I Alone Level-Up Chapter 83
Jinwoo felt his heart sinking to his stomach.
'When did she come?'
Because he had been too focused on the boss, he had not realized someone else had arrived.
'I've been found out.'
Jinwoo clicked his tongue with disappointment.
Now that a witness was here, he snapped out of his greed towards the boss. Hunters Guild had bought the raiding rights of this Gate; in a sense, the boss was the property of Hunters Guild. On top of that, if he took down the boss right now, the Gate would close and the unfinished jobs of the collection and mining teams would result in a great loss for the Guild.
'I almost did something terrible.'
Blinded by the greed of leveling up, he almost laid hands on someone else's property. Jinwoo came to his senses and breathed a sigh of relief. Meanwhile, the owner of the voice came closer,
"Excuse me, I asked you a question."
Jinwoo smiled awkwardly and turned around,
"Er, I got lost and ended up here."
"You got lost?"
The voice was flustered. Jinwoo realized who the owner of the voice was.
'Huh? This woman is…?'
That face he saw before entering the Dungeon. It was the female S-rank Hunter, Cha Haein. She slowly closed the gap toward Jinwoo and looked at the man's hands.
'I swear I saw him holding weapons.'
Was she mistaken? Whatever he was holding had disappeared as if it was never there. The woman looked up and down on Jinwoo.
'Hard hat and work clothes… Is he a Hunter from our mining team?'
It seemed that the man's excuse that he was lost was not a lie. Still, regardless of his reason, the boss room was a dangerous place. Cha Haein decided that sending him away from here was more important than finding out the truth.
"This is a place where the boss resides."
As she always would, Cha Haein pinched her nose with a handkerchief and stood before Jinwoo.
"Please get away from here. If you accidently grab aggro, everyone here could end up dying."
"Ah, I'm sorry."
Thankfully, it looked like his acting worked. Jinwoo walked past Cha Haein with a satisfied face.
As he passed by,
Cha Haein turned her head toward Jinwoo. Something impossible happened. With her eyes wide open, the S-rank Hunter stopped Jinwoo before she realized it,
"Hey, excuse me."
"Hold on a minute."
What is this woman doing? Like a thief who had been caught, Jinwoo did not particularly feel good as Cha Haein approached him. The woman got uncomfortably close to him.
"Er… what is it?"
Jinwoo asked with an awkward face. However, Cha Haein did not reply. Instead, the woman boldly sniffed the man. She had already put her handkerchief away.
'What the hell?'
Jinwoo had no idea what was happening.
'Why is she smelling me?'
The man was flustered. However, the woman was even more so.
'There's no... foul stench.'
This was the first time she had met a Hunter without that foul smell. Cha Haein looked at Jinwoo with wide open eyes. A question mark appeared on Jinwoo's face.
"Is there something wrong?"
"Are you… really a Hunter?"
Was there a need to go into detail? Jinwoo removed the Hunter's license around his neck and held it out to her. The woman took the license and looked back and forth between Jinwoo's face and the picture on the license.
'E-rank… Sung Jinwoo…'
Was it because his rank was too low? There was no bad smell coming from Jinwoo. In fact, she smelled a pleasant fragrance from him.
Jinwoo carefully took his license from Cha Haein's hands.
"So… Can I go?"
The woman realized she no longer had any reason to hold him here.
"...Never mind. Please be careful on your way back. The Dungeon is large."
Jinwoo bid his goodbye then walked back towards the direction of the work area. His back quickly disappeared in the distance of the cave. However, Cha Haein stood still looking at the direction the man walked off to for some time.
'He smelled nice…'
After finishing lunch, the Hunters of the mining team returned to the work area. Walking in while picking his teeth, Team Leader Bae jumped after discovering Jinwoo coming back from deep into the Dungeon.
"Whoa, whoa. Sung-ssi, why are you coming from that way?"
Jinwoo briefly turned his head back to the boss room's direction.
'I can't exactly explain that I was curious about what the A-rank Dungeon's boss looked like, right?'
He turned back to the team leader.
"I got lost while looking for the bathroom."
"Oh, no! You have to be careful! Lots of Dungeons are like mazes. If you get lost, you might never find your way back. In fact, how did you find your way back?"
"I ran into Hunter Cha Haein-nim on the way back…"
"Ah, Hunter Cha-nim? She went to keep watch just in case the boss came out of its room. Like you, she's a rather worry-filled person."
Team Leader Bae laughed energetically. It seemed like Jinwoo's questions earlier about the boss had given the man a wrong impression. Jinwoo smiled bitterly.
'The team leader can laugh since he doesn't know how scary the boss is.'
This was the difference between the work team and the raiding party. Knowing the true terror of magic beasts, Cha Haein was keeping watch and preparing for the worst case scenario that these men did not give a second thought to.
'Even with that expressionless face, she's got a side like that to her.'
If the boss left its room, the ones in danger were not the raiding party. It was the labor team working while the raiding party was absent. To protect their lives, the woman had forgone sweet resting time and went to keep watch at the boss room.
'...She's an amazing woman.'
This was Jinwoo's honest opinion of Cha Haein. Suddenly, he recalled the woman's strange habit.
'Why does she block her nose with that handkerchief?'
Now that he thought about it, other than the time just now, she had constantly held that handkerchief to her nose.
Instead of being annoyed by the pestering, Team Leader Bae was rather friendly and accomodating whenever Jinwoo called to him.
'He did seem to respond well to my work earlier.'
It seemed that his prowess had earned some brownie points with the team leader. Thanks to that, Jinwoo was able to comfortably ask things here and there. If anything, Team Leader Bae was the one who pressed him,
"Why are you quiet after calling a man over, Sung-ssi?"
Jinwoo grinned and replied,
"No it's nothing.. I was just curious on why Hunter Cha Haein carried that handkerchief around."
"Oh, that? She's a little special."
What did that mean? The team leader explained patiently,
"From what I've heard, Hunter Cha is able to smell something from Hunters. It's apparently not a good smell."
"A Hunter's smell?"
"Something about a unique physiology."
A unique physiology. Jinwoo had something similar: his keen sense of hearing. Even before he had become an Awakened Being, the young man had good ears. And after he Awakened? Well, even as an E-rank Hunter, his hearing was a level above others.
'Her sense of smell must've also been enhanced after Awakening.'
He understood her to a degree.
As if liking that Jinwoo was paying attention, Team Leader Bae continued,
"I heard that because of that smell, she has difficulty breathing around Hunters."
Was that the reason?
'Why she asked me if I was really a Hunter.'
Was it because he did not smell like a Hunter? Jinwoo recalled the words of the leader of the White Walkers back in the Red Gate,
["In our head, there is a voice whispering to us without rest. It tells us to 'kill all humans'. But in front of you, the voice becomes silent."]
Was it related to what that thing told him?
Not having the smell associated with Hunters, not being told to be killed like humans.
'Because I am a Player…'
The absolute singular existence that was chosen by the System.
Just what was a Player?
Briefly questioning his own identity, Jinwoo quickly shook his head,
'Not like I can obtain the answer to that question right now.'
He cleared his mind. Worrying about a riddle that he could not solve would only exhaust him mentally.
Soon, the sound of his coworkers mining started. Jinwoo also grabbed his pickaxe.
'An A-rank Boss… I really wanted to kill it.'
What would've happened if Cha Haein didn't arrive on time?
Jinwoo swung away while thinking about it.
Because of Jinwoo's outstanding performance, the mining team managed to finish their work before dinner. According to the team leader, it was two hours earlier than usual. Because of that, the eyes of his teammates looking at him had changed.
"Good work today, Sung-ssi!"
"I thought someone brought in a mining machine, haha!"
The Hunters surrounded him and poured compliments all over him. The cold attitude they greeted him with before the Gate had all but disappeared. Jinwoo was also in a good mood. The experience of working as a miner was interesting, and he had succeeded in his objective of scouting an A-rank Dungeon.
"Let's go go go!"
At Team Leader Bae's order, the mining team moved as one towards the exit.
They passed by the still working collection team. Soon, the mining team left the Dungeon and loitered while preparing to leave. Compared to the Guild's official members, the temp worker Sung Jinwoo's pay was provided on the spot.
"Sung-ssi, here you go, this is yours."
While handing over the envelope, Team Leader Bae discretely asked him a question,
"We're about to go for some food, would you like to join us?"
While the question was asked casually, the team leader's eyes were serious.
'It feels like he has something he wants to ask me…'
Jinwoo felt the man's sincerity. However, he politely declined.
"Hmm… That's okay."
The team leader scratched his chin.
'I wanted to ask him while we were in a good mood with alcohol…'
But the man had to change his plans a bit,
"You know, I've met a lot of people while working on this job."
"But I've never seen a man like you. You were born to be a miner."
It seemed that the team leader had taken a liking to him.
'Haha… That's a bit…'
Jinwoo could neither confirm nor deny the team leader's words. Instead, he awkwardly laughed. Confusing that for a good sign, the team leader got to business,
"I don't normally do this but… How would you like to come work under me? I guarantee you'll be paid well."
The young man called Sung Jinwoo. On his first day as a miner, the man had completed several times more work than a veteran miner. If he could not obtain this genius, it would be his failure as the leader of the mining team. Even if he had to talk to the higher-ups to provide a special consideration for Jinwoo, the team leader wanted to hire the young man.
However, Jinwoo's refusal was firm.
"I'm grateful for your words but… There's something I'm preparing for."
At that sentence, the team leader's cheerful mood fell.
"Is… is that so?"
Jinwoo swallowed a laughter.
'What a fun person.'
To think that his feelings would show this much on his face. It seemed that Team Leader Bae thought he had discovered some hidden talent in the E-ranker. After a moment of thought, the team leader carefully asked,
"How about tomorrow? Do you think you could come out again?"
"Tomorrow is a bit… Hmm…"
Well, he was still free tomorrow. The remeasurement was two days from now. But Jinwoo wondered if there was a reason for him to work as a miner again. He had already observed the raiding method of a large Guild and even took a look at an A-rank Dungeon's boss.
Suddenly, Jinwoo realized something,
He was about to refuse when a question flashed across his mind,
"Does that mean Hunters Guild has another Raid tomorrow?"
"Yep. It's another A-rank Gate."
"Is that even possible? They just finished a Raid today."
It was common practice for raiding parties to rest for a week after completing a Raid.
'They said that today's Raid started yesterday evening.'
That meant the main raiding party of Hunters Guild had raided for two consecutive days. On top of that, by the time they went back to take down the boss after the collection team finished, it would be dawn. Jinwoo couldn't imagine that they would raid again tomorrow.
When Jinwoo looked interested, the team leader continued,
"Instead of Attack Team A, Attack Team B will be up to the plate tomorrow."
Attack Team B? They were going to clear an A-rank Dungeon with the secondary raiding party?
"This is the power of Hunters Guild. We're probably the only Guild in South Korea that can take down two A-rank Gates with two separate teams."
Team Leader Bae spoke with pride.
"Is this how Hunters Guild always raided?"
"No, no. Normally they wouldn't divide up the teams like that. But seems like the jobs overlapped this time."
Because two A-rank Gates had simultaneously appeared in Hunters Guild's territory, the team leader explained that Guildmaster Choi Jongin had to pull a lot of strings in order to obtain the raiding rights for both of them.
'Oh, so that's why Guildmaster Choi was at the Association yesterday…'
A busy man like Choi Jongin would not have frivolously visited the Association.
"So does that mean this is the first time the secondary raiding party will be the sole attack team of the Raid?"
"Yep. But don't let that fool you. Hunters Guild's secondary team is not just any secondary team. They're better than most large Guild's primary team."
"Still, it should be much more dangerous than today, right?"
Team Leader Bae was at a loss for words. Jinwoo was right. Two S-rankers had participated in the Raid today. Compared to that, only A-rankers would be part of the offensive tomorrow. Even though they had heard that tomorrow's Gate was smaller than today's, the absence of the two S-rankers would be great. The team leader recalled how Sung-ssi was worried about the boss even though the S-rankers were nearby.
'Still, I don't want to lie to the man.'
Team Leader Bae had hoped to work with Jinwoo tomorrow. Realizing that would not happen, the man answered him disappointedly,
"It'll be much more dangerous. If things go wrong, the Raid itself might fail."
Jinwoo's eyes lit up.