Was there any reason to doubt him?
President Kim confirmed that Woo Jin-Cheol was being dead serious and hurriedly muttered out an answer, not even giving himself enough time to spin this situation to his advantage.
“O-of course. A Hunter needs to do a Hunter’s job. My thoughts were too rash. It was a slip of the tongue on my part.”
Woo Jin-Cheol watched the pale-faced president nodding his head non-stop, and stood up from his seat to leave. Even after he was long gone, though, both the president and the high-ranking government official couldn’t get up from their seats, their legs having turned to jelly a long time ago.
Only now did they awake to the reality of how scary the existences called Hunters could be.
“Did something good happen in there, sir?”
As the car was about to drive away, the escort driving the vehicle asked Woo Jin-Cheol sitting in the backseat.
“Does it look that way to you?”
“Yes, sir. It does.”
His escort was also an agent of the Monitoring Division.
Woo Jin-Cheol glanced at the baby-faced newbie, effectively his junior from the same department, and ended up recalling his own newbie days and he let a content smile sneak up on his lips.
“Well, it feels like I’ve performed the duty of the Association President for the first time since I got the job, that’s all.”
Woo Jin-Cheol reclined against the back of the seat that Goh Gun-Hui used to occupy. He then looked back fondly at the late Association President, who would’ve been sitting in places like this, out of everyone’s gazes and earning the ire and hatred of many powerful men in high places, all for the sake of other Hunters.
‘….What a relief.’
Thanks to Woo Jin-Cheol’s angry-looking eyes and his large frame, he was used to being hated and feared already. If that was part of being the Association’s President, then he’d gladly accept it.
The moment he decided to take over from Goh Gun-Hui, he had prepared himself to a certain extent for this kind of rubbish, anyway.
“Where should we go next, sir?”
“….To the Association.”
He dearly wanted to go home and take a break, but he actually came running here after abandoning his job back in the office. He still had a mountain of work to go through.
“Then, we’ll get going, sir.”
The escort seemed to understand Woo Jin-Cheol’s mind as he stepped on the accelerator. The vehicle carrying the two men easily slipped out of the Blue House’s grounds.
How long had passed by like that?
Woo Jin-Cheol drifted off to sleep while staring at the passing scenery, only to abruptly wake up again. He could see an endless ocean of cars filling up the road, not going anywhere fast.
Even though Seoul was infamous for its clogged roadways, such a traffic jam seemed improbable in the middle of a weekday.
‘Did another Gate pop up in the middle of the road again?’
Feeling a bit worried now, Woo Jin-Cheol scanned his surroundings. Unfortunately, the overall atmosphere of the road seemed far too suspicious for something as simple as that. In fact, all the drivers had stopped their cars and stepped outside to look up into the sky.
It wasn’t just the drivers, either.
Even the pedestrians on the sidewalks, people on the zebra crossings, every single one had come to a dead stop and was looking up at the sky above their heads. That included the escort in the driver’s seat, who was also craning his neck forward to look at the sky.
‘What on earth is going on here….?’
Now feeling genuinely alarmed, Woo Jin-Cheol quickly grabbed the escort’s shoulder and shook him around.
“Hey. What’s going on?”
The escort spoke with a trembling voice, leaned out of the way and pointed up at the top of the windscreen.
In an instant, Woo Jin-Cheol’s expression stiffened.
Were his eyes playing tricks on him?
No, if that was the case, then everyone shouldn’t be looking at the sky with the exact same expression etched on their faces. He didn’t want to believe what he just saw, but just like with everyone else on the road, he leapt out of the car.
His eyes weren’t lying to him.
Woo Jin-Cheol dazedly stared at the sky before a look of pure, unadulterated shock took over his face.
“How… how can something like that be….?!”
The result of the test proved to be very satisfying. Jin-Woo’s steps taking him back home were cheerier than ever before.
Beru had become really strong. A lot stronger than his initial expectation, even.
It was unfortunate that Igrit couldn’t advance, but Beru’s advancement alone was already an excellent result. Without a doubt, the elites of the Hunters Guild should be unable to shut their slack jaws from the spectacle laid out within that dungeon by now.
Jin-Woo imagined Cha Hae-In and her wide-open eyes, and a smirk formed on his lips.
It had been a while since they saw each other and he wanted to talk to her for a bit longer, but regrettably, he still had guests waiting for him. Jin-Woo pondered his options between Thomas Andre and Lennart Niermann before giving the American the call first.
He could pretty much guess what the German was here for, but he simply couldn’t figure out what the Hunter ranked No.2 in the world was thinking of by showing up unannounced like this.
The call got through in no time at all.
– “Mister Seong!”
Worried that Jin-Woo would cut him off again, Thomas Andre was quick to pour out what he wanted to say.
– “I came bearing a fantastic gift for you, Mister Seong.”
“What the heck. If you had something like that, you should’ve told me earlier.”
Jin-Woo spoke to the American half-jokingly and half-seriously, but then, he was suddenly faced with silence from the other side of the line.
A short while later, Thomas Andre spoke with a kind of voice belonging to someone suppressing his swelling emotions.
– “….I’m really happy to hear that you’re looking forward to my gift. Okay, then. Where will we meet? I want to hand over the gift as soon as possible.”
“Wherever it’s convenient for you.”
– “Can you come to where I am? These guys are a bit too dangerous to walk around in the open, you see.”
Jin-Woo was left puzzled for a moment then, but still, told Thomas Andre that he’d be there soon and ended the call.
‘Hang on… It really can’t be a bomb, right?’
Of course, it couldn’t be. It’d be far more effective than an explosive to attack personally if you were a Special Authority-rank Hunter.
Jin-Woo began regretting a bit at the fact that he forgot to ask what kind of a gift it was. It was then, Beru suddenly began addressing him.
[Oh, my king.]
[May I be permitted to fight against that foreigner?]
Jin-Woo pondered that for a little while, before shaking his head as if to get rid of the distracting thoughts.
What was he even wondering about here?
Sure, he was really curious as to find out just how far Beru’s powers had been enhanced, but there was no way he’d let his Shadow Soldier fight against Thomas Andre.
He didn’t want to see either the American get hurt or see Beru get destroyed. Their personalities meant that the fight would definitely not end with someone getting a bit bruised.
Still, being able to ponder such a possibility attested to how much Beru had grown compared to before. In fact, the former ant king’s desire to test his own enhanced body could be heard so clearly in his voice.
[Please bestow unto this lowly servant your wisdom, oh, my king.]
‘There should come a time when you’ll be free to test your limits as much as you want. So, there’s no need to be rash.’
[This servant shall take it to heart, my king.]
‘And also, you gotta stop watching those historical dramas on TV. Your speech has become really weird lately, you know?’
[This servant shall heed my liege’s….]
‘Just say ‘Yes, I will’, okay? Say, ‘Yes’. Just ‘Yes’, nothing more.’
Now that he finally told Beru what was on his mind, Jin-Woo happily headed off to the meeting location with Thomas Andre.
“Oh, Mister Seong! You probably have no idea how long I waited for this moment.”
Thomas Andre welcomed Jin-Woo into his hotel suite with open arms.
It was true that you’d feel great about receiving gifts, but the joy of giving itself shouldn’t be underestimated, as well.
From the time Jin-Woo mentioned that he needed new shortswords to up until now – Thomas Andre had been counting the days he’d get to hand over the greatest weapons ever made, sleeping within his Guild’s storage, to his new friend.
He didn’t simply fly all the way to this distant foreign land for no reason at all.
How would the guy Thomas Andre personally acknowledged as the world’s best Hunter react when he sees these two bad boys?
Along with a big bout of anticipation bubbling in his heart…
…Thomas Andre snapped his fingers, prompting his ‘bodyguards’ to bring out a large box covered in a sheet of fabric.
Even if it was ostensibly a gift, Jin-Woo didn’t really want anything, to begin with, so he stared at the box with disinterest, but then, as the bodyguards got closer and closer, his eyes became equally sharper and sharper as well.
Something inside that box was resonating with his magical energy.
Thomas Andre easily caught the changes in Jin-Woo’s expression and inwardly punched the air.
‘That’s what I’m talking about!’
Hunter Seong Jin-Woo would recognise the weapons, while said weapons would recognise their new owner; Thomas Andre predicted that they would naturally recognise each other, and as expected, he was proven right, at this moment.
It was possible that these weapons had been hiding inside the Scavenger Guild’s storage unit where not even a strand of outside light entered, biding their time just for this very moment.
The box was placed on the coffee table between Thomas Andre and Jin-Woo.
“This here is my repayment for the favour you’ve shown to my Guild members and to myself.”
Thomas Andre grasped the corner of the fabric and carefully pulled it away.
The sheet slid off smoothly and revealed what it had been hiding all this time. It was a see-through case underneath. And within it were a pair of shortswords stabbed into a large reptilian scale.
No, hang on – could they even be called shortswords?
Jin-Woo grew doubtful almost immediately.
The blades of these weapons were definitely shorter than a longsword’s, yes, but then again, they were so much longer than a regular shortsword’s, too.
However, what caught his attention wasn’t the puzzling length of the shortswords themselves. No, it was actually their ice-white blades.
Jin-Woo was familiar with the concept of crafting blades out of non-metallic materials. As a matter of fact, the very first weapon he acquired inside the first instant dungeon was the ‘Poison Fang of Kasaka’.
Thanks to the memories of that time, Jin-Woo could guess just which monster’s fang was used as raw material to craft this pair of shortswords. Besides, there was only one creature capable of emitting this kind of aura from a part of its remains.
Jin-Woo involuntarily whispered that name out, prompting Thomas Andre to shake his head while clapping his hands, feeling impressed.
“To think, you’d correctly guess the base material used for these guys just from one look.”
Jin-Woo’s guess was correct. But then, because he was right, he became puzzled about something else.
“Hang on, I thought Kamish’s remains were in safekeeping with the Hunter Bureau….?”
“Because the American government wanted the intact corpse, we gave up on that monster completely. We got something else even more valuable than money from that deal, anyway.”
Thomas Andre recalled the raid back then and grinned meaningfully.
“However, Kamish’s biggest and sharpest fang…. When that thing tried to bite me, I yanked out one such fang, and it was given to me as a souvenir.”
The problem was, there were no Awakened capable of crafting weapons out of stripped materials from a d*mn Dragon.
….Besides one single man, that was.
Thomas Andre added that, with the master craftsman responsible for the creation of these two genuine masterpieces having passed away due to old age, there would never be another weapon crafted out of the Dragon corpse in this world again.
“The fang’s length wasn’t nearly long enough to make a proper longsword, so they were made into shortswords back then. Who knew that decision would pay off now?”
Thomas Andre recounted the situation of all those years ago, his expression remaining bright and cheerful. He then leisurely took away the clear case and pushed the scale with the shortswords stabbed into it in Jin-Woo’s direction.
“And now, these are yours.”
Finally, the best weapons in the world had met the best owner in the world. Thomas Andre did his darnedest to calm his fluttering heart and studied Jin-Woo’s response.
The latter pulled one of the shortswords out.
As if the weapon was waiting for it, it came off without any resistance whatsoever.
The mechanical beep went off in Jin-Woo’s head as soon as he grasped the shortsword and he quickly swallowed his saliva. Shortly afterwards, the detailed explanations on the weapon popped up in his view.
Jin-Woo doubted his own eyes right away.
This couldn’t be real.
He was completely taken aback by the nonsensical attack value of this weapon and hurriedly summoned out his current main weapon, the ‘Demon King’s Shortsword’.
[Item: Demon King’s Shortsword]
A shortsword taken from the Demon King, Baran. Using two ‘Demon King’s Shortswords’ will activate a set effect.
Set effect ‘Two Becomes One’: Extra attack power equal to the current Strength Stat will be added to each shortsword.
This blade’s attack power would shoot way past the 500 mark when his current Strength Stat of over 300 was added on top. He had always thought that such a set effect would make this shortsword plenty useful for his cause.
But then, the attack value of the new shortsword in his hand was…..?!
Jin-Woo compared the stats for both shortswords and began freaking out inwardly.
‘….How can this even be possible?!’