The Giant monster was flung away and violently rolled on the ground, before bouncing back up again with a spring-like movement that didn’t really suit its large frame.
The Giant monster didn’t immediately counterattack, instead opting to bare its fangs as it remained prone on the ground. Meanwhile, the giant Naga responsible for flinging it away stood before the growling monster.
It was none other than ‘Jima’, previously the boss-level monster of the Naga species that were inducted into the Shadow Army not too long ago.
Jima reached his right hand out next to him. When he did, a black spear slowly rose up from the shadow on the ground.
Jima powerfully grasped the spear and aimed the weapon at his front. One could sense his unbreakable will to not let anything pass by him.
The young soldier from the JSDF couldn’t quite figure out whether the spectacle unfolding before his eyes was a dream or reality.
To think, a monster was protecting him from another monster right now.
He thought he’d end up inside the Giant monster’s mouth for sure. But, having taken a look at the wide, imposing back of the other monster, he felt several powerful emotions welling up from deep within his heart.
“Just what is going on here…”
Could they survive?
Could they survive against the Giant monster?
Not just the young soldier, but the old couple and the patients, too?
The soldier’s thoughts reached this point, and suddenly, all the built-up tension left him and tears rushed up to his eyes.
Someone pushed forward a colourful handkerchief towards the young soldier. He turned his head to the side to take a look.
A youth who looked to be way younger than the soldier pointed at the handkerchief with his chin and nodded his head afterwards.
Since this youth didn’t speak in Japanese, the soldier didn’t understand him, but it wasn’t all that hard to figure out what he wanted to say in the first place.
‘Is he Korean?’
The young soldier wiped the streaming tears away with the offered handkerchief and asked his questions.
“By the way…. just who are you? Wait, why are you even here?”
The Korean youth silently shook his head before raising his thumb up high.
“T-thank…. you, I guess?”
While the young soldier dazedly expressed his gratitude, another man who seemed to be the comrade of this Korean youth appeared from behind him.
Even though this soldier didn’t know a whole lot about Hunters, he saw all the blood splatters on this man’s clothing and realised that he was now looking at a powerful being who existed on another realm altogether from everyone else.
“This might get dangerous.”
Jin-Woo had taken a look inside the rural clinic before showing up here, and he told Yu Jin-Ho while pointing behind him.
“Looks like we’ll have change locations. We’re too close.”
Yu Jin-Ho had witnessed the battle against the Giants a few times by now so he figured out what Jin-Woo was saying almost immediately.
“I’ll be on standby over here, hyung-nim.”
Jin-Woo looked at the young soldier next and saw his scared eyes.
He walked past the soldier and lightly patted the scared, tearful Japanese man on the shoulder. The gesture meant to say that the soldier had done excellent work.
What he did, standing off against a monster all by himself with just a single rifle, was not something any regular person could even try to imitate.
Jin-Woo had entered many dungeons as a rank E himself so he knew better than anyone just how courageous this soldier had been.
The young JSDF soldier looked at the back of Jin-Woo walking by and let out a gasp of admiration.
That weightiness brushing past his shoulder, and that warmth from his hand. Just a single touch, and the terror he felt forcing him to get ready for his demise completely washed away.
A powerful sense of relief rushed out from the deepest part of his heart.
It was then, the young soldier recalled the story of two Koreans roaming around in his country while subjugating the Giants.
He recalled the name of one of the two. The name of the Hunter who also subjugated rank S monsters almost all by himself in South Korea, was…..
‘Seong Jin-Woo…. Hunter Seong Jin-Woo….’
It had to be. That man had to be him.
The soldier’s heart began pounding hard after running into a person he only heard about in passing. He quickly questioned the Korean youth still standing next to him.
“Is he that person? The rank S Hunter from South Korea??”
Yu Jin-Ho nodded his head and provided his answer.
Meanwhile, Jin-Woo walked over to where the two monsters were in a violent melee. His forehead was creasing up.
The Giant dug deep into Jima’s front in the blink of an eye and proceeded to powerfully rip into the Naga’s shoulder.
He used to be a boss-level monster of a rank A dungeon. Even if his attention had been diverted a bit in order to protect the humans behind him, he should still be a much more powerful being than other, regular Shadow Soldiers.
To think, he was being suppressed by a regular monster that wasn’t even on the same ‘boss-level’ as he used to be. This situation easily demonstrated how strong these Giant-type monsters were.
Besides all that, Jin-Woo never enjoyed the sight of his soldiers getting beaten down like this at all. His expression hardened as he bent his knees. An unbelievable amount of strength filled up his thighs and shins.
The asphalt below that was supporting his legs began splitting as cracks ran underneath his feet.
Jin-Woo exploded up from the ground and shot right towards the Giant’s face in an instant. In that short moment, the monster’s darting eyes discovered him flying straight at it.
A glint of understanding filled the flying human’s eyes.
‘As I thought, these guys aren’t your average monsters at all.’
Jin-Woo’s fist slammed into the forehead of the Giant. However, the damage dealt was less than he had expected. The monster pulled its head back just before the hit landed to minimise the impact as much as it could, that was why.
The monster possessed a massive frame, as well as surprisingly agile movements. From the perspectives of the Hunters who had to face off against these b*stards, those two aspects alone would have been enough to give them a sense of helplessness.
The thing was, though, that only applied to regular Hunters.
Jin-Woo immediately summoned a ‘Demon King’s Shortsword’ in the air. And then, he extended his other free hand not holding anything towards the Giant’s face.
An invisible hand yanked at the Giant’s face with irresistible force. The distance between Jin-Woo and the monster rapidly closed up.
The monster didn’t expect the airborne opponent to immediately start attacking again, and it began thrashing about in a panicked frenzy, but in the end, it was all for naught.
Jin-Woo flew in front of the Giant’s nose in an instant and activated his skill.
Rapid-fire attacks so fast that they left behind a series of afterimages turned the Giant’s face into a complete mess.
The monster covered its face and rolled around on the ground. It lost its eyesight from that attack and wildly thrashed about in unbridled pain.
After lightly landing back on the ground, Jin-Woo looked on and sensed that this hunt was drawing to a close.
But then, the Giant sensed Jin-Woo’s approach; its shoulders flinched greatly before it began running away in haste, without even bothering to look behind it.
‘It can also sense the presence of others?’
The more Jin-Woo fought these things, the more surprised he got.
He was speaking from his observations, and it said that these Giant-type monsters were like specialised weapon systems that happened to possess large biological bodies.
The Giant quickly distanced itself. Of course, he wasn’t planning on letting it go.
Jin-Woo’s frame slid forward like a bolt of lightning.
The Giant monster ran with all its might on all fours, but rather than the distance increasing, it rapidly shrank, instead.
The monster felt terror. It sensed a bone-chilling aura emanating right behind its back.
The Giant creature belatedly realised that it could never escape no matter how much it struggled. So, it came to an abrupt stop, spun around, and tried to pounce on its enemy, but…
The presence of the human that had been closing in at a scary velocity suddenly vanished. And then….
The presence reappeared behind the creature.
Even though its eyes were not working anymore, the Giant reflexively turned its head around.
That made it easier for him to slice up the monster, however.
Jin-Woo jumped up straight and powerfully swung down the ‘Demon King’s Shortsword’.
The blade overflowing with the magical energy oozing out from the ‘Black Heart’ vertically split the face of the Giant monster in one slice.
Like a tree that got hacked by an axe, the monster slowly tipped over backwards, not even able to scream out properly.
With that, the third Giant was successfully hunted down.
Jin-Woo cleanly landed back on the ground and let out a light sigh filled with lingering emotions of victory from his lips.
Yu Jin-Ho had been standing far, far back while waiting for the battle to finish. Once it was safe, he hurriedly ran over and presented the lid of the thermos containing refreshingly cool tea.
Jin-Woo grinned brightly and accepted the lid.
The tea in the lid slid down his throat while issuing the familiar gulping noises.
He sensed a presence and looked behind him, only to find Jima and his slumped shoulders approaching him. The Shadow Soldier was evidently depressed from losing the one on one fight earlier.
‘You fought well, regardless. Get some rest.’
Jin-Woo encouraged his underling and had it return. Jima returned to being a shadow and got absorbed back below Jin-Woo’s feet.
Yu Jin-Ho stared at that process before raising his voice.
Jin-Woo returned the empty lid and replied.
“You sent out all your other summons on their own, but well, is there a reason why you decided to act alongside your Nagas?”
Yu Jin-Ho was feeling puzzled by this.
Just now, hyung-nim was almost solely responsible for killing this Giant. It seemed as if he didn’t really need the Naga’s help at all.
Even then, he always sent out the Naga first, in the beginning of the battle, and only participated after his summon was pushed to its backfoot.
Yu Jin-Ho was curious as to what Jin-Woo’s aim could be. The actual reason was simple enough, though.
‘Because, I just wanted to level these guys up, you know.’
The Naga Shadow Soldiers had become a part of the Shadow Army relatively recently, and as a result, their levels fell quite behind that of his other soldiers.
That was why he figured that, since he would be fighting these Giants anyway, he’d raise the levels of the Nagas in the process as well. However, as it turned out, these Giant-type monsters weren’t easy enough opponents for his new recruits to deal with by themselves.
Although it was a bit tedious, this method was still the best one if he wanted to increase the Nagas’ battle experience.
‘Of course, I can’t really tell Yu Jin-Ho any of this, now can I?’
Jin-Woo formed a smirk.
“Well, I feel like I’m still not too familiar with these Nagas, you see? If I keep them around me for a little longer, wouldn’t I become friendlier with them?”
Yu Jin-Ho nodded his head.
What an easy kid to lie to, this guy – thought Jin-Woo.
But then, Yu Jin-Ho suddenly fell into deep contemplation, before raising his voice as his eyes sparkled brightly.
“You even make sure to look after every single one of your summons, hyung-nim. As expected of you!”
And also, Jin-Woo felt really bad for lying to him, as well.
Jin-Woo’s head shifted to his side.
The young soldier who courageously stood up against the Giant was walking closer while continuously glancing at the dead monster’s mountainous corpse. Jin-Woo could also see the old couple responsible for protecting the hospital behind the soldier’s shoulder, too.
He hadn’t spoken to them yet, but he could already tell what they wanted to say simply from their expressions alone.
That was all he needed.
For now, he didn’t have enough time to receive their gratitude one at a time. Even as he stood around here, these Giants were busy going on a rampage in other locations.
Jin-Woo took a long look at the Giant’s corpse.
The biggest reason why he came to Japan was lying on the ground right in front of his face.
Yu Jin-Ho quickly stopped the Japanese survivors from approaching the location.
Jin-Woo had been feeling it lately, but well, Yu Jin-Ho’s wits seemed to have quickened up considerably since their first meeting. Thanks to that, the job of extracting shadows had become that much easier.
He smirked and looked at Yu Jin-Ho for a bit, before shifting his gaze back to the dead Giant.
He extended his hands out and quietly murmured to himself.
“Dear viewers at home…. It’s hard to believe, but the scene before me is truly happening!”
The reporter riding on the helicopter continuously spat out gasps of astonishment as if he could hardly believe his own eyes.
The camera began transmitting the scenes below. Several hundreds of ant monsters were uniformly marching towards a certain direction. And in front of them, there was a mutated ant monster with wings on its back.
Of course, it was none other than ‘Beru’.
He had been advancing up ahead of the marching ant army, but he abruptly raised his head high up in the air.
The loud explosion of his screech prompted the reporter to hurriedly cover his ears. Meanwhile, the ants marching behind all came to a stop right when they heard Beru’s call.
There were three Giants to their front.
The differences in size were like looking at an elephant and a mouse.
However, Beru displayed not one hint of fear as his claws extended out like lengthy blades, and he dashed forward.
And behind him, the army of ants began covering the land in black.
The intense and bloody battle ended not too long afterwards.
“Oh my god!! Oh my GOD!!”
As the reporter cried out in sheer astonishment over and over again, the ants successfully brought the Giants down. They then began chomping down with their sharp mandibles and ate the corpses.
Of course, under Beru’s orders, they didn’t forget to leave some part of the monsters behind so more Shadow Soldiers could be created later. As for those ants that got too greedy for their own good, swift kicks from Beru flew in to sort out the situation immediately.
The reporter was shouting out in a clearly-excited voice now.
“The Giants are being devoured right now!! These Giants are being devoured by the insects right now!!!!”
These Giants that instilled unbridled shock and fear with the actions of devouring humans were in turn, getting devoured by the ants. The Japanese people watching this scene felt a certain sense of inexplicable gratification.
That was perhaps the reason why the most amount of interest was focused on the ant army, since Jin-Woo himself refused to be filmed from the get-go.
The only problem being….
The reporter and the cameraman flinched in surprise and hurriedly backed away after spotting Beru flying right next to the helicopter.
The former ant king didn’t even hesitate and snatched away the camera pointing at him and destroyed it immediately.
The reporter and the cameraman embraced each other and shuddered pitifully in fear.
Beru alternated his quiet gaze between the two trembling humans before returning back to the ground below.
Both men spat out sighs of relief right away.
There was a reason why they followed around the monster ant army even as the cameras worth tens of thousands of dollars were being lost every single time. The countless viewers were going absolutely crazy with ardent fervour for these creatures, that was why.
The cameraman quickly picked up the spare camera prepared for this eventuality, while the reporter spoke the closing words to the mic as if he was already used to this whole situation.
“….I’m Kitamura, reporting from the location.”
She must’ve graduated from elementary school not too long ago. This young girl was running away screaming with a tear-strewn face.
“Ah, ah ah!!”
Right behind her, a Giant gave chase with a disgusting smile on its face.
How far could she go when running on her still-short legs? The distance between them closed up in an instant.
The Giant must’ve found this game of tag with a certain winner set in stone rather amusing to play, because it continued to form a toothy grin.
It reached out with its arm that was at least 1.5 times longer than other Giant’s. And, just before such a rough hand got to snatch the young girl up, a cold flash streaked past the monster’s wrist.
And the blue-coloured lightning that exploded out afterwards began burning up the cut surface of the now-missing wrist with extreme heat.
The Giant shot up to its feet and screamed out in pain as it held its wrist.
The owner of the blue-coloured blade was none other than ‘Igrit’.
He spun around and lifted up the pale-faced girl that was on her knees shivering, before quickly evacuating from that place.
The Giant angrily glared below. The creature that had cleanly severed its wrist was busy escaping with its prey.
The eyes of the enraged Giant were quickly dyed in red.
The scene was scary enough for any observers to wet their pants. But even then, someone still stood before such a terrifying monster. It was, of course, ‘Iron’. His armour had become even more enhanced after his grade rose up to ‘Elite Knight’.
Iron stabbed the shield down on the ground and stood proudly with his chest wide open. And then, a truly loud roar exploded out from beneath his helm.
[Iron has activated ‘Skill: Roar of Provocation’.]
[The enemy has fallen into a provoked state.]
The glare of the Giant previously aimed at Igrit was instantly switched over to Iron.
As if to say ‘Come if you dare’, Iron pounded on his chest vigorously and raised up high the shield as huge as himself.
The fist of the enraged Giant mercilessly punched down on Iron.
However, Iron was not forced back an inch. The effects of his grade rising up had pushed him to a whole new plateau of power.
Boom! Slam! Bam!
Iron ably defended against dozens of punches and loudly cried out again.
When he did, the army of Shadow Soldiers and Ice Bears, the ones that had been with Jin-Woo the longest, attacked at the same time from either side of the Giant.
The leader of the Ice Bear troops, Tank, shook its head around and roared out loudly as if he got excited by the prospect of entering the battlefield after a long time of inactivity.
His roar was so loud and explosive that even those far away could feel the faint tremor in the air.
The reporter watching this scene unfold from afar with bated breath shouted at the camera next to him.
“Can you see this, everyone? These summons, these creatures summoned by Hunter Seong Jin-Woo, are raiding the Giant by themselves!”
Could this truly be reality?
This very reporter didn’t believe Yuri Orlov’s claims from the word go, and quite obviously, he also didn’t hold much hope with Jin-Woo, as well.
But then, not just Seong Jin-Woo himself, but even the summoned creatures he ordered to go out on their own were speedily hunting down these Giants, as if they were nothing.
Maybe, just maybe….
When the reporter thought that, just maybe, Seong Jin-Woo could possibly save this country all by himself, something warm and powerful gushed up from the deepest part of his chest.
It was precisely then.
“L-look! Over there!”
The cameraman pointed at the Giant. The reporter hurriedly shifted his tear-soaked gaze in the general direction of the monster.
“How could this be…..!!”
The reporter spat out a moan.
The Giant’s posture was already crumbling. Countless screaming bolts of lightning, shooting out from the tip of Igrit’s sword, were pounding down on the faltering monster’s head.
It was such a mesmerizingly beautiful sight that all those who looked upon it forgot what they wanted to say next.