A Monster Who Levels Up
There was only one suite on the top - 60th - floor of the Gangwon Province’s most luxurious hotel, ‘Romance of Dawn’. And to stay here even for one single night, an enormous fee was required, meaning this place would forever remain out of reach for the regular folks. (TL: The author wrote the name of the hotel in actual English.)
But currently, this top floor had transformed into a base camp solely to serve one person. Not just the 60th floor, either - the five floors below it, from 55th to 59th, as well. Hundreds of magic traps, detection spells, as well as numerous ‘Undeads’ hidden in the shadows were quietly waiting for potential visits from unwelcome intruders.
Although everything looked business as usual at a casual glance, it was in a way, a perfectly constructed fortress designed to kill any who dared to intrude.
"Are all the preparations ready?"
And the master of this ‘fortress’ was the possessor of the most noble bloodline, ‘Prillrani von Bathory’. (TL: "프릴라니 본 바토리" Yeah, me too… *shrugs shoulders*)
The last descendant of the House Bathory which was reputed to be the progenitor of the Vampire race, she was also seen as the most likely candidate to become the future empress of the race. On the covertly-operating Vampire community chat rooms, many lamented that if this Bathory girl was smart, no, if she had an ounce of desire in her to learn something new, then they may have went back home a long time ago.
"Yes, my lady. The preparations are almost complete. Although a few inferior races tried to delay us, starting from next week, we will be engaging in the ‘expulsion’ operation right away."
This ‘expulsion’ was the term used for extracting Monsters hidden within the portal.
"Is that so. Very good."
Bathory smiled gloomily.
"Ah. But what is ‘el Las’ doing right now? They still have not made any contacts yet." (TL: "엘 라스")
In the not too distant past, during the days of the mass racial extermination, the noble households were targeted the most; and only two managed to preserve their bloodlines from that chaos - ‘Bathory’ and ‘el Las’.
Of course, the power of the el Las household was comparably much weaker than that of the Bathory’s, and not to mention, their current leader was just a little kid but still, that family wasn’t some bad joke that could be safely ignored.
First of all, although the ‘Vampire Emperor’ was a mighty existence that ruled over all of Vampires, the thing was, in order to become one, he or she didn’t have to be the possessor of the strongest power or the smartest of brains.
"Those fools had tried to open a portal in the past, but after their efforts had gone down the drain, it looks like they are being mindful of us, we who have achieved success sooner than them, my lady. But if it’s not that, then perhaps, since their lord is too young, they may have a fear of being absorbed by us, instead."
"Heu-Mm. Really? They have become cowards, haven’t they? How unfortunate. Why continue on living, if you’re going to exist like that?"
Bathory’s chilly question became a mysterious cold aura that embraced the male Vampire’s body.
"…You… you’re absolutely correct, my lady…"
"Oh, right. What about… those trash?"
Whenever Bathory thought about those inferior bastards she referred to as ‘trash’, the fury she repressed deep down in her heart tried to break free. The abominable remnants that were closer to Monsters than to Vampires - those vile things she’d like to exterminate even before the human race, if possible.
"Ahh… Those ‘trash’ have shown no signs of activity after holing themselves up within the ‘Sanctuary’ of late, but
that only makes us more concerned, my lady."
The ‘trash’, also known as ‘Nosferatu’. (TL: Huh. Really.)
Their bloodlines possessed excellent abilities but they were still categorised as Monsters. And with the history of them betraying their own species in the distant past, Nosferatus were never acknowledged as the Vampire’s kin that shared the same ancestors.
Known to be the most twisted and vile even among the Vampire species, these Nosferatus suffered from inferiority complex - or from victim mentality - and they carried out insidious plots regardless of who their targets were. That was why the majority of Vampires believed that the previous racial cleansing happened because the Nosferatus instigated humans to take actions.
What supported this notion was the fact that Nosferatus didn’t suffer any fallout from the cleansing while countless Vampires and their noble bloodlines were killed; and now, they had grown to the point where they could legitimately challenge for the position of the Vampire Emperor.
"Haa… What are those accursed bastards scheming on now, I wonder…"
One of those trash as the emperor? What a nonsensical notion that was. Bathory’s teeth gritted in fury.
"Chief Suterte seems to be cooking up some kind of a scheme, my lady, but… our spies lacked the capabilities to defeat those bastards. All our soldiers could find was the location of their Sanctuary and the living conditions inside."
"Heu-Mm. By the way, you haven’t thought of any other plans besides taking them head-on, have you?"
"You didn’t, did you?"
Bathory glared at the man as if he was a pathetic fool.
"Hey, you. Have you ever heard of a tactic where you don’t use your own strength but use another party to destroy your enemies?" (TL: the author used a Chinese - I guess it’s Korean, too - idiom called "이이제이". Couldn’t really think of an suitable English alternative to replace it. Sorry.)
When Bathory suddenly brought up a certain ‘four-letter idiom’ (TL: see above) the guy became dazed for a short time. He was thinking, just when did this empty-headed girl who had never even touched a book in her life hit her head and come up an idea like this?!
"What is the meaning of your expression?! Are you perchance courting death?"
"No, no that’s not it, my lady! This servant does not know the meaning of those words so I was thinking carefully about it, I swear!"
Bathory’s head might be empty but she was supernaturally quick on the uptake, and the guy quickly planted his forehead on the ground to grovel before her.
"…Is that so? In that case, fine. I shall forgive you this time, since you didn’t know."
She then proceeded to explain the meaning of her words as well as the historical origins of it. Of course, she got over half of it totally wrong, but the guy did not possess the necessary cojones to point that out.
"So, the thing is, I brought it up because… I learned it after watching TV a lot lately."
A Bathory watched TV? The guy looked up at her with a slightly moved expression.
"You know Lycan, right? The bastard that goes around poking us with a stick. I heard that he has established his own Mercenary Company. On top of that, there’s a white tiger called Yu Baek-Song busy running around here in this country, right?"
The guy immediately figured it out. Of course, he could see a lot of holes in this plan, but still, he somehow managed to pull off the expression of how surprised he was at this method’s greatness.
"Instead of causing harm, wouldn’t those bastards disappearing at the same time help out with our plans?" (Prillrani von Bathory)
An eerie, yet pure grin drew up on Bathory’s lips.
"This servant understands. This servant shall use a pawn to lodge a job request to Lycan for the time being."
"Very good. You may be dumb, but it’s good that your head works fast."
Bathory smiled in satisfaction and waved her hand; then the man backtracked quickly and disappeared from her sight.
On 29th of December, three days before the end of the year. (TL: Lol, really, Sherlock?!)
Kim Sae-Jin went to speak to Hazeline.
"…A potion or a magic spell to suppress lust…?" (Hazeline)
This was his most pressing issue currently. The damn sexual desire that boiled at almost every opportunity, whether it was during training, sparring, speaking to Yi Hye-Rin, Yu Sae-Jung, or for that matter, any other women…
Unfortunately, the Goblin’s knowledge base did not contain a recipe for such a potion. Probably it was par for the course, since Monsters didn’t have what one would call ‘reason’.
"Uhm… I haven’t heard of anything like that, either…" (Hazeline)
Hazeline took a glance at Sae-Jin’s current appearance and then, carefully pulled her clothes in tighter. When he looked at her as if he couldn’t believe what she was doing, Hazeline let out a fake cough.
"Keum, keum. Is it, uh, difficult to manage currently? That place… down there."
"…Yes, it’s a little difficult."
"Oh, if that’s the case, I’ll search for one. Since you can find all sorts of bizarre potions out there, there might be one like that."
Hazeline pulled out a mini laptop.
"…Should I wait?"
"Mm? Nope. You don’t have to stick around if you’re busy right now. This might take some time, after all."
Kim Sae-Jin nodded his head and stood up to leave.
– Finally, the old year has passed and the new year begins~!!
The noises of fireworks and bells loudly spread all around, signaling the beginning of the new year.
However, quite unlike the joyous laughters of everyone else, Kim Sae-Jin in his Ebony Wolf Form was going through a difficult dilemma at this very moment.
The cause was a certain alert window that rose up yesterday when he finished creating yet another ‘Dark Energy Link’.
The Ebony Wolf Form and the Human Form merging together - that was the same thing as the Kim Sae-Jin of now disappearing forever.
He couldn’t make such a decision half-heartedly at all.
And he felt quite idiotic for believing that his evolution would solve all of his problems.
What a dilemma this was turning out to be.
As the time passed, the instincts of the Orc boiled over more and more, but he couldn’t evolve just to solve this issue - because, he had no idea what would happen to the ‘human Kim Sae-Jin’. And even if he did evolve, then the instincts of Lycanthrope would become the next headache to overcome.
Obviously, the best answer in this situation was to grow the Human Form Kim Sae-Jin until he could contend with the Orc Great Warrior Form. Even that was proving problematic due to the boiling instincts of the Orc lately, as his base desires threatened to go out of control whenever he moved his body…
*SFX for a mobile phone ringing*
He got distracted from the ever-deepening worries by the sound of the phone ringing. Frowning slightly, he glared at the LCD display.
– Yu Sae-Jung.
Her coming of age ceremony. He only remembered it now.
He sighed out grandly and answered the phone.
– "Oppa~~ I’m finally an adult~~"
Yu Sae-Jung’s voice sounded especially bright on the phone.
But with his thought process all messily tangled up, he could only find her slightly bothersome at the moment.
"…Under the Geumgang Mountain?"
6 o’clock in the evening. Before attending Yu Sae-Jung’s coming of age ceremony, Sae-Jin stopped by at The Monster’s HQ when Kim Yu-Sohn called him in hurry.
"That is correct. According to the anonymous tip, an underground base for Vampires can be found there. It’s not verified yet but an evidence with strong persuasive power was enclosed together with the tip. Mister Chairman, shall we deploy our agents?"
Kim Sae-Jin studied the evidence provided. It was a bunch of photographs depicting an unidentified village constructed underground. A grey city where not a single ray of sunlight would be able to enter.
"…Does it look like the SID knows about this place?"
"It doesn’t, no. If they knew, then they might have raised a ruckus. And in truth… the SID isn’t going to exterminate these Vampires - you are well aware of this fact, I believe. Also, that is the reason why this anonymous tip provider requested us with this job and not the SID."
The tool Sae-Jin created and Yu Baek-Song’s nose could sniff out a Vampire. However, humans caught in the high-level seduction magic of Vampires became pawns, not realising that they were under the influence of such magic.
"Fuu… I understand. Let me talk to Yu Baek-Song first. And as it’s dangerous, delay the deployment of our agents for now."
"Yes sir. And Mister Chairman, I’d like the permission to track down this anonymous informant as well."
Kim Yu-Sohn nodded his head.
Yu Sae-Jung’s coming of age ceremony took place within the huge mansion of the Dawn household.
As expected of the Dawn, it truly was a grand banquet. It was not an exaggeration to say the true movers and shakers of Korea had all gathered here in this banquet hall - leaders of the politics and financial worlds, famous Knights and celebrities, etc, etc.
However, Yu Sae-Jung was nervously waiting for the arrival of one specific person.
"Hyun-Oh Oppa, Sae-Jin Oppa hasn’t arrived yet, right?"
"Yeah. He did call to say that he might be running a bit late, but promised to be here, so don’t worry."
Yu Sae-Jung tightly shut her mouth. The main event of the ceremony had ended already. She had placed the hairstick in her hair now, and the people were too busy building profitable personal connections without a rest. (TL: As far as I can tell, putting a hairstick means a girl is now officially an adult in the Korean tradition. Not sure how accurate this is, but there you go.)
Definitely, without his presence here, this whole ceremony was a total waste of time for her.
"How do you do, Miss Yu Sae-Jung?"
The guy approaching her while carrying an oily smile was Kim Jong-Hyuk, the third son of the owner of the corporation that rivaled Dawn, the Great Wisdom. (TL: I thought of leaving the name in romanised Korean as this name may never appear again, but its spelling could confuse some readers with other similarly-named persons so I changed it to English equivalent. I know it sounds weird, but bear with me on this one.)
He was a loser well known for his unchecked, wild behaviour and his current appearance of trying to look all important and grown-up seemed rather pathetic to Yu Sae-Jung.
At Sae-Jung’s terse reply, Kim Jong-Hyuk’s eyebrows went into a slight spasm. However, he continued on with his words, not looking perturbed at all.
"It seems that person is not attending your coming of age ceremony? As there were stories of him being in a special relationship with Miss Sae-Jung, I was really looking forward to meeting him here today. I even heard a rumour that you two exited a car together late at night, even. Of course, I also hear that person for some reason is refusing to go all the way."
This time, it was Yu Sae-Jung’s face to harden. She wondered just who the heck invited this son of a bi*ch. She felt like blaming her dad who insisted on sending invitations to everyone out of common courtesy.
"You can keep your unnecessary remarks to yourself as he will come. Don’t you worry." (Yu Sae-Jung)
"Hmph. I’m sure that he’s very busy nowadays. I mean, everyone’s heard of the rumour that both his Trait and his business acumen is simply extraordinary."
As The Monster’s value continued to soar higher, the world praised Sae-Jin’s abilities.
Of course, all he had done was to ‘only’ recruit those people with overflowing potential and create an environment where these folks could fully unleash their strengths.
The true reason for The Monster’s continued advancement was the countless employees who had become the pillars of his Society, as they thoroughly displayed their sharp intuition and excellent abilities with the aid of the encouraging environment.
But whether a business was successful or not, it was the chairman of the company who always came under the spotlight. That was why, before anyone knew it, Sae-Jin had become the genius businessman the attention of the people of Korea was focused on.
"…I too am well aware of that. Even if he’s a bit late in coming, I’m still grateful."
"Oh? But you seemed rather… very anxious for that. Maybe I saw it all wrong?"
When Kim Jong-Hyuk mouthed the words of clear ridicule, Sae-Jung clenched both of her fists and breathed out angrily.
But this guy opened up his mouth again before she could calm herself down.
"How unfortunate. I wanted to converse with him at least once. But it looks like he may never show up…"
Yu Sae-Jung gritted her teeth.
But it was then.
The huge doors of the banquet hall suddenly swung open.
< 22. Preparation (2) > Fin.
(TL: the amount remaining for the eighth sponsored chapter is: still $50.)