I Alone Level-Up
Park Hui-Jin had realised something back then.
And that would be the level of terror an upper-ranked dungeon could possess, and how powerless she was in front of such overwhelming odds.
‘It’s like, I’m the one who ended up learning what Mister Seong Jin-Woo wanted to teach Hahn Song-Yi….’
It was kind of embarrassing, but what could she do? Pretending that terrifying things weren’t terrifying was an exercise in foolhardiness and stupidity.
The experiences she had back in the Red Gate were enough to make her skin crawl. However…
However, just because of her fear, she couldn’t give up on all the sweet treatment and the status enjoyed by a rank B Hunter.
The sky-high annual salary!
The plentiful societal benefits!!
And finally, the public recognition!
If one disregarded the inherent danger, then being a Hunter was pretty much the perfect career. Precisely because of the high-risk factor, the return on ‘investment’ was equally huge.
But now, Park Hui-Jin had figured out a sure-fire way to decrease the risk associated with her job.
‘And that is to go on a raid together with the team leader Seong Jin-Woo.’
The one person Park Hui-Jin was utterly envious of back in the Red Gate dungeon was none other than Hahn Song-Yi. There was only one reason for that.
And that would be the promise Seong Jin-Woo made towards Hahn Song-Yi.
If you analyse those words in a different way, then he was trying to say that he had no reason whatsoever to protect other team members besides Hahn Song-Yi. No, they were just baggage.
So, she was constantly worried that those two folks would abandon the group and sneak away unnoticed.
But on the sixth day….
Seong Jin-Woo really did clear the upper-rank dungeon all by himself and took Hahn Song-Yi home, safe and sound.
He had kept his promise.
Seeing that, Park Hui-Jin became sure of one thing. And that would be…
As long as she was working for him during the raids, she’d never find herself in danger.
The moment she realised this, her heart began pounding uncontrollably. And the level of her excitement hadn’t cooled off even until now.
His calm and cold decision making.
His excellent abilities.
And not only that, his sense of responsibility, too.
She really wanted to go on a raid together with Seong Jin-Woo. That was why she came up with that term of hers.
‘They must put me in the team leader Seong Jin-Woo’s raid team, no questions asked.’
Baek Yun-Ho and Ahn Sahng-Min chatted to each other. And a little bit later….
“We accept your terms.”
Baek Yun-Ho smiled genially.
“In that case, Miss Park Hui-Jin, act together with Chief Ahn for the time being.”
“Thank you very much, sir.”
However, she was well aware that scouting that man wouldn’t be easy. Seong Jin-Woo was more than well aware of his own true worth, after all.
‘Even during the Red Gate, he was always so full of confidence.’
indeed, making him ‘move’ would be one hell of a challenge.
She now had another chance to meet him again. An imperceptible smile formed on Park Hui-Jin’s lips.
Baek Yun-Ho was pondering something until then, before opening his lips in some difficulty.
“I’d like to know Mister Seong Jin-Woo’s contact details.”
“Guild Master, that is….”
Ahn Sahng-Min decided to tell everything regarding on why he had to conceal the matters regarding Jin-Woo until now.
Baek Yun-Ho wordlessly listened to it and gravely nodded his head.
“It’s understandable that he wishes to remain anonymous, what with him possessing such incredible abilities. After all, there are enough people in this world who wish to stay out of the limelight, too.”
But then, such a guy did reveal his powers in front of quite a few eyewitnesses. Sure, the situation back then might have been urgent, but it was also likely that he felt more or less okay about letting the world know of his powers.
“As long as the matter isn’t blown out of proportion, I’m sure Mister Seong Jin-Woo won’t blame you, Chief Ahn.”
Ahn Sahng-Min nodded his head.
Of course, no one present in this room wished to leak this story beyond these walls. Never mind for Seong Jin-Woo, it would not be a good thing for both the Association and the White Tiger, as well.
“That’s that, but….”
Ahn Sahng-Min was worried about something else, though.
And that would be his boss rushing things and ending up screwing everything up because he didn’t know of Hunter Seong Jin-Woo’s rather decisive character.
He dearly wanted to prevent that, at least.
“Sir. I think… you directly contacting him is a bit….”
Baek Yun-Ho quickly figured out what Ahn Sahng-Min was trying to say here.
“Ahh, don’t worry. I’m not trying to contact him in regards to the recruitment.”
“Pardon me? But then, why….?”
“It’s as Mister Seong Jin-Woo said last night.”
Baek Yun-Ho realised something after listening to Park Hui-Jin’s debriefing. Seong Jin-Woo was the White Tiger Guild’s benefactor.
He had saved three new recruits of the Guild. Not only that, but he also took care of the Red Gate, thereby ensuring that the honour of the White Tiger wasn’t tarnished.
Even though the Association’s people made the blunder, just how bad would the impact on the Guild’s public image have been if this news got out, and everyone learned of them losing almost all of their new recruits?
Just imagining it gave Baek Yun-Ho nightmares – enough to have a total freak out, almost, right here.
‘And there I was, trying to stop that person no matter what just to get to the bottom of the incident….’
He could now understand the reason why the youth was feeling quite grumpy at that time.
If he didn’t know the circumstances, fine, but now that he knew, he simply had to do a certain thing as a living, breathing human being.
“As the representative of the White Tiger Guild, I’d like to officially express my gratitude to Mister Seong Jin-Woo. And to properly apologise for yesterday’s incident, as well.”
‘Ahh, if that’s what he means, then….’
Ahn Sahng-Min could understand now.
With Beak Yun-Ho’s straight-forward, no-nonsense personality, he wouldn’t bother Seong Jin-Woo with the matters of recruitment under the pretext of thanking the youth.
And well, he also wanted to convey his gratitude as well.
Ahn Sahng-Min pulled his phone out and found Seong Jin-Woo’s numbers rather quickly.
“What is his number?”
Baek Yun-Ho also pulled his own phone out to save the contact number.
It was then.
“His number is….”
Just as Ahn Sahng-Min was about to read the phone number, he felt something was off, and turned his head to his side.
“Uhm, excuse me. What are you doing, Park Hui-Jin Hunter-nim?”
“Ah, well, I….”
With an awkward smile on her face, Park Hui-Jin sneakily hid her phone away, its screen still displaying “Add new contacts”.
Inside the number one Guild in Korea, the Hunters.
A rather interesting piece of news found its way to the owner of the Hunters and the currently-active rank S Hunter, Choi Jong-In.
“This… has this been confirmed?”
Would anyone knock on their bosses’ doors with unconfirmed information?
Chief of the recruitment department, Joh Myoung-Ki, nodded his head.
“Yes, Sir. We received this info earlier today from the Association.”
Every major Guild had one or two informants inside the Association.
It might not be a kosher thing to do, but this was the only way to stay one step ahead of the competition, contacting an exciting new talent first if one were to emerge out of nowhere.
However, earlier today, the Hunters’ informant had leaked a pretty strange story. And after lengthy deliberation, Joh Myoung-Ki decided to come to his boss’s office with this news.
‘Why? Because, the White Tiger Guild is on a roll nowadays, and they are large enough to threaten us, the Hunters.’
So, he figured that this information was worth reporting to the boss man. Exactly as Joh Myoung-Ki had suspected, Choi Jong-In displayed great interest in the matter right away.
“From a Red Gate that killed one rank A and six rank Bs, two rank Cs returned alive? Not only that, they managed to clear the dungeon, too? That is pure nonsense.”
….Even if there was one rank B among them, there was no way that this was true.
Choi Jong-In shook his head as he continued to read the memo.
“Without a doubt, there was someone else helping them out. Someone not mentioned in here.”
Choi Jong-In was certain of this. His extensive experiences in raiding dungeons told him as so.
Joh Myoung-Ki replied.
“Looks like the Association also suspects that, Sir. However….”
“It seems that the White Tiger isn’t saying anything.”
“So, is the Association planning to overlook it, then?”
“I heard that they don’t want to conflate the matters any further, since their fault in this incident is already too significant, Sir.”
Choi Jong-In rested his hand against his chin. It was a habit of his whenever he fell into deep thought.
It was understandable from the Association’s point of view, but why was the White Tiger keeping quiet on this matter? There could be only one reason.
“The White Tiger must’ve received help from someone they don’t want others to know about.”
“I also thought the same thing, sir.”
The opinions of the two people present matched.
Choi Jong-In’s brain rapidly kicked into gear.
‘A nameless helper who can rescue lower ranked Hunters from a dungeon that’s difficult enough to kill most of the higher ranked Hunters….’
He could barely hold himself back from the curiosity now.
‘A newbie who hasn’t gone through the rank assignment test? Or, maybe a convict whose identity can’t be revealed?’
Either case was okay with him.
If it was a newbie, then the Hunters must bring that person to their fold. If it was a convict, on the other hand, then he’d be able to throw some mud in the White Tiger’s direction.
Choi Jong-In’s eyes began sparkling.
“Looks like we need to find out who was there.”
“Have you thought of a good way, sir?”
“If you want to catch a hidden racoon, you have to set the racoon’s hole on fire first.”
Joh Myoung-Ki’s eyes grew extra round.
“Are you planning to set the White Tiger Guild on fire?!”
“You think I’m crazy?? Why should I set someone else’s perfectly fine organisation on fire??”
“Ahh, my apologies, Sir. Since you are such an excellent magic-type Hunter and all, I, uh…..”
His nickname wouldn’t be ‘the ultimate weapon’ for no reason, now would it? If Choi Jong-In got serious and used his powers in full, then blowing up a building would be as easy as pie.
In any case, Choi Jong-In continued on.
“Not that. We just have to create a hot mess.”
“So, it was fire…..”
When Choi Jong-In began glaring at his underling, Joh Myoung-Ki hurriedly shut his mouth.
“We leak this to the media.”
Joh Myoung-Ki’s eyes widened.
“The big mistake of the Hunters’ Association, a massacre of the large Guild’s members, and finally, the ensuing mystery that got buried underfoot. The media just loves that kind of stuff. Wouldn’t you agree?”
Joh Myoung-Ki’s head automatically went up and down in a nod.
Choi Jong-In chuckled slyly.
“Once they get bombarded by the non-stop barrage from the media, the White Tiger will grow too fed up and in the end, reveal the identity of this mystery helper.”
“So, there was a method like that!”
Joh Myoung-Ki also began smiling as well.
This was a great chance to sucker-punch the persistent White Tiger that dared to chase after the Hunters Guild.
The ends of Choi Jong-In’s lips arched up.
“Call the reporters right away.”
[You have entered a dungeon.]
As soon as he stepped foot inside the dungeon, Jin-Woo took in a deep breath.
After being ‘confined’ to an open-field type dungeon for a few days, the air inside the cavern-type dungeon felt new and refreshing.
Yu Jin-Ho followed him into the dungeon soon afterwards.
“Hyung-nim, I wonder just what kind of monsters would come out in this dungeon.”
“Yeah, me too.”
‘I can sense their presence close by, though.’
Indeed, they were quite close, but they couldn’t spot any.
But, when Jin-Woo took one step forward…
The floor of the cave began rising up here, there, and everywhere.
Humanoid monsters with skins made out of rocks appeared. Yu Jin-Ho quickly recalled their name.
“Hyung-nim, it’s the Stonemen.”
Jin-Woo nodded his head.
These b*stards were known to possess the toughest exterior out of all the monsters that appeared within lower ranked dungeons. Common sense was to use magic when one was to hunt down a Stoneman, but….
“Hold this for me, will ya?”
Jin-Woo entrusted the cylindrical vinyl package to Yu Jin-Ho and walked towards the monsters.
Yu Jin-Ho flinched grandly, thinking that the content was a weapon, but nothing particularly noteworthy happened.
‘It wasn’t a weapon?’
Meanwhile, Jin-Woo stood before the Stonemen and summoned both the ‘Baruka’s dagger’ and ‘Knight Killer’.
In the blink of an eye, the head of the Stoneman in front of the pack rolled to the ground.
Jin-Woo looked at the ‘Baruka’s dagger’ and smiled in satisfaction.
‘It’s pretty good.’
Then, suddenly, the smiling Jin-Woo disappeared from the spot.
Just as Jin-Woo reappeared past the group of the Stonemen, all ten-plus of them collapsed to the ground.
Rumble – crash!
‘My body has gotten a step lighter and faster after the Red Gate thing, hasn’t it?’
But, of course it would have.
His current level was 60. His level had risen up by nine from 51 after killing all those Ice Bears and White Phantoms. And now, the rank C monsters felt like those Goblins from the rank E dungeon to him.
‘At this rate, I don’t even need to use my weapons.’
Now that he had warmed up nicely….
‘Should I increase the hunting speed, then?’
Time to summon his shadow soldiers.
With an excellent timing, another group of Stonemen was slowly lumbering towards his position from the deeper part of the cave.
As soon as he issued an order, the soldiers confined to Jin-Woo’s shadow rapidly revealed themselves behind him.
And sure enough, there was a loud scream accompanying that, too.
Jin-Woo facepalmed and turned around.
‘I forgot he was here with me.’
He got way too excited and completely forgot about Yu Jin-Ho for a moment there.
While plopped on his a*s, Yu Jin-Ho pointed his trembling finger at the shadow soldiers standing right in front of him.
“W-w-what are these??”
“It’s a bit complicated to explain… well, it’s my skill.”
“You, you can summon these things as your, your s-skill?”
Yu Jin-Ho’s jaw remained slack and didn’t want to close.
Him and hyung-nim had entered dungeons together eleven times already. He thought that he wouldn’t get shocked anymore, but he was proven wrong once more.
As expected, hyung-nim was an existence that easily exceeded one’s imagination.
Yu Jin-Ho laboriously swallowed his saliva as his eyes took on the black-armoured soldiers emitting a blood-chilling aura.
Meanwhile, Jin-Woo shifted his gaze away. The lumbering Stonemen had already arrived near their vicinity.
Jin-Woo pointed at them with his chin.
As if they were waiting for that, the soldiers silently rushed forward.
The floor of the cave shook hard as the forty-odd armoured soldiers all ran at the same time. For sure, with the addition of Iron and the beast soldiers, the overall weight of the group had increased by a lot.
‘It’s like I’m looking at a fleet of tanks, isn’t it?’
Jin-Woo formed a very satisfied expression.
What with the shadow soldiers sweeping through everything, the dungeon got cleared in the proverbial blink of an eye.
The only things remaining on the floor were the scattered and broken bits of Stonemen that resembled cookies made out of dirt.
A rank C dungeon was destroyed in no time at all, in other words.
Jin-Woo exclaimed in admiration.
‘At this rate, we might get to mop up the rest of the raids pretty quickly, no?’
It seemed that the remaining eight raids would not take that long to finish up.
As soon as the battle ended, the shadow soldiers retrieved the magic crystals and stood before Jin-Woo in orderly columns. Igrit and Iron stood in front of them.
The two knights stepped to the front and knelt down.
Once the soldiers stopped moving, Yu Jin-Ho finally sneaked in closer to Jin-Woo’s side.
He then returned the mystery vinyl package back to Jin-Woo.
Jin-Woo wordlessly took out the tumbler contained with the vinyl pack and began sucking on the straw.
“Hyung-nim, what is that?”
“It’s veggie juice.”
“I kinda like its taste, actually.”
After he almost completely drained the tumbler, Jin-Woo asked Yu Jin-Ho.
“Hey, Jin-Ho. How many Gates did you book today?”
Yu Jin-Ho was in the middle of cautiously reaching out to touch the fur of one of the beast soldiers, but he quickly pulled his hand back and turned back to Jin-Woo.
“Four Gates, hyung-nim.”
With four today, only five would remain. He didn’t see any reason to waste any more time on this.
“In that case, let’s finish up everything by tomorrow. It doesn’t matter if a Gate is a bit far away, anyway.”
“You mean, tomorrow?”
Inexplicably, Yu Jin-Ho took a look around him. Seeing all the broken wreckage of Stonemen littering the floor, he couldn’t help but slowly nod his head.
‘For sure, with this kind of speed….’
“Understood, hyung-nim. By the way….”
Yu Jin-Ho hesitated slightly, before opening his mouth with some difficulty.
“Can I be the one to retrieve the magic stones?”
“I’m kinda upset because it feels like my role’s been stolen by these guys, hyung-nim.”
Jin-Woo burst out into a soft chuckle.
‘Yup, this kid really is a weird one.’
And a day later….
Jin-Woo finished the 19 raids he had promised Yu Jin-Ho.
< Chapter 66 > Fin.