Chapter 17: Awakening
“The swamp disappears 12 hours after a monster’s death. What would happen if the dissection took a long time? On days with lots of raids, we can join several of them. But with the wrong surgeon, we may not be able to transport much. It’s a huge loss then. None of us receives our daily wage and we also incur penalties.” Kanghyun explained.
“We might not receive our pay?” This was new to Jiwoo.
“Yes, but that’s a very rare case. It’s not really that unfair. Isn’t it shameless to take money when you didn’t complete everything you were expected to do?”
“You sound like an entrepreneur.”
“Sometimes, I end up doing transport duties with really nasty people. Geez, I got really angry back then. I get exhausted when I see people like that. They don’t work, they fool around, and they rely on other people’s achievements to get their pay.”
Body packs finally began to pile up one by one while he listened to Kanghyun.
“Let’s go. This is our job.”
Kanghyun carried a body pack as he continued to talk. From there on, it was a matter of repeating the simple labor. Fortunately, Jiwoo didn’t think his time was wasted since Kanghyun was explaining things to him as they were transporting the corpses.
“This monster took eight hours to hunt. It’s probably because the Dealers were mostly low-level. There were no special weapons used…”
“Have you thought about what kind of weapon you’re going to use, Hyung? Aren’t you also going to join in on raids in the future?”
“I should, right? As long as I’m a Hunter, I should have the goal to become an A-rank Hunter.”
“How are you training? Are you able to control chakra at will?” Kanghyun asked. It seemed he had a lot of questions because Jiwoo was different in many ways.
“About that, not yet. I still don’t have the hang of it even though I’m training every day.”
“It really is hard. How should I put it…”
“How far have you gotten?”
“I’m not that good with it either. I still have a long way to go.”
There was no way for Jiwoo to know whether Kanghyun was telling the truth or whether he was being humble.
“I’m saving up money to buy weapons. I’m training to improve my chakra proficiency so that when I get a weapon, I can increase my attack amplification rate. This way I can deal more damage when I do raids.”
“Weapons are pretty expensive too though.”
“That’s why we have to work hard. After my tattoo appeared at the Hunter exams, I started working immediately, transporting dead bodies, without taking a break. Many people rest on the weekends, but when I take a day off and go back to work, my body feels sluggish. We have to keep training anyway so what’s the point?”
“So you believe carrying corpses is training?”
“Yes, I gained muscle strength and it definitely helps. I’ve heard from a high-ranking Dealer that in actual combat, there was a gap between those who thought of carrying dead bodies as manual labor and those who took it seriously.”
“That could be true too.”
“Thanks to this job, I saved up a lot of money.”
“Really? I didn’t even consider what weapon I should go with.”
“I’m going to purchase a sword first.”
“Wouldn’t we be chosen as long-distance Dealers when we join raids?”
“That doesn’t mean we’ll always have that position. I don’t want to practice archery just because I’ll only be selected for long-distance. I’m going to wait for the opportunity to become a close combat Dealer. I’ll gain experience and get promoted right away. Besides, pros aren’t good with the bow.”
“Is that true?”
Jiwoo looked at Kanghyun as if he had heard the greatest piece of info.
“There’s a saying like that. I think people who weren’t good at archery made that up. But there were a lot of Dealers I knew who were good with the bow.”
“But don’t you need talent for that too?”
“Effort can be achieved, but talent is necessary too. Since we have Hunter tattoos, let’s believe we have some talent. Let’s take it one step at a time.”
“Okay. Let’s do that.”
Kanghyun wasn’t the type to trick others. Jiwoo liked those kinds of people. As he looked at Gyutae and Kanghyun, he thought he found a really good team. Naturally he wanted this team to be permanent.
The problem was Mooyoung. Mooyoung moved one tempo slower than Kanghyun and Jiwoo combined. When they diligently made two trips, Mooyoung looked like he was being forced to move along.
“Shouldn’t we say something? Should I speak up?”
Kanghyun laughed when he heard Jiwoo say that.
“Leave him, Hyung. If he keeps that up, he’ll eventually get grilled by the surgeon later. Do you think the surgeon doesn’t see what we see? If you suck it up today, he’ll likely be gone by next time around. Someone else who doesn’t know his work habits will pick him up. Then he’ll do the same thing in their team, but that’s none of our business.”
Gyutae did not lend any help with the transportation. Jiwoo wasn’t upset about it. Dissection and amputation both used chakra and chakra was not limitless. The surgeon needed to get enough rest and recover his chakra before moving on to the next swamp.
At first, Jiwoo wondered when they’ll be able to finish. But after moving the body packs a few times, the pile looked almost empty.
“We’ll be done after one more trip.” Kanghyun said, smiling happily.
The surgeon also cleaned up in silence.
Mooyoung saw the remaining three body packs and left the swamp with one. It seemed like he was implying he had no choice but to take at least one. Kanghyun and Jiwoo returned and brought out the last two body packs.
The two came out of the swamp, with the surgeon being the last to exit. The swamp was set to disappear soon.
Outside the swamp, ordinary workers were working hard. A truck with the Body firm’s logo was being loaded with body packs.
Once the three Hunters got into the car, the surgeon headed for the next swamp. Just like that, their busy day passed with no breaks in between.
When they finished making their last rounds, Gyutae said “good work” to them with no expression. Their surgeon barely said those two words then left.
Kanghyun told Jiwoo to be understanding even though he may seem a little cold.
Jiwoo didn’t notice it before, but when he looked back at the departing surgeon, he saw Gyutae limping.
“I think he pays a lot of attention so that he doesn’t get caught. He sometimes carries a cane with him on days when his condition isn’t good or he has sharp pains due to the weather. It’s an honorable wound from his time at the raid. But ultimately, only the injured suffer. Other people don’t know about it either.” Kanghyun revealed a piece of the surgeon’s personal background.
“I never knew.” Jiwoo said. He felt bad for thinking Gyutae was being brusque for no reason.
“Have you worked with him a lot?” .
“No, not much.”
“It was nice working with you, Hyung. Mr. Seo is someone I always respected. I wish this could be our team.”
“I wonder if it’s possible?”
“Most likely not. No surgeon would ever form a team immediately after they do one job together.”
“That’s true. Then I’ll have to snoop around Body firm’s recruitment board to find work for tomorrow.”
Mooyoung was gone as soon as Gyutae left. It was rather a good thing.
“Your first day was taxing, wasn’t it? Don’t skip out on training though, Hyung. I’ll see you another time if possible. It’s a small world so I think we’ll see each other again soon.” Kanghyun spoke like an adult before he too went on his way.
The day went by like crazy. He finally felt like a Hunter after seeing 500,000 won deposited in his account.
He was supposed to meet up with Yongha, but it was late. Although he could have met up with him at a later time, he felt like he should train instead. What he heard from Kanghyun made his heart stir. The young Hunter had told him the raid took eight hours to clear because it was composed of low-level Hunters.
Jiwoo expected he would join raids too one day. However, he thought if he was involved he would end up prolonging the raid time and harm others in the process. If Dealers of the same F-rank inflicted 200 damage, he could only deal 10 damage to the enemy. Jiwoo couldn’t figure out how to overcome that gap.
Later, when he saved enough money, he’ll buy equipment. For now he had no choice but to increase his proficiency with chakra control. He had to do what he’s capable of doing now. There was no other way around it.
Immediately after separating ways with his team, Jiwoo received a text from the surgeon.
[Don’t snoop around the board and come at the same time tomorrow. At least, until I say otherwise.]
With that, Jiwoo found out he had secured a spot on Gyutae’s team in just a day.
[Thank you, Mr. Seo. I’ll do my best.]
There was no reply to his text. He expected as much so he wasn’t particularly disappointed.
The next day, the transport team met up at the pizza store near the swamp. Kanghyun was also there. He seemed surprised by the situation too. They had great luck to be regulars of Gyutae’s team. There was a change in members though.
Kanghyun winked as soon as he made eye contact with Jiwoo. Mooyoung was not there. Instead, a dull man with no presence had replaced him. Lee Taein was 30 years old. He was the only transport Hunter Jiwoo had met who was older than him.
Gyutae explained their schedule for the day. He was still holding onto his pill bottle, but he didn’t take any while he was with the Hunters.
Jiwoo watched his surgeon perform another incredible dissection that day as well. Jiwoo was so preoccupied on the first day that he didn’t get to see the monster properly. Now, he had time to observe the creatures before it got dissected.
One day, Gyutae started to browse around the area. He said something along the lines of how it was a unique map so it needed to be drawn before the swamp disappeared.
Jiwoo asked if there was anything they could help with, but the surgeon bluntly replied saying even crippled people could handle it easily.
“He says that, but he’s doing it on purpose. He’s giving us time to study the monster. What’s the point in surgeons collecting information on maps?” Kanghyun said.
Jiwoo was perplexed if what he said was true. The surgeon continued to draw maps every time from that day on. As a result, Jiwoo had study time to watch the monsters before they were dissected.
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