I Alone Level-Up Chapter 78
Hunter Association, Association President's Room.
Doctor Joo Chiui was looking over Go Gunhee with a solemn expression. The doctor removed the stethoscope from the elder's chest.
"You don't have to say anything. Your expression tells me everything I need to know."
Go Gunhee buttoned up his shirt and chuckled. Joo Chiui could not open his mouth.
'Association President Go Gunhee… It's a miracle that he's even able to walk in this state…'
And yet the head of the association did not ease up on his busy activities. After all, the man did not even have the time to go to the hospital and had to call the doctor over to his workplace.
Go Gunhee put on his suit.
"I once thought that with the appearance of Healers and their healing magic, I might be able to experience my youth again. I was ready to say goodbye to this frail old body of mine."
Go Gunhee laughed again.
"Seems that wasn't the case."
"Is there no other way?"
"Even high-ranking Hunters cannot stop the arrow of time."
If Healer-class Hunters were truly able to eliminate every sickness, every hospital in the country would've closed down, and the doctors would be out of a job. Whether it was fortunate or unfortunate, such a thing did not happen. Just helping the body regenerate were the limits of healing magic. Even if it could miraculously regrow an arm that was cut off, it could not cure a child with a simple cold.
'Thanks to that, I at least have a job…'
Joo Chiui stared at the association president already preparing to head out.
'A person like the association president needs to borrow some unknown magic's power and become whole.'
Unfortunately, no healing magic or medical advances could help the man. Only thing the doctor could do was offer up words of support,
"Please take care of yourself, sir. Even it's a little, you need to get some rest."
"I also would like that."
But what would happen to the Hunter Association? Go Gunhee just laughed instead of continuing.
'An Association without this Go Gunhee.'
Even now, the large Guilds were fiercely competing to become stronger. Their strength has far since grown beyond the conventional military might of most countries. The fact that the Association had any influence over them was not because of the government backing the Association, but because of the power of Go Gunhee. The moment the Association loses that power, the Hunters will become like beasts unleashed from their cages.
'No… Not yet.'
He could not retire now. Right now, the Association was the only existence keeping the Guilds in check. Without a suitable alternative, the man could not afford to disappear.
'To show that the Association is alive and strong, my presence is needed.'
The S-rank among S-ranks. The name Go Gunhee had to be there. No matter how long it had to go on for…
Go Gunhee clutched his chest in pain.
"Association president, here…"
Joo Chiui prepared some painkillers and water.
After taking the medicine, he felt a little better. Suddenly, his phone rang,
He had given strict instructions not to disturb him while the doctor was here. Go Gunhee furrowed his brows and picked up the phone,
"I'm being examined right now."
Across the line, his secretary spoke with a panicked voice,
- "I apologize, association president. This was too urgent."
"Did Japan contact us again?"
- "They did, but it's not about that, sir."
Go Gunhee's eyebrows twitched for a moment,
'There's a bigger problem than the ants of Jeju Island?'
What could it be?
"What is it?"
Before Go Gunhee could lose his patience, the assistant carefully spoke,
- "There's been a word from the Testing Department."
"The Testing Department?"
The Hunter Association's Testing Department was in charge of measuring the magic power of Gates and determining the rank of new Awakened Beings. It was not exactly a department that would be calling about a problem.
Did they mismeasure yet another Gate? Go Gunhee frowned while recalling the incident with Baekho. However, that ill feeling lasted only for a moment. The words the secretary spoke next far exceeded any problem,
- "Just now at the Testing Department… they say an Awakened Being appeared with a result of 'measurement impossible'."
"The Hunter Association President Go Gunhee?"
Did he hear that correctly? Jinwoo questioned his ears. The greatest Hunter of South Korea came all the way to the hospital to meet with him?
While Jinwoo stood in disbelief, Woo Jincheol gestured to his back and confirmed,
"Yes, the association president is here."
Woo Jincheol waited for Jinwoo's reply with a serious look. The man was clearly not joking.
'...He's really here.'
Why would the Go Gunhee want to meet with him? A strong suspicion appeared in Jinwoo's mind. The only think he could think of was the results of the retest…
'Do they want to bring me into the Association?'
But the Association was a non-profit organization. They would not use the chief of HSD just to come and get a lone Hunter like this. On top of that, the results of his retest were still pending. More and more he thought about it, the association president's actions did not make sense.
Jinwoo decided to comply. Compared to the serious expression he put on moments ago, Woo Jincheol's face brightened in an instant.
"Thank you, sir!"
His gratitude was filled with sincerity.
'Even that seriously looking ahjussi could make a face like that, huh.'
Still amazed, Jinwoo followed after Woo Jincheol. Around the corner, an elderly man sat on one of the chairs used by people waiting in the hospital.
'That man is…'
The S-rank Hunter who was called "The Sky Above Skies", Go Gunhee.
Discovering Jinwoo, Go Gunhee rose from his seat.
"Hunter Sung Jinwoo-nim?"
The elderly man's body did not look like it belonged to someone over 80-years old. It was reminiscent of a retired wrestler or a sireum player. However, there was no oppressive pressure coming from the man.
'Not what I expected.'
Jinwoo thought the man's appearance and place in society would've given off a sense of pressure. Instead, the HSD chief next to him looked much more scary in his eyes.
"Yes, I am Sung Jinwoo."
Jinwoo replied. Go Gunhee held out a hand with a bright face.
"Please to meet you. I am Go Gunhee."
The two men briefly shook hands. Go Gunhee gestured to a chair across the one he was sitting in.
"Please, have a seat."
After Jinwoo sat down, Go Gunhee followed suit. The first thing that caught Jinwoo's eyes was the golden badge pinned on Go Gunhee's suit. A member of the National Assembly and the Hunter Association's President,
'And an S-rank Awakened Being.'
Go Gunhee was not a man just anyone could meet. Including the nation's politicians and even foreign dignitaries, the waiting list for the people wanting to meet with the man was uncountably long. And this piqued Jinwoo's curiosity even more. Why did a man like Go Gunhee look for him in such a hurry?
'Now that I think about it, Choi Jongin too…'
The two men he had met one after the other today were truly deserving of the word "best" in describing them. And Jinwoo wasn't even officially an S-ranker yet. Go Gunhee spoke as if on cue,
"Congratulations on becoming an S-rank Hunter."
Jinwoo was confused,
"I believe I still have the remeasurement to undergo."
Go Gunhee shook his head,
"There is no meaning to the remeasurement."
When Jinwoo became incredulous, Go Gunhee continued with a gentle smile,
"The truth is, the so-called accurate measuring device is only used to breakdown your results. It is not capable of measuring any more magic power than our ordinary machines could."
"Did we make up something like a remeasurement?"
Yes. If the results were going to be the same, why would the Association make things more complicated with a false remeasurement? Go Gunhee's reply was straightforward,
"It is to buy us some time."
Before Jinwoo could ask, Go Gunhee continued, a little embarrassed,
"What little time we could obtain to have the first opportunity to talk to people like Hunter Sung Jinwoo-nim."
Jinwoo completely understood what the association president was saying.
"As you know, compared to the size of our organization, the Association does not have many outstanding Hunters like Chief Woo Jincheol."
Jinwoo knew why.
"Because of the large Guilds."
"The large Guilds can offer an immense amount of money and fame. Compared to that, who would want to come work for us in the Association?"
The salaries of the Association's Hunters were not exactly small. However, compared to the amounts offered by the large Guilds, it would look like a pittance. Same for fame.
"The people may recognize the names of the large Guild's primary raiding members, but no one knows our Chief Woo Jincheol's name."
At the mention of primary raiding members, Jinwoo thought of Kim Cheol. The Sense stat had many uses. One of which was to discern the abilities of different people. Right now, Jinwoo was able to tell that Woo Jincheol was a level above Kim Cheol.
'They're both A-rankers, but the levels are different.'
Jinwoo turned his head to look at the HSD chief. As if embarrassed by the association president's complimenting words and Jinwoo's gaze, the man was standing with his head lowered.
Had Kim Cheol been able to work as a Hunter, he would've earned a ton more than Woo Jincheol. Not to mention much more famous. That was the difference between an Association Hunter and a Guild Hunter.
"And so, we created a little scheme for occasions when a powerful Awakened Being appeared at the Association.
And that's the remeasurement?
'When I think about it…'
Once the results were officially made known, it would make waves across the country. The Association would have a hard time meeting him face to face like this once that happened. It was a convincing stratagem.
"Allow me to get to the point."
Suddenly, the smile disappeared from the association president's face.
"We are not a business, so we cannot promise you much money. However,"
Go Gunhee put a hand inside his suit pocket and removed something in a closed fist.
"We could help down another path."
"What do you mean…?"
"It means we can help Hunter Sung Jinwoo-nim grow in other ways."
The closed fist opened. The gold badge of the National Assembly sparkled in Go Gunhee's hand.
'He's talking about… authority?'
However, Jinwoo was still suspicious,
"There's something I don't understand."
"Was there a reason to seek me out like this?"
It was a fair question. Go Gunhee's eyes starting at Jinwoo lit up with interest.
'He's neither phased by who I am, nor shaken by the offer in front of him. Instead, he calmly asks such a question…'
Had he rushed too much into this? They say your patience decreases as you get older. Go Gunhee realized how true that was. The elder swallowed a laughter and continued,
"You are aware of the top five Guilds of our nation, right?"
Who wouldn't? Jinwoo nodded.
"In our country right now, there are five dinosaurs barely maintaining a balance."
The capitol area's Hunters Guild, Baekho, and Grim Reapers.
The other province's Myungsung and Knights.
"No matter which of those Guilds Hunter-nim joins, that fragile balance will be broken and the board will be flipped over."
Even now, the power and authority of the large Guilds soared to the sky. And if one of them was able to obtain a single S-rank Hunter and leave the others behind in dust? Could the Association still have any hold over that Guild? The Association was the lynchpin holding the balance of the large Guilds.
"Laws, society, military. It is too late for any of those things to hold back the Hunters."
Jinwoo had thought something similar in the past. Magic beasts weren't the only monsters. Hunters could easily become just as dangerous. If anything, just going by "strength", Hunters were already more dangerous than magic beasts.
"And that is why the Association is needed."
Go Gunhee's face turned very serious,
"And that Association needs Hunter Sung Jinwoo-nim."
'A man wielding a powerful strength like you.'
The elder's eyes became keen,
'Well, time will tell what kind of a man you really are…'
As long as Sung Jinwoo said "yes" here, the association president had no qualms about supporting him with everything he had. That was the value of the S-rankers.
'I think I've said enough.'
It had been a long time since the elder had felt this much nervousness and anticipation. And with that, Go Gunhee asked with a subdued voice,
"What is your answer, Hunter-nim?"
: "sireum" (씨름): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ssireum . Korean wrestling
: "member of the National Assembly" (국회의원): Korea's parliament/congress. Members are given special gold badges to wear to prove their identity.