A Monster Who Levels Up
Wrapped up inside the thick darkness of the night, underneath the cold glare of the moon.
Kim Yu-Rin was sitting on one of The Monster Park’s benches. Her eyes were closed, as if she was in a state of deep contemplation.
Sae-Jin breathed in deeply and walked towards her position.
“I’m disappointed.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Before he could get near her, though, she threw out this one line at him. He scratched the back of his neck while lowering his head.
“….I mean, seriously. Yes, it was somewhat odd, for sure – how can an Orc resemble a human so closely like that… Ah, now that I think about it, I do remember seeing several points that are really similar to Mister Sae-Jin’s countenance, after all.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Her reactions were completely out of Sae-Jin’s expectations. Although not at the level of wanting to mow down everything, he at least thought she might get angry at him.
But no, what she displayed wasn’t the rage at being deceived, nor sadness at finding out the Hero Orc wasn’t real, but self-mockery that blamed herself instead. And that only made Sae-Jin feel even worse than before and far more apologetic as well.
Sae-Jin sat on the opposite end of the bench Kim Yu-Rin sat on. She gazed at the moon drawn on the night sky and continued with her words.
“No, from the beginning, an Orc with IQ known to be lower than that of a dolphin learning to speak was a nonsensical notion. I should’ve realised that something was amiss then… It’s all because of that Goblin…” (Kim Yu-Rin)
After hearing her sudden change in the topic, Sae-Jin’s body shook imperceptibly.
‘That Goblin’. Without a doubt, she must be talking about the tale from a long time ago…
“Ah, right. Guild Master, did you know that Goblins can learn to speak, too?” (Kim Yu-Rin)
“G, Goblins, you say?” (Sae-Jin)
“Yes. Well, Goblins are the smartest among all the Monsters, after all. So, among the smart Goblins, the one with the most smartest brain can learn how to speak Korean. But that was my mistake, thinking that a mutated Orc could definitely learn to talk, too. So, I’m definitely not a fool in that regard, right? Even other people with similar experiences would have been deceived.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Sae-Jin’s complexion froze up along with her words. His gestures became eye-catchingly strange, and his breathing became quite rough as well.
“Why are you reacting like that? It’s the truth. I’ve experienced it firsthand.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Sae-Jin didn’t reply. He was already feeling so, so apologetic right now, and well, he realised that he just couldn’t speak another lie to her again.
But, she ended up misinterpreting his current reaction and showed her frustration with a deep frown.
“You don’t believe me… Hah, fine. Forget about it. It’ll be more strange to believe me anyway.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
“No, I do believe you.” (Sae-Jin)
He resolutely replied to her and stared at Kim Yu-Rin with his eyes wide open. Seeing his sudden ‘enthusiasm’, Kim Yu-Rin’s face reddened ever so slightly.
“Oh, uh, thank you for believing me…” (Kim Yu-Rin)
“The thing is, that Goblin, that was also me.” (Sae-Jin)
This time, it was Kim Yu-Rin who ceased all her movements – her mouth half-open, and her eyes opened up extra round.
Thinking that she might not believe him, Sae-Jin hammered the final nail in this particular coffin.
“Your gift, I received it well. It’s an expe
nsive ring, too.” (Sae-Jin)
She fell into a pool of thought for a brief moment; a ring as a gift. A ring given away as a gift was a fact that only she and the Goblin knew. No one else.
“Mm. So that’s how it was.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
She dazedly muttered out something, and then collapsed.
The physical strain of fighting against the Vampire Lord, as well as two mental shocks, caused her to faint.
“What the?! Miss Yu-Rin? Why?!” (Sae-Jin)
Stunned silly by this new development, Sae-Jin quickly used healing magic on her. But when she still didn’t regain her consciousness, he quickly carried her off to the nearest hospital.
After admitting Kim Yu-Rin to the hospital, Sae-Jin went around sorting out the strained relationships of the Guild members that soured for one reason or the other. And finally, came back home.
The time was 5 o’clock in the afternoon.
Since Yu Sae-Jung was busy with the matters related to the Wizard Tower and frequently had to be away, the house was left totally empty for the first time in a long while.
He dug into the couch while spitting out a long sigh thick with all the accumulated fatigue. Somehow, he felt empty and hollow. The mission was over, and the sense of extreme enervation gripped his entire body. Thinking that he must have been feeling lonely, Sae-Jin turned on the TV. With a good timing, Yu Sae-Jung’s face filled up the screen.
– When are you planning for the IPO of the Dawn & TM’s Wizard Tower?
– Listing stocks for the Tower? Is there a need for me to do that? After all, our Wizard Tower can fully sustain itself without resorting to such methods, you see.
It was an interview on a news programme. Yu Sae-Jung came across as very confident in her speech.
Seeing her on the screen, he ended up wanting to see her for real. So, he called her on the phone. Wuoong, wuoong~ After the ringtone went on for three, four times, the call got through.
“Hey, Sae-Jung. Where are you now?” (Sae-Jin)
– “Mm~uong. Me, I’m eating out with people who will work for the Wizard Tower, yup.”
Her voice was a bit slurred. Did she drink alcohol? Sae-Jin’s brows narrowed all of a sudden.
– “Ah, here? A sushi restaurant.”
As she spoke on the phone, another voice belonging to a man repeatedly saying “Who are you speaking to?” interfered in the background. Unconsciously, Sae-Jin cracked his neck. The sounds of Wou-de-deuk. Wou-de-deuk rang out rather clearly.
“Which sushi restaurant?” (Sae-Jin)
– “Ah-heung~? Oh, why did you call me, Oppa?”
“…I was wondering where you went off to. Hey, so where are you right now?”
– “Ah, here? Uh… not so sure?”
“You wanna get killed?!”
– “Ah~eeeng. Forgive me. It’s a meeting for the Tower, so if Oppa shows up, I’m gonna get shoved aside, you know~.”
Of course, he could understand that much. But right now, that clueless dude next to her asking “Who is that? Who’s calling?” was seriously getting on his nerves.
“Okay, fine. Then switch the phone to the speaker. I want to say something.” (Sae-Jin)
– “…..Uh? Uh… Oh… Is there really a need for that now~? I’ll speak on your behalf~!”
“I promise, it’ll be real quick. I’m not coming home for a whole week if you don’t.” (Sae-Jin)
– “Eii… okay, okay. Fine. ….It’s done, you’re on speaker.”
Sae-Jin manipulated his vocal cord and changed his voice a little bit. And then, towards all those people relaxedly dining out and building a strong friendship, he threw out the proverbial bombshell.
“Euh-eum. Hello, everyone, this is the Wizard of Bangbae-Dong speaking. Currently, I’m with Mister Kim Sae-Jin. I’m making this call after having a good chat with him. You see, I’m planning to publish the grimoires number 27 and 28 very soon. And so, I seek two capable persons who will examine and verify the contents of the books. Is there anyone among you who is interested in the role?” (Sae-Jin the Wizard)
He spoke up to here and waited for three seconds.
By examining the grimoires, one could have his or her name associated with the Wizard of Bangbae-Dong’s grimoire for free. That alone would increase their fame far greatly than ever thought possible. And sure enough, the animalistic heavy breathing of every Wizard wishing to seize this enormous opportunity could be heard through the phone.
Sae-Jin did his very best to hold back his laughter and spoke in a serious tone.
“If no one is interested, then it can’t be helped, I guess.” (Sae-Jin)
Instantly, Wizards reacted.
At first, in order to prove each one of them possessed the right qualifications over the person next to him or her, they began ‘quietly’ debating their academic abilities.
– “Seeing that the Wizard-nim of Bangbae-Dong has been continuously publishing attack magic spells lately, I, who has steadfastly walked the road of attack magic until now should be the one to examine the new grimoires.”
– “No, that’s not right. Attacking spells needs to be combined with other types of spells. From that point of view, I should take on the responsibility, as I’ve arduously walked on the path of application and utilisation of various magics…”
– “Both of you are wrong. From the onset, something this important should be seen by someone with a deep academic background, instead.”
– “Huh, what do you mean by a deep academic background? Are you using that inconsequential reasoning for such an important matter?” (TL: Oh boy. These four paragraphs were an absolute mess to TL. I did what I could, but not sure how close I got to what the author was trying to say.)
However, the tone of the voice got heated as rebuttal after rebuttal were thrown around. And soon enough, not only angry shouts but even the sounds of plates, tables, and other furniture being destroyed could be heard from the phone.
“Huhuh. They’re fighting so nicely.” (Sae-Jin)
Sae-Jin was enjoying the sound of the chaos, but then, the noise got abruptly cut off. It seemed that Yu Sae-Jung had left the restaurant in a hurry.
– “Those people lost their dang marbles!! Just now, they were even getting ready to use magic, you know!”
“Hehehe. In that case, why don’t you bring along the winner over here?” (Sae-Jin)
– “….You’re a rotten person, you know that? Seriously now.”
Although her dinner out was totally ruined, she sounded rather pleased for some reason.
– “By the way, publishing two grimoires at the same time, is that true? If you’re lying, I’m going to get mad!”
And that was why. Sae-Jin smirked slightly.
“Of course, I will. Okay, where are you? I’ll pick you up.” (Sae-Jin)
– “Oh yeah~. I’m at the Tebudong Sashimi~. Hurry up, Oppa~.”
“On the way.” (Sae-Jin)
Sae-Jin ended the call and put on the coat. But, as he was about to leave, he overheard the news still left playing on the TV screen.
– A news just in. It has been now confirmed that a super-massive Fissure has opened up in the region of Western Europe. This Fissure is the biggest ever recorded in the history to appear in Europe…
“…..What’s going on?” (Sae-Jin)
This was different from the promise with her. So, Sae-Jin tried to contact Bathory through the communication crystal hidden in his pocket, but she didn’t reply. Was she going back on her promise?
Just as the back of his head began developing a strong case of migraine, Bathory’s voice got transmitted to him, which was fortunate.
‘Come see me tomorrow. Busy today.’
Immediately on the following day, Sae-Jin went to see Bathory.
“I’m sure you’ve found out already whether we succeeded or not.” (Sae-Jin)
“Yep. I know already. El Las and their loyal dogs were throwing a huge tantrum not too long ago.” (Bathory)
Bathory was pretending to be relaxed, but the emotions of sadness couldn’t be disguised in her voice. Plus, her eyes staring at Sae-Jin weren’t even looking at him, either – memories of distant past were sorrowfully overflowing from within those eyes that rippled like the surface of a lake.
“Who’s el Las now?” (Sae-Jin)
When Sae-Jin asked her, Bathory tilted her head in confusion. It looked as if she had misplaced a couple of screws in her head.
“Oh, el Las? They are a clan. The Bathory, the Nosferatu, the el Las – only these three remain now.” (Bathory)
She forced out a smile and continued on.
“And, your prediction was right. What the Lord wanted wasn’t going back in time, just a simple travel through to another dimension. Apparently, after deciphering the text from the ancient tome, jumping both the time flow and dimensions at the same time is impossible.” (Bathory)
“Is that so?” (Sae-Jin)
“Because of that, both the el Las and the Lord’s retainers are in a state of rage right now. I think the Lord was thinking of running away alone.” (Bathory)
“On top of that, the treasure that controlled the Vampire’s instincts for blood has been lost a long time ago after the Lord lost his sight. How… pathetic.” (Bathory)
Bathory stopped talking here. Sae-Jin too, didn’t say anything.
However, when he came to see her, he had lots of things to say. The incident involving the Fissure in Western Europe; the future for the Vampires that have lost the central figure of the Lord; Bathory’s aim; and even, persuading her to assimilate back into the society.
Sae-Jin couldn’t utter any of these out.
The reason? Tear drops forming on the corners of Bathory’s eyes. Sure, Sae-Jin couldn’t get her fickle nature that took her from asking him to kill the Lord, and to mourn his passing, but whatever, the sorrow she displayed right now was, without a doubt, genuine.
“What a coward. Good thing he died.” (Bathory)
Bathory spoke thus, her voice tinged in deep sadness.
However, he couldn’t return empty-handed after going through the big showdown of the day before.
So, Sae-Jin cautiously asked her about the giant Fissure of Western Europe first.
“We have nothing to do with that one.” (Bathory)
“…What? Really?” (Sae-Jin)
“Yeah. We didn’t touch other Fissures except the one here in Korea.” (Bathory)
“Does that mean there’s another force at work here?” (Sae-Jin)
“Nope. That’s just nature playing its part. From the moment the first Fissure opened up, the future path for this little planet called Earth became full of thorns, so to speak.” (Bathory)
“What do you mean by that?” (Sae-Jin)
“What I mean is that, this planet Earth will meet the same fate as my old homeworld, that’s what. The Lord was trying to escape before that happened, too. But I don’t know all the details. I also just heard about it not too long ago, you know.” (Bathory)
“From who?” (Sae-Jin)
“From my subordinates. They are busy trying to decipher the results of the research the Lord has performed, right now. I’m getting updated in real time as we speak.” (Bathory)
Bathory then abruptly stood from her seat.
“Okay, you should go now. As promised, we won’t interfere with you lot or try to extend the Fissure forcefully or stuff like that. With that much, you should have about a year’s worth of breathing room.” (Bathory)
“….Just one year?” (Sae-Jin)
“Yup. So, you should decide and prepare whether you’ll act like us and escape to another world, or stay and fight till the bitter end.” (Bathory)
“What will you do?” (Sae-Jin)
Bathory narrowed her brows as if she was getting frustrated with a little kid.
“…..Our object has always been the same – to return to our old home world, see. So, get the eff out, now.” (Bathory)
She suddenly grabbed Sae-Jin’s collars real tightly. And then, an unpleasant sensation of the entire world twisting apart washed over, causing him to squeeze his eyes shut. When he belatedly opened his eyes again, Bathory was nowhere to be seen, and instead, the sight of Seoul’s Gangnam district filled up his vision.
“Why Gangnam, of all places?!” (Sae-Jin)
As he looked around dumbfoundedly, whisperings of the passersby tickled his ears.
“What the? Isn’t he that Kim Sae-Jin guy?”
“You might be right. Hey man, go and take a closer look.”
It hadn’t even been a minute yet, but the waves of crowd were gradually building up.
Sae-Jin let out a ‘groan’ of exclamation, thinking that celebrities could indeed upset the heavens if needed, and quickly moved his feet. Too bad, his actions only ended up confirming the crowd’s suspicions.
“It is Kim Sae-Jin!!”
“Oppa, please gimme your autograph!!”
Getting scared by that loud cry, Sae-Jin ran away like his rear was on fire.
< 46. Tension (1) > Fin.