Part 2: Transport Hunter
Taein did have a vague idea that he needed to buy a weapon, but this was the first time he felt actual pressure in the task.
“I see. I’ll have to consider a lot of things before I make a careful decision.” Taein said.
Hearing this from Im Jeong, who had a lot of experience in the field, made it feel all the more real.
However, a completely unexpected problem arose. Im Jeong had just come out of a raid. The monster was a creature which the Hunter security forces had to step in to eliminate. It was by no means an easy raid even for them.
When Im Jeong struck the monster’s head, it exploded, splashing her with blood and brain tissue. She was consequently drenched in the monster’s lukewarm and sticky fluids.
Every single tip they were given was important, however, it was hard for them to tolerate the stench coming off her.
The Tanker noticed Gyutae and the other Hunters gradually distancing themselves from her. Their conversation became louder and louder. She questioned why they were raising their voices from afar when they could come closer to speak with her. Yet when she approached, they would move away. At one point, she heard someone gag then make an inhaling sound when she had her head turned the other direction. Finally, she realized what the problem was; her face turned beet-red.
“Ah… I must smell horrible. I’ve never felt this ashamed before. How embarrassing.” Im Jeong laughed, seemingly dumbfounded. Her sudden burst of laughter lasted for a while. It made them wonder if she really was embarrassed or not. Nevertheless, she quickly came up with a solution.
“I believe there should be a place nearby for me to clean up. I’ll go wash up at a motel or a sauna, and organize my equipment, then come back. It’ll probably take me an hour if I take my time. Please tell me the location of the next swamp, I’ll meet you there.”
Kanghyun and Gyutae smiled simultaneously. Meeting someone like her was serendipitous for them. A Tanker who reached B-rank would have experienced numerous raids. She also wielded an unusual weapon in contrast to the common daggers that Hunters used. This was why Gyutae wanted to hear her perspective on things.
“I’ll be there right away, so don’t enter without me. Please wait for me. If you arrive and you don’t see me, make sure to call me. Okay? Make sure to.” She repeated to Gyutae and Jiwoo before heading off. She looked frustrated since she wanted to sprint but couldn’t do so due to the protective gear wrapped around her shins.
If she hadn’t abruptly left her party, she wouldn’t have to deal with such a problem. But she joined them with no hesitation as she had been happy to see Jiwoo again. Thus hiccups continued to pop up here and there. While she was struggling, Im Jeong glanced back several times as if to confirm they would no go in without her.
“She must like you a lot, Hyung.” Kanghyun smiled as he elbowed Jiwoo.
Gyutae and the low-level Hunters were excited they could finally see the raid site that the SF took care of. As to be expected, they lived up to their expectations.
The swamp was Class 3. The reason why no one had launched an assault was because the monster that dwelled inside was a treacherous leopard. In addition, as to why Gyutae, who only accepted Class 4 swamps, decided to take up on this task was because the leopard’s fur was as valuable as the hide of the giant anaconda. A monster which Hunters feared and avoided, yet provided the best fur; this was the leopard’s reputation. The leopard was 12 meters and 86 centimeters in size. Its natural fur color was dazzlingly white with unusual dotted patterns.
Realizing its value, Gyutae announced ahead of time that he would work on it on his own.
“There’s a lot to learn from this carcass. As you’re aware, this fellow is a Class 3 monster, a leopard. If it leaps at you and scratches you with its claw, your neck would simply fall off. In fact, in the early days before the appearance of Hunters, a lot of people were attacked by leopards when they spawned. Most of the time, such an encounter would lead to one’s entire neck being cut off clean.”
The three of them stiffened upon hearing about the deaths. Gyutae stroked the leopard’s fur once to indicate they shouldn’t worry since the monster was already dead.
The dead leopard looked like a high-grade carpet.
“This raid was carried out well. Necessary blows were struck in a timely manner. I assume, considering her role, that Im Jeong did the tanking. The moment the Tanker came off the aggro, the Dealers took the offensive in an efficient manner. Look here. You see there are similar attacks coming from one direction, don’t you? Their positions were stable. This occurs when the Dealers trust their Tankers.”
After hearing Gyutae’s explanation, Jiwoo felt all the greater respect for Im Jeong.
“Even if we were to assume the assault leader was a Tanker with regenerative abilities, their way of tanking was still quite bold. Despite being hit while pulling out of the aggro position, they didn’t get knocked down and they didn’t focus on evading it either. They would occasionally land some damage with the Dealers too. I’m not sure if Ms. Im has regeneration or not. I’ll have to ask when we meet again. If I recall the weapon she was holding earlier, these wounds look like they were inflicted by her.”
Gyutae pointed to several wound marks on the monster’s body.
“Are these from an axe, Mr. Gyutae?”
Taein showed interest in the marks next to the one Gyutae showed.
“It seems so.” The surgeon replied.
“Here too. An axe mark.”
Kanghyun found similar ones too on the carcass.
“This person was really clever in their offense. A Dealer like them could easily solo a Class 5 monster.”
A light bulb popped up on Taein’s head.
“I should use this too. An axe. I think it’ll be a lot less cumbersome. I’ve swung an axe before.” Taein said.
“Just when have you ever swung one?” Finding what he said to be strange, Kanghyun immediately fired a question towards him.
“I chopped firewood. My grandmother’s house was near the mountains in the Gangwon Province. I used to cut it a lot whenever I went.”
“Ohh. Never knew.”
Taein traced the marks on the corpse with his eyes, from the leopard’s front leg, shoulder muscle, ears, to the middle of its eyes. The decisive blow was the laceration under its neck. While the axe had been thrusted in its neck, the Dealer seemed to have twisted the weapon out by pouring in their chakra.
Taein put his hands together as if to say all his long-lasting worries have been resolved.
“I’ll use an axe as my weapon. An axe. Yeah, it’s great.”
”How much will it cost? I guess you’ll have to go buy one at the ‘Extreme Hunter’ shop?”
Kanghyun was interested too. It was like he was the one who had been concerned all along when it was actually Taein.
Jiwoo had been watching sullenly. He raised his head, meeting eyes with Gyutae. The surgeon quietly smiled and approached the leopard.
“Now then, you guys can take a break while I work on this art. I may not know anything about this axe-wielding person, but I do know they sure don’t have any sense in aesthetics.”
Someone would spend a fortune on the leopard’s fur to decorate their living room. It is that kind of world after all. With this in mind, the three Hunters intently observed the model work that the SF had left behind for them. It was truly a clean kill with no superfluity in the action.
When the team finished with the leopard and arrived at the next swamp, Im Jeong was there waving and greeting them. The four men were very ecstatic to find out they could finally breathe comfortably next to her.
“My first impression was a complete bust. I reeked.” Im Jeong laughed.
“It’s a scent I couldn’t give off unless I was a B-rank Tanker from the Hunter Security Force. It’s powerful and charming.” Kanghyun replied.
Everyone nodded in agreement, but that didn’t mean they wanted to experience that smell again.
“I have a question.” Taein raised his hand, facing her way.
Taein asked her about the axe. He explained how their team talked about the wound marks on the leopard’s body and how he was impressed by the attacks.
“What are the pros and cons of using an axe as a weapon?”
To his question, Im Jeong provided as many answers as she could. As she did so, she carefully examined Taein’s arm. Her expression was skeptical, doubting if the man could wield the weapon properly.
“Transporting carcasses is no easy task and he’s been doing it nonstop, so he should’ve gained a lot of muscle. Hunters tend to look down on those who carry corpses. But the transporters will see the results of their training without realizing it.” Gyutae added.
Im Jeong nodded in acknowledgement.
“By the way, are you doing separate training for the raids? How are you training for it?“ When she asked, the three of them suddenly looked away like students who were unexpectedly asked for their homeworks.
“You have to train beforehand if you don’t want to end up deadweight. A nuisance is better off dying alone. If the said individual somehow makes it into a raid and then gets in the team’s way, they can put others in danger.” Im Jeong didn’t hold back in expressing her thoughts.
With Gyutae at the front, the low-level Hunters entered the swamp with the female Tanker following after them. She appeared to be very excited entering the swamp after the raid had finished.
The first person to approach the monster’s corpse was the surgeon. Seeing how quiet Gyutae was, the three men gashed towards his side. They didn’t ask anything, but it occurred to them that the mysterious dagger-wielding Hunter might have been at the site. The carcass had numerous wound marks similar to the one they encountered before.
“So that person can hunt Class 4 monsters too?” Kanghyun asked.
“It appears their skills seem to shine when they meet a formidable foe.”
Gyutae stated, recognizing the same pattern of injuries. Im Jeong didn’t understand what they were talking about so Jiwoo showed her the pictures on his phone.
“Among the carcasses we transported there were some with wounds like this. Mr. Gyutae believes they were inflicted by the same person.”
“It’s amazing how you’re able to pinpoint that out of the countless corpses.” Im Jeong was genuinely impressed.
“By the way, I think the monster over there has a similar mark too.” Jiwoo said.
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