Chapter 1: Awakening

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Prologue

Year of 1995.

Mysterious swamps emerged all across the globe.
Although they were inherently different from the swamps formed in nature, people referred to them as such because of the resemblance.

When a swamp appeared for the first time, people were lost on how to handle the situation.
With no information on the scale of its impact, everyone was helpless in the face of the oncoming threat.

In the beginning, the swamp was about the size of a small mire.
However, it gradually grew over time.
It continued until the length of its radius reached 3 meters.
It took a while to discover that the radius grew by 0.5 centimeters a day.
Once it hits 3 meters in length, the swamp would open up.
Monsters, dwelling inside, would then spring out from below.

Most of the time, the creatures were much larger than the actual size of the swamp.
That didn’t make it impossible for them to come out.
Those who weren’t aware about any of this could do nothing as they were attacked by those beings.

People came to learn that swamps were the habitat of monsters.
In addition, a certain length in radius must be reached before they surfaced.
Even though this was a known fact, no one could find a way to deal with them for a long time.
Despite mobilizing the military and deploying their weapons, the troops were simply overpowered by the creatures.

That was until individuals called “Hunters” appeared before the very desperate.
Having the ability to control chakra, they wielded weapons emitting chakra to inflict damage upon their enemies.
If a heavily armed force, geared with modern weapons, dealt 10 damage after relentlessly shooting for an hour; Hunters, with chakra control capabilities, could inflict 50 to 1200 damage with a single attack depending on the rank of the damage dealer.

Now, more than 30 years have passed since swamps have appeared on Earth.
Humans and monsters have been coexisting together.
People were able to predict what type of creatures dwelled within just by looking at the border of the swamp.

At first, no one had a clue on what the border’s color meant.
But eventually, they found out the color changed depending on how dangerous the enemies were thus correlating to their strength levels.
For convenience purposes, the swamps along with its monsters were categorized into five classes.
Swamps with a dark brown border were inhabited by the weakest monsters, ranking them 5th Class.
The rest was as follows:

Class 5 – Dark Brown Border.
Class 4 – Dark Red Border.
Class 3 – Purple Border.
Class 2 – White Border.
Class 1 – Dark Green Border.

As of 2025, a swamp with a dark green border manifested.
The strongest monsters resided in this swamp therefore ranking it 1st Class.

Mentioned previously, more than 30 years have passed since the spawning of swamps.
During that time, countless raids have taken place where Hunters exterminated monsters through assault.
However, there was yet to be a precedent for success in clearing the 1st Class swamp.
Concerns did rise over what would happen if the raids at the 1st Class swamp failed.
There was speculation how it could cause enemies to emerge from the swamp once it hits 3 meters.
On the contrary, the 1st Class swamp did not grow.
In consequence, Hunters could enter to attack, but no creatures would come out.

As research on monsters progressed, it turned out their existence did not only bring disaster to mankind.
Hunters found low-grade ores from the monsters’ carcasses.
Those ores were called Rupstones¹; they would ignite when they reached a certain temperature.

While more studies were conducted, people realized the ores could be used as a source of energy.
Due to the depletion of fossil fuels, demand for new and renewable energy soared.
Rupstones began to garner attention as a highly-efficient and eco-friendly energy source.
Consequently, governments all around the world invested a ton of manpower into investigating how to apply Rupstones to their technology.
The growing support for the commercialization of these ores soon resulted in the complete replacement of fossil fuels.

As the supply and demand for Rupstones increased, their price steadily grew as well, adjusting to the monster’s class ranking.
The prices of the ores were as follows²:

Class 5 – $100 million.
Class 4 – $500 million.
Class 3 – $2 billion.
Class 2 – $5 billion.
Class 1 – $???

People could only guess approximately how much 1st Class Rupstones would fetch for.
However, the exact amount was not known because no one has ever hunted down a 1st Class monster before.

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Capitalizing on these ores became a way to generate income.
However, the corpse itself was much more versatile in its usage.
The organs were composed of various unique substances which did not exist in the human body.
This discovery led to major breakthroughs in the medical industry.
Thanks to the creatures’ internal parts, a path opened where it was possible to treat diseases that were previously classified as terminal or incurable.

The corpses were also utilized in construction sites due to its slow, corrosive, and deteriorating nature.
Its use was endless as it was even applied to manufacturing household appliances.

As for Hunters, they found the most value in the monsters’ hide and bones.
Their skin had special properties for resisting other monsters’ attacks so it was used to manufacture protective gear.
The bones were used to produce equipment and weapons that could amplify a Hunter’s offensive capabilities.

But what would happen if monsters cease to spawn in modern society?

Now, a world was unfolding, where such an assumption might be more frightening if it were to come true than not.

The heat seemed to have arrived earlier than expected.

Ahn Jiwoo, a sales rep for Lim Corporation, did a last-minute check.
He went through his bag one more time and looked at his brochure as if he were inspecting some tool.
He finished up by checking his reflection on the glass window.

“Perfect! You can do this, Jiwoo.
The world is yours for taking.”

Jiwoo was still at a point in time where he was curious about the world and held expectations for it.
While he was checking himself out in front of the glass window to someone’s store, Jiwoo was unaware that the people inside were staring at him.
He simply went on with what he was doing, straightening his necktie.
He thought there was nothing lacking in his appearance that could take away from him looking like a reliable expert.
He had good-looks and left a good impression.
Among clients, he was seen as a handsome guy and evaluated highly for it.

Jiwoo had steeled himself to deliver his sales pitch at the barber shop today.
He cleared his throat after he saw no customers inside the quiet shop.
As soon as Jiwoo opened the door and stepped inside, three hairstylists greeted him simultaneously.

“Welcome, sir.
Please take a seat.
What kind of hairstyle would you like? Do you have a specific one in mind?”

Whenever he was greeted like that, Jiwoo would wave his hands as if to express he had done something wrong.
His entrance was like an act of betrayal to those who welcomed him believing a customer had finally entered their empty store.
Although Jiwoo tricked himself into being confident, it didn’t last five seconds.

“Oh no, it’s not like that.
But I’ll definitely come here when I need to cut my hair.
Anyway, it’s nice to meet you.
I’m a sales representative from Lim Corporation.
I’m here to promote various of our great household appliances.
You’ve heard a lot about us, right? Have you ever used our products before?” Jiwoo smiled brightly as he recited the words he had prepared in advance.

“Geez.
Not this again.” Just like that, the mood was ruined.
It was as if someone had dumped water over the blazing firewood to extinguish it.

Seeing how he wasn’t a customer, the stylists dropped their service smiles and loosened up.
They still seemed to show some interest in him.
Had Jiwoo’s face been unattractive, he would’ve been treated coldly before being kicked out.
Thankfully, his face was carrying him hard.

Jiwoo presented a brochure and explained the advantages of Lim’s appliances.

“Lim Corporation is a rapidly growing company, ranked top 3 in the industry.
It’s steadily increasing its market share as well.
Many people are using our products already.
Have you heard about the new item we’ve just launched? It’s been on commercials these days.”

“Oh, the one Shin Jimin was in? I think I saw it.” Fortunately, a woman who appeared the youngest, responded to him.

“Ah, that one? That was Lim’s? But I heard they weren’t good at making household goods?” Another woman, who seemed to be the manager, said.

Jiwoo frowned.
There was always someone who put a damper on things wherever you went.

“Lim’s appliances are kind of mediocre.
You’re better off buying from Maritime.” Her attack continued.

“But still, I like the new design they released.”

Whenever Jiwoo heard something positive about Lim, he thought this was the time to jump in and win the customer over.
Sadly, Jiwoo’s chances to speak were repeatedly blocked by the spiteful Maritime defender.

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“Maritime came out with a new product too.
It’s the commercial that Im Jeong was in.
I ended up liking everything she promoted.”

“Lim uses Im Jeong as a model too.
Wouldn’t that make them reliable? Then again, is she going to advertise their products? Im Jeong will be busy filming ads for the top product in the industry… I wonder how many countries she saved in her previous life? She’s a skilled Tanker.
She also has a pretty face and a body that even females drool over.”

The women completely forgot that Jiwoo was pitching Lim’s goods to them.
He tried to reel the conversation, which was on Im Jeong, back to the main topic at hand.

“That’s right.
We want to feature Ms.
Im as a model for one of our commercials too.
Also, in terms of performance, Lim’s products are superior to—“

“Lim is superior in performance? Don’t be ridiculous.” Jiwoo’s comment was knocked down immediately

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