Solo Leveling Novel, Chapter 117
Solo Levelingi 117
When Goto cut off communications, his expression darkened.‘Did we miss something?’During the planning of the operation, they made a series of contingency plans to counter any situation that would stop the mission from succeeding. However, the complete slaughter of a five-man squad of elite hunters had been far beyond anyone’s expectations.‘Wait a minute…’Suddenly, a memory surfaced in Goto’s mind.
A strange event had occurred four months prior. During routine satellite monitoring of the queen ant, her magic signature has suddenly fallen by more than half of its usual strength. The research team that looked into the matter made some very optimistic predictions, speculating that it was a sign that the queen was nearing the end of her lifespan. However, the queen had instead slowly regained her magic power, making the drop in power all the more confusing.
‘It only took a month, right?’Because of that unexpected result, those researchers were forced to shut their mouths.“Mr. Goto.”The voice of one of his teammates brought Goto back to the present.“Hm.”
The teammate, who had been examining the dead bodies of the third squad, rose slowly. Goto remembered that this was not the right time to get distracted by speculation.‘Did we come too far inland?… ’*Sasassac*
Hundreds of ants swarmed out behind them, lifting their heads up towards the hunters as if licking their lips in anticipation.
The Korean team had already entered the boss room, the so-called Queen’s sleeping chamber, just 15 minutes after entering the ant nest.‘If it takes a similar amount of time to get back…’
They would still have 30 minutes left to complete the operation before the one-hour mark.
After having checked his watch, Ma Dong-wook nodded in satisfaction. Until that point everything had progressed smoothly, and the only important thing was how they would manage to complete the mission.Baek Yoon-ho used his “Beast eyes” to assess the enemy numbers that were lying in the darkness ahead.“The Queen is at the back, and there are eight guards in front of her.”The Queen‘s guards were incomparably stronger than the average Ant. Facing these kinds of enemies would have been too much for Ma Dong-wook to face by himself—he would have had to endure the attacks from both the bodyguards and the Queen. From there on they needed an Off-Tank to alleviate his burden.Ma Dong-wook took a quick look around.“Hunter Cha.”
“Can you handle aggroing the guards while I take on the Queen?”
“Please leave it to me.”Cha Hae-in answered briefly. During her time raiding with Hunters Guild, she had assumed the role of main tanker. In contrast, taking on the role of off-tanker would be a piece of cake.
Ma Dong-wook looked around at the team members. Everyone present was an extremely skilled magic creature hunter, and the meticulous planning of any details would only have resulted in a waste of time.“Let‘s go.”As soon as Ma Dong-wook turned towards the ants, Choi Jong-In made a giant orb of light and threw it against the ceiling of the sleeping chambers, filling the whole boss-room with light.
“Whaa-t?.”In front of the massive size of Choi Jong-In’s light globe, the cameraman couldn’t help but gasp in surprise. He whispered quickly into the little microphone next to his lips.“I‘ve been involved in many raids as a A-Rank Hunter, but I‘ve never seen such enormous light magic.¹ Truly worthy of the best Mage-class hunter in Korea.”His voice was being casted to the viewers of the whole country through his microphone.
He had just heard that the ratings for the broadcast he was filming had exceeded 80 percent.As temptation got the best of him, the man tried to approach even closer to the scene to get a better shot… but Min Byung-gu, who was standing behind him, pulled his shoulder.”Gha!”Due to the strong grip tugging him, the cameraman helplessly turned toward Min Byung-gu. His shoulder hurt so much that his mouth hung open in astonishment.
‘What sort of healer is this strong … ‘
The operator didn’t even have the time to be surprised at the strength of the S-rank mage-class, because he found himself face-to-face with Min Byung-gu, who had a completely different look than what he had when they were exchanging jokes with each other in the helicopter.“This is where the boss of the S-class dungeon is located. No one can take responsibility for your life in this situation.”In shock from Min Byung-gu’s angry voice, the cameraman wasn’t even able to give a proper answer and simply nodded repeatedly.“If you understand, stay behind me. Now it’ll start for real.”That was the real power of an S-Rank Hunter. Even a healer, who had the weakest combat ability among all Classes, could show an overwhelming force enough to dominate even A-Rank Hunters—it demonstrated the incredible gap between the two ranks.
What could the operator even try to do in this place where such monstrous people combined their strength to fight?
For the first time since becoming a Hunter, the cameraman felt powerless. He moved to stand behind Min Byung-goo. Exactly as one would have expected,
“Incoming.”An ant bigger than the others noticed the hunters, and started crawling toward them on its six legs.“That‘s the queen…”Baek Yun-ho couldn’t help but swallow a mouthful of saliva. The other Hunters’ faces also showed a nervous look.
The queen’s majesty was overwhelming!
After having slipped through the defensive wall of thousands of ants, they became the first hunters to see the Queen with their own eyes.
‘Today, I will cut off the lifeline² of these fucking ants.’
Baek Yoon-ho was thrilled at the thought of slaying that oversized insect.
However, there was something else that needed to be attended to first.
Baek Yoon-ho‘s gaze, which had been fixed on the Queen for a while, moved downwards.‘First, we need to take care of them.’There were eight ants preceding the Queen’ steps. The first thing they had to do to reach the Queen was get rid of the royal guards.“Haaah!”As if he read Baek Yoon-ho’s mind, Ma Dong-wook, playing the role of the team‘s main tanker, took the front line. Bulging veins popping out of his neck.
“Ants! Come to die!”In response to the deafening shout, the bodyguards—whose auditory system was much more developed than their eyes—rushed at Ma Dong-wook with their teeth and claws raised.
Ma Dong-wook gave one look to his team.“Hunter Cha, now!”Cha Hae-in, who was distancing herself from Ma Dong-wook, pulled a long sword out of its sheath at her waist. Firmly grasping it with both hands, she thrust it into the ground with all her might.
Skill “Provocation Tremor.”
A circular wave of magic power spread out from the sword imbedded on the floor. The Queen’s guards, who were targeting Ma Dong-wook, turned away as one to attack Cha Hae-in.
‘Yes!’Ma Dong-wook looked at the bodyguards who, walking past him, were rushing towards Cha Hea-In. He pumped his fists at her success in taking the aggro of the bodyguard ants.
It was his turn next.
Ma Dong-wook stood in front of the Queen, who was moving its huge body towards Cha Hae-in.“Your opponent is me.”The queen roared at the enemy that was barring her path in displeasure.“SCREECH-”
It was a terrible shriek—the pressure would have made any normal tanker’s ears bleed, but it was pointless against the nation’s greatest tanker, Ma Dong-wook.
Skill “Taunting Shout.”
Unlike Cha Hae-in, who employed an area-of-effect taunt, Ma Dong-wook’s single-target skill was aimed toward the Queen.³ The roaring massive ant stopped her shriek, and focused her gaze at the huge man.
The “Taunting Shout” had worked successfully.
‘Good!’Now, Ma Dong-wook’s goal was to withstand the Queen’s attacks until his teammates defeated all the bodyguards—which he was confident in them being able to do—and came to help him against the boss. As he was lifting a massive shield to the bottom of his chin, his eyes displayed unyielding resolution. As he always did, he prayed in his heart‘Give me the power to protect myself and my team.’*Kwa Gukwang!*With the explosive noises that rang out behind his back, the Queen Ant Raid, that would decide the fate of so many people, began.
“Dear husband, they said the hunters are on TV today. Aren’t you going to see them?.””Not interested.”“Don‘t be like that… on TV they were saying that they could really to defeat them today, so let‘s watch it together.”“Mph. Those people run their mouths like that every time. I said I’m not interested.”
Then the old man roughly turned his back toward her and kept flipping through his newspaper. But even from behind him, his wife was able to hear the sound of a tongue clicking.
“Tsk tsk tsk. These damn papers are all filled with talk about the hunters too.”The old woman carefully closed the doors as she listened to her husband’s grumbling.“Whew-”Up until just two years before, her husband was a man who had followed the news on Jeju Island and supported the hunters more than anyone else. After all, he had lost his only child to the Jeju Island ants. His despair, so deep that it made him feel as if the whole world was collapsing around him, soon turned into a strong rage against the magic creatures.
Whenever there was a subjugation operation, her husband would donate money to the Hunter Association to support the Hunters. Every time, before the day of the expedition, he would become so nervous to the point where he couldn’t sleep at all.But, as the saying goes: the greater the expectations, the greater the disappointment.
When the third round of the operation—for which the association had said they would commit all their power to—took great losses without achieving anything, her husband went into a daze for several days. Since then, he had lost all expectations and hope, and hadn’t talked about hunters even once.“Whew-”Once again, the old woman sighed and grabbed the remote control sitting in the living room. As soon as she turned on the TV, a fervent comment came from the host of the broadcast.
The hunters’ fight was about to begin.
The old woman held her hands in front of her chest, while watching the TV with a nervous heart.When the Hunters were injured, she turned her eyes away in sadness and applauded happily when their attacks landed.“Oh my! Oh my!”⁴
That signalled the beginning. The ant monsters, which looked fearsome as they fought against the hunters, fell one by one. Every time a monster was slayed, the whole building shook with peoples’ shouts and cheers.“Oh my! Oh my!”
At that moment, the old woman’s eyes welled over with tears.
First, she was thankful for the hunters who were risking their lives to protect the people. Then, she remembered the face of her son who had jumped for joy when he had been accepted into a major operation on Jeju Island.
It was then.
The door to the inner room opened, and a red-faced old man came running out.
“Dear…”Without answering her call, the old man stared silently at the TV screen with red eyes. His clenched fists shaking with emotion, he watched the unfolding events with baited breath.
When the TV showed the five hunters running up behind Ma Dong-wook, who had held up well against the queen ant until then, the old man—unknowingly—shed heavy tears and threw his hands up.
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At the broadcasting station. The director screamed in happiness at the cheering calls pouring in from all over the country.“Director, we‘ve just surpassed 85 percent!”
“Yes!”The director clenched his fists. The viewer rating was 85%; that was a record that wouldn’t be broken even if South Korea reached the World Cup finals. And considering the benefits coming in from abroad that would keep coming in the future…
‘It‘s a jackpot!’He flopped down on a chair and rubbed his face with both hands. Other staff members in the broadcasting room sighed with relief when they saw the director, who couldn’t conceal the joy on his face.The transmission screen continued to show the Korean team‘s hunters beating the queen ant in a flashy manner.
The director took out a handkerchief and rubbed his forehead, which was glistening with cold sweat.‘Good, good!’The queen was on the verge of death, and all that was left for the hunters to do was to lay the final blow and escape the nest safely.
“KIAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA–””What the heck!”The producer hurriedly reduced the volume, but not before the startled director turned and started toward him.“Producer Na, what was that sound just now?”“Oh, this is… it‘s the original video coming from Jeju Island, and it sounds like it came from the queen ant.”“The Queen?”
There was currently a slight time delay between the broadcast and the original source video. They didn’t know what would happen during the raid, so they couldn’t afford stream it in real time.
The director, who was watching the video, smiled with satisfaction and ordered.“It‘s not like we can broadcast that magic creature’s ghostly roar at this moment of historic victory. Can you edit this part or turn down the volume a little bit?”“Yes.”Producer Na nodded and the director put his hand on his right shoulder to cheer him up.
At that moment.
A staff member rushed into the room with a ghastly expression on his face.“Director, producer!”The director turned his head. Based on his experience, there had never been an occasion where good news had come from an employee with that expression. A vaguely ominous feeling passed over him before even hearing the report. After quickly and fervently praying for his hunch to be wrong—especially considering how important the day was—the director asked the employee carefully.“…What‘s the matter?”However, there was no way for such an ominous hunch to be wrong.
The staff member spoke in a disconcerted voice.“Right now, they’re saying all the Japanese hunters are leaving Jeju Island!”“What?!”
Ma Dong-wook encouraged his team.“Just a little more! Let‘s push just a little more here!”As he indicated, the queen ant was about to collapse.
The queen‘s head was covered with hundreds of arrows shot by Lim Tae-gyu, making her look like a porcupine.
Another arrow flew into the Queen‘s eye, and the queen shrieked and shook her head in pain.
Soon after regaining her senses, the queen spewed poison all over the room. As it was a very wide attack, the skin of the hunters that couldn’t avoid it started turning black, before being quickly and efficiently healed by Min Byung-gu’s healing skills.
Angry at the fact that her poison attack didn’t work, the giant ant bit Ma Dong-wook, who was standing in front of her, with her saw-like teeth.
Thanks to his “Strengthening” skill protecting his whole body, Ma Dong-wook was able to withstand the queen’s terrible attack.
While Ma Dong-wook was buying time blocking one side of the jaws with his shield and the other side with his left hand, an enormous fire bullet dug itself into the queen’s side.
It was the magic of Choi Jong-in.
Taking advantage of the opportunity created while the queen was stunned, Baek Yoon-ho—who had already turned into his beast form—quickly got on top of her and ripped out one of her mandibles with his bare hands.
After a light landing on the floor, Baek Yoon-ho exhaled a ragged breath. He was now certain.
‘The Queen is finished.’Thanks to his experience, he knew that the moment had finally come when they would put the leader of the magic creatures, who had dyed this land black with the blood of so many victims, to rest.‘Just a little more now.’
As he thought this, overwhelming emotions surged forth from the depths of his heart. However, in the next moment, the queen raised her head to the sky.
The ear-splitting scream resounded through the entire ant nest.
Baek Yoon-ho‘s eyes shook.‘What is it? A cry? The death throes?’
Baek Yoon-ho was sure that the cry he heard felt slightly different from either of those possibilities. That scream sounded to him like a piteous cry for someone far away.‘It’s calling someone?’As soon as he thought that, he realized what was happening and froze in terror.
“We must stop it!”Just before Baek Yoon-ho stepped forward, Cha Hae-in gracefully jumped in the air, and with a powerful downward swing with her sword, struck the queen ant one last time.
The queen‘s head fell to the ground before Cha Hae-in’s feet.
The cameraman, who was watching the S-ranks fighting with bated breath, pumped his hands up in victory, with tears welling in his eyes. That was the moment that drew a curtain over a nightmare that had lasted for four years.“Huff, huff.”Ma Dong-wook, while breathing haggardly, gave the team a thumbs up. Cha Hae-in gave a sigh of relief, while Choi Jong-in fixed his glasses smiling, and Lim Tae-gyu clenched his fists. Everyone expressed the joy of victory in their own way.
Among all of them, only Baek Yoon-ho was shuddering at the ominous feeling that had lodged itself in his chest.“Hey, we‘ve become the seventh team in the world to clear an S-rank gate, so why do you look so…”
“Wait.”It was at that moment.
Ma Dong-wook, who was in contact with the control center, suddenly put on a grim expression.
There wasn’t time to be absorbed in celebrations.
Ma Dong-wook hurriedly yelled at the team members who were taking a rest around him.“I was just told that ants are coming here because the Japanese hunters are retreating. We have to get out of here!”
“What?”“Don’t we still have a lot of time left?”“Forget 1 hour, are you telling me that 20 Japanese S-rankers can’t hold them off for even 30 mins?“
Ma Dong-wook was just as confused as the others.”I’m not sure either… the association said they’re looking into it, but Japan has cut off all communications.”
“Those bastards…”Choi Jong-in spat out a curse, silently wondering if they the outside team would have given up on holding their positions so easily, had his team been Japanese instead of Korean?
But anger was a luxury reserved for the living. In order to succeed in escaping, Ma Dong-wook had to keep his emotions under control and prevent his team from being swayed from agitation.“Hurry!”Immediately, every member of the team started running towards the entrance of the Queen’s sleeping chambers.But, shortly afterwards, Baek Yoon-ho stopped moving.“Ah…””Hyung?”Noticing Baek Yoon-ho stopping, Min Byung-gu—who was running right behind him—also halted, and eventually every member of the team came to a standstill. Baek Yoon-ho, who had stopped without a word, began to shake with his eyes fixed on one spot”Un, unbelievable…”In front of him was the sight of something that he thought couldn’t have been possible. As he looked at the approaching shadow, he suddenly remembered a human-shaped egg that he had seen in the hatching room.‘This… is this the power of a single magic creature…?’Baek Yoon-ho turned pale.
The other hunters, who had been wondering what was going on, soon noticed the situation and stepped back from the entrance.“What is it?”“Have the ants come back already?”In the midst of the hunters’ confusion, a single winged ant walked slowly toward them from the far side of the ant nest that was obscured in darkness.
Discord Link: https://discord.gg/N4HXUaY
Translated/Transcribed by Notalk and Aster0x
Proofread/Edited by peghius, Slimicee, and SeijiSoldier
¹ Magic here is a specific usage of the more general magic power that Choi Jong-in has. In this case magic power is used to release a light magic skill
² he is referring to the ant as a species, not a collective group of magical creatures. Once the Queen will be slayed that and species will be doomed to go extinct.
³ As a taunting single target skill, the amount of aggro that it generates is higher than the one a taunting AoE skill generates in a single monster, so it is able to have the Queen shift the focus from Cha Hae-in to himself
⁴ “Aigo”, an expression of surprise that old women like to make
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Solo Leveling Novel Chapter 117
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