A Monster Who Levels Up
Kim Sae-Jin returned home after somehow shaking off an avalanche of reporters, several Knights and even an ambulance.
As soon as he came back, he headed straight to his bed. And he finally got to enjoy a deep and restful sleep in a long, long while. It was because the Orc’s desire for battle had been fully satisfied by the deadly encounter with the Basilisk.
And so, the sun rose on yet another morning; Sae-Jin felt great as he got up and when he switched on the TV out of habit…
He got to experience the symptoms of his brain suddenly stop functioning for a moment or two.
The reason was the footage of the press conference held by the Chief of the Special Investigation Division of Police.
The so-called Special Investigation Division of the National Police.
The special bureau within the Police Force that specifically dealt with the criminals possessing Traits or the knowledge of Mana Utilisation.
Nominally, the Special Investigation Division formed a part of the overall administration of the government, but due to its nature of dealing with ‘special’ circumstances, it was treated as a separate entity most of the time.
On top of this, the treatment its employees received was better than some run-of-the-mill Knights Orders, so there had been many cases where talented Knights were scouted away to the Division instead.
But, just as the status within the society and the prestige indicated, pride the Special Investigation Division possessed as an organization was incredibly high. (TL: From now on, I’m shortening it to "SID".)
Some people called them ‘egoistic’ or ‘conceited’ but in truth, ever since the Division’s inception, it had faced tens of thousands of cases yet the number of times they failed to solve the crime numbered in a single digit, so their pride was indeed fully justified.
"… What the heck is wrong with her?!"
That was why, back then, Sae-Jin wrote the words of ‘I’ll accept the job after you apologise’ half out of mischievous mind - which, now that he thought about it, was him behaving like a brat.
A public apology from the Chief of the SID. Now that was pretty much the same thing as the entire organization bowing their collective heads at him after reining in their pride somehow. And such a thing had never happened, not even once in the history before.
– The Mercenary Lycan had been working hard all by himself to prevent more tragedy from unfolding after predicting the occurrence of these incidents. However, we at SID ended up committing a grave sin by calling his efforts terrible acts of hate crime…
The voice coming out from the quivering lips of Yu Baek-Song was feeble and rather pitiful.
Before he knew it, Sae-Jin had taken a proper seat before raising the volume of the TV.
– The result of SID’s investigation is that, these Monster-related incidents are definitely crimes and not accidents, and during the course of our investigation, a Vampire who had requested for protection from the government two years ago has become one of the prime suspects…
While he dazedly stared at the cutely bobbing mouth of Yu Baek-Song, his mobile phone began ringing loudly next.
He couldn’t tear his eyes off the TV, but still managed to answer the call.
– "Oppa, it’s Sae-Jung. Are you unhurt?"
The call was from Yu Sae-Jung. Strangely, her voice was so small, it was lower than even a normal whisper.
"Yeah. I’m fine."
– "Whew. That is good…. I…"
She couldn’t finish what she wanted to say. Out of the blue, he could hear the loud, angry shouts of "You little rascal!! Are you calling him…" from the other side of the line and promptly, the call got cut off there.
"…What was that all about?"
– I, Yu Baek-Song, as the Chief of SID, is making this public apology to Lycan the Mercenary, and also wish to earn his cooperation as well.
He could hear the declaration of apology from the aloof White Tiger.
Two days later.
He had never seen chaos quite like this one.
The anxiety regarding the Monster field that had suddenly expanded twice its original size had subsided incredibly quickly and instead, the news regarding the Lycan had the country in total upheaval.
As expected, devastating ripples of making a White Tiger apologise publicly, who seemingly had never apologised to anyone ever, had far-reaching consequences.
So, the public and the media kept their eyes and ears very wide open for the response from the Lycan - whether the legendary Mercenary would accept the apology from the SID that tried to have him prosecuted as a criminal and start working for them, or just like until now, stay silent over the matter.
‘Imma go crazy over here…’
But in reality, the person central to this chaos, Kim Sae-Jin was deeply mired in regret and dilemma while looking at the messages Yu Baek-Song had written on the communication note book.
They said that a stone thrown without care would kill a frog - now that he had thought about what he had done, he did indeed behave too damn thoughtlessly. He didn’t have to think too hard to realise that, for SID, their pride and fame was hanging in the balance over solving this crime.
And he just had to make fun of such people like some damn airhead…
Sae-Jin grandly sighed out and lied back down on the bed.
Vampires - or, those damn bloodsuckers.
He wasn’t able to "think" about them in-depth lately, but his anger towards them remained true.
The thoughts still swirled in his head - Why did those bastards murder my mom? Was there a particular reason for that or was it simply to fill up their hungry bellies? And also… Just who is responsible?
These days, whenever he thought about these questions, his anger boiled so much that sometimes he even woke up in the middle of his sleep.
Perhaps, Monsters’ instincts also affected him there. The Wolf, for some reason, hated Vampire species, and Orcs as Monsters didn’t know how to calm their anger without fighting, so…
He believed that, no matter which Monster Form end up assimilating with him, the fury towards the Vampires would only get stronger and not weaker.
After a long, long deliberation while trying hard to think under the clear mindset and logic of a human being, Sae-Jin came to a decision.
His fault in this matter was just too big to ignore. Plus, the debt Vampires had with him was even bigger. And most importantly, didn’t these bastards throw a "dead ball" at the population of the planet Earth first by using these incidents, so would it be okay to let them be, just like that?
After sorting out his thoughts, Sae-Jin wrote down his replies on the notebook.
And around ten minutes after he made his reply.
News media sent out ‘breaking news’ reports.
– OMG. He accepted the job?! But these cops made him into a criminal ㄷ ㄷ; [Liked 2093] [Disliked 858]
└Honestly, he is a criminal. He murdered Vampires. [Liked 398] [Disliked 693]
└U crazy nutter. These incidents were caused by the f*cking Vampires, but you call these motherf*ckers humans? They are f*cking worse than f*cking animals, that’s what it is. Hey you f*cking bloodsucking c*cksuckers, compensate me for my destroyed house, you c*nts. The f*cking poster above mine sounds like a Vampire so, someone trace his goddamn IP or something. [Liked 673] [Disliked 203]
– But man - the Lycan was a real Mercenary? My uncle, who acted as a Mercenary for a short while as the whole thing came to a crashing end, says he’s never heard of the man. [Liked 1681] [Disliked 1458]
└Ur uncle’s a bi*ch, that was why, you fool. [Liked 381] [Disliked 158]
└Most Mercenaries regular citizens heard of are all bottom feeders in reality. The really powerful Mercenaries would never hand over their personal information to anyone, because it might threaten their lives, right? And there were lots of Mercenaries who worked while never registering as one, too, but if records remain, then the credibility is 99%. [Liked 481] [Disliked 38]
└The post above mine is correct. The jobs of Mercenaries 20 years ago was to kill hostile races, so why would he advertise who he is unless he’s gone senile in the head? One mistake, and he’d be assassinated the next day. [Liked 581] [Disliked 48]
– Wow. Does this mean the war between the races are starting again? [Liked 1581] [Disliked 958]
└No, you crazy? We just need to find the Vampires responsible and kill them all. [Liked 581] [Disliked 358]
└What do you mean, kill? We should rehabilitate them ㅉㅉ. It’s people like you making this world cruel and dangerous to live in. [Liked 181] [Disliked 458]
└Don’t make me laugh. Did you know that 80% of all Vampires sent to prison commit suicide? They kill themselves after resisting drinking animal blood, saying how much they hate that stuff. Rehabilitation? What a joke. Just kill them all. [Liked 481] [Disliked 358]
Over four thousand comments appeared in less than three minutes on the news articles that popped out ten minutes ago, after the Lycan had accepted the commission. It showed how highly focused the public’s attention was towards this crime and the Lycan’s decision.
However, Kim Sae-Jin was letting out a soft sigh as he gazed at the contents of the notebook.
Maybe it was because he had added a simple enhancement on a regular notebook, the pages were all filled up. It was quite understandable as how this happened; the SID must have felt rather anxious, judging by the daily messages which easily filled up each page that were sent by them all the while Sae-Jin was busy ignoring their calls…
He fell into a thought.
There were two ways to handle this situation. Give them another note book, or meet them face to face and get this over and done with.
The former option was simpler and safer. The latter option was far more complicated and there was also a lot of risk involved.
But still… Sae-Jin chose the latter.
Of course, he wasn’t going to reveal his identity. No, it was simply pushing ‘Kim Sae-Jin’ the public persona forward as the intermediary.
Also, the Lycan in the Mercenaries’ records was a completely different person to Kim Sae-Jin as well. Never to forget, by the time Lycan began moving stealthily in the shadows ten years ago, he was living a grey-coloured life in an orphanage with no dreams and hopes of the future so, there was just no way he’d be suspected of anything at all.
‘It should be better this way.’
If discovered, then there was the danger of getting arrested for the crime of public fraud but he still chose to go ahead with the latter option. Like this, he’d be able to demand them to reopen the case of his mother’s murder that happened well over ten years ago.
This was what he wrote down.
And in the underground conference room for the SID where the message was received…
Yu Baek-Song’s face became momentarily blanked out. It was the same for the other top agents present in the conference room to plot their next course of action.
"…Why did the name of Kim Sae-Jin pop out of this thing? Oi, you. What the hell is this sh*t?"
Yu Baek-Song bluntly poked the agent sitting next to her and asked him.
"That, that is… Maybe they are, uh, friends?"
"What did you say Kim Sae-Jin’s family relations were?"
"Nothing. They are all dead, sir."
"Then how the f*ck does he know the Lycan?!"
Yu Baek-Song narrowed her brows and glared at the agent.
"…Please excuse me, sir."
The agent received this stare for a short while, and then became the proverbial beam of light as he quickly ran off to somewhere.
"Kim Sae-Jin…. I’m hearing this name way too often nowadays…"
Yu Baek-Song leaned against the backrest of her chair and in an expression pregnant with unknown meaning…
She let out a mighty yawn.
A Divine Beast was still considered young at the age of 40, and as such, Yu Baek-Song still needed plenty of sleep.
After the incident of the Dead Fissure’s sudden appearance had calmed down somewhat.
Kim Yu-Rin found herself in a deep dilemma while playing around with her phone.
"By the way, that Kim Sae-Jin must really be an incredible guy or something, right? He even has a personal connection with the Lycan! Maybe the rumour of him using his Trait to regress back from the future is true after all?"
"…No way. That’s just stupid. Oh, right! Hey you, did you submit those papers in yet?"
Currently, Yu-Rin was taking a break in the temporary Rest Stop near the Monster field. Stories concerning one certain man completely filled up this place.
"Didn’t you see the public notice that went up? Saying The Monster is looking for new members."
"Ahh, that? Of course I already submitted my papers. Well, I hear that in the Dawn Order, almost everyone, including the High Tiers, all submitted their forms. Even the Raven’s upper Mid Tiers might do the same, or so I hear."
Yu-Rin stopped listening to the incoming yammerings and began lightly tapping on the table with her fingertips.
She was busy recalling the memories of four nights ago.
That was when she subjugated the Basilisk with the aid of the Hero Orc; Sae-Jin appearing suddenly and approaching her, who had fallen down from exhaustion after the battle; and the Orc that had gone missing almost at the same time…
‘The time difference is just too short… hey, wait a sec. Kim Sae-Jin said he could communicate with Monsters, so maybe… Maybe, he also succeeded in taming the Demon Orc?!’
But how… even still, could he possibly tame something so humongous?
"*SFX for a pained groan*"
She began to develop migraine from thinking so hard. She massaged her temples while glancing at the LCD screen of her phone.
Besides the questions lingering in her mind, shouldn’t she still need to express her gratitude for helping her out back then?
She swallowed her saliva and made the call.
*SFX for ringtones*
Unfortunately, he didn’t answer his phone again.
And there was yet another evidence of a missed call from her. Kim Yu-Rin felt so embarrassed and began roughly tousling her hair up.
At the same time Yu-Rin tried to call him.
‘Will it work now…?’
Kim Sae-Jin in the Goblin Form was concentrating on an experiment.
‘If I fail again, then I’ll be in Mana O-Ring...’ (TL: This is a Korean online gaming slang term. Bastardised from the gambling term, "all-in." Mana O-Ring means Mana is completely used up.)
This was the inherent danger of crafting a highly specialised item.
The more specialised the purpose, the higher the complexity its manufacturing process was.
This was his 13th attempt already. Just to make one lousy item, he was about to experience the dreaded Mana O-Ring.
First, he used the skill ‘Ruler of the Water’ now at Level D, on 100 millilitre of his own blood contained within a beaker, then he extracted pure Mana from it.
Then crystals would form from that Mana. However, the Kim Sae-Jin’s Mana crystals had no use whatsoever in this form. But if he added these to the process of Magic Tattoos, then it was another story altogether.
Originally, a person’s particular Traits and Skills were contained within that person’s unique Mana signature. Of course, it was plainly impossible to give his Trait over to something else in its entirety - but with the rising Proficiency Levels of the related Skills, it became possible to imbue a part of his Passives to other materials.
In other words, Kim Sae-Jin was trying to add one of his Passive Skills to a regular material and in the process, create a special tool.
The Skill he wanted to transplant was the ‘Wolf’s Sense of Smell’. And the tool created with this Skill was a necklace designed to sniff out the unique smell emitted by the Vampires.
The tool would operate like this: the core of the necklace where the Wolf’s Sense of Smell has been added to, would also come equipped with another attribute added to it thanks to the Orc’s Smithing Technique. When the tool detected the particular odour, it would start vibrating and emit a crimson light.
It did indeed possess some similarities to regular magic artifacts on sale to the public. But it exceeded them in terms of performance as a powerful Skill was wholly imbued into it - although having said that, the Skill’s effects would be somewhat weakened, but still.
For now, even making one proved to be tough challenge for him; and he was making a specialised investigation tool because of the current circumstances and not something with a variety of actual uses, but…
But as long as he could become proficient in the manufacturing process, then he’d be able to craft better items in the future so this was all perfectly fine by his standards.
Plus, his Proficiency points were shooting up through the roof as well.
Sae-Jin in his Goblin Form poured absolutely every fibre of his being into performing the Magic Tattoo, and then finished up with the Orc’s Smithing Technique. And this was his thirteenth attempt today. If he failed now, then that was it for the day.
He then controlled the characteristics of the moisture in the air, and successfully created an odour that closely mimicked a Vampire’s own musk. It was that metallic smell that nearly caused him lose himself to anger just by sensing it.
When the smell slowly approached the necklace, suddenly, a clear red light began emanating from the item’s surface.
"I did it!!"
Changing back to Human Form, Sae-Jin picked up the necklace and let out a relieved sigh. But because he had used up a lot of his Mana until now, he felt dizziness assaulting him.
But there was no time to rest.
Knock Knock Knock
– This is the Chief of the SID.
…Since he had made an appointment with Yu Baek-Song today.
When he confirmed the time remaining for his Human Form, there was still 4 hours left. That was enough.
He quickly headed towards the entrance to open the door, but then, stopped in his treks.
‘…Right - my scent.’
The scent coming out of him was just enough to make normal humans feel friendly towards him, but the story became more complicated if a Soo-in was involved.
And Yu Baek-Song was the so-called ‘pure-blooded’ 1st generation Soo-in, one of only eight remaining in the world. Since her sense of smell would be more developed than other Soo-ins, his scent might be just too effective on her.
‘…Huh. There shouldn’t be a problem, right?’
However, if she couldn’t even endure the urges of some random scent, then she shouldn’t even be called a Divine Beast in the first place. He let go of his worries and then, opened the door.
< 19. The Dead Ball (3) > Fin
(TL: 4/10. One for today.)
(TL: the amount remaining for the 5th sponsored chapter is: $40.)