Necromancer Before Awakening Chapter 22

Chapter 22: The Shadow Meister

A few days later.

Team leader Im Chang-ju reported the demands of Gang Sa-hoo to the higher-ups, and after detailed adjustments, he sent a message that the conditions had been revised in the direction Gang Sa-hoo wanted. Likewise, receiving a positive response from Lieutenant Han Si-yeon, Gang Sa-hoo contacted his colleagues and went to meet a blacksmith who made weapons and armor.

“Wow, I never thought there would be an Awakener in our country who could make Artifacts!”

“And that too, an Awakener affiliated with the National Intelligence Service. It seems that various institutions are also making efforts to secretly recruit hunters.”

Meister.

Originally meaning a master or an expert, it now refers to people who have awakened abilities to manufacture necessary items such as weapons and armor for hunters. After the Gate Break incident, feeling the limitations of modern technology in firepower battles, hunters naturally began to use cold weapons as their primary armament. The concept of a Meister, first started in the West, was still a relatively new concept in Korea, which quickly adopted the necessary trends faster than most countries.

Kim Ho-myung was amazed as he looked at the workshop, where smoke rose from a chimney. The building, large enough to be used as an office space of nearly 165 square meters, was three stories tall, and the sound of hammers echoed ceaselessly from within.

“Hello~”

Kang Ji-ye called out loudly as she entered the building, but no reply came. The group, puzzled, walked toward the source of the hammering sounds until they saw a figure pounding on an anvil.

“Uh, ahem!”

Baek Deok-ho turned around awkwardly as he approached her, because she, being alone here, was dressed in a very casual manner. Wearing baggy overalls and a tank top, she was hammering intensely but looked up, startled upon sensing their presence.

“Ah! You scared me! What are you guys doing here?!”

As she shouted over the loud clangs of metal, Gang Sa-hoo stepped forward.

“Hello. We came on behalf of the National Intelligence Service. Are you Park Ju-hee?”

“What? You picked up just a few days ago, and again?! You really don’t give me any break!”

Park Ju-hee undid her carelessly tied white bob hair and grumbled in annoyance.

“The things I made are on the second floor, so just take them. And why are you here already? There’s still time left before the due date!”

It seemed she had endured quite a bit from the NIS, as she asked irritably. While others were taken aback by her brusque demeanor, Gang Sa-hoo simply shook his head nonchalantly.

“We are not from the NIS. We are hunters.”

“What?! Then you’re outsiders?! How did you get in?!”

Park Ju-hee, alarmed, gripped her hammer like a baseball bat, glaring at them with suspicion. Not fazed by her reaction, Gang Sa-hoo gingerly pulled out a paper he had printed and unfolded it to show her.

“It’s too far, can’t see!”

“…Then, I’ll come a bit closer.”

Approaching her cautiously as if approaching a wild animal, Gang Sa-hoo held out one palm and the paper in his other hand at a low stance. Despite the beast-like caution in his approach, both his colleagues and Park Ju-hee were visibly confounded, yet she did not relax her grip on the hammer, watching the paper intently.

Then, as Gang Sa-hoo came close enough for her to see the writing on the paper and the official seal of the NIS,

“Such bastards, deserving a blow to the head with this anvil!”

Park Ju-hee, infuriated, slammed her hammer against the wall.

Crash!

“Ah! It’s collapsing!”

Kang Ji-ye screamed as the loud noise filled the building, clutching Eui-rim’s arm tightly. However, Eui-rim calmly patted her back and shook her head.

“It’s okay. It hasn’t collapsed.”

“Really?”

“Don’t make a fuss. Why would I destroy my own workshop?”

As Kang Ji-ye reacted, Park Ju-hee cleaned up the forge sternly.

“So, you wanted to choose my items?”

“Yes, that’s correct.”

The first condition from the NIS.

Park Ju-hee’s expression remained indifferent as Gang Sa-hoo explained the benefit of meeting the blacksmith personally to choose items, rather than just receiving whatever the NIS had provided.

The group scattered to find items that suited each individual. Park Ju-hee, seemingly uninterested, sat down on a chair and quenched her thirst by gulping down a drink she had taken out from somewhere. “Always pretending, those ostentatious fools.”

Though she pretended to choose thoughtfully, Park Ju-hee smirked derisively at Kim Ho-myung, who was easily distracted by the flashy appearances of objects. After a sudden shift in the world enabled her to become a hidden class capable of creating various artifacts, she was initially excited to fully utilize her skills, which were rooted in the family tradition of craftsmanship.

However, the initial thrill and passion with which she had crafted her works faded as she joined the National Intelligence Service, mechanically producing objects that maximized efficiency in the shortest possible time as per contract, losing her passion and expectations over time. Her craftsmanship, dismissed for its plain appearance, and her intentions, completely disregarded by those who only laid out their desires, shattered her pride as a blacksmith.

And now, merely replicating items as desired by others, her work had lost all meaning beyond being a job. “How did it come to this?” she sighed, once dreaming of becoming a great Meister who used her awakening skills to provide exceptional items to hunters.

As she was deep in thought, a rustic black robe and a ring were placed on the desk where she sat. Surprised, she looked up to find Kang Sa-hoo looking at her with a gentle expression. “I’ll take these.”

“…Look at this. No eye for quality. Don’t you see the other items around? Why choose this worn-out failure deliberately? Are you mocking me?” Despite Park Ju-hee’s sharp tone, Kang Sa-hoo shook his head.

“No. These are the finest items I could choose from there.”

“…What?”

“Wow! Brother, you chose well!” As she was baffled by his remark, Kang Ji-ye likewise placed her chosen items on the desk — a dusty, unpolished staff and a white robe.

“Wow, did these exist? Maybe moody, but your skills are truly exceptional. The soul and effort are melded into each item.”

“…What, what are you all?” As Park Ju-hee got up agitated, Kang Ji-ye quizzically replied playfully, “Well, aren’t you a hunter?”

“I know that! How did you pick these?” Park Ju-hee shrieked as Kang Ji-ye widened her eyes in surprise.

“How? By picking the best!”

“These are failures from when I knew nothing! And you call these the best?”

“Yes, they are indeed the best.”

Kang Sa-hoo continued calmly, “Items crafted with heart and dedication carry a spirit, melding soul and effort. Such items cannot be made with mere sincerity.”

Understanding his somber explanation, Park Ju-hee’s eyes twitched. Kang Sa-hoo gazed back gently, “Truly a masterpiece. Thank you for making these.”

“What’s there to thank? Did I make them for you kids to take?”

Turning away, Park Ju-hee responded grudgingly, but Kang Ji-ye tilted her head in confusion. “Huh? Are you crying?”

“Who’s crying!” Park Ju-hee screamed, startling Kang Ji-ye, who responded abruptly. “If you don’t want, don’t, but why get mad?”

“Quiet! Take these if you want, but no exchanges!”

“Ha! Even if you asked, I wouldn’t return them!” Despite her sharp reply, Kang Ji-ye carefully picked up her chosen items and briskly walked away.

Watching her leave, Kang Sa-hoo sighed tiredly. “My apologies for any rudeness. I’ll be leaving too.” As he collected the ring and robe, Park Ju-hee casually asked, “I said one weapon and one armor. Why the ring?”

“It may be shaped like a ring, but it was made as a weapon with magical enhancing abilities.”

“…So it wasn’t a coincidence.” Satisfied with his answer, Park Ju-hee, smiling faintly, took out her phone and handed it to Kang Sa-hoo. “Give me your number. I’ll custom-make items for you two next time.”

Surprised, Kang Sa-hoo input his and Kang Ji-ye’s numbers into her phone and pressed call to save them. “Thank you. I’ll see you next time.”

His calm demeanor contrasted with her disbelief, causing her to chuckle. “You’re not ordinary. Are you the leader of this group?”

“Insufficient as I may be, yes.”

“I heard you’re challenging a C-grade gate. Make sure to return alive. Then I can craft much better items for you.” Her passion stirred anew by his gratitude, she decided this was the best gift she could offer him.

He looked at her, astonished. When he cautiously asked, “Might you also craft something for my comrades?” her eyebrows arched.

With a sigh, she reluctantly nodded, “Fine, but I can’t promise the same attention as I’d give you two.”

“That’s enough. Thank you.”

After he expressed his gratitude and left, the lively spark within Park Ju-hee rekindled an almost forgotten passion as she contemplated the two prized items they had chosen.

Just as her passion flared, the other three members hurried over, each placing their chosen items, clearly selected by appearance alone. Her ignited ardor felt doused by their superficial choices.



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