A Monster Who Levels Up
The Griffin - a strange Monster possessing the head and wings of a hawk, a body like that of a lion, and its front limbs resembling that of a hawk. Griffins that ruled the skies of Mid Tier hunting ground was rather well known to the public thanks to its dignified appearance.
And there was one more thing. The surfaces of the Griffin eggs were strangely sticky which allowed them to cling onto pretty much anything; Hunters and Knights hunting in this region could find these eggs, albeit on very rare occasions.
‘Did it get picked up by that Ogre when it was walking around?’
Sae-Jin the Orc walked towards the Griffin egg in thudding footsteps and picked it up. The unique liquid felt icky in his fingertips.
‘Should I eat this now?’
He scanned all over the egg while drooling slightly. From the words of those people who had coincidentally discovered the eggs, a Griffin egg tasted absolutely heavenly.
Besides, the creature inside this egg was a Monster that would definitely become a headache for the humanity. After all, because of its nature and instincts, not even a newborn could be tamed by human hands, which made it reasonable why they were referred to as Monsters in this regard alone.
And so, as he was thinking about whether to fry or boil the egg, like literally out of nowhere, an alert window filled with the list of Passive Skills he possessed rose up to his view.
► The Passive Skill ‘Predator’ [Skill Proficiency Level: C-]
– The host will grow stronger the more enemies the host eliminates.
– The prey can feel fear towards the Predator and could surrender/wish to submit under the rule of the host.
There was a skill exactly for a situation like this; a Passive Skill he happened to acquire when he became the Werewolf, one that could be utilised during all of his Forms.
Since there was no literal prey-predator relationship between humans, the skill didn’t apply, but right now, it was very much applicable. Honestly, wasn’t he thinking about making a sunny-side-up fry out of this egg only 30 seconds ago?
When he imagined a scene of an Orc - maybe, even a person - riding on a Griffin… now that was seriously cool.
He let out a fake cough for some reason, and then placed the Griffin egg inside the Expanding Pocket.
It was the following week’s Friday - also the day the employees for the Society, The Monster would be picked.
Kim Sae-Jin spent nearly an hour finishing up the interviews.
The first thing he looked for was the ‘abilities’ and so, he picked those with rich golden auras from the gathered people. The number of hopefuls decreased from 270 to mere 30 that way; and afterwards, he performed a personal, face-to-face meeting with each individual to check out their real nature respectively.
Evil guys were ones to avoid, but at the same time, real goody-two-shoes were no good, either.
However, after finding out that 27 applicants’ eyes were dyed in black, Sae-Jin had little choice but to hire the remaining three with purest colours there could be.
Now that he looked at the process, it somehow had become one with a horrible failure rate of 90:1, but Sae-Jin felt satisfied in the belief that he ended up hiring good people.
"Welcome to the team," said Kim Sae-Jin, while looking at the group of one woman and two men in front of him.
"My name is Kim Sae-Jin, the Society Chairman."
""It’s our honour!!""
All three replied with full of energy.
"Please, introduce yourselves. From the left… Miss Soh Jin-Hui first."
"Ah, yes. Yep! M, my name is Soh Jin-Hui, and I worked for t, two years as a gopher in the planning department of Dawn Electronicssssss!!!!"
Soh Jin-Hui was a cute-ish young woman with freckles on her cheeks. Her repl
ies sounded quite strained as she was tightly wound up with lots of nerves.
However, Sae-Jin tilted his head in slight confusion. The golden aura coming off her was the strongest of the three here, so why did she spend two years as a gopher…?
"My name is Jo Hahn-Sung, and I also hail from Dawn Electronics, this time as a deputy in the marketing department."
Next up, was a guy with a sturdy physique, Jo Hahn-Sung.
This time too, things were just as puzzling. He seemed to possess good abilities, and he was certainly not a young rookie anymore, so why only a deputy? Sae-Jin and his lack of knowledge base still knew that a deputy in a department was not a high position.
"My name is Yu Dohng. I used to work as a general manager in the financial department of the Dawn Trading Company… but was waiting for the right time to do that voluntary resignation thing. Haha… But I ended up receiving another opportunity like this. I’m truly grateful. Thank you." (TL: voluntary resignation - "명퇴" resigning before the official retirement age.)
The middle-aged man with an unusual name smiled honestly while scratching the back of his neck.
Now that he heard their introductions, a weird feeling was taking root in Sae-Jin’s heart.
Within the ranks of the Dawn Corporation, there were plenty of appealing people possessing good abilities, wonderful education, as well as lots of achievements.
However, he now heard that these three people with good personalities had to either waste away as a low-level employee or await for retirement. Was it because their colleagues were wary of them? Or did they get exploited by their superiors or colleagues who belittled them for their good hearts?
"…Well, thank you for your introductions. From now on, all three of you will start working as the Chiefs of your respective departments."
Whatever their life stories were like until now, Sae-Jin had no plans to treat these people who were overflowing with abilities and potential badly at all.
At Sae-Jin’s sudden declaration, the faces of the three rapidly underwent changes. Their eyes widened, and their jaws hit the floor.
The faces of utter shock - they had never in million years dreamed of starting their new jobs from such a high position as a Chief of a department, just like that. Especially for the Society, The Monster, that was busy distinguishing itself in the various spotlights of the social media, news articles, etc, etc…
"No need to be that surprised, you know. There are only three employees, and only three departments, so it’s natural that you guys become the department heads."
While speaking like this, Sae-Jin picked up a thick pile of documents resting on the floor and placed the stack on the desk with a big thud. Not just once, either - thud, thud, thud… A total of four stacks.
The shock from the sudden promotion to the position of department Chiefs lasted for only a brief moment. The new employees gulped big time at the fearsome amount of work making its entrance.
"This stack here is for the Athany doll… This here is for all the partnership requests from various Wizard Towers… And this here is for… uh, the Society member’s application forms? Ah, don’t worry about this stack, we can just burn them all."
Fortunately, from all the potential misery, one of the huge pile of documents sank back beneath the desk.
"The final one should be… details of financial transactions regarding the potions and armaments crafted by the Society’s members. Well, then. Please take these stacks accordingly to your specialties and do your best."
Kim Sae-Jin clapped his hands loudly. As soon as he did that, the temp employees he ‘borrowed’ from the Orc’s Forge entered the office of the Chairman.
"They will show you to your individual offices. Oh, and when you’re done… well, please compile reports containing summaries of this and that, and I’d appreciate it if they are short and easy to read. Also, if you need more helping hands, please use your discretion and bring some others in. I’ll take a look and if they are capable, then I’ll insert them in right away. You know, like parachutes?" (TL: Hmm. The term "parachutes" isn’t literal parachuting off the plane or anything, but more like hiring a person and placing them in important positions based solely on the whims of the guys doing the hiring - in most cases, you could accuse them of nepotism, as that’s the most prevalent example of "parachuting.")
When Kim Sae-Jin smiled brightly at the three, the new employees could only nod their heads in a daze.
Another week went by after that. And the owners of the third Athany doll was finally decided upon.
The conditions given by the Dawn was the best, and the prestige of the Raven was the highest, but in all honesty, having those two dominate all the time was just a bit uncool, so Sae-Jin chose the Daebaek Knights Order instead. Actually, the government also requested him to do so as well.
The reasons were, the Vice Order Master, Oh Jung-Hyuk and his son Oh Dae-Soo pleading with him so ardently, and their offer was only slightly worse than that from the Dawn Order.
When this decision was made public, the real time search results became full of nothing but the stories of The Monster, Daebaek Knights Order as well as the doll of Athany.
The rumour floating around in the grapevine was that, on the day of the announcement, all the Knights and Hunters affiliated with the Daebaek Order gathered together in celebration and enjoyed a victorious feast or some such.
Additionally, the plan was for the Athany doll to be escorted by platoons of Knights and an official state vehicle sent by the Daebaek Order to its headquarters two days later.
‘Just when will it hatch, though?’
However… currently, the man responsible for making all that ruckus on the internet was feeling very impatient at a single egg.
He heard that Griffins hatched quickly to ensure their survival, but it had already been over a week since he brought the egg home. Worrying that either the chick had died inside the egg, or maybe it could be an unfertilised egg instead, the deeply worried Kim Sae-Jin in his Goblin Form busy roamed around his home without taking a break.
*SFX for an egg vibrating*
Right then - an imperceptible tremor occurred from the egg sitting inside the incubator.
Immediately, Sae-Jin ran over to the machine and knelt before it.
Suddenly, a new worry came crashing down on him. Just which Form should he use to greet this little guy: the Orc, the Human, or the Goblin?
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much time for indecisions.
The egg that was only trembling softly just now, suddenly shot up and started bouncing around madly.
In the end, Sae-Jin assumed the Human Form and approached the egg.
Right on cue, the egg split apart and a small, cute lifeform emerged into the world with weak cries of ppiyak, ppiyak.
Sae-Jin forgot what he wanted to say in that moment. Didn’t matter whether it was a human or an animal, the newborns were the cutest. This little creature who hadn’t even opened its eyes yet was seriously just so dang lovable.
"Ppiyak- Ppiyak- Ppayakk- Ppaaaekkk- Ppaeaeaekkkk-PPAEEEEEKKK!!!"
However, the reality was, no matter how cute the thing looked, it still was an offspring of a Monster. From its tiny beak, a thunderous roar exploded out in a hurry.
Only then, Sae-Jin could recover his sense from the dazed state caused by its cute exterior and he began actively using the skill ‘Predator’.
He began stroking the head of the baby Griffin while sending his own thoughts of absolute obedience and submission towards the creature, such as, "I am your owner."
"PPAAEEee… Ppiyak- Ppiyak…"
Soon, the thundering roars quietened down until it was no more louder than some vigorous breathing.
This was the scene where, for the first time ever in written history, a human being had succeeded in taming a Monster, and a Griffin turning into a… sort of a pet.
Sae-Jin murmured in daze as he continued to stroke its head. Its smooth fur and the tender skin felt so wonderfully soft.
The baby Griffin hadn’t fully opened its eyes yet but it still turned its head towards the hand that was touching it and began poking its tongue out. And then began licking his hand.
Sae-Jin gazed down on the creature with a fatherly smile.
However, there was still one more thing he had to do. The owner of the Griffin wasn’t just Sae-Jin in the Human Form.
He changed into the Orc and then the Goblin Form, one at a time, to make sure the Griffin would recognise them. Thankfully, the baby Griffin was ignorant of the ways of this world and was able to accept everything without a fuss.
And some time passed by like that. Sae-Jin changed back to his Human Form and activated the Eyes of the Wolf. He was kind of curious about this creature’s potential.
‘Ah… That’s too bad.’
Unfortunately, the aura coming out of the Griffin was as unremarkable as one could possibly get.
‘..But, it’s still fine.’
It didn’t really matter, though. When it grows up all healthy, then he’d make it into the strongest Griffin in the world with a few well-placed Magic Tattoos.
The time flowed by like the running water; and the eventual arrival of the Spring’s winds warmly embraced the naked trees, finally awaking them into the beginning of a new cycle of life.
During this time period, many issues regarding Kim Sae-Jin and his Society, The Monster, rose and fell.
First of all, the Orc Blacksmith revealed two new weapons. One of them was rated 5th Rank Branded Goods which ended up causing a sizeable shock. The Branded Goods ranking was divided into five sub categories, and the closer an item got towards the 1st Rank, the better its quality was.
However, there had been an equally big backlash during the process of unveiling this weapon as well. The reason was that, the Orc ended up selling that Branded Goods to a foreigner.
The person who purchased the Orc’s weapon was a Knight affiliated with the Knights Order ranked one of the top five in North America, Veritas Order’s Vice Master, Angela.
The deal was successful only because the Vice Order Master personally visited the Orc’s Forge, and also the fact that her serious and dignified request was spoken in Korean. However, the Korean Knights Orders and the mass media tore into these facts like a pack of feral, crazy bi*ches.
Slanderous rumours spread around uncontrollably like wild fire - one saying that, since Angela was one of the most beautiful woman on the planet, she either seduced the Orc Blacksmith or even sold her body for the favour. Another said that, since the Orc sold the Branded Goods rated weapon overseas, he was a traitor to the nation, etc, etc.
This forced Sae-Jin to issue a statement on SNS. Originally, he thought of holding a press conference, but then, officially at least, he was not the Orc Blacksmith so, he thought it was not appropriate which made him choose SNS instead.
⸢When a Korean Knight rises up to a certain rank, he or she begins to think that it’s embarrassing to be publicly seen while visiting a blacksmith. Unfortunately for them, blacksmiths also have their own honour as well. And that’s why the Orc Blacksmith had chosen Miss Angela who had treated him with respect.⸥
His post was spread among his 400 thousand-strong followers and soon, Yu Sae-Jung and Kim Yu-Rin both shared it as well; and with the aid of the Dawn, the public’s opinion on the matter had reversed almost overnight. And Angela became his SNS follower too, by the way.
The arrows of blame and criticism were then pointed firmly on the Knights Orders and the media outlets biased towards the said Orders, with some saying that by dismissing blacksmiths in that typically complacent attitude, Republic of Korea was failing to read the ever-changing flow of the world.
However… all this war of words got buried real fast by the emergence of a new, hot topic.
And that was the news of the Dawn Knights Order affiliated upper Mid Tier Knight, Joo Ji-Hyuk becoming the newest member of the Society, The Monster.
Sae-Jin’s Society had grown to the point where every little rumour concerning admittance and dismissal of its members would cause a stir; so, only a day after he submitted the official documents to the relevant government entity, countless numbers of articles exploded out into the open.
Right away, reporters swarmed Ji-Hyuk with requests for interviews and film shoots; as for the man himself, although he was quite flustered by this development, he still managed to reply as normally as possible:
"The Chairman Kim Sae-Jin admires every one of the Society’s members, and I am deeply grateful to be able to join them."
On top of that, simply by becoming the member of The Monster, Joo Ji-Hyuk was now chosen as one of the ’30 most promising Knights to watch this year’ by the foremost authority on all things Knight-related, the weekly publication called ‘Night of Knight’. (TL: that’s the name. The author wrote that in English, even.)
The Chairman responsible for causing all this attention and ruckus was currently stuck inside a certain cave in the Monster field.
‘Can you fly now?’
The Orc Form Kim Sae-Jin was busy sending ‘thought orders’ to the Griffin while sitting atop the saddle mounted on the creature’s back.
The Griffin, with its body quite big now, tilted its head while its tongue hung loose.
The amazing rate of growth was a specific trait of Monsters. Only three weeks after its birth, the Griffin had grown up into a level comparable to an adolescent.
‘I said, can you fly now?’
Sae-Jin had named his Griffin, Muffin. He took ‘riffin’ off Griffin and then somehow turned that into Muffin.
When Muffin didn’t seem to understand what he was saying, Sae-Jin sent out another ‘thought message’. But, as if Muffin misunderstood his intentions, it craned its head towards him and began licking his face instead.
In the end, Sae-Jin became cross, and only then, Muffin understood his intentions.
*SFX for wind rustling through feathers*
When the winds slipped in between the feathers of a giant pair of flapping hawk-like wings, Muffin began rising up to the sky while carrying Sae-Jin on its back.
Since it hadn’t matured fully into an adult yet, and with the Orc’s considerable weight added on top, they could only try out a low altitude flight that just barely cleared the tops of the trees.
But the feeling Sae-Jin was experiencing at that moment was indescribably amazing.
Until he heard the alarmed cries of unknown people from below.
"Eu, eu-ark!! It’s a Griffin!!!"
The low-altitude flight got spotted really fast; and the Hunters and Knights plying their trade here in the Lowest Tier hunting ground didn’t even stay to confirm who was riding on top of the Griffin before hastily running away.
Since this was going to become a nuisance, Sae-Jin had to land back on earth after spending only a few short minutes flying.
He licked his lips as he secured Muffin against the resting area he had created inside the cave.
"…I wanna take you home."
Changing back to his Human Form, Sae-Jin sighed and brushed the head of the Griffin. He found his Muffin so lovable, what with its eyes arced in a half-moon from absolutely enjoying his attention.
He slowly got up from his seat while deeply agonising whether he should hold a press conference and then just announce to the world that he had succeeded in taming a Monster.
"I’ll be back by the nightfall. Wait for me here."
Sae-Jin waved his hands as he left the cave.
And shortly thereafter.
Left all alone, Muffin slapped the toy Sae-Jin left for it away with its two forearms and then, yawned out as if it was bored silly. As if the smile it showed to Sae-Jin just now was all forced, its current appearance was cold and aloof.
< 16. A Blueprint of the Future (3) > Fin.
(TL: There will be three extra chapters tomorrow, unless something happens to The Internet. Please look forward to it.)
(TL: As I type this, the remaining amount for next week’s one extra chapter is $18. Thank you all for your generous donations.)