I Alone Level-Up Chapter 87
It was an interesting phenomenon. As the footsteps grew louder and closer, the sound from the Hunters became quieter.
A silence fell on the raiding party.
Meanwhile, Jinwoo's ears were working hard. Using the silence of the raiding party to his advantage, he perked his ears to try and determine the number of approaching entities.
Because of his naturally keen hearing combined with the high Sense stat, he was able to distinguish between the footsteps.
'48, 49, 50, 51.'
51 footsteps. It was the same sound as the high orcs earlier. Jinwoo looked around.
Nervousness filled the faces of the Hunters. They, too, had roughly determined the number of enemies through their senses. Winning the battle just now against 22 high orc warriors was a miracle. And now there were 51 more approaching, over twice the previous amount.
'...There's no hope for victory.'
Well, to the Hunters Guild's raiding party, of course. Jinwoo looked behind him into his shadow. His shadow appeared to be swaying and twitching.
It felt like his soldiers were complaining that they haven't seen blood in a while. Jinwoo returned his gaze forward.
ba dum, ba dum, ba dum
The heart that was calm up until now was starting to beat harder.
Now was not the right time. He calmed himself and quietly looked forward. The enemies finally appeared.
The high orcs stopped a bit of distance away from the Hunters.
They looked like they were about to charge at them any second now. The oppressive pressure coming from the high orcs that numbered over fifty could not be put to words. Even without fighting, the results were clear.
"Why is this happening…"
The Hunters groaned in terror. They had retreated backwards because of the pressure, but their backs were met by the invisible wall. What could they do now? They had finished their battle preparations a while ago, but none of them took the initiative. Instead, they all looked to the Raid Leader Son Gihoon for help.
The Tanker's mouth was closed in a straight line.
If only Guildmaster Choi Jongin or Deputy Guildmaster Cha Haein was here… Son Gihoon's brows furrowed. S-rankers wielded the unimaginable power to overturn situations like this. If they were here, high orcs like these would be nothing.
'Of all the days…'
...Why were those two absent from the Raid today? Having always fought at their side, Son Gihoon realized just how powerless he was in this moment. The absence of the S-rank was too painful. However, he could not wallow in despair forever. He had to make a decision.
'Fighting here would just get us all killed.'
However, with their retreat cut off, there wasn't any other option.
From the day he made the decision to become a Hunter,
From the day he took his inaugural step into the Dungeon,
From the day he first lost conscious after being wounded,
He knew that this day would come someday.
'Yes, yes I did.'
Resolved to fight until the bitter end, Son Gihoon unsheathed his longsword.
When the Raid Leader looked back to his team, the Hunters that waited for his orders nodded. Son Gihoon turned his gaze forward. Raising his shield to below his chin, the Tanker glared at the high orcs. However, the magic beasts did not appear to be attacking yet.
'Did he make his decision?'
Jinwoo also began his preparations. His right hand was held behind his back, gripping Baruka's Tanto. The E-ranker closed his eyes. The heart that was beating crazily was now calming down in the eve of battle.
Ba dum. Ba dum. Ba dum.
Don't waste any strength on useless movements.
Control your breathing.
When Jinwoo opened his eyes again, they were filled with a sharp light.
The Hunters gulped nervously as sweat gathered on their brows.
Meanwhile, Jinwoo gulped in anticipation.
'I wonder how much experience points these guys will give me?'
Jinwoo's lips curved into a thin smile.
Suddenly, a lone high orc started to move from back of the group. The magic beast shoved its comrades roughly out of its way and came out ahead of the group. The orc looked over the Hunters with its beast-like eyes.
It was a head taller than the rest, with long tusks sticking out of its mouth.
'Is he the captain?'
Jinwoo's eyes narrowed. If he just killed that thing right now, wouldn't the battle become easier? What should he do? While Jinwoo fidgeted with Baruka's Tanto and wondered, the high orc opened its mouth,
"Kraerak Tuo Sheena Wegeudu Ahraknaka."
It was a booming voice. The high orc's gaze was fixed on the vanguard of the raiding party, Son Gihoon.
"Kraerak Tuo Sheena Wegeudu Ahraknaka!"
The Hunters began to whisper among themselves.
"Is it trying to talk to us?"
"What's it saying?"
Suddenly, the face of the high orc began to shake. When the shaking stopped, its mouth opened and spoke with a completely different voice than just now,
It was like a ventriloquist speaking through a dummy.
Looking closer, the high orc's eyes had turned white like a fish that had been dead for a while.
What! The Hunters felt like they had been slapped across the face. The orc was speaking in the language of humans!
'How does an orc know Korean?!'
'Magic? Is it magic?'
In this unexpected development, the Hunters could not close their mouths. The high orc captain's mouth continued to move,
"I… Am… Kargargan... I… Wish… To… Meet… With… You… Humans… Follow… This… One…"
A magic beast wants to talk with humans? Something like this had not ever been reported in the history of the Gates. In an unprecedented situation, Son Gihoon and his teammates fell into chaos.
"Gihoon hyung, you don't actually believe a magic beast, right?"
"Ignore it, sir."
"Gihoon, this is trap. If we're going to die, let's just end it here."
"Still, if it's an orc that we can talk to, maybe…"
"Hey moron, after all the time you spent in Dungeons, do you still not know magic beasts?"
In that short time, a discord fell upon the Hunters. Son Gihoon broke his silence with a question,
"Kargargan, are you the one who blocked the cave?"
"That… is… correct… I… am… a… proud… great… sorcerer… of… the… oruku… your… human… strengths… cannot… break… my… magic."
"Is there an existence stronger than you in this cave?"
"How… dare… would… any… stand… against… me!"
A booming voice rang out and assaulted the ears of the Hunters. Several of the Hunters flinched or covered their ears, but Son Gihoon nodded calmly. His guesses were on the mark. The existence that was borrowing that high orc's mouth to talk to them was the boss of this Dungeon. Because the boss could not leave its room until the Dungeon Break, it was calling the Hunters to where it was.
'I don't know why but…'
As the Raid Leader's reply was delayed, the high orc captain raised its axed high into the air.
"Choose… will… you… die… here… by… my… soldiers… or… will… you… follow… my… soldiers."
At his reply, the Hunter's were shocked,
Son Gihoon silenced his teammates and watched the high orc's reaction.
With that, the high orc captain's eyes returned to normal. The beast-like ugly eyes. The high orc spoke,
"Ash tuo reka."
With that phrase, the high orc warriors that were giving off a dangerous hostility all turned around and began to fall back as one. The high orc captain remained and gestured to Son Gihoon to follow it.
"We should go to."
Son Gihoon was the first to start walking. The hesitating Hunters started to follow after him one by one.
'What's he thinking?'
Jinwoo stared curiously at Son Gihoon. On top of the boss himself, the boss room should be filled with even more high orcs. Of course, the probability of survival would plummet there. And so, Jinwoo was not sure what the Raid Leader was thinking by following them.
'Is he thinking of bargaining with the boss? To leave here alive?'
The chance of that happening was low…
Still. This might actually be a good thing for Jinwoo. He had expected to just take care of a few dozen high orc warriors. Now, he was about to come face to face with the boss. Jinwoo returned the dagger in his hand to the inventory and quietly followed the group.
Purposely slowing his pace, Son Gihoon came next to Jinwoo. The Raid Leader spoke to the porter in a low voice,
Jinwoo replied without turning his head. Son Gihoon also spoke while keeping his gaze fixed on the high orc in front of them.
"When we meet the boss… we're going to ambush it. Whether or not we succeed in killing it, its magic blocking the exit should be released."
It was a reasonable thought. With the exception of curses, maintaining a spell required the focus and concentration of the caster. The higher the level of the magic, the stronger the focus required.
But what would they do with that? Even if they succeeded in killing the boss or undoing its magic, they would just be swarmed and massacred by the high orc warriors. In other words, the chance of the raiding party leaving here alive was about 0%. As if to clear up Jinwoo's confusion, Son Gihoon continued with a determined face,
"Once we have all of their attention, Hunter-nim, escape from the boss room. Leave this Dungeon and contact the main raiding party."
By the time the raiding party including the S-rankers arrived, it will have been all over for the current party. Son Gihoon was resolved to sacrifice his life.
"Are you all planning to die in taking down the boss?"
Jinwoo cast a quick sideway glance to look over the man's face. The Tanker's expression was hardened, but the light in his eyes were strong.
"As Hunters, our job is not to leave the Dungeon alive. It is to close the Gate. It is because of that job that many people support us with a great amount of money."
Son Gihoon strengthened his voice,
"We'll just do as we always have. But not you. There is no need for you to die here. I hope that you can leave here alive."
Jinwoo felt a strong conviction from the man's voice. He was putting his life on the line. No matter what Jinwoo said, he knew it would not change Son Gihoon's mind. As such, Jinwoo just replied with a nod.
Cha Haein arrived at the scene.
She had pressed her cap down so most people did not recognize her. She walked over to look for the mining team. Some Hunters passed her by and gave quick glances but concluded that she must've been a Guild employee and did not pay much attention.
In the distance, she saw Team Leader Bae and the Hunters of the mining team.
ba dum, ba dum
Her heart began to race. She carefully looked through the miner's faces.
'Where is that man…?'
She did not find Jinwoo.
Should she say something? It felt like she had lost the strength in her entire body.
'Did he quit being a miner?'
Let's just wait a minute. He might've gone to the bathroom.
Just three more minutes.
Just five more…
After fifteen minutes, Jinwoo did not show up.
With a deep sigh, she turned to leave.
The woman took few steps, then immediately turned around and returned to her waiting spot.
She removed her cap, then huffed rapidly to psyche herself up. After gathering the courage, she walked over to Team Leader Bae. The Hunters of the mining team turned their gaze towards the approaching woman. Thankfully, because they were low-ranking Hunters, their stench was bearable.
Recognizing the Deputy Guildmaster, the team leader quickly ran over.
"Hunter Cha-nim, isn't this your day off?"
After a quick greeting, Cha Haein looked around to see if there was anyone listening, then carefully asked,
"Er… is Hunter Sung Jinwoo here by any chance?"
At the unexpected mention of his ace, Team Leader Bae looked curious,
"Sung-ssi went with the attack team as a porter…"
Cha Haein was shocked,
"He went into the Gate?"
The team leader agreed with her disbelief and replied,
An E-rank Hunter volunteered as a porter and entered an A-rank Dungeon? It's not like he was a cat with nine lives.
'What's he thinking?'
Now that she thought about, the man was standing in front of the boss room yesterday with weapons. She had not been mistaken about those daggers. There was something else. Although she had accepted his explanation without much fuss yesterday, when she thought about it carefully, there was no way a Hunter with four years of experience would be "lost" in a Dungeon.
'I have to find out.'
Just what was this man called Sung Jinwoo doing at Hunters Guild? She had to confirm with her own two eyes. In order to do that, she had to enter the Dungeon. The woman was the Deputy Guildmaster of Hunters Guild and an S-rank Hunter. No one would stop her if she wanted to participate in her own Guild's Raid.
Biting the nail on her thumb while contemplating, Cha Haein made her decision.
"That Gate, I'm going to go inside."
: "Kargargan" (카르갈간): made up name. Ka 카 + reu 르 + gar 갈 + gan 간. Kargargan.