A Monster Who Levels Up
Exactly two weeks had passed by since the Exhibition got under way.
And, as if to completely mock Sae-Jin’s initial worries of “Will the public shake off their fear and unite for something as unimportant as picking new members for his Guild?”, the whole thing continued on, while proving to be a roaring success in the process.
Now, the new worries were of people shaking off too much fear, and the excessively united solidarity of the citizens was rapidly changing into a problem instead.
Why didn’t the fans stop at praising the candidates they liked, and found a need to irritate and attack others, too? Sae-Jin just couldn’t understand it. But whatever the case may have been, 15 Knights and 15 Wizards, for a total of 30 participants were finalised.
And here on out, these people were to engage in things like physical battles between Knights, and magic competition between Wizards, and steal “points” from other contestants.
“This is beyond the level of simple chaos, you know? Even in the Dawn, everyone is talking about this only.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
While a refreshing smile was pasted on her face, Yu Sae-Jung’s eyes were watching the TV, her right hand moved the mouse connected to the notebook PC, and finally, with her left hand, she was busy sending text messages via her smartphone.
It was a near-miraculous multi-tasking.
“By the way, Sae-Jung… Why are you so busy?” (Sae-Jin)
“Uh? Ah, well, I’m quite busy lately just as much as you, Oppa. See, since Oppa doesn’t wanna hang out with me no~ more, I was forced into discovering the importance as well as the joy of socialising. So, I went to lots of gatherings and stuff, and well, it’s like, people are really curious right now – just what will be the next test, internally whom we are rooting for, that sort of stuff.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
Sae-Jin sneakily shifted his eyes and looked at her phone’s display. Really, endless stream of messages were popping up on a group chat room she was participating in. However, the name of the chat room was… ‘The Dawn Knights Order 1st Team Super Elites Meet’. Although it was a rather childish title, ‘1st Team’ was usually made up of the core fighting force of the Knights Order, so it wasn’t a baseless boasting at all.
It was then, the eyes of the ‘Wolf’ sharply gleamed. It was not because of the group chat, though – no, it was because of a private messaging box floating on the middle of the phone’s display that popped up just as he sneaked a glance while Yu Sae-Jung’s attention was turned towards him.
[Kim Jung-Ho: Miss Sae-Jung, whatcha doing?]
Even with a quick glance, that was a guy’s name; on the profile pic, even an image of a guy prominently on display, and to cap it off, those words that would be interpreted as that guy having interest in her, regardless of who read it…
“That’s a man.” (Sae-Jin)
A cold voice leaked out of Sae-Jin before he noticed it. Yu Sae-Jung tilted her head in a slight bafflement.
“That. That guy, on the phone. That’s a man, isn’t it?” (Sae-Jin)
Sae-Jin pointed at the phone. But, by then, the alert for receiving a PM had come and gone.
Her eyes followed his pointing finger, then her brows narrowed slightly.
“What the. You were sneaking a look at my phone?” (Yu Sae-Jung)
“What do you mean, sneaking? I can see it plainly in the open.” (Sae-Jin)
“Oh, man. You don’t let me see your phone no matter what, yet you look at mine without permission?” (Yu Sae-Jung)
She puffed her cheeks in a show of annoyance. However, he didn’t have the leeway to mind that right now. Still, she did look quite adorable while doing that, so he patted her head anyways.
“No, wait. You just received a text from a guy, see. And he was definitely flirting with you.” (Sae-Jin)
“This is a group chat, so no idea what you are talking about… Wait, Oppa doesn’t know what a group chat is? You know, group chat rooms. That’s where a group of people converse by sending text messages…” (TL: Well, some of you might think there’s something a bit strange here, but that’s because Yu Sae-Jung is using the abbreviated form for ‘group chat room’ in Korean – 단톡. The last one, she says it in full. ‘Group chat room’ in Korean is 단체톡방. And I tried to TL as literally as possible. This is the result…)
Kim Sae-Jin’s forehead creased up deeply. Was she treating him like an 80-year old or something…?
“I know what a group chat is, okay? But that message wasn’t part of the group chat, but a private message. I saw it.” (Sae-Jin)
Her face wavered in dazement. Sae-Jin didn’t miss this chance and extended his hand out quickly.
His purpose was to forcibly kidnap, the aim being her phone.
However, she swiftly hid the phone behind her back.
Her reaction speed was really fast. But that only fanned the flames of suspicion, instead.
Sae-Jin’s brows quivered in dissatisfaction.
“Give me that. Why aren’t you giving it to me?” (Sae-Jin)
“Wait, just wait for a second, okay? This, this isn’t what Oppa thinks…” (Yu Sae-Jung)
“That is why I’m telling you to hand it over. Hey, why did that guy call you Miss Sae-Jung?” (Sae-Jin)
“He’s… the son of Jaesung Group’s VP. Because he’s the last born, he can’t inherit the family business. So he focused on being a Knight, and now, he’s a High Tier with the Raven Order, and his future prospects are really promising…” (Yu Sae-Jung)
Yu Sae-Jung began spouting gibberish with a reddened face.
“No, you don’t have to read out his resume. Just give me the phone.” (Sae-Jin)
“R, really, it’s nothing important, really. Oppa also sometimes message Hazeline Unni, right? It’s like that.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
Suddenly, he got really furious. The messages he sent to Hazeline now and then were….
Damn it, this is what they call ‘double standard’, isn’t it? (TL: the author used a popular Korean abbreviation/slang word “내로남불” which can be literally TLed into: “When I do it, it’s romance, but when others do it, it’s cheating.” You probably can see why I omitted that and used ‘double standard’ instead…)
Sae-Jin held his breath back and calmed himself down, before slowly continuing on with his words.
“…You’re right. It could also be like that. However, here’s the thing. Does that guy know you and I are in a relationship?” (Sae-Jin)
Hazeline was acting in that way even though she knew this fact. However, she had the sort-of suitable excuse of Elves being hopeless in love, so what did this guy, Kim Jung-Ho, has for one?
Hearing his question, Yu Sae-Jung rolled her eyes over and over as if she was trying to think of something, but eventually, spat out a lengthy sigh and murmured her reply.
“No. He doesn’t know.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
She utilised the moment of Sae-Jin freezing up in shock and poured out the rest of the story.
“Well, within our Knights Order, not many people know of us living together.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
“…..But, how come?”
“That’s because we haven’t officially announced it.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
“But, anyone with even half a brain should know by now. We’ve been living together for so long now. No, wait. Fine, some people might not know, that’s true, but didn’t you say he’s the last born from a big Chaebol family? So how can he not know?” (Sae-Jin)
Yu Sae-Jung smirked slightly. Of course, within certain circles of reporters, her living together with Sae-Jin was already an open secret. But since almost all of them kept their mouths shut real tight, not even those commonly-seen office memos circulated. After all, being frowned upon by The Monster and the Dawn was buying a one-way ticket straight to career suicide.
“Ng. He doesn’t know. It’s like he’s been abandoned by his family, you know. He’s a really pitiable guy in that regard. People within the Knights Order think the same, too – it’s like, we’re close siblings, an older brother and a younger sister. Except for Mister Joo Ji-Hyuk, though.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
“Really? No, there is no way that’s the case. That guy most likely knows of our relationship already. No matter how abandoned he is by his family, the big corporation…” (Sae-Jin)
“Here. Here, why don’t you take a look? Look first before you judge.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
As if she thought Sae-Jin had softened enough now, Yu Sae-Jung handed over her phone quite easily.
“Look, look. It’s really nothing like I told you.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
If Sae-Jin was a man possessing generosity that was as wide as open seas and endless rivers, then he might have returned the phone back to her while saying, “No, I believe in you,” with a firm, dignified, yet considerate voice.
“But, well, open seas and rivers are just too small to contain a Leviathan, though.” (Sae-Jin)
“……..What are you even talking about?” (Yu Sae-Jung)
He muttered some incomprehensible excuse and checked the contents on the smartphone.
[Miss Sae-Jung, you coming to today’s business conference?] (13th February, 10:03 AM) [Nope. Why should I go there?] (13th February, 09:43 PM) [Haha, is that so? I can’t go there, even though I want to…] (13th February, 09:45 PM)
== (Similar types of messages continue. Omitted by the author. No, really.)
[Kim Jung-Ho: Miss Sae-Jung, whatcha doing?] (4th March, 06:33 PM)
Sae-Jin found Yu Sae-Jung’s defenses quite satisfactory. However, why on earth was this fool, Kim Jung-Ho, being so persistent…? While he was concentrating on the phone, Yu Sae-Jung moved her agile, cat-like hands swiftly and snatched away his phone instead.
“I’m gonna look at Oppa’s phone, too.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
In that moment, Sae-Jin froze up like a statute. Thankfully, though, he hadn’t had much contact with women of late.
Even Hazeline stayed away, too. As if she became conscious of her actions, other than leaving comments such as “Photo came out nicely” on images he uploaded on his Insta*ram account every now and then, she did not make one single attempt to call him up for personal matters.
“Hmm, hmm. Yep. Good.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
Finishing her inspection in less than three minutes, Yu Sae-Jung put his phone down, quite pleased by the result. Then, she slid into Sae-Jin’s embrace quite comfortably.
“Ah, that’s right. Oppa, why didn’t that Wizard from Bangbae-Dong become a candidate?” (Yu Sae-Jung)
“No, I mean, doesn’t he have a good relationship with us? He did give us all of his grimoires and stuff, too. I hear that the reason for the participating Wizards being so hands-on during the contest is because they wanna enter The Monster’s members-only library, the only one in the world where the full set of his grimoires are being kept in one place. Also, didn’t he release the grimoire number 25 not too long ago?”
Two days ago, the Wizard of Bangbae-Dong published the grimoire number 25. It did incite the predictably-explosive reaction, but unfortunately for everyone, the only place this book was displayed, was The Monster’s members-only library.
The reason why it hadn’t found a home in other Wizard Towers yet, was… because of the truly intense behind-the-scenes battle going on at the moment. Besides the excessive attempts at suppression, simple threats of exposing one’s corrupt dealings if one did not give up trying to purchase the grimoire were thrown around, and even some local Wizard Towers lobbied the government to expel the members of overseas Wizard Tower representatives from the country…
And Sae-Jin wasn’t aware of such vulgar, disgusting, and desperate warfare happening beneath the surface.
“Ah, the Wizard of Bangbae-Dong?” (Sae-Jin)
“Ng. I’d like to meet him at least once.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
Yu Sae-Jung spoke to him with a bright smile on her face.
Seeing her totally oblivious and quite adorable smile, Sae-Jin made up his mind, his lips quivering a little. It seemed that, the time to tell her the truth about this Wizard persona had arrived. She knew that his Trait was him transforming into the Leviathan. She also knew that he could borrow the Leviathan’s powers while he was “human”, as well.
“The Wizard of Bangbae-Dong, is me.” (Sae-Jin)
After a lengthy silence, Yu Sae-Jung asked back with a dazed face.
“What? What do you mean by that? The name of the Bangbae-Dong Wizard is ‘Meh’?” (Yu Sae-Jung)
He thought she was joking, but her expression and the tone of voice were serious. Sae-Jin broke out in a hearty laughter and shook his head.
“Hahaha. No, I am the Wizard of Bangbae-Dong. You haven’t noticed at all?” (Sae-Jin)
“Uh, uh…. What did you say?! But, but how!! You’re lying!!” (Yu Sae-Jung)
Utterly shocked out of her mind, Yu Sae-Jung jumped around wildly, then she grabbed his shoulders and shook him hard.
“Think about it carefully, now. The Leviathan is a creature of magic. And why would the Wizard of Bangbae-Dong, who had no contact with us, give us the grimoires?” (Sae-Jin)
“…….OMG.” (TL: LOL, the raw doesn’t say that, but I inserted that in. The raw is literally one word: “Hul”. It has no meaning other than to express one’s shock.)
Within Yu Sae-Jung’s eyes and mouth that couldn’t get any wider, astonishment filled up. Although this was quite similar to when he confessed to being the Orc Blacksmith, the shock she received seemed to be far greater this time around.
However, she recovered not too long after, and then began calculating potential profit and losses.
“O, Oppa, in that case, can you let the Dawn keep the grimoires of Bangbae-Dong Wizard? You know, right? That we’ve been working hard to establish a Wizard Tower for a while now.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
“…..What the heck, that’s all? You aren’t gonna be shocked anymore?” (Sae-Jin)
“Huh? Ah! No, I’m really, stupefyingly stunned right now! Woo-wah!! Woooooowsers!!! Oppa, you’re so amaaaaazing!! Really!” (Yu Sae-Jung)
Seeing her like this, using hands and feet to express how ‘stunned’ she was, she seemed definitely a lot more vibrant and cheerful than in the past. Comparing the first time he met her to her of now, it was to the point of him feeling a huge sense of change from her.
“Oppa is so handsome, and his body is so buff, and he can make such nice weapons, and now, he can even use magic so nicely, too……” (Yu Sae-Jung)
Yu Sae-Jung dug deeper into his arms while whispering in a ‘pity me, please’ type of voice. Sae-Jin stared at her dumbfoundedly, before a slight smirk crept up on his lips.
“Let’s do it this way. Divide the shares of the Wizard Tower between the Dawn and The Monster. With that, not only the grimoires will be furnished in their entirety, but even the Wizard’s name will be associated with the Tower.” (Sae-Jin)
The negotiation began in earnest.
Yu Sae-Jung’s eyes shook imperceptibly.
“…..Huh? But, but why? Why? That doesn’t make sense at all… The Monster didn’t even help out when the Dawn’s been trying to set up a Wizard Tower until now.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
“But I’ll be helping out with this, right? And it’ll also be a huge help, too. The grimoires of the famed Wizard, plus his name on top. With that, as soon as the Tower gets off the ground, I’m pretty sure it’ll become a recognised Tower right away.” (Sae-Jin)
Around three seconds of silence later, she sneakily slipped out from his embrace, took her phone, and made a call to someone.
Sae-Jin leisurely waited for the ‘other’ side’s opinion.
The middle of March. The martial contest between Knights and the magic competition between Wizards, that drew in over 40,000 live audience per match, finally came to a conclusion.
Kim Yu-Rin recorded an overwhelming 14 victories and zero defeats within the Knight category, while on the magic category, an unknown Elf Wizard named Emil Rerheu recorded the same overwhelming record as well.
Through various other tests such as defeating Monsters, contribution to the good of public interest, game show-like battle of common knowledge, etc, etc, twenty candidates out of remaining thirty got disqualified. And those who got disqualified, while leaving behind ‘GIFs’ of themselves looking remorseful, discontent or furious – one Wizard even broke down and cried his eyes out – disappeared to where they came from.
Kim Sae-Jin then decided to have an one-on-one interview with the ten remaining candidates. He wanted to weed out bad characters, of course, and the broadcaster also wished to capture the process as well.
“Pleasure to meet you, Wizard Emil Rerheu.” (Sae-Jin)
“Me too, it’s a nice pleasure~.”
The first interviewee happened to be the Wizard, Emil Rerheu. He sensed a somewhat dangerous and insidious aura coming from her, but Sae-Jin decided not to judge too prematurely.
“The scores for common knowledge is… zero?! Reading up on the follow-up words of the judges, this is on the level of a primate or a reptile… It seems that, you haven’t studied a lot until now?” (Sae-Jin)
He deliberately threw out the sensitive topic first while activating the Eyes of the Wolf. He was trying to see into this Wizard’s heart and her personality.
“…..And what crappy thing are you trying to pull here?” (TL: Guess who?)
She smirked refreshingly, before emitting a bit of Mana all around her, destroying every single camera installed in the interview room.
“What the…!!” (Sae-Jin)
“I’d prefer you stop looking at me with those disgusting eyes. I mean, I came all the way here just to negotiate, yet you’re making me want to kill you right now, you know.”
Along with thick killing intent, the outer skin of the Elf Emil Rerheu melted down like a dough.
And the person revealed was Prillani Bathory.
Sae-Jin couldn’t help but admire her perfect disguising technique. Really, did this mean that the ‘queen’ in the state of perfection could even fool the senses of the Wolf?
“Hello, kid. Been a while.” (Bathory)
Bathory lightly tapped on his neck as she spoke. Right away, the interior of the room darkened and got separated from the rest of the world.
“…..Uh-whew. Yeah, it has been a while. Another isolation barrier?” (Sae-Jin)
Unlike his relaxed exclamation, his heart was beating like crazy in his chest.
“Yo. You don’t have to tense up so much. I came here to cooperate with you, after all.” (Bathory)
“That’s right.” (Bathory)
At Kim Sae-Jin’s still confused face, Bathory showed a cheeky smile.
“You see, I’ll help you kill the Vampire Lord. How about it?” (Bathory)
Sae-Jin’s consciousness shook for a moment after seeing her smile. But that was all. Several alert windows indicating that Skills had been activated popped into his view one after the other, instead.
[The unique Skill, ‘The Most Pure Divine Body’ has activated.] [Bathory’s ultra-high grade Seduction magic has been resisted!] [A part of the Seduction magic has been reflected back to the original caster!]
Immediately, her brows quivered ever so slightly. The alert windows informed him of the reason. However, Sae-Jin maintained his poker face and tilted his head.
So, this new Skill helped him out in this manner. Sae-Jin let out a silent sigh of relief while checking out the information window for ‘The Most Pure Divine Body’.
[The Most Pure Divine Body]
– The host’s body will be purified of all impurities.
– Depending on the will of the host, the physical strength of the body can be raised up to a maximum of 1000%. However, the higher the percentage, the shorter the duration.
– The Proficiency Level of the Skill, ‘Resistance’, will be increased. And as a part of the defense mechanism, certain amount of the resisted magic or physical attack will be reflected back.
– Will be applied to all Forms.
< 44. Suspicion and Alliance (2) > Fin.