I Alone Level-Up
“You will acknowledge summoned creatures as members of a raid team?! Do you think such a thing even makes sense?”
Nam Joon-Wook yelled out at the top of his lungs.
Formerly a prosecutor, he now served as a member of the National Assembly. No one in this country came remotely close to this man’s ability to sniff out and latch onto a person’s wrongdoings.
The Association President Goh Gun-Hui maintained his silence as he sat on the opposite side of such a man.
Nam Joon-Wook was actually smiling inside as he was staring at his current verbal sparring partner.
‘Indeed, even if you had ten mouths, you’d not have anything to say.’
The victor had been decided already. No matter who it was, they would say this was Association President Goh Gun-Hui going too far. He must’ve known this too, because he showed absolutely no signs of counterattacking yet.
Nam Joon-Wook was not thinking of easing up here.
His style was to keep up the pressure when the enemy was on the back foot. He’d push his opponents hard until they were driven to the edge of a cliff.
Veins bulged in his neck as he raised his voice high, not at Goh Gun-Hui, but at the entirety of the third conference hall, currently filled to the brim with the interested parties and a cordon of reporters.
“Hunter Seong Jin-Woo has barely finished creating his Guild, yet you already wish to pass this nonsensical regulation? If this isn’t the case of preferential treatment, then what is?”
The Hunter’s Association, a supposedly-neutral organisation, was actively getting behind Hunter Seong Jin-Woo. There was such a rumour doing the rounds already, yet the so-called new regulation was this nonsensical? It was no wonder serious questions were being raised regarding this matter.
Today’s hearing was convened in order to hear the reasonings, but for some reason, Association President Goh Gun-Hui was resolutely keeping his mouth shut.
Nam Joon-Wook sensed his impending victory.
Goh Gun-Hui’s fame had skyrocketed recently due to him pulling off the Jeju Island raid so brilliantly. But now, Nam Joon-Wook got to deal two powerful blows to that man, with the recent high school dungeon break incident, and the controversy surrounding the preferential treatment Hunter Seong Jin-Woo had received.
Basically, politics was a turf war of sorts.
If he got to bring down Goh Gun-Hui, a man standing at the opposite end of the political battlefield, then Nam Joon-Wook would get to enjoy his share of the benefits sooner rather than later.
He imagined himself dominating the front pages of tomorrow’s newspapers and glared at Goh Gun-Hui with an arrogant expression etched on his face.
“Please say something, Association President Goh Gun-Hui!”
For the first time today, Goh Gun-Hui’s mic was turned on.
Goh Gun-Hui lightly tapped on the end of the mic to confirm that it was working properly, and brought his lips closer to it.
“Just what is it that you wish to hear from me?”
Nam Joon-Wook’s eyes narrowed to a slit.
‘What a thick-faced geezer….’
He expected Goh Gun-Hui to start by offering up an apology. But, could it be that the old man still had some things to say?
Nam Joon-Wook raised his voice even higher.
“The new regulation you put into place! Is this a preferential treatment for Hunter Seong Jin-Woo or not??”
‘So, now – how will you dodge this one?’
Nam Joon-Wook was waiting for a cowardly excuse but then, Goh Gun-Hui went and threw a wet blanket on his parade.
“Yes, it is preferential treatment.”
His answer was short, but the impact it carried was enormous.
Not just the spectators in the gallery, but also the reporters and politicians were busy exchanging knowing or shocked glances with people sitting next to them, which only served to further add fuel to the chaos.
Of course, the one most surprised among them was Nam Joon-Wook.
‘Did this geezer finally go senile??’
Goh Gun-Hui was supposed to deny everything till the end, or start grovelling for mercy when things went sideways, yet he came out and straightforwardly admitted to his wrongdoing. However, his eyes were far too calm for someone making a confession.
Such a calm and audacious demeanour only managed to bring up a sense of an inexplicable nervousness in Nam Joon-Wook.
Dry saliva painfully slid down his throat.
And sure enough, Goh Gun-Hui began speaking again.
“There is one thing I’d like to ask everyone that has gathered here today.”
He possessed an overwhelming presence. As if everyone had made a prior agreement, they all shut their mouths at once when Goh Gun-Hui spoke up.
“An assault team comprising of 20 rank A Hunters, or an assault team comprising of just one person, Hunter Seong Jin-Woo.”
Goh Gun-Hui slowly stood up and swept his gaze over the faces of every attendee present as he continued on with his speech.
“If you were to accompany either one of those teams during a dungeon break, which one will you choose?”
No one could offer up an answer.
Because, it was pretty much the same thing as the answer already being set in stone. There was no reason to answer back at all.
Everyone tried to avoid meeting Goh Gun-Hui’s gaze, and soon, the Association President’s head stopped moving in the direction of Nam Joon-Wook.
Even Nam Joon-Wook himself couldn’t utter a single thing.
Perhaps thinking that he got a satisfying enough reaction from the crowd, a smile floated up on Goh Gun-Hui’s lips.
“Do you still believe the preferential treatment given to Hunter Seong Jin-Woo is unfair?”
A Hunter who could ably execute the role of an elite raid team from a large Guild all by himself – Goh Gun-Hui was now asking the crowd if they should hold back such an individual with a regulation that didn’t even apply to him anymore.
Nam Joon-Wook was about to say something. But before he could, Goh Gun-Hui was a step faster and continued on.
“A total of 21 countries, including the United States, Japan, China, etc., have demanded more information on Hunter Seong.”
Goh Gun-Hui waved around thick official documents for all to see.
“Every single one of them is hell-bent on stealing away Hunter Seong to their countries.”
Goh Gun-Hui took some time to look at the cordon of reporters, before shifting his gaze back over to the member of National Assembly, Nam Joon-Wook.
“Our current situation is like this, yet are you really telling me that you want Hunter Seong to remain in our country even though you are not willing to do a favour this small for him?”
Nam Joon-Wook’s complexion was getting darker and darker. He could definitely sense that the tide had turned against him now. Unfortunately, Goh Gun-Hui wasn’t thinking of letting his opponent go this easily. He kept his gaze firmly locked on Nam Joon-Wook before throwing another question.
“Let me ask you this – do you wish to see a repeat of the incident of Hwang Dong-Su abandoning us for America?”
Nam Joon-Wook bit his lower lip.
As Goh Gun-Hui put the documents down, he was now overflowing with a certain relaxed air, something he had kept hidden until then.
Nam Joon-Wook knew what that look signified. That was the look of the victor he used to make often, just as he was closing in on yet another political victory for himself in situations similar to this one.
Nam Joon-Wook gritted his teeth and tried to raise his objection.
“However, you still need fairness in…..”
“This is why I’m raising this point right now.”
Goh Gun-Hui cut Nam Joon-Wook’s words right off.
“Honourable member Nam Joon-Wook, didn’t you move house recently to a brand new apartment building located near the Hunters Guild?”
Nam Joon-Wook’s face reddened so much that even a casual glance could detect the change.
“What was your reason for changing your residence to a location where the cost of the real estate is several times more expensive than the surrounding area?”
If only his opponent wasn’t a rank S Hunter – Nam Joon-Wook’s would’ve run over there and punched the old man in the face. His own face was now in the alternating shades of red and blue as seconds ticked on.
Too bad, Goh Gun-Hui also knew how to deal with an opponent that was on his back foot, perhaps even better than Nam Joon-Wook himself.
“I’d like to urge you to think about this carefully. If and when another rank S Gate appears in our land, just who will step up to protect your life?”
And with these following words, Goh Gun-Hui finished the proceedings off.
“You will not be able to buy back your life even if you are willing to pay hundreds of times, no, make that thousands of times the price you paid for your new residence.”
Standing before a rank A Gate for the first time ever in his life, Yu Jin-Ho’s bulging eyes were trying to look up at the top of this enormously tall Gate.
He needed to look really high up just to barely spot it.
Seeing how Yu Jin-Ho couldn’t close his mouth for the last 20 minutes or so, Jin-Woo began thinking that his own reaction of seeing the rank A Gate back then was perhaps too reserved for a first timer.
“Hey, Jin-Ho? Your jaw will come loose if you keep doing that.”
“Sorry? Ah, yes. My bad, hyung-nim. It’s just that, I’ve never seen a Gate this big before.”
How would he even react if he saw the Gwang-an-ri Gate, then? Jin-Woo smirked softly to himself.
Yu Jin-Ho scratched his head as if he felt embarrassed for being so shocked by the Gate’s size.
“Hyung-nim, will it be really okay to not hire any retrieval teams or mining teams?”
“Nah, it’ll be fine.”
Jin-Woo summoned 30 of the elite grade Shadow Soldiers that had been with him the longest.
“These guys will carry out those jobs.”
Yu Jin-Ho flinched just a little after all those Shadow Soldiers suddenly appeared behind Jin-Woo, but eventually, he began nodding his head.
These guys with black armours and their black eyes. They always seemed to be overflowing with dense pressure whenever Yu Jin-Ho looked at them.
With excellent timing, the employees dispatched from the Association approached them from afar. One of them happened to be a rather familiar face, as well.
“Good day, Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim.”
“Hello, Section Chief Woo.”
The Chief of the Monitoring Division, Woo Jin-Cheol received the portable magic energy measuring device shaped like a speed gun from one of his subordinates.
“Will it be okay if I go ahead and measure them?”
Jin-Woo moved aside and the Shadow Soldiers all uniformly took a step forward. Woo Jin-Cheol began measuring the magic energy emission of each of the soldiers.
‘Oh my god….’
His eyes were opening wider and wider as he checked every each one of these so-called soldiers. He thanked his lucky stars that no one got to see the look of sheer shock on his face due to the sunglasses he was currently wearing.
‘All of his summons are either rank As or rank Bs.’
Indeed, Jin-Woo had easily exceeded the criteria for earning the raid permit for a rank A Gate such as this one. But then, these weren’t all the summons Hunter Seong Jin-Woo could call out, were they?
If the remaining summons all possessed similar levels of magic energy, then…
The corners of Woo Jin-Cheol’s lips arched up.
‘All those people arguing over the preferential treatment or not are simply idiots.’
He smiled and lightly shook his head, before turning around to face Jin-Woo.
“I’m finished with the confirmation. There are no issues.”
Jin-Woo nodded his head with a smile, as well. And now, there should be nothing else that would get in his way of starting this raid. That’s what he thought, but then….
“Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim!! Please look this way!”
“Please tell us how you feel regarding the very first raid of your Guild, Ah-Jin!”
“Was there a special reason for naming your Guild as Ah-Jin?”
“What is your relationship with the fellow founding member, Miss Yu Soo-Hyun?”
From just beyond the police line, the proverbial torrent of questions from countless reporters were barrelling down on Jin-Woo.
This was the first raid Jin-Woo’s Guild was about to embark on. So, countless reporters camped out here since early morning to capture this historic moment with their cameras, and inevitably, there was no more space to even stand around near the Gate’s vicinity.
If there was one thing different from other Guilds and their raids, then that would be the employees from the Association holding the reporters back, instead of a Guild’s own personnel doing that job.
Jin-Woo pointed to the reporters with his chin.
“I thought you were protecting my information?”
“Yes, we are indeed protecting your private information, but regretfully, there’s not much we can do about the locations of Gates, Seong Hunter-nim.”
Woo Jin-Cheol grinned and made his reply.
“We will hold the reporters back, so you can ignore them and simply focus on the raid, Hunter-nim.”
Watching the Association employees giving their all to fight off the frenzied reporters, Jin-Woo thought that he could momentarily feel the considerate hands of the Association President patting him on the back.
“Please, express my gratitude to the President.”
“Yes, I will definitely do so.”
Woo Jin-Cheol bowed deeply and turned around to leave. And soon, all those uninvolved had left and the only people remaining in front of the Gate were Jin-Woo and Yu Jin-Ho. The former asked the latter.
“Are you really sure about this?”
Yu Jin-Ho gritted his teeth and replied.
“Even if it’s the ends of hell itself, I shall follow you wherever you go, hyung-nim.”
Yu Jin-Ho sounded so gravely determined that Jin-Woo couldn’t help but let a smirk escape from his lips.
Yu Jin-Ho was only a rank D Hunter. It was the same thing as committing suicide for a rank D to step inside a rank A dungeon.
Jin-Woo tried very hard to change Yu Jin-Ho’s mind, but the kid insisted that he’d stay as his hyung-nim’s porter. In the end, it was Jin-Woo who gave up first.
‘Well, I can definitely protect this one guy, so it’s not a problem.’
He was thinking that the kid would give up on his own volition after having a taste of a rank A dungeon. And also, he figured that it wouldn’t be so bad to have someone to talk to inside the dungeon as well.
“Okay, so. Shall we get going, then?”
“Indeed, let’s get going.”
The heads of Jin-Woo and Yu Jin-Ho simultaneously swivelled back after hearing that voice coming from behind them. And that’s where they spotted Woo Jin-Cheol, his usual black business suit now replaced by various armours covering from head to toe.
“I thought you already left?”
Jin-Woo asked, puzzled.
“The Association President ordered me to find out if it is really safe during Seong Hunter-nim’s raid.”
Goh Gun-Hui was planning to use Woo Jin-Cheol as a witness if the issue with Jin-Woo going on solo raids was raised up again in the future.
“Is that why you want to come with us??”
Woo Jin-Cheol replied as his face reddened slightly. It was unknown whether that was due to him not being used to the armour or he was embarrassed by the current situation.
“….Will it be a problem for me to accompany you?”
Well, the guy was just doing his job, so was there reason not to let him tag along?
“It’ll be fine as long as you don’t try to hunt monsters.”
“My department isn’t called the Monitoring Division for nothing, Hunter-nim. I’ll only monitor the situation quietly from the back.”
“That’ll be fine.”
Jin-Woo easily agreed to it and Woo Jin-Cheol bowed his head again.
“Thank you very much, Hunter-nim.”
“Well, in that case… let’s get going.”
Along with that declaration, Yu Jin-Ho and Woo Jin-Cheol stepped inside the Gate, Jin-Woo following closely behind them.
When he did, the System message welcomed him again along with the familiar mechanical beep.
[You have entered a dungeon.]
< Chapter 147 > Fin.