I Alone Level-Up
The office of the President of the Hunters Association.
The facial expression of the doctor examining Goh Gun-Hui wasn’t so good. He removed the stethoscope from Goh Gun-Hui’s chest.
“No need to say it. I can already tell from the look on your face.”
Goh Gun-Hui chuckled gently as he buttoned up his shirt.
The doctor couldn’t bring himself to say anything.
‘President Goh Gun-Hui…. What with the state of your health, you walking around like this is a miracle in itself already…..’
Even then, the President of the Association did not show any signs of slowing down. He actually didn’t even have the time to stop by at the hospital, and had his personal doctor come to see him at the office, instead!
President Goh Gun-Hui slid his arm in the sleeve of the jacket and spoke.
“Back when the Healers began appearing here and there, and healing magic was discovered, I thought that for sure I’d be able to regain my youth, and that I would be saying bye bye to this terribly inconvenient old and decrepit body of mine.”
Goh Gun-Hui then chuckled again.
“However, the truth didn’t work out that way.”
“There was no improvement from the treatment, sir?”
“It seems that this thing called ‘age’ is beyond the capability of the high-ranking Hunters and their magic.”
If the Healer-type Hunters could heal any and all types of sickness with magic, then without a doubt, every single hospital in the land would’ve closed up, and doctors would’ve ended up on the street, begging for food.
But fortunately, or perhaps, unfortunately, such an event didn’t occur.
Only speeding up the regeneration.
The healing magic was limited only to healing the external injuries.
Although magic could miraculously cause the amputated arm to grow back, it could not lower the temperature of a child sick with the flu.
‘Well, thanks to that, I managed to not end up as unemployed, though…..’
The doctor stared at the President of Association getting ready to leave the office.
‘If only I could borrow magical power as great as the President’s and cure him in full….’
However, both the healing magic and the modern medicine couldn’t do much at this stage. All this doctor could do was to offer his advice.
“You need to maintain calm no matter what, sir. Also, you need to take a regular break, even if it’s for a little while.”
“I wish I could do that, as well.”
Unfortunately, if he did take a break, then just what would happen to the Hunters Association? Goh Gun-Hui used his gentle laughter as a replacement for his words.
‘An Association without Goh Gun-Hui, is it?’
The large Guilds were spending huge sums of money to grow ever larger even at this very moment. Their might already equalled that of some nations’ military forces.
The only reason why the Association could still flex its muscle among these Guilds was because of the presence of Goh Gun-Hui as its President, not because the government was backing the Association.
The moment the Association lost its true trump card, the Hunters would become rein-less wild horses and run amok.
‘Not just yet…. Yes, not just yet.’
Indeed, he couldn’t retire just yet.
The Association was the only rope that could rein them in.
With no viable alternative in place, how could he even think about leaving the scene?
‘In order to show how robust and healthy the Association is, I must stay.’
The rank S above all the other S ranks.
Indeed, the name of Goh Gun-Hui was a must-have.
So, until that time, he must….
A pained moan leaked out of Goh Gun-Hui. He grabbed his chest and the tidy shirt crumpled under his grip.
“President, take this….”
The doctor brought along a pill of painkiller and a glass of water.
He could just barely regain his bearings after ingesting the painkiller.
It was then.
His phone issued a ring.
But, he ordered no one to disturb him when his doctor was here.
Goh Gun-Hui frowned slightly and picked the phone up.
“I’m with my doctor at the moment.”
It was at this point that the urgent voice of his male PA came from the phone’s speaker.
“Did the Japanese call again?”
Goh Gun-Hui’s brows quivered slightly.
‘A bigger problem than the ants of the Jeju island?’
Just what could it be?
“Tell me what’s going on.”
Before the patience of Goh Gun-Hui had the chance to run out, the PA replied in the nick of time.
“From the Evaluation Division? Why?”
The role of the Evaluation Division was to assign ranks to various Gates as well as to newly Awakened. Such a department wouldn’t be a likely candidate to cause much trouble.
‘Or, could it be….?’
Did they make another blunder with assigning a Gate’s rank?
Thinking back to the debt he had to owe the White Tiger Guild not too long ago, Goh Gun-Hui’s expression crumpled a little. But his unhappiness lasted only for a short while.
The news conveyed by the PA easily exceeded the scope of ‘problem’ Goh Gun-Hui had been expecting.
“The President of the Hunters Association, Goh Gun-Hui??”
Did I hear that right?
Jin-Woo doubted his own hearing just then.
A man often referred to as the most powerful Hunter in South Korea wanted to talk to him and chased him all the way to this hospital??
‘That must be some kind of joke….’
Just as Jin-Woo stood there not wholly convinced, Woo Jin-Cheol pointed behind him, further driving the point home.
“Yes, the Association President is here.”
Woo Jin-Cheol looked a bit anxious as he waited for Jin-Woo’s reply.
The current atmosphere definitely didn’t come off as suitable for throwing around dumb jokes at all.
‘…..He must be telling the truth.’
Why was someone like Goh Gun-Hui looking for him? A powerful curiosity suddenly invaded Jin-Woo’s mind. The only thing he could think of was the result of the rank reassignment test he took…..
‘Is it to lure me into signing with the Association?’
However, the Association was a non-profit organisation. Its President wouldn’t necessarily show up with the top agent from the Monitoring Division in tow just to headhunt a lone Hunter.
Besides, Jin-Woo hadn’t even finished with his evaluation yet.
The more he thought about it, the more curious he became regarding the President’s reasons.
“Okay, I will.”
Jin-Woo finally agreed.
Woo Jin-Cheol formed such a bright expression that the anxiety of a second ago seemed like a lie long forgotten.
“Thank you very much!!”
His voice sounded incredibly earnest just then.
‘This ahjussi with that stonewall of a face can also form such expressions, huh.’
Jin-Woo was inwardly surprised as he followed after Woo Jin-Cheol.
When they walked past the corner, he could see an old man sitting in one of the waiting room’s chairs.
‘So, that must be….’
Jin-Woo swallowed his saliva.
The heaven above heaven.
The S rank Hunter Goh Gun-Hui, also known as the sky above the sky.
After discovering Jin-Woo, Goh Gun-Hui stood up from the seat.
“You must be Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim.”
He might be over 80 years old, but his physique was still quite amazing. Indeed, his size reminded one of either a retired pro wrestler or a traditional grappler.
However, he didn’t emit any of the overbearing aura one might expect from someone like that.
Judged from his appearance or his station, Jin-Woo expected him to be a bit of douche, a stuck-up of sorts, yet the entourage accompanying that man carried scarier expressions instead.
“Yes, I’m Seong Jin-Woo.”
Goh Gun-Hui extended his hand for a shake with a bright face.
“It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I’m Goh Gun-Hui.”
The two men shared a short handshake. Goh Gun-Hui pointed towards the chairs in the waiting area, already rearranged in a way that those sitting there would look at each other.
“Why don’t we have a chat after taking seats?”
Jin-Woo sat down first, and Goh Gun-Hui too parked himself on the opposite chair.
Jin-Woo inadvertently caught the glimpse of a golden badge pinned to Goh Gun-Hui’s jacket. This man currently served as a member of the National Assembly, and at the same time, as the President of the Association as well.
‘And a rank S Awakened on top of that, too.’
Goh Gun-Hui wasn’t someone anyone could meet just because they wanted to. One couldn’t even count the number of people who wanted to speak to this man, be that the giants of the financial and political world as well as bigshots from other countries.
That was why Jin-Woo was getting even more curious now. Why was someone like Goh Gun-Hui seeking him out so urgently?
And, now that he thought about it….
‘After Choi Jong-In, it’s the turn of Goh Gun-Hui, isn’t it?’
Just in one day, he ran into two men who could proudly boast the title of the ‘best’ in a row.
….Even though he wasn’t officially confirmed as a rank S yet.
Goh Gun-Hui began speaking.
“I’d like to congratulate you on becoming the newest rank S Hunter.”
Jin-Woo tilted his head.
“But, the result of the reassignment test hasn’t come out yet.”
Goh Gun-Hui shook his head immediately.
“Actually, the test itself does not have much of a meaning.”
While Jin-Woo formed a confused expression, Goh Gun-Hui was forming a gentle smile.
“The truth is, the so-called precision measuring device is used to draw a finer line on the level of one’s powers. It’s not designed to sense something that already has exceeded the scope of other device’s measuring capability.”
“Then, how come….”
“Do you wish to ask me why we created another process called re-evaluation?”
Indeed, he did want to ask that. If the end results were going to be the same, then why go through yet another cumbersome process?
Goh Gun-Hui answered in rather a straightforward manner.
“It’s because we were looking for a grace period.”
‘A grace period…?’
Even before Jin-Woo could ask what he meant by that, Goh Gun-Hui spoke up first, looking somewhat embarrassed.
“It’s to create an opportunity where we can meet and speak to someone like you, Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim.”
Listening to the Association President, Jin-Woo finally figured it out.
“As you may well know, there aren’t that many excellent Hunters in the Association, like Division Chief Woo Jin-Cheol here, compared to our size.”
That was because of large Guilds.
“And that’s because of the large Guilds.”
But, of course.
Jin-Woo nodded his head.
“Signing up with a large Guild guarantees you fat salaries and fame, so who would want to come and work for the Association?”
The salaries for the Association’s Hunters weren’t small by any means. But then again, when compared to what one could potentially be earning by working for large Guilds, the salary was pitifully pathetic.
It was the same story regarding fame, too.
“There are some people who can recite the names of every member of a large Guild’s main raid teams. But, you will have a very hard time trying to find someone who knows the name of our Division Chief Woo Jin-Cheol.”
Hearing the term ‘members of the main raid team’, Jin-Woo recalled the rank A Hunter Kim Cheol.
His Perception Stat allowed him to grasp another’s capability. From Jin-Woo’s perspective, Woo Jin-Cheol was definitely a level higher than Kim Cheol.
‘They both might be rank As, but the gap in their skills are pretty obvious.’
Jin-Woo took a deeper look at Woo Jin-Cheol.
Perhaps finding the praise of the Association President and the gaze of Jin-Woo burdensome, Woo Jin-Cheol lowered his head, looking a little flushed.
If Kim Cheol had made his debut as a Hunter without meeting that ‘accident’, then he’d have made a lot more money and become much more famous than Woo Jin-Cheol.
That was the difference between a Hunter working for the Association and someone signed to a large Guild.
“And so, we came up with a plan in case a truly exceptional Awakened decides to visit the Association.”
So, that would be the re-evaluation test, then?
If the result of the evaluation was publicly made available and was spread everywhere, would the Association have the chance to make an approach like this? It certainly made sense.
“I won’t beat around the bush and get to the point.”
Before anyone had noticed it, that warm smile was no longer visible on the face of the Association’s President.
“We’re not a corporation, so we can’t promise you lots of money. However….”
Goh Gun-Hui touched his chest area, before extending his fist that was gripping onto something.
“However, we can help you in a different way.”
“I don’t quite understand…..?”
“What I’m saying here is that we can help guide you, Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim, down a very different direction.”
His clenched fist slowly unfurled. On Goh Gun-Hui’s palm, a golden badge gleamed brightly.
‘Political power….. Is it?’
Even after that, Jin-Woo maintained a suspicious expression.
“I still don’t quite understand.”
“Is there a reason for you to go this far for me?”
That was a valid question. A certain glint flickered in Goh Gun-Hui’s eyes as he continued to gaze at Jin-Woo.
‘To think, this young man can still calmly ask what’s on his mind, without being scared by my background, nor influenced by potential benefit right in front of his eyes….’
….Was I in a too much of a rush?
Didn’t someone once say this?
‘Patience decreases with age.’
That concept certainly wasn’t wrong.
Goh Gun-Hui suppressed his smile and continued on.
“You know about the five Guilds, yes?”
How could anyone not know of them? Jin-Woo silently nodded his head.
“Currently, you’ll find that in South Korea, the heads of five large dragons are locked in a delicate balance.”
Around the capital, the Hunters, the White Tiger, and the Reapers.
And in the countryside, the Shining Star and the Knight Order.
“If you decide to enter one of the five Guilds, doesn’t matter which one, the delicate balance will shatter and everything will change.”
Even now, the status and authority of large Guilds were soaring into high heavens. However, what if one of them managed to sign up another rank S Hunter, and used that as the springboard to soar even higher?
Would they listen to the Association anymore?
The Association’s sole role was to remain as the centre of the balance among the Hunters by using power.
“It is simply far too inadequate to control and tie down Hunters with laws and regulations and the threat of prosecution.”
Jin-Woo too thought like that before. Monsters found in dungeons weren’t the only ‘monsters’ out there. Hunters were also, in a way, ‘monsters’.
If one were to look only at the ‘strength’ aspect, then Hunters were far more dangerous ‘monsters’ than regular monsters found in dungeons.
“That is why the Association exists.”
Goh Gun-Hui’s expression became far more grave.
“And the Association needs your help, Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim.”
….The help from someone like you, who possessed great power.
Gou Gun-Hui’s gaze became sharper.
‘Sure, I’ll have to keep an eye on him and find out what he’s like, but….’
But, as long as Seong Jin-Woo gave his OK here, the Association would support him to the utmost fullest.
A rank S was certainly worthy of such an investment, after all.
‘This should be enough of an explanation.’
That was why….
For the first time in a long, long while, Goh Gun-Hui was feeling nervous and expectant at the same time, as he asked the next question in a soft but firm voice.
“What will you choose, Hunter-nim?”
< Chapter 78 > Fin.