Solo Leveling (I Alone Level-Up) - Chapter 81
“Sir, I have the file you requested.”
Woo Jincheol entered the a.s.sociation president’s office. Having waited for the chief, Go Gunhee greeted him with a bright expression. Taking the doc.u.ments from Woo Jincheol, the elderly a.s.sociation president looked at the picture on top.
It was Jinwoo.
The picture was taken in the past when the young man first received his license. While the difference in the man was great between the past and the present, it was still easily recognizable as Jinwoo.
Reading down the list of Jinwoo’s activity records, Go Gunhee’s eyes became somber.
‘Not only an E-ranker, but the weakest of them. He worked as a Hunter for four years like that?’
The man’s actions were no different than suicide. No matter how easy the a.s.sociation’s Raids were compared to the Guild’s, it was still at a level that would stifle an E-ranker. Appropriately, Jinwoo had spent a long time in hospitals during his career as a Hunter.
“He endured well with all these injuries.”
“They said he could not leave the a.s.sociation because of his mother’s medical bills.”
“…What a rare youth in today’s world.”
A light filled Go Gunhee’s eyes.
‘In lieu of his missing father, he took care of his little sister and ill mother on his own…’
The a.s.sociation president had decided to look over Jinwoo’s files out of interest when he learned that the E-rank Hunter had Reawakened but did not expect to find something like this. More and more he learned about him, Go Gunhee felt that he was a good man.
‘What a shame that I have to hand him over to the Guilds.’
After reading Jinwoo’s file, the fact that he had failed to persuade the young man into joining the a.s.sociation fet more and more disappointing.
Go Gunhee clicked his tongue and turned the page, but he had reached the end of the file. With a satisfied expression, the elder closed the file.
“Thank you, sir.”
Woo Jincheol took the doc.u.ments and was about to leave, but then turned around and spoke with difficulty,
“Er… a.s.sociation president.”
Go Gunhee raised his head. Woo Jincheol had an awkward look on his face.
‘He normally looks like he wouldn’t bleed if you cut him. To think that Chief Woo could make a face like that…’
Was there something difficult he wanted to say? Go Gunhee became curious,
“What is it?”
The chief continued after a moment of hesitation,
“There’s something I have to report… Just a moment ago, we’ve received a word that Hunter Sung Jinwoo has entered a Raid.”
“Already? Whose Raid is it?”
“It’s a Raid from Hunters Guild.”
“Hmm… Hunters Guild you say.”
Sung Jinwoo ended up choosing Hunters Guild. And only after one day. Go Gunhee’s face became dark.
‘After all that talk, was he swayed by the amount Hunters Guild offered him?’
If that was the case, Go Gunhee would truly be disappointed. He had been deeply moved after meeting such a great man after a long time. However, when he recalled the young Hunter’s att.i.tude yesterday, combined with the file he had just gone over, Jinwoo did not seem like a man to change his mind that easily. No, there must be another reason.
“If you wanted to fight with strong magic beasts, Hunters Guild certainly would be the best place to do so.”
Go Gunhee decided to tell himself that that was the reason. However, Woo Jincheol’s next words kicked that reason away,
“I don’t think that’s it, a.s.sociation president.”
“Was there more information?”
“According to our records… Hunter Sung Jinwoo did not enter the raiding party. Instead… he went into the mining team.”
Go Gunhee shot up from his seat.
“What? An S-rank Hunter volunteered as a miner?”
The elder could not believe it. In fact, Woo Jincheol agreed. The HSD chief had repeatedly checked and confirmed the information, but the reports remained the same.
‘This is why I was hesitant to report it…’
Just what was Sung Jinwoo thinking? With sweat gathering at his brows, Woo Jincheol replied,
“That is what was reported, sir.”
Go Gunhee collapsed onto his chair and laughed.
“What an amusing young man.”
Wearing the hard hat and work clothes he had received, Jinwoo followed behind Team Leader Bae Yoonsuk. Near the Gate, many Hunters wearing hard hats were gathered. Roughly 20 of them? All their gazes turned to Team Leader Bae. The mustache ahjussi introduced Jinwoo,
“This is Sung-ssi. He’ll be joining us today.”
Jinwoo lightly bowed his head then read the Hunters’ moods.
They were all rather being cold. Jinwoo understood why.
He was just a temp that might not even show up tomorrow, while they were Hunters officially contracted with the Guild as members of the mining team. From their point of view, there was no reason for them to be friendly with him.
“My G.o.d, you people are… Come on, he’s still a teammate that’ll be working with you all.”
Team Leader Bae smiled awkwardly and pointed at an intimidating-looking Hunter.
“Sung-ssi, you can just stick to Mok-ssi over there. If there’s anything you don’t know, you can learn from him. He’s a little quiet, but he’s the most veteran miner here.”
Jinwoo walked over and stood silently next to the man named Mok-ssi. Mok-ssi met Jinwoo’s eyes and spoke in a barely audible voice,
“I’m Sung Jinwoo.”
That was it for their greeting. Mok Jinsoo immediately turned back to the team leader.
‘Everyone sure is friendly.’
Jinwoo also turned his gaze. Some distance away, the team leader and a Guild employee that looked like an ordinary man were sharing what looked like a serious talk. Focusing just a little, Jinwoo was able to eavesdrop on their conversation.
“…Is the attack team still in there? They told us that they were done a while ago, why is it taking so long?”
“They’re really almost done. This is all for the safety of you and your team members, so please just wait a little longer until all the magic beasts are down.”
“I’ve heard that three times already.”
“Team leader, you know how dangerous it could be if they half-a.s.s the clean-up. What if a hidden magic beast leaped out at your team?”
As the man young enough to be his son smiled with his eyes and explained, Team Leader Bae could not stay angry; he shook his head and smiled.
“I got it, I got it.”
“Oh? Did you calm down a bit?”
“I said I got it. Go do your job.”
“Yes, sir. Once they come out, I’ll make sure to run here with all my might and let you know. Oh yeah, you know we’re all going for happy-hour after, right?”
“I know, so go do your d.a.m.n job, ya punk.”
Thankfully, it looked like the conversation ended in a friendly mood. The employee had handled the situation with finesse.
‘You’d think that everyone working in large Guilds would be arrogant hot-heads…’
However, the Guild employees doing clerical work were ordinary men, while the Hunters doing the physical labor were Awakened Beings. There were a lot of jobs that the Awakened Beings had to do but a limited number of Awakened Beings. You couldn’t just take one out and replace them with another like pieces of a machine. And that’s why the staff employees watched their words and att.i.tudes around the Hunters. While the public may view the white-collar employees of large Guilds with envy, the employees had their share of frustrations and hard work.
As he eased up on focusing on the distant conversation, Jinwoo heard whispers coming from behind him.
“Did you hear? The temp today is an E-ranker.”
Like in the past, Jinwoo sometimes hated his keen hearing.
‘Not like I can just go around with my ears covered…’
While he chuckled defeatedly, his teammates’ quiet conversations continued,
“They picked an E-ranker?”
He felt the fiery gazes falling on the back of his head.
“I mean, why the h.e.l.l did the team leader pick an E-ranker?”
“Would an E-ranker even be of any use?”
“I know, right?”
“I don’t know if we’ll be able to finish on time today.”
Worried voices came from here and there. While they were being considerate of his feelings and keeping their voices down, their efforts meant nothing before Jinwoo’s heightened senses. Jinwoo swallowed a laughter.
‘Looks like there was another reason why they were so cold.’
As expected, E-rankers were looked down on everywhere. Because he was so used to it, he didn’t feel annoyed.
‘Besides, I’ll be putting that t.i.tle behind me soon.’
Meanwhile, it got noisy around the Gate.
“The attack team must be out.”
“Looks like they’re finally done.”
Tired of waiting, the mining team’s Hunters cheered up a bit. Watching the scene, Team Leader Bae gestured to his team.
“Alright, let’s get moving.”
The mining team Hunters each gathered their gear and started walking, Jinwoo included.
“Thank you for your hard work.”
“Everyone, good job today!”
In front of the Gate, Hunters Guild’s employees were happily greeting the exiting raiding party. Jinwoo realized “attack team” was referring to “raiding party” around here. 
‘These guys are… the nation’s strongest raiding party.’
Looking at the high-rank, no, the highest-ranking Hunters, Jinwoo’s eyes sharpened. He recognized a face among them.
Hunters Guild’s Guildmaster and a Mage-cla.s.s S-rank Hunter.
Jinwoo felt like it would get annoying if Choi Jongin recognized him, so he pressed his hard hat down. Fortunately, there were many Hunters around him wearing the same thing, and Jinwoo was able to blend into the background. As he quietly studied the country’s top raiding party members while hidden amidst the miners,
‘…These are the main members of Hunters Guild?”
Jinwoo could not hide his shock. Despite of his expectations, it was difficult for him to find a Hunter with a strong energy. While Choi Jongin gave off an incredible magic power deserving of his t.i.tle as the “Strongest Soldier”, the rest were rather disappointing.
‘Are they that weak?’
Of course not. Jinwoo shook his head. The members of the main raiding party of the country’s number one Guild were chosen after an incredible amount of scrutiny.
‘The Guildmaster himself partic.i.p.ated in the Raid. I doubt the members of his party would be put together that poorly.’
No, the word “weak” was as far as it could be from these men. That meant one thing:
‘I have become that strong.’
The corners of Jinwoo’s mouth rose. Strength was relative. His efforts in the past few months had not betrayed him. It took him to a place where even these Hunters that just cleared an rank Dungeon felt weak to him. The relative strength between them and him gave him the a.s.surance that he had become strong.
ba dum ba dum ba dum
It made his heart beat faster.
In that moment… No one had said anything. No one had told him to do so.
But Jinwoo’s gaze naturally drifted towards the Gate.
A feeling of wonder overtook him.
A short-haired woman was leisurely walking out of the Gate. What caught his attention first was her big and clear eyes, adorning her makeup-free face. Her clear, white skin and perfect face were equally eye-catching. She was a beauty that would invite brazen compliments from 99 out of a 100 men. 
However, what turned his gaze to her in the first place was not her beauty, but what he felt inside of her.
The strength that resided in her body.
An enormous amount of magic power was ceaselessly emanating from the expressionless female Hunter.
‘At the very least, it’s on the level of Choi Jongin’
She exuded an incredible aura of pressure.
When he calmed his surprise and succeeded in expelling all earthly desires from his mind, Jinwoo realized who this was.
‘That woman is…’
Korea’s sole female S-ranker, Cha Haein. 
Along with Choi Jongin, she was the other axis of Hunters Guild, the highest of rankers.
‘It can’t be anyone else.’
How many other women in Korea wielded this much power? Compared to her fame, Cha Haein’s face was not known to the public; the female Hunter had distanced herself from appearing in the media. As such, this was the first time Jinwoo saw her face.
‘Contrary to the rumors, she’s not weird looking at all. Why would she hate the cameras so much?’
Girls in their early 20s often enjoyed being in front of the camera. Well, mostly just a cellphone.
Perhaps feeling his gaze, Cha Haein turned her head toward Jinwoo’s direction.
‘I shouldn’t need to… use ‘Stealth’, right?’
Jinwoo hid his presence, and the young woman looking over the mining team became confused.
‘What was that? I just felt a strong presence.’
Was she imagining it? At first, she thought a.s.sociation President Go Gunhee had arrived in the area. But the presence had completely disappeared, as if it was never there.
‘The a.s.sociation president is a busy man. There’s no way he would visit us without a notice.’
Unfortunately, the cost of her distraction was huge. She had heightened her senses to look for the strong presence. Because of that, the foul stench she normally smelled a.s.saulted her nose stronger than usual.
As she always had done, Cha Haein took out a handkerchief and pinched her nose. The young woman quickly ran through the other Hunters out of the area.
‘Her senses are pretty good.’
Watching Cha Haein disappear in the distance, Jinwoo sighed in relief. And with that, the entire attack team had left the Gate. Having waited for this moment, Team Leader Bae turned to the members of the mining team. He clapped his hands loudly then spoke with a clear voice,
“Alright, it’s our turn now! Let’s work hard!”
After the collection team entered the Gate, the mining team followed. Jinwoo stopped in front of the Gate.
As he stood still and took in the experience of seeing his first rank Gate, Bae Yoonsuk approached him,
“Sung-ssi, what’re you doing? We should also go in.”
With a short reply, Jinwoo also stepped through the Gate.
That familiar message appeared, as it always would:
You have entered a Dungeon.
: attack team (공략대) vs raiding party (공격대). Both words literally mean the same thing, 공략 and 공격 both mean attack/a.s.sault/offense, 대 means team. 공격대 was the commonly used word to refer to a team of hunters that cleared dungeons up until now, and I’ve previously translated that as “raiding party” in the past.
: who da f.u.c.k’s the 100th.
: h.e.l.lo people who read the mtls, car girl has finally arrived. Or tea girl. Whichever you prefer.