SOLO LEVELING NOVEL, CHAPTER 35

Jin-Woo picked a pebble up from the ground, and it too disappeared from the sight.
‘Can I do that with this, too?’
He got even more curious, so he reached out and touched the shoulder of the dead Hobgoblin, but nothing happened next. It seemed that there definitely was a limit to this skill.
At least, he was now sure of the clothes he wore and the objects held in his hand being affected by the skill.
It happened right then.
[You’ve exhausted all of your Mana and ‘Skill: Stealth’ will be deactivated.]
“Eh?”
Suddenly, ‘Stealth’ came undone.
‘But, it has been only a few seconds, though??’
Jin-Woo had been moving his body this way and that, trying to familiarise himself with the state of being cloaked, but after the skill came undone all by itself, he hurriedly summoned the skill list and confirmed the details with a flustered look on his face.
[Skills]
Passive skills:
– (Unknown) Lv. Max
– Tenacity Lv. 1
Active skills:
– Dash Lv. 1
– Intimidation Lv. 1
– Stealth Lv. 1
What he sought was the information on the Stealth skill.
The relevant words quickly floated up before his eyes.
Tti-ring!
[Skill: Stealth Lv. 1]
Active skill.
Mana required to activate: 200
Simultaneously cloaks the body and hides all traces of the skill holder. During its activation, 10 Mana will be spent every second.
He needed 200 Mana to activate, and further 10 would be spent every bloody second?!
“Hah….”
No wonder his MP couldn’t hold up.
[MP: 7/548]
His remaining Mana of 7 looked rather pitiful to his eyes.
‘It’s really all spent up, huh.’
Currently, the maximum amount of Mana he could store was around 550. If he were to activate the Stealth skill once, he’d be able to maintain the cloaked state for around 35 seconds.
But, if he were to use other skills, then he’d not even get the full 35 seconds, either.
‘Now that I think about it, even Kahng Tae-Sik cancelled his Stealth pretty quickly, didn’t he?’
He didn’t do that accidentally, as it turned out.
If a high-ranking Hunter like Kahng Tae-Sik couldn’t keep the skill going for long, then it meant that lower-ranked Hunters wouldn’t even be able to use it.
“….My Mana is the issue here, huh.”
Until now, he had invested all his Stat points on every Stat other than Intelligence, and not even once did his MP value rise up from doing that.
In other words, he now needed to raise the Intelligence Stat as well….
‘I guess it’s about time I did that.’
Still, it kind of felt like a waste investing his hard-earned Stat points on a non-combat related Stat just so he could use a skill for a few seconds longer.
‘Compared to other Stats, Intelligence just has too low of an efficiency.’
Strength, Stamina, Agility, and Perception.
He had personally felt the effects of those four Stats increasing. As they increased in value, he became physically stronger and stronger.
The only Stat that he couldn’t sense any tangible change taking place inside him was this Intelligence, although it had climbed up a bit now.
‘I mean, it’s now almost four times the value compared to when I was a level 1.’
If he were to really dig around and find the difference, then it’d be his increased MP value. That was all, really.
So, to invest his points on this Stat based only on a single result like that…..
‘It’s just too wasteful.’
Those points would become his flesh and blood if he were to invest them elsewhere. The only conclusion he could draw here was to continue on with his levelling up until he no longer had to worry about his MP.
Meanwhile, he’d spend his precious Stat points on other, better Stats….
‘My Stat points….’
He abruptly recalled that he still had five extra points he got as the reward from the emergency quest.
He pondered for a second or two on whether he should invest that on ‘Intelligence’, but in the end, he spent 3 points on Strength and the other 2 on Stamina.
[Stats]
Strength: 75
Stamina: 45
Agility: 82
Intelligence: 39
Perception: 69
(Available points to distribute: 0)
Reduction in physical damage: 20%
‘As I thought, numbers ending in 5s are the best.’
As a satisfied smile formed on Jin-Woo’s face…
RUMBLE….
The earthquake inside the interior of the dungeon became too severe for him to ignore.
‘Is it the one hour mark already?’
There was no more time to waste here.
Jin-Woo closed his Status Window. He had been deliberately wasting time, waiting for the Gate to nearly close, but if he stayed here for a second longer, he might get trapped inside, unable to leave forever.
Before leaving, Jin-Woo turned around and swept his gaze around the boss room one more time.
‘I extracted all the magic crystals, and….’
Well, it looked like he hadn’t missed a thing.
After confirming this fact, he rapidly disappeared down the exit.
RUMBLE…
As if to warn those still inside that the Gate was about to close, the dungeon began shaking even harder than before.
***
With excellent timing, agents from the Association’s Investigation Department arrived in front of the Gate. Their eyes grew real round after spotting Jin-Woo leisurely exiting from the Gate as it gradually closed behind him.
“H-Hunter-nim!! Are there any other survivors besides you?”
“No. No one else.”
“Euh!!”
The expressions of the agents hardened in an instant.
Nine people entered it, yet only three walked out alive. This undoubtedly qualified as a huge incident.
What with several similarly bad incidents occurring within a single district, it was little wonder why these Association agents felt like they had stepped on an almighty pile of dog poo at this very moment.
They wanted to make sure there were no other survivors, but the Gate closed on them so that was no longer possible, too.
This was precisely the reason why Jin-Woo waited around until the time limit was almost up, however.
‘Well, I can’t let them know that there indeed was a survivor, now can I?’
With this, the testimonies of the three survivors would have to suffice. One of the agents spoke with a complicated tone of voice.
“Just now, the Investigation Department has received a telephone call from the chairman of the Geumgang Industries, wishing to hand himself over.”
It was here that Song Chi-Yeol entered into the conversation.
“The chairman of the Geumgang Industries, you say?”
“He’s the father of the victim, and he allegedly has paid off the Hunter Kahng Tae-Sik from the Monitoring Division to murder the convicts.”
“Oh….”
The chairman had confessed to everything after he heard that Kahng Tae-Sik was indeed successful in killing the rapist.
‘Although, it wasn’t Kahng Tae-Sik but me….’
Cops headed there, and the Association came here, it seemed.
Jin-Woo listened quietly before asking a question.
“If that’s the case, there is no problem on this side, isn’t that right?”
At Jin-Woo’s question, the agents formed troubled expressions.
“Yes, basically.”
There was a clear evidence of Kahng Tae-Sik’s crimes, and these three people fought Kahng Tae-Sik in order to survive. Just as Jin-Woo asked, there was nothing here that could be seen as problematic.
….Except for one thing.
One of the agents asked the part that felt the most suspicious to him.
“Just who delivered the final killing blow to Mister Kahng Tae-Sik, who was a rank B Hunter?”
The agents had only arrived at the scene not too long ago, and they were not briefed on the minute details of the situation yet.
‘Oh, well. The distance from here to the Association headquarters is really far, so it can’t be helped, huh. It’s already quite commendable that they had arrived here before the Gate actually closed.’
They surely had to leave the HQ and drive super fast to get here in time as soon as receiving the call.
Hints of fatigue were clearly visible on the faces of the agents.
Just before Jin-Woo was about to speak the truth, he recalled the face of Yu Jin-Ho.
‘What a missed opportunity this is, but looks like I won’t be helping that kid out with his raid quota after all.’
By making an excuse of him being a Re-Awakened Hunter, and going ahead with the re-assignment test, he’d not be able to humour Yu Jin-Ho’s plan anymore.
What Yu Jin-Ho looked for was a low-ranked Hunter that possessed incredible skills. As soon as Jin-Woo’s ranking was re-assigned and it dramatically rose up, everything would’ve been for nothing.
However, what was up here?
When Jin-Woo imagined the dejected, depressed face of Yu Jin-Ho, he found that sight rather humorous, instead of feeling apologetic.
Sure, Jin-Woo was kind of bummed out about the promised building, but, oh well.
‘Well, naught I can do here now.’
Jin-Woo thought as such and was about to open his mouth, but then….
“It was me.”
….His head naturally swivelled towards the source of that voice. And he saw Yi Ju-Hui, her wide-open eyes full of surprise, staring at Song Chi-Yeol.
“But, ahjussi….?”
Before Jin-Woo could ask what his intentions were, Song Chi-Yeol took the initiative and walked closer to the agents.
“I’m the one who killed Kahng Tae-Sik.”
The questioning agent still didn’t look convinced, however.
“Song Chi-Yeol Hunter-nim, are you saying that you brought down Kahng Tae-Sik Hunter-nim?”
His suspicions had merit; not only was Song Chi-Yeol a rank C Hunter, but he also had lost his left arm as well. On the other hand, wasn’t Kahng Tae-Sik often referred to as a high-ranked Hunter, someone who was ranked B?
The power of high ranked Hunters easily exceeded one’s imaginations. The accepted norm was that the difference in strength between a rank B and a rank C was far, far wider than that between a rank C and a rank D.
It was here that Song Chi-Yeol began chuckling amiably.
“Have you all forgotten just who is behind me?”
“….Ah!”
Just as the gazes of everyone focused on her, Yi Ju-Hui’s face reddened and she quickly lowered her head.
Yi Ju-Hui was a B-ranked Hunter. She hadn’t been mentioned until now because her class was not combat-related, but when looking only at her rank, then she was a high-ranked Hunter, just like Kahng Tae-Sik had been.
Why wouldn’t a rank C Hunter be able to defeat a rank B Hunter, when a rank B Healer was lending her aid from the side?
The agents finally formed expressions of understanding.
Taking the opportunity born from the momentary confusion, Jin-Woo stood real close to Song Chi-Yeol and whispered to the older man.
“Why are you lying to them, ahjussi?”
Song Chi-Yeol replied back in a whisper as well.
“I thought that there must be a good reason why you were trying to conceal your abilities. Did I overstep my boundaries?”
Of course, he didn’t. Thanks to him, Jin-Woo would get to avoid dealing with many inconvenient matters. This was the reason why one could never discount wisdom formed from years of experience.
“No, you didn’t.”
“I’ve received a lot of your help until now, so I’m glad to hear that I was able to help out you now, even if it’s just a small thing,”
Meanwhile, one of the agents walked closer to the two men.
“Mister Song Chi-Yeol, why don’t you come with us? Help us for a minute or two with writing up the report.”
“Alright. Let’s get going, then.”
Song Chi-Yeol left for the Association along with the agents, and before anyone knew it, only Jin-Woo and Yi Ju-Hui remained on the scene.
The sun had set a long time ago.
Ju-Hui must’ve found Jin-Woo and the somewhat altered aura he emitted a bit foreign, because she hesitated greatly before cautiously approaching him.
“Would you like to walk with me for a little while?”
‘Is she talking about that dinner date?’
He was starving after moving around for a bit today, so he found her suggestion to his liking.
Jin-Woo agreed with a welcoming expression.
“Okay, let’s.”
As if they had made a promise earlier, the two young people began quietly walking side by side under the soft lights of the street lamps.
“….”
Ju-Hui’s eyes remained fixed to her toes.
Because, if she tried to raise her head, her gaze automatically drifted towards to her side. She tried very hard not to think about it, but it was of no use.
In the past, she found him comfortable to talk to, but now, the current Jin-Woo was overflowing with this certain sense of power. She found it much harder to talk to him now as a result.
‘Just what happened….?’
He was strong enough to subdue a rank B Hunter without too much trouble. He had changed so drastically.
Since he requested her to keep it a secret, she wasn’t planning to pry, but his amazing transformation kept tugging at the corner of her mind.

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