I Alone Level-Up Chapter 114
"Ah... S-save... me!"
Eun Ji-min managed to plead as she backed away.
"No, please, he's going to kill me.."
Try as she might, she could not run away. It was as if she had heavy iron weights chained to her ankles. She began to cry.
The killer looked around. To his great pleasure, there was no one nearby to notice them. There would be no security cameras in this dark alley, which was why he would finish it here. His prey was before him, crying, unable to move.'That's why I love this neighborhood.' he purred.
The man gave a wicked smile as he pushed the knife towards the girl's stomach. At that moment, a hand flew out from the darkness and caught the knife by the blade.
"What!?"The serial killer looked up and saw a man standing before him. He was well-built, and wore a hoodie that shrouded most of his face in darkness. He stared at the blade, and the hand which held it.'Is this guy… wearing gloves or something?'Not a drop of blood fell from the hand which held the blade."What the hell... are you?"The serial killer flexed his arms several times, straining against the man's grasp, but when the knife did not budge, he released the handle. He quickly turned and ran."You weird little shit..."
The serial killer looked back several times as he ran, and each time, the strange man kept close, following him.'What is he...?'Panicking, the serial killer changed plans and changed direction, luring his opponent onwards towards the vacant lot where he had been taking the girl.
'If his hand is protected by something, then I just need to attack somewhere else.'
When he reached his planned destination, the serial killer slowed down slightly, carefully allowing the distance between the two of them to shrink. In a single moment, it was now reduced to a single step."Watch this you son of a bitch!"The serial killer suddenly spun around, pulling out the screwdriver he had hidden up his sleeve. He thrust it viciously towards the strange man's chest.
"You want me? Take this!"*CLANG*
The hand holding the screwdriver, which had harmlessly bounced off the strange man's chest, trembled from the shock.'What was that? What could be so hard? A fencing suit?'
The killer asked himself incredulously."You there, what the hell are you wearing under that?"Had he been able to sense any mana, or perhaps had just a slight bit more wit about him, he would not have asked such a foolish question. He had attacked (and failed to remotely harm) this man twice over, yet still the word Hunter did not cross his mind - it seemed unfitting for such a quiet opponent.
A low growl came from beneath the hoodie."I also have a question to ask you."It was Jinwoo's voice. Effortlessly, he took the killer's screwdriver from him and threw it to the floor.
"Why are you doing this?"
Jinwoo asked him. For a moment, the killer froze, as if the question threw him off guard.
"Why? What, you want me to explain why I do this?""I was wondering if you had any reason for it."The serial killer snorted with contempt. He had thought Jinwoo was trying to play the hero when he suddenly appeared and saved the woman.
'It's all just for show, isn't it? This man, isn't he just the same as me?'
The killer happily fantasized, thinking that his night may end well after all."Why? Well now, if I really had to give a reason... Because it's fun?"
"When I see someone weaker than me, I just want to torment them. Hahahaha-"
The laugh died in his throat and was replaced by a scream."Aaaaaaaarrrrgghhhhhh!!"
He crumpled onto the floor and gripped his left ankle, now horrifically ruined and bleeding profusely. When he looked up at his attacker, he saw his knife in Jinwoo's hand."When did you pick that up? You threw that on the floor!"The shadowy figure of Jinwoo in front of him disappeared for a moment."Aaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrgghhhhhh!!"This time, it was his right ankle. The killer rolled around on the ground, unable to stand with both Achilles severed. Jinwoo began to search his pockets and removed both his cell phone and wallet."You! What are you doing, you damn son of a bitch!"
Ignoring his cries, Jinwoo calmly walked around his collapsed form and called an ambulance while he carefully looked over the man's ID. Having completed his inspection, he returned the cell phone and wallet to the killer, who was trembling on the ground."By midnight tomorrow, you will have turned yourself in to the police."
"Do it. If you want to live."'I've already said everything I need to say.'
Jinwoo planted a soldier in the shadow of the serial killer before rising to his feet. He would give the shadow soldier an order similar to his ultimatum.'I don't know how patient a high orc shadow will be, but protecting Tusk was his specialty in life.'
He gave the high orc shadow his charge."Until he disobeys my order, I want him alive."He should be alive, to reflect on his mistakes, so that his sins would weigh on him."What... What the hell are you?" The broken man asked for the second time.Jinwoo did not answer. Slowly, he exited the vacant lot where the serial killer was lying, shaking with pain and fear. Far away, he heard the wailing of an ambulance's siren. After moving far enough from the scene he looked about, and seeing that there was no one around, he took off the hood."Phew."The soldier hidden within the killer's shadow sent a signal from his new skill, notifying him that he could swap positions with it.
'That's convenient, it's not a top-grade『Runestone』 for nothing.'
Jinwoo had seen the usefulness of 『Shadow Exchange』 many times recently. He smiled happily, thinking about the possibilities. What if the cooldown could be reduced even further? How useful could the skill become? Even now he couldn't say for sure. He decided to make his way home.'What's this?'As he looked up into the sky, he saw that the moon had already reached its zenith.'Hmmm… Now that I think about it, is that already tomorrow?'The Korean-Japanese joint raid of Jeju island was just around the corner. If even he was nervous about the effort, then how would the raid members be feeling themselves? At this moment, Jinwoo recalled the faces of the members he knew and found himself cheering in his heart for their safe return.
At that time, Goto was standing in the centre of the Japanese Hunter Association drill hall. He was surrounded by S class hunters, two ahead and one behind him. Goto, taking deep breaths, slowly opened his eyes."Taha!"The Hunters, sensing an opportunity to attack, all charged aggressively towards him at once, but…
All three Hunters fell to the ground."Ah, Good job!"
"As expected of you Goto!"
"It seems we are still not at your level.."The three hunters lying on the wooden floor of the training room, sprang back to their feet. Of course that was purely because Goto had restrained himself. Goto bowed silently to them as a sign of respect for their diligent work.'Well, there is certainly no problem with my condition then.'That was the best way to reconcile the happenings of the past few days. Simply thinking about their joint raid, and how Japan would soon swallow up Korea, was enough to improve his mood. But there was one thing bugging him...
Sung Jin Woo.
'Who is he really?'He recalled the memory of their sparring, and suddenly felt a bitter taste in his mouth. .
Goto dragged himself away from his thoughts.'Well, it doesn't matter anyway.'Sung Jinwoo would not be participating in the subjugation, and the president's plan would move forward without issue. Of course, if Korea just so happened to lose its S-class Hunters in this, Japan would have no choice but to take the 'initiative'. And for providing such a great service, due compensation would be required from Korea in return... When this comes to pass...'What can Sung Jin Woo do alone?'
'Whether Sung Jinwoo was indeed an incredibly strong hunter, or it was just my delusion, it's good for Japan that he's not participating in the raid tomorrow.'
It seemed he had nothing to worry about.
'Tomorrow is the day of battle.'
In the now empty moonlit dojo, Goto quietly smiled.
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"I look forward to working with you!"The TV station director bowed to his cameraman. This would ordinarily be an improbable act, but the man stood in front of the director was no ordinary cameraman. He was a certified A-rank Hunter; a professional."This raid will determine the very survival of our station."In order just to obtain a broadcasting license, half of the entire yearly broadcasting budget had been used. The competition for this footage was that fierce.But such a bold decision was easily justified in this case. S-ranked gates were exceedingly rare; in the past 10 years, only a handful had ever existed. Moreover, even when one was created, it was usually impossible to take video recording equipment inside. In other words, this would likely be the first and last chance the public would get to see an S-class raid in action, assuming the tragedy that befell Jeju Island didn't repeat itself elsewhere. On top of all that, they would be broadcasting live rather than recording for a show, with only a 10 minute delay.
'What percentage of the world might be watching during the raid? 70 percent? 80 percent? On top of that, if we include the potential profits from selling the recording later to other countries, investing half the budget could pay as back many times.'
'That is, as long as the raid doesn't fail.'No one would choose to see video of Korea's top rank hunters being devoured by ants. No, more importantly, they couldn't possibly broadcast that if it happened. The director was placing all of his hopes on the success of the fourth attempt at subjugation of Jeju island. He continued bowing. It was no big deal to lower his head a few times to the man who would film such footage. Indeed, if he so wished, the director would kneel before him.
The cameraman reassured the anxious director.
Before becoming a hunter, he had earned his living with a camera, and he had studied his craft diligently. He didn't have the slightest intention of ruining the broadcast, one that the entire nation would be watching. Now that he was back working his old craft, he would give it his all.'I'll be making money from my profession once more.'
He was already earning a great deal of money as an A-rank Hunter, but even so, this was a tantalising prize for him. If he played his cards right, he would be able to gain vast sums of money, and maybe even fame on the level of the S-rank participants.
'Could I become the most famous A-rank Hunter in Korea?'
At this pleasant thought, a smile found its way to the cameraman's lips."It was the head of the association who licensed this broadcast, correct? I don't think that man is doing this for money - he's far too shrewd."The director nodded his head and responded."The money we used to purchase the rights will be distributed to the hunters who are participating in the operation."
"Then why...?""Why would they allow us to record it?"
The director finished for his cameraman. He paused, before answering carefully."I think... I think it's to comfort the people."The Hunter Association of Korea had already suffered three defeats at the hands of the ants. Due to these successive failures, they had lost the faith and trust of the people. They had fallen into a helpless despair and believed the hunters powerless to win against the ants. This was finally a chance to reverse that depressing outlook.'You can see this just by looking at the Internet these days.'The president of the association wanted to go one step further. He was taking a camera in to let the people know the very moment that victory was achieved. This meant the president was absolutely determined to not allow the raid to end in defeat.
The cameraman nodded at the director's explanation. He looked down at the watch strapped to his wrist and stood up, his face grim."It's time."
One last time, the director bowed gently to the cameraman."Good luck, Hunter!"
The helicopter carrying the S-Class hunters climbed. There was silence aboard.
Korea's strongest hunters filled the cabin. The ever smiling Ma Dong-wook, Choi Jong-in, who was always filled with great confidence, and Baek Yoon-ho, a man with a perennially positive disposition. Each and every one of them wore a grim expression.
The cameraman made his final checks on the film equipment. He was wearing a head mounted camera, one that would not impede his movements.
'Of course, if it was the camera that made me uncomfortable I wouldn't have come here.'
The helicopter was headed for Jeju island, at this time, perhaps the most dangerous place in the world. The cameraman, thinking of his destination, attempted to swallow. No matter how he tried to remain calm, he could not escape the dread that was creeping up behind him. The same was true even for the S-rank Hunters.
To ease the tension, Baek spoke to his close friend:
"Hey bro, I wasn't expecting to see you here."
Min Byung-gu grinned back.
"Without my healing, my brother Baek would certainly be the first one to die. After all, the first thing hyung does when he sees a magic creature is to pounce in without thinking."
"Hey, why do you always get to talk like that? Me, pounce on a magic creature? Never."The hunters burst out laughing at the two men's petty conversation. Min Byung-gu was the only S-rank healer in Korea. Every one of them welcomed the news when they heard he was returning from retirement to assist them in the raid. Having a healer in your party makes a huge difference, especially one as great as Min Byung-gu. They would be able to fight without worrying about injuries. As the conversation between the hunters began thawing out, Cha Hae-in, who was sitting next to Baek, asked quietly."Mr. Baek, have you seen Sung Jinwoo?"
"Yes."Baek Yoon-ho shook his head."No, I haven't. Why?"
"Ah... I must have been mistaken then."Ma Dong-wook burst into laughter."Hoho, here we go."The Hunters turned their gaze in the direction that he was pointing. In front of them, a black smudge appeared on the horizon. Outside the helicopter's glass door, the land claimed by the terrible ant monsters laid before them.
Translated/Transcribed by Aster0x and Null
Proofread/Edited by Grumpy and Aster0x