A Monster Who Levels Up
A Monster Who Levels Up Chapter 91: Truth? (5)
(TL: This final chapter of the year is brought to you by these Five Wise Men (And Woman) from the East: Anisha R, Anonymous, Pedro MM, Tristan B, and Jeppe BP. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone.)
“You are not doing it, for real? But you’ve been appearing on TV shows a lot lately… why only not this one? This one’s recording time is also short, too…” (Yu Sae-Jung)
A certain Summer afternoon.
As Sae-Jin was under strain from his complicated problem, Yu Sae-Jung came around holding a script from a TV talk show and started whining on and on.
“Plus, you’d be appearing together with me…” (Yu Sae-Jung)
The culprit was the sudden invitation coming from the so-called couple’s talk show.
“It should be nice for both of us, you know? That’s because…”
Unable to endure anymore, Sae-Jin finally called out to her in a low voice.
Yu Sae-Jung’s body trembled for a second, then. Not even looking at her, Sae-Jin sighed out grandly while massaging his temples.
“…Let’s, let’s talk about it later. I’m really busy right now.” (Sae-Jin)
…With what work?
However, Yu Sae-Jung couldn’t finish her question. His facial expression and his current body language showed how truly bothered he was by her presence here.
She could only gaze at him with her lips tightly shut. He looked so cold and indifferent right now, concentrating on those documents in his hands.
It wasn’t only this time, either. She could feel it on her skin, how much he was bothered by her. Even though Sae-Jin had denied it, without a doubt, he had changed.
“…Then, I should get going.”
However, she just could not say anything resentful towards him. She knew all too well who held all the answers in this relationship, after all.
Suddenly, she felt regret. Back then, back when Sae-Jin couldn’t suppress his desires anymore – she should have just let him embrace her…
Feeling remorseful, Yu Sae-Jung grasped the door handle.
She heard Sae-Jin from her back. Her heavy emotions reverted back ever-so-subtly, and the strength gripping the door handle automatically left her, just like that.
Whenever she heard her name being spoken out from his lips, she felt herself flutter. Sae-Jung turned around, her face slightly reddened.
“There’s something I’d like to talk to you about.”
However, at his follow-up words, her face hardened slightly, instead.
He wanted to talk to her. Kim Sae-Jin often beat around the bush like this, whenever he needed the Dawn’s aid in something.
“What is it? I… always welcome it.”
But for her, even being used by him was okay. Because that meant he needed her. Didn’t that mean there was a chance of things developing further? All she had to do was to work harder to develop the relationship, right?
“Please, come sit in front of me for a while.”
Kim Sae-Jin smiled deeply and pointed at the chair in front.
Several quiet days passed by, as if they were proverbial calm before the incoming storm.
Yu Sae-Jung said that she’d do what she could, but she also cautioned him it would not be easy, either. After all, the moment the Dawn gets involved, then its rival corporations would probably jump into the fray as well.
In other words, it was not possible to prevent the news from breaking out.
And so, while he wa
s mired in many different things, the Goblin village was continuing to grow from strength to strength. Now, it was big enough to be called an underground town.
“…That is some sight to behold, isn’t it?”
Kim Sae-Jin broke out in a hollow chuckle, while looking at Goblins playing the sport of jokgu with their short legs and small bodies. These creatures were spending the sweet downtime earned after eight hours of labour exactly like humans would. (TL: Jokgu is a Korean team sport which combines aspects of ‘association football’ and ‘volleyball’. Google it if you’re curious.)
Checking them out every now and then, Sae-Jin thought their actions were rather adorable, somehow. Such as, one Goblin who had failed to receive the ball was scratching the back of its neck while looking embarrassed.
…In all honesty, Sae-Jin wasn’t expecting to find more about the fact that Goblins possessed the highest IQ and EQ among all the Monsters out there like this.
“I taught them the sport. I thought it was a pity that their current living pattern only consisted of eating and sleeping.” (Kim Yu-Sohn)
“It’s a good idea. Seeing how fat those potion-making Goblins are now, looks like things are going well that side – but, what about the Witchcraft Goblins, though?”
The potential usages of the Witchcraft Goblins were truly enormous. Those Witchcraft techniques that were already known to the rest of the world, including the likes of ‘restraints,’, ‘detection’, ‘protection’, etc, etc, they were pretty much the same as very useful magic spells.
Also, it was possible to transfer knowledge via blood thanks to Goblin’s species-specific Trait. In other words, all those techniques created by the Witchcraft Goblins would become his, pretty soon.
“Well, they are doing their best, but… the results aren’t too encouraging at this point in time. It seems that the absence of a leader figure is playing a role here.”
“Is that so?”
Well, even the so-called transferring of knowledge was actually the Chieftain passing it onto a subordinate Witchcraft Goblin, after all.
Just as Sae-Jin was about to lick his lips in regret, both his and Yu-Sohn’s phones began ringing at the same time.
That sure was ominous. Two of them stared at each other briefly, before rushing towards the surface.
– The crime of tax evasion by The Monster’s Chairman, Kim Sae-Jin has now been uncovered. The amount is $46 million USD, proceeds from the sales of weapons…
The day before the scheduled meeting with the minister, the news finally broke. As expected, it had to do with his tax.
As if everything was arranged ahead of time, the news spread around rapidly, and the meeting with the minister was duly cancelled – leading to this second news item, which went like, ‘Kim Sae-Jin insults a government minister’ or some such.
‘So, he wasn’t even planning to meet in the first place, huh.’
Also, he now understood why Kim Hahn-Seol asked Kim Yu-Rin to investigate him.
Above was a single excerpt from the article that occupied the upper sections of the portal site search results.
This one sentence had an enormous ripple impact on the public.
Of course, although it seemingly had nothing to do with his tax problem, it was not a lie that someone did make a report. So, even if Kim Yu-Rin and Yi Hye-Rin tried to clear up the air belatedly, all the news publication had to say was, ‘reporters made a mistake while rushing the story out’.
If Kim Sae-Jin didn’t know what was actually going on, then his Society members would end up being alienated from one another here.
Just like now.
“…I, I didn’t say anything slanderous to anyone… I’m, I’m telling the truth!!” (Yi Hye-Rin)
Yi Hye-Rin trembled heavily as she entered Sae-Jin’s office. He also heard that Kim Yu-Rin was hurriedly making her way towards the HQ at the moment as well.
“Only thing I reported on was what I saw you, the Chairman’s, daily routines, and I’ve never even mentioned anything related to t, tax matters…” (Yi Hye-Rin)
It was his first time seeing her this unsettled and fearful, so Sae-Jin gently tapped her on the shoulder to calm her down.
“I already know that this event is some bastards scheming to screw me over, so please, do not worry. I’ve already begun searching for the ones behind this plot.”
He had already sent the ‘Linked-up’ Apostle Rhosradel into the ranks of Vampires, while his agents were working tirelessly to gather more than enough dirt on Kim Hahn-Seol and his backers to bury them away.
So, it was only a matter of time before the backlash slaps them in the face.
“If, if that’s the case, then… Ah!! Miss Kim Yu-Rin is not that kind of person either.”
“I also know that, very well.”
When he asked Yu-Rin as the Hero Orc just before this incident broke out, she said, “I should do this instead of someone else, so there won’t be any distortion of facts”. That showed that she believed in him. It was that, she too had become a victim simply by following the order to the letter.
“If it’s not explained away properly, there might be a big blow to our public image.”
Kim Sae-Jin formed a smile deliberately. Whether it was truth or not, matters related to taxes were a sensitive topic to the public at large.
Plus, the situation was now at the point where several news articles were writing utter garbage, that he was exploiting the Orc Blacksmith…
“Miss Kim Yu-Rin has arrived.”
Jo Hahn-Sung quickly informed Sae-Jin.
As soon as Kim Yu-Rin arrived, every member of the Society as well as its ‘think tank’ gathered and began discussing emergency countermeasures. But, it was just impossible to refute every accusation thrown at their way.
During the time he lived the double life as the Human Kim Sae-Jin and the Orc Blacksmith, he wasn’t meticulous with keeping his secrets all the time. There were times when he didn’t pay attention, such as when his Society was at its infancy, and these bastards were exploiting this.
And now, some employees present during this meeting, who had no clue that Sae-Jin was the Orc Blacksmith, ended up saying that although this whole thing was a mistake, a few parts here and there did sound like tax evasion to them.
Also, only after three hours passed since the ‘breaking’ of the news, the media did something they were well known to do every now and then; they assumed that he did defraud on his tax and began reporting as such. Seeing the number of comments shoot past twenty thousand, Sae-Jin again realised the importance of his Society, The Monster, in this world.
Whatever the case may have been, with the current situation as it was, even if they demand a retraction from the media outlets, that would take a figurative forever to happen. In the meantime, the public images of Sae-Jin and his Society would hit rock bottom. That was why, there was only one method that could solve this chaos and reverse those negative media perception and their articles.
It was to reveal that Sae-Jin was the Orc Blacksmith.
The sole reason why he maintained the double identity was to preemptively prevent unnecessary rumours and questions from potentially spreading around. After all, the method ‘the ORK’ utilised in crafting weapons wasn’t something he could reveal to the public, thanks to how different it was compared to other blacksmiths.
And now that things had devolved this far, his reasoning had become somewhat pointless.
The moment he comes clean, there was a chance that the media and the public would become incredibly curious as to just what kind of Trait Sae-Jin had. Surely, there would be those who would outright ask him about it, too.
…And then, he also kind of felt embarrassed about this as well. Although he had no choice but to keep his circumstances as a secret, others might think of him being impertinent and arrogant in playing a game of deception like this.
“For now, I’ve clarified my position, saying that there was no such thing in my report…. But the chaos has grown so big already and… I won’t offer you any excuses. I’m truly sorry.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Kim Yu-Rin lowered her head in a distressed expression. Whether it was because of the order from above or not, it was true that she did investigate his background, after all.
“It’s fine. It’s fine so please, don’t beat yourself up with this. For now…”
There wasn’t much choice left. His head hurt way too much for a meeting like this one, and he even felt irritation bubbling up at all those reports and comments appearing in real time as well.
“Please call for a press conference.” (Sae-Jin)
On a clear afternoon.
Countless reporters, cameras and news vans from TV stations crowded on a garden located within The Monster’s grounds, designated as the spot for the press conference.
As an aside, this conference was being broadcast live to the rest of the country as well.
“…Did he really defraud on his tax?” (Unknown reporter 1)
“Since this whole thing is complicated, it does sound questionable, but I think he did it. But more than that, I’m more curious about the relationship between the Orc Blacksmith and Kim Sae-Jin.” (Unknown reporter 2)
“Yeah, me too. Just what made the Orc use someone like Kim Sae-Jin as his intermediary? To the point where he poured all his earnings to the Society, even?” (Unknown reporter 1)
“I don’t know. I mean, we know there is this Orc Blacksmith, but we don’t have any concrete details about him, right? That preferential tax thing was awarded solely because of his participation in the Blacksmith Open tournament, no? So, well, there are lots of whisperings that they are actually half brothers, or that the Orc is a slave, that he’s from different species, etc, etc…. But since he said all will be revealed today, let’s take a proper look, shall we?” (Unknown reporter 2)
Reporters were busy chatting away among themselves, their conversations full of curiosity.
While they were occupied like so, two female Knights from the Raven Order made their appearance – the two who were suspected to be the ones who have made those so-called reports.
Camera flashes went off like crazy and questions were thrown at their way, but the two simply said, “we’ve already clarified our positions so go and print retractions first” and headed to the empty seats out in the front row prepared for them.
And so, another twenty minutes went by, with only five more remaining before the press conference was scheduled to commence.
The tension ran quite high; reporters and camera crews waited with bated breaths for the arrival of Kim Sae-Jin to the stage.
Set off by an unknown person’s shout, camera flashes went off once more, and all of the cameras focused on one place. Kim Sae-Jin, decked out in a formal business suit, walked like a cool supermodel.
Carrying a stiff face, he stood on the prepared stage. And then, after letting out a single fake cough, he said…
“Tax evasion. Although there have been some misunderstandings here, it is categorically untrue.”
That was his opening line.
Right away, camera flashes exploded and questions that sounded like roars of wild animals spread around.
“What is your reasoning for that?”
“But the National Tax Agency is certain of…”
“There are rumours that you listed the Dawn’s aid to squash this allegation altogether. Do you not feel any guilt on your conscience?”
There could not be anything more torturous than this on his auditory and visual senses that were so much sharper after his evolution to the Lycanthrope.
“Please, calm down first…”
Sae-Jin closed his eyes and gestured the reporters to slow down first. And then, he quickly seized the small gap between the frenzy of the reporters to continue with his words.
“A lot of people are curious about the Orc Blacksmith’s identity.”
He produced a document from the bag carried on his side.
This was the relic of the past when the Orc Blacksmith first made his debut – the application form for the Blacksmith Open Tournament that was returned to him as the proof of his participation. Although there were no fingerprints on it, there were a signature and the return address written on it.
“This is the application form from the time when the Orc applied to participate in the Open Tournament. At the time, when the Orc was guarding his identity even more fiercely compared to today, the address written on it shows the post office in Gangwon Province.”
Ignoring the continuously exploding camera flashes, he then lifted up the scanned paper that detailed the beginning of all the transactions taken place so far.
“You’ll see that the Orc had never used his own name. Everything was done with me, Kim Sae-Jin, as the proxy. Since the complication with the preferential tax arises from this, I’m guessing the main issue is with this part, yes?
“Also, I see that there is another point that has caused a great deal of confusion, that has led to you raising many questions regarding the matter. Why would the Orc Blacksmith use me, Kim Sae-Jin, as a proxy, someone who is an orphan and has not much of a background? Is he really a slave that simply hands over all of his creations?”
Sae-Jin let out a lengthy sigh.
“To be clear, he’s not a slave, nor did he appoint me as his proxy.”
Reporters only then began remembering that unrealistic story in their heads. That urban legend of Kim Sae-Jin being one and the same as the Orc Blacksmith.
All of them believed that, although sounding feasible, that story was simply nonsensical. No, it was an impossibility. In order to produce weapons of the Orc’s calibre, it just wasn’t enough to dedicate oneself on walking down the lonely path of the blacksmiths.
“Let me clarify further.”
Sae-Jin breathed in deeply and surveyed the surroundings. He saw the faces of the deeply shocked people. Among them included Kim Yu-Rin, Yi Hye-Rin and Joo Ji-Hyuk. It was understandable, really, since Sae-Jin hadn’t told them the truth until now.
“I am the Orc Blacksmith.”
He thought there would be explosions of flashes. However, everything was quiet.
These reporters had no room left to start snapping his pictures, after all.
< 26. Truth? (5) > Fin.
(TL: I just had to insert the first Iron Man movie reference at the end there. I just had to. That last scene always gives me goosebumps. It’s so good…)
(TL: Well, that’s it, then. Off to the holiday season, I guess. Oh and yeah, sorry about the cliffhanger. My bad…)
(TL: But before you go, you should really click on the next chapter link first… My Christmas gift to you all, so yeah, merry Chirstmas and have a good week, everyone.)