A Monster Who Levels Up
Yu Sae-Jung continued to move her gaze between Kim Sae-Jin and the unknown woman. Within her trembling eyes, many emotions such as fear, anger, irritation, anxiety, dumbfoundedness, etc. etc., tumbled around in a wild mess.
Sae-Jin hurriedly put his clothes back on and walked towards her.
“…Hey, you should greet her. This is…”
He paused his words there. He wanted to acquire Hazeline’s permission first.
Hazeline nodded her head firmly.
“Wha, what’s fine?”
Unfortunately for Yu Sae-Jung, this entire situation was just a big messy ball of confusion. Just what kind of introductions would require an okay from the other party first…? She knew she was worrying about nothing here, but still, she couldn’t help but feel nervous.
“So, the thing is, this person is…”
“No, wait!! Stop, stop right there!!!!!” (Yu Sae-Jung)
Yu Sae-Jung shouted out and stopped Sae-Jin. She felt like she needed time to ready her mind, if it was to calm her erratically beating heart…
“…This person is Miss Hazeline. You also know her too.” (Sae-Jin)
Good thing, then, Sae-Jin didn’t feel like extending the duration of her misunderstanding.
Yu Sae-Jung’s body trembled for an imperceptible amount of time, before she began remembering the name Hazeline – only then did she let out a sigh of relief as she nodded her head.
“Oh. Wowee…. Yes, of course, I know. I know well…”
Her eyes that were shaking in anxiety had now recovered some stability.
Sae-Jin chuckled slightly, and then said…
“She’s our fellow Society member, so isn’t it okay?”
…While gently gazing at Hazeline with an amiable smile.
“…Well. I’ve made many written communications with Miss Sae-Jung, so…”
Hazeline nodded her head in reluctance before removing her hood. Yu Sae-Jung became incredibly stunned, then. As expected of an Elf, her face was eye-searingly beautiful – but her skin was pure white, unlike how a Dark Elf should be. Before such an absolute beauty, Sae-Jung found herself shrinking away in awe.
“It’s our first time meeting face to face, yes? It’s a pleasure, Miss Sae-Jung.”
Hazeline reached out with her hand for a shake. Feeling slightly inferior, Sae-Jung carefully held that hand.
“…As expected, your beauty is befitting that of an Elf.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
Receiving that bitter praise, Hazeline assumed a wry smile as well.
“I was training until now. Miss Hazeline decided to help me out.”
Kim Sae-Jin didn’t like the depressed expression of Yu Sae-Jung, so he deliberately placed his arm around her shoulders and gently pulled her in closer.
It was definitely ‘gently’.
But Yu Sae-Jung dived into his arms as if she was being shoved by a tornado or something.
“…Y, you two seem really friendly.”
At this sudden embracing, Hazeline became flustered and scratched the back of her neck.
“Ah, that… Actually, we’re really, really close. And there’s a plenty of future potential for us t…” (Yu Sae-Jung)
Kim Sae-Jin quickly covered up her mouth, after realising she was saying weird stuff that was obviously trying to ward Hazeline off of him.
“…Our relationship is like that of a friendly older brother and younger sister.” (Kim Sae-Jin)
Meanwhile, Yu Sae-Jung bit into his palm in irritation.
[The Orc Blacksmith, now registered as the 18th Master Craftsman of South Korea.] [A genius who has become a Maste
r only after debuting 2 years ago; many overseas Knights Orders send their congratulations.] [The weapon that has elevated the Orc as the Master, will be auctioned off on June 1st in Hyunwol Auction House. Total of 200 Knights Orders from over 100 countries request for the participation of the auction….]
Smiling in satisfaction, Sae-Jin lowered the newspaper on top of the desk. Newspapers from not only Korea, but also from Spain, the USA, the UK, China, Japan as well as countless other countries could be found on top of his desk.
The languages might be different, but their headlines were remarkably similar. All of them were about the Orc Blacksmith becoming a Master Craftsman, and the words printed within were busy expressing their curiosity towards the ‘Treasure’ graded weapon he had crafted.
…At least, that’s according to Soh Yeo-Jin, who happened to be quite proficient in several languages.
“Yes sir, it is getting really hectic out there. We even received official diplomatic documentation from several Asian and Western European countries for their Prime Ministers and Presidents who are planning to attend the auction itself.”
“Really? That’s amazing.”
“Well, since it’s a Treasure-graded item we are talking about, I think this is only normal, sir. I mean, it’s a first one to appear in Korea for over 30 years, you know? He must be a true genius, this Mister Orc Blacksmith.”
Kim Sae-Jin did his best to stop his shoulders from straightening out after hearing Soh Yeo-Jin’s praises.
“Keum… That’s how it is?”
“But of course~.”
Just as Soh Yeo-Jin smiled brightly and nodded her head, the voice of his PA leaked out of the Society Chairman-exclusive phoneline.
– Mister Chairman. Miss Shenarine the Wizard has called in to say that she’ll be arriving on the premises shortly.
“Oh. Looks like it’s time for your training. Then, I should return to my duties as well~.” (Soh Yeo-Jin)
Soh Yeo-Jin grinned brightly and left his office. Sae-Jin yawned and stretched his limbs out wide, before he got up from his seat as well.
Before going to the training facility, he stopped by the Society’s members-only cafeteria. Maybe it was because this was during lunch time, there were quite a few people here.
Kim Yu-Sohn’s son, Kim Seon-Ho, was carefully feeding his young daughter some baby food, while Yi Hye-Rin was looking at that scene with adoring eyes. Joo Ji-Hyuk was deeply immersed in the novel he was reading, while Yu Sae-Jung was busy typing on the keyboard of a notebook PC while wearing a pair of glasses.
‘She said it was a group project for school, so it must be a lot of work.’
Everyone looked occupied with something. And out of them, the only one remaining with some leeway who could lessen his boredom was…
“I see that you’ve come again.” (Sae-Jin)
“Hmm? Ah, yes. Hye-Rin asked me to come along, so I, uh… ended up relying on you again. The food tastes really nice here, which is as expected.”
…That person was Kim Yu-Rin, who was already halfway to the dreamland before he interrupted her nap time.
“Well, it’s true that our cafeteria is famous for its delicious food.”
After all, Sae-Jin only hired those chefs with great potential, so it was par for the course, really.
Kim Yu-Rin subtly tried to read Sae-Jin’s mood while avoiding making a direct eye contact. Maybe because she knew that she was not the member of his Society.
“It’s fine. You don’t have to be so tense like that. You are contracted with the Monster Entertainment, so you can come as often as you’d like.” (Sae-Jin)
Sae-Jin assumed a wily smile after sitting down before her.
“Oh… Thank you. So, will it be alright for me to trouble you in the future as well?”
“Mm? Oh, of course.”
He figured that she was referring to the Society’s training facility. He had witnessed Yu-Rin loitering out in front of the HQ building more than once, whenever her acquaintances – Yi Hye-Rin or Yu Sae-Jung – weren’t around.
“…By the way…”
Kim Sae-Jin took a glance at the wrist protector mounted Yu-Rin’s arm. She saw the direction of his gaze and slowly hid the arm below the table.
“So, that’s ‘that thing’? The one given by the Hero Orc.”
“…Did Hye-Rin tell you about it?”
Kim Yu-Rin let out a lengthy groan.
“…Yes, the Hero Orc gave it to me.”
“May I touch it?”
Sae-Jin reached out with his hand while speaking to her. However, Kim Yu-Rin promptly and swiftly turned away to the other side and shook her head slowly.
“…You like that Orc that much?”
“T, that’s not true!! Not true at all!! It’s just… a present, is all. You are not supposed to touch someone else’s gifts willy-nilly.”
Sae-Jin stared at her and feigned dissatisfaction for a bit, while rubbing his chin. Then, a very good idea popped up in his head.
“…Do you want me to help you and set up a meeting with him?”
At his truly unexpected question, her eyes became super wide.
“Eh? W, what are you saying…?”
“It’s just as I said. I told you that I can ‘converse’ with Monsters. That’s how I got to be friendly with the Hero Orc…”
When he spoke up to here, he could see Kim Yu-Rin visibly swallow down her saliva.
“But well, just because I make a request, that doesn’t mean it’ll happen… but surely, the possibility should be high?”
Of course, there would be a catch.
“If Miss Yu-Rin joins my Society, then maybe, just maybe… Maybe I can summon forth the Hero Orc at least once every couple of weeks…”
Kim Sae-Jin smiled evilly as he studied reactions in Yu-Rin’s eyes.
And they were shaking uncontrollably.
“…I can’t. And I shall repeat this point once more. I’m not feeling any affection towards the Orc. If anything, then it’s simply the emotion of camaraderie between comrades who had battled together. After all, does the notion of a human liking a Monster even make sense?”
She continued to strongly deny everything.
“…Yes, I understand. Well… if you change your mind later on, let me know, please.”
She was like an impregnable fortress. Feeling his stubbornness act up, he even thought up some really naughty things, such as appearing before her as the Orc and fan the flames of yearning in her heart or something.
Right then, his phone rang loudly.
It was from Hazeline.
Suddenly remembering the complicated history between Yu-Rin and Hazline, Sae-Jin carefully exited the cafeteria.
But before that…
“Miss Yu-Rin, since you refused to join my Society, you are forbidden from entering the training facility today. No ifs or buts, please.”
“Huh?! No, wait, I didn’t come to train… I understand…”
‘…Don’t wanna help him anymore.’
Hazeline pouted as she looked at the training Kim Sae-Jin who was exercising like there’s no tomorrow.
In all honesty, she didn’t want to help him. Of course, she was very much grateful for what this man, Kim Sae-Jin aka the Goblin Alchemist had done to make her a real, super important big shot in the world of Alchemy. It was hard to quantify just how grateful she was.
However, she couldn’t help but feel intense jealousy at this unfair situation. It truly was a deplorable behaviour, but what could she do?
Wizards were originally the type of ‘animals’ that were full of petty jealousy, envy, ostracisation of others better than him or her, as well as desires to monopolise. On top of this, the level of pride they had in their reserve of Mana was on another plateau altogether.
And not to forget, although she had taken half a step away from that profession, Hazeline was still a Wizard, through and through.
She had never ever even heard of, or experienced, such a wondrous growth potential before. Her Mana reserves increased only after she had to go through training that literally made her sweat blood drops, until her bones felt like they were breaking under the strain.
But this man, in probably over a year’s time… no, maybe even less than that. In half a year’s time, she estimated that this man would possess more Mana than her if this rate kept up.
It was the difference of such a fraudulently unfair talent, or his Trait, and herself.
However, Sae-Jin was totally oblivious to her uncomfortable state of mind and concentrated solely on his training. At first, it was seriously tough, but now that a month had passed by, it had gotten much easier. The refreshing sensation of Mana permeating throughout his body was more than enough to offset the pain from the harsh training.
‘This just doesn’t make sense. How can the rate of his increase in Mana absorption actually be higher than last week?!’ (Hazeline)
Normally, when a person absorbed a certain amount of Mana during a day, he or she’d be able to absorb just a bit less on the following day – because the space in one’s body to store up Mana was limited. But it was not the same with this man.
Her face became nearly tearful after wondering why he was the only exception to this rule.
“…So, uh, shall we stop here for today?”
Hazeline stomped her feet on the ground in vexation and spoke to him.
“No way… I can… push myself… a bit more…”
He gritted his teeth and succeeded in doing one more push up.
Hazeline shut her mouth in anger. Meanwhile…
[‘Magic Strength’ has increased by 2. ‘Mana Affinity’ has increased by 1.]
…Only when alert windows such as this one floated up to his view a couple more times did he stop his training while feeling rather satisfied by the result.
The training lasted for three hours. During that time, Yu Sae-Jung went home after saying she needed to get ready for the following day’s ‘presentation’, while Joo Ji-Hyuk went out on a date with Yi Hye-Rin.
“Let me take you home.”
Currently, they were in the parking lot. Sae-Jin opened the car’s door as he spoke.
Hazeline deliberated for a bit before nodding her head. She figured that it was better to get a free ride home, since she felt a bit light-headed from helping him out in his training – although it looked simple from outside, it nevertheless required a good deal of Mana from her.
“Please get in.” (Sae-Jin)
Hazeline climbed into the passenger side, and Sae-Jin got behind the wheel.
As they drove, they talked about this and that. Most of them were about Yu Sae-Jung and The Monster, though.
“Miss Sae-Jung, she’s really cute, isn’t she? She’s been messaging me all the time, asking me what I’ve been doing lately, and then, just drops out of the conversation for no reason. So, I thought about this for a while, trying to figure out what she wants. And I think she’s trying to warn me off you.”
“She’s doing what?”
“Well, whenever she can’t contact you, it’s like, she’s thinking that maybe you’re spending time with me instead, so she’s sending those text messages to probe me.”
Kim Sae-Jin shook his head wryly.
“Eiii, no way.”
“Eiii? It’s the truth, you know? You know what’s the first thing written on her texts? ‘Unni, what are you doing right now?’ Or, it’s ‘Are you meeting someone right now?’ It freaks me out sometimes… So, please treat her a little bit better. She seems to like you really a lot.”
Just as when Sae-Jin glanced over at her direction with a smile…
The Wolf’s intuition ran an alarm bell immediately.
In an instant, his perception of time slowed down, and the world began flowing much more slowly.
A formless matter was suddenly crashing into the side of his car. He couldn’t tell what it was, whether it was a magic spell, pure Mana, or even an Undead. Kim Sae-Jin slammed down on the brakes and then, he pulled Hazeline into his arms in haste.
Within this slowed perspective of time, he could clearly decipher every little bit of changes in her expressions.
It sure was fun to look at, but he couldn’t focus on that right now.
He quickly extracted Mana from his body, and then formed a thin membrane from it which wrapped around them. As soon as the blue and circular membrane finished forming…
With a violent impact, the car was flung high into the air. And on top of the airborne vehicle, enormous ‘darkness’ poured down.
“…Are you unhurt?”
Inside the blue-coloured Mana membrane, Sae-Jin lightly grasped her shoulders and shook her. Frowning heavily, she massaged the back of her neck while slowly nodding.
“I’m more or less okay, but which sons of f***ing b***hes did this?”
Sae-Jin became speechless after hearing her rough words.
Just in time, they could hear the footsteps just beyond the Mana membrane.
“They’re coming.” (Hazeline)
Hazeline angrily gritted her teeth and began summoning Mana from her body.
“Hey, can you do something about this?” (Hazeline)
She then asked Sae-Jin while tapping his Mana membrane.
“…Oh. Please wait a moment.”
Since Sae-Jin had never seen her this furious before, he went into maximum respect mode and politely opened up a hole in the membrane for her.
The first thing they saw was the violently twisted wreckage of the car’s chassis.
Hazeline closed her eyes and recited an unidentifiable chant.
Right away, an enormous thrust of air exploded out through the open gap of the membrane and flung away the car’s chassis.
“It’s done. Undo the whole thing.”
As he undid the membrane, Hazeline let out a low sigh as she exited out of the partial destroyed car.
“…Come out. Who are you? Show yourselves right now, or I’ll burn you alive.”
Hazeline’s cold voice resounded from the middle of the empty road.
As if reacting to her provocation, a figure of a person emerged from the darkness that had descended in front of the car.
“Hey you, you must be out of your mind. Don’t you think this is too much for a pran…” (Hazeline)
But it wasn’t just one person. Two, three, four, five, six…. until there were eight of them. With the sudden entrance of these eight mysterious beings, Hazeline became slightly more serious as she licked her lips.
“… So, you came prepared. Who sent you? Did the Triads send you?” (Hazeline)
It seemed that she was seriously mistaken about something.
“…From the Mafia? Right. I thought as much.” (Hazeline)
< 25. Intensification (1) > Fin.