A Monster Who Levels Up
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"A spar? Why, all of a sudden…" (Sae-Jin)
Kim Sae-Jin backpedalled. However, Kim Yu-Rin took a quick step forward and got closer to him.
"Although I did give you my assessment before, I've never really fought you with my utmost yet." (Kim Yu-Rin)
"Eiii, don't be like that and let's do this thing once and for all." (Kim Yu-Rin)
Sae-Jin took a quick glance at the clock. It hadn't even been ten minutes since he arrived at the training facility, and on top of that, he was decked out in training suit as well so, to go home now was just a bit…
"C'mon now, let's do this~." (Kim Yu-Rin)
Kim Yu-Rin showed off aegyo which was quite unlike her, while she dragged the helpless Sae-Jinto the middle of the training facility.
While still carrying an unsure expression, Sae-Jin went to pick the practice sword, but Kim Yu-Rin shook her head in disapproval and handed him a mace, instead.
"Look, here's a mace you can use. You wielded it so well back then." (Kim Yu-Rin)
Still carrying that smile of hers, she forcibly squeezed the mace into his hands.
He looked at the mace and fell into a thought.
Kim Yu-Rin was definitely suspecting something. Every single action he takes from here on could flame her suspicions even more…
Before he could organise his thoughts properly, Kim Yu-Rin approached him like a bolt of lightning and swung her sword down. She didn't load the weapon with Mana, but the power and accuracy displayed were still incredible, so Sae-Jin had to put all his effort to swing the mace and defend himself.
That sudden burst signaled the beginning of the duel between a mace and a sword.
Sae-Jin put just over a half of what he was really capable of during this sparring session. But it proved impossible to completely mask all those little habits that his body had accumulated over time, and now, Kim Yu-Rin was sitting on a chair, seriously pondering about something while her frown deepened further.
She spat out a sigh. Truly, she felt that there were parts that resembled the Hero Orc. Definitely so…
Did that mean Kim Sae-Jin studied under the Hero Orc? Well, he did say something about him being friendly with a subordinate of the Orc. But remembering back to those times when she went to the Orc village, she couldn't recall ever seeing any traces of him there…
She looked at Sae-Jin who was stretching his limbs at that moment. Monsters that could change into humans were very rare, but they existed fore sure. Called the 'Monster Man', she even personally hunted one before.
But Kim Sae-Jin definitely wasn't like that. Looking at his history, no one could argue that he was a Monster in disguise.
In that case… maybe, it was the opposite? In other words, 'a human that could change into a Monster'… And, there was certainly one ability blessed onto the human race that could make such a thing plausible - the 'Trait'.
"Mister Kim Sae-Jin?"
Kim Yu-Rin cautiously called out to him.
"Uhm, if it's not too much trouble… can I ask what your Trait is?" (Kim Yu-Rin)
"Ah, well… Yes. But if you feel uncomfortable talking about, then you don't have to tell me." (Kim Yu-Rin)
"Really? In that case, I won't tell you. It's a taboo, after all." (Sae-Jin)
Kim Sae-Jin made his displeasure known and bounced out of the training facility in hurried steps.
Kim Yu-Rin stared at his back in a dumbfounded daze.
Chilly winds were blowing now, and some regions had already welcomed early s
igns of snow with warm smiles. The sights of people walking around wearing thick padding could be seen, and stores selling scarfs and gloves increased in numbers.
The arrival of a new season seemed to possess the power to bring forth such changes to the scenery.
"I hear that Portugal is on the brink… Won't the world really come to end at this rate?"
"Eiii, c'mon now."
The conversations taking place on the streets were fused with the seasonal Wintery chill. Just over a month had passed since that earth-shaking press conference, and chaos had truly visited the world.
The total number of Monsters were increasing explosively, and Boss-level Monsters constantly popped up. As if the Monster bird incident of Korea was just the beginning, stronger and scarier Monsters turned the world upside down.
The situation had worsened so much, it became no longer possible to maintain a functioning government in regions that fell behind in terms of forming an acceptable defense against Monster threats as well on the development of Knights Orders - regions such as Southeast Asia and the continent of Africa. This triggered an unprecedented refugee crisis and thus became another big worldwide issue.
However, from that incident with the Monster bird, and to the recent Flesh Golem, the Republic of Korea suffered little damage to itself while it fought off those threats when compared to other nations.
And one of the reasons for this was, unlike others, all because of a certain mysterious supernatural force.
The Leviathan. A being that the world took to calling as the Azure Dragon.
"…But something is strange." (Sae-Jin)
Kim Sae-Jin quietly muttered to himself as he read the words off the pages of 'A Deity of Four Directions, Azure Dragon'. Quite different from the name that sounded like a swindler's operation, the website itself was thoroughly well designed and laid out.
The Azure Dragon-related notifications, open forums, noticeboards, etc, etc… The simple but luxuriously decorated site didn't have much traffic, but at the same time, it seemed that there were a few dedicated individuals keeping things going steadily as well.
"It's like the site is in a sleep mode, but still, the Azure Dragon is fast becoming the guardian entity of the Korean peninsula." (Kim Sun-Ho)
Kim Sun-Ho replied with an energetic voice. Sae-Jin came to see Kim Yu-Sohn, but the illness of the old man had flared up and so, he was having a meeting with his son, Sun-Ho, instead.
"Okay, fine. But… just how are you planning to utilise this Cafe?" (Sae-Jin)
"Ah, about that. So, I've got this idea - how about we do it like this, sir? There is this old movie called the 'Spider-M*n', you see, and in it, it uses roughly the same idea as mine…"
Kim Sun-Ho continued with his words in a somewhat happy voice.
His suggestion was rather simple.
The owners of the website were Kim Sun-Ho, Kim Sae-Jin and Kim Yu-Sohn. And among them, Sae-Jin was the Leviathan. And so… Sae-Jin would 'inform' them of the next place where the Leviathan was going to appear, and that info would pop up on this website. (TL: There was a thing like that in Spider-Man movies? Hmm…)
Through this method, which implied that this website was in some sort of communication with the Azure Dragon, it would earn a huge amount of fame and people's trust. And they would be able to instil the idea of the Leviathan - or in this case, the Azure Dragon - being the ally of humanity.
"…However, when looking at the big picture, isn't that fraud?" (Sae-Jin)
"Pardon? Well, that, uh, well…. No, it likely isn't. It'll probably be okay, as long as we are not found out, Guild Master." (Kim Sun-Ho)
This whole thing about not getting found out didn't sound kosher, so Sae-Jin narrowed his eyes and glared at Kim Sun-Ho.
"W, well, if such a thing is a fraud, then, uh, acting as the Lycan, the Guild Master would end up serving multiple life senten… Oh. Sorry." (Kim Sun-Ho)
Kim Sun-Ho hurriedly tried to come up with an excuse, before lowering his head and scratched the back of his neck.
Sae-Jin looked at him and chuckled slightly. Although Kim Sun-Ho seemed to be scared of his boss in the beginning, it was as if he had gotten a lot more comfortable now and his attitude had lightened up. Sae-Jin preferred this, as it was like dealing with a friend.
Also, Sae-Jin didn't expect to see the father of a child to be so immature as well, either.
"Anyhow. I've already uploaded the coordinates where you will be for today. Of course, no one will believe us now, but I already called up a friendly news network, so… I'm pretty certain that they will send someone over." (Kim Sun-Ho)
Sae-Jin nodded his head. But then, Kim Sun-Ho's expression hardened suddenly.
"Ah, also, it seems like that Bathory woman is showing signs of movement, Master." (Kim Sun-Ho)
"Yes sir. Not sure what's gotten into her, but for someone who doesn't want to breathe the same air as humans, she's been seen walking around the outside quite a lot lately. But what's odd about her behaviour is… that she's been seen wandering around the coastline. Looks like she is thinking about the Azure Dragon, Guild Master."
"In that case… if I'm lucky, I might get to meet her, then?" (Sae-Jin)
Sae-Jin's eyes shone brightly. As long as Leviathan was not on solid ground, it was basically invincible within the ocean. After all, the ocean was like an infinite source of Mana to him.
"…No, Guild Master, if you are 'unlucky', then you'll get to meet her."
However, Kim Sun-Ho's rebuttal was rather blunt.
"What do you mean?"
"It's still too difficult against the Bathory woman, sir. She alone brutally slaughtered dozens of Highest Tier Knights back when the war between races was still a thing. Even with the Leviathan Form, as a baby, you're asking for the impossible." (Kim Sun-Ho)
"…She's that powerful?"
Currently, his Leviathan Form was strong enough to fight against the Flesh Golem, albeit by using a special technique. But even that was not enough to stand up against this Bathory woman?
"That's correct, sir. The descendants of the Bathory family enjoy this unique Trait passed down genetically where, by paying the price of fellow Vampires' lives, they become much more powerful than before. Not sure how that works, but well, that weird story about 'Bathory bathing in blood'? That story came about because of this Trait, sir."
Kim Sae-Jin understood then.
Back then, the number of Vampires who died during the war between the races easily went past a hundred thousand worldwide.
After ending the meeting with Kim Sun-Ho, Sae-Jin changed into the Leviathan and swam in the East Sea.
Currently, even at a casual glance, his length and weight had blown up at a crazy rate. He only swam in the East Sea three times a week, but still… It seemed that his growth accelerated due to him using this Form's abilities rather vigorously of late.
Most importantly, though - he still hadn't felt the dangers of his ego being overtaken by the creature's instincts, not like with the Orc or the Lycanthrope.
This led to Sae-Jin questioning the veracity of the widely understood "nature" of the Leviathan that people accepted as fact. He even thought that maybe, this powerful creature of the ocean wasn't a Monster, but a being sitting on a higher plain of existence than mere humans.
They said the Leviathan would turn violent when its territory was breached, but…. well, wouldn't humans do the same too, under the circumstances? There was no creature alive that allowed others to freely break into their homes, after all.
"There it is!!"
Hearing the voices coming from afar, Sae-Jin quickly assumed a serious facial expression and corrected his posture. The appearance of a baby Leviathan being pushed around by the waves had suddenly transformed into an omnipotent deity.
"Be quiet. Carefully take its photos. Easy, easy."
The camera lens pointing towards him was located on top of a yacht. In other words, there was a boat carrying people in this dangerous part of the East Sea. If it was in the past, this would've never happened in a million years - they probably had to cross areas filled with sea Monsters to get here.
"Well, everyone. There it is, the Azure Dragon. Looks like it has grown in size a little, but it still exudes that noble and unwavering aura…"
A reporter whispered to the other passengers. Sae-Jin glanced at the label stuck on the camera. They were from the station KNS - a friendly broadcaster, the one Kim Yu-Sohn secretly gave a heads-up to, as a thank you for all the favourable articles written about The Monster Guild.
"Now, the East Sea trade route has been stabilised thanks to the influence of the Azure Dragon. All the regular sea Monsters as well as the flying Monsters previously found near here are busy migrating away from the East Sea, after being thoroughly suppressed by the Dragon's presence. Right now, the economic value added to the country because of the Azure Dragon cleaning up this region has been calculated to easily exceed $1 billion…"
Of course, not all ocean-bound Monsters ran away. Every now and then, an aggressive sea Monster did appear and challenged him.
…Just like now.
The yacht began swaying uncontrollably as the heavy waves rose up all of a sudden. At the same time, darkness seemed to descend on the world, and a Monster revealed its ugly mug from under the water's surface.
Red eyes and horrifying fangs jutting out from its maws - it was a Monster called 'Ness', the dominant creature of this area, before the Leviathan showed up. (TL: Korea is pretty far from Scotland, so not sure how the Loch Ness Monster has ended up there, but this is a work of fiction, so anything goes, I guess…)
"That, that, that…." (Someone from the yacht)
As expected, it became a state of full-on panic on the yacht. The escort Knights belatedly unsheathed their weapons, but everyone knew very well that no Knight could defeat a sea Monster when on the sea. The reporter looked at the Leviathan with a pair of pleading eyes.
Kim Sae-Jin the baby Leviathan snorted dismissively, and slowly moved his body. The Ness Monster growled and expelled Mana in a threatening manner, but well, it was all kind of laughable, really.
He was planning to use his Breath and easily blow the creature away, but then, he thought about the camera. It was true that one wanted to show off a bit if there was an appreciative audience watching the action.
He thought for a bit on what he should do, before a good idea popped in his brain. He then quickly poured his Mana into the ocean.
*SFX for a sudden gust of heavy winds*
Violent winds suddenly whipped up like a thunderstorm and shook the sky, and on the body of water where the Ness was swimming, the ocean began to split open. And after all that mass of water parted away as if a world of vacuum had formed there, the previously-hidden main body of the Ness was dramatically revealed to the world.
Unfortunately for the Monster, the sea water was basically its life. The Ness desperately pedalled its limbs in the air where there was not a drop of water as it began drying up from the tip of its tail, until finally, even the red light circulating in its eyes dissipated away.
This should be enough, then.
Kim Sae-Jin returned the violent storm of winds and the massively-split ocean back to their original calm state, and then took a quick glance at the yacht. Even while experiencing events exceeding his wildest imaginations, the cameraman showed off his true professionalism and continued to film everything away.
Inside the minds of these folks, who were all dazedly staring at the baby 'Azure Dragon', this creature had become even more wondrous to behold.
To split open the sea like that… they had read that before - but, that was from the Bible. And more importantly, the one who performed that miracle was the omnipotent 'God'.
Sae-Jin took one more glance at the dazed group of people, before diving deep into the water. He was going to absorb the Ness's Mana Crystal.
- Acquired the Skill 'Ness's Evil Eye'. Lifeforms coming in contact with the Sea Monster's glare will be unable to move for a short period of time. Divine Creatures will be unaffected by this Skill.
- This Skill can only be used during the Sea Monster Form.
Although it was an alert window he hadn't seen in a long while, rather than feeling happy, Sae-Jin found himself utterly stunned at its contents.
'…This is only 10%?!"
To think that such an overwhelming strength was only 10% of its true might… Sae-Jin couldn't help but praise the greatness of the Leviathan.
< 32. King of the Infinite Ocean, Leviathan (3) > Fin.
(TL: Somebody just shoot me. Really. Because I made a huge mistake and didn't even realise it until now. In previous chapters' TL notes, I said "$0 out of $50 left" when that's not true at all.)
(TL:…. Well…. it's actually $50 out of $50 left for this week's first sponsored chapter. So, uh, if you don't get to read an extra chapter - or two - this weekend, you can all blame me. Sorry.)