Solo Leveling Novel, Chapter 133
Solo Levelingi 133
With a hard thud, Matsumoto fell to his knees . The leader of Japan’s Hunter organization knelt before another man . The distinguished representative of every Hunter in the nation and the one responsible for the protection of all of Japan’s citizens, prostrated himself in absolute desperation, with no other need but to survive .
The deafening silence roared between them .
Even in this moment, a multitude of thoughts cycled through Matsumoto’s head . However, no matter how he spun the wheels in his mind, he could not think of a better method than this . This was not the time to worry about something like pride . If what he had schemed was revealed to the world, the fallout would not end with just him . No one in Japan would be left untouched .
“Association President Go Gunhee… I ask for your forgiveness . ”
The Korean association president’s eyes remained chilly . Just moments ago, Matsumoto proudly spoke about “no evidence” . When the situation turned against him, he caved and pathetically begged for forgiveness . How could Go Gunhee look at him with anything other than coldness?
“Get up . ”
With a hard voice, Go Gunhee tried to stop this pointless apology, but Matsumoto slammed his forehead into the ground, the loud thud of his skull hitting the hard floor punctuating the air with despair .
“We just lost half of our highest-ranking Hunters; from now on, Japan will be forced to turn to other nations for help . ”
No matter how good Japan’s Hunter system was, having lost half of their S- rankers, it was only a matter of time before a gap appeared in their network . Their current Hunters would have no trouble taking on any A-rank Gates, but… the moment an S-rank Gate appeared in their country, Japan could no longer afford to be careless . Worst-case scenario, what happened to Korea’s Jeju Island would happen to Japan itself .
“If that file is released to the world, every nation will thoroughly turn their heads away from us . Please, Association President Go Gunhee . I beg of you . Please think of the innocent citizens of Japan and forgive—”
“Think of it as your punishment . ”
Go Gunhee’s cut through Matsumoto’s words like a knife,
“The consequences of the sin that you and your Hunters tried to commit . Accept it with responsibility . ”
This consequence and responsibility was Matsumoto’s bomb to hold, without ever knowing when it would explode . He and his Hunters must latch their
fingers around it and wait for their punishment . That was the meaning of Go Gunhee’s words .
But Matsumoto did not raise his forehead from the ground,
“Association President Go Gunhee… Until your wrath has abated, I will not rise from this spot . Please, please! I beg for your mercy!”
“Then you leave me no choice . ”
With an annoyed expression, Go Gunhee took out his phone,
“You have five minutes . ”
What did he mean? Confused, Matsumoto raised his head and met Go Gunhee’s irritated expression .
The Korean elder waved his phone,
“If you do not leave this place within five minutes, every reporters’ number on this phone will receive a message that Japan’s association president, the renowned symbol of every Japanese Hunter, is kneeling and begging in front of me . ”
In other words, if Matsumoto continued to cling to Go Gunhee due to fear of the bomb’s eventual detonation, then Go Gunhee would merely ensure the
bomb exploded at that very moment . It was not a threat . It was cause and effect . A realistic eventuality .
Matsumoto bit his lips .
The Korean elder was not a simple-minded man . At this very moment, Matsumoto realized something too late .
Go Gunhee had always been a man with great resolve . A strength that was unbending in times of peace and in strife . Matsumoto only needed to glance at Go Gunhee’s firm countenance to know that he was done for . His last-ditch attempt of throwing away his pride burst like a bubble .
His spirit dwindled, sapping all of his strength from him . Matsumoto slowly rose from the ground with his shoulders slumped .
Go Gunhee lowered his phone, his eyes staring holes into Matsumoto,
“Be thankful for Sung Jinwoo-ssi . ”
A powerful light flashed in the fierce eyes of the Korean S-ranker .
“If our Hunters were harmed, not by that monstrous ant, but by your schemes— you would not have left this room alive . ”
Feeling as if he was just gutted by Go Gunhee’s ferocity, Matsumoto lowered his head and floundered to gather his belongings . With a shaking hand, Matsumoto grabbed hold of his stuff, and without looking back once, left the Association HQ . Like that, Japan’s association president ran away . The confidence and dominance he’d once shown was nowhere to be seen, as if it was merely a passing leaf in the wind .
Go Gunhee slowly leaned back in the sofa . He felt an incredible amount of satisfaction, but he had no intention of ending it there . It was no exaggeration to say that he held the Japanese Hunter Association’s lifeline in the palm of his hand . One press of his finger and the bomb would destroy them .
‘If you sinned, you must be punished . ’
Even in his past, Go Gunhee certainly was a rather spiteful man .
Suddenly, the phone that he placed on the table started to ring .
When he answered, a panicked voice spluttered from the other end . Listening to the agitated words, Go Gunhee’s eyes widened,
“What? A Gate appeared in the middle of the road?”
On top of that, it was something that an ordinary attack team could not withstand: a B-rank Gate .
He had to quickly contact a major Guild and mobilize an attack team . However,
‘Hold on . ’
When he heard the location from the employee, Go Gunhee’s expression turned strange,
‘Isn’t Hunter Sung Jinwoo’s Guild office in that area?’
Jinwoo was deep in thought as vehicles sat bumper-to-bumper in the road ahead of him . Traffic was much worse than usual . He was thinking about that woman,
‘That ahjumma . She saw something . ’ 
Lady Selner . The woman who should’ve seen countless strong Hunters . Hunters who were even at the Nation-level . That woman had felt scared to the point where she wouldn’t even look him in the eyes . Just what did she see? The traces of the System? Even if the System occasionally asked difficult things of him, it wasn’t exactly something scary .
‘Forget scary . It’s my best supporter . ’
But how would it appear to the eyes of others? He recalled the deputy director’s words,
“Could we contact you at a later date?”
As soon as that woman heard his words, her entire body trembled and shook, terror emanating from her like steam . It felt like even if Jinwoo decided to see them again, the lady would do everything to avoid him . Her body language told him as much . Jinwoo wondered, perhaps her powers did not work on him; after all, there were many things different about him compared to ordinary Hunters .
‘If that’s the case, there’s no need to waste anymore time on that . ’
And so, he had told the deputy director that there was no need to contact him again . With a firm refusal, he bid them goodbye . The frozen face of the deputy director was still fresh in Jinwoo’s mind .
‘Anyway, why is the traffic this bad?’
Looking at the completely stopped cars in front of him, Jinwoo furrowed his brows .
‘This is why the subway is convenient . ’
When he thought perhaps there was an accident ahead—
His phone, which was plugged to the charger, vibrated . Jinwoo checked the caller .
They had seen each other only a few hours ago at the memorial service . Why was he calling him now? Jinwoo picked up the phone,
— “Hunter-nim, this is Go Gunhee . ”
With a calm voice, the association president explained what was happening in the middle of Seoul .
“Sir? A Gate appeared in the middle of the road?”
It made sense . He thought that the traffic was far worse than an ordinary gridlock . Jinwoo looked behind him to try to turn the van around .
Unfortunately, whether it was to his sides or his back, cars were packed all around him, making it impossible to move . The Hunter shook his head and turned his gaze forward . In that moment, a refreshing offer came from the phone, washing away all of his annoyance,
— “According to our staff, it is a B-rank Gate . Could Hunter-nim please take care of it?”
Jinwoo stifled laughter at the most welcoming news he had heard in a while .
He should not be so happy with this occurrence that was causing such an inconvenience to so many citizens . Making sure hide his happiness, Jinwoo carefully asked,
“Is it okay if I went in like that without a raiding permit?”
–“Ha ha ha . Hunter-nim, where do raiding permits come from?”
“From the Association . ”
–“And who am I?”
Jinwoo held back laughter and replied,
“The Hunter Association’s association president, of course . ”
–“Ha ha ha, so please don’t worry about a thing and go in . ”
“Then thank you for the mea—I mean, thank you, sir . ”
Jinwoo clenched his fists . Leaving his van, he followed the traces of magic power from the Gate and headed forward . Since the van was in the middle of the congestion, there was no need to park it or anything .
“Yes, as you can see, a black hole has appeared in the middle of the city—” “According to our reports, the Gate’s ranking is B . A high-level Gate that requires a Guild—”
The reporters surrounded the Gate while Association employees and policemen were sealing off the area .
When Jinwoo passed through the wall of reporters, a strict looking female employee blocked his way,
“Excuse me! Who are you?”
The employee pushed Jinwoo’s chest and spoke with strength in her voice,
“You can’t just come in here like that!”
However, no matter how hard her tiny hands pushed him, Jinwoo did not budge an inch . And with that, the woman realized the person in front of her was a Hunter, a high-ranking Hunter at that .
“Are you… a Hunter?”
Jinwoo showed her his license . The employee’s eyes widened,
‘S-S-rank? Sung Jinwoo?’
Then this man is the one who… against the ant magic beasts of Jeju Island… Realizing who was really standing before her, the employee raised her head . Because he looked so different than when he was on TV, even as an employee of the Hunter Association, she’d failed to recognize the S-rank Hunter . Still, among the crowd, there were those that did not fail .
“That man, is he…?” “It’s Sung Jinwoo!”
“Sung Jinwoo himself came to take care of the Gate!”
Having stood around in annoyance, the crowd began to recognize Jinwoo’s face and brightened up . Some who were on the way to a meeting even began to cheer . Regardless of the citizen’s reactions, the female employee did not bend her stern attitude . After a moment of hesitation, she spoke,
“Why… why are you here?”
What do you mean why? What reason did a Hunter have to appear before a Gate? Not particularly feeling like talking, Jinwoo raised a finger and pointed at the Gate behind the employee . She glanced behind her then turned back with a
determined expression . She had witnessed many Hunters who lost their lives by not following proper regulations, believing only in their power .
‘Even S-rank Hunters are the same…’
And she had thoroughly learned that it was the Association that existed to prevent such accidents . The first and foremost priority of the Association was the safety of the Hunters . Especially if the Hunter in question was an S-ranker . This was her determination: not to let Jinwoo fall into such an unfortunate end .
“Even if you are an S-rank Hunter, I cannot allow you to ignore proper procedures . ”
At a loss for words, Jinwoo just stared at the woman’s face . He did not expect something like this . Thinking that she had succeeded in convincing the S-rank Hunter, the employee asked a question,
“Have you obtained the raiding permit?”
Jinwoo shook his head .
“No, even if you had a permit, since you have not met the minimum headcount required, I cannot allow you to enter . ”
The employee firmly spoke . Looking at her eyes, Jinwoo knew that she wasn’t doing this out of some ill intent . It seemed like she was one of those stubbornly
by-the-book types . He scratched the back of his head . Well, if she was going to be like this, then,
“One second . ”
He quickly made a call . When the call connected, he held out his phone to the employee,
“Here . ”
When the woman looked suspicious, Jinwoo spoke again clearly,
“Take it . It’s for you . ”
Again, the employee just stared at him with a suspicious gaze and asked,
“W-who is it?”
“I guess someone else that you ‘cannot allow to ignore proper procedures . ’”
Taking the phone from him, the employee’s eyes widened when she saw the caller’s name .
Wait, the person on the other end was . . . .
“H-hello . ”
As the woman spoke into the phone with a nervous voice, a deep voice rang out from the other end,
–“This is the association president . ”
‘Oh, god . ’
The trembling woman could not stop nodding as she received her orders,
“Yes . Yes . No, sir . Yes . Yes . I understand . I’ll do as you say . ”
With shaking hands, she ended the call .
With a defeated face, the woman returned the phone to Jinwoo . The Hunter walked past her and whispered,
“Thanks . ”
“For worrying about me . ”
“Y-you, you knew…!”
The S-ranker quickly disappeared towards the Gate .
Having been teased, the woman shook with rage and placed a curse… er… ill wishes towards Jinwoo’s back .
‘Oh, God! That man . Make him twist an ankle in the Dungeon!’
Still . Hunter Sung Jinwoo was someone who safely came back from Jeju Island, filled with S-rank magic beasts .
‘What could happen to him in a B-rank Dungeon?’
But, in that moment, screams rang from various parts of the crowd .
“Huh? What’s that?” “Why is it turning red?”
After Jinwoo went in, the black surface of the Gate slowly turned blood red .
A Red Gate!
It was a terrifying name .
The employee looked at the Red Gate in disbelief .
‘Was it because of what I just thought?’
Of course not . But she could not erase the idea that this was her fault . From her training and education, the association employee was well aware of the dangers of a Red Gate that connected to a whole different world . She recalled hearing that even high-ranking Hunters had a low chance of survivability in such a place .
When she imagined the worst-case scenario, the woman’s face turned pale .
‘If Hunter-nim really gets hurt . . . ’
How many minutes had passed?
The woman who was blaming herself suddenly felt a presence and raised her head .
Jinwoo stood tall and unscathed in front of her .
She jumped as if seeing a ghost, but the Hunter merely smiled at her and sauntered past .
‘ . . . ’
The woman’s face turned redder than ever before .
Meanwhile, looking around the area, Jinwoo approached a truck driver who had a load of potatoes in the flatbed of his truck .
“Ahjussi, can I buy that bag?”
“Huh? You want potatoes?”
Jinwoo shook his head,
“No, just the bag . ”
Solo Play Guild’s Deputy Guildmaster, recruitment head, lawyer, and accountant Yoo Jinho wore a bright face, as he excitedly greeted the person who was entering the Guild office .
“You’ve come, hyungnim!”
“Nothing happened while I was out, right?”
“No, hyungnim . Well, there is someone who requested to be a founding member—”
“Okay, give me the list . I’ll check it out . ”
Considering the fact that this punk was pressing the issue from this morning again, it seemed that Yoo Jinho was in a hurry to form their Guild . Thankfully, Jinwoo was of the same mind . The third founding member of their Guild . That person was needed to fulfill the minimum condition to make a Guild .
‘Even if it’s just to fill the headcount, we should probably get someone diligent . It’s not like they’re just going to come and go . ’
Jinwoo nodded to himself . Suddenly, he realized Yoo Jinho’s expression was a little darker than usual .
“Is something wrong?”
“That’s… hyungnim . ”
“I’m sure you know, but making a Guild costs quite a bit of money . We need funds to place bids on high-level Gates, pay contract fees for new recruits, especially the person who just requested to be the founding—”
“Is this enough?”
With a loud thud, Jinwoo dropped the heavy-looking potato bag onto the floor .
Yoo Jinho looked in the bag with suspicion . High quality magic cores filled the bag,
“H-hyungnim…? What is all this?”
Jinwoo spoke very casually,
“I just ran into a Gate on the way here . ”
“ . . . ”
Just how long had he been gone? In that short amount of time, hyungnim had run into a high-level Dungeon and snatched up all these magic cores?
“As expected, Hyungnim!”
Yoo Jinho decided not to think about it any further . He had long since realized it was pointless to try and apply logic to his hyungnim . Jinwoo warmly watched the young man who practically vibrated with happiness due to obtaining the needed funds .
Nodding in satisfaction, Jinwoo turned his head toward the meeting room,
“By the way, why is she here?”
“Huh? Oh, this was what I’ve been trying to tell you… the one who’s requesting to be a founding member is right here, hyungnim . ”
Jinwoo’s eyes widened,
“A founding member?”
“Yes, hyungnim . ”
“The person in the meeting room, hyungnim . ”
“She said that?”
“Yes, hyungnim . ”
What kind of nonsense is she… Jinwoo marched to the meeting room and opened the door .
They did not even have the chance to fill up the office with the basic necessities . So Yoo Jinho had to hastily go out and buy a canned coffee from a nearby convenience store for their guest . The woman who was sipping on the canned coffee raised her head .
“You’re here for what?”
Jinwoo asked with a flustered expression .
Staring at him with that expressionless face of hers, Cha Haein replied,
“To… join your Guild . ”
: “ahjumma” (아줌마): Female equivalent of ahjussi; a middle-aged woman .
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Solo Leveling Novel Chapter 133
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