Necromancer Before Awakening Chapter 23

Episode 23: Twisted Prophecy (1)

Sejong City, the representative administrative city of South Korea.

Normally bustling with office workers, the streets now teemed with soldiers, journalists, newtubers, and hunters instead of local residents.

Numerous cameras were focused on the reporters and the mountain in the background, Wonsu Peak.

“Hello! This is HuntingTV, a channel specializing in hunter news. Right behind me, where the barricades are set up, is where a C-grade Gate, the highest difficulty level in the world, is expected to appear.”

Though the people filming varied, their descriptions uniformly centered around the Gate and the hunters participating in the hunt.

Among these, there was a repeated mention that stood out.

“This C-grade Gate, as prophesied by the ‘Prophet,’ a mysterious awakener employed by the government, has garnered special attention.”

Videos of the Prophet, who had predicted the emergence of multiple Gates and a radical change brought about by the awakeners, especially the powerful C-grade Gate, were shown.

Originally, these were meant to be shown confidentially during the awakeners’ grade assessments, but had been leaked from a secretly filmed source.

“Up to now, the C-grade Gate has only appeared in the United States. Even there, many S-grade and A-grade hunters barely managed to clear it. It remains to be seen if our country can independently clear it.”

While those around him mouthed off their opinions, Han Sung-hoon, the director of the National Crisis Management Center, sighed as though he found it all pathetic.

“What a bunch of nonsense.”

Lieutenant Han Si-yeon, standing next to him, bowed her head in embarrassment.

“I’m sorry. I tried to stop it, but….”

As her words trailed off, Director Han snorted.

“Stop it? The moment the existence of the Prophet was exposed, this situation became inevitable. Besides, you weren’t even in charge of the monitoring station where the video was leaked.”

He implied that it wasn’t her fault, but she still bowed her head under the weight of responsibility.

“What’s more important is whether we can clear the Gate. The United States made great sacrifices to clear a C-grade Gate. Can we really do it alone…?”

Director Han trailed off and looked resentfully at the foreigner sitting comfortably in the distance, observing the situation.

While appearing ordinary, knowing beforehand that they were foreign hunters from another country intensified his disdain.

“Some people find joy in watching troubles from across the river and come to spy so openly.”

“Still, you never know. It might seem unlikely, but they could help if a Gate break occurs…”

“Nonsense. What kind of delusional thinking is that?”

Director Han chuckled sarcastically.

“If a Gate break were to happen, they’d be the first to flee. Don’t they know how hunters are treated by countries now? It could easily escalate into an international issue.”

As Lieutenant Han Si-yeon struggled to find a response, the crowd suddenly surged towards one spot, their cameras at the ready.

Noticing their movement, Director Han glanced over, and Lieutenant Han quickly reported.

“It’s the strongest guild that has agreed to participate.”

The mention of the guild made his eyebrows twitch.

Organizations formed around powerful hunters came into existence not long after awakeners first appeared, to enhance their chances of survival.

Although the concept of ‘guilds’ wasn’t yet officially formalized, and there were fewer than ten guilds in the country, these groups, founded on the original purpose of gathering strong hunters, held considerable influence.

“The strongest guild? Are they the strongest because they are the best, or is it just the name?”

“It’s just the name, ‘The Strongest.’”

Lieutenant Han replied quietly, and Director Han laughed dryly.

However, regardless of his mockery, the hunters of The Strongest Guild stood proud, chests puffed out, introducing themselves to the focused cameras.

Though he sneered, among the people, this guild was popular, comprising over a hundred members, including many A-grade hunters.

Following the appearance of The Strongest Guild, hunters began to gather one by one to participate in the Gate hunting.

Lieutenant Han sequentially introduced The Strongest Guild, Dragon Guild, and Daehan Guild, while Director Han reviewed the documents with a sigh of relief.

“At least they are not nobodies. They drafted hunters with a minimum of B-rank, yet the guilds dispatched 80 members.”

“Yes, there are 100 participants allowed for the Gate, and it being a C-grade Gate, we selected only the best from domestic forces.”

Lieutenant Han finally found room to speak quickly.

Even in larger countries with greater populations, assembling such a high-caliber group of hunters was not easy, and to fill a quota with 100 B-grade and above was notable, easing Director Han’s stern expression slightly.

As he watched the guilds’ hunters handle interviews, something caught his attention, making him tilt his head.

“Who are those people?”

“Who are you referring to… Ah!”

Following his gaze, Lieutenant Han spotted a group led by Kang Sa-hu.

“Do you remember the hunter you rated EX-grade?”

“EX-grade? Ah, the one when the monolith got destroyed so the assessment was unclear, that exceptional hunter.”

He rubbed his forehead wearily.

With the emergence of hunters, there were too many concerns, and Kang Sa-hu, who had received the unprecedented EX grade, was among them.

“But why call this hunter? If it’s an EX grade, that means we can’t be certain of the rating. Has his competence been confirmed?”

At his sharp inquiry, Lieutenant Han swallowed.

“Yes, I personally confirmed and recommended him.”

“Hmm, if you say so.”

Rarely did Lieutenant Han make a personal recommendation, sparking Director Han’s interest as he looked more keenly at Kang Sa-hu.

* * *

Although other guilds had created their own NewTube channels and gained popularity through various TV shows, Kang Sa-hu and his group, lacking fame, were not among them.

The reporters did not swarm around them. Even the soldiers seemed to think they weren’t the hunters who participated in gate hunting, as they stopped them to check their identities and apologized. “They are treated differently from other hunters.” As Lee Yurim looked around and commented, Kim Homing replied, “That’s because other hunters have engaged in activities to increase their visibility. Some guilds even focused more on appearing on TV shows than on gate hunting.” “Well, hunters haven’t been around for long after all. And generally, they prefer to gain popularity comfortably rather than risk their lives in fights,” Bae Deokho added, understandingly, and Kang Jiye grumbled. “Geez, we’ve been toiling away just doing gate hunting… Brother! Let’s do something else once we’re out of the gate, not just chase after gates all the time!” “Alright, we’ll do that.” Kang Sahuh easily agreed, as there was no reason to object. Naturally, his permission was under the condition that he himself would not appear on TV or shoot videos for NewTube, but that was yet to be known. As all the hunters gathered to participate in the gate, a soldier began to gather them with a loudspeaker. As they had already been briefed in detail about the gate, no further explanation was necessary. When the hunters had gathered, Colonel Han Sung Hoon stood on the makeshift podium. “Thank you to all hunters who have ventured to participate in the hunting. The gate will form in 10 minutes, and the hunt will begin.” After looking around at the hunters, he paused briefly and, seeing the many cameras and drones in the sky behind the hunters, decided to keep his words short. “Please return safely after successfully completing the hunt. Thank you.” It was a surprisingly short speech, but as the hunters had already received detailed information about the gate through official communication, they welcomed his decision.

The hunters from various guilds, carrying the gear they had brought along, nervously stared at the spot where the gate would appear. The expected time came about 30 minutes earlier than anticipated, starting to form the gate. Usually, the timing was precise to the second, but due to the tension, both the soldiers and the hunters only thought, ‘This gate is a C class, maybe that’s why there’s a discrepancy in the timing’. The air buzzed as a blue circle appeared in midair, indicating the gate was fully formed. Being a C-class gate, it was over 10 meters high and wide. As the hunters were about to enter, soldiers lined up on either side of the gateway. “Company, attention!” At the command, the soldiers straightened up. Just as the hunters were about to proceed, the next command was shouted. “Salute to the hunters going out to protect our country!” “Salute!” The soldiers performed a crisp salute. Inspired by this salute, the hunters, who had been casually preparing to enter the gate, straightened up proudly and marched into the gate. “Wow… impressive…” Kang Jiye also felt moved as she looked around at the soldiers saluting them, and awkwardly returned the salute with a solemn expression. Unknowingly, among those participating hunters, there were young ones like Kang Jiye; seeing her, the eyes of a few soldiers widened with a mix of concern and pride. As the hunters entered the gate, followed by the group of soldiers, the gate slowly tinted yellow. Upon the entry of all 100 hunters permitted, it visibly changed color.

As the hunters entered, hunters from other countries were seen making calls or sending messages on their phones. At that moment, Colonel Han Sung Hoon silently watched the gate sensor officer Lieutenant Han Si Yeon had entered, with a hardened expression. A soldier rushed towards him from a tent. “Sir, an urgent matter for you!” Colonel Han sighed. He had been immersed in the sentiment of protecting the country as a soldier, but the interruption annoyed him. However, because it was unusual for a soldier to come directly to him, he nodded and acknowledged the salute. “What’s the matter?” “I’m sorry to interrupt without following procedures, but there’s a call from the hotline!” At the mention of ‘hotline,’ his face tensed immediately. The gate had just formed, and the hunters had just entered for hunting when there was a call from the hotline? This was no ordinary matter. Colonel Han snatched the receiver and stated his rank. “Communications secured, Colonel Han Sung Hoon speaking. What’s the matter…” Before he could finish, a shouting voice burst from the other end. [Hold the operation! Tell everyone to stand by, do not let anyone into the gate. There are still 5 minutes until the gate is supposed to form. Do not allow anyone to enter!] “Communications security? What do you mean?” As Han Sung Hoon asked in confusion, sudden screams erupted around them. Startled, he looked around to see hunters, soldiers, and reporters alike pointing and screaming at the gate. Following their gaze, Colonel Han’s eyes widened in horror. [The prophecy was wrong! Just got word from the prophet!] The explanation continued over the phone, but his eyes were fixed on the gate, which was expanding, pushing away trees by their roots, and crushing a military vehicle like it was paper. [This isn’t a C-class gate! Do not let the hunters in! This isn’t something our country can handle alone. We need to gather hunters from all over the world. This gate is like nothing we’ve ever faced before…!] Listening to the continued shouting over the phone, Colonel Han lifted his face distorted with astonishment. As he tilted his neck back to see the end, [It’s a B-class!!] At that moment, the gate, now at least 20 meters high and wide, ominously gazed back at the world like an ominous eye.

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