Chapter 22: Different from Before (9)


Jiho’s mana was put into his skill.
True to its name, [Blessing of the Star] shined bright as it strengthened Sori’s body. 

Once the skill was used, Sori’s trembling body gradually stabilized.
Unlike before, Heo Sori’s face was full of confidence.

“Hunter Lim Seung Joo.”

“What.”

Lim Seung Joo, who had been watching this whole thing with an aloof expression, answered curtly when Jiho approached him.
Seeing the face that looked like it was looking at a religious fanatic of some cult or something, Jiho repeated the sign for patience1 a thousand times in his head before smiling.

“After you receive the skill, please adjust your body to it slowly.”

“I’ll figure that out myself.”

How much of a difference will that skill make? was exactly the kind of attitude Seung Joo’s way of speaking revealed.

‘Just try it once.’

Jiho grinned as he directed his skill to Seung Joo.

[Blessing of the Star.]

A sacred blessing passed through the mana of the purest soul. 

Although the description of the skill makes Jiho cringe, that very pure mana enveloped Lim Seung Joo.
As the pure power fell on him, it awakened a new level of power Seung Joo didn’t know he had.

“This…”

Lim Seung Joo’s body swayed for a second.
Catching himself quickly, Lim Seung Joo widened his eyes in shock.
Lim Seung couldn’t help but turn back to look at Jiho, even forgetting the situation in front of him.

“Heu-ap!”2

While that was happening, Heo Sori let out a shout before landing her fist on the monster.

Heo Sori, a normal C-rank hunter.

An average combat hunter, who would’ve barely managed to kill a monster from a B-rank gate with the help of other hunters.

The blow from a girl like that, destroyed the piece of armor on the side of a monster, that was, at the very least, an A-rank.

[CROOOOOOOOAK!]

The monster let out a desperate scream.
Even though it was in pain, it swung the antlers on its head towards Sori.
The monster moved at a speed that, had it been before, would’ve hit and swept Sori away, but Sori easily avoided it.
In fact, she was much faster, landing a solid kick on a part of the armor that hadn’t completely cracked yet.

CRACK!

The armor couldn’t withstand the attack and was completely destroyed.
Between the pieces fallen on the floor was tender skin.

“Th-that… Hunter Heo Sori… wasn’t she a C-rank?”

Yang Hojin, who had been standing to the side, whispered in shock.

Although Heo Sori is a C-rank, her current stats were not at the level of C-rank.

Status


Name Heo Sori
Occupation Guildmember of No Name
Rank C
Title
HP 108 + 410
MP 34 + 203
Strength 112 + 420
Agility 90 + 411
Skill Ambition ( B )
Iron Fist ( C )
Strong Blow ( C )
Improved Agility ( E )

The 400 MP that Shin Jiho had passed onto her with [Blessing of the Star] had increased all of Sori’s stats by a maximum of 400.
Although her weakest stat was only increased by half of that amount, it didn’t really matter.

Since all of her other stats increased by almost five times their original amount.

Sori avoided the monster that was frantically swinging its horns around and quickly ran away.

And Lim Seung Joo, who had been standing still, took his sword out.

“…”

Whispering so quietly that no one could hear him, Lim Seung Joo activated his skill and swung his sword.
As he did so, mana followed his sword’s motion and created a silver crescent moon, which soon shot forward.

As it flew forward, the mana became stronger, and it cut the monster that Heo Sori broke the armor off of, in half, with a single blow.
The move also hit the other monsters coming out of the gate and knocked them over.

The most famous skill of Lim Seung Joo, who wields a sword as a weapon.

Although the skill is strong, it’s not strong enough to strike an A-rank monster down with one blow.
Because an A-rank monster usually has mana resistance properties, the effect of the skill is halved.

But Lim Seung Joo’s skill just now easily sliced through the monster, like it was an F-rank.

“A-amazing…”

Yang Hojin was amazed.
Hearing Hojin’s voice, Jiho slowly closed his mouth that had dropped open.

Truthfully speaking, Lim Seung Joo’s attack exceeded Jiho’s expectations.

He has only used his skill on three people so far: the middle schooler Kim Dong Su, Heo Sori, and Seon Tae Woong.
Based on these three experiences, Jiho made a conjecture, and to test this, he passed different amounts of mana to Heo Sori and Lim Seung Joo.


When he tested her, the amount of mana that Heo Sori could usually take was about 400 MP.
When she was in good condition, there were times when she could take up to 500 or 600 MP, but once it went past that, problems arose.

Either she couldn’t control how much power she used and spent all of the mana up at once like the middle schooler did, or she got so tired that she collapsed.

In fact, Kim Dong Su was unconscious for two days after using up so much power.
It seemed that [Blessing of the Star] wasn’t completely without consequences either.

But Heo Sori is still able to control her power better than the middle schooler could when they received more mana than what they can respectively handle.

Thinking that this was probably due to a difference in ranks, Jiho decided to test it by pouring 1000 MP into Seung Joo.

And as he thought, Lim Seung Joo controlled it much better than Heo Sori did.

It was the same with Seon Tae Woong.
Although he was too out of it to check that time, Jiho had sent Seon Tae Woong a considerable amount of mana.
But as an A-rank, Seon Tae Woong was able to use that power well.

[Blessing of the Star].

This skill can make anyone stronger.
However, in the end, the higher the rank, the better the effect.
Even if he can make a dog into a lion, he can’t do the same with an ant.

Jiho thought he could just gather mana and strengthen low-ranked hunters but…

If it’s like this, then it’s definitely better to gather higher-ranked hunters. 

What Jiho is aiming for is to make No Name an S-rank guild that participates in dungeon raids.

‘This type of skill usually gets stronger the more it’s used.’

Right now, [Blessing of the Star] is only at level 1.
If the level increases, he might be able to pass more mana to low-ranked hunters too.

Of course, raising a skill’s level isn’t an easy task.

What this means is that sticking with high-ranked hunters for now will produce the best effect.

‘I guess I’ll have to keep seeing Lim Seung Joo then.’

Jiho was planning to terminate Lim Seung Joo’s contract early and fill the guild up with B-ranks if he thought Heo Sori was enough.
But A-ranks are definitely different.

On top of that, Lim Seung Joo’s skill was strong, even among other A-rank combat hunters.

Although he usually uses purely physical attacks3, when he inputs a special kind of mana to his sword, Seung Joo can fight monsters that can only be defeated by magic.

Lim Seung Joo was unaware that Jiho had been thinking of kicking him out of the guild for the slightest fault, but that Jiho was now leaning towards keeping him in.
Instead, Lim Seung Joo was drunk on his own power, swinging his sword like crazy.

Before awakening, Lim Seung Joo wanted to become a baseball player.
That was his dream since he was young, and he steadily worked hard for that dream.

However, because of an injury, his dream helplessly fell apart.
Even though it was easy to pick up a life where he gave up what he liked and went to school, that life was boring.

He wants to stand at bat again.
He wants to feel that same refreshing feeling of pleasure that he felt when his bat hit the ball and made it fly.

When he was dreaming of a dream that he couldn’t reach, Lim Seung Joo awakened.

As soon as he awakened, Lim Seung Joo felt like he was back on the baseball training field again.
Because he didn’t have a proper weapon, he swung a baseball bat around in order to fight monsters.

When he let out an excited breath after his first victory, Lim Seung Joo was certain that this would become his second baseball.

While he was active in Chungram, he was still full of enthusiasm.

But when his father’s company had begun to decline, Shin Jiho woke up and created a guild.


Chungram suggested that he transfer to No Name in exchange for conditions that would revive his father’s company.
Even though he transferred by his own choice, his heart didn’t follow reason.

He felt like he had stepped onto the major league, only to be suddenly thrown out. 

On top of that, the work he did at No Name was boring compared to what he had done before.
Lim Seung Joo, who once raided dungeons that were at least B-rank, was now reduced to taking care of fissures that are at most B-rank.

Seeing the accomplishments of his old colleagues for the past year made him feel stuck.

Thinking that his swordplay was getting slower, he resented himself.

But now.

His sword moved like water, following Lim Seung Joo’s will and drawing a smooth path.
Each path carried mana, and the skill shot forward as naturally as it was to breathe.
Plus, an A-rank monster collapsed easily, as if it was a weak creature.

Seeing the clear result in front of him, Lim Seung Joo was drunk on his own power.

‘What is this strength?’

His entire body was bursting with energy.
A strength that easily surpasses the him before.

He felt like even if going up against SS-rank hunter Joo Yiwon was a stretch, he could try fighting S-rank hunter Seo Min Jeong right now.

The difference between ranks is large.

The difference between A-ranks and S-ranks is particularly clear.

S-ranks, of which there are only a few in the world, are beasts of a different kind when compared to lower ranks.
Either that or they have a unique and useful skill.

There are four S-ranks in the country.

Kang Tae Joo, a freelance hunter working overseas; Kim Tae Yong, the guildmaster of Mireu4 Guild; Seo Min Jeong, the guildmaster of Divine Arrows; and Hwang Hye Lim, the guildmaster of No-se5 Guild.

Besides Hwang Hye Lim, who became an S-rank because of her useful skill, the other hunters were all combat hunters.

Even though Lim Seung Joo is one of the stronger A-ranks, he still felt an impenetrable wall whenever he saw S-rank combat hunters.

The class of S-ranks is different.
Just like how a deer cannot beat a lion, as soon as S-ranks awaken, they’re beasts of a whole other level.

Even if he’s not on the same level as them, Seung Joo felt like he could, at least, put up a fight against them right now.

Not only that.

Even though it’s hard to tell because of his overwhelming strength right now, the reason he’s suddenly stronger than before isn’t solely because his HP or strength stats have increased.

While his body still moves according to his will, his movements are slightly adjusted.
He realizes the shortcomings he never noticed before and is naturally finding better ways to move.

It is this improved movement that helps Lim Seung Joo develop as a stronger hunter in that moment.

No.
This can’t be seen as a single moment’s effect.

As he swung his sword, Seung Joo focused on his movements.
The feeling of this one moment will be deeply ingrained in Lim Seung Joo’s memory.
If he masters this feeling right now, Lim Seung Joo can become much stronger.

With this power, it’s no wonder that Jiho could come out of an S-rank collect dungeon alive.
After all, Seon Tae Woong isn’t a weak hunter either.

‘But Shin Jiho?’

Even though Lim Seung Joo was flying around with the skill, he still couldn’t believe it.


After all, Shin Jiho was nothing but an extra weight for him for the past year.

But like it was washing away his doubts, the terrifyingly strong monster in front of Seung Joo was easily swept away, just like a leaf in front of a strong gust of wind.
It was incredibly simple to cut off the monster’s neck as soon as it started to crawl out of the gate.
It was like he was taking care of an F-rank fissure.

The monsters were quickly defeated, and the swirling gate quieted down.

Seeing this, Jiho, who, different from before, had been waiting in the back, approached him.

“Are you both okay?”

“Yes! Using the skill in a real situation is much better!”

Looking at Heo Sori, who was laughing brightly, Lim Seung Joo felt an emotion he never felt before.
A strange feeling of jealousy.

Shouldn’t he, as the guild’s main combat force, have been the first to test a skill like this?

“How was it for you, Hunter Lim Seung Joo?”

Jiho asked as he smiled.
On Shin Jiho’s smiling face, there was not a hint of malice towards the vice-guildmaster who had continuously looked down on him until now.
Because of this, Lim Seung Joo felt embarrassed.

Even though he was smiling like that, Lim Seung Joo knew that Shin Jiho didn’t like him that much.

It was obvious that he wouldn’t like him.
After all, Seung Joo had behaved in a way to make Shin Jiho hate him.
He had wanted to anger the young master and have his contract terminated by him.

But Shin Jiho never let his feelings show.
He always greeted Lim Seung Joo, who treated him unpleasantly, with a smile

Actually, he knew.

Seung Joo knew that Shin Jiho wasn’t some immature, rich young master like he first thought he was, and that Jiho worked tirelessly to get where he was.

Even though he knew, Seung Joo still ignored him.
Seung Joo believed he didn’t belong here.
All he wanted to do was to leave this wretched B-rank guild.

But No Name will soon grow from a wretched guild into a grand stronghold.
The place that Lim Seung Joo had looked down on and hoped for its failure until now.

“It… was good.”

Although he tried to answer like he always did, Seung Joo felt sour.

If only he hadn’t treated Jiho like that.
Then Shin Jiho would’ve definitely tested his skill on him instead of on Heo Sori.

Lim Seung Joo was filled with an emotion he couldn’t put a name to.

 

Footnotes

1. Yin (忍).

2. Can’t think of an English equivalent.
You hear this a lot from martial artists.
Here’s a link to a video: LINK.

3. The exact translation was that he uses attacks that abide by physics.
Meaning that he doesn’t use mana/magic for those attacks.

4. 미르 is the pure Korean word for dragon.
Yong/Ryong (龍) is Sino-Korean.

Sino-Korean (hanja) words are Korean words derived from the Chinese language.
Pure Korean words are words that come purely from the Korean language.
(Fun fact! Almost 90% of the words Koreans use today are Sino-Korean! We don’t use a lot of pure Korean words anymore in everyday vocabulary.)

5. I split this up so it isn’t confused with the body part.
The only thing I could find on this word (노세) is the idiom, “Have fun while you’re young.”

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