I Alone Level-Up
That wasn’t a bad suggestion.
If Goh Gun-Hui were to lend his support, then even the most average guy would be on the fast track to success.
The National Assembly, the government, the Hunters Association, and even the mass media, too – it’d be very hard to find a sector that Goh Gun-Hui’s reach did not extend to.
Not only that, if the person receiving that support just so happened to a rank S Hunter?
‘I can’t even imagine how far a person like that would climb up.’
All of a sudden, Jin-Woo pictured himself sitting right next to the member of National Assembly Goh Gun-Hui while kitted out in a super-dope designer business suit.
His heart palpitated ever so slightly.
‘Such an opportunity wouldn’t come knocking every day, right?’
Even if one wanted to walk down on this ‘different path’ Goh Gun-Hui had suggested, not everyone was qualified to step on this road, after all.
There was one important thing missing from that scenario.
‘If I sign up with the Association, I won’t be able to increase my level.’
The higher ranked Hunters working for the Association never participated in raids at all. Their main role was to deal with other Hunters, not to hunt down and kill monsters.
And, even if he managed to get permission and participate in raids organised by the Association….
‘Dungeons the Association deals with are rank Ds and Es, those that the Guilds aren’t interested in.’
Could he continue on by hunting down low-level mobs that didn’t even give him any experience points? No, of course not.
Jin-Woo strongly baulked at the idea.
‘I wish to become even stronger.’
To a higher place…..
He wanted to climb up as high as he could.
Unless it was impossible, or there was no certainty, why should he give up on something he was fully capable of achieving?
What a nonsensical notion that was.
‘As long as I keep levelling up, I will get stronger and stronger.’
Imagining that caused his heart to thump way harder and faster than imagining himself being next to the Association President Goh Gun-Hui.
Goh Gun-Hui too sensed the change in Jin-Woo.
‘His breathing has suddenly picked up. Did he finally make up his mind?’
He could only hope that the decision was a good one.
‘No, it simply has to be a good one.’
….If he thought about his remaining time.
His own anticipation no less than that of Jin-Woo’s, Goh Gun-Hui waited for the answer. Each passing second felt like a minute.
Jin-Woo eventually opened his mouth.
Goh Gun-Hui’s expression hardened immediately.
‘I thought I saw determination fill up his face just now…. Was I mistaken?’
He couldn’t hide the disappointment in his face.
‘In the end, the ambition of the man named Seong Jin-Woo was only about this much….’
Goh Gun-Hui wasn’t lying about lending support for the ‘other path’. Actually, he was thinking of something even greater.
‘A new rank S to appear in two years….’
Goh Gun-Hui was thinking of keeping this youth close and teaching him the ropes, and if the kid showed promise, groom him to become the next successor.
Because, a powerful figure was needed to support the Association when he was gone. Meaning, Goh Gun-Hui was planning to hand over everything he had.
However, for the result to be like this….
‘How laughable I am.’
Goh Gun-Hui took away the golden badge and asked in a dejected voice.
“Is it…. because of money?”
Jin-Woo replied right away.
“No, it is not.”
Goh Gun-Hui snorted inwardly.
‘They all sound righteous, of course.’
However, they were all the same inside. In the end, it was all about the money. And, the accompanying fame would be like icing on cake.
Chasing after material wealth was an innate instinct found in all human beings, so Goh Gun-Hui didn’t have any thoughts of faulting the youth for that.
Only that, he found it utterly laughable that people couldn’t be honest with themselves.
“In that case, why did you say no?”
Goh Gun-Hui asked, even though he already knew the answer. He just wanted to see the youth’s response.
“I want to fight.”
Jin-Woo’s unhesitating reply smacked the back of Goh Gun-Hui’s head.
‘What did he say??’
It definitely felt like he got sucker-punched just now.
“That…. Did you mean that you want to fight against the monsters?”
Jin-Woo didn’t bother with unnecessary explanations and spoke frankly.
“I want to enter Gates and hunt down monsters. I believe the place I belong is inside dungeons.”
‘How can this be?’
Goh Gun-Hui’s eyes widened.
A man like him standing on top of many others knew whether someone was telling the truth or lying through their teeth simply from the light emitting from their eyes.
The position he occupied could only be reached by possessing such a skill, after all. That was why Goh Gun-Hui knew it.
‘Those eyes…. He’s being dead serious.’
Goh Gun-Hui’s own eyes staring at Jin-Woo did a 180.
‘How long has it been since I felt this?’
By the time Goh Gun-Hui had ‘Awakened’, his body was already too old. That was why, instead of fighting against monsters, he looked for other things he could do, instead.
By using the money he got from selling his company, he established the Korean Hunters Association, gathered Hunters, and with his fame serving as the foundation, he marched straight into the National Assembly, and even had a hand in creating laws that governed Hunters.
However, there was this lingering regret in his heart that would never go away, even though he worked tirelessly all this time.
‘If only I was younger by 20, no, 10 years, I’d been…. With these young people, I…..!’
Thump, thump, thump….
Goh Gun-Hui pressed his hand on his chest. His heart that threatened to quit at any time was pounding quickly, rather noticeably, now.
‘My heart can still make a noise like this?’
The rhythmic beating of the heart felt good.
On the other hand, Jin-Woo was tilting his head.
‘Isn’t this strange?’
He refused the suggestion of Goh Gun-Hui, fully preparing himself to be at odds with the Association in the process, yet the President seemed to be happy about something, instead.
‘Well, it doesn’t matter one way or the other….’
He had said what he wanted to, so Jin-Woo got up from his seat.
“My younger sister is watching the house alone, so I should get going now.”
“Thank you for your time.”
Goh Gun-Hui got up along with Jin-Woo and pulled something out from his inner pocket.
“And, please take this.”
It was a business card.
“If you require my assistance, don’t hesitate and give me a call.”
Goh Gun-Hui was smiling brightly.
What Jin-Woo said was right. Powerful Hunters belonged in dungeons.
Although he had failed in recruiting Jin-Woo, as the President of the Association, or perhaps as a fellow Hunter, Goh Gun-Hui wished to help Jin-Woo out however he could.
If he were to be more honest, then….
‘This young man, I like him.’
That was why he needed to offer advice, as well. Nagging would only come from someone holding interest towards you, after all.
“It’s impossible to enter high-ranked dungeons by yourself. Please, give it a careful consideration when choosing a Guild to join.”
‘Your choice would change the status quo by a great deal.’
After hearing Goh Gun-Hui’s earnest advice, Jin-Woo briefly formed a mysterious smile.
Jin-Woo pocketed the business card in his wallet, lightly bowed towards Goh Gun-Hui and Woo Jin-Cheol, and left the waiting area.
While letting out a sigh, Goh Gun-Hui plopped down on the chair.
“Are you alright, sir?”
Woo Jin-Cheol guessed that Goh Gun-Hui wasn’t feeling good, and quickly approached his boss. However, Goh Gun-Hui smiled and waved his hand away.
“No, I’m fine.”
Actually, he was beyond fine.
What an enjoyable meeting this had been, a first in such a long while.
Goh Gun-Hui sat there smiling for a long time, before turning to his PA and handed out an order.
“Clear the schedule for the rest of the day.”
“But, sir. The meeting with the Ministers….”
“Cancel them all.”
Goh Gun-Hui chuckled to himself.
“I do not wish to waste this good feeling on those small-minded idiots.”
He wished to retain this lingering feel-good attitude for today, at least.
Suddenly, Goh Gun-Hui shifted his gaze over to Woo Jin-Cheol. Seeing that rarely-seen smile on the President’s face, even Woo Jin-Cheol began feeling a bit hyped up, as well.
“Is there something you need, sir?”
“No, well. It’s nothing serious but, my man…..”
Goh Gun-Hui took his time as he scratched below his chin.
“How about having a drink with me today?”
At this quite unexpected suggestion, Woo Jin-Cheol could only form an awkward smile.
“I’m not very good with holding my liquor, sir…. Will that be fine with you?”
“Uh-huh. I didn’t take you for a person like that.”
Goh Gun-Hui playfully clicked his tongue.
“Haven’t you heard of the old saying about the cup size of a man’s drink determining the extent of the world he can make his own?”
“My apologies, sir.”
Woo Jin-Cheol’s face reddened in embarrassment and scratched the back of his head.
“I was just kidding with you. I’m feeling rather good right now, and jokes just seem to come out on their own.”
Also, the one he wanted to share drinks with was someone else.
Goh Gun-Hui’s gaze shifted towards the end of the corridor that Jin-Woo had disappeared to.
‘Hunter Seong Jin-Woo….’
How well would he be able to hold his liquor?
Thinking that he’d like to find out someday, a thin smile formed on Goh Gun-Hui’s lips.
Jin-Woo stepped down from the bus that came to a noisy stop.
‘Well, I did escape from there with my sister as an excuse, but….’
When he took a look at his watch, it was still too early for her to be home. Jin-Woo slowly walked towards his home.
Hearing an unfamiliar noise, he turned his head to look, and spotted a street lamp that was definitely malfunctioning.
‘Now that I think about it….’
He realised that the street was far too dark.
What with this district being so derelict, to begin with, just from walking a bit away from the main street one would find themselves in a dark and isolated location like this one.
It was at this point that a certain news item entered his mind.
‘The case of serial murders that have been happening around here lately.’
Weren’t the victims supposedly all women?
His little sister frequented this road, as well. Not only that, late at night, too.
‘Since her school’s nearby, we can’t just move house willy-nilly, either.’
He began to get worried now.
Apprehending the criminal wouldn’t be difficult at all as long as the murdering b*stard had been found, but he couldn’t really stand around here every night because of his worries.
Wasn’t there a better way?
He stood there thinking with his arms crossed, before a smile crept up on Jin-Woo’s lips.
‘Well, all I have to do is leave someone else here as a lookout, right?’
Didn’t he possess the perfect candidates for that task?
At Jin-Woo’s call, shadow soldiers popped up.
‘Five should be enough.’
These guys had levelled up quite nicely during their conquest of the Demon’s Castle. Just looking at them gave him lots of confidence.
“From today onwards, you guys will serve as this district’s watchmen. Start your patrol.”
As soon as he finished speaking, the soldiers melted into the shadow-like state. And then, they began moving while weaving in and out of the shades found between various buildings.
‘That’s right. Move around like that avoid being spotted by other people.’
Holy wowsers, what wonderful little kids they were turning out to be!
Unless that serial murderer was a high-ranked Hunter, he’d never be able to win against a shadow soldier. And even if that murdering b*stard did somehow win against his soldiers, Jin-Woo would know right away.
He was an S rank Hunter, after all.
‘No, hang on. Since I don’t have my revised licence yet, should I say that I’m an S rank Awakened, instead?’
Well, what did it matter anyway?
A suburb being protected by a rank S, didn’t matter whether he was a Hunter or an Awakened.
If the truth of a free security system being deployed in this area for 24 hours became known, wouldn’t the land price jump up overnight?
A smirk leaked out of his mouth.
With this, he felt more relaxed.
Jin-Woo scanned his surroundings once more and turned around to leave while looking much more satisfied than before.
“I came running because you said you’d buy me a meal, but it’s just some measly pork belly??”
“Huh?! Are you looking down on the mighty pork belly now??”
“This place is where my great memory of me and my hyung-nim was created, you know!!”
Yu Jin-Ho and his deeply-reddened face put the empty shot glass of alcohol down on the table and snorted out in drunkenness.
“Okay, so why did you bring me to this place of such a ‘wonderful’ memory?”
Yu Soo-Hyun formed a flabbergasted expression.
She was getting ready to sleep, but then, Yu Jin-Ho called her out of the blue.
She found his tearful whimpering rather desperate and pitiful, so she hurriedly came out to meet him, but to think, the place he brought her to was a diner….
It was only obvious for Yu Soo-Hyun to be less than impressed by her current situation, when considering the fact that she grew up as a refined lady of a chaebol’s family, and also from the fact that she was working as a top model nowadays.
Because she was in a hurry, she threw on whatever and even wore a baseball cap on top of that too, yet the glances from the surrounding men were still flying towards her non-stop.
“What’s going on? Will you just speak up?”
Yu Soo-Hyun asked while pouring more soju in Yu Jin-Ho’s empty shot glass.
“Look, look at this. This is the phone number of my dear hyung-nim. Right?”
Still sounding tearful, Yu Jin-Ho pushed forward his smartphone. On the screen, one could see the lengthy list of calls.
One successful call, and four failed attempts.
Even then, the first one that got through was apparently cut short in the middle, too.
“Wait. Did you call me out here because you couldn’t reach someone you know on the phone?!”
Yu Jin-Ho’s head bobbed up and down.
Yu Soo-Hyun could hardly believe this crap. She snatched Yu Jin-Ho’s phone away.
She quickly tapped on the ‘Call’ icon.
The ringtone got cut off a short while later. When that happened, Yu Soo-Hyun began glaring at him.
“Hey, you dumba*s.”
Yu Jin-Ho raised his head from the table.
“The ringtone cuts out after 15 seconds. That guy’s not avoiding answering you, it’s just that his phone’s been switched off. And if the call got cut out in the middle, his battery must’ve run out.”
“If you don’t believe me, call again.”
Just as she said, the signal got cut off after 15 seconds.
“Hey, it’s for real?!”
Yu Jin-Ho’s expression brightened instantly.
“It’s sorted now, right? I’m going home.”
Yu Soo-Hyun was about to leave without a shred of hesitation, but Yu Jin-Ho hurriedly latched onto her sleeve.
“Noooona~. Please hang around until I finish this bottle, at least!”
“Am I a noona only on occasions like this one, ah?”
And this fool usually called her ‘You’ this and ‘Hey you’ that all the time, too!
In the end, though, Yu Soo-Hyun settled back down on the chair.
“Huh? Noona, you also want a drink?”
“You wanted me to wait until you finish the bottle, right? It’s going to take a long time before you solo that bottle and I can’t wait around until you manage that.”
“As expected, there can only be one noona!”
“Stop it, please?”
Even though she replied like that, they began emptying the shot glasses in a fun, relaxed atmosphere.
“By the way, just who is this ‘hyung-nim’ guy?”
“You’ll find out soon enough.”
After signing up with the Yujin Guild, that is.
Yu Jin-Ho was about to say those words out loud, but then, his eyes widened slightly after seeing the footage being shown on the TV mounted high up on the diner’s wall.
“Uh? Isn’t that guy….?”
Yu Soo-Hyun also turned her gaze towards the TV.
The screen showed a news broadcast, and it carried the news regarding a top celebrity named Rhee Min-Seong, who had gone through the Awakening process recently.
Standing in front of the huge throngs of reporters, Rhee Min-Seong spoke as if he was abashed by the attention.
The ticker tape on the bottom of the screen said that Rhee Min-Seong was planning to stop by the Hunters Association soon and take his rank assignment test.
“Wowsers. As expected of the star of the Korean Wave, Rhee Min-Seong! Look at the number of reporters there. Aren’t those guys from the Chinese media?”
Yu Jin-Ho sighed in admiration.
However, Yu Soo-Hyun simply frowned.
“How can that guy lie so boldly in front of so many people?!”
“Everyone who’s in the know all know it already. That’s all just a show. He already has been ranked A, you know? He’s just playing it up for the cameras because he wants to be the talk of the town!”
“He’s putting on an act? But, that symbol of modesty Rhee Min-Seong is?!”
Yu Soo-Hyun clicked her tongue in annoyance.
‘How come no one has got any clue?’
This kinda felt like she was badmouthing someone behind his back, but within the circle of those who knew Rhee Min-Seong personally, that man’s reputation was the absolute worst.
The difference in his personality between when the cameras were around and when they were not was, as the kids liked to say nowadays, the 4th dimensional wall that no one could cross. (TL: It’s a Korean slang.)
That was the type of person Yu Soo-Hyun detested the most.
If he was just two-faced, then she might have overlooked his faults, but then again, that b*stard was notorious for his flirtatious ways, too.
Not too long ago, he called her up totally out of the blue and started his shtick while saying something about being a Hunter like her. She had to go through a wringer trying to end that call.
‘What an unpleasant b*stard….’
Even before he had Awakened, he was infamous for his incredible arrogance, but now that he was about to become a rank A Hunter, how bad would it get now?
Not only that, it looked like that the occasion of him being labelled as a rank A would be broadcast live nationwide, too.
‘He’s really good at using his head for stuff like this, isn’t he?’
Yu Soo-Hyun shook her head and slammed back the remaining soju in her shot glass.
< Chapter 79 . Fin.