Levelling Up In An Exclusive Dungeon - Chapter 1
Many years ago, the monsters on this continent began to disappear.
At first, I thought they were already extinct, but after investigating, I discovered that it wasn’t the case.
The monsters that disappeared have moved to a different dimension.
Movement between dimensions.
It was a long-standing ambition for wizards like me.
I don’t know why such a thing happened to the monsters.
But now that it’s helped with my research, the reason doesn’t really matter.
“I’m done setting up the coordinates…. And the magic spell is connected too!”
With my magic wand, which was crafted over a long period of time, I opened my arms toward the ceiling.
I’m lucky to be able to use this dungeon called the Great Labyrinth.
Once I use my magic spell here, moving between the dimensions won’t be a difficult task.
When I shouted out loud and activated my spell, the surroundings turned blue.
It was like the phenomenon seen just before the monsters were transported to the other dimension.
I closed my eyes as I confirmed that my research was correct.
I believe that I’ll be in a different dimension once I open my eyes.
However, the surrounding area remained quiet as time passed.
Feeling the chilly wind pass by the sleeves of my shirt, I slightly opened my closed eyes.
When I re-examined my surroundings, only an empty field was seen, not dungeons.
What could this mean?
It didn’t take long for me to realize.
“Could it be…? Is this dungeon dimension deserted?”
At the same time.
The wizard was not the only one who felt absurd.
Hunter Kang Jihyuk arrived home and checked his attic. He lost his words as he saw the result of the actions of the wizard who failed to move dimensions.
“What the f**k is this?”
A labyrinth that he thought could only be seen in movies.
Anyone would be surprised to find such a thing inside their attic.
* * *
The dawn wind was cold.
It’s not yet winter though, as it was only October.
The dawn where the sun was yet to rise was cool enough to bring out white breath.
Olympic Park, 1st Gymnasium in Songpa-gu, Seoul.
Despite the cold weather, there were many people lined up in front.
They lined up at dawn just so they could see their favorite celebrities.
Kang Jinhyuk was in a sales booth right next to the place, and he was transporting water bottles for business.
On his way to the truck, he saw a packed line in front of the gymnasium.
He stopped in his tracks and admired the sight.
He was envious that people could be immersed in such things.
As Kang Jinhyuk stood in place for some moments, someone bumped into him.
When he turned his head, it was a sunbae from his part-time job.
(T/N: Sunbae means someone with seniority)
“Why are you spacing out over there?”
“Just a moment….”
“We have to hurry. Not even half of the job is done.”
When his sunbae loaded the truck with the water bottles, Jinhyuk got on the passenger seat.
The sunbae started the truck and moved off. He glanced at Jinhyuk.
While he was deep in his thoughts, Jinhyuk’s sleeves caught his eye.
“Hey, aren’t you cold in this weather?”
“I’m a hunter. Did you forget that hunters endure warm and cold weather well?”
“Does that apply to D-ranks too?”
“I know, lucky right? Thanks to it, my air conditioning fee stays low.”
“Kyaa, I’m jealous of you.”
The conversation was cut off after a while, and the awkward silence settled again.
The sunbae’s personality makes him unable to stand the awkwardness, so he asked something that he was curious about.
“Why did you take on this part-time job when you’re already a hunter?”
“…What do you think? It’s because I got no money.”
He belatedly realized that it was a rude question.
Even if he tried to wrap up the conversation in a hurry with an awkward smile, the damage was already done.
Instead, the sunbae came up with something to console Jihyuk.
“It would be nice if guilds give up their monopoly, right?”
“No way would those bastards do that.”
The guilds monopolized the areas where monsters usually appeared.
They weren’t satisfied with such monopoly, they even refused to yield the monsters that occasionally appear in other places too.
For powerless D-rank hunters like Kang Jinhyuk, there’s no way to hunt monsters so they have to pursue a different path from being a hunter. He had no choice but to take on a part-time job.
Kang Jinhyuk let out a low sigh.
“It’s been difficult these days, that’s why I’ve been acting worse.”
“Why? Did something happen between the guilds?”
Kang Jinhyuk looked puzzled at why his sunbae was curious.
He stared at his senior with eyes that seemed to ask ‘how can you not know?’
“You haven’t heard of the news?”
“Since about a month ago, a crazy killer had been running wild with this crazy concept of catching and killing hunters from large guilds.”
Upon hearing Jinhyuk’s explanation, the sunbae laughed helplessly.
“Are you saying that those bastards can’t catch a single killer?”
“Yeah, that’s right.”
When asked if the criminal has been caught, they make several excuses with their polite little voice, but in reality, they just don’t want him to be caught.
The existence of a ‘killer’ was just an excuse to trample over their opponents.
Those people have no intention of catching the criminal.
It’s foolish to think that they’d be beaten and killed by a simple weak and idiotic murderer.
They seem to be convinced that they’re unbeatable.
“The more I hear about them, the crazier they seem to me.”
If he had known that being a hunter would result in this situation, he would’ve picked a different path.
Kang JInhyuk had dreamed of succeeding as a hunter, but he was in the same pathetic place for three years already.
Usually, a person who suffers this much would experience some sort of reward.
Why doesn’t the sun shine in his life?
Just when does he have to wait for an opportunity?
While having such thoughts, Kang Jinhyuk heard a scream in his ear.
It wasn’t from a single person, but a number of different screams.
The sunbae also heard it as he saw visible agitation in his face.
“Hey, the concert’s start is still in a few hours right?”
“What do you mean?”
The screams didn’t sound like shouts of joy.
It sounded like a scream shouting for help in fear.
Usually, those kind of screams are heard when there are cases of terrorism, or when a monster appears. It’s either of the two.
Either way, it was a big opportunity for Kang Jinhyuk.
It happened in the place where he was working part-time.
It’s an incident that happened where most people are either asleep or out of it.
Isn’t it true that heroes are made during a crisis?
Kang Jinhyuk felt that his opportunity had come.
He took out the aluminum bat from the worn out inventory that he carries around in case things like this happen.
“Sunbae, go run away.”
“What about you? Don’t tell me you’re going over there.”
“Of course I am.”
“It’s easier to make money if I’m alone.”
Even if other hunters arrive at the area, they’d only compete among themselves.
That’s why it’s better to go hunt alone.
“Should I go help you? I’ve been working out recently, so I’m confident that I gained some strength.”
Kang Jinhyuk scoffed at his sunbae’s words.
“You know that monsters can only be caught by hunters, right?”
It wasn’t a question of strength.
There’s a special wavelength that surrounds the monsters, so civilian attacks and even attacks from conventional weapons won’t work on them.
Only hunters have the stats that could penetrate that wavelength.
“Please evacuate and don’t do anything stupid.”
Kang Jinhyuk ran in the direction of the screams with no hesitation.
As expected, there were monsters attacking people. He smiled unknowingly.
With that large number of monsters, he would be able to live comfortably for at least a year without worrying about money, or even if he catches small ones of these bastards.
Kang Jinhyuk dashed forward with momentum, but a certain man stood in front of him before he could even reach the monsters.
Knowing that the man was the president of the company that hired him, Jinhyuk stopped in his tracks.
Jinhyuk didn’t understand why the president would block him.
“What are you doing right now?”
“Can’t you tell? I’m blocking you so you can’t go.”
“Yeah, but why are you doing this?”
Jinhyuk, who was contemplating on why the president would do such a thing, thought that the president was just trying to prevent civilians from entering the scene.
So he took out his wallet to show his Hunter Certificate.
“I’m a hunter, so I have the ability to catch those things. Please move out of the way.”
“It’s because you’re a hunter that I’m not letting you in there. Someone already owns this area.”
“Yes. All monsters that spawn here belong to the ‘Titans’.”
Jinhyuk thought that was ridiculous.
He was aware of the fact that many companies signed contracts with large guilds.
Who would’ve thought that their impact reached this far.
Jinhyuk realized that the monopoly of the guilds grew worse day by day.
“I’ve already contacted the Titans. Just go back to the part-time job that you were working on.”
“What nonsense! I’ve arrived here earlier than anyone else!”
“Don’t be so stubborn and just go. Did you forget what kind of guild the Titans is? They are one of the top five in Korea!”
“So what! Get out of my way, right now!”
His stats were determined when he became a hunter.
He even went to the Hunters Association to get his certificate.
He’s well prepared and qualified to hunt monsters.
Even if he lacked some things, he had to try at least.
Kang Jinhyuk slipped to the side of the president that was blocking his way.
He was a mere D-rank, but he can attack the monsters with his raw strength.
As the president fell backward, Kang Jinhyuk dashed towards the monsters.
However, he couldn’t take another step forward.
Someone from behind tightly grabbed Jinhyuk’s shoulder.
The hand that was grabbing his shoulder immediately pulled him back.
It was like being hit by a strong wave.
Kang Jinhyuk’s body was pulled back with no resistance.
And then he was thrown towards the ground with force and he rolled aggressively.
The person who pulled Kang Jinhyuk spoke to him in a cold tone while he collapsed.
“Don’t think about getting a spoonful here. Get lost.”
Jinhyuk raised his head to see a flock of hunters gathering in the area.
Those people wore all black clothes and a jacket, and a uniform pattern was drawn on their shoulders.
Jinhyuk knew that it was the symbol of the Titans, one of Korea’s largest guilds.
“Of course I’m going to get a spoonful here! I arrived here first!”
“Why does it matter that you arrived here first? This place belongs to our district.”
“What kind of law permits that!”
“You’re insisting that there’s a law that permits the person who arrives at the scene first to have control over an area? Is that law determined by the Association?”
What Ahn Doyoon, Titan’s deputy guild leader, meant was simple.
If the opinion of both sides is not really determined by law, then the people who were stronger and more influential would be the ones who are correct.
That’s what Ahn Doyoon wanted to convey.
“What kind of bulls*** is that!”
Jinhyuk got up on his feet.
He couldn’t stand the sight of these Titans hunting the monsters.
“Stop right there, you bastards!”
Jinhyuk, swayed by his strong emotions, held his bat and rushed towards Ahn Doyoon.
Even if all the monsters are taken away by them, he wanted to strike that annoying face just once.
However, he was the one beaten instead.
A fist struck his left cheek and he once again collapsed on the floor.
The familiar texture of the asphalt scratched Kang Jinhyuk’s skin mercilessly.
“All you trash bastards are coming for me.”
Ahn Doyoon bit his tongue and looked visibly uncomfortable as he whispered an order to a hunter that was beside him.
“If that jerk tries to rush in again, beat him up and kick him out.”
Jinhyuk heard what they said and clenched his fists.
He knew it in his head.
The Titans was a guild that only accepted hunters above B-rank.
It’s common sense that a D-rank hunter won’t be able to overpower such guild members.
Today was the first time he personally experienced it with his body.
He realized the true situation of a D-rank hunter.
When he felt the pain in his body, he didn’t think of fighting anymore.
The president, who stood by and witnessed everything, picked up Jinhyuk’s body.
“This is why I told you to let it go.”
The president shook off the dirt in Jinhyuk’s clothes as he offered some words of encouragement.
However, those words don’t mean anything to Jinhyuk at this moment.
He could only think of the missed opportunity in front of him.
It was something he had been anticipating for a long time.
He had high hopes, but the wall of reality hit him hard.
Even though they were all hunters, only some of them take the merit.
He was only a part-timer who transports water bottles to make a small amount of money.
With all his dreams and expectations falling apart, Kang Jinhyuk moved on lifelessly.
Even when his sunbae asked him what’s wrong, he didn’t answer.
He just silently focused on what he could do at the moment.
At this moment, all Jinhyuk wanted to do was to cheer on the killer that vies for the large guild hunters.
Even if he knew that it was morally wrong, it was the only way for the D-rank hunter to console himself.
* * *
Just like that, some time had passed from the events of that day.
The Titans skillfully handled and suppressed the monsters.
It was perfect news for the concert-goers that night.
Thanks to that, Jinhyuk was able to receive his wage.
However, Jinhyuk didn’t feel an ounce of happiness.
The daily wage that came into his account was only a few dollars.
If he caught even just one monster, he wouldn’t be broke like this.
The hunter Kang Jinhyuk felt pathetic that he could only work as a part-timer even when there were monsters right in front of him.
But he didn’t have any choice.
He’ll know for sure when he goes to work today.
This was the reality of a D-rank hunter.
There’s no choice but to bow his head to the large guilds, even if it was unfair.
However, he needs more than 30 million won to do something.
But all Kang Jinyuk had was his earnings for today.
It’s a tight life to live from paycheck to paycheck.
It’s almost impossible for him to save up 30 million won.
“I’ll be leaving first.”
Kang Jinhyuk wanted to go home right away as he ignored his sunbae’s invite for drinks.
He had a strong desire to drink today, but he couldn’t afford it.
He had another part-time job to go to in two hours.
Jinhyuk didn’t have the liberty to get drunk yet.
He wanted to be alone for now.
When he arrived home, he could only let out a swear word that sounded like a sigh.
He trudged himself to the living room and just lay down on the floor.
Jinhyuk looked around his 40 square meter apartment and sighed.
The apartment he lives in looks spacious because he was living alone.
It was difficult to pay rent with his daily wage.
Nevertheless, Jinhyuk wanted to live in this house even though he has to overwork himself every day. He still had some vague hope that he would succeed one day.
But that hope disappeared today.
He could never succeed as a D-rank hunter. Not when he doesn’t have any capital.
“I should just leave this apartment this month.”
I should go live in a place that’s more suitable for my situation.
That’s what Jinhyuk thought.
It’s only realistic to quit being a hunter and just slowly save money to find a better job.
Jinhyuk made a decision, but he felt even more depressed because it wasn’t what he wanted for himself.
His frustration grew as time went by.
Right then, he heard something drop in his attic.
“W-what is that?”
Did the stacked items fall off up there?
Kang Jinhyuk hurriedly stood up and opened the door to the attic.
He lost his words when he saw what was inside his attic.
There were stone walls, just like in games or movies, intricately intertwined to form some sort of labyrinth.
He had no idea why such a thing would appear in his attic.
When he approached to take a closer look, he was shaken as a Goblin suddenly appeared in front of him.
He was so surprised that he fell backward and toppled over the items that were stacked in his attic.
During all that, the goblin’s attention wasn’t on Jinhyuk.
The goblin continued towards him.
The same was true for the other goblins behind the first one.
Among all the goblins, none of them were looking directly at Jinhyuk.
“Could it be… They can’t see me?”
It seems like he can see inside the labyrinth, but those inside the labyrinth couldn’t see him.
He carefully tried to pass his hand through.
And it did.
He didn’t feel any resistance.
He pulled out his hand and burst into laughter.
The labyrinth had monsters inside.
Kang Jinhyuk knew exactly what it meant for him.
“A dungeon… A dungeon appeared in my attic?!”