A Monster Who Levels Up
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Although he was finally inside the very archive he'd been dying to enter… looking around this incredibly vast place, inside of his head was rapidly turning blank.
All his life, he never held what someone might refer to as a relationship with books. So, right now, he didn't even know where to begin on how to find what he was looking for in this humongous library. Also, as every bit of these stored information was 'top secret', there was obviously no kind-hearted secretary or a librarian to help him out, either.
Sae-Jin looked around to find if there was an equipment of some sort that could help him browse through the info stored here. But well, there was no such thing - since there was also no such thing as a 'browseable secret information', after all.
In the end, he had to dig through each and every information contained in this library.
On these documents created by magic, many, many events were recorded in detail.
Such things as the time period when the first Fissure showed itself being well over sixty years ago, to a certain terror incident with explosives, which wasn't even a terror-related crime at all, but instead an act of sabotage performed by the government, instead…
They were the kind of incendiary stuff that might have made conspiracy enthusiasts/nutjobs wet their collective pants. But too bad, what he really wanted to find out didn't want to reveal themselves at all, at least not initially.
And so, as he was busy reading through various secret information, the sound of the elevator doors opening could be heard. And then, sounds of high heels stepping onto the floor following that. Sae-Jin put away the info he was reading back into the storage. At the same time, the footsteps ended, and he could feel a gaze directed at his way.
"And just who you might be?"
Hearing that rather sweetly flowing voice of a woman, Sae-Jin slowly turned his head around, and found a blue-eyed blonde foreigner looking at him. She was an incredible beauty, but… Sae-Jin could smell a certain whiff that no human should emit in the first place.
"I'm Jin Seh-Hahn."
That faint but undeniable whiff of blood. It was so faint, if he was not in Jin Seh-Hahn's appearance - using the Partial Beastification - he'd never have caught on to it.
His fist clenched tightly before he knew it.
"Oh. Jin Seh-Hahn, the one who became an upper Mid Tier today?"
Sae-Jin did his best to maintain a poker face. He hadn't even found the information he was looking for yet, so it'd only prove disadvantageous if he reacted too suspiciously here.
"So? Why have you come here? No, besides that. Isn't it too early for you to enter this place?"
In her voice, a faint trace of hostility could be heard.
"I'm also an upper Mid Tier." (Sae-Jin)
"Of course, I know. You may have the qualifications to enter, but that doesn't mean you are allowed to."
"…What does that supposed to mean?" (Sae-Jin)
At Sae-Jin's sharp reaction, the blonde woman let out a short laughter.
"Think of it as an unwritten rule, okay? There are lots of shocking secrets hidden in here… Of course, Eden's oath forces you to never reveal her secrets, but normally, when you've been an upper Mid Tier for at least half a year, you are given the rights to enter this place only after having a face-to-face interview with a Highest Tier Knight first."
…What kind of bullsh*t is this? Kim Sae-Jin wordlessly glared at her.
"…Are you dissatisfied?"
"No. But I am curious. Who are you?" (Sae-Jin)
"Oh, right. You wouldn't know about me very well. My name is Mary Chellin, Eden's High Tier Kn
ight. I came here recently, after a stint over yonder in Great Britain."
Mary Chellin - it was… a somewhat familiar name. It felt like Sae-Jin had heard it somewhere. But more than anything, even her name felt wrong, somehow.
"I'd like to stay for a bit longer. After all, it's a friendly suggestion, and not an enforced rule. Isn't it?" (Sae-Jin)
"…Is that so? Well, aren't you… quite the daring type." (Mary Chellin)
In that moment, a faint killing intent rose up, but she skillfully dispersed it as soon as it leaked out.
Seeing her like this, an idea came to Sae-Jin - the perfect scenario on how Jin Seh-Hahn might die.
"But, well… Since a beautiful Knight has suggested it, so…" (Sae-Jin)
Sae-Jin smiled as he walked towards the elevator.
The tragic scene where a hero would meet his end had vaguely taken shape in his mind, but there were still too many things left to finish - to find out all the info related to his parents, as well to figure out how the hell these stinking Vampires had infiltrated the ranks of Eden.
"A wise decision." (Mary Chellin)
It was difficult to read Mary Chellin's expressions as she watched Sae-Jin's back while he climbed into the elevator. It was a somewhat grim face, hard to tell whether she was smiling or glaring.
Leaving the tower, Kim Sae-Jin/Jin Seh-Hahn decided to walk back home. However, not long after, he sensed a tail following him. That forced him to stay as Jin Seh-Hahn, unable to change back, and he had to head towards Jin Seh-Hahn's rented apartment instead.
He arrived at the newly-constructed apartment building, where Jin Seh-Hahn had supposedly rented out a room. He entered the lift, arrived on the uppermost floor and punched in the security PIN for the door. He entered the place as if it was really his own home.
The apartment was kept nice and tidy, although no one had been in here for the last six months or so. He even picked up the faint scent of a certain person as well.
'Did Miss Hazeline do this?'
Well, this apartment building was actually owned by Hazeline, so…
For the time being, he took off his coat and took a quick glance outside. He spotted unnatural flickering of the shade cast by the office building across the street, as well as picked up on a faint, nearly indiscernible hint of movement outside.
"Still there, huh."
There were two of them. Judging by their lack of Vampire-unique "bloody" smell, they were most likely normal humans under some kind of mind control spell, or maybe, could even be those artificial dolls as well.
Closing the curtains, he put the kettle on as well as the television. When he fell into the comfy couch, his body felt comfortably numb and his mind seemed to settle down for some reason. Was it because he was always with Yu Sae-Jung back in his other place? To be 'alone' like this, it was…
*SFX for a door suddenly unlocking*
It was then, the security PIN was keyed in and the front door suddenly opened up. Surprised out of his skull, Sae-Jin immediately dashed towards the door, grabbed the collars of whoever it was that opened it, and slammed the person down to the ground.
Accompanying the dull sound of impact was a cry of a woman. Sae-Jin didn't stop there and grabbed tightly both her wrists with his hand, and then, pulled her hood off.
His body reacted purely out of instincts before he could stop himself, but actually, he was already beginning to think that this woman appeared to be a rather familiar figure.
"Ah, aharck!! Hey, that hurts!! I said, that bloody hurts!!"
With the hood pulled off, a beautiful face slightly covered by messily tossed golden hair and a pained expression was revealed.
And… it was Hazeline.
"Le, let me go, right now!!!" (Hazeline)
"Why is Miss Hazeline…?!" (Sae-Jin)
"I came here to clean the place!! What the f*ck do you think you're doing?!" (Hazeline)
Sae-Jin hurriedly undid the restraint only then, and she shot him a resentful glare full of anger while still sprawled on the floor.
"This hurts like hell, you know? I think it could be fractured… Seriously, why are you so damn violent?!"
While massaging her red and swollen wrists, she angrily growled at him. All Sae-Jin could do was scratch the back of his neck, feeling really apologetic.
"…I'm truly sorry. But why are you suddenly wearing that particular robe…?" (Sae-Jin)
The robe she was wearing currently was specially crafted for her by TM and featured such attributes as 'high-level stealth' as well as many others, so when she appeared like this without any prior hint or notice while Sae-Jin was in somewhat of an alert state… well, he couldn't really be blamed for being a little bit paranoid.
"I told you, I came here to tidy up the place. That's why I wore this robe. I really like this robe, you know? But besides all that, it was you who asked me to take care of this place, so why are you acting like this all of a sudden?!" (Hazeline)
"Wait a minute, when did I ask you to…"
"You told me to help you conceal Jin Seh-Hahn's real identity." (Hazeline)
Hazeline spoke as she wiped the slight hint of tears from the corners of her eyes.
"Well, I did say that…" (Sae-Jin)
She already knew that Sae-Jin was Jin Seh-Hahn.
No, actually, it was more correct to say that he got found out.
Although his face was covered with thick beard, and he always wore a pair of sunglasses, there were still some similarities between Jin Seh-Hahn's face and that of Kim Sae-Jin's. And it proved to be nigh-on impossible to fool the discerning eyes of a certain Elf Alchemist/Wizard who could divide medical ingredients right down to individual grains.
….The real clincher in this story, though, was Sae-Jin's own stupid self, who, after receiving Hazeline's rather sneaky but clever 'probing' text message that said [Mister Jin Seh-Hahn, whatcha doing? ^^], freaked out and hurriedly called her to find out how she knew.
"W, well, please take a seat in the meantime. I'll go and get you a cup of coffee." (Sae-Jin)
He helped Hazeline to the couch and hurriedly prepared the coffee. She continued to massage her still-aching wrists while observing his busily-moving back.
"Really… how bizarre…" (Hazeline)
"Do you want it black?"
"Yeah. I prefer black."
Soon enough, Hazeline relaxed her back against the couch, while her lips began curling upwards.
To unexpectedly run into him in this manner - it seemed that her luck today was not bad. Honestly speaking, she was loving this sudden encounter, so much so that her feet nearly burst out in fancy dance moves.
For the following week after that encounter with Mary Chellin, Sae-Jin continued to dig through the classified information of Eden. And whenever he did, less than 30 minutes later, different Knights appeared each time and suggested that he should leave. Most of them were normal humans, but 2, 3 of them were Vampires.
And the more he got on the nerves of these Vampires, the clearer the dangers reaching out towards Jin Seh-Hahn became.
The frequency of being tailed increased, and he even got ambushed by Monsters as well - and there were moments when mind controlled citizens attacked him out of the blue.
It was easy to see that they really had something big to hide.
- "It seems that, many information Vampires don't want to be revealed are indeed stored in Eden's archives, sir. That must be the reason why they have infiltrated it, despite the risks. However, those records are created by using magic, so they can't be destroyed or moved to elsewhere - which leads to their attempts to disrupt you, instead. Still, were you able to locate the info you were looking for?" (Kim Yu-Sohn)
The voice coming out from the communication crystal belonged to Kim Yu-Sohn, someone Sae-Jin hadn't talked to in a long time.
"Feels like I'm getting close. I've finally found some stuff related to the things I've been looking for." (Sae-Jin)
- "In that case, that is a relie… Cough!!"
Sae-Jin heard a dry cough that didn't sound good at all.
"Uhm, well… how are you feeling nowadays?" (Sae-Jin)
- "I'm feeling fine, thank you. My body is old and it has its good days and bad ones, so you don't have to worry about me, sir."
Kim Yu-Sohn spoke in a clearly-fake lively manner. Unfortunately, compared to the past, there was a distinct lack of energy in his voice. Sae-Jin was about to say how worried he was, but…
"Then, about the potion I sent over to you the other day…" (Sae-Jin)
- "Well, sir. I need to get going now. As for the rest, you should call Sun-Ho… Cough… You should talk to him… Cough, cough…"
Before Sae-Jin could finish his sentence, Kim Yu-Sohn ended the communication first.
And almost at the same time, his phone vibrated.
When he took a quick glance, a text message from Hazeline was there, asking him if he was coming to Jin Seh-Hahn's home today.
Sure enough, because he had been acting as Jin Seh-Hahn throughout the week, he ended up interacting with Hazeline a lot more than before. Three times this week already, he evaded those pesky tails and took a break in this rented apartment, and Hazeline came over while carrying delicious food.
All of this was enough to make him feel guilty about neglecting Yu Sae-Jung, so… He typed a short reply and sent it.
However, different from the contents of the text message, Sae-Jin changed into Jin Seh-Hahn and headed to the Tower of Eden.
As he stood there on the corner of Eden's classified information archive, Sae-Jin's hands holding the documents were trembling noticeably. His back was soaked in cold sweat, and a dull ache invaded his brain.
Finally, after two weeks of nonstop hard labour, he had found it - the documents containing information on his mother, Jin Soh-Young, and the father whom he didn't even know what he looked like, Kim Jeh-Hyuk.
Wiping away the stream of sweat off his forehead, Sae-Jin slowly opened the documents. And very carefully, he began reading each line of text with all his focus. Trying his best to calm his quaking heart, he spent the total of five minutes reading the first page, but then…
A chilly voice drifted towards his direction.
Maybe because he was too focused on the documents, Sae-Jin couldn't even detect the presence of another person. Almost jumping out of his own skin thanks to shock, he quickly turned around to see, and found Mary Chellin standing there.
"You aren't supposed to look at that. Give it to me." (Mary Chellin)
She reached out while exuding a thick layer of killing intent. If there was a colour assigned to describe killing intent, then the aura coming off of this woman would no doubt be the colour of blood.
"…Can't do that." (Sae-Jin)
But he didn't back down.
"Is that so? Well, then… Do what you want. I already gave you a fair warning." (Mary Chellin)
Sae-Jin was getting ready for battle that could break out at any moment, but she simply turned on her heels and left.
< 33. Heroic (3) > Fin.
(TL: $50 out of $50 left for this week's second sponsored chapter.)