A Monster Who Levels Up
(TL: Hello, happy New Year everyone. I hope you all had a good holiday. Now then, let's get cracking!!)
"I am the Orc Blacksmith."
This declaration caused the Korean peninsula as well as the whole world to boil over. Since the fame of the Orc Blacksmith was already widespread throughout the planet, Kim Sae-Jin had become the hottest topic in the world.
Joo Ji-Hyuk, Yi Hye-Rin and Kim Yu-Rin as well as those members of the Society and acquaintances who had no idea fell into quite a huge vortex of shock; meanwhile, reactions from the local media and the public were quite varied and colourful, to say the least. Among them, were people who couldn't just believe it, some who were utterly amazed by it, and some who criticised and condemned him.
But what hurt him the most were those critical opinions of some that began with, "just how much enjoyment and sense of superiority did he derive while hiding his identity?"
Sae-Jin felt so, so embarrassed. He obviously had a valid reason why he had to conceal his identity, but whenever he read those articles, cold perspiration formed on his backside while his head went numb.
- "All the information has been compiled, but… it seems that, for now, it'll be better for us to wait, sir." (Kim Yu-Sohn)
While all this was happening, enough dirt on Kim Hahn-Seol and his backers had been uncovered - the information on all the corrupt things he did in order to achieve his ambitions. Although over half of those crimes were well past the statute of limitations, but well, mass media wouldn't sweat over stuff like that.
"Right. We wait."
Unfortunately, the huge chaos raised by Sae-Jin's press conference meant that it was not possible to bury this story with another one, not just yet.
The current situation had devolved to the point where even the most respected newspapers and weekly publications - such as The Guardian, the Times, etc, etc - were busy tripping over one another just to get the story out first, while the rest of news items were getting buried away in ignorance. It was likely that, even if he exposed this information, it'd get ignored just like the others.
"This chaos, it might carry on for a while, right?"
- "Yes, sir. It seems that way. Even if you hold more press conferences, this chaos won't die down, so perhaps it's better for you to take a couple of weeks of good rest, sir." (Kim Yu-Sohn)
"A good rest… Fuu-woo."
Kim Sae-Jin let out a grand sigh while staring outside his window. As there was no sign of the noise created by the huge crowd of reporters right outside his house lessening any time soon, having a good rest was simply an impossibility at the moment.
- "Oh, and Guild Master?"
- "Last night, I had a dream. It was seen from the eyes of a Vampire. And in the dream, the Vampire Lord is waking up."
The moment he heard those words, he swallowed down a lot of his saliva. Out of the blue, the Skill 'Eyes of the Wolf' activated all on its own, and his claws extended out sharply. His heart powerfully urged him on, strengthening the species-specific instincts.
"…How do we kill it?"
He muttered out without realising it. It was a simple, instinctive reaction.
"Ah, it's nothing. I'll call you back later."
Regaining his sanity back thanks to Kim Yu-Sohn's panicked voice, Sae-Jin quickly hung up the phone. However, his madly pounding heart showed no signs of slowing down at all. And those damn reporters camping outside his house, making so much noise were only serving to irritate him even more.
He let out another sigh and picked up his phone again. No matter what it took, he had to find a solution to these f*cking bastards outside who were preventing him from getting much-needed sleep.
"…Oh, is it you, Sae-Jung?"
The call connected even before the second ring ended. From the other side, he coul
d hear a genuinely welcoming voice.
For a week after the press conference, Sae-Jin shut himself in the house. He refused every single interview request made by both the local and international media outlets while saying, "Later".
Instead, testimonies of people witnessing a strange Monster began emerging between the articles related to Sae-Jin every now and then, before promptly getting buried away once more.
The unidentified Monster, its moonlight-coloured fur shining so beautifully - yet, leaving behind only the dark silhouette when the eyes try to locate it.
What the witnesses saw was the sight of the creature kicking and gliding in the air, leaping between buildings and mountains like a bird. Although, it was nothing more than a moment's blur, for those 'Knights' who accidentally saw it, they just could not forget that mysterious Monster.
Of course, the culprit himself couldn't care any less even if he tried. He had to feel the wind on his face just to de-stress, like now - so why would he care about what others thought of him and become careful with his actions? That just didn't fit with his current personality.
Currently, Sae-Jin was in the 'Wolf' form, while sitting atop the peak of a mountain in the Monster field, studying the land below.
The newly-improved Wolf's field of view simply knew no limits and he could see not only the countless Monsters, but also the Knights doing their nightly hunts as well. And even the flow of Mana coming off from them could not escape his vision, either.
Since none of them were Vampires, he had no interest in fighting any one of those weaklings. While yawning out, he flicked his claw out and that cancelled the magic spell of a Lich that was fighting a group of Knights afar.
Sae-Jin climbed down the mountain peak after confirming that the Knights, who briefly stopped their actions from the shock in order to figure out why the magic had been cancelled, rushing into the Lich to finish the Monster off.
Done with his stroll now, Sae-Jin returned to the cabin owned by Yu Sae-Jung.
The cabin that was located deep in the woods of Gangwon's Goseong-gun easily exceeded 7000 square feet in area alone, but it was still nothing more than one of the simple weekend getaway villas with a nice view Yu Sae-Jung owned. Actually, she didn't even know there was a place like this under her name until her butler informed her so.
And Kim Sae-Jin asked for Yu Sae-Jung's favour and as a result, ended up staying in this villa for the time being.
He couldn't help it, since his own house was virtually under siege at the moment, and it was also no better within the Society's grounds as that was completely open to the public; reporters had hidden themselves in the hotel and the theme park located there.
Of course, he could stay cooped up within the nap room of the HQ building, or even in the underground village, but changing to the Wolf or other Monster Forms there obviously caused problems, and also, he definitely didn't feel like living with Goblins in the underground village where sun literally didn't shine.
It didn't matter that he came here with a variety of reasons, because this place proved to be just perfect. The villa was located in the middle of a mountain, so not a single sign of people anywhere; as it was also right next to a lake, the air here was refreshing, too; most of all, there were no prying eyes to worry about.
However, the one thing he didn't fully expect, obviously…
"Oppa, where have you been?"
It was Yu Sae-Jung.
She approached him shyly while wearing a thin shirt with her black underwear peeking out a little and a really short hotpants. As if she had taken a shower just now, her cheeks were glowing and her hair moist.
"A stroll. But besides that, you still haven't gone home yet? You said you'd be here for a couple of days, tops." (Sae-Jin)
"…But this is my home already." (Yu Sae-Jung)
She was the sole reason why he simply had to establish the routine of going out on a 'stroll' as the Lycanthrope for the past four days. He could only stay as a 'human' for 15 hours; so, as long as Yu Sae-Jung was around the house, he had to roam around outside for the rest 9.
"Just what kind of a stroll lasts that long?"
"Because I want to? But forget about that for now - when is Mister Hyun-Oh coming? Isn't Mister Joo Ji-Hyuk coming here soon as well? Please call them and find out what's happening. My phone died a sudden and horrible death not too long ago."
"Oh, really? But uh, even I can't… maybe something happened? I'm sure they are also busy doing all those interviews."
Yu Sae-Jung locked into his eyes and lied with a straight face. She had already sent text messages that read, 'do not come. I can handle it', and well… she didn't want Sae-Jin to know. After all, she was utterly determined to make things happen here.
"I've readied breakfast. Let's go and eat."
She then held Sae-Jin's hand and guided him towards the dining table.
"How is it? Good?"
Yu Sae-Jung asked him while her eyes sparkled in hope.
"…Let me eat first."
Unfortunately for her, he only just finished scooping out a spoonful of stir-fried rice and it wasn't even anywhere near his mouth yet.
Here was the reason why his stay here the last four days was comfortable and uncomfortable all at the same time.
From 9 o'clock in the evening to 6 in the morning, he had to roam outside for 9 hours in total which meant that his sleeping hours didn't line up with hers - but the rising hours did, so Yu Sae-Jung prepared breakfast and they always ate together.
It was the same during the day as well. Since there wasn't much to do, they would spar occasionally, then watch some TV, and then talk about trivial stuff for a while. Meanwhile, Yu Sae-Jung would stealthily approach him and engage in 'skinship' - such as, leaning her head on his shoulders, or using his lap as a pillow.
Whenever that happened… Kim Sae-Jin didn't stop her.
"Mm. It's salty."
He chewed the fried rice for a bit before ruthlessly handing out his judgement. After his evolution to Lycanthrope, even his taste buds had sharpened up and most regular food just didn't taste good enough for him nowadays.
Panicking a little, she quickly took a mouthful of the rice. According to her own tongue, it wasn't bad at all, but still…
"…Ah, you weren't kidding… It's an honest mistake. Sorry. Should I redo it?"
"No, it's fine. Don't worry about it, really."
Well, it wasn't as if he'd chase after delicious food for the rest of his life, anyways. Sae-Jin shoved all the fried rice down his throat in a hurry. And his plate became empty in less than three minutes, all the while Yu Sae-Jung gazed at him with a deeply moved expression.
And then, he burped out loudly. But well, as the love-struck mind possessed power to transform even things like that into something utterly cool, Yu Sae-Jung burst out into a fit of giggles, commenting on how honest he was.
After the meal had come to an end, Yu Sae-Jung followed Sae-Jin as he headed towards the door again.
"I'm heading out for a while."
"Uh? But it's only 11 now? And you just came back not too long ago…"
Yu Sae-Jung asked with a surprised face. The repeat broadcast of a talk show he starred in would be on air pretty soon…
"I'll be back at 5 o'clock."
Kim Sae-Jin didn't say much, only smiling gently at her while standing on the doorway.
That was enough to appease her unhappiness of his sudden departure. Indeed, Yu Sae-Jung said goodbye with a smile much wider than his.
His schedule today was simple. He planned to roam the Monster field in all of his Monster Forms, and if he ran into a strong-looking Monster, then he'd kill it and absorb its Mana Stone. Then, he would meet up with Kim Yu-Sohn on the appointed time here in the field and have a chat with him, before changing into the Hero Orc and head off to the Orc village.
'Hmm… They have grown big.'
Sae-Jin felt accomplished whenever he took in the sights of the Hero Orc village that had clearly grown into a town. Although it wasn't cool to hear all those pig-like squeals coming out from this place instead of the Korean he taught them before, but still, this village had become a home where these mild-mannered Orcs could live safely.
They had divided their roles clearly, the huts built by the Orcs themselves were more than passable, and there seemed to be more than 300 households here - seeing all these Orcs and their growth, he started sensing the feelings of joy creep up on his mind.
It was then. An unexpected alert window popped up at this completely unexpected moment.
- Upon completion of one more condition, the host will evolve into the Orc Chieftain.
- A container where warriors' souls can dwell has been created in the host's body. Maximum of (1~5) souls of Monsters killed in battle can be stored, depending on the strength of the Monster. The Monster souls will add varied bonus Stat points to the host's overall power depending on the original holder.
The Orc tilted his head.
As he was checking out the alert window with a surprised face, the gates of the village creaked open and a person entered.
It was Kim Yu-Rin. It was as if she was also a resident in this place, judging by her familiarity.
She didn't carry any particular expression, only to find the Hero Orc and her whole face brightened up, quickly strolling towards where he was.
"But, no sparring today?"
The Hero Orc kept his distance and narrowed his brows. Yu-Rin then faintly smiled while pointing at her back pocket.
"I know. It's just that, there are couple of Orcs who got injured while going out on a hunt. I brought along some potions to treat them."
The Orc stared at her with a complicated expression. Her words implied that she had been often looking after these Orcs until now.
A woman who took care of Monsters. The press would have a field day if they ever found out.
"In other words, yes, it means that I don't have any interest in you. On top of that, we Raven Knights Order has decided to protect this village from poachers, too."
Completely forgetting about her uber-bright expressions of only a few seconds ago, she tried to look totally indifferent while walking past the Orc.
The Orc chuckled to himself slightly and turned around to follow her.
'…Hey, he's following me?'
Kim Yu-Rin's lips quivered after she took a quick glance at her back.
She thought that, the 'pushing and pulling' tactic had been a success.
< 27. Progression (1) > Fin.
(TL: $39 out of $50 left for 2018's first sponsored chapter!!)