A Monster Who Levels Up
(TL: This extra chapter is sponsored by these Kool Kats: Josh G, Gerald C, Edi C, and VVIP, Dale B!! Thanks for your support, guys!! I really appreciate it. And I don't mind either coffee or tea, BTW, Gerald C.)
A type of 'magic' where Mana in its most elementary form was fired out.
The mighty dragons apparently loved using it in the distant past, and thus this attack became a romantic ideal of sorts, but still, the level of destructive power each Breath attack possessed was definitely horrifying to behold.
Sae-Jin came to the Monster field to train his own Breath that would no doubt become one of his main attacks whether he was in the human's appearance or as a Leviathan - all the while suddenly choosing to wear a robe usually worn by other Wizards while carrying a single elegant wooden stick thingy and accompanied by a drone fitted with a camera.
It was shaped like a lengthy, slick pole, and the tip was rounded off - indeed, this was a magic staff crafted with Kim Sae-Jin's own hands. From afar, it kinda looked as if he made it out from a broken branch of a tree, but when inspected close by, there was this 'vintage' charm to its overall shape.
On top of this, Sae-Jin also attached a ruby-like jewel on it that featured the attributes of 'Mana Amplification' and 'increase spell's power' - in terms of market value, this staff would easily cost nearly $30 million. Well, Wizards tended to have a rather large spending habit, so…
He was making his way towards the upper Mid Tier hunting grounds, dressed up as… the Wizard of Bangbae-Dong. He even checked to make sure the drone was working fine, since the footage captured would be uploaded to the blog, too.
He deliberately came here during the sunset, and sure enough, there weren't all that many people around who were still out hunting. Still, Sae-Jin covered his face even more with the thick hood and roamed around the hunting ground.
When he walked around for 30 minutes or so, he finally ran into a fairly substantial Monster that dominated the skies, the Wyvern. If he found something like a Griffin, fine, but a Wyvern, a High Tier Monster, in the upper Mid Tier hunting ground? It was probably a typical example of how chaotic the activities of Monsters had become lately.
"Well, this is good."
Sae-Jin pointed the staff at the Wyvern and focused his Mana flowing inside the body onto his new baby. Reddish Mana focused on the ruby, and this crimson flow gradually morphed into flames while boiling hotly, and then…
…It twisted and distorted as it pounced upon the airborne Wyvern.
The Breath: Hell's Flame of Retribution fired by Sae-Jin on the ground only needed less than one second to reach the Wyvern.
The flames of hell engulfed the poor Wyvern in one go. The creature let out a tragic scream of suffering as it flapped its wings.
Too bad, the devilish flames didn't want to go out, no matter what.
Sae-Jin gathered Mana around his staff again. This time, rather than red colour, the flow of Mana emitted a pure white hue, like the surface of ice.
The chilling Mana pooling around the staff rapidly froze the world. The molecules of air froze into tiny frost particles and scattered away, settling on the surface of his robe as a thin layer of ice.
*SFX for solid ice blocks cracking open*
As the land Sae-Jin stood on froze up in white, a Breath of freezing storm rushed out from the staff this time around.
This cold Breath even managed to freeze the sky as it reached the hapless Wyvern. And when it was combined with the hell's flames, they caused a massive explosion.
The big and powerful Wyvern was reduced to ashes and bits of frost from the combined might of flames and bitter chill, and the remains drif
ted down to the ground.
As its body had been completely annihilated, there was no loot to recover, but still, this show of power had truly impressed him. Even with the human form it was this amazing, so how powerful would it be in the Leviathan's Form? His confidence was soaring higher.
"I wonder how good was the footage…"
He turned his attention towards the hovering drone and muttered to himself.
"What types of reactions would they show…?"
Nowadays, Sae-Jin was deriving much pleasure at watching the surprised faces of those overly proud Wizards, as well as at those two faced people who publicly tried to cut down the Wizard of Bangbae-Dong out of jealousy but inwardly coveted what he possessed.
What would their reactions be like, after he uploads this video on the blog?
Would they deny the truth right in front of their eyes and claim that it was the might of the staff? Or would they accept the gap in their abilities and his, and kneel down in defeat? Of course, judging from the prior haughty actions of many Wizards so far, most of them would choose the former option.
While he stood there feeling rather pleased with himself, a text message from Hazeline arrived.
Sae-Jin sent back his own short reply and headed back to the exit.
After meeting up with Hazeline, Sae-Jin told her everything in detail.
The horrifying future that Kim Yu-Sohn's visions revealed; as well as cooperating with an offshoot of Vampires called Nosferatus in order to stop that future from happening.
This information was a sensitive top secret that should never be told to anyone, but the person hearing it was Hazeline, and Sae-Jin felt less of a pressure precisely because of that.
That was how trustworthy and reliable a person she was.
After hearing all of this, Hazeline's eyes opened up extra round and all she could do was to open and close her mouth repeatedly like a goldfish, completely speechless.
Actually, she couldn't say anything. From her point of view, what Sae-Jin told her just now sounded like a surrealistic fantasy.
"…Would you like to help me?" (Sae-Jin)
"….Eh? W, wait…. Hold on. S, so, if I try to unpack everything Mister Sae-Jin has told me…" (Hazeline)
Hazeline swept her wet hair back, seemingly soaked through because of all the cold sweat pouring out of her forehead.
"In the future, our world will head towards apocalypse, because of the Vampires… and in order to stop these Vampires, we need to ally ourselves with other Vampires and kill their leader… Am I right?" (Hazeline)
"Hmm… More or less. But, please, do try to separate Nosferatus and Vampires apart during our conversations. It might get confusing." (Sae-Jin)
Of course, Sae-Jin still found this group of Nosferatus not that easy to fully trust. But, he couldn't forget the fact that they handed a Leviathan's scale over to him. By taking into consideration this scale being the real deal, somehow, they didn't seem like totally evil beings that were impossible to work with.
That Lillia woman even allowed Sae-Jin to dispatch his agents to the hidden sanctuary while saying, "If we show even an inkling of betrayal, you can wipe us all out with your strengthened Leviathan Form after ingesting the scale."
"S, so, these Nosferatus…" (Hazeline)
To Hazeline, who was unaware of these events, all Vampires were exactly the same, regardless of what they were called.
"Us Elves are enemies with Vampires, you know…" (Hazeline)
She looked somewhat in agony as she covered her face.
The Mafia, the Triads, the Yakuza, rebels and revolutionaries, government forces, etc, etc… She might have received lots of 'commissions' from many different clients in the past, but an operation of this scale, and working together with Vampires no less, was a first even for her.
"…If you don't feel up to it, you can always decline. But, you must keep everything you've heard today as a secret," said Sae-Jin.
Suddenly, Hazeline lowered the hands covering her face, rested her chin on one, and with a strange look in her eyes, stared at Sae-Jin.
"…As a secret?" (Hazeline)
"Yes, of course. With the exception of you, Miss Hazeline, there isn't anyone else I can talk to about this. You're the first person to hear this secret among all my acquaintances."
Although the famous Elven trait of never betraying other's trust played a part in his decision, Sae-Jin also implicitly believed in Hazeline as well. Even if he didn't use the Eyes of the Wolf and see into her heart, she was still a person he knew the longest after all.
"….Even Sae-Jung doesn't know?" (Hazeline)
"Eh? Oh… Yes. T, that's right."
Before he could answer, though, he did become a bit conscious of this decision. The reason why he didn't tell Yu Sae-Jung was because this operation was going to be very dangerous. Depending on how it was interpreted, it could be seen as a sort of discrimination.
"Is that so…?" (Hazeline)
But it was a weird thing - her eyes regained her calm demeanor, her lips arched in a slight grin, and even her nostrils flared just a little. Her complexion puzzlingly showed how pleased she was.
Sae-Jin scratched his head while asking her.
"Have you come to a decision?" (Sae-Jin)
"…By the way, if I decide to participate, then doesn't that mean we will have to see each other more often from now on~? You did say we need to come up with a plan." (Hazeline)
While twisting the ends of her hair, Hazeline feigned disinterest as she asked on the sly.
"Yes, probably we will. But, if you want, we could communicate using those communication crystals…" (Sae-Jin)
"Nope. If I do this, then I should do it properly. In this world, I hate doing things in half measures the most, you know." (Hazeline)
Hazeline suddenly stood up from her seat with a serious face.
"I will do it. Not only are you the one asking me, I also want to do something this big and crazy, too. Saving the world - doesn't that sound just cool? Being born as an Elf woman, I should do at least something this grand once before I die." (Hazeline)
Sae-Jin gazed at her and formed a smile.
"Thank you." (Sae-Jin)
Then, he pulled out a crystal from the drawer.
"Lillia? The Wizard agreed to do it." (Sae-Jin)
"…Huh? We, we are doing this right now?" (Hazeline)
"Please take a seat. We'll explain the plan." (Sae-Jin)
As soon as Hazeline sat back down, Lillia's voice came out from the crystal.
- "Thank you very much, Wizard-nim. We have all climbed aboard a ship that will cross a very dangerous sea. And the first obstacle we must cross is, to kill a certain woman who will become the future ruler of all Vampires."
"Okay, I know that… Mister Sae-Jin has explained to me in detail already."
- "That is a relief. Then, allow me to explain the plan in greater detail."
The plan was thus:
Firstly, Nosferatus would set up an isolation barrier that separated a small area of the East Sea from the rest of the world; then inside it, they would ready countless magic traps and Mana Stones.
And when Sae-Jin played his part well and lure Bathory into this barrier, those traps would activate - then, Hazeline's turn would come next.
What she needed to activate was the artificial heart Sae-Jin got from defeating the doll of the Vampires some time ago.
By activating the spell contained within the heart, the one that disabled the flow of Mana temporarily, and using it against Bathory, then in that moment, she should become incredibly weak. Pour countless magic attacks on her and with them, kill her.
In theory, it would only take a blink from the beginning of the operation to its conclusion - probably less than three seconds. However, Lillia was of an opinion that, if they failed to kill the Bathory woman within that time frame, the odds of their plan failing was over 70%, so she added something else.
- "It is regrettable that most of us, Nosferatus, are Wizards… I feel that it could be to our advantage if we have one more person, a Knight, that can delay Bathory physically."
Lillia began mumbling as she found it unfortunate.
"A Knight, you say?" (Sae-Jin)
Sae-Jin's eyes brightened. If they were talking about a Knight… then he could think of someone. Someone who went on a vacation during these Monster incident-laden turbulent times, saying that she couldn't work due to the post-op depression from the operation - Kim Yu-Rin.
- "Yes. Even with a lot of people, a disorganised rabble will only end up getting in our way - so, I believe a talented Knight would be better for us."
Sae-Jin fell into a dilemma.
Meanwhile, Hazeline was next to him, unable to compose herself.
He definitely said he wouldn't get Yu Sae-Jung involved in this. That meant, the most powerful person of the remaining Knights could only be…
At his follow-up words, Hazeline's heart sank to the bottom.
"I could float the idea past the Knight Kim Yu-Rin." (Sae-Jin)
The relationship between human Sae-Jin and Kim Yu-Rin wasn't all that deep, unless he was in the Hero Orc Form.
However, she was someone with a great sense of righteousness as well as holding unshakeable ideals of a Knight. If he explained to her that, by killing Bathory, they would put an end to the Monster incidents, she might agree to do it without much resistance with that line of persuasion…
It was then, Hazeline grabbed the arm of deliberating Sae-Jin.
"…Excuse me, Mister Sae-Jin?" (Hazeline)
She could only contort her body with a uncomfortable face, unable to say a single word.
Not only did she feel ashamed of the past incident with Kim Yu-Rin, but also, she didn't want to discuss her past love life in front of Kim Sae-Jin, either.
"What's the matter? Are you perhaps uncomfortable with Miss Kim Yu-Rin?" (Sae-Jin)
"Well, in that case…. there is someone else who isn't a Knight, but probably stronger than regular Knight anyway - will that be fine?" (Sae-Jin)
- "Yes. What we are looking for is a person who can physically delay Bathory, even for a brief second."
In gaming terms - what they were looking for was a tanker. While grinning to himself, Sae-Jin recalled the silhouette of someone who'd never be taken to be a tanker - a small white cat, Yu Baek-Song.
"What about Knight Joo Ji-Hyuk? I hear he got promoted to the High Tier." (Hazeline)
Hazeline asked him cautiously.
"Oh… You're right. We also have Mister Ji-Hyuk, don't we?"
- If you're talking about 'Joo Ji-Hyuk', do you mean the Master of Greatswords?
"Yes, that's him." (Sae-Jin)
- "He should be a good fit, in that case."
Satisfied by the amazing quality of his personal connections, Sae-Jin smiled and wrote down several names on the memo pad. Of course, it was unknown whether any one of these people might participate in something this dangerous.
Leaving Hazeline to breathe a sigh of relief, Sae-Jin was about to make a call to Joo Ji-Hyuk on the phone.
"Ah, right, there's something I should do first. Nearly forgot about it."
Then, he suddenly remembered something, and pulled out a magic staff stored in his body via Spiritualisation.
This staff looked a bit similar to his own, but it was refined and beautified further to better suit Hazeline. He also went with a diamond instead of a ruby for the decorative jewel, even.
"Here, take this." (Sae-Jin)
"…What… is this?"
"It's a present. For deciding to work with us. It's got a really powerful amplification attribute added in." (Sae-Jin)
"Ah… But, it looks so expensive…" (Hazeline)
She dazedly studied this beautiful staff for a while, before swallowing down her nervous saliva and gently embraced it.
"Haha… Get friendly with that fella soon. Since it's one of the best I've made yet, it'll listen to you very well." (Sae-Jin)
Hazeline found Sae-Jin busy emphasizing 'his best' quite attractive, and she felt this powerful urge to hug him right this moment.
No, she ended up doing it for real.
Her body acted before her mind could.
She embraced Sae-Jin tightly, while slowly whispering to him.
< 39. Preparations for the Hunt (4) > Fin.