Solo Leveling Novel Chapter 119

8

The cameraman felt a creeping chill crawl all over his skin.

‘Wha-what’s the meaning of this?’

What was about to happen here?

He was deep inside a cave where breezes shouldn’t exist, yet this eerily chilly air inexplicably brushed past his back.

‘Now that I think about it…’

Just as he began questioning whether the surroundings had become too quiet or not….

Kiiiieeeehhhk-!!

Thick, heavy screams resounded out within the queen’s chamber and countless black hands began shooting out from the ground.

Tuck.

Tuck….

The hands grabbed the ground, and began pulling themselves out.

“Heok!!”

The cameraman unwittingly gasped out in pure fright. His eyes were opened wider, and his breathing grew rough and heavy. He was a rank A Hunter yet he could scarcely believe the things taking place, so what would the viewers at home watching be feeling right now?

While the cameraman remained stewing in his own astonishment, the owners of the black hands finally emerged out of the ground.

‘Ant monsters?!’

At a casual glance, they looked like ant monsters, but then again, endless streams of black smokes were rising from their bodies. It was hard to tell whether these monsters were physical beings or made out of gases.

Wouldn’t one potentially get that sort of appearance if one carved out the statue of an ant monster using a block of black-coloured dry ice? Several hundreds of such things rose up from the ground.

The cameraman’s heart beat so fast and so loud that he couldn’t even breath now.

Seeing that scene, Baek Yun-Ho too gasped out in shock as well. He was comparatively calmer than the cameraman, but that didn’t mean he could close his slack jaw.

‘All of those…. are his summons???’

Unlike the two speechless men, Jin-Woo was forming a satisfied grin at the new additions to his shadow army.

‘Nice.’

Now, the number of his Shadow Soldiers easily overwhelmed the surviving ant monsters.

‘With things like this, looks like I won’t have to personally step out now.’

Jin-Woo stored the Demon King’s Shortswords back to his Inventory. And then, issued the very first order to his new soldiers.

‘Go. Don’t leave any one of them alive.’

Kiiieeehhk-!!

With the same intensity as back when the ant monsters flooded into the queen’s chamber, Jin-Woo’s new soldiers crashed into their enemies like a tsunami wave.

The once seemingly-endless swarm of ant monsters was now being swept away by the black tide.

Woooahhhh!!!

A huge cheering roar broke out inside the TV station’s situation room.

The director shot up from his seat and clapped his hands in happiness.

“Yesss!! He’s doing it!!”

Seeing those disgusting ant monsters being swept away like that, it felt like his tight chest was being pried open again. It was as if the ten-year-old indigestion plaguing him had finally been flushed away.

If only there were no other eyes watching here, he’d have asked the producer to screen capture that moment and have it sent over to him later – so he could relieve his accumulated stress even if it was several months later. Nay, several years later!

It was indeed very regretful to see the death of Hunter Min Byung-Gu. When the director saw the scene of the team’s lone Healer die at the hands of that d*mn monster, he thought that the heavens were crashing down on him.

Even then, if the Korean Hunters get out of the ant tunnel safely with the help from that unidentified Hunter?

‘That’s all I ask for!’

The Korean team had already achieved its goal by killing the ant queen. With their only method of propagation gone, there was no need to even repeat the simple fact that the ants would eventually die out in the Jeju Island.

And then, what about the Japanese?

Indeed, what would happen to the Japanese team?

Since they abandoned the important mission right in the middle of it all and escaped with their tail between their legs, there was obviously no need to hand over the promised share of the loot. And not only that, the Koreans could even demand reparation from them, instead.

And of course, the footage of the raid selling like hot cakes would be the tasty icing on the cake, too.

The complexion of the director brightened like a midday sun.

‘Just where did this massive ball of fortune fall out from?!’

The director’s expression, as he continued to stare at the face of Jin-Woo in the monitor’s screen, remained somewhat confused. It was then.

Another employee hurriedly ran towards him.

“Sir!”

The director shot up from his seat, nearly freaking out of his skull.

“What is it this time?!”

The director’s expression hardened in an instant.

His heart began quivering, thinking that maybe another mishap occurred somewhere just as he was beginning to soak himself in the sea of happiness.

What with the situation arriving at this point in time, the director was quickly growing resentful of this dumb employee. He even wanted to reach out to cover that employee’s mouth and pretend that no bad news was afoot.

‘Looks like I’ve finally lost it….’

Completely unaware of what his boss was thinking of at that moment, the employee spoke hurriedly with an excited face.

“We discovered that man’s identity!”

The director’s eyes opened up super-wide.

“What was that?!”

Inside the office of the Hunter Association’s President.

Kwajeek!!

Goh Gun-Hui hurriedly lifted his hand off the crushed armrest. His private doctor sitting next to him turned to look at him.

“…Association President.”

“….It seems that I got overexcited just now.”

He unconsciously gripped too tight, and this happened. However, how could he not get excited by the scenes he was seeing right now?

Indeed, watching Jin-Woo’s performance playing out on the giant screen made his emotions well up without him even realising it. If only his body permitted it, he’d have gone there to fight alongside, too.

“Getting overexcited is not good for your body, sir.”

Goh Gun-Hui nodded his head.

There was only one reason why he, as the Association President, wasn’t present in the mission control centre. Didn’t matter whether this subjugation operation ended as a success or a failure, there was a potential risk that he’d strain his heart simply by being there.

Even watching the broadcast like this carried enough risk, so the personal doctor had to set up a camp next to Goh Gun-Hui.

‘Maybe, it would’ve been better to not let him watch the broadcast.’

The personal doctor worried about his decision for a brief moment, but after seeing the expression etched on the face of the Association President, he soon shook his head.

Ever since the Hunter named Seong Jin-Woo appeared on the scene, that wide smile didn’t want to leave Goh Gun-Hui’s face.

[“Hey, that man, that’s Seong Jin-Woo!”]

In that critical moment, as the despair quickly transformed into a loud cheer, the words Association President cried out still rung inside the doctor’s ears.

Meanwhile, Goh Gun-Hui was beaming widely.

‘I can’t believe this is happening.’

He then cautiously placed his hand back on the sofa’s armrest. Unless he was holding onto something, his entire body would itch too much and he’d be unable to endure it.

‘But, how did Hunter Seong Jin-Woo get there?’

Initially, he was greatly intrigued by this quandary. The island must be overflowing with the ant monsters, so how did he appear there without anyone else noticing it?

But, such a thing wasn’t important right now.

No, the truly important thing would be that Hunter Seong Jin-Woo was there. And with that, the other Hunters had hope. Those two were the important things.

It was then.

Goh Gun-Hui’s eyes grew extra large after witnessing the spectacle of Jin-Woo creating even more soldiers by extracting shadows out from the dead ant monsters.

‘That friend, he lied to me, didn’t he?’

Who could’ve guessed that there were well more than “only about a hundred” summons? Even at a casual glance, there must’ve been over 300, easy. However, Goh Gun-Hui didn’t look like someone who’d been lied to.

No, a smile of contentment was filling up his face, instead.

‘He said that he wanted to fight against the monsters, didn’t he?’

Goh Gun-Hui could now understand a bit more of why the youth said those words to him back then. After all, he possessed such incredible power, so no monsters out there should faze him.

For sure, Jin-Woo looked like he was enjoying himself as he fought the monsters. It was to the extent that the viewers watching felt a deep stirring within their hearts.

However….

Why did Hunter Seong Jin-Woo, who so dearly wished to battle monsters that badly, asked to be left out of the Korean raid team?

‘He must’ve had an important reason behind that decision.’

Goh Gun-Hui nodded his head. Without such a reason, there was just no way that a man who formed an expression like that during battle would willingly walk away from a raid team.

When his thought arrived at that point, Goh Gun-Hui grew very curious about what could possibly be Jin-Woo’s reason.

Tang, tang!

Jin-Ah was studying in her bedroom, but she heard those loud noises and hurriedly came out to the living room.

“Mom??”

“I, I’m sorry. That was too loud, wasn’t it?”

Jin-Ah shook her head.

Mom had already lowered the volume of the TV until not much could be heard so she’d not interrupt her daughter’s studies. Jin-Ah didn’t feel like unduly burdening her any more than that.

“Besides all that, what’s going on? Is the TV broken?”

“Not sure. It just stopped working all of a sudden.”

“Where’s oppa?”

“He’s right h….”

Mom turned around to look, only to gasp out in surprise.

“Oh, my?? Where did he go? But, he was here only about a second ago??”

Jin-Ah tilted her head and opened Jin-Woo’s bedroom door.

“Oppa?”

He wasn’t even in the bathroom, either. Jin-Ah proceeded to scour the entirety of the apartment before turning around towards her mom.

“What were you watching together just now?”

“The Jeju Island raid.”

“…..”

Suddenly, Jin-Ah was overcome with a certain ominous foreboding. Now that she thought about it, the entire apartment building was bustling with loud noises ever since a little while ago.

‘No way….?’

Jin-Ah hurriedly ran back inside her room and switched on her phone. When she did…..

Just as the vigorous, loud cheers exploded out from the floors above and below hers, Jin-Ah’s eyes opened wider as she finally confirmed the scene playing out within her phone’s screen.

“Oppa?!”

After utterly massacring every single ant monster found inside the queen’s chamber, Jin-Woo stored his soldiers back inside his shadow.

Even now, ants that had been spread out to the rest of the island were scurrying back to the ant tunnel. He judged that his priority should be placed on guiding the Hunters out of here to somewhere safe before more ants showed up.

‘We have the injured here to worry about, too.’

Jin-Woo strode towards the Hunters. Beside Baek Yun-Ho and the cameraman, the rest weren’t in a good shape. Cha Hae-In was still unconscious, and the three others had suffered some serious wounds, as well.

Jin-Woo asked while looking around.

“What about Min Byung-Gu Hunter-nim?”

Baek Yun-Ho shook his head with a hardened expression.

“…”

Not saying anything else, Jin-Woo brought out the potions and began treating the Hunters one by one. Since the potions would become useless once they leave his hands, he had to personally feed each of the Hunters.

“M-mm….”

After drinking the potions, Hunters began regaining their consciousness.

“What’s this?”

Im Tae-Gyu quickly raised his upper torso up, touched all over his body, and spat out a gasp of amazement.

“What the….?”

Both Choi Jong-In and Mah Dong-Wook recovered from the numerous injuries on their bodies in no time.

“Hmm…”

“Cough, cough.”

Choi Jong-In had no clue on what had transpired here, so as soon as he laid his eyes on Jin-Woo, he was taken aback rather greatly.

“Mister Seong Jin-Woo? What are you doing here??”

“Let’s talk after getting out of this place first.”

“Oh….”

Choi Jong-In took a look around and nodded his head. They were still stuck inside the deepest part of the ant tunnel. This was no place to idly chat away, indeed.

“Instructor Seong!”

Having regained his eyesight, Mah Dong-Wook was able to reach out and grab Jin-Woo’s hands.

“Were you the one fighting off those ants? Thank you. Thank you so much!!”

Jin-Woo replied in the same manner to him as well.

“Let us get out of here first.”

“Got it.”

Finally, Cha Hae-In.

Standing before her, a frown formed on Jin-Woo’s face.

‘Something’s not right… her aura’s far too weak.’

While feeling a sense of foreboding, Jin-Woo raised her head and cautiously poured the potion down her mouth.

Sure enough, a message quickly popped up in his view.

Tti-ring.

[When the remaining HP is less than 10%, it is impossible to recover HP with healing potions.]

Jin-Woo’s expression crumpled.

When he slowly pulled out his hand supporting her head, it was soaked in her blood.

‘……’

That ant b*stard.

That creature inflicted a fatal blow to the strongest person among the Korean Hunters, Cha Hae-In, with nothing but a single blow.

The sole reason why these Hunters were still alive wasn’t that they were strong. On the contrary, that b*stard simply toyed with them for a little while, that was all.

Jin-Woo’s expression hardened.

‘In any case, I gotta….’

Cha Hae-In’s injuries took priority. If her wounds couldn’t be healed by the potions, then she needed to get out of this island as soon as possible and get a Healer-type Hunter to heal her, ASAP.

“Let’s hurry.”

Jin-Woo carefully picked her up and stood up to leave. Other Hunters also stood up.

As they were preparing to leave the ant queen’s chamber, Jin-Woo walking in front of the pack suddenly spat out a long sigh.

‘……’

Baek Yun-Ho could guess the reason why.

Jin-Woo entrusted Cha Hae-In over to Baek Yun-Ho. Suddenly dumped with the responsibility of carrying her around, Baek Yun-Ho formed a flustered expression, and he hurriedly raised his voice.

“I would like to help.”

Jin-Woo looked at the Hunters present, including Baek Yun-Ho, and told them all in no uncertain terms.

“Do not ever step forward during the fight. It’ll be faster that way.”

“But, Mister Seong Jin-Woo, that means….”

Choi Jung-Hoon was still oblivious to what had transpired before, so he was about to speak up his opinion, but Mah Dong-Wook stopped him and shook his head.

He may not have seen the situation unfold with his own eyes, but through his perception, he was able to detect how Jin-Woo annihilated the swarm of ants from the beginning until the end.

Jin-Woo was right about this.

However, Baek Yun-Ho still butted in.

“Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim.”

Jin-Woo turned his head to look at him.

“I understand full well that you’re strong. I can confidently say that no one here knows that better than me. However…..”

Baek Yun-Ho spoke with a serious expression on his face.

“However, you’ve already summoned far too many creatures by now.”

But, why would that be a problem? When Jin-Woo stared at him with a confused expression, Baek Yun-Ho got flustered and quickly added more explanation.

“You must’ve had exhausted a lot of your magical energy by now. What would happen if you completely spend them?”

‘Ahh… so that’s what he was talking about.’

Jin-Woo guessed from Baek Yun-Ho’s words that the other Hunters utilising the summoning magic had to be using a lot of magic energy to summon even a single creature.

‘I’m sure there aren’t any real reason to reveal that my Shadow Soldiers don’t need any magic energy, right?’

Even without him saying anything, his soldiers wouldn’t look like ordinary summons to these people’s eyes, anyway. So, Jin-Woo decided to change the story ever so slightly.

“My summons don’t require as much magic energy as you think. You don’t need to worry about me.”

“Excuse me?”

Both Baek Yun-Ho and the cameraman exclaimed out at the same time.

He controlled that many summoned creatures all at once, yet he was saying that the magic energy usage wasn’t high? Then, just what was his weak point, then?

‘……..’

Realising that explaining would take up too much time, he simply turned towards the cave up ahead, instead. With excellent timing, the waves of ant monsters were rushing inside the chamber.

‘Wow, there are still so many of them.’

Their side had someone in a critical condition. So, he couldn’t afford to waste time here.

Jin-Woo activated the Sovereign’s Territory for maximum efficiency. The ground beneath his feet was immediately dyed in black.

Just as he was done with preparations to call his soldiers back out again, an ominous, creepy air blew in from the other side of the cave.

‘……..?’

Jin-Woo shifted his gaze over to where that eerie aura was coming from. There was this one individual among the masses of ants. It looked similar to the others, but it was a completely different type of monster compared to the others.

‘Ah, so that’s the one.’

Jin-Woo instantly recognised the ‘ant king’. And likewise, the ant king recognised Jin-Woo as well.

Taking its time, the ant king slowly walked over to him.

“A human… you seem to possess a pretty strong aura.”

It even imitated Goto Ryuji’s speech pattern.

Hunters immediately recalled the nightmare of a few moments ago and flinched grandly as soon as spotting that ant monster. On the other hand, Jin-Woo showed no outward ripples and simply stared at the creature without saying a word.

Eventually, the ant king stood before Jin-Woo.

“Are you the king of humans?”

“…..Huh, an insect that knows how to speak. Well, I’ll be.”

When Jin-Woo replied with a less than impressed expression on his face, the ant king’s own expression crumpled unsightly.

The power the queen bestowed it with, and the power it gathered through the ‘Gluttony’ skill – the moment the ant king unleashed all of its magic energy, its body suddenly ballooned up greatly in size. Its height, which used to be around the same as Jin-Woo’s, grew by at least 1.5 times taller.

The ant king then screeched out loudly right in front of Jin-Woo’s nose.

Kiiiiiieeeeeehhhhhk-!!!

Jin-Woo didn’t even blink once, and instead, a smirk formed on his lips.

“Yup, now you’re acting properly like an insect.”

And then, he himself unleashed his own magical energy.