A Monster Who Levels Up
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Kim Sae-Jin's mother, Jin Soh-Jung - and his father, Kim Jeh-Hyuk.
Both of them were originally Knights of Eden.
For some unknown reason, his mother got into an argument with several high ranking officials of Eden, which promptly got her fired from her post. As written by Eden, the records stated it was her 'rebellious streak' to blame.
Whatever the case may have been, after leaving Eden, she changed her job to that of a Mercenary and killed many non-human races.
Then, on a certain day.
After operating as one of the finest A-ranked Mercenaries for some time, she went off on a particular mission to hunt down Vampires, as she would have usually. During the mission, though - she ended up encountering the offshoot of the Vampire Race, 'Nosferatu'.
At first, she did try to kill all of them. But then, she was won over by their persuasion - according to Eden, being deceived - and not only did she not kill them, but she even began taking care of many matters for them on her own volition.
In the midst of doing all this, she became pregnant with Sae-Jin. She deliberated on what to do, and in the end, chose to stop what she had been doing until now and returned to Eden's fold, in order to request for their protection. As a result of siding with the Nosferatus, she ended up becoming the target for the Vampires' hate.
Unfortunately, Eden's protection was negligent at best, and led her to die at the hands of the Bathory Vampires.
Kim Sae-Jin carefully read every word of the information on his mother first.
However, when he turned the page over and the information on his father entered his eyes, his mind completely shattered into tiny bits and pieces, making it impossible to even form a single coherent thought.
His father, Kim Jeh-Hyuk, was a third-generation 'Mah-in'. (TL: Mah-in = Monster Man. Will use this term from now on. A Monster Man is a Monster that can change into a human's appearance.)
The story went like this:
Well over 70 years ago, when the world's governments were still trying fruitlessly to conceal the existence of Fissures, Kim Jeh-Hyuk's grandfather stepped onto this planet.
Was it because he was a half Mah-in? He longed to attain pure humanity. And so, he settled down peacefully, fell in love with a human woman, and lived a long and rather fulfilling life, quite unlike most of his peers who were quite a bit more keen on roaming the earth and causing all sorts of mayhem in their wake.
And two generations later, Kim Jeh-Hyuk was born. But hell, he wasn't even aware of himself being a third-gen Mah-in at all.
During his teenage years, he placed all his trust in his 'Trait' and acted like a low-rent thug, but he met Jin Soh-Jung, which became the catalyst to turn his life around.
To be with her, he worked hard to become stronger and entered Eden. And he even created with her a child that kinda resembled himself. But thanks to the Bathorys' scheming, he died without being able to take a look at the face of his own son…
"…This, what the f…"
The truth about his father being a Mah-in was incredibly difficult to swallow. To make sure he didn't read it wrong, Sae-Jin noisily went through the documents over and over again until he couldn't remember how many times he did that.
But the documents were indifferent to his turmoil; even the strain of Kim Jeh-Hyuk's DNA, recovered after his death, had been captured and stored within this archive.
Only then, Sae-Jin began to faintly understand just why he was granted such a strange 'Trait'.
'The mysterious powers called 'Trait', born after the world's natural laws became distorted, seems to be compl
etely random most of the time, but it can also be recorded into one's genes as well. This occurs when a lifeform jumps between two different worlds and lose most of its original strength, so the laws of the original world will try to augment…'
This was an excerpt from a thesis Kim Yu-Sohn gave Sae-Jin to read. Back then, they were just a random soup of words he couldn't really understand, but now…
Countless strands of thoughts rushed in like tidal waves in his head. Nothing but chaos ruled his mind, and he felt a sickening dizziness that almost made him throw up everything in this stomach. Even regret began hounding him, asking if it was worth knowing this part of the truth.
Before long, he was plopped down on the floor. He didn't even have energy to stand up, only quietly holding his aching head. But his pain didn't want to go away. His blurred eyesights confused him, making it hard to tell whether he was in a bad dream or not.
'I didn't reveal my Trait because I was worried about being mistaken as a Mah-in. But… huh. I was a Mah-in for real.'
He laid there on the floor for a long, long time, before letting out a hollow chuckle mixed in with resignation.
Still suffering from confusion of mind, Sae-Jin exited the Tower to breathe in some cold air. But there was no strength in his legs and that caused him to stumble around like a drunk.
It was a not-so-late afternoon, and there were lots of people going about their daily lives on the streets.
Parents walking hand in hand with their children; students, laughing and walking to wherever their feet took them - these were the displays of love and bond between family and friends, something Sae-Jin had not been able to experience while growing up.
As he silently took in these sights while aimlessly drifting forward, too many restless thoughts invaded his head once more and complicated his emotions further.
Firstly, should he go and meet the group called Nosferatus, the ones who had some sort of a connection with his mother? But then, what? What should he do next, after meeting them?
Sae-Jin stood still and let out a soft sigh. Then, a handful of people hesitantly got closer to him. They saw the Eden's insignia and recognised Jin Seh-Hahn, and began asking for his autographs as well as to take selfies with him. He forcibly squeezed out a smile and said yes.
After talking to people and taking care of their wishes, Sae-Jin resumed his walk.
He walked for unknown amount of time without saying a single word.
On the opposite side of the pedestrian crossing, he spotted a person covered in a robe. The hood covered her head, so her eyes and nose couldn't be seen, but she was definitely staring at him. The evidence was that thick smile etched on her lips.
Sae-Jin slowly made his way towards her. And as he did so, the smile on her lips became brighter and brighter.
He did tell her not to come… But, the sense of weakness that had taken root in his mind reared its ugly head. For him right now, confused and uncertain, he needed someone to lean on, at least for a short while.
And as he continued to walk towards her location…
Suddenly, the world darkened.
A small part of the curtain of darkness that seemed to swallow every bit of light, including even that of the fading sunset, transformed into a shape of a giant fist, and then - descended down on Hazeline's head.
Sae-Jin madly dashed towards her direction. He powerfully embraced the totally-unaware woman, who still carried that smile, and activated the scales of Leviathan to the absolute maximum.
A huge explosion of impact reverberated, and shortly after, screams began ringing out on the once-calm roadside.
"Are you alright?"
Trapped underneath the rubble inside the crater, Sae-Jin asked her.
"…Uh-whew. You gave me such a fright, you know? Even if you hadn't acted, I would've blocked it just fine…" (Hazeline)
From within his embrace, a voice filled with fake criticism leaked out. When he took a sneaky glance downwards, Hazeline was there, busy fidgeting around uncontrollably, while both her cheeks were dyed in crimson red.
"I'm asking you, are you unhurt?" (Sae-Jin)
"…You are overreacting right now. Maybe Mister Sae-Jin is mistaking me for a helpless child in her teens? I hate being treated like that, so from next time onwards, please be more mindful of that." (Hazeline)
Hazeline seemed to be deeply embarrassed for some reason, as she was desperately trying to sound more assertive than usual.
"Well, in that case, my bad. Looks like I made a mistake in rescuing you." (Sae-Jin)
Giving her a blunt and obviously unhappy answer, Sae-Jin lifted the rubble off himself and stood up.
The scene outside the crater was even more hellish. Several unidentifiable beings of darkness were busy killing people and destroying buildings, their forms taking on the various shapes of large fists, blades, dogs and even Monsters.
Sae-Jin stared at this horrifying sight and asked the rather obvious question.
This was without a doubt, the handiwork of the Vampires, but why did they go to all this trouble? All he did was to take a gander at his own complicated origins as well as the mystery of his parents' deaths.
But to cause such a huge incident that could pull forth the focus of the entire world, just because of those information? Wasn't that like killing an ant with a knife designed to butcher cows? The risk associated with this move was simply too high for the supposed reward on offer.
"What are you waiting for? Isn't this the time for the hero to step forward?"
While he stood there in a dilemma, Hazeline spoke up as she tapped on his shoulder.
When he heard that word, a lightbulb went off inside his head. Now that he thought about it, the perfect opportunity had unexpectedly arrived in front of him, hadn't it?
Sae-Jin intensely stared at Hazeline. Her face reddened once more as his sharp and manly face focused only on her, and she took a step back. But she didn't forget to reply in a manufactured calmness.
"W, what's the matter?"
"Today, I need your help. I'm going to die today." (Sae-Jin)
Before she could show her terrified shock after hearing his declaration, Sae-Jin pulled out the communication crystal and called a certain someone.
"Mister Kim Yu-Sohn."
- "Ah, sir, it's me, Kim Sun-Ho."
It seemed that the graveness of the situation had been already transmitted to him, as Kim Sun-Ho's voice sounded urgent.
"Are you aware of the current situation?"
- "Yes, boss. The government already requested us for an aid, so six Griffin Riders have been dispatched as we speak. And also, with the issuing of emergency notice, several Mercenaries are heading over there as well."
"Ah, is that so? Anyway, Mister Kim Sun-Ho. Jin Seh-Hahn will die today."
- "Boss? Ah… Yes sir. I'll give Miss Yu Baek-Song a call and also deploy the operatives right away."
Ending the magic communication, Sae-Jin asked Hazeline with a playful voice.
"Just in case, do you know of any magic spells that can place a person in a state of suspended animation?" (Sae-Jin)
"….I might know one such spell…" (Hazeline)
"…Oh, so you do?"
He honestly didn't expect such a spell to exist. Sae-Jin got impressed by Hazeline's ability as a Wizard all of a sudden, while clenching his fist tightly enough to emit cracking noises.
"Well, in that case… Let's get going, then." (Sae-Jin)
"No, wait a damn minute!! You should explain yourself first… Euh!!" (Hazeline)
"Mister Sun-Ho should be arriving soon; hear the rest from him." (Sae-Jin)
When Sae-Jin pressed forward into the air with a terrifying might, a huge shock wave shot out in a straight line and blew away all the darkness in its wake. And as the darkness lifted and the scenery became clearer, a mother hugging her child and screaming her heart out could be seen. He changed course almost instinctively and ran towards her, immediately destroying a dark figure shaped like a person hovering near her.
The tightly-closed eyes of the mother slowly opened in confusion when nothing happened. And a face of a smiling man filled up the entirety of her vision.
"Please, do not worry. I'm from Eden."
As soon as he was done with the hero cosplay, as he expected, a bastard emitting that foul smell of Vampires attacked him.
The stinking bastard, covered in head to toe by the darkness, ran up to him and swung its blade without a care or regard for anything.
Claws and the blade collided, sending countless sparks to fly off. But well, the enemy's blade simply crumbled into pieces after that single collision.
Checking his broken stump of a sword for a bit, the darkness stealthily took a step back and surveyed its surroundings.
As expected of Korea that boasted the best level of super-quick response time and suppression in the world - the loud, spirited cries and calls of sharp Mana from the arriving Knights resounded out all over the area.
Since the situation had become critical, the smelly bastard was forced to reveal its trump card. It stood still all of a sudden, and then began reciting a strange chant. There was no sound muttered, only its lips moving incessantly.
It recited for the next ten seconds straight, and when that was over, the darkness that was shrouding the sky suddenly retracted and concentrated into the shape of a huge meteor high in the air.
It didn't burn like a huge fireball should, nor did it emit any thunderous noises.
Yet, as it rapidly descended with nary a whisper on the ground, the sight of it alone was enough to instil a sense of total despair in the hearts of all civilians watching it.
What would happen, if something that terrifying fell? Countless civilians lifted their fear-filled eyes towards the sky to look, while some of them quickly began running away with their trembling legs.
"Kek. Work hard." (Vampire)
As Kim Sae-Jin/Jin Seh-Hahn fixedly stared at the falling meteor, the smelly bastard let out an equally odious grin and disappeared from the spot - a sneer, saying it'd like to see how Sae-Jin might deal with this. And almost right away, he felt a blood-red pair of eyes focusing on him.
It looked like that, this meteor was the sure-kill hidden weapon prepared to destroy Jin Seh-Hahn for good.
But for Kim Sae-Jin… he was feeling so happy inside right now, he almost wanted to thank these fools who had laid out the perfect stage for him.
Looking at the giant black meteor falling towards the earth, Sae-Jin summoned forth every drop of Mana in his body. If it was on that level… although it wouldn't be easy, he should be able to deal with it.
He thought he heard Hazeline's voice. She was lying on the ground, mimicking a wounded survivor.
Sae-Jin gave her a signal with his eyes, and then…
He kicked the ground hard and launched into the air, becoming a single blue line that shot towards the falling meteor.
In that moment, the eyes of the civilians focused on that line. Even the Knights, who were busy cutting apart the darkness, stopped what they were doing temporarily and stared at that remarkable sight.
< 33. Heroic (4) > Fin.
(TL: $50 out of $50 left for this week's second sponsored chapter.)