Solo Leveling Novel, Chapter 76
Solo Levelingi 76
On that crossroad in the past, Jinwoo had selected the Blessed Random Box over the Cursed Random Box . It was from that Blessed Random Box that he had obtained the Demon Castle Key . Through that key, he had earned many things . Level-ups, new items, and… so much gold that he was starting to worry if he had to start spending it .
‘Even if the same choice was presented to me, I would pick the Blessed Random Box . ’
However, that didn’t mean that he was not curious about what the other choice would have resulted in . The blessed box that would give him what he “wanted”, and the cursed box that would give him what he “needed” . Just what was the thing that he “needed” from the cursed box?
‘The Blessed Random Box certainly had what I wanted . ’
And now, Jinwoo had the opportunity to finally satisfy his curiosity .
‘ . . . ’
Jinwoo waited for the System’s reply with an anxious heart . For some reason, the System appeared to be more delayed in its response than usual .
Abating his worries, the System’s reply came a moment later,
You’ve chosen the “Cursed Random Box” . The chosen item will now be provided .
A small box appeared in front of his feet .
With a shaking heart, Jinwoo picked up the box . He was shocked when he picked it up; its weight was very familiar to him .
Could it be?
Jinwoo quickly opened the box . His eyes were widened .
“ . . . This is?”
After leaving the Demon Castle, Jinwoo quickly headed home . The first thing he wanted to do was wash-up . It was a luxury not afforded while being in the Dungeon for a week . Although he could obtain water from the System’s shop, he had neither the time nor the place to clean his body .
‘After all, showering while being in a place packed with monsters is a bit…’
Feeling the heat of the water wash over his body, the Hunter finally felt like he had left the Dungeon .
‘This is why home is the best . ’
After showering, Jinwoo had changed into a fresh set of clothes and sat on the bed with a wet towel draped over his head . It was time to review some things . First, he pulled up the status screen .
‘Status screen . ’
Screens filled with enough words to spin one’s eyes appeared . Jinwoo’s gaze stopped at the stat screen .
Available stat points: 20
The bonus stat points from the quest was neatly waiting for his decision . Of course, Jinwoo put it all into intelligence .
Stats Strength: 178 Constitution: 137 Agility: 147 Intelligence: 149 Sense: 119
Finally, intelligence began to overtake the other stats . It was not quite at the strength stat’s level, but compared to the past, it had made an amazing progress .
Strength, Constitution, Agility, Intelligence, Sense .
A balance was forming across the attributes .
‘There are no wasted stats . ’
Before he knew it, he underwent periods where he had solely invested into a single attribute . Periods where he had solely invested into strength, periods where he had solely invested into agility, and lately, the period where he had solely invested into intelligence . Now, he fully understood that each stat had its own benefits and uses .
Now that he had reached this point, what if he just distributed his points evenly across the board from now on?
An All-Stat Player .
A desire for something like that appeared in Jinwoo’s mind . It was a rather happy quandary, born out of knowing that not a single attribute was useless .
‘Once intelligence reaches the level of strength, let’s raise the other stats accordingly . ’
Having made his decision, Jinwoo turned to the skill screen . The third reward was in that space .
Reward 3 . Unknown Reward
Because of just how great the first and second rewards were, Jinwoo had not paid much attention to this unknown third reward, having looked at it with a passing curiosity . Still, he was not a man to ignore any reward given to him .
Reward 3 will now be provided .
What appeared in his hand with the message was a scroll, similar to the Entry Permits from the Demon Castle .
Surprised at the reward giving him an unexpected item, Jinwoo unfurled the scroll .
Recipe: Holy Water of Life  Learn how to craft the “Holy Water of Life” .
Jinwoo’s eyes widened .
‘I can make an item myself?’
Only the Mage-class Awakened Beings could make weapons with magic power… Oh wait, he was technically a Mage-class now .
‘Still, to think that I can make an item if I just have the recipe…’
Jinwoo heart began to race . At the same time, a question appeared in his mind . Just what exactly could he make?
‘What’s a Holy Water of Life?’
Jinwoo read over the item information of Holy Water of Life on the recipe scroll .
Holy Water of Life Rarity: S Type: Consumable Heal any and every illness . Effects will only be shown after a full bottle is used . It is a divine potion filled with a powerful magic to cure every sickness .
‘Cure… every sickness?’
The moment he read the words, Jinwoo thought of his mother in the hospital . Through his experiments with Yoo Jinho, Jinwoo knew that potions can be used on other people . If he could truly obtain this Holy Water of Life, it meant that he could save his mother . The hands that held the scroll trembled in excitement . The ingredients were simple .
‘Fragment of the World Tree . ’
Was obtained after killing Volkhan on the 50th Floor .
‘The Spring Water from the Echoing Forest’ 
Was obtained after killing Metus on the 75th Floor .
And the last ingredient .
‘ . . . The Purified Blood of the Demon King . ’ 
This was the only item he had not obtained yet . However, looking at the floors he had gotten the two ingredients, it was clear to him where the last would come from .
The top of the tower .
‘It’ll probably come from the final boss of the Demon Castle on the 100th Floor . ’
As such, clearing the Demon Castle Dungeon would net him all the ingredients to craft the Holy Water of Life .
It was in this moment Jinwoo realized,
“Ah . ”
He uttered without thinking . The shock of his realization was that great .
What if… the thing that he “wanted” from the Blessed Random Box was this Holy Water of Life?
His eyes glistened with tears at the thought of seeing his mother healthy again .
You may learn a crafting skill through Recipe: Holy Water of Life Would you like to learn the crafting skill?
At the electronic tone, Jinwoo snapped back to reality . To craft the Holy Water of Life, he had to succeed in conquering the Demon Castle . In order to accomplish that, he had to quickly obtain the proper raiding gear and return . There was no time to be lost in his feelings .
“ . . . Teach me . ”
You’ve learned how to make Holy Water of Life
‘This is not a dream, is it?’
As if reminding him, the skill screen now showed a section for crafting skills .
Crafting Skills -Consumable: Holy Water of Life (2/3)
The numbers at the end probably referred to the number of ingredients he had on hand .
‘Oh right . Forgot about this . ’
Jinwoo took out an item next to the Spring Water in the inventory . It was a necklace made out of skulls of small animals .
The Monarch of Demons’ Necklace Rarity: S Type: Accessory Agility +20, Intelligence +20 Set: The Crown Jewels of the Monarch of Demons 1 . The Monarch of Demons’ Earrings 2 . The Monarch of Demons’ Necklace 3 . The Monarch of Demons’ Ring Set Bonus: 1 . ??? (2 Items) 2 . ??? (3 Items)
The Spring Water from the Echoing Forest wasn’t the only thing he had earned from the Guide of Souls . He had also obtained this rather distasteful looking necklace filled with bad vibes .
‘Why are all these necklaces like this…’
Jinwoo’s face scrunched at thinking about the dog collar he was “wearing” right now . He held the Monarch of Demons’ Necklace to his neck .
Would you like to replace the “Gatekeeper’s Necklace” with the “Monarch of Demons’ Necklace”?
The boost from the two items were pretty similar . Both of them increased two stats by 20 . However, the new item had a set effect .
The “Monarch of Demons’ Necklace” has been equipped .
The skull necklace disappeared and was replaced with a dog collar in Jinwoo’s hand . He put away the dog collar into his inventory and checked the set bonus of the Crown Jewels of the Monarch of Demons .
The Monarch of Demons’ Necklace . . . Set Bonus: 1 . All Stats +5 (2 Items) 2 . ??? (3 Items)
‘All stats increased by five . ’
Just a single set bonus was equivalent to increasing his levels by five, and there was still one set bonus remaining .
‘The Monarch of Demons’ Ring…’
Usually in video games, the set bonuses became better and better as you equipped more items in the set . In that line of thinking, the unrevealed set bonus should be something crazy .
Still, the S-rank equipments he had earned were but the side benefits of his time spent in the Demon Castle .
The true benefit was the great leap he had made in his levels . Jinwoo looked at the progress he made while climbing 77 floors and smiled .
‘I went up 16 levels in one week . ’
It was a speed unthinkable in the C-rank Dungeons . This was the result of his efforts spent in the wild(?) for seven days . Of course, he still had business left in the place, but the Demon Castle Raid was an incredible success .
‘But there’s this…’
One thing he could not understand . Jinwoo held the item from the Cursed Random Box under the light from a lamp .
‘What is this?’
It was a black key that seemed to absorb all light . No information box popped when he stared at it .
‘I’ve never had the information box not pop up from an item from the System…’
Just Instant Dungeon Keys were rare enough from normal Random Boxes, but he had never seen something like this before .
‘Where do I even use this?’
Because it was an item from a “cursed” box, he did feel a little anxious holding it . Still, it was something that had been earned with effort, so he couldn’t just throw it away .
‘I’m sure I’ll find a use for it someday . ’
After all, the Cursed Random Box did say it’ll give him something he needed .
Returning the key back to the inventory, Jinwoo stood up . Now, he had to focus on obtaining artifacts to help clear the Demon Castle .
‘And there’s something I want to sell . ’
However, the problem was that an E-rank Hunter could not easily buy or sell high-level artifacts . If a low-ranking Hunter (and Jinwoo was known to be the weakest) put up an item for auction (an item that even high-rankers would be pressed to obtain), who wouldn’t be suspicious of him? Same goes for buying . With the title of “E-rank Hunter” attached to him, it was hard for Jinwoo use the funds he had amassed .
‘It’ll be hard to explain where I want to use the artifacts too . ’
And so, he had to overcome this awkward situation .
“Is it time…”
Time to cast aside the facade of the E-rank .
Ranking Retest .
It was time for him to earn his true ranking .
The Hunter’s expression became serious .
‘At my current level, I probably won’t be used by others against my will . ’
From the start, that was one of the objectives of leveling up . To prevent a stronger power from forcing him under their control, Jinwoo had masqueraded as an E-ranker .
But now? He was able to stand face to face against Baekho’s Guildmaster Baek Yoonho . No, even if it wasn’t Baek Yoonho, he was confident that he could remain strong in front of anyone . There was no longer any reason to hide his powers .
ba dum, ba dum, ba dum
Thinking about throwing away that annoying title of “E-rank” that plagued his past, Jinwoo’s heart began to beat faster .
There was one thing he had to check . Jinwoo turned on his Hunter phone . After a week of no contact, his phone was filled with missed calls and messages . Most of them were unknown numbers . He felt sorry, but he did not particularly want to check who they were .
‘If it’s urgent, I’m sure they’ll call again . ’
With a cool mind, he kept going down the call history and found the number he wanted . Jinwoo called the number .
Before the song even finished a verse, the person on the other end picked up the phone with an incredible speed .
Was he in the Dungeon for that long? To think that this brat’s voice would sound so welcoming . Jinwoo smiled and opened his mouth,
“Did the talk with your father go well?”
– “Yes! It went well, hyungnim!”
That was good to hear . Jinwoo did not want to take the retest while Yoo Jinho and his father’s deal was not completed . And if their side was all good, he had no problems anymore . He had guessed that Yoo Jinho’s happy greeting meant good news, but hearing it from the young man’s mouth gave him the assurance he needed .
– “Hyungnim! I was actually going to go see you about-”
The call was suddenly ended . Jinwoo checked his phone; it had died because the battery ran out .
‘Well… I did forget to charge it before going into the Demon Castle . ’
Still, it was good that he was able to confirm Yoo Jinho had succeeded . Jinwoo changed his clothes . The Association HQ was not far from here . He could finish the retest in an instant .
“Oh right . ”
Jinwoo was half way out of the door and quickly came back in . He forgot about his little sister . She would probably worry if her brother, who said he’d be home after a week, left the house again without a word . He left a brief note on the kitchen table .
[Oppa came home and left . ]
With a satisfied smile, Jinwoo left the house .
It had been a long time since Jinwoo had stood before the Awakened Being Ranking Test Office .
‘Has it been four years?’
Maybe five? With a nostalgic face, Jinwoo walked up to the employee at the reception desk . The employee didn’t even look up,
“Your proof of identity and contact information please . ”
Remembering how the proceedings went last time, Jinwoo put down the documents he had already prepared .
The employee looked at Jinwoo’s proof of identity and tilted his head,
“This is a Hunter’s License . ”
“Yep . ”
The employee looked confused,
“If you have any complaints about the results of your rank, that’s for a different office . ”
“No, I’m here for a retest . ”
The employee looked back and forth between Jinwoo’s face and the license then put up a finger,
“O-one moment . ”
The employee stood up and went behind him to a middle-aged man who looked like he had a temper .
“Deputy, some Hunter came here for a retest, what should I do?”
“Retest? What’s his current rank?”
“E-rank, sir . ”
The deputy looked behind the employee at Jinwoo .
“It happens from time to time . Deluded Hunters who come here, unable to accept their reality . ”
“So you think that man is?”
The deputy nodded,
“Reawakened my ass… He’s just unable to accept the fact that other Hunters earn a ton and are more famous than him . ”
“Ah . ”
“People like that become a headache if you entertain them for too long . Just tell him that he’ll have to pay the retest fee and send him to the testing building . ”
“Yes, sir . ”
Having rid of his worries, the employee returned to the reception desk . The deputy stared at the employee and Jinwoo and clicked his tongue, then returned his gaze to his computer . Suddenly, the deputy’s fingers stopped . That Hunter’s name… He felt like he had heard it before .
‘Where was it?’
After the man disappeared off to the testing building, he quietly went up to the employee .
“That E-rank Hunter just now, what was his name?”
“It was Sung Jinwoo . Do you know him?”
“No, I don’t think so . ”
But the deputy couldn’t shake the feeling he had heard of the name before . Combing over his memories, he suddenly realized and widened his eyes .
That man had asked him! To let him know if a Hunter named Sung Jinwoo came to the testing office . Why didn’t he remember?! The deputy disappeared to a corner and quickly called someone .
– “Hello, this is Baek Yoonho . ” 
“Ah, Guildmaster Baek . It’s about that Hunter you asked about before . That Hunter Sung Jinwoo . He really came here . I mean, how did you know he would come?”
– “Sung Jinwoo-ssi came to the testing office?”
“Yes, he just requested a retest just now . ”
– “ . . . ”
The deputy thought the call was ended, but a moment later, an urgent voice continued across the phone,
– “Could you please delay his testing, even for a little bit? I’ll be right there . ”
The deputy tilted his head .
Was he mistaken? That Baekho’s Guildmaster’s voice sounded anxious .
‘What a strange day . ’
Unfortunately, the matter was already out of his hands . The deputy scratched his temple and replied,
“Er… He already left for the testing building . ”
: “Recipe: Holy Water of Life” (도안: 생명의 신수): two parts here to go over,
1 . “Recipe” (도안): lit . “design” . “Design” is probably more appropriate in context of learning new crafting items, but I went with “recipe” since the crafting item in question is a consumable .
2 . “Holy Water of Life” (생명의 신수): “life” 생명 + “god” 신 + “water” 수 . Closest cultural approximation of “god water” (신수) is the ceremonial water used in certain east asian religious rites, so I decided to go with “holy water” .
: “Spring Water from the Echoing Forest” (메아리 숲의 샘물): quite literal . “Echo” 메아리 + “forest” 숲 + “spring water” 샘물
: “Purified Blood of the Demon King” (정화된 악마왕의 피): quite literal . “Purified” 정화된 + “demon king” 악마왕 + “blood” 피 . Please note that this is one of the reasons why I translated 군주 as “Monarch” and not “King” . It’s because the word 왕 (“King”) exists, and that word can only be really used for “King” .
: corrected a mistake on the original . Baek Yoonho’s name is written as Baek Yoonhob . ?
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Solo Leveling Novel Chapter 76
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