A certain man was sneaking into a large hospital.
There was only one reason why he was making d*mn sure that no one saw him. And that would be because of the jerry can full of petrol he was carrying at the moment.
In the past, one couldn’t find any sort of desire or drive within this man’s eyes. But now, they were burning with vigour.
‘So, you dare to look down on me, huh?’
He was already resolved to die today.
This man wandered about silently for a long while, before finally choosing a suitable location. His steps came to a halt in one of the hospital’s many corridors, although this particular one didn’t seem to enjoy all that much foot traffic. He began cautiously pouring the petrol on the floor.
‘You think I’ll die all alone?’
It happened one week ago.
He got p*ss drunk and wandered around the streets, before picking a fight with some random passerby. And as a result, he got beaten up black and blue. So, he ended up in this hospital.
He regained his consciousness a bit later and declared to the doctor busy treating him. He said, ‘I don’t have enough money for the hospital fees, so might as well stop what you’re doing and let me go’.
It happened then.
He saw it.
He saw the doctor’s eyes, looking down on him as if he was a pathetic fool.
That d*mn doctor b*stard. This man couldn’t quite remember the face of that doctor, but even after all this time, he could never forget those eyes.
That’s why he made up his mind.
‘I’ll get my revenge on you.’
And that was his reason for seeking out the very hospital he once visited as its guest.
He wasn’t planning to live any longer, anyway. So, he poured the petrol all over this corner of the hospital, and then, dumped what little remained on himself.
“We’ll all go together.”
His voice was thickly laden with spiteful rage.
Of course, this hospital was pretty d*mn huge, so something like this wouldn’t even be able to burn it down completely. However, he should still be able to take a few with him. It’d be very good if a handful of doctors were included in that ‘few’, but if not, there’s not much he could do about that.
He already ruined his life through gambling anyway. But, he wasn’t planning to quietly disappear like everyone else.
He threw away the empty jerry can, and after rummaging through his pockets for a while, pulled out a lighter. The moment his thumb spins that flint, this f*cked-up life of his would come to an end.
He became expressionless and was about to press down with his thumb, but then, an eerie breeze suddenly brushed him by.
‘….There’s a breeze?’
The man felt something was off and scanned his vicinity. This corridor didn’t even have any windows, so where could have that breeze come from?
‘What was that?’
He tilted his head while looking around himself, only to abruptly realise that something felt rather empty down there. He lowered his gaze to his hand.
The lighter he held in his hand was gone.
What an incredibly puzzling thing that was.
He wondered if he dropped the lighter while he was preoccupied, so he carefully combed over the floor, but that turned out to be a waste of time.
‘Just where did it disappear to….?’
Feeling utterly puzzled now, he raised his head and then spotted a large, black something standing right in front of his eyes.
It was an ‘insect’ with hands and legs.
The man was greatly taken by surprise, his eyes bulging out until they were almost popping out. Before he could scream, though, the ‘insect’ reached out and grabbed his mouth.
The ‘insect’ raised the index finger of its free hand and pressed it against its mouth.
This human shouldn’t raise a commotion like this. The human female his king told him to protect was sleeping in a room nearby, after all.
The man struggled bitterly, but he couldn’t even budge a single finger of the monster off his face.
The man’s eyes now saw the ‘insect’ – no, Beru’s open mouth slowly growing closer towards him.
Why did ‘it’ happen on level 101?
As Jin-Woo drove back, he thought back to how his skills abruptly went up a level earlier in the day. Even though his mind was occupied with something else, his hands holding the steering wheel remained steady and controlled.
‘It’s not even level 100, too.’
He thought that, if something about him were to change because of the level ups, then that should happen on level 100. However, his expectation was a bit off the mark.
His Class-specific skills all got an upgrade after he reached level 101.
A few guesses fleeted in and out of his head, but currently, only two of them held the strongest possibilities of being right.
The first one was about what the number ‘1’ signified. ‘1’ meant a new beginning.
Could it be that, when his level reached 101, all restrictions on his Class-specific skills were removed and he was now free to upgrade them at will?
‘If that’s not it….’
Jin-Woo’s expression hardened when he thought about the second theory. Personally, he’d have much preferred for this one to be wrong, though.
‘Could it be because I got my Class at level 51…..?’
There was a possibility that the Skill levels rose up because he was exactly 50 levels higher than when he got his Class. Which also kind of implied that he needed to reach level 151 if he wanted to upgrade his Skills again.
‘…..I don’t want that.’
If he thought about his levelling up speed lately, then indeed, he could only dearly pray that this remained nothing more than his hypothesis.
Soon, the building with his Guild office came into his view. Jin-Woo drove the van into the underground parking lot. He was the only passenger riding on the trusty steed of the Ah-Jin Guild, ‘Bonggo’. Yu Jin-Ho chose to stay back in the Gate’s location, saying that he’d wrap up the proceedings before going back to the office.
The raid might have ended, but there was still one more step of handing over the recovered loot to the brokers to think about. Since it was Yu Jin-Ho who had contacted these brokers, it seemed that he wanted to personally take charge of handling this matter.
[“Please, leave everything to me, hyung-nim!”]
Jin-Woo thought that he could still hear Yu Jin-Ho’s voice filled with confidence even now.
‘I wonder, will he be okay?’
It was all good and well for a Vice-Chair of the Guild to be full of drive and energy, but wouldn’t it be better still to hire dedicated staff members for matters like this? Jin-Woo told himself to search for more employees and walked out of the underground parking lot.
He spotted a familiar figure walking towards the Guild building from afar. And that familiar person also discovered Jin-Woo staring back at her.
Her steps came to an abrupt halt right then and there.
Cha Hae-In formed a shocked expression and began to backtrack one step at a time before she turned around completely, and began running away.
Jin-Woo was utterly dumbstruck by what just happened.
The thing was, though – he could gloss over the reason why she suddenly started running away after seeing his face, but he simply couldn’t….
‘….You think you can escape from me because you started running?’
Just who did she think she was dealing with here?
Jin-Woo was suddenly overcome with a streak of stubbornness and pounced forward with everything he had after activating his ‘Quicksilver’ skill.
Time slowed down to a crawl, and only the background images seemed to move at a blinding pace. The distance between him and Cha Hae-In decreased quickly enough, and then he began thinking to himself.
‘If I grab her from the back or try to touch her, she might get hurt, so….’
Jin-Woo lightly jumped up in the air, spun around once, and landed in front of Cha Hae-In’s escaping figure.
Her eyes grew super wide in an instant.
Her escape route had been cut off, and before she could do anything else, her shoulders were caught by Jin-Woo’s hands.
And so, the foot chase between two rank S Hunters came to a very anti-climatic end. Now that she was caught by him, she couldn’t even bring herself to look into his eyes.
Jin-Woo continued to stare at her with deeply puzzled eyes, before calmly asking her the important question.
“Why did you run away after seeing me?”
Well, he could concede a bit here and say that it was possible for her to bolt like that. Fine.
“If you were going to run, then why did you even bother to come to my office?”
If she wanted to avoid him that much, then she shouldn’t even come anywhere near him, no? Jin-Woo’s pointed question elicited Cha Hae-In to reply in a voice that was smaller than a buzzing mosquito.
“My car is… still in your parking lot….”
‘Ah. Right. There was an unfamiliar car parked in the lot for the last couple of days, wasn’t there?’
That day, when Cha Hae-In came to the office, saying that she wanted to join his Guild….
After they ‘teleported’ directly to the Association’s gymnasium from the Guild office, she forgot to take her car back and left it in the underground parking lot until now.
‘Looks like she came sneaking back in to get her car back because our Guild was supposed to be on a raid today.’
Too bad for her, she couldn’t have imagined that he’d only need a little over two hours to complete the raid of a rank A Gate. As a result, these two young people got to meet each other again. She quickly tried to get away from him, but in the end, was apprehended by him instead.
Jin-Woo’s wordless stare continued, and Cha Hae-In’s head drooped lower and lower. He let out a helpless sigh and slowly let her shoulders go.
“There’s no need to run away from me, you know.”
Jin-Woo spoke as he formed an amiable smile.
“A person’s mind can change all the time, am I right?”
Indeed, wouldn’t people lose their interest, or suddenly gain interest when there was none, to begin with? Wasn’t that how a person’s heart operated? There was no reason for them to go out of their way to avoid each other like this.
However, Cha Hae-In didn’t even try to refute him, her head still remaining lowered.
‘Maybe, she doesn’t even feel like talking to me?’
It was possible that she was unhappy about suddenly being grabbed like that.
Jin-Woo turned around to leave with a little nod as his goodbye. No, he was going to turn around. But before he could, Cha Hae-In hurriedly held on to his sleeve.
By the time four, five question marks floated over Jin-Woo’s head, she finally stopped hesitating and opened her lips to speak.
“Can you free up some time so we can talk for a little while?”
Only a minute ago she was fleeing for her dear life, but now, she wanted to speak to him?
Perhaps she sensed Jin-Woo’s flustered confusion, Cha Hae-In quickly explained herself.
“Actually, Min Byung-Gu Hunter-nim wanted me to pass on a message to you.”
Jin-Woo’s expression changed once he heard that unexpected name come out of her mouth.
“A message for me?”
Cha Hae-In’s head bobbed up and down.
“He said, there was something he wanted to say about your powers, Seong Hunter-nim.”
But, how could that be? Jin-Woo didn’t have any point of contact, private or otherwise, with Hunter Min Byung-Gu. And their one and only meeting came around when Jin-Woo revived Min Byung-Gu into a Shadow Soldier for a short while back then.
The deceased Hunter carried out his job perfectly and thanks to that, Cha Hae-In was able to survive. It was all due to that man’s efforts that these two young people could talk to each other like this.
But then, just when did he have the time to leave a message behind?
Jin-Woo didn’t display his power until the Jeju raid, and when he did, Min Byung-Gu was already long dead.
Something like that couldn’t have happened.
Jin-Woo stared at her with a disbelieving expression. Cha Hae-In cautiously continued on.
“Your power, Seong Hunter-nim….”
But, when her words reached there, Jin-Woo quickly cut her off.
“Hold on, please.”
Didn’t matter if what she wanted to say was true or not, this topic didn’t seem well suited to be discussed in the middle of the street.
Jin-Woo scanned his vicinity once, and then continued to speak to her.
“Let’s continue our discussion somewhere more private, shall we?”
Chairman Yu Myung-Han received the files containing certain information from his Secretary Kim.
“They are information gathered from Seoul Il-Sin hospital, sir.”
Il-Sin hospital was where Hunter Seong Jin-Woo’s mother had been staying until recently. Yu Myung-Han’s eyes sharpened instantly. Without saying anything else, he began reading the documents.
‘The nurse entered in the morning and she was already wide awake? And Hunter Seong Jin-Woo was found right next to his mother?’
There was another strange thing mentioned in the file.
The hospital staff recommended an in-depth analysis of the patient’s conditions to be carried out as they were concerned about her health, but Hunter Seong strongly demanded for her release, instead.
Chairman Yu Myung-Han unconsciously shook his head.
‘That doesn’t sound like him….’
That man possessed such a strong filial love that he risked his life and limb by entering dangerous raids in order to earn enough money for her hospital fees. However, such a man one-sidedly demanded his mother’s release, when he couldn’t have been sure of her physical condition?
‘No, it’s the exact opposite.’
This could only mean that Hunter Seong Jin-Woo had already confirmed his mother’s status by then.
But, how did he do that?
The longer Yu Myung-Han read the data sent in from the hospital, the deeper the frowns on his forehead became.
Everything about Hunter Seong Jin-Woo was shrouded in mystery.
‘The dual dungeon incident, his sudden Re-Awakening, his mother’s abrupt recovery, and even his mysterious ability to create countless summoned creatures…..’
Wouldn’t a series of serendipities eventually become inevitability?
There was definitely something here. There was absolutely no doubt about that. Yu Myung-Han’s sharply-honed senses were telling him such. His resolution became even firmer than before.
“Looks like I’ll have to talk to him face to face.”
“I shall send over someone before the end of today, sir.”
“No need for that.”
Secretary Kim was taken aback from that reply.
“Sir, are you planning to go see him personally?”
“Secretary Kim. Who do you think the man I’m trying to meet is?”
That was enough to shut Secretary Kim’s mouth.
It was then.
Secretary Kim’s phone suddenly began vibrating. Chairman Yu Myung-Han returned his gaze back to the files and gave his permission.
“It’s fine to answer it.”
Secretary Kim bowed his head slightly and quickly checked his phone. It was a text message carrying urgent breaking news.
Yu Myung-Han raised his head again.
“There’s breaking news coming from Japan as we speak. Would you like to see it, sir?”
Secretary Kim wasn’t someone to get easily agitated over a simple matter. If he was asking you about whether you wanted to see something or not, then that was the same thing as you needing to see that something immediately.
Yu Myung-Han nodded his head, and as if he was waiting for that, Secretary Kim quickly switched on the giant TV hanging on the wall.
– Yes, this is foreign correspondent Park Seong-Woo reporting. As you can see behind me…..
The real-time live broadcast of Japan’s most bustling downtown area filled up the TV screen as the device flickered into life.
Shinjuku, located in Tokyo, Japan.
A gloomy shadow was being cast on the busiest, liveliest avenue in Tokyo, the one often referred to as the beating heart of Japan. That wasn’t a simple figure of speech, though.
Every single car, bicycle, and person – didn’t matter who or what, they were all standing still beneath this massive shade cast over them.
People began climbing out from their stopped vehicles one by one. The road was becoming uncontrollably clogged up, but not one honked their horns or yelled out in irritation.
It was as if everyone here had been bewitched by an unseen force.
Every single gaze was directed to one particular spot.
“Oh, my god…”
There was a Gate so huge that it blocked out the sky to cast an enormous shade onto the ground below.
The people below saw this common-sense-shattering Gate that easily matched a regular skyscraper in sheer size, and fell deep into the state of indescribable shock.
The avenue once bustling with overflowing people was now being gripped tighter and tighter by a silence so wretched that it almost induced some of the witnesses to start vomiting.
The atmosphere in the Japanese Prime Minister’s official residence was rather poor, as well.
The Prime Minister couldn’t hold back his rising tide of anger and threw the remote control hard at the TV busy showing the breaking news.
His adjutants hurriedly got up, but they shut their mouths and sat back down once the Prime Minister’s dagger-like eyes landed on them.
“Why isn’t the Hunter’s Association saying anything?”
The President of the Japanese Hunter’s Association, Matsumoto Shigeo, weakly lowered his head. He had become a lot more haggard ever since returning from his trip to South Korea.
The Prime Minister’s expression hardened.
“God d*mn it….”
Something that horrifying had appeared in the middle of Tokyo, yet the Association who should be in charge of such things, were keeping their mouths shut?!
“A rank S Gate has appeared right in the heart of Tokyo! But, do you think it makes any sort of sense for the Association to not have a single countermeasure in place? How??”
The Prime Minister cried out in anguish.
Unfortunately for him, everyone present kept their mouths shut as if they had agreed to do so beforehand. The Prime Minister’s expression crumpled unsightly, like a man carrying the weight of all the suffering found in this world, before he collapsed down onto his chair.
“Be honest with me, Association President.”
He then pointed at the cracked TV screen.
“What will happen if that thing opens up on us?”
“…..It’ll be the end, sir.”
As he thought – the Prime Minister hugged his head and muttered out helplessly.
“So, that’s how it is….. Just one Gate, and the city of Tokyo is finished, is that it?”
“That’s not what I’m saying, Prime Minister.”
The Prime Minister raised his head to look, and Association President Matsumoto Shigeo continued on with an emotionless voice.
“I meant to say that the entirety of Japan will be finished, sir.”