A Monster Who Levels Up

Chapter 36

In a month’s time, the much awaited Finale of the Blacksmiths Open Invitational Tournament would begin.

– I know that there isn’t enough time so I’ve even reduced my sleeping hours to concentrate on finishing my work.

However, the TV show covering the tournament was on air already for a while now. Once every week, it showed the daily lives and workplaces of the eleven finalists who had passed the 2nd Round of the tournament.

Of course, since Sae-Jin had to refuse being filmed, the program could only show the ten remaining participants instead.

– From the rumours, I hear that Mr. Tae-Sahn, you, have deliberately destroyed the item you prepared for the Finale of the tournament?

The guy being interviewed on screen now was Kim Tae-Sahn, son of the Korea’s famed master craftsman, Kim Tae-Baek. Being treated as a rising star among the current crop of Blacksmiths, he was garnering quite a lot of fame for his warm, gentle face and an athletic physique to go with that nice face. (TL: Oh boy. Our author has made a big mistake here. Previously, he wrote "Kim Soo-Han" as the name for this son/apprentice. I guess he either forgot or didn’t like the name…)

– Yes, that’s correct.

– Why did you do it?

– Haha… it’s as you have suspected - because I believed that it was just not good enough to stand toe to toe with the Blacksmith, Mr. ‘Orc’. Compared to his amazing creations, I felt that mine were uncompleted missteps lacking in so many criteria. I wanted to make something better, even if only by a little bit, so I chose to get rid of the item altogether. I feared compromising my ideals so I had to destroy it completely.

– Oh… That’s a little bit regretful, I’d say. I’m sure that weapon was still a good quality product.

– Haha… No, that’s not true. Well, anyway, please follow me. Let me show you my workspace.

Carrying a gentle and friendly smile, Kim Tae-Sahn led the interviewer into his smithy.

"…Tsk."

The programme hadn’t ended yet, but Sae-Jin still turned the TV off and fell into a deep thought afterwards.

That guy on the screen just now, Kim Tae-Sahn, he seemed quite an exciting and passionate fella. If that was not a calculating front put up to make himself look good, then he’d be the perfect main character filled with a great ambition. It was fine up until there. After all, having someone as talented as that guy regarding you as a rival certainly made him feel pretty good about himself.

But the issue laid with the mass media and the shifting opinion of the public at large. Since he couldn’t do any sort of interviews or allow filming, the Blacksmith ‘ORK’ was unable to show himself, not even once.

He believed that people would naturally understand and maybe even find enjoyment out of his enigmatic actions.

Of course, they did just that, initially at least. But that was until Kim Tae-Sahn’s appearance on TV.

Using the looks that even guys would find handsome, and with his uniquely passionate and humble personality, he was able to completely capture the public’s imagination.

‘There’s no doubt that the Orc Blacksmith is the most likely candidate for the overall win. And I’m still lacking in comparison. But my aim will always be to win. In order to surpass him, I’ll always try my hardest.’

That was the so-called catchphrase of Kim Tae-Sahn, the one that showed off his public persona brilliantly. Again, it was fine up to here.

The real problem, though, was the rapidly ballooning fan base of Kim Tae-Sahn. They busily talked highly of Kim Tae-Sahn’s products and at the same time, ruthlessly cut down the Orc’s. Their reasoning was that the unkno

wn blacksmith was arrogant, didn’t know how to be humble and all that.

Even the mass media was on the side of Kim Tae-Sahn. While the son of Kim Tae-Baek was quite friendly towards the members of the press, the mystery blacksmith, the Orc, seemed to be showing hostility towards them.

And that’s how the situation was like, with only a month left until the finals. The current mood had come to a point where people thought Kim Tae-Sahn was the protagonist while the Orc was, just as the name implied, a monster he had to defeat.

Kim Tae-Sahn, who was working his butt off to become a better person, while the Orc, who hadn’t even shown his face to anyone until now.

The media and the public conceded on the fact that Orc’s skills were superior, but they all wished that Kim Tae-Sahn’s hard work would be enough to defeat his opponent and win.

"…Hmph."

However, Sae-Jin had no thoughts of letting this guy walk away with an easy victory. The more bad press he got and more he got bad mouthed by Kim Tae-Sahn’s fans, both of his stubbornness and unwillingness to lose flared up higher, and now, his greed for victory had gotten far more severe than before.

‘At least, I need something that’s better than a High Quality.’

In order to win, he needed to make an item that exceeded a mid rank, meaning at least a High Quality-ranked weapon. If he could make a Branded Goods then he’d win for sure so that would be more preferable but with his Smithing Technique only at C-, that was still too difficult for him as of now.

He thought that he needed to be at least B+ before even attempting to craft a Branded Goods.

‘…No, wait a minute here.’

No, he was wrong. It was not impossible, as a matter of fact.

The attribute that could allow the weapon to grow towards the rank of a Branded Goods the more it was used in hunting. Like an idiot, he had forgotten all about it, even though he had already bestowed such an attribute before.

The attribute where the weapon could grow by absorbing the Mana present within the blood and flesh of the Monsters.

Of course, this attribute was incredibly difficult to bestow so he’d only achieve either the level of D or C- but, even it was only at that level, most Knights would go absolutely mad with avarice over a such weapon for sure.

However, this highly sought-after weapon would remain as a pie in the sky for the absolute majority of the Knights out there. After all, it would be no different to the weapon having a designated owner already.

‘Yu Sae-Jung’s preferred type of weapons was called a Broadsword, right?’

He remembered that her weapon was called the ‘Lorenzo’s Broadsword’. It was a weapon good enough to have its maker’s name added on. Sae-Jin was confident that he could craft something even better than that.

‘…Let’s take this opportunity to gift her a new weapon.’

Sae-Jin figured that, thanks to the first refusal agreement, the weapon would end up in Yu Sae-Jung’s hands anyways so he should make it to fit her the best from the get-go.

*

===

Title: [The Wolf Guardian]

By: [Slope] (TL: Yes, the author really did write this. smh)

Have you ever seen the back of a lonely wolf?

A brightly shining creature, carrying the full moon on its back and climbing the mountains, surveying all the other lesser creatures with its golden eyes ablaze.

It’s most likely the avatar of our world, symbolising the purest form of desire, a divinity more fantastic than the miracles of the gods…….

Seeing that truly dependable back, I wish to call the creature 'The Guardian'.

"How can these Hunters be so pathetic? Worshipping some lowly Monster… Why not just follow a proper religion or something…"

It was a certain dreamy night, with a full moon high up in the sky.

The members of the 6th ranked Knights Order in Korea as rated by the publication ‘Korea Daily’, Genesis were currently engaged in the middle of an ‘adaptive training exercise’ in the Mid Tier hunting ground.

An adaptive training was where Knights would attempt to survive in a hunting ground that was one Tier higher than they were, while under the supervision of senior Knights possessing higher ranks. This hunting party currently consisted of three low Mid Tier Knights and a single Mid Tier Knight, who had previously boasted that he’d move up a rank pretty soon.

"But there is a reason for that, isn’t there? The Werewolf that appears in the Mid Tier hunting ground has saved lots of people numerous times already. That’s why those Hunters who were scared of entering the hunting ground all changed their tunes and say they feel safer now precisely because of this Werewolf."

There was a rumour floating around the Mid Tier hunting ground. A Werewolf with a rank of either upper Mid Tier or higher was supposedly roaming the Mid Tier hunting ground and rescued humans in trouble.

The rumour was classified as a total rubbish, but as the number of witnesses and survivors continued to increase, the situation was at the point where even the media was getting more interested in the story. Of course, the Mid Tier hunting ground was off-limits for the media personnel as it was deemed just too dangerous, but seeing how they conducted interviews with various witnesses, it was pretty clear to see the level of their interest in this rumour.

"Oh, man~ Are you talking about that Wolf Guardian? Do you really believe in such a thing? As a Knight? On top of that, as a Knight of the Genesis Order?"

"…No, that’s not…"

A male Knight scratched the back of his neck and avoided making eye contact with the female Knight. Filled to the brim with pride for being a member of the Genesis, the female Knight narrowed her eyes at him with a dissatisfied expression.

"Even if that’s true, it’s still a Monster. And it’s our job to kill Monsters."

"Some people are saying it’s not a Monster, but a Spirit Beast. I mean, that Ebony Wolf that often appeared in the lower Tiered hunting grounds has not been seen in a while, right? So, maybe it has evolved…."

"Hey, excuse me? What kind of nonsense are you saying…"

"Enough."

When a heavy voice divided the two Knights’ argument apart, they quickly lowered their heads at the same time. That’s how their ill-timed war of words had been brought to an abrupt end by the person in charge.

"What the low Mid Tier Knight, Miss Soh Yeo-Jin has said is correct. Our job is to kill all the Monsters. Doesn’t matter whether it’s a Wolf Guardian, the Vermillion Bird of the South, the Black Turtle of the North, or the Azure Dragon of the East."

The Mid Tier Knight, who would ascend to the upper Mid Tier very soon, also known as the Saviour of the Light, Kim In-Soo put some weight behind his words as he admonished the junior Knights.

"All you guys have to do is watch how I battle Monsters in the Mid Tier hunting ground, that is all. Witnessing a battle of a Knight far greater than yourselves should be a good learning experience at the end of the day for you all."

And as soon as he finished speaking and moving his feet…

*SFX for a distant roar of an unknown beast*

A savage roar of a Monster shook the mountains. It sure sounded like an ominous call to all who heard it.

"Follow me!"

Right away, Kim In-Soo dashed towards the direction of the roar.

Kim Sae-Jin came out to hunt in the Mid Tier hunting ground. It was to procure something called Monster parts that could improve the results of the Smithing Technique. (TL: the author wrote Monster "부산물" here. It literally means Monster by-products. Changed to "parts".)

His target was a three-horned Monster called ‘Treynos’. (TL:트레이노스)

Outwardly resembling a rhinoceros, it not only had three horns on its head but also had three eyes, making it rather ugly to look at. Plus, its nature was quite violent, so it was viewed as one of the difficult Monsters to battle in the Mid Tier hunting ground.

After acquiring the ability to read information on weapons, Sae-Jin got to read the following words:

…Which made him realise that the horns of this Monster could greatly improve the efficiency of the Smithing Technique.

And now, Sae-Jin was able to locate a Treynos without much trouble.

*SFX for a Monster growling*

Strangely enough, the rhino-like Monster facing Sae-Jin only growled and remain rooted to the spot, unable to charge in towards him. Most likely, this creature had instinctively felt that the Werewolf standing in front occupied a higher rung on the food chain than itself.

"…Khrrrng."

When Sae-Jin returned a growl of his own, the Monster began to backtrack slowly.

He thought that the creature was trying to make a run for it. That’s why he lowered his guard and leisurely watched it move. After all, the speed of the Werewolf would be so much faster than this bastard trying to run away…

*SFX for a loud Monster roar*

However, out of the blue, the Monster began charging forward with all its might after roaring out angrily. Unfortunately for Sae-Jin, it seemed that the Monster was making a room for itself to propel forward and gain a lot of speed in the process.

Sae-Jin panicked just a little, but he knew there was really no need to dodge here. The Wolf’s Claws was now at C-, and its hardness was comparable to that of the ‘pronium’ which was only slightly worse than the famed ‘mithril’.

He knew that, just one swing of his claws would be enough to turn this rhino bastard into finely-sliced slabs of meat.

He extended his claws. Sharper than seemingly any other weapon in existence, they gleamed under the pale moonlight.

*SFX for thudding footsteps*

And he powerfully swung them at the still-charging Monster. It was an attack so stupendously strong, the air resisting the advance of the claws got torn apart and as a result, the sky seemed to waver like the surface of the ocean.

*SFX for meat being sliced apart*

The rhino’s abdomen area was sliced open, and the creature ended up collapsing before arriving at the feet of the Werewolf.

As he was about to recover the fallen Monster’s horns…

He felt a sharp aura of Mana at his back.

"…!"

When Sae-Jin turned around, he found a man with a somewhat familiar mug standing over yonder.

Kim In-Soo.

It was that slimy dude with a not-so-nice personality from before. He was intensely glaring here with his sword drawn. It was as if he’d rush in at a moment’s notice.

"…Khrrnnng."

And that’s how Kim Sae-Jin and Kim In-Soo met again face to face.

< 11. The Assimilation (1) > Fin.

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