A Monster Who Levels Up

Chapter 104

(TL: Here is the last sponsored chapter of this week!!)

(This sponsored chapter is brought to you by these suave cool cats: Josh G, Caleb D, Dale B, and Gerald C. Thank you for your support!!)

Dark Elves hated light. No one knew the exact reason why; everyone  simply accepted it as a fact, and in all honesty, the reality was also like that as well. So, most of the homes belonging to Dark Elves were painted in achromatic colours or in black/grey. Heck, quite a few of those houses didn't have any lighting fixtures, even.

"……"

Inside a dark room truly fitting for a Dark Elf, Hazeline was lying on the bed, gazing deeply into the boxy LCD screen exuding a lone light that brightened this forlorn space.

The contents on the screen that drew her interest was thus:

Kim Sae-Jin (Verified Account)

@SJKIM

Guild Master, The Monster/The Orc Blacksmith/High Tier Hunter

Followers 45,345,874 Currently Following 10

Probably the most famous person among the younger generation, Kim Sae-Jin. The number of followers were well over 45 million, highest in Asia. In other words, as many as half the population of the entire Korean nation. No wonder, what with this much interest shown by the general public, every once in a while photos and posts uploaded to his social media profile would become topics of news.

"…Why are there so many pics of him with women in here?"

Hazeline pouted visibly as she carefully studied each and every photo appearing on his profile. There were a ton of selfies uploaded to it, but almost half of them were taken with different women.

Of course, the frequency of those pics being uploaded drastically decreased ever since he began dating Yu Sae-Jung, but still… There were literally endless posts and reposts made by several women who were shamelessly wagging their tails. And many of these ladies had social status that even made Hazeline seem a bit plain in comparison.

Hey, wait a minute. Even I, as an Elf, recognise that person?!

"…Ah-oo. I must be going crazy."

Hazeline finally woke up from her unnecessarily fevered participation of the social media movement, and flung away her phone to a corner of the bed.

Although she found herself pathetic and hopeless for doing this against a man who already had a girlfriend… but somehow, things had become like this lately.

Of course, she did think about that man every now and then. He was eloquent, was a gentleman and had good manners. Initially, her thoughts of him wasn't on the level of a deep, deep interest - but rather, something more common, something like He's a nice guy~, that kind of admiration.

However, as their interaction over the matters related with potions increased in frequency, the depths of her feelings began growing deeper as if she was getting seduced by his innate scent; the real decisive blow came in the forms of two unexpected battles and one heartfelt gift.

And so, nowadays, whenever she was left alone at home and feeling a bit sentimental, her head would be filled with Sae-Jin's face.

But this was definitely not love. For an Elf, the meaning of love was far more graver than dying itself, and so when an Elf fell in love, one couldn't carry on with his or her daily life anymore. Hazeline knew that she was still very far from that. Very.

However, at the same time, she recognised her condition as a very bad omen as well. On top of that, the 'situation' was even worse than the last time. After all, he already had a lover…

"Fuu."

Hazeline let out a long sigh, her eyes instinctively moving back towards her phone.

It would have been nice if her feelings remained where she might think about him whenever she felt lonely… but such a thing was not possible for an Elf.

In the end, she blamed her complicated emotions as the result of her species-unique instincts,

and picked the phone back up.

"…Just when is he going to send back a reply… Ah, maybe?"

There was no reply whatsoever until now for a text message she sent to him over two hours ago. But rather than getting annoyed, worries filled her up first.

"What, are, you, doing, now? You, still, haven't, replied, yet… Maybe, is, there, something, wrong…"

She read each word carefully before sending the message. She then slowly lowered the phone down and her gaze drifted towards the top of the desk. A charming little music box, shaped like a piano, was calling out for her attention.

"…"

She wordlessly approached the music box and touched it. Accompanying the gentle, soothing music note, a faint scent of a certain someone drifted along in the air.

*

The date was 9th of September, the opening day for the seminar held by the World Monster Organization, also known as WMO.

This time, it was being held in Seoul, South Korea. The biggest reason for this was due to the appearance and propagation of the Hero Orcs - or Korean Orcs, as they were referred to as, whose origins still remained a mystery.

"There are four ranks within the Hero Orcs: The Orc Warrior, the Orc Jaguar, the Orc Senior, and the Orc Chieftain." (Kim Yu-Rin)

Kim Yu-Rin was attending this seminar. Since she was the only human being who could enter the village of the Hero Orcs, she was invited to speak as the sole authority on all things Hero Orc.

"Rather strangely, there is no rank of 'Great Warrior' with the Hero Orcs. That's largely due to them not having the hierarchy-based division of ranks, although they do show admiration and respect towards the older generation." (Kim Yu-Rin)

Her role here was to convey the information on Hero Orcs to these professors and scholars who came from all across the globe.

"That is why, I propose using the term 'Senior' in lieu of 'Great Warrior' to denote that admiration and respect shown by the Orcs."

From everything she had observed so far, Hero Orcs possessed far greater intelligence and wisdom compared to regular Orcs. They were able to make a basic reasoning and even knew how to be considerate towards others as well.

All these interesting information definitely showed the difference between them and other types of Monsters, so all the scholars here zealously took memos while nodding their heads nonstop.

"How can you tell the ranks apart?" (Unnamed scholar)

A middle-aged white man asked in fluent Korean.

"That's a good question. Like other normal Orcs, you can tell fully grown adults apart from juveniles by their body sizes, and for the adults, you can use their epidermis as the yardstick. The bluer it is, higher the rank it has." (Kim Yu-Rin)

"In that case, can we still estimate one's age with its hair?" (Another unnamed scholar)

"Yes. There's no change to that fact." (Kim Yu-Rin)

"What is the current estimated size of the village?" (Yet another unnamed scholar)

"There are around 1000 individuals living there, and about half of that number are fully grown adults." (Kim Yu-Rin)

As expected from a bunch of scientists, the attendees continuously threw lots of questions laced with significant amount of curiosity. That resulted in Kim Yu-Rin's part in the seminar going on for one extra hour.

"Fuu… Then, shall we end it here? Thank you all for coming."

And finally.

Kim Yu-Rin quickly escaped the seminar hall while being showered with applause and headed to the car park; and as soon as she set off, she headed straight towards the Monster field.

"I'm gonna be so, so late."

Today was the scheduled day for the sparring with the Orc. There was a grin on her face without her even realising it.

"You've become stronger."

An afternoon with harsh sunlight pouring down.

While wiping away the streaming sweat, Kim Yu-Rin said to the Hero Orc.

Lately, all their sparring sessions ended in a draw. In the beginning, she won most of the encounters, but the Orc continued to grow stronger the wilder each sparring became. Of course, she too grew stronger as well while sparring with 'him', so a disaster such as losing had been prevented so far.

Wordlessly, the Orc sat down and leaned against a huge tree trunk. Judging by how he was breathing angrily through his nose, one could tell that he was unhappy with the spar ending in yet another draw.

"Even this much is still quite amazing, really. Although I look like this, I'm the world's 50th strongest Knight, I'll have you know." (Kim Yu-Rin)

Her skills that were getting better by sparring with the Orc - she was able to achieve this career-high world-wide Knight ranking as a result. While advertising her own strength, Kim Yu-Rin sat down next to him.

She silently studied the Orc's mood. Thankfully, the Orc didn't show any signs of avoiding her.

"Thanks to you, I'm also getting stronger." (Kim Yu-Rin)

Speaking like so, Kim Yu-Rin carefully placed her head on his shoulder. When she took a quick glance, the Orc didn't even seem to think about her at all. She began enjoying the perfect combination of a gently blowing breeze and a wide, dependable shoulder.

"Oi."

Suddenly, the Orc opened his mouth. Kim Yu-Rin's body shook for a brief moment, wondering if she should take her head away… but then, decided play dumb.

"We stop doing this, from now." (Sae-Jin the Orc)

"…Excuse me?" (Kim Yu-Rin)

But then, what he said next made her unable to sit still, and so, out of utter shock, she quickly detached her head from his shoulder. The Orc stared right at her and slowly continued on with his words.

"Don't come here anymore." (Sae-Jin the Orc)

Although the Orc's facial expression was cold and indifferent, Kim Sae-Jin actually was doing this for her sake.

'The hit list.'

Not too long ago, the Linked-up Vampire Apostle brought along a new piece of information.

Vampires had compiled a list of individuals who could get in the way of achieving their goals, and that kill list had entered the hands of the Vampire Lord.

Apparently, Kim Sae-Jin's name was rightfully occupying the top position on that list. Without a doubt, the recent episode with the Doo-Urk-Shi-Nees happened because of the list.

And Kim Yu-Rin occupied the second spot.

Unfortunately, it was too damn easy to predict Yu-Rin's current routine. Meaning, it would be so much easier to ambush her. After all, she'd willingly show up at the Orc village all by herself twice a week.

"But, but why so suddenly?!" (Kim Yu-Rin)

Her eyes were trembling hard. She looked utterly devastated, but the Orc remained cold.

"But, but? But why, for what…" (Kim Yu-Rin)

"I'm bored of you." (Sae-Jin)

He was unable to say the kind of excuse she might have accepted easily, only warning her off without offering a proper explanation.

"This, the last time you enter. Next time you want to enter village, be ready to kill, or be killed. I already tell other Orcs." (Sae-Jin the Orc)

"What! What the heck is that?! You should tell me the reason first, so I…" (Kim Yu-Rin)

She desperately ran up to him, unable to comprehend at all.

However, the Orc simply grasped the mace with his hand and swung it towards her.

"Ah-euck! Wait! Stop fighting and let's talk, talk…!!" (Kim Yu-Rin)

She backed off quickly enough, but she couldn't prevent her body from taking some damage from the sudden attack.

She didn't give up, though, and continued to demand explanation from him, but the Orc stuck to answering with violence. As the seconds ticked by, even the other Hero Orcs began casting hostile gazes towards her direction.

"You, you bastard!!"

And so, all she could say was this one curse word before beating a hasty retreat.

Kim Sae-Jin the Orc's eyes stayed with the departing back of her. The blood seeping out from the wounds he had inflicted on her fell like teardrops, leaving deep trails behind.

**

"Why are there so many applicants?" (Sae-Jin)

A call from Jo Hahn-Sung was waiting for the heavy-hearted Sae-Jin's arrival back home.

The subject of the discussion was the qualifications of the potential Griffin riders - to assess each Knight who wished to ride on the back of a Griffin.

- "It looks like almost every upper Mid Tier Knight in the country have applied so far. The view of Griffins being an effective means of policing in the near future has already become widespread, sir. And also, what with the current state of affairs being as is… this and that point seems to have combined into one and so many people have applied as a result, sir."

As an aside, the number of Griffins managed by The Monster now was thirty, which prompted the establishment of the 'Griffin Rider Certification' law. Obviously, the people responsible for awarding the certificate was The Monster Guild.

"Did the Knight Orders give out their permissions? After all, the lease fee will be nothing to laugh about." (Sae-Jin)

And 'interested parties' related to The Monster Guild were suspecting that these Griffins would later become an important source of revenue. It of course had to do with the leasing fee; a callout lasting for half a day would normally require the Knights Orders to cough up somewhere north of $100,000.

Although Sae-Jin did feel it was still on the side of being too cheap as riding on Griffins was rated as the number one in the most cost-efficient way of traveling by the Time magazine. But any higher than that, it wouldn't mesh well with the current market conditions.

- "Yes, they sure did, sir. And related to that topic, the Dawn Order requested for the purchasing of a Griffin if it's possible. They promised to give us a substantial amount if we do."

When Jo Hahn-Sung said those words, Yu Sae-Jung's ear perked up while she pretended to watch the TV on the side.

"Have they prepared a suitable nesting area and trained the staff accordingly?" (Sae-Jin)

Nod, nod.

Even before Jo Hahn-Sung could make his reply, Yu Sae-Jung was busy nodding her head. Kim Sae-Jin chuckled slightly after realising that her influence played a big part in this request being made.

- "Yes, sir. They seemed to have benchmarked our nesting area and constructed theirs close to our own, so even Raul might be able to adapt easily."

By the way, Raul was the name of a female Griffin that Yu Sae-Jung really, really liked. (TL: Really, author? You and your bad naming sense…)

"In that case… Not sure about selling, but what about a ten-year lease? Tell them we'll go with that." (Sae-Jin)

As soon as those words left his mouth, Yu Sae-Jung silently punched the air in celebration and hugged his back tightly.

- "Yes, sir, I understand."

"Alright, then. Please take care of the rest." (Sae-Jin)

- "Ah, that's right. The Foreign Affairs Minister has contacted us as well, sir. There seems to be a big backlog of countries requesting for export of potions and Griffins, starting from the nations of the EU block…"

"Mister Hahn-Sung, I'm leaving the matter of meeting them to your discretion."

- "Sir?!"

Jo Hahn-Sung dazedly spat out a single word reply. Chuckling to himself, Sae-Jin was about to end the call, only to hear the urgent voice from the other side telling him not to.

"Is there something else?" (Sae-Jin)

- "Yes sir, there is one more thing. This is the important one."

"…What is it?"

Jo Hahn-Sung took in a deep breath.

- "The date for the Lycan's press conference has been set."

< 31. All Tangled Up (1) > Fin.

(TL: $45 out of $50 left for the first sponsored chapter of the week.)

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