I Alone Level-Up

Chapter 85

A rank E Hunter wanted to enter an uncleared rank A dungeon!

Pure pandemonium broke out.

“Upper-rank monsters are waiting with bated breath inside, yet you wanna go in??”

“Mister Seong, what do you think you’re doing?!”

“You still have a whole life ahead of you, so why are you risking it all for a measly few extra bucks?!”

The members of the mining team surrounded Jin-Woo in no time. At the same time, Foreman Bae hurriedly explained it to Sohn Ki-Hoon.

“Aigoo. That friend only started this job yesterday so he probably raised his hand not knowing anything.”

“What’s his rank?”

“That is….”

Foreman Bae sneaked a glance towards Jin-Woo and then, spoke in a hushed voice.

“It’s E. Regardless of what else, his rank is too low, so how about going with someone else? It’ll be far too dangerous to take that friend along with you.”

Sohn Ki-Hoon’s expression became grave right away.

‘That man is only a rank E….??’

The man who locked gazes with him only a second ago – for sure, he couldn’t sense any exceptional fluctuation of magic energy coming from that man.

However, how should he put this?

A certain aura permeated from that man that… couldn’t be described in simple words, but at the same time, it also felt sharp and utterly under control.

‘He’s definitely not a rank E.’

No matter how hard Sohn Ki-Hoon looked, that man was definitely not the bottom-ranked Hunter he claimed to be. Of course, Foreman Bae had no reason to lie here but, from Sohn Ki-Hoon’s perspective, his own assessment had to be correct.

‘Besides all that. The rank of a porter isn’t all that important, is it?’

Indeed, a porter only needed to carry luggage around well.

If the luggage carrier located at the very back of the raid team found himself in danger, then one should look at that raid as a complete failure. In a case like that, not even a rank A could guarantee his survival, so would it really matter if the porter’s rank was a C or an E?

They’d die regardless, anyway.

When Sohn Ki-Hoon’s thought process reached that point, he began regretting the fact that he actually wasted time worrying about it. The raid hadn’t even started, yet they had wasted far too much time already.

Sohn Ki-Hoon stared at Jin-Woo and spoke.

“Nope. I’m taking him.”

“Isn’t it heavy?”

Sohn Ki-Hoon asked a question, and Jin-Woo simply shook his head.

“No, it’s fine.”

The large bag being carried on Jin-Woo’s back was filled to the brim with extra sets of clothing, weapons, and defensive equipment, etc., for the raid team. Its volume was quite considerable, but honestly speaking, he didn’t find it heavy at all. All thanks to his Strength Stat, of course.

‘Doesn’t look like he’s straining himself.’

After studying Jin-Woo’s expression for a bit, Sohn Ki-Hoon turned towards the Gate. Jin-Woo also shifted his gaze towards it.

A giant Gate, as big as the one from yesterday, silently floated in the air.

‘Wait. Maybe this one’s a little bit bigger?’

Even then, the detected amount of magic energy was supposedly less than yesterday’s Gate. The raid difficulty was judged by the emitted magic energy and not the size of the Gate; that was probably the main reason why the B team was tasked with clearing this particular dungeon.

‘For real… the leaking magic energy is incomparably smaller than yesterday.’

Jin-Woo could tell by standing in front of the Gate. The result of the Association’s measurement didn’t seem to be wrong.

But then, what was this?

Just like back when he was standing before the Red Gate, a certain creeping sense of ill omen was dawning on him.

‘….I hope it’s nothing.’

Meanwhile, Sohn Ki-Hoon gave out his order.

“Let’s go inside.”

The raid team waiting in front of the Gate began moving once more with that order. Hunters entered the dungeon one by one.

“….”

Jin-Woo stopped staring at the Gate and followed them in.

[You have entered a dungeon.]

The interior of the dungeon was rather plain.

Jin-Woo had been tense after picking up on that odd feeling, but he let off a sigh of relief after seeing the passage that was noticeably smaller than yesterday’s dungeon.

‘Whew.’

Thankfully, he wasn’t forcibly transported to another world.

The thing was, though, the members of this team were plenty good enough to clear a Red Gate, were they to step into one.

11 rank As, and 6 rank Bs.

If it weren’t the Hunters Guild but somebody else, these guys wouldn’t have been assigned to a B team at all.

Jin-Woo smirked softly.

‘I’m not here as a part of the raid team anyway. Let’s not sweat over stuff like this.’

Yesterday and today….

If he were being honest, he only came here to have fun. And as coincidence would have it, he was now blessed with more things to spectate on today.

There was no need to stay sharp and alert all the time.

When he thought like that, he felt as if weight was lifted off his shoulders.

“You don’t have to be that nervous, you know.”

A female Hunter, a Healer, engaged him in conversation from his side.

Was her age around the late twenties or so?

Because his expression was stiff, it seemed that she just wanted to help alleviate some of his tension.

“You see, every single member present here, not just Ki-Hoon oppa, oops, I mean, the leader of the team, is a distinguished Hunter. Except me, that is.”

The healer lady smiled refreshingly.

From the word go, Jin-Woo wasn’t scared, but after seeing the female Hunter’s utterly relaxed face, he felt like a deflated balloon.

Jin-Woo grinned too, and nodded his head.

“Ah. Okay.”

The Healer formed a content expression, evidently satisfied by her efforts.

At the same time, the leader confirmed that there were no monsters near the entrance and gave the signal to advance.

“Let’s move.”

Both Jin-Woo and the Healer matched the walking pace of the raid team and slowly advanced forward. They had to watch the surroundings while moving, so naturally, their rate of progress was rather slow.

“Should I help you carry some, if it’s too heavy?”

The Healer glanced at Jin-Woo’s luggage and asked him. Jin-Woo wordlessly pushed forward a huge bottle of water in his left hand to her.

“Kyachk?!”

The Healer tottered dangerously on her feet trying to lift that, so he quickly took the bottle back. The raid team came to an abrupt stop and glared at the Healer.

“I’m so sorry. Sorry.”

The Healer continued to bow her head here and there, offering an embarrassed apology. After that, he didn’t get to hear her asking him if he needed help again. Her sharp glares were just an added bonus, really.

Jin-Woo had to swallow his cackles as he continued to walk forward, pretending to be oblivious.

It sure felt like it’d been a long time since he could laugh like this inside a dungeon.

‘Well, getting distracted even only for a second would potentially get me in a lot of trouble, after all.’

Especially recently…..

Just remembering back to the difficulty of the ‘Demon’s Castle’ and its upper floors made him shudder in his boots.

However, today was different. Participating in a raid as an outsider like this every now and then didn’t sound like such a bad idea to him.

It was then.

Jin-Woo’s steps came to a halt.

A beat later, the Hunters of the raid team also sensed the change in the surroundings.

“They are coming!”

Even before Sohn Ki-Hoon finished giving his order, the Hunters of the raid team got into their battle formation. It happened literally in the blink of an eye. Jin-Woo was inwardly impressed by that.

‘So, this is how the high-ranked Hunters raid….’

They were definitely a world apart compared to the ragtag raid teams he was used to until now. Heck, pure and bright lights were already emanating from the hands of the naive-looking female Healer.

‘Looks like I won’t even get a chance to step up here.’

On one hand, Jin-Woo felt reassured, but at the same time, he did feel a bit rueful as well.

In any case, monsters finally showed themselves.

Beasts? Canines?

Sohn Ki-Hoon’s eyes narrowed to a slit.

Tadatadatadatada….

A group of monsters resembling hyenas was rushing towards the raid team. They were as big as a medium-sized car, too.

Sohn Ki-Hoon tilted his head slightly.

‘Dungeon Jackals?’

He became sure of it once they got close enough. They were indeed ‘Dungeon Jackals.’

Sohn Ki-Hoon had been standing with his shield covering his front, but then, he relaxed a bit and didn’t even bother to activate his aggro-attracting skill.

And then, he simply used his shield to batter down the Dungeon Jackal aiming for his neck.

Whimper!!

“What’s this?”

“Aren’t they Dungeon Jackals?”

Other team members, deeply tense until then, began tilting their heads and straightened their hunched stances. Soon, the short death throes of the Dungeon Jackals filled the cavern’s interior.

“Whimper?!”

“Kkheng!”

“Kkhekkheng!”

The Jackal monsters were quickly taken care of.

Over a dozen Dungeon Jackals were turned into corpses in the blink of an eye. Hunters dusted their hands, still confused by what happened.

“I didn’t even have enough time to cast a magic spell before it ended.”

“Why are we fighting Dungeon Jackals inside a rank A dungeon?”

“Yeah, right. What’s happening here?”

“Wait, did the Association idiots screw up again?!”

Their voices were getting louder.

Now originally, one of the basic rules in raiding was to never make loud noises inside a dungeon. However, the appearance of the Dungeon Jackals was an event shocking enough to make them forget all about even a simple rule like that.

“Hmm….”

Sohn Ki-Hoon stared at the corpses of the Jackals and scratched the back of his head.

‘But, why are the monsters from rank C dungeons appearing here?’

Sohn Ki-Hoon scanned his surroundings, looking somewhat dumbfounded. Everyone else was forming similar facial expressions.

With the exception of one person.

Only Jin-Woo was staring at the dead Jackals with a grave expression on his face.

‘They are no normal Jackals.’

Jin-Woo’s eyes narrowed. He could definitely see that the fur around the Jackal’s neck had been flattened down by something until recently. It was clear evidence of them being tied to something, somewhere.

‘Meaning, the ones that reared these monsters are somewhere else inside this dungeon….’

Monsters with intellect, in other words.

Jin-Woo recalled the White Phantoms he met back inside the Red Gate.

It was now a well-established fact that, regardless of what species it was, intelligent monsters were quite difficult to deal with.

‘Somehow… my premonition might be right after all.’

It was not a good omen, by any stretch of the imagination.

“What are you thinking about so seriously like that?”

The female Hunter peered at Jin-Woo as if to bore a hole in him, just like how he had been staring at the Jackals.

“Shh!”

Jin-Woo raised his index finger and covered his lips.

Step, step.

From the deeper parts of the cave, he could hear the matched footsteps getting closer.

‘The real enemies are coming.’

Jin-Woo stood back up. Other Hunters also belatedly realised something was wrong.

“Oh my god…”

“Get….. Get ready for battle!”

Sohn Ki-Hoon forcibly squeezed his voice out.

Finally, the real enemies revealed themselves from the darkness of the cave on the far side. The eyes of the Hunters grew wide from shock.

“High Orcs?!”

“What the hell? Why High Orcs?”

Many well-trained High Orc warriors now stood in rows before the Hunters’ eyes. Their number was twenty-two.

Not just any High Orcs, but they were twenty-two High Orc warriors, which meant they would be very difficult opponents to fight.

“Something… Something’s wrong.”

Someone muttered softly under his breath.

To think, right after the attack of the low-ranked monsters, they now had to battle these high-ranked monsters famed to be the toughest even among the high ranks.

The High Orcs pointed their lengthy spears at the Hunters.

‘Looks like the momentum of the Hunters and the High Orcs are about even.’

Jin-Woo quickly retreated to a corner, so he could quietly observe the unfolding situation and find the right time to step forward.

However, the female Hunter obviously didn’t share his thought process.

“You gotta keep hiding there, okay! You won’t get hurt that way.”

That kind of infuriated Jin-Woo just a wee bit. He closed his eyes shut and took several deep breaths while working hard to calm his boiling head.

Soon, the battle began.

“Kroooaaar!!”

Towards the attacking High Orcs, Sohn Ki-Hoon activated his aggro skill. However, these Orcs didn’t really fall for his provocation. And soon, High Orcs and melee-type Hunters engaged in a bitter close-quarters battle.

Swiiiish!!

Swish!

Crack!!

Blood splattered to everywhere and a scream reverberated out.

“Uwaaahk!!”

Not too long after that, magic spells fired from the mage-type Hunters slammed into the High Orcs.

Boom!! Kaboom!!

The heads of the High Orcs exploded after getting struck by the arrows of brilliant light. Unfortunately, there was no follow-up attack.

The effects of magic spells were good, but there was the distinct disadvantage of the lengthy casting time.

“Uwaaahk?!”

In a close-quarters battle, High Orcs definitely held the upper hand.

“Heal! Heal!!”

“H-hurry!”

The wounded appeared pretty quickly, and Healers were kept very busy.

“….H-Healer-nim!!”

The female Healer was also kept very busy, running here and there non-stop.

“I’m coming!! Coming!”

The female Healer knelt down next to a heavily-groaning Hunter with a missing arm. She then quickly began chanting.

Wuoong….

And then, along with blinding light, the lost arm slowly grew back.

That was the light of regeneration only the Healers ranked A or above could perform.

Just as she concentrated on the injuries of her patient, a tall shadow suddenly loomed over her. The female Healer raised her head.

A High Orc, previously assumed dead, was holding an axe while breathing heavily right beside her.

“Ah…..”

The female Healer’s face was drained of all colour, then. Unfortunately, there was no one who could save her nearby.

When the Orc raised its axe up high, the female Healer chose to hug her patient and shield him, instead.

“Noooo!!”

However, she couldn’t feel any pain, no matter how long she waited.

Each passing second felt like a minute or more.

The female Healer sheepishly raised her head up. And she got to witness a rather amazing sight.

“Keu…. Kuehhck…..”

The Orc was actually floating in the air, its entire body trembling quite noticeably.

“But, what…..?”

What was happening here?

The female Healer’s eyes opened even wider.

But then…

Snap!

The head of the High Orc was literally ripped off of its body, and then, even the part of its spine got dragged out, as well.

Now that was a display of terrifying power.

Plop.

‘……..??’

While staring at the headless body of the High Orc now on the ground, the female Hunter formed a totally confused expression.

“Uh….?!”

Because, the separated head of the High Orc was still floating in the air, that was why.

‘….Blood got splashed on my clothes.’

Jin-Woo frowned deeply and threw the head of the High Orc.

Pow!

Another High Orc was struck down rather unexpectedly by the head of its comrade and collapsed to the ground. Seeing that the victim’s neck was twisted around in a bizarre angle, it coming back to life didn’t seem very likely.

‘That makes it two.’

Jin-Woo shifted his gaze.

Currently, he was in ‘Stealth’. Both the High Orcs and the Hunters couldn’t sense his presence at all.

Jin-Woo had been sitting back quietly, waiting for a right chance to step forward, because he feared being accused of interfering in other people’s raid. But then, he belatedly recalled that he had the ‘Stealth’ skill.

Wouldn’t he be able to do whatever he wanted without running into problems with that skill?

The corners of Jin-Woo’s lips arched up.

‘Okay, so should I get started for real now?’

And then.

“Uwaaaah-!!”

Just in time, he spotted the leader of the raid team, Sohn Ki-Hoon, engaged in a life-or-death battle with three High Orcs.

Jin-Woo’s legs moved swiftly.

< Chapter 85 > Fin.

Comment