A Monster Who Levels Up
(TL: I was going to use Power Rangers as a reference to introduce this weekend’s sponsors, but the number of generous folks means that I can’t, unfortunately. So, here’s a simple “thank you” towards these wonderful people: Gerald C, Keneth P, Donevin T, Mario R, Erik A, Maxwell G, Dale B, Timothy W, Karlis A, Jan B, Stephen M, Donald B, Robert R, Martin G, David R, Daniel T, Dennis D, and Philipp G. Thank you for your support.)
The defensive perimeter of the Knights against the Red Moon had been completed, near the location where Sae-Jin was.
He found this out via the mobile phone he brought along from home.
‘Wait a second here. Will these Orcs be alright?’
He became worried about the influence of the Red Moon, all of a sudden. He figured that depending on which one had a higher degree of influence - his Skills or the Red Moon - the Orcs would act accordingly. However, this Red Moon was a wide-scale calamity that caused Monsters to go completely wild. Could these Orcs possibly withstand such disaster?
"…Bring the remaining Orcs to me."
The powerful baritone voice of Kim Sae-Jin the Orc Great Warrior spread around like a wave.
And then, with the exception of four agile Orcs that were sent out to the Geumgang Mountain as scouts, the Orcs in the village all promptly gathered where he was.
"Ev’ryburdy iss heer, oh, Great War-ier."
The Orc in charge spoke. Sae-Jin’s forehead creased just a little. He was kind of regretting giving this guy the Passive ‘Vocal Cord Reconstruction’ now. He only did it to make communication a bit easier, but seriously, the combination of the Orc’s ugly face and that short-tongued pronunciation of words was creeping the hell out of him.
He assumed the Goblin Form and began inscribing Magic Tattoos on the Orcs, one at a time. The base ingredient used was his own blood; the effect imbued would be simple - ‘resistance to magic’, to endure the influence of the Red Moon.
The Goblin’s Craftsmanship skill was now at B+, and it only took just over a minute to tattoo a single Orc. In total, 30 minutes would be enough to tattoo all the Orcs present.
After quickly finishing up the tattooing process, he shooed them out of his dwelling and resumed the training of ‘Mana Body’ in order to increase its Proficiency Level.
The usage of this Mana Body was truly endless, but unfortunately, it could only be used for 15 minutes tops, meaning it was not really all that practical to use in the real battle. On top of that, during the Human Form, that time became even shorter at 5 minutes. If he used it for any longer than that, he would go light-headed and promptly pass out.
‘Rise into the air.’
So, Sae-Jin was thinking of increasing the duration to 15 minutes while in the Human Form by leveling up the Proficiency.
However, there wasn’t enough time to raise his Proficiency after all.
All of a sudden, a red light began descending down on the world.
A heavy fog of war circulated on the defensive perimeter constructed by the countless Knights and Wizards.
The military had already retreated far behind the frontlines since they would only become a burden had they stayed. The only people left here and waiting, were the Knights and Wizards; but even many of them were either deeply nervous or were scared of the upcoming great war.
This wasn’t the first Red Moon to appear in the history - but this one would certainly be far more difficult to hold back compared to in the past. During the previous Red Moons, the weak Monsters appeared first, then gradually, to stronger ones - but now, there was no distinction between the Monsters anymore. (TL: in case if you’re wondering why… remember the great land upheaval that
pretty much made the Monster field unsafe? Yeah, that’s why.)
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that they might end up having to fight high Tiered Monsters such as Basilisks, Manticores, or even Wyverns on the first day.
Kim Yu-Rin could definitely sympathise with their worries and fears. After all, even her own heart was beating in an unsettled manner for a while now.
"How are you feeling?"
Even still, she tried to calm the person next to her - Yu Sae-Jung, who was just as tense as the other Knights.
"Eh? Ah, yes, I’m okay."
From the back of Yu Sae-Jung’s neck, exposed by her hair tied upwards, a faint outline of a pretty tattoo could be seen. Kim Yu-Rin thought that was probably the famous Magic Tattoo of Kim Sae-Jin.
Some people criticised Sae-Jin for only tattooing the members of his Society, but what could they do about it? He could do as he liked, after all.
"The Society Chairman did it for me, while saying, ‘don’t die out there’."
Realising that Kim Yu-Rin was looking at the tattoos, Yu Sae-Jung’s face reddened slightly, maybe out of pride or from shyness.
Kim Yu-Rin was somewhat envious of such feelings of young love.
"So that’s how it is. Then, you should make sure not to die, right?"
"Yep. Of course."
As the two of them smiled at each other…
Out of the blue, there was a commotion by the defensive perimeter.
They quickly looked up at the sky.
A bloody colour was spreading on the previously snow white full moon like a spilled ink.
"It has begun."
When Yu Sae-Jung murmured, Kim Yu-Rin somberly nodded her head.
It only took an instant for the darkness blocking their view to change to crimson colour.
The Monsters’ maddened screams filled the mountainside. The roars of the Monsters rumbled around and around, until reaching up high into the sky and touching the Red Moon, causing the morale of the gathered defenders to plummet further.
*SFX for loud thumping noises*
Incredible tremor akin to earthquake rushed towards them.
"Get ready for combat!!"
Out from the communication crystal, a resolute shout of a man came out. It was the voice of Kim Hyun-Seok, Yu-Rin’s father. She unsheathed her sword at the incoming order.
And from a distance away, a Monster revealed its huge, wriggling body.
Its eyes blood-red, its jaw lined with teeth that were shaped like pincers and the numerous legs rubbing on the ground below, the ‘Giant Centipede’ approached the location of the defenders.
From the get-go, a difficult High Tier Monster had appeared. Its massive bulk and the grotesque appearance were enough to scare the living daylights out of some junior Knights here.
Kim Yu-Rin took a glance to her side. Clearly scared, Yu Sae-Jung’s hands gripping the sword was trembling.
"Do not fear."
Yu-Rin gently held the girl’s hand.
Yu Sae-Jung looked at her and nodded.
Basilisks, Giant Centipedes, Wyverns, Griffins, Flesh Golems, etc, etc…
High ranked Monsters, many of them incredibly rare and hard to encounter even once in one’s lifetime, poured in like tsunami waves.
And as the opponents of the week-long Red Moon’s first day the Knights had to face, these Monsters were simply too vicious and frightening.
Knights who ran away were quite a few in number. It was par for the course, really - as they were lower ranked and just too young to have experienced such absurd situations before.
*SFX of someone sobbing*
There were also many Knights breaking down in tears after losing their limbs.
Clearly, the defenders were in a numerical disadvantage in this battle.
But regardless, Kim Yu-Rin swung her sword.
The blue sword aura became the storm winds of Mana and swept away countless Monsters. And from the gap between the walls of Monsters she just created, Yu-Rin spotted a Lich casting magic spells far away.
From the beginning, the very first target Knights aimed to kill was the enemy spellcaster. As soon as she spotted the Monster, she held the sword in reverse grip and stabbed the earth with it.
It was the attack containing her Trait, ‘Desideratum’.
In that moment, a huge Mana blade formed in the air just above where the Lich was standing and sank into the surface of the ground. The Lich, now its body divided in half, became dust particles when the belated secondary explosion took place.
And so, she repeatedly fought her desperate battles, over and over again.
However, the overall status of the battle was still not good; the defensive line was about to collapse. It was a desperately bad situation. No matter what, the frontline must never be breached.
She now saw the subordinate Knights battling an Ogre over yonder, one of the sword aura slicing the Monster’s wrist. Among them was Yu Sae-Jung, whom reminded Yu-Rin of her younger days for some reason.
Kim Yu-Rin summoned her strength once more and grasped her sword tightly.
Right then - from somewhere, a violent tremor spread out on the ground. And shortly afterwards, the powerful roar shattered the sky above.
That was definitely not from a human, for sure.
*SFX for thunderous footsteps*
The footsteps began to close in.
In despair, the Knights looked on towards the direction of the sound.
And there was a group of Orcs.
It wasn’t a big number.
But the appearance of the leading Orc was so overwhelmingly imposing, as if to imply it could do the job of a thousand men.
And so, the Orc Great Warrior that had suddenly entered the battlefield, with its lengthy hair whipping against the wind, rushed forward like a shooting star - or maybe even a wild beast - and swung its mace in the air.
The terrifying shock wave undulated like a stormy wave and swept across the battlefield.
Judging by their red eyes, the Hero Orc’s group was definitely under the influence of the Red Moon.
However… their enemies were not humans, but Monsters.
Whenever the Orc Great Warrior swung his mace, the sounds of destruction akin to the Big Bang explosion shook the world and Monster’s body parts were turned to mush. From the contact points of the mace, flames sometimes flared up, and other times a bitter coldness harsh enough to freeze the land rushed out.
Kwang-! Kwang-! Kwang-!
And the reason for such changes in the elements were, without a doubt, Mana surrounding the mace.
The Orc Great Warrior displayed overwhelming martial prowess as it ran amok. His mace did not differentiate what Monster it was. Other Orcs, Ogres, Gnolls, Spartois, etc., etc. - as soon as they came in contact with the destructive swing of the weapon, all were ripped apart like the blowing dust.
The perfect physique of the Orc Great Warrior withstood almost all the physical attacks. Even if it was surrounded by hundreds of Monsters, he received not one wound. And so, this creature didn’t even bother to defend against enemy’s attacks or try to avoid them, instead choosing to concentrate on utter destruction only.
Blowing away the stomach of an Ogre blocking his forward march, then freezing the headless knight Dullahan on the spot - the Orc even fired his own powerful sword aura towards an airborne Wyvern to bring it down.
The deeply-impressionable sight of the Great Warrior battling hundreds, thousands of enemies all alone - the God of War had descended on earth.
The Knights of this battlefield dazedly witnessed this display of martial might that was vicious but at the same time, also utterly mesmerising.
*SFX for a loud roar of the Orc*
The Orc Great Warrior roared out wildly, covered from head to toe in blood.
In any other times, such a roar would induce fear, but right now, people found it quite reassuring instead. It was loud enough to instill the belief that the flow of this battle could be reversed, back into the hearts of many. Some Knights also ended up roaring out as they renewed their unceasing attacks on the Monsters.
Among them was Kim Yu-Rin and Yu Sae-Jung as well.
And so, the 2nd round began.
The moon finally hid below the horizon and the sunlight began to brighten the world.
The Red Moon had ended, at least for today. There were many casualties. Not just those Knights who had passed out from losing their body parts, but also those who had actually lost their lives.
However, the Knights gathered here could not express their sorrow that easily. They just couldn’t, after seeing the sad and lonesome expression of the Orc Great Warrior which was surveying the corpse of one of its own.
The brave Hero Orcs that came to help them even under the influence of the Red Moon - the initial group of 30 had now dwindled down to less than half of its original number. It was difficult to fathom the depths of sadness of the leader of these Hero Orcs, its Chieftain, as their numbers were low to begin with.
"…Soo-Gyeom," (Kim Yu-Rin)
Kim Yu-Rin called out to her subordinate Knight, Kim Soo-Gyeom after gazing at the Orc with equally sad eyes.
"Here. Hold onto this for a bit."
She handed over her treasured sword to him and slowly approached the Hero Orc.
*SFX for light footsteps*
Stepping over the dried blood on the ground, she stepped in front of the Orc ‘Chieftain’.
"….Hey." (Kim Yu-Rin)
Yu-Rin carefully reached out and touched the Orc’s shoulder. The Orc felt this very faint sense of being touched and when he turned his head to look…
…He took several steps back in shock. He got so surprised, he nearly ended up tumbling over backwards, even.
At his reaction, Yu-Rin’s expression became somewhat wounded.
‘…What does she want now?’ (Kim Sae-Jin)
Kim Sae-Jin’s flustered state didn’t want to calm down so easily.
"Do you, maybe, remember… me?"
Even still, Yu-Rin tried to chat to him. Wondering if this woman developed a habit of trying to talk to Monsters, Sae-Jin continued to stare at her with genuinely confused mind.
"Ma’am, what are you doing?"
From afar back, scared shouts of Knights could be heard.
Although they did fight together until now, this Orc just lost over half of its brethren. No one knew what might happen if it got peeved off at something she might end up doing…
Thankfully, the fears of those Knights were assuaged in the next instance with a nod from the Orc Great Warrior.
"Ah. That is… wonderful news. What a relief… sir."
Without realising it, Yu-Rin began speaking politely. It felt like to her that the Orc could understand her words.
"I… am sorry for your loss."
Kim Yu-Rin pointed at the corpse of the Orc sprawled on the ground and spoke. However, the Orc Great Warrior simply stared at her for a long time, not showing any reaction whatsoever.
But, all of a sudden…
The Great Warrior raised its hand high.
Even a single fist strike could cause a fatal injury to Kim Yu-Rin. The Knights rushed forward in fear.
But right next moment, all of them had to stop abruptly.
The raised hand of the Orc Great Warrior lightly descended on top of Yu-Rin’s head, and he proceeded to pat her hair gently.
After letting out a single fake cough out of embarrassment, the Great Warrior then turned around and left the battlefield. The surviving Orcs started following him.
Yu-Rin chased after the back of the Great Warrior with her eyes. Strangely enough, there was a healthy red glow on both of her cheeks.
< 23. Red Moon (2) > Fin.
(TL: Another chapter should go live in a few minutes.)