“We’ll send you home, Jinwoo-hunter . ”
The Association President Go Gun-hee had hastily told Jinwoo this, right before he was about to stand up .
Jinwoo tilted his head .
“Please wait a moment, our staff will bring a car around . Why don’t you take a ride in it and we’ll bring you back home?”
“ . . . um . . . ”
Jinwoo knew well that Go Gun-hee was sincerely grateful to him . However, he didn’t want to receive any preferential treatment .
“No thank you, I’ll be fine . ”
Jinwoo declined the offer politely . Nevertheless, as if to clarify, Go Gun-hee sincerely advised Jinwoo to reconsider .
“Maybe…taking the ride would be . . . less complicated . ”
“What do you-”
Before Jinwoo could finish his sentence, Go Gun-hee stood up and approached the window .
“Could you come and take a look at this?”
Jinwoo followed Go Gun-hee’s words and moved towards the window . His eyes widened when he noticed what was happening outside of the window . Even though it had been rather quiet just moments ago, a huge crowd had gathered in front of the entrance to the main building of the Hunter Association .
“They all came here to set their eyes upon Sung Jinwoo Hunter-nim after hearing that he had arrived here . ”
How they had figured out he came here – actually, he didn’t even need to ask .
‘After all, I did come here riding on Kaisel . ’
Nowadays, it wasn’t uncommon for people to at least have one camera on them at all times .
Jinwoo’s arrival on ‘Kaisel’ at the Hunter Association spread like wildfire via social media, and there were internet bloggers as well as those who had heard about this through the news .
The article was short: just one line was enough .
‘Who is the owner of the mysterious magic creature that descended upon the Hunter Association?’
People who saw the news and felt like checking its authenticity and those who wished to meet Jinwoo were all gathered together in front of the Hunter Association .
Jinwoo, recognizing the crowd of people, had mixed feelings . Go Gun-hee, who was next to Jinwoo, looked down at the crowd and spoke in a gentle tone .
“You must have already realized…the citizens were longing for victory . ”
4 years ago, a catastrophe had happened .
Ever since the Dungeon Break of Jeju Island had occurred, South Korea had become the only country in the world to lose any of its land to magic creatures . While many countries openly expressed sympathy, inwardly, they laughed at the apparent incompetence of Korean hunters . When all three reclamation operations failed, the criticism reached its peak .
Like that, two years of humiliation passed .
It was then announced that the fourth operation would be a joint task force comprised of Japanese and Korean hunters . There were some skeptical voices around the world who suggested that even with Japan’s help they wouldn’t be able to exterminate the magic creatures properly . But then . . .
Twenty of the “mighty Japanese S-rank hunters” had died or fled the raid, leaving only Jinwoo and his army of black soldiers to clean up after them .
In a way, the people’s enthusiasm was understandably natural . Just as thirsty people dreamed of seeing an oasis, people had cast away their feelings of helplessness at the sight of Jinwoo’s entrancing performance . They couldn’t restrain their lingering happiness and ran out onto the streets after hearing the news of Jinwoo’s success .
“Of course, you could always fly away on a magic creature like you did when you got here . ”
Go Gun-hee laughed out loud .
“Though could you go and meet them just this once, as a favor to the Hunter’s Association?”
Jinwoo pushed the glass door open and stepped out of the Association’s building . Then, simultaneously, the commotion died down . Astonishingly, the entire crowd quieted down and stared at Jinwoo in silence .
All over Jinwoo’s clothes, remained traces of the battle that he had fought . There were areas where the bodily fluids of the magical ant creatures had been splattered all over Jinwoo’s clothes, and tears ran across his clothing where the ants had gotten at it .
However, not a single person who stared at Jinwoo laughed .
The citizens, who were watching quietly, felt a heartwarming feeling welling from the depths of their hearts .
Like that, a heavy silence ensued between Jinwoo and the citizens, who were on the opposite side of each other, until .
“Hunter-nim, this way . ”
Said Woo Jin-chul, the man in charge of escorting Jinwoo to his ride . The surveillance staff took the lead, and the citizens obediently parted and opened a path for Jinwoo .
Nevertheless, accidents always happen when unexpected . Just as he was approaching the car that was waiting for him, an old man suddenly walked out of the crowd and stood in front of him .
The surveillance staff who had moved to block the old man, noticed the man’s face was visibly soaked with tears and came to a sudden halt, stepping back . Jinwoo himself interrupted the surveillance staff . The old man, who had tears sprinkled on his face, could barely manage to stand in front of Jinwoo and became choked up just by trying to call out to him .
“Hunter-nim… thanks to Hunter-nim… my son is now able to rest in peace . ”
Jinwoo quickly rushed to hold up the old man, whose legs had given up their strength and were about to collapse . The old man, while holding onto Jinwoo’s arm and grasping his hand, bowed his head .
“Thank you, Hunter-nim… really… thank you so much…”
Woo Jin-chul, who was helping hold the old man up, passed him to his subordinates in the hopes that he could be taken care of and whispered into Jinwoo’s ear .
“Hunter-nim . The amount of people gathering is steadily increasing . You need to leave now . ”
“I understand . ”
Jinwoo nodded .
Woo Jin-chul opened the rear door of the car that was on standby .
Jinwoo took one last glance at the crowd who had gathered in front of him before he got into the car .
Who bowed first? It didn’t matter . Someone briefly met Jinwoo’s gaze and in turn decided to bow their head in deep gratitude, and soon, everyone who noticed this immediately followed . Everywhere Jinwoo looked, a heartfelt greeting came back .
“Hunter-nim . ”
Only after hearing Woo Jin-chul’s anxious voice, did Jinwoo finally climb into the car .
With Woo Jin-chul’s subordinate driving and the front passenger seat being occupied by Woo Jin-chul, the car started up and slowly left the Association’s premises .
Jinwoo silently stared out the window .
All of the people’s gazes were directed towards the car, following it until it was completely out of sight .
With his eyes focused straight ahead and his head upright, Jinwoo rested his hand on his chest .
Ba-dump . Ba-dump . Ba-dump .
A pleasant and uplifting feeling emanated and was making his heart throb .
When Jinwoo first received the Association President’s request, he didn’t know how to greet the people, but now he was convinced that he did well not to pass it up .
“Ah . ”
At the sound of Jinwoo’s abrupt exclamation, Woo Jin-chul hurriedly turned his head around .
“Is something the matter, Hunter-nim?”
“ . . . It’s nothing . ”
Jinwoo facepalmed as he realized that his mother must’ve been shocked to suddenly see him reported on TV in the midst of peril, and pondered how he might keep her from freaking out when he returned .
‘How should I explain that I was there?’
Sure enough, when he turned on his phone, his call history was flooded with thirteen missed calls from home .
The Internet had been taken by storm by the footage of Jinwoo . That had been inevitable: the Jeju Island’s subjugation operation was Jinwoo’s first appearance in a raid since he officially became a S-rank Hunter . For Jinwoo, it may as well have been his debut .
In such a difficult raid, he alone overwhelmed the monster ants that had shocked the world and wiped out the surge of thousands of ants that were pushing in from the escape route . Just as passionate sports fans take to the streets to celebrate victory, so too did the viewers of the broadcasted raid gather online to discuss what had happened .[Wow… I’m speechless . . . ] [As far as I know, it’s not possible to create so many summons, right?] [Looking at Sung Jinwoo Hunter-nim’s summons attack has cured my 10 year old cancer . ] [If you had cancer for 10 years, doesn’t that mean the cancer wasn’t even that bad?] [He probably just had a Reddit account for 10 years . ] [Some people do not know how to read the mood smh . ] [Wow that was cool . ] [I’m a dad who lost his son 4 years ago, I don’t think Sung Jinwoo Hunter-nim will ever read this but…]
As it was an operation that drew the entire nation’s interest, numerous online forums flooded with conversation about Korea’s raid, and wherever one took place, Jinwoo’s name was not left out of the discussion . In particular, netizens, who loved to talk about Jinwoo’s class ranking, exchanged heated debates over Jinwoo’s abilities .[If that’s the case, then isn’t that a nation-level hunter emerging from our country?] [Literally every rookie gets overhyped . Don’t be ridiculous . ] [Why couldn’t he be though? He cleared an S-rank dungeon nearly by himself! There’s a great disparity between the abilities of S-rank hunters, isn’t there?] [Hunter Sung Jinwoo still doesn’t have enough experience imo . If you’ve got real skills, they’ll show with time, and people will start to acknowledge you . ] [Anyways, that kicked ass, freaking awesome . ] [I heard that the strength of an E-rank is a tiny bit more significant than the average person, but can someone really become so strong all of a sudden?] [Dude he reawakened . Did you seriously think a E-rank hunter was that strong?] [Surprisingly, many people still don’t know that Sung Jinwoo had reawakened . He did file for information protection right away . . . ]
Of course, among them, a few had retained their misgivings about Jinwoo .[But… If Sung Jinwoo had been apart of the raid since the beginning, wouldn’t Min Byung-gu not have died?] [I’m guessing that you still haven’t seen the article posted by the Association . ] [What article? Link please . ]
The article read the following .
The Association had decided to keep Jinwoo on standby since he possessed no higher-class dungeon experience to speak of . After having him be put on standby, they closely monitored the situation, so that, if the worst case scenario came to pass, they would hopefully be able to turn things around with Jinwoo .
The story was hastily put together, but it was enough to make people believe .
‘This is the best I can do for Hunter Sung Jinwoo . ’
In that manner, Go Gun-hee, with his quick witted and bold actions, managed to conceal Jinwoo’s private history while redirecting the criticism aimed towards Jinwoo . Thanks to that, even though the Association might be criticized for their incompetence in estimating Sung Jinwoo’s abilities improperly, there would be no backlash for Jinwoo .
No, on the contrary, Jinwoo’s esteem had increased: in truly the worst case scenario, when the Japanese team had withdrawn and the Korean team was about to be wiped out, Jinwoo had jumped into the ants’ nest without saying a word .[Dude, ngl, if that was me, I would’ve been fucking scared shitless . Like, I wouldn’t have gone in if someone had pushed me from behind bruh . ] [Same tbh] [I can’t believe he just jumped in? How hard is it for him to carry those massive balls? ( ͡o ͜ʖ ͡o)] [Isn’t Sung Jinwoo an example of an ideal hunter?] [Shouldn’t all the retards who shit on Jinwoo for being the only S-Rank Hunter not participating in the raid all be eating their fucking words right now?] [Hey I’m not even a hunter and I’m just gonna start talking shit about some S-rankers, genius! TOPKEK]
Unfortunately, Jinwoo, who had filed for information protection, was, embarrassingly enough, powerless to stop the exchange of his private information across the internet . After the raid, even though he wanted to stay relatively anonymous, he rapidly grew to become Korea’s most famous Hunter and was flooded with praise .
Two days later, military troops and hunters landed on Jeju Island to retrieve Min Byung-gu’s corpse .
The Knight Guild, one of the top five guilds, representing the Youngnam region, hadn’t participated in the raid due to a lack of an S-class hunter in their guild . They had felt their status as a top guild dwindling, and therefore, had volunteered for this job and were working hard to move forward at a rapid pace . The hunters, in particular, decided to take the lead after having noticed the hesitant behaviour of the specially-trained soldiers . The soldiers sheepishly showed their gratitude .
“Ah, thank you very much . ”
“I’m telling you, I don’t even feel a single trace of mana . Have you all been lied to your entire lives?”
Only when the hunters, who had ventured further ahead, gestured to the soldiers that they should follow them, did they finally drop their guard and follow suit . The hunters were frustrated, but they couldn’t help it . Ordinary people couldn’t detect mana, nor did they stand a chance against magic creatures . They could only be as vigilant and careful as possible .
The Knights’ Guildmaster, who was clicking his tongue, looked around the chamber .
‘Oh my . . . ’
His jaw dropped .
As they approached the magical creatures nest, the amount of ant corpses scattered about increased bit by bit, and soon, there were just mountains of them .
The deputy guildmaster, who was a subordinate who worked together with the hunter for a long time, shook his head .
“Haeng-nim… You’re seeing this, right? Sung Jinwoo did this all by himself?” (1)
“ . . . ”
During the third reclamation operation, the Knight’s Guild was also present on Jeju Island . For that reason, they knew particularly well how dangerous and powerful these ants were .
“He has completely torn apart their bodies . ”
“Wow… Sung Jinwoo, that bastard . . . really shows you, this guy is not normal huh . ”
The deputy guildmaster, who was overwhelmed by observing his surroundings, spoke in awed tones .
“How could he get rid of all of these damned ants on the island without leaving a single one alive?”
The elite members of the Knight’s Guild, who were familiar with the magic creatures, all stuck out their tongues as to make a grimace at the unbelievable sight of the heaps of ant corpses .
After walking a while in admiration, they soon came upon the entrance of the nest .
“Haeng-nim, I can see it . ”
“Yeah, I see it too . ”
The hunters stopped in front of the entrance for a brief moment, allowing the soldiers to catch up .
The deputy guildmaster, who had nothing else to do, lit a cigarette .
But then .
The master’s eyebrows furrowed at the sight of the cigarette weakly falling from the deputy guildmaster’s mouth .
“Ey, what’s the matter?”
Bu-master pointed ahead, tapping the Guildmaster’s shoulder . Only then did the Guildmaster realize something was wrong and decided to turn his head .
The frightened Guildmaster asked with his eyes wide open .
“Wh . . what… are you?”