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Solo leveling Light Novel : 124

chapter 124


All of a sudden, as if a fluorescent light bulb overhead was reaching the top of its lifespan, the cavern darkened and brightened again in rapid succession .


Jinwoo searched . The ball of sunshine that had been placed within the air by Choi Jong-in during the raid was flickering, as if it were dying .


‘Huh . is that the spell coming to an end?’


His initial thought was that the spell was ending, but, the more he considered it, the more it made no sense to him . It had been but an hour since the Korean Hunter Team had set foot inside the cavern . Plus, the spell had been put in situ by an S-rank mage to start out an incredibly dangerous raid, and it had been paramount to the raid’s success . There was no way the spell would simply die out this quickly .


‘But if that’s the case, could it's . . ?’


For a flash , Jinwoo wondered if the shadow extraction skill he had used on the ant king was the cause .


Fwip-


Without warning, the sunshine disappeared completely, and therefore the cave became completely dark .


For a second, not even a speck of sunshine shone through, and Jinwoo, even together with his incredible Sense stat, couldn't detect a thing through the darkness .


Then, even as suddenly, a bright light flooded the cave, and therefore the Ant King stood ahead of Jinwoo again .


Jinwoo jumped backwards in shock at apparition, his entire body tensing in anticipation .


[Shadow extraction successful . ]

As the message registered, his shoulders slumped in relaxation .


‘Man . . . if that didn’t come up, I would’ve attacked the ant king again . ’


“Whew . . . what a surprise . ”


He sighed in relief . Taking a step back, the creature ahead of him was undoubtedly not the ant king born again to life . Although its form strongly resembled its living self, it’s body was constructed of a pure darkness, and a dark smoke billowed from its body .


‘So this is often the ant king’s shadow . . . ’


He couldn’t check the statistics of the shadow, but, just judging from the ominous foreboding he had felt when it had resurrected, it appeared to be even a touch stronger than the first . a strong mana flowed from the shadow .


Ba-dump! Ba-dump! Ba-dump!


Jinwoo smiled as he felt his heart pounding in anticipation, sort of a child unwrapping his Christmas toys .


‘This ant king is now one among my soldiers . . . ’


Before long, the knowledge bar appeared . Jinwoo narrowed his eyes .


[??? Lvl . 1] [Rank: General]

‘General?’


Jinwoo pumped his fist as he confirmed he hadn’t misread the rank . General was an unprecedented rank, and, from the rank’s name, the ant king was almost certainly far stronger than anything he currently had in his shadow army .


‘Well, in fact he's – that much was obvious from what proportion mana poured out from him . What a monster . . . ’


Jinwoo smiled again . It had been worth all the trouble to urge his hands on the ant king in any case . Before him, the creature fell to at least one knee .


‘Looks like there’s no exceptions to the “absolute loyalty” inherent within the shadow soldiers . Good . ’


Satisfied, Jinwoo rotated , his sight falling on the ant queen .


‘Now then . . . ’


“My king . . . ”


A harsh, raspy voice from behind froze Jinwoo . His heart raced furiously . He had never felt that he lacked constitution, but, at this moment, it had been as if all the strength had left his body .


Nobody was alleged to behind him except the shadow of the ant king .


‘Am I hearing things . . . ?’


Slowly, carefully, he turned to seem back . As he expected, there was but the shadow, still on one knee, head bowed .


“ . . . ”


Jinwoo stared at the shadow .


“Was it you?”


As if he had been expecting Jinwoo to talk , the shadow opened its mouth .


“For me . . . a name . . . ”


It was inarticulate . But, clearly, it had been the ant king’s shadow, speaking .


—–


Wump-wump-wump-!


The helicopter chopped through the air, carrying the Korean hunter team on to Seoul and therefore the Hunter Association headquarters .


Association President Go Gun-hee nervously paced back and forth as he watched the helicopter land . The second it hit the bottom , he rushed forward and threw open the helicopter door, his eyes darting round the interior .


“Is Cha Hae-in okay? What’s her condition?”


The hunters’ gazes landed on the still unconscious Cha Hae-in, who lay flat on the ground of the helicopter, covered in blankets and surrounded by anxious staff .


“Healers, NOW!”


The two A-rank healers who had been waiting outside the door, on standby, rushed in at Go Gun-hee’s command .


“ . . . ?”


“ . . . ?”


The two healers exchanged puzzled looks .


“Well? What’s going on?”


For a flash , nobody answered Go Gun-hee’s question, and then, simultaneously, the 2 healers blurted out .


“There are not any injuries . ”


“She’s in normal condition . ”


“You’re saying there’s no got to treat Cha-hunter?”


The healers nodded in unison . One spoke up again .


“Whoever did it, that they had tremendous magic power and command over incredibly high level healing magic . There’s nothing more we could do . ”


Go Gun-hee blinked, flustered by the healers’ answers . When he had last seen Cha Hae-in on the live broadcast, her injuries had seemed incredibly severe . He didn’t have an immediate line to anyone within the raid group, then he could only explode the TV reports, which continually emphasized how grave things was . Anxious and frustrated, he had summoned two A-rank healers and put them on standby, bent doing everything possible for Cha Hae-in when the raid team came . But now . . .


‘There’s nothing for them to do?’


Go Gun-hee’s eyes narrowed as he examined Cha Hae-in carefully .


Her complexion didn’t look bad in the least – nothing indicative of a significant injury . In fact, although she was unconscious, it really seemed like she was merely asleep .


‘What happened within the time the camera was turned off?’


Go Gun-hee tilted his head as he pondered the question . There shouldn’t are a healer within the cave . He felt a pain in his heart as he recalled the terrible fate which had befallen the team’s only healer, Min Byung-gu . He turned to the raid leader, Ma Dong-wook .


“Ma-hunter, how did this happen?”


“Well, umm . . . ”


Puzzlingly, Ma Dong-wook hesitated in his answer . He was interrupted by one among the A-rank healers .


“Hunter-nim is waking up!”


Everyone’s attention immediately turned back to Cha Hae-in . Go Gun-hee sat down carefully beside her .


“Cha-hunter-nim, are you feeling better?”


Cha Hae-in’s eyes fluttered open, and she or he looked around during a dazed confusion .


“Where . . . ?”


“We’re inside a helicopter at the instant . We just landed at Orion Association, and we’ll be moving hunter-nim to a hospital very soon now . ”


“A hospital . . . ”


Cha Hae-in’s eyes wandered round the room, unfocused, as she attempted to require in her surroundings . She took a deep breath, and felt herself saturated with the scent of Sung Jinwoo . Still during a haze, she turned to travel Gun-hee .


“Was Sung Jinwoo-hunter here?”


Although none of the opposite hunters spoke, inwardly, they were all astonished . Cha Hae-in had most certainly been unconscious by the time Sung Jinwoo had arrived, and there was no way she should have known that he had been there .


Go Gun-hee nodded slowly rather than answering . Cha Hae-in smiled lightly in response .


‘As expected . . . it wasn’t a dream . ’


She relaxed and fell into a deep slumber once more .


After ensuring her breathing was stable, Go Gun-hee ordered the waiting attendants to maneuver her to the hospital, so she could properly relax and have access to medical staff the entire time .


‘Sung Jinwoo huh . . . actually, come to consider it, he wasn’t on the helicopter in the least . ’


Go Gun-hee turned his attention to Ma Dong-wook another time .


“By the way, where is Sung Jinwoo hunter-nim?”


Baek Yoon-ho, who had been taking note of their conversation, responded before Ma Dong-wook could .


“Sung Jinwoo . . . goes to remain . ”


“He’s getting to stay?”


Go Gun-hee stared at the pair of hunters, an incredulous expression written across his face . The helicopter had used a magic-powered engine, and had come straight to Seoul after learning the hunters on Jeju Island . There was nowhere Jinwoo could possibly be staying between Jeju Island and Seoul, and if he was at Jeju Island, there was no way for him to go away . Go Gun-hee asked again, hoping to clear up the apparent misunderstanding .

“Sorry, where is he staying again?”


“He said there was still work left over to try to to on Jeju Island . ”


“ . . . he didn’t even get on the helicopter?”


Baek Yoon-ho smiled awkwardly and nodded at the embarrassed Go Gun-hee .


“Yes . ”


“How are you ready to talk?”


“I . . . am ready to talk . ”


The ant king’s shadow had answered each of Jinwoo’s questions without hesitation, but, unfortunately, his answers hadn’t been particularly enlightening .


‘Was it because he could speak before becoming a shadow? So now, after becoming a shadow, he could still speak?’


Jinwoo shook his head as he thought through the idea . the previous hunter, Kim Chul, who was now ‘Iron’, was ready to speak and was even human . But conversation with Iron was now impossible . In fact, an equivalent had been the case for Min Byung-gu . Without a word, he had returned to the dead . Plus, ‘Tusk’, who had been remarkably articulate during his existence as a magic creature, had remained forever silent after becoming a shadow soldier .


‘So why is he the sole shadow who can talk?’


As far as Jinwoo knew, there was just one difference between the ant king and every one his other shadows: rank . Indeed, unlike those, who were either ‘Knight’ or ‘Elite Knight’ ranked, the ant king’s shadow was a ‘General’ . In other words, past ‘General’, or past a particular rank, a shadow soldier could communicate with Jinwoo .


‘Well, there’s no hard evidence yet, but, for now, this is often probably the foremost reliable hypothesis . Hmm . . . so does that mean the opposite shadows, once they level up, also will be ready to speak?’


There appeared to be yet one more reason to boost the extent of his shadows . Jinwoo pondered for a couple of moments, before he turned his attention back towards the ant king . He had an issue which he had always wanted to ask .


“I’m the one who killed you . ”


“ . . . ”


“And yet, you’re still willing to follow me?”


“I . . . didn't die . With the lord’s power . . . i used to be born anew . ”


Jinwoo arched an eyebrow in surprise at the solution . He hadn’t anticipated this response . The ant king searched , staring into Jinwoo’s eyes .


“Within me . . . I feel . . . joy . . . is overflowing . My lord . . . i will be able to follow . . . forever . ” [1]


Ba-dump .


Jinwoo’s heart jumped as he heard the ant king’s shadow swear eternal loyalty .


‘Why? Was it because I felt the sincerity?’


He placed his hand on his chest and took several deep breaths as his heart returned to normal .


The shadow bowed before him again .


“My lord . . . a name . . . ”


The conversation had returned to its start line .


Even still, Jinwoo felt, it had been a touch unusual, to receive an invitation for a reputation , rather than a prompt from the system .


‘Oh well . Name, a name . . . ’


He had never particularly cared about the entire naming process to start with, but during this case . . .


‘I mean, a reputation like “Ant” can’t do here, right?’


He had many identical ants in his army, and he felt slightly ashamed at the notion of calling his only general by the name “Ant . ”


‘Hmm . . . ’


Jinwoo pondered the name briefly, before giving a brief laugh .


“Ber . ”


The novelist, famous for his novel, “Ant”, came to mind . In a moment , Jinwoo had made his decision .


“Your name is Ber . ”


No sooner had Jinwoo spoken than Ber bowed his head even deeper, as if he had been deeply moved by Jinwoo’s words .


“Thank you . . . my lord . ”


[Ber Lvl . 1] [Rank: General]

The information above his head was updated instantly .


‘Alrighty then . Now it’s really time for the ant queen . ’


Satisfied, Jinwoo turned his attention to the ant queen . Perhaps because he had succeeded in making ‘Ber’ a shadow soldier just , he felt confident that he would be ready to extract the ant queen’s shadow .


“Arise . ”


KIAAAAK-


With a wail eerily almost like its dying scream, a shadow resembling the ant queen rose from the corpse .


“Ah, excellent . ”


But Jinwoo quickly frowned . Although he was pleased by his success, he felt as if something was off, and he tilted his head as he checked out the ant queen . As soon because it had been resurrected as a shadow, he had felt his connection to his other shadow ants grow faint, as if the mana which connected Jinwoo with the shadow ants had been shrouded during a suffocating fog .


‘What’s going on?’


“Ber!”


The words had barely left Jinwoo’s mouth when Ber appeared at his side . Indeed, if it wasn’t for JInwoo’s 200+ ‘Sense’, Ber’s movements would’ve been too quick to follow .


‘Unbelievable . And such a creature is now my loyal soldier . ’


Jinwoo crossed his arms over his chest and gestured at the ant queen with a small wave of his fingers .


“Do you recognize why?”


Ber was, after all, the soldier who knew how the ant colony had functioned the simplest . He replied with a polite tone .


“Ruler of the ant colony . . . is that the Queen’s unique ability . ”


So that was it . If there was a queen, the proper to command the ants would be automatically transferred to her . Jinwoo felt a small degree of unpleasantness .


‘That’s a touch . . . ’


No matter how well he could make the queen herself undergo him, there was something uncomfortable about her taking control of all of his ant shadows . On top of that, it seemed like if he wanted to offer commands to the ants, he would be forced to try to to it through her . Furthermore . . .


Jinwoo paused thoughtfully before asking Ber again .


“What’s reduced the Queen’s mana?”


“Most of the Queen’s mana . . . for breeding . Reproduction without a body . . . is impossible . ”


“Her mana’s been cut in half then?”


“That is correct . . . my lord . ”


Jinwoo winced at Ber’s confirmation . Ultimately, there would be no use for the ant queen’s shadow beyond that of a typical soldier then . He pondered his dilemma briefly, before deciding to cancel the extraction .


‘There’s not really any point in wasting energy managing a shadow which might be practically useless, no?’


KIAAAK-


As rapidly because it materialized, the queen’s shadow dispersed like smoke within the air .


[Number of Stored Shadows: 570/570]

‘I’m at capacity already huh . ’


Jinwoo looked around . Massive piles of the very best quality mana stones, found only in S-class gates, lay at his feet like ordinary rocks .


‘Well, there’s nobody here to ascertain . Plus, I did kill most of the ants myself . ’


He reached down and began grabbing stones, before he froze .


‘These mana stones should be wont to compensate those that were victims of the monumental tragedy that was Jeju Island, and for the state to revive Jeju Island to its former quality . ’


He wasn't so desperate on covet them . He paused, then reached down, grabbing alittle , coal black mana stone from Ber’s body, placing the stone in his inventory .


‘I’ll take this one . ’


Jinwoo called Kaisel from his shadow storage . The black wyvern spread its wings, able to flee .


As he mounted atop Kaisel’s back, he took one last shop around the queen’s lair . just like the remainder of the island, the once active and noisy chamber was perfectly still and tranquil .


“ . . . ”


‘The Jeju Island campaign is over . ’


His gaze swept over the tunnel’s entrance .


“To home . ”


Kaisel beat its wings forcefully, sending gale like wind rushing through the tunnel, because it took off .

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