Chapter 15: Awakening
The bet was theoretical so it could potentially render the contract invalid. If the Hunters claim they did it for fun, it would be difficult for the law enforcement authorities to get involved. The balance of power was already tipped toward the Hunter Security Forces’ favor. Hence the authorities would not be able to do anything.
Im Jeong turned toward the financial manager after the commotion died down.
“My account is not running low, right? I’ll close the betting here and start transferring my money.”
The financial manager nodded.
The amount to be transferred from her account was 7 billion 854 million won. Had they not been affiliated with the Hunter Association, it would have been impossible to move such an enormous amount at once. This kind of convenience was only one of the many benefits members like them could enjoy.
A grand total of 15 billion 780 million won was collected. In other words, Im Jeong would basically be dirt broke if Ahn Jiwoo was still F-rank or E-rank three years from today. Even so, Im Jeong could recover from this much damage if she ran a few solo raids.
Jiwoo, the said person in the contract, had no clue something like this was happening. If he had been aware, he might’ve died from the pressure alone.
After being trapped in the laboratory for about a month, he was finally released and out to enjoy his freedom. Yongha personally came to the lab to pick him up. While Yonha was driving, he kept staring at Jiwoo’s tattoo.
“Ah! Was it back then?” He asked.
Jiwoo didn’t understand what his friend was getting at.
“There. In front of the water dispenser. I’m talking about where the swamp appeared.”
“Huh? Oh, yeah. Come to think of it, it was back then.”
“Seriously? That’s interesting. So you felt something even before the swamp formed?” Yongha phrased it like it was some kind of amazing phenomenon.
“Can other people get Hunter tattoos if they put their hands inside that swamp?”
“I don’t think so. I’m not sure if it’s possible for someone else, but I saw some people from the Hunter Association do it in secret while I was there. It didn’t look like any tattoos manifested.”
“Really? Why did it only happen to you? Also why did it only appear in your house? You were the only one who felt a weird sensation before the swamp formed.”
“Yeah. Maybe I’m the true hero who will save this era?”
“What a load of shit. Being cooped up in the lab and deprived of sunlight must’ve made you lose it.”
Hearing those familiar curses from his friend, Jiwoo finally felt like he returned to his normal life.
“It’s been a while since we’ve hung out but I won’t be able to today. My manager wants me to help him carry his luggage since he is moving out today.”
“He should’ve hired a full moving service. Why is he making his subordinate suffer?”
“Probably because his money is precious.”
“So he only thinks about his money and not those working under him?”
“What’s wrong? I mean you don’t have to worry about that now. Wow. My pal is a Hunter. A Hunter!” Yongha smiled, full of excitement. He patted Jiwoo on the shoulder.
“What are you going to do today?” Yongha asked.
“I’m heading home. I call it home, but that sounds really weird.”
“Makes sense. It’s the officetel that the Hunter Association got you. You haven’t been there yet, right?
“Yeah. I don’t know if it’s ready yet.”
“Damn it. I should be going with you there rather than helping my manager. We could’ve grabbed a drink for a change too.”
“I know. It’s a shame.”
“I better hurry up and get promoted. Then, I can go drinking with people whenever I want.”
“Put up with it a little longer. Let’s work hard for the next few years and earn money to start up a business together.”
“That sounds like a good plan too.” Yongha chuckled.
“I’m sorry, Jiwoo. I can’t bring you all the way home. If I do, I’ll be late to my manager’s house.”
“Don’t worry about it and go. You can drop me off anywhere, I can take a taxi from here.”
“Oh damn, Jiwoo. You can take taxis now without quaking in your boots? Did you forget the feeling of your heart sinking every time the taxi fare went up?”
Jiwoo parted ways with Yongha from there and then took a taxi to the officetel.
The officetel was a newly-built building. Initially, the neighborhood wasn’t a thriving area. However, rumors spread of famous celebrities investing in the area. It soon became a popular hotspot as cinemas and shopping malls opened up in the vicinity.
The 42-story prominent building towered above.
“This is my house from now on?” He wondered in awe.
Jiwoo looked around to try to find the elevator.
Thinking Jiwoo was a visitor, the security guard approached him.
“How can I help you?” He asked Jiwoo.
“Oh. I wasn’t sure where the elevator was. Nevermind, it’s over there. Good day, sir.”
Jiwoo ran toward where people were waiting. At first glance, it was apparent they were individuals who paid attention to their appearance.
He stood blankly to the side and waited for the elevator to come down.
“Well… I guess they lowered the sales price due to the vacant units and sold it off to just about anyone. This isn’t good. Not good at all. If I knew this would happen, I wouldn’t have moved in here.” A man next to him muttered.
It took some time for Jiwoo to realize that the sarcastic remark was aimed towards him. He looked at the man, confused as to what he was talking about. When they made eye contact, he saw the man give him a dirty look.
“Wait, what’s going on? Do I look easy if I do nothing? Why’s he running his mouth off like that?” He questioned in his head.
Jiwoo thought this was just another place prepared by the Hunter Association, but the crowd here seemed to take great pride in living there.
Just as Jiwoo was about to turn around to face the man, he heard the sound of his phone ping. He took out his phone and wondered what the odds were of a message coming right as he was about to confront social injustice.
[Did you get back safely? Sorry I couldn’t bring you home. I’ll go and help you organize your stuff if I finish early. You don’t have any friends.]
The text was from Yongha.
[Haha, funny. Don’t worry about me. Go home and rest if you’re done early. When I get off tomorrow, I’ll wait outside in front of your workplace.]
[See, what did I say? You have no other friends besides me. That’s why I feel so pressured.]
[Lol. Rest up and see you tomorrow.]
The elevator still had not come down. The man next to Jiwoo was also quiet. When Jiwoo looked up, two people were staring at his Hunter tattoo.
“He’s a Hunter.” He heard the woman say to the man.
A Hunter’s tattoo said everything there was to a person. Jiwoo realized there was no reason to argue about what happened. He could tell just by looking at the other guy’s face. The man cowered in fear, his eyes wandering elsewhere. Still, his gaze kept returning to Jiwoo’s arm out of his curiosity.
Jiwoo put his phone in his back pocket and shoved his arm into his pocket. There was no reason for him to show his base stats.
When the elevator opened, Jiwoo got in with no hesitation.
“We moved to a good place. A Hunter lives in this building.” The woman commented. Although to whom she said it to was ambiguous.
Jiwoo entered Unit 1203 as he had been guided to. He couldn’t even compare it to his previous apartment. It was so comfortable; the most impressive feature was the bookshelf filled with books about monsters. There was also a brand new computer connected to the Internet.
He was a bit puzzled since everything was perfectly prepared for him without him having to lift a finger. He was amazed by the Hunter Association’s work.
“This is my house.”
Jiwoo continued to stare in daze at the air. He kept thinking how no one can know what fate lies in store for them.
It was easier to find jobs on Body firm’s recruitment board. The organization posted ads on other websites, but their homepage could be seen as their headquarters.
It wasn’t too difficult to find transport work. Throughout the day, there were many ongoing raids. Be that as it may, there were many swamps that closed without Hunters being able to retrieve the corpses.
It was a dilemma. The general public could not do this work. In order to enter a swamp, Hunters must be able to wield chakra. But E-rank Hunters and higher earn a lot within a short period of time so they eventually stop taking transport jobs.
It was not only E-ranks, but F-ranks too. There was no point for them to pursue this workfield. In addition, increasing the Hunter’s pay did not generate more workforce either. Hence, the daily wage remained the same.
Nonetheless, 500,000 won a day was still a lot of money. An average person will have a difficult time earning that much.
Jiwoo landed a job at Body firm. He didn’t need to submit a resume or a letter of introduction. All he had to do was get a Hunter registration license from the Hunter Association. Then he would be able to work right away and enter the swamps.
Thankfully, due to this simple procedure, Jiwoo was able to relax. He also believed the people who called him by his nickname, Tenten, will go away now. However, he would soon come to realize that line of thinking was a mistake.
Jiwoo was enthusiastic up until he went to his first team meeting.
His appointment was at a pizza store near Body firm. Jiwoo met the surgeon and the other lower-ranked Hunters, Heo Mooyoung and Kim Kanghyun.
“Nice to meet you. I’m Seo Gyutae.” The middle-aged surgeon introduced himself, giving only his name.
He didn’t say what rank he was, whether he was a Tanker or a Dealer, or why he gave up raids to become a surgeon. Seeing his tattoo might’ve answered those questions, but Gyutae purposefully covered it the majority of the time.
The surgeon left a cold impression. He was temperamental and carried a small medicine bottle with him everywhere. There were many instances where the man took out the bottle and held it in his hand. He did not take it every time he did so. It appeared as though he was trying to cut back on the amount of times he took the pills. Jiwoo was curious what kind of medicine it was, but it didn’t feel right for him to ask.
It was quite a nerve-wracking job. In the future, Jiwoo would have to trust and rely on this man. Except, he didn’t want to depend on some addict. Jiwoo considered what would happen if they entered a swamp together and this person made a wrong decision, causing them to miss the timing to exit the swamp.
One surgeon and three low-ranked Hunters needed to be deployed for the transportation. Low-ranked Hunters had to use Body firm’s recruitment board to find a job every time. In contrast, surgeons could become regulars and work immediately if they get sighted once.
It was convenient in many ways to team up with a surgeon. This way they didn’t have to keep searching the board to find a job.
The surgeon was in charge of dissecting the monsters, carefully extracting the organs, and removing the hide and bones. It was a profession which required expertise. The number of swamps the team could go through in a day differed depending on how good or bad the surgeon was.
If the surgeon took a long time, the transport would be delayed as a consequence.
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