A week passed by in a blink.
At this point in time, where the reassessment is less than a week away, Jiho was nervously preparing for the exam while taking care of the guild’s affairs.
Instead of going to work at the guild office these days, Jiho heads straight to the training center and starts his day by practicing his skill.
To be more specific, all Jiho does is use [Blessing of the Star] on Heo Sori and Yang Hojin. The actual training after that was all the job of Sori and Hojin.
In order to master their power that’s much stronger than before, they have to get used to the state of having [Blessing of the Star] on them.
There’s not much you can do to train [Blessing of the Star]. This is the pro of being a support type hunter. Combat hunters have to work a lot harder to polish up their skills.
But since there are skill levels, Jiho regularly uses his skill in hopes of leveling it up. Even though there’s no sign of it actually doing so.
While he trains, he continues to take care of documents. Because there’s a lot of things to do, he needs to recruit people as soon as possible. Not only awakened ones, but also normal office workers.
‘I still have to look into relocating the guild as well.’
The training center they’re using right now is a rented center near Chunggye Mountain1.
Although there’s a training center at the guild in Bangbae Station, all they did to that was add material from dungeons to the pre-existing building. Since it can’t take any attacks above B-rank, they had no choice but to rent out this training center.
But once the guild grows and they start preparing to join dungeon raids, they will need a high-rank training center.
Naturally, this isn’t something that can be done in one day. Even moving will take a couple of months, and they’ll probably only be able to recruit as many people as they want after they move. For now, since he has to grab onto hunters he wants to recruit before other guilds do, he needs to think about the order of things carefully…
The more he thought about it, the more the work piled up.
“Guildmaster-nim, one more time!”
Jiho raised his head from the documents at Heo Sori’s voice. Although her tone was bright, her face was full of fatigue.
Instead of using his skill on her, Jiho checked the time and stood up.
“It’s already 4. Get off work now.”
“But it’s not even time to yet. Just one more time.”
“You’ve been here since 8. And you shouldn’t overwork yourself. Save your energy. There’s also tomorrow.”
Sori grinned as Jiho convinced her. Even if it’s good to get stronger as a hunter, getting off of work early is always something precious for an employee.
“Then I will go in now! I will take a shower before I leave.”
“Should I give you a ride?”
“No, I brought a bike. Go back first, Guildmaster-nim.”
Sori smiled brightly and waved her hand before disappearing into the women’s shower. Yang Hojin, who had been standing without a sound until now, quietly came up to Jiho’s side.
“Can you give me a ride? I live near the guild…”
“Ah, of course I can give you a ride.”
Jiho smiled widely.
These days, while it seems like Yang Hojin has a hard time approaching Jiho sometimes, other times, he approaches Jiho without any constraints.
From a guildmaster’s perspective, Yang Hojin is a valuable healer. Jiho wants to become more familiar with Hojin and keep him in the guild. Jiho is… rather confident in his ability to get close to people.
‘Back when I didn’t know anything, I used to get close to everyone.’
Jiho used to go up to strangers and start a friendly conversation with them. Even though he didn’t have that many friends, he’s never thought that becoming familiar with someone was a hard thing to do.
But after becoming the ridicule of the country for a while, he started feeling intimidated.2
Isn’t it impossible not to care? There were even times where a meme, “Like Jiho,” floated around the internet as the face of scammers. Though it doesn’t seem like it’s still being used these days…
After getting into the car together, Jiho started the engine. Since Hojin doesn’t talk much, Jiho was going to initiate some small-talk, but Hojin spoke first.
“Does Guildmaster-nim’s skill have no penalty?’
“Penalty? Um… not really.”
Jiho answered lightly. Although [Absorption of the Celestial Sphere] has a small drawback where he faints when he absorbs too much mana, since he can control the amount of mana he absorbs, it’s not much of a penalty.
“That’s a relief.”
“Yes. Hm… how are you doing in the guild?”
“The atmosphere is a little uneasy because there’s a lot of people being kicked out… I prefer going to work at the training center than going to the guild.”
Does Yang Hojin feel uncomfortable that a lot of the guildmembers are being replaced?
Now that he thought about it, it was possible. As a new guildmember, Hojin might feel worried that his own employment is at risk if he sees that other guildmembers are about to be replaced.
Even though Yang Hojin can probably find a job anywhere since he’s a C-rank healer, there’s lots of people who don’t like guild-hopping.
Jiho darted his eyes back and forth and tapped on the handle.
“They’re not being chased out, it’s just that their contract period has ended. We ended contracts with people who asked for unreasonable conditions when renewing their contracts… If new guildmembers want, they can stay for a long time.”
“Hunter Yang Hojin’s contract is a one year contract, right? As long as it’s not too unreasonable, we will adjust your contract with better conditions when you renew it. You don’t have to be so worried.”
“Conditions… aren’t that important.”
“Is that so? But if Hunter Yang Hojin grows stronger while you’re in our guild and has the ability, you should receive the just treatment. Actually, based on what you do now, we could’ve added more money to your contract.
These weren’t empty words. They were true. Yang Hojin’s stats are high for a C-rank and he has a good sense for things. Based on how he moves without Jiho having to tell him to, he seems almost like a hunter who’s used to combat already.
“No… after all, the reason I entered the guild is to see Guildmaster Shin Jiho-nim.”
Jiho was so shocked that he almost made a mistake while driving. Jiho, who barely managed to avoid an accident with his instincts as a hunter, glanced at Yang Hojin. Compared to how blunt his words were, Hojin looked calm.
“…Hunter Yang Hojin…”
“Are you a reporter?”
There have been a couple of awakened reporters who snuck into the guild before under the excuse of revealing how corrupt Shin Jiho was.
“No. I’m not, so you don’t have to get so defensive…”
Just like usual, Hojin sounded insecure, and his words trailed off at the end. But everything suddenly felt suspicious after Jiho started doubting him once.
The fact that he joined the guild when they weren’t looking for new guildmembers, that he doesn’t try to get close to other people and stays by Jiho’s side, and even his curved eyes that always seem like they’re smiling3 all feel suspicious.
Upon receiving the eyes full of doubt, Hojin sweated as he explained.
“I’m really not… I’m just curious. Since you are the first hunter.”
“…There’s been a couple of people like that, but I’m really not all that.”
There were a lot of people who were simply interested in the title of “first” like Hojin is. But they all left after Jiho was revealed as a B-rank.
“That’s… from before.”
Unlike usual, Hojin spoke firmly.
Hojin, who has experienced what kind of power Jiho has now, knows well.
And he even knows that Jiho, like other hunters, is probably not showing all of his skills and hiding his power.
“Then what is Hunter Yang Hojin’s goal?”
“I, really don’t have a goal. Though I, did have a bit of interest. No Name had the best conditions of the guilds I could join…”
“So were you able to satisfy your curiosity?”
Yang Hojin’s eyes grew a little big from the slightly accusatory tone. But then a gentle smile appeared on Hojin’s face. Though he was good-looking, he used to come off as a little untrustworthy. But in that instant, Jiho suddenly felt like he could trust Hojin for some reason.
“Is there something else you want to know?”
Hojin’s eyes curved. He seemed strangely pleased.
“Guildmaster-nim g-grew up, in a… nice environment. And then you… suffered a bit.”
“It must have been quite hard. Why you continued being a hunter… is what I am most curious about. If it was me, I don’t think I would have been able to hold on…”
Hojin’s question was both unexpected and outside of Jiho’s expectations.
It’s something a lot of people have been curious about. There were a lot of people who asked him this straight to his face, and most of them asked him in order to entertain themselves. Jiho never answered that question from anyone who was trying to entertain themselves through him.
But… it didn’t seem like Hojin was teasing him. Although he was asking lightly, his gaze was sincere.
Does he have an ulterior motive, or is he truly just curious…
When Yang Hojin has [Blessing of the Star], it lasts about eight hours. Heo Sori lasts about twelve, and Lim Seung Joo about four. Most of the hunters that Jiho has never met before last for about three hours.
|Blessing of the Star (Lv. 1)|
|Explanation||A sacred blessing passed through the mana of the purest soul. |
Increases all of the stats of the receiver. Effect differs according to skill level, receiver’s favorability4 towards user, and existing mana. There is no limit to how much the stats can be increased.
However, the skill cannot be used on yourself.
Although it isn’t explicitly stated, Jiho is pretty sure that “receiver’s favorability” affects how long the skill lasts for each person. Heo Sori is pretty familiar with Jiho, and Lim Seung Joo isn’t much different from hunters Jiho meets for the first time.
If that’s so, then Yang Hojin’s level of favorability towards him… is quite high. Even though people can betray the people they like, Jiho wanted to try believing him.
It doesn’t matter if Hojin was just asking to grab a lead. It doesn’t matter if he’s trying to harm Jiho by throwing a question out as bait, and if it’s just curiosity, Jiho can simply satisfy it.
Jiho opened his mouth truthfully.
“There’s a lot of different reasons. The reason I wanted to become a hunter at first is… you might not believe this, but it’s because I wanted to protect people.”
“To protect people?”
“Yes. Hunter Yang Hojin probably knows this already, but… because my house is fairly wealthy, I didn’t start because of money. I didn’t really need glory either. Though I might need it a bit now since I was cursed so badly…”
Jiho trailed off and laughed. Although he wanted it to come off as a joke, Hojin’s face was serious. Jiho, too, stopped smiling and continued.
“I’m a B-rank. Of course, there was that rank scandal because of that, but since my rank is pretty useful, I wanted to help people. Even though Korea is pretty stable, no one knows how things will turn out later. If there’s something I can do, I want to do it the best I can. That was my thought at first. Now…”
His voice trembled slightly. Jiho pretended to be calm and cleared his throat.
“I also felt wronged about being cursed at. It would’ve been fine if I was the only one to be attacked, but it even hurt my family. That’s why I wanted to change people’s perception of me. That I’m not a corrupt hunter. That I’m upright… Something like that.”
“D-Did you not hate people? You could have thought that everyone should go off and die.”
“Pardon? To go that far just for being cursed a little…”
“It’s not just a little…”
“I sued the people who went overboard. People who touched my private life or family.”
Though he only sued the worst of the worst, he still sued a lot of people. He didn’t grant them leniency either.
After that, the internet was calm. Of course, they did continue to attack him while keeping within the line.
“But you could come to hate them, right? They’re people cursing at Guildmaster-nim… To protect those people…”
“No? Not at all. Those are two different things. Just because they cursed a little doesn’t mean they deserve to die. Punishing them through the law is punishing them, protecting them is protecting them. Being a hunter is something I can do, and something I should do. Though there’s times they’re annoying, it’s not something I need to be affected by.”
These are Jiho’s values.
All people deserve to be protected, life should be treated valuably, and awakened ones, who are called the “chosen people” of these times, have a responsibility to shoulder.
Though he did get caught up in all kinds of worldly things as a part of society. As he continues to run the guild, even if he calculates profits, the most valuable thing is another’s life.
1. Here’s a Wikipedia article about this mountain.
3. Here is a picture of his eyes:
4. I translated this as “attitude” before, but I think favorability fits better with the nature of this skill.