A Monster Who Levels Up
“Do you still wish to seduce me?” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Sae-Jin needed full five minutes before he finally deciphered that her fleeting words were actually concerning the Guild. And that only came about thanks to the brightly-smiling Kim Yu-Rin clearing up the air after she saw Sae-Jin completely freezing up.
“About the Guild, Mister Sae-Jin. The Guild. Just what were you thinking about?” (Kim Yu-Rin)
He cleared his throat with a couple of fake coughs. He got quite embarrassed by the thoughts that were swimming in his mind just now and cold sweat drops trickled down the back of his neck.
“But, why so suddenly? Didn’t you refuse resolutely back then, since you were to become the next Order Master of the Raven?” (Sae-Jin)
Sae-Jin asked her, and Kim Yu-Rin replied in a whisper, her expression slightly bitter.
“I’ve received disciplinary action. For disobeying the orders. One can’t become an Order Master for a government-run Knights Order if he or she has a disciplinary record. No, even holding onto the position of the Highest Tier Knight will become uncertain as well.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
That was probably the result of the incident related to the Orc. Although she did successfully defeat the Boss Ogre, that didn’t mean she had the right to disobey the orders from the higher-ups and disregard the rules and regulations of the Knights Order.
He didn’t dig in deeply, choosing to simply smile and nod his head.
“Yes, we’ll be delighted, for sure. And it’s a good timing too, since we’re in the middle of picking new members as well.” (Sae-Jin)
“…..Huh? E, excuse me. Wait a minute, are you saying I must participate in that contest, too?” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Slightly flustered, Kim Yu-Rin tilted her head while her eyes opened up extra round. He dazedly wondered what this woman was on about, before assuming a relaxed smile.
“But, of course. The thing about the Guild Master personally recommending someone, that has ended a long time ago, so I wonder what Miss Yu-Rin wants from me now? Besides, didn’t you say that your rank as the Highest Tier Knight is in a precarious position? If you drop from your Tier, then well, do I even have a reason to accept you in the first place?” (Sae-Jin)
“Eh?! No, wait. What are you even…. saying…” (Kim Yu-Rin)
She pouted to show her slight dissatisfaction. However, since it was quite clear who the person handing out the dough was, all she could do at that moment was to complain softly to herself.
“But I even helped you out… And back then, you were the one begging me…” (Kim Yu-Rin)
“Well, the circumstances have changed a great deal since then. Our Guild, The Monster, isn’t an organisation you can just waltz into, just because you want to…. Oh, you heard of the overseas Order called Veritas? Did you know that the Order Master of the Veritas even asked us about joining the Guild recently?” (Sae-Jin)
Kim Yu-Rin narrowed her eyes as thinly as a flatfish, her cheeks puffing up greatly. Her facial expression seemed to say “I’m really unhappy right now”. Although it was very cute and all that…
“So, are you planning to enter the contest? Or are you not going to? Ah, that’s right. If I were to explain all the benefits the Guild members receive as an aside… You receive a basket of highest grade potions every month; with the Guild membership card, you can rent out up to three artifacts from TM’s Artifact Shop free of charge; and once a year, you’re given the first refusal on the Orc Blacksmith’s wares…” (Sae-Jin)
continued to mutter out a list of benefits that would prove fatally attractive for either a Knight or a Wizard – no, a person living in the troubled current times. Kim Yu-Rin’s face started off pouting, but the more she heard, the wider her eyes and mouth became.
Honestly speaking, that was an amazing amount of stuff being offered. Only now had she finally realised why all those Knights kept on singing on and on about The Monster, all the bloody time.
“And finally, if you want one, the Magic Tattoo…” (Sae-Jin)
Even before he could finish his words, Kim Yu-Rin hurriedly grasped both of his hands.
“I’ll, I will participate!!” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Her voice was clear, confident, and most importantly, deeply determined.
With many corporations, Knights Orders, and even Wizard Towers participating, the Exhibition held by The Monster was able to draw out an explosive amount of attention from the public, as expected.
And probably because the three Boss Monsters causing chaos in the country had been subjugated right before it started, the whole country talked about nothing else other than the Exhibition. All the internet portal sites, TV networks, newspapers, and even SNS – the categories were only ‘Knights’ and ‘Wizards’, but in the country of Korea at the moment, these two were the most important professions there could be.
For now, it was the middle of the public voting cast by the citizens of the entire country. This was the popular vote ‘chosen by the public’; after the professional judges narrowed the potential list of candidates down to top 200, 198 candidates agreed to participate in the Exhibition, and from there, a total of 60 people – 30 per category – were chosen as the final candidates. (TL: Whew, boy. This whole paragraph was a nightmare to TL. Had to rejig quite a few bits to make it all fit sensibly in English.)
Sure enough, the fights between several fanbases of popular candidates became truly intense, and most SNS and community chatrooms soon morphed into arenas of fierce verbal warfare by the ardent fans.
However, the clear favourite would always emerge even from under such situations.
– I am… not really good with things like this, but… I ask you for your generous support!! Please, vote for me! (Kim Yu-Rin)
With the support of her pure and beautiful face, it was none other than Kim Yu-Rin, doing her own PR work while looking rather bashful by the occasion.
On the other hand, Sae-Jin ended up getting busier and busier as the interest towards the Exhibition exploded crazily upwards. Well, it was only right that he worked hard and saw the thing to the end, since he did start this whole affair, after all. He performed several interviews, broadcasts, speeches in public stages, etc, etc…… He poured over eight hours everyday on matters related to the contest/exhibition.
“Ah, and this will be the final question! Well, let us take a look at Miss Kim Yu-Rin’s promo footage!”
Inside a certain cafe that was completely rented out by a TV station, dozens of cameras were focused on one particular man, and just outside the cafe, a huge crowd of people were looking inside through the thick windows. Of course, this was all because of Kim Sae-Jin, the interviewee.
– I am… not really good with things like this, but… I ask you for your generous support!! Please, vote for me!
“What do you think about Knight Kim Yu-Rin, who is deeply entrenched in the first spot within the ‘Knight’ category at the moment? Aht, looks like Guild Master has been already won over, after seeing your reactions!”
The reporter asked him while playing the clip of Kim Yu-Rin’s promotional video. This was the final question of the final scheduled interview for the day. Feeling like the liberation he craved for was just around the corner, Sae-Jin replied as lightheartedly as possible.
“I haven’t focused on the candidate Kim Yu-Rin specifically. In all honesty… Miss Yu-Rin isn’t really my type, you see… Hahaha. I’m just kidding. It’s a joke. I simply think that all the candidates participating are equally amazing individuals, that’s all.” (Sae-Jin)
“Oh, oh~. Do you mean, you won’t fall for a honey trap, is that it?”
“Well, that is true, but… The truth is, it isn’t me who gets to choose the new members of the Guild this time, but it’s up to the public to decide, isn’t it?” (Sae-Jin)
“As expected of the Guild Master~. Ah, there is also something else. Honestly, I’d like to ask you one last final question. By any chance…”
Sae-Jin was about to get up from his seat as soon as the final question was answered, but the darn reporter fired off his next question like a machine gun.
Just where on earth could anyone find the so-called ‘last’ in the ‘final’ question…… But he was being surrounded by cameras right now. Sae-Jin did his best to soften the rapidly-hardening face and replied as sincerely as he could.
Sae-Jin finally returned home after clearing up his schedules. But unfortunately, what waited for him there was, rather coldly enough, yet more work.
“The Kraken again?” (Sae-Jin)
– “Yes, sir. This time, it’s Japan.”
The so-called ‘it’ item, and going through a huge explosion in popularity currently, was the services of ‘Sahrahng’, that any nation who cared for its citizens must purchase at least once – landlocked countries excluded, of course.
Sahrahng was the name of Sae-Jin’s Kraken; weirdly enough, countless citizens in many countries readily accepted this somewhat romantic name. That name ended up having an unexpected PR benefit, somehow.
– “Yes sir. They say the situation is quite urgent there. So, they promised to pay twice the regular compensation.”
“Seriously, do they think this is some sort of nighttime discount or something… Well, it doesn’t matter to me either way, but I wonder if Sahrahng can endure any more of this…” (Sae-Jin)
He was speaking nonsense, of course. He could simply summon it and send the darn Kraken on its way, just like that. But there was a reason why Sae-Jin was deliberately hesitating – the guilty party was a set of very seductive lingerie Yu Sae-Jung was wearing in front of him at that very moment.
If he were to summon Sahrahng, then until the Kraken’s job was finished, Sae-Jin had to change and remain in the Leviathan Form. Obviously, he would have to give up on enjoying the pleasures of his human form in the meantime…
“It’s alright. Actually, I wanna see the Azure Dragon more than Oppa right now~. It’s so cute, you know?” (Yu Sae-Jung)
Suddenly, she pushed for the dispatch of the Kraken quite inexplicably.
“Hey, whose side are you on?” (Sae-Jin)
“Hahat, kidding, just kidding. But still, the safety of the Japanese citizens is hanging in the balance, right? It’s definitely correct to take care of that first. I mean, when Oppa starts our thing, you last 2 to 3 hours at minimum, after all.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
She tightly hugged his back and whispered to his ear. But what made him feel pretty good wasn’t that hug, but her words ‘lasting 2 to 3 hours at minimum’. Those words easily stroked his pride as a man and of course, the flames of his ego…
“He, heum. Right. Can’t be helped. It’ll last for over two hours, after all. Right, right.”
Within the darkened ruins that once served as Nosferatus’ sanctuary, restoration work was being performed under the orders of Bathory. She decided to utilise this place as her new headquarters.
And so, Vampires were busy using magic to restore the fallen buildings, build brand new residential structures, and other construction work at the moment.
“You’re saying that squid also belongs to Kim Sae-Jin?” (Bathory)
Of course, the person responsible for ordering the massive construction project was comfortably lying on a couch while watching the TV. She was watching the news broadcast concerning the activities of a Kraken with a somewhat embarrassing name called ‘Sahrahng’.
“Yes, that is correct, my Lady.”
“…It’s like he has everything I want to own, you know? Maybe his hobby is similar to mine or something. Heck, I also wanted to possess that white tiger he was with, too…” (Bathory)
The news regarding the Kraken ended fairly quickly. And it was so adorable, too… Bathory licked her lips and expressed emotions of wanting to see more, but was unable to. However, the next piece of footage then showed off a news that inflamed her interest far more greatly than the previous article could ever do.
– Currently, the total number of votes cast by the public in The Monster’s Exhibition now exceeds ten million. This is…
The Monster – the world-renowned Guild that even the word ‘Guild’ wasn’t a good enough fit to describe it. And the head of that Guild was Kim Sae-Jin.
Bathory recalled the acute recollection of the fine past (?) quite unexpectedly, back when she tore into him and he tore into her. Those days when they were vicious and so beast-like.
“….Hey, wait a sec. Didn’t you say something about one of my Wizards being undercover there as a candidate? Isn’t she a bit famous or something?” (Bathory)
“Ma’am? Ah, oh, yes, that is correct. She’s called ‘Emil Rerheu of the Great Wisdom’ and it’s the cover identity of the Apostle Reuhemile, my Lady. According to human’s grading system, she’s A-class, in other words, a high tier Wizard.”
“She disguised herself as an Elf?” (Bathory)
“Yes, my Lady.”
Bathory rubbed her chin and fell into a deep chain of thought.
Nowadays, something was weird about the way the Vampire Lord moved around. No, instead of calling it weird… well, he hadn’t shown up at all lately. Bathory trusted her instincts greatly, and right now, she could smell something very rotten coming from the Lord’s camp. It was even more smellier than a clogged up sewer.
And more importantly, Kim Sae-Jin’s eyes that were filled with unshakeable confidence when he said, “The Lord will betray you.”
That weighed on her mind the most.
“Okay, let’s do this. I’ll enter the exhibition disguised as her. It’s easier than drinking cold soup for me to change my face with magic, see.” (Bathory)
“Yes…….. yes?! Wha, what do you mean by that, my Lady?”
The Apostle couldn’t even speak properly after he got stunned from her sudden declaration. In this critical time, as the Fissure was nearing the complete unsealing, just how many times did she have to act out of control?
“I’ve got things to talk about with that conceited bastard, Kim Sae-Jin, you see? And besides… if all goes well, we can even cooperate together, too.” (Bathory)
The ‘Fissure’ opening in full and becoming the ‘gate’ was already an unavoidable fact. There was not one existence alive in this world that could close the Fissure that was about to open up, after all.
However, if the Vampire Lord did indeed plan to betray her, then she needed to hit him first before that happened. Just from this point alone, the possibility of cooperating together with that stinking human rose up. She was thinking of outwardly allying herself with that bastard and getting rid of the Lord, then kill Kim Sae-Jin at a later date, and finally possess the rich orchard called the Fissure all for herself.
“Co, cooperation, with measly humans?! But how…?”
“You chose to serve me, not the Lord, no? That’s why you built your little nest in here, too. If the Lord is really thinking of funny things right now, shouldn’t we get him first and set the plan on the correct path?”
The Apostle questioned, but the smile on Bathory’s lips grew thicker the more he asked. And confronted by that beautiful yet lethal smile, the only thing this Apostle could do was to nod his head quietly.
< 44. Suspicion and Alliance (1) > Fin.