SOLO LEVELING NOVEL, CHAPTER 40

– “I’m sure nothing weird will happen here.”

“I’ll be right next to my phone, so if something does happen, give me a call right away.”

– “Got it, Chief.”

Ahn Sahng-Min ended the call only after making sure his right-hand man fully heard his ‘request’. It was at this point that he felt his starvation kick in.

Rumble…

‘I’ve been paying way too much attention on this matter….’

The lunch hour had flown by some time ago, but well, he’d been waiting with bated breaths for Seong Jin-Woo’s arrival and completely forgot to fill up in the meantime.

The thing was, he didn’t know when Yu Jin-Ho’s team would show up here and so, couldn’t leave his position to buy something to eat.

Now that he found himself some leeway, Ahn Sahng-Min looked around his vicinity to find a place to eat, before eventually settling on the local convenience store.

‘I’m not trying to skimp on food expenses, though….’

No one was around here to make fun out of him, yet he couldn’t help but think that it was a bit uncool to enter a restaurant or a diner all alone. So, after a lengthy deliberation, he chose the cup ramen from the convenience store, instead.

He poured the boiling water provided from the store in the cup and waited for three minutes before getting his wooden chopsticks ready, but then….

Ring….

“Eii! I’m trying to eat here, so who dares to call me now?!”

When he took a look at the phone’s screen, a familiar name showed up.

[Right arm]

‘Hyun Ki-Cheol, you dumba*s….’

Ahn Sahng-Min answered the call, full of irritation.

“Why are you calling me already?”

– “Chief, that’s not it…..”

“What do you mean, that’s not it?? If you’re calling me over nothing, you will be eating nothing but cup ramen as your lunch for the whole of next week!!”

– “That’s not it, Chief!! Those two came out of the Gate already!!”

Just like a paused frame of a movie, Ahn Sahng-Min’s hand froze in the mid-air, just before it could deliver chopsticks full of noodles to his mouth.

“What did you say??”

– “Just now, Yu Jin-Ho and Seong Jin-Woo came out from the Gate, Chief! And they are getting ready to leave along with the rest of the team!”

Indeed, he didn’t hear that wrong.

Ahn Sahng-Min hurriedly checked his watch.

“But, it hasn’t even been 30 minutes yet! Did they give up on the raid midway?”

– “No, Chief. The Gate is shaking right now.”

What nonsense was this?!

Even if the difficulty between different C-ranked dungeons varied somewhat, there was simply no way that someone could solo one of those in less than 30 minutes!!

“Check again!! Is the Gate closing for real?”

– “Yes, Chief. Should I record some footage and send it to you?”

“…No, no need.”

Ahn Sahng-Min ended the call and dazedly stared the empty air.

Clearing a C-ranked dungeon in 30 minutes when normally, a rank A Hunter would need two hours to do so?

What a funny notion that was, that man being only a rank B….

Using only the objective information available to make his educated guess, then at the bare minimum….

“He’s above rank A….”

Now, this was an unimaginably huge jackpot.

***

Outside the Gate….

“Hyung-nim. Is there some other business you need to attend to later?”

“No, not really. Why do you ask?”

“I haven’t seen you hurrying up this much with hunting before.”

Yu Jin-Ho was feeling truly astonished today.

He already knew very well that Jin-Woo was strong, but today, he seemed to be on another dimension altogether.

But, that was par for the course, really.

Jin-Woo inwardly laughed out.

‘Well, monsters in this dungeon were Werewolves, after all.’

[Title: Slaughterer of Wolves]

A Title given to a hunter skilled in hunting wolves. When facing animal-type monsters, all of your Stats will increase by 40%.

The buff given by the title ‘Slaughterer of Wolves’ of course came into effect against the Werewolves as well.

How could the monsters from a rank C dungeon contend with him, when his level was already so high to begin with, never mind the effect of that buff helping him out, too?

Thanks to that, Yu Jin-Ho had been kept real busy while trying to extract all those magic crystals from the dead monsters. He even had to drink five vials of the HP potion, too.

He shook his head several times, complaining that he wouldn’t be able to eat lunch now, after the potions filled him up completely.

‘That’s that, but….’

Jin-Woo slowly raised his head.

He had been sensing someone’s gaze coming from somewhere.

‘I don’t sense any magical energy, so he can’t be a Hunter.’

He took a look around, but couldn’t spot anyone suspicious.

If he got serious about discovering who it was, then he should be able to find the person; but then, as the target didn’t emit any killing intent or hostile intentions, it’d take a really long time to track the culprit down.

‘……’

It might be nothing, too.

Perhaps inevitably, the gaze disappeared before long.

“Hyung-nim, is everything alright?”

“….It’s nothing. Let’s get going.”

There was no time to waste here.

Jin-Woo took one last look around and climbed into the van.

*

He couldn’t sense anyone looking at him by the second Gate’s location.

….Both the times when he entered, and also when exiting the Gate.

‘Was I being overly cautious?’

What a relief it was, knowing that it wasn’t something serious.

Meanwhile, Yu Jin-Ho walked over and apologetically lowered his head.

“Hyung-nim, I’m really sorry about this. This is the last Gate for the day. Other ones were just too far from here.”

“Don’t worry about it. That’s not something you should apologise for, anyway.”

The sun was still pretty high up in the sky, but thanks to the duo’s antics, just about every Gate that appeared in the district had been taken care of, so their day had to come to an end here.

“Thank you all for working hard, everyone.”

“What do you mean, working hard. It’s you, the raid leader, who worked hardest.”

“See you tomorrow.”

“Take it easy now.”

After sending everyone away, the remaining two men climbed aboard the driver’s and the passenger’s seats of the van.

“Let me take you home, hyung-nim.”

Before anyone had noticed it, Yu Jin-Ho had become a trusty chauffeur. Him sitting behind the wheel looked perfectly normal now.

Jin-Woo looked Yu Jin-Ho with pitying eyes.

‘Just because he wants a shot at the position of the Guild Master, a scion of a wealthy family now has to work as a chauffeur….’

Yu Jin-Ho had been smiling brightly while pressing on the accelerator, before realising that Jin-Woo was staring at him and asked with an equally bright voice.

“Eh? Is there something on my face, hyung-nim?”

“…..Nope. Never mind.”

Jin-Woo pretended to know nothing, before suddenly recalling something else rather important, and he pulled out his phone to check the time.

‘Right now, it’s…. 16:46.’

Indeed, it was still too early to go home. How fortunate that he still had one thing he could do.

‘I’m sure it was around here, right?’

According to his memories, at least.

Jin-Woo spoke up quickly.

“Hey, Jin-Ho.”

“Yes, hyung-nim?”

Yu Jin-Ho replied while professionally turning the steering wheel. The van the two of them were riding on smoothly went around the curve on the road.

“Head to the Mirae department store.”

“Mirae department store?”

Yu Jin-Ho formed a confused expression.

“Yeah. Let’s go there.”

“Well, yes. It’s just around the corner from here, but…. I did notice it back during the hunting, so like, is there really nothing going on, hyung-nim?”

“….For some reason, you’ve been talking a lot more than necessary lately.”

That prompted Yu Jin-Ho’s head to rigidly stare forward and nowhere else.

“I shall get us there at the speed of light, hyung-nim. Please hold on tight.”

Yu Jin-Ho quickly changed his attitude and drove the van like a stuntman, never once touching his brake pedal.

The distance to cover wasn’t a lot, so they arrived at the destination pretty quickly.

The van came to a screeching halt in front of the building. The overall vibe given off by the Mirae department store located smack dab in the city of Seoul’s CBD was quite something to behold.

When Jin-Woo climbed off the van, Yu Jin-Ho followed suit.

“Hyung-nim, our Guild’s gotta use this kind of a building as our headquarters in the future. What do you think?”

Yu Jin-Ho stared up at the department store building and threw half a joke.

However, there was no reply. Sensing that something was weird here, Yu Jin-Ho hurriedly took a look next to him.

“Ehh?”

Jin-Woo was no longer standing there.

“Hyung-nim?”

No matter how hard he looked around, Jin-Woo was gone without a trace.

“H-hyung-nim??”

***

[With the death of the Boss, the interior of the dungeon will revert back to its original state.]

‘I levelled up again twice in the department store instant dungeon.’

The steps taking Jin-Woo home were light and cheery.

It had been a while, but the key to the instant dungeon had finally come out of the random box recently. And that key was supposed to be ‘used’ at the Mirae department store.

He was wondering when to go, but decided to visit the place today since he found himself with enough free time.

[“H-hyung-nim??”]

Jin-Woo recalled the dazed face of Yu Jin-Ho as the kid searched for him, and couldn’t help but chuckle.

His phone suddenly went off, then.

Before answering it, he checked the number on the phone’s screen, but he couldn’t recognise it.

‘Who could it be?’

Back when he was still in high school, he was too busy trying to be a mother to his little sister, and after graduation, he started right away as a Hunter so one could say that Jin-Woo’s circle of acquaintances was fairly small.

‘I shouldn’t be getting calls from unknown numbers….’

He tilted his head only for a second or two. For the time being, he decided to answer it.

“Hello.”

– “Hello. Is this Mister Seong Jin-Woo speaking?”

It was an open and friendly-sounding voice of a man.

Jin-Woo hung up the moment he heard that.

Click!

‘Well, from my experience, this kinda call is 99% someone trying to sell me stuff, or trying to entice me to get a loan, anyway.’

Just as he was about to put his phone back in the pocket, it rang again.

Buzz…

And it was the exact same number.

‘What the? It wasn’t someone selling stuff?’

Normally, these salespeople would call whoever just so they could meet their sales target, which meant that they would almost never call him back this quickly as soon as the connection was dropped.

Why? They were quick-witted enough to realise that this would be a waste of time, that’s why.

‘Which means, the guy on the other side really has some kind of business with me….’

So, he answered the call properly this time.

“Hello, this is Seong Jin-Woo.”

– “Ahh, so it was the right number. I thought I called the wrong one because the call got cut off so quickly. Ahaha.”

“…”

Jin-Woo deliberated for the whole of 2 seconds on whether to apologise or not with an excuse of him thinking that the call was about selling insurance or some such, because the man’s voice sounded a bit…

But, in the end, he decided not to.

‘It feels like me apologising now would only make it worse.’

A short bout of silence later, the salesman, no, the man with a salesman’s voice, made his belated introduction.

– “Ah, where are my manners. My bad for the late introduction. My name is Ahn Sahng-Min, and I work for the White Tiger Guild.”

Jin-Woo’s steps came to an abrupt halt.

‘Why is the White Tiger calling me?’

He couldn’t think of a reason why such a big Guild as the White Tiger would call him out of the blue.

The only thing he could think of, though, was that this Guild assisted him back in that dual dungeon incident, but….

‘But, I’m sure they aren’t calling me to investigate that day’s matters after so much time has passed by already.’

Well, he couldn’t stand not knowing, so before Ahn Sahng-Min had the chance to continue, Jin-Woo asked first.

“Why is the White Tiger Guild giving me a call?”

– “The matter is a bit sensitive to discuss over the phone, so may I come to you and have a chat face to face?”

The man was saying that he’d come to see him, not asking Jin-Woo to show up, so there was no real reason to refuse here.

Besides, he had nothing much to do the day after tomorrow, anyway.

‘Didn’t Yu Jin-Ho say he had some kind of an event back home?’

Yu Jin-Ho ‘begged’ for his understanding while saying that there was a big family event happening on that day and everyone simply had to show up, meaning he couldn’t go on any raids.

‘A big family event, eh….’

Just from thinking about a chaebol’s family event, Jin-Woo could only imagine luxurious, elaborate parties being held in a five-star hotel’s reception hall. Should he blame TV dramas for that now?

In any case, it’d be easy to set a date for that day.

“I have some free time on Thursday.”

– “Well, the thing is… Will it be fine if we meet right now?”

Right now?

Jin-Woo checked the time.

The time on the phone’s screen indicated eight in the evening.

“But, it’s already eight.”

– “Don’t worry. I’m waiting for you nearby. I just wish to speak to you for a little while only.”

“Nearby, as in?”

– “I’m in a cafe near you.”

Ahn Sahng-Min spoke the name of the cafe.

Jin-Woo was quite familiar with the place.

It was near his home so he went past it often, and not only that, but he also used it as the meeting place with Yu Jin-Ho as well.

Jin-Woo’s eyes narrowed to a slit.

‘This guy knows where I live.’

 

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