Chapter 18: Awakening
The dissection was not prolonged regardless. It was ubiquitously known that it would take 30 minutes to dissect and amputate a monster.
Gyutae could reduce the time he took as much as he wanted to. The same applied to the transporters. The low-level Hunters could reduce the amount of time they took to finish their tasks if each of them put in their all. However, there was no reason for one person to take on more workload than the other party members. And so Jiwoo and Kanghyun devoted their spare time to studying the monsters.
There were instances when Kanghyun faced a monster he had not encountered before. Gyutae would come over before they knew it to inform them about the creature. Looking at his behavior, it did seem like his pitch about drawing maps to collect information was an excuse. Despite that, their surgeon continued to spend time walking around the map area.
As for Taein, he quietly fulfilled his duties without understanding the odd actions of his party members. He did not particularly stand out. Still, he made it clear what he could do and what was too much.
He didn’t like to speak because he was an unsociable individual. When Jiwoo tried to talk to Taein, he only replied with a “yes.” He didn’t even say “no.” No matter what anyone asked, the word that came out of his mouth was always a “yes.” Jiwoo suspected that half of Taein’s replies were lies and later lost interest in the man altogether.
Near the end of their day, Gyutae announced a change in their schedule.
“We were originally going to stop by a location to transport the carcasses, but the Hunters were not able to finish their raid and exited the swamp.”
It was not necessarily a bad thing, rather it worked in their favor. If they couldn’t get to the swamp, they could end the day with one less swamp to clear out all while receiving their 500,000 won.
Gyutae waited for the call from Body firm and eventually was told they could begin to wrap things up.
“It seems we’ll finish early today.”
Everyone openly expressed their joy when they heard that. Even Taein let out a smile.
The monsters in the swamp were like the ones they first encountered thus there was no need for them to hear any explanations. Taein looked at Gyutae strangely when the surgeon went straight to work and didn’t roam around the map as usual.
“Are you not going to scout the area?” Taein asked.
“Why would I do that?” The surgeon bluntly replied.
Jiwoo was pretty impressed by Gyutae’s attitude in keeping his lie with little effort. That was the first time Jiwoo considered becoming a surgeon.
Gyutae dissected the monster with lightning speed.
One of their assigned swamps fell through so they were able to finish their work early with about an hour of spare time. 500,000 won was deposited to their accounts once again.
Gyutae left saying, “Let’s meet at the same spot tomorrow.” Taein made his departure too after his formal farewell.
It was Kanghyun who found the pill bottle that Gyutae dropped.
“Hyung, this is…!”
Jiwoo looked at it.
“Isn’t it Mr. Seo’s medicine? Will he be alright without this? Do you know where he lives?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Will Body firm tell us if we call them?”
“Well, why don’t we say it’s important and ask?”
Jiwoo was about to contact the company, but decided to call Gyutae first just in case.
The surgeon blithely answered the phone. He mentioned he was on his way home. Jiwoo let him know that Kanghyun had found his pill bottle. When he said they would bring it, Gyutae sounded somewhat embarrassed. If it had been for anything else, the surgeon would have curtly refused. However, he couldn’t do so when he realized he didn’t have his own medicine in his possession. In actuality, realizing he lost the phial caused immediate concern to Gyutae.
When Kanghyun, Jiwoo, and Gyutae succeeded in reconvening with each other, it was evident the surgeon seemed to have suffered from severe anxiety within a short frame of time.
“I don’t usually take it when I have it. But imagining not having it… Damn, it kills me.” Gyutae said with a self-deprecating laugh.
“Thank you for going through the trouble to bring this to me.”
He wrapped up the phial with great care.
“I do have some at home. I doubt I’ll suddenly get pangs of aches on my way back, but I feel anxious without them. Ah, it’s…awful.”
Perhaps it was due to the mental shock but Gyutae kept rambling about things they never asked.
“Once the pain hits me, my head starts spinning and I’m completely out of it. Back when I did raids, I went up against this thing almost 20 meters tall. It hurts immensely when I picture myself getting trampled by that bastard.”
“Why did you become a surgeon, Mr. Seo? Wouldn’t you want to leave this occupation behind if you’ve been through that much?” Jiwoo asked.
“This was the only thing I could do.” Gyutae replied.
“This may be a rude question, but how much do you make as a surgeon?”
Gyutae stared at Jiwoo. He realized it wasn’t a question asked out of mere curiosity. It was clear that many worries plagued his mind.
Jiwoo was a Hunter too now so it was natural for him to want to make money by doing raids. However, while transporting the carcasses, Jiwoo would see many Hunters struggling. As a result, he would have to come up with a realistic alternative. Raids may also be difficult for him considering his low attack stat.
Gyutae brooded on the question for a while before he spoke.
“You can select from a variety of contracts. You could set up a contract with a fixed annual salary or receive a basic salary plus a percentage of your performance. I said I would take a performance-based pay. That’s how I am. High risk, high return. Higher risk means higher rewards. I’m the type who prefers to take risks.”
“What are you being evaluated on? By the weight of body packs that the Hunters carry out?” Kanghyun, who had been quiet until then, asked.
“Precisely.” He said with a matter of fact tone.
“So the more we work, the more money you make?”
Jiwoo suddenly felt a strain on his shoulders.
“Yes, that’s why surgeons compete behind the scenes. It doesn’t apply to those who signed for a fixed annual income though. If a surgeon opted for a performance-based contract, they’ll need to recruit good low-level Hunters to earn a lot. Am I going nuts? Why am I talking about this?”
The last part was to himself.
“Why have you not pushed us then?” Jiwoo asked again.
“I could just replace you with someone else if you’re so conspicuously slacking off. What’s there for me to push?”
That’s how Gyutae was. He wasn’t greedy and if he found someone to be disagreeable he’d kick the person out without a word.
In that respect, Gyutae was similar to a diligent gardener with a garden shear in his hand. It was his job to cut off anything rotten, grow the budding seeds, and boldly shear the foliage that would block the sunlight and prevent the seeds’ growth.
Jiwoo listened closely as Gyutae explained the surgeon’s work, salary, and environment. Kanghyun seemed to have lost interest early on. He believed he would be doing raids so he didn’t really feel anything about their surgeon talk.
A considerable amount of time went by when they got up from their seats to leave.
“Hurry home now. Tomorrow will be another busy day.” Gyutae said and left first.
It was the same typical routine the next day. But Taein’s expression was bright from the morning. He looked as though he was suppressing something he wanted to brag about. He didn’t make it past lunchtime.
Taein finally revealed his secret during lunch.
“As for me, I’m going to join raids soon.” He told everyone.
Jiwoo was the most surprised of them all. He took it for granted that Kanghyun would join. They shouldn’t have difficulty getting recruited as long as they reach the age of 20. Which was why he thought Taein was weird. He wondered why a Hunter with no visible injuries was transporting corpses. Jiwoo’s Hunter tattoo had appeared late, but Taein was not a special case like him.
Taein explained how it was because he was still not skilled in chakra control. However, he decided to buy weapons to increase his attack amplification rate which would make up for what he lacked. He resolved himself to do raids.
Taein was a F-rank with a chakra level of 6. When his Hunter tattoo had first appeared, his chakra level was also 6. The fact that it never changed meant that Taein’s ability to wield chakra was at rock-bottom.
A person’s attack and defense rose according to one’s chakra level. Because he was still at 6, he would only be able to assist with 200 raw attack power without equipping weapons.
In Jiwoo’s perspective, Taein had no sense of combat. He was neither agile nor tenacious. He felt no vigor or enthusiasm coming from him to strive toward a goal. He was worried if a person like that could do raids. But of course, Jiwoo felt envious of him first and foremost.
“That said, you don’t have to feel too displeased about it. I’m not saying I’ll quit this job right away. I still have to decide what kind of weapon I’ll use. I have to save a little more money too so I’ll need to keep working in transportation for at least a month.”
Taein understood the situation from both ends and tried to reassure them.
Gyutae remained silent. The quiet Kanghyun spoke up to ask Taein if he would use a bow. He probably answered the question but Jiwoo was not listening. He suddenly lost interest. Jiwoo forced himself to set aside his crushed spirit and congratulated Taein.
After lunch, they entered the swamp.
“Since Taein will be joining raids soon, I’m going to work a little differently starting today. You’re still a member of my team so I’ll be happy if you do well and climb to A-rank.”
Kanghyun laughed to himself. He knew that Gyutae was using Taein as an excuse to teach Jiwoo.
It made sense why the surgeon was doing this. Something about Jiwoo made them want to help out. Had he shown no promise from the start, they would’ve directed him to do his best to transport as many carcasses as he could. In spite of his low stats, something about him made them hold expectations. If one were to ask what that something was, they wouldn’t be able to answer the question.
In any case, it was evident there was something about him.
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