A Monster Who Levels Up

Chapter 15

(This extra chapter is brought to you by these kick-a*s individuals: Anon. Thank you for your donations!!)

On top of the cold stone floor, Sae-Jin opened his eyes. He could see Hunters in the far away forest, while the noisy chirping of birds disorientated him. A Wolf could look a little further away, and hear a little bit more.

He got up from the spot, his four black legs moved.

Before he knew it, it felt like he had completely adapted to using four legs instead of two. Because of this, a whole bunch of swear words suddenly rushed out of his mouth.

The amount of time available for the Human Form was 2 hours a day. If he could be a human for only 2 hours then maybe he wasn’t a human anymore.

At the growing disquiet, he got straight up and changed into his Human Form.

Sae-Jin stared at his legs with his own two eyes, then touched his face with his own two hands. They were all exact the same as before. He was truly relieved. Tears welled up at the corners of his eyes.

It was especially difficult in the mornings after nights of sleep.

He always suspected if the him now was stuck inside of a dream. Often times, he wished he was, as a dream would’ve been better.

It was very painful living as a Monster. The taste of blood and flesh was still stuck between his teeth, the sensation of ripping away lives whole with a mace - he just couldn’t get used to them. If anything, all those things just served to wear him down to his bones.

"….*sigh*…."

Sae-Jin let out a deep sigh. But his tight chest and ominous feelings wouldn’t just go away like that.

And the unusually drab, grey morning sky was making him feel even more depressed than before.

At least to somehow cheer himself up, he switched on the micro TV.

With a soft whirr, a hologram projection spread its light on a wall of the cave.

***

"Pant, pant, pant…"

An Orc Jaguar was on the run from something.

A creature like the Orc Jaguar possessing such a deep desire for battle and victory was on the run? That was simply nonsensical. But right now, this very Orc was beset with terror even from the sound of rustling grass behind it.

The smell of a wolf, the odour of a predator, was making this once-brave Orc scared out of its wits.

The Orc’s eyes hurriedly searched behind its back. It couldn’t see anything back there. But that accursed smell was still lingering there. So the Orc spared no efforts and put strength in its legs to run away.

– Awooooo!!

A Howling dipped in magical power tore through the sky and grabbed hold of this fleeing Orc’s legs. It felt like all the muscles on its body were going numb from the sheer terror.

The Orc intuitively sensed the encroaching death and as it turned its head around… a huge shadow of a jet-black wolf rapidly descended down on it.

"Kwek-"

With its throat grabbed tight, the Orc couldn’t even let out any particular scream, only a small whimper, before its life was snuffed out.

"Khrnng."

After clearing its nose, the wolf pierced into the heart of the Orc with its razor-sharp claw. When the hard tip of the claw penetrated past the soft tissues of the heart and touched something solid, the wolf closed his eyes.

Then, something mysterious happened.<

/span>

An azure aura slowly rose up like a smoldering veil and began covering the Wolf from the claw buried in the heart of the dead Orc to the rest of its black body in a thin, nearly imperceptible layer. This blue light lingered around for a moment before entering the creature, causing him to open his eyes in satisfaction.

[You have absorbed the Low Grade Mana Stone of an Orc Jaguar.]

– Physical Strength and Endurance rise by 0.5.

– Agility rises by 0.2.

– Energy Manipulation rises by 0.05.

– If ?? more Stones are absorbed, the native skill of the Orc Jaguar can be acquired.

‘That’s quite a lot. Was it because I got an Orc Jaguar, even though it was still a juvenile?’

Sae-Jin, now in his Ebony Wolf Form, grinned slyly.

He discovered this way of utilising Mana Stones rather coincidentally. It truly was through a completely lucky chance.

Around 10 days ago, Sae-Jin watched a documentary on his TV inside the cave. And in this particular documentary, the makers were explaining why the predatory Monsters, such as a Troll in Ravenous State or a Two-Headed Ogre, became stronger after eating other Monsters.

At the end of the programme, the experts concluded that these Monsters possessed special digestive system that could absorb Mana Stones.

Those words ended up rousing his curiosity, so Sae-Jin picked up a lowest grade Mana Stone he planned to sell later on and promptly swallowed it.

Just like that, an alert window popped into view at the same time.

[Condition Complete: Absorb a Mana Stone.]

► The Passive Skill "A Growth Type Monster" has been acquired. [Skill Proficiency Level: F]

– When coming in contact with the Mana Stone of a Monster, the host can now absorb a minute percentage of its abilities.

– A greater percentage of the Monster’s abilities shall be absorbed when the Skill Proficiency Level increases.

He felt like he just hit the jackpot. Sae-Jin then quickly went and ate all 10 Mana Stones stored in the cave. All his Stats ended up rising by around 6, but unfortunately, the most important one, the Energy Manipulation, only rose by a paltry 0.6. But he wasn’t disappointed at all. He did find a new way to increase that important stat, that was why.

He then really focused on hunting afterwards. He would kill at least 7 to 8 Monsters in a day and absorb their Mana Stones.

The stronger the Monster, the higher his Stats rose; as to which Stat rose and when, that depended on the Monsters he hunted down. Following the traits of Monsters, if it was an Orc, then his Physical Strength increased; if it was a Wolf, then his Agility rose; if it was a Goblin, then the increase centered around Mana Affinity and Magic Strength.

After focusing solely on hunting for 10 days…

►Status

[Physical Strength 49]

[Endurance 48]

[Agility 63]

[Energy Manipulation 14]

[Mana Affinity 9]

[Magic Strength 9]

[Luck 8]

[*Ebony Wolf: Strength and Defense increased by 26, Agility increased by 40. During the Human Form, the effects will be reduced by ⅓.]

Finally, Sae-Jin grew strong enough to easily bring down an Orc Jaguar. Of course, it wasn’t a fully grown one, just a runt young enough to be called an "Orc Student", but still.

‘All that’s left to do is to evolve…’

Sae-Jin sighed, it coming out as a prreung~ from the maws of the wolf.

As far as he knew, or for that matter the rest of the world, Ebony Wolves were the strongest species of the wolf-type Monster in the Monster field.

In other words, if he could evolve just one more time, he could very well become either a Lycanthrope, or a Werewolf.

On a side note, the differences between a Lycanthrope and a Werewolf were quite clear to see, up to a point.

A Werewolf was purely a beast. However, a Lycanthrope was considered a person, just like Vampires, Humans, Soo-ins, and Elves.

A Werewolf possessed a skill to morph into a Human, but in the end, its nature was still that of a vicious beast.

A Lycanthrope possessed a skill to change into a wolf-man, but at its core, it was a human being.

Looking at things this way, then Sae-Jin was closer to being a Werewolf rather than a Lycanthrope. That was because of his Trait changing his species from Human to Monster.

But a Werewolf was incomparably weaker than a Lycanthrope. One could understand this point when seeing that, while the latter became a legend, the former remained at the level of a rare Monster.

But he didn’t really care which one he’d evolve into.

As long as he could spend the day as Human while not worrying about that damnable time limit….

Even with just that, he’d be happy enough.

*

Tadahk, tadahk.

While making similar noises to what a puppy would make when running on a stone surface, Sae-Jin returned to his cave.

Changing back to the Human Form, he brought out the micro TV, placed it on a nice spot and lied down on the stone bed.

Lately, this was his only method of relaxation. After finishing the hunt, he’d watch TV for the rest of the day with his tired and aching body.

Since this was the only Human-like "hobby" he could do, he kept on watching it until bedtime, even if all of the programmes on were extremely boring.

– Today afternoon, the President…

It wasn't interesting, so he changed the channel.

– Haaa…. Seriously, isn’t there any talented people in the Gaebyuk Knights Order? Can’t you even properly cook rice?

– I-I’m sorry. I’m not used to doing this…

A programme about trying to survive on some remote island somewhere, came on. Famed for his icy-good looks, the superstar Yi Seon-Jae, who didn’t look at all his age of mid-40s, was busy berating a Mid-Tier Knight named Kim Si-Eol. (TL: the author literally said it was a programme about making three meals a day on a remote island….)

– But hey, what does a Knights Order do nowadays? Haven’t we not have an incident of Monsters raiding cities for the past 5 years?

– Yes, well. That’s true. We… are focusing on clearing out the Fissures.

– Is that so? But seeing how you have come all the way out here, you probably didn’t have much to do in the first place.

The chemistry between stupid-faced Kim Si-Eol who couldn’t do anything properly and Yi Seon-Jae who continued to score with barbed comments was fun to watch. Sae-Jin even giggled at several moments, too.

‘……I wonder, can I also make an appearance on TV?’

A strange thought suddenly bloomed in Sae-Jin’s head as he continued to watch the TV and chuckle.

No matter how effed up it was, he still received a superpower, so such a thought inevitably had to spring up in his mind, seeing that he lived as an orphan with no hope and prospects for 21 years of his life. And that thought, was about being loved by many people out there.

Nowadays, the gap between a Hunter or a Knight, and that of a celebrity was quite small. There were even TV shows dedicated to Hunters and Knights only, so it was possible to become famous by killing enough Monsters to raise one’s rank to a Mid-Tier if one was a Knight, or High-Tier if one was a Hunter.

‘As if…’

Not too long after, Sae-Jin returned to reality and vigorously shook his head to disperse the unrealistic dream out of his mind. And then, he changed the channel right away.

– 3 o’clock this afternoon, a Werewolf was witnessed coming out from a Fissure in Gangbukgu.

"Khrreung!!"

Sae-Jin’s body shot up from the bed the moment he heard the news.

– Slightly resembling the legendary Lycanthrope, but quite different in nature, the Werewolf is a rare Monster that hadn’t been seen for past 30 years. After cleaning up the Fissure in Gangbukgu, the Raven Knights Order has announced plans to craft equipment from the remains of the Werewolf, as well as to auction off the recovered Mana Stone.

"Ghrrrung!!"

As soon as he heard the words Mana Stone, Sae-Jin nearly pounced into the hologram projection.

– The auction containing the Werewolf’s Mana Stone as well as other loot recovered from the Fissure will be held at Hyunwol Auction House located on the island of Sebit next week Tuesday, 1 PM. The Werewolf’s Mana Stone has been rated at only a upper Mid Grade, but its selling price is expected to be, at minimum, $1.76 million US, to the maximum of $3.5 million US, due to a high number of collectors desiring this rare item.

"NOOO!! Why the f*ck is it so expensive?!"

Sae-Jin became so emotional, he inadvertently changed back to the Human Form and yelled out loudly. (TL: ??? I thought the dude was in the Human Form already while watching the telly. Huh. Must’ve changed to the wolf because of the time limit.)

Money!! Money!!

Truly out of the blue, he found himself needing a lot of money.

Of course, the chances were, he’d go through no changes whatsoever even after absorbing that Mana Stone. But there was a possibility. Even if it was minute, for Sae-Jin who was in the deepest bowels of despair it was worth betting everything he had.

"MONEY!!"

He yelled out even louder and stood up from his position.

Sae-Jin anxiously paced around the interior of the cave for 10 minutes while biting his fingernails. The voice of the anchor continued to reverberate in his head.

The expected price of $1.76 million minimum, the maximum of $3.5 million…

The expected price of $1.76 million minimum, the maximum of $3.5 million… (TL: Yes, the same line is repeated in the raw.)

‘I don’t have enough money.’

Sae-Jin bit his lower lip, hard.

Then, he spotted the micro TV’s call function.

There was only one number showing up in the list of the recent calls - Hazeline.

They only saw each other twice now. And the amount he needed to borrow was, at least, $1.76 million.

Any sane person would know not to make that call.

But for a guy with a pair of bloodshot eyes and his thoughts stuck in despair, such a thing as sanity had imploded a long time ago.

– ring, ring

His breathing became harsher every time there was a ring.

He didn’t want to miss this opportunity. The Werewolf’s Mana Stone - from a rare Monster that had not been seen in the past 30 years. If he missed this chance, then there may never be a next time for him.

– "Hello, this is the Manager of Yoseon Alchemy House…."

"Miss Hazeline!! This is Kim Sae-Jin speaking!!"

Sae-Jin hurriedly shouted out her name in an urgent voice, causing Hazeline to answer in panic.

– "Ah, hello, Sir Kim Sae-Jin. Is there something wrong?"

"I need to apologise to you beforehand, but may I ask you for an important but selfish favour?"

– "Y-yes? Why so suddenly… ah, yes, it’s possible. If it’s you, Sir Alchemist."

Hazeline made a calm reply. She was probably thinking that it couldn’t be something big.

Or, even if it truly wasn’t something big as she suspected, she could have figured that having Sae-Jin in her debt may prove beneficial in the further development of their business relationship….

"Can you borrow me some money? I will definitely, definitely, without a doubt, work hard and repay you with my potions."

It just so happened to be that she was right.

And he dearly wished to get into an enormous debt with Hazeline.

– "….Eh?"

A short sound of incredulous shock leaked out from the receiver of the phone.

< The Mana Stone of a Beast (1) >

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