Chapter 10: Awakening
Both his attack and defense were 10. For a F-class Dealer, it was normal to have base stats of 200 attack and 50 defense. But Jiwoo’s were set at 10.
His joy of becoming a Hunter now turned to a sense of unease. He was worried if he could be a Hunter with his stats.
Jiwoo felt like a defective product.
“Will they even acknowledge me as a Hunter? Won’t they say they can’t approve me because my stats are too low?”
The tattoo would not disappear even when he scrubbed it with his hand. Given his circumstances, this was definitely a Hunter tattoo. However, he couldn’t figure out why such a mutation occurred.
“What is this? Is it okay for me to be happy about it? If I celebrate and then they tell me I’m not a Hunter, I feel like I’ll get more angry.”
Jiwoo scrunched his forehead while he looked at his tattoo. It was as if he was a kindergartener who had received a highschool math problem.
Hunter Grade – F
Chakra Level: 6
Chakra Proficiency: 0%.
Rate of Amplification Ability: 0%
The mysterious tattoo was perfectly settled on Jiwoo’s arm.
His EXP was 0/300, which meant he had amassed 0 experience points so far. He would need 300 points to ascend to rank E. Furthermore, because his Chakra level was 6, the lowest level, this meant there was no amplification rate.
The Hunter he had met in the mall had the following stats on his tattoo:
Hunter Grade – E/Dealer
Attack: 400 (+40)
Defense: 100 (+10)
Chakra Level: 5
Chakra Proficiency: 3%
Rate of Amplification Ability: 10
When the Chakra level hits 5, the amplification rate would increase by 10% which in turn raises the attack and defense by 10% each.
“My base stats are both 10.”
He believed his suspicions would somehow be cleared up when the people from the Hunter Association came.
They arrived soon after. At first, three people came, a few minutes later, two more joined. The last to arrive was just one person. Jiwoo roughly had an idea in what order they came. If his theory was right, the people who arrived second were the professional workers. The third one to arrive would be someone who’s directly related to the Hunter’s line of work.
“Hello, I’m Lee Jaehyung. I’m the Deputy Director of the Swamp Management Department in the Hunter Association.”
The person, who appeared to be the eldest in the second group, introduced himself. Lee Jaehyung seemed to be the one in charge.
“Welcome. I apologize for making you come here at a time like this.”
“No worries. Normally, I don’t come directly to the scene, but I personally did because of how dire the situation was.”
“I see, please come this way.”
Jiwoo guided the people to the swamp.
“Right now, covering the lead doesn’t seem to be a concern. It doesn’t appear as though it’ll cause traffic jams either. The border’s color is unique too.”
The people from the Hunter Association talked amongst themselves. It was currently 4 a.m. The workers divided into teams to analyze the swamp and his house.
They found it strange there were Lim’s appliances lying around, unopened from their boxes.
Finally, Lee Jaehyung couldn’t take the curiosity any longer and asked Jiwoo about it.
Jiwoo explained it as briefly as possible.
“I was a salesperson at Lims until their branch shut down out of nowhere.”
Several people nodded as if they knew what had happened.
The scientific folks put their heads together to have a discussion. The word Jiwoo heard come up often was “research value.”
While they were talking, a young woman approached Jiwoo. He wondered if she was an intern at the Hunter Association.
She looked meek, cute, and she left a good impression. She was close to Jiwoo’s type. But after he broke up with In-Ah, he wasn’t too interested in any women at the moment.
If he had paid a little more attention, he might have recognized her as Im Jeong, the top dog of the advertising industry. Jiwoo could never have imagined someone like her would visit his house at the crack of dawn.
She was the third to arrive.
“The others are from the Swamp Management Department, that must mean this person is from the Hunter’s Management?”
As Jiwoo was surmising by himself, the woman showed him her right arm. The words “Rank B Tanker” was clearly engraved on her tattoo.
“I came because I heard someone had gotten their Hunter tattoo. I’m also very curious about the swamp. I heard it’s quite different from the swamps we have discovered so far.”
In other words, this person should have investigated Jiwoo’s tattoo as soon as she had arrived. However, she was slacking on the job because she was interested in the mysterious swamp.
“I’m from the Hunter Security Forces, Im Jeong.”
“I’m Ahn Jiwoo.”
Jiwoo couldn’t connect the dots to Im Jeong, the queen of advertising, even after hearing her name.
His head was preoccupied by the fact that he was seeing the Hunter’s Security Force in person. The ones he had only heard of in the news.
“This is the first time this has happened. Anyway, nice to meet you. May I see your tattoo?”
Jiwoo hesitated before he showed his arm. Im Jeong pulled her face close to it.
“How interesting,” She said.
“Yes, the stats are weird.” Jiwoo spoke with an insecure tone, he felt embarrassed about his tattoo. He wanted to draw an extra zero next to each figure.
“It seems it won’t be difficult for me to reach a decision. Deputy Lee and the others are deciding whether or not they should take over this house to conduct research on the swamp. I’ve been given full authority over the study of the Hunter who had a late awakening.”
“What does that mean?”
“We’re here today to decide on two matters, ‘the indoor swamp’ and ‘the late awakened Hunter, Ahn Jiwoo.’ If we deem there is a research value to this study, we will take action. I have now determined, Ahn Jiwoo, you do have a research value. This is an unprecedented matter not only to Korea but also to the entire world. Of course back in the early days when monsters began to appear, there were some older people who awakened as Hunters.”
“So you’re saying it never happened since then and now I’m the first one?” Jiwoo asked.
“Then what happens to me now?””
“We want to do some experiments on you. Under the condition you agree of course.”
“Aren’t the experiments dangerous or harmful to the human body?”
“It’s nothing like that. We’re doing it to test your chakra control capabilities and physical strength. If we can find out under what conditions you awakened, it would be worthwhile to hold another Hunter exam for people over the age of 18.”
“What about my work and life?”
It was certainly concerning.
“We’ll compensate you properly. Due to the peculiar nature of tattoos, you will have to undergo several procedures. Unless something unforeseen happens, you are a Hunter from now on. We will pay you according to that status. I will be the one to help you with everything. I’m super motivated to start with the experiment right away.”
“If you’re going to pay me according to the status of a Hunter…then will you pay me for doing a raid? Will the amount I’m given correspond to those prices?” Jiwoo asked, holding onto his hopeful dream.
“No. It would be nice but just because you became a Hunter doesn’t mean you can join raids immediately. As an F-class Dealer or was it a Tanker? What was it again?”
Im Jeong looked at Jiwoo’s arm.
“…There’s nothing?” She questioned as she stared at the blank space next to his rank.
“You didn’t fake it, right?”
“It’s not that I don’t believe you. But you’ll have to follow the protocol first so rumors won’t spread behind your back later on.”
Im Jeong took out a unique-looking scanner from the bag she left in the corner. When the scanner was placed over Jiwoo’s tattoo, it shined and made a beeping sound. She then put the scanner back into the bag. Perhaps it indicated he had passed.
“It’s mysterious in more ways than one. Now then, let me continue where I left off. You will earn money when you work as a F-rank Dealer, wait no, Hunter. F-rank Hunters like you have no choice but to carry monsters’ corpses. In return, you will receive 500,000 won per day.”
“Yes, I’m aware.”
“We’ll use those calculations and pay you that amount.”
“Thousand… Wait, 5 million won? In a month?”
“Yes. I’m having you help us with our needs so I can’t be heartless over that. I think I can give you about 20 million won more.”
“You’ll give me 20 million won more? Every month?”
“No, not every month. I don’t think the study will last more than a month. Even if it ends earlier, you’ll still receive 35 million won.”
Lee Jaehyung approached them as they were conversing.
“I think we will need to take custody of the house too. This swamp is of a tremendous research value.” He said to Im Jeong.
“I expected as much. Don’t hold back, go all the way.”
When she said that, Lee Jaehyung nodded.
“But the stuff over there is a problem. Lim’s products. We don’t need them.”
“You never know. They may have affected the formation of the swamp. Let’s account for those costs. We don’t know which items inside this house affected its creation so pay for them all.” Im Jeong said.
“That should be fine then.” When Lee Jaehyung replied, Im Jeong winked at Jiwoo.
“You’re going to…buy them?” The surprised Jiwoo asked.
Lee Jaehyung smiled.
“Well, I’m not the one paying so you don’t need to thank me for anything.”
“Oh my god! If I thought about all the stress I’ve gotten from those things…”
Jiwoo felt strange when he saw his troubles were solved too easily. He couldn’t believe the problems he tried so desperately to escape from were resolved just like that.
“Maybe your Hunter tattoo popped up because you were so distressed?” She joked.
It was meant to be funny, but at that moment, he thought it could have been the case.
“The Hunter Association will give you a temporary officetel. Hunters will be dispatched to destroy the swamp once the investigation is over.” Lee Jaehyung informed him.
“You’re going to destroy the swamp?”
“Targeting the monsters inside will destroy it. We can’t leave the swamp alone, can we? If we did, the swamp would grow bigger and monsters would emerge.”
“Oh, I see.”
“You will be able to come back after we finish the entire process. Though it’s up to you to decide. If you feel uncomfortable coming back here, it won’t matter if you move out.”
“I understand. I’ll think about it some more.” Jiwoo replied.
“Then let’s head out now. We’ll go to the lab right away. There’s no other issues, right? I will explain the situation to your workplace. The Hunter Association will also compensate for your sudden inability to work.” Im Jeong said.
“Oh, wait a minute. I can’t leave freely once I’m inside the laboratory, right?” Jiwoo asked with a tone indicating she had forgotten to explain something important.
“That’s correct. We will have to conduct several experiments on you so you have to follow our schedules strictly.”
“Then there’s a place I need to stop before I go.” Jiwoo said.
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