Almost every TV station and newspaper under the sun was talking about the Hunters arriving in the United States before the International Guild Conference began. However, only one newspaper from the east of the country dared to carry a rather different sort of headline on its front page.
[Thomas Andre loses consciousness!]
There was not one American who didn’t know the name of Thomas Andre. So, they couldn’t quite believe that their Special Authority-rank Hunter had lost consciousness.
Did he contract some kind of illness?
The passersby were immediately drawn in by that simple-yet-attention-grabbing headline. They reached out to grab their copies of the paper and gladly paid the asking price.
But then, steps of the curious buyers came to a stuttering halt after they unfurled their papers and read the article within. That rather boring headline didn’t prepare the readers adequately enough for the bombshell hiding within the article itself.
It was unknown why the fight happened, but regardless, the article went to detail the event of a lone Hunter clashing against Thomas Andre and his Scavenger Guild the night before.
And the aftermath was laid bare for all to see with several pages’ worth of large photographs.
They showed bloodied and battered Thomas Andre, as well as many injured Hunters being carried out from a disused factory.
If someone who didn’t know any of these people saw the images, that person might have said that they were victims of a terror attack. That’s how severe the scenes depicted were.
However, weren’t these people all top-ranked Hunters in this nation?
Especially for Thomas Andre – he was the Special Authority-rank Hunter who survived the ‘Kamish’ raid, referred to as the worst calamity in human history.
Every single person reading the article couldn’t hide how shocked they felt. Their breathing became rough and heavy, just like the editor back when he first laid his eyes on these images.
And when the identity of the man who drove the Hunters of the Scavenger Guild to this wretched state was revealed, the readers focusing on the article cried out in pure shock and astonishment.
“What in the world….”
Why was there an image of Hunter Seong Jin-Woo in this article? Wasn’t he the current darling of the international media after he stopped a massive-scale crisis taking place in Japan not too long ago?
The contrast between Thomas Andre lying sprawled on the ground, and Jin-Woo turning around to leave with an emotionless face, was so great that it left the readers with an indescribable level of mental shock.
As almost all of the mass media was focused on the International Guild Conference, the ripple caused by the article was even greater than it might have been otherwise.
Rather than traditional media outlets breaking the news, though, the story first gained traction in South Korea through social media, instead.
[ROFLOL. Thomas Andre beaten to a pulp by Seong Jin-Woo was real? Link to the article.]
[Holy cow, it’s real. LOL Thomas Andre showed up with Guild members and still got ransacked like nobody’s business?]
[Bullsh*t. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Makes no sense. One guy wrecked a Special Authority-rank Hunter + super-top-number one Guild?]
└ [Go read the linked article. All true.]
└ [Why did they fight, tho?]
└ [No one knows. No reason provided.]
[LOLOL Yankee bros yapping on about Special Authority this and that, but now, boom! Maybe, these fools were nothing but hot air?]
[It’s not Thomas Andre being useless, it’s Seong Jin-Woo being incredible.]
[Yup, Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim is the pride of South Korea.]
└ [Kyah~! Barmaid! Time to get drunk! Bring me a tall glass of patriotism!]
Most of the Korean commenters expressed their surprise at this event, but on the other hand, the comments filled with pride quickly appeared on various Japanese social media accounts.
[It’s only obvious that even Thomas Andre was no match for Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim.]
[Maybe the U.S. didn’t help us because they were afraid of exposing the truth behind their Special Authority-ranked Hunters…]
[We need to be grateful that such a Hunter came to lend us his aid.]
[I’ve been trying to send a thank you gift to Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim for a little while now. Where should I send it so he can receive it?]
[You can send it here. The address is….]
└ [Hey, dude, why U writing your own address?]
└ [wwwwww What a crazy b*stard.]
Jin-Woo was already the hero of Japan.
The wounded pride of the Japanese people was restored when Jin-Woo, a man who rescued their country from the brink of destruction, defeated the hero of America.
Perhaps inevitably, the attention of the world – not just America’s, where the incident took place – was laser-focused on Jin-Woo once more, after a short period of peace since the Giant subjugation.
Why did he do it?
Why did Hunter Seong Jin-Woo pummel Thomas Andre and his Guild members into near-oblivion?
Did something irreconcilable happen between the two men?
Public opinion and mass media were burning up from the flames of speculation. Everyone that learnt of this incident could only wait in desperation for some clarity on the situation.
Jin-Woo woke up in the assigned hotel room. He took a look outside the window and saw the sea of reporters camping outside the hotel’s entrance and clicked his tongue.
“Where did all these people show up from?”
Sure, it wasn’t as if he had no clue why these reporters had gathered outside the hotel. No, he simply got surprised by the fact that the news had spread out this fast, that was all.
Even then, he had no plans to shy away from them. Wasn’t this a good opportunity to let the world know what would happen if someone tried to mess him?
It was not against the law to shoot down someone aiming a gun at you in America. Especially more so, with laws being amended recently, after the appearance of the Hunters.
The issue might have gotten out of hand if he kept attacking the unconscious Thomas Andre. But, he wisely stopped right away the moment his opponent lost the will to fight.
It should be a similar story with Hwang Dong-Su, too. Once people learn about what he did to Yu Jin-Ho, not many would point their fingers at Jin-Woo.
So, he stayed calm and waited for Agent Adam White to contact him. Sure enough…
He opened the door after hearing the knock to find Agent Adam White standing on the corridor with two other Bureau-affiliated Hunters.
Jin-Woo asked with absolutely no nervousness in his voice.
“Are you here to arrest me?”
“No, not at all.”
The American agent shook his head and hurriedly continued on.
“We’re here to escort you to the Guild Conference venue because we are expecting quite a big fuss to develop during the day. And also….”
Adam White quickly fixed his attire and politely bent his waist 90 degrees forward, totally out of the blue.
Feeling puzzled by that gesture, Jin-Woo looked on. However, Adam White showed no signs of straightening himself and spoke while maintaining the current posture.
“Also, I’d like to express my gratitude, as well.”
Jin-Woo combed through his memories briefly just then, but he failed to recall any moments that warranted a thank-you from the Hunter Bureau.
All he did yesterday was – he lost Kamish’s shadow, wandered around searching for the kidnapped Yu Jin-Ho, encountered Thomas Andre coincidentally and beat his a*s down to the ground. That was all.
Recalling the events of yesterday managed to sour his mood by a notch.
The American agent probably wasn’t expressing his gratitude to Jin-Woo for showing him the process of extracting a shadow. So, why was he saying his thanks for?
Fortunately enough, Adam White opened his mouth just in time, right before Jin-Woo’s confusion had the chance to grow any bigger.
“If you hadn’t stopped right then, the United States of America would have lost both of her Special Authority-rank Hunters.”
‘Ahh, so that’s what he was talking about.’
Jin-Woo nodded his head as he recalled the scene of Adam White crying out and trying to dissuade him the night before.
For sure, yesterday’s result might have been entirely different if the American agent didn’t show up and Thomas Andre remained stubborn right until the end.
The U.S. had already lost one of her Special Authority-rank Hunters. So, the government would’ve done everything in order to prevent the loss of her second, regardless of the cost.
Jin-Woo could more or less understand now where Adam White and his bowed head was coming from.
Meanwhile, the American agent carried on.
“We at the Hunter Bureau will do our best to ensure that you’re not unduly troubled by this incident, Seong Hunter-nim.”
With those words, Adam White stood upright again. He looked dead tired, though.
The Hunter Bureau held a night-long emergency meeting on how to deal with this event. Naturally, Adam White had to attend the meeting, seeing that he was in charge of chaperoning Jin-Woo around.
The conclusion of that meeting was….
– Do not provoke him.
The higher-ups decided to do everything in their power to make Jin-Woo’s stay in the country that much more comfortable. His feat of defeating Thomas Andre only served to improve the Hunter Bureau’s evaluation of him.
The organisation definitely didn’t want to see their relationship with Jin-Woo souring because of the Scavenger Guild’s wrongdoings. Most importantly, Thomas Andre wasn’t dead, now was he?
Adam White was ordered to carry on as scheduled and so, he came here to escort Jin-Woo. He stared at his charge for a little while before swallowing dry saliva.
‘This man alone managed to defeat the Scavenger Guild….’
The normal image of Hunter Seong Jin-Woo was a man of power for whom common sense still prevailed.
But then, Adam White got to personally witness the kind of spectacle the Korean Hunter’s wrath could bring about. And so, he was genuinely envious of Yu Jin-Ho after realising that such wrath was solely reserved to protect the people close to Jin-Woo.
“Oops. It’s already this late.”
Adam White confirmed the time and formed a smile.
“Well, then… Shall we get going?”
“Sure. Let’s go.”
Jin-Woo was escorted out of the hotel with the guidance of Adam White and his fellow agents. The group broke past the wall of the fervent reporters and climbed aboard the waiting Bureau-supplied vehicle.
Click, click, click, click, click-!!
Meanwhile, the reporters continuously and tirelessly took photos even as the vehicle carrying their query gradually disappeared from their views.
On their way to the conference venue, Adam White explained the current situation.
“We have secured the testimonies of Hunter Hwang Dong-Su’s accomplices. The Bureau will soon release a statement containing the full account of what happened.”
He then went and strongly emphasized that ‘Hunter-nim’ would not be inconvenienced in any shape or form. It was a welcome piece of news for Jin-Woo, of course.
The reason why he decided to travel to the States had to do with the ‘monster’ possessing the appearance of his father. He wished to gather information through the International Guild Conference.
He asked the newly Shadow Soldier-ified Hwang Dong-Su, but even that guy didn’t know much about this creature who could possibly be his father.
According to the former rank S Hunter, that creature came out of a dungeon all alone, and its magic energy emission was identical to other monsters. When the issue with the being’s son was brought up, it became hostile and a fight broke out afterwards.
That was all.
‘Just what was its real identity….?’
There was a good chance that it might not be his father, after all. If that thing was really him, then quite obviously, the first thing he’d do was to come and see his family.
The more Jin-Woo looked into this matter, the greater his questions became. To confound the matters even further, several more questions were added on top of the already-existing ones.
It all started off with the final words of Kamish, just before the Dragon disappeared for good.
[Oh, my king. There are four humans who have borrowed the powers of the Rulers. Please, you need to be wary of them.]
Five Hunters survived the Kamish raid. Which meant that the odds of the four among the five Special Authority-rank Hunters borrowing the powers of the Rulers were very high.
‘But then… one of the Special Authority-rank Hunters was killed by someone recently.’
That man’s name was Christopher Reid.
Just who was he fighting that a Hunter as powerful as he was had to resort to burning down his mansion and the surrounding forest?
Could it be possible that the Sovereigns mentioned by the King of Giants were finally making their move?
If that wasn’t it, did the sudden changes dungeons went through recently have anything to do with it?
As several thoughts fleeted in and out of Jin-Woo’s head, he could see the venue for the conference getting nearer and nearer.
The moment Jin-Woo stepped into the lobby of the venue, the conversations and welcoming greetings being shared among the crowd all came to a sudden halt.
Gazes of curiosity and fear came flying at him from pretty much all directions.
He was that Asian Hunter responsible for utterly destroying Thomas Andre, who had been reigning over other Hunters like a king.
Quite a few Hunters kept whispering the stories related to Jin-Woo even now, but none of them dared to approach him. Because they still didn’t know why he went and wrecked the Scavenger Guild to that extent.
Seriously now, what if the reason for that unholy mass beat-down turned out to be nothing more than Thomas Andre staring at him for too long? If so, wouldn’t one get marked for death simply by trying to say hello to Jin-Woo?
Even though all these people were ace Hunters that subjugated scary monsters for a living, they found it hard to meet Jin-Woo’s gaze right now.
After the cordial lunch prepared by the Hunter Bureau came to an end, the participating Hunters began filling up the seats facing the rostrum in the conference venue.
Afterwards, the conference got going, and several topics were discussed.
Unfortunately, none of those really warranted Jin-Woo’s complete attention nor his sustained interest. Most of the things being talked about were similar in nature to status updates and so on.
‘If only Jin-Ho was here. I’d not be this bored….’
All Jin-Woo could do was to wake up his super-human patience and wait until the topic he might be interested in came around.
Quite a while later…
Although it was not the information he was waiting for, a topic did manage to grab his attention.
“Everyone, you should be aware of the fact that the number of Gates being generated has shot up recently, and the fact that stronger monsters have made their appearances, too.”
Initially, it sounded like something everyone knew only too well.
Since quite a few scientists had appeared before this man to speak their theories regarding this topic already, the atmosphere in the venue came across as lukewarm at best.
“However, there should be almost none of you who have realised that unusual activity has been detected in the skies above us.”
The scientist named Belzer emphasized the word ‘skies’ and the Hunters finally began showing signs of interest. Of course, Jin-Woo was included among those Hunters, as well.
“The truth of the magical energy concentration found in the planet’s atmosphere getting greater – we all know of this fact since it has been widely reported.”
Now that he was being showered with the interested gazes of the Hunters, the clearly-happy scientist carried on.
“I’d like to use a different term to denote the magic energy found in our atmosphere. Until another more suitable word is invented, how about we use the term, ‘magisphere’?”
The scientist gestured with his hand, and a huge map was displayed on the screen behind him. It was the atlas of the world that contained all of the continents – no, all of the countries existing on this planet.
The scientist used a laser pointer to highlight several spots on the map.
“Did you know that the magisphere has begun gathering and concentrating on the skies of several nations at present?”
The noise level among the Hunters gradually rose up. The scientist implored his audience to quieten down and listen to him for a little bit longer, before continuing on with his explanations.
“There are a total of nine spots in the world where the magisphere has begun gathering into a large mass. My purpose today is to reveal the locations of the nine spots.”
Doctor Belzer then calmly read off the names of the nine countries on his list.
“….Province of Alberta, Canada. And finally, this is the spot with the highest magisphere concentration. City of Seoul, South Korea.”
The moment those translated words of the scientist came out from the earpiece Jin-Woo wore – for some reason, every single Hunter sitting inside the venue shifted their gazes in his direction all at once.