Chapter 5: Awakening

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Body firm supplied all the materials to companies who manufactured products using the hide and bones of monsters.

“Tankers receive 4 million won after handing the corpses over to Body firm.
The rest of the prices are as follows: 12 million won for 4th class corpses, 30 million won for 3rd class, and 100 million won for 2nd class.”

As expected, there was no mention of the 1st class price.

The reporter’s explanation continued.
It might have been boring to some people, but for Jiwoo, who was very much interested in the Hunter’s world, his ears perked up to listen further.

Jiwoo had heard about “Body firm” too.
It was common to see their company’s logo on large trucks.

Approximately 0.2 percent of Koreans were Hunters.
If 10 members formed an assault team, about 10,000 raids could be run a day.
Every raid, low-level Hunters would carry the carcasses out of the swamp.
From thereafter, Body firm took those bodies and diligently loaded them onto their trucks.
However, the full detail of their operations was not publicized.

“Body firm has Hunters who are professionals in dissecting and amputating the monsters’ corpses.
We call them ‘surgeons.’ A team of one surgeon and three low-level Hunters enter together to transport the bodies.”

It took a skilled surgeon around 30 minutes to dissect a monster 5 meters in size.
It was also a type of profession where there were differences in skill levels.

“Low-level Hunters are temporarily hired each raid to help with the transportation.
Those employed under Body firm would go around the swamp, after the raid is over, to bring out the dead bodies.
They receive 500,000 won in a day.
Once they have finished their tasks, they have to quickly relocate to another swamp.”

“There are many raids run throughout the day.
However, due to the lack of Hunters available to transport the corpses, swamps may disappear before they are able to haul them all out.”

Their role wasn’t anything special.
If someone met the raid’s requirements, they were better off participating in the raid.
There was no reason to persist with a dull job.
Just being a Long-distance Dealer earns them way more money than a transporter could ever earn.
How many people would eagerly continue to pursue a position belittled by other Hunters?

The reporter was about to say something they had prepared when they saw a low-level Hunter approaching.

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“As of this moment, Hunters are arriving at the scene to transport the carcasses.”

Reporters and cameras closed in on those lower-ranked Hunters.
The people in charge of transportation did not join the fight, so their outfits were normal.
There wasn’t much difference in what they wore compared to an average person.

“Hello.
May I borrow you for a short interview?” The reporter asked.

“I apologize, that will be a little difficult right now.
We have to move quickly since there are a lot of spots we have to hit today.” The low-level Hunter responded with a respectful tone.
He had an apologetic look on his face.

“Wait please, you can make it short.
When do you feel proud to be a Hunter?”

“I’m very sorry.
We have to get going now.”

The Hunters who weren’t caught by the reporter had already descended into the swamp.
The apologetic Hunter also set foot inside, his body smoothly disappearing in the water.

The reporter, missing the meal right in front of them again, stared at the camera.
Their expression seemed to say, “What do I do now?” Their line of sight was directed towards the side.
The cameraman most likely signaled them to do something, anything.

They approached the swamp and put their foot on the surface of the water.

“As you can see, this is the place where monsters dwell.
Now that the Hunters have dealt with them, this swamp is no longer dangerous.
Originally, it would have opened up on its own in 10 days.
But with Hunters being dispatched, the monsters have been slain and the swamp is set to disappear soon.
Now, when an ordinary non-Hunter like me, places my foot into the swamp…”

The reporter paused, glancing over at the camera.
They gulped once and pushed it down as if they had received encouragement from the cameraman to do so.
It sank until the ankle.
Although their ankle was submerged, that was all there was to it.

Even though the viewers knew that nothing would happen to them, people still got nervous for no reason.
The engagement level was high.

“…It doesn’t go any more than this.
Hunters, in contrast, have chakra control capabilities.
As you’ve seen earlier, they can enter the space below the swamp.
I also would like to show our viewers what it looks like underneath, but I am unable to enter further.
Isn’t it such a shame?”

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While the reporter was talking, low-level Hunters plunged out of the water beside them.
They carried body packs containing amputated carcasses on their shoulders.

“The Hunters are bringing out the corpses as we speak.
As I mentioned beforehand, ordinary people cannot enter the swamp, which is why Hunters are needed to transport the corpses.
After the bodies are brought out, ordinary workers can handle the dispatchment of materials.
All of this must be done within twelve hours of the monster’s death.
Once the 12-hour time frame expires, the swamp will disappear.”

An edited shot appeared on the screen.
The swamp next to the reporter disappeared like an illusion.
The reporter nodded with a smug look on their face, as if they had planned for it to happen.

“A swamp disappears around six months after it emerges.”

But as the reporter had previously stated, once the Hunters came out with the corpses, the swamp disappeared 12 hours after the monsters’ death.

However, new swamps popped up faster than they vanished.
Not knowing when or where they would appear, drones constantly roamed the skies to monitor and locate them.
When a new swamp was discovered, the Hunter’s Association calculated the time it would take before it naturally opened up.
They did so with the information sent by the drone.

Swamps appeared randomly regardless of the location.
However, there was never a case where it emerged indoors.
It could be considered as fortunate than not.
People have certainly taken it for granted now.

The reporter went on to lay bare the truth how being a Hunter was the hottest job of the century.

“Those who have passed the exams and have been approved as Hunters, are transferred into the F-ranks.
F-rank Hunters have low offense and defense, so it would be difficult to put them out into the field from the get go.
This is why they are mainly responsible for transportation duties.
However, even if you are an F-class Hunter tasked with this role, the income you earn is well above the average income of office workers.”

“It must be nice for them.
They’re set for life.
If they continue to raise their ranks, they’ll soon be able to participate in raids.
Dang.” The cashier, who had been quiet until now, spoke enviously.

“Won’t it be May 20th soon? I wonder how many Hunters there will be this time.” Jiwoo questioned.

“When I took the Hunter exam, a tattoo appeared on the arm of the person in front of me.
It was really amazing.
Among the hundreds of millions of lots he could draw, it seemed like he was pulling the winning ticket he needed.
He took his arm out of the swamp and then a strange, glossy, black tattoo was engraved onto it.
He must’ve had a lot of luck.”

“The person in front of you?”

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“Yes.
Following ‘F-class Dealer’, words like Attack, Defense, Chakra, and so on were suddenly inscribed on his clean arm.
It was like buds were suddenly sprouting.”

Jiwoo nodded to that.
The Hunter’s tattoo he saw at the mall came to mind.

“Should I just go find an actual tattoo artist and get a tattoo? While I’m at it, I’ll set both my offense and defense at 1200.
Why not cheat like that?” Jiwoo pondered.

He considered it but didn’t embrace the idea for long.
He didn’t know if it was possible to do or not.

He wasn’t the only one who had thought of that plan.
There were even people who put it to practice.
Due to the imposters running around, the Hunter Association’s security forces had their hands tied dealing with them.

Jiwoo gave up and snuffed out the idea.
He thought if he got caught, he might not live to see tomorrow.

The program was nearing the end.
The reporter briefly mentioned the appearance of a new swamp.
However, they only brought it up so they could say, “Nevertheless, we can sleep comfortably at night because there are Hunters beside us to protect us.”

***

Holding a bag of liquor, Jiwoo opened the front door of his house.
Lim’s electronics and goods came into view immediately.

This was the problem.
Even when he wanted to forget about his problems for a while, he couldn’t because of the stuff taking up his house.
He would chuckle and laugh as he watched TV, but once he turned his head, Lim’s items would be in his sight again.

The washing machine, wall-mounted TV, refrigerator, oven, and air conditioner, which had been unboxed, were put back into their respective boxes.

Jiwoo sighed and began to tidy up the house.
There was a limit to how much he could clean though.
His house, which wasn’t big in the first place, lost more space than before.
He tried to make more room by pushing the boxes to a corner as much as possible.

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He started sweating immediately.
Jiwoo went towards his water dispenser to grab a drink.
At that moment, he felt his chest clench up.
The suffocating feeling grew stronger as he approached the dispenser.
It was so extreme his desire to drink water almost disappeared.

“Is it because it’s stuffy inside?” Jiwoo wondered.

He went out to his veranda to open the doors before coming back.
He didn’t feel stuffy anymore so Jiwoo believed it was because of the bad air inside his house.

However, when he approached the water dispenser again, he suddenly felt woozy and stumbled without realizing it.
He almost collapsed on the spot, but he took a few steps forward, barely managing to hold on to the wall in front of his bathroom.
When he was near the bathroom, the woozy feeling went away.

It was a strange occurrence.
Jiwoo went into his bedroom questioning what was going on without finding an answer.
He lied down thinking it must have been because he was tired, but his mind was wide awake and he couldn’t fall asleep.

Unable to stand the curiosity any longer, Jiwoo went back to his living room, to the water dispenser next to the fridge.

He felt unbearably dizzy there.
Expecting the same thing to happen again, Jiwoo approached it carefully.
He was getting quite close, but there were no symptoms yet.

“I guess I was wrong.
My body must be acting strange.” As he said that, he thought of getting a drink now that he was there.

It struck him then, the wave of intense dizziness which made him almost vomit.
His surroundings began to shake around him as if an earthquake had hit.

Jiwoo staggered toward the sofa and sat down.
However, the feeling vanished again.
He couldn’t figure out what was happening to him.

“Is it anemia? Or is it because I got too much stress?”

Regardless, the symptoms didn’t last for long and disappeared within seconds.
Later on, even the dense Jiwoo caught onto one thing.
The fact that his dizziness and headaches became especially severe when he walked past the water dispenser.
After realizing this, he avoided passing by it.
Strangely enough, no such symptoms have appeared since.

He decided to go near it again to test if his theory was right, he almost passed out on the spot from the immense pain he got.

Puzzled by the phenomenon and unable to find an answer, Jiwoo suddenly became depressed and lost in his thoughts.

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