SOLO LEVELING NOVEL, CHAPTER 34

A short while later.
“Euph, euph, euph!!”
Jin-Woo discovered a lone convict struggling on the ground not too far from him. His arms and legs were all tied up with a rope, and there was a gag placed in his mouth.
It was as Kahng Tae-Sik said, just before his final breath.
[“I’ve tied up the rapist not too far from here. I was thinking of disposing of him last, after the victim’s father asked me to make him suffer for a bit.”]
Kahng Tae-Sik stopped breathing after those words.
The convict began to struggle even harder after seeing Jin-Woo. It was as if he was asking to be freed as soon as possible.
“Euph! Euph! Euph!”
Now that Jin-Woo took a closer look, it was none other than the same guy who threw a dirty wink at Ju-Hui earlier on.
As soon as Jin-Woo pulled the gag off the convict’s mouth, he breathed in and out heavily and widened his eyes.
“Pant, pant, pant!! That, that crazy b*stard, Kahng Tae-Sik killed everyone! He killed everyone!! What the f*ck happened?? Did he leave? There’s blood on your clothes?! Did you get done in by him, too??”
Jin-Woo didn’t reply and simply raised his head to stare straight ahead.
….Towards where the boss was.
The convict’s words poured out in great urgency.
“Untie me first. Hurry! We gotta escape before Kahng Tae-Sik shows up! God d*mn it!! There’s some sort of magic energy flowing in the ropes and I can’t tear them apart! You have some sort of a weapon with you, right? Why aren’t you saying anything? Can’t you hear me??”
When a bottom-feeder Hunter from the Association continued to ignore him, the convict forgot about the position he was in and began frowning in dissatisfaction.
Remaining expressionless until then, Jin-Woo finally opened his mouth.
“The boss should be just up ahead.”
“What?”
A confused, questioning expression floated up on the face of the convict.
“Feels like it’s a bit stronger than a regular rank D dungeon boss, too. I’m getting really curious about its attack patterns, you see.”
The convict listened to those words and lost his cool, roaring out at the top of his voice.
“What the f*ck are you even talking about?!”
Jin-Woo calmly continued on with what he wanted to say.
“Before all that, though, I gotta ask you about something. You remember the girl you raped before?”
“What? Which one are you talking about? You a family member of the victim?”
Jin-Woo’s brows quivered.
Just now, this man asked ‘which one’, rather than answering with yes or no. Meaning, he had hurt well more than one or two girls.
Hunters possessed extraordinary strength, so if they wanted to, they could become a horrifying monster at any time. And this b*stard used that strength to violate women until now.
With that, Jin-Woo’s mind was made up.
He coldly stared down at the convict and spoke.
“Now I know, so there’s that.”
“What?! Euph? Euph!!”
Before the convict uttered out more rubbish, Jin-Woo swiftly gagged the b*stard again. Then, he began slowly dragging the convict by the ankles towards the boss room.
“Euph! Euph!! Eeuuuph!!!”
The convict struggled even more desperately as he got dragged along. Both of his wide-open eyes were now completely bloodshot.
Not even slightly fazed by the criminal’s desperate struggle, Jin-Woo successfully dragged him into the boss room.
“Euph! Euphhh!!”
And inside the boss room, there was a large group of Hobgoblins waiting for their arrival. These monsters reputedly enjoyed snacking on human entrails. Apparently.
“Euph! Euph!! Euphhh!!”
The convict finally realised what Jin-Woo was planning to do here.
He cried out and shook his head around wildly after seeing the group of Hobgoblins. The blue convict’s pants began dyeing in a yellow colour, as well.
“Fuu-woo.”
Jin-Woo took a deep breath, and he chucked the convict among the waiting Hobgoblins.
“Eeuuuph-!!”
“Kiiiigiik.”
“Kiihit.”
“Kiiieekk!”
Picking up on the smell of a fresh, living prey, Hobgoblins pounced on the convict all at once and began tearing into his stomach.
“Eeeuupph!! Euph! Euphhh!!”
As the convict desperately struggled on and thrashed about, the vessels in his eyes burst open one by one, dyeing his eyes utterly crimson red.
“Eeeupphhh….. Euh, euh…..”
Even though the convict gradually lost his consciousness, Hobgoblins greedily and restlessly tore into him.
Just what would it feel like to be devoured alive by the disgusting monsters?
Jin-Woo frowned deeply as he quickly scanned the interior of the room, searching for the boss.
‘There it is.’
A huge Hobgoblin, definitely the boss of this dungeon, sat arrogantly over yonder on the other side of the boss room.
With its subordinates all too preoccupied with the fresh prey, there was not one guard around the boss itself, which meant that this was the perfect opportunity.
‘Dash!’
Jin-Woo immediately dashed past the Hobgoblins in the blink of an eye and arrived before the boss.
“Kkieehk?!”
The surprised Hobgoblin boss quickly stood up, but before it could complete the action, its head fell and rolled on the ground.
Plop.
Tumble, tumble.
Tti-ring!
[You’ve killed the owner of this dungeon.]
[Level up!]
‘Ah, hang on a sec.’
Only after he had sliced the boss’s head off did Jin-Woo remember the existence of the Rune Stone.
‘There was no need to lure them out with a bait, was there? I could’ve just learned the Stealth skill and sneaked closer, couldn’t I?’
Jin-Woo shifted his gaze over to what little remained of the convict and clicked his tongue.
Of course, he wasn’t feeling any sympathy for the b*stard there.
‘Well, whatever…..’
In any case, his plan was a success.
Part 5. Cogwheel
It wasn’t difficult to deal with the group of confused and leaderless Hobgoblins.
“Kiiieek!!”
“kiiieaahhk!!!”
“Kyahk!!”
The Hobgoblins ran around trying to escape from Jin-Woo, but were all hunted down soon afterwards.
“Kkyaaahkk!”
When he killed the very last one, another feel-good message popped into his view.
[Level up!]
‘It rose up again?’
His expression brightened up after this rather unexpected reward of the day’s labour fell into his lap.
Jin-Woo cleaned all the blood off the Poison Fang of Kasaka, and along with all the magic crystals extracted from the Hobgoblins, stored them inside his Inventory, before summoning his Status Window.
Tti-ring!
Name: Seong Jin-Woo
Level: 27
Class: None
Title: Slaughterer of Wolves
HP: 5,114
MP: 548
Tiredness: 0
[Stats]
Strength: 72
Stamina: 43
Agility: 82
Intelligence: 39
Perception: 69
(Available points to distribute: 5)
Physical damage reduction: 20%
[Skills]
Passive skills:
– (Unknown) Lv. Max
– Tenacity Lv. 1
Active skills:
– Dash Lv. 1
– Intimidation Lv. 1
[Equipped items]
Gatekeeper’s Necklace (A)
Before he knew it, his level was almost near the ’30’ mark.
Jin-Woo wasn’t expecting much from this dungeon at the time of hunting down the weak Goblins by the entrance. But, well, he got a level up by killing the Hobgoblin boss, and then another one from hunting down every single one of the Hobgoblin underlings, as well. His level rose up by two in such a short time.
What a lucky day it was for him, every single strong monster being in the boss room and all.
‘No, hang on a bit here. It’s a bit too much to call this good luck, huh.’
Three diverging pathways, and the difficulty of the boss room….
If the low-ranked Hunters got too conceited after hunting down weak Goblins and arrogantly stepped into the boss room, then they might have met with a serious accident from the appearance of all these Hobgoblins.
Unlike the Goblins, Hobgoblins were pretty tough monsters to contend with.
‘There are some instances of Hobgoblins appearing in dungeons full of Goblins, but….’
Well, it was still very rare to see such a big group of Hobgoblins in a single location as it was in the case of this dungeon.
Really now, it was utterly impossible to predict what might happen inside a dungeon. Someone’s lucky day might turn into someone else’s worst nightmare.
The only protection one had in this place was the one’s own power.
That was why Jin-Woo wanted to get stronger. Surviving inside a dungeon was one thing, but what if there was a dungeon break near the hospital where his mother was staying?
What if, he got sneak-attacked by a monster while out walking on the street?
No, the monsters wouldn’t be the only problems to worry about, either.
Hunters were also dangerous existences, just as much as the monsters themselves. Even if various organisations were trying to manage them, there would always be a limit.
Indeed, he needed to possess the necessary strength to protect himself.
‘There are limits to how powerful a Hunter could become.’
However, there was no such thing for himself.
Theoretically, he could grow stronger indefinitely as long as his Stats increased and he found the right type of equipment to wear.
And today, one more method of getting stronger had been added to his arsenal. It was none other than the Rune Stones!
Jin-Woo pulled out the Rune Stone from his pocket.
Just like with other items, the information on the stone floated up like a hologram projection.
[Rune Stone: Stealth]
You can absorb the skill by breaking this Rune Stone.
To those who didn’t know, this thing would’ve come across as a small pebble with weird letters carved on the surface, but if you were a Hunter, you’d be salivating like crazy regardless of what your rank was.
High-ranked Hunters would’ve used it for themselves, while the lower-ranked ones would’ve sold it to the higher ranked Hunters.
And a Rune Stone containing rare skills, such as this one with the ‘Stealth’ skill, would’ve especially fetched a large amount of money. When placed in an auction, this particular stone should fetch at least a few billion Won, and when sold through the black market, several times more than that.
There was only one reason why it would be more expensive in the black market. Because, there would be no official record of who bought what with how much money, that was why.
Having a hidden skill was the same thing as possessing one more powerful weapon.
‘….Just like how Kahng Tae-Sik had been hiding his Stealth skill.’
If it weren’t for his high Perception Stat, Jin-Woo would’ve been killed for sure. Thinking about that sent chills down his spine.
‘Let’s forget about selling this. I can always make money later on.’
He’d not fall for the monetary temptation right now. His current priority was to become stronger than ever before, after all.
There was no need to even mention just how useful this rare ‘Stealth’ skill would prove to be in the future.
“And to think, this little stone is worth several houses, no, several buildings, even.”
Still, Jin-Woo quickly did something he’d never have dreamed of doing in the past.
When he squeezed his hand tightly, the Rune Stone shattered into pieces without much resistance.
Crack.
A reddish aura seeped out from the cracks of the Rune Stone and slowly wrapped around his body.
It was almost the same as when receiving the effects of the healing magic. Only the colour was wrong, being red and not blue.
In any case, it wasn’t a bad sensation.
The reddish aura circling around him smoothly entered through his nose and was absorbed into his lungs. Right away, he could sense an unknown power well up inside of him.
A familiar mechanical beep went off shortly afterwards, too.
Tti-ring!
[You’ve learned ‘Skill: Stealth’.]
[You can now use ‘Skill: Stealth’.]
‘Nice!’
He managed to successfully absorb the skill.
He was feeling rather nervous since this would be his first time using a Rune Stone to learn a skill, but the whole process turned out to be unexpectedly quick and simple.
‘So, does this mean that I can use Stealth now?’
His heart began pounding harder from the sense of accomplishment after learning a rare skill.
Well, the wise elders, they said that seeing was believing, so….
Jin-Woo activated his new skill right away.
‘Stealth.’
Just as he finished thinking about activating it, his body vanished from his own view. From the tips of his fingers right down to his toes, every part of him became transparent.
What a strange feeling it was, unable to see his own hands right in front of his eyes.
‘What would happen if I do this?’
Since he thought about it, Jin-Woo quickly summoned his dagger from the Inventory to confirm.
Then, he sensed gripping something in his hand. Rather mystifyingly, though, he could sense it but couldn’t see it.
‘As expected….’
Just like the knife that Kahng Tae-Sik had been carrying around, the ‘Stealth’ skill was also applied to his Poison Fang of Kasaka.
As he thought, it wasn’t that Kahng Tae-Sik’s weapon was strange, it was simply the power of this skill, instead.
‘I wonder, just how far does this skill cover?’

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