"Yes, I am one, but...."
"Ahh, please forgive me. This way, please. Let me guide you there."
Sensing that his troubles might get more complicated if he said "There's been a misunderstanding here", Seong Jin-Woo decided to quietly follow the soldier's guidance for now.
Jin-Woo then swept his gaze around his vicinity.
'Now that I see, it's....'
The surrounding atmosphere felt rather suspicious.
The streets were totally deserted. The only people he could see were the soldiers and the members of the police.
Also, corpses belonging to monsters, destroyed cars, and buildings with cracks running up their walls....
Jin-Woo realised what had happened here.
'A Gate must've opened up nearby.'
Something like that almost never happened nowadays with the well-established Hunter system in place, but sometimes, a Gate would appear in a remote area, and it'd go unnoticed for a while. As a result, no one would come around to close it in time.
When such an event unfolded, soldiers from the nearby bases were dispatched in order to buy some time until Hunters could arrive on the scene.
Of course, the weapons of soldiers didn't work against the monsters. However, in order to facilitate the evacuation of civilians, someone had to be offered up as sacrifices. In other words, they were to become cannon fodder.
A role someone had no choice but to perform had been saddled on the shoulders of this nation's youths.
The soldier walking up ahead thanked Jin-Woo out of the blue.
"Well, because Hunters such as yourself fight hard, we are able to go home at the end of the day, you see."
He said 'thanks'.
That was something Jin-Woo wanted to say to the soldier, instead.
Soldiers to the Hunters, and Hunters to soldiers.
As befitting those fighting to protect someone, or even something, they were expressing their gratitude against each other.
The soldier's expression brightened after he received the radio transmission.
"I've received a word that the monsters in the vicinity have been dealt with, and only the biggest one remains."
Jin-Woo nodded his head.
He didn't need to hear the soldier's explanation to know.
He could actually sense the presence of a powerful 'lifeform' nearby. And he could even sense several auras of Hunters surrounding it, too. The enhanced Perception Stat was transmitting crucial information in the form of sensations and feelings.
And that's how Jin-Woo got to figure it out almost immediately.
'That thing is the boss.'
Soon enough, the creature could be seen in the distance. In the empty, open space not too far from him, a dozen or so Hunters were surrounding a giant made out of rock. It was as tall as a telephone pole.
It was a Golem-type monster.
The soldier spat out a gasp of fear as he took a step backwards.
Perhaps it was his first time seeing one, since the moment he saw it, his entire body had stiffened noticeably. But then again, most people would react in a similar fashion. The difference between seeing a monster for real and seeing it on a TV or a computer monitor was like heaven and earth, after all.
Unlike him, Jin-Woo remained calm and observed the unfolding situation.
"Healers! Concentrate your healing on the Tanker!"
"We're also doing our best!!"
"Why isn't it dying already?!"
"What are the damage dealers doing!! It's not even remotely close enough to dying, is it?!"
"The monster's defences are too strong! And we just don't have enough magic-type Hunters in our group!"
Because they had been summoned out here in haste, none of them seemed to be high ranked Hunters. Both their defences and attacks didn't look that effective at all.
Because of that, Hunters couldn't avoid being embroiled in the protracted battle of attrition.
When the Golem slammed its massive stone fist downward, the Hunter acting as the Tanker had no choice but to kneel down just for a brief second.
The Tanker vomited out a mouthful of blood.
"The Tanker might die at this rate!!"
"What do you want me to do?! My magic energy reserve is completely empty, you know!!"
"Hasn't the support from high-ranked Hunters arrive yet?!"
These Hunters looked like they had reached their limit.
Jin-Woo's gaze, as he took all of these in, gleamed quite sharply.
'If it's only that much.... I can do this.'
Jin-Woo slowly took several steps back. This Golem-type boss might possess the high defence, but its rank was probably lower than its scary outer appearance might suggest.
Just from the aura it emitted, it was definitely weaker than the boss of the instant dungeon, the Poison-Fanged Blue whatever.
'So, if I could just render its high defences to nothing....'
What's needed right now was a powerful strike that could penetrate past that dumb rock giant's defences.
Jin-Woo got to enough distance away and took a position of throwing something.
The muscles in the arm holding the broken sword began swelling up quite violently out of the blue. Thick, pulsing veins even popped up on the back of his hand, too.
All of his physical strength was concentrated in his right arm.
A short while after that, the arm pulled back taut like the string of a bow was shot forward at the speed of sound.
The view of the rank D Hunter, Lee Hahn-Soo, was turning dark.
He couldn't continue on anymore. His prized shield had begun developing cracks as well. As if their magic energy had been depleted, the amount of healing magic hitting him from the Healers had decreased quite noticeably.
At this rate, every single one of them would die for sure.
Lee Hahn-Soo had to make a decision, now.
The only feasible plan here was for him to buy enough time so the other Hunters could safely escape from here. And at a later time, Hunters with higher ranks show up to kill this Golem.
'Or, we all die together here.'
Cold sweat drops formed on Lee Hahn-Soo's forehead.
He finally firmed up his resolve. Lee Hahn-Soo shouted out while looking back.
"Leave this to me and you all gotta...!"
It was at this moment that Lee Hahn-Soo saw it.
Something flew towards here as it gleamed coldly in the night air.
Actually, he could only 'sense' that he had seen something, but his eyes couldn't really pick up on anything tangible.
It was that fast.
That 'something' slammed into the Golem's head and it grandly exploded.
"W-what the hell?!"
Lee-Hahn-Soo's eyes opened up super-wide.
The headless Golem began tottering dangerously. The Hunters began roaring out in elation only then. They focused their attacks once more.
"It's working!! Our attacks are working!!"
"A little bit more!! Just a bit more and we'll win!!"
It seemed that none of them had noticed the object flying in from somewhere, because they were too focused on attacking the monster. With the sole exception of Lee Hahn-Soo standing right in front of the Golem, that was!
In the end, the Golem toppled over.
The heavy body fell down to the ground and kicked up a mighty dust storm.
Hunters all cried out in elation and celebrated their victory.
"We did it!!"
"We killed it!"
Only Lee Hahn-Soo had seen everything unfold, and he slowly shook his head.
'No, our attacks didn't even work on this guy.'
Lee Hahn-Soo hurriedly searched around the vicinity of the fallen Golem.
"Just what did destroy the head of this rock giant?"
Lee Hahn-Soo thought out aloud and searched around. Eventually, he discovered the remnants of a broken sword. Although there were some traces of magic energy within it, it was basically a cheap, plain steel sword.
'What? Someone threw something this worthless and destroyed a boss level Golem capable of brushing off the combined attacks of ten plus Hunters?'
Suddenly, he forgot what he wanted to say. Lee Hahn-Soo silently alternated his gaze between the corpse of the Golem and the broken sword, before he ran past the cheering Hunters and in the direction the sword flew in from.
He found a dazed soldier standing there.
"Pardon? You talking to me?"
"That's right, you!"
When a Hunter with a hulking physique hurriedly rushed towards him, the soldier couldn't help but swallow nervously with a stiff face. That was how great the pressure a Hunter gave off to regular people.
Lee Hahn-Soo displayed the broken sword and asked.
"Did you throw this?"
"Oh, that. It's actually...."
The soldier looked behind him, only for his eyes to go round in surprise.
"Huh? Uh? But, there was a Hunter standing right behind me, though?"
Of course, there was no one there now.
While the flustered soldier was looking around the vicinity, Lee Hahn-Soo scratched the back of his neck and stared at the broken sword.
'That power, that destructive power.... Could it have been a high rank Hunter?'
He'd never know, since the protagonist had disappeared already.
Around the same time, Jin-Woo was on his way home. He turned around to leave as soon as the Golem began teetering about.
Indeed, he was the one who brought down the Golem. He was well aware of this fact.
Now originally, the loot and the profit arising from a dead monster belonged solely to the Hunter who managed to kill it. If he wanted to, he could contest for the rights to the Golem.
'However, it'd become problematic when trying to prove that I am capable of bringing down a Golem like that.'
Who would believe the notion of a giant Golem crashing down because of an attack from a measly little rank E? He didn't even have a proper evidence to back him up, too.
Jin-Woo figured that neither the broken sword or the soldier standing beside him would be of a great help in that endeavour.
And that would not be all. More importantly, he'd have to reveal the reason how his abilities had increased by so much that he could fell a Golem like that.
The harder he thought about it, he had more to lose than to gain.
The one and only ability in the entire world to level up.
He couldn't afford to slip up and reveal the existence of this unprecedented ability just for the sake of claiming the remains of a single Golem.
'It's a bit of a waste, but can't be helped.'
Still, it wasn't as if he walked away completely empty-handed, anyway.
No, rather than that, he earned pretty big, actually.
The message he heard the moment that giant Golem fell down....
His level rose up by one because he had killed the Golem.
'Indeed, my levels will rise if I hunt the monsters from the normal dungeons.'
He had learned some valuable information. That alone was worth it.
An old and decrepit apartment located on the outskirts of the city – Jin-Woo's home was on the eighth floor of this building. (TL: I use the Commonwealth way of counting floors, so for all those who don't, it'd be the ninth floor for you.)
He found the key and entered the premises. It was dark inside.
'Jin-Ah's still studying hard, huh.'
It was quite likely that his little sister was still in the library, studying.
He found a bowl of rice and some soup on the dining table. Mom was in the hospital for a number of years now, and these dishes were from his little sister.
The piece of paper, a memo from her, contained a bunch of cutely written words.
- Don't starve yourself. I'mma check later if you ate them all.
She must've prepared them even though she was busy as a bee, after he told her of his plans to leave the hospital earlier today.
Jin-Woo grinned softly and settled down to eat. However, there was something he wanted to confirm first before doing that.
Name: Seong Jin-Woo
Title: Slaughterer of Wolves
(Available points to distribute: 0)
- (Unknown) Lv. Max
- Tenacity Lv. 1
- Dash Lv. 1
He thought that today had been a long one.
And thanks to this long day, he was now level 18.
His Strength was approaching 50, and other Stats also had increased significantly as well. He even figured out what the Agility and Perception Stats did, too.
'On top of this, add to the fact that I found a very useful dagger with good options and all that Gold that I don't know how to use just yet, then...'
Even if he disregarded the 'special' medicine he got, his conquest of the instant dungeon was a resounding success.
Part 9. Geckos
A person stepping outside the house in the early hours of dawn would inevitably be cautious in their movements. Well, they might end up accidentally waking up their family members, after all.
That was why Seong Jin-Ah was silently closing the front door to her home, so that her brother wouldn't wake up from his sleep, as she was about to leave for school.
"You going to school now?"
She was taken by surprise when a voice came from near her, and she quickly turned around to look. And she saw Jin-Woo jogging towards her.
He was kitted out in tracksuit and sneakers. He had pulled the hood up high and looked as if he'd been on an early morning jog.
Jin-Ah's eyes opened up real wide in shock.
"What the heck? Oppa, you were up already?"
"Yup, been a while since I was up, you know. Hey, have fun today and be careful on the road."
Jin-Ah watched her brother's back as he entered the apartment and tilted her head.
'Now that is so strange. Oppa actually woke up before I did....'
One would never call Jin-Woo a lazy type, but Jin-Ah was always the first one to start the day until now simply because she was unusually industrious, which was quite unfitting for her age group.
'Now that I think about it...'
Her older brother's back seemed broader than before, for some reason.
'Eii, no way that's true.'
A human's body wasn't made out of some rubber band, so how could it make any sense for him to expand and contract in a space of a few days?
'I've probably made a mistake.'
< Chapter 16 > Fin.
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