To fill the vacant Association President’s position, an executive-level meeting was held among the Vice-President and the chiefs of various departments, as well as directors from the regional branch offices.
Over thirty members filled up the large conference room.
Even though these people boasted societal authority exceeding the directors and managers of regular parastatal entities or large corporations, all thanks to the Hunter’s Association, the complexions of every single one present today were clouded by deep anxiety.
As this heavy atmosphere bubbled on, a couple of unimportant topics were discussed to bring everyone up to speed on what was happening around the globe.
“….Looks like it’s time to decide on who’ll follow in the footsteps of our late President.”
Finally, the time had come. Along with that declaration from the Vice-President, nervous tension brushed past the expressions of all the attending staff members.
Even the sounds of saliva being swallowed could be heard here and there. This moment could decide the fate of the Hunter’s Association, after all.
The number of Hunters were increasing, while the Gates appeared more frequently now. All these people forming the core of the Association’s command structure knew full well that the instability of their organisation could lead to the nation itself becoming unstable as well.
The Vice-President, in charge of leading the proceedings, closed the documents in front of him before the topic could get on the way. This gesture signalled that the words written on these pages were insignificant compared to what was about to be discussed.
“After a lengthy, in-depth discussion between the board of directors and myself, we decided to nominate Chief Woo Jin-Cheol as the new Association President.”
The person in question, Woo Jin-Cheol, hadn’t been told before the meeting, so rather understandably, he raised his head up in great surprise. He quickly looked at the Vice-President.
‘But, why me….?’
His eyes were silently asking this question, and as a reply, the Vice-President stared straight back while pulling the head of the microphone closer.
“Chief Woo has learned what the job entails by serving our late Association President from the closest vantage point. Not to mention, he possesses more than adequate power to make other Hunters acquiesce, as well.”
Those were all undeniable facts.
The late Association President Goh Gun-Hui deeply appreciated Woo Jin-Cheol, the man who willingly chose to work for the Association despite receiving many scouting offers from major Guilds. And the Chief of the Monitoring Division was rank A, infinitely close to the threshold of ‘S’.
If only his magic energy evaluation numbers were a bit higher, the Association would’ve been blessed with its second rank S Hunter alongside Goh Gun-Hui.
He possessed four years of on-field job experience and also possessed powerful abilities that easily exceeded regular rank A Awakened, too.
There were no opposing voices on whether or not he was fit to command countless other Hunters affiliated with the Association.
The staff members initially began murmuring to each other after the nomination of Woo Jin-Cheol was made, but soon, they grew calmer from the Vice-President explaining the executives’ decision.
Unfortunately, the man in the spotlight still couldn’t really accept this outcome.
“I’m lacking in several key areas to take on that role. Not only are there executives holding higher offices than mine, aren’t I too young to hold such an important office?”
He was only in his mid-thirties. No one here would disregard his four years of experience in the Monitoring Division, but still, he was far, far too young to lead an organisation of this magnitude as its leader.
At least, that’s what Woo Jin-Cheol believed.
“We have you, the Vice-President. What about the directors of the executive board? Directors from the various regional branch offices?”
Woo Jin-Cheol looked at the faces of all these powerful men and asked the Vice-President once more.
“There are this many excellent candidates present, so why am I being nominated as the replacement for the late Association President, sir?”
The Vice-President turned his head away to his side and sighed out softly under his breath. He did expect to run into this sort of resistance. However, he didn’t count on that resistance to come from Woo Jin-Cheol himself.
The Vice-President switched his mic off. The official stance of the board of the directors had been communicated in full by now. So, it was time to get to the meat of the matter, the unofficial stance.
The mic being switched off prompted the attending staff members to pay even greater attention. The Vice-President opened his mouth.
“No personnel within the Association, including myself, possesses the ability to persuade South Korea’s greatest combat potential.”
The greatest combat potential ‘affiliated’ with the Hunter’s Association – there was no need to mention that person’s name as everyone present could already picture his face.
“He has clearly demonstrated the extent of his powers in Korea, Japan, as well in the United States. It’s already happened, but well, without a doubt, the Hunter’s Association would not be able to function properly without his presence.”
The ‘Special Authority-rank’ Hunter, capable of shifting a country with his individual power, had to kneel before Seong Jin-Woo. How could a measly little Association demand anything from someone like that?
The only thing they could do was to politely make a request and wait patiently for a reply. That was all.
Just like how the Association President Goh Gun-Hui was able to rescue the Jeju Island raid team by borrowing Hunter Seong’s power, the organisation needed someone, a line of communication as it were, to request for his aid once more in the future.
And the closest person to Hunter Seong Jin-Woo currently working for the Association was Woo Jin-Cheol. That alone was enough of a qualification.
The Vice-President had spoken his opinion on the subject matter to the board of directors, and they, in turn, agreed with his analysis. And now, the staff members sitting inside the conference room were also nodding along as well.
“Just like how it is with Seong Jin-Woo Hunter-nim, we can’t force you to make this decision, Chief Woo.”
The power was with the Hunters. The Vice-President declared that he wanted to make that distinction crystal clear.
“That is why, will you not accept our nomination in good faith and be our leader moving forward?”
Everyone was now looking at Woo Jin-Cheol. A brief bout of silence later, he finally opened his mouth, still aware of the expectant gazes prickling his skin.
Jin-Woo was unaware that he just muttered out a gasp that his little sister used to make rather often. He was flipping through the articles found online through his phone, and his hand movements became faster.
[The new master of the Hunter’s Association, following in the footsteps of the late President Goh Gun-Hui, is President Woo Jin-Cheol!]
He was momentarily surprised and worried after seeing that Chief Woo’s name appeared as the number one real-time search result, but now that the confusion was cleared up, his racing heart began to slowly calm down.
It was a welcome piece of news, after all. To think that Chief Woo, a personal friend, would climb up to the position of the Association President.
Jin-Woo formed a smile and congratulated the man in his mind before shutting the device’s power off and chucked it lightly behind him. An ant Shadow Soldier standing there just barely caught it.
Jin-Woo watched the ant stuff the phone in a bag and warned the creature.
“Your predecessor was much better at stuff like this than you. You gotta bring your A game from now on, okay?”
Yu Jin-Ho was too busy performing the role of the Vice-Chairman of the Guild and couldn’t accompany him this time, so this ant Shadow Solder was elected to replace him as the luggage carrier. As if the creature was feeling sheepish about his new role, he continuously bowed while scratching the back of his head.
Jin-Woo chuckled and lightly tapped the soldier on his shoulder before turning around to leave. He had finished eating lunch, so it was now time to recommence with the hunt.
“Hah-ah…. It’s these guys again?”
Jin-Woo scratched his forehead as he scanned the dense forest of trees dyeing his view a sea of green.
Only a short while ago, there used to be a village right here before it got trampled on by the Giants. But to think, it now resembled the Amazon rainforest….
One didn’t even need to be able to sense magical energy to realise that something was very wrong with this sight, indeed.
However, it seemed that regular animals weren’t suspicious of this forest, as various traces of them being devoured could be seen here and there. Jin-Woo stared at the bones of the dead animals and the flies buzzing around them before clicking his tongue.
He then picked up a stone from the ground and threw it at the forest.
It was no longer a plain stone, though. No, it was a stone thrown by a rank S Hunter – no, by Jin-Woo of all people.
The stone accurately struck where the face of the tree-type monster was. The creature’s closed eyes shot wide open. It began frowning angrily and stood up from the spot to run straight at him.
It seemed that you’d get p*ssed off after getting hit by a rock whether you were a person or a plant.
Jin-Woo summoned out the ‘Demon King’s Shortswords’ and rushed forward. The huge tree creature swung its thick branches at the approaching human.
This monster was indeed, far too slow. Jin-Woo leisurely slid past the two branches currently being used like fists and took a closer look at the tree’s ‘face’.
The tree monster was struggling to spot him with its eyes.
‘Even its reactions are poor.’
Whenever the branches smashed the ground, the earth was deeply gouged out, but even then, Jin-Woo was still clicking his tongue.
‘Compared to how big it is, its power is nothing to write home about.’
The monster looked tough and powerful because of how large it was, but when compared to the Giant-type creatures of similar size, its power simply lagged far behind. But then again, maybe this was the trade-off for it being very sturdy.
Jin-Woo gripped the shortswords tightly as the blades sliced and diced past the trunk of the tree monster.
The monster kept screaming in pain but it didn’t want to go down at all.
Sword slashes pouring out at once like a buckshot stabbed and sliced and ripped into the tree monster.
The monster actually squeezed its eyes shut at the continuous barrage of attacks and flailed its ‘fists’ around in a frenzy. Jin-Woo evaded those attacks and approached the body of the monster again before sending his shortswords back into his ‘Inventory’. He then clenched his fist tightly.
The muscles of his right arm expanded in an instant as magical energy flooded there in a great quantity. And then, he punched out just once.
The tree was folded in half as it got flung away.
The creature tumbled around on the ground as a painful scream exploded out from its mouth. Even then, it began dragging its broken body back towards Jin-Woo again.
This thing possessed truly shocking durability, that’s for sure. These tree monsters, spotted for the very first time here in Japan, boasted a frightening level of endurance. Only after Jin-Woo beat the living daylights out of the creature for the umpteenth time did it stop moving altogether.
The dying tree moaned out a short gasp of death and spat out some kind of a liquid possessing an unbearable stink.
Jin-Woo covered his nose up.
What irritated him more than the monster’s tenacious vitality was this atrocious stink.
While the ‘Yu Jin-Ho replacement’ ant soldier diligently dug through the monster’s remains to find it’s Magic Crystal, Jin-Woo shifted his glare towards the forest where the same type of monsters were in hiding.
‘And I’m supposed to repeat the same thing over and over again…..’
Just how long ago was it since the dungeon break occurred nearby? A deep frown etched on his forehead as he stared at the monsters that had already formed a dense forest.
The thing was, though – humans were intelligent creatures.
Jin-Woo had fought against these monsters and now knew what their weaknesses were. So, he came up with a plan.
‘I knew something like this would happen. Good thing that I had them on standby.’
Jin-Woo grinned and summoned out a few Shadow Soldiers.
“Hey, come out.”
As if they were waiting for that summons, Fangs and the three Magic Soldiers emerged from the shadow. As it turned out, Jin-Woo made the correct call to have these guys on standby even though he sent others out on their own expeditions.
As soon as Jin-Woo issued his order, Fangs quickly grew into his usual massive size and spat out his trademark pillar of flames, while the remaining three Magic Soldiers also began their spectacular fire magic show.
Boom!! Ka-boom! Bang!!
Flames rapidly spread out, causing the tree monsters to twist around and scream out in pain.
These flames were ripe with magical energy and easily burned their targets into ashes, even though these trees weren’t dry, to begin with. Even that liquid with the terrible smell was quickly evaporated by the heat, so Jin-Woo standing at an adequate-enough distance could spectate on this sight in a relaxed manner.
Jin-Woo smiled as his plan came together rather perfectly. In the meantime, the System’s messages kept on piling up in his vision.
[You have defeated the enemy.]
Countless messages climbed up non-stop in his view.
The monster’s rapid rate of reproduction might sound like bad news to some, but actually, it was a good thing for him. It meant that his experience points earned would be higher.
And sure enough, a cheerier-than-usual mechanical beep went off in his head.
‘That’s what I’m talking about!’
Jin-Woo tightly clenched his fist. To confirm the increases in his Stats, he quickly summoned up his Status Window.
Name: Seong Jin-Woo
Class: Shadow Sovereign
Title: Demon Hunter (extra 2)
(Available points to distribute: 0)
His level was now sitting on 133.
Thanks to his soldiers currently doing their things throughout the whole of Japan, the quest to raise his level was progressing rather quickly. All those countless monsters pouring out from the Gates were proving to be a boon for Jin-Woo.
Almost all of his Stats had exceeded 300, with the sole exception of Perception, which still required two more points to reach that mark.
‘I’m going to spend all the points from tomorrow’s Daily Quest on Perception.’
Jin-Woo grinned brightly as he closed the Stat Window.
The war that the King of Giants had spoken of, as well as the scheme ‘they’ had cooked up as mentioned by the late Association President Goh Gun-Hui – Jin-Woo had no clear idea what any of them could be.
However, it didn’t matter, did it?
All he had to do was to prepare as much as he could so he’d be ready for any and all eventualities. Meaning, he should focus on diligently raising his levels.
But then – Beru was supposed to lead the ant battalion and kill the monsters in a location far from where Jin-Woo was, but he suddenly got in contact with his master.
[Oh, my king…. May I be permitted to address you regarding a certain matter?]
Why was Beru calling him up all of a sudden?
Jin-Woo was puzzled by this occurrence and quickly sent Beru a response.
‘What’s the matter?’
[“….Contact the Korean Hunter’s Association. They will put you through to me.”]
After Jin-Woo’s press conference was broadcast to the rest of the world, countless requests and inquiries began inundating the Hunter’s Association.
Most of them belonged to the top Hunters from other countries. Some of them even came to visit Korea in secret just so they could speak to Jin-Woo and get his advice.
Germany’s best Hunter, Lennart Niermann, was one of those.
‘Even the Special Authority-rank and a top-ranked Hunter got done in by those things. How can I be safe from them, then?’
He possessed an outstanding sensory perception as well as a good deal of modesty. He thought that, rather than shivering away in fear, he’d place his faith in Hunter Seong Jin-Woo’s declaration, the one about him possessing a way to defeat the unknown monsters.
And that was why he decided to travel to South Korea.
Stepping foot into the Incheon International Airport, he breathed in the Korean air that had this different flavour to it compared to that of Germany’s or America’s.
‘So, this is what Korea smells like….’
Feeling somewhat excited by his first trip to Asia, he spoke to the clerk manning the immigration checkpoint in a clearly-eager voice.
“Is this Hunter Seong Jin-Woo’s country?”
“Pardon? Ah, y-yes, it is.”
The clerk got flustered and nodded his head. Lennart Niermann formed a satisfied smile. He’d soon be able to have a chat with the world’s strongest Hunter.
He ended up missing Jin-Woo by a hair’s breadth during the banquet at the end of the International Guild Conference. But to get another opportunity like this! Just thinking about it made his heart flutter in excitement.
He took a deep, deep breath to rein in his wildly-racing emotions, but then, a huge, hulking man standing close behind him spoke up in irritation.
“Hey, if you’re planning to waste time here, get out of my way.”
Thick veins suddenly popped up in Lennart Niermann’s once-peaceful face.
Who dares to…!
How could anyone speak so rudely to him, one of the best Hunters in the entire world??
‘I shall fix your attitude for good today!’
The German Hunter took off the sunglasses he wore to hide his identity and turned around.
“Look here, friend! What you said just now, you think you can repeat word for word straight to my face?”
Lennart Niermann stood with a heavy frown etched on his face. The man in front of him, taller than the German by at least a head, took off his own sunglasses and growled menacingly.
“Get. The. F*ck. Out. Of. My. Way.”
Lennart Niermann immediately recognised who this burly man was and his expression hardened like a rock right there and then. He hesitated before opening his mouth.
“P-please, go ahead first.”
Thomas Andre used his wide shoulders to brush past the German Hunter and stepped into immigration control. The act of apologising was the job reserved for Laura following him from close behind.
That was a bona fide Special Authority-rank Hunter. The airport’s workers felt their breathing becoming much heavier and harder after seeing the actual Thomas Andre, often referred to as the world’s top Hunter.
What a giant he was; it was not for nothing that people attached the nickname of ‘Goliath’ to him.
Thomas Andre discovered the face of the immigration officer rapidly turning pale and put the sunglasses back on before forming a genial smile.
“Is this Mister Seong’s country?”
< Chapter 204 > Fin.