A Monster Who Levels Up

Chapter 28

(This extra chapter is brought to you by these heroes of humanity: Keneth P, Emil T. H, Yunhao T, Tyler B, Valentino W, and Dale B. Thank you for your support!!)

– According to the current estimates, a total of around 2000 Vampires are living peacefully while consuming the blood of livestock. The government is currently protecting their identities which helps them enjoy a smooth integration with the society. And the increase in the number of Vampires seeking this protection of the government seems to be a fast-growing trend as well. I believe the reason why the Special Investigation Division of the Police has designated the serial killings of Vampires as hate crime, is because the authority doesn’t believe they aren’t serious enough in nature.

– However, weren’t all three murdered Vampires drinking the blood of humans? And on top of that, human remains were discovered in their homes. Not to mention, the last Monster Outbreak near the nameless church was the work of the Vampires as well.

– Of course, those incidents are being thoroughly investigated, as revealed by the investigators themselves. But, those incidents and this one is a separate issue. And, even if Vampires had committed such an atrocity, the punishment should not be immediate execution. We even established a special communication channel for Vampires as well, so this…

From the TVs installed inside the waiting area of the Rest Stop, the conversations that made Sae-Jin uncomfortable continuously leaked out. From his point of view, he just could not understand.

Vampires consuming the blood of livestock - what a pleasant idea.

However, the real nature of Vampires wasn’t like that. Vampires had a totally different origin from the Soo-ins, who had blended in with the rest of humanity by suppressing their nature and even going as far as mating with humans, knowing that their identity might be lost in the process. After all, they weren’t being referred to as bats for no reason, were they? These bastards betrayed others as if enjoying a meal…

"Mister Kim Sae-Jin. Mister Sae-Jin!!"

Sae-Jin woke up abruptly from the thrall of TV’s broadcast by the call of the approaching Yu Sae-Jung.

"What were you doing? You didn’t reply even though I was calling for you."

"Oh. I’m sorry. My bad. I was thinking about something else. Let us get going, then. So, which hunting ground did you say it is?"

"The low Mid Tier hunting ground."

Sae-Jung promptly answered. Sae-Jin fell into a slight contemplation. Currently, he was acting as a perfectly normal human Kim Sae-Jin. In other words, his Stats were in the lowered state. If he was to do rough evaluation of his rank in terms of the Knight ranking system… no matter how favourable, a Low Tier at most.

"…Alright. Sounds good."

It sounded about right, a team of a low Mid Tier Knight and a Low Tier hunting together in the low Mid Tier ground.

"Oh, by the way, what is your current Hunter ranking? Back then, you were ranked a Low Tier, yes?"

"I rose up by two ranks and now I’m a Mid Tier."

Yu Sae-Jung’s lips became o-shaped in an expression of admiration after hearing his words. It had been only four months. The difficulty of raising the rank by two during that short amount of time would have been unimaginably high, no matter whether one was a Knight or a Hunter.

"As I thought, your speed of growth is really fast. By the way, is that a weapon on your waist?"

"Eh? Oh, this? Yes, I also use a close-range weapon.

As you already know, it’s because of my Trait. But, well… it’s nothing much compared to a Knight, so it should be better to just think of me as an assistant for today. Back then, I just got lucky, is all. As I have said before, I can’t use Mana. Like a musclehead, all I’ve got is my physical strength."

Seeing Kim Sae-Jin speak as if it was nothing much, Yu Sae-Jung lightly smiled and nodded her head, telling him not to worry.

*

There was a lot of danger lurking around in the Monster field. As the instances of sudden Monster encounters were rather common, even the Knights thought better of hunting solo in a ground with the equivalent rank. 'Hunting solo' in this case meant either a Knight moving alone or a Knight and a Hunter forming a pair to hunt together.

"I’ll help you pile up good achievements today. For the next two hours, let’s catch five Monsters, which should be enough."

Regardless of the dangers, Yu Sae-Jung was, outwardly at least, full of confidence. She was full of energy seemingly because she wanted to make up for the defeat of the other day, or maybe to show off the different and improved side of her.

"Alright, I’ll be in your care, then."

Sae-Jin replied with a smile.

And with the end of the conversation, the hunt began in earnest.

20 minutes passed as they searched around the low Mid Tier hunting ground for a Monster, until finally, a faint smell entered Sae-Jin’s nostrils.

[Northward, 300 metres, one Schemer.]

A Schemer was a skeleton-type Monster wearing a special robe. This robe featured an amazing protective colouring ability that allowed the sly Monster to blend in with the surroundings and perform sneak attacks that were difficult to avoid.

Since it carried around a "Death Scythe" constructed from Mana, those who had witnessed a Schemer for the very first time mistook it as the so-called Grim Reaper and therefore, a very powerful Monster; but in reality, as long as one was wary of its sneak attacks, it didn’t amount to much.

But spotting it was terribly difficult, so a Schemer fell into the category of the troublesome Monsters to deal with in the low Mid Tier hunting ground. Especially so, for a Knight like Yu Sae-Jung here, who enjoyed going out on a solo hunting. She was mindlessly walking straight towards the Monster’s direction, never in her wildest dreams imagining that there was a Schemer waiting for her there.

"Hold up for a second."

Sae-Jin grasped her shoulder.

"…?"

Yu Sae-Jung floated a big question mark above her head. Sae-Jin simply pointed towards the seemingly empty Northerly direction.

"…What is it?"

"It’s a Schemer."

"…Eh?"

She narrowed her brows. A Schemer was nearly impossible for a human to spot. Only a Knight with a rank of high Mid Tier or High Tier could just barely perceive the feelings of danger…

"I’ve got a knack for stuff like this. I can sense nearby Monsters like a clairvoyant." (TL: the author wrote "like a ghost". Changed to "clairvoyant.")

Before Yu Sae-Jung could make a retort, Sae-Jin picked up a stone and threw it at the Schemer’s position. "They" said that action was better than words, and seeing it personally would be the best proof there was.

Ppuck-

The stone drawing a parabolic line flew until colliding with the empty air. The Schemer slowly revealed itself after getting struck unexpectedly on the back of its head by a rock.

"See? It’s your turn now. Charge~!"

Kim Sae-Jin refreshingly smiled.

Yu Sae-Jung was momentarily lost for words at his ability to find a Schemer, but still quickly drew her sword out and rushed forward. Already, the weapon’s blade was gleaming in the layer of blue Mana.

At the sudden attack of its enemies, the Schemer raised the scythe to resist, but her sword that cut straight down ignored such a pathetic attempt at defense and cleaved the Monster and its weapon in half. Just like her personality, her swordsmanship was straightforward without any unnecessary add-ons.

The fatally wounded Schemer became a heap of dust as it fell, and on top of this mound of dust laid a brightly shining Mana Stone.

"…"

Even though she had oh-so-easily taken care of the Schemer, Yu Sae-Jung still carried a confused expression on her face as she looked at him.

"I’ve got a good perception and an eyesight."

Sae-Jin made an excuse as she continued to gaze at him, but it was not enough to completely dissolve her curiosity. A Schemer wasn’t a Monster that could be located by some perception and an eyesight…. But what could she do? The person himself said so.

"Let’s go somewhere else."

Kim Sae-Jin pushed the back of still-unconvinced Yu Sae-Jung and urged her towards the next prey.

Their hunting proceeded without a hitch. The commonly occurring sudden encounters never happened once. As soon as Sae-Jin located Monsters, Yu Sae-Jung would rush out and cut them down. If there was a group of Monsters, then Yu Sae-Jung took the front and Sae-Jin brought up the rear. The strength of the human Kim Sae-Jin wouldn’t be able to defeat a Monster from the low Mid Tier hunting ground, but it was enough to buy them some time which helped Yu Sae-Jung a lot.

Like this, the number of Monsters they were able to hunt during the two hours together was 15. This was the highest in Yu Sae-Jung’s career, all thanks to Sae-Jin’s ability to locate Monsters like a radar.

"My pockets are full only after two hours. I didn’t expect this… Looks like we’ll make a pretty good pair, don’t you think so?" (TL: the "pockets" here aren’t literally her trouser pockets, as you’ll see below.)

Yu Sae-Jung spoke as she hefted the Expanding Pocket full of Monster remains. (TL: "확장주머니" lit. Expanding Pocket.)

"I agree. Us two, work better than expected."

Sae-Jin replied while smiling lightly. At his joking tone, she narrowed her brows and stared at him with serious eyes.

"I’m serious. Normally, a Knight would pair up with other Knights or  Hunters of equivalent ranks, you know? But I don’t want to pair up with another Knight as that would divide up the achievements. That’s why I paired up with Hyun-Oh Oppa back then."

"Hyun-Oh… Oh, you mean that Bullet Man?" (TL: not sure whether the author made a reference here or not - but he used "총알탄 사나이" to describe Hyun-Oh. Although it literally means "a man riding on a bullet", I have TLed it as Bullet Man, but in actuality, it’s the localised title for the 1988 Hollywood comedy The Naked Gun. If you’ve seen the original poster for that movie, you’ll understand why. Also, no, you’re not wrong, the author did make a mistake with the name here. Hyun-Oh is a High Tier baldy Knight, while this Bullet Man is a Low Tier Hunter named Yun Do-Han.)

"Yes. You also know his nickname? He’s the butler in my house. No, wait a sec, please don’t change the subject. So, what do you think about me?"

Yu Sae-Jung clearly addressed Sae-Jin in a manner that, if anyone ever heard only this part of the conversation, it would have splendidly raised a misunderstanding.

If any old hot-blooded man heard that, he’d accept the proposition in a heartbeat, full of joy. But seeing Sae-Jin take his time and agonise over the decision, she sighed out in frustration and continued with her words.

"Let’s just do it together, since it’s possible to pair up even if we’re not from the same Knights Order. We’ll divide our earnings 9:1. No, I can do a 10:0, even. Of course, the 10 is for you."

This was, indeed, the majesty of the gold spoon. Maybe it was because of the debt of $4.5 million US, or maybe because his greed over wealth had increased, whatever, the talk of money greatly interested him.

"Let’s aim high and grow together."

Yu Sae-Jung reached her hand out for a shake, her face solemn.

She didn’t want to let go of someone like him.

Initially, she met him to repay the debt of saving her life but after spending this short amount of time together, she now understood the true value of this man.

Normally speaking, there wasn’t a lot of Hunters with abilities out there, and someone with a "detection" ability would be even more difficult to find still.

No, if it was at a level of spotting a Schemer that easily, then the situation was well past being rare now. (Even the 2nd generation Soo-ins that made up the majority of Soo-ins nowadays found it difficult to spot a Schemer, as their animal-like senses were noticeably weaker compared to the pure-blooded 1st generation.) (TL: this bracketed bit, again, isn’t mine, but from the author.)

On top of this, Sae-Jin’s physical prowess was nothing to scoff at, either. She estimated that his ranking would have been in the upper Mid Tier, and the only reason why he remained in the Mid Tier was probably because of the fact that the required quota of hunting experience had to be fulfilled first.

"As you may well know, I’m a rea~lly sturdy, strong and stubborn golden rope." (TL: this line proved to be a weird one to TL. Personally, I think Yu Sae-Jung meant to say, because of her background, our MC better think of riding on her coattails or something like that.)

Yu Sae-Jung was taught to give precedence to what she needed over what she wanted. And now, the person she needed was standing right in front of her eyes….

"What are you waiting for? Take my hand."

Sae-Jung waved the hand offered and urged him for a shake. Sae-Jin agonised for a bit longer, before laying out a single condition first.

"Twice a week. 2 hours a day. And please, give me all the recovered Mana Stones."

He then waited for her reply.

"Alright, that’s not so hard."

With those light words, a bright smile filled with sincerity greeted Sae-Jin. He too assumed a smile and smoothly took her hand.

"You promise? Let’s do a stamp, too…."

She even tried to do a thumb-and-index finger stamp.

And at the same time, a new alert window floated up to his view.

[Condition complete: Forming a pair.]

►Acquired the Passive Skill 'Pleasant Voice.' [Skill Proficiency Level: F] (TL: lit. said "nice to hear voice")

– The host’s voice will have a positive effect during negotiations and persuasions; and can evoke empathy in interpersonal relationships.

– This skill only becomes active when the host is in a human’s appearance.

"Ah…"

Sae-Jin looked at that window, stupefied. It seemed like his belief that skills could only be earned in Monster Forms was quite wrong.

"Ha-ah…"

Kim Sae-Jin returned to his cave. A sigh leaked out of his mouth first. It was gloomy and soggy and hard and…. his body was itching to leave this stupid place as soon as possible.

‘…The proceeds from the sales of potions - should I just ask for a half of it now, and promise to make up for it later?’

He thought about the proceeds from the potions for a bit. Whatever he wanted to do, he needed a home first and foremost… He was getting this close to making his escape from the stupid cave. But since it was already in the middle of the night, he might as well ask later.

He brought out his mobile phone, switched on the internet connection and projected it to the wall of the cave.

"….Why is it all about Yu Sae-Jung again?"

As he was surfing the net - the activity that had become an indispensable part of his daily routine - he saw that the No.1 real time search result was about Yu Sae-Jung. Not thinking too deeply about it, he clicked her name.

The very first thing that showed up, was articles related to the TV show The Qualities of a Knight.

"Ah-ha…"

Kim Sae-Jin nodded his head, realising that the stuff shot a few weeks ago had now become another trending topic. It seemed like this type of reality TV featuring a Knight going out on a hunt was a first of its kind, and as a character, Yu Sae-Jung had gone down quite well with the audience. It might have been an average sort of an idea at the least, but if the producer did his job smartly, there was certainly a possibility to do something big with the show.

The top trending stories related to her on the website were of fairly simple topics. Like, how did her hunt progress, how much hardship did she face during her hunt, and finally, what Yu Sae-Jung was like. The last one was a bit out of kilter with the others, but the rest had taken up more than half of the coverage and was incredibly popular as well.

He found all of them very interesting to read… until he got to see what the 7th real time trending search topic happened to be.

"…What the hell is this…"

At 7th, three words "Kim", "Sae" and "Jin" was written there.

He thought it was someone with the same name and as he was thinking that, the list of the real time search topics began to change. And just like that, new words showed up on the 10th.

The Hunter Kim Sae-Jin.

"…..?!"

< 09. Changes in the Daily Life (1) > Fin.

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