A Monster Who Levels Up
Causing rain to fall was a rather easy job for me. After I gathered water particles in the atmosphere and created cumulonimbus clouds, rain fell on the following day.
“Oh, here he comes!”
Under the grey sky and thick, incessant falling rain drops, I entered the roadside tavern while raindrops slid off the large straw hat I was wearing at the time, to find men from yesterday waiting for me with stunned faces.
“Fella, you have the divine touch!”
The first guy to talk to me showed off an especially exaggerated reaction. He barged his way through and occupied a seat right next to mine.
“Haha. Barmaid, a bowl of rice and soup, please.” (Sae-Jin)
First things first, I ordered food. Meanwhile, the guy asked me with a face of a man dying of curiosity.
“How did you know?”
“I simply asked god, that’s all.” (Sae-Jin)
Both eyes of the man went extra round.
“Are you saying you can talk to a god?”
“Well, something like that.” (Sae-Jin)
“That is amazing!”
While we laughed and conversed in not very important topics, my grub was placed on the table.
And well, I could see that the amount had doubled compared to yesterday.
“Ohh, looks delicious.” (Sae-Jin)
“You know, the next district to ours is also suffering through a drought, so, is it possible to find out when it’ll rain over there?”
Hearing the man’s query, I smiled deeply while shoving the rice in my mouth.
“Most likely, about two days later.” (Sae-Jin)
“Two days later…. Ah, dang it. We haven’t even introduced ourselves, yet, have we? I am called Yi Si-Eup. And you’re….”
“Unni~, Here’s your ingredients~.”
It was then, a refreshingly open and honest voice tickled my ears. I took a glance and saw a young girl. The guy followed my gaze, and then grinned lewdly while poking my side with his elbow.
“It seems like your eyes are working just fine, huh. She’s the most beautiful girl in our village, you see. She’s a bit on the young side, but well, her age’s just about right to get married, don’t you think so?” (Yi Si-Eup)
To call her the most beautiful was…. Maybe my standard had risen or something, but she only seemed just about above average to me. Couldn’t be sure whether such a view was because of the era I was in or not, though.
I smirked slightly and shook my head.
“I already have someone waiting for me.” (Sae-Jin)
“But, you haven’t even had sangtu done yet?” (TL: Sangtu is a hairstyle reserved only for “adult” males in the Joseon-era Korea.)
“….Keum. I will have it done once I go back home.” (Sae-Jin)
“Is that right? How regrettable. Hum, hum. Oii, barmaid, give me the same rice and soup bowl as this young man over here.”
However, Yi Si-Eup received only half a bowl and as a side dish, and received an earful of complaints. The barmaid, the tavern owner as it turned out, told him to settle his tab first.
I grinned faintly and gazed at the two, then felt a pair of eyes on me.
Turning my head around, I found that ‘most beautiful girl in the county’ staring at me quite openly.
When our eyes met, she shyly averted her gaze, somewhat in a hurry.
But soon enough, her eyes stealthily sought me out again, only to meet my gaze once more.
“!!!! U, unni, I’m going now.”
In the end, she left the tavern as if running away.
Hmm. Without a doubt, the ‘value&rsquo
; of my appearance was great, no matter what era it was.
I swept my hair back, full of unnecessary pride.
But, well – it seemed that the folks of the village were far more interested in me predicting the rain, rather than how I looked like.
A short time passed by before more villagers rushed in to the tavern.
As if the rumour had gotten around, even the people from the neighbouring villages showed up hurriedly and asked about the rain.
“….You might get some rain at your side around four days from today.” (Sae-Jin)
“W, what about our village?”
“You don’t have to worry, as it’ll rain there very soon.” (Sae-Jin)
After that day, I somehow ended up acting as a spokesperson for the gods.
But I found it quite fun, being among the simple and honest folks.
And as I began staying within the village, even a few housewives developed a sort of ‘interest’ in me as well.
Of course, the ‘most beautiful girl’ in the village was included in that group, but well, my standards had been increased after being together with Yu Sae-Jung for so long…. I came up with an excuse of me being an aimless wanderer, and politely declined all of their advances.
A week went by, and the time for me to go to ‘sleep’ arrived once more.
“You’re heading off now?”
“Yes. I shall return in three months’ time.” (Sae-Jin)
“Three months, you say…. How regrettable. You were indeed the only person I could talk to properly around here. Folks around these parts are too simple and straightforward, you see.”
“Haha. I actually preferred that, Yi Si-Eup ong.” (TL: “Ong” is an archaic form of honorific, used to address an older male.)
I lowered my head.
“Be safe on your way. And don’t forget to stop by.”
With the dignified farewell from the man, Yi Si-Eup, behind me, I left the village that I grew rather fond of during this short stay.
Beneath the deep sea that seemed to swallow all sunlight, I opened my eyes. Already, three months had gone by.
I checked the alert windows first. Too bad, the Leviathan Form only grew by a fraction of a percent.
A disappointed groan automatically escaped my mouth. However, that groan morphed into a violent underwater storm and rushed towards the surface. Startled silly by this mistake, I quickly reined in the wayward flow of water and reverted back to the human’s appearance.
Once I got to the shore, I yawned out loudly and stretched my limbs out. Then, I headed back to the village.
It’d been only three months, yet the most beautiful girl in the village, the one who was said to like me very much, had settled down with another dude already. The husband was a farmer well known in the village for being honest and hard-working. She was somewhat flustered by my resurgence, but I simply congratulated with a generous smile.
Yi Si-Eup welcomed me back with open arms. He didn’t ask me about the rain, though – but did inquire if I’d be willing to help out during the Autumn harvest. Of course, I agreed to do it. Well, I was confident of working harder and smarter than a cow, at any rate.
However, I realised how difficult it was. Harvesting required skill, far more than actual physical strength, as it turned out.
But, maybe due to the Goblin’s Craftsmanship Skill, I was able to rapidly adopt to the job. By the end of the fourth day, I had become the greatest farmer on earth – going so as far as to take on the entire village’s workload by myself.
The week’s worth of time flew by like an arrow as I helped out with the harvest, and I had to go and sleep once more.
I bid everyone a much harder farewell compared to the last time and returned to the ocean.
Afterwards, every three months, when the seasons changed, I visited the same village.
The villagers always welcomed me back, and fun things always happened there.
This was a simple life, a lifestyle I found to be my liking.
However…. the villagers and I weren’t living on the same flow of time; as the days went by, sorrowful events began to occur.
Three years later, the very first person to engage me in small talk, Yi Si-Eup, contracted tuberculosis and passed away.
Two years after that, his wife also passed on.
A year after that, the barmaid of the tavern I frequented came down with an illness. Naturally, the tavern had to close.
It was over six years to them. It was just over three months for me.
With that much time passing by, it became increasingly difficult to visit the village anymore. People began suspecting me who didn’t seem to age one bit. Some started treating me as if I was a god, while a few idiots who thought I was some kind of a devil also emerged.
And so, I had to leave the village for good.
Afterwards, I never remained in one village for too long, and wandered around without a destination.
Flowers bloomed and wilted countless times; monsoon flooded the world numerous times; and snow dyed the ground white many more times.
I thought of living through the ages as my duty, a job that I had to do and lived on, while disinterestedly watching the world flow by.
Coincidentally, I ran into ‘Dasan’ Jeong Yak-Yong. (TL note at the end.)
Just as he was known in the history book, I got to see his saint-like actions first hand.
And then, the period of In-Law Governance of the Joseon era, that would eventually cause the downfall of the kingdom, began. Every village I went to, people seemed to get more distrusting and callous than before; and the number of highwaymen attacking travelers increased as well.
When Gojong became the new king, his royal regent Prince Yi Ha-Eung seized all political power.
He controlled all the royal relatives, pursued isolation policy, and enjoyed his rise to prominence for a while.
But his wild ambitions couldn’t last long.
An unidentified battleship entered the territorial waters of Ganghwa island.
It was the Ganghwa island incident of 1875.
Completely humiliated by a lone warship, Joseon was forced to sign the Treaty of Ganghwa on February 27, 1876.
On Gapsin-nyun, a coup happened. But the gallant youths couldn’t even endure until the first signs of snow melting, and either died or ran away.
The Donghak Peasant Revolution failed, and I witnessed the announcement of the Protectorate Treaty between Japan and Joseon.
And on first of March that year, I watched as the sadness and anger of the citizens who had lost their country spread out like the undulating ripples on the water’s surface.
I saw the young men of this country, forcibly drafted into military service because of another’s imperialistic desire to conquer.
However, the sun still rose every morning, and time continued to flow by without care.
Today, five hundred years after my arrival in 1440, was August 15th, 1940, exactly five years before the liberation from the Japanese Occupation.
“Alcohol… is it.”
I was walking on the streets of Gyeongseong, when I spotted a Western-style establishment that had opened its doors not too long ago. I haven’t touched a drop of the good stuff for the past 100 years or so. Having had my interest piqued, I headed there. (TL: Gyeongseong was the name of Seoul while under Japanese Occupation.)
*SFX for a doorbell chiming*
The bell clanged loudly as I pushed the door open. There were quite a few patrons within the joint, yet, there must be something about my tall height and the dignified-looking long beard – everyone’s attention was focused on me almost immediately.
For now, I pulled my hat down deeply and found an empty spot at the bar, then ordered a glass of expensive imported liquor. As I was taking a couple of sips, a certain man not too far from me caught my eyes.
He had a pair of straight-cut eyebrows; his lips were resolutely shut, and his eyes gleamed sharply, as if he was staring into the far off distance.
His appearance alone showed that he was a man’s man, yet, as far as performing his duties went, he seemed to be a complete noob.
There was this faint whiff of chemicals from his bag, and then, he was nervously checking his watch every five minutes or so.
I could tell that he was a man about to do something ‘very big’.
I spoke to a barkeep and sent a bottle of the most expensive tipple this joint had over to that guy.
He seemed quite flustered initially, but when he finally located me, he bowed his head in thanks.
I didn’t stop there, and initiated a conversation with him.
“What’s your name?” (Sae-Jin)
The man seemed to be surprised at my Korean and trembled a little bit, but still managed to answer me.
“It’s Yu Hyung-Jin.”
Yu Hyung-Jin….. Yu Hyung-Jin. When I thought about it, I realised I had heard of this name before.
I tilted my head a little and asked him.
“By any chance, do you have a son?” (Sae-Jin)
The man, Yu Hyung-Jin, deliberated a bit before answering me.
“May I ask for his name?” (Sae-Jin)
“Why are you suddenly inquiring after my child’s name?”
“Is it fine to think of it as the payment for the drink?” (Sae-Jin)
Only then, he replied with a slightly unwilling face.
“….It’s Yu Dae-Ho.”
Suddenly, a lightbulb went off in my head.
That was the name of Yu Sae-Jung’s grandfather. The founder of the Dawn Corporation, too.
And this man here, Yu Hyung-Jin. The father of Yu Dae-Ho, he was a freedom fighter who carried out a bombing five years before the liberation. But, he unfortunately didn’t get to see the new dawn’s sun rising; he breathed his last after five years of being locked up behind the bars.
Wasn’t the award the Dawn Corporation gave to outstanding people of the society called ‘Yu Hyung-Jin’ award?
“And who you might be, asking these strange questions?” (Yu Hyung-Jin)
Yu Hyung-Jin asked with a suspicious glint in his eyes. Seeing that his hand was lowering towards his waist, he must be reaching towards his revolver.
“I am the same human as you.” (Sae-Jin)
While speaking like this, I pulled out a lump of pure yellow thing from my inner pocket. Since it was cumbersome to carry all the different currency of the history, I chose to carry around a few items of value instead, and now was the perfect time to use them.
Yu Hyung-Jin looked at me with a confused face and asked again.
“Same human as me…?” (Yu Hyung-Jin)
“I was searching for you until now.” (Sae-Jin)
“Searching for me?” (Yu Hyung-Jin)
“That’s right. Carrying out an important mission would mean nothing if your family goes to bed starving. Take these, and use them for your child’s education.” (Sae-Jin)
I handed over four 500g gold ingots to him. Yu Hyung-Jin’s eyes were dyeing in the colours of pure panic.
“These are pure gold. No matter what anyone else says, they are gold. Remember that, and take them.” (Sae-Jin)
“W, why are you…”
“I told you. For your child’s education.” (Sae-Jin)
Yu Hyung-Jin swallowed nervously. But, I couldn’t see a single trace of greed in his eyes, only the desperation he felt for the family he was about to leave behind.
“What are you waiting for? Take them with you, already.” (Sae-Jin)
When I urged him on, he hesitantly reached out towards the gold ingots.
Just as his hands touched the gold, I roughly grabbed his arm.
“You must swear you will never use these for your personal gain. You must swear that you’ll never give these to the resistance movement, and that you will only spend them for your family.” (Sae-Jin)
Well, these gold ingots needed to become the starting capital for Yu Dae-Ho in the future, after all.
Yu Hyung-Jin stared at me with dumbfounded eyes, and soon, nodded his head.
After that encounter with the unexpected person, I headed back to the hotel I was staying at.
Pouring myself another glass of that imported liquor, I sat down on a chair and opened my diary.
The diary that I looked at whenever I missed everyone so much, whenever I was about to lose sense of who I was. There were stains from my fingers, along with dried spots of tears, clearly visible on the pages.
“I have waited for a really long time, haven’t I.” (Sae-Jin)
Enduring for over 500 years, the day I encountered Lillia for the first time was drawing nearer.
The date was another five years after the liberation.
I’ve already heard about the very first place Lillia began her journey on this planet from her own mouth, so I knew where to go.
It’d been a long time, and my heart began pounding heavily once more.
Finally, the independence arrived, and within the desperate poverty of the people, five years flew by.
And the date today was June 20th, 1950 – five days before the Korean War commenced.
I went to the underwater cavern near Gangwon Province, the one Lillia told me about. She said that, back then, she was the Nosferatu’s advanced scout and had crossed over before everyone else, in order to suss out potential places for her clansmen to live.
And well, I found her – a silhouette of an old man with his bent back, checking out the cavern with the head tilted slightly as if deep in thought. If I pull off that robe, then she’d return to the appearance of a woman.
I sneaked to her rear and lightly tapped on her shoulder.
“Hi there.” (Sae-Jin)
Her robe melted away powerlessly, and Lillia screamed out in curse words while falling on her rear.
Even I was taken back. Was Lillia’s original personality like this? That face definitely belonged to Lillia, so….
Her face completely reddened now, Lillia continued to pour out curses as if she had no clue of my inner turmoil.
“Stpem fabohac racehobiack!!!”
“….Speak in Korean, will you.” (Sae-Jin)
“I told you to speak in Korean.” (Sae-Jin)
As if she had finally understood me, Lillia took several deep breaths, and then….
“What the f*ck!!!! Who the f*ck are you, you son of a b*tch?!” (Lillia)
I became completely speechless.
But, well – me getting older wasn’t a waste of time, after all. I had matured enough not to get flustered by the advent of an unexpected situation, and be able to figure out what was going on calmly enough.
Right. 70 years into the past, then her age would be just about on the money for the youthful, energetic phase.
Didn’t someone once say that even a mighty mountain would change in ten years? In that case, such a massive change in personality could certainly happen, sure.
“Die! Die! Diiiiie!!” (Lillia)
Well before I could gather myself properly, Lillia began swinging her sharp nails quite aggressively.
I easily evaded her attacks, reached out with my hand, and tightly grasped her neck.
Five minutes later….
“I’m terribly sorry…..”
She was kneeling on the floor with a black eye decorating her face.
< 49. The Wait (4) > Fin.
(“Dasan” Jeong Yak-Yong: a Korean philosopher who lived between 1762 to 1836. ‘Dasan’ is a title he was known by, and it simply means ‘the mountain of tea’. He has a Wikipedia page in English if you’re curious.)
(The Ganghwa Island Incident refers to when a Japanese warship entered Joseon’s territorial waters under the pretext of searching for drinkable water. Battle ensued and Joseon lost, leading to the signing of the Treaty which gave Japan a lot of benefits.)
(Gapsin Coup has also a dedicated Wikipedia page in English. A Gapsin-nyun is an ancient calendar system used in Joseon era – in the modern calendar system, it’s 1884. Think of it as those Edo or whatever system you read about in Japanese WN, and you’re almost there)
(Donghak Peasant Revolution also has a fairly substantial Wikipedia page, in English. Go check it out if you’re interested, especially if you wish to find out what eventually led to the Sino-Japanese War – the clue: this failed revolution.)
(Japan-Korea Protectorate Treaty was signed on at the end of February, 1904. Another one was signed on 1905, which completely deprived Korea of sovereignty. The dedicated Wikipedia page can tell you a lot more than me and this small space, so if you have the time, check it out.)
(As an aside, I’d like to “thank” this author for making me Google all these historical facts. I really appreciate it. Not.)