A Monster Who Levels Up

Chapter 19

(This extra chapter is brought to you by these kind-hearted human beings: Emil T. H, Valentino W, Evelyn K. T, and Anon. Thank you for your donations!!)

The only difference between an Ebony Wolf and a Werewolf, not taking into account the gap in strength, was that a Werewolf could assume either a beast’s appearance or that of a human being. Although nominally he was still in his Ebony Wolf Form, but on the outer appearance alone, it’d be more correct to call him a Werewolf now, instead.

[The absorption is still in progress. Impossible to change to a beast form.]

Sae-Jin gritted his teeth hard. His current form, a bipedal wolf beast, Werewolf, was just too damn eye-catching. That’s why he wanted to change into something that moved on four legs but even that was impossible.

‘Make one mistake, and I’m dead.’

Right now, he was without a doubt, a Monster. He was the No.1 target for extermination by the Knights or even the Hunters. Sae-Jin lowered his body as much as possible and also used his arms as well to move.

Thankfully, his exemplary sense of smell helped him to find back alleys with no Knights or Hunters present. Plus, an Ebony Wolf was very much specialised in being stealthy. No matter how stuck he was in this Beast Mode, the people busy fleeing the scene couldn’t sense his movements that had blended into the shadows.

"*breaths a sigh of relief, animal style*"

After walking for awhile, Sae-Jin sensed that he had escaped the initial bloody battlefield between Monsters and Knights and let out a breath of relief. But the surrounding situation still wasn’t really safe just because there weren’t any Knights nearby. Low Tier and Mid Tier Monsters were attacking buildings, or were busy killing citizens while mowing down the boardwalks.

A Monster fell on top of a car parked inside a damaged building, and the flames erupted from the exploding car. A child fell over as the explosion nearly engulfed her. But Sae-Jin couldn’t do a thing. For his own survival, he had to disregard everything and run.

In other words, he had to disregard the child’s cries entering his ears.

"Mommyyyyy!!"

"S, Su-Jung!!"

At the child’s cries, the mother’s voice called back. The face of a woman who must’ve been the mother was dyed black.

And there were debris from the building falling on top of this child who was collapsed on the street with her legs bruised.

"…!!"

He didn’t hesitate for long. His legs moved first.

He used the "Whirlwind Dash". Covering the distance of more than 500 metres in a single breath, Sae-Jin hugged the child in a protective embrace. Immediately after, a terrifying amount of building materials and steel beams crashed down on them. The mother’s tear-soaked scream tore through the air.

‘Doesn’t hurt.’

As expected, the body of the Ebony Wolf in Beast Mode was sturdy. He couldn’t see because of being under a tone of rubble, but otherwise, he could feel zero pain. He quickly confirmed the safety of the sniffling child within his embrace.

Then, he deeply extended an arm and powerfully swung it.

Kwaaaahang!!

The hill of rubble weighing down on the beast’s back was scattered into the air.

"Su-Jung… Eeeek!!"

The first person he saw was the child’s mother. She was holding a baby in one hand while approaching closer to save her other kid. Unfortunately, there was a single beast that completely filled up her sight.

A b

ig body that easily exceeded 2 metres in height and a wolf’s head that proudly displayed its scary fangs. Although it was covered in black fur, that fur couldn’t hide all those intimidating muscles of the beast.

The woman retreated back from the fear-inducing form before falling down on her butt. But within the arms of that horrifying beast was her daughter. She found a sliver of courage and tried very hard to stand up on her two trembling legs….

"Krrnng."

"Hiyaak!!"

However, the beast moved first. The woman screamed out in fright but the beast simply walked in a thumping footsteps and put the girl down in front of her.

Unable to figure out what just happened, she glanced back and forth at her child and at the beast before finally understanding the situation, then she hugged little girl tightly.

[500 metres, Northward. Numerous strong humans.]

Sae-Jin couldn’t just watch this scene of reunion relaxedly. Knights that had quickly subjugated the Monsters were moving out from the origin of the outbreak and were starting to sweep the outer perimeters of Seoul.

He rolled his legs and rapidly vacated out of there.

"This… eh?"

The woman raised her head wondering whether she should thank the strange beast or not, but like a mirage on a Summer day, the wolf beast was already long gone.

*

The military cordoned off a section of Seoul in order to mitigate the damage from the Monster Outbreak. Sae-Jin could understand this fact without much difficulty by the faint whiff of firearms in the air, and so, instead of trying to leave Seoul, he decided to hide somewhere until the absorption of the Mana Stone was completed.

As he was stealthily roaming around the city of Seoul, he found the entrance to the sewers by chance and hid himself in there.

‘…I feel like dying.’

Sae-Jin lied down on the wet stone floor and breathed heavily. He could more or less tolerate the depressing atmosphere draped in darkness and the eerie, moist air. But he just couldn’t handle the rotting smell. And maybe because of the side effects of the absorption, the strangely cold temperature was also proving to be rather difficult to tolerate.

His eyes closed bit by bit. It was dangerous to fall asleep as someone could find him. But the sleepiness, caused by the side effects of the absorption, easily defeated his worries.

‘Since they are too busy exterminating Monsters, so hopefully they wouldn’t think of coming down to the sewers…’

Hoping this was true, Sae-Jin slowly fell into slumber.

– A Fissure appearing near a nameless church located in the suburbs of Banpo burst open before it could be erased, and this event caused a great disturbance in Seoul. As the credit rating of the Republic of Korea is expected to suffer from the first Monster Outbreak in 5 years, the citizens are bitterly voicing out whether the Knights Orders, who were caught unprepared by the Fissure bursting open, are to be blamed for this…

"Pay no attention to that."

Right now, after subduing the Monster Outbreak to some degree, tired and injured Knights were taking breaks by lying or sitting down on the grounds. The Highest Tier Knight Kim Yu-Rin consoled a worried subordinate Knight as he was watching the news.

"It’s always the same story after Monsters attack a city, right? Even though it might be tough this time, don’t get too discouraged as it’s not our fault anyway."

…It’s not our fault but the private security corporations that neglected the repairs and maintenance of the Fissure detection equipment, added Yu-Rin in her head, her face crumpled in irritation at these thoughts.

Originally, it was left to Knights Orders to monitor the Monsters and possible appearances of the Fissures. However, the government took away and handed the responsibilities over to several private security companies after someone argued nonsensically that the burden placed on Knights Orders trying to manage such a high-tech department as well would be too much for them to handle.

Truthfully, it was responsibilities only in name, as, in all honesty, it was all very unfair type of a deal where they only cared about profits and the real responsibilities were dumped on the Knights Orders’ doorsteps. Since it was the Knights Orders that got blamed if Monsters rampaged around, like today, even though it was those f*cking bastards that were getting paid to monitor the Fissures.

"….Yes."

She left behind the still-depressed subordinate and headed towards the temporary medical facility set up to house the injured people.

But the mood in that place was weird. Of course, there being no horrific injuries like someone losing a limb or something similar like that played a part, but at the moment, Knights were huddled together in one spot and were busy making strange faces while watching the hologram projection from a mobile phone. Their expressions were full of surprise and riddle.

"…What are you all doing?"

Many people lost their lives and the amount of property damage was difficult to quantify. Of course, that didn’t mean everyone should observe the sorrowful mood religiously, but still, that kind of behaviour was unfitting of the current situation.

"Huh?! Oh, hello there!"

The Knights hurriedly switched off the projection and greeted her after recognising her face. The Knights gathered here were not from the same Orders but would unite under one banner, the Country, and act together in case of an emergency. So every Knight with lower ranking than Yu-Rin had to show her respect even if they were not from the same Order.

"You don’t have to bow your waist that much since you’re injured. I’m simply asking you because I’m curious. What were you all watching just now?"

At Yu-Rin’s words, the instigator who showed the projections to other Knights, a male Mid Tier Knight from the Raven Order, Yi Soo-Han answered back hesitantly.

"There was a strange news coming out during the evacuation of civilians, so…"

"What news?"

"Ah, well, it’s just that…. uhm, Miss Yu-Rin. I’m asking this just in case… but we really did kill that Werewolf, didn’t we?"

Yu-Rin’s face crumpled. What the hell was this guy even saying…?

"Of course. Where did that Werewolf’s Mana Stone come from, otherwise?"

"….Right? But, the thing is… looks like there’s another Werewolf out there. A citizen took a picture. Even if it’s an emergency situation, there’s always someone out there filming stuff. Somehow, we convinced him not to upload the footage to SNS for the time being, but… please take a look."

Yi Soo-Han continued with his words as the hologram was projected from the mobile phone.

"Here’s the images of the Werewolf but seriously, it’s really unbelievable. A Werewolf is supposedly a rare Monster, right? But the thing’s even more strange this time around."

The first image shown was the fallen rubble from a building piled up on the ground while a woman was screaming her head out in front of it. Kim Yu-Rin saw this horrifying scene and angrily admonished the subordinate Knight for having a poor taste, but Yi Soo-Han, while sweating heavily, pleaded with her to check out the following image.

"…Huh?"

It was as he said before. The next image was so unrealistic, she had to wonder whether it was Photoshopped or something. With a loud explosion, the rubble flew up in the air, and from there two life forms appeared. One was a beast, while the other was small child with her eyes squeezed shut in its arms.

"It’s strange, right? It looks like the Werewolf was protecting the child. There’s an even clearer recording, too. Since this area was a bit farther away from the original Monster Outbreak spot, a few CCTV cameras managed to survive the chaos."

Yi Soo-Han then played the recordings from the CCTV cameras, and Kim Yu-Rin watched them all with a totally dazed expression. The falling building material on top of the kid. A black lifeform moving so fast, leaving only an indistinct blur on the footage. It was for certain. That Werewolf definitely jumped in among the falling rubble with an intention to "save."

"I showed this to a handful of Soo-in Knights, and their reactions aren’t no laughing matter. They are raising a ruckus, saying this could be the legendary Lycanthrope. Obviously, it’s all empty bi*chings, though. Ah, I wasn’t swearing - it was really a bi*ch. They were Canine-type Soo-ins." (TL: This guy here made a pun, which is somewhat lost in translation. I tried my best to preserve the attempted joke but oh, well.)

At his words, Yu-Rin nodded her head in agreement. Lycanthropes didn’t migrate to Earth. Back on the "other" world, they were the race that received treatments ranging from being shunned to even being subjected to extermination. And now, they would remain simply as creatures of legends, or even from a myth.

"….It is rather strange, sure. But now isn’t the time to watch something like this. Before I confiscate that phone, put it down and concentrate on healing your injuries. And, it’d be bothersome if mass media learns of this information, so you better check your mouth, too."

"Ah, that… I believe it’s better to let the media know about this."

"What rubbish are you spewing now?"

Kim Yu-Rin frowned and glared at the man.

"I mean, it’s not our fault anyway but we still have to swallow lots of ill will. So why not circulate this footage to mass media and take the attention away from us? The grieving for the victims can come later… Khm. I’m truly sorry."

As he was about to carry on with his words, Yi Soo-Han finally noticed that her expressions were steadily getting darker so he quickly lowered his head.

"Better learn to filter your mouth more carefully."

After spitting out the threatening words of warning, she turned on her heels and headed elsewhere.

***

Inside the dark and dank sewers where not a ray of light existed. Kim Sae-Jin opened his eyes after getting a whiff of humans.

[300 metres, Northward. One Human, one Soo-in.]

At that moment. his half awakened consciousness felt the coldness. He quickly checked the current situation of his body. There was a lot of fur. He was still in the Beast Mode, but his fears were assuaged as soon as a new message window popped up.

[The absorption has been completed. The Active Skill "Beast Mode/Human Mode" has been acquired. (It’s possible to change Forms from now on.)]

►Beast Mode/Human Mode [Growth Level: F]

– Can change between the Beast Mode and the Human Mode in the Wolf Form.

– ►Beast Mode: Body changes to a 'Werewolf', all Stats related to the Ebony Wolf Form will be increased 3 times during this mode.

– ►Human Mode: Body changes to a 'Human', all Stats related to the Ebony Wolf Form will not be reduced during this mode.

– Calculated from the current Energy Manipulation Stat, the skill 'Beast Mode/Human Mode' can be sustained up to (450 minutes) per 24 hours.

►Stats

[Physical Strength 134]

[Endurance 133]

[Agility 175]

[Energy Manipulation 30]

[Mana Affinity 20]

[Magic Strength 20]

[Luck 7]

As soon as the messages rose, Sae-Jin quickly activated the Human Mode.

But there was a problem. The difference between the human Kim Sae-Jin and Kim Sae-Jin the Ebony Wolf activating the Human Mode was not… "small" at all.

His height must have grown, judging by his eye level being higher than before, and the muscles on his body at a glance looked like he’s been pumping irons all his life, and his… junior down there was now the size of a mace….

"Who goes there?"

Out of the blue, a man’s shout and the chilly sensation of an ultra-sharp Mana were directed at his location.

"I’m a human!!"

Sae-Jin replied quickly. And at his voice, Knights rapidly approached him.

"Hmm…"

"Oh, my…"

In front of Sae-Jin, two Knights, one male and the other a female, was "studying" his appearance.

"….I escaped from Monsters and hid down here. I took my clothes off after they caught on fire."

After hearing his excuses, the male Knight turned around as if he was unhappy about something, while the female Knight continued to observe his body with her face totally red. She covered her face with both of her hands as if to imply she was embarrassed, but actually, both of her eyes were busy peeking out from between her fingers.

And her observation continued a while longer until the male Knight finally told her to stop it.

< 06. The Mana Stone of a Beast (5) > Fin.

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