“Why are there so many reporters here?”
Germany’s best Hunter, Lennart Niermann, set foot inside the American airport after disembarking from his plane. He immediately let a surprised gasp escape from his mouth from the view greeting him.
As befitting the Master of the ‘Richter’ Guild representing Germany, he got to attend the International Guild Conference every single year, but even then, he had never seen this many reporters camping out in the airport before.
As he stood there in shock, the Vice-Master of the Richter Guild tried to solve the riddle for him.
“Well, that Korean Hunter everyone’s been talking about is scheduled to arrive today.”
Lennart understood it right away.
Even if you were a rank S Hunter, it was incredibly difficult to resolve a dungeon break from a rank S Gate. And, what if the creatures popping out from that rank S dungeon just so happened to be Giant-type monsters?
The Hunter capable of solo-clearing a dungeon break that no one else wanted any part of, was about to step on the U.S. soil for the first time in his life. So, how could the mass media remain silent on this momentous occasion?
Perhaps he too got infected by the enthusiasm from all the reporters here, as even Lennart himself grew interested in this matter now.
‘So, he’s coming today?’
With excellent timing, the passengers of the plane inbound from South Korea began pouring out into the airport. The Vice-Master pointed to the side over yonder.
“Ah! There he is!”
The Vice-Master was also a rank S Hunter. He may not be as good as Lennart, his boss, but still, his perception was capable enough to easily suss out Jin-Woo’s face among the crowd of people.
Lennart Niermann’s eyes gleamed brightly just then.
“Should we go and say hi?”
“We’ve got nothing to lose by being acquaintances with a strong Hunter, right?”
“Well, yes. That’s true.”
The Vice-Master agreed with that idea.
The personal connections built up in such a manner would prove to be rather beneficial if an event requiring international cooperation or the aid of another Guild happened in the future.
This was, in essence, what the whole International Guild Conference was originally conceived for, where the best Hunters from the world were asked to come and exchange pointers, as it were. Especially when it was quite difficult for these Hunters to actually meet one another like this.
Lennart tidied his attire and approached Jin-Woo’s travelling group. No, he tried to.
However, he came to an abrupt halt after taking only a couple of steps. Even his complexion was gradually paling, too. The Vice-Master ended up walking a step ahead because of his boss’s sudden stop. He turned around and asked in confusion.
“Aren’t you going to speak to him?”
Lennart’s expression hardened instantly as he replied.
“That… can’t you see that??”
It seemed that the Vice-Master could not see it at all. However, Lennart was one of the very best Hunters in the entire world and he could clearly sense it. He muttered to himself in complete disbelief.
“Instead of summoning his creatures from some other dimension, he’s been going around with them all this time?”
What was he even talking about?
The Vice-Master was taken aback with surprise from Lennart’s reaction and quickly took a look in the direction Jin-Woo was walking in from. But, let alone a single summon, he couldn’t even spot a hair of the summoned creature anywhere near the Korean man.
“He’s with his summons?”
“That’s right! So many of them, too!”
Lennart could pick up on the presence of the Shadow Soldiers hiding within Jin-Woo’s shadow. One hundred. Two hundred. Three…
No, could he even finish counting them all?
He hurriedly swallowed his saliva.
‘From that number alone, I’d have believed it if someone told me that man came here to wage war against America.’
He stood there shivering while thinking that, if he were tasked with the role of inviting people over to his nation, he’d never, ever invite someone like ‘that’.
There could be one of two reasons. Either the American Hunter Bureau had no clue the true depths of that Korean Hunter’s power, or they were completely sure that such a power would never be used against them.
The incredible pressure Jin-Woo emanated grew stronger and stronger as he got nearer the German Hunter. Such a sensation could only be felt from those Hunters labelled Special Authority-rank, such as Thomas Andre or Christopher Reid.
Lennart’s head faltered lower even before he realised it just as Jin-Woo walked right past by him. He simply didn’t have enough courage to meet that man’s eyes at all. His instincts had dictated his actions.
After Jin-Woo’s group had completely walked past them, the Vice-Master shot a quizzical look at his boss acting strangely and asked a question of concern.
“Master? Are you feeling unwell somehow? Your complexion….”
“N-no… it’s not that.”
Lennart Niermann wiped the cold sweat off his brows.
You could only see as much as you know; being able to decipher the gap between yourself and the opponent was also a part of one’s abilities.
But, at least right in this moment, he felt quite envious of his Vice-Master, or for that matter, the throng of reporters, who weren’t scared off by the presence of a truly, nonsensically powerful Hunter.
Jin-Woo tilted his head this way and that, prompting Yu Jin-Ho to take a look behind him and ask.
“Did you spot someone you know, hyung-nim?”
“No. It’s just that, some foreigner was looking at me over and over again.”
Yu Jin-Ho chuckled as if such a thing was nothing to fret about.
“Hyung-nim, your stories have spread out far and wide to the rest of the world, so surely, you must have lots of fans by now. Maybe he wanted your autograph, hyung-nim.”
Well, that guy seemed to be too exceptional a Hunter for someone ‘hunting’ around for autographs, though.
Jin-Woo smirked and continued on with his steps.
Beside himself and Yu Jin-Ho, two more people were accompanying them during this overseas trip – Section Chief Woo Jin-Cheol coming along as the show of support from the Korean Hunter’s Association, as well as a female Association employee tagging along as an interpreter.
“Uh! There he is!!”
“It’s Seong Jin-Woo!”
The reporters finally discovered Jin-Woo and his gang.
Click, click, click, click, click, click, click-!!
Bright flashes of light exploded from the cameras wielded by the throng of reporters. Woo Jin-Cheol quickly yanked out his sunglasses from his inner pocket and put them on, before scanning the crowd with a pair of very sharp eyes. Seeing how tense he was, Yu Jin-Ho decided that now would be a good time to ask him.
“Now that I think about it some more…. Why are you even here, Chief Woo?”
Without a doubt, the Chief of a department located in the Seoul branch of the Korean Hunter’s Association was not exactly what you’d call an ordinary job.
It was pretty much the same thing as you being responsible for an entire department.
Sure, Yu Jin-Ho felt grateful that the Association helped them out with an interpreter situation. His question, though, was with why someone as important as Woo Jin-Cheol would be accompanying them like this.
Woo Jin-Cheol briefly studied Jin-Woo’s reactions and replied, his face reddening slightly.
“I am tasked with… providing security to Seong Hunter-nim.”
He worked up lots of courage to make that reply, but regretfully, his words were drowned out by the noise within the airport itself and couldn’t reach Yu Jin-Ho’s ears. So, the latter cupped his ear and asked again.
“What did you say?”
“….Bodyguard…. of him….”
“Who did you say you’re guarding now?”
Jin-Woo could see that even Woo Jin-Cheol’s ears were getting red now. So, he wrapped his arm around Yu Jin-Ho’s shoulders and put an end to that conversation.
Jin-Woo pointed with his chin to a rather familiar face over yonder.
“Over there. Looks like they are here to escort us.”
Adam White was standing near the entrance of the airport sporting a cool business suit with his blonde hair slicked back, his face full of a bright, welcoming smile. As if to prove that Jin-Woo’s guess was correct, the American agent quickly made his way over to the group.
The two burly guys following after him were the same men from the plane back then. These two met Jin-Woo’s gaze and quickly lowered their heads in apparent embarrassment almost simultaneously.
It seemed that they ended up remembering the time inside the plane when they tried to protect Adam White by attacking Jin-Woo, having completely forgotten about the differences in their strengths.
And well, they were carrying expressions of someone who might really ask for some autographs given half a chance. Jin-Woo hurriedly swallowed back his laughter. He greeted the two burly guys with a simple nod and grasped the extended hand of Adam White.
The American agent spoke with a cheery voice.
“We were waiting for your arrival, Seong Hunter-nim.”
“I seem to remember hearing that you were responsible for the Asia branch of the Bureau. Was I wrong, Mister White?”
Adam White scratched the back of his head and continued on.
“I was, until recently. Now, I’m responsible for matters involving you, Seong Hunter-nim.”
Adam White used his good-natured smile to greet the others and guided Jin-Woo’s group outside the airport.
“Let’s get going, shall we? We have cars waiting for us outside.”
There were two vehicles prepared for them. The two Korean Association people were guided to the vehicle in the back, while Yu Jin-Ho naturally headed towards the car in front. However, Adam White blocked his path.
Jin-Woo and Yu Jin-Ho both were puzzled by this. Adam White spoke in a serious tone of voice.
“Excluding Seong Hunter-nim, the remainder of your group will be guided to your hotel.”
Adam White then shifted his gaze over to Jin-Woo.
“And, do you mind accompanying us to a different location for a little while, Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim?”
Was this about his father?
Jin-Woo’s glare became icy cold in an instant. Adam White must’ve felt the temperature suddenly drop, because he quickly waved his hand around.
“It’s definitely a story that’ll benefit you, Seong Hunter-nim. Haven’t we already clarified what the Hunter Bureau’s opinion regarding you is?”
They wanted to maintain a good relationship with him. That’s what he said in the past.
They did try to help him out, and even now, Jin-Woo couldn’t sense any malice from the other party. If they were thinking of doing something dodgy, then his ultra-sharp Perception Stat would definitely catch onto that.
Didn’t he discover the loophole in the proposed alliance with the King of Giants that way?
Jin-Woo calmly asked his question.
“Are the topics we’ll be discussing a secret?”
Adam White glanced at Yu Jin-Ho watching and listening to this conversation with bated breath and formed a somewhat awkward smile.
“A few topics to be discussed indeed fall under the ‘top secret’ category, yes.”
Yu Jin-Ho heard that and backed off without complaining.
“Hyung-nim? I’ll see you later at the hotel.”
Jin-Woo confirmed that Yu Jin-Ho had entered the waiting vehicle in the back, and climbed into the car in front along with Adam White. The driver didn’t need any other commands and he got the vehicle moving as soon as Jin-Woo settled down on his seat.
As if their destination was not the same, the two vehicles went off on different directions from the word go. Before long, the other car couldn’t even be seen anymore. Deciding that he had been waiting long enough, Jin-Woo began asking his questions.
“So, where are we going now?”
“We’re heading straight to the Hunter Bureau’s HQ.”
The Hunter Bureau?
Everyone knew that the International Guild Conference would be held at a rented venue near the hotel. So, that could only mean that this car had a different purpose than the Conference itself.
Jin-Woo asked again.
“Isn’t it fine to tell me already?”
Adam White pressed a certain button inside the vehicle as if he was waiting for this moment.
When he did….
A clear pane of window rose up behind the two front seats and proceeded to completely separate the front and rear cabin. And just above the clear window, the English word ‘Soundproofed’ appeared as a hologram and blinked constantly. The words were actually floating in thin air.
When Jin-Woo didn’t display much of a reaction from that hologram message, Adam White felt incredibly awkward and sheepishly asked a question.
“This is the latest available technology, but… You aren’t surprised?”
“Well, I’ve been seeing something similar every day, so….”
Adam White must’ve been looking forward to this moment because he instantly began pouting ever-so-slightly in disappointment. Soon, though, his original smile popped back up again on his face.
“Please hold on for a second.”
He leaned forward to knock on the divider to confirm before picking up on the conversation where they left off.
“In all honesty, we’re currently under serious pressure at the moment.”
One of the two American citizenship-carrying Special Authority-rank Hunters had been met with an untimely, grisly death – Christopher Reid.
The American Hunter Bureau had been hurting far greater than Jin-Woo could ever imagine.
“Christopher Reid Hunter-nim was one of the pillars of the United States’ strongest combat potential. Because of this, the Hunter Bureau has become even more desperate to fill the void in our fighting power. For now, things are calm on the surface because we haven’t publicly announced the murder of Christopher Reid yet. But soon, we’ll start the process of securing other Hunters who can substitute for him. And spare no efforts in doing so.”
“Am I one of the candidates you’re thinking of?”
Adam White nodded his head.
Jin-Woo liked the fact the other party was being open and honest here. Of course, that didn’t mean he’d entertain the once-refused offer one more time. He displayed a rather uninterested reaction.
“I thought that part of the conversation has concluded for good?”
“Yes, of course.”
However, the light in Adam White’s eyes showed that it was far from over. In fact, he pulled his mobile phone out and began showing Jin-Woo several of the stored images on it.
“This is a completely different offer, however.”
In the photos, there was…
The worst calamity in the history of mankind.
The raid that no one wished to remember in history.
The Dragon, ‘Kamish’.
Indeed, these photos documented the process of the raid of the first and the last Dragon ever to appear on this planet.
The world’s best Hunters had gathered and fought a battle to their death, and only five managed to survive until the end. Those survivors were now referred to as the Special Authority-rank.
Adam White stopped flipping through the photos. The photo he stopped at showed several first-class Mage-type Hunters extracting a Rune Stone from the corpse of Kamish.
“As you know, the value of a Rune Stone is proportional to the power of the monster the stone was extracted from.”
He tapped on his phone’s screen one more time to bring up the next photo. And it showed a Rune Stone sleeping quietly inside a glass case surrounded by layers upon layers of walls and security.
It was none other than Kamish’s Rune Stone.
Rather obviously, that was an item where its value couldn’t even be imagined in monetary terms, never mind getting one’s hands on it, regardless of the price one was willing to pay.
It might possess possibly the greatest skill ever to exist!
“We’re currently searching for a new owner of this Rune Stone.”
Magic energy, skills, or even magic – Adam White didn’t possess any of those, yet even he felt his heart palpitate when he saw that Rune Stone.
He was already feeling this excited, so how would Hunter Seong Jin-Woo feel when he was a Mage-type, to begin with?
Adam White sneaked a glance at Jin-Woo’s direction.
Sure enough, the tense expression was clearly visible on Hunter Seong Jin-Woo’s face. He was someone who didn’t even blink an eye when the latest technology the American Hunter Bureau possessed was displayed before him, but now…
‘We did it!’
Adam White clenched his fists tightly. But then, Jin-Woo’s demand proved to be somewhat off his expectation.
“The photo… can you go back, please?”
“I want to see the photos before this one.”
Adam White tilted his head slightly, but still, he scrolled back to the previous photos as per Jin-Woo’s request.
Adam White’s flipping hands came to a stop over a certain photo. Jin-Woo pointed to the corner of this particular image and spoke in a low, hushed voice.
“Where is this?”