‘Still, I can’t be certain, so….’
To be 100% sure, Seong Jin-Woo anonymously opened a thread on the internet forum exclusive to licenced Hunters.
[Title: Something weird has happened to me.]
[Description: I can suddenly see my Stats in numbers like in a video game, and I can even increase their values, too. Is there anyone who has experienced something similar to me?]
Below that OG post, comments figuratively exploded forth.
└Anon: LOL Why dontcha stop f*cking around, dude.
└Anon: Isn’t he just a loon?
└Anon: Lost his d*mn mind.
└Anon: Maybe you’ve played too many games…..
└Anon: By any chance, are you a cartoonist?
└Anon: Go visit the nearest hospital, ‘k?
└Anon: I’d like to hear the details first.
└Anon: Stop accepting all sorts of trash just because they hold the Hunter licence; this forum needs to go through a cleansing, seriously now… (TL: I removed all the pure-Korean internet slangs/emojis from the raw. Learned my lesson from my previous novel….)
Dozens of comments all with roughly the similar contents flooded in.
Jin-Woo spat out a groan.
He had spent a long time looking around but he had nothing to show for his troubles. He got called a loon in the forum and people disparaged him. He did all this, yet seeing that there was no information to gather….
“I guess that my case is really a unique one.”
He was the only one under the heavens.
The most unique Hunter in the whole world!
He still needed some time to figure out how much of a help this strange phenomenon would provide, and just how far he could actually grow through it, but at least, he got a good feeling about this whole thing.
When he took a look outside, the night had deepened quite considerably.
“When did the time get so late….?”
Jin-Woo frowned deeply.
His eyes ached a bit after staring into a computer monitor for so long.
Jin-Woo massaged his forehead and stood up from the chair to loosen his body with a bout of light stretching. He moved his body this way and that for a while. He bent his body 90 degrees and that’s when he discovered two small boxes lying forgotten on the floor.
The ‘random boxes’.
Two boxes wrapped in the monotone gift wrappers and topped off with a ribbon – exactly like the ones in video games.
‘They must’ve fallen off from the bed when I was making a mess of the room earlier.’
He had completely forgotten about them after receiving those as his rewards. Jin-Woo picked up the closest box and opened its lid.
He dumbfoundedly stared at the ‘thing’ that looked exactly like the regular band-aid for a while, only for the information about it to float up above in green letters.
A regular band-aid. Useful in patching up small wounds. Can be stored inside your Inventory.
“It IS a band-aid….”
He was hopeful that this thing might possess some kind of a special attribute like the treasures found within the dungeons, but he wasn’t so lucky today.
‘Of course, I haven’t heard of someone finding band-aids inside a dungeon, to begin with….’
With his mind half in disappointment and the other half in anticipation, he opened the remaining box.
And he got himself a brand new ball-point pen.
He studied it from all sorts of angles and even clicked on the tip so the ball-point would come out, but it was still your average pen.
[Item: Ball-point pen]
An average ball-point pen. Can be stored inside your Inventory.
It was quite likely that, as its name implied, all sorts of random junk would come out from the random boxes.
Well, it wasn’t as if he was left empty-handed anyway.
Sure, he didn’t really have any needs for either the band-aid or the pen right now, but thanks to them, he got to learn about the existence of the thing called the ‘Inventory’.
Also, seeing that the information on other objects found in the room did not show up, he figured that only the info on the items from the random box could be read.
As soon as he called out for his Inventory, a graphical representation of a storage unit with dozens of slots appeared in the air.
As fitting the storage unit of a level 1 user, it was…. not as empty as he thought. He thought there would be nothing in there, but inside the first slot, he found a rather familiar object.
Jin-Woo took that out immediately.
[Item: Kim Sang-Sik’s steel longsword]
It was precisely Mister Kim’s sword that Jin-Woo picked up back in the underground temple. He assumed that it was left behind inside the Gate, though.
“Hey, nice to see you, too.”
A smile formed on Jin-Woo’s face.
He felt happy seeing this thing again, what with both of them having survived that hellish death trap. Besides, it was too wasteful to just be abandoned in a different dimension, wasn’t it?
‘Didn’t Mister Kim ahjussi say he bought this for around ₩3,000,000?’ (TL: over $2,600)
The weapons of Hunters outwardly looked rather plain, but the truth was anything but.
Monsters couldn’t be damaged with weapons that did not carry the wielder’s magic energy. So, weapons crafted especially for the purpose of dealing with those b*stards would always be quite pricey.
‘Looks like I’ll have to rely on this guy for a while.’
He had been fighting with his bare hands until now because he couldn’t afford to buy a proper weapon.
Although it was a cheap sword, he was still rather grateful for it.
‘You’re mine now.’
If Mister Kim saw this sword in his hands in the future, he might start foaming at the mouth and angrily demand its return. Well, he was a selfish man who readily discarded the saviour of his life, so it was rather a good possibility.
However, both this sword and this ‘opportunity’ were given to him in return for sacrificing his life. So, he wasn’t planning to give it back that easily.
Jin-Woo’s eyes sharpened considerably.
He had learned two things about reality back in that temple.
Firstly, he needed to become far, far stronger.
He was weak and almost died several times as a result.
That wasn’t all.
He knew what the results would be, yet he couldn’t stop that choirboy Hunter from stepping forward, and also, he knew Mister Kim was in the wrong, but he could not help Mister Song at all.
Because he wanted to survive, he turned his gaze away even though he knew what was right. If he didn’t want to be ashamed of himself again, then he simply had to become stronger.
‘There is no room for unnecessary kindness.’
What he got after his acts of kindness was the betrayal of his comrades.
Three of them abandoned him, who couldn’t even move properly, and ran away. He desperately called out to them but none returned to help him.
None of them could remember just who had saved their lives only a few moments ago.
‘….Give and take.’
He swore not to take on any unnecessary risk out of some unconditional act of kindness. The most important thing at the end of the day was his own life, after all.
Those were two important life lessons Jin-Woo got to engrave in his heart after experiencing a near-death event.
To become stronger than before, and to become more selfish than before.
“I can do this.”
Jin-Woo was one of those types of people who would never forget what he had been taught.
Inside a certain ‘pojangmacha’. (TL: the Korean-style covered street stall)
The nurse Choi Yu-Rah was busy chatting to a friend she hadn’t seen in a long time as the night wore on.
“Ahh, I almost forgot.”
Yu-Rah belatedly recalled that her friend was an employee of the Hunter’s Association. The reason for her finding work in the Hunter’s hospital was in no small part due to this friend.
“You know a lot about Hunters, right?”
“Well, more than most people, sure. What’s up?”
“Is there a Hunter with an ability to heal their own wounds really quickly?”
“Aren’t those Healer-type Hunters? One healing spell later, every wound goes bye-bye~!!”
“No, no, not like magic and stuff. I mean, like, unconsciously.”
“For example, when the person has lost consciousness, or when… he’s in the middle of sleep.”
Yu-Rah’s friend shook her head.
“Eii~. There’s no way. That’d be something like regeneration, and that’s an incredible ability, you know? That’s a unique trait only the rarest of all top-tier monsters exceeding the ranks of ‘A’ possess.”
“There’s no human who possesses it, though?”
“Ng. I’ve never heard of a Hunter who has such an ability.”
Could she have made a mistake, then?
Yu-Rah slowly nodded her head.
It was at this point that her friend spoke again.
“But, then again… I don’t know. Maybe it’s possible if you’re talking about S-ranked Hunters.”
Hearing her friend’s words, Yu-Rah raised her head.
“There are plenty of freakish monsters within the S-ranked Hunters, and also, not much is known about them, right? What were they saying? Right, the Hunter Baek Yun-Ho from the White Tiger Guild can apparently morph into a real monster.”
However, Seong Jin-Woo was supposedly a Hunter ranked E.
The ranks of the Hunters were publicly viewable on the Association’s website, so if anyone were interested, they could take a look. Yu-Rah became curious from the morning’s incident and she searched for Seong Jin-Woo’s information.
‘His rank is too low for him to possess such a unique abi…. Ah!’
The Re-Awakening of a Hunter!
She then remembered hearing hushed whispers of ‘Re-Awakening’ coming from Jin-Woo’s room when she was walking past it yesterday.
‘Could it be that he had gone through a Re-Awakening?’
For most regular people, it was truly impossible to befriend an S-ranked Hunter, never mind encountering one. Not only were there too few of them, but they also happened to be crazy busy most of the time as well.
So, just what kind of a situation was this? Someone as amazing as that was a patient she was looking after. A guy who just entered the S rank having moved up from the lowly E.
‘If there are only a few people who realise his true value, then….’
If she scored some points with him now, wouldn’t it be more likely that she’d be awarded more opportunities later down the line?
A chance to become acquaintances with a rank S Hunter didn’t happen every day, after all. They were an existence that people couldn’t easily meet even if they were prepared to shell out lots of money.
As her imagination took flight, a bright smile slowly bloomed on Yu-Rah’s face.
“Oh my gosh?! You girl, did something nice happen? Why are you suddenly grinning like that out of the blue?”
“Oh, uh, it’s nothing, you know. Nothing much.”
Yu-Rah continued to shake her head, but the smile on her lips didn’t want to go away that easily.
Part 8: Level up!
“Oh my goodness. Look at that guy’s physique.”
“Was that patient’s body that good before?”
Two young female nurses walking in the corridor whispered to each other as soon as they spotted Seong Jin-Woo.
He pretended to have not heard them and quietly returned to his room.
It had been a week since he started taking on the Daily Quests. Several changes took place during this time. One of them happened to be the transformation of his body.
Jin-Woo stood before the mirror mounted on the hospital room’s wall by the corner.
He checked out his entire body in front of this full-length mirror.
He got a bit embarrassed by doing something that a female university student would more likely end up doing, and only after clearing his throat twice was he able to stare straight at the mirror.
The thing was, though…. He had definitely changed.
His body was in the middle of a transformation.
‘I’ve got muscles now.’
The most eye-catching change was the drastic increase of his muscles. The normal-looking flabby flesh was gradually disappearing, only to be replaced by hard muscles. Thanks to that, his shoulders had widened more and his overall frame had grown bigger as well.
‘Even then, doesn’t seem heavy and slow.’
Only the necessary amount of muscles in the necessary places. If he were to describe the overall impression his body gave off, then would it be kinda like ‘looking swift and athletic’?
He was a guy and even he found this rather appealing, so it wasn’t such a strange thing for young nurses to whisper about him.
‘And it’s all due to this guy over here.’
Jin-Woo summoned his Stat Window.
Name: Seong Jin-Woo
(Available points to distribute: 0)
– (Unknown) Lv. Max
– Tenacity Lv. 1
– Dash Lv. 1
His Strength stat had gone past 30 already.
Since he thought that it’d be hard to tell the kind of effects the increases in other Stats would bring, he ended up investing all the points he earned on the Strength Stat, which seemed to be the easiest way to feel the change taking place within.
Besides, Strength played a key role when fighting monsters, so that was like killing two birds with one stone.
‘My body wouldn’t have transformed by this much just because I exercised for a few days.’
In that case, there could be only one explanation.
With his Strength value continuously rising up, the muscles were changing their shapes in order to display the maximum amount of effect, too.
He couldn’t think of any other reason besides that one.
He was inwardly worried about investing too many points to the Strength Stat, but after seeing his transformed body, he became rather happy and all the worries in his mind were forgotten for now.
‘However, it is way too eye-catching, isn’t it?’
The number of times he was mentioned by the nurses was constantly on the rise. It was quite likely that, since their job involved looking after human bodies, their levels of discernment could have been higher than most.
Jin-Woo possessed quite a keen sense of hearing, so whenever his name was mentioned in the vicinity, he took note of it.
‘I guess it’s time for me to leave this hospital, no?’
< Chapter 12 > Fin.