Chapter 14: Awakening
When Im Jeong first awakened as a Hunter, people praised her as a genius after seeing her chakra control. However, the speed at which Jiwoo was progressing was much faster than hers.
The ripples grew bigger and bigger. Im Jeong saw him adjust the amount of chakra he emitted. Although he was not yet able to control its size in a delicate and refined manner, it was spilling out constantly. Furthermore, the chakra that was gushing out was a lot for a first-timer.
She had expected he would barely cause a fluctuation on the water’s surface before his chakra depleted. Contrary to her beliefs, his chakra kept flowing out at a uniform rate from his fingertips.
“He doesn’t have the skill to use it precisely yet. But it doesn’t look hopeless. With that chakra amount, he can engage in actual combat.” She thought.
Jiwoo couldn’t hide his satisfaction when he saw things went as he had planned.
“Practice pouring chakra into a weapon when you go back.”
Surprised by the voice, Jiwoo turned around to face the person behind him.
“Since when have you been here?””
“Just now. Try pooling chakra in your palm when you train. I didn’t expect you would get it before you left the lab. It’s amazing. I guess it wasn’t a mere coincidence you got your tattoo at the age of 26. I think you’re part of the chosen.”
“Do you really believe I can do well?” Jiwoo asked.
“As long as you never give up, you’ll be fine. If a person with an attack power of 50 attacks once, you’ll need to hit the target five times to do the same amount of damage. Keep training and find ways to minimize your chakra charging time. If you face a monster with 2 million HP, you will need to attack it 200,000 times. If you do raids, your EXP will naturally go up from 300, 600, to 1800. Then one day you could become a senior Hunter with that much accumulated EXP.”
Jiwoo thought about what she just said. While other people’s stats increased in increments of 50, his will go up in 10s. But 20 was still better than 10 and 30 was better than 20. It also felt good that she acknowledged his spirit and believed in his tenacity.
“You never know, you could become an A-rank Hunter.”
Even if he did become an A-rank Hunter, after many twists and turns, his offense would still be 60. His figures would fall short compared to F-rank Dealers. However, just imagining himself as an A-rank made him happy.
“An A-rank Hunter.” Jiwoo muttered to himself.
Im Jeong approached Jiwoo and put her hand out. He didn’t know what she was trying to do, so he blankly stared at her. When she pointed to his arm, he showed her his tattoo.
“When you get 1 EXP, so when the number on the tattoo changes to 1/300, buy me dinner that day.” Im Jeong thought Jiwoo would’ve gotten the hint that she was interested in him when she said that.
However, the clueless Jiwoo responded by asking “Why?”
“Was I too indirect?” She wondered.
Jiwoo was busy thinking about how to earn EXP. He didn’t even notice Im Jeong’s face was turning bright red. Jiwoo’s ignorance made her furious.
Finally, the day of his departure came. Not too many people cared about him leaving the lab.
News of the indoor swamp and a lately awakened individual was reported to the media without any filtering. The government stepped in eventually to control the information. The most important piece they revealed was that there was no monster found in the swamp.
The government and the Hunter Association began to restrict information on Jiwoo and the swamp found in his residence. Hunter Association officials voiced their opinions stating that if it was publicized, it would only cause confusion and anxiety.
Jiwoo himself didn’t know what was going on back home either.
On the day he left the lab, Jiwoo felt like a burden was lifted from his shoulders. He was somewhat sad he couldn’t visit the library or get training help anymore, but he was mostly relieved.
He didn’t feel anything toward the other people at the lab, but it was a little difficult for him to part with Im Jeong. She, who seemed like she’d shed no blood even when stabbed, cried on that day. The people around her were embarrassed and stuped by the sight. In the end, Jiwoo patted her arm and left, saying they would be able to meet again. And so, the soap opera-like scene ended.
People gathered around the lobby to see Jiwoo off. After he left, they made bets on whether he could succeed as a Hunter or not. The absolute majority were pessimistic of Jiwoo’s future. They were convinced that Jiwoo would never be able to rise above D-rank.
“Then again, it’s not even worth the bet. There has to be at least one person on the other side, but there is none.”
Im Jeong raised her head when she heard someone say that.
“Can you take responsibility for those words?”
Im Jeong’s provocation caused a stir. After all, she is an elite tanker, who held big titles such as “the country’s youngest assault leader,” “the youngest B-rank Tanker in Korea,” “the attacker with the shortest clear record on a second-class swamp,” and a “solo raider with 200 successful clears.”
“If you’re worried because there are no challengers, I’ll take the bet. Bet against me.”
At that moment, a group of people from the Hunter Security Forces entered the lobby.
“What are you guys doing here?” Jinah, who was the first one to enter, asked.
Im Jeong greeted her senior officers and explained the situation.
“So now, you’re all standing around debating whether or not Tenten can become a D-rank Hunter?” Dongho asked with that stern voice of his.
There was a brief moment of tension in the air. It was similar to employees getting caught by their boss for secretly watching the World Cup qualifiers during work hours.
However, Dongho’s tone quickly changed.
“How much are you willing to bet?” He asked.
“Who knows, I want to bet too. How can Tenten become a D-rank? First of all, his attack power is 10. There is a limit to how much he can increase it with weapons and chakra. Actually, I don’t think there’s an assault team that would accept him for the raids.” Jinah said with tremendous skepticism.
“I don’t usually like to gamble, but this looks like easy money. I’m with the side that says Jiwoo can’t become a D-rank Hunter.” Jaewook pitched in.
“What’s the limit on the bet? Until when does it end? I want to make some money too.” Dongki’s words began to reel others in one by one.
“Snap out of it Im Jeong. If you admit you were wrong and ask for forgiveness, we’ll drop it. But I won’t let this pointless stubbornness of yours slide. I admit you’re a competent Tanker, but I can’t accept you acting like a child. If you want to be persistent, the others won’t let it go either. But if you really want to take responsibility for what you said, you better be prepared to be robbed of your money.” Jinah said.
Im Jeong looked around. She seemed like she wanted to ask if there was anyone else who shared her same thoughts. However, there was not a single person.
“That’s fine, let’s do it. There’s no limit on the betting amount. If you bet with the side that says Jiwoo cannot become a D-rank Hunter, I’ll accept it.” Im Jeong responded.
“Okay. I’ll bet 50,000 won.”
“100,000 won for me.”
“I feel bad for Ms. Im, so I’ll only place 50,000 won. No, 30,000 won.”
“Are you looking down on her? 500,000 won for me. Tenten will never reach D-rank. No. This seems too unfair. Why don’t you change it to if Tenten can reach E-rank.”
Everyone one was talking at once.
“No. You can place your bets on Jiwoo not reaching D-rank Hunter.” Im Jeong firmly said.
The atmosphere heated up in an instant. Her strong, determined response caused other people’s pride to flare.
“Will you accept if I bet 10 million won?” Dongki asked.
“I will. I’ll take whatever amount. It doesn’t matter if you place 100 million won.”
Even though they didn’t know how much money Im Jeong had saved, the stakes were rising.
Several people came over trying to mediate with her since at this rate, she might not be able to handle the consequences, but the game had already spiraled out of control.
“But we still have to settle on the duration. If you say it’s until Tenten dies, we’ll end up dying first before we ever find out.”
Im Jeong agreed with Jinah’s point. So her terms were until Jiwoo hit D-rank in three years. If he fails to rise to D-rank after that time frame, she would pay up.
Dongho couldn’t believe she was really going through with that outrageous bet.
“It’s not too late. If you want to bet more, go ahead. For those who want to participate, you may also participate.” Im Jeong coolly offered.
Other people were suspicious of Im Jeong’s intentions but they did not take her words seriously. They believed it was a useless bet because of the time frame. It’s not like they were betting on Jiwoo getting promoted to D-rank within a day or two.
However, they didn’t know Im Jeong in person. She called her financial manager on the spot. The manager was intimidated by the fact that they entered an institution the general public could not easily enter. But they silently carried out their work after finding out why they were summoned.
Im Jeong collected money from all the people who were in on the bet. If the amount was too large, the transfer was made directly to the account. People didn’t expect things would escalate this far but they believed it was worth the investment. They can put their money there and get it back in three years.
“Tanker, Im Jeong will have to pay exactly the same amount as the rest would pay.” The financial manager only said this one thing to Im Jeong.
“You’re managing all my assets. You can transfer it from there.”
The financial manager nodded.
“All right, fuck. You can run raids solo. We’ll make money selling Rupstones in the meantime.”
Dongki sat down and began to transfer money into the account. The financial manager’s face gradually turned paler. This was far beyond laughing it off as a funny joke. Dongki deposited 100 million won each five times, he was still not done yet.
Jaewook wasn’t the type to talk much. He transferred 2.3 billion won at once to the account and then looked at the financial manager.
“You will be the witness to this contract, correct? You can send the legal documents to the Hunter Association.”
The people from the Security Forces didn’t expect the members to go this far. Normally, they would assess the situation and retreat if necessary as they do in raids. But these were the type of people who were difficult to control when they got competitive over real life matters.
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