A Monster Who Levels Up
Sae-Jin the Orc beseeched Kim Yu-Rin with alerting the rest of the world about that white bird, then climbed aboard the pulley-operated platform.
"We, uh, we are going up."
The two Knights charged with the rescue operation began operating the platform while stealing glances at the Orc. Or, more correctly, at his defensive and offensive armaments. Even a single, casual glance could tell them those were all first-rate items that easily aroused their desires, even if they didn't want to.
The Orc wordlessly tossed pairs of wrist guards and gauntlets at them. The Knights studied each other's expressions and then, the one carrying the spear took the wrist guards, while the dude with fists as weapons took the gauntlets.
Using his fists - one of these Knights used his hands as weapons. There was a golden emblem 'Jin' etched on his chest armour, so it was safe to assume this guy was one of the 'inheritors' of Jin Seh-Hahn's ideals.
"…T, thank you very much."
Both Knights expressed their gratitude after receiving these sudden gifts. And at roughly the same time, warm sunlight could be seen above their heads.
"We'll return to the surface in around ten minutes. Please be patient for a little while longer."
"I understand." (Kim Yu-Rin)
Kim Yu-Rin faced the rescuers with an officious and dignified attitude. The Orc snorted at a just-loud-enough decibel that others might hear him. She frowned slightly after hearing his ridicule and promptly turned all of her attention towards the two Knights. It was the breakout of her jealous streak that wasn't even a real breakout.
"By the way, it seems like you are from the Jin Mudo school?" (Kim Yu-Rin)
"Oh. Yes, I converted around nine months ago, although I lack in many areas."
"But, you're a upper Mid Tier already only nine months after the conversion - your talent must be exceptional." (Kim Yu-Rin)
"Hahah… thank you for your kind words, but that isn't the case. I simply studied and copied a handful of instructors, that's all. And as luck would have it, this style really suited my tastes and talent level well. My Trait also helped out a great deal."
Jin Seh-Hahn - a man who became a High Tier posthumously, acknowledged as the Highest Tier as far as his fame was concerned, and already a part of the greatest honour known to Knights, the Hall of Fame.
And now, over a hundred thousand disciples around the globe were busy pursuing the path of the martial arts Jin Seh-Hahn had gifted this world, and over a thousand among them had chosen to wield fists after putting their weapons down.
All these people fervently studied, reviewed, tempered themselves and trained hard while watching the films containing Jin Seh-Hahn's movements. To them, Jin Seh-Hahn would remain forever their true instructor.
Because he was so generous with shooting lots of footages for educational purposes, his invaluable martial arts style, such as his battle sense, punching and movement technique, etc, could be preserved in full, becoming the guiding light for all the future generations.
In other words, the traces of a hero had been deeply engraved into the world's psyche.
"Is that how it was? Your teacher was truly a praiseworthy man." (Kim Yu-Rin)
Kim Yu-Rin nodded her head respectfully.
The Orc silently scratched his nose. He was inwardly feeling a bit embarrassed by the fact that the existence of Jin Seh-Hahn, an identity he created in order to achieve one of his goals, was able to influence the world far more greatly than he'd ever anticipated.
Before long, the platform finally arrived at the surface. As this was a High Tier hunting ground, there weren't many onlookers and not one reporter present - with the obvious exception of thirty-odd Knights and Wizards. They all gulped nervously after seeing the Orc and his huge Wolf.
"…Are you going n
ow?" (Kim Yu-Rin)
As soon as the Orc climbed on the back of Cornlak, Kim Yu-Rin asked in a miserable voice.
The Orc lightly nodded his head, then signaled to his ride.
Cornlak jumped off the platform and into the sky, disappearing from the view almost immediately.
And Kim Yu-Rin watched the back of departing Orc with a pair of lonely eyes.
As soon as he returned home, Kim Sae-Jin had to hear an earful from Yu Sae-Jung. After angrily declaring "I'm also not coming home for a whole month!!", she promptly left the house.
That night, Sae-Jin forgot about sleeping and crafted a necklace. And on the following day, he went to where she was staying and gave it to her as a gift, accompanied with an apology. She was waiting for him at the Guild's dormitory, and when he came, she feigned dissatisfaction but still forgave him.
Later that day, after he had successfully received her forgiveness.
Kim Sae-Jin used his notebook PC to check some stuff out about Jin Seh-Hahn online, before running into a particularly interesting website.
It was actually the website for the official Jin Mudo Martial Arts School established after Jin Seh-Hahn's death, but what caught his eyes were the words plastered on top of the screen - [Yi Yu-Jin, 23 years old, Director].
Seeing her title description that said 'former' Knight of Eden, it seemed that she had left Eden after Jin Seh-Hahn's death, and then established the official association as well as the school to carry on with his legacy.
While smiling brightly, Sae-Jin checked the site out, before remembering a certain part of the will, written for him by Kim Yu-Sohn, all of a sudden.
"Excluding my financial assets, everything else will be handed over to my valued and trusted colleague, Yi Yu-Jin."
'Ah. That clause ended up changing a person's life, hasn't it.'
Should he feel proud about this, or feel apologetic…? For now, Sae-Jin carefully searched through the site. Thankfully, he found a page link for 'Sponsorship'. Thinking that he should help out a bit, Sae-Jin reached out and touched the link as it appeared on the hologram.
*SFX for a hologram changing*
Yi Yu-Jin's face projected in the air became extra large. It was actually a pre-recorded video.
"Hello, my name is Yi Yu-Jin, the current serving director of the School of Jin Mudo."
A brave face, the one Sae-Jin sort of missed a little, greeted him.
At the same time.
Yi Yu-Jin spat out a really long sigh of lamentation while holding her head full of complicated thoughts.
There was a ledger full of messy swarm of numbers right in front of her. Revenues were written with a blue pen, while losses were were marked with a red one.
Nowadays, no person alive would keep the books manually like this, but since she was one of those computer illiterate members of the humanity, she had no other choice in the matter.
"And just how do I fill up this hole in the budget…?"
However, one could only spy red letters on the pages of the ledger. It was filled with expenses for maintenance cost, management cost, as well as labour costs, rather than profit.
If she wanted to generate profit forcibly, she probably could. After all, if she hiked the fee for lessons dramatically, as well as strictly enforce the copyright claims on all of Jin Seh-Hahn's footages, and then charge royalties on them, then she'd earn a pretty penny for sure.
If she did all these, then the public might accuse her of selling out Jin Seh-Hahn's legacy, but there should be a steady stream of hopeful Knights who would still pay up. The martial arts Jin Seh-Hahn had created all on his own were more than good enough for that.
But, Yi Yu-Jin didn't want to do this. She could not do it. Because, she believed that she knew the reason better than anyone why Jin Seh-Hahn had entrusted her with carrying out his legacy.
Jin Seh-Hahn used to tell her that she was a lot like him almost all the time. He also added often that she should stop using weapons and rely on her fist, instead.
Back then, she baulked at the idea, saying that he was trying to ruin her career and stuff like that. But after he died, she did put her weapon down and used her fists instead - to very surprising results.
And that was… Her unique Trait, "Level Mastery", had a shockingly great compatibility with Jin Seh-Hahn's martial arts. And so, she used all of the footages of Jin Seh-Hahn, which now belonged to her, to rapidly advance her abilities. It only took her two months to master the martial art. Even the way Eden treated her changed after that.
But it was as if Eden had become addicted to the taste of sweet exposure that the hero Jin Seh-Hahn brought. They requested Yi Yu-Jin to become his clone and appear in front of the cameras for publicity stunts.
Disillusioned by this development, she quit Eden and all by herself, opened the Jin Mudo dojo.
There were already several classes taking place in other Knight Academies across the country, but since this was the only dojo that truly inherited his legacy, her school ended up causing quite a bit of stir. Yi Yu-Jin's reputation as one of Eden's Knights also greatly helped, too - the moment the dojo opened its doors, over 200 hopeful students rushed in to apply.
But… that was it.
The fee for lessons was unbelievably low. And the monthly wages for the instructors were unbelievably high. Within three months of opening, all the funds she had accumulated, as well as every dime she had borrowed, ran out.
But she endured every single day, hoping for donations or sponsors to come through. Jin Seh-Hahn's name was associated with this dojo, after all.
Unfortunately, both the big businesses and Knights Orders were cold hearted. They didn't want to sponsor this place. No, they instead blocked other avenues for sponsorships. And then, they 'politely' suggested her to sell the rights to all of Jin Seh-Hahn's footages.
If she sold the rights, then the lucky Knights Order or the big business would monopolise the legacy for big profit, and all the related backlash would fall squarely on Yi Yu-Jin's laps. This was the so-called 'No Risk, High Return', every merchant's wet dream come true - this point alone made corporations and Knights Orders to become uncaring trash in a heartbeat.
"Hey, Yu-Jin. You feeling okay?" (Goh Yun-Jong)
It was then, teacher-cum-employee Goh Yun-Jong asked her out of worry from her side. Yi Yu-Jin formed a fake smile and nodded her head.
"Of course. Have you ever seen me lower my head to stinking bastards like these a-holes before?" (Yi Yu-Jin)
"We've had an influx of private donations after you uploaded that video. Let's endure it for a little bit longer, okay?" (Goh Yun-Jong)
"…Right. We must endure." (Yi Yu-Jin)
*SFX for a weird and repeated ringing of a phone.*
Suddenly, the phone began crying out a bizarre ringtone.
"Oi, Goh Yun-Jong! Didn't I tell you to change that stupid ringtone many times already? Are you treating the order of the dojo master like it's empty air or something?!" (Yi Yu-Jin)
"…Sorry. Dunno how to do it." (Goh Yun-Jong)
Goh Yun-Jong smiled and picked the receiver up.
"Hello, this is the central dojo of the Jin Mudo Martial Arts School, and this is the vice director Goh Yun-Jong speaking."
Leaving Goh Yun-Jong to take care of the phone, Yi Yu-Jin shifted her gaze back to the pages of the ledger…
"…Excuse me? Ah… Eh? Ah… Eh? No, hang on… Eh? Oh, so that is… Eeeh?!"
…However, Goh Yun-Jong was getting on her nerves. He sounded like he was ordering a bloody takeaway or something with all those "ehs".
"What the hell are you doing??" (Yi Yu-Jin)
"No… Hold on for a moment, please."
After lowering the receiver, Goh Yun-Jong stared at Yi Yu-Jin with a dumbfounded face.
"He wants to become a sponsor." (Goh Yun-Jong)
"Oh, really? That's a good news. I should jot it down on the ledger. How much is it?" (Yi Yu-Jin)
Yi Yu-Jin asked without thinking too much about it. Unfortunately… Goh Yun-Jong's reply was slightly beyond her expectations.
"…$10 million." (Goh Yun-Jong)
Confused by what she just heard, she tilted her head a bit, before her face crumpled in irritation. This sounded like yet another damn prank call.
"Who the hell is on the line?" (Yi Yu-Jin)
Goh Yun-Jong picked the receiver up again.
"Excuse me… may I ask where you are calling from? The name of the corporation is… Ah… Y, ye, yes? R, really? Ah, please, wait for one more moment." (Goh Yun-Jong)
Lowering the receiver, Goh Yun-Jong stared at Yi Yu-Jin with a shocked face.
"He says he's Kim Sae-Jin, the Guild Master of The Monster." (Goh Yun-Jong)
"Ha-ah. Hey, Yun-Jong. How many phone calls from 'Mister Kim Sae-in' did we get in the last couple of months?" (Yi Yu-Jin)
"Ah… well, probably around twenty times?"
"Exactly. Just talk to the guy nicely and hang up the phone already." (Yi Yu-Jin)
"R, right… Ah, excuse me. My apologies, but… I understand your intentions… We don't have any room at the moment to entertain pranks…"
Seeing Goh Yun-Jong literally talk nicely on the phone, Yi Yu-Jin became frustrated and so, she snatched the phone away.
"Hello. I don't know who you are, but stop calling us with these stupid prank calls. If you have time to waste like this, then why don't you go to a school and study something? Seriously, with the world becoming so chaotic lately, must you do something so childish like this? I really don't want to say something like this over the phone, but man, you're pathetic. Pathetic, I tell ya!!" (Yi Yu-Jin)
Yi Yu-Jin ended up rapidly firing some harsh words due to her frayed nerves, but she could only hear a leisurely laughter coming out from the phone's speaker instead.
- "My apologies for being pathetic, miss. By the way, even if you don't want, please take the money anyways. It's just ten million. Although I'd like to help you out more, that's all the readily available liquid cash I have on me at the moment. So, tell me your bank account number."
"Ha-ah. You can find the account number at the website. If you want to pull a prank, then at least do some research beforehand, eh? Whatever you set out to do, you should try to do your best! Do you even get what I'm saying over here?" (Yi Yu-Jin)
- "Oh… Is that so? Please wait for a sec."
Yi Yu-Jin shook her head and was about to hang up the phone.
It was then, a short alarm rang from her mobile phone and its screen lit up suddenly. She took a look at the screen out of habit, and then… froze up on the spot like a statue.
The content of the words on the screen was way too shocking to be believed.
At the same time, exhaust notes of several cars could be heard from outside the office window.
- "Employees of The Monster should be arriving there shortly. Please, have a chat with them about signing a more permanent sponsorship or a partnership deal."
As soon as those words ended, Yi Yu-Jin hurriedly ran towards the window to take a look outside. There were four or five ultra-luxurious saloon cars parked on the street, and when their doors opened simultaneously, men in black suits carrying briefcases exited and began walking towards the dojo.
Yi Yu-Jin lost all capacity to speak in that moment. Well, there was the logo of 'TM' oh-so clearly etched on their briefcases - the logo of The Monster.
She then recalled the things she uttered out to that man over the phone.
If that guy was indeed Kim Sae-Jin, then…
Her heart began palpitating madly as if it wanted to blow up, and her consciousness suddenly became very dim.
Soon enough, the sounds of people knocking on the doors of the dojo came to her, and…
Yi Yu-Jin collapsed on the floor while showing the whites of her eyes.
- "We are on our way to a hospital."
"…A hospital? But why?" (Sae-Jin)
- "The director of the dojo collapsed seemingly due to some kind of shock, sir… It must have been psychological, as even taking a recovery potion didn't help her."
Kim Sae-Jin chuckled. She was unexpectedly weak-minded, it seemed.
"Okay, for now, delay the meeting until tomorrow. Since she's sturdier than she looks, she should be fine by then." (Sae-Jin)
- "Yes, sir. I understand."
Sae-Jin ended the call. He then pulled out a brand new sheet to cover the sleeping Yu Sae-Jung's naked body, lying over the torn and messed up bed spreads before heading downstairs to the underground basement.
The unexpected accident caused some delays to his plans, but before the situation could get worse, it was now the time to start the 'hunt' properly. There was no more time to waste.
"First, I should make an armour for the Leviathan Form…"
He produced two ingots of the greatest metal known to men, mithril. Summoned into the open before anyone had noticed it, Cornlak panted as it approached him.
"I'll make an armour for you to wear as well. Wait for it."
Soon, he'd be on his way to 'catch' the Bathory.
< 38. Traces of a Hero > Fin.
(TL: Hmm. No extra chapters for this weekend… Not enough donations. Sorry. Still at $33 out of $50 left.)