Solo Leveling Novel, Chapter 131
Solo Levelingi 131
Jinwoo met the gaze of the American who had introduced himself as an employee of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Hunters (FBH).
Just by looking into his eyes, Jinwoo could tell that the mysterious man had friendly intentions. In fact, he had a fairly good idea why the American had shown up: everyone knew that the United States devoted a significant portion of its vast resources to attracting Hunters from around the world. The country didn’t exactly try to hide it. So when the American finished his introductions, Jinwoo fully expected a follow-up offer to join the United States.
But Adam’s next words took the Korean S-ranker by surprise.
“I have some information that I’d like to share with Hunter-nim.” 
“It’s classified information that no country or organization on Earth knows. Well, besides us, of course.”
Jinwoo tilted his head. If it was such a top-secret matter, why would they share it with a complete stranger? Much less a Hunter with foreign allegiances?
“Why would you share something like that with me?”
At the question, Adam chuckled,
“The way we see it, just the act of sharing information with “certain individuals” could result in a benefit to us.”
Presumably, this meant that Jinwoo was included among the “certain individuals”. Curiosity gripped the S-rank Hunter.
“Alright. Let’s hear it.”
“I’m only authorized to share the offer itself with Hunter-nim. The deputy director will take it from here.”
The United States’ FBH Deputy Director. An official who wields power comparable to a typical country’s prime minister. And he traveled all the way to South Korea?
‘This can’t be an ordinary thing.’
By the look on Jinwoo’s face, Adam saw that he had grabbed the Hunter’s attention. He wasted no time:
“My car is parked nearby. Would you like to meet with the deputy director?”
The Korean S-ranker weighed his options.
In all likelihood, the information was either something from which he could benefit, or a warning that someone was after his life. However, Jinwoo did not feel particularly inclined to entertain the FBH, regardless of the sort of information they had. His only concern at the moment was the Black Key—he could live without whatever benefit they could give him, or win against whomever wanted to kill him.
And, above all else,
‘It’s not like I can trust their information in the first place…’
Or, maybe the American had lied about even having information.
He didn’t know if he needed their bargaining chip, or if the chip even existed— why should he acquiesce to their demands? He made his decision quickly.
“I’ll think about it and contact you.”
Adam face froze in shock—he couldn’t believe his ears.
‘I just told him that the FBH’s deputy director himself came all the way here to talk… and he’s just going to ignore us?’
But the Korean Hunter wasn’t bluffing. Jinwoo opened the door of his car. As the American felt the opportunity slipping out of his hands, he broke out in a cold sweat. If Hunter Sung Jinwoo just left like this, would they ever have another chance to talk? Adam couldn’t be sure—whether Jinwoo had planned this outcome or not, the American was suddenly the one on the back foot.
“Then, I’ll be going.”
Adam grit his teeth as Jinwoo stepped into the driver’s seat. In a panic, the FBH employee shouted out,
As he sat, Jinwoo nonchalantly turned his gaze to Adam. In a desperate bid to maintain the Korean’s attention for just a bit longer, the American quickly spat out,
All his cards on the table, Adam bowed his head to conceal the defeated look on his face. He explained,
“…an upgrader. An Awakened Being who can enhance the ability of another Awakened Being.”
‘You should’ve led with that.’
Jinwoo realized that the information held by Adam—or, more accurately, the deputy director of the FBH—wasn’t just information.
‘An Awakened Being that can enhance the ability of another Awakened Being…’
Jinwoo was finally convinced. He stepped out of the driver’s seat and closed the door of the van. Adam breathed a sigh of relief.
When the American raised his lowered head, Jinwoo appeared in front of him in a blink of an eye.
As Adam took a step back in surprise, Jinwoo asked, almost impatiently,
“So. Where do I have to go?”
Their black sedan screeched to a stop in front of a famous hotel.
Jinwoo realized that Yoo Jinho’s memo had referenced this exact hotel.
‘So those English-speaking foreigners that were looking for me… it was these guys?’
After stepping out of the vehicle, Jinwoo followed the employee to the room where the deputy director was waiting.
When FBH Deputy Director Michael Connor saw the face of the man behind his subordinate, he couldn’t hide his excitement.
One of the hardest parts of a negotiation was bringing the other party to the table. Now that they had accomplished that, in Connor’s mind, they had already won half the battle.
With a bright smile, the deputy director held out his right hand to Jinwoo.
“I’m the Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Hunters, Michael Connor.”
The man introduced himself in English, and Adam skillfully translated his words into Korean. Jinwoo shook the hand of the deputy director.
“I’m Hunter Sung Jinwoo.”
After the brief introduction, the two men sat down at a table across from each other. Adam, instead of sitting down, stood behind a chair next to the deputy director.
“Have you, by any chance, previously met with another country’s Hunter- related personnel?”
The deputy director began.
When he heard the expected response, the deputy director smiled in satisfaction.
‘Of course. No country acts faster than the U.S.’
As they say, the early bird gets the worm. The deputy director had no intention of blowing this opportunity—they had beaten all the other countries to Jinwoo, a Hunter whom they had to recruit by any means possible. Connor was under orders—he had no time to waste on pleasantries and small talk.
“I’ll get right to the point, Hunter Sung Jinwoo-nim.”
With a determined expression, the deputy director pushed a pile of documents in front of him towards Jinwoo.
“The United States of America wants Hunter Sung Jinwoo-nim.” 
“U.S. citizenship documents. Normally, processing all this would take a year or two. But, of course, we can make an exception for Hunter Sung Jinwoo-nim.”
The deputy director emphatically raised index finger.
“One single second.”
He declared with a confident voice,
“If you agree, you can become an American citizen in just one single second. Of course, you won’t be just an ordinary citizen. Along with the other highest- rankers of our nation, you’ll receive completely different levels of treatment.”
Jinwoo had expected all of this. But none of it interested him—the prospect of an “upgrader” had completely overtaken the Korean S-ranker’s thoughts.
Jinwoo shifted his gaze to Adam, who flinched and looked away. Turning back to the deputy director, Jinwoo replied,
“I only came here because Adam told me you had some useful information.”
Deputy Connor laughed heartily,
“That’s not unrelated to my offer.”
“What do you mean?”
“If Hunter-nim promises to become an American Hunter, we will raise your abilities to a whole new level.”
It seemed that there really was an Awakened Being with that title. Still, even after hearing the deputy director’s words, Jinwoo harbored some doubts.
‘Does such an Awakened Being really exist?’
He wanted to make sure.
“Raising one’s abilities… is something like that really possible?”
Jinwoo’s demonstrated interest sent a surge of excitement through the deputy director. With elation, he replied,
“Yes, of course! In fact, she’s already here.”
Jinwoo had already known that there was someone else in the vicinity, because he had felt magic power seeping out from under the closed bedroom door. He just wasn’t sure about the identity of the person. It wasn’t a bodyguard for an important man like Connor—there wasn’t enough magic power for that. But beyond that…
The deputy director commanded:
“Bring Lady Selner here.”
Once the order had been given, the bedroom door opened, and two employees escorted a middle-aged African-American woman out. Jinwoo narrowed his eyes at the peculiar presence emanating from the woman.
Indeed, her presence felt different in comparison to an ordinary Awakened Being.
When the lady walked up to the table, an employee pulled out a seat for her. The woman slowly sat down and looked around the table. She recognized Jinwoo at a glance.
“So, you’re the man from that video…”
Since employees had already debriefed the lady regarding Hunter Sung Jinwoo, Deputy Connor only had to address the Hunter.
“This is Lady Norma Selner. She is an Awakened Being, and a singular, unique existence across the entire world: she can increase the power of another Awakened Being’s abilities.”
When the deputy finished his introduction, Lady Selner greeted Jinwoo with a light bow of her head. Jinwoo returned the greeting.
“Lady Selner, please explain the basic nature of your abilities to Hunter Sung Jinwoo-nim.”
Looking with amusement at the yet-suspicious gaze of Jinwoo, Lady Selner flashed a mischiveous smile,
“At first, everyone always gives me a face like yours, Hunter-nim. However,”
The woman leaned in towards Jinwoo and whispered,
“After a taste, they are always left clinging to us for more.”
The deputy director furrowed his brows. Lady Selner smiled and waved a hand,
“I know, I know, deputy director. He’s a verrrrry important person.”
She maintained her smile and continued her explanation,
“Hunter Sung Jinwoo-nim, as you are aware, every Awakened Being possesses a limit. A limit that none of them can surpass.”
The former E-ranker knew this bitter fact all too well. Without a Reawakening, an Awakened Being’s rank could never change.
“And you can hel…”
But before Jinwoo finished his question, Lady Selner answered him with a delighted expression, like a child who was about to bite into her favorite piece of candy:
Jinwoo raised his eyebrows.
“I can raise that limit through three separate stages of development—though I’m not sure if I’m causing a forced Reawakening, or if I’m pulling forth some hidden potential.”
What an incredible power!
Her ability had the potential to set the world of Hunters ablaze—this defied all knowledge of ranks and limits. Jinwoo’s gaze turned to the deputy director. The American nodded,
“It’s all true. The only caveat is that she has to rest for a long time after using her powers. In a given year, we can count the number of Awakened Beings who received her gift on a single hand.”
“…How effective is the boost?”
“Once the three stages are complete, the effect varies from person to person. The lowest amount recorded was a 20% boost, while the highest amount was 30%.”
A 20% to 30% power boost!
Right now, his stats averaged around 250—Lady Selner’s ability could easily shoot those numbers to 300. If the association was not lying to him, hers was a truly awe-inspiring power.
‘Is it a buff that raises all attributes? Or something that raises the fixed level threshold?’
Regardless of its actual effects, any Hunter could see the incalculable value of that ability. And more than just a couple of Hunters would do anything to get their hands on it.
“If something like this was leaked to the world…”
The deputy director nodded,
“And that is why the lady is with us.”
Lady Selner knew Jinwoo’s concerns full well. She had voluntarily placed herself under the care of the FBH, where she could safely and freely use her abilities.
Deputy Director Connor continued,
“We took responsibility for the lady’s protection, while compensating her appropriately. In return, the lady raises the abilities of the Hunters that we select. We’ve operated like this for quite some time.”
Now, it was time to reach the crux of the negotiations.
“Lady Selner’s powers. This is the gift that we’re offering to Hunter-nim.”
“A gift, huh?”
Was there any greater gift for a Hunter?
“Once Hunter-nim becomes an American Hunter, you’ll be the first in line to receive the lady’s boost. Additionally, we’ll help you enter any Guild you want, with the best contracts available.”
From a Hunter’s perspective, the deputy’s offer was nearly impossible to refuse. Jinwoo realized how Hwang Dongsoo was able to brazenly move to the U.S., impervious to the hate of his home country. The incredible money offered by the U.S. was just a front to hide the true reason for his abandonment.
An ordinary Hunter would froth at the mouth at the opportunity—how much more if you offered the upgrade to the highest-ranking Hunter?
Who, in their right mind, would refuse that offer?
“How do I know that you’re telling the truth?”
Up until this point, the Americans hadn’t furnished any proof. In response to Jinwoo’s accusation, the lady spoke up,
“Now, now. Don’t be so hasty. I’m just here to undo that first button.”
Jinwoo recalled the lady’s earlier words,
‘After a taste, they always left clinging for more, huh.’
She had a 100% success rate. Every single Hunter who had sampled her power chose to come to the U.S. for another taste—this consistent pattern resulted in her unwavering confidence.
The deputy director spoke up,
“It is as she said. So, would you like to surpass your limitations?”
“I haven’t agreed to your conditions yet.”
“Consider it a freebie, Hunter-nim.”
Lady Selner gently grabbed Jinwoo’s wrist. When he turned his face to her, she put on a warm smile and gestured for him to come closer,
“Look closely into my eyes. That’s the first step.”
Was she really telling the truth? In order to confirm the FBH’s offer, Jinwoo decided to go along with it for the time being. The deputy director crossed his arms in relieved satisfaction, and sat back into his chair.
‘Yes! We got him!’
It was over. Hunter Sung Jinwoo may be maintaining a cold expression right now, but many had done the same before they felt the lady’s powers. Once Lady Selner removed the first limit, it would be Hunter Sung Jinwoo contacting them next, out of his own volition. No… if he was an impatient man, the Korean might just sign the citizenship documents here and now!
The plan secured in his head, the deputy director started to wonder,
‘I wonder what his limits are?’
Deputy Director Connor uncrossed his arms and rubbed his chin, staring at Jinwoo with interest.
Lady Selner took a sharp breath, and started trembling.
: In case it wasn’t clear, Adam speaks perfect Korean, with full honorifics toward Jinwoo.
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Solo Leveling Novel Chapter 131
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