The Imperial Hunter Chapter 30 - August's Rows of Trees (3)

Author: Dawn

Muscular strength, muscular endurance, and cardiovascular endurance were the most fundamental elements that made up an individual’s Combat Endurance. Rarely was there a lifestyle habit as beneficial as running to train these three. Running was also one of the most useful abilities in practical combat situations.


I endured my severe thirst and ran along the mountain path that the dawn had painted with shades of blue. I wore a weighted vest, carried a heavy backpack, and even had a gas mask covering my face while running intervals on a challenging 6km terrain with steep slopes. When performing the Body Strengthening spell, the body had to endure such a heavy burden. As I sprinted up a slope of over a hundred meters, my heart rate quickly reached its maximum.

I need water.

Those who had done some running would understand. How fast could I run? How much pain and difficulty could I endure? Renewing that threshold, and continuously renewing it, was essential because without reaching your limit, you couldn’t utilize your physical abilities to 100%. Many people gave up on themselves before reaching that limit due to pain.

My head is burning.

…Therefore, my practical running should reach the maximum threshold while the Body Strengthening spell was active. It should be an effort that squeezed my mind with pain. And in the meantime, it should be a process to confirm if the Combat spell could be constructed.

All of this was an effort contributing to my ultimate survival.

“Oh my…”

As I reached the vicinity of the summit, a middle-aged woman with a camera looked at me in astonishment. I was in such a state that I felt like I was about to die at any moment, but I quickly removed my gas mask, tore it off, and threw it away. The panting sound I made was like the breath of a terminally ill patient on the verge of death.

“What kind of exercise are you doing like that? Are you okay, young man?”

I nodded vaguely and poured the water from a water scoop that had been left at the spring. Then I drank it in big gulps, even though it was sunrise. Summer was still summer. The boiling hot water felt like it was finally cooling down my overheated brain. It felt like I had barely escaped from hell after running through it. It was truly a fantastic feeling of relief.


Exhausted, I sat on the stone wall near the spring. The damp stones conveyed a coolness to the palm supporting my body. There was even a slightly sticky sensation.

The middle-aged woman, who had been worried about me until now, was now worried about my pants.

“If there are cherry stains on your clothes, they might not come off easily.”

“…It’s okay.”

August and Cherry. Normally, these two words should be apart in terms of timing, but at the moment, they were not. The entire area around the spring was black and white because of a Yoshino cherry tree that had taken root next to it. It was a cherry tree that bloomed flowers and dropped fruit continuously even in this hot season.

“Did you come here to take pictures of flowers?”

The woman smiled in response to my question.

“Yes, I heard there’s a cherry blossom tree that doesn’t wither near this spring, so I came during the less crowded hours.”

“Are there many people coming here for this these days?”

“Yes… In the news, they talk about difficult things like endocrine disruptors, global warming, and cosmic radiation, but I don’t really understand all that. It just looks beautiful.” (+) [1]

As unusual growth and deformities in trees became more common worldwide, the academic community was in a state of emergency, with various hypotheses pouring in about the cause of this phenomenon. However, global warming couldn’t explain the deformities and cosmic radiation was disproved due to decreased solar activity.

At the moment, the most widely supported hypothesis was environmental pollution. It suggested that endocrine-disrupting substances, which affect both animals and plants or some equivalent form of pollution, had an impact. This hypothesis could also explain the recent surge in cancer rates.

This had put Japan in a rather awkward situation. Some overseas scholars and environmental organizations had criticized Japan for releasing radioactive contaminated water, while the Japanese government denied any connection between their actions and recent environmental changes.

‘Talking about Fukushima’s power is quite a funny joke.’

This was a reaction from Kyung-tae that appeared on the internet. It implied that the reason various world records were being indiscriminately broken at the Olympics was due to radiation contamination. If that were true, Japan, which had been supporting various events, should have excelled in all disciplines.

“It’s scary, isn’t it?”

When I asked again, the woman looked at the flowers.

“I’ve heard it’s good to be cautious, but, well, what can happen? Everyone here doesn’t seem to mind. There’s even a fence.”

The ‘caution’ she referred to was the presence of pollutant substances. Based on the current leading hypothesis, environmental authorities recommended not approaching trees showing deformities or abnormal growth, as it was assumed that these areas had been more affected by pollution. It was a judgment that somehow reached the truth.

However, just as people who went for picnics, attended religious ceremonies, or danced with strangers in clubs during the peak of the global pandemic weren’t very concerned about the possibility of contracting a deadly disease, the recent warning about the possibility of cancer didn’t seem to bother many people. Cancer was cancer, and flowers were flowers.

The middle-aged woman in front of me was living proof of that.

Now, she showed interest in the gas mask I had thrown aside.

“You’re wearing a mask even though people rarely use them these days? Isn’t it uncomfortable?”

She had a subtle air of treating me as eccentric. During the peak of the Chinese-origin pneumonia outbreak, gas masks were a very rare sight.

However, this was just for training. In the past, regional riot police units used gas masks as part of their training to enhance cardiorespiratory endurance. I casually replied while brushing off dirt from the gas mask.

“It is uncomfortable, but I’m just a very timid person.”

I was so scared that I couldn’t sleep well until I saw London burning. The truth I revealed made the other person burst into laughter.

“You make jokes fun. What’s there to be scared of for a healthy young man like you? It’s people like me who should be scared; we’re at risk for something like a lung disease.”

Hearing myself called ‘young man’ at this age felt strange. As a place my master had painstakingly constructed, my body had many aspects beyond normal.

“Oh my?”

The woman tapped her nose with her fingertip and was surprised.

“Why did my nose suddenly bleed?”

That nosebleed was a dark omen for the near future. I quietly asked her,

“Do any of your family members work around here?”

In this area, there were numerous businesses run by the organization. So, my question was considering the possibility that this woman might be related to someone involved with the organization. However, her response was a simple denial.

“No, none of them. I just live around here; I work elsewhere.”

“Is that so?”

Then, I had no obligation to help her. I got up and bid her a dry farewell.

“I’ll be going. Take lots of good photos.”

This was both a farewell and advice. Even in a life that might end soon, wouldn’t it be less regretful to leave behind one more photograph? My intervention could only go this far.

As I began to descend the trail, Kyung-tae, who had been watching from outside the hiking path, approached and struck up a conversation.

“Well, it might be better this way.”

“What are you talking about?”

“If people start dying here, won’t they have a reason to close the mountain?”

Kyung-tae had also taken note of the ominous prophecy. I nodded dryly.

“We’ll have to wait and see.”

This mountain was the organization’s property. However, despite that fact, the district and city had freely developed hiking trails, erected signs, and even built stairs, infringing upon our property rights. If we were to put up iron fences to block access, they’d cite violations of the ‘Law on Urban Parks and Green Areas’ and inundate us with administrative measures, making it a real hassle.

‘Why did I put the mountain in the background?’

The reason we established the organization’s headquarters in the mountain wasn’t due to some insignificant Feng Shui reason. It was primarily done with escape routes in mind in case of sudden emergencies.

We could potentially engage in legal battles against the environmental authorities to resolve the issue, but it would take a long time, and even if we were to win, exercising our property rights immediately wouldn’t be guaranteed. The residents, who have lost the benefits they used to enjoy for free, would flood us with various complaints. Our organization had already experienced a situation like this once, and attracting the attention of the authorities in such a way wasn’t productive.

However, now it might be more practical to incur additional costs, like bribes, if necessary, to exercise our property rights. Our people needed a larger and more discreet training facility, one with good accessibility. The one remote location, away from the eyes of hikers, was insufficient in many ways.


In response to my question, Kyung-tae chuckles.

“There aren’t any.”

Indeed, one by one, figures moving through the steep forest terrain started to come into view. I’d instructed them to run through the mountain, combining tactical mobility with terrain awareness training to avoid a situation where they all jumped out and fell. All of them were individuals with open circuits, equipped with basic magical power protection against potential attacks.

Back at headquarters, I spared with Kyung-tae and the other security personnel in 2-on-1 matches. Boxing might not be very useful in combat situations where the difference in abilities often led to a one-sided victory, but this sparring match was different from traditional boxing in many ways. It was a free-for-all brawl where everything except leg techniques was allowed. It helped us adapt to the enhanced visual acuity and responsiveness of our altered bodies. Once we got used to it, even leg techniques would likely be allowed.


I dodged the headgear and delivered a punch as I passed by. I dug in and raised his chin. The impact felt satisfying, with a sound that went “thunk.” It was a close cross-arm defense. As soon as I confirmed the block, I lowered my upper body and stepped to the side. It was a jab, slightly blurred, that I put into his ribs.


The nearby roaring was painful to my ears. The brutal force struck through the protective gear. In exchange for making Kyung-tae stumble, a straight from another guy landed on my back. The hit was on my back, but the sound resonated through my chest and into my throat.

Screech – The sole scrapes against the floor with a high-pitched noise. I recovered my swaying center of gravity with a firm step and rotated my upper body while using my elbows. I managed to deflect a series of left-arm straights that were aimed at me. In the next moment, I landed a counter square on the face of the guy whose upper body was pulled inward. Another explosion-like sound of impact. The combination of the glove’s elasticity and enhanced muscle strength made every punch sound like an explosion, ringing in your ears.


Before I could press the guy whose head was bent backward, Kyung-tae’s full-body tackle came in. His shoulder, hitting my abdomen, was a sheer exercise of kinetic energy. His arms, embracing my waist, were restraints to prevent escape. The impact on the abdomen caused my breathing to involuntarily stop. I immediately changed my stepping, trying to resist, but it was already a matter of overcoming a significant weight difference. With all my strength, I twisted my body as much as possible. The goal was to reverse the positions of top and bottom.

The result was a 70% success rate. While I couldn’t completely flip the positions, I managed to get out after delivering successive blows to Kyung-tae’s head. However, I had to allow a flurry of strikes from another guy who was right there. The barrage sounded like a thunderous body blow, from the ribs to the collarbone. I used a large punch motion to induce a momentary dodge and then stepped precisely on his counterpoint to create distance. Thanks to my significantly improved foot speed, this step was possible.

In this manner, after enduring another thirty minutes, the evaporated moisture and heat from our bodies had completely offset the air conditioning. I, as well as my subordinates, had enhanced our physical capabilities, and with multiple rings in use, this outcome was expected. When I stepped out of the ring, Suyeon, who had endured another thirty minutes by switching opponents in a different ring, stopped her training and came down looking like an exhausted person after falling into the water.

Even in my exhausted state, I kept a close eye on each of my subordinates.

‘There’s no immediate need to fine-tune it further.’

Despite using physical enhancement continuously for days, there were no signs of circuit ruptures or leakage in magic power and mana, which was a very reassuring fact. It could be said that there was a sense of accomplishment in personally designing the basic setup, each optimized differently for individuals. (+) [2]

“Good work, Hyungnim.”


I drank the drink Suyeon handed me and wiped away the sweat with a towel. Kyung-tae, who had come down from the ring and sat on the stairs, was grinning and made a fuss.

“Wow, you were impressive earlier. You threw me down with just the recoil from your core while you were floating. Considering the weight difference between us… overwhelming strength makes other factors meaningless, I guess.”

“Well, I should reflect on ending up in such a situation.”

“Oh come on, Hyungnim… How could you be better than us in a 2-on-1 fight?”

“If you set the bar low, you’ll never get any better.”

“Well, that’s true.”

“Now go wash up. We need to eat.”

“Got it.”

Right now, all I could think of was washing up and having a meal. I was starving as if I was about to die.

  • 1. TLN: Endocrine disruptors are natural or man-made chemicals that may mimic or interfere with the body’s hormones, known as the endocrine system.
  • 2. TLN: I decided to alternate between mana/magical power. If you do not prefer this, and want me to stay only one (mana/magical power), please do tell me in the comment section!
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)