“Will you take responsibility if I get fired?”
“Excuse me? What are you even talking about?”
“You see, regarding the events of yesterday, the Association President issued a gag order. He even said that, if the identity of the Awakened in question gets leaked out, he will use whatever means necessary to find out who was responsible and harshly punish them.”
“President Goh Gun-Hui said that? But, he has never done anything like that before, so why now?”
“You think I know what’s inside the Association President’s head?”
“If that is all, I’m hanging up.”
“…..I’ll call you again at a later date.”
And that’s how the phone call ended.
The expression of Im Tae-Gyu, the Master of the Reapers Guild, wasn’t good at all.
‘What on earth is happening here….?’
When the leader of this large Guild heard the news that, after two long years, a super-powerful rookie had appeared, he immediately called his contact in the Association.
However, he didn’t expect to hear this type of answer at all.
Taking responsibility after getting fired?
Who would be stupid enough to hire an ex-Association employee that got personally fired by none other than the Association President Goh Gun-Hui himself?
There was no guarantee the recruitment of the mystery rookie would be successful just because his identity was discovered, too.
‘Finding out the guilty ones by any means necessary and punishing them, is it….’
Coming from Goh Gun-Hui’s mouth, that sounded plausible.
‘But then, why is the geezer doing something he has never done before? Maybe, he’s finally gone senile?’
What had gotten into him?
To forbid everyone from leaking the identity of the mystery Awakened like this….
This was unprecedented.
Thanks to that, the Guild Master of the Reapers had no choice but to suck on his thumb and wait for the official announcement.
That wasn’t the only thing he felt wronged about, though.
‘Then, how did Choi Jong-In and Baek Yun-Ho find out and go there yesterday?’
Was it the difference in their spy networks?
Was this the sign of the Reapers influence waning even further?
If that powerful rookie appearing yesterday signed up with either the Hunters or the White Tiger, the already-widening gap between them and the Reapers would become impossible to bridge.
That was the current situation, yet that inexplicable gag order was blocking the Reaper’s path.
‘Could that geezer have a grudge with me from a past life or something??’
When Baek Yun-Ho decided to quit the Reapers Guild and created his own, the White Tiger Guild, it was precisely that geezer who helped facilitate the whole process and made sure everything went smoothly. The ensuing aftermath forced the Reapers off the position of the top Guild in the country.
Both the Hunters and the White Tiger were already so far ahead, yet the Reapers Guild was circling around in the exact same spot.
‘I mean, isn’t that enough by now? Can’t you help out the Reapers at least once?!’
Suddenly, he began to resent Goh Gun-Hui.
Even then, he still found himself left with no tangible way forward.
Im Tae-Gyu could only anxiously stomp on the ground, feeling rather aggrieved over this development.
‘I finished the Daily Quest.’
Feeling light-hearted, Jin-Woo began searching the internet.
There were two more days to the reassignment test. He decided to gather more information on the artefact trade during this time period, so he switched on his computer.
As he browsed through the available information on the auctioned goods, Jin-Woo’s eyes grew wider and wider.
‘….The minimum starts in the hundreds of millions, huh.’
Was that all? Items that looked okay to his eyes commanded an average of several dozen billion.
To Hunters, good equipment was like their lifeline.
There was no need to even mention the obvious fact that using better, more expensive equipment made you safer.
Most Hunters made quite a bit of coin, and when given the chance to buy tools that would allow them to hunt faster and safer, was there a reason for them to hold back with their money?
Jin-Woo could understand it. Indeed, he could, but that didn’t change the fact that he was taken greatly by surprise.
Seeing the pricing of various artefacts, he was getting more nervous by the minute.
‘This… I don’t think it’ll be enough with what I have in the bank….’
He didn’t find a defensive artefact designed to defend against flame-type damage, but it looked increasingly likely that the amount he had would not be enough to buy high-grade defensive equipment at all.
‘And I thought that I had enough money now….’
That opinion was from the perspective of a normal person. As a Hunter, it fell far, far too short.
He had around 1.7 billion Won saved up in the bank. If he were to purchase artefacts he wanted, he definitely had to sell the ‘Bead of Avarice’.
Now that he was the seller, Jin-Woo’s expression rapidly changed.
‘Needing a lot of money to buy an artefact means that I can sell my own artefact at a sky-high price.’
He moved the mouse and continued to search, until the list of the magical tools currently on sale appeared on the monitor.
No matter how hard he searched, he could not find a single artefact that doubled the magic damage. The best ones he found had the enhancement of around 20~30 percent. And those artefacts boasted scarcely-believable asking prices.
‘Man, these prices for the magic tools are no laughing matter, aren’t they?’
When he thought about it, though, the boost of 20% was not small at all. Only the upper tier, no, the very best Hunters out there, would be able to afford such an expensive artefact.
However, with their already-excellent strengths being enhanced by 20%? The difference would be quite incredible to behold. The high-ranked Hunters knew this point as well, so no wonder they were prepared to shell out big bucks for them.
Actually, he could frequently spot the goods being on sale only a moment ago suddenly sporting a ‘Sold’ tag.
The ‘20%’ artefacts were selling out fast like this, so….
‘So, just how much should I sell this guy for?’
Jin-Woo swallowed his saliva.
Not too long ago, he didn’t even dare to dream about touching an artefact. Not too surprisingly, he couldn’t even begin to imagine how much money others were willing to pay for his artefact at the moment.
‘That’s why there’s the thing called auction, right?’
He prayed that, when he put the Bead of Avarice up for auction, a suitable bid would be called out in the end.
With a satisfied smile on his face, Jin-Woo exited the auction information page.
According to his research, there was two obvious way to sell an artefact.
One, selling it via the official route. Or, sell it in the black market.
However, he had no way of approaching this elusive black market at all. Well, there was a limit to the information one could find on the internet, after all.
‘I mean, if you can access it via a couple of mouse clicks, it shouldn’t even be called the black market anymore.’
Besides, the Bead of Avarice didn’t have any disreputable background anyway, so there was no need to go through the black market in the first place. The best available option was to let the artefact specialists handle the bead and sell it via auction.
Sure, there was the issue of taxes and commission fee, but this was still the best and quickest method that wouldn’t produce any unnecessary baggage in the long run.
‘So, the only remaining issue would be with me providing the information on where I’ve found this thing….’
A rank E Hunter showing up with a crazy artefact that shouldn’t even exist in the first place.
Would anyone quietly accept that?
The Korean Hunter Auction House was a huge corporation that oversaw all transactions between Hunters. They would surely try to confirm and investigate every single suspicious detail they find.
‘That is why I need my new licence.’
The new Hunter licence with ‘rank S’ nicely printed on it – he took the reassignment test solely for that licence.
And the result was a resounding success.
If he went by what the Association President Goh Gun-Hui had said, he’d be able to get his hands on that licence in two days’ time without an issue.
He did worry slightly there for a sec, thinking that he had complicated the matters by refusing to sign up with the Association, but…
‘What a relief it is since the Association President doesn’t look like that type of person.’
Even until they said their goodbyes, that deep smile never left the President’s mouth.
When one spent a long time always minding other people’s moods, one would become a master at reading the flow. Jin-Woo was one such example.
He spent four years as a rank E and always had to mind other Hunters. That was why he could more or less figure out what was what by simply looking at other people’s expressions.
Goh Gun-Hui’s expression was definitely not faked. At least, that’s how Jin-Woo saw it. So, he shouldn’t worry about anything and quietly wait for the reassignment test in two days’ time.
‘However…. what I am supposed to do in the meantime?’
Jin-Woo leaned against the back of the chair.
Two days. It was a bit too short to do anything substantial, and maybe a bit too long to do nothing but lounge around at home.
‘Should I just take a look anyway?’
Feeling half-interested, Jin-Woo moved the mouse cursor to the recruitment noticeboard in the Hunter forums.
One click later, and countless recruitment notices filled up his monitor. He quickly noticed a flood of requests from various freelancer raid teams searching for temps nearby this area.
The reason for this was simple. When he and Yu Jin-Ho monopolised every rank C Gate nearby for a little while, many raid teams temporarily lost their livelihood.
Perhaps as a rebound, the raid teams that had been sitting idle during that time suddenly went into an energetic overdrive in the last few days.
Jin-Woo smiled wryly and changed the page.
‘Well, I won’t level up anymore in rank C dungeons, anyway.’
It took him one full day to level up once in the very last rank C dungeon he entered. No, never mind one day, he actually needed nearly two days for that single level up. And his current level was higher than that time by 15.
If there was a gauge for the experience points, then the needle wouldn’t even budge.
‘Rank C Gates have no meaning to me anymore….’
Unfortunately, he couldn’t find a single recruitment offer for raiding higher ranked dungeons. Freelancer raid teams trying to clear high ranked dungeons was akin to them killing themselves. And the large Guilds wouldn’t really recruit temporary members like this, either.
Still, one would never know.
‘Should I change the search parameters?’
Jin-Woo changed the search condition and had it display only the results with ‘high-ranked dungeons’.
Even though he was hoping, he wasn’t expecting much at all.
Something did pop up.
“You’re a rank E?”
“You’ve never done anything like this before?”
“Well, uh… your speciality is?”
“I’m a close-quarter combat type.”
‘Well, at least that’s a relief.’
The foreman wearing a hard hat swept his gaze up and down over Jin-Woo.
‘For a rank E, he’s got a pretty impressive physique, doesn’t he? His eyes look okay, too.’
Jin-Woo patiently waited for the answer from the foreman.
The foreman returned Jin-Woo’s Hunter licence and smiled jovially.
“Hahaha. There are quite a few people similar to you here, Mister Jin-Woo. Don’t be too nervous and let’s get along well.”
The foreman ahjussi was over forty years old, yet he was overflowing with energy. As an added bonus, he even sported a cool moustache, too.
“You can wait here until everyone shows up, Then, you can go inside. And don’t forget your equipment, too.”
“You can pick up any one of those lying on the ground over there.”
“…..Okay, got it.”
Jin-Woo nodded his head while looking at the pile of pickaxes on the ground.
It was at this point that another ahjussi with a towel draped behind his neck hurriedly approached the two men.
“Mister Bae! Our team is also hurting for manpower, so how can you take people away willy-nilly like that??”
“Aigoo~. That many people’s fine for the retrieval team. Hey, will you take responsibility when a problem occurs during the operation and we miss the Gate closing down?”
The moustached ahjussi spun the towel ahjussi around and grinned at Jin-Woo.
“Mister Seong? Why don’t you take five over there? This fella and me, we gonna have a bit of chat.”
“Hey, why don’t we just hash it out right over here? Where are you planning to take me now?”
“C’mon, my man. Come with me for a sec.”
The two ahjussis disappeared to somewhere while arguing with each other.
‘The other ahjussi is from the retrieval team, huh….’
The sizes of high-ranked dungeons were so great that a single raid team couldn’t do everything in one go. That was why the labour was divided.
The raid team that cleared the dungeons, the mining team that mined minerals from the dungeon’s interior, and finally, the retrieval team tasked with collecting the remains of the fallen monsters.
Both the mining and the retrieval team entered the dungeon once all the monsters inside except the boss were eliminated.
Jin-Woo applied to the mining team.
‘….Wait, is this all the so-called equipment there is?’
With a somewhat unconvinced expression, Jin-Woo picked up one of the pickaxes. Even though it was faint, he could sense the flow of magical energy in it.
‘Huh. It’s got magic energy inside.’
Modern technology that utilised electricity didn’t work inside dungeons. Because of that, the old fashioned tools like this pickaxe were used instead, with magic energy enhancing their performance.
Once he held the pickaxe tightly, he felt certain. It was not for nothing that Hunters in the mining team were roundly berated by others as dungeon miners.
Jin-Woo shifted his gaze over to the Gate. A giant hole was silently floating in the air. A Gate with a humongous size that no rank C Gates could even hope to compare filled up Jin-Woo’s vision.
‘So, that’s the rank A Gate….’
That guy was his sole reason for showing up here today.
‘I want to see high-rank dungeons with my own eyes.’
Even though all the monsters inside – except the boss, of course – were dead, he still wanted to confirm the interior layout of the rank A dungeon with his own two eyes.
‘Well, I’ll be entering one sooner or later.’
Knowledge was indeed power. However, there would always be a limit to learning from books and internet articles. Didn’t the newbies of the White Tiger Guild meet with a huge misfortune simply because they had overlooked that crucial fact?
‘If I wasn’t there, none of them would have survived.’
Knowing something, and personally experiencing it, were two different things. When the opportunity arose, Jin-Woo readily applied to enter the mining team in order to get used to rank A dungeons.
He did feel a slight pang of regret when holding that deeply-uncool pickaxe, but when staring at that massive, fearsome Gate, such misgivings flew out of his mind.
‘Looks like I’ve made the right choice.’
He still had some time left to kill until the reassignment test, so what a good opportunity this was.
The ‘chat’ must’ve gone well, because the moustached ahjussi – no, the foreman Bae Yun-Sek, ran to where Jin-Woo was with a smile on his face.
“Let’s go inside. They say they are ready.”
While gripping the pickaxe, Jin-Woo smiled and nodded his head.