Solo Leveling Novel - Chapter 2
Everything now depended on Seong Jin-Woo’s decision.
Jin-Woo’s fingers grasped tight the rank E magic crystal in his hand as he took a glance next to him.
Yi Ju-Hui was shaking her head at him. It looked like she was deeply worried.
Actually, Jin-Woo was worried inwardly as well. Now normally, he would never try to take on any unnecessary risk. Not only did he lack the abilities to do so, but he was also not brave enough, too.
However, Jin-Woo had a younger sister who was about to become a university student in the coming months.
‘I’ve no money saved up….’
Currently, Jin-Woo was twenty-four years old.
He was at an age where he should be concentrating on his academic pursuits, but he gave up on that dream because, well, he had no money. He sure as hell didn’t want his little sister to go through the same sacrifice, the same pain as he did.
Right now, every cent was precious to him.
It wasn’t only Mister Park who needed a big score today.
Jin-Woo raised his hand up high.
“I vote for going ahead.”
It was then, he heard a soft sigh of resignation coming from his side.
Part 2: The Dual Dungeon
The passageway went on and on forever.
In front, Mister Song and other strong Hunters had taken the lead. Song had summoned a small flame on top of his palm to illuminate the way forward.
Mister Kim asked him as he walked alongside Song.
“We’ve walked really far, haven’t we? Shouldn’t we consider the time we need to escape from here as well?”
“How long have we been walking?”
Kim looked at his wristwatch.
“Around…. forty minutes.”
“A Gate shuts down completely one hour after the boss is killed, so we have a window of twenty minutes left or so.”
“If we can’t see the boss in the next twenty minutes, I suggest that we should just give up.”
“I guess so.”
Song nodded his head for a while, before pointing to his back with his thumb.
“Mister Kim? It’s dark out in front, so why don’t you position yourself behind me?”
Kim stared at Song’s flames for a second or two, before he wordlessly pulled out his smartphone and switched on the screen.
And then, the passageway got illuminated rather brightly.
Song alternated his gaze between his flame and the smartphone before he too wordlessly began searching for his own phone.
The very back of the group was the spot reserved for Seong Jin-Woo, who was injured pretty badly not too long ago, and Yi Ju-Hui, who didn’t possess any combat skills whatsoever.
Jin-Woo scratched the back of his neck.
“Pardon me, I… I’m really sorry.”
“About, you know, dragging you here against your wishes.”
“I’m fine with it, so you don’t need to mind me.”
Jin-Woo cautiously studied Ju-Hui’s expression. She definitely did not look fine at all.
Jin-Woo tilted his head this way and that while trying to read her mood better, before he asked her again, even more, cautious than before.
“Are you… really fine?”
That prompted Ju-Hui to shift her gaze towards him.
“Of course I’m not. Are you of a sane mind?! If you were stabbed a couple of inches higher, you’d have a hole in your heart by now! And, what about those injuries on your arms and legs? I worked so hard to heal you somehow, yet you wish to throw yourself into yet another dungeon?? Plus, you don’t even know where we’re going, too!”
She spoke so quickly that Jin-Woo felt like his mind was getting numb from hearing her.
However, she was right about everything.
If it weren’t for the presence of the outstanding Healer ranked B, Yi Ju-Hui, Jin-Woo wouldn’t have been able to carry on living unaffected, never mind working as a Hunter. It was a small wonder why such high ranked and hard-to-find Healers were valued so greatly within the halls of the Association.
‘Wait, now that I think about it, I owe Miss Ju-Hui a lot, don’t I?’
Ju-Hui was a Healer-type Hunter, a rarest of the rare breeds.
Not only that, but she was also a genius ranked at ‘B’ as well.
The Association always asked her to heal the injured Hunters whenever a Gate opened up. And whenever Jin-Woo participated in a raid, he’d almost always end up sitting down next to her.
“Are you in pain? Please hold on for a little while longer.”
“Haven’t I seen you before….? By any chance, are you the person from the last time?”
“You’re injured again?”
“It’s like, we’re running into each other quite often nowadays, isn’t it?”
“You said that your name is Mister Jin-Woo? Well, that… Is it going to be alright?”
“Maybe, Uhm, this life of a Hunter doesn’t really suit you….”
“….You’re here again.”
“Show me your arm. No, not that one. Use bandages on that arm. I meant the other one with the bone fracture.”
At the moment, it was way past the point of Jin-Woo feeling grateful for everything she had done, and firmly into the territory of him being apologetic for inconveniencing her.
When Jin-Woo looked dispirited, Ju-Hui also felt a bit bad about scolding him just now and her attitude softened up considerably.
“You’re really sorry?”
“Yes, I am.”
Ju-Hui fell into deep contemplation for a bit, before she began gazing at him with the corner of her eyes, and her lips slowly arched up.
“If you’re really sorry, then… how about you buy me dinner sometime?”
Now that was a totally unexpected offer.
Jin-Woo looked at her with an expression of surprise and found a teasing smile etched on her face like a teenage girl.
‘A teen girl, huh…..’
The truth was, Ju-Hui was still a young girl who had barely entered her twenties.
Didn’t she say that she’d be twenty-one next year?
If her long hair was replaced with something shorter, and her current attire was swapped out for a school uniform, she’d completely look like high school senior.
His wandering mind pictured the image of Ju-Hui in a school uniform and his face reddened up somewhat.
When Jin-Woo hesitated with his answer, Ju-Hui’s cheeks began puffing up like a balloon.
“What the… You don’t want to buy me dinner?”
It happened, right then.
Suddenly, it became quite hectic out in front.
“We found it!!”
“It’s the boss chamber!”
Jin-Woo and Ju-Hui’s gazes automatically shifted to the front.
And they saw a huge stone door blocking the passage.
Hunters immediately surrounded this door.
“What is this? Why is there a door at the end of the cavern?”
“Have we ever encountered a boss chamber with a door before?”
“This is definitely the first time, I’m sure of it.”
“This… Doesn’t this feel strangely dangerous?”
Hunters began to express their doubts and fears one at the time.
Since their own lives were on the line here, they had to be cautious and meticulous.
However, if one were to become too cautious, one would end up failing to grasp the heaven-sent opportunity in the first place. Mister Song figured this was one such case.
“Are you all planning to return empty-handed after coming this far?”
The song placed his hands on the door.
“If that’s what you want, knock yourselves out. I’m pushing ahead, even if it means I’ll be going alone.”
The song was a rank C Hunter with ten years of experience.
If it weren’t for his age, which was over sixty, he’d be making a killing in a big Guild by now thanks to his excellent skills.
And when a Hunter like that voiced his opinion with such confidence, others began to feel less anxious than before.
“Wait a minute.”
A couple of Hunters began recalling rumors of dual dungeons.
“I heard that there are incredible treasures hidden within dual dungeons.”
“Yeah, I heard that a certain small to medium Guild found a dual dungeon and grew into a large Guild almost overnight.”
“Monsters inside a dungeon always possess roughly the similar ranks no matter where they are located, so the hunt itself should not be too difficult…”
What if there were incredible treasures hidden with the dual dungeon just as the rumors said, and the monsters beyond this door were about the same difficulty as the rank D, E creatures they fought until now?
‘I can’t let that old man monopolize all the treasure.’
‘No freaking way.’
‘Postnatal care, the school fee for the firstborn kid, and let’s not forget, this month’s rent is almost due, too….’
The opinions of the Hunters were now on the same page.
Jin-Woo, too, steeled himself.
‘I can’t return home with just a single rank E magic crystal. At a bare minimum, I gotta kill a rank D, no, one more rank E monster!!’
It didn’t even have to be a monster, too.