SOLO LEVELING NOVEL, CHAPTER 32

Part 4. Rank B Kahng Tae-Sik

Kahng Tae-Sik felt like someone had hit him in the back of his head.

A b*stard that displayed the movement equal to his own speed, which was unmatched within the rank B, introduced himself as a measly rank E just now.

‘Is he trying to make fun of me?’

Kahng Tae-Sik gnashed his teeth.

‘No, hang on….’

Indeed, there was something odd here.

‘If he’s really a high-rank Hunter, there is no reason for him to be here, isn’t it?’

The jobs these bottom-feeder Association Hunters did were quite obvious. Their main role was to clear those Gates that Guilds and freelancers gave up on because of their low monetary values.

Their earnings were pathetically small compared to other Hunters, and they were not widely acknowledged by other Hunters, either. In other words, there was a very good chance that this b*stard really was an E-rank.

Only that, his abilities were anything but.

‘Still, a fake registrant wouldn’t brazenly work under the Association like this, so…’

Kahng Tae-Sik eventually arrived at the only logical conclusion.

‘….He’s a Re-Awakened.’

When he thought about it, he remembered the upper echelons of the Association getting a bit noisier with a rumour of someone going through a Re-Awakening somewhere nearby this location.

‘And, that person was supposedly a Hunter affiliated with the Association….’

He should’ve memorised that name back then.

As that matter happened only a couple of weeks ago, if this b*stard had been delaying getting a re-assignment test for some reason until now, it was very much possible for him to remain as an E-rank and assist the Association with their work.

Who could’ve guessed that such a guy would show up today?

Kahng Tae-Sik had made sure to perform thorough background checks on the Hunters participating in today’s raid, but he had missed the existence of this one.

‘I really have terrible luck, don’t I?’

That’s the only conclusion he could arrive at.

‘I should’ve asked for more money, if things turned out this way….’

Kahng Tae-Sik recalled the events of a few days ago while licking his dried lips.

***

A few days ago….

A cafe near the headquarters of the Association.

Kahng Tae-Sik asked the moment he settled down in his seat.

“What business do you have with me?”

The middle-aged man sitting his opposite side seemed rather haggard for some reason.

‘He said that he’s an owner of some company, didn’t he?’

Kahng Tae-Sik definitely did not know who this man was. However, he still decided to free up some time after this man continued to call him on the phone, sounding quite desperate and all.

The middle-aged man muttered as if he was speaking to himself.

“I’ve heard that no one knows what happens exactly inside dungeons.”

The man’s voice was so soft that Kahng Tae-Sik had to ask again.

“What did you say?”

“This is every cent I have in my name.’

The man suddenly presented his bank account book.

Kahng Tae-Sik alternated his gaze between the book and the man’s face, before confirming the bank balance printed on the book’s pages.

There was a substantial amount of ₩2,000,000,000 printed there.

“And why are you showing me this?”

When Kahng Tae-Sik formed a questioning expression, the middle-aged man’s head dropped lower.

“Among the criminals you’re in charge of, there is one who had hurt my little girl. Because of that, she took her own life, and my wife is still in the hospital from the shock.”

The middle-aged man’s voice became tearful.

“Yet, such a b*stard will be able to roam the streets again in a few years’ time…. You think I’ll be able to rest easy knowing that?”

The man raised his sorrow and rage-filled face.

“I’m sure you can already tell what I’m implying here.”

The man lowered his head again.

“I beg of you, Hunter-nim!!”

A deafening silence descended between these two men.

Kahng Tae-Sik leaned against the back of his chair and fell into a deep contemplation.

Only after a long while passed by did he open his mouth again.

“Can you guess why I chose to work for the Association’s Monitoring Division?”

“Pardon me?”

The middle-aged man raised his head.

Kahng Tae-Sik explained himself.

“As a B-rank Hunter, I’m considered as one of the higher ranked Hunters. Large Guilds continue to send their scouting offers in my direction all the time. Yet, can you guess why I persist in doing this job while getting a pittance in return?”

“I… I don’t know.”

The corners of Kahng Tae-Sik’s lips arched up.

“You see, I… I find it more enjoyable to fight against people rather than monsters.”

In that sense, the Monitoring Division was like the heaven-sent job for Kahng Tae-Sik.

Well, he could beat up other Hunters in the name of the law, after all. And he’d end up killing one or two due to unavoidable circumstances, too.

‘Due to unavoidable circumstances….. Eh.’

Kahng Tae-Sik inwardly smiled and spoke.

“Stepping on that insect you told me about isn’t going to be difficult at all. However, there will be other Hunters inside the dungeon besides the insect, as well. I might view that b*stard as an insect, but will other Hunters think that way, I wonder?”

The middle-aged man formed a disappointed expression after hearing Kahng Tae-Sik’s rather pessimistic-sounding words.

And here he was, thinking that he’d finally get to avenge the death of his little girl. It felt like the heavens were crashing down on top of him.

However, Kahng Tae-Sik formed a sinister smile as if to mock the other man.

“This money, plus one billion Won on top of that, to deal with the other Hunters as well. Can you do it?”

***

However, if a Re-Awakened Hunter was among those ‘other Hunters’, then the amount of 3 billion Won was not quite enough. Well, his own life was on the line, after all.

The self-proclaimed rank E Hunter was still emitting a sharp, observant air even now. He looked as if he’d seize any slight opening there was.

Kahng Tae-Sik swallowed his saliva.

‘I can’t take him lightly.’

Kahng Tae-Sik was confident of winning here. He had never lost a single one-on-one fight even before he underwent the Awakening process.

However, even though he could win, it would not be an easy victory at all.

Right now, he had to revise his plans ever so slightly.

With a nice timing, the rank E Hunters asked a question.

“Those convicts… Why did you kill them?”

“The father of a girl who was raped by those b*stards came to ask me for the favour. Those b*stards were animals worthy of getting killed. And I simply took care of animals that hurt other people, that was all.”

The rank E Hunter was listening without saying anything. It seemed quite likely that talking might work here. Kahng Tae-Sik went straight to persuading the other man.

“Although the matter had come down to this, I don’t wish to hurt you. How about ignoring today’s matter altogether? As long as we make this deal here, I promise I won’t try anything to you and your group.”

Of course, he couldn’t let a potential source of trouble fester.

That was why Kahng Tae-Sik was thinking. There was a chance that a head-on fight would result in him getting badly injured, so he’d get out of here first, wait for an opportune moment, and dispose of all the witnesses one at the time.

However, the rank E Hunter snorted derisively.

“You should’ve said those things before you tried your little tricks. You want us to ignore everything just because you failed your sneak attack?”

That man didn’t say anything wrong there.

Kahng Tae-Sik smirked in dumbfoundedness.

‘In the end, you want to have a go, is that it?’

Well, in that case, he’d have to go all out, then.

The light shimmering in Kahng Tae-Sik’s eyes became colder. His sharp glare quickly swept across the rank E Hunter top to bottom. And his forehead creased up for a second.

‘Where did he get his dagger from?’

Since before he had noticed it, the E-rank Hunter was holding a dagger.

‘Well… It shouldn’t be too important, is it?’

It didn’t matter where that weapon came from, indeed. What’s important here, though, was the type of the weapon.

Kahng Tae-Sik’s quickly concluded his assessment.

The class that used daggers and utilised quick movements; his opponent was a super-close type damage dealer.

Most likely, his speciality was ‘assassination’.

What a coincidence that their specialities happened to be the same.

However, this guy only underwent his Re-Awakening not too long ago. The difference in experience should be absolutely massive. He might not even be able to properly utilise the skills at his disposal.

“Let me teach you a thing or two as your senior.”

Kahng Tae-Sik extracted a knife from his hips and smirked derisively at the rank E Hunter.

“Can you do something like this?”

And then, Kahng Tae-Sik activated his ‘Stealth’ skill, thereby disappearing from the spot.

That caused the rank E Hunter to get flustered and he hurriedly looked around his vicinity. Kahng Tae-Sik could see his naked panic and confusion quite clearly.

‘But, that’s so obvious.’

The ‘Stealth’ skill didn’t only make one’s body go transparent.

The body, the sound, and even the smell!

The skill that cloaked everything about the person activating it!

That was the ‘Stealth’ skill in a nutshell.

There were only a handful of assassin-type Hunters who could use this skill in the entire world.

Utterly unrelated to one’s ranks, you just had to be a lucky few who unlocked this skill when going through the Awakening process.

‘Let’s end this in one hit!’

Kahng Tae-Sik swiftly moved to the rear of the E-rank Hunter. His back was wide open, unguarded.

‘This is the end.’

He was expecting to engage in a bitter battle, but it turned out to be a rather simple fight in the end. If the opponent was getting ready to counter the Stealth skill, then it’d not be this easy at all.

As expected, the difference in experience decided the victor today.

‘Die!’

Kang Tae-Sik’s knife aimed at the spot just below the E-rank Hunter’s ribs and powerfully stabbed forward.

However!!

Clang!!

Two daggers collided in the air and sparks flew off.

With his Stealth skill deactivated, one could now see Kahng Tae-Sik’s wide open eyes.

“What?! But how!!”

The E-rank Hunter’s dagger had accurately blocked off his own dagger.

Unable to hide his shock, Kahng Tae-Sik raised his eyes and looked up at the E-rank Hunter’s face.

And that Hunter opened his mouth with a totally unimpressed face.

“Oh, so now you decide to pop up.”

“Wha-what did you say?”

Unable to understand the words of this rank E Hunter, Kahng Tae-Sik suddenly felt this inexplicable fear in his heart.

***

Tti-ring!

[Emergency Quest: Kill all the enemies!]

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.

The number of enemies left to kill: 1

The number of killed enemies: 0

Jin-Woo confirmed the Emergency Quest message and breathed a sigh of relief.

‘It wasn’t a waste of time.’

He was kinda worried, that if Kahng Tae-Sik didn’t take the initiative, Jin-Woo wouldn’t receive the Emergency Quest notification. It was quite unlike how it was with Hwang Dong-Seok and his gang back then.

That was why he tested the System out, and it was as he expected.

The moment Kahng Tae-Sik revealed his murderous intent, the message popped up.

He wasn’t just mindlessly chatting with the guy, or revealing his ‘panic’, or showing off openings for nothing until now.

‘I really didn’t know he could use Stealth, though….’

Actually, when Kahng Tae-Sik did disappear in front of his eyes, Jin-Woo was slightly taken aback.

Well, ‘Stealth’ was a pretty rare skill, after all.

But, when he concentrated a bit harder, he easily and accurately sensed Kahng Tae-Sik’s every movement. So much so that he could close his eyes and still find his target with no problem.

This was the effect of his enhanced Perception Stat.

He continued to invest on this Stat just so he could tell whether he should fight or flight, but today, he learned of a new use for it.

‘I got lucky.’

Thanks to that, Kahng Tae-Sik was getting shocked out of his mind as if he had seen the ghosts of his ancestors.

“But, how?!”

And now, when Jin-Woo takes care of this murdering b*stard, he’d be able to enjoy the quest’s delicious rewards.

‘If I’m going to fight anyway, then I might as well get everything I’m supposed to, no?’

It was his turn now.

From now on, he’d start attacking for real.

The two daggers locked in a deadly embrace continued to push against each other.

It seemed that their strength was about the same.

It was here when Jin-Woo’s eyes gleamed dangerously.

‘In that case, should I find an opening somewhere else?’

Jin-Woo’s leg moved in an instant, and he stomped on Kahng Tae-Sik’s foot.

STOMP!!

“Uwaahk?!”

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