I Alone Level-Up
When the Hunters tried to leave all at the same time, Yu Jin-Ho formed a confused expression and quickly asked them.
“Are you telling me and Jin-Woo hyung to remain in the boss room?”
Hwang Dong-Seok smiled with his eyes and replied.
“The b*stard is yet to wake up even though we’ve been talking loudly for a while now. So, I’m sure nothing’s going to happen here. Well, there are some things I wanna speak to my boys, too, so we’ll take a short smoke break as well. But, don’t worry, it won’t take long.”
Jin-Woo listened to Hwang Dong-Seok’s rather detailed explanations and smirked inwardly.
‘You’ve finally revealed your true colours, huh. But all of you are leaving at the same time? Aren’t you fools taking us way too lightly?’
They were looking down on him because of his low rank, of course.
As Jin-Woo expected him to, Hwang Dong-Seok finally began to move. It was slightly different from the youth’s expectation, though.
It had been four years since he became a Hunter. During that time, he had met many Hunters. One of them was an ahjussi named Mister Oh.
He had retired from the life of a freelancer, but still showed up now and then to help out with the Association’s work.
“Be careful of geckos.”
Mister Oh used to say that rather often.
When one participated in raids, one would inevitably encounter a dangerous situation.
When such an event happened, some crooked, immoral Hunters would try to sacrifice someone who had been fighting alongside them until then, with some flimsy pretext of them not being in the same team, to begin with, or that the other party was simply weaker than they were.
All just to buy themselves some time for their safe escape.
It was exactly like a gecko cutting off its own tail and running away.
‘Cutting its tail off….’
Mister Oh took to calling those types of Hunters ‘geckos’, and such actions as cutting off one’s tail.
The regulation stated that in order to enter a Gate ranked C, the minimum number of participants had to be ten. Yet, Hwang Dong-Seok’s team only had eight members.
“I’m sure you already know that it’s not easy to hire a Healer if you’re running your own assault party. Well, we’ve been doing things this way until now, so it’ll be fine.”
Indeed, he stuck to only eight members, even though his team had entered countless Gates ranked C – so much so that he could say ‘this way until now’.
‘They obviously have no reason to fill the last two spots.’
They needed a tail that they could cut off at any given moment, after all. There was a reason why they were willing to accept anyone whether it was a Hunter ranked E or a newbie.
Hwang Dong-Seok had decided to abandon both Seong Jin-Woo and Yu Jin-Ho for a slightly different reason than usual.
‘But, it’s a good thing for me.’
Jin-Woo had figured out Hwang Dong-Seok’s intentions pretty early on, but chose to say nothing. This was what he wanted, actually.
However, unlike Jin-Woo who was full of confidence, Yu Jin-Ho was quite different as he only started his work as a Hunter today.
Yu Jin-Ho spoke with a voice full of worries.
“No, wait a minute. That is just…. Why don’t we leave together?”
It was then, Jin-Woo spotted one of the Hunters at the back raise his hand towards his hips. So, he placed his hand on Yu Jin-Ho’s shoulder and spoke.
“It’ll be fine. We’ll guard this place.”
The Hunter’s hand heading towards his waist stopped.
Yu Jin-Ho was quite surprised and confused, but Jin-Woo simply kept his mouth shut and lightly shook his head. Sure, the kid was noisy and got on his nerves just a tad, but Jin-Woo wasn’t planning to let him die here.
After all, didn’t he try to get the fair share for Jin-Woo just now, although that would have ultimately put him in a disadvantageous position?
Hwang Dong-Seok formed a smile as he looked at the two youths.
“Our van isn’t parked too far, so it shouldn’t take long. Well, then.”
Hwang Dong-Seok and his lackeys quickly escaped from the boss room. And their footsteps rapidly got further and further away.
Yu Jin-Ho turned around and demanded answers from Jin-Woo.
“How could you say those things, hyung? What if that thing wakes up?”
Without a doubt, he was quite scared of that spider.
‘Looks like this kid hasn’t grasped the situation quite yet.’
Jin-Woo inwardly clicked his tongue. It was too much of a bother to explain everything, too. Instead of an answer, he began loosening his body once more.
Around the same time, Hwang Dong-Seok turned around towards the boss room. The Hunters following him also came to a stop. They had arrived at a far-enough spot from the boss room now. At this sort of distance, there was no danger of being overheard.
Hwang Dong-Seok smiled deeply and signalled to Joh Gyu-Hwan next to him with his chin.
“Hey, Gyu-Hwan-ah? Block up the entrance to the boss room.”
“Should I blow it up?”
“That’s right. But, don’t block it up completely, okay? We gotta go in there a bit later, too.
Lee Cheol-Jin then asked him.
“Hwang hyung, is there a reason to beat around the bush like this? Why don’t we just kill them now and get started right away?”
Hwang Dong-Seok’s expression crumpled and glared at the other guy. There was no need for him to maintain the fake smile now. At least that was one less thing to worry about.
Lee Cheol-Jin averted his gaze in fear. Hwang Dong-Seok tsk, tsked.
“What if we start fighting there and the spider wakes up? How will you mine those mana stones and carry them out then?”
Joh Gyu-Hwan butted in.
“Hwang hyung, since we are on that subject…. Wouldn’t that thing wake up while we try to mine the mana stones? If so, we might end up losing big, you know.”
That creature was strong enough to prey on those already-scary insect-type monsters. If the team got sneak attacked in the middle of the mining operation, the losses they incur would be enormous.
“That is why….”
Hwang Dong-Seok smirked deeply.
“We’re trying to offer those two up as food, aren’t we?”
Joh Gyu-Hwan nodded his head as if he had finally understood the plan.
Right now, no one knew just when the spider would wake up. It could be 10 hours from now, maybe one hour, or it could be a minute later. That was why they had to wake the spider up now and feed it.
No matter how dull that monster happened to be, it’d still wake up from the impact strong enough to cause the entrance to cave in.
Hwang Dong-Seok continued on.
“We mine the mana stones when the spider goes back to sleep with a full belly.”
The permit they got from the Association would last for five days. They still had over four and a half days of leeway, in other words.
They would wait and if the spider didn’t go back to sleep, they would simply dispose of it and mine as much as they could before the Gate closed shut.
They wouldn’t be able to mine everything within the hour, but with Seong Jin-Woo and Yu Jin-Ho no longer in the picture, they should be able to avoid losing out too much.
Wouldn’t that be far more preferable than working under the constant fear? Their safety was the number one priority, after all.
‘Of course, that’s the worst possible scenario….’
If they were lucky, the profit would be divided eight ways, they mine all the mana stones, and even monopolise the spider, too. As an added bonus, those expensive-looking equipment on Yu Jin-Ho’s body would become theirs, too!
‘That sword and the shield, they have to be worth at least a few hundred million Won.’
They had nothing to lose from this transaction at all.
The corners of Hwang Dong-Seok’s lips arched up.
“Block up the entrance, so we can go and take a smoke break. Quick.”
Joh Gyu-Hwan replied as a blinding light began to gather on the tip of his fingers.
Yu Jin-Ho’s gaze was fixed on the sleeping spider. Even his breathing was cautious. He then asked, his expression rigid with fear.
“That spider b*stard, it’s not gonna suddenly wake up on us, right?”
Jin-Woo remained economical with his words. He had more or less figured out what would happen next, but if he said out aloud his thoughts in full, then Yu Jin-Ho might faint from fear.
‘Now that I think about it….’
Those words were the first to come out from Yu Jin-Ho’s mouth in the past five minutes or so. It seemed that he was really scared right now. And he used to be so talkative, too.
Then, ‘it’ happened.
With a loud explosion, the entrance of the boss room suddenly caved in.
“Uh, uh?! Huh!! Ahhh!!”
Yu Jin-Ho hurriedly ran towards the entrance.
Unfortunately for him, the entrance was completely blocked up by the fallen rocks. He pushed on with all his might, but not a single stone budged.
Jin-Woo slowly walked over there in the meantime.
“Groan~! Hyung, help me push this!”
Yu Jin-Ho was still giving his all to push the blockade of stones away.
‘He said his name was Joh Gyu-Hwan, huh.’
Before the explosion, there was a flash of light. A Sorcerer ranked C that controlled ‘light’. This was no doubt that b*stard’s handiwork.
Jin-Woo placed his hand on the fallen rocks.
‘If I want to, I can get out of here at any time.’
He could sense the weight of the stones through his hands. They weren’t as heavy as they looked. When he very slightly pushed, he felt the wall tremble gently. Of course, he wasn’t thinking of leaving at all, anyways.
Yu Jin-Ho stopped pushing at the stones and cried out as if he had finally figured out the truth. His face now reddened in fury, Yu Jin-Ho shifted his gaze over to Jin-Woo.
“Those sons of b*tches are trying to kill us!! They don’t want to share the mana stones, so they blocked the exit and let the spider devour us!”
‘Wow, you figured that out so quickly, Sherlock.’
Jin-Woo was rolling his eyes in his head, but still played along for the time being.
“Looks that way. This is troublesome.”
Suddenly, Yu Jin-Ho’s reddened complexion paled in an instant. Would that be the look of someone whose blood had gone cold?
No need to ask him what happened, there – the silhouette of the giant monster was oh-so-clearly reflected in Yu Jin-Ho’s eyes.
Jin-Woo turned around.
The spider’s sleep had been interrupted by that loud explosion and it was slowly raising its massive body up.
The body the size of a house.
Dozens upon dozens of eyes.
That horrifying mouth.
Eight long, long legs.
Now that it had begun moving for real, it looked far more terrifying than when it was actually in a deep slumber.
Yu Jin-Ho leaked out a fearful gasp. His body had frozen stiff like a statue.
On the other hand, Jin-Woo kept his sight firmly locked on the spider as he calmly summoned the ‘Poison Fang of Kasaka’ from his Inventory.
This was the perfect opportunity to test out his enhanced stats.
The Poison Fang of Kasaka appeared in his right hand….
….As if it had always been there.
Jin-Woo gripped the dagger’s hilt tightly. The reason why a Hunter was called a Hunter! From this moment on was when the true hunt would begin.
“H-hang on a second, hyung!!”
However, Yu Jin-Ho swiftly snatched up Jin-Woo’s sleeve just as the latter took a couple of steps towards the spider.
“Wha, what are you trying to do?!”
Yu Jin-Ho’s hands were shaking pretty bad. Jin-Woo used his left thumb to point over his shoulder.
“Obviously, I’m going to hunt that.”
Jin-Woo had been following around Hwang Dong-Seok’s group until now for that purpose.
….In order to monopolise the remaining monsters in the dungeon as soon as Hwang Dong-Seok cut the tail and ran away. This was a splendid opportunity to swallow whole all the experience points and magic crystals.
‘Well, only if the boss hadn’t devoured every monster in this dungeon, that is.’
If that hadn’t been the case, then he would’ve profited a lot more, though. What a missed opportunity that was.
However, Yu Jin-Ho’s facial expression clearly displayed his disbelief, as he had no idea about Jin-Woo’s special constitution.
‘What is this hyung rambling on about?!’
There was something he’d heard from someone somewhere before.
A person would stop thinking rationally the moment he or she received a mental shock beyond their capability to deal with.
The Hunter ranked E standing right in front said that he’d hunt the boss of a C-rank dungeon. If this was not an act of irrationality, that what else could it be?
Yu Jin-Ho asked again, this time looking rather dumbfounded.
“Hyung, you want to hunt that thing? For real?”
Jin-Woo scratched the top of his head, looking somewhat troubled, before replying back with a question of his own.
“What, you want to hunt it, then?”
Part 10. ‘Give and Take’
Jin-Woo turned around even before Yu Jin-Ho had the chance to respond. There was no need to listen to his reply, anyway.
Even now, Yu Jin-Ho was barely managing to stand up straight as his legs continued to shudder.
From the get-go, he didn’t expect anything from Yu Jin-Ho. Rather, he was relieved that the kid didn’t follow after him while saying he’d lend his aid or some such.
‘He’ll just get in my way, anyway.’
Jin-Woo slowly approached the spider.
The spider must’ve discovered the humans’ presence as well, as it was changing its direction towards them while shuffling on its eight legs.
It was coming closer.
As if it found the never-before-seen prey rather strange, the spider didn’t immediately rush out. Using its thick and long legs to push down on the ground, it inched closer and closer.
As that giant monster slowly filled up his entire view, Jin-Woo’s breathing became heavy. His heart began thumping faster and faster, too.
Jin-Woo controlled his wayward breathing and did his absolute best to calm himself down. He had to remain focused and steady here.
He recalled the exact feelings he felt when he stood at the end of the second floor of the Hapjeong station’s instant dungeon.
He then recalled seeing the Poison-Fanged Blue Kasaka for the first time.
However, this giant spider in front of him didn’t emit as much pressure as that snake did. Meaning, he could definitely do this.
From the get-go, if he thought that this boss was impossible to clear alone, he wouldn’t even have stayed here.
They had gotten close enough that his face was now reflecting rather clearly on those smooth, jet-black eyes of the spider.
Jin-Woo’s own eyes narrowed to a slit.
< Chapter 20 > Fin.