SOLO LEVELING NOVEL, CHAPTER 42

– “Well, the appraised value is around 30 billion Won. But, once it’s finished and our Guild starts occupying it, the value should rise up even higher, hyung-nim. Ah, right! If you need those signed documents, should I fax them to you?”

“Hold on.”

Jin-Woo covered the mouthpiece of the phone with his hand and asked Ahn Sahng-Min.

“If you still can’t believe it, why don’t you speak to him personally?”

Ahn Sahng-Min wiped the cold sweat forming on his forehead and shook his head.

“Hey, Jin-Ho? It’s fine. Thanks. I’m hanging up now.”

– “Okay, hyung-nim. See you later.”

After ending the call, Jin-Woo noticed that the look on Ahn Sahng-Min’s face had changed completely now.

Indeed, Ahn Sahng-Min’s eyes were trembling non-stop.

‘Even before their Guild is established, Yujin has promised 30 billion as the contract signing fee?? And then, the second son of Chairman Yu Myung-Hwan continues to use honorifics, too?’

Ahn Sahng-Min was now deeply mired in uncertainty and confusion.

“That, that, that is… I, I should say that, such a big amount is, well, uh, well beyond my ability to… If you just give me some time, I can speak to the higher-ups in the Guild and then….”

Jin-Woo abruptly cut him off.

“In that case, our discussion ends here.”

Ahn Sahng-Min became speechless.

His head drooped slightly, as his head was quickly filled with the reason for this failure.

‘In the end, we simply didn’t have enough information.’

Being too hasty brought about this failure.

After he picked up on the scent of this huge jackpot, he got too excited and forgot to move in a more cautious and prepared manner.

If he had learned of what Yujin’s offer was like, get the full backing of his Guild, and go about his business step by step, then…..

‘For now, I need to report this to the Guild Master.’

If he was a Hunter that Chairman Yu Myung-Hwan was willing to put forward 30 billion, then perhaps his value could be over 50 billion, no, 100 billion, instead.

It was not too late.

‘If I get the promise of the Guild’s full backing, dig out all the information on Seong Jin-Woo, and come out swinging even harder, then…’

It was at this point that Jin-Woo’s voice could be heard.

“I want to ask you about something.”

Ahn Sahng-Min raised his head.

Jin-Woo was no longer smiling.

The weather had warmed up nicely with the hint of Spring nowadays, yet for some reason, the surrounding air felt chillier than usual.

Gulp.

Just as Ahn Sahng-Min swallowed some dry saliva, Jin-Woo asked him a question with a low, heavy voice.

“How many people know about me?”

“It’s… It’s only me for the time being. I was too anxious to scout you so I didn’t even stop to report to my superiors yet.”

Actually, there was one more person. Hyun Ki-Cheol, his subordinate but also his right-hand man.

Ahn Sahng-Min concealed the presence of Hyun Ki-Cheol for the time being. He was worried that Jin-Woo might get real unhappy if he learned that there were two people instead of one.

However, Jin-Woo voice became even colder and threatening than before.

“For the sake of trust, let’s not lie to each other, shall we?”

Ahn Sahng-Min began panicking visibly now.

‘What is this? Did he obtain some information on us before coming here?’

If that were the case, then things might get worse if he continued to argue that he was the only one. He didn’t even want to imagine what would happen next.

‘I gotta be honest here.’

The relationship between a Hunter and a Guild was pretty similar to that of an entertainer and the talent agency.

They might not be able to sign a contract right now, but by maintaining a good relationship, anything could happen in the future.

At the bare minimum, he should not cause friction with another Hunter. That was one of the iron-clad rules of the Second Division.

Ahn Sahng-Min quickly opened his mouth.

“Actually, one of my subordinates also knows about this matter. I’m telling you the honest truth.”

Jin-Woo nodded his head.

‘Indeed….’

It was as he suspected.

All these things, there were too many for one person to handle – investigating him, observing him, and calling him, too.

Most importantly, what made Jin-Woo sure of this fact was the timing of the phone call. As soon as he was near his place, Ahn Sahng-Min called him with such excellent timing.

‘Meaning, someone was waiting near my home and called him as soon as I showed up.’

This man wanted to meet Jin-Woo as soon as possible but it’d be bad if Yu Jin-Ho found out in the process, after all.

‘Still, it’s not the whole White Tiger Guild.’

He could tell from that earlier reaction, back when he was talking about 50 billion Won. Ahn Sahng-Min was so openly flustered when an amount of money he couldn’t handle was brought up.

If he was being ordered around by the upper management, then he’d at least try giving them a call after hearing that amount, didn’t matter whether that amount was even feasible or not.

That was why Jin-Woo suspected that a small team consisting of two, maybe three, people were involved here, and lo and behold, the person in charge confessed to it being only two.

‘What a relief.’

Jin-Woo definitely didn’t want to complicate the matter any further than necessary. Two people were within his ability to control.

If he left them alone like this, no doubt they would continue to harass him down the line. That was why there was a definite need to warn the other party, back off him for good.

Jin-Woo opened his mouth.

“Actually, I also refused Yujin’s offers.”

Jin-Woo’s explosive, unexpected revelation!!

Ahn Sahng-Min was even more shocked than before.

“Pardon me?!”

It was right at this moment, Jin-Woo suddenly vanished from the spot.

“What?!”

Ahn Sahng-Min hurriedly stood up from his chair.

He quickly scanned the interior of the cafe, but couldn’t spot Jin-Woo anywhere.

‘What was that?? Could he have moved faster than the eye can see?!’

Ahn Sahng-Min was too flustered and realised that someone had grabbed his shoulder from the side quite belatedly.

“Heok.”

All the hair on his back stood up at once.

“Don’t turn around.”

A cold voice came from his side.

Jin-Woo, who had been sitting across him until then, had vanished without making a sound and was now standing right next to him, still not visible to the naked eye.

‘S-Stealth??’

Cold sweat drops formed on Ahn Sahng-Min’s forehead.

‘Could…. could he be…. angry at me….?’

Hunters were, in general, monsters.

He knew this well, because he got to observe them from a close vantage point every single day.

That was why he was always super-respectful towards them.

‘Did me spying on him and following him around cause an issue here? Should I have requested protection from the Guild before coming here? No, hang on, no one knows what his ranking is, so how can I request protection, then….?’

His thoughts became messy and his heart pounded relentlessly. Even the sound of him swallowing his saliva echoed around too loudly in his ears.

Jin-Woo spoke, almost in a hushed whisper.

“Sit down slowly. I don’t want to scare you.”

Ahn Sahng-Min slowly nodded his head.

‘But, you’re plenty scary enough already…’

He then slowly sat back down on his chair. Jin-Woo revealed himself and settled down right next to him.

‘Right…’

Jin-Woo’s words of not wanting to scare Ahn Sahng-Min sounded about right. His eyes when he said he wanted to ask something, were cold enough to chill the surrounding air.

If Ahn Sahng-Min had to stare into those eyes while listening to Jin-Woo’s words, then he might have experienced what his heart falling to the pit of his stomach felt like.

‘You’re being considerate towards me, is that it?’

Of course, he couldn’t get the thoughts of Jin-Woo being a very scary guy out of his head.

In the meantime, Jin-Woo opened his mouth.

“The reason why I refused Yujin’s offers is simple. I’m not planning to join any Guilds at the moment.”

Two men conversed while staring forward, never locking their eyes once.

“S-so that’s how it was.”

“Also….”

Jin-Woo took a second before continuing on.

“I don’t want to see the number of people who know about me increase.”

What he wanted here was rather simple.

He didn’t want to join a Guild, and he didn’t want anyone talking about him.

Ahn Sahng-Min quickly understood those points.

However, there was one thing he was still curious about.

“T-then, why are you still being accompanied by Mister Yu Jin-Ho?”

“He’s helping me out on some personal matters. He’s the only one who knows about my Re-Awakening. Also, I believe he’s a friend that I can trust. That’s why I asked him for a favour. And so….”

Jin-Woo’s voice became heavier still.

“So, if I start hearing things about me, can I assume that it came from you, Chief Ahn Sang-Min, or your subordinate?”

It’d been a while since Jin-Woo stopped grabbing his shoulder, yet Ahn Sahng-Min felt like he was being crushed by the younger man’s words.

‘He’s not putting on airs, either.’

Why did he feel this way?

Ahn Sahng-Min was so sure of the fact that Jin-Woo was fully capable of harming him.

‘My gut instinct when evaluating people is almost always right.’

Jin-Woo survived several devastating, horrifying incidents.

Wasn’t there a saying about burying the matters of the dungeon inside a dungeon? No one knew just what kind of things Jin-Woo did inside those dungeons.

‘On top of that, this man possesses the Stealth skill, too…..’

Dealing with the Stealth skill was incredibly tough. If the skill holder decided to commit a crime, he’d be able to off anyone without so much as leaving behind a single clue.

Things like CCTV, security guards and alarm system would all become utterly useless against such a person.

A thick strand of cold sweat rolled down the side of Ahn Sahng-Min’s forehead.

‘Who knew he could use Stealth….?’

Excellent abilities, and even a rare skill, too.

It was not for nothing that Yujin came up with an offer of 30 billion.

‘They aren’t ones to start a losing business deal, indeed.’

Thump, thump.

Ahn Sahng-Min’s heart continued to beat in excitement even though he was trembling in fear. His lips parted with great difficulty.

“I-I’ll never talk about this matter ever again. I’ll make sure that Ki-Cheol… No, my subordinate will keep his mouth shut as well.”

Keeping everything hush-hush was something Ahn Sahng-Min also wanted, too. Heck, he probably would’ve requested it himself first!

An excellent Hunter not affiliated with anyone!

There was no reason to increase the competition by spreading the rumour around, nor did Ahn Sahng-Min want to share the glory and recognition by telling other people, either.

‘Honestly, though, the biggest reason being I’m too scared of him and don’t want him as my enemy….’

“I’ll trust you, Chief Ahn.”

With those words, the presence beside Ahn Sahng-Min disappeared completely. He quickly took a look around.

It was as if Ahn Sahng-Min fell out of a different dimension, since the atmosphere inside the cafe was rather serene.

“Huh…..”

Ahn Sahng-Min remained speechless. He could only pat his pounding chest down.

It was here that Hyun Ki-Cheol ran into the cafe.

He’d been staring at the two men through the window from the outside, and as soon as Jin-Woo completely disappeared from the view, hurriedly entered the cafe to check up on his superior officer.

“Chief!”

Ahn Sahng-Min’s complexion was poor. Hyun Ki-Cheol asked, his voice full of worry.

“What happened? Did it not work out with Seong Jin-Woo?”

Ahn Sahng-Min’s trembling hands managed to pull out a cigarette. While sliding it between his lips, he made his reply.

“Hey, Ki-Cheol-ah… I think, we just ran into a far bigger jackpot than our initial estimates.”

He definitely had to scout that man.

That was the only line of thought in his head. Thankfully, there was still a chance.

It was then, Hyun Ki-Cheol lightly grasped Ahn Sahng-Min’s wrist.

“Uhm…. Pardon me, Chief.”

Ahn Sahng-Min raised his head just before he could light the cigarette up.

“Yeah?”

Hyun Ki-Cheol took a look around, then cautiously whispered.

“This is a no smoking zone.”

Ahn Sahng-Min slowly crushed the cigarette.

“You dumba*s…..”

– Gatekeeper’s Necklace (A)

‘Well, no wonder people are beginning to notice me.’

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