A Monster Who Levels Up
"Ah… So the Dawn managed to take that potion, too? They aren’t messing around, are they?"
The headquarters of the Raven Knights Order, inside the rest area for the waiting Knights. The words of a disappointed Knight spread around like an infectious sigh. Inadvertently eavesdropping on the side, Kim Yu-Rin’s body trembled ever so slightly.
"Right. They are very aggressive nowadays. Don’t forget, they also hit jackpot with this year’s Blacksmiths Tournament, too. They say a lucky son of gun would fall into a lap of a beautiful woman even when tripping over backwards. Not only two unexpectedly great weapons showed up, there’s the hidden master, too - that gathering of small fries all of a sudden became a meeting of the masters."
"Oh, that’s right. There was the tournament, too. What was it again? The Orc’s Forge? What was it like in the 2nd Round? Did you see the item?"
"I didn’t see it but the Seniors did, though. And I hear it’s pretty incredible. It’s supposedly the same rank as the last year’s winner, at around Mid Quality, even though it has been the 2nd Round only. Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do but to sit on the sidelines sucking on our thumbs. Since the Dawn has the first refusal and what not."
The male Knight massaged his temples, as if the mere thoughts of this event irritated him to no end.
"Haa…. That’s why the boys from the Dawn Knights Order are strutting around like that… After seeing their irritating mugs, how the hell am I supposed to carry on like this?"
Their conversation was full of complaints about the Dawn Knights Order’s aggressive rise to the top spot. On the side, Kim Yu-Rin let out a long sigh and roughly tousled up her hair into a mess.
If taking into account the end results only, what was happening now seemed like entirely her fault.
Firstly, the Goblin Alchemist. This alchemist, who had caused an uproar in the worlds of alchemy and with the Knights as well, was in a tight relationship with the Yoseon Alchemy House. It was suspected that they had secured the exclusive rights to distribute the Goblin series of potions.
And the reason why the Raven Knights Order didn’t receive the necessary info regarding the "Goblin Alchemist" was… because of the blood feud-like animosity existing between her and Hazeline.
Next, the Blacksmiths Open Invitational Tournament. The reason why the Dawn poured so much money to sponsor the competition was to secure the rights to acquire the outstanding weapons from each of the judging rounds.
If it was in the past, the Raven would have rallied other Knights Orders and opposed this, saying granting such rights was utterly nonsensical rubbish but the quality of the tournament’s participants were in a clear decline from before, so the Dawn was left to do whatever they pleased.
Heck, Kim Yu-Rin herself argued that investing in other projects with that budget would be a wiser move.
However, such an estimation ended up dramatically missing the mark. It was fine even when the apprentice of Master Tae-Baek entering the competition. But then, the Orc’s Forge happened. Nothing was known of this unknown person - the gender, age, even the race; but for sure, his sudden appearance was completely out of everyone’s expectations.
Only yesterday, Kim Yu-Rin was there at the 2nd Round of judging and personally saw the weapon submitted by this smith - ‘the Hotly Burning Flame Steel Sabre.’
She was utterly stunn
ed by the gorgeous elegance of the sabre, and was left even more speechless at the name modifier she had never seen before in her life.
At first, she was puzzled by what this Hotly Burning Flame thing might be. But after testing it for less than five minutes, she was able to definitely understand what it meant.
And then, she was entranced by it.
As she infused Mana with the sword, the Mana Blade took on a crimson hue and that reddish blade aura boiled at high temperatures. As the Quality was only rated around the Mid rank, she couldn’t infuse a lot of Mana into it but still, it was an incredible feat that the sword could add the effect of heat to the Mana Blade.
It was a very good weapon. It was so good, the Raven Knights Order just had to take it with them. It was that excellent.
Unfortunately, that was just a pie in the sky for her.
The issue was the ‘rights to the first refusal’. As long as the Dawn Knights Order wasn’t made up of dummies, they would definitely choose this sabre. At the thought of giving up on this wonderful weapon without a fight, only to obediently hand it over to the people of Dawn, made her lose last night’s sleep.
"You idiot idiot idiot…."
"S, stop that, please!!"
Unable to hold back anymore, Kim Yu-Rin began hitting her head in regret when, Kim Soo-Gyeom suddenly popped out of nowhere and tried to stop her.
"…Mmm. How long have you been watching me?"
Now thoroughly embarrassed, Yu-Rin scratched the back of her neck and stared at him. He had a shortish stature and a cute face, but contrary to that young appearance, he possessed a genuine talent that promoted him to a Mid Tier Knight at a tender age of 23 - one of the brighter future prospects of the Raven Knights Order.
"Just now. I was training with Senior Jong-Suk and wanted to take a short break."
"…Is that so?"
Yu-Rin let out another long sigh. Kim Soo-Gyeom gazed at her with worry before handing over a cup of warm coffee.
"Please, don’t mind too much about those things. It’s not like as if Miss Yu-Rin knew what was going to happen, anyway…"
"….You’re right. Thanks."
She lightly brushed the head of the young Knight she found adorable for worrying about her. His cheeks blushed softly at her actions.
"By the way, you think the Goblin Alchemist definitely made a deal with the Dawn?"
Yu-Rin asked while sipping the coffee. Kim Soo-Gyeom came from a prestigious family background. Currently, his father was serving as a judge. And his uncle was the vice chief of the Wizards’ Association. So, when it came to intel, he should be better informed than her.
"I also don’t know the details, but… it’s almost a sure thing? Judging by the potions all entering the Dawn’s pockets. They are openly being favoured, aren’t they?"
"…Do you know what kind of terms they offered him?"
"Eh? Ah, from what I hear, the rumours say the Dawn has offered the alchemist his own private workshop and an unlimited supply of ingredients, to boot. That’s how we get the nonstop flow of the potions."
The Goblin Alchemist, a genius alchemist who appeared like a meteor. His name might be a little irksome, but the capability and talent displayed were good enough to be referred to as the second coming of Rodes. On top of that, he was also quite diligent with his work - earning the title of ‘the Chief of a Workshop’ by producing over 50 bottles of potions in just under 5 months since his debut.
"Oh, and a private jet, too. There was a rumour of them buying him a private jet as well."
"What, a jet? Haaa…. I’ve got no answer for that. Not even one. I mean, do they have a surplus of money like air or something…."
She found herself sighing a lot more nowadays. The fact that the country’s leading Knights Order, the Raven, couldn’t have an amiable relationship with the rising star of alchemy, was a fatal chink in its armour. And to think, the blame laid solely with her….
However, when a certain person’s mug floated up in her mind, Kim Yu-Rin ended up gritting her teeth. Until the end, like a stubborn mule, she was getting in Yu-Rin’s way. What an evil bi*ch.
"….Hey, Soo-Gyeom. Can you find out something for me?"
Kim Yu-Rin asked him in a powerless voice. He quickly nodded his head.
"Of course. Just give me the word."
"That Goblin Alchemist. Dig out his identity for me, will you."
Soo-Gyeom was taken aback and had to ask her again. Keeping the identities of alchemists were an unspoken rule that had been in practice for a very long time. Especially more so for a Knights Order, as they had a indelible symbiotic relationship with the potion making alchemists.
"Well, it really can’t be helped, right?"
Kim Yu-Rin just couldn’t accept this lying down without doing something. The number of times the Raven Knights Order failed to attend the auction venues for the potions was already way too high, because the Alchemy Houseinformed them of wrong dates by a mistake. Allegedly. So, she decided that she needed to act, even if it meant clashing against Hazeline once more.
"Even then, even if you meet the alchemist, what will you do? I don’t think we can offer better terms than what the Dawn has offered him."
Kim Yu-Rin massaged her temples and agonised deeply, before spitting out the only idea that managed to pop up in her mind.
"Well, let’s just hope that Mister Goblin is a dude."
"Eh, eh?! Wha, what are you talking about, Miss Yu-Rin?!"
It was just a joke. But the reactions of Kim Soo-Gyeom was something else. He stood right up, his face crumpling in an unsightly manner. Both of his tightly clenched fists were quaking visibly.
"That, that, that…"
Yu-Rin snorted after finding his current actions where he couldn’t even string proper words together rather ridiculous.
"…I was just cracking a joke. You think I’d do something like that? As a Highest Tier ranked Knight of the Raven Order, I feel that I should have a chat with this alchemist at least once. Sitting on our a*ses doing nothing won’t solve anything, after all. Besides the matter of the potions, there are more important things to consider, such as our fame and the pride of being the best in this country."
"R, right, of course."
Only then, Kim Soo-Gyeom was able to calm down and sit back on his chair.
"Check it out for me. We can’t let the people over at Dawn take everything away. Especially now, when we are conflicting more and more over the issues of the ‘Fissures’."
"….Will do. But seriously… you wouldn’t do that, would you?"
Kim Soo-Gyeom asked her timidly, like a rabbit. Yu-Rin chuckled lightly and replied.
"Obviously. What do you see me as?"
"…Yes. Well then, I’ll do my best and see what I can find out."
On a certain afternoon, drowsiness brought on by a full belly slowly consumed an ebony-coloured wolf lying sprawled on a sofa, making it slowly drift in and out of sleep. But then, a mobile phone went vvrrooong and woke up the creature.
Opening its eyes, the wolf extended one of its legs. The paw that looked no different than that of an animal suddenly became a person’s hand as it grasped the phone.
⸢An incredible weapon came in during this round of the tournament. Would you like to see it?⸥
It was a text message from Yu Sae-Jung.
It had been a month and a week after their first hunt together. The number of times they hunted as a pair was 8. Nowadays, she sent him text messages like this quite often. Even if there was no scheduled hunting, she’d message him at least once every two days. It was the proof that she and Sae-Jin had grown quite familiar with one another.
He stared at the message for a moment, before slowly moving his fingers.
⸢What? Is it a weapon from that blacksmith called The ORK or something?⸥
Even before he had the chance to put the phone down, the reply rushed in.
⸢Yeah. This time, it’s a sabre but it’s just an amazing thing. There’s a special attribute added to the weapon and when you pour the Mana in, it becomes dyed in red and starts boiling. Add that together with the improved cutting power, I think it’s going to show off some shocking potential. Regrettably, I couldn’t swing it, though.⸥
⸢Is it okay to tell me that? Isn’t that a spoiler territory?⸥
⸢Ahh, it’s fine.⸥
A short reply, and then the images of the sabre in question flooded his inbox. As if she was taking pics of a delicious food, there were several shots taken from differing angles, and some of them even had filters applied as well.
⸢Looks good. Are you going to use this one too?⸥
⸢I’d like to, but can’t. Others might see it in a bad light. If I wish to take the final winner of the tournament, I have to let this one go. I’m really excited to see what will come out in the finals. (smiles)⸥
He felt quite proud when she started praising the weapon.
If someone like Yu Sae-Jung who was famous for being blunt without caring for other people’s feelings was this enthusiastic, he could expect to see some favourable reactions this time as well.
⸢By the way, do you have time this week Friday?⸥
⸢I might. What, another hunt?⸥
Sae-Jin grinned slightly. It seemed that all the messaging to and fro was to butter him for this moment, to ask him out for a hunt.
⸢Okay, cool. How about 2 PM?⸥
⸢Yes. It’s cool. (thank you)⸥
⸢By the way, you don’t have do those emoticon thingy towards the end, you know.⸥
⸢I know. Oh, and it’s not "towards" but "at". You are fine with the regular grammar, but why do you always get this one wrong?⸥ (TL: weeell, this line had our MC speak in a local dialect and Yu Sae-Jung is admonishing him for the grammatical faux pas. It’s literally untranslatable to English. So I ended up making stuff up. Please bear with me on this one…)
⸢My bad. I didn’t receive proper education. I’ll engrave it to my heart.⸥
⸢(LOL) (it’s okay)⸥ (TL: Daijobu, desu!!)
Sae-Jin scratched his head while sighing, unable to figure out whether she was making fun of him or not.
< 09. Changes in the Daily Life (3) >
(TL: in case if you’re wondering, those bracketed words at the end of Yu Sae-Jung’s messages are supposed to be smiley faces/emoticons. But in the raw, they are in texts.)