An event of an unprecedented scale!
A trapped person walked out of a dungeon, alive!
The US Hunter Bureau went into overdrive right away.
The deputy director of the Bureau personally came down to the interview room after hearing this news. Beyond the one-way mirror, he could see an Oriental man quietly sitting on a chair, with a pair of handcuffs on his wrists.
“Is he that man?”
“That’s correct, sir.”
“He looks like a regular civilian, doesn’t he?”
It was as he said; once that man’s unkempt hair and the messy beard were taken care of, his facial features would be that of an average middle-aged Oriental male commonly found everywhere.
“Have you found out his identity yet?”
“He has repeatedly stated that he’s a Korean Hunter.”
“How can a South Korean Hunter come out of a dungeon on the other side of the world?”
“He says that he was trapped inside the dungeon for the past ten years after the Gate closed on him.”
“And when he reopened his eyes, he’s in America? Is that it?”
“That’s what he’d been saying until now, sir.”
The deputy director massaged his forehead. How was he to explain this to the director? He felt a migraine beginning its vicious assault on his head.
“If that’s the case, then what are you guys waiting for? Why aren’t you in there, trying to get more information out of him?”
Never mind his director, the deputy was worried about having to report directly to someone even higher than that. Or worse, someone much, much higher up the food chain.
In other words, there was no time to wait around sucking on thumbs like this.
Too bad, the section chief in charge of information did not share his sentiment.
“Sir, we’re currently focusing on the possibility of this man being a monster who possesses a human’s memories, instead.”
“If it suddenly reveals its true intentions during the interview process, the entirety of Washington could be in danger.”
That made sense.
A raid team consisting of several rank A Hunters proved to be utterly helpless against that man, after all. They could not afford to be careless here.
“Looks like we’ll have to get a powerful Hunter to continue on with the investigation, then.”
Preferably, a rank S, too.
The section chief nodded his head in agreement.
“There is a rank S Hunter who can converse in Korean residing nearby.”
The deputy director’s expression brightened.
He was none other than the deputy director of the Hunter Bureau. He had memorised back to front the list of all rank S Hunters living in the States already.
“Mister Hwang! Is he coming here?”
One of the main Hunters of the Scavenger Guild, Hwang Dong-Su.
Just how much effort did the Hunter Bureau have to put in, in order to bring that man here and naturalise him as an American citizen?
‘If it’s him….’
Even if something bad did happen, it’d not be too much of a big problem. The deputy director smiled deeply.
“Oh, right. I almost forgot.”
A question belatedly formed in his head. If he were to make a report to the higher-ups, he at least needed to know the subject’s name.
“What was the name of that man?”
It was a difficult-to-pronounce name, that’s for sure.
The section chief confirmed it on the report submitted to him by one of his underlings and spoke up.
“His name is Seong Il-Hwan, a Hunter from South Korea.”
Hwang Dong-Su had no time for such things as mercy. Especially if it was against monsters.
He lost his parents to a dungeon break many years ago and grew up with only his older brother as the sole surviving family member. That was why when he Awakened as a rank S, he knew this was his heaven-sent opportunity.
‘The opportunity to rip apart and kill as many monsters as I can!’
Perhaps that was the reason why the glare of Hwang Dong-Su as he entered the interview room was icier than usual.
A man who came out from a dungeon – even the magic energy wavelength this man emitted apparently had a similar pattern to that of a monster.
‘If a monster is pretending to be a human….’
Then, he’d kill this abominable creature right here, right now.
His glare met the man’s gaze.
They silently exchanged their gazes.
Hwang Dong-Su put the file with this man’s information down on the table, pulled the chair out to sit, and opened his mouth.
“It’ll be better for you to cooperate with me. One word from me will determine how others will see you: a human or a monster. Got that?”
Before he got started, though, a deeply personal question floated up in Hwang Dong-Su’s head.
His older brother who died inside the dungeon – was there any possibility that Hwang Dong-Seok could return alive?
He wanted to know about that first.
“Is there any chance of other Hunters returning from a dungeon, just as you have?”
The man shook his head.
Hwang Dong-Su’s brows quivered just then.
“How can you be so sure?”
“Because… I’m well aware of the reason why I came back.”
“The reason? What is it?”
“Let me ask you something before I answer that.”
“….I’ll be the one asking questions here.”
Hwang Dong-Su’s eyes narrowed to a slit. However, the man continued on with what he wanted to say regardless.
“The Gates, monsters, and dungeon breaks. How much do you know about them?”
If this man had asked a stupid question, Hwang Dong-Su might’ve used force to shut this man up right away. But, he couldn’t do that right now.
Because that question was something that countless tried to answer ever since the first Gate opened and Awakened people began appearing ten years ago.
This very moment could be when the answer finally revealed itself.
The agents of the Hunter Bureau all nervously swallowed their saliva as they stared into the one-way mirror.
Hwang Dong-Su asked.
“Are you saying that you know?”
“Dungeons, Gates, monsters… all these are merely preludes to a true war about to happen soon. And recently, a being that will become the greatest calamity ever seen has opened its eyes.”
“So, the reason why you returned here is…?”
“In order to stop that calamity.”
“And what is, or who is, this ‘greatest calamity ever seen’?”
“…..That, I can’t tell you.”
Hwang Dong-Su smirked derisively.
“A man who came here to stop a calamity can’t talk about what it is? I don’t know what that thing could be, but surely, rather than trying to stop it all by yourself, wouldn’t it be better to work together with others?”
“The number of people means nothing when facing this being. Doesn’t matter whether lots of amateurs decide to work together or not, they will only become its prey and become its pawns, instead.”
“So, you are saying that only you can stop it?”
The man nodded his head.
Hwang Dong-Su inwardly clicked his tongue.
‘This guy’s gone off the deep end.’
It wasn’t that hard to understand, though, if this man had been truly trapped inside a dungeon for ten years.
Or, alternatively, there had been some kind of an error, a mistake, during the process of the monster trying to copy a human’s memories and consequently, its brain had melted somewhat.
In any case, Hwang Dong-Su decided to humour the other party for the time being, and see where this thing would go.
“You must be awfully confident of your skills, then.”
“Let’s just say that, besides my skills, I’ve other factors in my favour.”
“Well… if you say so.”
Just what kind of information could he even extract from a madman?
Hwang Dong-Su decided to stop the questioning here.
Instead, he opened the man’s case file, thinking of finishing up the Bureau’s request, which was to investigate the man’s background.
“Your name is Seong Il-Hwan…..”
The photo supplied certainly matched the man’s face.
‘Rather than ten years, though, it’s like only a couple of weeks, maybe months, have passed by, instead.’
However, Hwang Dong-Su decided not to mind it. He heard that high-ranked Hunters could even skirt past the ageing process.
“Your records as a Hunter look pretty good. You could have earned quite a lot of money these days.”
Seong Il-Hwan didn’t respond to that.
Back then, there was no proper system of Hunters in place. Hell, there wasn’t a ranking system for Hunters, even!
Hwang Dong-Su began reading the file.
“Your spouse, Park Gyung-Hye. Two children. The son’s name is….”
As he read down the names of the children with no emotion on his face, Hwang Dong-Su’s eyes opened up slightly wider for a moment.
But, it only lasted for a truly brief second. Hwang Dong-Su did his best to remain calm and continued on.
“…..Seong Jin-Woo. And the name of your daughter is?”
It happened, then.
Before Hwang Dong-Su could flip to the next page, Seong Il-Hwan stopped him.
Hwang Dong-Su raised his head. And he found Seong Il-Hwan’s glare had become as cold as his own.
“Why did you emit a murderous intent when mentioning the name of my son?”
Hwang Dong-Su placed the file on the desk between them. And then, killed the mic feed to the outside of this room.
“I told you that I’ll be the one asking questions.”
“I’ll have to hear your answer, first.”
“What if I’m not interested in answering you?”
“I’ll use force, if necessary.”
Seong Il-Hwan’s eyes began gleaming coldly. He didn’t even show any hints of backing down. Which prompted Hwang Dong-Su to smirk deeply.
“I got it. So, you were a monster, then.”
How dare a measly little monster threaten a Hunter?
An intense hostility directed to him – now that was enough of an evidence to label this man as a monster.
‘No, wait. This could be my second heaven-sent opportunity.’
Hwang Dong-Su decided as such, and switched the mic on again.
“Deputy director? This guy is a monster. Evacuate immediately, because he might start attacking very soon.”
People panicking beyond the one-way mirror quickly ran out of the room. And soon, a loud wail of a siren resounded within the building.
Meanwhile, a silver light began emanating from Hwang Dong-Su’s hands.
“I’m planning to visit South Korea soon.”
After getting ready, Hwang Dong-Su threw an insidious smile at Seong Il-Hwan.
“So, what last words from his father should I deliver to your son?”
The TV was still talking about the Red Gate incident.
Jin-Woo scratched the back of his head.
‘This thing is getting out of hand.’
Still, he didn’t feel all that troubled. It was like, he felt a bit weird, instead?
He found it rather odd that some people who didn’t even know anything him were trying their darnedest to find more about him. Especially when he wasn’t even there….
But, what if they find out about him?
Didn’t matter, really.
‘Well, I’ve already levelled up to the point I was aiming for, anyway.’
The reason why he decided to keep his abilities hidden in the beginning was that he had a lingering fear that he might end up being used by some unscrupulous b*stards.
But now, the story was different.
Even when the Guild Master of the White Tiger, as well as a rank S Hunter, Baek Yun-Ho had grabbed his arm, Jin-Woo could yank his arm free without a problem.
He wouldn’t have even dreamed of achieving such a feat in the past.
‘Surely, I’d have wet myself just from meeting eyes with that man.’
An imperceptible smile formed on Jin-Woo’s lips. In times like this, he should’ve been enjoying the drunken bliss, with reminiscence serving as the perfect side dish, but then….
[Harmful substances have been detected.]
[Effects of ‘Buff: Detox’ will now commence.]
[3, 2, 1…. Detoxification has been completed.]
What a regretful thing it was, his wish couldn’t be granted.
Jin-Woo smiled rather ruefully. But, his facial expression became serious and determined, more than ever before as he put the soju glass down.
‘I don’t have any plans to stop here, though.’
Jin-Woo summoned his Status Window.
[Name: Seong Jin-Woo]
[Class: Shadow Sovereign]
[Title: The One Who Overcame the Adversity (extra 1)]
(Available Stat points to distribute: 0)
Reduction in physical damage: 46%
His level was 61.
Thanks to investing all of the points he earned via Daily Quests in Intelligence, that stat was getting ever closer to the ‘100’ mark.
‘I’ve got a long road ahead of me, though….’
But, he knew he could climb even higher. To an even higher place.
To a place that possibly no one else could get to. That possibility made his heart palpitate.
And the beginning of this climb would be at the Demon’s Castle.
‘The System definitely said that’s the one item I wanted more than anything else.’
He recalled the time he got the blessed random box.
[Blessed random box]
Presents the Player with the item he wants.
And he got the key to the instant dungeon, Demon’s Castle, from it.
The monster he ran into had a high level, and the rewards were top-notch, too. He had confirmed these two facts before exiting from there.
He had no idea what might come out on the higher floors, but it’d not deviate too much.
And so, it was now the time to go and reap his rewards. He was planning to enter there and spend a good few days inside.
Jin-Woo’s only worry was…
‘Once I’m inside, I won’t be able to contact the outside.’
What should he tell his little sister, then?
Deciding to come up with a suitable excuse on his way back home, Jin-Woo got up from his seat.
Jin-Woo shook and lightly tapped Yu Jin-Ho, but the kid had completely blacked out. What should he do now?
‘And he’s supposed to go to the Association tomorrow to take the written test, too….’
Well, taking a test was one thing, but the most urgent thing to worry about right now was sending him home safely from here.
Jin-Woo pulled out Yu Jin-Ho’s phone.
“Obviously, I can’t call either the Chairman Yu Myung-Hwan or Yu Jin-Seong….”
Just who should he call here that would inflict the least amount of harm on Yu Jin-Ho? Jin-Woo pondered his choices, before spotting a name on the contact list.
Unlike with his father or his older brother, Yu Jin-Ho had exchanged quite a few messages with this person.
It had to be a woman, judging from the name….
Jin-Woo deliberated for a while on whether to call this woman or not, before putting the phone down.
‘Wait a minute.’
He quickly confirmed his Store just in case.
And sure enough, there was a certain item he was thinking of.
He found it!
[Item: Status recovery potion]
A liquid potion that can recover one’s status. Once consumed, undesirable status ailments will be cured. Can be stored in your Inventory, but it can’t be handed over to someone else.
As soon as he confirmed the purchase, a yellow potion vial suddenly materialised on the top of the diner’s table. It was of a noticeably brighter colour than the healing potion’s deep red colour or the blue of the MP recovery potion.
Jin-Woo took a look around him to make sure no one was looking before he quickly tipped Yu Jin-Ho’s head over and poured the status recovery potion down the kid’s throat.
It was then.
Yu Jin-Ho’s eyes snapped open.
“Are you awake now?”
Yu Jin-Ho’s head was tipped backwards. And hyung-nim was staring down at him from above.
“….Hyung-nim, what are you doing there?”
Jin-Woo couldn’t come up with a good enough explanation right away. In times like these, pretending that nothing had happened was for the best.
“Oh. Yes, hyung-nim!”
Yu Jin-Ho stood right up from his seat, before tilting his head slightly.
‘Uh? Why do I feel so refreshed?’
Yu Jin-Ho moved his body this way and that, before a refreshing smile formed on his face as he followed after Jin-Woo.
And as they left the diner, the news continued on.
[This is next item on the bulletin. The American government has continuously delayed releasing any official statement on the mysterious explosion that rocked the headquarters of the American Hunter Bureau….]
< Chapter 68 > Fin.