The Imperial Hunter Chapter 22 - Trembling Giant (1)

Author: Dawn

It had been ten days since I sent the custom-made Snuff film to White Chief, and on January 20th, I found myself in the aspen forest of Utah. The cold winds blew, causing the white branches to tremble in the hazy mist, emitting a soft shush-shush sound. Taking a deep breath, I gazed at the forest, and an exclamation of awe escaped my lips. (+) [1]

“It’s breathtaking.”

Every root in this cluster of Quaking Aspens, unified as one, was bathed in radiant magic and circuitry. Compared to this, the “President” was like a single reed in a reed field or a grain of sand on a beach. It was disheartening that this spectacle was visible only to my eyes. To ordinary people, it would appear as a white snowfield, white fog, and white trees. Still, that alone would create a somewhat dreamlike landscape…

Before coming here, I had stopped by Washington State, and despite the massive organism that was the fungus spreading throughout the state park, it lacked magical substance relative to its size. Therefore, this cluster of poplars was particularly exceptional to me. (+) [2]

“Why is it so noisy around here?”

Kyung-tae was visibly concerned about the chaotic surroundings. Despite being in a remote area with no credible cities within a 30 km radius, several police patrol cars were stationed along the roadside of the passing route. Somewhere in the distance, the sound of barking dogs could be heard.

“Do you have a bad feeling about this?”

“Something feels off.”


I didn’t ignore Kyung-tae’s unease. Sometimes, this guy’s intuition for danger felt like magic beyond magic.

The view provided by “Eye of the Golden Age” was still valid, but there was too much information here, limiting the practical visibility. Especially in the direction of the forest, beyond the usual perception, it extended only about 50 meters due to the rampant directions of various radiance.

‘It will probably decrease further if we go inside.’

My control field would inevitably shrink to a radius similar to when facing the “President.” Despite diligently tuning the circuits all along, it was as if the magic power exerted by the forest in front of me was that much stronger.

Hence, it would be challenging to accompany many subordinates to explore the forest’s interior. I couldn’t protect them all from the unrefined magic power.

As events led up to this point, I too felt a bit restless. I had been captivated by the enchanting scene and hadn’t had a chance to think clearly. However, I realized that going into the forest would leave me very vulnerable.

Kyung-tae had been considering this as well.

“As the head of security, I want you to not go in there, but… wouldn’t it be insufficient to just observe from the outside, like the ‘President’?”

I gestured with my chin toward the mist in the forest.

“Look at that fog over there. Doesn’t it strike you as strange?”

“I’ve felt uneasy from the start. The direction of the lake is clear, but the forest is covered in mist. Especially during midday…”

“That’s right. That mist is probably the result of the forest’s spell.”

“You mean magic?”


By now, this guy would probably understand why I was feeling so awestruck. Even if I had foreseen the emergence of lifeforms awakened to primitive magic other than humans, witnessing it firsthand was a different dimension of the issue. I was currently facing a century-defining event, an irreversible change in the world.

…At this point, the concentration of magic power shouldn’t suddenly drop or anything.

Kyung-tae, scratching his head, made a new suggestion.

“If you want to explore the inside, perhaps we should consider going in, even if it means risking exposure to either a magic power explosion or a magic power hemorrhage, as you mentioned before.”


I firmly shook my head.

“You are the elite of the organization and the core of the task force. Do you have any idea how much time and budget it took to train you? We can’t afford to recklessly waste you before a full-scale war even begins.”

Magic power and magical power-induced cancer were different from ordinary cancer in nature. Even if it were detected early, my abilities or conventional medicine might not be able to deal with it.

“All I have are some theories  and hypotheses.”

Just like the “President”, the awakening of this forest was faster than I expected. Was there any law that said  I couldn’t call it magic power cancer? Therefore, it was appropriate to exercise caution until these guys developed circuits and created their own protective fields.


“Buts or whatnot, it won’t work. I never thought I could get stronger without any risk or burden from the start. We have to accept the risks.”

My judgment remained unchanged: I must evolve into an asymmetric power beyond Round Table’s expectations. I was also the organization’s entire magical capability and the entirety of its potential. My limit would determine the organization’s magical limit.

Kyung-tae sighed and offered an alternative.

“Then at least wait for a day or two to see how the situation develops. The forest isn’t going anywhere just because we wait.”

“Of course, we’ll do that.”

For now, we should return to our lodging and assess the situation. Why were security guards and police gathered in such a remote place, and what was causing Kyung-tae’s unease?

The cabin we rented as our lodging was located within walking distance of the forest. Along the road, despite it being winter, there were about ten camping cars parked. Some people were using a crane scale to weigh fish they caught in the white-frozen lake. Others were enjoying ice fishing in the snow-white lake.

“Excuse us, gentlemen.”

Kyung-tae addressed them in fluent pronunciation, quite different from his usual manner. Among the men who were making noise, one wearing a gray Canada Goose coat glanced at Kyung-tae.

“What’s going on?”

“We’re tourists here to see the forest over there, but the atmosphere feels strange. It seems like a lot of security guards are here too. Do you happen to know if something happened here?”

The ability to speak multiple accents in the same language was a useful tool. It could create confusion during investigations and tracking or change the impression people had of you. Kyung-tae’s New York accent diluted the impression of Eastern tourists. One of the men who received the question shrugged and replied.

“I just arrived yesterday, so I don’t know the details, but I heard that people have gone missing in that forest. Not just one, but a whole group.”

“Oh, really? How many?”

“I don’t know the exact number. I heard this from the security guards when they came and asked around. They even issued a warning not to enter the forest. Lately, there’s been a lot of strange fog, and it’s considered dangerous. They even set up a fence around it, but I don’t know why anyone would go in.”

Don’t you think so too? The man glanced at his colleague, who nodded in agreement.

“Why don’t you folks enjoy some fishing like us? Outsiders come here to admire this forest that’s supposedly lived for tens of thousands of years, but when you actually go in, there’s not much to see. There are lots of fallen trees, making it inconvenient to walk around. With snow piled up, you won’t see what’s beneath your feet either.”

“Haha. Thank you for your advice. But, can you catch fish well here?”

“We don’t know until we try.”

“It could simply be the skill of the fishermen.”

The man, who had improved his mood due to Kyung-tae’s flattery, offered to share the fish he had caught. He couldn’t offer any pike, but he could offer some perch. It was a common sight at fishing spots or fishermen’s self-satisfaction. Kyung-tae, playing along, asked for more, as there were many people, and managed to get three big ones. It was always nice when you could get people to do what you wanted.

In the subsequent conversation, the fisherman pointed out a camping car some distance away with a police line around it.

“One of the missing families brought that car. There are a few more cars that have lost their owners, and people have gone missing from the cabins too.”

“I see. You’ve been very helpful. Thank you.”

“Helpful? It’s fine. You folks came all the way out here to this countryside, so it would be a waste if you just turned back.”

“Traveling can have its ups and downs. Have a good day, sir.”

“You too. There’s nothing special here, but enjoy your time.”

After exchanging greetings, Kyung-tae, who had left the fishermen behind, handed the bulky bundle of perch caught on a fishing line to his subordinate and wiped the smile from his face. Continuing the conversation, he asked a question.

“Hyungnim, why does this place keep getting more unsettling?”


“Could it be possible that the forest itself is the culprit?”

“Well, it’s hard to say.”

A forest that ate people? Perhaps additional magical phenomena triggered by the poplar cluster were the cause. Or it could simply be that people have gotten lost and exhausted due to the fog and collapsed. In the polluted air of China, there have been cases of people not being able to find their way home in front of their own houses. In an area as small as 43 hectares, there could easily be lost individuals. With these thoughts in mind, I answered.

“I’ll say there’s a possibility.”

“Even so, are you going to go in?”

“Isn’t it possible that it’ll become more dangerous as time goes on?”

By then, I would have become a more complete mage, but that wouldn’t necessarily mean greater safety. The Round Table Cabinet in London would establish order, and the presence of newly awakened abilities and their influence would also be a variable. There was also the possibility of global turmoil leading to restrictions on international travel.

Considering the path of struggle we must take in the future, the current risks were just a taste of what was to come. I was prepared for such thorny paths. Kyung-tae clicked his tongue.

“Isn’t there anything noticeable inside that camping trailer?”

Looking beyond the police line, I adjusted my gaze and then shook my head after a moment.

“Not really.”

Kyung-tae expressed his disappointment again.

“Don’t worry too much.”

I glanced at the distant forest.

“If the forest itself is the problem, we should be able to see signs of unusual phenomena before the phenomenon of devouring begins. If it’s something else, I’ll have to bear any penalties, no matter who’s here.”


As usual, our group of four split into two teams and conducted inquiries at various places.

Kyung-tae and I casually asked a few questions about the resort’s main building, which doubled as a grocery store and restaurant. We inquired about when they started working here, which cabin was said to have lost guests, whether they were family guests or not, when they arrived and when they disappeared, and if there was anything else unusual. Kyung-tae’s natural conversational skills smoothly steered the conversation.

The staff, earning $600 a day for three guests who rented high-end cabins, responded politely and diligently.

“Any strange people?”


The last question I directly asked was whether there were any people who looked strange. If, by any chance, the Imperialists from London had sent their underlings, there was a high likelihood they would stand out due to their fanatical devotion. Since the means of cultivating loyalty itself was a form of fanaticism.

This applied to me to some extent as well.

Nevertheless, I didn’t wrap myself in religious garb. Not due to a feeble conscience, but because an organization with impaired rationality was more prone to self-destruction.

“Hmm, strange people, strange people…”

The staff, tapping their foreheads with clenched fists, hesitated with a doubtful expression.

“Lately, there have been some…uh, you know, bohemian types… Is that what you mean? People who laugh a lot, are optimistic, have a scruffy style, and seem to have a few screws loose in their heads.”


“These kinds of people have been coming and going, but is it really strange… you know what I mean? This place is a tourist attraction, and all sorts of people come and go.”

“That’s true.”

I thanked them for their kind answers and handed over a pack of menthol cigarettes I had just bought, along with a tip of a $100 bill. The staff expressed their gratitude with a delighted expression.

The cigarettes I bought weren’t for smoking. It was more of a habit for inducing trace confusion in tracking. Smoking was a habit with addictive patterns, and the type of cigarettes smoked didn’t change easily. Menthol cigarettes with their stimulating aroma were good for chasing away dogs, for example.

Well, the chances of me experiencing such an extreme situation were slim, but it was a habit that wouldn’t hurt. I’d always lived with this mindset.

As I thought about it, I couldn’t help but get angry. Why do I have to live like this?

After stepping outside, I forcefully tossed the crushed cigarette pack into the nearest trash can.

  • 1. TLN: A snuff film, snuff movie, or snuff video is a type of film that shows, or purports to show, scenes of actual homicide.
  • 2. TLN: Poplars: any of a genus of slender quick-growing trees (as an aspen or cottonwood) that have catkins for flowers and are related to the willows.
Author's Thoughts

This novel is a work of fiction! While it may incorporate elements inspired by our "real" historical world, including historical events, settings, and cultures, it is important to note that the story and characters are entirely products of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to real persons, living or deceased, or actual events is purely coincidental. This work should be enjoyed and interpreted as a work of fiction and not as a representation of historical facts or reality.
Also, if you find some error in translation please do let me know by tagging me (@_dawn24) in our Discord server. Since this series is kinda hard to translate. But I'll try my best to make it at least readable :)
Enjoy reading~!

Want to read ahead of the scheduled release? You can check the Novel page on the website (or press the next chapter button) and buy an advanced chapter with only 20 Honeys! (100 Honeys is only 5$! So you can basically read 5 advanced chapters ahead of schedule!)

Table of Contents
Reader Settings
Font Size
Line Height

Hello! If you any questions and if you found any errors on my translations, please do @ me on our discord server (@_dawn24) since I might miss your comment here. And also, I really appriciate your support by buying the advanced chapters or just giving me some donation, thank you!

Ko-fi Ko-fi

Comments (0)