I Alone Level-Up

Chapter 25

Part 11. Arrangement

Three days passed by since the incident of the C-ranked Gate.

Jin-Ah came home early from school as it was Saturday today. As soon as entering the apartment, she began sniffing the air and hurriedly removed her shoes.

“Oppa? What’s going on here? Did you order fried chicken?”

“Yeah, I ordered some takeaway to make sure it’d get here just in time for you.”

“Wow, really?!”

Jin-Woo beckoned her while sitting by the dining table, causing Jin-Ah’s eyes to open wider. She immediately ran towards him.

“Hiya~, what’s going on here? And you’re a serial Scrooge, too. Did something good happen lately?”

“Hey now. Put down your schoolbag first, will you? Why is a girl so hot-headed?

“It’s fine. This bag ain’t that heavy, you know.”

And she was complaining not too long ago about her bag being too heavy and that she didn’t want to carry an umbrella around…. Jin-Woo tsk, tsked, but couldn’t really hide the smile creeping up on his face.

‘Asking me if there was anything good happening lately?’

Of course, there was.

The family’s bank balance had swelled up from 800 thousand Won all the way to ₩180,300,000 earlier today. (TL: Just under $160,000)

180 million was from the sale of the magic crystals, and 500 grand was used for the month’s rent.

Still, 180 million!

Just one raid and he was able to get his hands on an absurd amount of money, totalling 180 million.

He had been one for a while now, but this was the first time he felt like a real Hunter. Well, this was the era where a casual mention of Hunters instantly brought up the images of wealth, so that couldn’t be helped.

Also, the face of the employee at the magic crystal exchange when Jin-Woo went there with his stash was still so vivid in his memories, too.

“D-did you hunt all these monsters?!”

“Things happened, and so, it’s something like that.”

“Holy moly…. How incredible.”

49 C-rank magic crystals.

The initial estimated price for the whole lot was just over 300 million Won.

But who knew that taxation would be so heartless?

“I gotta pay 40% as tax?!”

“Yes. When an individual is selling the crystals, 40% is taken as tax. However, when a Guild is selling them, it’s only 10%.”

“Is there a reason why there’s a reduction in tax for the Guilds?”

“Well, unlike freelancers and their teams, Guilds must cooperate without question when they are ordered to mobilise, you see.”

Indeed, when he searched through his memories, he remembered hearing about both the agents from the Monitoring Division of the Association and the White Tiger Guild coming to the location of the dual dungeon incident.

Because they were receiving special treatments, Guilds had to cooperate with the government and the Association when they asked for help.

The high tax rates caused Jin-Woo to ponder his choices for a little bit.

‘Should I just hold onto the crystals and sell them off after I enter a Guild?’

But, he made up his mind soon afterwards. By the time he entered a Guild and started working for them, the main objects of conquest would be Gates rated A and B. The magic crystals coming out from those Gates would incomparably be more valuable than those from a Gate ranked C.

And right now, he needed every cent he could get his hands.

‘Besides, I can’t just sign on with any ol’ Guild out there just to decrease tax, now can I?’

“Okay, fine. I will sell them.”

*

That’s how he got his hands on 180 million.

Just as Jin-Ah had implied with her question, the chicken-and-beer meal was to celebrate the big earnings sitting pretty in the family bank account right at this moment.

“Thank you for this meal.”

Jin-Ah sneakily reached towards the beer can, but then, Jin-Woo’s finger powerfully flicked her forehead.

“Ouch!!”

“For you, this.”

He then placed a can of cola in front of her.

“Hiiing…. I was only joking, you know…..”

Not minding Jin-Ah and her hands busy rubbing her reddened forehead, Jin-Woo popped the lid open on the refreshingly cold can of beer and poured the contents down his throat.

But then, this happened.

Tti-ring.

Jin-Woo couldn’t help but react nervously when he heard the familiar beep.

‘Why a System message, all of a sudden?’

[Harmful substances have been detected.]

[Effects of ‘Buff: Detox’ will now commence.]

[3, 2, 1…. Detoxification has been completed.]

‘You detoxed harmful substances? Are you talking about alcohol?’

Jin-Woo drank up the remaining beer in the can, and popped open another just to make sure.

Gulp, gulp.

And the exact same messages appeared again.

He had drank up two cans of beer in one go, but he couldn’t feel one hint of drunkenness come over.

Whatever this ‘Buff’ thing was, it was definitely working as intended.

‘What’s this?’

Jin-Woo tilted his head.

He had yet to meet a single Hunter capable of throwing Buffs around. Most of the Hunters possessing such specialised skill sets all worked for large Guilds.

As he was affiliated with the Association, there hadn’t been a single opportunity for him to meet one so far.

‘Even if someone sneaked a Buff on me, surely the System would’ve notified me of it.’

In that case, there could only be two possibilities.

Either he received the Buff while he was unconscious, or got it before the System was active.

Personally, he was more inclined towards the latter.

“Oppa? What’s wrong? Is it indigestion? You should’ve been more careful, you know.”

When Jin-Woo’s expression became serious, Jin-Ah asked him with a worried voice.

“Nah, it’s just that I remembered something pretty urgent, that’s all. Eat without me while I take care of this, okay?”

Jin-Woo headed back into his room. He then began rummaging through every nook and cranny of his memories, trying to figure out if he had missed anything, even if it was small.

‘Ah.’

Suddenly, he recalled something.

‘Every quest has rewards, even penalty quests. But, there was one quest that I never got around to confirming the rewards, no?’

Jin-Woo hurriedly opened the mailbox.

At the time, he had no clue what the System was nor what rewards could mean, so glossed over them, but he definitely remembered reading the message that said he had met the conditions to clear the quest.

His heart began beating faster and faster.

Jin-Woo eventually discovered the messages sitting right at the bottom of the mailbox.

[Congratulations on becoming a ‘Player’.] (read)

Jin-Woo’s voice trembled as he spoke softly.

“Confirm.”

[This System will support the growth of the ‘Player.’]

[Failing to comply with the System’s instructions will result in potential penalties.]

[Your rewards have been delivered.]

As he thought.

There was the mention of rewards.

The voice he heard back inside the underground temple clearly said these words.

[Completion requirements for the ‘Secret Quest: the Courage of the Powerless’ has been met.]

A secret quest or not, it was still a quest, wasn’t it?

However, he hadn’t checked what kind of rewards he had received until now. Back then, he thought that it was all a hallucination, didn’t he?

[….will result in potential penalties.]

[Would you like to confirm your rewards?] (Y/N)

‘Yes.’

[Rewards for the ‘Secret Quest: the Courage of the Powerless’]

The blessings from the Grand Sorcerer, Kandiaru

The Grand Sorcerer Kandiaru has been deeply moved by your courage, and has gifted you with a special spell. When accompanied by the blessings of Kandiaru, you’ll get to enjoy a healthy and fulfilling life every day.

[“Let there be a bright future laying in wait for the challenger.”]

– One-time effect ‘Will to Recover’: All your damaged body parts will be recovered to their original state.

– Continuous effect ‘Good Health and Long Life’: You’ll be immune to all types of diseases, poisonous substances, as well as all forms of status debuffs. During sleep, your recovery rate will increase exponentially.

Only now puzzle pieces fell to their places.

‘That’s why my leg was….’

It was all due to the quest reward that his sliced-off leg had reverted back to how it was before. Same thing for why he couldn’t get drunk from a couple of cans of beer.

‘Hang on. I’m immune to all types of poison, too?’

Jin-Woo’s eyes abruptly shot open real wide.

If that was the case, then could it be….?

Jin-Woo hurriedly extracted a certain item out from his Inventory.

[Item: Poison Sac of Kasaka]

Rarity: A

Type: Medicine

A pouch containing the refined poison of the Kasaka. Can be found very rarely when hunting Kasakas. Drinking this poison will give you strong skin, but the toxicity will permanently damage your muscles.

Effect ‘The Iron Scales of Kasaka’: 20% reduction in physical damage.

Side effect ‘Damaged Muscles’: Strength -35

‘My muscles are supposed to get damaged because of the toxin, but wouldn’t this detox buff resist that?’

There was only one way to find out. Jin-Woo squeezed his eyes shut and drank the liquid contained within the pouch.

Sticky, yucky liquid slid down his throat.

The taste was oily and terrible, but he endured it.

‘And they say what’s good for you usually tastes bitter….’

When he finished drinking all of the poisoned liquid, messages popped up in his view.

[Side effect ‘Damaged Muscles’ has been nullified.]

“Yes!!”

Jin-Woo clenched his fists real tightly.

Still, he couldn’t celebrate just yet so he quickly summoned his Status Window.

[Stats]

Strength: 53

Stamina: 30

Agility: 53

Intelligence: 30

Perception: 36

(Available points to distribute: 0)

Reduction in physical damage: 20%

As he expected, there was no decrease in his Strength Stat.

It still remained as 53 points, and then, he saw the new Stat called ‘Reduction in physical damage’, too

Sure, it might be limited in the category, but it still was a marvellous Stat that reduced all physical damage by 20%.

“Nice!!”

Just as Jin-Woo began celebrating the emergence of this new Stat, Jin-Ah called out to him from the living room.

“Oppa? You know a guy called Yu Jin-Ho? He’s looking for you.”

“No way, he can’t be the same Yu Jin-Ho….”

Jin-Woo quickly went to the living room and snatched the phone’s receiver off his little sister.

“Hello?”

– “Hyung-nim, it’s me. Yu Jin-Ho.”

Really now?

The voice coming from the other side sounded way too familiar.

“….How did you get this number?”

– “There was a person I know working for the Association, you see. You didn’t want to answer your smartphone, so I had no choice but to call you at home like this.”

“Details only.”

– “Ahh! Oops, my bad, hyung-nim. But, it’s not something we can discuss over the phone… May we meet up somewhere so I can tell you in person?”

Jin-Woo tilted his head slightly.

‘He still wants to meet me after going through such an ordeal?’

– “Hyung-nim, I really, really gotta ask you for this favour. Please.”

What a weird kid this guy was.

***

Jin-Woo eventually agreed to spare one hour after Yu Jin-Ho earnestly pleaded with him.

The meeting place was a franchise cafe located not too far from Jin-Woo’s home.

Even though it was a weekday, there were quite a few people inside the cafe, perhaps because they chose to meet right after the lunch hour.

“Hyung-nim, over here!”

Yu Jin-Ho greeted him rather enthusiastically.

Before entering the cafe, Jin-Woo focused his Perception to the max but he couldn’t sense any other Hunters inside the shop.

At the bare minimum, this meeting wasn’t for the purpose of revenge, it seemed. Although Jin-Woo couldn’t really remember doing anything that warranted such an ill will towards him and requiring a swift retribution.

Jin-Woo sat down on the other side of the table.

“Didn’t think we’d meet again.”

There was a half-eaten ice cream on top of the table belonging to Yu Jin-Ho.

Yu Jin-Ho spoke as he stood up.

“What would you like to order? Should I go and get you some coffee?”

“No, it’s fine.”

Yu Jin-Ho looked a bit crestfallen for some reason as he sat back down.

Jin-Woo opened his mouth first.

“So, what do you want?”

It was then.

“I’m telling you, this guy did it for real back then! It was so crazy, really!!”

Jin-Woo shifted his gaze over to his side.

The table next to his was occupied by three burly students with rather thuggish faces hailing from some local athletic club or the other, and they were busy chatting to three girls.

Jin-Woo tried to get back to his own conversation.

“As I was saying, what do you…..”

“And when did I ever do that?! Will you listen to this b*stard, busy inventing rubbish because we’re in front of girls?!”

“…Want from me….”

“But, you said it, didn’t you?! Wow, should I show you the pics, man? Should I like, release the evidence to the rest of the world or something?!”

The voices of the male students got louder and louder, and the laughter of the girls was just as loud as well.

“…..”

When the noise became too loud to carry on his own conversation, Jin-Woo was left with no choice but to stand up and silently walk over to the table next to his.

The eyes of the male students all focused on Jin-Woo.

“Will you please keep it down? There are other people in here, too.”

One of the male students scratched the back of his head and pretended to apologise a couple of times.

“Yes, yes. We’ll keep it down. Very sorry about this.”

Girls began giggling hoarsely from that sight.

Jin-Woo quietly stared at them for a while, before turning around. But when he did, something flew in and tapped him in the back of his head. A rolled-up paper serviette fell to the floor.

“Puhahahahaha!”

“Kekeke!!”

“Hey, you shouldn’t do that.”

Male students began guffawing real hard, while girls pretended to scold the boys, even though mocking grins formed on their faces.

Witnessing this scene, Yu Jin-Ho’s expression gradually froze up.

“Hyu…. Hyung-nim….”

Jin-Woo picked up one of the unused spoons next to Yu Jin-Woo’s ice cream and walked over to the counter.

“Ohh, look, look. He’s going to tell on his mommy.”

“Mommy, they are making noise. Stop them ple~ase. Fuhut!”

In the meantime, those kids kept running their mouths off.

Jin-Woo asked the nervous-looking female employee behind the counter with a deadpan face.

“How much for this spoon?”

“M-my apologies, dear customer. We don’t sell spoons separately, you see….”

“It’s not more than ten thousand Won, yes?”

“Pardon? Ah, uh, uhm, I guess so…..?”

Jin-Woo placed a ten thousand Won bill on the counter and turned around.

“Dear customer? E, excuse me, customer?”

Jin-Woo ignored the calls of the female employee and headed straight to the table where the male students from some athletic club were.

When they noticed that Jin-Woo was displaying a suspicious behaviour, the three students slowly stood up from their seats.

“What you want now? What?”

The attention of everyone inside the cafe was now focused on this table.

Jin-Woo showed the students his spoon.

‘……?’

‘……??’

Just as question marks floated on the expressions of these hapless kids, Jin-Woo began squashing the spoon in his hand. And the poor thing easily lost its shape right in front of their eyes.

The complexions of the male students grew paler and paler.

Jin-Woo then placed the ‘spoon’ on their table.

But, what was left there could no longer be called a spoon anymore.

No, it was just a piece of folded metal, roughly shaped like a ball.

“Heok!”

The male students nervously swallowed their saliva.

‘That, that’s not a human’s strength.’

‘This guy, he’s a H-Hunter.’

The male students signalled to each other before the kid who threw the serviette at him bowed and apologised for real.

“I-I’m really sorry.”

The rest of his friends then started apologising as well.

“I’m sorry.”

“It was our fault. Forgive us.”

The male students bowed several times with pale complexions, before making their hasty retreat from the cafe while dragging the girls out as well.

“Hooray-!!”

The customers surrounding that noisy table sent gazes filled with appreciation towards Jin-Woo.

Meanwhile, Jin-Woo returned to his seat and settled back down.

Yu Jin-Ho’s eyes sparkled as he spoke up.

“As expected of you, hyung-nim!”

“Enough.”

Jin-Woo got back on topic at hand.

“Why did you ask me for a meeting?”

“Well, that…. Hyung-nim. I gave this matter a lot of thought. I mean, lots and lots of thought, you know? But, I think I really, seriously, must ask you.”

“What are you talking about now?”

“Hyung-nim, actually….”

Yu Jin-Ho’s face reddened as if he was embarrassed about something, before he summoned up his courage and spoke up.

“Actually, I was thinking of forming my own tea…..”

Jin-Woo didn’t even hesitate one second and replied.

“I’m not interested.”

< Chapter 25 > Fin.

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