SOLO LEVELING NOVEL, CHAPTER 22

Since Jin-Woo was feeling thirsty anyway, he took the Thermos lid to drink the water. But, his head never stopped tilting in the meantime.

Gulp, gulp.

The water slid down his throat and refreshed him quite nicely.

“Hyung-nim, did you enjoy it?”

Before he had noticed it, the honorific had changed to ‘hyung-nim’, too.

“Mm…. Yeah, it’s refreshing.”

Jin-Woo spoke his earnest opinion and handed the lid over to Yu Jin-Ho.

“And, the things you saw in here….”

Even before Jin-Woo could finish his sentence, Yu Jin-Ho quickly cut in, as if to say that there’s nothing to worry about.

“Of course! I won’t say anything to anyone and take this secret with me to my grave.”

“No, hang on. No need to take it to your grave….”

“But, of course, I will. It’ll be a promise between Hyung-nim and I, after all.”

“Well, in that case….. Okay. If you say so.”

“You don’t have to worry about a thing, Hyung-nim.”

It wasn’t as if anyone would believe the claim that a rank E solo’ed the boss of a rank C Gate anyway. Still, the kid was saying he’d voluntarily keep his mouth shut, and that would certainly make his life a bit easier.

‘I thought he didn’t know how to take a hint, but he’s pretty quick on the uptake on things like this, eh?’

“Is there anything else you’d like to tell me, Hyung-nim?”

“….No, not particularly.”

Well, that sounded a bit suspect, there. Jin-Woo studied the overly-polite mannerism of Yu Jin-Ho and inwardly questioned his motives, before coming to a conclusion of his own.

‘Well, yeah. From Yu Jin-Ho’s perspective, I did save his life and all.’

Wasn’t it the most obvious thing in the world that you’d become really courteous and humble towards a person who saved your life?

When looked at that way, his attitude made more sense. The reality of the situation was slightly different from that, though.

Rumble….

The dungeon shook around for a bit again before its tremors stopped. That tremor was the reminder that the Gate would close in a little while.

The tremors would progressively get worse as time went by, and just before the Gate closed, it’d morph into a full-blown earthquake.

“Let’s get out of here.”

“Yes, hyung-nim.”

Jin-Woo began walking towards the entrance.

Before they reached it, though, there was a sudden flash of light, and the rocks blocking up the entrance collapsed.

Boom!

Afterwards, Hwang Dong-Seok and his goons rushed into the boss room. As soon as spotting the dead spider behind Jin-Woo, their expressions became dumbfounded.

“What the hell?! It’s really dead?!”

“Did those two hunt it?”

“That spider must’ve been nothing much, even with that big body and all.”

“Well, if a rank D and a rank E managed to kill it, then….”

“Hwang hyung, what should we do now?”

Hwang Dong-Seok scratched his chin while gazing at Jin-Woo and Yu Jin-Ho.

With the spider dead, the Gate would soon close. It’d be too late to start mining the mana stones now. They hadn’t even finished getting ready, yet the remaining time was now less than a hour.

It was time for the ‘plan b’. So, he loudly called out to Yu Jin-Ho.

“Yu Jin-Ho!!”

Yu Jin-Ho flinched and took a step back. His face was full of nervous tension.

An oily smile floated up on Hwang Dong-Seok’s face.

“I thought your gear looked real eye-catching, so we did a background check on ya, and it turns out that you’re a son of a real bigshot. The son of the Yujin Construction’s owner, Yu Myung-Han, no less.”

“S-so what?”

“We’ll give you a chance. I’ve got some stuff to discuss with your old man, you see. However, it’d get real troublesome for us if the matters of this place get out. So, if you wish to live, you better become our accomplice.”

“An accomplice?”

Hwang Dong-Seok pointed at Jin-Woo with his chin.

Being on the receiving end of that disgusting stare, Jin-Woo’s forehead creased for a second.

“Kill Seong Jin-Woo.”

“What?!”

Yu Jin-Ho freaked out. And Hwang Dong-Seok chuckled as if he found that expression rather funny.

1

The thing was, he used his phone to do an online search and found out that Yu Jin-Ho’s father was the owner of the top construction company in the country. Seeing that, a sinister scheme formed in his head.

He’d film the scene of Yu Jin-Ho killing Seong Jin-Woo and then, under the pretext of keeping his mouth shut, blackmail Yu Myung-Han.

‘The known wealth of Yu Myung-Han is supposedly around 10 trillion Won, wasn’t it? (TL: Almost $9 billion)

3

He might be able to reel in several times more money than mining these mana stones if he played his cards right.

1

“That’s the only way you’ll leave this place alive. As long as you kill Seong Jin-Woo with your own hands, we’ll let you live. If not, we kill both of you.”

Hwang Dong-Seok’s eyes became very hostile right away.

“What are you hesitating for? No one will know what happens inside a dungeon, anyway. Wait, could it be that you’re scared of a rank E, even though you’re a rank D?”

1

Yu Jin-Ho turned his head to his side. Jin-Woo shrugged his shoulders as his answer. He was implying that Yu Jin-Ho should do whatever he felt like.

With a determined expression, Yu Jin-Ho unsheathed the sword on his hips.

‘Finally, he made up his mind, huh.’

A smile formed on Hwang Dong-Seok’s mouth. Unfortunately for him, his expectation was not met. Still holding that sword, Yu Jin-Ho stood alongside Jin-Woo.

“Ho-oh? So, you wanna team up with that guy and fight us, is that right?”

Hwang Dong-Seok muttered softly. A scion of a well-to-do family got lucky and killed a rank C boss, and it looked like his ego had become bloated somewhat as a result.

Joh Gyu-Hwan whispered from the side.

“Hyung, what should we do now?”

Hwang Dong-Seok lowered his voice so both Jin-Woo and Yu Jin-Ho wouldn’t be able to hear him.

“For now, take care of Seong Jin-Woo first. We gotta hold onto that potential moneybag. Our losses today are pretty substantial after all.”

“Okay, will do.”

Joh Guy-Hwan’s hands began emitting bright light next.

Seeing this, Jin-Woo’s eyes narrowed to a slit.

‘In the end, they want to have a go, huh.’

This would be his very first time fighting against other Hunters. However, he wasn’t planning to go easy on these b*stards that have aimed for his life several times already.

…But then, this happened.

Tti-ring.

There was that mechanical beep again.

[An Emergency Quest has been generated.]

‘An Emergency Quest?!’

Jin-Woo raised his head.

He didn’t even say anything about wanting to look at the contents, yet the quest window spread out before his eyes without his consent.

Now that was a first.

[Emergency Quest: Kill all the enemies!]

6

There are lifeforms holding murderous intentions towards the ‘Player’. Kill them all in order to secure your own safety. If you do not follow this instruction, a corresponding penalty will be given.

3

The number of enemies left to kill: 8

The number of killed enemies: 0

Jin-Woo’s eyes opened wider.

‘In order to complete the quest, Hwang Dong-Seok and his teammates must all die?!’

It was then, a beam of light flashed right before his eyes. The light beams left Joh Gyu-Hwan’s hands and flew straight at Jin-Woo.

Boom!!

Flung away by the explosion, Jin-Woo’s figure flew at a frightening speed and slammed into the cave wall.

Slam!!

A portion of the wall collapsed and fell on top of Jin-Woo.

Tumble…

“Hyung-nim!!”

Yu Jin-Ho froze on the spot from surprise.

“Don’t sweat over the dead guy and why don’t you come over here?”

Hwang Dong-Seok beckoned with his fingers.

2

Yu Jin-Ho stared at the spot where Jin-Woo was. Just like what Hwang Dong-Seok had implied, Jin-Woo wasn’t moving an inch as he remained buried under the debris.

“You…. you murderers….”

Tears pooled around Yu Jin-Ho’s eyes.

Hwang Dong-Seok and his dongsaengs simply giggled at the label of ‘murderers’ thrown at their way. Well, that was the truth, to begin with, anyway. Just how many died by their hands inside many other dungeons?

While they were looking at Yu Jin-Ho and continued to smile, Jin-Woo was under the pile of rubble, doubting his own eyes at the moment.

The contents of the quest were slowly changing, that was why.

[Emergency Quest: Kill all the enemies!]

There are lifeforms holding murderous intentions towards the ‘&*@##’. Kill them all in order to secure your own safety. If you do not follow this instruction, #$%^%$#$%^!&*#$%^$.

4

The number of enemies left to kill: 8

The number of killed enemies: 0

A few words suddenly became illegible, before changing their shapes.

[Emergency Quest: Kill all the enemies!]

There are lifeforms holding murderous intentions towards you. Kill them all in order to secure your own safety. If you do not follow this instruction, your heart will cease functioning.

3

The number of enemies left to kill: 8

The number of killed enemies: 0

What a clear-cut threat that was.

1

If he didn’t finish the quest as intended, ‘it’ would kill him, instead.

‘Kill if I don’t want to be killed, is that it?’

The contents were pretty shocking, but Jin-Woo’s fluster didn’t remain for long.

1

No, his flustered mind rapidly morphed into one of relief. Even he found it hard to believe, but that was the truth.

There was this fear that always lingered in his mind, starting from the day these quests popped up in front of his eyes alongside Stat values and such.

‘What would happen to me if this mysterious phenomenon suddenly stopped’?

What if all these things only happened as a coincidence, and they could end at any given moment?

Such fear always accompanied him.

However, through this Emergency Quest, the truth became clear.

Things happening to him were not a coincidence nor were they some weird goodwill from someone. If the quest was generated by something holding some form of goodwill, then it should’ve just said “Overcome this danger”, and not threaten him to kill him as a penalty.

The System had a clear purpose.

It was either ‘Make Seong Jin-Woo strong’ or ‘Need a strong Seong Jin-Woo’.

‘And, depending on the situation, me who could kill other Hunters at the drop of a hat, even….’

He could glean such intentions from the System now. Jin-Woo felt reassured by that revelation.

‘What a relief that….’

….That, it was not a coincidence.

….That, it definitely had a goal.

Whenever he found himself in danger, he yearned to be stronger. He so dearly wished to stop living the life where it was no different from dangling precariously on the edge of a cliff.

2

But, on that fateful day, during the most dangerous moments of his life, his opportunity came.

The goal of this System and Jin-Woo’s wishes lined up perfectly.

‘The System is using me, and I’m using the System.’

That was all there was to it.

As long as there was an end goal, a purpose, this phenomenon would never suddenly vanish from his eyes.

Jin-Woo slowly got up from the rubble.

[HP: 1360/2600]

As expected of a magic spell shot by a rank C Hunter; it was only a single hit, yet his HP had almost halved. There was no more room left to take it easy now.

Intense malice filled up Jin-Woo’s eyes.

He began walking towards Hwang Dong-Seok.

“What the heck?”

Hwang Dong-Seok and his goons had been surrounding the scared Yu Jin-Ho, so they ended up discovering Jin-Woo rather belatedly.

“What’s going on here? He’s still alive.”

“But, Gyu-Hwan hyung looks like a dead fish, though?”

“What an embarrassment this is. He’s a measly rank E, you know.”

Hwang Dong-Seok scratched his chin.

“Hey, Gyu-Hwan-ah, why didn’t you finish him properly the first time?”

Joh Gyu-Hwan’s face reddened somewhat.

“Yeah…. I should’ve.”

But, this wasn’t right.

He really did pour his all with that shot.

He had spent over a third of his overall magical energy, yet how could this kid stand back up? Could the attack not connect properly? But then, there wouldn’t have been such a loud explosion if that was the case.

Lots of questions formed in his head, but there was no time to ask them.

Because, Jin-Woo opened his mouth first.

“Since you’re playing around with people’s lives….”

The eyes of Hwang Dong-Seok’s group were now fixed to Jin-Woo. He came to a stop in front of them.

Yu Jin-Ho flinched in surprise, but the reactions of other Hunters were rather subdued. Some of them even began smirking in derision.

Jin-Woo spoke with a dry voice.

“…You’ve all sufficiently resolved yourselves, right?”

Hwang Dong-Seok let off a snort after hearing that.

“What the hell is this fool even saying?”

“Hyung-nim, let me handle this kid.”

A Hunter with tiny little eyes approached Jin-Woo and placed his arms around the latter’s neck.

“It looks like you Mister hasn’t really figured the situation out yet, but the thing is…. Eh?”

The expression of the tiny eyes became weirder and weirder as he strengthened his arms.

‘….What the hell? Why can’t I pull him down?’

He tried to perform a headlock with his physical strength, but no matter how hard he pulled, Jin-Woo’s upper body showed no sign of budging.

Wasn’t this b*stard supposed to be only a rank E?!

Cold sweat formed on the forehead of the tiny eyes.

‘How could he be this strong….”

It happened then.

Slice.

The head of the tiny eyes fell to the ground.

6

Thud.

“J-Joon-Tae!!”

Hwang Dong-Seok’s eyes trembled like an earthquake.

“Wha-what the hell?!”

“That knife, just when did he?!”

“Where did he get that?!”

Hwang Dong-Seok and his goons quickly took several steps back and yanked their weapons out. Jin-Woo’s hand was already holding the ‘Poison Fang of Kasaka’.

Blood dripped from the tip of the blade.

Tti-ring.

[The number of enemies left to kill: 7]

[The number of killed enemies: 1]

‘Seven left.’

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