Finding himself surrounded by a wall of reporters, Jin-Woo became quite flustered.
‘Why aren’t these people taking pictures of Rhee Min-Seong like they were supposed to, instead of blocking my way??’
Wondering if Rhee Min-Seong was standing behind him, he took a quick glance, but he could only see Baek Yun-Ho and Choi Jong-In there.
It was then, his thigh began vibrating.
It was his mobile phone inside the pocket.
‘Why would Jin-Ah call me at this time of the day?’
As soon as he tapped on the ‘Answer’ icon, his little sister’s urgent voice exploded out from the speaker.
“Oppa! Oppa, you’re on TV!!”
But, that was obvious. Just how many TV cameras were present here? You would still get roughly the same picture regardless of which TV station you tuned into.
He got momentarily tense after his sister, who was supposed to be still in school, suddenly called him up but was able to breathe a sigh in relief.
“Mm…. So, nothing in particular happened, right?”
“Nothing in particular?? How can you even say that?! What’s this about Re-Awakening? And this rank S thing, too???”
From her voice, it was quite obvious that the girl was feeling really shocked at the moment. Unfortunately, his current circumstances meant that he couldn’t explain everything to her in detail.
“Right now, I’m a bit occupied so…. Okay, I’ll tell you everything once you get back home.”
Despite his sister’s anxious voice calling out to him, Jin-Woo ended the call.
And at the same time, he got to figure out how the current situation came to be.
‘….There was a message, huh.’
The Hunters Association used a dedicated app to deliver important information in real time. Most of the time, the app alerted the users to the locations of rank A or higher dungeons, or where dungeon breaks were about to occur, but it was a different story today.
After confirming the contents of the message, Jin-Woo quickly accessed the Association’s website. And sure enough….
The ink on his rank S Hunter licence wasn’t even dry yet, but the list of the highest ranking Hunters in South Korea had been updated already.
[Seong Jin-Woo, rank S, Mage-type]
It was as it was written on his licence.
‘….They are unnecessarily fast on things like this.’
Shoving the phone back in his pocket, Jin-Woo redirected his gaze back to the front.
“Mister Seong Jin-Woo! Are you really the rank E Hunter once affiliated with the Association?”
“You are now a very rare Re-Awakened!! How are you feeling right now?”
Reporters writhed and struggled desperately in order to capture a bit more of Jin-Woo’s face or his voice with their cameras. However, Jin-Woo found their explosive attention towards him simply annoying.
‘I gotta get out of this place first.’
Asking them politely to make way wouldn’t going to work.
Jin-Woo’s brows quivered. Should he just summon his Shadow Soldiers to carve out a path and leave?
“Over here! Mister Seong Jin-Woo, please look over this way!”
“Mister Seong Jin-Woo! The whole country is watching, so how about a smile for the viewers?”
While the camera lenses and mics were gradually inching closer, Jin-Woo spent the next two seconds earnestly pondering whether he should summon Shadow Soldiers like ‘Tank’ or ‘Fangs’ or not.
Meanwhile, behind Jin-Woo…
Choi Jong-In looked at Jin-Woo’s back as the youth stood there, unable to go anywhere thanks to the cordon of reporters blocking his way.
He approached Baek Yun-Ho and spoke.
“Looks like my new recruit Hunter-nim is feeling a bit troubled from the excessive attention, no?”
“And just who gave you the permission to call Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim ‘your’ new recruit now?”
“Can’t I even make a joke? It’s just a joke.”
Two men began their war of nerves once more. In the end, though, Choi Jong-In took a step back first. He sighed before speaking up again.
“In any case, it’d be the same thing as giving other Guilds a chance if we waste any more time here.”
Baek Yun-Ho agreed with that assessment. Not just the Reapers Guild’s Master Im Tae-Gyu, who just so coincidentally was present here today because of Rhee Min-Seong, but the other remaining super-large Guilds would be desperately trying to get in touch with Hunter Seong Jin-Woo right about now.
Baek Yun-Ho scanned the crowd of reporters.
“So, Chairman Choi, what you’re suggesting is….”
“Before flies come rushing in from the smell, let us escort Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim to his residence. While we have a chat with him regarding this and that.”
Meaning, the two of them should pool their resources first, and prevent more potential rivals from appearing.
Didn’t matter what kind of abilities Hunter Seong Jin-Woo possessed, he’d still need a Guild’s aid if he were to attack high-ranking dungeons. So, if they played their cards right, then either the White Tiger or the Hunters Guild could find themselves with another rank S in the roster.
Choi Jong-In was utterly confident of the Guild he led, the Hunters, and….
….Baek Yun-Ho too didn’t feel that this was a bad suggestion, either.
The White Tiger might not have been as big as the Hunters, but it still was a Guild with great future prospects.
‘Besides, our Section Chief Ahn and Deputy Hyun are familiar with Mister Seong Jin-Woo from a while ago, too.’
At a bare minimum, he knew for sure that they had a closer relationship than the Hunters Guild.
And so, the interests of these two men lined up rather nicely. They exchanged a few suspicious gazes at each other, before turning around to approach Jin-Woo.
The first one to engage the young man in conversation was Baek Yun-Ho.
Jin-Woo looked behind him.
Choi Jong-In inwardly clicked his tongue after losing the initiative, but since they made a tacit agreement to cooperate, he didn’t interfere. Baek Yun-Ho formed the brightest smile he could manage and continued on.
“Are you feeling lost with all these reporters around? We can safely escort you back to your house, so how about going with us? We are pretty good at dealing with these sorts of situations, you see.”
Although a bit of exaggeration was mixed in there, what he said wasn’t an empty promise at all.
This event was something any rank S Hunter would experience at least once. Not only that, these two men also learned how to deal with people’s attention while managing their respective large Guilds, too.
Choi Jong-In provided support fire from the side.
“Let’s head out together. Also, there is something we’d like to discuss with you, as well.”
Too bad for them, Jin-Woo simply formed a polite-enough smile to reject them.
“I’ll be alright.”
He then pulled the hood attached to his top and hid his face.
“I actually do have a place I need to stop by first.”
“Excuse me? But, how will you get out of here, what with all these repor…..”
Choi Jong-In couldn’t get to continue with the rest of his sentence.
Because, Jin-Woo turned to face the reporters and then, jumped up tens of metres in the air before landing on the other side of the crowd, that’s why.
Even before the flustered reporters could respond, Jin-Woo blended into the crowd and disappeared from the view.
Choi Jong-In was left speechless. Now that was a movement he couldn’t even react to in time, even though he was a rank S. It was quite obvious that the reporters, who were all regular people, wouldn’t be able to follow that with their naked eyes.
Choi Jong-In let out a wry chuckle.
‘As soon as registering as a rank S, he’s already playing the part of Superman?’
How was he supposed to be a Mage-type with that sort of physical ability? As a fellow Mage-type, it sure riled him up a bit.
But, in that case, how would a rank S melee-type Hunter think of that?
“Just now, he….”
Choi Jong-In turned towards Baek Yun-Ho in order to ask a question, but he flinched and reflexively took a step back.
“Chairman Baek, your eyes??”
He was so surprised that he even forgot to add the honorific title.
“Ah….! M-my apologies.”
Baek Yun-Ho hurriedly covered his eyes with his hand and turned around. When he opened his eyes again a short while later, they had reverted back from the monster-like irises to those of a normal human being. However, just because his eyes changed back to normal, that didn’t mean his shock had worn off.
‘How can this be…..??’
Baek Yun-Ho trembled on the spot.
Just now, when Jin-Woo gathered strength on his legs to prepare for that jump, he very briefly released his magic energy he’d been concealing until then.
No matter how skilful a Hunter was, it was nearly impossible to detect anything in such a short period of time. However, that incredible magic energy still caused Baek Yun-Ho to instinctively activate one of his abilities, the Eyes of the Beast, and those eyes successfully detected Jin-Woo’s hidden power.
Baek Yun-Ho already knew how strong the youth was. However….
‘No, that’s not important.’
Back when they had gotten into a bit of confrontation in front of the Red Gate, Baek Yun-Ho also activated the Eyes of the Beast inadvertently. Jin-Woo’s strength was clearly imprinted in Baek Yun-Ho’s mind back then.
Back then, the youth was very strong. Even if it was Baek Yun-Ho himself, he would not have been able to win without sacrificing an arm.
However, that was all.
If he was willing to sacrifice that much, then he’d be able to win at any time.
What was the meaning of this difference in strength? He detected magic energy incomparably greater than before. That youth was so much stronger now.
So, so much stronger than back then.
His Re-Awakening process should’ve been over a long time ago. So, how could this be?
In that instant, an implausible theory popped up in Baek Yun-Ho’s head.
‘Could he… be able to grow stronger?’
Possibly, not through Re-Awakening process, but through growing stronger that he…..
Just as his thoughts arrived at this point,
“Excuse me, Chairman Baek? Are you alright? Your complexion is….”
….Choi Jong-In worriedly asked him.
Baek Yun-Ho rubbed his face and shook his head, hard.
“I was suddenly feeling a bit dizzy just now. I’m okay.”
“You’re still young…. You should be more careful.”
While conversing with Choi Jong-In, Baek Yun-Ho continued to stare in the direction that Jin-Woo had disappeared to.
‘He’s already transcended the regular rank S, but if he could continue increasing his strength, then…’
Baek Yun-Ho’s entire body shuddered from goosebumps.
After successfully shaking off the reporters, Jin-Woo caught a taxi on a deserted road.
He now possessed the rank S licence that he so wanted. Him levelling up and clearing dungeons were all good and nice, but right now, the most important thing was curing his mother.
‘The Divine Water of Life….’
He didn’t know if this item called ‘Divine Water of Life’ could really heal his mother.
‘However, if there is a one in a thousand, no, even if it’s one in a ten thousand chance, then I…..’
He wanted to clear the Demon’s Castle as quickly as humanly possible and collect all the ingredients so he could craft this ‘Divine Water of Life’. And in order to do that, he needed to find an artefact that could protect him from the overwhelming heat of the Demon’s Castle.
Jin-Woo settled down in the backseat of the taxi and told the driver his destination.
“To the Korean Hunter Auction, please.”
The taxi driver took a glance through the rear-view mirror and grinned brightly.
“Well, you must be going there to sell something good, am I right? I hear that the minimum trading price starts at around tens of millions of Won.”
Instead of a reply, Jin-Woo simply formed a thin smile.
The driver swallowed his saliva.
By saying that he wanted to go to the Hunter Auction to sell something, that youth was declaring that he was a Hunter; and the driver needed to be extra careful when dealing with Hunters.
There were more than a few among the Hunters possessing somewhat of ‘particular’ personalities that were just as strange as their powers. If the driver made a mistake and got on the bad side of this youth, a big incident might break out.
‘Well, this young man doesn’t look like one of those people, but still, it’s better to be on the cautious side, no?’
The driver remained mindful of Jin-Woo’s moods and kept his mouth shut, and thanks to that, the interior of the taxi was left largely quiet during the drive. Jin-Woo used this part of the trip to search the internet.
Various articles, social media sites, as well as portal communities etc., were all filled with the discussion regarding the new rank S Hunter. Rhee Min-Seong used to be the number one most-searched-for topic until this morning, yet his name could no longer be seen in the top 10 now.
Jin-Woo clicked his tongue.
‘I didn’t expect it to be this crazy, though.’
Sure, he did expect some amount of attention, but he definitely didn’t believe that it’d become such a hot trending topic at all.
There were only ten in South Korea.
If one were to exclude two who died or had emigrated to elsewhere, then there were only eight rank S Hunters in the country, so how could the response of its citizens not be feverish?
‘Wait, why was it quiet back when Cha Hae-In became a rank S?’
Because the ninth rank S Cha Hae-In was almost never exposed to the media, Jin-Woo thought his case would be similar to that. But when he searched this and that, he eventually discovered that, once Cha Hae-In had become a rank S, she requested the Association to keep most of her details confidential.
‘Just by requesting the Association, both the media and Guilds can’t even rely on laws to approach you.’
If there was such a convenient method available, why didn’t the Association President tell him about this?
Jin-Woo recalled the question he got just as he was about to enter the examination area. Back then, the Association President asked him this:
“Have you thought of a Guild to join?”
“No, not yet.”
Did he ask because of that?
If he were to request confidentiality, then Guilds wouldn’t have been able to approach him, so it was likely that the Association President deliberately hadn’t said anything.
‘Well, that’s that, I guess.’
Jin-Woo requested confidentiality from the Association while online, and rang up the Korean Hunter Auction.
“Welcome to Korean Hunter Auction.”
“I’d like to get an artefact appraised. I’m on my way there, but will it be okay?”
“Yes, of course. However, what type of an artefact would you like to get appraised?”
“It’s a bead containing an amplification effect on one’s magic.”
“Ah. A magic tool that can amplify….. By the way, seeing that you’re already aware of the artefact’s effects, you must have had it appraised elsewhere?”
“Indeed I have, but they weren’t really all that trustworthy so I wanted to get the Hunter Auction’s opinion.”
“Hahaha. You made the right choice. There is no one out there that can correctly estimate the value of an artefact better than us.”
The conversation was halted for a moment as if the other party was jotting something down, but it soon resumed.
“So, may I ask, what was the amplification percentage detected from the previous appraisal?”
“It was 100%.”
“It was a one hundred percent amplification effect.”
The voice over the phone came out after a short pause.
“My apologies, but may I ask if you’re a Hunter?”
“Yes, I am.”
“In order for the smooth appraisal process, we require the identity of the seller. Can you provide us with your rank and your name, please?”
The corners of Jin-Woo’s lips arched up.
‘I knew this would happen.’
Would the Hunter Auction even talk to him if he wanted to sell this nonsensical artefact when he was still a rank E Hunter? It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that he got re-evaluated precisely for this moment.
Jin-Woo confidently declared.
“It’s rank S. Name’s Seong Jin-Woo.”