A Monster Who Levels Up

Chapter 82

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Late at night.

In order to experiment with the artificial heart, Kim Sae-Jin headed to the underground training facility below the Society’s main building.

"Guild Master?"

However, his heart nearly jumped out of his mouth when he heard a voice that shouldn’t have been here in the first place. Quickly shoving the heart inside his pocket, he turned around, trying to look as unflustered as possible.

"…Keum. Mister Joo Ji-Hyuk. You haven’t gone home yet?"

"Oh, yes, somehow. This place has got a good environment so, well, I forgot the passage of time while training and ended up falling asleep for a bit here."

Joo Ji-Hyuk pointed towards the ‘nap room’ and embarrassedly scratched the back of his neck.

"Oh, really? But isn’t the Dawn also famous for its great training environment as well?"

"True, but that place doesn’t even hold a candle to this place. I mean, there are three Athany dolls here in this training facility, each with different effects, after all… Even if I train here nonstop for 12 hours straight, I feel less fatigued than when I’m training at the Dawn’s facility for less than 6."

Sae-Jin nodded his head begrudgingly. Finally, he was able to figure out why all his Society members, even including Kim Yu-Rin who wasn’t, preferred to use this place instead of their own Knight Orders’ facilities.

"And thanks to this story doing the rounds, there is a bit of chaos unfolding on the pages of the Dawn’s community chat rooms, what with people wishing to tour this place. Hahaha."

Joo Ji-Hyuk let out a proud laughter.

"Ah, haha… So, that’s how it is."

"That’s correct. Well then, I should get going right about now. Take care of yourself, Guild Master."

Before he knew it, the Society members and the employees changed the way they addressed him, from the Society Chairman to that of the Guild Master.

That didn’t mean that The Monster was approved as a Guild, though. No, instead, thanks to numerous obstructions, his Society got rejected outright after not even being able to enter the upper rankings in the last year’s evaluation.

But the members and employees continued to call him as the Guild Master, probably out of a sense of belonging, or even that of the pride of working in this place.

"Oh… yes, well. Take care."

In all honesty, Sae-Jin liked this new term, too.

"Will do!" (Joo Ji-Hyuk)

After seeing Joo Ji-Hyuk away, Sae-Jin pulled out the artificial heart from his inner pocket once more. The appearance of the heart the size of his palm still beating intermittently remained quite grotesque, even now.

"…Isn’t there something I can do about the look of this thing?"

Even if there were numerous ways of using this thing, as long as it looked this creepy, using it publicly was out of the question.

‘If I decrease its overall volume, maybe I can cover its shortcoming by turning it into an accessory, like a necklace or a ring.’

For now, he decided to worry about that later, and poured in his Mana into the artificial heart. There was a total of 23 magic spells recorded in this thing - and the one he wanted to try out here was…

"Let’s start off with the isolation barrier first."

As soon as he murmured out, from the ground beneath his feet, a black coloured wave spread out in a circle and dyed the entirety of the training facility in black.

"…Ohhhh."

He let out a small exclamation. If he used up Mana Stones as base ingredients within this space, then he’d be able to bring forth many different effects, just like how it was back then in that cave. Such as, that bitter col

dness, or inability to use Mana, etc.

"Hmm. It’s pretty good."

When he extracted all the Mana from the heart, the barrier disappeared instantaneously.

"Next up is…"

It was time to try out an attack spell. Starting off with, that point of light spell the damnable doll used to pierce his heart with.

****

Some said that good things could come out from bad situations. It definitely applied to South Korea’s case, as the Red Moon proved to be a fortunate event for them in the end.

The reason for the mix-up of Monsters was because of the upheaval of the earth; during this Red Moon, countless Monsters tried to attack the cities, only to run into the defensive cordon – and got themselves promptly killed. That led to the Monster field emptying up, which in turn, gave the government the opportunity to properly divide the areas according to the Monster ranks once more.

All thanks to the Red Moon, of course.

The work dividing the Monster field was carried out quickly.

The Monster Tier separation equipment submitted for evaluation by the Monster defense-related company called ‘TM’ that had appeared quite suddenly, was proven to possess far better performance than already-existing machines. So, the government duly awarded the contract to this new company.

The previous company responsible to installation and management of the existing infrastructure tried resisting the change by using many dirty tactics, but behind this ‘TM’, there was a giant called the Dawn Corporation, so the whole affair was easily solved in the end.

The Knights found the defeat of the company that continued to exist solely through corruption and solicitation from this incident a wonderful event worth celebrating.

And so, after some time from the end of the Red Moon had passed by, the Monster field was finally reopened.

===========

This is that habitat of the Hero Orcs. Please be careful not to stimulate the Orcs badly. It is possible that consequences will be dire, if some harm is done to the Orcs.

"Hmm…"

While coming out to visit the Hero Orc village located at the corner of the Mid Tier hunting ground during his hunting, Sae-Jin found this signboard out in front.

He briefly wondered if the government had done this, but after a cursory inspection, he found a carefully inscribed Raven Order insignia at the back, which gave him some clues as to who put this thing here.

"…She’s really devoted, isn’t she."

Sae-Jin slowly shook his head. He did hear that Yu-Rin still came by 2, 3 times a week even now…

*SFX for an aggressive barking of a dog*

It was then. He heard a voracious barking from his back. Not thinking too much about it, he turned around to see what’s what.

A single Monster was glaring at him. A giant bipedal wild dog-type creature, its entire body coated in blackish metal, the so-called ‘Iron Gnoll’.

*SFX for yet another aggressive barking of a dog*

The Gnoll continued to spit out its saliva like an exploding waterfall and got ready to attack, but Sae-Jin simply took a look at this creature, before releasing Mana from his hand.

That Mana noisily vibrated as it rose up on his palm, before changing into a small but ultra-sharp blue dagger.

The Proficiency Level for the ‘Mana Body’ has risen up quite a bit, allowing him to form such small weapons with his Mana alone. Although its hardness and density fell below that of high grade metals, but still, there were uses for such a weapon.

What played out next was as exactly as recorded within his instincts. Or, was that his Skill, instead?

He grasped this dagger and then threw it towards the Monster. The blade left his hand and drew a blue-coloured trajectory before stabbing the creature’s forehead.

*SFX for - sigh - yet another aggressive barking of a dog, but shorter*

If it was any regular human, such a wound would prove to be fatal but the body of a Gnoll was quite hardy. Too bad, the effect of the dagger hadn’t ended yet.

Suffering from a heaven-cursing rage, the Gnoll tried to extract the dagger stabbing it in the forehead. But, at that very moment the creature touched the dagger, it reverted to formless Mana and permeated into the open wound.

And so, the Mana that had entered the Gnoll’s head, followed Sae-Jin’s will to the letter and became a hotly burning flame.

-Kkeuk!!

The Monster couldn’t even let out a cry in anger before falling dead with its insides thoroughly burnt to a crisp.

This was one of the methods Sae-Jin came up with to utilise the Mana Body.

Although this move could be seen as a one-hit kill attack, it didn’t mean he could use this against every Monster out there.

First of all, Monsters ranked upper Mid Tier had this thing called ‘Mana skin’ - like most Knights - which meant their skin and muscles were thickly saturated with Mana. With his current Proficiency Level, he couldn’t even hope to pierce such flesh at all.

As for the Mid Tiers, it still remained a rather inefficient method akin to a cheap trick that would only work on Monsters such as this Iron Gnoll that only had tough exteriors but weak innards.

After the ending this boring hunt, Sae-Jin checked out how much Mana remained within him. Almost half of it was gone. As expected, the Mana expenditure was too great. He should’ve just killed it with his sword or something.

"Hey! It’s over th…."

With a good timing, a hunting party comprising of three people hurriedly arrived on the scene. It seemed they had been chasing this Gnoll down for a while.

"What happened here?"

It was a party of two men and one woman. They confusedly looked at the Iron Gnoll sprawled down on the ground for a short moment. It was understandable, as they couldn’t see any obvious exterior wounds on this Monster.

"…"

In the end, they raised their heads with expressions of utter defeat.

They had been trying to lure this Monster towards their carefully laid-out trap for the last three hours. In other words, this Monster was the entirety of their daily hunting quota…

"…Uh?"

However, the woman Hunter with the worst expression of all, let out a small exclamation of surprise after discovering a man looking at them from beyond the corpse of the Gnoll.

It was the Chairman of The Monster, Kim Sae-Jin.

He was a famous man in the online communities, various Cafes, as well as Social Networking Sites, well known for his tall height and manly countenance. After all, even she herself was one of his 4 million-strong SNS followers.

Belatedly, the other two recognised him as well, and they slowly approached him with their faces slightly blushed.

"Uhm, hello there, You… are Mister Kim Sae-Jin, yes?"

"Ahh, yes, I am. Hello."

Kim Sae-Jin smiled warmly towards the nervous trio. Maybe it was because the number of strangers recognising him had increased by a great deal, he had gotten used to dealing with people whom he had never met before, but somehow, knew him well.

"Uhm… Ha, have you come to hunt today?"

"Yes, I have. But this Gnoll wasn’t part of the plan. It just jumped at me out of the blue."

"Oh, that. Actually…"

The Hunters then proceeded to explain what happened in detail.

The Iron Gnolls were known to be particularly strong among the Mid Tiered Monsters thanks to their hardy exterior, and as a consequence, their remains fetched high prices.

So after discovering a lone Iron Gnoll, these three created a trap and tried to lure it there for the past three hours. The Monster was busy chasing them, until it suddenly began sniffing the air, then it changed its direction hastily and ran off to elsewhere.

"…Ah-ha."

Kim Sae-Jin realised that it was because of his scent.

"So that’s what happened. Then, please take the remains. It’s fine with me."

Sae-Jin pointed at the dead Gnoll and told the trio to take it with them. The truth was, he must’ve had reached the limit of absorbing Mana Stones for the growth of his Stats, since absorbing one from a Mid Tier Monster would raise only about a few decimal points at best.

"R, really?!"

The hunting party let out a shout of joy.

"Yes. It’s yours."

Kim Sae-Jin smiled graciously.

The Hunters carried truly-moved expressions as they bowed their waists 90 degrees four times in a row - before politely inquiring if they could take a group selfie… if it wasn’t too much trouble.

Sae-Jin happily accepted this request as well. And the trio went home very, very satisfied from this encounter with a friendly celebrity.

And exactly three hours after this incident.

As Sae-Jin was about to head home having finished up his work, he got a phone call. It was from Yu Sae-Jung.

– "Oppa, someone wrote a post about you on SNS and now it’s a big news."

"…Huh?"

– "Everyone is praising you for your nice deeds. You should check it out."

"Keheum."

The life of a celebrity… It seemed that pretty much anything could become a news topic. He logged onto a news webpage while trying to look like he was suffering a bit. However, there was a wide smile pasted on his lips bright enough to light up the heavens.

*

Before anyone knew it, the sunlight became hotter and the coldness had become a story of distant yesterdays. As Kim Sae-Jin took a walk outside, he could definitely sense the silent encroachment of Summer.

"It sure does resemble a proper theme park, doesn’t it." (Kim Sae-Jin)

Although Sae-Jin had taken a step back from the Society’s administration, currently he was walking around its grounds with Soh Yeo-Jin in tow after she requested for it.

Originally, this area was too close to the Monster field - less than 40 km - so there were plenty of Knights, Hunters and Wizards around but never a big number of civilians. But now, he could see parents who brought along their children, couples out for a date, and even some folks who were most likely foreign tourists. The size of the so-called floating population had grown enormously.

"Looks like it’s okay for us to stop looking around here."

"Eh? But we still have other facilities to look at, such as the hotel and the cinema complex? There are lots of people there too, sir."

Soh Yeo-Jin spoke as she pointed towards the group of buildings over yonder. Sae-Jin carried a light smile as he shook his head.

"I don’t have enough time for that, unfortunately. Besides all that, though - there are truly a lot of people here?"

"I know, right? Maybe it’s because Miss Sae-Jung and Miss Yu-Rin are busy shooting their variety show in here, the number of people coming through has quadrupled compared to last year. If we can grow a bit more, then this area can very well rival the city centre where the Eden Tower is located at in a near future, sir. Honestly, we are the true reason why the real estate prices around these parts have rocketed up, you know~."

Soh Yeo-Jin’s spoke with lots of pride in her voice.

"Is that so?"

"Yes, sir. Really, we made the correct decision to forcibly increase the Society’s lands. The pure profit alone is so huge…"

He was feeling really great. He was happy in the knowledge that all these lands and buildings were all his.

"Oh, right. What’s the progress on that assignment I gave you?"

He suddenly remembered something else.

The special event for the Orc Blacksmith.

Two months ago, during the fourth night of the Red Moon when the waves of Monsters were still thick and strong.

With his entire Stats boosted by over twice as much under the influence of the Red Moon, Sae-Jin crafted a weapon using the Orc’s Smithing Technique. And that ended up becoming an eye-poppingly amazing creation.

Out of all the weapons that could be made by an Orc Great Warrior, this must have been the pinnacle - a longsword that proudly earned the ‘Treasure’ grade ranking. The name was the Orc’s Longsword for now, but he’d be able to change it the moment this sword goes on sale, since the Orc Blacksmith would officially be recognised as a Master craftsman from then.

"Yes, sir. It’s going well. We’ve already began the promotion and the advertisement via Guild’s homepage as well as through its SNS profile. Even Miss Sae-Jung and Miss Yu-Rin have mentioned it during the filming of their respective shows. There seemed to be a lot of interest from many Knights, that’s for sure."

Kim Sae-Jin nodded his head in satisfaction.

The Orc Blacksmith hadn’t produced a weapon in the last three months or so, and people had already begun criticising him from breaking the ‘promise’ or some such, but he figured that all of them would shut their collective mouths up if he told them this sword was the reason for the lengthy delay.

"That’s good. By the way, it seems like the Orc Blacksmith wishes to sell this sword through an auction. What are your thoughts regarding this, Miss Yeo-Jin?"

Sae-Jin wondered just how much this treasure would go for, under the current climate where the inflation had been going through the roof thanks to Monsters’ appearance, as well as the advent of mysterious crafts known as Wizardry and Alchemy.

"An auction? Then, there’s a chance of another country acquiring the sword…"

In the past, the Orc Blacksmith got a lot of flak for selling a Branded Goods-graded item to another country. But this time, this weapon was something that might not be seen in another hundred years, something on the level of being a ‘cultural asset’.

Naturally, Soh Yeo-Jin got cautious as she thought about the kind of calamity that could unfold when this weapon got taken by another country…

"The Orc specifically requested for it. Since things have come this far, he said it’d be better to spread our name internationally. I hear the best Blacksmith in the world is still a person named Hepaitos? We should help the Orc take away that title, don’t you think?"

Kim Sae-Jin smiled faintly.

< 24. Calm Before the Storm (2) > Fin.

(TL: There should be two chapters tomorrow from the queue. But as for Sunday…. well, either I go with another two extra, or just one more… we shall see!! Heh.)

(TL: Still five chapters in the queue. $13 left out of $50 for the sixth sponsored chapter.)

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