Episode 62

Imbalance Point (2)
3 weeks ago
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“The experience buff must have been more effective than I thought.”

Kang-hoo was surprised to see his level had jumped by dozens of stages.

His current level was 85.

Initially, he had expected to reach between 70 and 75, but he gained more experience than he had anticipated.

Of course, the increase was partly due to his lower level, but it was a remarkable growth spurt.

The once distant level 100 now seemed within easy reach.

[The Strategist of the Wasteland senses something special in your knowledge of this unique growth route.]

[The Apostle of Justice says this method of growth, though unconventional, is very gratifying.]

The constellations observing his growth expressed their interest. It must have been fascinating to them, knowing a different way to grow.

[There must be a reason you know this. Quite interesting.]

The Dimension Plunderer also chimed in.

Kang-hoo possessed knowledge that could never be known through ordinary means.

She had felt something special about Kang-hoo from the moment they first made a contract.

She had thought there was an unexplainable secret to his birth.

Though she was keenly observant, she had not detected Kang-hoo’s possession.

“I have a few more places to visit.”

There were four more Imbalance Points in his memory.

He vaguely knew the locations of two, while he only knew of the existence of the other two.

The latter were just concepts in his mind, remnants of his subconscious.

The two known points were located on Jeju Island and in Japan, respectively.

He planned to deal with the one in Japan when he went to meet An Yeong-ho.

“Feels solid.”

Kang-hoo invested all the bonus points he gained from the explosive leveling up into his health.

Clicking to raise his stats dozens of times in a row had its own kind of thrill.

“Phew.”

Feeling as if his soul had left his body, drained of mana, Kang-hoo casually sat down on a rock.

There was nothing around him.

It was a place lush only with forests, devoid of monsters or resources worthy of mining.

Even as he extended his vision, he saw no other hunters. The silence was eerie.

“I should head to Daejeon Station at least once. Having heard about it from Benny, I can’t just ignore Hades.”

He pondered his next move.

Knowing about the Limitless Mana Dungeon, he felt hesitant to simply pass by Club Hades.

Although exiting the dungeon was more worrisome than entering, the risk appeared worthwhile.

“I think a visit to Master K would be beneficial as well.”

He remembered someone he had contemplated visiting on several occasions.

Master K.

The sole hunter in Korea knowledgeable in cultivating Solarkium and who had conducted extensive research on it.

An elderly man with white hair, exuding the aura of a scholar—perhaps even a sage.

A learned man, yet unaffiliated with any faction.

In the original story, there were mere hints of him being behind some significant power, but the details were vague.

Kang-hoo had a compelling reason to meet Master K.

It was due to his congenital mana hypersensitivity.

He speculated whether Master K, with his studies on Solarkium, might have a solution for mana hypersensitivity.

Genuine Solarkium was rare, and the standard Solarkium failed to completely alleviate the pain.

He needed a lasting solution, and Master K could potentially offer a lead.

‘Could I truly cure this condition that has nearly become an identity for Shin Kang-hoo? The original narrative even claimed that without it, he wouldn’t be himself.’

Kang-hoo chuckled as he remembered the original tale.

Readers also linked Shin Kang-hoo with a pallid complexion, enduring battles with difficulty.

The innate mana hypersensitivity, almost a trademark, cast doubt on the ease of finding a remedy.

Nonetheless, he had to try.

Deciding it was impossible without attempting was tantamount to conceding defeat.

Not trying guaranteed a zero percent chance of success.

By making an attempt, the probabilities could shift in unexpected ways.

“Now I need to start worrying about getting out.”

His mission in the Latheus Dungeon was complete.

Thanks to Ban Se-yeong, he had successfully mined the magnetite and reaped the benefits from the Imbalance Point.

The remaining issue was how to evade the Gale Wind gang, likely stationed at the entrance.

“Well, I’ll have to outmaneuver them.”

His conclusion was always simple.

If blocked, break through; if hindered, remove the obstacle. “If they try to kill, kill them first.”


On the way back,

Kang-hoo unexpectedly found traces of a mid-boss on a route he hadn’t anticipated.

At first glance, it looked like a regular path, but a unique footprint caught his eye.

“Dereila was here.”

Without seeing the owner of the footprint, Kang-hoo instantly knew the name.

Dereila.

A humanoid assassin-type monster with a special skill called “Artistry of the Veil.”

It’s a boss skill.

When the Artistry of the Veil is deployed, any form of stealth detection becomes impossible within it.

Its level is always considered ‘higher’ than any stealth detection ability, making it undetectable.

Even absolute stealth detection abilities are ignored and remain undetected.

Dereila doesn’t appear in a specific dungeon but is scattered randomly, making encounters unlucky for hunters.

It’s because facing such a difficult opponent at a low probability brings no benefits.

However, for Kang-hoo, Dereila could be a target for skill plundering, making it a stroke of luck.

Of course, this luck turns into a boon only if he kills Dereila. Otherwise, it’s a poison.

“Can’t resist this one.”

He was determined to capture Dereila.

It wouldn’t be easy, though.

However, the Dereila in the Latheus Dungeon seemed careless, leaving footprints.

A shrewd and smart creature wouldn’t have traversed terrain that left footprints.

Swiftly,

Using lateral movement and entering stealth mode, Kang-hoo began to stealthily follow the footprints.

Casting Mu-yeong to conceal his presence was merely a precaution.

The sound of footsteps began, pursuing an unseen adversary.


Two hours had passed.

Atop a hill near the entrance to the Latheus Dungeon, a man and a woman engaged in conversation.

They were Han Seung-hyeok and Ban Se-yeong.

These were connections Kang-hoo had previously established, and they were also cousins.

After completing their tasks, they convened at a designated meeting place.

“Se-yeong, that’s enough. If you ever need help, just look for me. Don’t face things by yourself.”

“Oppa, if I constantly rely on help, I won’t improve. I refuse to remain a mediocre hunter.”

“Aren’t you already mediocre?”

“Hey, oppa! That’s precisely why I’m trying to surpass my current limitations!”

“Hahaha. However, as I’ve mentioned before, it would be beneficial to learn to wield a secondary weapon.”

“…I’ve been giving it some thought.”

“If you’d had even a rudimentary skill with a secondary weapon, you might not have needed assistance in the situation you described.”

“I feel as though I’ve encountered a truly skilled hunter after so long. Jung Sun-kyu…”

“Jung Sun-kyu, you say.”

Han Seung-hyeok chuckled.

After piecing together Ban Se-yeong’s account and the location where she encountered Kang-hoo, he deduced the entire scenario.

The individual Ban Se-yeong had met was Kang-hoo; Jung Sun-kyu must have been one of his pseudonyms.

With access to Eclipse’s confidential information, Han Seung-hyeok was aware of Kang-hoo’s actual identity.

He chose not to reveal Kang-hoo’s real name to Ban Se-yeong; there were valid reasons for the use of a pseudonym.

“Did you encounter him as well, oppa?”

“Yes, I ran into him en route here.”

Though they knew him by different monikers, they were referring to the same person.

Han Seung-hyeok nodded affirmatively, reflecting on the impressive feats Kang-hoo had demonstrated.

The high regard in which Ban Se-yeong held Kang-hoo was not mere flattery; it was a statement of fact.

Shin Kang-hoo.

For the first time in a long while, Han Seung-hyeok found himself genuinely intrigued by another hunter.

That’s why he had suggested they meet again after finishing their tasks in the dungeon.

Just then,

“Kill him! It’s that guy!”

“The one who killed our comrades!”

“Crush him!”

The hunters guarding the dungeon entrance began to move en masse.

They were the ‘Gale Wind’ gang.

More than just a gang, they were a sizable organization based in the Latheus Dungeon.

“Ah? Isn’t that Sun-kyu oppa?”

“Looks like we’ve got a show.”

They both recognized Kang-hoo simultaneously.

And they were pleased about it.

With at least twenty Gale Wind gang members in sight and Kang-hoo alone, the odds were numerically against him.

In such a battle, the hunter under siege must create more variables and demonstrate a wide array of techniques.

It might be difficult for Kang-hoo, but from an observer’s standpoint, it was quite the spectacle.

“Let’s get this straight. Your comrades started the trouble, not me.”

“Fuck off and die!”

Kang-hoo’s attempt at a calm discussion was in vain as the Gale Wind gang, weapons at the ready, charged at him.

Kang-hoo’s reaction was swift and decisive, as if he had known that talking would be futile.

Han Seung-hyeok watched intently.

It seemed Kang-hoo could deploy a different skill in the blink of an eye, and he didn’t want to miss it.

“What?”

Suddenly, one of the hunters charging at Kang-hoo veered off in a different direction.

“There’s a mental disruption skill.”

Han Seung-hyeok understood immediately.

The hunter had his sense of direction scrambled by Kang-hoo’s shallow chaos skill.

He might not have known the skill’s name, but recognizing its effect wasn’t difficult for Han Seung-hyeok.

“An assassin with a mental disruption skill?”

“Don’t try to judge Jung Sun-kyu by his class. See him for who he is.”

True to his words, Han Seung-hyeok refrained from pigeonholing Kang-hoo into any job class.

Considering him ‘versatile’ seemed most fitting, so he was unfazed by any skill Kang-hoo employed.

Then.

“Haah!”

The confused hunter suddenly leapt towards his comrade.

His earnest posture and tensed weapon indicated it was not a mistake but a firm conviction.

“It’s a hallucination.”

It was a symptom of hallucination.

The affected hunter probably saw his target as Kang-hoo, not his comrade, hence the confident leap.

And eventually—

Pfwah!

“Argh! This, this guy…”

Friendly fire occurred.

The situation turned chaotic right from the start of the fight.

“What, what’s this…”

“Does he have a hallucination skill?”

Uncertainty began to spread among the overwhelmingly numerous members of the Gale Wind gang.

Despite their clear numerical advantage, something seemed to go wrong.

Kang-hoo’s too-calm expression even evoked a sense of extreme dissonance.

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