A Monster Who Levels Up
Kim In-Soo muttered in a heavy voice.
If one was to get technical, then Sae-Jin wasn’t really a Werewolf. No, he was actually an Ebony Wolf using the Beast Mode. But, seeing that the Werewolf was a rare Monster with very little facts known about it, to differentiate with such a minute detail was just not possible.
"T, team leader!! We need to run away! That Werewolf is the one I was…"
"What do you mean, run away?! That’s a Monster, isn’t it?" (The Female Knight.)
"No, no, that’s a Spirit Beast…."
The war of words between two people threatened to explode again, but it was quickly brought under control by Kim In-Soo pulling out his sword.
"T, that… Are you planning to fight that thing, sir? Even if we evacuate, that Werewolf won’t come after us, you know?"
"A Werewolf is a particularly dangerous Monster. You could say it does not belong in the Mid Tier hunting ground. And one of the jobs the Knights ranked upper Mid Tier must perform, is to defeat dangerous Monsters that doesn’t belong in certain hunting grounds."
Kim In-Soo pointed his sword at the Werewolf. The tip of the blade was now directed at the head of the creature. The subordinate male Knight watching him did his best to swallow these words down: Sir, you are not upper Mid Tier yet…
"You guys can evacuate since you won’t be much of a help here."
"No way! I will fight alongside with you!"
When the female Knight bravely replied and pulled out her bow from her back, Kim In-Soo nodded his head in satisfaction.
It was very hard to find an archer among the ranks of the Knights. That was because, the fired arrow had to be guided and loaded with Mana by the archer until it caused damage to the target. Of course, such a thing required a tremendous talent to perform. One needed the Affinity with Mana approaching that of a Wizard to do this, even.
"Knight Soh Yeo-Jin, cover me."
Seeing the energetic duo conversing like this, the remaining two male Knights had no choice but to draw their swords as well.
‘They must’ve gone mad.’
Kim Sae-Jin’s brows tightened in irritation. Even though it was a simple change in his facial expression, on the Wolf’s face it became a lot more terrifying. And that caused the subordinate Knights to stumble backwards a little.
"You don’t have to worry."
Kim In-Soo assuaged the fears of his Knights and concentrated Mana on the sword. Unlike the blue colour of regular Mana, a pure white light gathered around the blade.
Dazed by the spectacle, the female Knight, Soh Yeo-Jin admired the show of this purest form of white Mana.
That was the ‘Saviour of the Light’ in action - the miraculous Trait that supposedly increases destructive power when facing off against Monsters.
As expected of the famous Trait, even Kim Sae-Jin felt that was dangerous. No, it wasn’t on the level of simply being dangerous. The Ebony Wolf was actually fearing for its life after seeing that white Mana. His trembling hands were the inescapable proof of this.
However, Sae-Jin’s pride stopped him from running away.
When the instincts of a Monster, and the consciousness of a human became all mixed up, that mess had been replaced by a new type of ego.
And in this situation, the burning desire to fight s
uddenly exploded in his heart.
*SFX for another loud roar*
It was the weirdest thing. He really didn’t plan to cry out like some wild animal, but his mouth opened up and the loud roar escaped out all by itself.
Right then, his consciousness blurred, and his body began moving automatically.
[The skill ‘Warrior of Reversal’ has activated….
Exploding into a storm of winds, Sae-Jin lunged forward towards the Knights. The amount of reaction time against that sudden turn of speed was almost zero. Kim In-Soo quickly covered his body with Mana, but too bad, the Wolf’s target wasn’t him.
*SFX for a woman’s scream*
A high-pitched scream could be heard from his back.
The clever Wolf attacked the female Knight at the back trying to provide cover and disabled her first. The bow was sliced in half, and her slender wrist had a deep gash on it, blood spouting out from the fresh wound.
Kim In-Soo and the two Knights hurriedly attacked the Wolf.
With a powerful, explosive shout, the subordinates swung their swords towards Kim Sae-Jin. Unfortunately for them, the attribute ‘Weapon Destruction Level E’ was currently active in his body. He simply slashed at their swords with his claws.
*SFX for metal bits being cut*
The broken halves of blades danced into the air.
After their Mana-infused blades were broken so easily, the subordinate Knights panicked and had to take several steps back.
So, Sae-Jin stopped paying attention to them and turned towards his back where he could sense the explosive, violent Mana.
With his entire body glowing in white, Kim In-Soo slashed down with his blade at Sae-Jin.
However, his sword only managed to overturn the ground as the Wolf had already escaped into the air and retreated to a safer distance.
"…Team leader! What should we do?"
One of the subordinates asked worriedly. Kim In-Soo took a glance at him and gave his order.
"Take Soh Yeo-Jin and evacuate. There are still potions left, so her recovery should not be difficult."
"Without a weapon, you’ll only get in the way. So, move!"
When the Knights hesitated and did nothing, Kim In-Soo shouted out loudly. Only then, the subordinates made their escape in earnest, while he pointed his blade at the Wolf.
"You smart bastard."
Sae-Jin’s only weapon against the Mana-infused sword was his claws.
"You sly bastard."
The intensity of the light blurring Kim In-Soo’s body increased up a notch. Sae-Jin narrowed his eyes to mere slits, as the brightness made it very difficult to keep them fully open.
Right at that moment, from Kim In-Soo’s body, countless blades of Mana shot towards Sae-Jin like an exploding nest of snakes.
The countless rays of light, bright enough to erase the sun, filled the sky and began raining down on the single target….
It was impossible to escape.
However, the Wolf’s claws could slice apart both the corporeal and incorporeal. In other words, the claws could cut even Mana as well-
Sae-Jin slashed out at the falling drops of light rays, again and again. One could say that it all looked rather effortless, even. As soon as the Mana rays touched the claws, they powerlessly disintegrated and dissipated like the early morning fog.
It was now Kim In-Soo’s turn to panic after witnessing this incredible scene. Staring at the Wolf with disbelieving eyes for a short while, he then ceased his ineffective attack and rushed towards the creature.
The Wolf’s claws clashed angrily with the blade. The sharp screech echoed throughout the forest, with red-hot sparks shooting out from the contact point.
"Oraaaahhh!!!!" (TL: I was this close to TLing this part as OraOraOraOra x1000 LOL)
The sword descended, accompanied by a terrific shout. But the Wolf lightly rolled out of the way and easily dodged it.
Right after, the claws swung upwards from below.
Kim In-Soo could barely block it in time. As soon as that happened, though, he had to open his eyes really wide. He saw that on the surface of the blade in contact with the Wolf’s claws, cracks began to form.
He quickly kicked the abdomen of the Wolf and retreated.
He could not understand what just happened. How could a measly Monster leave scars on a Mana-infused sword?
Of course, right now, time to think was a luxury he couldn’t afford. The Wolf attacked him again. Kim In-Soo hurriedly dodged out of the way.
*SFX for claws cutting up stuff*
The air pressure from the swung claws divided distant trees in half.
Kim In-Soo stepped on the ground, hard, and thrust out his sword towards the neck of the creature.
That was the beginning of a fierce battle. A violent close-quarter combat taking place within the radius of a person’s two regular steps. The swung sword was blocked by the claws, and the claws aimed at the neck missed as the target dodged with quick movements.
As the battle dragged on, their battle arena became more destroyed than before. The sword aura, seemingly missing its mark, carved apart the forest vegetation while on the ground, numerous terrifying scars were left behind.
However, the end of the fight wasn’t far away.
The endurance of a human and that of a beast - there was no point in arguing, the latter simply held the advantage on that front.
While Kim In-Soo’s movement had become noticeably sluggish compared to the beginning, the Wolf was still maintaining the shocking speed without a problem.
Kim In-Soo gritted his teeth. He had to make a choice here. Hold out for a bit longer and die, or bet everything on the next attack.
He didn't agonise deeply, really.
He scraped together the very last bit of Mana still left in him and forced it onto his sword.
Before he could do anything, the sword couldn’t hold on, and broke.
Kim In-Soo stared at the fallen bit of the blade, dazed and wordless. Then, he lifted his head to look at the Wolf.
The Wolf beast was looking back at him, waiting.
But something was different. The previously bloodshot eyes had regained the clarity of the golden iridescence, and the emotions he saw in them were calm and thoughtful. It was as if he was looking into a human’s eyes.
‘…What the hell just happened?’
Kim Sae-Jin alternated his gaze between Kim In-Soo and and the alert message window while failing to put a rein on his panicking mind.
He was able to grasp hold of the fading sanity drowned out by the animalistic instincts, thanks to this window popping up.
[Condition complete (1/3): Achieving victory after putting everything on the line.]
– All Stats rise by 10.
– When the remaining two conditions are met, the Ebony Wolf Form will evolve.
– All stats related to the Wolf Form will rise.
The problem remaining now was… Kim In-Soo.
His weapon was…. quite rubbish. He was an upper Mid Tier Knight, but he was using only a Mid Quality weapon. Of course it’d break easily.
‘Didn't expect him to be dirt-poor. What a shock.' (TL: author simply wrote: "He's a beggar?" It didn't sound quite right to me, so I fiddled around a bit…)
When Sae-Jin tilted his head in confusion, Kim In-Soo spat out the words of utter defeat.
‘..What the hell is this guy even saying?’
Sae-Jin had no desire to kill this guy. He deliberately locked his gaze with that of Kim In-Soo’s and snorted derisively before leisurely walking away.
Left alone, all Kim In-Soo could do was to follow the back of the Wolf beast with his dazed eyes.
Located in the wealthiest district in the city of Seoul, the headquarters of the Dawn Knights Order was famed for its stylish exterior, advantageous locations, as well as its cutting-edge training facilities. Plus, there was another source of envy and pride, in the form of an online networking app called the ‘Dawn of Today’ which could only be used by the current and former members of the Knights Order.
"…You do it."
"No, you do it. Why are you asking me?"
"Hey, you went to the same training camp with her!"
And now, this place was the Dawn Knights Order’s training facility, where the concentration of Mana was reputedly higher than that of the mountain side thanks to the centrally-located artificial Mana Spring. Two new recruits to the Order were busy having a light argument here.
"Doesn’t matter if it was training or schmucking, we never talked, not even once, you know."
The topic of their conversation was the cute girl training alone over there, Yu Sae-Jung. Always the centre of the attention whenever she came here to train, but the interest drawing upon her was a bit more special this time.
"And even if we ask her, we won’t be able to join. You know this."
"Why not? They even have a Mid Tier Hunter as a member, so why can’t we?"
Their interest in her this time was because of the Society she had co-founded, The Monster. Although its name was not very cool and its Class was only a D-, it was currently the most mentioned Society in the ‘Dawn of Today’.
It wasn’t just because the mascot of the Dawn - and its most talented Knight - Yu Sae-Jung and an unknown Wizard’s participation in that Society.
No, it was because the news of the hottest trending Alchemist right now, the Goblin, joining this Society had popped up out of nowhere.
"Just once. Once. She doesn’t even know my face. And take a look at my mug, will ya? So? You think I stand a chance?"
"Really, dude. You do this right and we join that Society, then our lives will be smooth sailing from now on. I mean, you also heard that rumour going around, right? That one, the Orc and the Goblin both being ‘The Monsters’?"
"Hey, you moron. That’s just an empty rumour."
And there was a strange but compelling rumour floating around as well. And that was, the Orc Blacksmith would be joining this Society as well, very soon.
Not only in the ‘Dawn of Today’, all the other Knights who heard of this rumour couldn’t easily dismiss this notion simply because of the fact that the Society was called The Monster, plus both the Orc Blacksmith and the Goblin Alchemist had a similar naming concept.
"Whatever, dude. Just go and talk to her."
The hope of these two fellas was like so: the Society would have liked to admit more members, but since no one dared to approach, it only had four core members so far. So, if one plucked up some courage and made his intentions known, then he’d be welcomed with open arms. In other words…. something like: only the brave gets the prettiest girl.
"…. Haaaaah, Fine. Wait here."
The cool and handsome-looking male Knight sighed out grandly and walked towards Yu Sae-Jung. His gait was stiff like an old robot thanks to him being filled with nervousness.
His friend tried to rein in his nervous heart and waited for the arrival of the good news.
Another intake of deep breath.
Arriving before Yu Sae-Jung, he began speaking in a shaky voice.
"Uh… I heard that, you, you have formed, uh, S, S, Society…."
And… Yu Sae-Jung expertly replied as if she had experienced the exact same situation dozens of times already.
"The leader of the Society isn’t me but Mister Kim Sae-Jin. If you wish to join, please seek him out."
The poor guy heard that as a complete rejection.
He walked back to his friend with heavy footsteps and crossed his arms in an X in front of his chest. And they grandly sighed out at the same time.
‘…Why are there so many requests to join the Society?’
Yu Sae-Jung took a glance at the two and tilted her head. She couldn’t figure out why they wanted to join a small Society with only three members. She didn’t understand, as she had stopped using her phone altogether since it was around the time for her school exams.
Of course, as Yu Sae-Jung, she was fully aware of the true value of building a personal bridge with her. But wasn’t this Society simply formed to foster amity and goodwill? Even Kim Sae-Jin himself did say that he formed this Society to get the rank promotion.
But now, she was in the middle of training. She just didn’t have enough time, as after the training, she’d study for the exams.
So, she removed all thoughts related to the Society and concentrated on training for now.
And exactly one hour later, Yu Sae-Jung could finally hear the answer to the mystery from the butler that had come to take her home.
"You didn’t know?"
"I’m studying for the exams, you know. I’m just too busy studying and training, so…. But it’s for real? Really real?"
"So, I guess you really didn’t know. Two days ago, a new potion in the Goblin series called ‘A Goblin’s Purification’ came out. And on the label, it was written ‘From the Alchemist affiliated with The Monster’."
Yu Sae-Jung’s expression was that of an utter shock as she leaned against the back of a chair.
< 11. The Assimilation (2) > Fin.