[Hero of the Republic of Korea, we welcome you to China!]
[1.5 billion people send their gratitude! Thank you very much, Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim!]
[For the continued and everlasting friendship between Korea and China!]
Large placards written in Korean – so Jin-Woo would be able to understand them – were hung up on various places of the airport.
Liu Zhigeng, here to welcome Jin-Woo personally, frowned somewhat while glaring at the placards plastered all over the place. There were so many of them here, he could hardly see an empty spot on the building itself.
It wasn’t as if he didn’t like the contents of those placards. Oh, no.
Hunter Seong Jin-Woo choosing China over other nations with super-massive Gates in their territories was, without a doubt, something to celebrate as far as the Chinese Hunter was concerned.
He was tasked with taking the lead in the fight against the monsters that would pour out from that massive Gate in the sky, so he felt a massive amount of gratitude to Hunter Seong Jin-Woo for being here.
His problem, though, was with the totally different attitudes his own countrymen showed him back then when he stepped up to aide South Korea. That was what pushed his annoyance level to a dangerous height.
Even now, the memories of those times still remained vividly in his head.
‘Don’t these people understand the concept of shame??’
All those fellow Chinese citizens who pointed at him and berated him for being a traitor, were currently busy praising and cheering Jin-Woo in one voice and one heart.
So, it was only obvious that Liu Zhigeng wouldn’t look at those placards plastered all over the airport in a favourable light.
‘If I hadn’t dragged our Hunters and made the trip down to Korea, would we even have the face to greet Hunter Seong Jin-Woo today….?’
Liu Zhigeng inwardly clicked his tongue and turned around towards the aeroplane touching down in the airport just beyond the window.
He could already tell. Hunter Seong Jin-Woo was riding in that plane.
The sole Seven Star-rank Hunter of China, Liu Zhigeng, felt a sensation chilly enough to make all the hair on his body stand up emanating from that plane. There could only be one person in the entire world who could pressure him to this degree.
Sure enough – the message of Jin-Woo finally arriving reached the ears of high-ranking government officials as well as executives of the Chinese Hunter’s Association waiting around. They hurriedly rose up from their chairs and began raising an almighty fuss.
‘This isn’t right…. Doing things this way is wrong.’
His already-displeased mood due to the placards had become even sourer after watching these people making noise like this. Weren’t they the same idiots who raised their voices and loudly opposed him when he said they needed to help the Koreans?
Indeed, these people would’ve done anything to stop him from going to Korea if he wasn’t the Seven Star-rank Hunter – if he wasn’t the one and only Liu Zhigeng.
It simply wouldn’t do for these pigs to welcome a warrior risking his life to fight for this land. Liu Zhigeng’s expression hardened, and he spoke to his personal gopher.
“Deliver this message to the premier. I’m cancelling this charade of a planned welcoming party, and I shall take full responsibility for greeting and guiding Hunter Seong.”
“Sir? B-but, these people are….”
The gopher took a look behind at all the important politicians and executives, his hesitation easy to see. Meanwhile, the folks in question overheard the conversation and began coughing uncomfortably to clear their throats.
Liu Zhigeng broke out in a smirk and stood before these people.
“I’d like you folks to disappear from my sight right this moment. Is there anyone here with a good reason why you can’t do that?”
These high-ranking politicians and executives from Hunter’s Association knew how crappy Liu Zhigeng’s personality was, so as soon as his words came to an end, not one person chose to remain and hurriedly escaped from the waiting area.
Liu Zhigeng scanned the now-empty waiting area in satisfaction and reverted his gaze back to the gopher.
“How about now?”
“Yes… Yes! I shall immediately send the word to the premier!”
While the gopher was hurriedly operating his phone, Liu Zhigeng walked over to the ‘Arrival’ gates where the travellers were now pouring into the airport.
“Over there! Hunter-nim has arrived!”
“Take his pictures!”
Click, click, click, click, click, click!!
Reporters, waiting the whole day in order to occupy the best position possible to snap their shots, spotted Jin-Woo in the distance and almost immediately, countless camera flashes went off simultaneously.
He was looking around his vicinity after feeling puzzled by the atmosphere of the airport which seemed slightly different from what he’d been told before arriving here.
‘Weird. Didn’t they tell me that close to a hundred government officials were here to greet me….?’
Not just him, but the accompanying Korean Hunter’s Association employee was also scratching his head in confusion. They were also getting rather greatly flustered too, since the Chinese Association’s employee that was supposed to guide them around was nowhere to be found, either.
But, with great timing, a familiar face walked over from the distance and a happy smile floated up on Jin-Woo’s lips.
As befitting the warriors getting ready for battle, these two shared short but manly handshake. The first person to ask his question was Jin-Woo.
“By the way…. What about the other people?”
Liu Zhigeng listened as the Association employee tasked with translation passionately did his job, and grinned brightly while replying to Jin-Woo’s inquiry.
“Ah, that. You see, Chinese people can be quite impatient at times. They couldn’t wait for that long and decided to go home, so I’m now tasked with guiding you around.”
For some reason, Jin-Woo began thinking that quite a hefty chunk of how that situation came about had been omitted here, but as he didn’t dislike Liu Zhigeng as a person, he decided not to pursue this issue anymore.
The Chinese Hunter felt relieved that Jin-Woo didn’t display any signs of displeasure, as well. He quickly assumed the role of guiding the group to the airport’s exit.
“It’s this way.”
They couldn’t take many steps, though, as Jin-Woo came to an abrupt halt first. That meant Liu Zhigeng had to stop, too.
A portion of that massive Gate covering the sky could be seen through the clear glass wall of the airport.
“So, that thing is….”
….The super-massive Gate appeared in China.
Jin-Woo stared at the Gate with a hardened expression, and Liu Zhigeng stood next to him with a solemn expression.
“I can’t deal with something like that alone.”
If it was something impossible for him, then there was no need to even mention other Chinese Hunters. That was why he felt so elated after hearing of the news of Jin-Woo’s decision to come here.
He wanted to express his gratitude to his Korean counterpart, even if only by a little bit. He pondered carefully about this issue, before speaking with a voice filled with his heartfelt sincerity.
“I can’t speak for the rest of China, but I, Liu Zhigeng, swear to never forget your help in this matter.”
As the hour of the Gate’s opening approached closer and closer, breaking news from the affected nations around the world continued to fly in.
[Hunter Seong Jin-Woo chooses China!]
[Both Japan and Russia decide to support Hunter Seong Jin-Woo….]
[Planes carrying Hunters scheduled to depart in the afternoon today….]
[On the other hand, the white-coloured fortress discovered near Japan’s sea of forest revealed to be unrelated to these Gates….]
[Finally, five hours before the dungeon break. Will Hunter Seong Jin-Woo’s warning come true? Or….]
Jay Mills began swearing almost right away.
“Both Japan and Russia are way too busy flattering Seong Jin-Woo, eh.”
Why would those two countries try to help China? It was bleedingly obvious.
Weren’t they trying to get some brownie points with Seong Jin-Woo and ask for his help when they find themselves in grave danger later on?
China, Japan, Russia – they were all too weak.
How could anyone call those people Hunters when they couldn’t even protect their mother nations with their own powers?
‘Compared to them, how great are we?’
Canadian Hunters had willingly gathered here in order to protect their land.
‘We did not waver in our convictions.’
The crap about getting as far away from the Gates couldn’t make these great Hunters of Canada waver and falter. Jay Mills proudly looked at tens of thousands of Hunters who had voluntarily gathered here to participate in the raid.
Their fighting spirit seemed to pierce into the heavens. Regular people standing quite a bit of distance away were also sharing these Hunter’s sentiments as well.
[We shall never give up on Canada!]
[Wanna run away? Not us!]
[Our Hunters will protect our land and our lives!]
Citizens carrying around pickets of all sizes and various colours were cheering on the Hunters.
Jay Mills stared up at the super-massive Gate floating high up above his head and became convinced of his victory.
‘Regardless of which monster shows up from there, we can win this!’
He felt really pumped up and, while turning around towards the other Hunters, he raised both of his fists up high. He was then greeted by a loud, energetic roar.
The preparation on the Chinese side had been completed as well.
Just like how it had been like back in Seoul, a raid team consisting of several nationalities was surrounding the ground right below the Gate. The biggest portion of that force was made up of, as one would expect, the elite Chinese Hunters which numbered well over one hundred thousand.
As befitting a nation boasting the highest number of Hunters in the populace, the upper-ranked Hunters carefully selected for this raid alone numbered over a hundred thousand.
Jin-Woo had warned them before that monsters far too difficult for humans to fight against would fall out of the Gate in droves. However, looking at the headcount of over a hundred thousand Hunters gathered here, a certain thought of “Maybe, we might stand a chance here” began germinating within their heads.
As if to remind them that they were being far too optimistic, Jin-Woo summoned out his Shadow Soldiers.
The wide-open space behind Jin-Woo deliberately left unoccupied was instantly filled up by the 130,000-strong Shadow Army.
The nearby Hunters couldn’t even breathe properly from all the spooky aura oozing out from these summons. Cold sweat drops rapidly formed on the foreheads of the humans.
‘The gap between our strengths… It’s too much.’
‘Things like them are going to fall out from the sky? Right here?!’
‘No freaking way….’
This was an overwhelming fear.
The highly-enhanced sensory perceptions of these upper-ranked Hunters were warning them of the dangers posed by the beings that had appeared before them. Even Liu Zhigeng, who’d hardly get surprised by what life would throw at him by this point, gasped out in shock as well.
“All these things…. Are they all your summoned creatures, Seong Hunter-nim?”
Jin-Woo nodded his head. As their master, he could clearly sense the burning fighting spirit of his Shadow Soldiers finely honed like a sharp blade.
Jin-Woo looked up at the sky. There were only a few minutes remaining until that Gate opened up. He needed to achieve victory here and convert as many creatures of the Chaos World into his Shadow Soldiers and absorb them into his army.
That would be his first step in this war.
The noisy, bustling vicinity instantly became dead quiet with the entrance of the Shadow Army. They all could sense it – that the moment of bitter battle was just around the corner. The weighty nervousness began pressing down on the shoulders of the waiting Hunters.
Jin-Woo swallowed his dry saliva.
Out of the eight armies, which one would come out this Gate?
It was then.
Bellion informed his master that the time had come and Jin-Woo replied in a low voice.
Liu Zhigeng witnessed Jin-Woo sharing a conversation with his summon as if it was the most natural thing in the world, and opened his eyes real wide in surprise.
“Hunter-nim, is it possible to converse with your summons….??”
It was at that point that Beru determined Liu Zhigeng had come, unnecessarily, too close to his liege and in the blink of an eye, blocked the Chinese Hunter’s path.
An overwhelming killing intent leaked out from this ant-shaped soldier.
Liu Zhigeng flinched in nasty surprise and hurriedly distanced himself. Jin-Woo watched this scene unfold and unhappily smacked the back of the rather-agitated Beru’s head.
“Hey, he’s an ally.”
Beru bowed his head non-stop to his master and stepped aside. Jin-Woo apologised for his soldier instead.
“Sorry about that. He’s a bit on edge because of the upcoming battle, you see.”
“It’s… It’s fine.”
Right there and then, Liu Zhigeng decided to give up on trying to understand Jin-Woo using logic.
That was because he got a fairly strong premonition just now that he’d never be able to understand the Korean Hunter with his common sense.
It was then.
“It, it’s opening up!!”
Someone shouted out loudly. Everyone’s head snapped up towards the sky.
The light shining in Jin-Woo’s eyes transformed. Just as that unknown person had shouted out, the Gate’s gigantic mouth was slowly opening up. The choking tension began tightening the chests of everyone below the Gate.
However, even though the Gate was now fully open, nothing happened.
The one most surprised among the crowd was Jin-Woo. He focused his perception but discovered that there was not a single presence beyond the Gate itself.
Meaning, this particular Gate was empty.
‘What the hell?!’
A chill suddenly brushed past the back of Jin-Woo’s neck.
Could he have….?
Something he had overlooked until now; one certain possibility he hadn’t yet thought of abruptly entered his head. And the ominous foreboding gradually morphed into a certainty as time continued to tick by.
Hunters also began realising that something was wrong here.
Liu Zhigeng turned to look at a Hunter charged with communication next to him and urgently asked his question.
“What about other locations?”
“It seems to be the same story with other locations. They say nothing has happened so far.”
“In that case, are all these Gates empty, to begin with?”
“That… uhm… I don’t….”
Liu Zhigeng’s head swivelled to the side again. His gaze stopped by at Jin-Woo. Unfortunately, the Korean Hunter’s expression had hardened to such a scary degree that he couldn’t even dare to ask for a clarification anymore.
Was he making that face because his prediction turned out to be incorrect?
That emotion on display wasn’t as simple as that.
The one and only Liu Zhigeng couldn’t even dare to get close to Jin-Woo, simply because he felt greatly shaken up by the unrest bubbling within the latter’s emotions.
‘I… I made a mistake.’
Realising the error in his judgement, Jin-Woo bit his lower lip.
Just why did he treat the Sovereigns as simple creatures?
‘They should have anticipated that I’d try to utilise the advantages of my Shadow Army.’
If his thoughts were correct, then….
Jin-Woo raised his head, quickly walked past Liu Zhigeng, and asked the communication Hunter.
“What about Canada??”
Unable to hold back his agitation, Jin-Woo’s voice got louder.
“Tell me what’s going on in Canada!!”
Around the same time, the Gate also opened up in Canada as well.
Strangely enough, nothing happened here as well, just like with other locations. Hunters rousing up their fighting spirit for the upcoming raid tilted their heads and busy glanced at each other in confusion.
“But, weren’t the monsters supposed to rain down from there?”
“Did Seong Jin-Woo really bullsh*t us all?”
It was then.
Jay Mills discovered something strange in the distance and quickly shouted out towards other Hunters.
Rather fitting for the strongest Hunter present today, his warning that carried a great deal of magical energy managed to shut the mouths of every Hunter here.
Now that the surroundings had become silent once more, Jay Mills began glaring at the Gate again.
As he suspected, he hadn’t seen it wrong. A certain humanoid figure was leisurely making its descent. That was the only thing that came out of the Gate so far.
‘No, hang on. It’s not a humanoid figure. It’s just a…. person?’
Jay reconfirmed the appearance of ‘something’ that lightly made its landing. He stopped other Hunters from rushing past him and he alone walked towards the landing spot.
He unknowingly swallowed his saliva after sensing this heavy tension in the air.
The closer he got, the better he was able to see his opponent. It was a middle-aged man with reddish-black hair and beard.
As for his attire, this man was kitted out in the most gorgeous metallic armour that boasted an arresting blend of silvery and reddish colours, extending from just below his neck right down to his toes.
Jay finally arrived there and stared at this unknown man.
[Are you the king of this place, then?]
Even though this mystery man didn’t open his mouth, his voice resounded out within Jay’s head. Naturally, he could understand the meaning of these words as if it was his mother tongue being spoken.
Jay’s heart began racing really fast now.
“I knew it! Yes! I knew sh*t would go down like this!!”
Here was the reason why Seong Jin-Woo could turn all those soldiers coming out of the first Gate into his pets. They had been in secret communication like this, that’s how!
“That d*mn lying con man, I knew it’d be like this! I bloody knew it!!”
Now that his prediction had come true, the inside of his head began filling up rapidly with sheer joy.
He failed to cool down his excitement and raised his fist up high towards other Hunters. They also raised their fists up and cheered on energetically.
Jay turned around towards the mystery man again.
The latter was quietly waiting for an answer even then.
‘So, the process is, it asks the first person it sees if he’s a king, and if the answer is yes, it submits to him, is that it?’
It was unknown whether this mysterious man was a human or a monster. Jay Mills studied ‘him’ as the corners of his lips arched up.
“What if I am?”
Since he was the leader of all the Hunters gathered here, it’d not be an exaggeration to call him a ‘king’ now, would it?
His voice was filled with his strong self-confidence.
[It seems that b*stard isn’t here.]
When the mysterious man opened his closed his eyes, the irises of a lizard hungry for blood blinked ominously from within.