I Alone Level-Up
Back when he found himself standing on a crossroad, Jin-Woo chose the ‘Blessed random box’ instead of the ‘Cursed random box’.
And the result of that decision was the key to the Demon’s Castle.
Thanks to that, he gained entry to this instant dungeon and earned a lot. His level had risen up greatly, he acquired lots of items, and as for Gold… Well, it was overflowing to such an extent that he was beginning to think he should start spending some very soon.
‘Even if I was given a chance to do-over, I’d have chosen the same.’
However, just because he chose to take this path, that didn’t mean he was not curious about the potential result of choosing a different path.
The ‘Blessed random box’, supposed to give him what he wanted, and the ‘Cursed random box’ that was supposed to give him what he needed.
Just what could be inside the latter?
‘I did get what I wanted from the Blessed random box, that’s for sure.’
And so, the perfect chance to satisfy that curiosity once and for all had landed in his lap.
His heart began beating a little bit faster than before; Jin-Woo quietly waited for the System’s answer. He thought that its reply was slower than usual.
His anxiety turned out to be groundless, though, because the System did reply pretty soon afterwards.
[You have chosen ‘Item: Cursed random box’.]
[The chosen item is now available.]
A small box slowly materialised in front of his feet.
His heart beating much quicker now, Jin-Woo hurriedly picked the box up. However, he was suddenly overcome with this feeling that the weight of this box was rather familiar to him.
Could it be?
He quickly ripped the lid open and confirmed what was inside, only for his eyes to grow very large.
Upon exiting the Demon’s Castle, Jin-Woo headed home right away.
He just wanted to take a shower and clean himself.
While he was stuck inside the dungeon, he didn’t even get to wash his face once. He could buy all the water he needed from the Store, sure, but there was no space or time to wash inside the dungeon.
‘I mean, there are monsters everywhere in that place, so just where would I find the leeway to take a shower….?’
Arriving home, he immediately entrusted himself to the cascading warm water. Only then did the fact that he left the dungeon feel like reality.
‘Yup, being home is the best.’
Changing to a new set of clothes, Jin-Woo left the towel on his wet hair and settled down on the edge of his bed. It was now time to get some things organised.
First of all, he summoned his Stat window.
A long, long wall of text that managed to almost disorient him popped up in front of his view. Jin-Woo’s gaze stopped at the Status column.
[Stat points available to distribute: 20]
The additional Stat points he earned as the quest completion reward were still waiting for him. And of course, he put them all in Intelligence.
Finally, Intelligence had exceeded other Stats.
It was still some ways off Strength, but when considering the fact that he didn’t even pay attention to the Intelligence Stat until recently, this growth could only be called lightning fast.
Strength, Endurance, Agility, Intelligence, and Perception. A good balance between them had been established now.
‘Not one of these Stats are useless to me.’
As it so happened, he had gone through stages of seriously investing in each of his Stats. And now, he knew full well the effects and advantages each Stat brought to the table.
Now that things had come to this, how about him raising all of his Stats equally from now on, instead of focusing only on one?
An All-Stat Player.
Suddenly, the desire to become one gripped him tightly.
What a happy dilemma to have this was, something only possible because it felt like not one of his Stats was lagging behind others now.
‘Once Intelligence rises past Strength, I should start slowly raising the others, too.’
Making up his mind, Jin-Woo shifted his gaze to the Skill window next.
That’s where he discovered the third reward.
[Reward 3: Unknown reward]
He thought that the first reward ‘the item he wanted’ and the second reward ‘bonus Stat points’ were more than enough, so he didn’t pay all that much attention to the third reward.
Maybe, he was just mildly curious? Was that about it?
But well, he already got the reward, so no need to be shy now, was there?
[Reward 3 has been made available.]
Along with that message, a scroll similar in size to the ‘entry permit’ appeared in his hands.
Jin-Woo’s eyes opened wider at this unexpected type of reward, and he unfurled the scroll right away.
[Recipe: Divine Water of Life]
You can learn the crafting methods of ‘Divine Water of Life’.
Jin-Woo’s eyes widened even further.
‘I can craft an item… with this?’
And here he was, thinking that only those who had Awakened as mage-types could craft weapons containing magical energy… Now that he thought about it, though, he was also a mage-type, wasn’t he?
‘Still, to think, there was a way to craft something with just a recipe like this….’
Jin-Woo heart began palpitating. But, a question formed in his head at the same time. Just what could he make here, anyway?
‘What is this Divine Water of Life?’
Jin-Woo read the information on this ‘Divine Water of Life’ written inside the recipe.
[Item: Divine Water of Life]
A mysterious liquid medicine that cures any and all illnesses through the powerful magic contained within. The effect will only manifest after one whole bottle has been consumed.
‘Cures…. any and all illnesses?’
The moment he read that information, he thought about his mother, still confined to the hospital.
He had already confirmed through Yu Jin-Ho multiple times that effects of various potions still worked on other people. If he could truly make this ‘Divine Water of Life’, then it meant that he’d be able to save his mother.
His hands holding the scroll trembled from excitement.
The ingredients were also on the simpler side, so to speak.
‘Fragment of the World Tree.’
He earned that after killing Vulcan on the 50th floor.
‘Spring Water from the Forest of Echoes.’
He got that after killing Metus the necromancer on the 75th floor.
‘…..Purified Blood of the Demon King.’
This item hadn’t shown up, yet.
However, thinking back to the two ingredients that had come out so far, he could easily guess where he might find some of this ‘Purified Blood of the Demon King’ from.
The upper floors.
‘I’m sure it’s with the final boss of the Demon’s Castle, probably on the top floor.’
In other words, simply by clearing the Demon’s Castle dungeon, the ingredients to craft the ‘Divine Water of Life’ would fall into his lap one by one.
It happened, then.
A gasp of epiphany leaked out of his mouth, completely unbeknownst to him. That’s how surprised Jin-Woo was.
Could it be that… the item he wanted as per description on the Blessed random box said – could that be this Divine Water of Life?
Thinking about the possibility that he’d get to see his mother again all healthy, his eyes began welling up with emotions.
Then, a new message popped up.
[You can learn Crafting Skill via ‘Recipe: Divine Water of Life’.]
[Will you learn this Crafting Skill?]
The mechanical beep brought him back to his senses, fast.
In order to craft this Divine Water of Life, he needed to clear the Demon’s Castle first. Meaning, he had quickly get himself prepared and return to that place. He had no time to waste on sentimentality like this.
“….I’m learning it.”
[You have acquired Crafting Skill for ‘Item: Divine Water of Life’.]
‘I’m not dreaming, right?’
As if to imply that his memories were functioning fine, a new column called [Crafting Skill] appeared on the Skills window.
Consumable: Divine Water of Life (2/3)
The numbers behind the name probably indicated the two ingredients he already possessed – the ‘Fragment of the World Tree’, and the ‘Spring Water from the Forest of Echoes’.
‘Ah, right. Next up….’
Jin-Woo summoned his Inventory and retrieved an item stored right next to the spring water. It was a necklace, seemingly carved out from skulls of various small creatures.
[Item: Demon Sovereign’s Necklace]
Agility +20, Intelligence +20
When worn together with ‘Demon Sovereign’s Earrings’ and ‘Demon Sovereign’s Ring’, set bonus effects will be unlocked.
Set effect 1: (locked)
Set effect 2: (locked)
The ‘Spring Water from the Forest of Echoes’ wasn’t the only loot he got from killing the Guide of the Departed Souls, Metus. Indeed, this rather vile-looking necklace also came out, too.
‘Why are the designs of all the necklaces I found so crappy….?’
Jin-Woo frowned deeply while recalling the appearance of the dog collar he was currently wearing. He slowly brought the ‘Demon Sovereign’s Necklace’ closer to his neck.
[Will you replace ‘Gatekeeper’s Necklace’ with ‘Demon Sovereign’s Necklace’?]
Both necklaces boasted rather similar additional effects. Both raised two of his Stats by 20 points each. However, the demon sovereign’s also had the set effect to consider, as well.
[You have equipped ‘Item: Demon Sovereign’s Necklace’.]
The skull necklace disappeared from his hands, only to be replaced by a dog collar.
He quickly shoved that dog collar inside his Inventory, and checked the newly unlocked set effect of the ‘demon sovereign’s accessory set’.
Set effect 1: All Stats +5
‘All of my Stats rose up by 5 points.’
He only managed to unlock one set effect, yet he received a boost similar to levelling up five times. And then, he still had one more unknown effect to go, the one he’d receive after gathering all the accessories.
‘The Demon Sovereign’s Ring….’
When considering the possibility that the last unlocked set effect from all three accessories being in one place should be even greater than the individual parts on their own, this really was already an amazing performance.
However, acquiring accessories rated at S was only a part of the harvest he enjoyed after entering the Demon’s Castle. The real profit was his level jumping up so high.
Jin-Woo stared at his level that had climbed up to 77 and smiled in content.
‘I levelled up 16 times inside a week.’
Such a levelling up speed was unthinkable when entering rank C dungeons. He had definitely extracted suitable compensation for going through hell (?) for seven days.
He still had some unfinished matters there, but well, this week’s conquest of the Demon’s Castle should be called a roaring success, regardless of what.
Except for one – there was one thing he couldn’t really figure out yet.
Jin-Woo let the light from the lamp fall on the object that came out of the cursed random box.
‘Just what the hell is this thing?’
It was a pitch-black key that seemed to absorb all light. No information popped up in his view, either.
‘This is the first time seeing an item with absolutely no information….’
The keys to instant dungeons could be seen as pretty common, since he got them from random boxes every now and then. But this guy here, he had never seen anything quite like it.
‘Where am I supposed to use this?’
Perhaps because it came out of a box named Cursed random this-and-that, he couldn’t help but think that there was this ominous aura circling around the key.
He acquired this key through so much hard work, so he couldn’t even throw it away.
‘Well, I’m sure I’ll get to use it sooner or later.’
The Cursed random box was supposed to give him something that he needed, after all.
Jin-Woo stored the mystery key back inside his Inventory and got up from the bed.
He needed to purchase a few artefacts if he wanted to completely conquer the Demon’s Castle.
‘And, I’ve got something to sell, too.’
However, there was a problem. And that was – things would become quite complicated if a rank E Hunter wanted to buy and sell high-ranked artefacts.
Who wouldn’t suspect something was off when a low-ranked Hunter – no, someone right at the bottom – tried to sell an item that even the top Hunters found hard to acquire?
It was the same story if he wanted to buy something.
As long as the title of rank E followed him around, there would always be questions regarding the sources of his income.
‘And, it’ll be hard to answer when someone asks me about what I’m planning to do with expensive artefacts, too.’
Several troublesome situations would unfold at this rate.
“Which means, I should….”
Time to stop pretending to be a rank E, then.
Time… to get the rank reassignment test.
It was now time to get the rank that matched his current set of abilities.
Jin-Woo’s expression became serious.
‘With my current level, surely I won’t get jerked around by someone else.’
That was his original aim, to begin with.
In order to avoid situations where he was being under the thumb of someone stronger, he continued to act as a rank E, while taking on all the inconvenience that came along with it.
However, what about now?
He didn’t even falter slightly when Baek Yun-Ho, the Guild Master of the White Tiger, stood in front of him. Hell, he was pretty confident of not cowering no matter who stood in front of him now, be that Baek Yun-Ho or anyone else.
He saw no reason to hide his powers anymore.
Thump, thump, thump….
When he made up his mind to finally get rid of that irksome rank E tag for good, his heart began beating faster and faster.
‘….But, before that….’
There was something he had to confirm first.
Jin-Woo switched on his Hunter-only smartphone. It was his first time powering the device on in a week, so naturally, there were quite a lot of missed calls and messages waiting for him.
The majority of those numbers he failed to recognise. It was an unfortunate thing for those callers, but well, he didn’t have the time to manually check each and every one out.
‘If they are in a hurry, I’m sure they’ll contact me again.’
Thinking coolly like that, Jin-Woo scrolled down the list of contacts and eventually located the number he wanted. He dialled this number.
The bright, energetic pop song didn’t even get to play for a second longer, before the other side hurriedly answered the call.
….Maybe, Jin-Woo stayed inside the dungeon for far too long?
Because he was surprised by how nice it felt to hear the kid’s voice again. A smile spread on Jin-Woo’s lips as he spoke.
“Did the talk with your father go well?”
Now that was a good piece of news to hear.
Jin-Woo made this call to confirm, because he couldn’t go ahead and do the rank reassignment test if Yu Jin-Ho hadn’t made a deal with his father yet.
However, if the matters of that side were taken care of, then there really was nothing holding him back at this point.
He guessed the good news just from hearing the kid’s excited tone of voice, but now that he got the confirmation from the horse’s mouth, Jin-Woo was feeling really happy as well.
‘….What was that?’
The phone call abruptly came to an end, and when he checked, the battery in his phone was flat.
‘Oh, right….. Even before entering the Demon’s Castle, it didn’t have much charge left, didn’t it?’
Well, at least he got to confirm what he wanted to confirm, so that was a relief.
Jin-Woo fixed his clothes and prepared to leave.
The main building of the Hunter’s Association wasn’t too far from here. He should be able to go through the reassignment test pretty quickly.
“Oh, hang on a second….”
Jin-Woo was just about to leave the apartment, but he hurriedly came back inside. He had forgotten all about his little sister.
Since she might get worried if her oppa left home again without saying anything, he scribbled a simple memo and placed it on the dining table. Well, he only came back home after a whole week of absence, after all.
With a satisfied smile on his face, Jin-Woo turned around to leave.
It really had been a while since Jin-Woo last came to the Awakened rank evaluation application kiosk.
‘Has it been four years already?’
Or, maybe it was close to five now?
Jin-Woo’s expression was full of reminiscence as he stood in front of the employee manning the reception kiosk.
The employee didn’t even bother to look at him and spoke.
“Please jot down your identification and contact details, and give them to me.”
Jin-Woo still remembered most of the process so he had prepared them before coming here. He readily presented both his identification and the contact details.
The employee’s head tilted this way and that after taking one look at Jin-Woo’s choice of identification.
“Isn’t this a Hunter licence?”
Employee formed a confused expression.
“If you are unhappy with your assigned rank, you should head over to another depar….”
“No, it’s not that. I wish to take the reassignment test.”
The employee continued to alternate his gaze between the Hunter licence and Jin-Woo’s face, before raising a trembling finger in the air.
“P-please, wait for me here.”
The employee then quickly ran over to a middle-aged man with a scowl on his face sitting somewhere behind him.
“Manager? A Hunter-nim wishes to take a reassignment test.”
“A reassignment test? What’s that person’s rank?”
“It’s an E.”
The manager craned his neck out and took a look at the waiting Jin-Woo’s face over by the reception desk. He then reverted back to his previous posture.
“There are guys like that every now and then. Hunters who are not satisfied by the reality of their situation, and swim inside daydreams, before coming back here hoping against hope.”
“So, is that guy also….?”
The manager nodded his head.
“Reawakened, my foot…. Others are busy raking in the dough as Hunters, getting famous and all that, but well, he drew the short straw and he ended up as a nobody. So, he’s just trying to escape from reality.”
“Dealing with guys like that will only tire you out. So, just tell him that he’ll be paying the fee for the test and send him on his way to the measurement room.”
The employee no longer looked like he was suffering from abdominal pain, and returned to his seat.
Meanwhile, the manager alternated his gaze between the employee and Jin-Woo, clicked his tongue, before shifting his attention back to the computer monitor in front of him.
The fingers of the manager stopped typing on the keyboard.
The name written on the Hunter licence… why did it feel like he had heard of that name before from somewhere?
‘Where was it?’
Once the young Hunter left for the building with the measurement room in it, the manager sneaked in closer to the employee and asked him.
“That rank E Hunter just now, what was his name again?”
“It’s Seong Jin-Woo. Do you know who he is?”
“No, it’s not that. But….”
But, he just couldn’t get over this feeling that he had heard of that name before, for sure. The manager did his absolute best to jog his memories, and then, his eyes widened as something did enter his mind.
‘That man’ asked for a favour, didn’t he?
‘That man’ asked the manager to give him a call if a Hunter named Seong Jin-Woo ever showed up here. Why couldn’t he remember that sooner?
The manager sought out a deserted corner and hurriedly pulled out his phone.
“Ah, hello there, Chairman Baek. I’m calling you because of the Hunter you spoke about the last time, the man named Seong Jin-Woo. He really came here today. But, how did you know that he might appear here?”
“Yes. He was here just now, applying to get a reassignment test.”
The conversation came to an abrupt halt and an awkward silence pervaded the line. However, only a short while later, an urgent voice came out from the phone’s speaker.
The manager began tilting his head.
Did he just mishear that?
The Master of the one-and-only White Tiger Guild was speaking with an anxious voice?
‘Well, I’ll be.’
Besides all that, though – the evaluation process was out of his hands, already. The manager could only sheepishly reply while scratching the side of his head.
“That man must’ve entered the measurement building by now.”
< Chapter 75 > Fin.