A Monster Who Levels Up
Yi Hye-Rin and Joo Ji-Hyuk went to the East Sea – or, more specifically, to a small hut located inside a forest near the East Sea.
The salty scent blowing inland by the calm waves was gently permeating the land, and the rays of the sun high up in the sky shining down got broken into a beautiful cascade by the gaps of leaves on trees.
Within this brilliant verdant landscape, her hut silently stood still.
“If we’re to value the land according to the view, this place should easily fetch over $90 million, don’t you think?” (Yi Hye-Rin)
Yi Hye-Rin glanced at Joo Ji-Hyuk and asked him.
“Probably.” (Joo Ji-Hyuk)
Just like how he was during the last 30 minutes of hiking, his answer proved to be no fun at all. It was so dry and indifferent.
Yi Hye-Rin clicked her tongue in dissatisfaction, and increased her walking pace towards the hut. Joo Ji-Hyuk silently followed her.
“Should I knock?” (Yi Hye-Rin)
Joo Ji-Hyuk nodded wordlessly. Seeing his especially stone-hard expressions of today, she was getting more and more annoyed but right now, the circumstances meant that she couldn’t express her disappointment. So, Yi Hye-Rin glared at him fiercely once instead, and then cautiously knocked on the door.
Winds rustled past the silent forest, causing the branches to issue a slightly sorrowful wail. Did she not hear the knocking, because of the cries of the trees?
Yi Hye-Rin knocked on the door again. Only then, she could sense a faint sense of movement behind the door.
Soon after, click. A lock that wouldn’t have mattered if it wasn’t there, unlatched.
“Who is… oh, Hye-Rin? Even Knight Joo Ji-Hyuk, too?”
Was it because of the blinding sunshine? A woman so beautiful, that even the fellow woman Yi Hye-Rin couldn’t help but blush, revealed herself.
Underneath her hair cascading like a curtain of silk, her intricate facial features seem to shine brightly. Elegantly-carved lips, eyes that seemed to have somewhat mellowed greatly, straight and perfectly defined nose, plus the pure and pale-smooth skin – her beauty was enough to cause a serious confusion on figuring out whether she was an Elf or a human being.
“What brings you guys here?” (Kim Yu-Rin)
“……” (Yi Hye-Rin & Joo Ji-Hyuk)
A clean and pure echo, created by a masterpiece of a neck – even her voice sounded stunningly beautiful.
Yi Hye-Rin stared at Kim Yu-Rin dazedly for a long while, before her head snapped to her side, out of the blue. And as she suspected, Joo Ji-Hyuk was standing there, his mouth agape.
“Pretending to be serious and all that, and now, you…!!” (Yi Hye-Rin)
Anger rushed up and took over; Yi Hye-Rin slammed her fist right in the middle of Joo Ji-Hyuk’s solar plexus. From the gaping mouth of Joo Ji-Hyuk, an unidentifiable liquid that could either be his spit or blood dribbled out.
Yi Hye-Rin and Joo Ji-Hyuk moved on from that small commotion and entered the hut.
It wasn’t spacious inside, but there was this sense of cozy snugness and a certain affection present to this place. Yi Hye-Rin smiled gently and surveyed the interior for a bit, before finding a bunch of stuff that weren’t there before taking up space here and there.
And they were… cute stuffed dolls.
There was a doll of Athany, a doll of a certain white bird resembling the Korean crow-tit, a doll of the Azure Dragon… and finally, even a doll that kinda, sorta looked like an Orc. And the doll that was suspected to be replica of the
Orc took up the best location of them all, right above Kim Yu-Rin’s bed.
“Wha, what are you doing? Please, hurry and come in and don’t look at the weird stuff.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Becoming embarrassed all of a sudden, Kim Yu-Rin dragged the two of them towards a small coffee table. There were only two chairs here; Yu-Rin settled down on the corner of the bed, while Joo Ji-Hyuk and Yi Hye-Rin took up the available chairs.
“Have you guys eaten yet?” (Kim Yu-Rin)
“No, not ye…” (Joo Ji-Hyuk)
“Yeah, we ate before coming here.” (Yi Hye-Rin)
Yi Hye-Rin hastily covered the tactless Joo Ji-Hyuk’s mouth and replied in his stead.
“Oh, really? Then, what about a cup of tea?” (Kim Yu-Rin)
“We don’t need tea either, Captain.” (Yi Hye-Rin)
Yi Hye-Rin placed an emphasis on the word ‘Captain’ as she replied. Kim Yu-Rin assumed a faint smile.
“When are you coming back? It’s been too long a break for a post-op trauma, you know.” (Yi Hye-Rin)
The very first vacation Kim Yu-Rin went on in ten years of her career was already almost half a year long now. And, what with the justification of ‘recovering from the after-effects of a medical procedure’ added on top, all the higher ups of the Raven Knights Order could do was to impatiently stomp on their feet and wait.
No, it wasn’t just the Raven Order, but the entire country was stomping on their feet as well.
“…Sorry. Please wait for a little bit longer. I’d like to enjoy it for a while longer, this vacation I’ve never had before.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Her will was gentle, yet unyielding. Yi Hye-Rin spat out a long sigh and took a look around the interior of the hut once more.
“Just what exactly are you doing here all alone? Sure, the view looks great, but it’s not like you can stare at the nature all the time, right?” (Yi Hye-Rin)
“Fuhut, does it look like that? However, there are more things to do here than you think.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Kim Yu-Rin’s eyes gently arched. Yi Hye-Rin complained in her heart that such enticingly smiling eyes were an infringement of rules, and took a quick glance at Joo Ji-Hyuk. Instead of his mouth, his eyes were wide open this time.
“I can go out fishing, read a book in comfort, and even meditate to gain clarity on things I failed to realise before. Probably, my Trait could have gone up a level like this?” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Yi Hye-Rin wordlessly glared at Kim Yu-Rin, then her gaze drifted towards a small stuffed doll of a wolf lying on top of the coffee table. It was a seriously adorable little thing. But besides that fatally attractive cuteness, a faint aura coming off it caused a slight desire to possess it to settle on a small corner of her mind.
“Heu, hmm.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
As if she got worried about Yi Hye-Rin asking for it, Kim Yu-Rin stealthily hugged the doll and bashfully came up with excuses for her action.
“….All the dolls in here, the Guild Master Kim Sae-Jin brought along as presents, you know. He said that it’s because I might get bored vacationing alone. I definitely didn’t buy them, you see. T, that is why, I can’t give them to anyone else. If I do, it’d be like I’m not taking his good intentions seriously…” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Kim Yu-Rin spoke these words since, in actuality, she didn’t want to give them away anyways.
However, at the same time those words left her mouth, both of her guests froze up stiff.
After all, Kim Sae-Jin had been kidnapped. By a nonsensically powerful being no less, and his current whereabouts were completely unknown.
Kim Yu-Rin’s eyes widened at this sudden change in the atmosphere and she quickly looked at both of them.
“What? What’s the matter… Can it be?” (Kim Yu-Rin)
With tears forming in her eyes, Yi Hye-Rin dropped her head, Joo Ji-Hyuk gritted his teeth and stared off into the distance instead.
“Did something happen to him?” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Kim Yu-Rin stood up from her spot with a surprised face.
Two of them was unable to say anything for a while. After all, Sae-Jin’s Trait was a big secret. However, in order to persuade Kim Yu-Rin, the secret had to come out in the open.
“What, what happened?” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Kim Yu-Rin hurriedly asked again. Yi Hye-Rin sighed out softly and studied Joo Ji-Hyuk’s mood for a bit. He nodded his head once.
“Fuu… Okay, please listen closely, Captain. Actually, the Guild Master’s Trait is… he can transform into a Monster.” (Yi Hye-Rin)
“…..What?” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Immediately, Kim Yu-Rin’s expression blanked out. But before long, the shock of this revelation quickly reassembled all the information percolating in her brain.
And well, a look of shock even greater than before lit up on her face.
A Trait where a person could turn into a Monster. And then, the Hero Orc and Kim Sae-Jin.
In that case, could it be…
And as her mouth continued to open and shut like a goldfish, unable to swim out from the enormous shock…
“What do you mean, a Monster? It’s the Azure Dragon.” (Joo Ji-Hyuk)
Joo Ji-Hyuk’s words brought a temporary relief to Kim Yu-Rin’s mind currently being ravaged by the shock waves.
“Ah, you’re right. The Azure Dragon isn’t a Monster.” (Yi Hye-Rin)
“The A, Azure Dragon…? Not an Orc?” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Kim Yu-Rin dazedly asked back.
“That’s correct. Mister Sae-Jin can transform into the Azure Dragon. But what do you mean by the Orc? You’re still thinking about that guy?!” (Yi Hye-Rin)
“Ah… No, no. It’s, it’s nothing.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Yi Hye-Rin replied while carrying a bitter smile.
And Kim Yu-Rin dazedly nodded her head, while feeling a conflicting emotion that she couldn’t distinguish whether it was relief or frustration.
We’d like to cordially extend our invitation towards you for the greatest party to be held by The Monster.
The Vice President of the Great Wisdom Investments, Kim Jong-Hyuk-nim, we sincerely hope that you can attend and brighten the party with your presence.
“I think this should be enough, right? Oi, I sent out the invitation to all the celebs as you told me to. Is that cool?” (Yu Baek-Song)
When Yu Baek-Song asked while studying the invitation card, Rhosrahdel nodded his head. As an aside, as he was working as a double agent until now, he no longer had a place to return to anymore, so he decided to completely to stick to this group of people.
“Yes. Currently, there is an Elder assigned to Kim Jong-Hyuk, so the odds of that Elder accompanying Jong-Hyuk to the party is very good. After all, there will be plenty of juicy, fat prey to be taken under the mind control spells in a high-society party held by The Monster.” (Rhosrahdel)
“So, then, we catch that Elder and make him sing where Bathory woman is hiding, is that it?” (Yu Baek-Song)
“That’s correct. Elders are proficient in hiding their identities so not even the best security equipment can find them, but it should be fine since I’ll be present there as well.” (Rhosrahdel)
“Hmph. Good. I’ll leave it to you.” (Yu Baek-Song)
As soon as Yu Baek-Song finished declaring like a boss, the doors to the underground secret conference room got abruptly pushed open.
It was the pair of Yi Hye-Rin and Joo Ji-Hyuk, who went out earlier while saying they were going to fetch someone. And it seemed that they have succeeded in their quest – there was one more person following the duo.
“We’ve brought along the best reinforcement ever~!” (Yi Hye-Rin)
Hearing Yi Hye-Rin’s energetic voice, Hazeline took a glance towards her direction.
And, at the same time, when her eyes met that person’s, Hazeline’s body went rigid in an instant.
It was the same for Kim Yu-Rin as well.
It was only the first day where the inside of the isolation barrier was full of sliced-off flesh bits and coated with mountains of blood; now, this place looked complete opposite of that. It was most likely that Bathory was the so-called clean and neat freak – although this closed-off space was on the small side, as she could modify it to suit her tastes and better reflect her state of mind, now it more or less resembled a high class hotel suite instead.
“A Lycanthrope… Yeah, I’ve heard about your kind before. Seriously, your recovery speed is really annoying.” (Bathory)
Bathory spoke so, her body deeply cocooned within a luxurious sofa. She was wearing a red dress that must’ve had an issue with the amount of materials available during the manufacturing process as it was dangerouslysmall, and it also happened to be quite revealing in all the critical areas.
“Whatever. But you… What are you? You also have a Trait? How can you still survive only with a single finger left?” (Sae-Jin)
“Hmm…. Are you curious?” (Bathory)
Bathory slowly traced her lips with her fingers. It was a needlessly seductive gesture.
“You’ll tell me if I say I am curious?” (Sae-Jin)
“Well, it’s not like I can’t tell you. You’re going to die by my hands soon anyway. Killing you after resolving your curiosity could be seen as me being benevolent, am I right?” (Bathory)
While speaking some confident words, she formed a bright and innocent, child-like smile. It seemed that she was greatly enjoying this situation for some reason.
“Now, pay attention.” (Bathory)
Bathory opened her hand. Red-coloured Mana buzzed on her palm like electricity.
“The Mana of Vampires is red in colour. Because, we tend to ‘use’ Mana and blood at the same. Lower lifeforms can’t do this, of course. To mongrels such as yourself, blood is nothing more than just blood, after all.” (Bathory)
Mana buzzing atop her palm like violent arcs of electricity suddenly coalesced and formed a spike-like shape.
“Vampires pass on their strength via bloodlines. And my bloodline is the most special and excellent among every other bloodline out there. That is why I can use dozens and dozens of ‘sorcery’ spells those cheap Elf Wizards could never perform, and my flesh and bones are several dozen times stronger than even the most powerful Soo-in warriors in the world.” (Bathory)
In a split second, the reddish spike dancing in her palm increased in length and shot towards Sae-Jin’s neck. He ended up swallowing down his saliva unconsciously – the deadly spike had stopped just short of pressing against his Adam’s apple.
“But, the thing that is even more impressive than that, is…” (Bathory)
A deafening noise exploded out and at the same time, Mana began boiling all over Bathory’s body. It was like seeing steam rise from the boiling water – her entire body changed into that of pure Mana.
The reddish Mana became a dense fog and slowly drifted towards Sae-Jin, before gradually changing back into the shape of Bathory once more.
“You see, my blood… it’s Mana itself.” (Bathory)
With an elegant smile on her lips, she sensuously stroked Sae-Jin’s cheek and spoke. Seeing how dazed Sae-Jin was after witnessing that dream-like scene, Bathory didn’t stop there and her hand inched further south. From his face, to his neck; from his neck, to his collarbone; and from his collarbone, to his lower abdomen…
Just as her hand had lowered enough…
The baritone voice of the Wolf heavily descended to her ears.
“What’s the matter? Are you perhaps getting excited…?” (Bathory)
Bathory sneered in contempt as she looked at Sae-Jin’s face.
And at the same time, still in the Lycanthrope Form, Sae-Jin bit into her neck.
“Kkyack!! Seriously?! This stupid son of a bi*ch!!” (Bathory)
Suffering from the unexpected sneak attack, Bathory powerfully punched his upper torso, and as he flew away from the impact, he inadvertently ended up swallowing bits of her blood and flesh.
“Argh!! Phew, spit!!” (Sae-Jin)
“Groan… Ouch, that hurts…” (Bathory)
“Argh, that’s some disgusting shi….” (Sae-Jin)
Kim Sae-Jin was opening his mouth to swear like a sailor – but all of a sudden, an alert window popped up into view.
In that moment, his head stopped thinking, and his heart ceased beating altogether.
[The host has ingested the Bathory blood. The Lycanthrope’s unique Skill, ‘Senses of a Wolf’ is activated, and now, the host can gain an understanding of, and acquire, the strength of a Bathory, according to the amount absorbed!]
< 41. A Curious Occurrence (3) > Fin.