A Monster Who Levels Up
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Although the ignition was turned on, the car hadn't moved.
"…I'm fine with you two meeting up for work, but I also prefer if you don't get too familiar with her." (Yu Sae-Jung)
Sitting on the passenger side, Yu Sae-Jung spoke at the dawdling Sae-Jin. Unlike other times, her voice was chilly and hard. Sae-Jin didn't reply back.
"I'm Oppa's girlfriend, right? Don't I have the right to ask for things like this?" (Yu Sae-Jung)
Only then did he turn his gaze towards her. Within her wet eyes, he saw the reflection of his own heavy expression.
"You're right." (Sae-Jin)
He returned his gaze back to front and pressed the accelerator. They drove past Hazeline by the roadside, standing there and waiting for the light to change on the pedestrian crossing.
Yu Sae-Jung stared at the side of his face for a short while, before lowering her head and sighing out weakly, muttering out some words under her breath.
"…I'm sorry. But Oppa will understand if you were in my shoes…" (Yu Sae-Jung)
Without saying anything, he gently grasped her hand.
"This… is this Oppa taking action without words?" (Yu Sae-Jung)
She deliberately asked in a cheerful manner.
He answered her, albeit reluctantly.
The eyes of the entire world had gathered on the Dawn Knights Order.
The reason was the Lycan's press conference.
Here, the number of people making quite a noisy scene easily exceeded the original capacity of 3000 for the Dawn Order's main auditorium that acted as the venue for the conference. These people were a disorganised collection of reporters, Knights and even Wizards, whose nationalities and species were hard to determine.
Also related to this conference, according to a certain memo/leaflet doing the rounds within the financial world as well as between the Knights Orders, there were quite a few speculations going on at the moment.
Some said, the Lycan was planning to reveal the true cause for all the Monster incidents happening of late; some posited that another Red Moon would pop up soon; or even, maybe that the Lycan was going to reveal himself to the public.
Most of the folks gathered here carried the opinion that the first option was likely the correct guess, while they waited for the arrival of the Lycan's spokesperson.
"Hyung-nim, what do you think?" (Reporter 1)
"How should I know? Don't talk to me. I need to make a call to the director…" (Reporter 2)
"It's plenty chaotic here without me talking to you… Ah!! He's here!!" (Reporter 1)
For a short length of time, a quiet stillness visited the noisy auditorium buzzing with anticipation. When the front door to the stage opened, the main character of today's gathering walked in, a steady rhythm of his shoes hitting the ground echoing in the hall.
Carrying a mannerism and a facial expression of a man intimately familiar with the proceedings, Sae-Jin climbed up to the lectern and stared at the camera lenses.
At the same time, countless camera flashes went off, but he didn't even blink once. Seeing how relaxed he appeared, several women started blushing for some reason.
Just as the explosion of camera flashes lessened, Sae-Jin began speaking the issue at hand.
Initially, he presented a set of an easily-digestible data, designed to hopefully make the listeners place a bit more of their faith and trust in the seemingly-baseless words that were soon to fol
low. Things such as the density of Mana increasing drastically within the Monster field, as well as the increasing frequency of Boss-level Monsters being spotted around world, etc, etc.
"But what does all of that got to do with the Lycan?" (Reporter)
One of the reporters asked out aloud. Kim Sae-Jin lightly nodded his head once, and then, finally spoke out the contents of Kim Yu-Sohn's dream/vision, disguised as the Lycan's prediction.
The Republic of Korea as well as the world, turning into hell on earth after appearances of countless Boss-level Monsters - in this terrifying future, the devastated landscape had transformed into a playground of Monsters, and mankind were nothing more than snack for them.
When his presentation concluded, there was only silence remaining in the auditorium. What the Lycan had put forth was the 'end of the world'. Even if he was the one who correctly predicted the advent of Red Moon, this was still a difficult notion to accept.
"…Please, you need to believe him." (Sae-Jin)
All Sae-Jin could do now, was to say those words and leave the stage.
In reality, he had nothing left to say anyways. There was no more data compiled and no evidence to back up the claim, either.
The loud, roaring questions flew towards the departing Sae-Jin's back, but he didn't answer any one of them, simply choosing to exit the auditorium.
And later that day, the Korean peninsula exploded, figuratively speaking, of course.
Almost every TV station and internet forum tried to dissect Sae-Jin's press conference. Some of them treated him as a pure nutcase; others said that it was quite a reasonable, rational prediction based on reality.
However - all those opinions, criticisms and insults had to stop, a week after the conference.
That was because, on the safest location within the Monster field, and less than three months after the appearance of the Boss-level Monster bird, another Boss-level Monster called the Flesh Golem had made its unwelcome appearance there.
A creature crafted entirely by combining flesh of numerous Monsters and people; its might was dependent on the number of ingredients used, and as such, was quite a formidable Monster to deal with.
And this particular Golem was over 70 metres tall and 34 metres wide. In order to fill up such a huge body with flesh, viscera and bones, one would need at least a thousand creatures, so there was no need to mention how obscenely powerful this Monster was.
Instinctively knowing only to walk forward and destroy everything standing in its way, the Flesh Golem moved its gigantic feet and stomped its way across the Monster field and headed towards a heavily populated city.
"…The estimated time of its arrival is 20 minutes." (Kim Yu-Rin)
And naturally, the government and Knights hurriedly constructed a defense line to counter the threat.
Unfortunately for them, the Golem's speed was just too fast. Although almost 100 Knights with upper Mid Tier rank had gathered after the emergency callout orders were issued, they still lacked enough time to construct a proper line of defense.
"Can't we… receive the aid of the Hero Orcs again?" (Kim Yu-Rin)
Kim Yu-Rin cautiously asked her father, Kim Hyun-Seok. But he shook his head.
"Unlike the time with the Monster bird and the Red Moon, the route is too different. Understand that we are not going to receive their aid this time." (Kim Hyun-Seok)
This Golem's destination wasn't Seoul but Busan. The Monster was ignoring the Mid Tier hunting ground and was cutting straight through the coastline within the High Tier ground. And that was also the reason why the line of defense was set up by the coast of the East Sea.
"…Understood." (Kim Yu-Rin)
Kim Yu-Rin let out a sigh and nodded her head.
Right then, cries of a Griffin could be heard from the sky. Thinking that Monsters were attacking, stunned Knights quickly looked up.
Thankfully, although it was indeed a Monster, it also wasn't an enemy. Mounted on the chest of the Griffin was the navy blue coloured crest of the Dawn Knights Order, and there was a Knight riding atop the flying creature.
It was the grand entrance of the famed 'Griffin Rider'. It was such a cool appearance, almost every Knight gathered here, even the upper Mid Tier ones, threw undisguised looks of envy.
"…Both of them are from the Dawn." (Kim Hyun-Seok)
Hearing her father's bitter mumbling, Kim Yu-Rin could only scratch the back of her neck. It was true about the old saying, that seeing the rise of a rival made one's stomach ache. No doubt, the Dawn Order would score big coverage worldwide, when the Boss raid proved to be successful and the resulting footage were broadcast to the public.
"Commander Kim Hyun-Seok, sir!!"
Soon after, Knights affiliated with the National Defense Force and tanks camouflaged in shades of green rolled up into the beach.
"What will be our plan of action here, sir?"
The man in charge of the military forces inquired hurriedly.
As soon as those words left his mouth, the towering silhouette of the Flesh Golem could be seen in the distance, and the unsettling tremor from each stride it took could be felt underfoot as well.
"Firstly, lure the Monster onto the beach. Tanks will fire at the enemy once and retreat. They will only get in the way." (Kim Hyun-Seok)
Kim Hyun-Seok laid down the order as he unsheathed the powerful sword 'Gram' that shone as brilliantly as the sun itself. Subordinate Knights nodded their heads and dispersed quickly.
"Is this your first battle with that sword, Master?" (Kim Yu-Rin)
Kim Yu-Rin too unsheathed her sword and asked.
"It is indeed so. However… I see that your sword is damaged slightly."
"…Oh. Uh, yes, but as long as my Mana can easily enter it, it's sufficiently good for me."
"Ask him for a favour." (Kim Hyun-Seok)
Kim Hyun-Seok used his sword to lightly tap hers and smiled.
"It may be a Branded Goods, but it's already 30 years old now. It's time to change it. Aren't you a friend with Kim Sae-Jin?" (Kim Hyun-Seok)
"Ah… But, still…"
"Take a good look at my sword. See how brilliantly clear its shine is?"
Was he trying to show off, even under this type of a situation? Kim Yu-Rin took a quick glance at her father and pouted deeply.
Regretfully, though - there wasn't a lot of time left for her to carry that pout around.
The tremor became louder and harsher. And on the blurry silhouette of the gigantic Monster, a pair of blood-red eyeballs could be seen now.
*SFX for whirling noise*
On the cannons of the tanks, Mana began gathering like a whirlpool. Their aim was to intercept the Golem's relentless march.
At the same time, Every Knight present roused their Mana up - on their bodies, Mana Barriers strengthening their bodies and defenses, and on their weapons, auras matching the shapes of the various weapons they carried.
And so, the deadly battle began proper.
'A fierce battle will unfold on a beach nearby.'
As soon as Sae-Jin heard of the news, he thought this was the perfect opportunity to truly gauge the Leviathan Form's depth of power.
And also, maybe because it was a surprisingly docile creature that didn't take action unless its territory was breached, the threat of his ego being overtaken had not occurred once yet. Honestly, even with Athany Form having grown to such a size, he still hadn't encountered the threat of it encroaching on his consciousness at all.
He quickly crossed the Monster field in the Lycanthrope's appearance and quickly dived into the East Sea, transforming into the baby Leviathan. And while riding on the rough waves, he rapidly swam towards the site of the battle.
'…Wow, this body has gotten bigger now. Even the scales have changed colour.'
The size had grown to a point where it could at least rival the height of a middle schooler, while the previously-white scales had taken on a tinge of azure. When he looked at his own reflection on the water, the jaws seemed to have begun resembling a Leviathan a little bit more, in the way it protruded out slightly. Even the fangs seemed to have gotten sharper as well.
'As expected, staying in water makes the growth of this Form to accelerate.'
He caressed the undulating ocean waves and began to enjoy the impromptu bit of surfing.
When he arrived on the scene, he witnessed one hell of a fight unfolding over there.
No one could tell just where such an abomination came from, but regardless, it had to be acknowledged that the Flesh Golem was indeed a Chimera-like creature of marvel.
Kim Sae-Jin observed the battlefield from afar. Seeing the sword auras rising from 100 plus Knights over yonder, he could tell for sure that each and every one of them were people with unrivalled status.
But then, the Flesh Golem proved to be a difficult opponent as well.
Monsters fell from the giant Golems body - they were its clones, each of them carrying battle strength exceeding that of a regular Mid Tier Knight. On top of this, quite unlike the image it presented with its massive body, the Golem itself attacked with precisely controlled magic at the Wizards who were lending assistance towards the battle up front.
Sae-Jin fell into a dilemma, wondering what he should do next. He couldn't dare to use his 'Breath' in fear of hitting those Knights near the Golem, but to sit here and do nothing was just….
But soon enough, he came up with an idea.
Almost nothing was known about how the Leviathan of the legends attacked. People only knew that it could fire off a Breath, just like a dragon. But Sae-Jin thought it would be a regretful waste if he only relied on Breath, when he had a Skill that allowed him to manipulate the Element of Mana and water itself, affording him near-endless possibilities.
'…I wonder, can I do it?'
For now, Sae-Jin fired a stream of water towards the Flesh Golem.
It was to 'understand' the make-up of the Golem using the Leviathan's innate Trait.
The stream of water entered the Golem's flesh, before exiting shortly after and flew back, landing on his scales.
That was the end of the reconnaissance. Although he didn't have any 'correct' material to build himself a Flesh Golem, he still understood how to make a Golem.
And so, he began pouring his will into the ocean current. As soon as he did that, the water rose up as if a giant mountain was about to break out of its surface, and then…
A gigantic blue Golem twice the size of the Flesh Golem revealed itself to the world.
Immediately, heavy silence descended on the battlefield.
Not only the Knights, even the Flesh Golem too, stopped what they were doing and stared.
One would be hard pressed to find a situation where the words "absolutely overwhelming" be more apt than this very moment.
Its massive and impressive body reminded everyone witnessing it of the Titans from the folklores, and from those two blue 'eyes' looking down on the battlefield, an indescribable pressure emanated out, causing everyone to feel suffocated.
"That is…. Oh, f*ck your mama." (Unnamed Knight)
Not only one, but now there were two.
Was this the entrance of yet another Boss Monster? Several Knights were about fall down in utter despair, when…
The Titan of the ocean swung its huge fist.
Knights hurriedly escaped from the vicinity, and almost right away, an incredible shock wave exploded out and seemingly swallowed up the whole world. Everyone's view was blocked by the torrents of sand and water drops crazily whirling around in the air. Even the branches of vegetation on the distant mountains broke off from the tremendous impact.
"Listen up, take care of the injur…"
But when the dirty cloud of dust began settling down and their view became clearer - Knights couldn't help but fall into another bout of stunned confusion. No, it was more like their brains ceased functioning altogether. They just stood there, staring.
The huge fist of the Titan was currently pushing down on the head of the Flesh Golem and not the Knights.
"…What the hell is going on?!"
One of the Knights dazedly muttered, giving voice to the very thought everyone else was having at that moment.
< 32. King of the Infinite Ocean, Leviathan (1) > Fin.
(TL: $0 out of $50 left for next week's first sponsored chapter.)