Jin-Woo confirmed his new level and swallowed back a huge gasp of shock.
His level reached 100 after hunting down all the ants on Jeju Island. However, his level stayed pretty much the same for a little while after that, probably because of the wide gap between him and the monsters he ran into.
After asking for other major Guilds’ understandings, he got to sweep clean every single high-ranking dungeon in the vicinity for a week and only then did his level rise up to 103.
But now, his level had jumped past 120?
This was all thanks to the Giant-type monsters, each possessing a boss-level worth of experience points, as well as the King of Giants who gifted him with an enormous amount of experience points. Which was as much as eight levels’ worth, no less.
Jin-Woo nodded his head. He had made the right call by killing the King. It was definitely not a coincidence that his level shot up by eight in one go.
This being was able to emit enough pressure to make breathing difficult for him even though its powers had been sealed away by these special chains. If this thing got freed and was allowed to roam freely in the outside world, then….
Jin-Woo shook his head left to right.
He should thank the lucky stars that he got to discover its true nature before that happened.
It was then – the King’s corpse suddenly began splitting up like the ground suffering from drought, and soon, changed into sand-like dust and collapsed to the floor.
The words the King told him abruptly brushed past Jin-Woo’s mind just then.
[“Once such a spiritual body dies, it’s destroyed and can’t be turned into one of your Shadow Soldiers. Meaning, I can never become your soldier.”]
The death of a ‘spiritual body’.
For the first time in his life, he got to witness the death of a so-called spiritual body.
What the King said was right. Its corpse transformed into sand and no black smokes came up from it, nor did he see a message regarding Shadow Extraction pop up.
Jin-Woo dug out the black Magic Crystal from the pile of sand and lightly dusted its surface.
‘It’s a bit of a loss that I couldn’t get me a new Shadow Soldier, but… I guess I should satisfy myself with this thing, then.’
Jin-Woo studied this large Magic Crystal.
Its mirror-like clear surface reflected his face. As he peered deeply into it, he felt the ends of his fingertips tingle from all the power contained within this thing.
‘So, it’s those Rulers that keep sending these things over here….’
Why did it happen? Back when he first heard the term ‘Rulers’, a scene automatically began replaying itself in his mind. And it was about four ‘angels’ descending from the heavens.
Even though it hadn’t really happened to him, Jin-Woo felt a chill run down his backside simply from ‘discovering’ them in the playback.
He felt as if his heart fell to the pit of his stomach.
‘Could those things be the Rulers?’
If those things were planning to invade Earth, then he definitely lacked enough power to stop them as he was right now. He gripped the Magic Crystal even tighter.
‘I need to get much stronger.’
In that sense, it was an incredibly fortunate thing that he was bestowed with the powers of the Shadow Sovereign. He had gained an unimaginable power, and there was a very good possibility that he’d grow even stronger in the future.
What would have happened if he lacked enough points back during the Class quest and was not chosen by the System? Jin-Woo quietly engaged the yet-to-be closed Status Window with a bit of banter.
“Oii… Will you say something back already?”
Too bad, the System still didn’t bother to reply back to him.
Jin-Woo told himself that one day, if he was left with no choice but to compile a bucket list then he’d definitely put ‘have a serious chat with the System’ somewhere in there. He stood up from the ground to leave.
But as he turned around, his foot touched something lying on the floor.
He took a look below and discovered that it was the black chain that used to be wrapped around the King of Giants. Immediately, curiosity filled Jin-Woo’s eyes. And very soon, that curiosity morphed into full-on interest.
‘Maybe these things…. might come in handy?’
He sneakily reached out and grasped onto one of the chains still attached to the dungeon wall.
And, sure enough, he could sense his strength being sucked away.
Indeed, this chain was absorbing his magic energy.
Only one wouldn’t be a problem, but if these chains were tightly wrapped around you in several layers, even the holder of an incredible power wouldn’t be able to extricate themselves out any time soon.
Jin-Woo confirmed the MP reserve being steadily eaten away and grinned brightly.
‘Isn’t this an unexpected harvest?’
Feeling rather pleased, he summoned out a ‘Demon King’s Shortsword’ and cut one of the chains off. However, he couldn’t sense any magical effects taking place from the now-severed chain.
It wasn’t just this one, either. It was all of them.
‘What’s going on?’
Jin-Woo shifted his gaze over to the dungeon wall.
He grasped a chain still connected to the wall, and felt the same sealing effect as before. However, all the severed chains didn’t display that magical effect at all.
He could venture a guess on what was going on here.
‘….So, that’s how it was.’
These chains were not some sort of artefacts. No, the sealing effect was simply the power of this dungeon. In other words, these chains were no better than some scrap metal when outside the dungeon.
‘I can’t use them.’
Jin-Woo lowered the chains that had become regular items to the floor.
Although he couldn’t say for sure that he didn’t feel a bit rueful here, he found some solace in the fact that he still had gained a lot on this trip already.
Through this expedition, the shadows of the Giants had been added to his Shadow Army, and his level had shot up to 122 after killing the oversized monsters and their King.
All these alone were results that already far exceeded his expectations.
Jin-Woo decisively gave up on the chains and turned around with a grin.
Beru courteously lowered his head at his Sovereign. He then raised his head back up and pointed to the exit with his finger. The Shadow Soldiers standing in front of Jin-Woo stepped aside at once and created a large pathway.
Jin-Woo saw that Beru’s shoulder was all clean from unidentifiable substances and lightly patted him there, before walking over to the exit himself.
Beru felt moved by that gesture of his Sovereign and quietly followed after Jin-Woo as well. And right behind them, the near-thousand Shadow Soldiers who had contributed a great deal in the battle against the Giants, maintained the perfect formation and advanced out of the boss chamber.
Chut, chut, chut, chut.
The interior of the dungeon was soon filled up with the heavy footsteps of the marching Shadow Soldiers.
In the distance, the mouth of the dungeon could be seen.
Jin-Woo formed a smile as he looked at the sunlight permeating into the entrance. It was the moment that this seemingly endless raid had come to its conclusion.
The situation room of the Japanese Hunter’s Association.
The inside of this situation room was draped in a deathly silence; not even a squeaking noise could be heard. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the staff members had forgotten to even breath right now.
All of their attention had been focused on the giant monitor located in front of the room.
Only the subtle noises of dry saliva being swallowed would sometimes murmur out from here and there.
The footage as displayed by the giant screen currently showed the image of Shinjuku, shot from the spy satellite’s magic energy detection camera looking down on Earth from space.
This camera displayed the magic energy detected in terms of light spheres. The stronger the magic energy, the brighter the light would be. Weaker magical energy would naturally lead to a smaller light sphere.
There was not one person among everyone present in this situation room who didn’t know what that gigantic light sphere making itself at home in the middle of Tokyo represented.
Almost a thousand smaller light spheres gathered and stood right before that large ball of light. Every Association staff member watching that enormous number turned pale from sheer fright.
“T-those, all of those are Hunter Seong Jin-Woo’s summons?!”
“Oh, my god….”
“Even with a casual headcount, isn’t that over five hundred?”
The Association President Matsumoto quietly leaned his head closer to the agent from the analysis department sitting next to him.
“How many of his summons are there exactly?”
“Because several lights are overlapping with one another, it’s difficult to tell exactly, but at the least, I believe there are well more than eight hundred creatures, sir.”
Eight hundred creatures, he said.
Since a member of the analysis department even bothered to mention ‘well more than’ in his sentence, the offered number should be seen as the absolute minimum value.
Even when looked that way, this was already twice the number of summons first seen back in Jeju Island.
Matsumoto was inwardly astonished.
‘It hasn’t even been that long ago, but just when did he double the number of his summons?!’
No, it was already not normal to increase the number of one’s summons, to begin with.
His trembling hand wiped the area around his mouth.
If this man was considered an enemy, then without a doubt, Matsumoto wouldn’t have been able to see a way out, but knowing that Seong Jin-Woo was an ally, his mind had never felt this comfortable before.
What a relief it was that Hunter Seong Jin-Woo had graced his mercy on Japan like this. The Association President Matsumoto barely recovered from the mental shock and shifted his gaze back to the large screen.
The smaller spots of lights advanced towards the single large light sphere. It was the beginning of the battle between Hunter Seong Jin-Woo’s summons and the Giant guarding the Gate.
Their palms soaked in sweat, everyone present witnessed the spectacle of spots of lights endlessly tangle and writhe around against each other.
And eventually, the flickering large pillar of light…. vanished.
As if waiting for that very moment, cheers loud enough to rock the entire situation room erupted out.
The employees embraced each other tearfully and rejoiced in their happiness. Finally, they were greeted by the momentous occasion of the Japanese mainland being freed from the menace of the Giant-type monsters.
All these had been the handiwork of a single Korean Hunter.
The Association President Matsumoto kept his mouth resolutely shut and watched the screen before nodding his head to himself.
He blamed the heavens for not gifting such a Hunter to Japan but to Korea back when Jin-Woo ended up foiling his scheme. But now, he was thankful that such a Hunter indeed was gifted to South Korea, instead.
‘If he wasn’t around, then by now, Japan would have been….’
The Association President Matsumoto shuddered from the horrifying imagery taking root in his head and picked up the phone in order to carry out the final duty he needed to perform.
The call got through quite quickly.
– “How did things go?”
The tense voice of the Japanese Prime Minister came out from the phone’s speaker.
The Association President Matsumoto informed him of the results with a voice slightly choked up with emotions.
“Japan’s…. Japan’s crisis is over, sir.”
Excited, loud yells could be heard from the phone’s speaker next.
However, the Prime Minister spoke in a dignified voice, doing his very best to mask his sheer joy felt in his heart.
– “You worked hard, Association President Matsumoto. However, this does not mean the weight of the punishment reserved for you will be lessened, understood?”
“Of course, sir.”
He had already made up his mind.
It was obvious that the general who failed to kill the enemy’s leader would offer his neck up as compensation. And, what if that enemy’s leader ended up saving your own country, too?
Faced with the perfect, utter defeat, Matsumoto Shigeo couldn’t bring himself to mouth any excuses whatsoever.
He simply spoke in a soft voice.
“I shall gladly accept any punishment, sir. That is… the final duty I must carry out.”
The news of the Giants all being hunted down quickly spread to the rest of the world. From the closest neighbour of Japan, South Korea, all the way to Brazil in South America, on the other side of the globe.
The entire world heard of Jin-Woo’s feats.
– A single Hunter rescues an entire nation!
Various social media networking sites were in upheaval with suggestions of a brand new ‘Special Authority-rank’ Hunter making his appearance. The difference this time, compared to the Jeju Island raid, was that such suggestions were being made not only by the Koreans.
The state of Maryland, in the eastern half of the United States of America.
The American Hunters who had safely concluded the raid of the rank S Gate were supposed to be heading to the celebratory party organised by the U.S. government.
However, all these Hunters didn’t enter the party venue and simply stood by the hotel’s lounge watching the TV located there as it continued to transmit the news coming out of Japan. Their collective jaws were falling to the floor.
“What the hell??”
“No freaking way…. This doesn’t make any sense, logically.”
They just couldn’t believe it.
The most famous Support-type rank S Hunter in the world, Yuri Orlov, couldn’t do anything before he got killed in the blink of an eye.
The agile movements of the super-massive Giant captured by the TV cameras – calling that thing a monster was simply not enough when considering such a huge body was able to exhibit such speed.
But then, a single rank S Hunter managed to hunt down such a nonsensical creature by himself?!
[….Hunter Jin-Woo Seong, accompanied by another Hunter ranked D, Jin-Ho Yu, arrived in Japan and…..]
No, it’d actually be better if he had done it alone.
But then, to say he killed all the Giant-type monsters with a measly rank D in tow as well? It was simply too unbelievable.
Unfortunately, they had no choice but to believe, because the cameras continued to capture the scenes of Japanese citizens continuously shedding tears to express their unbridled joy.
And finally, the footage changed to display the corpse of the super-massive Giant, currently lying sprawled powerlessly on the ground.
The three rank S Hunters who made bets earlier spat out shocked gasps almost simultaneously, making it hard to tell who did it first. Only now could they truly believe that the monster had been killed for real.
It was then.
“Ah, everyone. So this was where you were.”
The three men’s heads snapped immediately in the direction of where that voice was coming from. And their eyes all widened as well.
Thomas Andre stood before them and with a grin, presented them with a single slip of paper.
“W-what is this?”
“The promissory note stating that all of you will uphold the result of the bet.”
Thomas Andre didn’t really give a d*mn about the stunned reactions of the three Hunters and began jotting down the items each of them had put forward in the bet.
“You said your yacht. You, your mansion. And you…..”
Thomas Andre stared straight at the third Hunter and began scratching the side of his head with the end of his pen.
“What did you bet again?”
The singled-out Hunter gulped down his saliva and hurriedly raised his voice.
“I didn’t bet anything, actually.”
“Hey, your tie looks pretty cool, no?”
“No, wait, I….”
Thomas Andre lowered his sunglasses just a little and quietly stared at him, causing the Hunter to shut his mouth.
….Because, this guy had witnessed the power of ‘Goliath’ capable of ripping rank S monsters apart with nothing but his bare hands. This Hunter had not one bit of desire to go up against Thomas Andre who waltzed around the rank S dungeon as if it was a low-rank dungeon commonly found everywhere.
The Hunter undid his tie with a tearful face.
A short while later, Thomas Andre walked into the restaurant of the hotel while whistling to himself before discovering a familiar face there and stopped his leisurely stroll.
It was the manager in charge of managing the top Hunters of the Scavenger Guild, Laura. When she approached him, Thomas Andre showed off his new tie to her and asked.
“So, what do you think about my new tie?”
“It looks expensive, but it does not suit your Hawaiian shirt, sir.”
“You think so?”
Thomas Andre undid the tie around his neck and chucked it inside a trash can nearby while replying nonchalantly to her.
“Yup, I thought as much.”
Laura had seen how Thomas Andre operated from a close vantage point for a very long time now. So, she didn’t display much of a reaction and simply stated the reason why she was here.
“We have a problem.”
Thomas Andre raised his head away from the trash can.
His experience told him that this problem couldn’t have been a minor one since Laura didn’t use the phone, but rather showed up here personally to inform him like this.
“What kind of a problem are we talking about here?”
Laura spoke with a worried voice.
“The list of Guilds invited by the Hunter Bureau for this year’s International Guild Conference has been published. However, it includes South Korea’s Ah-Jin Guild.”
Suddenly, he was overcome with an ominous feeling. Thomas Andre’s voice sounded heavier as a result.
Laura nodded her head.
“It’s as you suspect. It’s Hunter Seong Jin-Woo’s Guild.”
As he thought. Why did all the ill omens he sensed never miss their marks?
Thomas Andre frowned deeply and spoke.
“So, I guess he’s coming to America, then.”