned from the hunting itself.”
Everyone there caught on to what Yu Jin-Ho was trying to say.
– It’s customary to share the treasures or other rare items found in a dungeon equally among all the participants of the raid. The splitting of the profit, in this case, is different from monopolising the magic crystals of the monsters one hunted themselves.
In other words, the mana stones had to be split ten ways, not nine.
The light within the Hunters’ eyes changed greatly, but Hwang Dong-Seok simply smiled and took a step forward.
“Of course, we’ll be sharing them equally. I know the rules well. We still have some things to take care of before that, though.”
Hwang Dong-Seok raised his index finger and pointed to his front.
Yu Jin-Ho grandly flinched from that. He thought that he was the one being pointed at, actually.
He shuddered slightly and turned his head around to take a look, and finally spotted a spider as huge as a house quietly squatting way over there.
Yu Jin-Ho began taking hurried steps backwards and covered his mouth after seeing the spider’s appearance. As if it was fast asleep, the huge spider didn’t even budge an inch from the spot.
Around the creature, there were empty shells of the dead insects piled up as high as a mountain.
A fair few of them were ‘half-eaten’, and there were bodily fluids mixed in among them as well, basically resembling a trash pit full of food waste.
“That’s the boss, huh.”
“Did that thing eat the bugs inside the dungeon?”
“Well, it sure did eat a lot, didn’t it?”
Hunters glared at the spider and passed their opinions one at the time.
Hwang Dong-Seok called the others to gather around. Jin-Woo and Yu Jin-Ho, too, stood in front of Hwang Dong-Seok as well.
“As you all know very well, as soon as the boss is killed, the Gate will start closing up. So, before we kill the spider, let’s mine the mana stones first.”
Everyone nodded their heads.
“Cheol-Jin-ah, did you bring along the equipment for the job?”
The man named Lee Cheol-Jin shook his head.
“No. Who knew we’d find mana stones inside a C-ranked dungeon? All the mining equipment is back in the van.”
“Oh, come on now, dude…. Didn’t this hyung always tell you to keep it around just in case?”
“My bad, my bad. I’m really sorry about this.”
Lee Cheol-Jin grinned brightly and began apologising to Hwang Dong-Seok, the rest of his teammates, and even to Jin-Woo.
Hwang Dong-Seok spoke up while scratching the back of his head.
“Aigoo. What a bother this has become. In that case, why don’t you two stay here and wait? We’ll go outside and fetch the equipment in the meantime.”
< Chapter 19 > Fin.