A Monster Who Levels Up
All the core posts for the Dawn & TM’s Wizard Tower had now been mostly filled up – the Vice Tower Lord and seven Chief Wizards that were similar to executive directors in a regular corporation, plus the employee-level high-class, mid-class, and low-class positions, as well.
The name of the Vice Lord caused a massive stir, however. The Wizard appointed to this prestigious position was none other than the High Elf ‘Shahon’, former Vice Lord of the New York-based world no. 2 Wizard Tower, ‘Trinity’.
After the announcement for her appointment was made, Shahon expressed her sincere gratitude towards the Dawn & TM’s Tower through various interviews she did with the mass media. Hell, she even did that in fluent Korean. No one had any idea when she learned the language, either.
Not only that, the identities of the people filling up the Chief Wizard positions were quite something to behold as well – former Vice Lord for the Seoul Tower, former Lord of Busan Tower, etc, etc… They consisted of famous local and international Wizards.
However, the most important position remained vacant while other spots were steadily being filled up. Not one person expressed their curiosity regarding that, though. After all, everyone understood that this position could only go to the Wizard of Bangbae-Dong and no one else.
Even someone like Hazeline, who had once been a part of the Wizarding world but left it due to a certain unsavoury incident, thought the same as well – but, only until the Wizard of Bangbae-Dong himself, Kim Sae-Jin, personally called for her.
“……Excuse me?” (Hazeline)
Currently, inside Sae-Jin’s office. Hazeline asked him in a daze while sitting opposite him. Within her extra-round eyes, questions and disbelief floated about.
“So, what do you think? I personally think you’re the perfect fit.” (Sae-Jin)
Sae-Jin smiled as he spoke.
The reason why he summoned her here was simple. It was to appoint her the new Tower Lord.
The media might throw a hissy fit and say what on earth he was thinking, but this wasn’t a completely left-field hiring at all – because, although she was currently the well-known Alchemist Miss Hazeline, her actual origin lied with magic. She simply stepped away on her own volition after failing to control her emotions properly.
But Sae-Jin believed she still possessed a massive attachment to the world of magic, even now.
If not, then there wouldn’t be a reason for her to look up the Wizards’ online chat rooms and communities periodically, no reason to jump around in joy like a little kid after successfully learning a new spell, and of course, no point in her coming up with the fake identity of “Shenarine” and secretly acting as a Wizard, either.
Hazeline maintained her silence – probably because of Kim Yu-Rin. Unless Hazeline resolved her long-standing conflict and the guilt associated with it, she would never be able to find the necessary courage to return to the world of magic, perhaps for the rest of her life.
“The thing is…” (Hazeline)
Hazeline fixed her stares to the floor and opened her mouth while fidgeting uncomfortably. Her voice was so weak and quiet.
“Mister Sae-Jin, thank you for your consideration. But, my abilities aren’t…” (Hazeline)
“I’m sure they are better than Miss Shahon’s. You perfectly studied all of the Bangbae-Dong Wizard’s grimoires, after all.” (Sae-Jin)
Hazeline had been virtually camping out in the Guild’s members-only library of late – obviously, in order to thoroughly study the grimoires of Bangbae-Dong Wizard.
Currently, she had f
lawlessly memorised the books number 1 to 26, and had reached the stage where she could potentially invent her own unique attack spell as well.
So, her qualifications were more than good enough.
But, she still lacked confidence. No, it was more like, she lacked courage.
“That’s only because of the Mana Tattoos, you know. What I lack in technique, I cover it with increased Mana reserve, that’s all. And also, I…” (Hazeline)
It seemed that she had more things to say, but other than her lips moving a bit, no words came out of them.
Sae-Jin didn’t know the exact words she wanted to say, but he could still roughly estimate what she wanted to say, regardless.
“Miss Kim Yu-Rin also gave her consent.” (Sae-Jin)
Those words seemed unrealistic, rather than ‘shocking’, to her. Because, there was no way Kim Yu-Rin would forgive her.
While studying her face frozen in stunned silence, Sae-Jin recalled the events from the day before.
“If you’re asking me for my professional opinion, then I’m against it. No. Totally against it! Tooootally, completely, against it.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Her answer was very resolute for a patient still lying on a hospital bed. And there was even a hint of hostility in Kim Yu-Rin’s expressions.
“But, why?” (Sae-Jin)
“She’s definitely not normal in her head. I mean, where in the world can you find a crazy woman like her who poisons a person’s potion? There’s no guarantee that she won’t do that ever again.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
“But you also don’t have the guarantee that she will do it again, either.” (Sae-Jin)
“……..In any case, I’m still totally against it. It’s too risky.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Kim Yu-Rin pouted heavily.
At the ends of her hospital bed, stuffed dolls of the Orc and Athany stood side by side. Sae-Jin reached out and took the Orc doll. A sense of unease entered Kim Yu-Rin’s eyes, hoping that he wouldn’t take the doll away.
“Just what happened between you two?” (Sae-Jin)
He gently patted the top of the Orc doll and placed it on top of the bureau next to her bed.
“…..It’s complicated. By a lot.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Kim Yu-Rin reached out and rescued the doll from the cold, hard wooden surface. And then, hid it securely under the covers.
“Well, it’s not my place to pry into your past… However, Miss Hazeline is just about perfect for the position of the Tower Lord. At a bare minimum, I’d like a Wizard who is close to me filling up that position.” (Sae-Jin)
“Surely, there must be lots of other, more suitable Wizards you can find, right? No, besides that, why are you asking me about this? I’m not related to this matter at all. If the Guild Master wishes for it, then you can just hire that crazy bitc… that person, am I wrong?” (Kim Yu-Rin)
She remained resolute. As befitting a 30-year old boyfriend-less lifelong loner, she was like an iron wall.
“That’s because, without your consent, I’m pretty certain that Miss Hazeline wouldn’t want to do it, either.” (Sae-Jin)
“…..No way that’s true.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Kim Yu-Rin looked like she didn’t believe him. She even went as far as to change the topic of the conversation when Sae-Jin tried to continue his persuasion.
“Let’s talk about that later. More importantly, there’s something I’m curious about, Guild Master.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
“….Okay, what is it?” (Sae-Jin)
“I saw at the end there. What did the Lord say to you?” (Kim Yu-Rin)
The whispered words of the dying Vampire Lord – Sae-Jin couldn’t understand them back then, and he still couldn’t understand even now. But he remembered them all too clearly.
“It was like he was making a prophecy of some kind, but I have no idea what he was trying to say. On top of that, some of the words must have been in the Vampire language, because I couldn’t even hear those parts at all.”
When the Leviathan Form evolved he became able to decipher a handful of the native Vampire language, but truly, they were just a meagre handful. And all of them happened to be swearing, too.
But, Kim Yu-Rin didn’t lose her interest in this matter.
“What did he ended up saying?” (Kim Yu-Rin)
“……Hmm. ‘I stole a peek through a certain treasure of the Nosferatus. The worst monster in the history will become the hero’. It was something like that.” (Sae-Jin)
As if she was thinking deeply, Kim Yu-Rin’s forehead creased up.
“Hmm…. Mmm….” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Kim Sae-Jin burst out laughing after quietly gazing at her trying to look serious and stuff. And then, pulled out the present he brought along. It was a stuffed doll that depicted a cute Goblin.
The common saying of ‘how cute can a Goblin be’ couldn’t be applied to this doll. A roundish, chubby head and short limbs – this cuteness was on the level that even Sae-Jin felt boastful about. And the evidence of its cuteness was Kim Yu-Rin’s face that was slowly melting into a puddle.
But she quickly hardened her face and spoke up.
“A Goblin, is it…. Thank you for that time. I was able to survive, thanks to you.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
She then extended her hand out matter-of-factly. Her face was full of covetousness, telling him to hand over the doll already. Too bad, Sae-Jin had no plans to do that, at least not so soon.
“Hahaha… thank you for the kind words. But, are you really refusing so quickly to help me on the matter I’m asking you about?” (Sae-Jin)
Kim Yu-Rin’s smooth eyebrows twitched after she heard his words. Sae-Jin was aiming for this moment.
“…Why don’t you guys meet up and talk first? Miss Hazeline is also regretting her actions as well. Plus, you receive this doll as a bonus on top.” (Sae-Jin)
He playfully shook the doll’s butt and seduced her.
While looking at Hazeline’s stunned face, Sae-Jin clapped his hands loudly. Then, the door to his office was yanked open, and the heavy footsteps reverberated against the walls.
Hazeline froze up like the ‘mangbuseok’. She didn’t dare to turn her head around to look, only her eyeballs desperately shifted around. (TL: the legend of ‘mangbuseok’ comes from the Korean history/folklore. Basically, a government official is sent to Japan back in 5th century AD for some sort of a rescue mission, his wife cries her eyes out by the shore, and allegedly turns into a stone statue, or something like that. Can’t find a link in English that describes the lore, so well, take my word for it. Not sure why the author chose to use this reference, though.)
The unknown person arrived right behind Hazeline and threw out this one line.
“Hey, you. Look at me.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Hazeline’s shoulders jumped up. Looking as if she might fall off her chair at any moment, she stiffly turned around to look. And as expected, Kim Yu-Rin was standing there. The only difference was, she didn’t carry the same-old expression of anger.
“….Let’s talk for a bit.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Her voice sounded rather bitter for some reason.
“Uh, uh… S, sure thing.” (Hazeline)
Hazeline dazedly replied. Kim Yu-Rin then turned to leave, before speaking up once more.
“Just the two of us. Will that be fine, Guild Master?” (Kim Yu-Rin)
“Of course.” (Sae-Jin)
Kim Yu-Rin left the office first, and with a totally terrified face, Hazeline followed right after.
Sae-Jin had no idea what the two of them talked about.
But, he could guess that the matter between them was heading towards the right direction, after he heard the noises of Hazeline’s loud sobbing as well as the much softer sounds of Kim Yu-Rin lightly patting the crying Elf’s back.
August, a month of scorching heatwaves assaulting the public.
This should have been the season when all the vacationing spots would be jam packed with holiday makers, but the current status of the world wasn’t nice enough for something so relaxed like that.
Boss Monsters were popping up everywhere all the time; a huge Fissure opened up in Western Europe; and to top them off, predictions of the so-called experts that said, what the world was experiencing was not a one-off thing at all.
And because of all this unprecedented chaos, even the heatwave ended up feeling quite bone-chilling to everyone alive.
But, The Monster’s status was shooting up like crazy, totally opposite to the direction of ruination the world was busy walking towards.
Showing a gradual rise from the initial Boss Monster incidents, then with the huge Fissure in Europe opening up, boom!! The Monster’s sister company, TM’s stock prices surged up through the roof, until shooting past the atmosphere, entering the stratosphere and beyond.
With this, Sae-Jin came to a realisation how the USA was able to become the most dominant, wealthiest nation on earth through the First World War.
The number of Griffins living in the nesting area managed by The Monster now totalled almost 600. Many countries in Europe begged to rent out this amazing method of transportation that allowed one to travel from the city of Sinuiju to Busan in less than three minutes, while requiring no prior preparation whatsoever. The amount they proposed for one Griffin was ten million Euros, and the duration being only a month. (TL: Sinuiju is a city in North Korea that borders Chinese city, Dandong. Basically, it’s on the other side of the Korean peninsula from the city of Busan.)
Plus, the demand for The Monster’s Mercenaries had increased by a great deal as well. There were 2300 Mercenaries working for The Monster, and only around 50 of them were currently not out on a mission – because, they were injured at the moment.
Also, The Monster established a ‘control tower’ of sorts, which would play the central role in making the important decisions in this fast-changing world. Well, it wasn’t exactly ‘establishing’, but more like moving all the personnel that acted as the brains of the organisation into one spot.
And that spot just so happened to be the underground conference room hidden below The Monster Guild’s HQ building, where the weekly meetings between the Guild members took place.
“Right now, around 100 Knights each from the countries England, Germany, and France are requesting for the licence to ride Griffins. And the orders for the various artifacts and the Orc’s weapons are backed up to the point where we are running out of the numbered waiting tickets.” (Jo Hahn-Sung)
Jo Hahn-Sung spoke while browsing through the documents.
Sae-Jin could only spit out long sighs, though.
The time he needed for making an artifact or a weapon depended solely on the grade of the finished item. Although the Proficiency Levels for several Skills, such as dexterity, had increased by a lot, he still required a minimum of two hours to craft a single item that could be rated ‘the best’ or the so-called ‘Named Goods’.
And to compound the difficulty, he even seemed to have developed the mentality of a true artisan – he didn’t want to sell those artifacts he wasn’t satisfied with, so out of ten he made, Sae-Jin ended up throwing away three just because he was unhappy with them.
He tried not to do this, but it was now ingrained in his instincts. He’d go crazy and destroy the offending articles, before regaining his senses and regret his actions a bit later. This repeated over and over again.
“….Many things have been delayed like this, sir.” (Jo Hahn-Sung)
Jo Hahn-Sung studied Sae-Jin’s mood before saying some words that indirectly conveyed his message. He was urging Sae-Jin for answers.
“Do one of those interviews or whatever and remove some of them off the list, please. The best I can do is three items a day.” (Sae-Jin)
“But if that happens, we might end up starting a bloody competition between the aforementioned European nations. The current crisis of the planet can only be overcome if all the earthlings band togethe…” (Jo Hahn-Sung)
“What was that? Did you just say something?” (Sae-Jin)
“…….No, sir.” (Jo Hahn-Sung)
“….I’ll do what I can, so for now, let me off the hook with this much.” (Sae-Jin)
And with that, the matters related to weapons and artifacts came to an end. Too bad for him, that wasn’t the only topic to discuss, however.
“Next. France’s president, as well as prime ministers of Spain and England requested for a face-to-face meeting with you, sir. They wish to discuss the topics regarding the Mercenaries as well as various others. Each of them are asking you to meet them first, and to the Korean government…” (Jo Hahn-Sung)
“Wow. Our Guild Master is so busy~. It’s really, really cool, you know~.”
Yi Hye-Rin let off a soft exclamation of admiration as she continued to interestedly observe the proceedings from the side. However… Kim Yu-Rin smacked the back of her head, then.
“Ouch!! That hurts, you know!!” (Yi Hye-Rin)
“If you’re aware of how busy he is, then stop distracting him.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
“H, hmm…” (Hazeline)
Meanwhile, Hazeline cautiously slid in between the bickering duo while carrying a slightly weird expression – or, more correctly, with an envious face.
“…Y, Yu-Rin-ah, are you enjoying your lunch?” (Hazeline)
“….Yeah, it’s nice.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
“Really? I, I’m feeling full right now, so… would you like my portion of meat as well?” (Hazeline)
Hazeline asked with a red face while busy fidgeting around with her fingers. Kim Yu-Rin’s cheeks also reddened slightly, and with an unsure face, she too hesitated. But then, like a swift and crafty little cat, Yu Baek-Song sitting next to them quickly butted in.
“In that case, gimme.” (Yu Baek-Song)
“A, aht!! Hey, put it down, you idiot!” (Hazeline)
“You said you’re full, though.” (Yu Baek-Song)
Before anything could be done, Yu Baek-Song swallowed the steak in one gulp. Rage filled Hazeline’s reddened face this time as she stood up and pointed her angry finger at Yu Baek-Song.
“What the heck!! This crazy cat burglar…!!” (Hazeline)
“It’s fine.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
“…..Oh, really?” (Hazeline)
…But with a single hand gesture from Kim Yu-Rin, Hazeline promptly sat back down on her seat.
And Yi Hye-Rin on the side interestedly studied this clear display of power dynamics between these two people.
< 46. Tension (2) > Fin.