SOLO LEVELING NOVEL, CHAPTER 17

Just as Jin-Ah shook her head, Jin-Woo suddenly pushed forward an umbrella to her.

“Why an umbrella?”

Jin-Ah received it and took a look at the sky. As it was still early dawn, the sky remained dark, but it seemed to be more or less clear and cloudless.

“But, it doesn’t look like it’s going to rain, though?”

“Take it anyway.”

“But, it’s heavy, you know?”

“Take it with you regardless. Besides, it’s a folding type umbrella so it doesn’t even weigh anything. Stop exaggerating, will ya?”

Slam.

Jin-Woo then closed the door.

“Che…. Acting as he feels like.”

Jin-Ah lightly kicked the door a couple of times to express her disgruntlement, folded the umbrella and shoved it inside the empty space in her school bag, and turned around to leave.

‘Hang on….’

Her steps came to an abrupt halt after she remembered the difference in the eye levels between her and her brother. Something was rather odd.

His eye level had definitely risen up higher compared to before.

“Do guys continue to grow taller even in their twenties?”

13

Eii, there was no way that could be true….

Jin-Ah shook her head again and hurriedly walked towards her school.

*

Click.

Jin-Woo locked the door and summoned his Inventory.

“Storage.”

Storage, ‘inven’, Inventory.

He discovered it through various experimentation and learned that the word used didn’t matter as long they meant the same thing.

3

It was the same story when accessing the mailbox.

As long as the word spoken meant ‘open’, the desired effect took place without fail. (TL: The author wrote ‘open’ three times in Korean and in English in this sentence. Thus I had to change it somewhat.)

1

Jin-Woo then shoved the umbrella he just got from the random box inside the ‘digital’ storage in front of his eyes. (TL: This is the direct translation from the raw. I didn’t make a mistake. This is what it really said….)

1

“It’s no good today again, huh.”

Four days had passed by since he cleared that instant dungeon.

He always remained hopeful whenever he got to open up a random box, praying for another dungeon key to pop out, but unfortunately, he hadn’t been lucky so far. It must’ve been a pretty rare item if it was this hard to get.

‘Well, that’s that, but now….’

Jin-Woo entered his room and sat on the edge of his bed. There was a matter he had resolve right away.

“Stats.”

[Stat]

Strength: 48

Stamina: 27

Agility: 27

Intelligence: 27

Perception: 27

(Available points to distribute: 12)

3

He had been saving up the Stat points earned from the quests of the past four days. He made sure to complete the daily quest every day. Of course, he also didn’t forget to always check his rewards, too.

However, he hadn’t distributed the points until now.

The issue was….

“….This is tough.”

Indeed, he found it rather difficult to come to a decision.

The ‘Strength’ Stat.

1

It was a wonderful Stat, that’s for sure. He hadn’t regretted it once, investing all of his points into this one back when he started this thing.

Agility.

1

This was also a pretty darn good Stat, too. Against weak enemies, it only helped a little, but as the levels of his opponents rose up in the future, no doubt he’d be relying on this Stat more and more.

Well, the ‘speed’ was a relative thing, after all.

And then, Stamina and Perception.

It’d be great if his Stamina was high, obviously. And this Perception turned out to be very useful as well.

Finally, ‘Intelligence’.

…..This was the problem child.

He hadn’t been able to figure out this Stat’s uses yet.

4

His level had increased by quite a lot, but he didn’t feel any smarter than before. His memories didn’t seem to have improved, nor did his ability to calculate quickly, either.

11

‘I think, it has to be related to magic….’

7

This Stat might be something he didn’t really need for the time being. Which left Strength, Stamina, Agility and Perception.

“….Even then, this is really tough.”

Although he now had one less Stat to choose from, he was still in a dilemma here.

He didn’t feel too confident at all.

At least he understood that the synergy between ‘Strength’ and ‘Agility’ was very good. Even if he could deal big damage, it would be meaningless if he couldn’t hit his target. On the flip side, even if he could hit accurately all the time, as long he could not deal enough damage, it’d be a waste of time, too.

In that regard, one could say that Strength and Agility formed a ‘set’.

‘Since my Strength Stat is so high, I should raise Agility up to match it.’

If he decided to raise his Agility Stat, then he had to delay raising Stamina, instead. Well, the synergy between Agility and Stamina wasn’t so good, after all.

The thing was, when Agility was raised, the odds of getting struck by the enemy would decrease. But on the other hand, Stamina was a Stat that only displayed its true worth when the opponent actually damaged him.

‘Of course, I do need at least the bare minimum of Stamina….’

But, raising both Agility and Stamina at the same time was a rather inefficient method, at least from his perspective.

6

After a lengthy deliberation, he decided on the order of priority.

The first one was Agility. The second, Perception. Finally, Stamina.

His Strength was plenty high enough so he’d defer it for now. And as he was planning to raise his Agility, Perception took priority over Stamina.

4

After deciding so, Jin-Woo spent 2 points on Strength.

Tti-ring.

[Stat]

Strength: 50

Stamina: 27

Agility: 27

Intelligence: 27

Perception: 27

(Available points to distribute: 10)

Well, he wanted to raise Strength to the round and even 50 for the time being. That was how normal human beings behaved, no?

13

Then, he spent 8 points on Agility.

[Stat]

Strength: 50

Stamina: 27

Agility: 35

Intelligence: 27

Perception: 27

(Available points to distribute: 2)

The reason for that was also not that special.

He just wanted the last number to be a ‘5’.

12

‘It’s far more preferable to see the numbers ending in increments of 5….’

Strength 50, and Agility 35.

Seeing them end in the multiples of 5, he suddenly felt rather pleased with himself for no reason whatsoever.

7

‘And as for the last 2 points….’

Jin-Woo invested them on Perception next.

With this, the points distribution had come to an end.

[Stat]

Strength: 50

Stamina: 27

Agility: 35

Intelligence: 27

Perception: 29

9

(Available points to distribute: 0)

The only sticking point would be the fact that he couldn’t quite bring Perception up to 30.

‘Well, I don’t have any more points left, so it can’t be helped, I guess.’

Other than that, everything was okay. He figured that it’d be fine to raise Stamina and Agility through levelling up.

3

“So then, I guess that’s it.”

No matter who you were, you would be hard-pressed to feel 100% satisfied with everything. Since he had thought about his choices for a long while, he was more or less happy with them like this.

1

It was then, he could hear the telephone ringing from the living room.

Riiing, riiiing….

‘Is the Association calling me?’

In the past, he didn’t want to participate in the raids so he did his best to ignore the calls until the last possible moment, but right now, he was raring to go and test out his raised abilities against various monsters.

Jin-Woo quickly snatched up the receiver.

“This is the Hunter Seong Jin-Woo.”

– “Aigoo, you finally picked up the phone.”

Too bad, it wasn’t a call from the Association.

A rueful sigh leaked out of his mouth.

– “Learner Jin-Woo, why is it so difficult to get in touch with you lately?”

1

The voice coming from the speaker was a familiar one.

It’d been four years already since he graduated from high school and therefore stopped being a ‘learner’, but the owner of the building always attached that prefix in front of Jin-Woo’s name ever since taking in both the Seong siblings when they were still young kids.

“I’m really sorry about that. I was admitted to the hospital because of an incident a few days ago.”

– “Tsk, tsk, so that’s what happened. I should’ve known. Well, there’s that and, learner Jin-Woo…. The rent for this month hadn’t come in yet, so…. what should I do? If it’s a bit too tough for you, should I delay it for a month or two?”

“Oh, no. It’s fine. I’ll send the money in a bit later.”

– “Okay. But, don’t force yourself, you hear? Trying to look after your mom and your younger sister, you’re going through so much hardship there. I know money is important, but don’t forget to take care of your body, too.”

15

“Thank you. I won’t forget that.”

The call ended there.

Jin-Woo pulled out the bank balance book from one of the drawers. The remaining amount in the account was only around ₩800,000. (TL: Just over $700.)

“Fuu….”

2

A groan leaked out from his mouth.

After paying the rent of ₩500,000, he’d have ₩300,000 left for the month’s living expenses.

1

And the rent could be that low only because the apartment building was located on the remote outskirts of the city, as well as it being old and decrepit, plus the owner of the building taking into consideration Jin-Woo’s troubles and not raising the amount for the last couple of years.

There was no way anyone would be able to find an apartment to rent for 500 grand per month nowadays.

And trying to survive on 300 grand for the whole month was even tougher.

“I gotta make some money first.”

Jin-Woo decided to take care of the urgent matters first.

He was no longer the same guy from a few days ago who couldn’t even kill a single E-ranked monster and shiver in fear.

***

How did Hunters make money?

The best way was to kill monsters.

Hunters ranked S or A could get sponsorships, shoot commercials, make appearances in TV shows and the like to hoover up a lot of money, as much as some chaebols made, but their number was exceedingly few. (TL: Chaebols = owners of big corporations basically)

Indeed, there were too few of them.

Excluding those too few ones at the top, the majority of the Hunters had to go to a dungeon in order to make money.

The higher the rank…

The greater the experience….

The earnings would be decided by each individual’s own capabilities.

For someone like Jin-Woo, who was ranked E, worked only for the Association, and had no experience in dungeons rated higher than C, such a condition was an incredibly tough one to overcome.

Jin-Woo’s expression scrunched up into something unsightly.

‘Disregarding the conditions, for now, if I could just enter an assault team, now that would be great….’

He took a look at the job postings on the Hunter websites’ bulletin boards and called a few numbers, but all of them turned out to be a waste of time. No one wanted to work with a Hunter ranked E.

3

Those Hunters seeking outside help via job postings were freelancers almost all of the time, which meant that they were responsible for preserving their own necks, so understandably, they paid close attention when forming a raid team or letting someone into theirs.

These people didn’t possess enough abilities to enter big Guilds, but their ranks were too high to work for the Association.

They were all kind of stuck in-between a rock and a hard place, but unable to go either way.

‘Even then, these Hunters still earn more than ₩10,000,000 a month, as far as I know.’ (TL: Around $8830)

6

It was the case of ‘High Risk, High Reward’.

Since they put their lives on the line, the profit they earned was just as big at the end of the day. It wasn’t for nothing that Hunters were the targets of envy from the general populace.

From Jin-Woo’s perspective, he could only get impatient, though.

‘Should I just take the rank reassignment test and increase my rank right away?’

Eventually, Jin-Woo shook his head.

He knew that was a stupid thing to do, no matter how hard he thought about it.

A Hunter ranked E suddenly became a high-ranked one!

Whether that was A or B, or maybe even C, it didn’t matter.

The Re-Awakening would always become a hot topic of conversation.

The masses loved nothing more than a good gossip, and Hunters just so happened to be a good subject to chew on.

The old saying went that, if there were five mouths, then there would be ten eyes. Meaning, the more people talked about you, the more eyes would be focused on you. His Stats would continue to rise up in the future, so it’d be only a matter of time before his ‘special’ constitution was discovered by the others.

3

“A Hunter who can raise his abilities up higher?”

“He becomes stronger as time goes by?”

1

“Who is this Hunter?”

“How can he do something like that?”

“What should we do to become like him?”

Without a doubt, many people would express their interest. After all, there hadn’t been a Hunter like him before. And among those expressing interest, there would be those who try to use him, or reveal their hostile intentions towards him as well.

‘If just one of those possesses incredible power, then….’

Just imagining it gave him the chills.

He was far too weak as he was now. Until he possessed enough power to protect himself, he didn’t want the world to know of his existence. Meaning, taking the test to reassign his ranks was out of the question.

‘But, I still need to make money here….’

However, that didn’t mean he could go out and get a part-time job, either. He didn’t know when the Association would call him for a raid.

By raiding a dungeon, he’d get to earn both money and experience, so how could he blow that important chance just to scrounge up a few bucks by working in a local store?

While he was seriously deliberating on what he needed to do, he spotted something in the bulletin board that caught his attention.

– Emergency! Searching for a single Hunter, regardless of the rank! Needs to come right away!

1

Jin-Woo’s eyes shot right open. This posting had popped up literally a second ago.

When he hurriedly checked the contents of the posting, it wasn’t too far from his home, too.

Jin-Woo quickly picked the phone up. The other side must’ve been in a hurry as well because he answered the call even before the first ringtone.

– “Hello?”

Jin-Woo stated his reasons for calling as precisely as possible and calmly waited for the answer.

– “Oh, you are an E rank?”

The response from the other side was better than expected.

– “It’s fine. We just need someone to show up and fill up the headcount, that is all. However, it’s a Gate ranked C so it’d be hard for you to hunt there. So, we’ll just spilt the profits among ourselves and we just give you ₩2,000,000 in cash. How about it? Can you come right away?”

1

₩2,000,000 for a day’s work! (TL: Around $1765)

It was a lot of money for simply being there to make up the numbers.

A rather tempting offer this was.

It was regrettable that he couldn’t get to share the dungeon’s loot, but he might end up losing out on making 2 million just by trying to be too greedy.

‘For now, let’s put out the urgent fires first.’

Such an opportunity wouldn’t come around every day, after all.

2 million was enough for him and his sister’s monthly living expenses.

Jin-Woo said yes to the offer.

“I’ll be there in less than 15 minutes.”

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