A Monster Who Levels Up
Kim Sae-Jin hurriedly climbed aboard his car so that he could get to a coastline and 'summon' his new pet, the Kraken.
Since the East Sea would be too full with tourists and vacationers, his new destination was going to be the South Coast.
The top-end sports car roared out a throaty exhaust note as it scythed past Yoseon-Dong.
He spotted many robe-wearing Alchemists on every corner of the streets, making him feel the sort-of renaissance Yoseon-Dong was going through on his skin, now that this area was being commonly referred to as the Mecca of all things Alchemy.
However, when he thought about the fact that this change was only possible due to the Goblin Alchemist's actions, he couldn't help but feel excessively proud of himself. Sae-Jin's shoulders danced up and down slightly as he gripped the steering wheel tighter.
He drove past Yoseon-Dong slowly while sightseeing. Then, he happened to spot a very familiar back of a certain Elf Wizard/Alchemist.
She was wearing that snow-white robe Sae-Jin had made personally, so he could spot her way too easily.
But the way she walked seemed a bit strange. She stumbled and faltered about as if she was drunk, and there was a distinct lack of energy to her steps. Sae-Jin tilted his head in confusion. From his memory, her strides were the very definition of a queen bee strutting around in pure haughtiness, so…
Sae-Jin lowered the speed of the car and sidled up next to the person he thought was Hazeline. He could spot the lower half of the face below the hood. The pair of lips were unusually dried up and cracked, but they definitely belonged to Hazeline.
A smile bloomed on Sae-Jin's lips and he winded the window all the way down.
"Holy *%&#!! M, mommy!?! Kkyahck!!"
His call was way too sudden. Hazeline screamed in panic and fell on the ground face first.
She squarely faceplanted into a manhole cover on the ground. Shocked, Sae-Jin quickly jumped out of the car and rushed to her side.
"Huh. Are you alright?" (Sae-Jin)
When Sae-Jin held her shoulders and helped her to stand, he got glared at by a pair of gloomy eyes peeking out from beneath the hood. And just below them, a reddish, swollen nose with two slender streams of blood drizzling down.
"Ouch. That looks like it might hurt." (Sae-Jin)
He quickly pulled out a handkerchief and wiped the blood away. She remained still, choosing to 'feel' his hands touching her face this way and that, before mumbling out in a numbed-out voice.
"…..Argh, seriously. You really surprised me…. Why are you screaming out the name of a person so suddenly like that?" (Hazeline)
"Oh, my bad. Really, I didn't know you might fall down like this." (Sae-Jin)
"…Heu-eup. Come on now, this is just too much…" (Hazeline)
Suddenly, tears seemed to well on the corners of her eyes. Even the sobbing whimpers leaked out every now and then, so Sae-Jin could feel the chilly stares of the passersby stabbing him in the back.
"Ah, wait!! F, for now, please get in the car. There are too many people out here who can recognise me." (Sae-Jin)
"No thanks. I'm going home. So, lemme go…" (Hazeline)
"In that case, let me take you home." (Sae-Jin)
Sae-Jin shoved Hazeline into the passenger seat, then rapidly slid into the driver's. Fortunately enough, most of the passersby were Alchemists, and they seemed to lose their interest quickly, flowing past the duo in the car like a river's water.
"Fuu… By the way, where was your house again?" (Sae-Jin)
Hazeline didn't say a word, instead simply sat there with a sullen expression, swallowing the blood from her nose.
"…Would you like some tissue?" (Sae-Jin)
"…I'll use magic so no need." (Hazeline)
"Ah… sure." (Sae-Jin)
Sae-Jin wanted to ask why she was still swallowing the blood, if
that was the case… but the current mood didn't allow him to utter this bit out.
"Uhm… Then, should we head off towards the Alchemy House, instead?" (Sae-Jin)
As a reply to Sae-Jin's inquiry, Hazeline turned the topic around to a completely unrelated matter.
"Why haven't you answered me back?" (Hazeline)
"…Excuse me?" (Sae-Jin)
"You didn't even pick up the phone. For the whole month." (Hazeline)
His face turned deeply troubled in less than one second. He had no access to his phone during his 'imprisonment' underground, and when he was rescued, there were over 2000 text messages from the employees regarding the administrative matters of TM, so he couldn't even begin to check who sent what.
"I had this thing going on at the time… Really swarmed with work, I was. W, well, when you return home, please resend the message to me. I'll make sure to reply back to you in less than five minutes, tops." (Sae-Jin)
Hazeline glared at him dumbfoundedly.
'Seriously, this terrible guy is…'
…Would this terrible guy even realise that she couldn't get a proper night's sleep for the past month or so because of worry and anxiety?
She was in despair during that time, wondering if he had finally figured out her true feelings and decided to stay away, or maybe, even had gotten sick and tired of her.
"Didn't Sae-Jung tell you about how busy I was?" (Sae-Jin)
"And why would she tell me such things?" (Hazeline)
Her voice was quite sharp.
"…K, keheum. Where should we go now?" (Sae-Jin)
"Where were you off to just now?" (Hazeline)
"Your destination. I mean, Sae-Jung must be at work now, and it looks like you were going somewhere alone. I will become your traveling companion." (Hazeline)
Sae-Jin and his traveling companion arrived at a location in the South Coast where civilians were strictly prohibited from entering.
*SFX for waves crashing on the rocks*
The South Coast, with her majestic rolling waves, did indeed feature a different type of charm to her when compared to the East Sea.
'What is this feeling?' (Sae-Jin)
However, this whole place felt weirdly familiar. Was this a case of deja vu? It wasn't that he felt the sense of familiarity with the sea itself - but, a certain 'aura' swimming along with the currents of the ocean was the cause.
"Hello? Excuse me?" (Hazeline)
As Sae-Jin stood there utterly mesmerised, staring at the distant horizon of the South Coast, a certain person standing next to him tapped on his arms.
Of course, it was Hazeline.
"What are you doing?" (Hazeline)
"…Oh. Ah… well, something feels weirdly familiar to me here." (Sae-Jin)
Sae-Jin finally regained his senses, and then, pulled out the huge Mana Stone.
"Have you come to the South Coast before?" (Hazeline)
Hazeline asked while taking a casual glance at the Mana Stone, before shifting her gaze back to Sae-Jin's face.
"No, I have never come here before… But, from a far away, somewhere really deep underwater… I can feel a sense of belonging." (Sae-Jin)
Hidden within the salty aroma of the ocean, there was a faint but persistent aura. He couldn't tell what it was - it felt familiar, comfortable, yet also somewhat discomforting and imparted a sense of uneasiness as well. It may sounded like a contradictory description, but it was the only one he could come up with.
"Perhaps - it could very well be the side effects you mentioned before, your ego assimilating with that of the Monster's. That sense of belonging, could it be because of the sea Monster?" (Hazeline)
Hazeline asked him with a worried face. What he was sensing right now, at least to him, did not feel like that, but since there was no other plausible explanation available right now, Sae-Jin nodded his head in a somewhat careless manner.
"Well, it could be that." (Sae-Jin)
"…Please, be careful."
Suddenly, worried Hazeline reached out and hugged his arm tightly. The wonderful and otherworldly pair of 'volumes' previously hidden by the thick robe, transmitted their softness to his arm.
"Oh, uh, I'll be fine. For now… let me show you what I was talking about in the car." (Sae-Jin)
Sae-Jin quickly assumed a smile and extricated his arm.
"Here we go." (Sae-Jin)
He poured in his Mana into the half-a-football size Mana Stone. Then, the Kraken's Stone changed into black gas and rose up like a dark dusty cloud. And with a single breath from him, the fog-like black energy flowed into his heart.
While the alert windows filled up his view, he released the Kraken into the sea.
*SFX for sea water exploding*
As the water parted violently, a massive squid began rising out from beneath the surface.
The height that easily blocked out the sun; eight 'legs' that were sleek, smooth and fashionably sexy; and a pair of rather languid eyes. (TL: Seriously, Mister Author?!?! Sexy squid legs? Gimme a break…)
Truly befitting the title of the worst nightmare of every seafarer out there, this was indeed the frightening Kraken…
"Holy cow… What, what the heck is this…?!" (Hazeline)
Two people dazedly stared at the mountain-like creature, while hidden under the immense shade its body had cast.
Hazeline was in the midst of swimming within the sea of shock, while Sae-Jin was swimming in the sea of satisfaction after realising that his new ally's combat strength was 'immeasurable'…
The Kraken suddenly slapped the surface of the sea and caused a huge fountain of water spray.
"Eu-uh!! Hey, stop that!" (Sae-Jin)
Kim Sae-Jin shouted out, but the Kraken didn't stop. As a matter of fact, it rebelled even more fiercely than before.
Splash!! Splash!! Splash!! Splash!!
"H, hey!! I told you to stop!! Uh-phew!! Phew! Cough!!" (Sae-Jin)
"Phuu, Mis, ter, Sae, Jin!! Fhu-woo, fuu-woo. Argh, I can't breathe!!" (Hazeline)
It was as if the creature was deliberately targeting Hazeline - she was completely soaked from head to toe, and couldn't even keep her eyes open.
"Hey, you son of a… Fuu-hehp!!" (Sae-Jin)
"Argh!! Hey, just where are you shooting me with wate… Pheuheup!! I told you to stop!!" (Hazeline)
When a stream of water hit Hazeline's private area, the Kraken's eyes began arching in a crescent shape. It was one of those smiles that made others wanted to punch the darn thing in the face.
"Mister Sae-Jin!!! This, this motherf*cking squid! You!!" (Hazeline)
Her anguished cries resounded like a lioness's roar.
Almost at the same time, the sea water containing the squid suddenly froze up in an instant. The Kraken panicked and tried to move its body, but seeing that the entire surface of the ocean had frozen stiff, there was no way it would be able to escape from her wrath.
"I'm going to educate you properly now…. Excuse me, Mister Sae-Jin." (Hazeline)
She glared into the Kraken's pair of frightened eyes and murmured in a cold, cruel voice.
"I wonder, do you like cooked squid legs?"
A short but scary physical punishment later.
"How about giving it a name?" (Hazeline)
"…A name, you say?" (Sae-Jin)
Two people were conversing in front of a squid that was obediently lowering its 'head'.
"I mean, it's not much different from a pet, so how about 'Sahrahng'?" (TL: 'Sahrahng' means 'love' in Korean. Not sure what the author is trying to say here… Nope, no clue whatsoever.)
"You wanna call that big thing 'Sahrahng'?" (Sae-Jin)
"Yes. Yours and my 'Sahrahng'." (TL: Oh, so that's why.)
At her sudden, confession-like declaration, Sae-Jin imperceptibly took a step back.
"Fuhut. You don't have to be that sensitive, you know. Just call it Sahrahng. Even storms are named like this, you see? The stronger a storm is, the softer its name is, as if asking it to become gentler." (Hazeline)
Sae-Jin deliberated for a second or two, before nodding his head in agreement.
"Well, sure. Let's go with that." (Sae-Jin)
"So, we're sticking with Sahrahng? Great. Hey, Sahrahng-ah. Come over here. Why were you so naughty just now?" (Hazeline)
Hazeline smiled as she approached the giant squid.
Unfortunately, from the point of this squid's view, it was like seeing the advent of an evil monster; Sahrahng began trembling in despair.
A powerful giant demon called 'Asmodeus' appeared in Italy. Looking as if it walked straight out of the deepest regions of hell, the demon ceaselessly marched on while burning countless people to death and set aflame to the land around it.
On the places it swept past, only the traces of destructive hell fire remained. Even the skies were blotted out, and the sun was unable to penetrate the darkness.
"…Okay, fine, but why am I being asked to do something about that thing?" (Sae-Jin)
Because of this urgent incident, Yu Baek-Song had requested for a meeting with Sae-Jin in quite a bit of hurry.
"They are asking you to, well, convince the Azure Dragon to act on their behalf. Since the Azure Dragon is rated higher in the pecking order, it should be able to subdue the demon pretty easily." (Yu Baek-Song)
A black cat held in her arms, or some might say imprisoned, threw a tantrum. Yu Baek-Song tried to appease it by clicking her tongues cutely.
Quietly studying this scene, Sae-Jin momentarily imagined Yu Baek-Song lying on his lap like a genuine cat.
It was terrifyingly cute…
"Cough, cough. But, why me convincing the Azure Dragon?" (Sae-Jin)
"Please, stop pretending already. Most people who should know, already know. That Azure Dragon website, we know you're the one operating it." (Yu Baek-Song)
"Obviously. That is why the President has asked me, while saying that I'm the only person who can talk you into it." (Yu Baek-Song)
Yu Baek-Song's shoulders swaggered in delight.
"…What if I refuse?"
"Uh? Uhm… Oh, Italy said they will give you the japtem from the Asmodeus raid as well as 100 million Euros, though?" (TL: The author originally wrote Germany here. Changed back to Italy under the advice of my editor.)
Sae-Jin thought about this. Although the loot from the Asmodeus raid tempted him somewhat, now that he was only mere days away from fighting that Bathory woman, he didn't want to leave the country if he could help it.
However…. Now, he had in possession someone else he could send in his stead.
It was then - the black cat struggling in her arms bit Yu Baek-Song's finger and broke free, immediately jumping towards Sae-Jin's direction.
"Aigoo~ You like me more than your owner?" (Sae-Jin)
The cat rubbed its body against Sae-Jin, displaying a vastly higher aegyo compared to before.
"What the, seriously now?!" (Yu Baek-Song)
"What's its name?" (Sae-Jin)
"….King of Siberia, Savage Black Leopold Tiger Kaiser the 2nd."
Sae-Jin wordlessly stroked the cat. And it repaid his attention by licking his hand.
"There, there, Blackie. I'm here." (Sae-Jin)
"Call it by its proper name." (Yu Baek-Song)
"……..Kaiser the 2nd."
"Full name should be much better." (Yu Baek-Song)
Yu Baek-Song stealthily approached his side.
"But still, I've never seen it show so much aegyo before like this. Definitely, it's that scent of yours…" (Yu Baek-Song)
To Yu Baek-Song, it was her first time seeing her 'King of Siberia, Savage Black Leopold Tiger Kaiser the 2nd' display this much aegyo, and so, she stared at the cat busy rubbing its face against Sae-Jin's belly with a pair of dangerously shining eyes, as if she had found the most adorable thing in the whole world.
In the meantime, Sae-Jin carefully reached out and then, began patting Yu Baek-Song's stiff ears and her hair, as her attention was completely stolen by the cat.
"There, there. Here, cutey, cutey…" (Sae-Jin)
The more he patted, the more actively responded her ears and her tail to his touches.
"Want to climb on top of my lap?" (Sae-Jin) (TL: Ooohh, dangerous…)
"……Ng? Did you say something?"
"….Cough. No, uh, I, uh…To Italy, sending Azure Dragon instead of the Kraken… No, wait, I mean, ask them if it's alright for me to send a Kraken instead of the Azure Dragon."
Yu Baek-Song grasped the scruff of Kaiser, which clearly didn't want to leave Sae-Jin's lap, and sat back down on her seat.
"A Kraken? You can even control something like that?" (Yu Baek-Song)
"Ah, well, technically, it's not controlling… No, you could say that. It's my servant."
< 39. Preparations for the Hunt (2) > Fin.
(TL: $43 out of $50 left for this week's third sponsored chapter.)