SOLO LEVELING NOVEL, CHAPTER 43

SOLO LEVELING NOVEL, CHAPTER 43

From 27 to 39. His level had jumped up by 12.

This would be the first time that his level saw such an explosive rise since he entered the Hapjeong instant dungeon back when he was still a level one. He came out of there as level 17.

Back then, his level was low, so the levelling speed was high. But now, that wasn’t strictly true.

This just went to show how many dungeons he cleared in a short space of time.

‘It’s been four days since I started clearing dungeons with Yu Jin-Ho. And we conquered nine of them in only four days….’

Not only that, they were nine C-ranked dungeons, too.

Rank C dungeons were the highest difficulty a freelancer team could clear on their own.

What a crazy clearing speed this was.

This was the worst possible situation, a catastrophe, for other Hunters found in this area that needed rank C dungeons to make a living.

Yu Jin-Ho, the only witness to the proceedings, was getting more and more astonished by how faster Jin-Woo was clearing each dungeon.

Well, the higher his level was, the easier it got to clear a dungeon, after all.

Nine dungeons cleared and 12 level ups. Clearing one dungeon was almost as good as levelling up more than once.

And he still had 10 more raids to go.

By the time he finished all 19 raids, as he had agreed with Yu Jin-Ho, his level should shoot past 45.

He won against a rank B Hunter back when his level was in the mid-twenties. He couldn’t even begin to fathom just how strong he was now.

‘My heart… it’s beating really fast.’

Jin-Woo placed his hand on his chest, near his heart. He sensed it pounding real fast in excitement.

Thump, thump!

The sensation of getting stronger every day was one heck of an enjoyable ride.

He would’ve never imagined such a thing happening to him in the past.

….Things like, entering the Gates and clearing the dungeons would be this much fun.

‘Well, I can sense myself getting stronger all the time, after all.’

As his level went up…

As his Stat values rose up….

He could directly feel how much he had changed through hunting monsters.

‘Hunting monsters, is it…..’

He felt like a real Hunter now. The word ‘hunting’ no longer sounded like a foreign concept to him.

Wasn’t there a certain saying that went something like ‘finding the next place to hunt is just as important to a hunter as the moment he hunts?’ (TL: Again, ‘hunter’ with a lower case ‘h’. It’s the literal hunter, not monster-hunting Hunters.’)

His next goal was already set.

‘…..The Demonic Castle dungeon.’

He was a level 21 back then, wasn’t he?

He had grown by nearly 20 levels since the day he first set foot in that mysterious tower-like dungeon.

He thought that perhaps now, he was ready to tackle that place once more. However, just from recalling that gatekeeper monster, Cerberus, he grew very cautious about taking another step in that place.

‘What if some crazy monsters that I can’t handle jump out in droves as soon as I enter?’

Goosebumps broke out all over his skin.

If he could get away from there using the ‘Stealth’ skill, that would be great, but still, he had to consider the possibility of failing to do so.

Even if he got lucky ten times, just a single mistake could cost him his life; that was the life of a Hunter.

So, he needed to be sure.

He needed to be sure of being strong enough to handle a group of monsters as strong as Cerberus.

‘Cerberus’s name was in red letters, right?’

He now knew that the difficulty of killing a monster was reflected in the colour of its name.

With the exception of the Demonic Castle, he had yet to run into a monster with a red name.

The instant dungeons he’d been to with the random box keys were all populated with low-ranked monsters most of the time.

It was the same story with the Mirae department store, too.

But, what was going on here?

‘What is this?’

When he thought that he hadn’t encountered a single monster with a red name besides the one in the Demonic Castle, he kind of felt like he overlooked something just now. It was as if he had forgotten something crucial.

‘Does this mean I have run into other red-name monsters besides the Cerberus?’

But, how could that be?

He fought the Cerberus when he was level 21 and nearly died. So, if he fought another one before that, then he should’ve been pushed to the brink of death, too….

“…..Ah!”

A loud gasp leaked out from his mouth.

Indeed, there was one event where he did run into red-name monsters and almost died.

‘The penalty quest!’

The centipedes he saw back in that nameless desert all had red names.

[Poison-Fanged Giant Desert Centipede]

It’d been a while ago, and he ran into them rather unexpectedly, so his mind was not really thinking of them as monsters at this point.

That was why it took some time for him to remember.

‘If I can kill those centipedes with ease, then….!’

Then, he’d be sure of conquering the Demon’s Castle as well.

Since there was more than one centipede there, he should be able to find out whether it was okay for him to fight against many at the same time, too.

The obvious issue was how to go back to that place….

‘Is there no other way besides not doing the Daily Quest?’

The amount of Stat points he got as rewards was the same regardless of it being a Penalty Quest or a Daily Quest.

Which meant that he wouldn’t lose out too much at the end of the day.

‘Let’s go to the Penalty Zone tomorrow.’

To think, he’d deliberately not do the Daily Quest just so he could enter the Penalty Zone….

It was a rather funny thing when he thought about how close to death he was the first time he ran into those centipedes.

“I wonder, will they give me experience points and loot when I kill them?”

A smile automatically spread on his lips.

It was then.

Jin-Woo’s senses picked up on the presence of a person climbing out from the elevator stopping at the end of the hallway, followed by the light footsteps of a female.

He was well familiar with them.

‘It’s Jin-Ah.’

Currently, it was 11 PM. About the time his little sister came home.

Jin-Woo got up from his seat and headed to the door before Jin-Ah could rummage through her pockets to find her keys.

Click.

“Oh~~.”

Jin-Ah playfully exclaimed out in admiration.

She used to get so surprised every time he opened the door without a warning but now, she didn’t even pretend to get shocked anymore.

Well, a human was supposed to be a very adaptable creature, and here was the irrefutable proof.

“I’m home~.”

“Welcome back.”

Jin-Ah greeted him with a bright smile and trotted to her room. Jin-Woo closed the door and locked it, before turning around to hear….

“…Oppa.”

Jin-Ah peeked her head out from the doorway to her room.

“Do you have free time this week?”

“What’s up?”

“My homeroom teacher is doing one of those parent-teacher meeting things. If you can’t make it, well, it’s fine too.”

Jin-Ah looked kind of anxious, as if her homeroom teacher had ‘asked her nicely’ or some such.

‘The parent-teacher meeting, huh….’

Jin-Ah was already a high-school senior, meaning that school life should be getting pretty hectic right now. Jin-Woo had half a mind to come up with an excuse and say he didn’t have time to go, but what an unfortunate timing this was, there was this one day where he had nothing scheduled.

‘D*mn you, Yu Jin-Ho. Utterly useless…..’

Jin-Woo deliberated for a while, before answering her.

“Thursday.”

“Really? Thanks, oppa!”

Jin-Ah’s expression brightened up in an instant. She looked as if she’d run to him for a bear hug, so Jin-Woo hurriedly waved his hands around.

“Che.”

Jin-Ah glared cutely at him and closed the door behind her.

Soon, a soft groan escaped from Jin-Woo’s mouth.

“Fuu….”

From going on raids without a break to visiting the penalty zone, and now, a parent-teacher meeting the day after tomorrow, too.

It seemed that the rest of his week would remain quite busy.

Part 8. Class Change Quest

Jin-Woo left home early in the morning.

His schedule for the day was packed, to say the least.

Yu Jin-Ho had booked four Gates for the day, thinking that they should do tomorrow’s quota today instead.

‘Well, if we consider the speed of clearing a dungeon….’

….It’d not be too hard to clear four or five dungeons in a single day.

Of course, it was pretty rare to see that many rank C Gates opening up at the same time in the same district. So, they were rather fortunate today.

With light, airy steps, he arrived at the entrance of the apartment building. However, he couldn’t spot Yu Jin-Ho’s van waiting for him in the usual spot, the front of the entrance.

Also, Jin-Woo sensed a suspicious presence as well.

“Tsk.”

He might have dismissed it offhand were it not for the events of the night before. So, he wasn’t going to overlook this.

‘And I clearly warned him, too…..’

Jin-Woo immediately discovered a man in a business suit hiding around the corner of the building. The man was busy looking into his watch and didn’t seem to have sensed Jin-Woo’s approach.

Jin-Woo addressed the man right in front of his nose.

“Excuse me.”

The man flinched grandly and jumped up really high.

“Seo-Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim!!”

He looked like he’d seen a ghost or something.

‘Well, I hid my presence for that purpose, anyway.’

Jin-Woo tutted inwardly and spoke up.

“You’re from the White Tiger Guild, yes?”

“Pardon me? Ahh, yes, I am. My name is Hyun Ki-Cheol from the Second Division of the White Tiger Guild.”

The Chief calling himself Ahn Sahng-Min or some such said last night that he was working with a subordinate and this guy must’ve been him.

“It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Hunter-nim.”

Hyun Ki-Cheol studied Jin-Woo’s mood while cautiously extending his right hand.

It seemed like that he wanted a handshake, but obviously, Jin-Woo wasn’t interested. When Jin-Woo simply glared at the man without saying anything, Hyun Ki-Cheol withdrew his hand with a slightly reddened face.

“Didn’t I clearly say last night that I’m not planning to join any Guild for the time being?”

Hyun Ki-Cheol hurriedly waved his hand around.

“Oh, no. I’m not here because of that.”

He then presented a tumbler held in his other hand.

“What’s this?”

Jin-Woo asked while studying the colourful liquid contained within the semi-transparent tumbler. Hyun Ki-Cheol pushed his chest forward and proudly spoke.

“It’s vegetable juice. I’ve prepared it personally, so you don’t have to worry about its quality!”

“…..”

Hyun Ki-Cheol’s hand continued to push the tumbler forward. Jin-Woo had no choice but to accept the tumbler and asked again.

“So, like, have you been waiting since the early dawn just to give me this juice?”

“Yes. Well, even if you’re a Hunter, you should still look after your health, you know!”

Jin-Woo’s puzzlement over why would the White Tiger Guild be worried about his health lasted only for a couple of seconds.

Because, Hyun Ki-Cheol bowed his head deeply and with a bright smile, quickly walked away.

“See you again another time, Hunter-nim!”

Jin-Woo slowly shook the tumbler at Hyun Ki-Cheol as the latter waved his hand.

“…..What a funny guy.”

After Hyun Ki-Cheol had disappeared from the view, Jin-Woo looked at the tumbler.

He once heard stories about a certain ‘Insurance King’ who gave out bottles of yoghurt to his customers and bought their goodwill that way, but well, that man Hyun Ki-Cheol should be the very first Guild employee ever to personally make veggie juice and deliver it.

‘Well, I did accept it so I can’t even throw it away now, can I?’

That man wouldn’t have been stupid enough to try it, but if he did pour some kind of poison in the juice, Jin-Woo’s detox buff should take care of that, so no worries there.

Should he at least give it a go and have a taste, then?

Slurp.

He used a straw stuck in the tumbler and took a long sip, before his eyes opened wider.

‘Hey, it’s tasty.’

It was here that he heard a familiar voice calling out to him.

“Hyung-nim!”

He turned around to see Yu Jin-Ho walking towards him.

Yu Jin-Ho still had that bright face as usual, but he was also pointing in the direction where Hyun Ki-Cheol disappeared to with his chin.

“Hyung-nim, who was that just now? He’d been standing here for a while, you know?”

Jin-Woo’s reply was pretty simple.

“An insurance salesman.”

“Aha.”

Being a positive-minded guy, Yu Jin-Ho accepted that explanation right away. Jin-Woo looked around the vicinity and asked.

“Where’s your van?”

If he saw Hyun Ki-Cheol standing here, that meant Yu Jin-Ho had arrived quite a while ago, too. But strangely enough, the kid’s favourite van was nowhere to be seen.

“I parked it way over there, hyung-nim.”

“But, why?”

“Well, you know there’s been a series of unsolved homicides taking place around these parts, yes? I’m not from around here and people were beginning to suspect me and stuff, so….”

Jin-Woo nodded his head.

Those murders were brought up frequently on the local news lately.

The victims were mostly young women. There had been two murders this month already.

And then, there was an unknown black van parked right out in front of the apartment building. Of course, the residents would become fearful and anxious.

Slurp, slurp….

It was here that the veggie juice was finally finished. Jin-Woo lightly shook around the empty tumbler before walking towards where the van was supposedly parked.

“Let’s go.”

“Okay, hyung-nim!”

Lizardmen came out in this dungeon.

As their ‘name’ indicated, they were literally bipedal lizards. They walked on two legs, wielded weapons, and even resorted to flinging around magic attacks, too.

The number of Lizardman Mages was low, though. However, they were rather cumbersome to deal with in return.

For instance…

Two balls of flames erupted near the tips of the Lizardman Mage’s hands.

‘Magic?’

When Jin-Woo tried to get closer, the two Lizardmen protecting the Mage stabbed their spears at him.

Indeed, what quick reflexes befitting reptiles.

Jin-Woo jumped rearward and barely missed the speartips.

Right away, the balls of flame flew at him.

Swish-!

Swooosh!!

“Hyung-nim, watch out!!”

Yu Jin-Ho cried out from his position a lot of distance away.

Kwaboom!!!

Along with a huge explosion, the narrow cavern-like dungeon shook around noticeably.

< Chapter 43 > Fin.

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