A Monster Who Levels Up

Chapter 23

(This extra chapter is brought to you by these brilliant and astute individuals: Mikael M, Christine W, Keneth P, Cayleb R, Tristan B, Gege S, David L, and Valentino W. Thank you for your donations!!)

[The Smithing Technique has been completed.]

[Hardness Level: D]

[Succeeded in bestowing special characteristics: "Sharpness Level C"’, "Weight Reduction Level: D"]

[Due to the outstanding quality of the finished item, the Skill Proficiency Level has increased from F to D-.]

"Oww yeah…" (TL: the author didn’t literally say this, but I was watching the Guardians of the Galaxy before TLing this chapter and Rocket Racoon is such a bad a*s…..)

Kim Sae-Jin in the Goblin Form murmured in satisfaction as he stroked the dagger. On the short but sharp and straight blade, an intricate pattern carved out by the 10 minutes-worth of the Goblin’s exacting handicraft skills was visible, and the hilt made out of a rock was perfectly shaped, as well as also being light in weight.

Actually, he wanted to make a lengthier and more destructive weapon like a single-edged or a double-edged sword if possible; unfortunately, with his current Mana pool and the Proficiency Level, this dagger was his limit. No matter how much Mana he poured in, the Smithing Technique lasted only for 10 minutes, and it proved to be really tough trying to make anything longer than a dagger with the tiny-ass hands of a Goblin during that short period of time.

But contrary to how he felt about the process itself, he was really liking this dagger. This could be called a work of art that combined the Orc’s Smithing Technique and the Goblin’s Craftsmanship. Of course, since he was the one who made it, there was a little bit of his own pride mixed in there with the evaluation, but then again, the word "outstanding" did appear for the very first time in the message window, so….

‘But this is the best I can do right now.’

He would have preferred to raise his Skill Proficiency Level higher before submitting the item for the tournament, but the last day of submission was tomorrow, so it couldn’t be helped. He decided that, since he’d be given another chance to craft something new after passing the preliminary round, he’d diligently raise the Level before the 1st round of judging commences.

Kim Sae-Jin changed to the human form and got up to leave.

*

"Excuse me, can you tell me how I can send types of armament via mail?"

Looking like a suspicious person while hiding a dagger in his pocket, Sae-Jin lingered around inside the post office before asking one of the employees behind a counter.

"Eh? Types of armament?"

"Yes. I wish to participate in the open invitational blacksmithing tournament."

It was as if Sae-Jin was looking down on the employee sitting on the chair as he spoke. That was because he was currently in the The Human Mode of the Ebony Wolf Form, and was 189 cm tall as a result.

"A-ha. If that’s the case…. It should be here somewhere. Please, wait a moment."

The post office worker rummaged through one of the drawers and pulled out a sheet of paper. It was the application form for the tournament.

"You can mail the item after completing this form. You’re entering a bit late, though? Most folks came in to apply on the first day of the application period, you know."

"Oh. Well, I was… it took a while longer to make mine. I hadn’t made anything in advance like the others."

Sae-Jin sat down on a nearby empty chair. Only thr

ee things had to be written on the form - his name, his contact details, and his address. He left the name bit blank for now and filled in the rest. As for the most important "name" part, he found it somewhat burdensome to use his real name, so he jotted down an alias he thought of last night instead.

"Here, I’m finished. How much for the shipping?"

"The shipping cost is taken care of by the Blacksmiths Association."

"Oh…"

Sae-Jin nodded his head, said his thanks and left the post office.

The post office he visited was located in the city centre of Gangwon Province, so as soon as he stepped out, he was greeted by the throngs of people coming and going. Rather than returning to his cave right away, Sae-Jin blended in with the crowd and took a walk.

He wanted to fully enjoy this partial freedom he had finally earned after swimming inside the misery and despair.

– *SFX for eyes swivelling*

He could hear the sounds of people’s eyes moving.

The freedom earned after the difficult struggle tasted a lot sweeter than he could’ve imagined. Since he possessed an eye-catching athletic physique and a sharp face of an Alpha male, the Kim Sae-Jin of now was quite a different animal altogether from his past. Unlike before, when he had given up on getting the attention of the opposite sex, all he had to do now was to just walk around and ladies would send approving gazes towards him. He even saw someone who consciously made a fake cough and flicked her hair back.

It was, in a word, fun. Really.

"…?"

Then, out of nowhere. A strange scent invaded his nostrils. It was a smell of blood with a faint whiff of brass mixed in that was noticeably different than that of a human being. Sae-Jin turned his head this way and that, trying to locate the origin of this scent.

And soon, he found it. A normal couple, a man and a woman, outwardly not at all remarkable. But the origin of that stink of blood was definitely those two.

Sae-Jin slowly moved his feet. Hiding among the crowd, he tailed the couple. He couldn’t understand why he was doing this. Only that, he was sure of the need to follow them. It must have been his instincts.

And so, in the middle of tailing them, suddenly his eyesight widened.

The skill that was woven into his primal instincts, the "Eyes of the Wolf", had seemingly activated all by itself.

In this world where every colour had gained yet another level of richness, Sae-Jin could clearly see it. From the couple, no, more correctly, an ominous aura of blood rising from the man.

‘A… Vampire.’

The moment he realised this, his sanity wavered. His heart began pounding madly, and his breathing became shallow. The murderous desire of the wolf beast tried to rear its powerful head, nearly causing him to rush out and pummel that Vampire’s skull into mush. But the human Sae-Jin endured it, albeit just barely. Not yet, not yet. Need to wait a bit more. I gotta find the right opportunity to strike…

Thankfully, he didn’t have to wait for long. The man grasped the hand of the woman and led her into a shabby housing area. To suck dry her blood, most likely. Seeing this, Sae-Jin also moved his feet.

As humans monitored the activities of Vampire species every second of the day, Vampires became very cautious when performing the rituals of blood sucking. Even though it was troublesome, they hypnotised their victims and drank the blood in indoor environments. This had become the unwritten rule for Vampires.

The male Vampire, Yu Sahng-Hyun, pulled the woman inside his home while carrying a satisfied expression. That was because, this beautiful woman under his hypnosis was about to become his own personal blood bank. For a period of 1 year, he’d suck her blood out periodically until her body rapidly withers away.

"…Lie down."

As he commanded, she showed no resistance and lied down on a bed. The sight of her wearing only a single one piece dress was quite alluring, to say the least.

He slowly approached the woman and caressed her body. From her toes to her shin, then from her shin to her thigh. Inch by inch, creeping up ever so slightly. The heightened sense of touch gave Yu Sahng-Hyun a deep chill down in his loins.

He could no longer hold back his desire and was about push down on her hard, when….

– Knock, knock.

There was a sound of someone knocking on the door. For a Vampire who had a superior sense of hearing, this was the absolute worst form of hindrance, like, ever. Yu Sahng-Hyun’s expression crumpled into an unsightly mess. (TL: c*ckblock!!)

"….F*…ck."

Opening wide his bloodshot eyes, he spat out a swear word.

– Knock knock knock knock knock knock knock

The unknown person continued to knock from the other side of the door. The knocking had now become more aggressive than before. Enraged by this ill-timed obstruction, Yu Sahng-Hyun growled angrily and stood up. His eyes, burning with a crimson hue, contained a thick killing intent. (TL: the author said "enraged at the bad manners". Changed at my discretion.)

– Knock knock…

Before the second knock had ended, Sahng-Hyun violently jerked open the door. His original plan was to drag in whoever it was outside by the neck and rip him apart, limb by limb.

"You son of a bi… Keheuk!!"

But before he could act, a hand of a beast shot out and wrapped around his neck first.

Panicking at the sudden attack, Yu Sahng-Hyun clawed at the arm of the beast repeatedly, but he couldn’t even leave a scratch mark on the black-fur covered arm.

– *SFX for a door slowly opening*

The half-open door slowly opened, revealing a single man standing there.

It was definitely a human.

That was, only after disregarding the pair of golden eyes shooting out deathly chilly gazes and the arm that was, without a doubt, belonging to a beast.

"Keeeeuk…"

Those were the final images Sahng-Hyun would get to remember.

*SFX for breaking bones*

With a horrifying noise of something twisting up, his neck bones cracked into bits and pieces.

"…."

Kim Sae-Jin discarded the limp body of the Vampire as if it was trash, and closed the door behind him. He had not a single shred of guilt from taking a life. No, it was more like he had stepped on an insect instead. And if he hadn’t killed this bastard, the Vampire would have committed a murder first, so he felt totally justified for his actions that had saved a human being.

He turned his head and checked out the woman still under the hypnosis of the Vampire. Fortunately, it seemed like no harm was done to her yet, as she was simply unconscious, only her clothing was in somewhat of a half dishevelled state.

There was no other particular smell beside the dead Vampire and the woman in this place, so he reverted his arm back to that of a human’s. This was one of the ways to use the Beast Mode/Human Mode he had uncovered recently, where he could change a part of his body to that of a Beast’s.

Sae-Jin explored the rest of the house. Whether it was due to the house being so shabby, he couldn’t spot any CCTV cameras inside or out.

‘She’ll probably call the cops later.’

Satisfied, Sae-Jin took one last look at the unconscious woman, and exited the house.

And precisely 3 hours later. Waking up from the hypnosis, the woman screamed at the top of her lungs before calling the cops.

*****

Located in front of the Seoul City Hall, was the Blacksmiths Association. Inside this three-storied, plain-looking building, people were busy sorting out all the submitted armaments for the open invitational tournament.

"I wonder, will there be anything interesting this time? The best item we got from the last tournament ended up being ranked only around Mid Quality tier."

The Highest Knight from the Raven Order, Kim Yu-Rin, asked as she eyed the sorting out process. The Association’s Chairman standing next to her meaningfully nodded his head.

"It should be okay to expect something good this time around. Firstly, the smithies in the Busan and Gwangju areas are participating en masse, and the direct disciple of the Master Kim Tae-Baek also sent in his work, saying he’d like to enter as well. Perhaps, it’s too much to expect a Branded Product but, it’s possible that we might find some High Quality Goods."

"Oh, is that true?"

Master craftsmen were rather particular about choosing their disciples. Several masters didn’t even bother to have one, and the others would have no more than 1 or 2 at most. The government begged these masters with the promise of a greater level of support if they even as much as showed a hint of raising a disciple or two, but their stubbornness simply knew no bounds.

"Of course. We let them go through the Preliminary already. I’ll introduce you to them at a later date."

"A direct disciple of that stubborn Master Kim Tae-Baek…. Perhaps, is that person who I think he is?"

"Mm. Your thoughts are on the money. That hot-headed geezer would’ve never taken in a disciple, unless it’s his own flesh and blood, no? A 19-year-old flesh and blood, that is."

Kim Yu-Rin peeked a smile at the dissatisfied voice of the Chairman.

"But didn’t he abandon the first born, saying he didn’t have any talent? I hear he’s the last born - his talent must be quite amazing." (TL: the gender of the disciple is not revealed in the raw at this time. Will continue with a "he" until the author clears that up.)

"That’s also true as well. Sent in a sword but, whew, it’s rather quite good."

As the two of them conversed, the last day for submission was eventually coming to an inevitable close.

"This is the last one!"

And finally. One of the employees shouted as he raised a metal box.

"Can I take a look too?"

"Not a problem. But it’ll be better to not expect much. Since products sent in from all the well known smithies had gone through already, it’s probably something not very impressive."

"Yes, I’m also aware. But still, it is the final one, so I’d like to be there."

"Alright."

The Chairman smiled magnanimously and nodded his head.

"Hey, you over there! Hold it!! Miss Yu-Rin wishes to see it too!" (TL: Uhm, the author, for some reason, wrote the line like this: "Baby, better wait for a second!" I’m like, wut)

"Eh, huh? Oh, yes, of course!"

The employee stayed his hands from opening the box and quickly sat up straight.

And people started to gather around the desk with the box on top. Not because the employees were interested in seeing the weapon with a potentially low quality, but obviously, to be around the crazily beautiful Knight Kim Yu-Rin’s presence.

"Shall I open it?"

"Yes. Please go ahead."

After Yu-Rin had spoken, the employee carefully opened the box.

At that moment the box opened. The light from the lightbulb got reflected by the blade and stabbed the eye of the employee.

"Euk!!"

Ignoring the employee who was busy rubbing his eyes, Kim Yu-Rin and the Chairman took a look inside the box.

"….Huh?"

A stunned gasp leaked out from between the lips of Kim Yu-Rin. The only reason why she wanted to see this item was because it happened to be the very last one submitted to the tournament and thus had some sort of ceremonial significance. In other words, she also didn’t hold any high expectations either.

However…. inside this box was an unexpectedly good item. Outwardly, it could be called an ornamental dagger thanks to all the intricate carvings, but the sharp aura of Mana infused into the short blade was simply out of the norm.

The cold, grey blade seemed keen enough to slice anything it comes in contact with; the beautiful patterns on the surface and the smooth, clean hilt roused the flames of greed inside her, wanting to possess this dagger.

Yu-Rin dazedly reached out and grasped the hilt. It didn’t feel foreign at all, and she could hold it so comfortably, as if it was a part of her own body. This familiarity showcased that this dagger was meticulously designed with the physiology of the user in mind.

"….It seems that, we might have another good product in our hands."

The Chairman, also dazed like Yu-Rin, muttered while admiring the dagger.

"Oi, what’s the name of the participant?"

At the Chairman’s words, one of the employees, who were also stunned into silence by the dagger, hurriedly woke up and fished out the application form inside the box.

"….What the?"

"…Why? Something wrong?"

"Ah, no, that is… the name is a bit strange, sir. It’s The Orc’s Forge - and the sender wishes to be called Orc in the shortened form."

At this terrible name, the Chairman’s brows narrowed. Although they did approve the usage of aliases as well as anonymity for this competition, but to use a Monster’s name….

"It must be a hot trend nowadays, using the names of Monsters on their products. I mean, there’s the Goblin Alchemist and stuff."

Kim Yu-Rin smiled brightly as if she found this a pleasant surprise.

"And… well, since Orcs are known to make good weapons, I think it’s rather a fitting name. Excuse me, Mister Chairman?"

"Mmm?"

"Rather than the disciple of Master Tae-Baek, can you arrange a meeting with this Mister Orc for me? What he wrote does sound a bit strange…. but I really like this weapon. If I build a personal connection with this person, I think he’ll make me an excellent weapon later on." (TL: The 2nd sentence in this paragraph confused me greatly as well. I tried to make sense of it and thus didn’t try to do a literal TL of the line.)

Hearing her request, the Chairman scratched the back of his head but in the end, nodded his head as if he couldn’t help it anyway.

"If that’s what you want… I’ll try my best. But before that, we should test this dagger first. It’s possible that an artisan or a master could be playing a prank here after deliberately lowering the quality of their work."

"Yes, of course. Well, thank you for your help, Mister Chairman."

< 07. The Orc’s Forge (3) > Fin.

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