A black sedan stopped by the side of the road.
The man climbing out of the driver’s seat, kitted out in a pair of sunglasses and a black business suit, was none other than Woo Jin-Cheol, the section chief of the Monitoring Division, the Hunters Association.
Soon after his exit, three more men climbed out of the car from the passenger and rear seats. All of them were from the Monitoring Division as well.
“Chief, weren’t we on our way back to the Association?”
“I just wanted to confirm something, first.”
Woo Jin-Cheol shifted his gaze over the Gate, some distance away.
‘A rank A Gate still gives me the creeps every time I look at it.’
Woo Jin-Cheol frowned deeply. If that giant hole opened up like a door and monsters trapped inside emerged outside…..
Just imagining that made him shudder.
‘However, why did that man apply to become a miner in such a horrifying place?’
Not only that, for two days in a row, too.
Even if Association President Goh Gun-Hui hadn’t asked him, Woo Jin-Cheol would have personally come here to find out, anyway.
‘Investigating behind his back is…. impossible.’
The man in question was a rank S Awakened. A measly rank A like him going undiscovered while secretly investigating a rank S was, realistically speaking, an impossible dream.
That was why he decided to show up in the open like this.
Since he had a matter to attend to nearby anyway, he was thinking of greeting the youth while saying he was in the neighbourhood, and then ask a couple of simple questions.
‘I hope he won’t find me strange or anything.’
Anyone would get curious of the circumstances if a Hunter, already pretty much confirmed to be a rank S, chose to shovel the ground for some reason.
On top of this, wasn’t Seong Jin-Woo someone the Association President was paying close attention to? The Association President must’ve found this young man very much to his liking, because he even focused all of his attention on everything Jin-Woo did.
‘No, I’m not the strange one here.’
It was obvious that you’d get curious, and it was only natural to ask.
While telling himself that, Woo Jin-Cheol walked over to where the representative of the Hunters Guild was.
“I’m looking for your mining team.”
“Who…. are you?”
“I’m from the Association.”
The Guild employee confirmed Woo Jin-Cheol’s identity and pointed in the direction of the waiting mining team.
“Please head over that way.”
Four Hunters from the Monitoring Division were now paying a visit to the mining team. As if he had received a heads-up already, Foreman Bae Yun-Seok hurriedly ran to meet them halfway.
“Aigoo, what brings the Hunters from the Monitoring Division to this place?”
The members of the mining team had been relaxing until then overheard those words, and tension briefly flashed by in their eyes.
The oppressive pressure Hunters felt from the words ‘Monitoring Division’ was rather huge.
The people whose job was to arrest the Awakened that the normal laws couldn’t do anything about, they then either reformed the troublemakers or simply eliminated them. The ‘Monitoring Division’ was where those kinds of people worked for.
“What’s going on?”
“Hunters from the Monitoring Division are here.”
“Something must’ve happened.”
Feeling curious now, the mining team members began flocking around Foreman Bae.
Woo Jin-Cheol took his sunglasses off.
He swept his gaze around the miners to locate Seong Jin-Woo, but in the end, he had to ask for that man’s whereabouts from Foreman Bae.
“Do you know by any chance where Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim is?”
“I bloody knew it!”
Suddenly, a man jumped out from among the miners. It was Lee Seong-Gu, who had run into Jin-Woo’s shoulder yesterday.
Lee Seong-Gu passionately spat out his complaints, flying spittle accompanying his rapidly firing words.
“When that bstard looked at me and began grinning, I was terrified that he might eat me alive or something, you know! Uh-whew, it’s still so dmn scary even when I think about it now….”
Woo Jin-Cheol’s brows furrowed slightly.
‘Terrifying enough to eat a person….?’
Just what on earth was this man talking about?
The voices of the Hunters rose up higher and higher. Woo Jin-Cheol ignored the background noise and asked Lee Seong-Gu.
“Did something happen?”
“Ah, well, that is….”
Lee Seong-Gu was about to answer him, but then, he rapidly realised that he was also at fault and quickly waved his hands around.
“Well, that isn’t really important, but the main thing is, his eyes were really scary, man.”
Woo Jin-Cheol’s gaze shifted back to Foreman Bae.
“Where can I find Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim?”
“Mister Seong is… He’s inside the Gate right now.”
Seong Jin-Woo was inside the rank A dungeon, where a raid was ongoing? Woo Jin-Cheol’s eyes opened wider.
“Why did he enter the dungeon?”
“Well, the raid team’s porter hasn’t shown up today, you see. Nobody wanted to go in there, so Mister Seong volunteered as the porter.”
“But, it’s a wee bit weird, you know?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, it’s nothing particular, but… Cha Hunter-nim… no, I mean, Cha Hae-In Hunter-nim was also looking for Mister Seong, so she entered the Gate just now, you know? Isn’t it just too weird…?”
Foreman Bae spoke up to there and tilted his head.
Meanwhile, the mind of Woo Jin-Cheol became a bit of mess after hearing that.
‘The Vice Chairman of the Hunters Guild Cha Hae-In was looking for Seong Jin-Woo? Not only that, she even went after him into the dungeon, too?’
Just what was happening here?
He only stopped by to say hello to Seong Jin-Woo, but now, it felt like something big was afoot here.
‘For the time being, I should head over to the Gate.’
That seemed to be the best choice he could make for the time being.
“We’ll stop by at the Gate, and leave afterwards.”
“Oh, sure thing.”
Foreman Bae chuckled genially and nodded his head. Just as Woo Jin-Cheol and his subordinates turned around to leave, Lee Seong-Gu quickly grabbed his arm.
“Excuse me, Mister Hunter?”
Lee Seong-Gu had this expectant face for some reason as he hurriedly asked Woo Jin-Cheol.
“That b*stard, Seong Jin-Woo, did he do something bad? Maybe, he’s killed someone? I mean, he looked like someone fully capable of that.”
Woo Jin-Cheol frowned slightly again. He sort of could understand why Seong Jin-Woo glared scarily at this moron.
‘A fool who’d get blown away into the weeds if Seong Jin-Woo snorts in front of him…..’
Still, there were too many eyes watching. As a Hunter working for the Association, he couldn’t carelessly display his irritation at a stranger.
This was why working for a public organisation sometimes could get rather annoying. Woo Jin-Cheol spat out a long sigh and did his best to sound as diplomatic as possible.
“You’ll find out when you take a look at tomorrow evening’s news broadcast.”
Perhaps that answered most of his own suspicions, Lee Seong-Gu raised his voice high as if he had correctly predicted this.
“I told you, didn’t I? I told you that man is too suspicious!”
“But, he didn’t look that way….”
“Right. And he worked so diligently, too.”
Not minding the lukewarm responses of his colleagues, Lee Seong-Gu went on about how great his discerning eyes were.
Woo Jin-Cheol stared at that man making a fool of himself, before taking his subordinates towards the Gate.
Woo Jin-Cheol instinctively stopped a few steps away from the Gate.
The subordinates began staring in confusion at Woo Jin-Cheol’s stiff face.
‘This… This can’t be. It makes no sense.’
Woo Jin-Cheol quickly yanked his phone out. He then accessed the Association’s information hub and checked out the available info on the rank A Gate the Hunters Guild was supposed to conquer today.
Woo Jin-Cheol’s eyes widened in shock.
‘Why is the measured value of the magic energy so low?!’
His head began rocking side to side automatically.
‘The measurement results are wrong.’
Not all rank A Hunters were equal. For instance, Hunter Woo Jin-Cheol was right near the top within the rank A. And his instincts were telling him this: The measurement value was all wrong.
Woo Jin-Cheol quickly issued an order to his subordinate next to him.
“Go get the magic energy measuring device.”
The subordinate immediately realised that Woo Jin-Cheol’s expression was grave, and hurriedly ran to where their car was parked.
The miniature measuring device used by the Monitoring Division was a world apart in quality from the devices used by the regular Association employees. As befitting a device created from a top-grade magic crystal that cost over a billion Won, this piece of equipment very rarely threw up errors or mistakes in its results.
The measurement result quickly came out.
‘I knew it….’
The displayed result showed a clear discrepancy to the previously measured value. If the Guild formed their raid team according to the measured value presented by the Association, then it’d definitely become a serious situation.
‘Well, with two rank S Hunters inside, I’m sure nothing untoward would happen, but…’
But, when Woo Jin-Cheol placed the measuring device on the ground and tried to stand back up…
The Gate suddenly began vibrating.
The powerful gushing magic energy wave caused Woo Jin-Cheol and his three subordinates, with far worse perceptions than him, to flinch grandly on the spot. They began trembling like leaves right away.
“What, what was that, sir??”
Woo Jin-Cheol shifted his gaze to the youngest of the agents present, the kid’s complexion looking awfully pale now.
“Y-yes, sir. I’m okay.”
The youngest agent cautiously stared at the back of his hand after making his reply. He could see goosebumps covering up his skin.
Woo Jin-Cheol stood upright.
“We’re going inside.”
“You want to go in there, sir?”
Woo Jin-Cheol’s determination didn’t waver, even for a second.
“If you’re scared, it’s okay for you to back out.”
Only he knew that the measurement value was incorrect at this stage. It was his duty to inform the Hunters trapped inside. It was the duty of the Association’s agents to manage other Hunters, and to keep a close watch on them, but also to aid them in time of their needs.
“We’ll go with you.”
Woo Jin-Cheol nodded his head in satisfaction.
“Junior. Stay behind and report the new measurement result back to the Association.”
“Yes. No, wait. Sir?”
“Can you do it?”
Woo Jin-Cheol lightly tapped the youngest agent here on the shoulder, and the latter nodded his head with some difficulty.
“….Yes, sir. I understand.”
Woo Jin-Cheol turned to look back at the Gate.
On top of its already nonsensically-high magic energy emission, an even greater storm of magic power rushed out from the Gate just now.
‘What the hell is going on inside this Gate?’
With Woo Jin-Cheol as the lead, the two agents of the Monitoring Division also threw themselves beyond the Gate’s surface.
Around the same time….
Cha Hae-In was following after the traces left behind the raid team.
‘This is so weird. Why can’t I find the traces of monsters?’
In a regular dungeon, it was normal to find the corpses of monsters strewn about here and there, starting from somewhere near the entrance and all the way till the boss room.
But, no matter how hard she looked, she couldn’t see any dead monsters. Did the monsters gather in one place or something?
She thought like this and continued to walk forward, until….
She finally located corpses in the distance.
As befitting a rank S melee-type Hunter, Cha Hae-In arrived at the location of the battle in the blink of an eye.
‘How can this be?!’
Her eyes opened up super-wide. All the corpses belonged to the High Orcs. It was easy to identify them, because they featured red skin and their fangs were noticeably longer, too.
‘How did Mister Sohn Ki-Hoon’s team manage to defeat this many High Orcs?!’
And, was that all? There was seemingly not one casualty, too. Of course, if there was a casualty, they would’ve retreated on their own accord, saving her the trouble of having to step foot inside here.
‘…Did I underestimate the rank A and B Hunters by too much?’
That could certainly be the case.
Surveying the location, she thought that the battle had to be a bit one-sided, as well.
‘Wait, isn’t that….?’
Cha Hae-In discovered something odd and crouched down to take a closer look at one of the corpses. And her eyes grew even wider than before. She stood back up and quickly began checking out each of the High Orc corpses.
‘This one, and this one, too….’
Her suspicion gradually morphed into certainty.
How could something like this happen?
Almost all the High Orcs were left with injuries inflicted by short but incredibly sharp weapons.
‘They weren’t blows fatal enough to kill, but….’
But, she thought that these were definitely enough to hinder the movements of the High Orcs. Which meant that other Hunters were simply dining on the table full of tasty dishes prepared by someone else.
It also meant that one Hunter managed to almost single-handedly massacre all 20 High Orcs.
Only two High Orcs were killed off in a different fashion to everyone else. One had its head ripped off by an incredible force, while the other one had died after something blunt hit it in the head.
‘Excluding those two, one person managed to drive all the other Orcs to the brink of death?!’
Could such a thing even be possible??
She was deeply confident of her own speed, but even then, she couldn’t be sure of achieving the same feat under the same given situation. And also, from what she knew, there was no Assassin-type Hunter wielding daggers or shortswords within Sohn Ki-Hoon’s team.
It was then, a certain scene flashed past her brain.
The man who stood near the boss room yesterday.
Seong Jin-Woo was definitely holding short weapons in both of his hands.
‘Could it be that man?’
When her thoughts arrived at this point, Cha Hae-In’s head snapped towards the deeper parts of the dungeon. And her expression rapidly hardened. She could sense this incredibly powerful magic energy wave, no, magic energy tremors, the kind she’d never experienced before, coming from there.
The air itself was trembling, hard.
Cha Hae-In bit her lower lips.
If that magical energy belonged to the boss monster, then no one from Sohn Ki-Hoon’s team would be able to survive.
She began running towards the boss room with all her might.