A Monster Who Levels Up
And this chapter begins our (1/200+)
Jung Eun-Ji’s state was unexpectedly serious. Her face was haggard and the complexion, pale. And there were deep, dark circles below her eyes. As if she was lost within the confines of fear, her body continued to tremble, and she was even scared of making eye contacts.
Joo Ji-Hyuk did his very best to converse with her but it proved to be difficult in the end. When he shook his head as if to indicate that he was about to give up, Kim Sae-Jin let out a bitter sigh.
"Mister Ji-Hyuk. Can you step outside for a second, please?"
"Eh? Oh… Of course."
Joo Ji-Hyuk left the hospital room without suspecting a thing. Sae-Jin stared at Jung Eun-Ji for a bit longer, before activating the Eyes of the Wolf.
As he thought, he could see some kind of an aura.
The deep blackish-red ‘energy’ oozing out of every pore in her - the intense hue and the concentration of it seemed to show how severe her condition was.
First, he brought out a potion with the effects of a sedative. Obviously, this would not cure her, but it should help her get some much needed peaceful sleep. He was planning to treat her while she slept.
She trembled even more when he suddenly called out her name. Her head slowly raised up.
"Please take this."
When comparing the odour from the Wolf Form and his Human Form, the former was thicker and stronger so one would be hard pressed to think they were from the same source. But there was some similarity there still.
She couldn’t even dare to refuse him, and with quaking hands, received the potion.
Jung Eun-Ji wordlessly drank it.
And precisely one minute later, she passed out on the bed.
After confirming that she was out cold for good, he extended his claws. Then, he slashed lightly at the bad ‘energy’ rising up from her body. And when he did that, the gently dancing aura began to coagulate around his claws as if it had finally found its owner.
He was slightly taken back at this unexpected development. He was thinking that aura would be sliced apart just like before, so why….
However, the contents of the alert window rising up were even more absurd in nature.
– Obedience through terror and fear.
– Whenever the ‘ruler’ wants, he can cause the emotions of terror and fear in the ‘ruled subjects’.
– The ‘ruled subjects’ will feel terror and fear when trying to refuse the ‘ruler’s’ orders, requests and/or suggestions. However, the ‘ruled subjects’ will not be aware of the effects of the Link.
– The ‘ruler’ can sever the Link at any time. However, if he wishes to reconnect the Link, he must go through the same process as before.
He ended up receiving the clues to becoming a Lycanthrope quite unexpectedly.
He dazedly studied the alert window. Definitely, that dark and red energy coming off her had vanished. But seeing those words written on the alert window… Heck, wasn’t this pretty similar to a master and slave relationship?!
Jung Eun-Ji suddenly shifted her body slightly. Her frowning face had already reverted back into the relaxed, emotionless one, and her body wasn’t trembling anymore. Even her breathing had become calm, resembling that of a young sleeping child.
Whatever the case may have been, it was true that his ‘treatment’ was complete. So, he hurriedly escaped from the hospital room.
Joo Ji-Hyuk was leaning against the wall while
waiting for him. When he approached, Sae-Jin spat out quickly and headed towards the elevator.
"I think she’ll be fine from now on. But Mister Ji-Hyuk, if and when she wakes up and starts saying strange things, please, you must call me first before anyone else."
"…Please, I’m begging you here!!"
Joo Ji-Hyuk dumbfoundedly stared at Sae-Jin’s back before entering Eun-Ji’s room while scratching the back of his neck.
And around three hours later, the call from Joo Ji-Hyuk did indeed come.
The contents were simple enough. Jung Eun-Ji had recovered completely from the trauma after ingesting that potion, so she had requested him to send her thanks to Sae-Jin.
‘…Is this that thing about the subject not being aware of the skill’s effects?’
Sae-Jin scratched his cheek slightly while looking at his SNS profile. Jung Eun-Ji had uploaded a photo of her brightly smiling face and a lengthy message there.
‘What a relief.’
He pressed the ‘Like’ button to show that he had received her message while not giving the matter too much thought.
And about one hour later - news articles regarding the supposed relationship between Sae-Jin and Jung Eun-Ji exploded out into the Internet, and Yu Sae-Jung - whom he thought wouldn’t call him for the next few weeks - phoned him first while gritting her teeth like crazy.
On this day, Sae-Jin finally understood what it was like to lead the life of a celebrity.
There were no real benefits of getting famous; instead, there was only the pretty useless handicap of having one’s life become more complicated.
Afterwards, Sae-Jin went around doing slightly cowardly things.
He assumed the Werewolf form, and attacked Knights ranked lower than low Mid Tier, causing them to suffer psychological shocks. Knights with ranks higher than low Mid Tier possessed stronger mental resistance and thus forming a Link with them was not possible.
And he’d go and see them under the pretext of helping them, all the while scheming to form the Link, which would then take him one step closer to his evolution.
During this process, the fame of both Sae-Jin and the Goblin Alchemist rose up higher and higher, while the infamy of the Werewolf also soared high enough to pierce the heavens.
Even the media took issues with the Werewolf, calling it cowardly but intelligent Monster that avoided the strong while terrorising the weaklings.
Before long, the Werewolf became the ‘face’ of evil, and Knights ranked upper Mid and High Tier began moving to subjugate it.
Thanks to this development, Sae-Jin unfortunately had to stop after creating Links with only ten people.
And so, time continued to flow - and now, it was 13th of August.
On this sweltering Summer day heat, the planned product demonstration of The Monster opened up on an auditorium in Gangwon Province.
The central aim for this event was to advertise the Athany doll version 2.0, which now came with effects improved enough to replace a Mana Spring. Over three thousand Knights and reporters from all over the globe showed up for this demonstration.
Since this number exceeded the capacity of the auditorium, the remaining five hundred or so people had to view the event through the giant monitor set up outside the venue itself.
The emcee for the event was Jo Hahn-Sung but the role of introducing the Athany doll 2.0 was entrusted to Kim Sae-Jin.
Initially, he was really worried - but it unexpectedly ended without him getting jittery. Maybe, it was an obvious result since all he had to do was to step up for less than ten minutes and the things he had to say wasn’t a lot either.
He simply walked up to the stage while holding a doll even he found absolutely cute, and then…
"Well, first of all. All the Knights and Wizards present here, please sense the Mana coming off this doll of Athany."
After speaking up to here, he waited until the Knights and Wizards become stunned by the vividly flowing currents of Mana and then he ‘suggested’ the estimated value of the doll that even a layman could understand.
With that over and done with, the rest was left up to the audience members. The Knights spat out exaggerated words of admiration and praise in honest shock, while Wizards’ faces carried deep frowns of jealousy - and the fingers of the reporters pounded on their notebooks as if to break them into pieces or something.
And into this powder keg, he threw in one more spark of fire.
"In three months’ time, we are planning to release another invention besides the Athany doll to the market - a special item that contains the essence of The Monster. Please look forward to it."
The auditorium descended into a chaotic arena of fervor as he quickly stepped into the backstage.
"Was there really a need to do a live broadcast like this…? Maybe I should reprimand the marketing department later on."
Watching the footage coming out of the TV, an embarrassed smile spread on Sae-Jin’s face.
"Eh? No, I don’t think you have to do something like that. Maybe because your height has grown taller, you looked really good up on the stage, you know? I mean, really, really cool. If I was a bit younger, I’d have fallen for you already~"
While taking a cute little bite at an apple, Hazeline spoke.
Today, she had come to see Sae-Jin about a problem regarding debt. However, this time she was here as the lendee, not a lender. In other words, she came to borrow some money for the Alchemy House expansion plan.
The amount was nearly $4.5 million US, but since Sae-Jin owed her for her generous support back then, he didn’t even hesitate in lending this money. That was probably why she was flirting (?) with him like this with a huge smile on her face.
"Haha… Is that right?"
"Of course~ Ah, right. By the way, one Athany doll 2.0 should go for at least around $50 million so, doesn’t that mean Mister Sae-Jin is loaded now?"
Her voice was filled to the brim with envy.
"Ahaha… Actually, I don’t have much in my bank account. You see, I’m busy purchasing land right now."
"Land? But why?"
"Well. The financial and the planning departments gave me an advice. By buying up the land between the Society’s building and the Yoseon Alchemy House, it would aid in the Society’s expansion in the future."
Hazeline dazedly calculated the distance between here and her Alchemy House - then her jaws dropped to the floor while carrying a shocked expression.
"From here to there?! Wouldn’t that cost a fortune? Even if the land price in Gangwon Province has hit rock bottom because of all the Monster incidents…"
"I’ve already acquired about the half of the area. The pricing on the Orc’s weapons has gone up by a lot, you see."
Hazeline blankly gazed at him, before swallowing her saliva and did a fake cough. And then, she carefully opened her mouth.
"Ah~ The economy is in the doldrums lately. Maybe I should increase the rent~~? Mister S, Sa, Sae-Jin, what do you think?"
It was a well-known fact that the building the Orc’s Forge was located in belonged to Hazeline.
Her appearance in that moment was unbelievably cute quite unlike her real age of 30-ish; and it was enough to momentarily rouse the instinctive lust in him.
He suppressed his rising instincts to the best of his abilities and awkwardly laughed out.
His quest to evolve into a Lycanthrope had to come to a halt for now, but Sae-Jin didn’t become lazy at all.
This time, he worked hard to advance the ‘Human’ Form, instead.
He was able to somehow squeeze 30 minutes out of the time he could stay in Human Form and during this half hour, he focused on training and exercising. And then, went on Monster hunts as a human. Before long, he was able to grasp the title of the ‘youngest ever High Tier Hunter’ in the history.
"Are you referring to partnering up with a Knights Order?"
"That’s correct. I’m pretty sure there will be plenty of Orders who wish to participate."
Regrettably, training alone had its limits. So, he called for Jo Hahn-Sung to request a cooperative hunting with a willing Knights Order.
"…Yes. Probably, it’ll end up with the Order we choose. But, wouldn’t it be better if the Chairman contacts the Dawn directly…?"
Right away, Sae-Jin’s sharp eyes landed on Hahn-Sung. Even though the number of people working under him was the highest among all the departments at 13, from some time ago, it felt like he was trying to shuck his responsibilities, somehow…
"No, no it’s not like that. I will send the relevant documents right away!!"
Jo Hahn-Sung quickly saw through the meaning of his gaze and bent his back in 90 degree angle.
"Thank you. Well…. oh, right. Mister Hahn-Sung, Are you aware that the space for our HQ is continuously expanding?"
"Yes, of course."
"I am planning to construct more buildings on the area adjacent to this one. The goal is to let each department occupy at least one whole building by themselves. The plan is to also build break rooms and night duty rooms where one can rest, so please spread the word to other employees as well."
Then, Hahn-Sung’s eyes gleamed hopefully.
"If, if that’s the case, then, the Satan, no I mean, Muffin will be…?"
"Obviously, the marketing department will continue to look after her. Since she’s a fussy girl, it wouldn’t be too good to change the current caretaker, after all."
Jo Hahn-Sung’s expression became of someone who had lost his country.
"But, but, I’m not a caretaker…"
….I’m not, and it’s definitely more correct to call me a slave instead…
Unfortunately, Hahn-Sung could not continue with his words. He simply swallowed back the rising sighs and just shook his head.
At the same time, Kim Yu-Rin received a summon from the Raven Order’s Master in a long, long while.
Kim Hyun-Seok - not only the Order Master of the Raven, but also selected as 2nd seat in the list of Knights around the world; otherwise known as the Best Highest Tier Knight in the Republic of Korea.
…And also, Kim Yu-Rin’s father.
He once said that the relationship between a parent and a child was not much different to that of a boss and a subordinate; when Kim Yu-Rin was first admitted to the Raven Order, in other words, when she was just a high school freshman, he forcefully kicked her out of the house, regardless of how much she cried and begged him not to.
And then, for the past 10 years, Kim Hyun-Seok treated his own flesh and blood poorer than he’d a stranger when it came to official matters. And so, it had been nearly four years since her last visit to the Order Master’s office.
"…Pardon? A diplomatic war?" (Kim Yu-Rin)
"Correct. Now that the Athany doll’s effects have been proven without a shred of doubt, and also it’s possible for the international Knights Orders to buy one, the number of them lobbying the government has increased by far too much."
The reason Kim Hyun-Seok had summoned his daughter was, of course, to discuss the matters of the Order.
Currently, the top Knights Orders around the world were engaging in a weaponless war - all for the Athany doll 2.0.
Seen as better than an A-level Mana Spring due to the effects ‘Mana recovery’ and ‘stamina recovery’ added simultaneously onto the doll, it now became a core issue directly related to the status of Knights Orders in general.
On top of this, this situation now was different to when the competition only occurred between the local Orders. If another country took it away, then that would damage the prestige of the nation itself.
"And…. and so?" (Kim Yu-Rin)
"I heard that you’re on friendly terms with the Society’s Chairman."
Kim Yu-Rin’s body trembled slightly.
"…That… that was…"
"Was it a lie?"
"N, no, it was not! I am friendly with him. We even spoke on the phone yesterday…"
Yu-Rin roughly shook her head. This was the first time her father had summoned her officially and placed complete trust in her. That meant that there was no more suitable person than her for this job, and it also showed how much her father believed in her.
She didn’t want to betray his belief in her.
"Is that right? Then I shall leave this matter to you."
"…Please be rest assured, fa… Master."
The word father circled around once in her mouth before dissipating altogether.
For a while now, calling Kim Hyun-Seok ‘Master’ instead of ‘father’ had become the norm for her.
< 18. The Vicious Circle (3) > Fin.
(TL: 1/10 of the scheduled chapters.)