A Monster Who Levels Up
“Well then, I’ll be on my way, Guild Master.” (Jo Hahn-Sung)
The insufferable meeting with Jo Hahn-Sung that lasted for over two hours finally came to an end.
“Feels like I might really die at this rate…” (Sae-Jin)
After Jo Hahn-Sung had left the conference room, Sae-Jin lied down on the couch immediately.
His vision was blurring, and his head ached. When he looked around the conference room, he found that the Guild members hadn’t left for home just yet. Some of them even brought along their own duvets and blankets, suggesting that maybe they were planning to camp out here, of all places.
– After researchers uncovered the crucial fact that the martial arts from the Jin Mudo School is particularly effective when combating Monster threats, the school has experienced an unprecedented level of boom recently. The dojo master, Miss Yi Yu-Jin is…
At the same time, the news on the television was delivering a story regarding the Jin Mudo. When Sae-Jin turned his attention towards the TV, he saw Yi Yu-Jin and her considerably improved complexion, plus her toothy smile, dominating the screen.
[Jin Mudo School master/The Monster Guild member]
– We have over 2000 dojos operating across the globe at the moment, with nearly ten thousand disciples receiving instructions. (Yi Yu-Jin)
– It sure is a wonderful trend without a doubt. By the way, what do you, as the leader of this martial arts school, think is the true advantage of this form of martial arts? (Interviewer)
– To me, the advantage is that, during the fight against Monsters in a stand-off situation, you’re not hindered by your weapons, instead relying solely on the most natural movements your body can make. Plus, let’s take a look at gauntlets; they are much easier to manufacture compared to other armaments, so, although they might be rated as similar in overall quality, you can find more gauntlets in circulation and crucially, they are cheaper to buy as well. And so, I believe that these and other points have combined to give the spotlight to our school of martial arts when it comes to the matter of Monster subjugation. (TL: gauntlets are easier to make? Seriously? Mister Author, tell that to the medieval blacksmiths, see how they react…)
“…They’ve grown by that much already?” (Sae-Jin)
Kim Sae-Jin got thoroughly impressed by the contents of the interview. Of course, The Monster did shower the school with an unrestrained level of support, but still, to grow by that much during the short period of two years was…
“Did you know that they’ve gotten really famous lately? The main body of texts and all the movement diagrams are left completely intact, so it’s really easy to train in the art, and plus, its effectiveness is quite high, apparently. It’s one of those ridiculous low risk, high return scenario, you see? I mean, our Knights Order received four Jin Mudo disciples during this year’s new recruitment process, out of ten people selected this year!” (Yi Hye-Rin)
Yi Hye-Rin replied to him while watching the TV.
“Oh, really?” (Sae-Jin)
“By the way, that dojo master girl is also one of the Guild members, right?” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Kim Yu-Rin asked while resting her chin on her hands. Joo Ji-Hyuk volunteered an answer this time.
“Yes, that’s correct. I’ve met her a few times, and she seems to be a nice person.” (Joo Ji-Hyuk)
“….And just why would you meet her in the first place?” (Yi Hye-Rin)
Suddenly, Yi Hye-Rin glared at Joo Ji-Hyuk with eyes narrowed to a slit like a flatfish. And as the flustered Joo Ji-Hyuk began to stammer out an excuse, the interview got abruptly cut off without a warn
ing. Then, the anchor began reading a new information, saying it was the breaking news.
– Near the province of Gangwon, a Mah-in has made an appearance. This Mah-in is understood to be an Ogre in origin…
A footage of a giant male ‘man’ rampaging around with bloodshot eyes was transmitted next. Everyone in the conference room held their breaths and watched the TV.
Those referred to as ‘Mah-ins’ hadn’t appeared publicly in the past ten years or so. If one did, then it was terminated almost immediately. The modern world viewed Mah-ins as even worse enemies of mankind than Vampires, after all.
Well, Vampires had the excuse of their own survival when attacking humans, but Mah-ins didn’t, as they simply enjoyed causing destruction and committing murder.
However, such a Mah-in had shown up out of the blue. Publicly, too.
“….Should we go and help?” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Kim Yu-Rin asked as she lowered her duvet. But Sae-Jin shook his head.
“No need. It’s walking around that exposed, so most likely, it’s been subjugated already.” (Sae-Jin)
– It has been confirmed that this Mah-in was subjugated by the Griffin Rider, Kim In-Soo, a short while ago.
With a great timing, the anchor spoke up. As Sae-Jin shrugged his shoulders, Kim Yu-Rin pulled the duvet closer.
“Oh, right. That Kim In-Soo, doesn’t he have a bit of history with you, Guild Master?” (Yi Hye-Rin)
Yi Hye-Rin suddenly asked Sae-Jin as if the thought suddenly popped up in her head now.
“We did have a little run-in back then, sure. But, how did you find that out?” (Sae-Jin)
“Sae-Jung told me. She said that you and Kim In-Soo fought over her and stuff~?” (Yi Hye-Rin)
Fighting over her…
Sae-Jin simply smiled.
Although his first encounter with Kim In-Soo wasn’t positive, Sae-Jin didn’t harbour any ill feelings towards the guy at all.
Actually, Sae-Jin ran into Kim In-Soo again about three months ago. He remembered that, as the Lycanthrope, he broke Kim In-Soo’s weapon back then, so he ended up gifting an Orc’s weapon to the poor guy.
Kim In-Soo expressed how grateful he was, with teardrops forming on his eyes and everything, while repenting on how much of a schmuck he was in the past.
“What? Fighting over her? Isn’t it more like Sae-Jung doing everything she can in order to keep Mister Sae-Jin by her side, instead? I mean, she should be relieved that no one has snatched him away yet…” (Hazeline)
“She was probably only joking, though.” (Yi Hye-Rin)
“Even if it was a joke, Sae-Jung’s getting a little too conceited lately.” (Hazeline)
Hazeline pouted as if she was unhappy about something. Too bad, Kim Yu-Rin’s ultra-sharp eyes quickly stabbed into her back.
“….No, wait – y, you know, looking at her objectively, she is really like that nowadays.” (Hazeline)
“Well, that is true.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Looking at Kim Yu-Rin suddenly agreeing with Hazeline, Sae-Jin simply carried on smiling.
“But still, you should refrain from saying those things again.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
“I understand…” (Hazeline)
Hazeline cutely replied back and leaned her head on Kim Yu-Rin’s shoulder. But, as if that was annoying, Kim Yu-Rin moved slightly to the side to avoid it.
Sae-Jin chuckled while looking at the two.
A week after that, the appointment of the Tower Lord was announced to the public.
As expected, big reverberation and controversy got kicked up at the same time. It was all par for the course, really – since, although Hazeline was an A class Wizard approved by the government, the fact remained that she didn’t work as one for over eight years.
It didn’t take long before her status as The Monster Guild’s member got revealed, though. That helped turn around the public’s sentiment towards her favour. Of course, that was only the public’s…
“Isn’t there more water?” (Kim Yu-Rin)
“…Please endure for a bit longer.” (Sae-Jin)
Currently, the top floor of the Dawn and TM’s Wizard Tower.
Sae-Jin was standing before Hazeline’s office. But he wasn’t alone. And the person accompanying him was Kim Yu-Rin.
It was her very first time visiting Hazeline’s workplace which was stressing her out a lot, causing her to ask constantly for a glass of water for quite some time now.
“I, I’m going to the bathroom for a moment, so please go ahead and wait for me inside.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
“Eh? No, hey, wait a sec…” (Sae-Jin)
Before Sae-Jin could say anything, she ran away like a fired arrow. He could only look on dumbfoundedly at her disappearing back, before knocking on the door to Hazeline’s office.
“Who is it…”
The initial reply was rather energyless and also sounded annoyed as well.
“It’s Kim Sae-Jin. Miss Yu-Rin is accompanying me as well.”
Almost immediately, there was a change in her reaction.
With a hurried shout of “Just wait for a moment!!”, the sounds of something tumbling around could be heard beyond the door, and he even sensed faint traces of magic being used as well. It seemed that she was busy tidying up the messy interior with magic.
Sae-Jin relaxedly waited for her to finish.
And after five minutes passed by, an officious voice leaked out from beyond the door.
She sounded needlessly dignified. Sae-Jin smiled thinly and opened the door.
Hazeline was sitting with her legs crossed and her back leaning against the back of the chair. Was that how a Tower Lord should sit? Sae-Jin swallowed back down his rising laughter, and sat down on a chair located in front of Hazeline’s desk. Meanwhile, she looked beyond Sae-Jin, searching for Kim Yu-Rin’s shadow.
“She went off to a restroom. But, besides all that, how is the work treating you after ten days on the job?” (Sae-Jin)
“Yes? Ah…….. It’s fine, more or less.” (Hazeline)
Her complexion wasn’t so good, though. When Sae-Jin narrowed his brows questioningly, she quickly added a couple extra words as well.
“I can’t seem to adjust properly, is all.” (Hazeline)
“What do you mean, you can’t adjust?” (Sae-Jin)
“To the Wizarding world, I mean. I’m returning to it after so long, so… It’s hard accepting their way of doing things.” (Hazeline)
Actually, he had some idea of what was going on, after hearing about it before coming here. Thanks to her unexpected and somewhat explosiveappointment, factionalism had developed within the Tower already.
However, the situation was just too one-sided to call it ‘factionalism’. On one side, a faction formed around the High Elf Shahon, and on the opposite side, it was Hazeline all by herself. The rest were remaining neutral.
“And besides that, anything else bothering you?” (Sae-Jin)
“I’m okay with the rest.” (Hazeline)
Hazeline didn’t tell him. She was trying not to worry him.
But, if this situation persisted, it was only a matter of time before Hazeline got swallowed up. If that happened, it would get too troubling for Sae-Jin.
Thankfully, though, she still had one very important ally she could count on. And this one single ally was far more reliable than any other rotten a*swipes combined together.
“Well, in any case, I believe that Miss Hazeline will adopt to the situation accordingly.” (Sae-Jin)
“Of course. You don’t have to worry.” (Hazeline)
For a briefest moment, a hint of anguish brushed past her expressions, but that was all.
“Oh, that’s right.” (Sae-Jin)
He figured that he should stop beating around the bush, and nonchalantly pulled out two books.
“Here. I almost forgot about them.” (Sae-Jin)
They were the unpublished Bangbae-Dong grimoires number 27 and 28.
As soon as she confirmed them via the covers, panic spread on Hazeline’s face.
“But, but why are you giving me these?” (Hazeline)
“I’m planning to publish them soon, so I need people to proofread them. I shall leave the role of finding the right Wizards for that to you, Miss Hazeline.” (Sae-Jin)
This was the sign of Bangbae-Dong Wizard approving Hazeline, and was akin to handing over a powerful, decisive weapon over to her as well.
“Take care of the rest, please.” (Sae-Jin)
“Yes, yes?! But, where are you going? Mister Sae-Jin, if you just give me these two out of the blue and escape from here, you’re putting me in a difficult position, you know?!” (Hazeline)
“I’m telling you to use them at your discretion. Besides, Miss Yu-Rin should be arriving soon, so why don’t you discuss it between you two?” (Sae-Jin)
And with a great timing, Kim Yu-Rin pushed open the door and entered. Sae-Jin left the office as if he was passing the baton over to her.
Kim Yu-Rin called out to him flustered, asking where he was going, but he still resolutely escaped from the office.
Ten days later.
Sae-Jin heard that Hazeline managed to successfully conquer the Wizard Tower quite thoroughly by utilising the grimoires’ powers.
But there was no time for him to feel chuffed about that.
Because, he received an urgent text message from Kim Sun-Ho.
And the message said that Kim Yu-Sohn was on the brink.
Sae-Jin dropped everything and hurriedly ran over to the hospital.
There were other Guild members beside Kim Sun-Ho present in the hospital room.
Sae-Jin had come for a visit less than two weeks ago, yet Kim Yu-Sohn’s complexion was incomparably worse compared to before. Sae-Jin could acutely understand the meaning behind the description “nothing but skin and bones”.
Sae-Jin sat down on a chair next to Kim Yu-Sohn’s hospital bed.
Almost at the same time, the dying man slowly opened his eyes.
And as if he was waiting for this moment, a thin smile spread on his mouth as he stared at Sae-Jin.
Sae-Jin carefully held his skinny, bony hand.
His chest tightened. He felt numb.
The first person Sae-Jin had ever confided his secrets to, and the person he relied on the most. Looking at him, Sae-Jin once or twice wondered it would have been nice if he had a father like Kim Yu-Sohn.
“….You’re truly one stubborn person.” (Sae-Jin)
Hearing Sae-Jin’s words that contained a myriad of meanings, Kim Yu-Sohn simply returned a smile. Then, he blinked slightly. Sae-Jin placed his ear closer to Kim Yu-Sohn’s mouth.
“…You’ve come.” (Kim Yu-Sohn)
“Of course.” (Sae-Jin)
Sae-Jin tried to smile. But he couldn’t do anything about his trembling voice and tears pooling on the edges of his eyes.
“I had a dream, one after such a long time.” (Kim Yu-Sohn)
Sae-Jin’s eyes widened instantly.
Kim Yu-Sohn didn’t lose his smile while he continued on.
“However… it seems that… you don’t have to worry.” (Kim Yu-Sohn)
“In the near future, a hero will emerge and rescue this world.” (Kim Yu-Sohn)
Kim Yu-Sohn tightly grasped Sae-Jin’s hand.
“And that person… is ‘probably’… you, Mister Sae-Jin. It was probably you. That is why… I decided not to worry anymore.” (Kim Yu-Sohn)
Sae-Jin couldn’t understand everything he was saying.
There were lots of things he wanted to ask, too.
To hear what he meant, and to see his healthy face and voice, that’s what Sae-Jin wanted.
But, that wasn’t possible anymore.
Kim Yu-Sohn simply left behind those enigmatic words, and before Sae-Jin had the chance to comprehend, closed his eyes forever.
Those were the final words of Kim Yu-Sohn.
Sae-Jin’s long, helpless sigh descended heavily in the room.
Kim Sun-Ho ran up to the hospital bed.
And soon, the sobbing cries of a son who lost his father filled up the room.
Kim Sun-Ho’s daughter, not yet a middle schooler, also began sobbing, seeing her father.
On that day, when the sounds of sadness echoed – outside the window, the refreshing yet hot rays of the Summer sun continued to blaze down.
Kim Yu-Sohn’s funeral was a simple and small scale affair. Too bad, as if the news of Sae-Jin attending it got spread around, the number of people wanting to attend the occasion was incredible. Of course, Sae-Jin and Kim Sun-Ho refused them all.
Trying to soothe his sadness, Kim Sun Ho jokingly said that if he allowed all of them to attend, then he might have made over a million bucks from people donating money as a sign of their condolences.
But there was this one person they couldn’t refuse.
And that was none other than “Emil Rerheu”. (TL: Well, the author suddenly switched the name from Emil Rerheu to Emilia. Thus, I will be switching to the latter version as well from here on.)
If they refused, she’d murder them all publicly, after all.
“What brings you here?” (Sae-Jin)
Sae-Jin questioned her while wiping away tears around his eyes. Looking rather exhausted for some reason, Bathory didn’t even bother with useless banter before diving into the main topic.
“Hey you, you know a guy called Jin Seh-Hahn?” (Bathory)
Although he got scared there for a second or two, he replied while maintaining a poker face.
“Did you know that it was el Las Vampires that killed that dude? Anyways, those el Las fools are colluding with the Mah-ins. Looks like there is some kind of secret that even I’m not aware of.” (Bathory)
Sae-Jin’s face hardened.
“What do you mean by, ‘okay, so’? I only came here to let you know, so you don’t misunderstand about this whole thing, okay? I don’t wanna be seen as someone who doesn’t keep her promises or something.” (Bathory)
Bathory spoke thus and coldly turned around to leave. However, Sae-Jin still had something left to say.
“Since you came all the way out here, let’s work together.” (Sae-Jin)
Her steps came to a dead stop. However, when she turned around, her cramped face was resembling a terrifying demoness.
“Let’s help each other out.” (Sae-Jin)
“….You, have you lost your marbles?” (Bathory)
“Well. Wouldn’t it be better if we work together? After all, you say the Fissure cannot be closed no matter what. In that case, why not we help each other out?” (Sae-Jin)
Sae-Jin smiled confidently.
Bathory stared back at him wordlessly.
However, all those ugly, angry creases on her face from a moment ago had vanished, replaced by her dumbfounded expression.
< 46. Tension (3) > Fin.