A Monster Who Levels Up
(This extra chapter is brought to you by these following Kings and Queens of Promise: Misraim V, Anon, Keneth P, Evelyn K. W., Peter S, Markus S, Kevin H, Daniel T, Jan B, Rigo G, Dale B, Zain Z, Erik Å, and Zofia L. Thank you for your donations!!)
(Also, 30 Seconds to Mars reference FTW!!!)
After feeling the suffocation of being confined to his house, Sae-Jin belatedly decided to search for any information available on the Leviathan.
His reasoning was that the final evolved form for his ‘Feeble Sea Monster’ was almost certainly the Leviathan. And he thought that there must be some commonality in the way the abilities of his new form and that of the legendary sea creature operated.
…Of course, he still had no idea how the heck such a cute, defenseless little thing could evolve into something so terrifying but, well.
Whatever. Sae-Jin dived into the World Wide Web. As expected, internet was the hub of all information gathering, and he found quite a few things about Leviathans in it.
However - maybe because a Leviathan was a creature to be avoided at all costs and not an opponent to fight head on, there didn’t seem to be that many first-hand accounts out there. Most of the stuff he found online were either recap of the legends of the past, or folktale-like stories busy chasing after clouds.
‘It’s easy to mistake a Leviathan as a gentle creature as it spends half a day in slumber. However, as its nature is vicious, it would definitely attack any lifeforms entering its territory. A mysterious point to consider here is that, although the Leviathan lives in water, it can fire incredibly hot magma out of its mouth…‘
As he sifted through this and that info for more than an hour, Sae-Jin finally found the information on the Leviathan’s immediately known abilities.
‘The origin of Mana is nature, and all nature stems from water. And that is why, seeing a Leviathan freely wielding Mana found in the atmosphere, is not a mystery at all.‘
‘The Leviathan can instinctively understand Mana existing in solid and liquid matter that comes in contact with its body, and it can also potentially replicate this Mana.‘
It was as if a lightbulb went off inside his head.
This could be an unexpected way to utilise the skill ‘Ruler of the Water’.
He hurriedly got up and went to the bathroom.
Sae-Jin filled the bathtub with water and changed into the baby Leviathan form. And then, he repeatedly tried to divide the small amount of ‘Mana’ already present in this tub of water.
Lo and behold, as he performed this task, the Proficiency Level that seemed like it would remain stuck in F- forever, began to improve ever so slightly. And he also got to witness a truly mystical scene of nearly imperceptible Mana separating from water.
However, the problem was with his mental strength.
When he repeated did this exercise for the next 20 minutes, his head suddenly became dizzy and all strength left his body at once.
This was the so-called ‘groggy’ state, achieved after exhausting his Mana completely.
As this was the first time for Sae-Jin to experience this state, the side effects proved to be unexpectedly severe. And for the next ten minutes or so, a small baby seal with a horn on its head floated around on the surface of bathtub’s water, unable to lift a finger.
The following day.
Kim Sae-Jin headed to the Monster field once more. However, he was not in his Human Form this time. It had been a long time since he last did this - he used the four-legged Ebony Wolf Form and jumped over the wire fence.
‘..It’s really been a while, huh.’
The first thing he did was to seek out a cave hidden on the side of a mountain, located in the Lowest Tier hunting ground.
Vines, moss and the overgrown vegetation covered its entrance, making it hard to tell whether there was a cave here or not. Indeed, it was the cave that faithfully served as Sae-Jin’s base for quite a length of time.
He sure did live here for a long time. Even though he couldn’t wait to leave this place behind towards the end of his stay, now that he was back after all this time, his heart was quickly dyeing in the colours of reminiscence.
The Ebony Wolf had morphed back into the Human Form before stepping into the cave.
As soon as he entered, a strange object came into view. On top of the stone bed he made with utmost care, there was a square box that was wrapped like a birthday gift.
Sae-Jin slowly approached the box while totally on guard.
Then suddenly, he remembered the promise Kim Yu-Rin made while parting ways with him, back when he treated her as a Goblin.
I’ll definitely come back later with a proper present!!
That was a pleasant memory to recall.
Most likely, that box was Kim Yu-Rin’s promised present.
She still hadn’t forgotten that day’s memories, not just yet.
He did wait patiently for her during his stay in this cave, but maybe she was too busy with work to come for a visit or something. Or, she could have gotten lost trying to find the way back here.
Knowing Yu-Rin’s real personality, the latter being the right possibility was quite high.
‘Should I open it?’
He slowly opened the lid of the box while smiling gently.
Inside the box, there were a piece of paper and a single bracelet.
One could see the deepness of Kim Yu-Rin’s kindness from this paper. She wrote a letter on the backside, while on the front, she drew illustrations in consideration of the Goblin not being able to read Korean well.
And this bracelet was…
– An artifact that brings good luck to its wearer.
"A High Quality item?!"
Sae-Jin dazedly muttered out. Why a High Quality, though? Why would she buy something so expensive…?
Now that he looked back, Kim Yu-Rin did say that she was running short on funds after buying a piece of equipment, back in that restaurant.
‘…Why would she gift something so valuable to a Monster, when she doesn’t even know whether it’s still alive or not?’
Of course, compared to the price of the life saved, it was still on the cheap side but… Anyways, she was an angel, wasn’t she?
He gazed at the beautiful and colourful bracelet for a long time without saying anything.
He stored the bracelet in his body using Spiritualisation, and then stepped out of the cave to head to the Low Tier hunting ground.
The reason for heading there instead of the usual Mid Tier area was to grow his new Monster Form.
Well, since Athany was a sea creature, he should have gone to the nearby East Sea, but… no clear demarcation of Monsters by their Tiers existed there.
There were only two sea routes in the ocean, the safer one managed by the country and Knights Orders, and the other which was not. As for the rest of the oceans, it was hard to estimate what kind of Monsters would pop out from there.
Currently, Sae-Jin changed into the Feeble Sea Monster Form and was busy dragging his belly across the ground while going somewhere.
He was already more or less familiar with this Form’s methods of attack.
The most basic one was to shoot jets of water from his mouth and once that came in contact with the enemy’s skin, boil that liquid in high heat.
In the Human Form, he could only control the temperature if he was in direct contact with a body of water, but as Athany, all types of moisture and Mana contained within a 50 metre radius could be controlled at will.
But he thought this was somewhat lacking. So, he investigated more about Leviathan’s information online and found out that there was another, much more fantastical way.
‘Mana is nature itself.’
This was the method he had just barely began to grasp after repeatedly practising countless times.
And that was an inspiration on how a Leviathan living in the sea could spit out flames or even poison that were definitely not water.
Wizards were always yapping on about this:
Mana can become anything.
And as a proof, they always pointed towards Magic spells as an example. Creating something from nothing, it was indeed akin to creating miracles.
However, in truth it was not creating something from nothing, as there existed the ingredient called Mana. Once one changed and rebuilt the properties and characteristics of Mana, that created the phenomenon known as Magic.
And that was where the significance of the skill ‘Ruler of the Water’ came in.
In other words - by changing and rebuilding Mana present within water, he would be able to spit out flames or poisons instead. In a way, it was a similar type of action as casting a Magic spell.
Unlike regular Wizards, though - a Leviathan had no need to recite those complicated chants since, as a distinctive creature-specific feature, it could understand and remember Mana hidden in all materials coming in contact with its scales.
‘It should work.’
He succeeded once or twice practising at home. And now, it was time to try out for real in a live combat situation.
Facing against a Monster, he wanted to grandly spit out something - whether that was water, fire, mud, ash, light beam or even lightning, whatever.
However, his plan got ruined from the get-go.
*SFX for the ground vibrating*
Out of the blue, the ground began rumbling in an ominous manner.
Panicking somewhat, Sae-Jin took a quick look around. Trees and plants began to dance nervously and birds - or maybe flight-type Monsters - were hurriedly taking to skies.
‘Is it an earthquake??’
If so, then that was a big problem.
There was a fairly good chance that an earthquake usually was accompanied by the so-called Monster Disturbance. This ‘Disturbance’ occurred when Monsters occupying Mid and upper Mid Tier hunting grounds rushed down to lower Tiered areas like a tsunami wave for some reason or the other.
When such an event happened, then there would inevitably be massive casualties of low Tiered Hunters and Knights - since, well, they would be out hunting in the ‘easier’ grounds that just about matched their own rankings.
‘Let’s just get out of here first…’
He was about to morph into the Human Form and make his escape. However, a reflection of light came from somewhere and stabbed his eyes.
‘What was that?!’
Narrowing his brows, he changed the direction of his gaze to the light’s origin.
He saw a camera and a man busy operating it. The light was reflecting off from the camera lens hidden in the tall grasses and it sure felt like he was being attacked by it.
Sae-Jin’s heart stopped beating for a second then. If he had changed back into a human while totally unaware of the camera… now, wouldn’t that be the shortest route to utterly screwing up his entire life?
‘…Are they filming me?’
When he took a closer look, he saw a few more people behind the camera. The Lowest and Low Tier hunting grounds were the only areas in the Monster field that the regular civilians were permitted access.
He heard that, what with the programme The Qualities of a Knight hitting it big in the ratings, there were several other TV shows about Monsters currently in production.
Not only had he heard that there were three such shows being filmed within the Low Tier ground these past two months, Sae-Jin even saw them in action with his own two eyes.
Upon thinking about it a bit more, it seemed that he didn’t have to worry anymore. Since they were filming here in the Low Tier hunting grounds, the crew would have been escorted by Knights ranked at least Mid Tier in case of an unforeseen emergency.
‘Argh. Should’ve just gone to the sea…’
Athany was a sea Monster. On dry land, he just could not bring out his full powers.
However, it was only due to the various passive skills possessed by the Ebony Wolf Form - which remained active even in other Forms - that he even got to see out in front and get to hear his surroundings properly; without those, the chances were, he would never have realised that the camera was there at all.
On top of that, they were even using artifacts to erase their scents and presence as well…
‘But, uh… they wouldn’t suddenly attack me, right?’
After all, he was just an adorable little thing…
Actually, the crew was tensely filming him without taking any other actions. Since there was no information at all on a ‘baby’ version of the Leviathan, it was quite likely that they thought this was simply a huge scoop to capture the appearance of a rare, never-before-seen Monster and were relishing the opportunity presented here.
So, Sae-Jin deliberately made cute noises and moved around as if he was swimming on land with his two short arms. And then, from somewhere, he heard nearly imperceptible sound of someone holding his or her breath.
‘Hey, this might end up being a great advertisement?!’
He had already completed the registration of the ‘Athany’ character since he was planning to officially sell the dolls, although the availability would remain rather limited.
Whenever Sae-Jin moved his body, the camera carefully followed him around continuously.
Unfortunately, such a relaxed atmosphere could only last for five more minutes.
"Euahahk!! What the hell?!"
And that’s how the humans, blinded by the sure-fire profit in front of their eyes, ended up missing the most important matter of all:
The small earthquake that happened just now, the ill omen of things to come.
*SFX for a shrill scream of a woman*
Truly out of nowhere, a life form descended swiftly from the sky like an arrow and ripped a leg off one of the crew members.
The torn limb flew in the air, and then landed on the ground somewhere.
At this horrifying new event, all eyes hidden behind the bush turned up towards the sky.
A creature possessing the head of a hawk and the body of a lion - the flight type Monster ruling the skies over the Mid Tier hunting ground. Griffins were normally found within the boundaries between Mid and upper Mid Tier grounds so, one of them should not be here.
However, right now, this was an emergency. Although the causes were unknown, that earthquake from moments ago was a stark reminder of this important truth.
"Do not panic!! Hide behind us!!"
Four Knights unsheathed their weapons and took guard against the Griffin. But it was a clever Monster. It had a tendency of picking on those it judged to be the weakest, first.
"*SFX for screeching wail*"
The bastard let out an ear-splitting scream and fell down like a lightning before ripping off an arm of another film crew member.
The female member’s scared screams and cries resounded in the air, and at the same time, Sae-Jin fell into a dilemma.
< 14. The Menace (4) > Fin.
(TL: See you tomorrow for the other chapters.)