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!!!)
"…Are you alright?"
Kim Sae-Jin carefully asked. But with a dark and clouded expression, Yu-Rin simply nodded her head weakly and grandly sighed out.
"This here is what the Raven Knights Order is considering as its proposal."
She handed him a bound copy of a report.
"Oh, ah… thanks."
Sae-Jin received the report and then took a quick glance at the contents.
Even though this was already his 5th interview today, in all honesty, most of what he was reading right now didn’t want to enter his brain at all. The printed words were small, there were lots of numbers and calculations, and even some needless English words thrown in there, too…
Without a doubt, it was a typical report drawn up by civil servants working in the government-run Knights Order.
‘I really need dedicated employees for this…’
He again reaffirmed his thoughts on hiring more specialised workers, even if it meant asking Yu Sae-Jung for it.
He closed the report while trying to look as if he had understood most of the contents within. However, Kim Yu-Rin’s eyes busy studying him seemed a bit strange. She sighed out, not caring whether anyone could hear her or not, and then weakly muttered out in a disappointed voice.
"…You didn’t even read that properly…"
"Eh? No, no, that’s not correct. I have read it thoroughly."
Now feeling a bout of guilt, Sae-Jin hurriedly waved his hands in denial, but that only made Yu-Rin’s eyes to droop down even more in sadness.
"…Mister Kim Sae-Jin."
As if she had something to say, her lips moved slightly. However, the words she wanted to say didn’t come out easily. She took her sweet time agonising over the matter, until finally, decided that this wasn’t working. She shook her head and then tried to speak in a cheerful voice.
"I’d like to thank you for the gifts you gave me."
What she managed to utter out didn’t suit the current situation at all.
That caused Sae-Jin to be flustered momentarily, but he tried to sound as unperturbed as humanly possible.
"Ah… Yes, it was my pleasure."
"That… the Athany doll you gave me that time and the dolls of now are different, right?"
"Eh? Ah… yes, that’s correct. Their effects do differ, but the doll I gave to you is just as good an item as the others."
"As I thought. Whenever I go to bed, I have it near me and I’ve always felt something was special about it. As you said, it helps me to calm my mind, and… somehow, it’s become a close friend I can’t do without now."
"Ahaha… Well, that’s a relief to hear."
And soon, the conversation that started with the discussion of private matters slowly led into the official business. However, their talk frequently got cut off for some reason and felt rather awkward and unnatural.
Yu-Rin deliberately tried to sound cheerful, but… she actually had a rather timid personality. The memories of ten missed calls and eight unchecked messages from her still weighed like a heavy baggage in her mind.
And not to forget, less than ten minutes ago, she was being mentally assaulted by the countless number of enemies, so it was not possible for her to maintain a ‘normal’ state of mind.
In the end, their conversation came to a close and between them, silence descended like a fog.
As he had been a listener-only until now, Sae-Jin truly had no clue how to take the lead in a meeting
like this and so, he began repeatedly thumbing through the poor pages of the report.
While he was doing that, suddenly the alert window for ‘time remaining’ brushed past his consciousness. When he looked at Yu-Rin, she didn’t seem to have anything particular to say. So, Sae-Jin carefully asked her.
"How about we end the meeting here?"
Yu-Rin’s face became clouded in disappointment and her gaze dropped to the floor. Well, the truth was that, this meeting only started ten minutes ago. If one considered how other Knights Orders spend 20, 30 minutes per meeting, then there was a significant difference.
"Instead, how about I treat you to another meal later on? There are still things I’d like to discuss with you, after all."
Sae-Jin quickly smiled and spoke further after witnessing the dark complexion on her face.
"Eh? Oh. Sounds good. I happen to have next week Saturday free, so…"
"Then it’s settled. The same restaurant as the last time?"
"…Yes. That’s fine."
Sae-Jin reached out with his hand, and Yu-Rin shook it while carrying a slightly confused smile.
But then, thinking that she must convince him with this new opportunity, her face hardened as she shook his hand with added strength.
Nowadays, Kim Sae-Jin’s daily life had become complicated. During the day’s lunch time, he assumed the Human Form and went through a ton of piled up work. And precisely after four hours of doing that, he’d leave the office of the Society and head towards the Monster field to focus on his growth.
And always, while in the hunting area, he assumed the Orc Form - the Demon Orc. On the official Monster Bestiary, he was now known as the ‘Orc Jaguar covered in pronium scales’.
This name came about because the scales of the skill ‘Leviathan’s Scales’ covering the Orc’s body resembled the blue-coloured metal, pronium.
Additionally, the images and stories of the Demon Orc had crossed the borders and permeated into international community chat sites, causing quite a bit of stir from all corners of the globe. Thanks to that, several international news agencies such as BBD, CNC etc., had come over to Korea and set up shop. Their reasoning was to film the unique and powerful Monster that could only be found in Korea.
‘…I should be really careful when hunting from now on.’
Sae-Jin sighed out while browsing the Dawn Knights Order’s exclusive app ‘Dawn Page’, which was only possible to do so after he borrowed Yu Sae-Jung’s log-in ID.
From it, he found out that numerous Mid and upper Mid Tier Knights were forming hunting teams to subjugate the Demon Orc. The Dawn Order’s Master got royally p*ssed off at the fact that his daughter got hospitalised and consequently, he placed a bounty of nearly $2 million dollars on the Orc’s head. So, how could anyone not participate in this hunt?
And that’s why Kim Sae-Jin the Orc could only squat inside his cave for now. But he wasn’t wasting his valuable time by doing nothing.
The Magic Tattoos.
He was in the middle of tattooing the entire body of the Orc.
‘Not even a trace, huh.’
Kim Sae-Jin looked on at his completed Tattoos with satisfaction.
Since Orcs had no ‘dexterity’ whatsoever, the end results were rather crude but, the colour of the tattoos were the same as his skin so it was hard to spot them, and when he activated the Leviathan’s Hard Body, the scales would cover up his entire body, meaning it didn’t even matter anyways.
The reason why Sae-Jin went and got himself these tattoos was - he got properly schooled by a certain Mid Tier Knight with a Trait called the Magic Swordsman. From this encounter, he learned that, while an Orc’s body possessed a strong resistance towards physical damage, it was found utterly hopeless against attacks containing ‘magic’.
Even though he was quite chuffed at the completed tattoos, he suddenly felt his chest tighten and ended up sighing out loudly.
‘Just when can I become an Orc Great Warrior?’
As soon as his Orc Jaguar Form evolves into a Great Warrior after fulfilling that single remaining condition, the power balance within him should stabilise and that would give him a peace of mind - but, he just could not get a sniff on what that bloody condition might be.
‘Well, nothing to gain by just sitting around…’
The Orc’s expression turned sour as if he had stepped on dog poo, and unwillingly, he began to walk out of the cave.
Early in the following morning.
– "Yeah. I just got a call from the Time magazine, saying they want to interview the members of our Society. I don’t know why they contacted us first, but… what do you think, Oppa?"
Sae-Jin welcomed the morning call from Yu Sae-Jung.
"The Time magazine?! Aren’t they, like, super famous or something?"
Even if he was a dirt-poor orphan growing up, he still managed to overhear a thing or two. And one of those things was the magazine Yu Sae-Jung had just mentioned.
– "Yep, it’s them, alright. They are probably the world’s best weekly publication out there? Anyways, one of the topics they are covering this week is the rising Societies, and that’s why they want to interview us, apparently."
Yu Sae-Jung didn’t even try to hide her happiness as she giggled loudly.
– "It sure will be totally weird and so funny if Oppa is selected as the Person of the Year or something."
She even started saying some unnecessary things as well.
"…That doesn’t even make sense. But you do it if you want. I don’t think I can make it."
Sae-Jin was filled with regret as he spoke his refusal. Even though he desperately wanted to do the interview, there just wasn’t enough time as he had no idea how long it might take.
– "Excuse me?! But why? You’re the Society’s Chairman, so how can you be absent?! Huh, well then, what about Mister Goblin, Mister Orc or Miss Shenarine the Wizard?"
"Uh… Hmm. I don’t think they will be available as well."
Sae-Jin chuckled as her despairing cry came from the other side of the line. He also thought that before too long, he should let her know of the identity of both the Alchemist and the Blacksmith…
‘I should just tell her straight one of these days.’
He thought that he had gotten pretty close to Yu Sae-Jung by now. It had been already nine months since he got to know her, and the girl who was a minor back then was already standing on the cusp of adulthood.
There had been a lot of eventful things happening since then. He appeared on TV together with her, went out on hunting together, and while hiding his identity, he even ended up smacking her around.
And so, she had become someone he could place his absolute trust in.
– "This, this, I’m just gonna say no. It’s just… too much."
"Uh? No, don’t do that. It’s a good opportunity to increase the visibility of our Society, after all."
"I know you want to do it. So, why not? Just don’t forget to package other members nicely while you’re at it."
As if she was completely speechless, Yu Sae-Jung couldn’t even retort back.
"Oh, right. Besides that, can you find the employees I told you about?"
– "Yeah… huh? Oh, that? Yeah. Since we’ll be getting people from the Dawn Corporation, you don’t have to worry about their capabilities. The only problem is that, we have way too many applicants…"
"Ah, that’s not an issue."
In the history of mankind, finding out a person’s character through only his or her appearance alone was nearly an impossible task. There was a reason why many idioms such as honeyed tongue and two-faced, etc, etc, got invented, after all.
However, Sae-Jin actually possessed the ability to see past the outer appearances. And that was the skill now rated at B, the ‘Eyes of the Wolf’. Thanks to the skill receiving lots of level up, he could now discern the ‘character’ of other people even when he was in the Human Form.
The methods of discernment was simple enough. After he turned up the sensitivity of his irides to the maximum, he then would look into the eyes of the others; their eye colour would change according to the innate nature of the person.
The polar opposites ‘evil’ and ‘good’ were coloured black and white respectively, and depending on which side the person’s colour was closer to, he’d then designate either ‘dirty’ or ‘clean’.
This skill even made it possible to discern not only a person’s true character but his or her relevant ‘abilities’ as well. He just had to take a look at the aura rising from their bodies. When the colour was closer to a brilliant golden hue, the person was an extraordinary individual, but when the colour was closer to being weak and feeble, then that person was… just a regular Joe.
Of course, the colour of his own eyes would change into a bright golden hue if he used this skill, but a pair of contact lenses would take care of that problem so he was not too bothered by that prospect.
"I will take care of that problem. Just round them up in one place, and I’ll need only five minutes to browse through them in one go. How many applied?"
"Yep, it’s fin… What?! 270?!"
Now that was an unexpected number.
Why were there so many applicants? Sae-Jin failed to understand why 270 folks were willing to abandon their positions in one of the most prestigious companies in the world for a spot in a Society rated a measly C-…
"Why the hell are there so many people?!"
– "The outlook of our Society is really positive, so there’s that, but… most importantly, it’s because you, Oppa, put up way too good employment conditions, you know?I mean, who promises a monthly wage of $5500 dollars after tax?! You even promised excellent welfare benefits…"
"No, that’s, well… You shouldn’t be stingy when investing in people, you know."
He acted like this because of a certain resentment rooted in his heart.
A human being needed to be treated as a human being.
He got to learn this maxim the hard way at a young age while enduring against scorn, abuse, ridicule as well as ignorance.
– "Okay, then… The plan is to have them gather in the Society’s building this Friday, so Oppa, please take care of it."
"Right. Then you do the interview. And if it’s at all possible, speak nicely about me, okay?"
– "Heu-eumm… Yes, well. Since our great Society Chairman decreed so, I must totally submit to it, then. After all, that is the condition to join our Society, right?"
Her unexpected and loaded insinuations went straight for his jugular.
"…Hey, you. Where did you hear that?"
– "What do you mean, where. Everyone’s heard of it by now. The conditions for joining our Society are ‘complete submission’ and ‘can not join any other Society’ - isn’t that right?"
"Keum. The former is incorrect, but as for the latter, we should do exactly that. I hate bats."
He said those words mischievously back then… but now, they had somehow become the official joining criteria. Suddenly, he recalled the mug of Kim In-Soo. Did that fool spread the rumour?
– "But I hear there are still lots of people wishing to join us? Ah, right! Is it true that the upper Mid Tier Knight Joo Ji-Hyuk will be joining us? Everyone’s been talking about it, you see. It’s all been hectic inside our Order, too. Other Knights are going crazy with jealousy, saying Joo Ji-Hyuk is now moving up in the world and stuff."
"Ah, Mister Ji-Hyuk? I thought he’s a good-hearted and diligent guy."
Since it was a Society not just in name only, obviously the member count couldn’t remain at three forever. That was why he had set his eyes on Joo Ji-Hyuk for some time now. And when Sae-Jin indirectly raised the matter with the dude, Joo Ji-Hyuk’s expressions were like he’d die from happiness just thinking about it.
"I already received his application papers. I’m going to admit him in tomorrow."
– "It’s all good. He is a really dependable guy, after all. Hmm… Then maybe I should eat out together with Mister Ji-Hyuk tomorrow~?"
Yu Sae-Jung’s voice seemed to suggest something as the ends of her sentence blurred somewhat. Maybe, she was trying to incite something like jealousy from Sae-Jin…
"Oh. That’s a good idea. The fellow Society members should have a cordial relationship with one another, after all."
But Kim Sae-Jin was ‘disinterested’ personified - which caused her to sigh out deeply and then, abruptly hang up the phone first.
"…What’s her problem?"
As the call had come to a sudden end, he just pocketed his phone and he stretched his limbs grandly.
Today was the beginning of the weekend. For him, it was the beginning of the busiest day of them all.
Onwards, to the Monster field.
An Orc and an Ogre was having a contest of raw strength. Now normally, the Ogre would flatten an Orc Jaguar into a sheet of A4-sized paper with a single punch. That’s the common sense, regardless of where one was from, be that a hunting ground or a plane of existence.
*SFX for the Orc’s loud roar*
But the current status of this battle was going the other way.
The mace swung with all the might this Orc could muster didn’t simply stop at destroying the wooden club wielded by the Ogre, it even shredded a part of the Ogre’s arm. It was truly a display of terrifying power.
*SFX for an Ogre groaning*
After losing one of its arms and its trusty weapon, the Ogre seemed to have lost its balance and slowly fell down.
One wouldn’t have to do anything to achieve victory in this case, but Orcs were an impatient bunch. With light reflecting off its blue scales covering its body, the Orc jumped in the air and smashed the Ogre’s face in with the mace.
The shock waves coming off from the impact swept past the trees; and so, that’s how this particular Ogre left this world.
After finishing up the fight, the Orc then turned its attention back towards the peanut gallery that shouldn’t even be there in the first place.
Out of the four people standing over there, two of them must have lost their marbles because they were busy clapping their hands in delight.
Kim Sae-Jin glared at them while his expression reflected how absurd this situation was.
And that situation was thus: about 20 minutes ago, as he was roaming around the low Mid Tier hunting ground, Sae-Jin ran into an adult Ogre, a creature that shouldn’t have been there. Even though it lacked any distinguishing features such as patterns or horns, an adult Ogre was still a Monster ranked upper Mid Tier that should have been found only at upper Mid Tier hunting ground.
The Ogre that seemingly had appeared out of nowhere was busy chasing after this party of people. Kim Sae-Jin didn’t even hesitate for a second before activating the Warrior of Reversal skill and took on the Ogre head on.
"Shouldn’t we run now?"
"No, it’s okay. That Orc doesn’t kill people."
"No, no, I know that. But, although it might not kill, it still hurts you pretty badly, right?"
"….Oh, I forgot about that."
Fortunately, one of the group, a Soo-in, with her ears trembling in fear, seemed to be in the right frame of mind.
"Okay, hang on a sec. Lemme take a quick selfie here…"
However, instead of realising the error of her ways, a woman - possibly a Knight - decided to do something even more stupid. Finding this rather ridiculous, Sae-Jin began moving his feet slowly towards this woman.
"…I got it!! Let’s run!!"
That female Knight actually waited until the Orc could be seen better within the camera screen before snapping the image - and as soon as that was done, she ran off real fast as if her feet were on fire.
‘…Really, the world is vast and there truly are one too many crazy idiots out there.’
While recalling the famous line from somewhere, Sae-Jin approached the dead Ogre and pulled out the Mana Stone from the creature’s still heart.
A Mana Stone from an adult Ogre. If he used this as the base ingredient for his tattoos, then without a doubt, he should receive a tremendous boost to his overall power.
Just thinking about receiving the power of an Ogre… made the Demon Orc really happy.
However, Sae-Jin discovered a certain something attached to the dead Monster’s thigh.
When he took a closer look… it was an egg.
It was an egg with a sticky surface that helped it to effortlessly stick onto just about anything. And as far as Sae-Jin’s knowledge base went, he knew only one Monster’s egg that could do this.
< 16. A Blueprint of a Future (2) >
(TL: This is the last of the two sponsored chapters I missed last weekend. Yay.)
(TL: the amount remaining for the third extra chapter of the week: still $36.)