SOLO LEVELING NOVEL, CHAPTER 37

The Gate seen behind the waiting group seemed a bit too small for a C rank.

After Jin-Woo and Yu Jin-Ho exited from the van, the waiting Hunters quickly gathered around them. For some reason, there was almost no ‘normal’ person in this group.

Most of them seemed to have some difficulty with their mobility, there was one person who looked to be suffering from an illness, while another was clearly an alcoholic.

Not only that, there was an underage girl too, someone that neither the Association nor the Guild would admit to their ranks. From a casual glance, she looked to be a high-schooler.

“Is it okay to bring a child here?”

“I asked for a professional advice, and apparently, there is no problem according to the law, hyung-nim. Actually, the only reason why people don’t hire underage Hunters is that there would be hell to pay if something went sideways.”

Jin-Woo nodded his head.

‘In that case, it should be fine.’

Really now, only Jin-Woo and Yu Jin-Ho were going to enter the Gates anyway, so the odds of something going wrong were as good as 0%.

Indeed, these people were only here to make up the numbers. In order to get the permit to clear a C-rank Gate, one needed at least ten Hunters, after all.

That was why eight extra people had to be recruited.

And sure enough, these eight understood very well why they were here, too.

These people all possessed the Hunter licence, but couldn’t act as one due to their circumstances. Most who answered the call to gather were suffering from the hardships of life in various ways.

Yu Jin-Ho took a step forward.

“My name is Yu Jin-Ho, and I’ll be taking the lead in this operation. And this gentleman beside me is Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim who will accompany me to the dungeons. Everyone, your role is to wait outside the Gates until we return.”

One of the Hunters cautiously raised his hand.

“Excuse me… If we really do that, we can get 3 million Won?”

No need to participate in any huntings.

No actual need to even enter the dungeon itself.

3 million Won per raid.

For a payment of simply lending one’s name so they would be permitted to enter the Gates, it sounded just too good to be true.

This man named Yu Jin-Ho didn’t even look like that Seon-Dal character who sold the Taedong River, but the terms on offer were so good that the gathered Hunters couldn’t help but be anxious. (TL: Kim Seon-Dal is a main character of an ancient Korean novel; he is a pro swindler and manages to ‘sell’ a river to the wealthiest man in Korea.)

“I guarantee you that the terms offered are for real.”

Yu Jin-Ho stood stiffly, looking rather serious now. Even his expression had become grave.

“However, you are not to discuss any facet of the events that’ll take place here with anyone. Do not forget that the moment you break the vow of secrecy, you’ll be forced to pay back ten times the money you were paid, as per the contract you all signed.”

Chatter, chatter….

Hunters murmured to each other in hushed whispers.

Just what were these two young Hunters planning to do inside the Gate that they offered up such enticing terms?

They were curious, but no one came out and asked.

That was also the part of the vow of secrecy clause within the contract.

– Absolutely no questioning what happens inside dungeons.

Jin-Woo didn’t want anyone to know of his special constitution, and Yu Jin-Ho wanted to become the Master of a Guild, so there was a serious need to make sure that none of their teammates blabbered their mouth to someone else.

‘……’

Instead of asking questions, the Hunters began whispering to each other now.

“Still, can those two survive a rank C Dungeon all by themselves?”

“But, they don’t look that strong, don’t they?”

“If these two are capable enough to clear a rank C dungeon, wouldn’t it be better to enter a large Guild and get access to higher ranked dungeons?”

“You’re so right about that.”

They all spoke in a suspicious tone of voice, but not one person said they were quitting.

That was par for the course, really – the terms were too good to give up from their perspective. Even Jin-Woo got hooked by the promise of the two million Won, after all.

The reason for the extra one million Won, compared to what Hwang Dong-Seok had offered, was because of the clause on the participants maintaining their secrecy.

While the explanations carried on, the time was being wasted somewhat.

Jin-Woo confirmed with his watch and spoke to Yu Jin-Ho.

“We should get started.”

“Understood, hyung-nim.”

Yu Jin-Ho answered right away and clapped his hands in order to draw the attention to himself.

“Well, that will be all for the explanations. I won’t force you to participate. So, is there anyone among you who’d like to quit now?”

“…..”

“…..”

Of course, no one raised their hands.

Just before the duo tried to enter the Gate….

“Ah! Hyung-nim, hold on for a moment.”

Recalling something he had completely forgotten about until now, Yu Jin-Ho hurriedly ran back to the van.

He then put several things on the entirety of his body and walked back to the Gate in an unsteady and difficult fashion.

“What…. is that?”

“It’s a full-set of reinforced armour, crafted by a famous Guild of master craftsmen in Italy. Hyung-nim, don’t you think we need at least this type of equipment if we were to clear a dungeon by ourselves?”

Jin-Woo slowly facepalmed.

“…”

Simply staring at that hunk of steel covering the kid from the tip of his toes all the way up to the crown of his head, Jin-Woo felt like his own breathing was getting all choked up and the like.

“What’s the matter, hyung-nim?”

Unable to watch on any longer, Jin-Woo reached out, yanked loose the longsword attached to Yu Jin-Ho’s waist, and dropped it on the ground.

“Uh, uh??”

Yu Jin-Ho tried to bend down in order to pick up the sword only to lose his balance, and he toppled over ungainly.

Plop.

Jin-Woo did his best to suppress the rising tides of anger and spoke with great difficulty.

“While I’m still being civil, take them off.”

“…..Yes.”

However, after struggling for a bit to stand back up, Yu Jin-Ho called out to Jin-Woo.

“H-hyung-nim….”

“What now?”

“Please help me. I can’t stand up.”

Jin-Woo spat out a long sigh while looking at Yu Jin-Ho reaching out to him.

*

“Will this be fine, hyung-nim?”

“Yeah.”

In the end, they agreed on the kid wearing a helmet, and nothing else.

With a satisfied face, Yu Jin-Ho jumped inside the Gate. Jin-Woo followed in right after without saying anything else.

As soon as the two men walked into the dungeon one by one, the remaining Hunters all slowly shuffled towards the Gate.

One of them piped up with a worried voice.

“Judging from the way they acted, they looked like a couple of amateurs….”

Another agreed, while staring at the Gate’s surface.

“You’re right.”

The two people’s conversation opened the floodgate of words from the remaining Hunters. Everyone began speaking their minds now.

“What will happen if those two get killed inside the dungeon?”

“Well, we all got paid the contract signing fee already, so….”

“Yeah, well. That’s true, too.”

“Wait, what were the names of those two again?”

“Hold on. So, it was….”

A man whose leg was in a plaster quickly pulled his phone out and searched the two’s names online.

“Yu Jin-Ho, Seong Jin-Woo….”

Another Hunter helped the man in crutches to stand straight while peeking into the phone as well. Whether he felt the ‘crutches’ needed help, or was just too impatient to find out the result of the online search, no one could tell.

“What the hell? The raid leader is only a rank D??”

Hearing that, everyone else stiffened up from the shock. However, what shocked them even more was the following search result.

“The dude next to the rank D is only a measly E???”

“Isn’t it way too dangerous for a rank E to enter a rank C Gate?”

“One D and an E wants to clear a rank C dungeon?!”

“How can that even be possible??”

“Also, the raid team leader has no record of leading a team before!”

“What the heck….? Why would these two young men….?”

Wasn’t this no different than committing suicide?

It was not for nothing that the Association had set a strict rule of one needing ten people, with five rank C Hunters, as the bare minimum if one wanted to enter a rank C Gate.

“Tsk, tsk…”

A male Hunter sporting a smattering of white hair pulled a cigarette out and lit it up.

“The arrogance of youth tends to catch many young people unawares.”

The cigarette smoke slowly rose up.

“….”

“….”

The Hunters all fell silent. They couldn’t help but feel awkward and bad, thinking that they were now a part of someone else’s suicide attempt.

Even if they were total strangers, no one liked seeing another person getting killed right in front of their eyes, or in this case, inside the Gate right in front of them.

Was that all?

What about the rest of the money?

They may have received the contract fee upfront, but they would’ve made a lot more by following the two young men around for the next 18 raids.

Regrettably, though – the odds of two young people coming back alive were simply too low.

“This…. Shouldn’t we report this to the Association, even if it’s now?”

“I wonder. Yeah, what if we get blamed for this?”

Then, this happened.

Buzz….

Jin-Woo and Yu Jin-Ho hurriedly emerged from the Gate.

“Pant, pant, pant….”

Yu Jin-Ho was panting laboriously. Steam slowly rose up from the bodies of two young men carrying tired expressions.

“Oh, ohh…”

“They managed to escape unhurt!”

“What a relief.”

Hunters welcomed the two with happy expressions.

They were all thinking that these two only roamed around the entrance of the dungeon like a pair of lost kids, because the time between them entering and leaving was fairly short.

However, what was going on here?

The expressions of the Hunters gradually changed.

Because, they all heard someone crying out in alarm, that was why.

“The, the Gate is closing!!”

What??

Everyone hurriedly shifted their gaze over to the Gate.

“Oh my gosh!”

“Look, look!!”

“They killed the b-boss??”

The Gate is turning blurry and illusory, just as it would when the boss of the dungeon was killed.

While the Hunters couldn’t hide their shocked disbelief, Jin-Woo utterly disregarded their gazes and quietly asked Yu Jin-Ho.

“Where is the next one?”

“It’s about an hour’s drive from here, hyung-nim.”

“Okay, let’s go.”

Jin-Woo and Yu Jin-Ho headed straight to the van.

Meanwhile, the eight Hunters stared at the duo’s backs with completely dumbfounded faces.

Realising that they weren’t following him, Yu Jin-Ho turned his head and called out to them.

“Let’s hurry up, everyone. We barely have enough time to go to two more Gates today.”

The jaws of the Hunters all dropped to the floor from that declaration.

Drop.

The middle-aged Hunter with the smattering of white hair, Yun Gwi-Won, was so stunned that he failed to realise his cigarette slipping out from his lips and falling to the ground.

‘Those two managed to clear a rank C dungeon, and they are going for another raid, too??’

It wasn’t only Yun Gwi-Won, though.

Everyone present was thinking the exact same thing.

‘Just who are these people???’

***

The first day.

Grrroooar….

A group of zombies rushed at the duo.

“Hyung-nim, they are coming!”

“Okay.”

Jin-Woo smoothly glided among the rushing zombies. Whenever he brushed past one, the head of an undead creature fell and rolled on the ground.

The number of zombies decreased quite rapidly.

Soon, only one remained.

Stab!

“Kkkroooarr!!”

When Jin-Woo stabbed his dagger deep into the last monster’s chest, a familiar mechanical beep rang inside his head.

Tti-ring!

[Level up!]

Yu Jin-Ho, who had been standing at the far back, gasped in admiration and clapped his hands enthusiastically.

“Hyung-nim, you’re so cool!!!”

“Magic crystals.”

“Ah. Okay.”

Yu Jin-Ho quickly pulled the bag out and began collecting the magic crystals.

It was around at this point.

The mechanical beeps didn’t end with the level up message and continued on.

Tti-ring!

[You’ve acquired ‘Skill: High-Grade Dagger Technique Lv. 1’]

Tti-ring!

[You’ve acquired ‘Skill: Vital Points Targetting Lv. 1’]

Tti-ring!

[‘Skill: Dash’ has levelled up!]

Jin-Woo’s expression brightened in an instant.

‘I’ve got new skills?’

Been a long time too, hasn’t it?

Feeling rather chuffed with himself, Jin-Woo quickly summoned his Skill Window.

[Skills]

Passive skills:

– (Unknown) Lv. Max

– Tenacity Lv. 1

– High-Grade Dagger Technique Lv. 1

Active skills:

– Dash Lv. 2

– Intimidation Lv. 1

– Stealth Lv. 1

– Vital Points Targetting Lv. 1

The Dash skill had levelled up after he constantly used it.

Also, in the passive and the active columns, High-Grade Dagger Technique and Vital Points Targetting had been added as well.

 

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