The E-rank Hunter did not hesitate .
“Alright . ”
“Well, I understand if you feel that way . ”
“So where do I have to go tomorrow?”
The team leader’s eyes opened wide .
‘Did I explain it wrong?’
He was certain he just told Jinwoo that tomorrow would be much more dangerous . Jinwoo had listened to his words with a strange expression, so the team leader thought that it was a lost cause . But what was this unexpected boon? Thanks to Sung-ssi, it seemed that they would not have to recruit additional hands for tomorrow .
‘And that’s not all . ’
Sung-ssi was a man who did five men’s work on his own . On his first day ever as a miner to boot . Everyone in the team was truly in awe of his speed that surpassed the team’s ace, Mok Jinsoo… So hearing that Jinwoo was going to come again, Team Leader Bae became filled with joy .
“Sung-ssi! You’ve made a good choice!”
Team Leader Bae smiled brightly . Just in case the man changed his mind over night, the team leader quickly added on some incentives,
“I’ll talk to the higher-ups and get you twice the pay tomorrow . ”
“Is that okay?”
“Of course! It’s the least I could do for Sung-ssi . ”
The team leader pounded his chest .
“Don’t worry about a thing . All you have to do is show up tomorrow . ”
Of course . It was not wasteful in any capacity to give double to the man who did five people’s work on his own . If he was the Guildmaster, he would’ve been prepared to pay Jinwoo three times, maybe even more .
‘Haha, to think that there’s a day I would feel bad that I’m not the Hunters’ Guildmaster . ’
Team Leader Bae swallowed a laughter . In that moment, Jinwoo asked,
“Oh, I have a promise at night tomorrow, is that okay?”
He had received a call from Yoo Jinho this morning,
– “Hyungnim, could we meet up?”
The young man’s voice sounded timid .
‘This punk, I thought he said everything went alright . . . ?’
Jinwoo was lightly surprised . Unfortunately, he had already volunteered for the miner job and had to push back the meeting with Yoo Jinho to tomorrow .
Team Leader Bae replied with a smile,
“From what I’ve heard, tomorrow’s workload is smaller than today’s . We should be done by 6 . ”
Even today, they had finished by 5 . If tomorrow’s workload was smaller, there would be time to spare . Jinwoo nodded,
“Then I’ll see you tomorrow . ”
“Alright, take care . ”
Watching Jinwoo leave, Team Leader Bae smiled,
‘If I was married, I’d probably have a son his age . ’
Even the young man’s back looked dependable . If only every new hires in the world were all like Sung-ssi . The smile did not leave the team leader’s face . However, he was not the only one smiling . Walking towards the bus stop, Jinwoo was also smiling . Unlike the reason behind the team leader’s smile, however, the E-rank Hunter’s smile was… slightly filled with an ulterior motive .
‘I mean… it’s not like I’m hoping that something goes wrong tomorrow…’
But if something did go wrong… He could be a valuable help to the raiding party or the mining team . The man had not changed his mind for no reason . In a strange way, A-rank Gates actually had a higher success rate compared to the lower ranked Gates .
‘First, the Association wouldn’t just give away the raiding rights to any Guild . ’
Second, the Guilds receiving the raiding right would throw everything they had at the Raid .
‘Hunters Guild is not throwing everything they have at tomorrow’s Raid . ’
To think that they would actually split up their raiding members and try to clear two A-rank Gates at once . It was a confidence worthy of the nation’s #1 Guild . At the same time, it was an incredibly dangerous thing to do .
‘No matter what happens, there’s no loss for me . ’
If the Raid was completed safely, it would be the best outcome .
But if something went wrong, Jinwoo would acquire the high-level magic beasts as payment for helping Hunters Guild .
‘Good . ’
Jinwoo got on the bus with a smile .
Late at night .
Cha Haein tossed and turned in her bed .
‘Why was that man different?’
Because of the man she met outside of the boss room, she could not fall asleep . After her Awakening two years ago, she had met a lot of Hunters, but every single one of them was the same . Hunters, or more accurately, Awakened Beings, all gave off a terrible stench that assaulted her nose . At first, she had thought it was an illness and met with many doctors, but to no avail . One of the doctors who consulted her at the time carefully brought up a theory,
“Could it be that Hunter Cha-nim is able to detect magic power with her sense of smell?”
It was certainly a possible idea . Higher-ranking Hunters gave off a worse smell compared to low-ranking Hunters . Of course, ordinary people did not give off a smell .
‘ . . . He was the first person to actually smell good . ’
Thinking about the events of the day, her heart began to beat faster .
Curious about who the man was, she had looked him up on the Association’s website .
Sung Jinwoo .
The information she saw on his license came up .
‘No contact information…’
Wait, what would she even do with his number? Realizing that there was not much more she could learn from the Association’s website, she called the Head of Recruitment, Jo Myunggi, before she could stop herself,
– “Hunter Cha-nim, what is it at this hour?”
It was already 1 AM .
If the caller was not the sole female S-rank Hunter of South Korea and the Deputy Guildmaster of his Guild, the man would’ve never picked up . She momentarily regretted her decision after hearing the man’s half-awoken voice,
“Could you look up some information on a Hunter named Sung Jinwoo?”
– “Huh? Do you mean the E-ranker who worked under the Association?”
Cha Haein was surprised . Jo Myunggi was the Head of Recruitment for the nation’s #1 Guild . How did he know an E-ranker’s name?
“Do you know him?”
– “Ah, that’s… Guildmaster Choi had asked the same thing yesterday: find information on Sung Jinwoo . ”
– “Yes, maam . ”
“Do you know what it was about?”
– “Err, no . . . “
“ . . . So what did you find out?”
A deep sigh rang across the receiver,
– “I spent considerable effort to investigate, but the Association had placed a lock on the man’s information . I’ve never had something like this happen before, the Association blocking an information of an ordinary Hunter . ”
– “But why are you looking for him, Hunter Cha-nim? Is it something I could help with?”
“No, sorry for bothering you at this hour . ”
That call was three hours ago . She had gathered her courage to find out who Sung Jinwoo was . Instead, only more questions piled up in her head .
A man who Hunters Guild’s Guildmaster wanted to investigate… A man who the Association was working to hide… An E-ranker…
‘Something’s there . ’
No, something better be there… She hoped .
He might be the key to solving the riddle of her unique physiology . The thing that had plagued her life since the day she had Awakened two years ago at the age of 21 .
‘That man, would I ever see him again?’
What if she could never see him again? A strange worry appeared in her head . Thankfully, Cha Haein recalled the hard hat Sung Jinwoo was wearing . Along with the hat, his work clothes had Hunters Guild’s logo on it .
‘He must be part of our mining team . ’
Unlike Attack Team A she belonged to, the mining team would be working again today . If Sung Jinwoo had not left the team, she might be able to see him again .
‘I’m going to go . ’
It was not a strange thing for the Deputy Guildmaster to pay visit to a Raid .
‘I’ll just act naturally while seeing if he’s there . ’
Why was this? When she thought about seeing that strange Hunter again, her mind relaxed .
‘I have to go to sleep then . ’
For her plan today, Cha Haein forcibly tried to fall asleep .
Before the sun was up .
Jinwoo headed out at the crack of dawn to the Raid location . Compared to yesterday, where he had joined while the raiding was in progress, today was different .
‘Was I worried for no reason?’
He was worried that he had arrived too early . However, the Gate area was already packed with Hunters .
“Oh? Sung-ssi! Sung-ssi!”
Team Leader Bae was the first to greet him .
“Sung-ssi’s here . ”
The other Hunters also greeted him happily . Since they all worked towards the same goal, a skilled teammate was a welcoming sight .
‘Feels a bit… awkward . ’
In the past, the E-ranker had always been treated with contempt and derision . This was the first time he was being greeted so sincerely by his teammates . Still, Jinwoo liked their reactions .
“ . . . ”
Jinwoo responded to their greetings by silently bowing his head .
“One, two, three-”
Team Leader Bae counted the mining team’s members .
“Eighteen, nineteen, everyone’s here . ”
This was more than enough . Well, on a day like this, it didn’t matter if one or two people were missing .
‘After all, we have two aces now . ’
When the team leader looked at his two aces, Mok Jinwoo looked away, while Sung Jinwoo tilted his head .
In that moment,
“Excuse me, Team Leader Bae . ”
“Whoa! You surprised me . ”
The team leader jumped at the sudden voice that came from his side . It was a testament to one’s abilities if they could move while erasing their presence . As expected, the person who had surprised the team leader was the leader of this raiding party, Son Gihoon .
“I almost had a heart attack, Hunter Son-nim . ”
“I apologize . It’s a habit from Dungeons . ”
Son Gihoon smiled sheepishly . From behind him, the collection team’s leader stepped out .
“Stop acting like an old man…”
“Huh? You too? Why are you here?”
“What do you mean? It’s for work . ”
Team Leader Bae turned to Son Gihoon with a curious gaze . The A-rank Hunter looked over the mining team’s Hunters then opened his mouth,
“The person in charge of carrying our bags didn’t come today . I think we’ll have to borrow someone from the mining team . ”
Team Leader Bae’s eyes opened wide .
“There are strong fellows in the collection team used to carrying heavy loads, so why our team…?”
As if waiting, the collection team’s leader spoke up,
“Our boys had to skip dinner and work nonstop for three hours yesterday . And you want one of us to be a baggage boy today?”
There was a reason why the collection team had to skip dinner and work nonstop . It was because the mining team had finished too quickly .
‘Well, normally we would’ve worked until 7, but thanks to Sung-ssi, we managed to finish by 5…’
When the collection team’s leader stared daggers at him, Team Leader Bae could not argue . Feeling like the situation was resolved, Son Gihoon asked the mining team Hunters,
“Is there anyone who can accompany the raiding party? Of course, we’ll compensate you properly for the added danger . ”
“ . . . ”
Son Gihoon turned his gaze here and there pleadingly, but no one volunteered . The miners avoided his gaze as one . It made sense .
‘You think I’ll risk my life for money?’
‘Can’t get me to go in there even if you kill me…’
The highest rank among the miners was C-rank . The average was D-rank . Some of them were even E-rankers . And the place that Son Gihoon was trying to take them to was an A-rank Dungeon . They would’ve hesitated before even a B-rank Gate, but an A-rank? A scratch in there would kill the low-rank Hunters . No, forget being scratched, a misstep would kill them . It was not a place for low-rankers . Even if being a porter meant that they just had to carry the bags, it was far more dangerous compared to the mining work .
“Is there… anyone?”
Son Gihoon became panicked . He didn’t know how long it would take to find another porter . They might waste a quarter or half of the day . Worst case scenario, the entire day would be wasted .
‘This is a big problem . ’
Suddenly, the A-ranker met the eyes of a lone Hunter .
Unlike the other miners, this Hunter was staring straight at him .
While Son Gihoon was looking over him, Jinwoo also looked over Son Gihoon .
‘He’s pretty sharp for a Tanker . ’
It was basic knowledge that the leader of a Raid was a Tanker . However, unlike the average Tanker, Son Gihoon was rather slender . Adding his tall height into the equation, the man looked more like a basketball player .
‘ . . . ’
After taking in the measure of the man, Jinwoo moved his gaze somewhere else .
With that, Son Gihoon finally was able to breathe .
What was that just now? The A-ranker became stiff to the point where he did not even realize that he was holding his breath . The man had no idea what just happened .
‘Was I too nervous because this is the first time I’m taking lead in a Raid?’
In the past, he had only worked as a sub-Tanker in Raids . So today was a special opportunity for him . He could not make a mistake on a day like this . The man hunched over, breathing heavily . Suddenly, he heard a commotion from the miners . Was it because he had suddenly doubled over? He quickly realized that was not the case .
Looking over the miners, Son Gihoon realized a hand was raised to the sky . It was the volunteer for the porter the Tanker had been praying for . The man’s face brightened .
Jinwoo took a step forward . All eyes were on him .
“I’ll go . ”