I Alone Level-Up Chapter 96
Jinwoo arrived at the Hunter Auction.
Unlike a company building with multiple floors, the auction house was low but wide. It was reminiscent of a museum or an art gallery. Its parking lots were wide enough to accommodate thousands of bidders. Being in the middle of that giant lot, Jinwoo was able to discern just how much the Hunter Auction earned through its business by looking at the incredibly large building.
When Jinwoo got off from the taxi and headed towards the building, a well dressed man came up to greet him,
"Hunter Sung Jinwoo-nim?"
After confirming Jinwoo's face, the man looked surprised. He went on to introduce himself with a clear voice,
"Hi, I was the one on the phone. I'm from the Hunter Auction's Appraisal Team, my name is Kim Junggi. Please, follow me."
Jinwoo nodded and followed. As he escorted the Hunter, all sorts of thoughts appeared in Kim Junggi's head.
'To think that the S-rank rookie that just disappeared in front of the reporters is now behind me.'
When he first picked up the phone, he thought it was a prank call. First, the artifact in question was an impossible existence, and then the caller said he was the newly revealed S-rank Hunter.
'I almost swore at an S-rank Hunter…'
Once he confirmed Hunter Sung Jinwoo's identity with the Hunter Association, a cold chill ran down Kim Junggi's back. It was a good thing that he did not yell at Jinwoo out of reflex.
[…the test, Hunter Sung Jinwoo jumped over five ranks through the Reawakening, becoming an S-ranker from an E-ranker. We've received reports that the Hunter is a Mage-class and…]
Even now, the TV screens located here and there throughout the building was displaying Jinwoo's face. As if bothered by it, Jinwoo put his hood over his head again. Meanwhile, Kim Junggi suddenly felt a strange flutter at the news reporting on Jinwoo.
'Should I ask him for a selfie?'
The employee shook his head. If he wasn't currently at work, he would've asked for a signature or a picture. However, he could not act so impolitely at a guest who had come here for an important transaction. Kim Junggi had to be patient.
'Was the distance from the entrance to here that short?'
As the man cycled thought after thought, the pair had already arrived at the appraisal office. With a disappointed face, Kim Junggi spoke,
"This way, sir."
In the large room, the Appraisal Team's team leader and the chief appraiser were waiting. Noticing Jinwoo, the team leader's eyes widened; the man had ran here during lunch, leaving behind his meal,
'It's really the man from the news.'
Meanwhile, the chief appraiser gulped,
'Then that amplifier must also be real…?'
No, not yet. Just because the man was the real thing, didn't mean that his item was. The chief appraiser calmed himself with that thought. The world's most skilled artifact crafter using the highest materials possible could make an amplifier with effects a little over 50%. Even then, gathering the materials were an incredible ordeal. On top of that, the amount of manpower and effort required to craft such an item were so great that the item only appeared every few years.
The Mage-class Hunters who wanted such an item lined up across the entire world, but there was no such item for sale right now. Forget the entire world, even in the nation, the Mage-class Hunter called the Strongest Soldier, Choi Jongin, had an open order for an amplifier with a 50% boost.
And now this fresh S-ranker, who had only been revealed minutes ago, said he had an amplifier with a 100% boost?
'There is no way…'
If Jinwoo wasn't the highest-ranking Hunter, the auction would've chased him away from the building.
One could not carelessly ignore an S-rank Hunter. Even if whatever this was today ended up being nothing, the man was a valuable customer for the time to come.
'What do we have to lose?'
With a little bit of anticipation and much more doubt, the chief appraiser asked Jinwoo,
"That artifact… Could you show it to us?"
Kim Junggi and the appraisal team leader also looked at Jinwoo in anticipation.
Jinwoo put his hand in his pocket and called the Marble of Avarice from his inventory.
"So this is…"
The chief appraiser fixed his glasses. It was a marble with a marvelous color of blood. Even at a glance, it would make one gasp in awe. In fact, the two others from the appraisal team did as much,
However, the chief appraiser continued to fidget with his glasses while looking at the item.
"This is not an artifact crafted from magic cores or magic ores, correct?"
The chief appraiser nodded,
'As I thought.'
It had been seven years since he started working as an appraiser. Many artifacts had passed through his hands during that time, but he had never seen a red crystal like this. The average crystal was bright and blue, and as the quality rose, the crystal would become close to black. But red?
The chief appraiser tilted his head side to side, then took the crystal from Jinwoo.
A chill ran down his back. It was because of an unfathomable power coming from the crystal.
'Could it be…?'
In shock, he looked down at the marble. The chief appraiser was a B-rank Mage-class Awakened Being. He could immediately tell just what kind of an item he was holding. Cold sweat poured out from his entire body.
Shuddering again at the power from the magic tool, the chief appraiser looked up. Jinwoo was staring at him calmly.
'If the person who brought this was a low-ranking Hunter…'
This was the first time the chief appraiser felt like this. In his career, he had come across many powerful and high-class artifacts, but this was the first time the thought of stealing an artifact flashed across his head. However, the opponent was an S-ranker.
Jinwoo stared without a word. At his gaze, the chief appraiser was barely able to suppress his greed.
'Stealing from an S-ranker?'
He couldn't even imagine what would happen to him if he tried. As the chief appraiser had done when he first looked at the artifact, Jinwoo also tilted his head while looking at the chief appraiser.
'What's wrong with him?'
Was the man sick or something? Anyways, the chief appraiser wiped away his sweat and spoke to the team leader,
"Team leader, please turn on the camera."
"Oh! Okay, okay."
The fact that the chief appraiser had asked to turn on the camera meant that the item was the real thing. The team leader's heart began to race. Even Kim Junggi, who first received Jinwoo's call, realized and became excited.
"Beginning the filming now."
The team leader turned the camera lens to the chief appraiser. The chief appraiser stood in front of a round magic power measuring device. First, he put down the marble.
The device pulled up a number. Then, the chief appraiser picked up the marble and remeasured himself.
The magic power from the chief appraiser had exactly doubled. After confirming the measurement results, Kim Junggi turned pale.
The team leader also ran up and confirmed the results.
'100%? It's really an amplifier with a 100% boost?!'
His heart felt like it was about to explode. The average commission fee the Hunter Auction took from artifact sales was 5%. For an item that was sold for a hundred billion, they could receive a whopping five billion. But even as an experienced veteran of Hunter Auction, the team leader could not surmise just how much this red magic tool would go for.
'This is amazing! Amazing!'
If the seller himself wasn't here, the team leader felt like he could raise his arms to the sky and hug his subordinate next to him. If they succeeded in selling this, just how much could they receive as commission? In his excitement, the team leader struggled to breathe. Kim Junggi reacted the same as his superior; the man clenched his fists with an elated face.
Now, they just had to carefully move the transaction forward.
"I'm… I'm going to test out its effects."
At the chief appraiser's shaking voice, the two other employees snapped out of their joy and took a distance. Jinwoo also backed away. The camera was still rolling. In order to entice buyers, a demonstration was far better than a simple change in numbers. The chief appraiser looked towards the camera,
"I will begin now."
The appraiser held out his right hand. A small, contained snowfall appeared in an area the size of a truck tire. The appraiser continued,
"While maintaining my magic, I will now touch the magic tool."
When his left hand touched the Marble of Avarice,
The snowfall became a blizzard that enveloped the entire room.
If the surprised appraiser did not stop his magic, the entire room would've been frozen over.
"You can turn off the camera now."
The team leader quickly ran over and turned the camera off.
Jinwoo sighed in relief after seeing the magic power explode from the chief appraiser. Not only him, all the men in the room had to calm their racing hearts and sighed deeply. Soon, a calm fell upon the room. Jinwoo asked,
"So how much do you think it'll go for?"
Would he be able to obtain the artifacts he needed if he sold this? Well, he was also curious on just how much an amplifier with a 100% boost would sell for. The chief appraiser stared at the Marble of Avarice in disbelief.
"How… How could we put a price on something like this…"
He moved his gaze over to Jinwoo.
Just where had this man obtained an artifact like this? It was not a question an appraiser should ask, but he could not help it,
"Where did you get this?"
Jinwoo turned his gaze from the appraiser to Kim Junggi,
"Is that information required for the sale?"
Kim Junggi avoided his gaze while rubbing the back of his head. The chief appraiser shook his head,
"No, it's not that sir. It's just that… I was so surprised. But if it got out that something like this existed, everyone would want to find out where it came from."
As the man said, all the Hunter Auction's employees looked like they were about to die from curiosity.
'Well, would it matter?'
Since they asked, Jinwoo couldn't think of a reason to hide it. It's not like he obtained it in an illicit manner. And it also wasn't like they could go and get another one if they knew. Jinwoo opened his mouth. The three employees held their breath and focused on the S-rank Hunter. Jinwoo smiled while replying,
"I picked it up from a Dungeon."
Baek Yoonho entered his personal office.
"I want to be alone, make sure nobody disturbs me."
Feeling like the order to the secretary wasn't enough, the man even locked the door and went to his computer. Using every amount of resources at the S-ranker and Guildmaster's disposal, Baek Yoonho gathered every information he could find on what he was looking for.
'Is it something that's possible?'
Baek Yoonho could not stop thinking about Jinwoo.
A Hunter capable of growth?
If not that, how else do you explain the difference in the man after just a few days? Baek Yoonho's fingers moved quickly across the keyboard. He even accessed the Hunter website accessible only by the top Hunters across the entire world.
But he found nothing.
There was no Hunter that could raise his abilities on his own. Awakening or Reawakening, you could only obtain a power through luck. Does that mean that unlike a Hunter, that man was chosen by the gods? Countless tabs opened and closed, and the man read through novels worth of words without stopping.
He was at it for three hours.
Mentally exhausted, Baek Yoonho leaned back on his chair.
'Was I overthinking it?'
Perhaps that was it. He wondered if he was just surprised at the amount of power Hunter Sung Jinwoo wielded.
Just what was he doing at a time when he should be busy? He should've focused on taking even just a single step closer to recruiting Hunter Sung Jinwoo. For all he knew, that dastardly Guildmaster Choi might be offering a contract to the young Hunter right now. Baek Yoonho chuckled and closed the tabs one by one.
When he got to the last tab,
Instead of closing the tab, Baek Yoonho jokingly googled "Hunter ability increase". Of course, there were no real results. It's not like he had expected anything. He had simply repeated a search method that was second nature to him after three hours.
'Hmm… I skipped lunch today.'
Baek Yoonho was about to close the last tab in hunger when he noticed something. His eyes shot open.
It was the fifth result in his search. If it wasn't a posting on a Hunter-only forum, the Guildmaster would've given it no thought. Baek Yoonho clicked the link.
|"Something strange has happened"|
| I'm suddenly able to see floating screens in the air like a video game, and I'm able to use stat points to increase my ability. Has anyone experienced something similar?|
It was written by an anonymous poster. But what was this? As he read the post, his heart began to pound and his breathing shortened.
'If someone saw me right now, they'd call me crazy.'
Still, there was no harming in checking it out. Baek Yoonho picked up his phone.
– "Yes, Guildmaster."
The Second Management Division Chief Ahn Sangmin picked up.
"Chief Ahn, there's something I need to you find out."
He asked the man to see if anything had happened to Hunter Sung Jinwoo on the day this post was made.
– "Alright, I'll look into it."
With a determined reply, the chief hung up. Chief Ahn was a dependable employee, if Baek Yoonho waited, the man would surely find out using any means possible. However, the Guildmaster did not expect the response to come this fast.
Baek Yoonho quickly picked up the ringing phone.
– "I actually had the file on top of my desk, so it didn't take long."
"Is that so?"
Baek Yoonho was elated. Now that he thought about it, he did remember hearing that Chief Ahn had ordered the Second Management Division to collect every bit of information on Sung Jinwoo. Thanks to that, the response for his request was quick.
– "Okay, so on that day, Hunter Sung Jinwoo-nim was… Oooh, this must've been that time. Do you remember the Double Dungeon incident few months ago?"
– "Hunter Sung Jinwoo-nim was one of the survivors from that incident. It looks like he was in the hospital unconscious during that period."
"Ah… Is that so…"
Baek Yoonho was disappointed. An unconscious man could not have put up a posting on the internet.
'Increase one's abilities… It was impossible after all.'
It was a laughable idea. At the report, his exhaustion came crashing down on him. Baek Yoonho felt like he should go home and take the rest of the day off. Suddenly,
– "Oh? Hold on, he was out for a while…"
Ahn Sangmin's voice across the phone became amused,
– "But that was the day he woke up."