A Monster Who Levels Up
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(This week's extra chapter is brought to you by: the Anon Ranger!! Yeah, okay, I tried. Anyways, thanks for your support. Means a lot!!)
The origin of this tale was a post uploaded to the Dawn's forums by a Knight who just happened to be around to witness the final moments of Jin Seh-Hahn. The post itself was nothing but pure guesswork about the unrealistic love between an Elf and the fallen Knight.
And to make the matters a bit more worse than before, several Knights poured more oil to the flames - saying such things as an Elf frequenting Jin Seh-Hahn's home, etc, etc. And then… a gossip-loving female Knight decided to 'sort out' all those little snippets of posts and ended up compiling a romance novel in the process.
And so, the two protagonists in this story morphed into full-blown lovers who were planning to get married soon.
This pure work of fiction was even being recommended by over 640 members of the Dawn Order - which was crazy, considering there were only around 800 Knights affiliated with it. In other words, it seemed like it was only a matter of time before this 'novel' would find its way to the hands of the public…
"This, were you aware of this?" (Sae-Jin)
Inside the coffee shop owned by TM.
Sae-Jin got bored while waiting for that ball/high-society party Yu Sae-Jung was suppose to attend, which he planned to sneak in and 'sightsee' later - or, more correctly, to spy on her - so, called up Hazeline who was living nearby to kill some time.
"Mm… Kind of." (Hazeline)
She calmly replied with a smile. She was as pleased as punch at being called by him out of the blue, but Sae-Jin's brows were deeply furrowed in a show of his unhappiness.
"Ah… Actually, I couldn't really deny it, and you'll see why I couldn't. Sae-Jung was asking me with such an ardent fervor… How can I deny it when she texted me [I didn't know, Unni. I'm so, sorry] with this crying emoji?"
She pulled out her phone and showed the text in question to Sae-Jin.
For sure, it seemed that Yu Sae-Jung sent the text while under the heavy clouds of emotions. Did she send it right after reading those fictitious posts? However, there were a lot of typos. She must've sent it after having a stiff glass or two. Maybe more.
"But still, we shouldn't say Jin Seh-Hahn and Miss Hazeline were having a relationship, you know." (Sae-Jin)
Sae-Jin said half-jokingly, but Hazeline nodded her head somewhat unexpectedly.
"No wait. That doesn't sound so bad." (Hazeline)
"Eh? No, hang on a minute. Please don't joke around. When reporters come around asking questions, please say it's all a misunderstanding." (Sae-Jin)
A question mark floated on top of her head as she tilted it in confusion.
"But why? It doesn't matter since Jin Seh-Hahn is dead, right?" (Hazeline)
"…Actually, it does matter, since I gotta tell Sae-Jung that I'm Jin Seh-Hahn sooner or later. You can probably imagine how awkward that conversation is going to be, right?" (Sae-Jin)
"Why would you tell her that?" (Hazeline)
"Of course I have to tell her. She's my girlfriend." (Sae-Jin)
Hearing his words, Hazeline quietly bit down on her lips. She remained silent after that, just tapping on the coffee table with the tip of her finger. Five minutes, ten, then fifteen… some length of time had passed by, yet all she did was to continuously let out several heavy sighs.
"Yes, yes. How nice it is to be Sae-Jung… After all, you're her boyfriend."
She finally said something, then loudly slammed her palm down on the table's surface, before roughly standing up. Sae-Jin shu
ddered a little, but since she still hadn't given him a definite answer yet, he too got up and chased after her.
"Where are you going now?" (Sae-Jin)
"I'm going to a place for dinner." (Hazeline)
"…With who?" (Sae-Jin)
"With you." (Hazeline)
In a show of confidence, she jabbed her forefinger at his chest as if she had already called dibs on eating out with him or something.
"What are you ta…"
"Didn't you say there's still plenty of time left until that party begins? Then, why not spend it with me?" (Hazeline)
"…No, wait a second here."
"Then, I'll give it a more serious thought, whether I'll deny the rumour or not."
Sae-Jin took a sneaky glance at his wristwatch after deliberating it for a bit. Thankfully, the clock hands still hovered around 5. But Hazeline powerfully snatched his wrist, and glared at him with a pair of chilly eyes covered by her hood.
"Are you coming or not?" (Hazeline)
"Ah, well, since there is still some time left, so…"
"Then, follow me."
Khwang, khwang, khwang
While still tightly gripping Sae-Jin's wrist, she stomped her way in a hurry.
Arriving next to his car before long, she grabbed the door handle and began an epic struggle to open it. But it didn't budge an inch, so she drummed on the door and spoke in irritation.
"Please unlock the door." (Hazeline)
Sae-Jin chuckled slightly as he pressed a button on the car's key. That caused the car's door to open not sideways, but rise up to the sky.
"…Looks like you changed the car again. You must be loaded with money now." (Hazeline)
Hazeline complained audibly as she climbed into the passenger seat. Sae-Jin expertly slid into the driver's.
"Are we going to that place, the one we go to all the time?" (Sae-Jin)
"Nope. Not that one. Let's go somewhere else. There is this place I know." (Hazeline)
She suddenly accessed the car's satnav. The destination was only about ten minutes away - pretty close by.
"By the way…" (Sae-Jin)
"It's going to be fine. There aren't too many people there. It opens a bit later than usual, and as I frequent the place, I know it quite well. Even Sae-Jung's been there a few times before, too." (Hazeline)
"Oh. Well, in that case… Wait, what? Sae-Jung was there too? Why would she be there, in the middle of the night…?"
"She probably wanted to unwind and relax. For now, please get going already." (Hazeline)
When he pressed down on the accelerator, a throaty exhaust note filled the cabin.
And the sports car only needed three minutes to arrive at the restaurant. No, he thought it was a restaurant, but…
"…Isn't this a bar?!" (Sae-Jin)
"Yes, it is. I told you already, yes? That it opens its doors a bit late."
This was no bloody restaurant - instead, it was a stylish and luxurious bar.
"They also serve food. In fact, I'll make it for you."
She entered the bar first. Sae-Jin followed her footsteps with a slightly uneasy expression. He wasn't too worried, though - as long as Mana circulated within his body, he'd never get drunk anyways.
"Actually, this is the magic-infused liquor." (Hazeline)
The moment he heard Hazeline's words, all his confidence shattered into bits and pieces, only to be replaced by the feelings of uncertainty.
"You should have told me sooner…" (Sae-Jin)
"The motto here is 'drinks that can even get Knights drunk'. That's why, the bar's been named 'You Will Get Drunk'… Hiccup!!"
Thankfully, Sae-Jin was only at the level of feeling a bit tipsy, but in Hazeline's case, it was turning into a potentially serious problem. She had discarded her robe a long time ago and now it was nowhere to be seen, and her face was flushed crimson red.
"…Ah, damn. Would you look at the time already? Looks like I must get going…" (Sae-Jin)
To be perfectly honest, he had no confidence when it came to alcohol. All the dangerous mistakes happened under its influences, after all.
"Mister Sae-Jin. There is something I must seriously talk to you about."
However, Hazeline grabbed his wrist again as he tried to get up. Her own hands were trembling, and her downcast eyes were moist. He had no choice but to sit back down. He consoled himself by thinking… all he had to do was avoid getting drunk.
"What… is it?" (Sae-Jin)
He sighed out and asked her.
Hazeline took another sip of her drink, and then, slowly moved her mouth. From between her wet lips, her trembling voice leaked out.
It sure was her trademarked beautiful voice no matter where it was heard, but Sae-Jin's expression was getting stiffer and stiffer as he listened.
The time now was late, late afternoon, the last lights of sun fading over the Western horizon. An ultra-luxurious cruise liner operated by TM was anchored off the coast of the now-calm East Sea. The sight of countless lights that glittered on deck, as well as many waiters kitted out in neat tuxedos, imparted the atmosphere with the air of great importance and high class even when viewed from afar.
As this was a party held biennially, the names on the guest list were indeed quite varied, to say the least. Some who hadn't been invited before had come, while some who had been invited before, were disqualified from attending this year.
"We welcome you aboard."
As the time for the ball drew closer, and the waiters busily greeted the newly-arriving guests - Sae-Jin in the Leviathan Form was swimming around the cruise liner under the water's surface.
Actually, this wasn't his original plan. No, he was going to attend this party as a human and surprise Yu Sae-Jung in the process. After all, his TM had entered the ranks of top 100 companies so he was more than qualified to do so.
However, after listening to the drunk Hazeline's words earlier today, his mind was in somewhat of a turmoil. She definitely did not confess to him. But he wasn't a completely hopeless half-wit who could not recognise the depths of her feelings contained within her voice, either.
"…A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Miss Yu Sae-Jung."
It was then, he heard someone mention Yu Sae-Jung's name. Sae-Jin slowly opened his eyes and carefully swam closer to the surface.
He spotted Yu Sae-Jung on deck. It hadn't even been three minutes since she arrived, but hell, she was surrounded by quite a hefty crowd already. They were all rather good-looking men and women from the families of the top 100 companies.
They were trying very hard to appeal to her sensibilities, but unfortunately, she only flashed a polite smile to deal with them. Even then, not long after, she pulled the time-worn excuse of making a prior engagement with someone else and swiftly evacuated from there.
Sae-Jin slowly tailed her underwater. She seemed to be quite used to walking in high heels now. She made her way towards the railings overlooking the silent ocean and deeply gazed at it in contemplation.
She looked rather lonesome, standing there. So, Sae-Jin created a weak ripple on the surface for her. Yu Sae-Jung quietly closed her eyes as the salty scent of the sea and the gentle sway of the waves entered her mind.
But even that respite didn't last long. An unknown older gentleman was slowly approaching her.
Sae-Jin wasn't worried, at least not initially. He thought that, here comes yet another fool who will end up tasting the bitterness of embarrassment courtesy of Yu Sae-Jung. However… out of the blue, she formed an affectionate smile as if she was waiting for this man's arrival while turning around to greet him.
'…What the hell.'
Momentarily, the sea swayed noticeably - the result of his unconscious reaction after losing his calm at this new development. She was greeting this unknown man with as much affection as she would show him.
Before he could lose his mind, though - Sae-Jin did his best to remain cool, and pushed both his sight and hearing to absolute maximum. The previously-dark view brightened up, and he could hear the conversation of the two on deck.
"And how goes your painting lately, uncle?" (Yu Sae-Jung)
The moment Sae-Jin heard these words, he truly felt grateful for that persistent slim strand of patience he held onto - if he had lost his cool and jumped aboard to intervene, then he'd been seen as a proper idiot by everyone by now.
"It's going well. You should come visit my gallery opening later on."
"Fuhut. Of course." (Yu Sae-Jung)
This man's face kind of resembled the calm ocean - vivid creases on his face and the deep, dark navy blue hair seemed to be the reason for that.
"By the way, Sae-Jung. I've heard from the rumours doing the rounds that you've been dating Kim Sae-Jin."
"…Yes. We've been going out for a while now." (Yu Sae-Jung)
Yu Sae-Jung replied with a strangely lonely expression, which made Sae-Jin feel guilty, his body trembling slightly under the water's surface.
"But I didn't hear anything from the media?"
"No one would be daring enough to publish that story, without receiving our blessings in the first place. I mean, if you happen to cross both the Dawn and The Monster, then you wouldn't be able to set foot back in Korea, after all."
The man smiled slightly and nodded his head. Then, he turned his gaze back towards the ocean - as if to commit to memory whatever he saw lurking underneath the water's surface.
"I honestly never imagined that you'd actually start dating someone."
"…I was really conceited back then, that's why. I've grown up a lot after meeting Oppa." (Yu Sae-Jung)
"No, no. Not that. That's not what I meant, you know? Didn't you say you'd only marry me and no one else?"
Yu Sae-Jung let out a short chuckle as if she found his suggestion unbelievable.
"Just how long ago did I say that…? Seriously, uncle. You're making me laugh." (Yu Sae-Jung)
"Hahaha. It's my sense of humour that attracted my wife. Probably."
"No wa~y. There's no way, methinks." (Yu Sae-Jung)
Two of them shared a warm laughter together.
But the smiles only lasted for a short moment. His face hardened slightly and studied Yu Sae-Jung's side-on appearance. He seemed worried for her.
"However… are you guys definitely in 'love'?"
"…Well, yes. I do love him. I've never felt like this before in my entire life, and I don't think I'll ever feel this way, ever again." (Yu Sae-Jung)
Yu Sae-Jung replied right away. Sae-Jin should have been happy hearing those words, yet… they felt like needles pricking his skin.
"But… Oppa's feelings, I think, aren't as clear as mine. Maybe, I love him a lot more than he does me. I mean, I'm just thankful for being able to have him by my side, you see."
"Is that so?"
"Yes. Therefore, I'm different from you, uncle. So, please do not worry about me." (Yu Sae-Jung)
"…I'd like to do exactly that, as well."
The man answered her in a calm manner.
There were no other words exchanged after that.
Within this silence, the two of them enjoyed this sense of comfortable familiarity shared between them.
With a good timing, a gentle wave swept by.
They stood there quietly and appreciated the beautiful reflections off the rippling surface of the ocean.
Four days later, Thursday.
There was a huge throng of Knights as well as reporters filling up the main auditorium of the Raven Knights Order. All these people had gathered for a 'small' event that would only last 5, 10 minutes tops. But this event was important enough to tug at their interest really hard - a weapon conferment ceremony.
Normally, such a ceremony only happened when a famous Knight bought something from a famous master Blacksmith. The Knights Order would hold it in order to advertise/boast that one of their Knights had purchased such a wonderful weapon.
However… the Raven Order had never held one until now, saying something or rather about their reputation and stuff.
The reason such a famous Order would voluntarily break out of their own tradition, was all because the master Blacksmith involved here was Kim Sae-Jin, as well as the rumour mill indicating that the rank of this new weapon could be a "Treasure".
Inside the waiting room behind the auditorium's stage, the Raven Order's Master Kim Hyun-Seok congratulated Kim Yu-Rin while looking rather dispirited.
"What the… Your subordinate is acquiring a good weapon by getting into a heavy debt, yet you're getting jealous of her?" (Kim Yu-Rin)
Kim Yu-Rin jokingly replied to him while smiling slyly. Kim Hyun-Seok shook his head, his expression slightly showing his guilt.
"No, not true. I am truly happy for you. By the way, what's the name of this weapon?" (Kim Hyun-Seok)
"According to Guild Master Kim Sae-Jin, it's going to be Gungnir." (Kim Yu-Rin)
The legendary Gungnir - the weapon of the leader of all the gods residing in Asgard, Odin. It seemed that Kim Sae-Jin dared to pilfer yet another name of a legendary weapon.
"But, isn't your main weapon a sword? Although I don't know the legend all that well, I'm sure 'Gungnir' is a spear of some kind."
"Ah, that is… Apparently, it's a sword that can substitute a spear easily. He said that it can fire several highly accurate light arrows that will work well along with my Trait." (Kim Yu-Rin)
"…Is that right? Hmph. So, it was tailor made for you."
Kim Hyun-Seok scratched his chin and mumbled in slight dissatisfaction. Kim Yu-Rin looked at that and giggled to herself. Her father could be the most stern-looking man if he wanted to, but sometimes, he did kinda look like a little boy and that sure was adorable.
"By the way… if we are talking about legendary weapons, which one is superior - Gungnir, or Gram?" (Kim Hyun-Seok)
"Uh, well, that is… Ah, it's going to start now. Shall we go?" (Kim Yu-Rin)
Of course, it's Gungnir, thought Kim Yu-Rin as she chuckled inwardly, while leading Kim Hyun-Seok out the waiting room.
"Uh? Oh, yes. Let us."
Two of them opened the door and stepped onto the stage. At the same time, claps of the proud Raven Knights resounded within the auditorium.
As she waved her hands towards the audience, she found a literal treasure chest sitting pretty in the middle of the stage. Although her weapon was still hidden within that chest, she couldn't help but feel deeply affected by the overwhelming aura oozing off from it.
That's mine, all mine~~.
Totally entranced, Kim Yu-Rin floated like a butterfly towards the chest - figuratively speaking, of course.
< 34. Sorting Out the Feelings (1) > Fin.
(TL: $15 out of $50 left for next week's first sponsored chapter. Actually, it should've been $13, but thanks to PayPal again…. Oh well.)