A Monster Who Levels Up
"Yeah, I’m relaxed now. Please do it, Oppa."
Only then did her shaking lessen, just a tad. It was still a little bothersome… but it was indeed a massive progress compared to that ‘earthquake’ from before.
"Here we go."
"Okay. Oh, I want it in the flower… Euk!"
When the instrument touched the shoulder bone on her back, the cold sensation crawled up her skin and assaulted her brain. She got surprised so bad, her body froze still in that moment.
For Sae-Jin, though, this was actually better. He quickly used the lull in her movement to draw on her white shoulder, like one would on a drawing paper.
The chosen colour was really similar to her skin. It would be hard to spot it with a concerted close-range inspection, and the colour blended in with her skin so well, people would be unable to figure out whether she had a tattoo done or not from afar.
As long as she didn’t use Mana, that was.
If she accessed her Mana during a battle or in some other instance, the area where the Magic Tattoo was inscribed would light up in blue and become very conspicuous. That was why the shape of the tattoo had to be considered carefully.
"It’s all done."
Having had its Proficiency Level raised by a few notches, the Goblin’s Craftsmanship skill proved to be truly exceptional. Even though its effects would be a lot lesser as he was currently in the Human Form, the detailed tattooing process only required three minutes to complete.
"Yeah. But the thing is, though…"
…It’s gonna hurt from now on.
Those follow-up words, however, had to remain circulating within his mouth.
Because, just before he could say a word, Yu Sae-Jung’s pitiful single-note whimper blocked him.
Right away, she keeled over clutching her chest, and since he knew this would happen, Sae-Jin swiftly moved to pick her up and gently laid her down on the couch.
For the next ten minutes or so, like a very ill puppy, she could only suffer in silent agony, unable to even mouth a complaint.
Only when the level of agonising pain subsided to a level comparable to muscle ache did Yu Sae-Jung shoot him a resentful glare filled with tears.
"…You said it wouldn’t… hurt. Why did you lie to me?!"
Kim Sae-Jin smiled awkwardly and scratched the back of his neck.
Even with that, she remained furious, her lips pushing out in a pout and her eyes continuously glaring at him; but as soon as she sensed the change within her body, her expression went a sudden shift. Her narrowed eyes opened up wide - and her clenched jaw dropped to the floor.
The person affected by the change could sense it better than anyone else. And not to forget, the Mana Stone she brought along as the base ingredient happened to be superior quality as well.
So, although his Magic Tattoo only was at the skill level of D, as the ingredients used were just too good, she should be able to definitely sense the effects.
The very first thing popping out from her open mouth was a short exclamation.
"So, how is it?"
She couldn’t form a proper answer to his question and continued to clench and unclench her fists for a long time.
She was currently trying to work out whether her Mana reserve increasing was a dream or not.
And in order to accept this situation as her new reality, she needed to waste another five minutes.
"W, wooooow!! Oppa, what the heck is this?!"
Finally. At last. Yu Sae-Jung could indeed confirm that her Mana had increased after checking her own Status window. (TL: So, there it is. I was always curious whether other Trait holders could also access their own Stat windows and such, but here’s the proof that they can.)
That was the beginning of th
Kim Sae-Jin had never, ever witnessed her express her feelings this violently, this intensely before.
Jumping around all over the place with unbridled happiness, she then suddenly tried to rush in and grab hold of his collars as if to ask what the blooming heck is this?! before collapsing and fainting in the end from the aftereffects of her Mana’s increase.
Sae-Jin chuckled lightly and after grabbing the phone, he called her butler.
If it was at all possible, he’d let her sleep it off here, but… well, his situation didn’t permit that.
The Goblin Alchemist and the Orc Blacksmith. These two caused seemingly an insignificant but in actuality, a huge shockwave in the society as a whole.
Firstly, the Orc Blacksmith. His existence alone brought great deal of hope to all the Knights out there.
The reason was his shocking pledge to produce two weapons per month.
That pledge was kept for real and those two weapons found their ways into the hands of the owners. SNS, news articles, and those Knights who had seen the products with their own two eyes, were all deeply astonished at their qualities.
The ranks of the products easily exceeded the level of High Quality.
Most artisans and masters managed to produce a single item every year. So, this was like the Orc splendidly smacking the heads of all those Knights who were expecting to see, at most, upper Mid Quality items from that two-weapons-a-month pledge.
And then, there was the Goblin Alchemist. Thanks to him, the potion drought that plunged the Knights and the world of alchemy in anxiety came to a swift resolution. Triggered by the grand entrance of the Goblin, the idle alchemists began supplying potions to the marketplace once more.
And that’s how Knights’ quests to hunt down Monsters that had grinded to a halt became reinvigorated again.
Unfortunately, this positive prospect only applied to the races living on this planet in a peaceful manner.
And the race that was feeling very nervous right now at the waves of change brought on by the two geniuses was currently right here.
"The Nagas had sunk into the deep ocean, while the Demon Race is living a life of hell stuck in the boundary between the worlds. Truly… these are the lamentable events, indeed."
The base of operations for the Vampires was, funnily enough, right next to the doorstep of the civilization. As a matter of fact, they occupied several buildings around the city of Seoul, one of them being this particular one named the ‘Leon Crane’, located on the outskirts of Gangbuk.
The Vampires didn’t choose to own this building because of the classic mantra of ‘hiding in plain sight’, but simply because of their business interests.
That’s right - in order to continue living in this capitalist world, even Vampires had to get jobs.
"And that is how we are the only race remaining that still miss our old home world. Oh brothers, we are…"
"Will you just shut the hell up? What will you bloody do, when the Lycan catches onto your magic communication?"
One other big point that separated Vampires from the rest of the world - besides the fact that they had to drink blood, of course - was their strict adherence to a caste system.
An absolute hierarchy system of the bloodlines, it just so happens to have some relation to the race-specific Trait of the Vampires.
To these guys, talent was not some crap that the heavens decided to hand out randomly regardless of the inherited bloodlines.
No, the greatness of a person was determined by the blood flowing in his or her veins.
That was why, this kid in his early teens could speak rather rudely to an old man with a head full of white hair.
"Keheum. Hu-uh… As I’ve said before, there is no need to worry so much."
"No freaking way. I am worried, and I am curious, too. I am curious to know how the hell the bloody Lycan found us in the first place? Those 1st gen Soo-ins… screwed around with humans and became insignificant threats. Now, they can’t detect us, isn’t that right?"
They thought that, with the passing of all 1st generation Soo-ins, there no longer remained any race that could detect them. And that was how countless Vampires blended in among the regular humans, and without a doubt, they would become the solid foundation for carrying out their upcoming grand scheme.
….But that thought process lasted until Lycan ‘the Mercenary’ made his entrance.
The motherf*cking mercenary that had seemingly appeared like a falling asteroid, out of nowhere. Already, five Vampires had lost their lives to this guy, and they were comrades taking somewhat important parts in their scheme.
The Elders, threatened by the existence of this Lycan, commenced in a hurry with the plan that was clearly not ready yet, and the crudely-put together operation couldn’t even leave behind any form of lasting harm to the world of men.
And so… Vampires began to think that the reason for all the missteps of their plans were because of the legendary mercenary, the Lycan.
"That is… no one, absolutely nobody knows."
"What a rotten luck we have. We just want to return to our home world, yet we keep running into obstacles."
The home world. The place they lived before migrating to Earth. When the end of their world approached with an imminent Apocalypse, its inhabitants chose to migrate to another world, Earth.
"Maybe the Dwarves were right, when they said they might as well perish along with their home rather than migrate to another world."
"…No, it is not. Dwarves died along with our world, but it is possible for us to go back to a living home world."
"Why the hell should we go back? Everyone’s already dead over there."
"I explained to you the last time…. Fuuu."
The moment the Vampires migrated to Earth - 40 years ago to this day - they had continuously researched into the Fissures, the gap that existed between the worlds or dimensions.
When a Fissure was ripped open until it could not be opened any further, a single possibility could occur. A legend clearly recorded in the annals of the Ancient Tome, the Reversal of the Time’s Axis.
Vampires wanted to enter the deepest part of the Fissure and return to the home world of the past. And maybe, avert the advent of the Apocalypse before it happens…
"…Are we sure it’s going to work? If it all goes to hell in a handbasket, we won’t be able to live here too, you know?"
"Of course it’ll work. Our wise Lord, Rutekan has spoken. Are you doubting his millenia-old wisdom?"
"…That’s not it. I’m asking ‘cuz I’m curious. Even if I have doubts, in the end I’ll follow the commands of our Lord and the Elders, so you can stop worrying now."
The boy replied with a nonchalant expression.
"…And that is the right way of thinking. As expected of the pure blood of a nobility."
The old man patted the head of the youth with a satisfied smile.
"Well then. Let us now commence with our plan, the Fissure of the Deep Water. Let us first drag it out into the world."
– "Yes. I’ve got the nameplate here with me. But, uh… what is this doll? It’s small and fluffy and really adorable."
"Oh, that? Please keep it where it’s most visible. It might seem like nothing much, but there’s a special effect applied to it so you should place it near where you sell things."
Kim Sae-Jin gifted a similar plaque with the words ‘Affiliated with the Society, The Monster’ to the Yoseon Alchemy House at Hazeline’s behest. And he also added a doll of what could very well be the baby Leviathan on top as well.
– "A special effect?
"That’s correct. Isn’t it just too cute? It’s just a simple doll, yet isn’t it strangely attractive? That is the special effect I’m talking about."
There was a special attribute added to this sparkling-eyed doll that would perfectly suit a ‘shop’.
Sae-Jin suspected that the Alchemy House’s takings should increase by at least 3% overall due to this attribute. Of course, he had already placed a doll on the counter as well as inside the manager’s office in the Orc’s Forge.
– "Ah~ It’s a mascot, isn’t it? Trilogy’s mascot is a tiger, right? Ours is a lot more cuter, though."
"…Eh? Uh, yeah. Well… it’s better to be fluffy and cute, rather than all vicious and cruel and stuff, yes? And, if that creature fights with a tiger, it’s going to win, hands down."
He was telling the truth. If both of them were treated as fully grown real creatures then, even if that tiger was a Great Tiger, nay, a Great Sabre-tooth Tiger, it would still fly away into the nether with a single hit.
– "Fuhut. I don’t even know what to say to that. You’re telling really tall tales every day now, aren’t you?"
"…Haha. I wasn’t joking, though. Oh, if you want another one, just give me the word. I’ll send it to you since it’ll be nice to have it in your home as well."
– "Thank you. Then, please send me another one. I like its scent, and it sure will be good to have one at home."
He replied that he understood, and hung up the phone before turning his attention back to the TV screen.
It was in the middle of broadcasting the Knights Duel.
And currently, it was a showdown between the Dawn Knights Order and the Goryeo Order. Representing Dawn was Yu Sae-Jung, while a female Knight named Jung Eun-Ji was representing Goryeo.
They seemed to have some sort of famous rivalry thing going from way back, according to the subtitles on the screen. Unfortunately, though…
‘Sae-Jung is going to win this one.’
The amount of Mana was incredibly important to a Knight - to the point where you could say, along with the Magic Strength, it could be called the crucial factor in deciding the victor and the loser.
The Duel commenced; on Yu Sae-Jung’s body, Mana rose and wrapped around her. The camera showed her body infused in blue Mana, before focusing on her back.
‘…And now, everyone will know.’
On Yu Sae-Jung’s back, precisely on her right shoulder bone, a single beautiful blue flower had blossomed on the surface.
The adjective ‘utterly beautiful’ perfectly encapsulated the appearance of her back. The cameras seemingly didn’t want to shoot anything else at all.
< 14. The Menace (1) > Fin.
(TL: The amount left for the XX chapters for the weekend is… Well, here's the thing – you'll definitely be getting extra chapters this weekend for sure. As I type this, you'll be getting four for sure. Whew. If there's more, then…. well. I'm deliberately not putting the amount left for the fifth, because, honestly, I am scared.)
(TL: I'd like to thank the generous donors who have been sponsoring this novel. You guys rock.)
(TL: Also, instead of releasing all four – or possibly, more – on this week Saturday, I might be tempted to split them and release on Saturday and Sunday. What do you think?)