SOLO LEVELING NOVEL, CHAPTER 31

“Yes. All the convicts are rank Cs, but the Hunter from the Monitoring Division is actually a rank B, so there is nothing for you to worry about.”

Kim Sang-Sik nodded his head.

The popular opinion stated that you’d need around ten C-rank Hunters in order to contend against a single Hunter ranked B.

Well, a B-rank was personally coming to monitor the troublemakers, not to mention participating in the raid itself, so there was no reason to say no here.

‘One rank B and three rank Cs, huh…..’

Jin-Woo quietly studied the faces of the Monitoring Division’s agent as well as the three replacement convicts, before tilting his head slightly.

‘Something’s off here.’

He could sense a minute trace of murderous intent flowing between those four.

Was this also one of the facets of the enhanced Perception Stat? Or was he simply being overly cautious?

In any case, he was overcome with this unexplainable anxiety all of a sudden.

So, Jin-Woo whispered in Ju-Hui’s ear.

“Miss Ju-Hui, please don’t participate in this raid.”

Ju-Hui looked up at Jin-Woo’s eyes and asked back.

“What about you, Mister Jin-Woo?”

Rather than answering her, he too asked back.

“If I say I’ll be going?”

“Well, in that case, I’m going too.”

She looked like she’d follow him, no matter what.

‘I’m sure she’s only doing this because she’s concerned about me. And….’

And, he learned through prior experience that, whenever Ju-Hui’s face was forming that expression, she’d suddenly become a very stubborn young lady and she’d never change her mind, no matter what.

‘There shouldn’t be a problem with me around, right?’

After all, he had experienced dealing with Hwang Dong-Seok’s gang, which contained five rank Cs in their midst.

Jin-Woo nodded his head.

“In that case, okay.”

The agent from the Monitoring Division finished signing on all of the documents, and then came to speak to the gathered Hunters.

“My name is Kahng Tae-Sik from the Monitoring Division. I believe you’ve been informed of the situation. I’ll keep a very close eye on those three, so you can rest easy.”

Kahng Tae-Sik then beckoned the three convicts to come closer. They all trudged towards him and presented their hands. With a practised hand of his own, Kahng Tae-Sik swiftly undid their cuffs.

“Wowsers. I thought I was gonna die from the stuffiness just now.”

“We ain’t even slaves, so isn’t it against our rights for you to drag us around here and there like this?”

The convicts massaged their freed wrists and continued to pile on their complaints.

Kahng Tae-Sik roundly ignored them and returned his gaze back to the Hunters.

“Who will be taking the lead today?”

Song Chi-Yeol, having led raids before, raised his hand about half way up. Kahng Tae-Sik nodded his head.

“Understood.”

With Song Chi-Yeol in the lead, Hunters entered the Gate one by one.

“Let’s get going as well.”

Jin-Woo and Ju-Hui also entered the Gate, albeit at the same time.

Perhaps the trauma from the last incident remained with her, because she ever so slightly held onto Jin-Woo’s sleeve.

***

Goblins were the main enemies for this dungeon. They were the weakest of all man-type monsters out there. So, clearing the dungeon itself wasn’t hard at all.

“Kiiieeehhk!!”

“Kiiehhk!!”

These strange-looking creatures were weak enough for Jin-Woo to fight evenly one on one even before he got his power boost. Still, Jin-Woo did his utmost best to carefully hunt Goblins with his bare hands.

“Kiiehhck!!”

“Kahk!!”

When Jin-Woo displayed the combat prowess that easily exceeded their imaginations, both Ju-Hui and Song Chi-Yeol’s eyes became extra round in surprise.

“Wow.”

He was hiding most of his true power, yet the result of each fight was still remarkably different compared to the past. Ju-Hui approached him and carefully asked him.

“Have you been working out lately?”

“Well… I, uh, I’ve been jogging every day.”

“Jogging??”

Ju-Hui tilted her head, but well, he wasn’t technically lying here, so….

‘But besides all that… I’m not earning any experience points here.’

“Kiiieeehhck!!”

[The enemy’s level is too low, and your experience points did not rise.]

“Kah-gahk!!”

[The enemy’s level is too low, and your experience points did not rise.]

Jin-Woo formed a disappointed expression.

The message of Goblins being too weak and him not getting any experience points kept repeating itself.

‘This isn’t going to work….’

On top of this, the magic crystals from the Goblins were also the worst grade there could be.

Jin-Woo took a look around him.

The C-ranked convicts must’ve been really excited by the taste of freedom because they were wildly swinging their weapons and energetically ripped Goblins to shreds.

“Kkkiiiieehhhkk!!”

“Kehk! Kehhk!!”

From that scene alone, it was difficult to tell apart just who were the monsters and who were the humans there.

‘I guess there’s no reason for me to break a sweat today.’

Well, he wasn’t earning any experience points, nor was he making lots of money today, either. A certain thought popped up in his head next.

‘If it’s going to be like this from now on, wouldn’t it be better to quit the Association?’

Pretty much the majority of jobs coming to the Association’s way were clearing the Gates ranked D and E. However, if his level wasn’t going to increase from entering those types of Gates, then there was no need to participate in Association’s raids anymore.

‘I can easily earn mom’s hospital fees by myself now, too.’

He could quit the Association at any time he felt like it.

This was why having money was always for the better. As soon as he had some, his selection had widened. While thinking of this and that, the raid team entered deeper into the dungeon.

“Uh?”

“Mm…..”

And soon, a forked road with three paths appeared before them.

Kahng Tae-Sik made a suggestion to Song Chi-Yeol.

“Since the difficulty of the dungeon is low, how about splitting up from here onwards?”

“Yes, let’s do that.”

Song Chi-Yeol readily agreed to that idea.

Jin-Woo closed his eyes and extended his Perception to the max.

‘Now, which path leads to the boss?’

He was hoping that maybe the boss would give him a few experience points, at the very least.

Soon enough, he could pick up on the auras of all living creatures inside the dungeon.

Jin-Woo opened his eyes and spoke to Song Chi-Yeol.

“Ahjussi, let’s go left.”

“Okay.”

Jin-Woo, Song Chi-Yeol, and Ju-Hui chose the left pathway, Kahng Tae-Sik and the three convicts the right one, and the remaining two went down the middle one.

Jin-Woo’s heart began beating a little bit faster.

‘The boss is at the end of this passage.’

Although it couldn’t be described as strong, a unique and different aura from that of a Goblin was leaking out from the end of this cavern-like passageway.

He wanted to quickly kill the boss.

However, groups of Goblins kept jumping out at him every couple of steps he took, and this hindered their progress.

“Kek, kek, kek,”

“Keeriiick.”

“Keeiick.”

And this time, there were around ten of them or so.

One carried a wooden club. One held a wooden sword, one even held a long wooden shaft with a stone shard crudely tied around the tip….

They had armed themselves to the best of their abilities, but…. None of them managed to threaten him.

‘Haven’t you guys had enough yet?’

Jin-Woo frowned really deeply. It proved to be a such a bother, these b*stards that were worth nothing yet moved around in large groups like this.

“There are ten of them this time….”

“What should we do, ahjussi? Should we come back after finding the others?”

However, Jin-Woo’s two companions were getting rather sombre about the current predicament they were in.

“Still, there are only Goblins here, so maybe we should try fighting them first.”

“Okay.”

Flames formed on the tip of Song Chi-Yeol’s fingers, while Ju-Hui got ready to cast her healing magic as well.

Meanwhile, Jin-Woo was scratching the back of his head.

‘Now that I think about it, I’m not feeling nervous at all even though I’m inside a dungeon.’

Was it because he had become incomparably stronger than before? Only now did he grow a little bit more conscious of the changes that had taken place inside him.

Song Chi-Yeol asked Jin-Woo.

“Mister Seong, are you ready?”

“Oh, uh, yes. I am.”

Jin-Woo matched the timing with the rest of his teammates and slowly hunted each Goblin down.

And so, as they steadily cleared the dungeon….

Out of the blue, screams reverberated throughout the dungeon from somewhere, one after the other.

“Uwwaahhhk!!”

“Uwahhkk!!”

Those weren’t from the Goblins. No, they definitely belonged to humans.

Jin-Woo, Song Chi-Yeol, and Yi Ju-Hui exchanged glances.

They thought the things had calmed down, only for yet another desperate scream to enter their ears.

“Uwaahhhh!!”

Song Chi-Yeol’s expression hardened.

“Let’s go take a look.”

The three of them quickly ran to where the screams came from.

Jin-Woo could’ve run faster than his two companions, but for the sake of their safety, matched their speeds.

….Just how long did they have to run?

Ju-Hui cried out in alarm after finding a person.

“There’s a person there….!”

And it just so happened to be the Hunter from the Monitoring Division, Kahng Tae-Sik. He was kneeling on the ground, covered completely in blood.

Kahng Tae-Sik shouted out at them.

“Be, be careful! I don’t know where they could be right now!”

Kahng Tae-Sik spat those words out with great difficulty before collapsing on the ground in pain.

“Euh-heuk….”

Ju-Hui couldn’t watch on anymore and hurriedly ran towards Kahng Tae-Sik.

“Hold on, I’ll heal you right now!”

Ju-Hui was thinking like this; regardless of where the enemies were hiding, she was still a Healer ranked B. Meaning, the speed of her healing magic was very fast.

So, she thought that before enemies attacked them, it’d be more advantageous for her to quickly heal Kahng Tae-Sik.

“Please hold on for a little while longer.”

Ju-Hui stood in front of Kahng Tae-Sik and reached out with both of her hands.

Gentle rays of light gathered near the ends of her hands.

It happened then.

Kahng Tae-Sik rapidly raised his upper body up and took aim at the centre of Ju-Hui’s neck with his hand full of magical energy.

Swish!!

Just before his fingertip could touch Ju-Hui’s Adam’s apple, someone managed to grab Kahng Tae-Sik’s wrist just in time.

Snap!

“Ahh…!!”

The stunned Ju-Hui stumbled backwards before falling on her rear.

Plop.

Kahng Tae-Sik’s expression became one of shocked amazement.

‘He stopped my attack in that short space of time?’

It was not a hard job for a high-ranked Hunter to deal with a handful of lower-ranked Hunters.

The only thorn in his side today happened to a female Hunter ranked B, the same rank as he was. The silver lining about this thorn was that she was not a combat-related Hunter. She didn’t possess any abilities to protect herself, so as long as he succeeded in sneak attacking her, everything would end quite easily.

However…. to think, his sneak attack would end up missing.

With things like this, there was no reward for all that great acting he had put on.

Kahng Tae-Sik’s gaze followed the hand grabbing his wrist and to its owner. And Jin-Woo’s face was at the end.

Jin-Woo’s eyes were emitting a very strong light of murderous intent.

Kahng Tae-Sik frowned deeply.

“How dare you, a f*cking Association bottom-feeder!!”

Swish!

Kahng Tae-Sik’s other fist flew towards Jin-Woo’s face. However, Jin-Woo simply tilted his head out of the way and let the fist fly by.

‘What?!’

Kahng Tae-Sik hurriedly yanked his arm loose from Jin-Woo’s grasp.

“Huh?”

Jin-Woo displayed his shock next. As expected from a high-ranked Hunter and his power.

Now that both of his hands were freed, Kahng Tae-Sik began pouring out attacks without a rest.

However, Jin-Woo also moved at the speed that didn’t lose out to Kahng Tae-Sik’s and went on the offensive of his own, too.

Pow-pow-pabababahat!!

Fists and arms belonging two men endlessly collided and traded countless blows.

None of them showed any signs of backing off.

Seizing this opportunity, Song Chi-Yeol quickly dragged Ju-Hui away from the area.

“Ah-ahjussi….”

Ju-Hui couldn’t finish what she wanted to say because of the sheer shock from seeing what was happening right now.

However, there was one person here who was even more shocked than Ju-Hui, and that was none other than Song Chi-Yeol.

‘Just how on earth is this possible…..?’

This fierce battle unfolding at a scarcely believable speed – he was having a hard time trying to follow with his eyes.

Something like that was expected of a high-ranked Hunter, so that was fine, but then, the Seong Jin-Woo fighting that man couldn’t have been the same person from Song Chi-Yeol’s memories. The youth was definitely not losing out against a rank-B Hunter at all.

‘I’m a C-rank, and even I can’t follow his movements with my eyes!’

Indeed, his gut feeling proved to be right.

The Jin-Woo in front of his eyes right now was not the same youth from his memories, an E-rank who was weak but possessing a good head on his shoulders.

In the blink of an eye, the two traded hundreds of blows and they quickly stepped back while trying to catch their breaths.

Jin-Woo glared at Kahng Tae-Sik and frowned.

“The blood on your clothes… I’m guessing it’s not yours.”

Kahng Tae-Sik loosened his wrist and answered back.

“That’s right, it belongs to those b*stards. Besides all that, I never expected to run into a Hunter of your calibre in this sh*tty place.”

Honestly speaking, Kahng Tae-Sik was really impressed.

He hadn’t heard of any information regarding a high-ranking Hunter slumming it out along with those bottom-feeders working for the Association.

‘This is going to cost me big time.’

He thought that today would be the best time to act, so he did his deeds, but quite unexpectedly, he ran into a pretty steep hurdle here.

Kahng Tae-Sik couldn’t control his curiosity and asked out aloud.

“Who the hell are you? What rank are you?”

Jin-Woo summoned the Poison Fang of Kasaka, and while grasping it tightly in his hand, replied rather curtly.

“Seong Jin-Woo. I’m rank E.”

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