The Monsters Disappeared?
The monsters disappeared.
It wouldn’t be difficult for anyone to understand this simple sentence.
But for Seo Hayeon, who had lived with monsters more than humans alongside Kim Bong-pal for the past five years, and given she made up her mind to do something at Seo Kang Jun’s memorial altar today…
…the story was a little different.
Looking at the confused Seo Hayeon, Kim Bongpal cursed in a low voice.
It was kind of weird.
During their years in the Yeonbaek Plain, the number of monsters they encountered decreased.
Hundreds to dozens a day, then to only a few.
There were times when the two encountered only a handful every couple of days.
Since Yeonbaek Plain was like that, it should be easy to guess what it would be like in the area around Seoul.
“The monsters disappeared…it’s a good thing, right?”
Seo Hayeon, her eyes blank, asked Kim Bong-pal.
“I guess so.”
The monsters disappeared.
In other words, peace has come with a new era.
Of course, the populace must’ve cheered for it.
“Then how about the hunter? How about the hunters now?”
So, what happened to those who fought monsters?
Kim Bongpal summed up the answer.
* * *
Not all monsters disappeared.
A few days ago, Kim Bong-pal and Seo Ha-yeon encountered some on the Yeonbaek Plains.
However, it was almost certain that the newly appearing monster had disappeared.
Monster populations usually grew in two ways.
One was for a rift to appear suddenly, and they would step through, and the other was for them to reproduce with other monsters.
When a monster appeared through a rift, a certain pattern of magical energy radiated around it.
Therefore, it was easy to monitor the emergence of such monsters.
All you needed to do was set the detector to a particular pattern.
In other words, the 10,000 hours of absence written on the placard meant that the detector hadn’t sensed the appearance of any new monsters for nearly a year.
Considering the detector’s performance, which boasted 99.9% accuracy, it was as good as law.
“Let’s go to Dung Fly first.
Whatever we know, he will know more.”
Kim Bongpal led around the puzzled Seo Ha-yeon.
The employee they met didn’t say anything else but watched the two depart.
It was natural for Kim Bongpal to speak casually to an employee younger than him by decades.
Still, from the employee’s point of view, Kim Bongpal was a good decade younger than him.
Besides, he didn’t know much because he was a junior employee.
But Hwang Dongpal was different.
One of the few advantages of Hwang Dongpal was that he recognized Kim Bongpal.
Plus, when the situation changed rapidly like now, he was quick to grasp it and change his plans.
In fact, if it weren’t for that skill, Aegis wouldn’t have become such a big company.
On the road to the Aegis Corporation, Kim Bong-pal wondered if the monsters leaving wasn’t all that bad.
To guess what Seo Kang Jun might’ve thought, he wouldn’t have wanted his daughter to work as a Hunter.
Kim Bong-pal felt the same way, even after five years.
The two arrived at the headquarters of Aegis Corporation.
Regardless of what happened in the meantime, all the employees of Aegis recognized Kim Bongpal.
As the previous manager of Aegis Corporation had, they didn’t hesitate to bow to him.
Thanks to this, it was easy to get to the CEO’s office.
“Oh, it’s been a while.
I heard you trained your staff well?”
“…You’ve come, huh?”
A middle-aged man who seemed out of energy greeted the two.
The news that Kim Bong-pal appeared was already reported to him when they entered the lobby.
Therefore, the man was able to face Kim Bong-pal after having the chance to calm down a little.
He was quite a clean-looking man that looked to be a still active hunter, though his gray hair hinted at the truth.
In addition to the scars under his eyes that Kim Bong-pal was responsible for, the scars across the back of his hands showed how many fierce battles he had fought.
Besides that, being a head taller than Kim Bongpal and strong enough that his muscles showed through his suit, it was clear he wasn’t the type of CEO that pushed papers.
This was Hwang Dongpal.
Of course, for Kim Bongpal…
“Dung Fly, you look great, huh? You must be eating well.”
…He was an old colleague with the nickname Dung Fly.
Hwang Dongpal sighed quietly as Kim Bongpal stormed into his office and sat on the sofa like it was his own.
Despite the time passed, this man’s face was still annoyingly young.
However, Hwang Dongpal couldn’t express his annoyance.
He couldn’t do so, but more than that, Hwang Dongpal owed his life to him.
No matter what anyone said, this was still his savior.
Next to him was Seo Hayeon, who had lost much of her youthfulness.
“Ha-yeon? You’ve grown a lot.
It’s been a long time.”
Looking at Seo Hayeon, Hwang Dongpal realized that five years was quite a long time.
He couldn’t find a trace of how she used to look; that was only the tip of the iceberg.
Her mana was too different.
It was either that Seo Hayeon’s talent was that great, or Kim Bongpal was such a good teacher.
Maybe it was both.
It was a fact he hated to admit, but once, belonging to Kim Bongpal’s hunting team was treated as a career achievement inside the Aegis Corporation.
“…You’ve become strong.”
“Yes? Oh no.
I still have a long way to go.”
With that level of mana flow, I think you’re around B-Class?”
Although the monsters disappeared, hunters were still a valuable resource.
Perhaps because of the changing situation, they were more valuable than ever.
Hwang Dongpal, knowing this well, put on a friendly smile.
Kim Bongpal smirked.
B-Class, your ass.
Try and bring a decent B-Class hunter.
They would lose their arm in five minutes.”
Hwang Dongpal’s eyes widened at that remark.
It didn’t sound like a teacher exaggerating his disciple’s skills.
Hwang Dongpal was one of the few people who knew exactly what Kim Bongpal was like, and he didn’t lie about the sword.
In fact, a hunter’s rank was simply divided by the amount of mana possessed by class.
Therefore, the standard was vague, but when Kim Bongpal said that, he meant it was okay to ignore such ambiguous standards.
So within five years, Seo Hayeon became at least an A-Class Hunter.
She was pretty good for her age, but at best, she was between E-Class and D-Class when they last met.
It wasn’t easy to show this level of growth, no matter how great the teacher was.
Hwang Dongpal shook his head.
Her beauty was unparalleled, and her current skills, as well as her potential, were outstanding.
She could help re-establish the Aegis Corporation, which suffered some ups and downs after Seo Kang Jun’s death.
Hwang Dongpal’s thoughts stopped there.
Kim Bongpal stopped them, actually.
“I don’t like the look in your eyes.”
Kim Bongpal put his hand on the cheap sword in front of him.
“I told you before, didn’t I? You’ll get hurt if you spout nonsense.
Why did your eyes look like that just now?
Hwang Dongpal’s expression stiffened.
Kim Bongpal now wore a fishy smile, and at the same time, he could feel a heavy force weighing down on him.
Seo Hayeon watched the two with wide eyes.
She couldn’t feel any energy passing between them, but she knew Kim Bongpal meant what he had said.
Kim Bongpal lived with curses in his mouth.
He used harsh words no matter what he was doing, which was why some people misunderstood him.
People thought it was just for show, but he would never put them to action.
However, Hwang Dongpal, having lived in the same era as Kim Bongpal as a first-generation Awakener, knew better.
Kim Bongpal never said anything he didn’t mean.
In fact, among the people, Hwang Dongpal knew, more than a couple people retired from their careers as hunters after testing his temper.
If he ignored this warning, it would come down to trading blows.
Even though Hwang Dongpal was now at the headquarters of his company, Aegis Corporation, it didn’t matter.
It didn’t matter.
They had a force capable of dealing with most S-Class hunters and a few S-Class hunters on their payroll at that.
What if Kim Bongpal faced all of them?
It would all be over.
Hwang Dongpal quickly concluded this fact.
He knew well why people labeled first-generation Awakeners differently from the other generations.
Those people who survived an era of fierce battles where death visited every day and couldn’t be judged simply by their rank.
At that, Kim Bongpal was unique, even among those rare people.
What are you talking about? Is it because I’m getting older? Do I look weird with these bags? It’s from a lack of sleep.”
Eventually, Hwang Dongpal started hastily making excuses.
Kim Bongpal smirked as he watched the CEO panic.
He would let it go this time.
Hwang Dongpal exhaled and asked.
“Why are you here? I haven’t heard from you in five years.”
I heard the monsters disappear.
Tell me what happened.”
Hwang Dongpal paused and examined Kim Bongpal closer.
It had already been a year since that happened.
Anyone they might pass on the street knew why.
It started with the appearance of Dragon Lord, an eight-star monster that shocked the world.
The danger of the Dragon Lord was the horde of 7-star monsters under its command.
The top Hunters from each country gathered to fight back.
The first fight ended in failure, but they found success on the second attempt.
As a result, the monsters hadn’t appeared again since.
These were widely known facts.
Hwang Dongpal thought Kim Bongpal’s question wasn’t from a simple desire to hear about that process.
There must be another reason why he came to find him.
He wanted facts that weren’t yet known to the public.
Something only those deeply entangled with the hunter industry knew.
He thought that Kim Bongpal was asking about ‘that.’
“…It has appeared.”
Hwang Dongpal said.
The truth that Kim Bongpal and Seo Hayeon didn’t even know about in the first place.
“The Gate has appeared.”
It stunned both of them.
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