A Monster Who Levels Up
“One month? Or will it be two months?” (Yu Sae-Jung)
It’s the night before. Sae-Jung was asking me, while fidgeting within my arms. But I could not be sure how long it might take, so I was unable to answer her with anything concrete.
“Then, maybe three months?” (Yu Sae-Jung)
Sae-Jung’s voice was getting progressively smaller.
“….Four months?” (Yu Sae-Jung)
She was whispering now. I did my best to form a believable smile, and lightly kissed her forehead.
“I will come back as soon as I can. Hell, I might even show up tomorrow, as if nothing has happened at all.” (Sae-Jin)
“Liar.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
“No, really.” (Sae-Jin)
There was always the possibility, since the future was not set in stone. I spoke to her with a light grin, and Sae-Jung returned a bit more relaxed smile of her own.
“In that case, I should just select the venue and send out invitations in the meantime, right?” (Yu Sae-Jung)
“…..Ng. Be ready and wait for me.” (Sae-Jin)
I answered her like so, and hugged her tightly. Her petite body felt unusually pitiful and small today, for some reason. I even almost broke out in tears, but somehow, held back.
But not too long after, a soft sobbing stabbed into my ears. Sae-Jung was crying.
*SFX for patting of the back*
Unfortunately, the only thing I could do was to gently pat her back.
Right now, I wish the night would flow just a bit slower than normal.
(TL: Still told from MC’s perspective.)
During the early dawn, when the sun hadn’t broken the navy blue darkness just yet – I Spiritualised my diary and carried it to the location of the underground portal.
It had been only one day, yet the sight before me perfectly fitted the description “hell on earth” to a T.
Strange, monstrous beings that resembled snakes, dogs, etc, and then, there was that unidentifiable creature wriggling about within the black mucous substance… and Bathory was here, battling all by herself.
“Lots of mini portals opened up all over the planet now.” (Bathory)
She took a glance at my direction and told me while burning away the tide of Monsters.
“Half of those mini portals will act as doorways to another world, while the rest, well, they will become the gates of hell with Monsters pouring out.” (Bathory)
She spoke in a roundabout way to let me know that the time was finally up.
I walked towards the portal without saying anything.
The thing I had to do was exceedingly simple.
I just needed to wade through the portal, seemingly choked full with countless Monsters forcing their way out from the distant, unspeakably deep bottom.
It sounded rather simple, but it required an unimaginable amount of bravery, so I briefly wondered whether I should pour myself a stiff drink or not.
“Hey, you listening?” (Bathory)
I slightly turned my head to look at her.
“You really going to act according to that plan of yours? Even if you succeed, the end of the world won’t change – the portal might close, but that won’t take care of the remaining Monsters in this world, you know? And in case you fail, that’s even worse than a dog’s death, too.” (Bathory)
“….No need for useless talk, but let me ask you one thing. Bathory, you and your underlings aren’t planning to jump into the portal, right?” (Sae-Jin)
Inside this portal, there was a ‘door’ that allowed one to go to the past, or to another world, a new dimension.
hory bit her lower lip as if she had thought about this matter over and over again. And the answer coming from that deep deliberation was a wonderful one, the kind I really liked hearing.
“I’m remaining here.” (Bathory)
“Very good.” (Sae-Jin)
As if she didn’t care for my grin, her eyes narrowed to a slit while she spoke.
“…It’s not because you persuaded me, okay? Well, my homeworld ravaged by these motherf*ckers isn’t my old homeworld anymore, anyway.” (Bathory)
“It’s the correct decision.” (Sae-Jin)
Now that Bathory agreed to help, there was nothing to stop me here. There was no need for a grand ceremony, either. Oh, and no point in hesitating, too.
I transformed into the Lycan Form, and carefully observed the other side of the portal.
The portal was spitting out things as if it was erupting out like a volcano. These things kind of resembled bits of human flesh, but also wriggled around like an individual organism.
That grotesque sight was truly disgusting, but at the same time, fear inducing.
But I needed to be brave.
In order to live, this was something I just had to do.
“Well, I’m off.” (Sae-Jin)
I didn’t need a countdown.
The ticking of a clock would only erode my resolve, anyway.
With a simple leap, I jumped down into the portal.
“What the?! H, hey!! Wait a sec….” (Bathory)
I heard Bathory’s surprised voice behind me.
But soon enough, all sounds disappeared, and I sank deeper and deeper into the gap of nothingness.
(TL: Still from MC’s… well, you get the idea.)
The sticky, unwelcome sensation of the mucous membrane only hung around in the beginning; as time passed, I could feel nothing at all. It was as if the sensation of touch had been robbed from me.
I tried to look around.
I once heard that the inside of a portal resembled that of the wild, unclaimed nature, but all I saw was the jet-black darkness. Even the stars that blinked faintly in the distance got swallowed up by this all-conquering darkness.
Was I looking at the vast expanse of the outer space?
Wait, didn’t the space also form a part of the ‘nature’, too?
My mind got drowsy and my thoughts were blurring.
It was hard to tell whether I was still breathing, moving, or even if I was still alive or dead.
Suddenly, a turbid stream of something rushed past me quite violently, and it shot up and up.
Within this black stream, I witnessed the hidden creatures’ pulsing beats and felt their maddened eyes on me.
But thanks to them, I remembered the reason why I was here in the first place.
I had to go to where this stream came from, so I fixed my heading opposite to the direction of the flow.
And then, time flowed and flowed.
Was it a minute, or one hour? One day? Maybe a month, or even a whole year?
Trapped within this unexplainable ‘world’, I feared that my ego, the sense of self, would retard and scatter away, never to become whole again.
Not too long after, or perhaps an eternity later, a massive black ‘gap’ that looked like a blackhole revealed itself in the far distance.
That ‘blackhole’ quivered continuously and spat out monstrous creatures nonstop.
Instinctively, my eyes snapped open wide.
My fatigued and weakened body was revitalised by the pulse of life, and it felt like my head was burning up now.
As if they had sensed the change, the creatures spat out from the blackhole left the turbid stream and surrounded me, clinging onto me. Unexpectedly, it felt very cold, and painful, too.
So, I transformed into the Fenrir.
[The host has transformed into the legendary Fenrir! For the next (12) hours, the Wolf that kills gods, Fenrir…]
Suddenly, my eye level changed, and my sight cleared up completely.
A Monster busy clinging onto my waist seemed as small as a speck of dust.
Even the blackhole looked like a slightly big cotton candy to me.
So, I swallowed it whole, just like that.
The blackhole got crushed like a pulp and got sucked into my mouth.
[An existence that can not be handled by the host has been absorbed…]
If this was what I had to do, then well, without a fanfare, I’ve done it.
But then, too many of the Monsters had left towards Earth. If I was to help Bathory and kill them, I had to go back as soon as possible.
‘It hurts a bit, though…’
But my body didn’t want to move.
Was this a severe case of indigestion? Or was I dying for good?
Unable to budge an inch, I just floated within the dark emptiness while submerged in thoughts. One possibility I’ve been denying until now entered my head.
Perhaps, did the future me die and no longer exist?
It really did feel like that was the case. It really was a persuasive argument, and I stopped my endless voyage.
I wanted to disappear along with the cold yet burning sensation of the stars wrapping around my body, and every little thing wriggling so naughtily within me.
I began recalling old memories, one by one.
I remembered going home while holding mom’s hand when I was really young… but then, I couldn’t recall anything for the next 15 years after that.
Maybe that was par for the course, really. Before my Trait manifested, I lived a shadow-like life where I was neither alive nor dead, after all.
However, the memories of the past five years were so, so vivid and real.
I met Kim Yu-Rin, met Hazeline, met Yu Sae-Jung, met Kim Yu-Sohn, and met Joo Ji-Hyuk, and, and…. a brilliantly shining life interconnected by many encounters and friendships.
Only then, my purpose and resolve finally surfaced from the muddy, sleepy waters of my fading consciousness.
I couldn’t stop here. I promised Sae-Jung that I’d return, after all.
And besides – there was something else I still had to do. In order to succeed in pretty much anything, taking ‘care of the aftermaths’ was very important.
My mind spun faster than ever before.
The future version of me, whose whereabouts were unknown.
The existence called as the devourer of the dimensions, a being that not even Bathory could stand up against.
And finally, the time required for the divine creature of the legends, the Leviathan, to mature fully.
And I found my answer.
When I opened my eyes, I saw a dim point of light far, far away.
With all my might, I began doggie-pedalling towards that light.
“*SFX for retching*”
Suddenly, I felt nauseous. The portal to the past was over there, yet the gap between the worlds and its immense pressure was forcibly restraining me.
In order to endure, I gritted my teeth and transformed into the Leviathan Form.
[The Skill “Ultimate Resistance” has been activated. The host will resist the universe’s laws and its suppression for a short period of time.]
The alert window said as much, yet it felt like my limbs were twisting apart at the seams and my entire being felt like melting from the terrifying heat.
But I did not give up.
I dashed towards that point of light nonstop.
And only after all my scales were burned away, when my eyes got seared into blindness and the world became nothing but darkness, only then…
I exited into the brilliant brightness of the sunlight.
(TL: Still told from MC’s viewpoint.)
I opened my eyes.
The first thing I saw was the bright sunlight and the densely packed verdant forest. I remained on my back for the next five minutes while trying to figure out what was going on, before standing up in a hurry.
Was I in a human’s appearance?
Yes, I was.
What about the alert windows?
They worked just fine.
A sigh of relief escaped from my lips automatically.
After getting a hold of myself, I found some leeway to check out the surrounding area.
But I became speechless soon enough.
There were no skyscrapers. There were no asphalt roads. There were no modern buildings either.
What greeted me was a whole bunch of traditional houses with tiled and thatched roofs, a fortress and watchtowers, many horse-drawn carts and carriages, and finally, the smell of cow manure serving as fertiliser.
Yep, the sight before my eyes were straight out of the Joseon era. (TL: a Korean dynasty established in 1392. Lasted until 1910.)
“….So, that’s why nothing was written on the diary about this part, huh.”
I muttered to myself.
It was impossible to figure out what the year was. Well, I thought that I might need 500 to 600 years if the Leviathan needed to reach the maturity, so, let’s say this was 550 years back in the past.
And, if I was to sleep for half a year, then that meant I had to spend at least 1000 days wide awake.
For some reason, “hmm” continued to leak out of my lips.
Okay, I should think this over thoroughly.
500 years should be more than enough for the Leviathan Form to reach adulthood. A fully-grown Leviathan should be able to fight against the devourer of the dimensions, or so referred to as by Bathory herself.
I already resolved myself to the possibility of a lengthy wait. Well, I was going to wait far longer than I expected, though.
I raised my head and stared into the far off distance.
A blue ocean was gently undulating over yonder like silk under the clear sunlight.
That must have been the East Sea. Meaning, my bedroom was right over there.
“….Oh well. Naught but to wait, I guess.”
I would wait.
If I endure, endure, and endure a bit more, then it’d be the correct time sooner rather than later.
(TL:….Still told from the MC’s point of view.)
When the Leviathan went to sleep, it’d be for three months straight. And when it woke up, well, it had to stay awake for a week. Most of the time while I was in slumber, I remained at the bottom of the ocean, but when I was awake, I walked around Joseon to see what was what.
And so, I got to witness with my own two eyes, the historical moment when the creation of Hunmumjeong-eum took place; the wretchedness and horrors of the Japanese invasion between 1592 and 1598; the humiliation of the Manchu War of 1636. (TL: Hunmumjeong-eum is the original Korean alphabet system invented under the rule of King Sejong.)
I lost count how many times I clenched my fist while watching the foreign invaders rape and pillage the land; when witnessing the common folk suffer through horrible unfairness completely unimaginable in a modern society.
But I never once tried to do something that might change the history.
Things I could influence were limited to a few events, after all.
And so, time continued to flow by while I waited.
I remained awake for only three weeks a year, but still, the remaining days were just too many.
It became progressively harder to maintain my sanity.
Sometimes, I missed everyone terribly.
Sometimes, my urges became a problem.
Sometimes, a rage that couldn’t be kept down tried to drown me.
Every passing day was a torture, and I gradually grew to fear the sun setting and the moon rising over each passing day.
That was why, I sometimes went to a village of human beings.
Rather happily enough, I could converse just fine with people, although there were some differences in pronunciation and the meaning of certain words.
“Barmaid, get me a bowl of rice and soup, please.”
I got a hankering for food with grain, so I sought out a traditional roadside tavern. A big dude with 188 centimetre tall height was ordering with a loud voice, so perhaps inevitably, all attention got focused to my direction. While I waited for my food in somewhat of a daze, a man who had been watching me with strange eyes initiated a conversation.
“You have a good physique there, young man.”
“Haha. Thank you.” (Sae-Jin)
“Are you perchance a military man?”
“No, just a commoner.” (Sae-Jin)
The man stroked his lengthy beard and nodded his head.
Then, my food arrived.
I couldn’t help but stare at the small bowl and a pathetically small amount of grub inside, and then, chuckled softly.
“I see that the current state of affairs for us common folk aren’t so good right now.” (Sae-Jin)
“But of course. We haven’t had rain for quite some time now, as if the gods have become annoyed with us.”
“No rain has fallen?” (Sae-Jin)
“Indeed. This drought is lasting longer than previous years, too… It’s quite a worrisome matter, really.”
The man looked really worried as he sighed out.
I smirked slightly while looking at him.
“Rain… rain, you say. Well, you might have rain later on today.” (Sae-Jin)
“…..What do you mean?”
The man tilted his head slightly, but soon, a sneer formed on his lips and he asked me again.
“Are you perchance a shaman?”
“Well, close enough.” (Sae-Jin)
The man laughed. But it wasn’t just him now – everyone here in the tavern was laughing along as well.
“What a funny person he is.”
“He looks fine on the outside, yet…”
They were sneering out comments one after the other.
“Haha. Well, we shall see later on.” (Sae-Jin)
I simply carried a thick smile on my face.
< 49. The Wait (3) > Fin.