A Monster Who Levels Up
(This extra chapter is brought to you by these explorers of the great unknown: Keneth P. Fiennes, Jared S. Fiennes, Koolpin Fiennes, Julien H. Fiennes, Dale B. Fiennes, Robert R. Fiennes, Justin C. Fiennes, and Zain Z. Fiennes. Thank you for your support!!)
(Also, 100 Internet Points for those who got the reference first!!)
Things progressed quickly.
First, with the aid of the Dawn, Sae-Jin could safely negotiate complicated ‘consultations’ and ‘interview’ procedures with the Korean government as well as other related organizations. Of course, the person who had attended all these meetings was not Kim Sae-Jin, but Jo Hahn-Sung instead.
However, some information got leaked to the press in the midst of all that and landed on the front pages of many newspapers. That prompted Sae-Jin to hold an official press conference and later on, submit images of Muffin performing a test flight to the press.
As expected, the voices of opposition were numerous. The organizations related to Monsters approached him with crazed fervor, while several hardline Knights showed up with their weapons drawn, saying they came to kill the Monster.
But then, only a week later, most of the opposing media outlets got suppressed ruthlessly and smoothly when Sae-Jin uploaded a footage to his SNS profile.
In that footage, one could see Muffin with her eyes arching gently, smiling in a lovable manner. The cute sound of giggling captured within the short clip proved to be a nice bonus, too.
One could also see Jo Hahn-Sung having a somewhat bitter face while looking at Muffin during the filming of this footage but to Sae-Jin, his Griffin was just the most adorable pet ever.
At that perfectly-tamed appearance, the academic circles hotly debating the pros and cons of this whole thing became utterly stunned. Well, they believed that this master-slave relationship was a temporary one enabled by the promise of food, after all. But from that footage, it seemed like the creature had been truly tamed by the owner and was loving the presence of humans.
And so, most of the media shifted towards the "Yes" side.
In the middle of this, though, a strange opinion suddenly popped out of nowhere. And it was enough to send Sae-Jin into a bit of ‘panic mode’.
The original instigator of that opinion was unexpectedly some entertainment TV show.
– So, are you saying that ‘he’ can potentially speak to the ‘Hero Orc’ as well?
It was basically a talk show for Knights to come on air and share their stories. Yu Sae-Jung was the guest this time, and the emcee naturally asked her about Kim Sae-Jin.
– Eh? Well… Probably. But I dunno what is what exactly. I’m just a gopher, you know. Yep, that’s exactly it, I am a gopher. I never know what is going on. And he never tells me anything anyway. But, that’s because I’m just a gopher, you see?
She was upset by the fact that Sae-Jin had not told her a single thing about what was going on with the Society. And so, whenever the topic of him came around, she always spoke in a very unhappy manner.
– …Ahhh, so that’s how it was.
And that topic came to an end with only three paragraphs uttered, but the aftermath of that show was puzzlingly fierce.
Firstly, the sight of Yu Sae-Jung referring to herself as a gopher in the self-mocking tone must have left a deep impression, as gifs of that moment spread throughout the internet; and naturally, the contents of that interview received much interest as well.
Since it had not killed anyone but actually rescued people, wouldn’t it be possible to talk to the Hero Orc? An actual professor from the Hankook University came to speak to Sae-Jin about this very topic, even.
Of course, as the person who knew the truth, Sae-Jin was rather frustrated by the absu
rdity of it all.
"By the way, even I am curious if it’s possible or not."
Kim Yu-Rin carefully asked Sae-Jin while taking a quick glance at his reactions.
Currently, albeit belated, these two people were making good on the promise they made over three weeks ago.
"…Even Miss Yu-Rin, too?!"
"Ha, haha. I’m sorry. As expected, it’s nonsense, right? Hahaha, even I ended up saying some unnecessary things…"
Strangely, though, he found her state during dinner quite odd, to say the least. Every time she spoke, and whenever she moved, her eyes were always carefully observing changes in Sae-Jin’s moods. It was so very different to how upfront and proud she was back then.
"Well… It’s not a total nonsense, I guess. If we get to converse properly, then that Orc might truly help us."
"Ahaha, is that righ… ouch!"
Maybe it was because she was so tense, Yu-Rin ended up biting her tongue.
"Uhm, are you alright?"
"Ahh, yes. Ai aem phinee. Just… please excuse me. I should, to the ‘ladies’…"
In the end, she hastily got up from her seat as if she was running away and headed for the bathroom.
‘Just what is the matter with me?’
Standing in front of the washbasin and the mirror, Yu-Rin deeply sighed out. Even though she came here alone after having a showdown with Chae Young-Ho… But right now, she felt like crying at the moment.
The burdensome words Chae Young-Ho told her - stuff like "He’s an important person", "That man is the key to everything", "The Monster will someday follow on Trilogy’s footsteps…" - continued to plague her mind.
And to make matters worse, there was the unbelievable news of him taming a Monster or some such, which resulted in her getting more nervous and that made it harder for her words to roll out of her mouth, too…
"Ahhhhh…. I just want to get out of here."
For Kim Yu-Rin, experiencing this sort of feeling was a first in all 27 years of her life. She had always been upfront with nothing to hide…
But she also did not know the meaning of giving up.
She washed her face with cold water once more, and left the bathroom while clenching her teeth tightly.
Inside the Dawn Knights Order’s Team 1 Conference room.
Following the government’s command for all Knights Orders to remain ready, there had to be a certain minimum number of Knights always present at all times and that was why, even though it was already late at night, there were a few personnel currently present within this conference room.
But what instead filled the room up to the brim were heavy atmosphere and thick silence.
The Knights inside this room were all keeping quiet while busy observing the souring mood of one person among their ranks.
Yu Sae-Jung was continuously sighing out while carrying a deeply frowning expression.
Although it was somewhat bizarre to see all seven Knights here to remain mindful of someone only ranked low Mid Tier, she wasn’t just anyone but Yu Sae-Jung.
Not only was she the daughter of the Order Master, she was also the founding member of the Society, ‘The Monster’. Having said that, for some reason she’d been showing the self-mocking side of her lately, while busy repeating ‘I’m the lowest form of a gopher ever for the Society’.
Yu Sae-Jung suddenly slammed her phone down on the table. Everyone in the room stiffened up simultaneously.
…Is he not planning to call me back?!
The two tightly clenched fists of Yu Sae-Jung trembled.
Obviously, she was cross with Kim Sae-Jin. By a lot. Like, seriously a lot.
Even if it was in name only, she was still a founding member. But then, she had to hear the stories of her own Society, big and small, from other people or even from a news broadcast… Once or twice, fine, she can understand, but on multiple times? Was he deliberately trying to disparage her?
Such thoughts of disappointment began to form in her mind.
If one was to get technical here, then without a doubt, the Dawn Order and the Corporation helped Sae-Jin out immeasurably, never once putting him in a difficult spot until now. And everything that happened could only be possible because she asked her father and her grandfather. But him keeping her out of the loop like this…
That was why, Yu Sae-Jung deliberately cut off all contact with Sae-Jin for the last two weeks.
Unfortunately for her, the one feeling the frustration was her, all the while he was going from strength to strength. Almost daily, he was uploading photos on SNS of him taking it easy with the ‘members’ of the Society, such as Joo Ji-Hyuk and Jo Hahn-Sung…
So, in the end, she had sent a really lengthy message to Sae-Jin roughly three hours ago.
It contained all of her accumulated disappointments - but she also placed emojis here and there to make sure she didn’t sound too cold or anything.
"Seriously, how bloody infuriating."
She bit down on her teeth out of frustration and roughly tousled up her hair, before checking the message she sent to Sae-Jin on the phone.
He still hadn’t read it yet.
She spat out another long sigh and this time, checked out his SNS profile. There was a new posting.
‘What the heck is this now?!’
It was from Victoria Angela. She bought a weapon from the Orc Blacksmith before. She posted a picture of her smiling next to a corpse of a Monster to Sae-Jin’s SNS profile.
In that moment, her annoyance shot up through the roof. His followers were now numbering over 950K, which means he was snapping on her heels already… No, that was not important, nope.
Yu Sae-Jung threw the phone away and covered her face up.
The message containing all her thoughts - no, it’d be better to call it a letter - was being ignored for over three hours straight and she found this unbearably embarrassing, disappointing, and also deeply irritating.
Even then… she still took multiple quick glances at the discarded phone.
…Hoping that he had sent a reply.
"…Oww, this effing…"
Then, a sense of shame overwhelmed her and her head ended up lying sprawled over the table.
It was then.
The phone vibrated.
The agile movement exhibited by her body in that moment couldn’t have been any more sharper than normally possible.
*SFX for ungracefully tumbling around*
She moved so fast that she nearly upended both the table and the chair as she grasped the phone. The words showing up on the liquid crystal display was ‘Sae-Jin Oppa’. Her heart skipped a beat, then.
However, she held herself back desperately. She had to endure this. She must not answer the phone right away. She should ignore this first attempt and only on the second one…
But what should I do if he doesn’t call back?!
In the end, Yu Sae-Jung answered the phone after it vibrated four times.
At first, she replied in a cold voice, her tone blunt.
– "Hey. I saw the message. My bad. I didn’t know you were feeling that disappointed in me. You know me, my interpersonal skills have always been a bit terrible."
His baritone voice still sounded just as calming as before, but Sae-Jung was determined not to fold over easily this time. She was planning to remain cross for as long as possible…
– "Is it okay for us to meet and talk?"
Her heart skipped a beat again.
"…B, b, but why? Now, why? Why meet and talk? It’s already too late, you know."
– "No, that, there’s this thing I need to talk to you about."
"T, that, fine, but why didn’t you reply to my message for the last three hours? I sent it at 9 PM but now it’s past midnight!!"
– "My bad. I was busy with another matter."
For Sae-Jin, it was something impossible to talk about. The dinner with Kim Yu-Rin ended at 9 but when he got home, the time remaining on his Human Form ran out, so there was just no way for him to call her back as a Monster…
"What matter was it?"
– "Ah, that. I was talking to Miss Kim Yu-Rin…"
"Whaaat?! Why did you meet up with Miss Yu-Rin? Why? What was your purpose!!"
– "It was nothing special - we talked about the Raven Order, about Athany dolls, the weapons of the Orc Blacksmith, etc."
At his reply, Yu Sae-Jung’s forehead creased up in dissatisfaction. She somehow held back the question of "Were you alone with her?" circulating in her mouth. She didn’t want to be seen as obsessive, after all. It was definitely not being obsessive, but actually being envious, but….
…Honestly, it was just that, nothing else.
– "So? Can we meet?"
"….Yeah, well, sure. But I’m doing the night watch duty so not right now. Tomorrow… no, since it’s past midnight, today. Let’s meet up at seven o’clock in the morning. As soon as this night watch is over, I’ll head straight to the Society HQ."
As soon as she was done talking, she abruptly hung up.
"Hah, taste your own medicine, see how it feels like."
"Huh? You’re here already?"
It was in the early hours of the morning. As soon as Kim Sae-Jin opened the doors to the Chairman’s office, he spotted Yu Sae-Jung dozing off while sitting on a chair.
Now that he had arrived, she stretched her limbs grandly and chased away the remnants of her drowsiness.
He chuckled slightly and sat on her opposite side. Her messy, unkempt hair, a pair of bloodshot eyes… Now that was a sight wonderfully demonstrating how tough the night watchman job could be.
"Wait for a second…."
She dug through her pouch and pulled out a small mirror; and then got shocked by her appearance, so she hid her face and then got up from her seat.
"Uhm, I should shower… no, no, let me go and wash up quickly. I look real untidy."
He graciously allowed her. What she was about to hear… would be quite shocking, after all. There was a need for her to prepare herself.
And ten minutes later. Yu Sae-Jung returned and sat back on her seat with her face still moist.
"…So, what did you want to talk about?"
Then, with her arms crossed, she asked coldly as if to display how hurt her feelings still were.
Sae-Jin lightly smiled and pointed at the sword hanging on her hips.
"Hand it over."
"Eh? W, why? What do you want do with it? You, you’re not going to hit me with it, right?"
"…?? No, I’m not crazy. I just want to take a look. So, let me see."
His smooth voice contained some sort of charm that was hard for Yu Sae-Jung to oppose. Even though she was unsure, she still unsheathed the sword and handed it over to him.
"This… I crafted this sword."
However, she couldn’t understand what he said next.
"…Excuse me? Ah, well… a fellow member of the Society did make it."
"No, no. That’s not it… Keum. Right, for now, hand me a potion from your pouch, too."
This time, Sae-Jin pointed at her thigh-mounted pouch containing her batch of potions. It was a well known fact that ever since she was cured of her paralysis with the Goblin Alchemist’s ‘aid’, she had never used anyone else’s potions other than the Goblin’s until now. She was one of those fixed, regular consumers of the Goblin - in other words, his fanatical supporter.
Yu Sae-Jung was confused enough for her brows to narrow, but still, without saying anything she handed over a vial of potion. When he grasped the bottle, he spoke the exact same thing as before.
"This… I brewed this potion."
"…Oppa. What are you trying to say to me here? Does it look like I’m here to kid around right now?"
She of course got angry at his foolish words. She came over because he had something important to tell her, but now, it seemed like he was trying to waste her time with stupid jokes…
But Kim Sae-Jin never lost his smile and relaxedly continued on with his words.
"What do you mean, kidding around. You said that there are too many things I’m keeping from you, right? That’s why I’m letting you in on the biggest secrets of mine. You must never tell anyone about this, you know?"
"Eh? What? This is no secret, it’s just some nonsense…"
"As I said, the Orc Blacksmith who makes weapons, the Goblin Alchemist who brews potions - both of them are me."
The entirety of Yu Sae-Jung’s face crumpled. Those words were completely, utterly unbelievable. So why was this man still keeping such a serious, straight face?
"Are you telling the truth?"
In the end, Kim Sae-Jin burst out in laughter. Seeing this, Yu Sae-Jung thought inwardly, I knew it, and was about to say something but then, her lips froze.
"Dear Miss Yu Sae-Jung. I crafted a Broadsword, imbued with a mighty miraculous ability that will surpass other magical enchantments in the form of the weapon growing by itself…. I’ll always cheer you on, as one of Miss Yu Sae-Jung’s fans."
What he just said now was the exact contents of the letter written by the Orc Blacksmith for her.
"Was it correct? It’s been a long time so my memory is a bit blurry there. Those were the parts I can remember off the top of my head."
"….Huh? No, no, wait a minute. This is…"
"You see, this weapon, I originally made this just for you. Your main weapon has always been a Broadsword, right? I even asked you what was the exact type of weapons you used while we hunted together. Can’t you remember?"
Her mind blanked out in that moment. Not one thought formed inside her head. But when she looked back, things began falling into their places.
At that time, she treated it as a coincidence, but now, the voice of the Orc Blacksmith from back then… it was just way too similar to that of the man in front of her.
But most of all, on that letter written by the Orc Blacksmith, the errors in grammar were the same as…
Completely dumbstruck, she continued to stare at him without thinking of closing her wide open mouth.
< 17. The Omen (3) > Fin.
(TL: The remaining amount for the next week’s second chapter: $45.)