I Alone Level-Up Chapter 119
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A chill ran down the spine of the cameraman as he tried to comprehend what was happening before him.
"What is this? What's happening?"
A cold air from nowhere whispered through the tunnel as an eerie calm descended within the cave. Then, suddenly, shrieking screams echoed throughout the cavern and black shadow-like hands rose up from the floor like tentacles, grabbing at the bodies which littered the floor.
A startled gasp escaped the cameraman's lips and his eyes widened as he witnessed the scene unfold. He blinked again and again, not entirely sure if his sight betrayed him. For the briefest fraction of time, he realized the absurdity of the moment; he was an A-rank tanker, and he was being blown away by what he was seeing. What could the viewers on TV be thinking?
He forgot his thoughts immediately as the black hands emerged fully from the ground and began swirling about like black clouds, and, to his excitement and horror, condensing into humanoid shapes.
'Is this one of the ant's skills?'
Hundreds of them rose from the floor simultaneously, like a carpet of shadow. At first glance, the creatures seemed to be ants, but they were wrapped in a blanket of black smoke. It was hard to tell whether they were made of something solid or gas; they were like statues carved out of dry ice.
The cameraman felt his heart pounding in his ears as he struggled to breathe. He glanced over at Baek Yoon-ho, whose attention was firmly on Jinwoo, his jaw slack. Though he did not appear as flustered as the cameraman, even he could not help but gape at the scenery.
"Those… are his summons??"
Unlike the cameraman and Baek Yoon-Ho, who were already speechless, Jinwoo was happy to see his new shadow soldiers.
"Seems like the shadow soldiers can handle the situation by themselves, so I won't need to do anything myself."
Jinwoo thought to himself. He happily sent his Devil King's Daggers back to the inventory.
"Go, and don't leave a single one alive."
Just as the ants had first overwhelmed the hunters, the new wave of shadow soldiers crashed down upon the remainder of the ants, sweeping them away into a black mass that dwarfed what had previously felt like an endless swarm.
Jubilation rang across the broadcast room, as even the director stood up and applauded.
"He's winning! Yes! Haha, hell yea!"
Unease was replaced by joy and, most of all, relief in the director's mind as he saw the ant creatures be brushed aside with ease.
'If it weren't for the fact that everyone's watching, I would've told the PD to clip it and send the clip to me.'
Just watching this mysterious hunter, he felt as if an invisible anchor, hanging from his neck, had been removed, and for the first time in years, he could move freely.
When the director had initially seen Min Byung-gu get attacked and killed by that monstrous magic creature, it had felt like the sky had come crashing down. But now, watching the new hunter, the director couldn't help but feel hopeful that the Korean Hunter team could escape from Jeju Island with his help.
'That alone would make the mission a success at this point!'
The Korean Hunter team had already accomplished their primary goal of killing the queen ant, which meant that it would have only been a matter of time before the entire colony was wiped out with their means of reproduction eliminated.
'And the Japanese team...'
The director felt a swell of fury as he thought of those yellow-tailed bastards. They had clearly abandoned the Korean hunter team, escaping in secret and leaving the Korean hunters to die.
'We're obviously not going to pay them whatever they were planning on asking in exchange for their help after this. Hell, we should be asking them for reparations at this point.'
He forced himself to forget about the Japanese team and think about the positives. The Korean Hunter team would be fine. And as an added bonus, the video rights were selling like hotcakes. The director's face lit up as he thought about the profits.
'Where did this luck come from?'
As the director watched with satisfaction, an employee barged through the door.
The director flinched, and rose from his seat.
"What is it?"
He felt his face flush and his heart beat faster and faster.
'For a moment, I felt like I was in a dream. Maybe this is too good to be true. Maybe I should keep the employee from talking so I can continue enjoying this blissful feeling. Gah! I'm going crazy...'
He noticed the employee sweating and trembling. He waved his hands impatiently.
"Well, go on, what is it?"
"We know who the mysterious hunter is!"
The director's eyes widened in surprise.
[The Hunter Association Headquarters]
The chairman of the Hunter's Association Go Gun-hee gripped the sofa tightly and leaned forward into the TV. The doctor beside Go Gun-hee looked back at the association president nervously.
Go Gun-hee let go of the now ruined armrest and looked at the doctor sheepishly.
"Sorry, it looks like I've gotten a bit too excited..."
'But how could I not get excited watching this?'
As he watched Jinwoo systematically tear into the ants, he felt his heart pounding furiously.
"Hmm...I wish I could be at the raid too."
"Chairman, calm yourself. Too much tension isn't good for your heart."
Go Gun-hee silently nodded, almost like a toddler being scolded. The only reason he had been explicitly banned from staying at the Operations Command Center was because of how much stress his heart would likely have endured. He hadn't even been permitted to watch the broadcast by himself; the association had forced him to retain a doctor on standby, just in case.
"Maybe we shouldn't have allowed him to see even the broadcast."
The doctor regretted his decision for a moment, but smiled, and shook his head as he watched the chairman's face. Go Gun-hee had seemed inconsolable up until Jinwoo's arrival, but now, he smiled like a child on Christmas.
"I can't believe it."
He gingerly placed his hands back on the sofa's armrest, careful not to disrupt anything. His hands had been shaking with excitement, and holding onto the sofa calmed him down slightly.
"How can Hunter Sung Jin-Woo be there?"
He had been curious about his mysterious appearance from the beginning; one did not simply sneak onto an isolated island swarming with giant ants.
Still, at the moment, it hardly mattered: what mattered was that he was there, and he was winning.
"Thanks to him, there is hope again."
All of a sudden, Go Gun-hee's eyes widened as he saw Jinwoo creating shadow soldiers from the dead bodies of fallen ants.
"He lied to us."
Jinwoo had claimed he could create 100 summons, but, just from what the broadcast was showing, it looked closer to 300. Still, Go Gun-hee did not feel particularly upset - indeed, a smile danced across his lips as he watched Jinwoo fight.
'You said you wouldn't join the Hunter's Association because you wanted to fight magic creatures.'
Go Gun-hee at this moment understood why.
'With that kind of ability, how could you be afraid of fighting?'
Indeed, it didn't look like Jinwoo was scared or nervous at all, but rather like he was enjoying himself; at least enough to excite Go Gun-hee.
'Why did Jinwoo, who clearly wants to fight magic creatures, initially exclude himself from the raid then?'
Go Gun-hee thought about it for a minute, before he shook his head. Whatever it was, Jinwoo's reason obviously had to have been extremely important. Nobody who could be this excited in a dungeon would remove himself from the raid team for no reason otherwise.
'What could've been so important, I wonder?'
Jin-ah, who had been studying in her room, looked up at the noise in confusion, and walked out into the living room.
"Oh I'm sorry dear. Was the TV too loud?"
Jin-ah shook her head vigorously. Although she would have preferred silence to study in, she didn't want to trouble her mother any further, so soon after returning from the hospital. The TV was already so low Jin-ah was sure her mother already had trouble hearing it.
"No, no, it's fine. What's the matter? Is the TV out of order?"
"It's not showing anything all of a sudden."
"What about Jinwoo-oppa?"
"Oh, he's right here."
Her mother turned around, then froze as she gestured at the empty space.
"Where did he go? He was just here a minute ago."
Jin-ah tilted her head.
"Brother!!!! Where are you?"
She quickly ran to the bathroom, to no avail. Jin-ah carefully searched through the house, but, somehow, couldn't find a trace of Jinwoo. Puzzled, she turned back to her mother.
"What were you guys watching earlier?"
"The Jeju island raid."
A sudden uneasiness swept through her body at her mother's words. She became acutely aware of how noisy the apartment had gotten recently, as if everyone nearby had all become excitable.
She rushed into her room, turning her cellphone to the live stream.
A cheer burst from the apartments around her. Simultaneously, the stream loaded on her phone, and her eyes widened as she stared at the screen, frozen in shock.
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Jinwoo, who had killed all the ants in the queen's sleeping chamber, placed his shadows back into storage. For the moment, the queen's chamber was safe, but a number of ants were making their way to his location from all around the island, and it was likely the chamber would see heavy fighting soon.
'In that case, it's critical that I get these hunters somewhere safer. Hmm...but first, I need to deal with their injuries.'
Jinwoo approached the hunters huddled in one corner. Other than the cameraman and Baek Yoon-ho, everyone else appeared to be in pretty bad shape. Cha Hae-in was still unconscious, and the other three all nursed various fairly serious seeming injuries.
Jinwoo approached Baek Yoon-ho.
"Where is Min Byung-gu?"
Baek Yoon-ho's face stiffened at the question. He simply shook his head ever so slightly.
One by one, Jinwoo went up to each of the wounded hunters and took out a potion, carefully pouring it down their throats. He had to heal them one by one as the potion lost its efficacy the moment it left his hands.
One by one, each of the hunters Jinwoo healed started to come to.
Lim Tae-gyu gingerly stretched his upper body, surprised at its remarkable state. Likewise, Choi Jong-in and Ma Dong-wook felt their condition improving by the second, and soon felt almost as good as before the battle even started. Choi Jong-in turned to Jinwoo with confusion and curiosity written across his face.
"Hunter Sung Jinwoo-? How can you be here?"
"We should get out of here before we talk about this, I think."
Sheepishly, Choi Jong-in nodded and looked around the cave. They were still in the queen's sleeping chambers - the deepest part of the dungeon. Jinwoo was right. This was no place for idle chit chat.
Ma Dong-wook, who had regained his eyesight, grabbed Jinwoo's hand and held it in his own.
"You fought those ants, didn't you? Thank you! Thank you so much for this!"
Jinwoo felt a faint sense of embarrassment at the praise.
"We should at least get out of here first."
'Alright, now then, last one..'
He paused as he approached Cha Hae-in. His eyebrows furrowed into a frown, and he felt a sinking sensation in his chest.
'F**k, I didn't even notice! She's in way worse shape than I thought...'
He felt an ominous foreboding as he took out a potion and poured it down her throat. His worst fears were confirmed as a system message popped up.
Since the remaining life force is below 10%. The potion will not have effect.
Jinwoo cursed silently as he tried to pick up her limp body. As he pulled her off the ground, he noticed blood pouring from the back of her head where her hand had been. He quickly covered up the wound.
'So it was by design. That one ant...'
Of the Korean Hunter team, only Cha Hae-in had been fatally wounded, and it was precisely because of how strong she was, relative to the rest of the team. That winged ant had taken care to eliminate Cha Hae-in immediately because it had recognized that she was the only real threat amongst them. The other hunters survived because he had simply been toying with them.
Jinwoo's face hardened as he felt a surge of anger.
'No, but before that...'
Cha Hae-in was still alive, but barely. They had to make it off the island first and get her to a healer ASAP.
"We need to hurry up."
Jinwoo stood up with Cha Hae-in in his arms, and began making his way out of the tunnels as quickly as he could. The other hunters followed suit.
Suddenly, Jinwoo stopped, and sighed deeply. Baek Yoon-ho felt that he could guess why as Jinwoo turned to him and handed Cha Hae-in to him. Embarrassed, he picked her up in his arms.
"I'll help out."
Jinwoo looked around at the hunters, shaking his head slightly at Baek Yoon-ho, and spoke firmly.
"Do not, under any circumstances, go ahead of me. It'll be faster that way."
"Mister Sung Jinwoo, you mean...?"
Choi Jong-in began to speak up, but was immediately dissuaded by Ma Dong-wook.
"Choi Jong-in, let him explain the situation first."
Though Ma Dong-wook hadn't been able to see it, he had somehow felt, intuitively, from the very beginning, that Jinwoo had created the ant soldiers.
Baek Yoon-ho cut in nonetheless.
"Hunter Sung Jinwoo sir."
Jinwoo turned to look at Baek Yoon-ho with a puzzled expression on his face.
"I know how strong you are - heck, I probably know it better than anyone else here. But still..."
His face sported a serious expression.
"Didn't you bring out too many summons already?"
Jinwoo blinked in confusion.
'What? What kind of problem would that pose?'
As if Baek Yoon-ho could read Jinwoo's mind, he began to explain, embarrassed.
"If you bring out so many summons, you'll consume all your mana, right? What will happen if you run out of mana?"
'Ah. So that's what he meant.'
Jinwoo nodded in understanding, before smiling mischievously at Yoon-ho. Evidently, other summoners had to expend a great deal of mana for summoning. Clearly, this was not a problem for Jinwoo.
'Ahhh...still, I probably shouldn't just outright explain that my shadow soldiers don't use mana. How abnormal would that be?'
"Well, honestly, my summons only use a very small amount of mana. So there's no need to worry."
Both Baek Yoon-ho and the cameraman exclaimed in surprise simultaneously. Unable to hide his surprise, Baek Yoon-ho stared at Jinwoo in awe.
'What kind of power is this? He can summon all these creatures without using that much mana? This is almost broken..does his power have any drawbacks of any kind?'
Jinwoo turned back towards the exit.
'Well, explaining it will only take longer.'
It was time Jinwoo had precious little of at the moment. He could tell that the ants were swarming in now, and would reach their location in the caves very soon. With the injured hunters in tow, he couldn't relax and fight casually.
"That's a good number of them too..."
For efficiency's sake, Jinwoo activated his skill, [Domain of the Monarch]. Beneath his feet, the ground blackened and the darkness began radiating from him.
Just as he finished his preparations, he felt an intense gust of wind blowing in. Jinwoo turned to face where it came from, a curious expression on his face.
That was no ordinary ant. It was mixed in with the mana of the other ants, but it was incredibly vast and powerful in comparison.
The terrifying Ant King stepped forward, acknowledging Jinwoo's presence. There was no doubt. This was the creature that had destroyed the Korean Hunter team. Slowly, with neither haste nor caution, the ant king approached Jinwoo.
If Jinwoo was surprised by hearing Goto's voice from the creature, he did not show it, instead he simply stared back at the ant king in silence.
"Are you...the king of men?"
"Oh? The worm speaks."
Jinwoo spoke quietly, with a slight hint of condescension, and the ant king's face contorted in anger.
He remembered the special power the ant queen had given him. "Predation": the power to become stronger by consumption.
He roared as he released his mana, flooding the chamber with his energy. He stood up straight, now half again the height of Jinwoo, and looked down at his opponent.
Jinwoo showed no surprise or fear, but simply laughed.
"Hahaha. Now, that's a big bug."
He released his mana.
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Translated/Transcribed by RelaxBrotato, Notalk, Billy Stevens, acquaintedwithnight
Proofread/Edited by Warpfall, peghius and Aster0x
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