I Alone Level-Up
“Mister Chairman, by any chance, do you have anyone near you who is a Hunter, or someone who’s not a Hunter yet but has been evaluated as an Awakened?”
The doctor suddenly asked about something rather strange.
Yu Myung-Han asked if there was something wrong with his body, yet why was he talking about Hunters now?
Yu Myung-Han asked back feeling puzzled now.
“What are you talking about? Why Hunters, all of a sudden?”
“Have you heard of Eternal Sleep?”
Hearing the term “Eternal Sleep”, Yu Myung-Han finally lost his cool, and his eyes trembled.
The Eternal Sleep Disorder. An endless slumber that no one could wake up from.
Not only was it impossible to wake up from its death-like slumber, but the lifeforce of the sufferer would also decline quite sharply, so it was a necessity to use life support machines that utilised magic energy.
Appearing for the first time after the advent of the Gates, it was a terrifying illness that managed to kill scores of people who lacked the wherewithal to borrow one of those life support machines.
“It’s an illness where you’d be assaulted often by drowsiness, and eventually, you’d be unable to wake up at all.”
The doctor carried a complicated expression. There had not been a single case of the sufferer of the ‘Eternal Sleep’ waking up, so far.
Even if one’s life was extended via machines, you’d still be unable to open your eyes. It was no different from a death sentence for the victims.
Yu Myung-Han waited for the doctor to finish explaining before asking his question.
“How does that relate to Hunters?”
“The ‘Eternal Sleep’ is widely believed to be deeply related to magic energy.”
There were those people who, by nature, couldn’t endure magic energy all that well. One of the abnormalities displayed by these people after being exposed to surrounding magic energy for a long time was this Eternal Sleep Disorder.
“Wait, isn’t magic energy used to power the life support machines that supply lifeforce to the patients?”
“That is true, but….”
Just like how one could safely use the electricity generated by the dangerous material fuelling the nuclear reaction, the doctor explained, magical devices and magics utilising magic energy did not harm people.
“What you need to be careful with are the Magic Crystals, Mana Stones, as well as people possessing magic energy.”
‘People possessing magic energy…..’
Yu Myung-Han immediately recalled the sole Awakened in his family, Yu Jin-Ho. Meanwhile, the doctor cautiously carried on.
“I’ve heard that your second son is a Hunter, sir.”
When Yu Jin-Ho was mentioned, Yu Myung-Han’s face visibly hardened.
“So, the gist of it is… you want me to never meet my own son? Is that it?”
“If it’s at all possible, that is indeed my recomm…..”
“Don’t make me laugh!!”
Yu Myung-Han abruptly cut the doctor off and empathised his point.
“Don’t speak of nonsense.”
And then, as if he was annoyed, he gestured the doctor to leave.
The doctor hesitated, not knowing what to do, but he soon left the room as if he was being chased away after being glared at by Yu Myung-Han’s furious eyes.
He continued to glare at the door the doctor used to escape with barely concealed fury in his eyes.
‘Distance oneself from one’s son, just because one fears the illness getting worse? Is that something a father should even say??’
Sure, let’s say that did happen.
What if Jin-Ho heard that news? What would that boy think of, then?
As a father, he could not bear to burden his son with something that heavy. At least, that’s what Yu Myung-Han believed.
‘Not only that….’
With each passing day, people found more and more practical applications for magic energy, and the number of people innately possessing magic energy was steadily increasing, as well.
So, if you couldn’t withstand magic energy when living in a world like this, didn’t that already mean you had been eliminated from the natural selection?
Yu Myung-Han harrumphed unhappily.
‘I, Yu Myung-Han, have failed to make the cut?’
Such a thing could never happen.
‘I will not submit.’
Even when everyone else ridiculed him and predicted his failure, he always managed to succeed so his detractors could take a good look at him.
He was the very person who, after inheriting the Yujin Construction that barely cracked the top 30 in the country, turned it into the number one corporation in South Korea.
‘So, you think I’ll kneel in defeat over a stupid illness like this?’
He wouldn’t give up.
Yu Myung-Han inwardly told himself this over and over again.
Before leaving, Jin-Woo carefully opened the door to his sister’s room.
As it was still in the early hours, Jin-Ah remained blissfully stuck in a slumber so deep that she’d not be any wiser if someone kidnapped her right now.
Suddenly, he felt worried.
‘There might be a jacka*s or two who’ll try to get closer to her while I’m away.’
Of course, there should be no one stupid enough to harm the little sister of a rank S Hunter, but well, it was hard to tell what was in a human’s heart sometimes.
At least, he needed some sort of a contingency plan.
‘Wait a minute. I can hide my soldiers inside shadows, right?’
Jin-Woo recalled the time when he sent out his Shadow Soldiers on the patrol of the district, in case that serial killer decided to show up again.
Back then, soldiers moved by hiding in the various shades found in the surroundings. By utilising that, he might be able to protect his sister without anyone even noticing it.
Which was good, because he just so happened to possess the perfect candidates for this role.
Jin-Woo called out those monster soldiers that had been guarding ‘Fangs’ when they were still alive.
Three of the biggest, burliest High Orcs appeared simultaneously and ended up making the already-tiny room of his sister feel even more claustrophobic.
‘Huh? Why are there only three?’
There definitely had been four guards, though?
Jin-Woo combed through his memories, only to spit out a soundless groan.
Only now did he remember that he ‘planted’ one of the guards in the ceiling of the boss room. And naturally, he forgot to extract that guy’s shadow.
‘I guess I should pay closer attention next time.’
Jin-Woo smirked softly, before shifting his gaze over to the three monster soldiers, who used to be High Orc guards while still alive. All of them were elite grade.
They were on another scale altogether when compared to the shadows extracted from the ‘regular’ High Orcs. With these three, they would still be fine even if their opponent was a rank A Hunter.
He wasn’t exaggerating here – the leader of the Hunters’ raid team, the rank A Sohn Ki-Hoon, was pushed to a corner while fighting off three regular High Orcs, after all.
So, there was no reason to worry about these guys.
Jin-Woo pointed with his chin towards the sleeping Jin-Ah. And when that happened…
The guards returned to ‘shadow’ forms and moved along the floor, and they assimilated into her shadow.
Hide in there quietly, and when Jin-Ah finds herself in danger, get rid of the opponent, regardless of who it is.
Jin-Woo gave that order to the guards and carefully closed shut the door to her room.
‘I can relax a little now.’
Indeed, he felt less worried.
He made sure to lock the front door properly and exited from the apartment, and found Yu Jin-Ho waiting for him there, just as promised.
Yu Jin-Ho greeted Jin-Woo with a bright face.
“Was it okay sleeping in that place?”
“Yes, it was fine, hyung-nim. I had no idea, but motels nowadays seem to feature pretty good amenities.”
Since his little sister was staying at home, Jin-Woo had Yu Jin-Ho stay in a local motel nearby. Thankfully, it must not have been too bad there.
“Until we can find some office space for my Guild, stay there for the time being.”
“Got it, hyung-nim.”
He must’ve been enjoying himself, since Yu Jin-Ho continued to giggle.
Jin-Woo already heard the most of what happened from the kid last night. While listening to the tale, he was hoping against hoping, but to think, this kid would show up here after really rejecting the golden chance to become a Guild Master…..
When he heard that, Jin-Woo was so dumbfounded that he just had to ask, and that prompted Yu Jin-Ho to reply while sounding like a victim.
[“You really came over just because I made an offer?!”]
[“But, hyung-nim, you said I should come!!”]
Even then, Jin-Woo couldn’t really kick to the curve a kid who gave up on a job equivalent to being a chairman of a company just to be next to him.
“Okay, well, let’s go.”
Yu Jin-Ho climbed into the driver’s seat of the van, and Jin-Woo settled down on the passenger’s. And the van containing two people drove towards the Daesung Tower.
Yu Jin-Ho sneaked a glance at Jin-Woo.
‘What business does he have in the Daesung Tower so early in the morning?’
He was curious, but he also thought that asking hyung-nim this and that would be quite insolent of him, so his lips didn’t want to part that easily.
By the time their van came to a stop in front of the Daesung Tower, though, he managed to work up some courage.
“By the way, hyung-nim. What about this Daesung Towe….”
Yu Jin-Ho hurriedly turned his head to the passenger side. However, the door was already wide open, and hyung-nim was nowhere to be seen.
Didn’t something similar to this happen before?
Yu Jin-Ho scratched the side of his head.
‘Hyung-nim can be so elusive sometimes, you know.’
[You have entered Demon’s Castle dungeon.]
Jin-Woo cancelled his ‘Stealth’ skill.
‘I’ve finally returned.’
Thinking that he had returned to the place where he could cut loose without worry, his heart began pounding harder.
As soon as he walked past the castle’s gates, the mechanical bleep went off as if it was waiting for his arrival.
[A new quest is available.]
Unlike the first time he got here, Jin-Woo wasn’t surprised.
Well, the quest he got the first time was called ‘Collect the Souls of Demons! (1)’, after all. He expected the next part of the quest to show up sooner or later.
Jin-Woo opened the message window.
[Normal Quest: Collect the Souls of Demons! (2)]
The sovereign of the demons, ‘Baran’, can be found residing on the top floor of the Demon’s Castle. Defeat Baran and collect his soul.
If you succeed in sealing the soul of the Demon King, you will be rewarded handsomely.
Quest generation conditions:
Quest completion condition:
‘The goal of this quest is to kill the Demon King?’
Jin-Woo’s expression brightened. He no longer needed to go all over the place now. Instead, he just needed to climb up to the top floor of the Demon’s Castle as soon as possible.
And the rewards on offer were excellent as well.
’30 bonus Stat points!’
The previous quest was pretty much slave labour, asking him to collect ten thousand demon souls. And after all that hard work, he ‘only’ received 20 bonus Stat points.
However, he could earn 30 points this time by killing one Demon King. He’d need ten days of Daily Quests, or six level-ups, to match that amount of Stat points. A smile instinctively broke out of his lips at this unexpectedly rich reward.
‘Ok so, what is this highest grade Rune Stone all about?’
Jin-Woo confirmed the details of the first reward next.
[Highest grade Rune Stone: Shadow Exchange]
By breaking this highest grade Rune Stone, you can learn a Class-specific Skill.
‘I can learn a Class-specific skill?’
Jin-Woo’s brows shot up.
So far, he had ‘earned’ three Class-specific skills.
The ‘Shadow Extraction’.
The ‘Shadow Storage’.
And finally, ‘Sovereign’s Territory’.
Every single one of them was an indispensable skill. And, just from the mere idea of adding one more skill to his roster, his heart palpitated even harder.
‘What kind of skill is this?’
He wanted to confirm the information on the skill, but the only thing that popped up was its name, and no in-depth explanation was offered.
Jin-Woo could only smack his lips wryly.
‘Well, I’ll find out eventually after completing the quest.’
A Class-specific skill, and 30 bonus Stat points, too. Even when excluding the unknown reward, it was already a remarkable amount of loot on offer. He was really tempted to simply rush up to the top floor in one go, but…
‘Before I start anything, though…’
Jin-Woo summoned his Status Window for the first time in a while.
[Name: Seong Jin-Woo]
[Title: The One Who Overcame the Adversity (extra 1)]
(Remaining points available to distribute: 0)
Reduction in physical damage: 46%
Consumable: Divine Water of Life (2/3)
His level was already 80. And thanks to him investing every single bonus Stat point on Intelligence, he could see that it exceeded his Strength Stat now.
‘My Intelligence Stat is nearing the 200 mark already.’
The result of that was his total MP now went past 5000.
His MP, or Mana, was a must for one thing. It was like a cheat device that allowed him to infinitely revive his soldiers. But, when he thought about the number of his soldiers increasing in the future, that 5000 MP seemed rather inadequate to his eyes.
‘Fine. Let’s get started.’
Even a second couldn’t be wasted here.
Jin-Woo closed his Status Windows.
Currently, he was standing on the ground floor of the Demon’s Castle. Getting back to the 76th floor, where he temporarily had to stop his conquest, wouldn’t take long at all.
So, he immediately made his way over to the floor-transfer magic circle.
[Floors 1 to 76 have been opened.]
[Which floor would you like to go to?]
Jin-Woo spoke without hesitation.
The light gleamed brightly. In the moment it took to blink an eye, his surroundings had changed completely. He was now faced with a vigorously-burning city.
When inside the floor-transfer magic circle, he wasn’t supposed to be affected by the environments outside, but it still felt like his skin was burning up already.
Jin-Woo put the luggage down and pulled two artefacts out. First one was a black robe named the ‘Wind Robe’ by its maker, and the other one was a nameless ring with water-type magic imbued within.
Jin-Woo put on both the robe and the ring.
After putting on the robe and pulling on the hood, Jin-Woo finally felt like he was a true Mage-type Hunter now.
‘….I can feel my body cooling down.’
Just by wearing them, it felt like he was standing inside a refreshingly cool cavern or some such.
‘I wonder, will this work against the flames of the Demon’s Castle?’
Jin-Woo slowly stepped outside of the magic circle. And thankfully, these artefacts proved their expensive worth. The debilitating heat couldn’t affect him at all now, quite unlike the last time he was here.
‘Wait, won’t it be uncomfortable to move around because it’s a robe?’
He couldn’t be sure, so he moved this way and that, but it proved to be surprisingly comfortable. As befitting its name, ‘Wind Robe’, the whole thing felt as light as air.
With that, his preparations were complete.
However, it seemed that he wasn’t the only one who had finished his preparations, because demons had picked up on his scent, and had formed a large group to rush towards his position.
If it was in the past, he’d probably fight them off in order to loosen his muscles or search through every nook and cranny of each floor to increase his level.
‘However, right now….’
Now that his mother’s treatment depended on this dungeon being cleared, he couldn’t afford to waste a single second here. Rather than summoning out his daggers like the usual, he instead called out his soldiers first.
His trusty Shadow Soldiers revealed themselves.
‘Where is Fangs?’
Jin-Woo looked for Fangs amidst his soldiers. It seemed that the higher the soldier’s grade, the closer he’d appear, because Fangs had been summoned right behind Jin-Woo.
He took out the ‘Bead of Avarice’ from his Inventory and placed it on top of Fangs’ palm.
“You use this from now on.”
Even though Jin-Woo was supposed to be a Mage-type as well, the amplification effect of the ‘Bead of Avarice’ didn’t work on him. But, he thought it’d prove to be quite helpful to a sorcerer like Fangs.
As if to express his gratitude, Fangs deeply bowed his head.
Thump, thump, thump!!!
Finally, Jin-Woo could see the huge bodies of the demons getting closer.
‘Okay, time to get started.’
After ordering his soldiers to get ready for battle, Jin-Woo grasped both ‘Baruka’s Dagger’ and ‘Knight Killer’ in his hands.
Soon, demons rushed forward like a horde of insects in front of his nose. However, his own numbers weren’t that lacking, either.
With a more relaxed expression on his face compared to his previous sojourn in this place, Jin-Woo bid his time and then, loudly shouted out.
No, actually, he was planning to shout, ‘Go, now!’
But, even before he could finish his words….
From somewhere high up above his head, a stupendously thick frightening pillar of flames fell in a diagonal line and swept every single enemy away.
“W-what the f*ck?!”
The moment that scary pillar of flames swept by, everything had melted down, whether that be demons or the ground itself.
Demons were incinerated in an instant, and familiar mechanical beeps rang one after the other in his ears.
Jin-Woo tried to calm his trembling heart and took a look behind him. And he spotted Fangs standing there, now twice the size of what his living counterpart grew to back in the dungeon, busy breathing out grey smoke from his mouth.
Jin-Woo swallowed down dry saliva.
‘Is this the true might of the ‘Bead of Avarice’??’
Since these monsters lived inside the Demon’s Castle, they all must’ve had some amount of innate resistance towards flame-based attacks, but they were all burned away into oblivion, just like that.
Once he figured out what was going on, a chuckle broke out of his lips all by itself.
‘Wait, maybe I’ll get to clear this place a lot quicker than I thought?’
Jin-Woo stared at the still-burning remains of the demons as well as at the scorched-black earth and screamed out in joy inwardly.
< Chapter 99 > Fin.