Solo Leveling (I Alone Level-Up) - Chapter 69
Next morning, Jinwoo went straight to Daesung Tower.
‘Man, it’s still so tall.’
A skysc.r.a.per with a hundred floors. Standing near it, you’d have to strain your neck to look up to the top.
‘There are a lot of people here today.’
Compared to the last time he had come here, there were a lot more people around. Guess that was the literal difference between night and day. Whether it was the lobby, entrance or the sidewalk, people came and went nonstop.
‘Man, if I just disappeared into thin air like last time, it’ll cause quite a commotion.’
There were already many eyes looking for him because of this so-called “unknown helper” incident. Was there a need for him to reveal himself and purposely attract attention?
‘Of course not.’
Jinwoo did not enjoy having attention focused on him. He walked over to a hidden corner and took out the Demon Castle Key. It was a slender, golden key. At a casual glance, it was clearly nonfunctional.
‘No one’s looking, right?’
Jinwoo looked around and nodded.
‘Time to go.’
The Hunter used the ‘Stealth’ skill.
The invisible man came out of his hiding spot then made his way through the crowd to the building. Because of how packed the streets were, he couldn’t avoid b.u.mping into few people here and there, but none of them paid any mind.
‘Man, this skill can be used for some really bad things.’
No wonder high-rankers with ‘Stealth’ were under a lot of surveillance.
In the meantime, he pa.s.sed through the invisible threshold into a completely different world.
‘If I can hear the flames from here, just how hot is it?’
Jinwoo looked up at the ma.s.sive tower on fire. It stood where Daesung Tower was moments ago. The Demon Castle nearly filled his entire vision. Still, they say humans can get used to anything.
‘Feels less oppressive than last time.’
Indeed, Jinwoo’s anxiousness was practically nonexistent this time.
‘It’s because I’ve grown that much.’
Jinwoo returned the golden Demon Castle Key to the inventory then took out a gray key.
Castle Gate Key
It is the key to the Demon Castle’s gates.
Obtained after killing the Gatekeeper.
It was what he obtained after killing the watchdog, Cerberus. He was unable to use it in the past, having just barely defeated Cerberus. Now, he would finally enter the castle. Next, he took out his weapon. Baruka’s Tanto in his right hand, the gate key in his left, Jinwoo carefully walked towards the castle gate. Curiously, he did not see Cerberus.
‘Do monsters not resp.a.w.n in the Demon Castle Dungeon?’
Might be just limited to the dog, but there was a strong possibility that it was a special rule of this place.
‘If that’s the case…’
The interiors might be a little different than the Instant Dungeons where monsters resp.a.w.ned. Jinwoo sharply focused his senses.
BA DUM BA DUM BA DUM!
Because of the sense stat that had reached over a hundred, focusing his senses made his own heartbeat sound like thunder.
‘But I am not afraid.’
Compared to the past, what he felt now was not fear but an overwhelming confidence resulting from his power. Maintaining a sharpness and being afraid were two completely different things.
A message appeared in front of the castle door.
Would you like to use the Castle Gate Key and enter? (Y/N)
‘No, miss System, I’ll just turn back and go home.’
Jinwoo laughed at the stupid question and selected “Yes”.
He had not touched the door, but the giant gates swung open on their own.
Jinwoo was taken back. Even though his senses were focused, he did not sense any monsters past the doors.
He had prepared for the exact opposite. His worst case scenario visioned a scene where a ton of monsters jumped him the moment he opened the door. It was this pessimistic thought that had carried him to the penalty zone for training.
Just what was this? It seemed like his efforts were in vain. The inside of the castle was almost pathetically devoid of any monsters’ presence.
‘Huh… What now?’
With a disappointed feeling, Jinwoo returned Baruka’s Tanto to the inventory and stepped into the Demon Castle. As these things usually go, that first step into the area triggered the response.
Jinwoo reflexively called his two daggers to his hands in a flash.
‘What! What is it?!’
A quest has arrived.
And it’s not the daily quest? Well that would’ve been weird; he had already made sure to complete the daily quest before coming here. Then this must be… just a quest.
This was the first time he had received “just” a quest.
‘Every other quest up until now was hidden, emergency or something.’
Jinwoo checked the quest with a tilted head.
Ordinary Quest: Collect the Demon Souls! Part 1
The Demon Castle is full of demons. Please hunt them and collect their souls to earn a special reward. Normal demons contain only one soul, but the upper floors will have demons with multiple souls.
Quest Requirement: Enter the Demon Castle
Quest Goal: Demon Souls 0 / 10,000
Pick one item from every item possible
Stat points +20
20 Stat points! As always, the first thing that grabbed Jinwoo’s attention was the stat point reward.
‘I can raise my intelligence by 20!’
He could not help but smile. The disadvantages of low mana could not be understated.
‘I need a ton of mana to keep my soldiers regenerating.’
And mana wasn’t the only benefit of the intelligence stat. Jinwoo was finally able to learn that as his intelligence increased, the number of shadows he could extract and store increased as well. Because of all this, increasing his intelligence was urgent.
‘There’s a limit with just level-ups and daily quests…’
If he could earn 20 bonus stats through the quest, it would take care of a large problem.
Jinwoo looked up from the stat reward.
“Pick one item from every item possible”
Just the bonus stats were an insane reward, then there was this.
‘Really? Every item possible?’
Jinwoo remembered the absolute highest-cla.s.s equipments from the shop.
‘There were even…’
S-rank equipment that cost billions, some even tens of billions, of gold. Jinwoo looked at Knight Killer in his left hand. This powerful dagger cost nearly three million gold, and he was still using it.
‘If a B-rank dagger costing nearly three million is this good, just how good are the S-rank daggers costing tens of billions?’
He became curious. Looking at just the first and second rewards, even ignoring the unknown third reward, this was an incredible quest.
‘Considering the rewards, taking down few monsters will be as easy as eating-‘
Because Jinwoo’s eyes fell on the quest rewards first, he had not taken a closer look at the quest goal. The man finally looked at the number of zeros and was shocked.
Jinwoo could not help but exclaim loudly. This was not just “taking down few monsters”.
‘It’s really, really not an ordinary quest.’
No matter what kind of monsters these demons were, killing ten thousand of them would be an ordeal. However, the Hunter smiled widely.
‘That is… if I was alone.’
The current number of soldiers was 50. They each just had to take down 200 demons. Yes, with those soldiers, this quest would be doable.
Would you like to accept the quest?
There was no way he would refuse.
You’ve accepted the quest.
If he failed, the “penalty” would be just the wasted time.
‘Compared the penalty of those other quests… bleh…’
His life was on the line for the Cla.s.s Advancement Quest and the Emergency Quests. Compared to those, this was truly a blessed quest. Jinwoo raised his head,
‘So that’s going to keep track of my progress?’
The moment he accepted the quest, a counter appeared in the air.
Collected Demon Souls: 0 / 10,000
‘10,000… This’ll be a long road.’
With the numbers he imagined in his head actually visualized, Jinwoo chuckled in disbelief. Suddenly, he discovered another counter to the left to the souls counter.
Exp. to Next Level: 60,000
The holographic letters clearly displayed a number, and it was telling him that he would level up once he filled that number.
‘Am I finally able to see my experience?’
But he was Level 61. 61 didn’t particularly seem like a milestone level for something like this to happen. Not only that, Jinwoo didn’t see such a counter before heading into the Demon Castle.
Jinwoo took a step back and exited the Demon Castle. With that, both the soul counter and the experience counter disappeared. When he went back in, the two counters returned as if they were always there.
‘Looks like it’s only for the Demon Castle.’
It was a shame he wouldn’t be able to see the experience counter on the outside, but it would surely be convenient while he was in here. On the other hand,
‘Does that mean it’ll take that long to conquer this place?’
That was certainly a possibility. Jinwoo pored over the details of the quest once more, then closed the message box.
‘Think I got the details down.’
Finally, it would be time to explore the interiors of the Demon Castle.
A ruined city lay before his eyes. Unexpectedly, it was another field-type Dungeon.
‘Where is this? Is this Seoul?’
Perhaps if everyone in Seoul died and a hundred years pa.s.sed, it might look like this. A lifeless city faded to gray. Few street lights flickered on and off here and there.
‘To think that it’d be another field-type Dungeon…’
On top of that, it was using the great city of Seoul as its base. Next to the Instant Dungeons that used a subway station or a mall as their base, this was incomparable. Jinwoo’s eyes narrowed.
‘Where do I go first?’
Where was the goal? Jinwoo looked over here and there. Thankfully, he did not have to wonder for too long. From a distance, where Namsan Tower should’ve been, a giant pillar of light stood in its place.
‘Let’s try over there.’
Jinwoo started heading towards the direction. In case he got lost, he carefully remembered the area where the castle gate was. However, he did not go too far when he was interrupted,
Small monsters crawled out from between the buildings here and there.
Jinwoo read the dark red names above their heads and understood what they were.
‘They look like…’
If the gargoyle magic beasts had wings, it would look just like them. There were eight of them. Jinwoo smiled.
‘Got eight souls.’
One of the demons sported Baruka’s Tanto out of its forehead.
You’ve defeated a Low-level Demon.
You’ve earned 100 experience points.
You’ve earned 1 Demon Soul.
While they were distracted by their fallen comrade, Jinwoo quickly ran over and removed another’s head.
You’ve defeated a Low-level Demon.
You’ve earned 100 experience points.
You’ve earned 1 Demon Soul.
These things gave a hundred experience points each.
‘And I need 60,000 experience points to level-up…’
Defeating 600 of these low-level demons should level him up. The remaining demons fell quickly.
Current souls at 8. Experienced gained was 800.
‘Not a bad start.’
A marathon starts with just a few steps. Jinwoo’s eyes sparkled, looking for the next prey.
Baekho Guild. Guildmaster’s Office.
After being busy for the past few days, Baek Yoonho was going through the doc.u.ments and reports that he had been neglecting.
He picked up the phone.
– “Guildmaster, Hunter Min Byunggu-nim is calling. Would you like me to connect?”
A moment later, a familiar voice came from the receiver.
– “Baek hyung, why is your cellphone off?”
Baek Yoonho sighed deeply,
“Because of those d.a.m.n reporters. I’m going dark until this d.a.m.n story dies down.”
– “Oh, yeah, that! Red Gate! I saw the news from j.a.pan. Hyung, you look pretty good on the TV.”
“Don’t test me. I’m not in the mood to joke around. Once I find who leaked that story, I’m going to just…”
– “Don’t worry about that too much, hyung. That story’s going to get pushed over by a big news soon.”
“A big news? From j.a.pan?”
– “Yeah. The problem is worse than we thought. It’s going to make waves in Korea soon.”
“Why? What happened?”
A week ago, j.a.pan secretly contacted the Korean Hunter a.s.sociation and the large Guilds of South Korea. They were informed that j.a.pan needed a consultation with Korea’s Hunters. And so, several Hunters representing Korea headed over to j.a.pan for a meeting. Min Byunggu was one of those Hunters. Baek Yoonho had been curious about the matter,
“Stop messing around and spill it. This is the first time those j.a.panese b.a.s.t.a.r.ds asked for our advice on something. Just what’s going on over there that could rattle those arrogant f.u.c.ks?” 
– “Baek hyung, you remember the ants of Jeju Island, right?”
An S-rank Gate underwent a Dungeon Break four years ago on Jeju Island. The Dungeon was populated by ant type magic beasts. South Korea had attempted to reclaim the island three times. They failed three times. Eventually, the government gave up on the jewel of Korea, and Jeju Island became the land of the magic beasts.
“How could I forget? I almost died during one of the reclamation efforts.”
– “There’s been a development in that area.”
“Development? Who the h.e.l.l cares. Let them kill and eat each other on that island.”
The voice on the phone became filled with worry and continued,
– “They discovered a corpse of a winged ant on the coast of j.a.pan.” 
: Oh, here it is. The actual confirmation that intelligence increased his maximum shadows.
: Err, in case anyone’s uncomfortable with the rather blatant racism, the relationship between Korean and j.a.pan, especially for older folks, is not that good.
: In the next arc of SoloxLeveling, we’ll be visiting the Chimera Ant Island 😛