A Monster Who Levels Up
(TL: This extra chapter is sponsored by these Kool Kats: Josh G, Gerald C, Edi C, and VVIP, Dale B!! Thanks for your support, guys!! I really appreciate it. And well, the local supermarket ran out of Mountain Dew. I had to stick with Fanta. Oh well.)
Inside the underground conference room beneath The Monster HQ, the members of the raid party were steadily strengthening their bodies. Knights trained tirelessly to get used to various Mana Tattoo enhancements, while Hazeline was getting to know more and more about the artificial heart and how it operated.
"Wow, so you can enter a complete 'Divine Beast' mode?" (Joo Ji-Hyuk)
"Hm, hmm. That's right. It's only for a short while, but when I'm in the full Great White Tiger form, I fear no one. It's not for nothing a Soo-in with a Divine Beast bloodline like me gets all the attention in the world. I mean, in the past, nations were fighting over each other to take me home first, you know?" (Yu Baek-Song)
Currently, the time was during a small break between the all-out training sessions.
When Joo Ji-Hyuk started praising Yu Baek-Song, she crossed her arms and the hot air, filled with excessive pride, bellowed out from her flaring nostrils.
Seeing her show off like this, Sae-Jin felt the need to bully her for a bit, so he stealthily sneaked near her gently-swaying tail and then, tightly grabbed it.
Yu Baek-Song jumped up high into the air then began kicking towards her back. Unfortunately, her short legs weren't going to reach Sae-Jin's arm…
"Un, unhand me!!!"
She screamed out in unbridled rage, yet every time Sae-Jin brushed her tail, her hostility weakened bit by bit. Having her tail stroked by a person with a nice scent - that sensation made her unhappy but at the same time made her feel good as well.
"Let, let go…… Euha~."
In the end, she went down for good like a fish flapping helplessly outside the water. While carrying an insidious smile, he took her tail that was needlessly longer than her body, and chomped down on it. And well, that roused yet another powerful reaction out of her.
"…No matter how I see it, doesn't it look like Miss Yu Baek-Song enjoys being tormented a bit too much?" (Yi Hye-Rin)
Just as Yu Baek-Song was about to escape from the grasp of an evil entity known as Kim Sae-Jin, Yi Hye-Rin teasingly spoke up.
"What nonsense are you talking about?" (Yu Baek-Song)
"No, well, it's nothing… By the way, Miss Baek-Song. Do you know, by any chance, what is an 'S' and an 'M'?" (Yi Hye-Rin)
"…What the heck are those?" (Yu Baek-Song)
"It's just alphabets… Oh, would you like to choose? Which one do you like more, an S or an M?" (Yi Hye-Rin)
After sensing a somewhat suspicious air coming off of Yi Hye-Rin, Yu Baek-Song's brows furrowed deeply. However, Yi Hye-Rin simply smiled thickly and egged her on to make a choice.
"Please hurry." (Yi Hye-Rin)
The interested gazes of the guild members gathered on her. Yu Baek-Song deeply wondered about this, thinking whether she needed to do this for real, before finally opening her lips in a cautious manner.
At the same time, lots of laughter broke out. Yu Baek-Song tilted her head with a face full of questions. Sae-Jin held back his laughter and stood next to her and then, proceeded to lightly tap on her small head as he spoke in a serious voice.
"Everyone, please stop. Do you find it fun to tease a little kid?" (Sae-Jin)
"…Who are you calling a little kid? You, stop before I bite you to death." (Yu Baek-Song)
And so, as they were busy chatting and laughing among themselves, the door to their right that led into the 'isolation barrier' chamber opened up.
*SFX for slow, meandering footsteps*
A deeply-haggard looking Hazeline weakly walked out while her gaze was fixed to the floor.
"Miss Hazeline, are you okay?" (Sae-Jin)
Sae-Jin pushed a prepared mug of coffee that also contained a potion with an effect of recovering energy to her.
While receiving the mug, she took a glance around her and then, like a machine gun, quickly whispered to him.
"Ah, oh. Uh, that is…"
Too bad, since Sae-Jin knew her real feelings, he couldn't just brush this aside as a simple joke. Seeing him like this, Hazeline smiled and spoke first.
"I'm just joking. It's a joke."
Hazeline sipped on the mug while walking over to the couch where everyone else was sitting down. Regular Dark Elves didn't like to hang around other people, but still, she had a good rapport with the members of this team. It was par for the course, really - since everyone gathered here were all good natured and thoughtful people.
"Oh, right. What is Knight Kim Yu-Rin doing right now? Hasn't it been already two months?" (Joo Ji-Hyuk)
Joo Ji-Hyuk spoke up. Momentarily, Hazeline's hands holding the coffee mug spasmed slightly.
"She's resting well in some hut on the East Coast. I think, all of the fatigue built up over her entire career just flooded out the gates because of that event not too long ago. You see, my team captain, ever since entering the Knights Order at the age of 17, she has never gone on a holiday until now…" (Yi Hye-Rin)
With a complicated expression, Sae-Jin brought his mug of coffee close to his face. That word, 'hut', got on his conscious just a tad.
"Did you go and visit her?" (Joo Ji-Hyuk)
"Of course. I was so shocked when I got there, you know? Was this her going through menopause? Or was the fact that she never got to own a pet until now finally getting to her? Or… was she depressed because the Hero Orc rejected her…?" (Yi Hye-Rin)
Sae-Jin's body shuddered imperceptibly. That last bit really poked his conscience good.
"But she was like… she just smiled this lonely smile, and said nothing back. Didn't deny, didn't even acknowledge it… No, you know what she did? She said that she just wanted to rest for awhile, then prepared a meal for us to eat together." (Yi Hye-Rin)
Sae-Jin felt a slight case of guilty conscience washing over him.
'…It can't be… lovesickness, right?' (Sae-Jin)
"Oh, well. Let's talk about that some other time. Guild Master, just when are you going to tell us about your Trait?" (Yi Hye-Rin)
Yi Hye-Rin quickly changed the subject, then.
"Uh? Oh, my Trait…"
Sae-Jin hadn't told them, other than Kim Sun-Ho and Hazeline, what his 'Trait' was.
But, when the time came, he was thinking of revealing his Leviathan Form and nothing else. Just as well, he couldn't reveal them in the first place, anyways. His Wolf Form was the 'Lycan', and the Hero Orc Form was tangled up in Kim Yu-Rin's mess, so…
"Maybe two months? I'll let you know then." (Sae-Jin)
Sae-Jin replied so and smiled brightly.
"What~? Oh, come on now~~. We already told you ours, though~~." (Yi Hye-Rin)
Sae-Jin ignored Yi Hye-Rin's fake jeering and entered the isolation barrier chamber where Hazeline had been inside just now.
As expected - thanks most likely to Hazeline's magic training, not one spot of the chamber was left undamaged. Abrasions, deep gouges, things overturned, things crushed to bits, etc, etc…
For now, he sat down in the middle of a crater on the floor.
And then, while revealing the claws of the Wolf on one hand, he brought up the Status Window for one of his Skills.
Then, to add to this, he summoned lightning magic on the other hand.
Blindingly white bolts of electricity buzzed around his hand. Sure enough, the Status Windows got activated by using this mid-ranked spell.
The Status Windows were indeed very convenient existences. Even magic spells that were not Skills were recorded and helped him utilise them in various other ways.
Such as, when combining different Skills, or when he was about to inscribe a Magic Tattoo…
And now, he was going to use 'Skill combination'.
He had used this Skill a few times in the past, but the increases in the cooling down period between each use versus the grade of the resulting Skill proved to be poor so he stopped using it altogether.
Using this Skill was very easy. All he had to was think about combining them, and bring the Skills together.
So, when he combined the boiling hot arcs of electricity with the gleaming claws, then…
*SFX for very unpleasant screeches*
First, a horrifying screeching cry of electricity akin to nails on the blackboard, and then, Phurhung!! A huge explosion occurred next.
- The host can fire a chain of lightning in the shape of claws, or the lightning itself can be imbued on the claws themselves. Depending on the Proficiency Level of the Skill, the host can utilise the electrons in the air to infinitely spam the lightning, or by combining together with the target's blood, cause electrocution of the target.
- According to the resulting grade (Mid), the cool down time for the Skill is: [99 Days, 23 Hours, 00 Minutes, 59 Seconds.]
He was only trying to come up with something new, so he could record it on the 24th grimoire, but this was simply beyond his expectations.
"Oh well… I can just lower the power a bit and then publish the book."
He didn't think too much about it and pulled out an empty grimoire.
He grabbed a pen and began drawing the anatomy of a person, the most efficient path for the Mana's circulation, as well as some tips on using this magic the best. Thanks to the Skill, Goblins' Craftsmanship, he could even draw right down to the most minute detail.
To be clear, this wasn't what the Wizard of Bangbae-Dong had been doing until now. This was him creating a new spell.
The spell [Lightning] may have formed the base, but the new spell displayed a might that far outstripped the original magic.
But, as he was writing this, an unknown smile kept creeping up on his lips. A desire to defeat others even began boiling up.
Always trying to bring him down by saying he plagiarised, that he only knew how to correct, etc, etc… What would those conceited Wizard Towers say after seeing this spell? Most likely, they won't even get to enjoy the moral victory this time.
'Wizards speak not with words, but with actions, indeed.'
Time was like the endlessly flowing river; it didn't stop even for one moment.
The boiling hot rays of the sun had cooled down before anyone noticed the change and the Autumn visited in full force, dying the falling leaves brown.
And on the day the falling petals of flowers dancing in the cooling winds were broadcast on the television screens.
The grimoire number 24 of the Wizard of Bangbae-Dong series, [Linked Lightning Claws] got published.
Unlike in the past when he simply corrected, supplemented and/or enhanced existing spells, this grimoire featured a completely new spell. A new footage of the magic in action was uploaded to the blog; the composition of the grimoire was so perfect, not one fault could be found.
Wizard Towers had to experience yet another round of massive shock to the system.
This time, though, their level of shock was on another world altogether. Unlike fixing an existing spell, creating a new one outright was something even highly ranked Wizards found very difficult to do.
Many Wizard Towers threw their all in finding errors in this grimoire but… The Pareum Tower had received the book before everyone else, and its Tower Lord got to study the book for a whole week, before he replicated the spell in full, albeit a lot weaker, glory. Which meant others had to accept the reality of the situation.
Now normally, new spells came to light maybe 5~6 times a year in Korea. It depended on countries, but the numbers didn't exceed two digits regardless of the territory. Taking the number of Wizards active in Korea - around fifty thousand - it wasn't wrong to say that the creation of a new magic spell was the most prestigious achievement all Wizards dreamed of accomplishing one day.
However, someone who didn't even work for a Wizard Tower, someone who hadn't even graduated from a Wizard Academy, someone with an unprofessional name like the 'Wizard of Bangbae-Dong' had done something this incredibly difficult…
Many Wizards belonging to Wizard Towers could only despair at the unbridgeable chasm existing between them and the mysterious Wizard.
- The magic spell created by the Wizard of Bangbae-Dong, the [Linked Lightning Claws], has been inspected by the Pareum Wizard Tower who received the grimoire first… And without an issue, the spell has been accepted as a legitimate new creation. To correct 23 grimoires in just over a year, and also, to create a brand new spell, too… It can only be described as a truly frightening talent.
The Tower Lord of the Seoul Wizard Tower, that held quite a pronounced hostile relationship with the Bangbae-Dong Wizard, the Elf Romaine, personally held a press conference. As an aside, the Seoul Tower placed high importance on its member's alma mater, as well as his or her bloodline.
This announcement sounded like that of a surrender to Kim Sae-Jin's ears.
And soon after this declaration of surrender, the blog of Bangbae-Dong Wizard became full with words of congratulations from high level leaders from various world-famous Wizard Towers, as well as earnest requests to purchase the new grimoire.
Unfortunately, he couldn't get to savour the sense of victory for too long.
Because… the day of the fated battle was approaching rapidly.
"Hey, hey, could that be?"
The place currently was the East Sea.
For the first time after a long while, Kim Sae-Jin came out to this part of the sea in the Leviathan Form.
"Is that… the Azure Dragon?"
The reporters had come here after getting the heads up from Sae-Jin, but now, they were deeply puzzled by the sudden change to the colour of the scales of the 'Azure Dragon'.
This was all part of the plan - to show off the transformed look of the Azure Dragon, and to fan the flames of Bathory's curiosity and her small-ish (?) desire to possess him.
"Something seems to have changed?"
The gathered reporters muttered in confusion. But soon enough, just like the professionals that they were, they focused on the reason why they were there in the first place, and Sae-Jin too began his part by showing off.
He smiled as brightly - as adorably - as possible towards schools of fish that came to swim around him; he raised a bit of a wave to surf on it; he even pulled a dignified face and stared at the sun.
Cameras didn't miss a single valuable shot and captured them all.
"Appearing after a lengthy hiatus, the appearance of the Guardian of the East has changed significantly. The hues of its scales has changed from the clear blue to a delicate, but noble silver hue. We do not know whether it's because the Azure Dragon has grown even further, or if it shed its scales like other animals molting, but it certainly instils much trust in the Azure Dragon as we watch it interact with the rest of the ocean's residents."
After about a hour of this, Sae-Jin could hear the 'closing' comment from one of the reporters. He felt the rush of fatigue from acting overtaking him.
"We're done here."
The reporters wiped the sweat off and ended their work for now, but the cameramen continued to film the Azure Dragon.
Because of this… Sae-Jin had to act for a little bit longer.
< 40. The Wintering (2) > Fin.
(TL: $43 out $50 left for next week's first sponsored chapter.)