I Alone Level-Up
‘There’s a breeze inside this dungeon?’
Jin-Woo raised his head.
As soon as stepping inside, he sensed an ominous wind blowing in from the deepest part of the cave-like dungeon.
Suddenly, he felt a chill run down his back. And at the same time, Jin-Woo realised the identity of this mysterious wind.
‘It’s no normal wind, is it?’
No, this was a ripple caused by the magic energy. The powerful magic energy emitted by the boss of this rank A dungeon was physically touching Jin-Woo’s body.
Considering that the rank S dungeons were incredibly hard to find, even in the entire world, the owner of this magic energy could very well be the highest levelled monster Jin-Woo could realistically meet.
‘The boss of a rank A dungeon….’
He was tempted to confirm the creature with his own two eyes now. And, if there was a chance….
Even though Jin-Woo was shuddering from the bone-chilling aura that managed to make his hair stand on end, he couldn’t stop smiling at the same time.
Was this the instinct of a hunter?
Wasn’t the act of pointing a gun at a powerful predator the most instinctive act there could be for a real hunter?
It was then.
A guy coming inside the dungeon bumped into Jin-Woo’s shoulder.
“Eiii, come on, man. Walk faster.”
A man named Lee Seong-Gu frowned deeply, the words flying out of his mouth sounding sullen.
The interior of the rank A dungeon was huge. There was plenty of space to go around the person in front. However, Lee Seong-Gu found this newbie who stood there unmoving not to his liking at all.
So, he figured he’d embarrass the kid or something by bumping into his back, but…..
‘What the fck is up with this guy? He’s like a dmn concrete pillar!’
When he ran into the newbie’s back, it was him who got bounced away instead. So, quite obviously, his irritation had shot up to the heavens.
‘Why is a rank E this tough?’
Still, this kid was a measly E. And he was a rank C.
Although his skills lagged behind compared to other rank C Hunters, and therefore he had to work as a miner, but regardless of all that, it wouldn’t do for him to lose out to a rank E like this.
However, the newbie didn’t even show a single hint of a response.
Lee Seong-Gu’s eyes narrowed to a slit.
‘Oh? Would you look at this fool?’
Now that his ire had reached a boiling point, Lee Seong-Gu angrily glared at the newbie and raised his voice higher.
“Look here, man. Aren’t you supposed to apologise if you run into someone?”
Jin-Woo finally turned around, then.
Lee Seong-Gu flinched and took a step back.
It was if a dangerous light was emanating from Jin-Woo’s eyes just then. While being pressurised by an aura that robbed away his breaths, Lee Seong-Gu began panicking greatly. It was here that Jin-Woo finally opened his mouth.
Lee Seong-Gu stuttered before managing to squeeze his voice out.
“Well, uh, mistakes… happen.”
His voice sounding unexpectedly meek now, Lee Seong-Gu lowered his reddened face and hurriedly walked past Jin-Woo.
Only after distancing himself far away from the newbie did Lee Seong-Gu find some leeway to pat his pounding chest.
‘What the hell was up with those eyes, man? And why was he smiling so creepily like that?!’
Their gazes met for only a brief second, yet Lee Seong-Gu’s entire body froze up and he couldn’t even speak properly. Him managing to not avert his eyes right away was his desperate attempt to hold on to his pride.
‘…..Is he really a rank E?’
When he bumped into him, and that murderous glare – just what the heck was going on here?
‘Eiii, who cares anymore?’
Lee Seong-Gu shook his head hard in order to get rid of the distracting thoughts and hurried his steps.
Jin-Woo scratched the side of his head as he looked on at Lee Seong-Gu quickly rushing past him.
‘Because my nerves were in a heightened state due to the boss, I….’
He ended up frightening that guy, instead.
This was only because he lacked enough practice. Yup, more practice was needed. Jin-Woo inwardly reflected on how overly sensitive his response was and chased after the rest of the mining team.
He caught up with them pretty quickly. Jin-Woo stuck to the rear of the advancing miners and matched their walking pace.
‘Well, none of these guys would be able to catch up with me if I walk in my usual speed….’
So, he had to match theirs.
The deeper they went in, the greater the ripples of the magic energy from the boss became.
‘My Perception Stat has risen up by a lot, hasn’t it.’
To be able to clearly sense the boss monster hidden in the deepest chamber of the dungeon like this….
Because of that, he was getting excited for no particular reason.
‘Would I even be able to concentrate on my job at this rate?’
As if to try answering his rhetorical question, he could hear the loud, manly roars coming from his front.
The retrieval team that had entered one step earlier than the mining team was already in the middle of their operation. And that would be to drag a corpse of a huge monster outside using the ropes tightly tied around it.
“One, two! One, two!”
The physical strength of the close-quarter combat-type Hunters was excellent, to begin with, so they didn’t require help from specialised tools to smoothly carry out their work.
Jin-Woo imprinted every step of a high-rank dungeon’s conquest into his brain.
‘First of all, the raid team enters before everyone else and eliminates all the monsters found inside, with the exception of the boss.’
Afterwards, the retrieval team entered to drag out the monster remains, and finally, the mining team entered to extract various minerals embedded in the dungeon’s walls.
In order to maximise profit, none of these steps could be omitted.
Both the Mana stones and magic crystals were a given, but the high-ranked monster’s body could be utilised in various ways as well, and thus was worth a lot of money.
‘Bones, hides, flesh, etc…. Not one part of a high-ranked monster is useless.’
And that was one of the differences between monsters found in low-ranked dungeons and those from the high-ranked ones.
After sweeping away every single thing worth money from a dungeon….
‘They kill the boss and close the Gate.’
Only after going through all four stages of this process could one declare that the high-ranked dungeon was perfectly conquered. At least, that would be from the Guild’s perspective.
‘Wouldn’t my soldiers be enough to carry out these simple labours?’
While walking past the sweating Hunters of the retrieval team, Jin-Woo suddenly came up with that idea.
For sure, after all their level-ups, the shadow soldiers were much stronger than the members of the retrieval team, who were all Hunters ranked below rank C, to begin with.
Dividing his troops into three, and by making one group hunt, another one retrieve, while the remaining group took care of mining, then…..
‘Then, I might really be able to perfectly conquer a high-rank dungeon all by myself.’
A satisfied smile formed on Jin-Woo’s face.
The reason for him being here was to explore. And now, he was beginning to think that it was a good idea to come here, after all.
“Mister Seong? Did something good happen?”
The foreman asked him from the side.
Seeing that the rank E with no experience of being inside a high-ranked dungeon broke out in a grin like that, he couldn’t help but get curious.
“Well, I was just surprised by the sizes of the monsters that are bigger than I thought, that’s all.”
Perhaps finding Jin-Woo’s vague answer satisfying, the foreman replied jovially while trying to dig through his memory.
“Oh, is that so? Well, even I couldn’t keep my mouth shut the first time I entered one, too.”
Now that they were talking like this, Jin-Woo decided to ask a couple more questions.
“I heard that all the regular monsters have been killed off, but the boss is still alive, isn’t it?”
“That’s right. Well, if the boss dies, the Gate will close down, after all.”
His answer implied that, until the retrieval and mining operations were completed, the boss could not be hunted down.
“What if the boss comes out of the boss room?”
“Well, such a case is almost non-existent, but…. In that case, everyone remaining inside would be dead meat.”
Now that would be an obvious result.
The raid team exiting from the dungeon would take an extended break until the boss raid. And quite obviously, the Hunters in the mining team or the extraction team didn’t possess enough power to fight against a boss of a rank A dungeon.
However, the commonly-accepted belief was that, before the dungeon break occurs, the boss would almost always remain inside the boss room. Perhaps that was why there was no trace of fear on the foreman’s expression.
“But, such a horrifying monster is not too far from us. You aren’t even remotely scared?”
“Not at all.”
The Foreman Bae sounded confident.
“In the last three years I worked for the Hunters Guild, not once was there an incident similar to that. So, you can rest easy, Mister Seong.”
Jin-Woo stared at the grinning foreman Bae lightly tapping him on the shoulder, and couldn’t help but find it rather envious.
‘Ignorance is a blessing, isn’t it?’
The ripples of magic energy coming from the boss were powerful enough to shake his body even when standing still.
It looked like only Jin-Woo could pick up on the boss’s aura in this place.
“Ohh, so it starts from here!”
The Foreman Bae discovered Mana stones on the cave walls and smiled brightly.
The experienced miners began occupying their natural spots in front of the stones even though no one directed them to do so. They put down their gear and hefted the pickaxes up.
Jin-Woo too stood towards the end of the cavern wall filled with Mana stones.
‘So, am I suppose to just strike down?’
He grew worried that, were he to use his real strength and strike down, both the Mana stones and the pickaxe might shatter into tiny little pieces.
‘What should I do?’
Jin-Woo stood there hesitating, unable to start his job. But, he was able to take in the sight of Mok Jin-Su, the supposed veteran of the mining team as referred to by the Foreman Bae.
Swish! Crack! Swish-! Crack!!
Mok Jin-Su rhythmically mined the stones. Whenever he struck the walls, Mana stones noisily tumbled down to the ground.
Now that was some skill worthy of the ‘veteran’ label. He was mining the stones twice as quickly as compared to the speed of his colleagues.
Jin-Woo’s eyes gleamed brightly.
As the time slowed down in his perception, Jin-Woo observed and learned Mok Jin-Su’s postures and breathing patterns, as well as the movements of muscles.
And soon, Mok Jin-Su’s economical but effective movements were being replayed countless times in Jin-Woo’s head.
‘I think I get it now.’
Indeed, he thought he understood it, more or less. Jin-Woo lifted his pickaxe up. It was as if he was the mirror image of Mok Jin-Su.
Even if their movements were similar, Jin-Woo’s strength was on a completely another level from Mok Jin-Su’s. Whenever Jin-Woo struck the cave walls, larger, more intact Mana stones tumbled down in droves.
Swish!!! Craaack! Swish—! Crack!!
A rather refreshing noise came from the end of the wall. The Hunters of the mining team realised one by one that something didn’t feel right.
“Look over there.”
“What the hell is up with him?”
The Hunters stopped what they were doing and dazedly stared at Jin-Woo. Even Mok Jin-Su’s tireless hands came to a stop, too.
Everyone was rendered speechless.
The supposedly mining-virgin rank E Hunter was currently making easy mincemeat out of the Mana stone wall with practised movements!
“What are you doing, guys?! You came here to do a job, so why are you all standing around like that?”
The Foreman Bae had been jotting down the scale of the Mana stone deposit on a ledger until then. But when he discovered that every member of the mining team had downed tools for some reason, he got shocked out of his mind and quickly ran to where they were.
“Foreman? Will you take a look over there?”
The Foreman Bae craned his neck to look. And then, his eyes grew super large.
Even the foreman displayed the same reaction as everyone else. He couldn’t rip his eyes away from Jin-Woo and his speed, which was around three times faster than other miners.
“Foreman, didn’t you say that it’s the newbie’s first time today?”
“….That I did.”
Lee Seong-Gu, who had been wondering about Jin-Woo’s identity earlier, butted in suddenly.
“Is he really a rank E?”
“I confirmed it with his licence, obviously! You think I’ll let a complete stranger into my team without confirming his Hunter licence first?”
“Well, then. How do you explain that?”
Wordlessly observing Jin-Woo, the Foreman Bae nervously swallowed his saliva as excitement dyed his expression.
“Without a doubt….. Mister Seong is the heaven-sent miner.”
Indeed, there was a reason why those rugged, tough-looking chest muscles caught the foreman’s attention back when they were having a short job interview.
‘Yup, I really am good at finding the right people.’
A thick smile spread on the Foreman Bae’s face.
Beep, beep, beep!
An alarm went off from Foreman Bae’s wristwatch. He raised his wrist to confirm the time.
‘Aigoo~. It’s already…..’
It was lunch hour already.
“Everyone, let’s take a break and have lunch.”
Everyone dropped their tools and dusted their hands.
While the miners were walking towards the exit in pairs and groups, Jin-Woo showed no hint of moving from the spot. Foreman Bae got closer and asked him.
“Mister Seong? Aren’t you going, too?”
“I’m not feeling all that hungry at the moment.”
“Even then, you should eat something if you plan to continue working in the afternoon.”
“Nah, I’m fine. I did eat my breakfast a bit later than usual, anyway.”
“Really? ….Well, nothing I can do about that, then.”
Bae was planning to talk about the future together with this young man during the lunch break, but that didn’t mean he should forcibly drag the kid away, no?
Foreman Bae ruefully turned around towards the Gate’s exit.
It was at this point that the corners of Jin-Woo’s lips arched up. Watching the distancing backs of the miners, he formed a deep smile.
‘I can’t miss such a wonderful opportunity, right?’
Finally, he was left all alone. Both the mining team and the retrieval team had left the dungeon. For about one hour, he was free to do whatever he wanted.
Meaning, this was the best chance for him to seek out the boss hiding in the deepest part of the dungeon.
Jin-Woo put the pickaxe down, and slowly shifted his gaze to the direction of the boss room. He could still sense the thick aura of the monster.
‘I’ll just go and take a quick look.’
He wasn’t thinking of doing anything at all. No, he just wanted to see what the boss looked like.
Thump, thump, thump…
Just from imagining him seeing the boss, his heart was pounding faster.
Jin-Woo forcibly controlled his wildly-beating heart and walked forward. He moved deeper into the cave, following after the aura of the boss.
And so, just how long did he have to walk?
A long stroll later, he finally arrived at the entrance of a huge chamber. It was the boss room. The cavern itself was already pretty huge, but the boss room was even bigger.
Was every high ranking dungeon as huge as this one? Just as he began wondering like that….
He discovered the boss and automatically accepted that this dungeon simply had to be this big.
‘If a monster like that gets outside….’
His eyes spotted the lone humanoid monster standing still at the far end of the boss room. Jin-Woo’s eyes began gleaming brightly like a young kid who got his hands on a toy he wanted so much as a gift.
‘A giant-type monster.’
He heard a few things about this type of monster before, but this would be his first time looking at one. Because a giant-type monster’s corpse was so huge, it was practically impossible to retrieve it in time, so most people would hardly ever get to see one outside of dungeon breaks.
Such a creature was right over there, and that was causing his heart to palpitate faster and faster.
‘That thing’s really strong.’
The hair on his body was standing up. But, for some reason, he didn’t think for once that hunting that thing down was impossible for him.
‘The current me can…..’
He’d be more than enough. The moment he thought like this, he reflexively swallowed his saliva.
Just how much experience points would he earn by hunting that guy down? By working his a*s off inside the Demon’s Castle, he levelled up 15 times in a week. But, if he could kill one boss and raise his level by 2, 3 times….
‘No, I shouldn’t be doing this.’
Even though he was telling himself he shouldn’t, both the ‘Baruka’s Dagger’ and the ‘Knight Killer’ were summoned into his hands already. More importantly, his expression wasn’t of someone stuck in a dilemma, wondering whether he should do something or not.
Should I just go ahead and do this thing?
A soft but excited grin formed on his lips.
While Jin-Woo stood there deliberating with a smile on his face, a certain woman’s incredibly sharp voice flew at him from his behind.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
< Chapter 82 > Fin.