I Alone Level-Up

 
 

I Alone Level-Up Chapter 113


I Alone Level-Up: Chapter 113

The Korean media was fired up.

Two nation team up! Japan and Korea joining forces to defeat the magical beasts that turned Jeju Island into a wasteland!

What story could possibly be more exciting for the nation's citizens than the reclamation of their land from the hands of the magical creatures? Every news broadcast dedicated a segment of their programme to airing news about the planned raid, and pieces on the Korean-Japanese S-rank superteam covered the front page of every newspaper.

At least in Korea.

For even though the Japanese hunters outnumbered the Koreans 3 to 1 in the operation, the Japanese media was strangely silent (although nobody in Korea noticed amidst the fanfare). On the few articles that did appear, the comments were all negative.

[So the Koreans are so incompetent that they couldn't even close the gate by themselves? OMEGALUL]

[Why tf do we have to clean up Korea's shit.]

[They better be compensating us for the damages we incurred from that ant.]

[An incompetent Japanese Hunter Association, and a bunch of irresponsible Korean hunter shits. I hope they all drop dead on Jeju Island.]

Although the two nations worked towards the same goal, their citizenry clearly had different opinions of the multilateral effort.

But the hunters and the national associations either did not see or did not care about the Internet quibbles, and the day of the operation slowly drew near.

Meanwhile, for Jinwoo, these few days had been the happiest ever since his mother had been hospitalized.

His life had changed suddenly, again. First, he had escorted his mother home from the hospital.

Click.

As he opened the door, he froze, trying to process the size of the mess Jin-Ah had managed to create in the few days he was in the Demon Castle.

"..."

His mother simply smiled as she calmed down Jinwoo, who was pinching hard on Jin-Ah's cheek in exasperation.

After that, they had spent the next few hours cleaning up the house. Despite having regained consciousness for the first time in four years, the first thing his mother had wanted to do after getting back home was cleaning up. Jinwoo tried relentlessly to dissuade her, to convince her to take some rest, but she stubbornly insisted, and the entire family found themselves rolling up their sleeves and getting down to work.

But as the house grew cleaner, their three faces grew brighter. The home which had felt painfully empty since Park Kyung-Hye had been hospitalized finally felt whole again, and for the first time in a long four years, Jinwoo felt like he could finally stretch his legs out and shut his eyes, and truly relax.

The next morning, as Jinwoo came down the stairs, he froze as he saw his mother cutting green onions in the kitchen [1], and the reality of the situation truly, finally hit him. His mother was back.

She smiled as she saw Jinwoo descend, gesturing towards the breakfast, already prepared, on the dining table.

"Did you sleep well son?"

"...yes."

Jinwoo answered sleepily, and smiled.

-----

An old man with thick-looking glasses filled the TV screen. He was helpfully introduced as an expert on magic creatures.

"The speed at which these ant-like magic creatures have been evolving is truly extraordinary."

The talk show host, a younger man, seated across the desk, recoiled in mock horror, and replied with an exaggerated astonishment.

"They can evolve!? I thought the winged ant discovered in Japan was simply a mutant?"

"You're correct. But the number of such mutants will continue growing, and, in the case of a beneficial mutation like this one, eventually overtake the original variant in number. That is what we call evolution."

Then the program seamlessly cut to a prepared video: the appearance of the ants on the first and second attempts to close the S-ranked gate.

As the video started, footage of the first failed expedition was shown. Hunters battled huge groups of the monsters, which, from all appearances, looked and acted simply like giant ants, crawling across the floor in droves.

Then the video was briefly paused.

"You see, initially, these magic beasts were simply particularly dangerous giant ants. But now, see how they changed in our third attempt to close the gate."

The video resumed, switching scenes to the third attempt. Shockingly, the ants were like almost completely different creatures. Their enormous heads had shrunk, to a more human-like proportion, and their four front legs were used like human hands. They moved with far greater agility.

"In just 2 years, many of the characteristics defining the species itself had changed substantially."

The audience murmured with a mixture of fear and surprise. It was plain to them, and to everyone who was tuned in to the segment, that these ants resembled human-ant hybrids far more than simple giant ants. The expert continued.

"And this is the appearance of these ant-like magic creatures when they recently appeared in Japan."

Yet again, the video began playing, and a collective gasp rose from the audience.

The ant was now more human-like than ever, and - perhaps more startlingly, had enormous wings jutting from its back.

The show host quickly spoke up with a startled voice.

"Those wings...are you saying this thing can fly now?"

"Yes, unfortunately, that is correct. This will be a decisive moment for the Korean-Japanese hunter alliance."

'Korean-Japanese hunter alliance, huh.'

Jinwoo quietly turned off the TV as those words came out.

He had ultimately chosen to decline Go Gun-hee's request to join the operation.

Initially, when Go Gun-hee had presented the plan, Jinwoo was thrilled at the prospect of being able to gain experience. But as his excitement subsided and he reevaluated the situation more objectively, he realized that he couldn't accept Go Gun-hee's invitation.

'It hasn't even been a day since my mother woke up. And she doesn't even know that I became a hunter.'

He remembered, with great pain, how his father had gone missing in a gate, and how his mother, distraught, didn't sleep a full night for months.

No, after all that she'd been through, he couldn't tell his mother now, after their first reunion in years, that he had become a hunter and he intended on going into a S-ranked gate on Jeju Island. No matter what, at the very least, he would stay with his family for the next few days.

"I..."

He didn't want to say it, but he gathered his resolve and, with great difficulty, continued.

"...will not participate."

His mind was firm as the words finally came out. He would not regret his decision.

A colossal amount of experience awaited him on Jeju Island, and declining the raid meant turning it all down. But Jinwoo didn't care. This was something more important than experience. It was the moment he had been desperately waiting the past four years for, the very reason that he had endured torturous training over and over just to become stronger.

Even now, Jinwoo did not regret his decision. Still...

[Why is Sung Jinwoo not on the list of Korean participants?]

[Kek you think he's changed just because he became an S-rank? Once an E-rank, always an E-rank. He probably pissed his pants and ran lol]

[Literally all 21 Japanese S-rank hunters are participating, and Korea's got a fckin retired hunter participating...and Sung Jinwoo isn't? SMH]

[He's acting like this after becoming an S-rank hunter? This is so embarrassing T.T]

Jinwoo chuckled wryly at the keyboard warriors huffing and puffing without any real understanding of the situation.

'As if they knew. Well, I don't really care what other people say about me, and I don't think my mom will see, given that she doesn't even use the Internet. On the other hand...'

Jin-ah seemed to have gotten quite upset over what people were saying about Jinwoo, and Jinwoo so far had been unable to convince her to let it go.

Tsk.

Jinwoo clicked his tongue and put his phone down. It was merely unfortunate timing. If the raid were happening a week or two later instead, he almost certainly would have gone.

He looked around, noting how quiet the house was. His mother had gone to bed early, and his sister wouldn't be home for another few hours. With nothing to do, he decided to go outside and get some fresh air for a change, only to be interrupted by his ringtone. He smiled as he recognized the name and picked up.

-

-

'Come to think of it, is Jin-ho still in the motel?'

-

-

In a way, it was refreshing to hear Jin-ho laughing after all that he had been through. They chatted a bit more over Jin-ho's current situation, before Jin-ho, as if he had suddenly remembered what he was calling about in the first place, abruptly changed the subject.

-

'Office? What is he talking about?'

-

Jin-ho spoke up with confidence, as if hearing Jinwoo's question had inspired him.

-

'Jin-ho, this little brat...' Jinwoo couldn't help but smile inside. From the looks of it, Jin-ho was planning on growing the guild under his vice presidency into a large guild like the Hunters or the White Tiger Guild.

'Wait but, he'd probably freak out if he found out I really planned on me being the only member of the guild who would go on raids...'

Jinwoo scratched his chin thoughtfully.

'You know, I didn't really think much of it when I asked him to join my guild originally. But man, it looks like it might be a bit difficult trying to explain what kind of guild I envisioned...'

-----

"How is it, hyung-nim?"

Standing inside the space, Jinwoo could very well see why Yoo Jin-ho was so confident about his selection.

Jinwoo nodded silently. Clearly Jin-ho had put a great deal of effort into picking out a space. The location was fantastically convenient.

"I found the best office space that I could find within a few miles of your home, hyung-nim!"

Jin-ho had told him.

In addition, the office space was immaculate.

"I deliberately chose a new office! There's a saying you know: you should always put new wine in a new bottle, right, hyung-nim?"

Indeed, Yoo Jin-ho had done a fantastic job of selecting the perfect guild office to match his vision, and Jinwoo thought it was a job very well done, except for one little detail...

It was, most decidedly, disgustingly spacious. As if Jin-ho could read Jinwoo's thoughts, he spoke up, his voice burning with passion.

"I'll grow this guild to be bigger than White Tiger, bigger than Hunters - bigger than all of the top five guilds right now, hyung-nim!"

It was like a fire was blazing behind Jin-ho's eyes.

'Well, your passion is great, but please don't drag me into this project...'

An idea crossed his mind.

'Maybe I should just tell Jin-ho to go back to the Yoojin guild before it's too late? Hmm...oh, but he probably wouldn't be permitted back in, seeing how his father had even blocked access to his bank account.'

Seeing Jinwoo deep in thought with frown furrowed across his brows, Jin-ho felt embarrassment mottle his cheeks, and ventured meekly.

"Hyung-nim...do you not like it?"

"...it's not that."

"Then, can I sign the contract for this place, hyung-nim?"

"...um...alright."

Jin-ho's face lit up like a child who had just won a massive stuffed bear at the carnival.

'Well, I guess it's alright to let him keep dreaming for the time being. I'll figure out later how to explain to him that only the two of us would be using the office.'

Jinwoo quickly glanced over the basic terms of the contract, and nodded, satisfied. The rent would be extremely high, given the size of the office space, but, for them, it would be pennies compared to what the guild's income could become.

"Ah! I almost forgot!"

WHAP!

Jin-ho slapped himself on the forehead.

"Who will you take as the third person, hyung-nim?"

"Third person?"

'Did I make a promise to reserve a spot or something?'

While Jinwoo, who rarely forgot his promises, searched his memory, Jin-ho continued excitedly.

"You must have at least three hunters to create a guild, hyung-nim. A president, a vice president, and the first guild member."

'Oh so those are the requirements to form a guild? It seems like it's related to the fact that the very weak E-rank gates require at least three members to enter. Not that any guild would bother entering an E-rank gate...'

'So we need one more founding member.'

Dozens of faces flashed across Jinwoo's mind as he considered who would be the most suitable third. They had to be a hunter, obviously. But if it was just that, he could easily find hunters willing to join. No, the problem was that he had one more criteria that made the search a bit more complicated: because he intended to solo all the gates anyways, he would ideally find a hunter that had no interest in actually entering dungeons, a hunter who would simply serve to fill headcount.

He briefly thought of the high schooler who had given up on becoming a hunter, and the healer who had retired and gone back to Busan.

'Why am I only seeing girls' faces...'

"Oh right, I forgot."

Jinwoo's thoughts were interrupted by Jin-ho.

"Oh, have you thought of someone suitable?"

"No, not that hyung-nim. But there was someone who was looking for you earlier."

"Me?"

"Yes, hyung-nim."

Jinwoo's curiosity was piqued. This person hadn't bothered to talk to Jinwoo, but had instead talked to Yoo Jin-ho first, and convinced him to talk to Jinwoo in their stead. Clearly, they had done their research.

'After all, Jin-ho and I haven't had any formal public interaction. At the most, we would show up as a raid leader and a raid member, along with a dozen others. And in spite of that, they've figured out to look for me through Yoo Jin-ho huh?'

Jinwoo's eyes narrowed ever so slightly.

"Who was it?"

"I'm not sure, hyung-nim. It was a foreigner who spoke English. One moment."

Jin-ho fished his wallet from his shirt pocket, and pulled out a note.

"He said he would be in Korea until the 17th, and he hoped that you could contact him before he left, hyung-nim."

Jinwoo carefully took the note from Jin-ho. It had only two lines: a phone number and a hotel address and room number. He flipped it around, but the back had nothing more.

'The 17th is three days from now. A foreigner who speaks English staying in a hotel room. So they probably came over from some other country. But who could it be?'

Jinwoo could think of nobody who might meet those criteria.

All of a sudden, his expression darkened.

"I have to go home. Right now."

"Hyung-nim? You're heading out already?"

Yoo Jin-ho, who had gotten excited about the prospect of having dinner with Jinwoo for the first time in many days, looked like he had just witnessed his house burn down. [2]

But cruelly enough, Jinwoo seemed like he didn't reciprocate his little brother's feelings.

"I have to go right way, Jin-ho."

Yoo Jin-ho instantly hid his disappointment and bowed politely.

"See you later then, hyung.... -nim?"

When he raised his head, Jinwoo had already disappeared.

-----

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A deep pitch black coated the streets and buildings, and feeble lights huddled by the street lamps, casting a pale illumination that never penetrated more than a few feet into the darkness.

Eun Ji-min's heart pounded as she tried to make her way home from college.

"It can't be..."

A man followed, but a few steps behind her.

Eun Ji-min shook off her paranoia, convincing herself that it was simply a coincidence, that the two of them happened to be going in the same direction, and it was mere misfortune that she could hear his feet clicking against the pavement behind her.

'I saw it on Reddit.'

She remembered the thread she had read on r/AskMen out of sheer curiosity. In these cases, it could be just as awkward for the man as the woman. On average, men tend to walk at the same speed or faster than women, but in these cases, catching up to the woman could terrify her, and walking at the same speed would just make her suspicious.

Worse, where they were headed, as soon as they turned the corner, they would enter a side street where the streetlamps were broken and dilapidated, which could make it awkward for both of them.

Eun Ji-min took a peek backwards.

The man, who was wearing a hat, kept his head bowed, staring straight at the ground, and continued walking quietly. It was suspicious for sure, but it wasn't a crime to wear a hat, and he seemed almost as uncomfortable as she did.

'Instead of continuing, I'll just go ahead and...'

Eun Ji-min paused briefly, and bent down, as if she meant to tie her shoelaces. Her heart was pounding as the man approached - and passed, leaving her there as he continued onwards. She let out a small sigh of relief as she saw the man disappear into the alley.

'I'm sorry to have doubted you, mister.'

She quickly looked around the empty street and fixed her collar, before continuing with a smile. Her step felt lighter already.

'I have sooooo much work to do! The finals are tomorrow! Ah god, I've procrastinated studying all semester and now I have soooo much cramming to catch up on! What did the professor say was on the exam again?'

As she stretched her shoulders and thoughts of multivariable integrals and curl gradients filled her mind, she rounded the corner.

Her eyes widened and her knees buckled as she froze.

"Shhh...if you make one sound, you die."

The man who had passed her earlier was waiting for her, just around the corner. He held an enormous kitchen knife in one hand and raised it over his head menacingly, as his eyes flitted back and forth.

"Tsk tsk tsk...you should've heard the news about how a few people died around here already, no?"

"Ahh..."

Eun Ji-min stood silently, her face pale and her legs trembling.

The man lowered the white mask he wore, and flashed a disturbing smile.

"Follow me."

Tick. Tick. Tick.

Behind them, a lone, broken streetlight continued flashing.

Discord Link: https://discord.gg/N4HXUaY

Translated/Transcribed by Notalk and Aster0x

Proofread/Edited by Galachad and Notalk

[1]: Damn ninjas cutting onions.

[2]: This had no good translation, but essentially, he looked really sad.


 
 


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