A Monster Who Levels Up
Through the abruptly-opened gaps of the banquet hall’s doors, a man made his entrance.
The elegant and smooth tuxedo that perfectly wrapped around his tall and athletic physique; the neat and tidy hair combed upwards to accentuate his manly countenance; the sharp eyes and facial features reminding one of a wolf.
After searching around the banquet hall, he found Yu Sae-Jung and then he began to slowly walk up towards her. As he took step after step, getting closer and closer, her cheeks became redder and redder.
Finally stopping before her, Kim Sae-Jin smiled deeply as they gazed at each other.
"I’m sorry for being a bit late."
His charming baritone voice seemed to reverberate through the banquet hall, making her to dazedly nod her head.
"Is everything over already?" (Kim Sae-Jin)
"Eh? N, no… not yet. It hasn’t ended yet…"
Even though she had known him for the past year or so, this was the very first time she saw him wear a tuxedo like this.
Maybe that was the problem - she just couldn’t get used how cool he looked today and her eyes hurriedly lowered to the floor in bashfulness.
"Oh-ho. So you are that famous Mister Kim Sae-Jin?"
After watching the two interact with much interest, Kim Jong-Hyuk reached out for a handshake.
"I’m Director Kim Jong-Hyuk from the Great Wisdom Electronics."
"Oh. Hello, pleased to meet you. I’m Kim Sae-Jin."
While shaking hands, Sae-Jin checked out this guy’s disposition with the Eyes of the Wolf. And almost immediately, he nearly ended up taking a big step back. A powerfully turbid and dark energy was oozing out from this man, Kim Jong-Hyuk. Sae-Jin hadn’t seen the colour this dark before until now.
"Hahaha. Now that I have met you in person, you look much more handsome than in those videos and photographs."
Kim Jong-Hyuk yapped on and on, but Sae-Jin didn’t want to spend another minute with this guy, if he could help it. So, he was about to ignore this Jong-Hyuk person and have a chat with Yu Sae-Jung, when…
"Uh~ Isn’t this a pleasant surprise! Aren’t you the last born son of the Great Wisdom Corporation’s owner?"
"Ohh, it’s good to see you again, Cabinet Minister! It’s been a while."
…People began gathering around Sae-Jin. These guys used Kim Jong-Hyuk as an excuse to make their approach, and to build a friendly connection with Sae-Jin, began paying the obligatory lip service.
But maybe this was the case of ‘birds of a feather flocking together’ or ‘touching a pitch will get a man filthy’, every single one gathered here had their moral compass leaning heavily towards the side of evil. Of course, none of them were as bad as Kim Jong-Hyuk, but still.
"So, this gentleman here is that famed Mister Kim Sae-Jin, yes? How do you do. I’m the Minister in charge of the Home Affairs…"
"Why, yes. Hello to you too, sir. By the way, who is that next to you?"
Sae-Jin, who had become the centre of attention in this crowd, inexplicably pointed at the secretary of the man who just introduced himself as a government minister. It was because this young man was too talented and good natured to be next to this dirty bastard.
"Ah, his name is Kim Ho-Hyung. He’s my secretary but the kid’s not all that smart. He’s the son of a servant who has been working for me for a long time. Under the pretext of promising him a good future, I’m taking him along with me."
When the nameless government minister let out a guffaw, the rest of the crowd began laughing as well. All of it were as fake as a laugh could get.
Kim Sae-Jin no longer wished to stay here. He slightly turned his head and checked out Yu Sae-Jung’s mood.
She seemed to have the exact same thoughts as he
did, as she nodded her head slightly.
"Oh. But I’m suffering from slight migraine at the moment. Maybe because I’ve been swarmed with work lately…" (Kim Sae-Jin)
Sae-Jin started feigning illness while massaging his head.
"Haha. That’s all very understandable. Nowadays, there isn’t any business sector The Monster hasn’t entered yet, after all. Even His Excellency have spoken about it as well." (The minister)
"When you say ‘His Excellency’, you mean…"
"Of course, it’s Mister President, who else could it be?"
While they were busy yapping and laughing by themselves, Sae-Jin searched his inner pocket and pulled out something that gleamed under the light.
It was a ‘business card’ with the words [Kim Sae-Jin, The Society Chairman, The Monster] engraved on it. But it was no ordinary card. Made by flattening pure gold as thinly as possible, each one of these cards cost as much as $650.
Sae-Jin made these not because he wanted to show off, but only after deciding to give them only to those people who might be of some help, and those who could help him out in the future.
"Oh-ho? And what could that be?" (Unnamed minister)
There were signs of avarice twinkling in the eyes of the minister who had caught the sight of this business card.
"It’s a business card."
"Aha. So that’s your card. I also saw it once in a newspaper. I heard that you don’t give that to just anyone… But, is that really made out of pure gold?"
The government minister, under the false impression that he was the recipient of the card, triumphantly straightened his back.
"Yes, it is pure gold."
The surrounding gallery of people let out an exclamation of admiration while gazing at the business card.
The minister let out a fake cough, and while tidying up the outline of his tie, he eagerly waited for the card to enter his hand.
"Sir, I’m envious," said Kim Jong-Hyuk, humouring the unnamed minister with a fake smile. The minister reciprocated with a spirited chuckle.
"Huhuhuh. As expected of the most outstanding young man of his generation, you have good eyes for people."
But, right next moment…
Kim Sae-Jin handed the card over not to the government minister, but to his secretary standing a slight distance away from the crowd.
"What is your name?" (Kim Sae-Jin)
"…Eh? Excuse me?"
"Your name. Or do you have a business card of your own?"
"Ahh… My name is Kim Ho-Hyung. I, I don’t have a business card…"
Sae-Jin nodded his head and placed his gold card in this person’s hand.
"You should give me a call later." (Kim Sae-Jin)
After saying these words, Sae-Jin left the banquet hall only after 20 minutes had passed.
The minister dumbfoundedly followed the back of Sae-Jin, before viciously staring at the golden business card in Kim Ho-Hyung’s hands.
It wasn’t all that difficult to read his intentions within that gaze, but Ho-Hyung just quietly pocketed the card inside his suit.
"This… this son of a mere servant is…"
The minister stared at his secretary with eyes that could kill.
Unfortunately for him, he could not display any more of his anger in front of these many people.
Sae-Jin was planning to go home after he escaped the banquet hall, but he just couldn’t ignore the pleading eyes of Yu Sae-Jung who had followed him outside.
"What is it? Is there a place you want to go?" (Kim Sae-Jin)
"I want to go to Oppa’s place."
He gripped the steering wheel of his car tightly while glaring at her.
"What’s wrong? I can’t go anywhere else while wearing this dress, anyway. It’ll be too embarrassing…"
Yu Sae-Jung spoke while slightly lifting the hems of her dress. As his cheeks blushed a little at the exposure of her white skin underneath, Sae-Jin checked the time remaining for his Human Form.
3 hours, 3 minutes and 59 seconds.
However, in three hours, it’d be midnight and the time remaining would reset to the beginning.
In other words, there was plenty of time left.
"I’m an adult who went through a coming of age ceremony now… Can’t we just enjoy dinner together?"
Yu Sae-Jung didn’t miss the opening created when he was in a dilemma, and gently wrapped her hand over his.
"Wow. It’s so neat and tidy."
Finally entering Sae-Jin’s home that she had dreamed about, her eyes went completely round as she took in the layout of the interior. (TL: ??? Didn’t she already come to his house before to get her tats? What gives?)
"I’m telling you this again, you are going back to your place for sleep. Got it?"
"Argh. I got it already. I’m not Cinderella, you know… When it’s past the midnight, I’ll leave even if you beg me not to."
She took a quick glance at Sae-Jin, and then sat down on the living room’s couch.
"It’s really soft and comfortable. What are you doing, Oppa? Don’t just stand there and take a seat right here."
Yu Sae-Jung vigorously patted on the empty space right next to her. Sae-Jin approached her with slightly awkward steps.
As soon as he sat down, she proudly presented the paper bag she’d been carrying since before climbing into his car.
"What is that?"
Sae-Jin’s forehead creased in that moment, but Yu Sae-Jung’s smiles only grew even brighter.
One hour after the drinking began suddenly.
The bottle of hard liquor with the alcohol content of 57% was already quite empty.
"…Really, Oppa iss jusst too~ much. Oppa, do ya kno’ why eiii wanted that ce-re-mo-ny on 1st January?"
Yu Sae-Jung, with her face bright red, let out a grand sigh. She had drank so much, even her breath smelled thickly of alcohol now.
"Oppa also kno’, right? How much I like Oppa. There’sss no waaay you don’t kno’. Noooo waaay…. Me. Oppa ev’ryday sings and siiiings, ‘adult, adult!!’ soo, I gotta haves that adult ceremony on January first…"
"It’s time for you to go home. Let me drive you there."
"Will ya jussst listen, till the end. Me don kno’ why I like Oppa also… kyakk!!"
Kim Sae-Jin snatched away the glass from her hand. As if she got irritated by that, Yu Sae-Jung clenched her fist and lightly hit his chest.
"Eii! I’m not going home! Imma live here forever!! It’s sooo irritatin’ when ya pretend to not notice it, so Imma gonna live here."
This time, it was Kim Sae-Jin’s turn to let out a sigh.
This couldn’t go on. He needed to send her home now, so there would be no regrets later.
So, he stood up first.
"Me, I really did everything Oppa asked me for, and I helped out every time Oppa asked me. You don’t have any idea how much I begged my dad and grandpa, do you? Oppa, without me… Eek!"
He pulled her up by her wrist.
Strangely enough, she didn’t offer much resistance.
And so, leaving the living room and entering the cold passageway…
A weak voice came from his back. Sae-Jin turned around to see why.
Right at that moment, Yu Sae-Jung slapped away his hand holding her wrist with all her power.
And then, she wrapped her arms around his neck in order to…
"….*groans in difficulty*"
…She tried to kiss him.
Unfortunately for her… she was just too short.
His 185 cm and her 160 cm. The difference of 25 cm couldn’t be overcome even with her standing on tiptoes.
It was supposed to be an unexpected counterattack. On the verge of tears, she ended up planting her lips on his neck instead.
"You know, right…? That I like Oppa a lot. That’s why… Can you like me back?"
She then confessed her ardent and sincere feelings for him.
"Even if Oppa doesn’t feel the same way, it’s okay. I, I can wait."
The emotions contained within those wet eyes were so desperately sad and pitiful.
It was Kim Sae-Jin’s turn to act next.
Already, half of his reasoning had been thrown out the window. He powerfully held the back of Yu Sae-Jung’s neck and began to seek out her lips with his own. However, this action wasn’t about conveying the emotions of love at all. It was rough. Very rough. So much so, the words ‘trying to appease his lust’ described it perfectly.
At Kim Sae-Jin’s rough hands, hem of her dress got ripped up.
Yu Sae-Jung became fearful of his sudden transformation.
"Oppa, wait… Eu-eup!"
But he continued. His tongue roughly roamed within her mouth, and his hands stroked her body with equally rough force.
Before she knew it, a single tear formed on the corner of Yu Sae-Jung’s eyes.
She was scared.
Of course, if she wanted to refuse him, then she could. Mana had this effect of removing the alcohol’s influence from one’s system. But still… what if Kim Sae-Jin hated her for pushing him away?
That made her scared.
Thanks to her tears, Kim Sae-Jin could somehow regain his reasoning.
He saw the torn pieces of her dress on the floor, and Yu Sae-Jung who was now practically half naked.
"…I.. I’m sorry."
He grabbed his head and turned away from her.
He found himself so damn pathetic.
Even though he knew things might end up like this, he still let her into his home.
But, seeing himself still blaming the instincts of the goddamn Monsters… he felt so cheap and pathetic.
"…No, no, I’m just…" (Yu Sae-Jung)
Strangely, it was Yu Sae-Jung who was taken back.
She dazedly stared at his back as he stood there in torment, before slowly approaching him and hugged his broad back.
"I’m fine." (Yu Sae-Jung)
Sae-Jin showed no reaction.
"I just got surprised, that’s all." (Yu Sae-Jung)
She held his waist even tighter.
"Then… I’ll go home now. We’ll just talk again tomorrow. Just Please remember what I said… Ah. It doesn’t have to be tomorrow. Whenever you are ready."
Her arms around his waist slipped away.
"I really like Oppa. This kind of emotion, I’ve never felt anything like it before in my life."
She left behind the most important confession of all, and then left his house.
2 days later.
"There are two types of warriors out there - the orthodox type, and the instinctive type."
The current location was The Monster’s training facility.
Kim Sae-Jin was receiving a personalised training from a Knight invited from the Raven Order.
"The orthodox types are as the word suggests - they faithfully follow the prescribed guidelines of their chosen martial art schools. There are many ‘Sects’ in this path, but currently, the highest rated one is the Sect founded by the Raven Order Master Kim Hyun-Seok, ‘Hyunseo’ Sect which is based on his Trait."
A serious sparring with a strong Knight caused an unbelievable increase in the various Skills’ Proficiency percentage, so he was holding this session precisely in order to increase his Human Form’s capabilities and overall Skill Levels.
"And the famous Knights who follow this Sect’s teachings are Miss Kim Yu-Rin, the Highest Tier Knight from our Order, and myself, the High Tier Knight Jin Yi-Hahn."
The Knight who introduced himself as Jin Yi-Hahn spoke proudly.
"And the so-called instinctive types are the ones that fully rely on their instincts and senses. The famous example of this type is the Order Master of the Dawn, Mister Yu Soo-Hyuk. From what I hear from Miss Yi Hye-Rin, you also seem to fall into this category as well, Mister Chairman."
Sae-Jin nodded his head. Even though Passive Skills played a role, the basis of the battle style he had adopted was him simply swinging his weapons based on his instincts and his senses.
"Well, then. Let’s start with a simple test of your abilities."
Jin Yi-Hahn’s expression turned into admiration as he traced the surface of the practice blade with his fingertips. Even though it was simply for practising, this weapon was already on the level of a High Quality item.
"…Is it possible for me to take one of these practice weapons home with me?" (Jin Yi-Hahn)
"Hm? Ah, yes. Do as you wish."
Jin Yi-Hahn quickly bowed his head.
"Well, then. Please attack with everything you have."
The clashings of practice swords had become somewhat intense, but its end was quite simple in nature.
*SFX for strong gust of wind*
Jin Yi-Hahn’s last sword attack left behind razor-sharp tempest winds as it sliced Sae-Jin’s own weapon in half. And upon receiving the impact, Sae-Jin ended up rolling over backwards on the floor. It was a clear demonstration of a gap in their power. As expected, a High Tier Knight was something else entirely.
"You are quite amazing." (Kim Sae-Jin)
"No, no. That’s what I’d like to say about you."
Jin Yi-Hahn approached Sae-Jin and offered his hand. Even though he was defeated here, Sae-Jin still felt deeply satisfied as he grabbed the offered hand and stood up.
From this sparring session alone, the Proficiency had risen as much as 3% in one go, that was why.
"Although you can’t use Mana, with this level of abilities, I believe you can defeat a Mid Tier Knight quite easily."
"Do you really think so?"
Jin Yi-Hahn smiled.
‘Then, that’s a relief.’
With that little left, he’d be able to upgrade ‘Warrior’s Special Quality’ to another level before the advent of the Red Moon. He had no clue just what kind of effect would be added, but well, surely it should prove useful to him regardless.
"Ah. Miss Yu Sae-Jung is waiting for you over there."
Jin Yi-Hahn pointed towards the entrance of the training facility and spoke.
And the brightly smiling Yu Sae-Jung was there, busy waving her hand over here.
Two days later.
From the early morning hours, urgent messages poured out from the TV news.
– The signs of the Red Moon have been detected and it’s expected that in three days….
It was to deliver the news of the omen of the Red Moon’s impending manifestation being detected.
The Red Moon.
As the term suggested, the moon itself became dyed in blood red. This event that the modern science could not find the cause of, was a calamity that befell on this planet every five to six years.
The moonlight, dyed in blood red colour for unknown reasons, amplified the Monsters’ aggressiveness and powers much higher compared to normal.
And that was why a week before the Red Moon begins, a state of emergency would be declared all around the world; every Knight, Hunter and Wizard would come under the respective government’s command and prepare themselves to battle this event.
But especially for someone like Kim Sae-Jin, it was the same as the Red Moon exceeding far past the level of a mere calamity and straight into apocalypse.
Actually, the person who reported the advent of Red Moon was Kim Sae-Jin.
– The legendary Mercenary, the Lycan, is the first person to discover the signs; he reported to the Ministry of Defense after allegedly sensing very faint changes within the clear sunlight. The citizens are praising the Lycan for detecting this global calamity beforehand….
With a spooky timing, the news anchor was mentioning the story of the Red Moon as well. He momentarily got confused, thinking that he was looking at an alert window that said, [The fame of the Lycan has risen.]
Whatever the case may have been, the only reason why Sae-Jin could become the first person in the world to detect the Red Moon was….
It was thanks to this alert window.
The meaning behind those words, his Human time being reduced to only 10% of the usual available time - he could only exist as a human for around 45 minutes per day. It was too much of a risk to stay in the human society like that.
And so, Sae-Jin made a decision.
It’d be better to simply live and grow stronger inside the Monster field of Gangwon Province and at the same time, he might as well investigate the hidden base of Vampires near the Geumgang Mountain. That was his decision.
"Water, canned food, potions, a tent…"
He shoved all the items he would need for his survival during this season of the Red Moon inside the Expanding Pocket.
He had already left Jo Hahn-Sung in charge, temporarily at least, of the administration of the Society. And as for Yu Sae-Jung - as their relationship had become complicated thanks to that day’s kissing… he somehow was able to succeed in persuading her.
"It’s done. Eu-ssaya!!"
Sae-Jin lifted up the Expanding Pocket that was packed with 300 kg worth of stuff, and left his home.
< 22. Preparation (3) > Fin.
(TL: the amount left for the eighth chapter is: $26. Should’ve been 25, but the nice folks at Paypal decided to charge me a transaction fee…)