I Alone Level-Up Chapter 41
Even the Association's website did not reveal a Hunter's home address, only their names and rank. An individual Hunter may opt to add additional information on their profile, but Jinwoo was not one of those people. So if they knew not just his phone number but where he lived, they must've performed a thorough investigation on him.
'Now that I think about it…'
He remembered something from earlier in the day.
"I felt someone watching me from afar today. Was that you guys?"
Jinwoo's voice was filled with hostility. Hearing this, the person on the other end explained apologetically,
- "We apologize for intruding on you like that. There was just something we wanted to confirm. If we wanted to cause you any trouble, we wouldn't have contacted you like this. You'll understand when you hear us out."
Jinwoo hesitated, then replied,
"…I'll be right there."
"Hunters, Grim Reaper, Knights, Myungsung, and us, Baekho. I'm sure you've heard each of them at least once." 
Ahn Sangmin had listed the top 5 Guilds of South Korea. The number one among them was "Hunters". However, that was not always the case. Originally, the number one Guild of Korea was "Grim Reaper", but some members of Grim Reaper ceded from the Guild and formed their own, "Baekho", resulting in Hunters taking the number one spot. And like the student surpassing the master, Baekho had already surpassed Grim Reaper as a Guild. Now, they were gunning for the number one spot.
Ahn Sangmin was certain. The man sitting in front of him, Sung Jinwoo, would be the one to propel Baekho into that number one spot. He handed Jinwoo his business card.
[Baekho Guild Second Management Division Chief, Ahn Sangmin]
"I'm the man who oversees recruiting and managing new Hunters for one of the top five Guilds, Baekho. My name is Ahn Sangmin, chief of the Second Management Division."
Other Hunters would've bowed their heads in a 90-degree angle before even receiving the business card. Unless you were an S-ranker or stood at the pinnacle of the A-rankers, the Baekho Guild was a target of great desire for most Hunters. Truthfully, Ahn Sangmin had hoped for such a reaction from Jinwoo, but he was disappointed. As if he was not impressed, Jinwoo calmly asked the question he had come for,
"Why is someone working for the Baekho Guild doing a background investigation on me?"
Ahn Sangmin flinched,
'To think that he would hold up his head high after hearing our name…'
Just from the introduction, he realized that recruiting Jinwoo would not be an easy task. However, this made him want the Hunter even more. A recruit with fighting spirit was not a bad thing.
'Yes. You need at least this much spirit to be of use anywhere.'
Ahn Sangmin renewed his determination once more.
"I'll cut to the chase. Our Guild wants to bring Sung Jinwoo-ssi into our fold. Whatever Yoojin Construction has offered you, we'll double it."
The division chief smiled. He believed that Yoojin Construction was in the process of testing Sung Jinwoo.
'What a foolish thing to do.'
Jinwoo's C-rank Dungeon clearing time. The fact that he was a Reawakened Hunter. And the calm attitude he was displaying now. Taking all of that into consideration, there was clearly no need to test the Hunter.
'They're testing him as if they don't understand his true value. There's no way we won't be able to beat their price.'
Because of this, Ahn Sangmin was confident that Baekho could more than double Yoojin Construction's offer. Suddenly, Jinwoo's eyes filled with coldness.
"How did you know?"
Surprised at an unexpected response, Ahn Sangmin stuttered his words, unbecoming of a chief of a large Guild.
"How did you know to seek me out?"
If words had physical weight, Ahn Sangmin felt like he would be crushed by Jinwoo's.
It appeared that the man sitting across from him registered him as an enemy. Now that he thought about, he did place a tail on Jinwoo and had asked to meet him out of nowhere. Looking at it from Jinwoo's perspective, it was reasonable that his actions would invite hostility. Ahn Sangmin started explaining in panic,
"Ah, ah, please don't misunderstand. We did not purposefully single you out for investigation. It's just that someone was taking up all the C-rank Gates in our Guild's territory, and when we looked into it, your name came up."
Jinwoo looked away into the distance.
'So that's what it was.'
Contrary to what he had thought, it appeared that the man sitting across from him did not start an investigation after realizing the truth about him. Jinwoo was just naturally noticed after completing a rapid succession of Raids.
'I don't particularly sense any bad intentions from him.'
Jinwoo relaxed his expression slightly. The nervousness between the two men eased up as well.
Ahn Sangmin sighed in his head, but all he had accomplished was bringing their relationship back to neutral. Now would begin the real trial of earning Jinwoo's faith.
'There's no better way to earn someone's trust than sharing information.'
Ahn Sangmin was a recruitment specialist!
He erased his panicked expression and put on his smile again.
"This might be a top-secret information, but we're well aware of Chairman Yoo Myunghan's plans to make a new Guild."
Jinwoo neither confirmed nor denied. Ahn Sangmin continued,
"And when we noted Yoo Jinho, the man's son, and Hunter Sung Jinwoo-nim had made contact, we were able to piece together a conclusion. Hunter Sung Jinwoo-nim is a Reawakened Hunter, and Yoojin Construction wanted you for their Guild."
As expected, Ahn Sangmin thought that he was a Reawakened Hunter.
'Well, I'll let him believe that.'
Jinwoo had no reasons to contradict him. Ahn Sangmin quickly added,
"We had hoped to speak to you before you signed an official contract with Yoojin. That's why we contacted you out of the blue like this. We apologize again for our rudeness."
It would've been different if they had approached him with ill intent, but now that they were apologizing like this, there was no need for Jinwoo to be angry.
How to handle this now. This was Jinwoo's quandary. Noticing his hesitation, Ahn Sangmin spoke up again,
"Have you by any chance signed the contract with Yoojin Construction?"
Perhaps the man thought he had, seeing his hesitation. Jinwoo shook his head. Ahn Sangmin, who had looked a little defeated, immediately became happy.
'Perfect! He is a free agent!'
This was the chance to obtain a Hunter would could solo clear a C-rank Dungeon in just 30 minutes. Although a D-ranker had followed him into the Dungeon, to a man who was above B-rank, the D-ranker would've been nothing more than a baggage boy.
'Imagine if Sung Jinwoo retests as an A-ranker under the Baekho Guild!'
Ahn Sangmin kept suppressing his smile and struggled to keep a calm expression. Meanwhile, Jinwoo was scratching his chin.
'This man, he's counting the chickens before they've hatched...
Well, Baekho wouldn't be that bad. It was one of the top 5 Guilds and was even gunning for the number one spot. But right now, Jinwoo had no desire to enter a Guild.
'My value only rises as I level-up.'
Additionally, although it may be far down the road…
'Just like how I'm solo clearing a C-rank Dungeon right now, what if I can eventually solo clear a B-rank, maybe even an A-rank Dungeon?'
The income from the high-ranking Dungeons surpassed imagination. Conquering those Dungeons is what allowed the large Guilds to grow as powerful as big corporations. When you considered the high-quality magic cores, magic beast corpses, minerals, Runestones and artifacts, an astronomical amount of money was involved in the Hunter-related businesses. If he could maintain a monopoly of all the income from the Dungeon, was there a reason he should join a Guild?
'As long as I keep leveling up, it's not an impossible scenario.'
As such, it was too early for him to go into a Guild.
The corners of Jinwoo's mouth rose. Mistaking his smile for good news, Ahn Sangmin also smiled.
"Have you made your decision?"
"You said double the price, right?"
"Yes, of course. And if we feel that the price is lacking compared to Hunter-nim's abilities, we may even raise it higher."
"Then what is the value of the building Baekho is using as its headquarters?"
Ahn Sangmin froze for a second.
'Is he questioning our Guild's financial power?'
Well, there was no need to panic. This was an opportunity to show off the Guild. There was no need to hide or hold his tongue. Ahn Sangmin was rather glad for the opportunity.
"The estimated value is about fifty billion. We're not using the entire building, but the deed is under our name."
Ahn Sangmin spoke with pride. In the past, they had rented their office in the building, but when the Guild solidified its position in the country, they outright purchased it. It took them one year to achieve this feat. It was a testament to just how much the large Guilds earned. Ahn Sangmin was ready to go into details about Baekho's finances and income but froze when Jinwoo spoke,
"That building, could you give it to me?"
Ahn Sangmin's eyes were wide open. He doubted his hearing and asked,
"W-what do you mean by that?"
Jinwoo happily explained,
"Yoojin promised me a building worth thirty billion on their end. Although it's not quite double, I'd be happy to accept a price of fifty billion from Baekho's building."
Sung Jinwoo's Hunter career was 4 years old, but that was as an E-rank Hunter. He had not done anything noticeable until recently, meaning his Reawakening must be just as recent. So just what kind of a power did this man display that Yoo Myunghan, a man known for his business acumen, would offer him 30 billion won? And even before he got retested?
'Is, is he bluffing since we have no way of confirming?'
Ahn Sangmin stared at Jinwoo with a suspicious gaze. As if reading his mind, Jinwoo took out his phone and made a call.
- "Yes, hyungnim."
It was dinner time, and the café was near empty. Jinwoo purposely put the volume on the highest setting.
"Jinho, let me ask you something."
- "Of course, anything, hyungnim."
Jinho? As in Yoo Jinho? Ahn Sangmin gulped.
'Is he planning on ratting me out to Yoo Jinho?'
But his guess was off. Instead, Jinwoo brought up a different topic,
"That building you promised me, how much was it again?"
: "Hunters, Grim Reaper, Knights, Myungsung, Baekho"
"Hunters" (헌터스): Literal english of "Hunters", including the plural form. "Hun" 헌 + "Tuh" 터 + "Ss" 스. Not gonna lie, it's going to be headache to distinguish this from the profession of "Hunter" from now on… I shouldn't have capitalized the word Hunter...
"Grim Reaper" (사신): This word could be interpreted in few ways, "Four Gods, Death God, Envoy". I chose "Death God" > Grim Reaper
"Knights" (기사단): Lit. "Knighthood" or "Knight Corps".
"Myungsung" (면성): Just appears to be a proper noun / name.
"Baekho" (백호): Could be translated as "White Tiger", which actually fits really well. I chose to leave it in Korean to give weight to the relationship between the Guild name and the Guildmaster.
: "Second Management Division" (제2관리과): "Number 2" 제2 + "administrative/management division/department" 관리과