Solo Leveling Novel, Chapter 124
Solo Levelingi 124
When the video finished, David Branon, director of the United States-based Hunter Bureau, stood in silent shock .
“ . . . ”
The recording was of a recent raid on a small island in the East .
“So? What do you think? . . . ”
The deputy director asked tentatively .
The director shot back:
“What do I think??? You came here because you knew exactly what I was going to think!”
It was true: it was abnormal for the director and deputy director of the Hunter Bureau to meet at 4:00 in the morning . And on top of that, the meeting was happening in the kitchen of the director’s house .
A brief moment of silence ensued between the two officials at the table .
After taking a drag on his cigarette, the director restarted the video .
“Dave, is everything alright?”
The director’s wife, who had come down from the second floor after seeing the lights on, called out to him uneasily .
But the director didn’t respond, and instead waved a dismissive hand at her—with a worried look on her face, his wife headed back upstairs .
With his third cigarette used up, the director finally broke the silence .
“He has too much talent to be wasted in a country like Korea . ”
“I agree . ”
“Do you know anything about him?”
The deputy had been waiting for that question; he promptly took out a file containing all the information they had on Sung Jinwoo . The director smiled in satisfaction .
“Good . ”
Less than an hour had passed since the Jeju Island raid concluded in the East—and yet, all information related to the raid was already in his possession .
Branon thumbed through the file: it contained a vast amount of information, detailing everything from the hunter’s rank to his known associates .
And it was all at his fingertips—such was the power of the world’s largest hunter’s association, the U . S . Hunter Bureau .
While watching the director flip through the information, the deputy chuckled inwardly .
‘Lucky me . ’
As powerful as the United State’s intelligence network was, luck had played a major role this time around, thanks to the Sung Il-hwan case . An entity had emerged from a dungeon—an entity that, at first, could have been either a monster or a human—turned out to be a Korean hunter .
The appearance of the mysterious Korean prompted the Hunter Bureau to dig up information on him out of their archives . At that point, with the exception of Korea, no other country even knew Sung Jinwoo’s name— the U . S . was already two steps ahead of the game .
God bless America .
Wasn’t this what some would call “divine intervention?”
But the deputy director didn’t have the time to revel in the lucky break—it was his job to turn that luck into new opportunities .
With a businesslike tone, the deputy started briefing the director .
“Sung Jinwoo didn’t receive proper compensation from Korea, despite his father’s disappearance . ”
“Hmm . . . ”
“In addition, he had to go through several life-and-death situations to cover his mother’s hospital bills before his recent reawakening”
“ . . . what?”
Was this truly the way Korea treated the family of a hero who had died fighting for his country? This would have been unthinkable in the United States .
“Oh, another thing—and this is unconfirmed, but . . . ”
At the deputy director’s change of tone, Director Branon laid the open file on the table and looked intently at the man across from him .
The deputy continued .
“He hasn’t joined a guild . ”
The director couldn’t believe what he was hearing . He slammed the file shut .
“This… this is different from the Hwang Dong-soo situation . ”
The sound of that infamous name caused the deputy director’s face to twitch . The director continued:
“Importing two S-rank hunters from another country . . . that’s basically stabbing that country in the back . . . ”
Korea was a long-time ally of the United States—if they took a second S-rank hunter from Korea, it would cause a quite a commotion .
But, the deputy director spoke with a voice full of conviction .
“But . . . isn’t he worth it?”
“ . . ”
Director Branon couldn’t deny it . So instead of answering the question, he replied with another .
“Can you do it?”
The deputy director gave the same answer as he did previously, in the case of Hwang Dong-soo .
“I’ll try . ”
That one phrase had landed promotion after promotion for the deputy director, ultimately leading him to where he sat today .
The United States already had two of the world’s stronger Hunters—they were the pride of the nation—but the director wanted to take in another one .
Lightning a fourth cigarette, the director spoke in a solemn tone .
“Whatever it takes, bring him to me . ”
Jinwoo was flying with Kaisel, hunting down the remaining ants that the shadow soldiers had missed .
Every time he threw his dagger, an ant fell, never to rise again . Thanks to “Ruler’s Hand,” Jinwoo increased his hunting speed by recovering the dagger without dismounting .
‘Should be about time for another level . ’
Jinwoo had hoped that the remaining ants on the island would be enough for a level up . He would be level 100 with one more level-up, and for Jinwoo—who liked his stat numbers in multiples of five—this was an ideal number .
Moreover, he hadn’t any more keys in his inventory to open dungeons . So once he finished the subjugation of Jeju Island, he wouldn’t have another opportunity to grind levels until he found another random key drop, or another lucky dungeon break occurred in Korea .
“Is it bad to think that a dungeon break is ‘lucky’?”
After all, at least one attack team must fail a Raid in order for a dungeon break to occur .
Jinwoo had one more reason for wanting to raise his level: while reanimating Min Byung-ku’s shadow, the painful memory of Baruka, the leader of the Hyakki, resurfaced in his mind .
He failed to extract Baruka’s shadow after three attempts . And after the first attempt at raising Min Byung-ku’s shadow failed, Jinwoo’s heart had sunk to his stomach—he was scared that Min Byung-ku’s shadow would end up like Baruka’s .
‘Thankfully, my second attempt was successful . ’
But as they say, failing to prepare is preparing to fail .
In comparison to the S-rank hunter’s shadow, Jinwoo knew that his attempt to extract the shadow of the Ant King might turn out like Baruka . After all, the Ant King’s ability was incomparably higher than that of Min Byung-ku . This was the pressing reason why he wanted to raise his level as much as possible before attempting to reanimate the Ant King’s shadow—the higher his level, the better the chance of success . Even a one-level differential would help .
Jinwoo noticed something, and ordered Kaisel to land .
Kaisel flapped its wings and descended . When the lizard’s feet hit the ground, Jinwoo dismounted and started to look around .
“It was somewhere around here… . !”
While rummaging through the bushes, Jinwoo discovered the numerous dismembered bodies of the Japanese hunters . Some of the corpses were missing the head—severed by a clean cut—while other bodies were mangled beyond any recognition .
Jinwoo examined the corpses .
‘What strong magic power . ’
These people had been the crème de la crème when they were alive . Hunters of their caliber would never have fallen in a random place like this… something even stronger than the regular ants must have appeared .
‘The Ant King . ’
He couldn’t think of any other reason for the massacre of these Japanese hunters . Even he had felt some pain when the Ant King hit him in the jaw—any other Hunter would have been proud to remain standing .
After wandering around the area for a little bit, Jinwoo sensed something peculiar . He paused and started examining the ground .
The recent bloodshed had saturated the soil, and a faint vestige of magic power still lingered . But that wasn’t what interested Jinwoo: instead, he had felt the remains of a particular magic power in the area .
‘Ryuji Goto . ’
Jinwoo searched his surroundings to find Goto’s corpse—but though the S-rank’s magic power remained, his body couldn’t be found anywhere . The Ant King had most likely eaten the Japanese hunter .
“Tsk . ”
Jinwoo clicked his tongue in disappointment . He wouldn’t be able to reanimate Japan’s number-one hunter .
Soon after, the shadow soldiers that Jinwoo had dispatched reported back to their master—they had finished exterminating the remaining Ants . Using his powerful sense, Jinwoo confirmed that there were no more ants living on Jeju Island .
‘ . . . is it over already?’
Any other citizen of Korea would have rejoiced at this news! Jinwoo, however, could only taste bitter disappointment: he hadn’t reached level 100 .
Since there weren’t any more magic creatures remaining, the only thing left to do was to head back to the sleeping chambers and extract the shadows of the King and Queen .
Then . . .
‘Wait . . . there are still magic creatures left?’
With his sharp sense skill, Jinwoo suddenly detected a massive number of magic creatures nearby .
Jinwoo’s expression, previously full of disappointment and regret, suddenly brightened . With an heart pumping with adrenaline, Jinwoo immediately mounted Kaisel .
Jinwoo and Kaisel ventured deep inside the colony . Upon entering a certain room, Jinwoo’s eyes started sparkling with excitement . This room had to be the hatchery: endless rows of eggs covered the floors, walls, columns, and even ceilings .
Jinwoo noticed a churning movement under the translucent membrane of the shells—the creatures inside the eggs were alive .
“Not really sure how much experience I will get, but . . . ”
This enormous amount of eggs would surely be enough to get him to level 100 .
Jinwoo summoned his shadow soldiers who specialized in ranged attacks .
“Assemble . ”
Tusk and three shadow mages formed a row, ordering themselves by rank .
Jinwoo placed the Marble of Avarice in Tusk’s hands, before looking at each and every one of them in turn .
“You know what to do?”
The shadow soldiers nodded in unison .
He pointed to the eggs .
“Do it . ”
The giant orc spewed a blazing fire from its mouth, and the mages started flinging gigantic fireballs left and right .
The eggs, incapable of putting up any kind of resistance, vaporized almost instantly .
Jinwoo noticed that one corner of the hatchery wasn’t filled with eggs—there were pupae instead . And as his shadow soldiers’ flames melted the pupae casing away, he could see the forms of the developing ants .
Each of them had wings .
‘If these magic creatures had matured and come across the sea with the Ant King . . . ’
Even if the hunters had successfully eliminated the Queen, Korea and Japan alike would have suffered an innumerable amount of casualties at the hands of the Ant King and his fellow soldiers . Thankfully, he had been there to prevent the disaster .
As he watched his subordinates giving their all, Jinwoo pulled out the “Demon King’s Long Sword” from his inventory . The beautiful blade radiated a blue glow, and buzzed with electricity every time he swung the sword .
There was only one reason why Jinwoo chose this sword over the daggers, his preferred weapon of choice .
Jinwoo swung the sword as hard as he could .
A violent surge of lighting shot forth from the sword .
A smile appeared on his face .
It did not have the same destructive power as when the Demon King used it—nor did it have the stun effect—but it was more than enough to incinerate the eggs .
As Jinwoo and his soldiers worked to clear out the hatchery, a familiar sound rang through his ears .
You have leveled up!
Jinwoo cheered inside .
He immediately returned the “Demon King’s Long Sword” to his inventory, left the remaining clean-up duty to his soldiers, and headed to the sleeping chambers .
When he reached the place of the Ant King’s final moments, Jinwoo came to a sudden halt . As he stood over the corpse of the King, the mere thought of having that overwhelmingly powerful magic creature as a soldier caused his heart to start beating rapidly .
He knew however how important it was to focus and maintain a clear state of mind when extracting the shadow of a high-leveled magic creature—he had learned his lesson when trying to reanimate the shadow of Min Byung-ku .
“I need to calm down . ”
Jinwoo’s shut his eyes and took a deep breath .
“Hoooo . . . ”
After regaining his composure, Jinwoo was ready to extract the shadow . At his feet he could see a dark smoke slowly rising from the Ant King—he hadn’t seen smoke as thick as this with any other Magic Creature .
‘Maybe because it’s magic power is so immense… but if anyone can handle it . . . ’
With those thoughts in mind, Jin Woo calmly reached for the black smoke .
“ARISE . ”
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Solo Leveling Novel Chapter 124
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