Chapter 108: Dominator (Part 1)
“Lately, we hear the sound of someone weeping every night in the attic…”
“My next-door neighbors took off in the middle of the night, and I don’t know what they did, but now, there are maggots and slime everywhere. There’s also a really foul smell.
“My parents passed away, and not long ago… Yes, they’ve become zombies…”
“A spider has laid its eggs in the shed!”
“I will start going to the academy tomorrow.”
Only when the last train was about to leave, did Leona and Zin return to the Nest. There wasn’t much Leona could do, but she watched how Zin go about his hunting missions in a business-like manner.
After solving five cases, he had acquired a total of 930 chips and extracted 98 chips from the monsters. That meant that his total revenue was over 1,000 chips, an impressive haul for a single day.
It was obvious that Zin was qualitatively different from other hunters. Whatever the request was, he knew the exact solution.
Having spent the day with Zin, Leona realized that she had misunderstood something about the hunter. Even after spending quite a bit of time together, her preconceived ideas had still been there.
Zin did kill while on jobs, but he often chose solutions that didn’t involve killing.
In the case of ghosts, he wrote and placed holy prayers all over the house to drive them out.
“If you kill a ghost recklessly, it can lead to more damage. It’s just sobbing for now, but more dangerous ones could come later. So, make sure to put these up for about a month, and this house will be immune to ghosts.
At first, the client didn’t fully trust him, but after witnessing Zin drive out ghosts with a demon-busting flute, he had no choice but to believe. Zin was a hunter, but he understood that just killing everything could lead to bigger problems later.
Rather than just addressing the problem at hand, he tried to find solutions to the problem on a fundamental level.
Once he got rid of the maggots and slime, he found out why they had been there. The maggots had been there because of the dead body buried under the floor. This led to the discovery that a neighbor who had suddenly gone missing had actually been killed by the ones who had left in the middle of the night.
He had inadvertently solved the missing persons and was paid an additional two hundred chips from another client.
In the case of the spiders, he threw a lit bunch of dried poisonous herbs in the shed and used the poisonous smoke to kill them. That was a very effective solution because the smoke reached and killed the larvae hiding in every corner.
After putting the zombies that had come back to life to sleep, he insisted that there needed to be a proper burial in order to prevent that from happening, and he and the client conducted the funeral in accordance with shamanistic procedure.
Watching the process, Leona had a strange thought.
“The hunter is so different from who I thought he was.”
All four cases could have been solved through violence, but Zin only used violence when needed. The only time he had used the knife and fought had been when trying to clean out the mice during the first job.
In other cases, he looked more like a pseudo-doctor or shaman, more well-versed in folk remedies than a hunter.
“You should always try to reduce the risk.”
Zin never fought when he did not have to fight, to the point that it was better to call him a quarantine officer or rescue worker.
“Anyone too quick to fight is not a hunter, but a warrior. And probably a novice.”
More experienced hunters knew how to solve things without a fight. As much as knowing how to fight, knowledge and experience were important to hunters.
“Now that I think about it, you’re right. Using violence when you don’t need to seems like something fools would do.”
Clearly, this time was useful and beneficial as Leona was learning tips she could use in real battles. She thought that although Zin’s style was boring and lacking in urgency, it was clearly a good one in terms of safety and efficiency.
Honestly, trying to solve everything by fighting was foolish. When Leona said so, Zin suddenly said something different.
“Don’t be so harsh.”
“You know that there’s someone like that among us.”
But even before Leona could think of someone who approached everything head on, Zin pointed ahead.
“There he is.”
Ramphil looked at Zin and Leona, who were returning in frayed clothes.
“… Why are you looking at me with those eyes?”
Apparently, they’d been busy solving cases here and there that day.
Zin took Ramphil and reported the jobs he had solved that day. It wouldn’t have been a big problem not to mention it, but it would not hurt to report them to the Nest. Zin had finished five cases, and Ramphil had finished three; all were monster hunts.
The clothes Ramphil had been wearing that day came back like rags, so Zin had to finally get him some clothes that hunters wear in the Nest.
The good things about big cities were its advanced technology and that they could use water from water tanks. Zin, Ramphil, and Leona washed themselves clean with soap and changed into their new clothes.
“How do you like working on jobs?”
“The monsters in the city seem much smaller and more annoying than the big, strong ones.”
Small monsters inevitably dug into every corner, so they couldn’t hurt much, but your clothes got ruined.
“But it wasn’t too bad. I’m sure that once I get the hang of it, my clothes won’t be ruined.”
Ramphil had impressive combat capabilities, so he took the approach of beating everything up without any hesitation. If ghosts showed up, he could deal with them with the photon sword.
If Zin solved cases the hunter way, Ramphil did it the warrior way. Anyway, Zin and Ramphil were both very skilled in very different ways, so solving cases was not a problem.
“Let’s settle our earnings.”
Zin’s earnings that day totaled 1,038 chips, and Ramphil brought in 653 chips. Zin had considerably more thanks to the extra earnings. Leona wagged her tongue at the pile of chips in front of her eyes.
“This is crazy.”
It was literally a sweep. Three hundred chips of energy use per month was equivalent to the electricity consumption of a well-appointed point. In just one day, they had collected enough energy to run one of those villages for five months.
“Mister, you should’ve just done jobs in big cities. Why did you move around?”
Leona suddenly became curious as to why he wandered around the world, leaving such a large city full of clients behind. She was asking about the relationship between Zin’s life, the Darkborn, the chips and life.
Zin said with a sullen look, as if to say he knew that all too well, “If you do it for a long time, you’ll end up attracting negative attention.”
In reality, the jobs were not in infinite supply. If one hunter were to monopolize the easy and fast tasks, even though hunters usually did not interfere with other hunters, friction would occur, making everyone uncomfortable. In fact, Zin was doing the work of five people in a single day.
“There’s a certain amount of commercial morality that even hunters must abide by. Although, for right now, I can’t help it. I have to do it.”
In order to make a lot of chips in a short amount of time, they had to inflict a certain amount of civil abuse on the hunters around them.
In fact, whenever his remaining energy was low, Zin visited a big city to do a big job and prolong his life.
But Leona and Ramphil also knew that what he had said was just an excuse.
Zin was someone who could never settle down in one place, so he was constantly pushing himself out into the world. No other hunter would be able to pull off fifteen hundred chips a day.
“Now, we only need to collect 198,309 more.”
“… Why are you trying to upset me?”
Suddenly, Ramphil brought them back to reality, and Leona stared at him.
“I’m just stating a fact.”
Even if fifteen hundred chips were collected per day, at that rate, it would take at least 130 days. It was hard to know if they had that much time, and it was also conditional to having that many jobs.
“Don’t worry, it won’t take that long.” Zin grinned as if he had something up his sleeve.
“Why? You got something?”
“Word-of-mouth advertising is powerful.”
Solving a case didn’t end with receiving a payment, especially in big cities.
As time passed, rumors would spread throughout the city about an excellent hunter appearing in the city. And that would remind someone in the city of a case they really wanted to solve, but had given up on.
“There will be a big one soon. We just have to pick out some of them.”
Two hundred thousand chips was a lot of money, but there were far more chips circulating big cities.
If you collected like an ant, you were an ant.
Zin had lived for more than two hundred years, so he knew quite well how to build a fortune. It wasn’t the preferred method, but getting a large sum in a short time would be difficult without doing it.
Already, Zin’s clients and Ramphil’s clients were telling everyone about the hunters who had solved their cases.
Zin solved cases as an excellent hunter who utilized the best tricks in all situations.
Ramphil solved cases by randomly squashing everything with his impressive combat abilities.
Their methods were totally in contrast with each other, but they were both solving cases, and the rumors of these two hunters spread. It wasn’t intentional, but they were each satisfying clients who wanted something different.
“You solved the case already?”
That was what Rampil heard most often. He would go in after saying he would take care of the monsters, and after a few punching sounds, he was done.
“Whoa, what kind of method is this?” was what Zin heard most often. It was a reaction to the imaginary way he solved the cases and the fact that he made it look easy.
After surviving the first day, Leona received live-fire training and education at the Academy. Thanks to the Dean’s consideration, Leona wasn’t ostracized even though she didn’t get along with the other students.
The hunters who were staying at the Red Dragon’s Nest also became aware of Zin and Ramphil. The hunters here ranged from modest veterans to novices, and no one else was able to absorb work like those sponges.
After two weeks, fliers began to become rare in the monster hunting category, the one they were focusing on.
The bounty hunters and those that did detective work did not pay much attention to them, but one of the monster hunters approached Zin and Ramphil while they were having dinner after work.
“Hey, can I talk to you for a minute?” a sharp-looking hunter with deep-set eyes asked Zin.
“Speak, I’m listening,” Zin replied while eating potato salad.
“I know you’re good. But this is causing a bit of a problem.”
As if he was speaking on behalf of all monster hunters, he sat across from Zin and carefully selected his words. Everyone knew that the two people sitting in front of him were highly skilled.
However, they couldn’t stay silent any longer because their income would be affected if Zin didn’t put the brakes on at least once.
They had heard that he knew the Dean, so the monster hunters had to approached him carefully.
“It’s not good to take all the work. It’s quite difficult for hunters these days.”
Zin looked at the hunter on the other side as if he didn’t understand what he meant.
That sounded strange to Zin. He wasn’t simply complaining, but saying that things were difficult for the hunters instead.
Zin was lost in thought for a moment. Surely, many people had taken away much of the bounty hunting and private detective requests, but when it came to monster hunting, not many new ones were added, and only a few people were taking the jobs.
“The number of monster hunting jobs is shrinking. So, it’s hard enough for us to make a living without you taking all the jobs? Let’s not do this when all the monster hunters have left. When all the work disappears, there will be nothing for us to do.”
The reason there had seemed to be a lot of requests at first was because the monster hunters had left the big city once they noticed that their work had been dwindling.
Zin asked again, “What do you mean less work?”
“… You must be new here.” He sighed understandingly as if he had not known. “Because of Dominator, the monster hunting requests are getting thinner.”
Looking at the hunter’s face full of woe, Zin sensed that something else was happening in the bustling metropolis.
Ramphil asked, “What’s Dominator?”
“It’s a company that specializes in combating monsters. If you put in the request, they take care of the monsters right away.”
Since it was commercialized, it was cheaper than the Nest and much faster than waiting for a hunter with no set date of arrival. Because the service was new, some people still used the Nest as they had in the past, but even they would become increasingly dependent on Dominator.
Therefore, the sharp hunters who sensed that the monster hunting jobs would soon dry up had already left the big city or switched careers.
“So, for monster hunters, what is there is all that is left to do. If you take it all… Do you know what I mean?”
Having heard him, Zin nodded slowly.
“I’ll keep that in mind. Why don’t you tell me a little bit more about Dominator? I’m curious.”
The hunter continued with a firm expression on his face, as if he was satisfied with the way the conversation was going.
“They’re trying to monopolize the monster hunting business. That’s why they’re expanding even though they’re losing money.”
People would no longer use hunters if monsters could be taken care of at a low price. And when there were no more monster hunters, Dominator would raise the fee, leaving the people with no choice but to use it.
They would have no choice but to get ripped off when they were up to their neck in monsters.
“The company must have someone big backing it if it’s willing to do that while losing money.”
The hunter nodded in response.
“It’s Audin Corporation.”
That kind of capital was no problem for the biggest corporation in the city.