A Monster Who Levels Up
“Oh, it’s indeed quite delicious. This is so unreal.” (Rhosrahdel)
Rhosrahdel continued to speak words of praise as he diligently chewed on the energy bar. Him of less than five minutes ago that busy threw a tantrum not wanting to eat one of those, was like a completely different person from another dimension compared to now.
“Is it more delicious than a blood pack?” (Yi Hye-Rin)
Yi Hye-Rin, with her eyes going round in curiosity, asked him.
“Well, it is far cheaper, that’s for sure.” (Rhosrahdel)
Until now, Rhosrahdel had purchased – through definitely legal means – blood packs and used them for sustenance. However, the expense was quite enormous. Five packs a day would come down to way past $9000 every month just for his food bills….
“It’s a flavour I’ve never tasted before, so I do find it quite interesting. But, I also think it could get a bit monotonous after a while. You said this is the grilled pork flavour?” (Rhosrahdel)
“Yeah. I think the taste’s really close. But seriously now, you can’t eat normal food, like, ever?” (Yi Hye-Rin)
“Yes. If I eat ‘normal food’, I will die because I won’t be able to digest them properly.” (Rhosrahdel)
To be more specific, regular food couldn’t be digested and would continuously pile up within the digestive tract, until causing his death through suffocation.
Yi Hye-Rin got shocked by the revelation and hurriedly asked.
“You’ll really die?” (Yi Hye-Rin)
“Of course.” (Rhosrahdel)
Yi Hye-Rin’s expression crumpled. She always thought that enjoying good food was one of the life’s greatest repeatable joys, so such a thing sounded like an unenviable fate to her.
It was around here that Joo Ji-Hyuk decided to cut in between the two sharing a rather intimate chat, after observing the duo with an uncomfortable face.
“I think that if you commercialise this energy bar amongst the army and Knights Order personnel, they will really latch on to this.” (Joo Ji-Hyuk)
Sae-Jin shrugged his shoulders before answering him.
“Oh, right. Yes, I might do just that. I’m thinking about it.” (Sae-Jin)
Invented through mobilising all the top-tier artifacts from TM as well as its talented workforce, this energy bar’s pricing was set at ₩6000 ($5.58) each, limited only to Vampires. Since this price was deliberately set low in order to ensure the buyers would get to eat three meals a day, the profit earned was nearly zero when all the capital invested in the project was taken into account.
“But if I do decide to sell it to the public, then the price will be higher than the amount set for the Vampires.”
The Wizards of the Wizard Tower are being worked full-time at the moment, and because of their profession being what it was, there was no helping with their high labour cost at the moment.
For now, a certain bait was being dangled in front, the one that promised one of the Bangbae-Dong grimoires number 1 to 10 could be rented out without going through the waiting period, if the Wizard put in 100 hours manufacturing the bars. But still, the profession of Wizards was one of the high-flying careers that demanded a minimum of $100 thousand as yearly salary, so…
Joo Ji-Hyuk stared at the energy bar with greedy eyes and asked again.
“Then, pricing it how much would get you a profit margin? We at Dawn should purchase a whole bunch, no matter how much one costs. I mean, hunger is an enemy we can’t ignore during those raids that take a long time to complete.” (Joo Ji-Hyuk)
“…..Hmm. I should ask Mister Hahn-Sung for
a more detailed info, but well, around ₩50000 per bar? ($46.50) Maybe there, or a bit more.” (Sae-Jin)
“Oh. In that case, I’d like to buy a few for myself, as well as for my subordinates.” (Joo Ji-Hyuk)
When Joo Ji-Hyuk climbed up to the position of the top Knight in his order, he also became the so-called Captain of a team. Naturally, he commanded around fifteen subordinates now. As a result, his pride and sense of duty had become even more pronounced compared to before.
Sae-Jin smiled brightly as he gazed at Joo Ji-Hyuk.
“Your subordinates must be glad to have you as their superior officer.” (Sae-Jin)
A smile spread on Joo Ji-Hyuk’s lips as well. Meanwhile, Yi Hye-Rin’s face blushed a bit as she glanced at him.
Seeing these two, who had been openly flirting yet went absolutely nowhere fast until now, Sae-Jin felt slightly frustrated in his heart.
The average number of energy bars produced in a day totalled 600 thousand. Considering that the number of Vampires living in around the world amounted to roughly 200 thousand, one could say they shouldn’t worry about lack of supplies for having three meals a day.
However, it was inevitable that there would be hardline Vampires who refused to eat these energy bars. So, in order to dispose of the leftover stock that came about after supplying the willing buyers, Sae-Jin asked Knights Orders if they were interested as well.
The Dawn and the Raven Knights Orders were the first to order over 20 thousand bars for their personnel. When this news got around, many overseas Orders tripped over themselves to get to TM’s checkout counter as quickly as possible.
The pricing for one energy bar was set at ₩70000. ($65.10)
The business venture that had very little prospect for profit, suddenly began generating some amount of revenue stream.
Also, rumours of rift forming within the Vampire society due to the advent of this energy bar could be heard as well.
The reason for them wanting to return to their homeworld – the main reason why they ended up rejecting the society, had been solved out of the blue, so perhaps this development was the obvious next step.
Unfortunately for Sae-Jin, no matter how long he waited, he hadn’t received any word from the most important Vampire of them all, Bathory.
“….There hasn’t been any contact from Bathory’s side, yes?” (Sae-Jin)
Currently, inside the underground conference room, where all of The Monster’s agendas were decided.
Sae-Jin asked Kim Sun-Ho.
“Yes, boss. Other than handing over a map with the coordinates for the el Las’s underground research centre through Rhosrahdel, there has been none.” (Kim Sun-Ho)
“Hmm…. By the way, exactly how many members are there in the Bathory clan?” (Sae-Jin)
“Two thousand living in Korea, and over ten thousand if all the indirect relations around the world are counted, boss.” (Kim Sun-Ho)
“That’s more than I expected.” (Sae-Jin)
Sae-Jin was slightly taken aback. Since she didn’t seem to have too many active ‘agents’, he expected the overall numbers to be low as well.
“What about the rest?” (Sae-Jin)
“The el Las is thirty thousand…” (Kim Sun-Ho)
“There are fifty thousand of us. Twenty thousand are outside Korea, but after receiving news that the underground city has been completed, they are entering the country as soon as they can.” (Lillia)
Lillia replied instead of Kim Sun-Ho while sitting on the corner of the couch. As expected of the Nosferatus – he did think that there were a lot more Vampires in the underground city of late.
Kim Sun-Ho took a glance at her and then continued.
“…Yes, boss, she’s correct. The rest are Vampires not affiliated with any other clans, and a fair number of them happen to be inmates, as well.” (Kim Sun-Ho)
“So that’s how it is…. Oh, before I forget, Miss Lillia, which date did you say the Nosferatus would hold a press conference?” (Sae-Jin)
Lillia assumed a bright smile at Sae-Jin’s query.
“In a week’s time. I’m assuming you’ll be in attendance?” (Lillia)
Through a democratic process, Nosferatus had decided to publicly announce their intention to adopt the energy bars as their main source of sustenance and to integrate back into human society.
Their plan also included opening up their rather stunning underground city to the outsiders and earn tourist avenue, which would aid in creating a sustainable Vampire society in the long term – after the Goblin village have been moved elsewhere, of course.
“Yes, of course.” (Sae-Jin)
Sae-Jin replied in a reliable manner. At the same time, the message arrived that the Knights such as Kim Yu-Rin, Yi Hye-Rin, and Joo Ji-Hyuk, had entered the Guild building after finishing their duties for the day.
“Well then, let us get the meeting started – to find the way to take care of all the Mah-ins.” (Sae-Jin)
In a dark room where a thick veil seemingly covered up everything, there was a single light source still existing within. It was the television, a wonderful box that helped to alleviate Bathory’s boredom for a considerable length of time.
Even today, yesterday, and also two days ago.
From the rectangular box, the news of ‘TM has invented energy bars that can be eaten by Vampires’ continued to leak out.
Bathory was dazedly watching the footage play on.
Footages showing the process of how the energy bars were manufactured, and a Vampire eating the bar; even the footages showing the interviews with the incarcerated Vampires – all of them were showing happy, smiling faces that said the day when the humanity and Vampires reconcile wasn’t too far away.
– “This food will spread out to the rest of the world, with a sensible price, and for establishing a harmonious society for us all.”
With that final comment, footages came to an end. Bathory remained dazed as she stared at the TV screen for a long, long time.
Five minutes, ten minutes…
The ticking of the clock seemed monotonous yet very clear within this darkness.
Bathory finally opened her mouth after a lengthy deliberation.
Her targets this time were the convoy of Apostles always ‘protecting’ her. Actually, the Elders should have been performing this role, but there were none here. Bathory killed them all. Many of them chose the deceased Vampire Lord over the head of the clan, after all.
“Yes, my lady.”
The eldest Apostle replied to her.
“What do you think about?” (Bathory)
“…..Of course, we should strive to return to our homeworld, my lady.”
The Apostle’s voice was trembling imperceptibly. It was the sign that, although he was sincere in his belief, he was being shaken at the same time.
“…So it is.” (Bathory)
Bathory murmured bitterly and pointed at the TV. From her smooth, refined finger, a thin red stream of energy leaked out and entered the TV. And flames erupted from its inside.
The TV that spat out uncomfortable news until not too long ago became a heap of ash in the blink of an eye.
After returning home, Sae-Jin sat on the bed while he waited for Yu Sae-Jung to come home as well. He was planning to tell her that old excuse about him going on a business trip for a couple of days – since he’d be participating in the cleaning up of the Mah-in threat.
She didn’t want to show up, no matter how long he waited.
Seven o’clock, eight, nine, ten, then eleven…
The longer the hours ticked on, the hotter his head boiled, and his fists were clenching tighter automatically.
But finally, when the hour hand of the clock was about to touch ’12’ – and just as Sae-Jin grabbed his phone after his anger finally erupted out…
*SFX for a door stealthily opening up*
The front door opened slightly.
And cautious footsteps even quieter than dust settling on the floor entered his ears.
Sae-Jin deliberately withheld his presence in the main bedroom.
Her footsteps seemed to circle around living room, bathroom and then, the kitchen. He then heard her breathe a sigh of relief as if she had confirmed that there was no one else in the house.
She must be under the mistaken belief that he was yet to return home, as Sae-Jin told her he was really busy nowadays.
“Ah, I’m so tiiiired~.”
Sae-Jin heard her slurred voice coming from just beyond the bedroom door. Just how much did she drink? His eyes narrowed to a sharp blade while glaring at the door. They resembled that of a wild predator, waiting for a prey to show up.
*SFX for a door creaking open*
The door opened.
Yu Sae-Jung entered the room while leisurely yawning out, but then…
She fell down on her butt after discovering Sae-Jin sitting in the dark like a demon.
“O, Oppa, you were home already?!” (Yu Sae-Jung)
With one hand, she hurriedly tidied up her messy hair, while with the other, she hid her reddened face as her slurred, stuttering words rolled out. Sae-Jin wordlessly glared at her.
“Ah, uh, the thing is, I, uh, I ran into my old classmates and it’s been a long time, so… It was such a nice little surprise so like, we were having fun and ended up, uh, a bit late than usual~?” (Yu Sae-Jung)
He still maintained his silence.
“I, I can also have a fun day out, you know. Besides, I didn’t stay out the whole night, right? It’s still, uh, 11:59 now, there’s still a minute left! A whole minute! And you always stay out overnight, too…” (Yu Sae-Jung)
She showed him the time with her phone.
Still, Sae-Jin didn’t say anything.
“That…. Uh….” (Yu Sae-Jung)
“Please say something. Did I do something hugely wrong here?” (Yu Sae-Jung)
“……Sorry.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
Sae-Jin ended up chuckling at her rapid apology. As if Yu Sae-Jung was relieved as well, she sneaked up closer to the bed.
“…I’m home~.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
She entered Sae-Jin’s embrace while acting all aegyo and stuff. He asked her while gently rubbing her back.
“A reunion, huh? Did you have fun?” (Sae-Jin)
“Ng. I ended up recalling so many good memories, since I haven’t seen them in such a long time.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
“Really? I thought you didn’t have a lot of friends.” (Sae-Jin)
“…..But I do, four of them, as a matter of fact.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
Having four friends as the only grandchild of a Chaebol, now that was a lot. Oh yes, it sure was – Yu Sae-Jung declared as so and justified her reasoning.
“Oh, right. Don’t you have meetings regarding the Wizard Tower scheduled?” (Sae-Jin)
“Yeah, I do, but why do you ask?” (Yu Sae-Jung)
“I got worried. I need to go on a business trip this week, but I am worried about you drinking way too much and then fooling around…” (Sae-Jin)
“….I ain’t gonna do that, so stop worrying.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
For a second there, did her eyes gleam rather dangerously?
“You seem to meet a lot of people lately?” (Sae-Jin)
“Ng. Lots of fun things are happening all the time now. There are the Guild meetings, then there are those Wizard Tower directors’ conference, too…. It’s all because of Oppa’s hard work.” (Yu Sae-Jung) (TL: Quite frankly, none of those sound particularly fun to me, but whatever, different strokes for different folks and all that…)
Sae-Jin smiled and patted her head.
“In that case, life should still be fun even without me around, am I right?” (Sae-Jin)
“….What the heck.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
He was only joking, but Yu Sae-Jung’s expressions rapidly cooled. It was a serious look completely devoid of any mischievousness that could be seen maybe once or twice in a year.
“Obviously, that’s not possible without Oppa around, because you are the reason why my life has become wonderful lately. Hunting Monsters, going out and having fun, but knowing that Oppa is waiting for me back home – also, that even if Oppa isn’t home, you’d be back soon anyways… Without those, I won’t be able to go on.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
“That’s right. So, stay by my side for the rest of our lives, okay? And stop saying those unlucky things, too.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
Yu Sae-Jung spoke with a serious, determined face.
Sae-Jin nodded his head. Only then, she broke out into a warm smile and left a peck on his cheek. But that was only for a fleeting moment. Her eyes suddenly narrowed to a slit as she spoke.
“….Oh, and by the way. Yu-Rin Unni uploaded a photo to her SNS yesterday. You guys had sushi, huh?” (Yu Sae-Jung)
“What’s so funny?” (Yu Sae-Jung)
He awkwardly laughed. Then, he pressed her shoulders and pushed her down on the bed, stopping her interrogation efforts.
“Don’t try to gloss over thi….. Eu-euph.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
He didn’t feel like sweating over small stuff right now.
He simply locked lips with her in a show of their love.
Sae-Jin proceeded to spend the night caressing the body of a woman he found even more beautiful with every passing day.
< 47. Mah-in (3) > Fin.