SOLO LEVELING NOVEL, CHAPTER 39

Ahn Sahng-Min became utterly speechless.

The best anyone could hope for, in terms of financial return from a Gate ranked C, was only around 200 million Won.

Paying 250 million won was, simply put, being a hopeless moron who paid way too much.

“Originally, the bidding price of this Gate was only around 70 million. But, when I raised the bid to 100 million, these b*stards suddenly upped it all the way to 250 million, Chief.”

The upper limit for a single C-rank Gate set by the White Tiger Guild was 100 million Won. One could now clearly see why Hyun Ki-Cheol was feeling rather aggrieved at the moment.

‘Who are these b*stards?!’

Tap, tap, tap, tap….

Ahn Sahng-Min’s hands typed on the keyboard quite rapidly. And soon, the search results filled up the computer screen.

Just as Hyun Ki-Cheol had said, one raid team was snapping up all the rank C Gates appearing in this district with nonsensical speed while paying an equally gobsmacking amount of money.

“What the hell, who are these crazy b*stards….?”

This area was the White Tiger’s backyard, their jurisdiction.

At first, Ahn Sahng-Min thought of the possibility that other Guilds were possibly interfering with their work.

‘No, hang on. That’s not possible, is it?’

There was no large Guild stupid enough to start something with White Tiger openly in this fashion.

Even if it was one of the five top Guilds in South Korea, it would have to risk getting destroyed in return by clashing against the White Tiger.

‘So, it’s not a Guild, then…..’

In that case, who and why?

Ahn Sahng-Min swallowed his saliva and accessed the information on this strange raid team and its members.

The leader’s name was apparently ‘Yu Jin-Ho’.

“First time I hear that name.”

It was Ahn Sahng-Min’s job to scout new recruits for the Guild. That was why he had remembered the names of freelancer Hunters who had at least displayed a modicum of excellence in the past.

However, this ‘Yu Jin-Ho’ really was someone he didn’t know.

‘Okay, I’ll come back to you later.’

He then proceeded to slowly scroll down the list of the team’s members, hoping to spot any familiar names on it.

And then, there was one.

One name kind of stood out.

‘Seong Jin-Woo? Seong Jin-Woo….. Where have I heard this name before?’

Ahn Sahng-Min did his best to dig through his memory, until he finally recalled the incident of the dual dungeon from two months ago that had been the topic of a rather lively discussion among those who went there.

Indeed, it was none other than the White Tiger Guild that went to assist the Association during that event.

“Hey, Ki-Cheol-ah, do you remember that dual dungeon incident two months ago? The one where our Hunters had to go and take a look?”

“Yes, Chief. I remember. When we got there, we couldn’t find any monsters and there was only one survivor.”

“What was the name of that survivor? You remember it?”

Hyun Ki-Cheol possessed a pretty solid brain.

No, it wasn’t to the extent of other people praising him as a genius, but as far as his ability to remember things was concerned, he was really rather exceptional.

There wasn’t even any real need to go through a search process here. Because Hyun Ki-Cheol replied right away.

“It’s Seong Jin-Woo, a rank E Hunter.”

‘I knew it!’

He wasn’t sure of it, but well, he was proven right once more.

Ahn Sahng-Min instinctively realised it; there was something fishy going on here.

Not once did his instincts that activated only in these sorts of situation let him down. Never.

Ahn Sahng-Min shouted out an order to the rest of the employees in the Second Division.

“Everyone, stop what you’re doing, and get me every single data and information on the Hunters Yu Jin-Ho, ranked D, and Seong Jin-Woo, ranked E!! Right now!”

The responses from these excellent employees, when facing a dangerous situation regarding their own survival, simply exceeded one’s imaginations.

It wasn’t for nothing that they were called the elites of all elites!

Reports came in one after the other, fast.

As it turned out, Yu Jin-Ho didn’t possess any particularly noteworthy background that required an immediate attention. Disregarding the fact that he was the second son of Yujin Constructions’ owner, he could be described as ordinary, even.

However, Seong Jin-Woo was quite a different story altogether.

“Since that dual dungeon incident, he’s been involved in three more incidents, and he walked away from all of them unscathed?”

When Ahn Sahng-Min spoke in a questioning tone of voice, Hyun Ki-Cheol quickly followed up.

“Not only that, he’s a rank E Hunter too, Chief.”

The first time Seong Jin-Woo and Yu Jin-Ho met was when the latter went for his very first raid. Only the two of them walked away alive.

And now, these two had formed a raid team and were going around like a pair of madmen, clearing two, three dungeons in a single day.

“This definitely stinks….”

“What could they possibly be doing in the dungeons?”

“I wonder…. hold on. I remember now. There was a rumour about a really influential owner of a big company busy wooing S-ranked Hunters in private doing the rounds, wasn’t there?”

“Yes, there was a rumour like that.”

“And that Yu Jin-Ho is the son of a really influential owner of a company….”

Indeed, Yu Myung-Hwan, Yu Jin-Ho’s father, showed some movements of wanting to create a Guild of his own.

It was one of the most tightly guarded secrets only a few in the world of Hunters were privileged enough to know.

If that was the case, then what Yu Jin-Ho was doing right now wouldn’t be completely unrelated to that.

“….Could it be?!”

A single puzzle piece fell to its place inside Ahn Sahng-Min’s head.

If his guess was right, then it made sense!

Seeing that rapid change in his superior officer’s expression, Hyun Ki-Cheol nervously swallowed his saliva.

Ahn Sahng-Min spoke with more than enough confidence in his voice.

“This guy…. he’s definitely a Re-Awakened Hunter!!”

“A Re-Awakened Hunter, you say??”

Hyun Ki-Cheol’s eyes became round dots resembling a rabbit’s eyes.

But, Ahn Sahng-Min was sure of it.

“That’s right.”

A rank E Hunter was no different from a regular person. If there was an incident, then such Hunters were as good as dead.

However, this Seong Jin-Woo kept surviving, totally unhurt to boot, from several large-scale incidents that killed most of the participating Hunters.

‘Of course, he could be lucky. Sure. However….’

However, the third and last incident….

The situation with this particular incident caused by the agent of the Monitoring Division, Kahng Tae-Sik, was rather different from the rest.

The record said that a rank C Mage combined strength with a rank B Healer to defeat Kahng Tae-Sik. (TL: I’ve changed Sorcerer to Mage.)

‘Bullsh*t. Hunters in the Monitoring Division all specialise in combat.’

If Kahng Tae-Sik wasn’t a moron, he’d try to dispose of the highest ranked Hunter with the low combat potential, the rank B Healer first.

‘You telling me that a rank C Mage-type Hunter managed to stop him by himself?’

The thing was, the Mage-type Hunters were weak against close-combat type Hunters, even more so against the ‘Assassin’ types.

Unless Kahng Tae-Sik underestimated his opponents and ignored the presence of the rank B Healer, it might be possible, but….. But, the Hunter with three years of experience in the Monitoring Division wouldn’t make such a blunder, thought Ahn Sahng-Min.

‘The one who stopped Kahng Tae-Sik wasn’t this rank C Song Chi-Yeol, but someone else accompanying them.’

There was no physical evidence, but he was getting more and more sure of his guesses being right.

Seong Jin-Woo now possessed abilities matching that of a high-ranking Hunter after going through a Re-Awakening process.

Yu Jin-Ho coincidentally took part in the raid and saw the abilities of Seong Jin-Woo. And now, Yu Jin-Ho was testing out this and that in preparation to scout Seong Jin-Woo to his father’s new Guild.

When he thought like that, everything seemed to click.

‘This is a huge piece of news.’

If Seong Jin-Woo was indeed a Re-Awakened Hunter, then there would only be a few people, including Yu Jin-Ho, who knew his true worth.

Just who was Yu Myung-Hwan? He wouldn’t want to accept any wannabes and idiots. Definitely not. Not only that, as one of the founding members of the Guild, too.

This could be an excellent chance to snatch away a wonderful individual marked by none other than Yu Myung-Hwan.

‘If he fought and defeated rank B Kahng Tae-Sik, then his abilities should be at least B, no?’

The priority now was to snatch this talent before other Guilds, no, Yu Myung-Hwan, managed to scout him.

Well, after the inevitable re-assignment test, the competition would become really hectic, after all.

Besides all that – even if Seong Jin-Woo wasn’t as strong as he suspected, it didn’t really matter.

There were only a few Re-Awakened Hunters in the entire world, so the media’s attention would no doubt be directed to this guy. And that would precisely be the kind of public exposure that no amount of money could buy.

Whatever the case may be, Ahn Sahng-Min couldn’t afford to let this guy slip through his fingers.

‘I wouldn’t be able to do anything if he already signed a contract with Yu Myung-Hwan, though…’

However, the odds of that was low.

The proof was all those tests taking place in the C-ranked dungeons.

‘There is a good chance that they haven’t decided on anything yet.’

Which meant, the White Tiger Guild had a real shot here as well.

‘I shouldn’t be wasting time here.’

Ahn Sahng-Min picked up his coat hanging on the back of his chair and quickly put it on.

“Ki-Cheol-ah, let’s go.”

He also didn’t forget to mobilise his right-hand man, of course.

Ahn Sahng-Min was strict with Hyun Ki-Cheol all the time simply because the former believed that no one was more suitable to take over from him than his current deputy.

Meanwhile, Hyun Ki-Cheol’s eyes opened wider.

“Pardon me? Where are we going, Chief?”

“What do you mean, where? We’re going to scout a new talent, that’s what.”

“And you have to personally go to scout this new guy??”

“Why not? Is there a law against doing that?”

Ahn Sahng-Min retorted and hurriedly left the office, causing Hyun Ki-Cheol to tilt his head this way and that, but still, he chased after the senior officer.

‘Now this is so strange….’

It’d been over two years since he became the Vice Chief, yet it was his first time seeing Ahn Sahng-Min personally go out on a job.

Part 7. Premonition of a huge jackpot

The dungeons Yu Jin-Ho’s team booked for the day were two. And the distance between the two Gates was fairly substantial.

In order to confirm their suspicions with their own eyes, Ahn Sahng-Min and Hyun Ki-Cheol separated and went to different Gates each. They constantly called each other and waited for Yu Jin-Ho’s team to show up.

‘It’s still pretty chilly out, isn’t it?’

Ahn Sahng-Min bought a cup of instant coffee from a vending machine near the Gate’s location.

It had already been one solid hour of waiting for Yu Jin-Ho’s team to show up. For some reason, though, he was feeling more expectant than bored right now.

Been a long time, but his heart was beating fast in pure anticipation.

‘If my guesses are right, then that man will be a huge scoop that has appeared in a really long time. Not only that, a very special scoop, too!’

Ahn Sahng-Min became a Division Chief at a really young age. All thanks to his instincts, actually. His instincts played a crucial role in the White Tiger becoming the large Guild of today.

And that instinct was telling him this right now.

That there was a real chance that this Seong Jin-Woo would lift the White Tiger Guild up even higher than ever before.

‘Other people would say that I’ve lost my mind.’

Well, Seong Jin-Woo was still officially a rank E, after all.

However, things visible to one’s eyes didn’t tell the whole story. If that was the case, then he wouldn’t even be here right now.

And so, as he glared at the Gate with hawk-like eyes from afar, when….

Ring… Ring….

Hyun Ki-Cheol gave him a call.

“Yes, Ki-Cheol-ah. Any news?”

– “Chief, Yu Jin-Ho and his team have arrived on sight.”

“Alright. Don’t get too excited and keep your eyes on them. And report back to me every single little thing that happens there.”

– “Yes, Chief…. Uh? Eh? C-Chief!!”

The voice coming out of the phone’s receiver sounded rather weird all of a sudden.

‘Did this idiot get discovered or something?’

Ahn Sahng-Min became urgent too and hurriedly called out.

“What happened? Speak up, will ya?”

– “Chief, you were right!!”

“What?”

Ahn Sahng-Min’s heart began beating faster and faster.

– “I can see that only Yu Jin-Ho and Seong Jin-Woo are entering the Gate, no one else.”

“Of course. Seong Jin-Woo is being tested, after all!”

As he thought!

His guesses were correct. Not once did his gut feeling let him down in situations like this.

‘Good!’

Ahn Sahng-Min clenched his fist real tightly.

‘While you people remain unconvinced and unsure, we will make the move first. The White Tiger Guild will definitely take Seong Jin-Woo away from you.’

Why? Because the White Tiger had Ahn Sahng-Min, Chief of the Second Division, that’s why.

As Ahn Sahng-Min bathed in the ecstasy of victory, Hyun Ki-Cheol’s voice continued to travel through the airwaves and came out from the phone once more.

– “What should I do now? Should I go over to you, Chief?”

“No. Remain there and observe for a while longer.”

– “Pardon? But, Isn’t Chief’s suspicions more or less confirmed with this?”

“I’m kind of curious just how long they will take to clear the dungeon, that’s all. How many hours will they need to clear a rank C dungeon?”

– “A rank A Hunter would need at least two hours to solo a rank C dungeon, Chief.”

“So what? You can’t wait that long?”

– “How can that be, Chief? No, I’m just worried about you being all alone and lonely over there, that’s why I’m asking you.”

What a faster-than-light change in his attitude that was.

This was why Ahn Sahng-Min could never dislike Hyun Ki-Cheol.

“Stop worrying about me and make sure to keep your eyes wide open to see when they are coming out, okay?”

 

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