A Monster Who Levels Up
Kim Sae-Jin opened the door wide.
However, there was no one in front of him. And when he confusedly lowered his gaze, only then did he find Yu Baek-Song looking ‘up’ at him with a dissatisfied face.
Pure white hair. Sharply shaped eyes. Tightly shut lips where he could easily spy her stubborn personality… Her perfectly defined facial features definitely showed the beauty of the Divine Beast seriously well.
However, for Sae-Jin, what drew in his focus more was not her facial features but the two perfectly cute pair of ears standing straight on top of her head and the stiff tail of a tiger on her back.
‘She’s…. a lot smaller than I thought?!’
Falling into even more confusion, Sae-Jin looked down on the top of her head. Frankly, the impression he got was that she was quite a tall person from all the televised interviews that only showed her face.
But hell, wasn’t this at the level of a middle school student?! At a push, what, 155? 156 centimetres tall?
Yu Baek-Song spat out a couple of fake coughs. Quite unlike the first impression of being scary and mean, he just couldn’t help but think she was really a cute little girl, what with her small stature and sharp face all working nicely together.
"…Welcome to my place."
Kim Sae-Jin quickly bowed his head. And Yu Baek-Song wordlessly looked up at his face for a while.
That continued for a bit longer.
And then… she began doing the very thing he was worried about.
Yu Baek-Song’s nose twitched as she began sensing the scent coming off Sae-Jin’s body. And as expected, there was a certain addictive quality to his scent; her actions of sniffing him up didn’t end there.
Sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff~~
She totally forgot all about the real reason for coming to meet him and was completely immersed in smelling him. The stiff tail had become loose before anyone knew it, and was now gently swaying from side to side. And those cute but straight ears of hers had also became softened and rounded as well, slowly fluttering and all that.
"Are you alright?"
"….Ahh. Excuse me."
When Sae-Jin called out to her, Yu Baek-Song could finally regain her senses from the stupor of his scents.
"I’m Yu Baek-Song, the Chief of the SID."
She handed over a business card with her small and pretty hand. The jet-black card contrasted her pure white skin. Sae-Jin received the card and then offered her his hand for a shake.
"I’m Kim Sae-Jin. If I were to say what my job is, then it’s the Chairman of a Society."
"I’ve heard a lot about you. Is it fine for me to enter?"
When he stepped aside, she entered past the front door and into his house.
And as soon as she was inside, she began to sniff the air again.
Kim Sae-Jin swallowed his saliva in slight anxiety. It had been almost a year since he started living at this place. He had been living here while using various Monster Forms, so there should be quite a lot of accumulated odour of Monsters in here.
"Your house smells really nice."
But fortunately, Yu Baek-Song seemed to focus less on the fleeting smells of Monsters and more on the Scent of the Wolf instead. She then expressed her satisfaction at this great (?) atmosphere.
"Is, is that so? Well… Please follow me."
He carried a bitter smile as he guided Yu Baek-Song to the living room.
No actually, he tried to.
She was moving with some difficulty. She’d take a few steps, then stop and start sniffing the air. Then she’d recover her bearings, start walking again for a few more steps, before stopping again to sniff, sniff…
décor is pretty nice."
As she spoke those words, there was a certain light glow on her face visible to naked eyes. If one thought she seemed terse and stubborn in appearance initially, now she looked rather coy, somehow. Seriously, she was indeed a Soo-in whose mood would change according to the environment she was in.
"Ahh… well, thank you. Please, follow me. There is something I’d like to show you."
Only then did Yu Baek-Song follow him in while making the sounds of pitter-patter.
Just past the passageway and into the living room, one could see the Sae-Jin’s favourite couch where he just loved to lounge around. And even Yu Baek-Song didn’t simply walk past that couch. She too gravitated towards that particular piece of furniture naturally, as if it was done all subconsciously.
"This is it."
Sae-Jin picked up the necklace and spoke confidently. But unexpectedly, there wasn’t any reaction. And when he turned around in confusion to see what was going on…
He witnessed Yu Baek-Song breathlessly shoving her face all the way up into the couch and busy sniffing it.
"…Excuse me? Excuse me!!"
Sae-Jin had to call for her three, four times after that. However, she didn’t even pretend to hear him. In the end, Sae-Jin had to pick her up by the scruff of her neck and move her away from his couch, like one would pick up a stray kitten.
"Ahh!! Hey, what gives?!"
Yu Baek-Song threw a temper tantrum and flapped her limbs around, but then, quickly remembered the sorry sight she just showed off, so she let out a fake cough and tried to act composed.
"Keum. What is it? Grabbing someone else’s scruff already…
"My apologies. It seemed like you were too infatuated with the scent."
"Infatuated?!… Whatever. So, what was it you wanted to talk about?"
"Ahh, that is…"
He gave the freshly-crafted necklace to Yu Baek-Song. She stared at the necklace resting on her palm in silence, before asking him with her head tilting slightly.
"What is this?"
"It’s a tool to differentiate Vampires from the populace. With this, even a normal person can easily find out whether there is a Vampire in the vicinity or not. Please, try it on."
Yu Baek-Song’s facial expression was of extreme distrust, but she still tried to put on the necklace.
"How do I put this thing on??!!"
Unfortunately, as expected of a Divine Beast who had never worn any accessories whatsoever in her life, she didn’t succeed.
"This son of a…" (Yu Baek-Song)
As there was no progress made the longer the time was wasted, besides getting Yu Baek-Song’s face into a deeper frown and her mood all riled up so, losing his patience first, Sae-Jin stepped in to help.
He walked up towards her and personally put the necklace on her neck.
However, in the middle of trying to put it on, a strange and steamy breath touched the edge of his collar bones. He got so surprised, he quickly withdrew from there.
Yu Baek-Song avoided his gaze while pretending nothing was wrong, but her two deeply-reddening cheeks told no lies.
"What, what? No, besides that, what the heck is this thing?"
She then deliberately shouted loudly in an aggressive growl. Sae-Jin chuckled slightly and explained the abilities of the necklace.
"But it looks like a regular necklace, though…"
Yu Baek-Song muttered to herself as she fiddled around with the necklace around her neck.
"You can trust me. While searching the areas around the Gangwon Province with this item equipped, you will be able to track down those Vampires hiding among regular people."
"Even though I don’t need this thing to distinguish Vampires?"
Before he knew it, she was already addressing him without any honorifics but somehow, it didn’t feel too bad. In reality, although her face looked especially young, the gap in their ages was close to twenty years anyway.
But funnily enough, it felt like he was being spoken to not by a much older adult, but by a very young kid instead.
"Well, I’m sure that a Divine Beast can do that with ease. But, isn’t it impossible for the other agents?"
With her ears standing up straight, she began thinking for a bit.
The abilities of Vampires to blend in with the crowd was so fantastic, even the 1st generation Soo-ins that enjoyed senses sharper than normal animals had real trouble differentiating them.
And, most of the 1st generations had almost gone ‘extinct’ now. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say, there were only Yu Baek-Song the Divine Beast and Kim Sae-Jin throughout the entire world who could smell out a Vampire with their noses only.
"Did Lycan make this thing? And he told you to pass it over to me?"
"Eh? Ahh, well… you can think of it as Lycan and I have cooperated on its creation."
Yu Baek-Song took a suspicious glance at him before nodding her head.
"Maybe it’ll help out with investigation. We’ll see. But besides that."
She easily undid the necklace. It was simpler to take it off rather putting it on, so there was no trouble this time round.
"Isn’t there some kind of info Lycan is supposed to give us?"
"Huh? Oh… Let’s talk about that a little later. For now… there is a condition attached to handing over that tool to SID."
Her brows narrowed at the sudden change of topics. Her expression was of how unhappy she was, but…
"Of course. It’s not for free. Since it was so, so difficult making that tool…"
Sae-Jin subtly got closer to her. It was in order to let her smell his scent better.
He only got closer by three hand spans. But she was visibly panicking. It even seemed that making eye contact with him was getting difficult for her.
"…You see, the thing is…"
His expression slightly hardened when he thought about his mother. He got closer to her a little bit more.
"W, wait, don’t come closer…."
Yu Baek-Song found it hard to keep her thoughts straight as the thick scent invaded her senses. She tried to arouse her strong mental resistance to endure this onslaught, but… But his scent was simply too much for an immature Divine Beast to withstand.
On that day, Sae-Jin was able to get a definite answer from Yu Baek-Song. As expected, trying to win over a Divine Beast by using nothing more than his scent was difficult but the fact that she was a 1st generation Soo-in came to bite her in the rear - since by having highly developed senses meant that she would also react very sensitively towards his scent.
Kim Sae-Jin crafted five more necklaces per instructions of the SID, and they paid over whooping $4.5 million US for each one of these artifacts.
Afterwards, things moved swiftly, to the point where the Lycan didn’t even have to help out at all. That was how great the abilities of the SID agents were. Within a week, they were able to arrest 39 Vampires, and also uncover the fact that seven of them were indirectly related to this disaster of the Dead Fissure as well.
When that happened, several reporters who wrote articles that supported Vampires, as well as members of the Rights Groups that advocated for the Vampires’ Rights had all vanished into thin air.
With these discoveries, it became somewhat clear that Vampires had blended into the human society. The public showed great indignation at this fact, all the while singing the praises of the SID’s swift response and Kim Sae-Jin’s timely inventions.
And The Monster’s Class was readjusted to B- after its contribution towards the investigation was acknowledged publicly.
Additionally, as the land price in Gangwon Province hit rock bottom, buying up the available land concluded faster than expected. This whole buying up land was one part of the future strategy both the planning department and the financial department had suggested.
It was definitely the case of a blessing in disguise.
And that was how a Society, founded less than a year ago, had grown to become one of the biggest in the country that possessed over ten thousand pyoung of land in the Gangwon Province. (TL: 1 pyoung = 3.305 square metres.)
"Development of the Society’s lands?"
"Yes. I believe this is the perfect timing."
The planning department Chief Soh Jin-Hui came to see him and submitted a report. With curious eyes, he began pouring through it.
The report was filled with many ideas on how to utilise the nearly ten-thousand-pyoung-wide land. A theme park using Athany as the mascot; a luxurious magic shop that sold artifacts that Sae-Jin would make in the future; and plans of forming an alliance with Hazeline’s Yoseon Alchemy House, then converting the area around there into an exclusive district reserved for the Goblin Alchemist and the Orc Blacksmith.
"They are all good ideas, but… wouldn’t they cost a lot of money?"
"No, not at all!! If I do this together with Mister Yu Dohng, then I can definitely get us lots of savings!! Plus, several famous international Societies are already doing similar businesses as the one I’m proposing, and have met with great success so far! We can do even better than they did! On top of that, many Knights Orders said they will help us!"
Soh Jin-Hui sounded so enthusiastic. Sae-Jin smiled deeply while gazing at her.
In any case, he was not worried as far as the abilities of the people he had picked were concerned. And simply holding onto money was the same as letting them rot, so investing them this way was probably the right thing to do.
"…I understand. Please, give it your all."
Giving his permission, Kim Sae-Jin signed his decision on the report. Seeing this, Soh Jin-Hui did her absolute best to suppress the overwhelming emotions and bowed her waist deeply at him, then left the office of the Chairman.
As soon as she left, Sae-Jin could hear her energetic shout "Hooray!!" of celebration coming from the hallway.
Kim Sae-Jin’s face held a thin smile from that, but soon, his expression hardened once more as he pulled out another document from the desk’s drawer.
< 19. The Dead Ball (4) > Fin.
(TL: 5/10 of the scheduled chapters. Well, I messed it up with the chapter count, and there will be only one chapter today. I thought there should be one surplus chapter for a double release, but oh well. My bad.)
(TL: the amount remaining for the 5th sponsored chapter is: $40.)