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!!!)
Nowadays, one got to see lots of hunting teams, made up of various Knights, coming and going within the Rest Stop of the Monster field. They all came here to achieve one singular goal.
And that goal was to subjugate the Demon Orc.
The Demon Orc - a Monster that became quite famous after appearing on SNS, community websites and news broadcasts.
It was now so famous, the mass media even went and gave it an utterly thoughtless name of a Monster Superstar. Of course, such a thing was only possible because the creature hadn’t killed anyone yet and so the public didn’t view it with hostility. No, they even gave it a favourable attention, instead.
"My name is Oh Dae-Soo, the leader of this subjugation team dispatched by the Daebaek Knights Order."
And that’s why one could find many cameras and recording equipment in the Rest Stop. As a matter of fact, a hunting team was being interviewed right now by a news crew.
According to Oh Dae-Soo from the Daebaek Knights Order, he had fought against the Demon Orc in a desperate, bloody battle but regretfully, he had to taste defeat in the end.
"Perhaps, you’ve made preparations this time?"
"It’s simple, really. I ended up losing unfortunately last time, but I will definitely defeat it this time."
"Ahhh. You’re overflowing with confidence, aren’t you? Then, may I ask what the composition of your hunting team is?"
When the reporter asked him about the touchy subject, Oh Dae-Soo’s lips quivered slightly as he hesitated with his answers, until he finally replied in an unwilling tone.
"…We have four Mid Tier Knights and three low Mid Tiers."
"Uh…. Well, that’s more than expected? You said that there was only a tiny little difference between you and the Orc, so why is there a need for so many Knights…?"
"Uh-huh. At that time, things were different. When I confronted it back then, it was not covered in strange scales, you see. The change most likely came about after experiencing the intense battle against me, which in turn helped it to grow further…"
Oh Dae-Soo strung a bunch of utter drivel with a dignified face. However, being a professional, the reporter tried to listen till the end. That lasted only until the team for the Dawn Knights Order entered the building, of course.
"As expected, even Monsters know how to discern great opponents and…"
"Yes, thanks for your time!! It was nice to hear from you!!"
The reporter hurriedly turned on his heels and rushed over there.
"What the hell, how rude…"
Oh Dae-Soo glared at the back of the departing reporter with a deep frown. But, almost right away, his face colour changed to a lively hue and he too ran over there as soon as he saw the identity of the person the reporter went to speak to.
Oh Dae-Soo being one of the moderators in Yu Sae-Jung’s online fan club was an open secret among all the Knights Orders out there.
Receiving much attention from the filming crews, Yu Sae-Jung and her team of Knights set foot on the Monster field and headed straight towards the Mid Tier hunting ground - to find the traces of their target, the Demon Orc.
Her current ranking was only at the ‘low Mid’ Tier but, her abilities were better than a regular Mid Tier so, no one in her team, including herself, was worried at all.
The ‘Demon’ Orc’s fame might be pretty big now, but in truth, that was earned simply by beating up the Knights from the Orders that were nothing to write home about in the f
irst place. The Dawn Knights Order was a different kettle of fish altogether - they would not be a pushover like the others.
Also, what could possibly happen to this team, comprised of three Mid Tier Knights and another three low Mid Tiers?
Thus, the team members were not worried at all.
"…Hahaha. Today’s weather is pretty good, isn’t it?"
And so, to the Knights in this hunting team, the goal of subjugating the Demon Orc could be seen as just a means to an end. Their main objective now was to get friendly with the most important person present and build connections with her.
Obviously, who would give a toss about some random Orc when there was the personification of the golden spoon right next to them?
"Seems like it."
However, Yu Sae-Jung continued to give out short answers to the endless stream of questions.
Even then, these five Knights did not give up. They worked very hard to talk to her even for one more second. And it so happened that there was no woman in this hunting team; within the heads of these males, dreams of definitely-impossible romance were being played out.
Thankfully, such pink-infused daydreams didn’t last for long.
From somewhere unknown, a faint sound of explosion could be heard. That could have been… the sound of impact from a blunt weapon. The faces of Knights hardened in an instant and they glanced at each other. There was no need for a lengthy hesitation, though.
Because, Yu Sae-Jung dashed towards the direction of the sound like the tempest winds.
Sae-Jin wiped the blood splashed onto his face. His opponent this time was a juvenile Ogre. Although it was supposedly a juvenile, it was still a gigantic Monster with height easily exceeding 5 metres.
At the moment, it was nothing more than a pile of meat near his feet, though.
It took about another two weeks for his Trait level to rise up to 13. Maybe it was due to receiving lots more experience points from defeating both the Monsters as well Knights, his level-up came pretty early, but he didn’t feel any particular joy from it.
The most important thing right now was his evolution. He couldn’t feel relieved at all until, at minimum, the Orc Form evolved into the Great Warrior.
Sae-Jin abruptly sensed the presence of a human running towards him like a beam of light. And there were more than one.
‘Another hunting team?!’
From what he could sense, it seemed like yet another team of Knights. This was the third time this week already.
He found it all so annoying since most of these guys were equipped with artifacts that erased smell and made it hard to detect their presence.
Of course, if he wanted to run away, then he could activate the ‘Whirlwind Dash’ at any time, but… he wasn’t going to, when a fight was delivering itself to him like that.
Kim Sae-Jin held his mace tightly and waited for the Knights’ arrival.
And precisely ten seconds later.
The Knight revealing herself from the thicket was someone he was all too familiar with: Yu Sae-Jung.
At this unexpected encounter, Sae-Jin panicked a little. And during that short opening, the rest of the team arrived as well.
"Wow… So, the stories were true."
One of the Knights looked at the Orc in front and muttered. The creature was indeed an incredible existence, now that he saw it with his own two eyes.
Especially so, when looking at the majestic appearance of the Orc standing there resolutely with the blazing sun on its back.
The bright lights reflected off the Demon Orc’s trademark azure scales; the imposing muscles on its body quivered, full of life; its dignified appearance would perfectly suit an Orc Chieftain - no, the Orc Great Chieftain, instead.
One or two Knights present subconsciously swallowed their saliva and tensed up at the Monster’s humongous frame emanating an unidentifiable noble aura.
Except for one person, that was.
Yu Sae-Jung shouted out aloud and kicked the ground hard as she dashed forward.
The other Knights only then shook out of the momentary stupor and hurriedly chased after her.
With a short shout subconsciously leaking out from between the opening of her clenched teeth, Yu Sae-Jung threw everything she had behind her sword strike. Her oblique sword swing left behind the traces of Mana in the air as it approached the Orc.
However, her target - Kim Sae-Jin - did not even try to block her attack, nor did he move to dodge it.
He wanted to give her an inch and then, take the yard from her. First of all, in a battle against a group of opponents, making them no longer able to participate in combat as quickly as possible should take the utmost priority. He would cancel out this trifling attack with his own body and then go after her proper.
He felt apologetic towards Yu Sae-Jung, but it couldn’t be helped. It’d be a struggle even for him to take on a team of six Knights all alone. He’d like to refuse taking part in a cliched event where he messed around unnecessarily and then ended up finding himself in danger.
From the beginning, he had no desire to kill them, but since they were attacking him with an intent to subjugate him, wasn’t there a clear difference in opinion here?
Also, importantly… if one was to assign blame here, then there was Yu Sae-Jung who was rushing towards him like a rash idiot.
The Orc roared out loudly and slammed his mace against Yu Sae-Jung’s waist. This wasn’t one of his regular attack but actually, his ‘Fierce Strike’ after adjusting its overall power.
The Mana barrier surrounding her shattered rather powerlessly, and leaving behind a short yelp, she bounced away like a kicked barrel.
*SFX for a body ragdoll-ing around loudly*
Her body bounced around endlessly until it struck a sturdy tree’s trunk and only then did it come to a stop. There was not a single hint of movement from her. She was definitely out for the count here.
Sae-Jin could now easily decipher mistakes or openings in the enemy’s offense after his passive Weapon User, which allowed him to wield weapons efficiently, rose up to level B. And what happened to Yu Sae-Jung was the result of her foolishly rushing into the mace’s effective attack range.
She probably meant to get the first surprise attack in and do some serious damage.
Actually, her attack was scarily powerful. Since she also possessed a similar level-up system as he did, there might have been some sort of a skill involved here.
No, it was definitely a skill, alright. Kim Sae-Jin looked down on the stab wound left behind on the chest scales, and he chuckled wryly.
But such carefree attitude was a luxury he couldn’t afford yet. There were still five more Knights left.
He set his sights next on the Knight who had called out Sae-Jung’s name as if he had a lot of leeway here. He must have thought the current situation was nothing but a play time or something… For such a clueless guy like him, a course in stern education was a necessity.
Sae-Jin avoided the attacks from other Knights narrowly and slammed his mace down on the back of that guy trying to run after Yu Sae-Jung.
The Knight showing his back let out a short cry before collapsing in a heap.
There was only one attribute added to this mace: ‘Enhanced Striking Power’, level B.
With such a stupidly incomprehensible level of power endowed to this weapon, it’d be way too greedy for anyone to hope to remain conscious after getting struck on the backside with this mace.
And so, Sae-Jin got to easily thin out their ranks by two Knights.
But the real fight would begin in earnest from now on.
Maybe it was because of the two prior attacks, the remaining four Knights did not show any gaps in their defenses. By working together, they covered each other’s openings and confronted the Orc.
At their remarkable coordination, Sae-Jin was slowly being pushed back, step by step.
Well, actually - he was allowing them to attack him freely. It was just that, their attacks were weak and could not penetrate the Leviathan’s scales at all.
The Knights also understood this; so, they began concentrating their attacks on his chest where the scales were slightly damaged due to Yu Sae-Jung’s earlier attempt.
However, even under such a concentrated barrage, Kim Sae-Jin was not flustered at all.
There was still one more ace up his sleeve, after all. Although the duration was only for five minutes, he could become twice as strong by activating the skill, the ‘Warrior of Reversal’.
Of course, if he used that then the rest of the day’s hunting plans have to be thrown out the window, as his energy would be all used up… But to fight against these four very well-coordinated Knights, it just couldn’t be helped anymore.
"Just a little bit more!! We’re almost…"
One Knight sensed hope from their advantageous position.
As he said, just a little bit more; if they endured a little bit more, then surely, the victory would be theirs.
But that was only until the ominous aura began emanating from the body of this Orc.
"Don’t stop attacking it!!"
The Knights continued to attack while trying to disregard the ominous feeling. Stopping their attacks when the going was good - that was something only trashy idiots would do.
…The guy who was trying to look after Yu Sae-Jung from the get-go and then got owned was one such trash, though.
However, the Orc’s movement changed. Maybe, that unidentifiable red aura oozing out of its body and its eyes were to blame; the Orc’s movements became far nimbler and its power became ridiculously stronger, too.
The wind pressure from the mace splitting the air shattered apart a large tree; and even though it was just a slight tickle on his thigh, a Knight felt an incredible pain akin to the nerves in his leg being severed.
In the end, the Knights could only swear out loudly. Before they knew it, the flow of the battle had reversed completely, and they became busy just trying to defend.
Unfortunately, even the defending bit couldn’t last for long.
*SFX for a loud Orcish roar*
In that moment, when the Orc roared out angrily and slammed his mace down on the ground, the earth’s crust itself shot up into the air. And that wasn’t all. The shock wave from that dreadful smash got transmitted in full to the Knights within the range.
The pain they felt was similar to having their limbs trampled on.
The space left behind in the wake of the vicious assault looked terrifying. The once-level ground had become a deep crater, and the Knights tumbling within couldn’t even lift a finger as pain wracked their bodies. Heck, two of them had already fainted from the impact, even.
To these guys, this was the first time experiencing such immense pain as well as the fear of death. Quite unlike the Hunters and the regular soldiers, the Knights were seen as the high-class manpower of humanity and thus, were treated with utmost care and respect.
Which led to them having a completely different mindset to that of Hunters who had to bet their lives each time they hunted - after all, a Knight only saw Monsters as an easy source of wealth and saw the process of hunting as a simple ‘labour’.
So, a Knight only got to get familiar with cutting and killing living things as if they were slaughtering livestock, but rarely did they find a chance to sharpen their resolves to face their own death.
And that’s why it was not a coincidence that one of the assessments for the rank advancement to upper Mid Tier - where one could be called a true Knight - included the so-called ‘proper mindset’ as well.
Kim Sae-Jin walked towards them with thudding footsteps and looked down at the defeated Knights. Orcs loved this feeling of being the sole victor. And that was one of the reasons why looking down on losers like this was impor…
Right then. Sae-Jin heard a familiar voice and he turned his head to check it out.
Yu Sae-Jung was standing over yonder after regaining her consciousness somehow.
"Listen!! Take the three unconscious Knights and escape from here!!"
While pointing her sword at Sae-Jin’s Orc Form, she shouted at the Knights still groaning in pain inside the crater.
And sure enough, commotion broke out from there. The things they said - how can we leave you behind, etc, etc… Well, they were what one would expect under this kind of circumstance.
"In any case, this Orc supposedly doesn’t kill people!"
But right now, she could not be certain of this fact as it were, precisely because of the ominous aura still oozing from the Orc.
"Will you just hurry up?! I have my own plan that I want to try out, so just get the hell out of here, now!!"
‘…What the heck is wrong with this girl?!’
It was Sae-Jin who was in slight turmoil after seeing Yu Sae-Jung’s determination.
However, the current appearance of her was busy overlapping with another one from the recent past within his mind.
Back then, when she was confronting the Troll in the Ravenous State. While she was facing up to the Monster all alone, she was busy urging him to scram.
"…It’s known to not kill humans so stop stimulating it and let’s just escape with us from here…"
"You were the ones who stimulated it anyways! Stop wasting time and go find some help, now!!"
Yu Sae-Jung shouted out again.
The situation seemed slightly different this time. Back then, she was telling the others to run while having no clear plan of her own - but now, she had an ace up her sleeve, a sure-fire killer move.
Winds picked up; the sword began vibrating and Mana began converging.
Her killer move, where the sword aura was being compressed in an incredibly high pressure.
Mana accumulating on her blade was so high in density and concentration, her sword was actually humming in tune with it. That was the skill that had transcended the Mana Blade, the ‘Destruction Blade’.
It was a skill so difficult, even upper Mid Tier Knights struggled to control properly. And now, she was doing it.
The two still-conscious Knights then quickly shouldered the three fainted ones and moved away as soon as they saw what she was going to do. And well, a Knight was still a Knight, whether his arms or legs were broken. Their speed was actually faster than a regular person’s full-tilt sprint.
When they were safely out of the potential strike zone, Yu Sae-Jung began to earnestly scrap together every bit of Mana still in her.
Such a massive convergence of Mana was enough to make Sae-Jin nervous as well.
So, he threw the mace at her with some power.
His proficiency with this weapon was so high now, making it fly like a boomerang wasn’t even a challenge to him anymore.
He used the greatest strategy to victory under the heavens, also known as "those who strike first, wins".
As she was gathering Mana with every ounce of her concentration, Yu Sae-Jung could not react in time at the sudden attack.
And so, she got hit on the head with the thrown mace, then promptly passed out where she stood.
That was, honestly speaking, an anti-climatic end.
‘It’s not enough just activating the skill. You should know how to use it properly first…’
As expected, her youthful naivete got exposed again. Growing up as a gold spoon, just what chance would she have to experience true hardship? She probably had become too conceited for her own good, and only ended up learning useless habits, such as acting recklessly and all that…
Sae-Jin searched the surroundings for signs of humans, and when he couldn’t find one, he changed into the Human Form.
Then, he picked Yu Sae-Jung up on his back and started walking.
The help would’ve come with the passage of time, but… he couldn’t leave her here like that.
‘That’s why you should have just run away. You truly are an idiot…’
He inwardly criticised the girl on his back.
But, there was a grin etched across his lips at the same time as well.
– When one more condition is successfully fulfilled, the Orc Jaguar Form will change into the ‘Orc Great Warrior’ Form. (½)
"…Uh!! Mister Kim Sae-Jin!!"
The butler and the Chief Secretary of the Dawn household, Park Hyun-Oh was standing around waiting nervously for someone - before noticing the figure of two people walking closer. He hurriedly ran over there.
To be precise, it was one person walking, while giving a piggyback ride to the other person.
"It’s been a while."
Chuckling slightly, Kim Sae-Jin greeted the harried Park Hyun-Oh and then handed over Yu Sae-Jung to the butler.
"Yes. It’s truly been a while. But why haven’t you contacted us? Our little Miss was…"
"Ah, since she’s still suffering somewhat, shall we talk about that later on?"
"I already administered a potion so you don’t have to worry too much."
Park Hyun-Oh let out a sigh of relief after hearing Sae-Jin’s words.
"Did this happen when trying to defeat the Demon Orc? I heard that she was among the team of six Knights…" (Park Hyun-Oh)
"…The Demon Orc?! Uh… Well, that Orc must have been pretty strong, it seems. Or maybe, one or two Knights accompanying her must’ve been… inept."
Park Hyun-Oh proceeded to ask him lots more questions afterwards. Such as, how did Sae-Jin find Yu Sae-Jung, what had happened to the Demon Orc, etc, etc…
Sae-Jin made up the story where he coincidentally discovered the scene of the Knights fighting the Orc, and out of concern for Yu Sae-Jung’s well-being, he stayed behind to witness the event - and then, when the chance rose, escaped with her in tow.
"Well then, we should get going. We are truly grateful for your help today."
"Well, yeah… Take care."
After seeing Yu Sae-Jung away safely, Sae-Jin headed back to his home. After all, it had been a while.
And that evening.
Stories regarding the injured Yu Sae-Jung, the Knights from the Dawn Order and the one responsible, the Demon Orc, caused an uproar. It dominated the real time most-searched results as well as many news broadcasts.
⸢Even the Dawn Order fails to subjugate the Demon Orc… Is it finally the turn of the Raven?⸥
⸢In the situation of complete defeat, Hunter Kim Sae-Jin rescues Yu Sae-Jung.⸥
⸢Again, the Demon Orc does not take a single life… the public instead welcomes the creature’s continuous victory.⸥
The stories were all - mostly - like these.
< 15. A Doubt, An Endeavor (4) > Fin.
(TL: This is the first of the two extra chapters I missed last weekend. The next one should go up on Thursday.)
(TL: My bad, I haven't checked the amount still left for the second extra chapter for this weekend as I type this. Yesterday, it was $7, but hopefully, someone already donated the amount. I'll check and let you guys know tomorrow.)