READ SOLO LEVELING NOVEL, CHAPTER 161 ( Only I level up )
Telling the Master of a Guild that best represented the Republic of Korea to show up before a rank C Gate?
When he got the call from Section Chief Woo Jin-Cheol, Choi Jong-In initially wasn’t feeling too pleased by its contents. He even thought about not bothering to go there personally and simply send out an assault team consisting of just a handful of higher ranked Hunters.
However, he heard the detailed explanation next, and he had no choice but to personally make the move.
‘Hunter Seong Jin-Woo had entered the dual dungeon by himself?’
The dual dungeon alone was enough to draw his attention, but now, Hunter Seong Jin-Woo was in there, too? How many Guild Masters, no, Hunters out there would remain aloof and unimpressed after hearing those revelations?
At Chief Woo Jin-Cheol’s urgent request that emphasized time was of the essence, Choi Jong-In immediately delayed the raid they were preparing to go on and summoned the elite Hunters.
“We received a request for assistance from the Association. Looks like we will have to get involved on this one.”
Hunters began whispering to each other because these people knew very well through experience, that this sort of summons only happened in extraordinary circumstances.
And the fact that the Hunters Guild had to be summoned, who were just about to raid a rank A Gate – was there a need to even mention the seriousness of the occasion?
On top of this, these Hunters also had to hear about the breaking news coming out from Japan not too long ago, so the commotion within them could only grow larger.
“Did something happen?”
The woman who possessed the second highest authority behind Choi Jong-In as the Vice-Chair of the Guild, asked her boss for clarification. He looked back at Cha Hae-In and replied.
“A dual dungeon was found within a rank C Gate.”
‘A dual dungeon?’
Cha Hae-In tilted her head in confusion.
Of course, it was not everyday one gets to hear about a dual dungeon. A dungeon found within another one – there was no way such a thing could happen all the time.
However, the Hunters Guild was being summoned because there was another dungeon attached to a measly rank C Gate? It was hard to understand from a common-sense point of view.
Choi Jong-In still got ready to move out regardless of her puzzled stare but still spoke to her to dispel her confusion.
“It sounds like Hunter Seong Jin-Woo is fighting something inside all by himself. Since it’s none other than that Chief Woo Jin-Cheol from the Association requesting us for assistance, and he sounded rather frightened out of his wits too, so… Hunter Cha? What’s the matter?”
Choi Jong-In asked her after spotting the abrupt change within her eyes.
“No, it’s nothing.”
“…..Well, yeah. It’s Hunter Seong we’re talking about, so nothing serious would happen to him, but still, let’s go take a look anyway.”
Cha Hae-In nodded her head, and other Hunters listening in on their conversation also quickly packed their gear and got ready. Their gear consisted entirely of weapons they were to use within the raid, but that didn’t mean they could be lackadaisical with their preparations.
“Uh? Why is there one person mis…”
A Hunter was taking the headcount, but someone lightly tapped on his shoulder. He looked behind to see who it was, and his colleague was pointing at a certain corner with his chin. A man with a devastated face was on his knees there.
“Leave him be.”
That Hunter immediately understood it.
Suzuki was a Hunter who got scouted recently and left Japan for a life here in South Korea. It was only obvious that he couldn’t tear his eyes away from his smartphone that kept issuing breaking news one after the other regarding the dungeon break taking place in his home country.
“We gotta do what we gotta do. Let’s get going.”
Two Hunters let Suzuki be and climbed aboard the Hunters Guild’s private van.
And so, vehicles carrying the elites of the Hunters Guild quickly travelled towards their new destinations.
“Argh, hot, hot!!”
A reporter named Kim freaked out and hurriedly discarded the cigarette butt. The ground beneath was sand, but still, his foot stomping on the butt to kill it carried all of his bared emotions.
That lasted only for a little while, though. This was no time to waste his attention on some stupid cigarette butt.
Reporter Kim’s gaze returned to the parked vans again. He thought that every single person climbing out of those vehicles looked familiar, but when he took a second look, weren’t they the top elites from the Hunters Guild??
He didn’t even notice that his fingers were getting burnt off while he was searching for all the famous aces in that Guild.
‘Choi Jong-In and Cha Hae-In? Yun Jeong-Ho too? Uh, uh?? Even Sohn Ki-Hoon’s here?’
With these folks here, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the top faces of the Hunters had all shown up. He chased after Woo Jin-Cheol without a plan to speak of, but to think, he’d stumble into a location filled with such bigshots like this?
And, the Gate in question was only a rank C.
Reporter Kim swallowed his nervous saliva. He couldn’t even begin to imagine just what was going on inside there right now.
Section Chief Woo Jin-Cheol would normally let the cat out of the bag pretty easily, but even he shut his mouth tightly while saying that it was top secret. So, Kim didn’t have much of a choice but to suck on one cigarette after another to soothe his anxious mind.
Indeed, butts he discarded since a while ago formed a small mound near his feet.
Woo Jin-Cheol paid no heed to Reporter Kim’s longing expression and hurriedly approached Choi Jong-In. The latter couldn’t tear his eyes away from that Gate, just like how the former had reacted earlier.
“What the f*ck…?! D*mn it…! What the hell is that thing??”
Cusses jumped out all on their own from Choi Jong-In’s mouth. That was how ominous the aura emitted from the Gate was.
Unlike Woo Jin-Cheol, who possessed exceptionally good senses for a melee-type Hunter, Choi Jong-In was South Korea’s most powerful Mage.
After Baek Yun-Ho and his ‘Eyes of the Beast’, as well as Seong Jin-Woo and his otherworldly level of sensory perception, one could confidently say that Choi Jong-In was the best in the country when it came to sensing the flow of magical energy.
“Can you do it?”
That’s how Woo Jin-Cheol framed his question. Choi Jong-In didn’t miss the subtext of ‘It was impossible with just us’ in that question.
He replied with a bitter expression.
“You said that Hunter Seong Jin-Woo is inside, yes?”
“Yes, that’s been confirmed.”
Choi Jong-In nodded his head gravely.
But, of course. If it wasn’t him, who’d be capable enough to participate in a fight of this scale? No, who else besides him was capable of defending against an opponent that emitted this much magical energy?
“Is he trying to save this planet all by himself or something?”
He meant to say that in his head but his words still came out of his mouth in the end.
Rather than asking for the clarification, though, Woo Jin-Cheol simply nodded his head with a heavy expression. To him, that sounded quite plausible.
“Whether we can do it or not, we still need to go inside anyway. We owe a debt to Hunter Seong, after all.”
If the monsters inside were something that couldn’t be stopped by the combined might of Hunter Seong and the Hunters Guild, then no one else in South Korea could stop them. Meaning, there would be no second opportunity if they couldn’t kill the monsters by aiding Hunter Seong today.
‘What was that? Hunter Seong??’
Reporter Kim was standing a little further away and was doing his best to eavesdrop, but after hearing something incredible, his eyes rapidly transformed into a pair of round dots resembling those of a rabbit’s.
‘Hunter Seong is inside that Gate??’
Kim’s shocked gaze quickly shifted towards the Gate, before scanning the vicinity around it.
There were two rank S Hunters here, and as for the number of rank As, he had already lost count. But then, Seong Jin-Woo Hunter was inside that Gate, too??
‘My, my…. my memo. Where’s my d*mn memo pad?!’
Reporter Kim’s nose picked up on the trail of a huge scoop and hurriedly sought out his memo pad.
From this point onwards, he could not afford to miss a single word muttered nor a single event happening before him. He found himself with a god-sent opportunity to report on a massive scoop involving three rank S Hunters as well as the Association itself when everyone else was too busy with the events taking place in Japan.
‘That’s why Chief Woo kept his mouth shut, wasn’t it?’
Hunter Seong Jin-Woo’s private information was a closely-guarded secret, not to mention he was a super VIP under the special supervision of the Hunter’s Association.
Kim now could understand the reason why Woo Jin-Cheol was not willing to talk about what was going on here.
While Woo Jin-Cheol and Choi Jong-In were sharing a brief conversation, the elite assault team had finished getting ready. The Tankers picked up their defensive armaments, damage dealers picked up their weapons, and Healers held on to magic tools filled with magical energy.
As befitting the top Guild in the country, their preparation was quite fast.
Choi Jong-In briefly exchanged glances with Cha Hae-In and nodded his head. Cha Hae-In swept her gaze over the rest of the team once and nodded her head as well. That meant that the preparation and inspection were finished now.
The elites of the Monitoring Division had already finished their preparations a while ago. Woo Jin-Cheol received confirmation from his subordinate and turned around to face the others with a heavy expression.
“Let’s get going.”
The passage before them was incredibly long.
They moved at the fastest speed they could afford, but they didn’t break into a full-bore running. Even if they were all nominally high-ranked Hunters, their individual running speeds were vastly different, that was why. Among them, Cha Hae-In was especially fast.
She was about to run ahead, but Choi Jong-In next to her grasped her wrist in a hurry.
“Hunter Cha. What do you think you’ll achieve by going there alone?”
He understood that she wanted to go and save Seong Jin-Woo from danger, but if she went ahead, the whole team might end up falling into grave danger, instead.
“If we try to keep up with your speed, there’s a good chance that the entire team might become disorganised, instead.”
Cha Hae-In’s expression hardened as she stood still, but eventually, she returned to the rear of the team. Woo Jin-Cheol watched her make her way back and whispered softly to himself.
“I guess the rumour was true.”
Woo Jin-Cheol mumbled some excuses out when Choi Jong-In questioned him.
“Ah… No, it’s nothing important.”
Choi Jong-In tilted his head slightly but shifted his gaze back to his front anyway. The ominous magic energy that caused goosebumps to break out on his skin was still flooding out from the deepest part of this dungeon.
He had to keep his wits about him here.
He also thought that it’d be the same story for Hunter Seong Jin-Woo who had entered in here ahead of everyone else.
‘I pray we aren’t too late….’
For the time being, there was nothing he could do to help other than pray for Hunter Seong’s safety – while moving as quickly as they could without lowering their vigilance, of course.
However, it was also true that too much tension would in turn dull one’s body, as well. In order to dispel some of this tension, he engaged Woo Jin-Cheol in a conversation.
“How did Hunter Seong come across this place, anyway?”
“I also don’t know the details. But, by piecing together what the people making the reports said, it seems that Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim knew that this Gate was a dual dungeon even before entering it.”
Choi Jong-In’s expression became circumspect. This time, it was Woo Jin-Cheol who asked the question.
“By any chance, can you think of something suspicious?”
“No, it’s not that, but….. Just that, this feels quite strange, doesn’t it?”
“Strange as in how?”
“I did some research on Seong Hunter-nim in the past, you see.”
Choi Jong-In was a Master of a huge Guild. It was his duty to build a Guild with highly capable individuals, so it was only obvious that he’d hold an extreme amount of interest towards Jin-Woo.
“There was an event similar to this, wasn’t there?”
Woo Jin-Cheol did personally investigate the event Choi Jong-In was talking about so, he indeed knew a lot about that incident. He quickly figured out what the Master of Hunters Guild was trying to say here.
Less than half a year ago, Hunter Seong Jin-Woo experienced going into a dual dungeon. And now, after all this time, he sought after another one and entered it.
Those who knew this truth would not see today’s event as a mere coincidence. Just like how Woo Jin-Cheol had predicted, Choi Jong-In’s next words were about that.
“Experiencing dual dungeons twice by himself, when it’d be near impossible for anyone to see it once in their lifetime… Not just that, he willingly walked into the second one on his own volition? Don’t you find that strange?”
Woo Jin-Cheol didn’t immediately make his reply.
Just as Choi Jong-In had alluded to, many things about Hunter Seong were shrouded in a veil of mystery. The dual dungeon. The Re-Awakened. And possessing a unique ability.
However, there was one indisputable fact, and that would be Seong Jin-Woo being utterly indispensable to the Association, no, the entire nation of South Korea.
And that was why Woo Jin-Cheol requested the Hunters Guild for their assistance without waiting for the clearance from the higher-ups when he found out that Hunter Seong had walked right into this Gate.
No matter what, they had to secure Hunter Seong Jin-Woo’s safety. It’d not be too late to ask him the necessary questions afterwards.
Woo Jin-Cheol swam inside his thoughts, before raising his head.
‘So, over there…..’
The distance that would have taken nearly one hour for regular Hunters to cross was bridged in less than ten minutes by the rapid marching of these high-ranked Hunters. They could finally see the end of this cave in the far off distance.
“Looks like we’re here.”
“Yes, I can sense it.”
Indeed, they could sense something horrifyingly massive in there. Choi Jong-In’s face stiffened hard as he replied. The colour of blood was slowing draining out of his complexion right now.
The only consolation he could think of right now was the fact that he could also sense Hunter Seong Jin-Woo’s presence.
‘As long as Hunter Seong is fine, it’s okay.’
Combining his abilities with the support from these elite Hunters, they’d win regardless of what the monsters within this dungeon were like. Choi Jong-In assured himself with that line of thought and called out to the rest of the team.
The elite Hunters from the Hunters Guild and the Association rushed past the massive doorway reminiscent of an ancient castle.
The sight waiting for them beyond was a spectacle none of them had ever seen before during their lengthy and illustrious careers as Hunters.
“This… What on earth is this….?”
“What the hell is this place?!”
First, they found innumerable destroyed stone statues strewn about the floor. Their debris was piling up into small hills all over the place.
One of the Hunters raised his finger high up.
And in the direction his finger was pointing at, everyone could see a truly gigantic statue of an unknown god standing frozen still, its hands interlocked in the gesture of slamming down. Its head, with half of its face blown away, especially caught their attention.
Woo Jin-Cheol’s heart began racing like crazy as he remembered the testimonies of the survivors from the previous dual dungeon incident.
‘It was all real… the god statue and the stone statues were all real…!!’
The survivors all said the same thing – that this place was filled with a monstrous god statue that could melt down a rank C Hunter with nothing but a glare from its eyes, as well as countless stone statues whose movements couldn’t be picked up by the naked eye.
This whole open area was pockmarked with clear signs of desperate battle having taken place recently.
‘Wait a minute. Where is Hunter Seong Jin-Woo?’
It looked as if all the enemies had been eliminated already. Their priority was to confirm the status of Hunter Seong Jin-Woo.
Choi Jong-In shifted his head this way and that to locate Jin-Woo’s presence, and eventually found him.
“He’s over there.”
Jin-Woo was quietly lying on his back just below the god statue as if he was asleep.
Hunters were about to run to his side, but this time, it was Cha Hae-In’s turn to raise both of her arms to stop them in their treks. Feeling urgent now, Woo Jin-Cheol turned to look at her.
Her rather shapely facial features were soaked completely from cold sweat right now.
She bit her lower lip and spoke up.
“Over there… there’s something over there.”
It was then. A certain stone statue kneeling next to Jin-Woo slowly stood up. The wings on its back were all torn up, and it only had one remaining arm.
“I don’t remember inviting you humans in here.”
The angel statue stood up completely and swept its gaze over at the Hunters intruding into the temple. The corner of its lips suddenly arched up.
< Chapter 161 > Fin.