A Monster Who Levels Up
Reversing of the public sentiment was a success. Joo Ji-Hyuk ended up earning the nickname of the ‘Griffin Knight’, and Muffin even performed an interview with a reporter.
The killer smile of Muffin that spread out to all social media in real time was adorable enough to give people heart attacks and that’s how she temporarily got to ‘own’ the Internet.
But quite strangely, only Jo Hahn-Sung gritted his teeth and called Muffin the Satan Reincarnate or some such, but Sae-Jin didn’t pay too much mind to it.
As Muffin became famous, inquiries from Knights and Knights Orders throughout the world rushed in like tsunami waves via the Society’s home page.
A Chinese Knights Order even suggested that Sae-Jin tame the Monsters with the eggs they would bring in for a cool fee of post-tax $180 million.
Well, it seemed like the romantic ideals of Knights were the same regardless of where they were from.
Plus, riding on a Griffin wasn’t just a simple romantic dream for Knights, either. After all, imagine a Knight astride a Griffin, tearing through the sky - wasn’t that just the coolest sight ever? In other words, it was a wonderful marketing opportunity, right there.
Whatever the case may have been, thanks to this thing with the Griffin, Kim Sae-Jin’s name had begun to spread around the world for real - from a humble, regular citizen of a small country, to the leader of the Society that had become the focus of the world.
As an evidence of his fame, the number of his SNS followers had blitzed past 1 million and was closing in on the 2 million mark quite rapidly. And just last week, the Society’s class saw another advancement, this time to C+… In other words, things have gotten pretty damn nice for Sae-Jin lately. (TL: the final line of this paragraph confused me like no other - the literal TL would have meant that there was no need for him to do more, but that didn’t seem quite correct so I had to do some research online as well as to ask around, and what I TLed here was the result of that research - but still, I’m not 100% sure if that’s what the author was trying to say in the first place.)
"…I also want to ride one."
Currently, inside the Chairman’s office located in The Monster’s building. There was yet another Knight present here who wanted her own Griffin.
Yu Sae-Jung was ‘gently’ staring at Sae-Jin’s face as he was doing some paperwork while hunched over his desk. Her large and sparkling eyes contained an earnest desire within.
"I’m sorry, but you can’t. You’re still a low Mid Tier. Didn’t you hear what Joo Ji-Hyuk said before?"
"Come on, Oppa. A Knight’s Tier isn’t the true reflection of her abilities, you know? I mean, it’s like, since the rank advancement exams take place only twice a year, sometimes people rank up slower than compared to their capabilities. Me, I can do this no problem, you know?!"
She ‘came to work’ to the Society’s HQ instead of her own Dawn Order. Apparently, her superiors easily granted her the permission when she said she’d be coming here to ride on a Griffin.
"Not going to happen."
But Sae-Jin firmly refused her, causing her cheeks to puff up in annoyance and she started pounding on the desk with her palm.
"Everyday, you’re always favouring Knight Ji-Hyuk only… Oppa, you into guys?"
"What the?! No, I’m not."
"Then why do you hate me so much?!"
After spitting out her words, she then observed changes in Sae-Jin’s mood for a bit. However, he was still ‘toiling’ away with his paperwork.
"…Pretending to work hard only in situations like this…"
Usually, he’d dump all the work to his subordinates, anyways.<
Still pouting, Yu Sae-Jung tenaciously stuck around Sae-Jin’s office.
The patience, obsession, and the tenacity possessed by the precious daughter of the Chaebol household was not to be underestimated. 10 minutes, 20 minutes, and then 30 minutes… Time flowed quickly, but all she did was simply stare at Sae-Jin without giving up.
Of course, as far as time was concerned, Sae-Jin would always be in a disadvantage; before he knew it, his legs were trembling ever so slightly.
"Alright, then, let’s do it this way."
In the end, Sae-Jin had to concede first. When he got up from his seat while putting on a jacket, those excessively sparkling lights came back in full force in her eyes.
"Bring me a Griffin egg."
The documents he was pouring over just now was actually information regarding Griffin eggs. In the past, records showed that five to six eggs appeared on auctions throughout the year, but nowadays, not one have, so far. And the financial department head Yu Dohng also mentioned that even if one did appear, it should commence a sky-high price anyways.
So, he was thinking that, even if it was the might of the Dawn, finding one would take some time, and Yu Sae-Jung would no doubt have become a Mid Tier by then.
"Then I’ll make sure you can ride on one. Cool?"
He quickly added these words and then lightly patted Yu Sae-Jung’s head once before hurrying outside.
"I’ve got things to take care of, so I’ll get going first."
Sae-Jin left like that. And with a blank face, Yu Sae-Jung’s eyes chased after his back, visible through the open gap of the doors.
Then suddenly, she let out a long sigh. Riding on a Griffin - certainly, that would be nice. But that was only a part of the reason why she was here.
‘I wanted to ask him out for lunch…’
Was he really too dense to notice, or did he really not like her that much? While hiding a disappointed and melancholic heart, she trudged towards the restaurant she had made a reservation with.
It was late at night.
A Goblin that was lying on a bed tossing and turning, abruptly opened his eyes. From his two bloodshot eyes, a strange aura was oozing out.
Scanning the surroundings for a moment or two, the Goblin let out a long sigh before suddenly morphing into a human being.
"…It’s happening again."
Kim Sae-Jin dazedly muttered out. The clock said 2:30 AM.
Roughly a month after acquiring the Orc Great Warrior Form, he was currently suffering from various negative side effects.
First of all, it became impossible to enjoy a relaxing night’s sleep anymore. The vitality of the Orc residing within him did not permit things it did not agree with, such as lying down for more than three hours straight.
This much was fine. With his body so sturdy and strong, there would be more than enough stamina for the whole day even with minimal amount of sleep.
The real big problem was the explosive increase of his base instincts and desires, such as gluttony and lust, as well as his aggressive tendencies for violence and confrontation.
Against the strong, he’d give his everything in a challenge, but against the weak, a deserved domination and trampling. Craving to be the true victor, but the defeated would be ruthlessly humiliated and stepped on.
Now that he threw away the identity of the Werewolf, Orc’s basic instincts and racial tendencies were spreading all over him.
Sae-Jin held his head in distress.
Just what kind of a vicious cycle was this? He chased so hard after his evolution in order to overcome the threat of losing his ego; but now, he simply had no avenue to soothe his powerfully surging instincts.
While gazing at the cold white light of the full moon permeating through the curtains, he slowly got up from his bed. There would be no change whatsoever by sitting on his a*s doing nothing, after all.
Whatever the case may be, he just had to work harder.
The conditions of his evolutions couldn’t simply be satisfied by hunting Monsters. That was why, if at all possible, he had to try out everything. For now, there was no other way but to try out any old random things.
"…Heuk… Heu, euuuk…"
Sae-Jin was thinking, would he be able to evolve somehow, if he killed the Knight crawling in front of him? No, that was too much, so maybe he should just break a leg or two, instead…
‘As long as I don’t kill…’
He could assist the victim with the best potion brewed by the Goblin Alchemist.
He then walked in heavy steps towards the female Knight and grabbed her by her slender waist. The huge hand of the Werewolf was enough to pick her up off the ground.
"Let… let go, let me go…"
When he saw the terror-stricken face of the female Knight, from deep inside of him a powerful sense of enjoyment bubbled up to the front. So, the Wolf’s long tongue reached out and licked her face.
Her terrified screams stabbed into his ears. It sure was a loud sound for the Wolf with a very sensitive hearing ability, and fortunately, Sae-Jin could recover some of his humanity from that scream.
He turned his gaze towards the sky. The dawn’s sky with the full moon high up was dyed in the deep shades of navy blue.
That was it, the full moon. No doubt, the cause for this crisis was the Werewolf’s instincts enhanced by the full moon getting all tangled up with the Orc’s desires.
"*SFX for a child-like sobbing*"
It was then, the Knight captured within his hand began crying like a child.
Only then did Sae-Jin check who she was while tilting his head.
And she was someone he had been somewhat acquainted with before, the girl who lost to Yu Sae-Jung at the Knights Duel, Jung Eun-Ji.
Why was the female Knight famous even in the entertainment industry out hunting during these dangerous hours?
From the jaws of the Wolf, a strange and murky, low frequency growl came out. Taking this as a sign of the creature attacking her, Jung Eun-Ji squeezed her eyes shut. But what happened next was quite confusing to her, to say the least.
‘Come back when you get stronger.’
He freed her while carrying a mischievous grin. Of course, to her eyes it was one of the most terrifying expressions she’d ever seen.
*SFX for thudding footsteps*
And then, walking with heavy steps, he headed off elsewhere.
Her face all messed up with snot and tears, Jung Eun-Ji sank to the ground powerlessly and continued to stare at the back of the departing Werewolf silently.
Sae-Jin continued to walk through the forest for a while longer after that, before sensing a strange energy. Even from this great distance, he could sense that nearly imperceptible evil energy with black and crimson colours blending together to give off a seriously bad vibe.
As if he was a moth drawn by the light, he approached it and found a stone that seemingly looked as innocuous as it could get. There was no need for him to wonder what this thing was for, as…
– A stone made by an unknown individual for summoning purposes. 24 times a day, Monsters within its effective area will be transferred to the specified area.
– It’ll break once the number of usages run out.
…As he possessed a leveled-up Passive that allowed him to take a peek at the information of things other than weapons.
Sae-Jin immediately figured it out the moment he read the alert window.
This was the culprit of all those Monster incidents happening throughout the country until now. No, the real culprit was something else. The alert window said this thing was made by an unknown individual, after all.
‘But what an unexpected harvest.’
For now, Sae-Jin sliced apart this Summoning Rock and stopped its operation.
– It is now known that Knight Jung Eun-Ji is complaining about the mental trauma suffered at the hands of the Werewolf while being treated in the private medical facility…….
Two days later, after being seen as a big scoop, the stories related to Jung Eun-Ji exploded out into the open.
Sae-Jin definitely didn’t give her any external wounds. The only thing he did was to break her weapon, that was all.
But seeing all that exaggerated reactions coming from the news, the various publications and even from the netizens, clearly the identity of the victim played the biggest role of all, it seemed.
– Although experts concur that this Werewolf has been active within the Monster field for quite some time, they are suspecting that there might be some type of connection between it and the Monster-related attacks that have been occurring frequently.
*SFX for papers rustling*
As Sae-Jin was paying attention to the news broadcast on the television, out of the blue, he could hear the sound of something being written inside the desk’s drawer.
That was an indication of someone writing on the communication notebook. So, he pulled the book out from the drawer.
It was a message from the Special Investigation Division after a long time had passed by.
The truth of these incidents… As he did find something two days ago by sheer good timing, he picked up his pen with certain amount of confidence.
In all honesty, it wasn’t because he was refusing to - he couldn’t, even if he wanted to. But still, he passed on everything he knew this way. He found negotiating like this when many innocent people were suffering out there rather uncomfortable after all.
And when he realised this uncomfortable feeling within his mind, he somehow felt happy as well, knowing that it was the evidence of him not being assimilated to either the Orc or the Wolf Form.
Even though replies were hastily being written after his own words. Sae-Jin coolly closed the notebook.
The longest day in the year, and the true beginning of the Summer.
"Our Society is doing really well right now, isn’t it? No wait, isn’t it Oppa who’s doing really well?"
After finishing up with her work, Yu Sae-Jung showed up in Sae-Jin’s office just like before. This time, he was reading a newspaper; he chuckled slightly and got up to leave.
"Don’t you have to go to school?"
"Well, no, I’m admitted to a university already. Meaning, it’s the same thing as me being an official adult - no, I am an adult now. I even got the driving licence, too!!"
Yu Sae-Jung seemed to be in an especially good mood. Today was actually the day she was going to have lunch with him. She even wore a sleek, fancy outfit and a pair of high heels for the occasion.
"Is that so? Well then, shall we get going?"
While speaking, Kim Sae-Jin smoothly wrapped his arm around her shoulders. At this subtle contact, Yu Sae-Jung was stunned slightly. But she could only swallow down her saliva. Without saying much, she naturally followed his lead.
"So, where would you like to go?"
"Mm? Oh, right. I made reservations, but it’s fine to go where Oppa wishes to go."
"No, it’s alright. Let’s go to the reserved place."
< 18. The Vicious Cycle (1) > Fin.
(TL: the amount left for the third sponsored chapter of the week: $45.)