A Monster Who Levels Up
It felt like his entire body was forcibly being stretched. This was a kind of pain where he was sure of something yanking on his head and limbs from all directions. Did the torturous pain from the dismemberment execution of the medieval times feel this bad, the one where the head and limbs were tied to ends of horses and then pulled apart? It also felt like his throat had clammed up and as a result, he couldn’t even voice out his suffering. He could only shut his eyes tightly and endure.
In the meantime, a wondrous change took place with the Leviathan’s body.
In human terms, this was a moment when a child transformed into a teenager.
His tail extended out even more gracefully than before; the body’s length increased and became bulkier, and a horn on his forehead shone with beautiful radiance that easily exceeded most famous jewelry ever know to men.
There was still some cherubic hints left within the facial features, but now it was far more sculpted and perfect with not one glaring flaw visible to the naked eye. It was the type of a countenance that sort of resembled an ocean-bound lifeform, a reptilian, and a mammal - like, a shark, a lizard and a wolf - combined together.
It indeed resembled a dragon from all those legendary mythical tales of the past.
However, the Leviathan in question was unable to sense this earth-shaking change taking place - he could only float helplessly on the surface of the ocean, completely lost within the sea of pain wrecking his entire body.
The sight of a 7-metre-long dragon-like Monster floating like a corpse was indeed a marvelously strange thing, enough to cause any enterprising Hunters passing by to think they must’ve won the lottery or something.
But thankfully, there was no other soul to be found under the darkened navy-blue sky. And thus, the Leviathan was afforded enough to time to overcome the growing pains.
Time passed by and eventually, the dawn’s faint lights shimmered off the ocean’s surface. Sae-Jin finally opened his eyes after 6 straight hours of pain-induced unconsciousness.
He didn’t die, and had survived the ordeal. He no longer felt any pain either. He breathed out a long sigh of relief. Too bad, that sigh became a horrifying tsunami that seemed to overturn the heavens, and began rushing towards the East Sea’s coastline.
For a wave created by a simple sigh, it being over 20 metres tall seemed horrifyingly unbalanced. Sae-Jin the Leviathan’s face crumpled in unsightly manner as he wondered how he should stop this calamity from hitting the shore.
It was then.
He only thought about it, yet the vigorous tsunami wave began sprouting many little water bubbles, before dissolving into a cute little puddle and it soon disappeared completely from the view.
But, uh, I didn’t do anything, though?
Kim Sae-Jin tilted his head this way and that, but the alert windows cleared up his confusion.
– The host can control the ocean with his ‘will’ only. Mana will be consumed, of course, but would there be a limit to Mana’s supply for a Leviathan when he’s in the ocean?
Sae-Jin stayed in the water and played around for a while longer. Whenever he moved his body, he could rouse up tsunami waves, destructive storm winds and other natural ocean-bound calamities.
After fooling around unchecked for a bit like that, Sae-Jin quietly transformed back into the human form and stepped back on the dry land. At the same time, his mobile phone rang a short alarm.
East Sea, time 04:53 AM.]
"…Looks like I should act in moderation."
He smirked slightly and headed back towards his home.
Afterwards, Sae-Jin devoted most of his time in getting familiar with the newly-developed powers of the Leviathan. Meanwhile, the members of the raid team continued to grow every day by training and sharpening their abilities.
That’s how the days continued to rapidly flow by - one day, two days, three, four…
"Dispatching the Kraken again?" (Sae-Jin)
"Yes, sir. This time, it’s in England." (Jo Hahn-Sung)
15 days before the fated day of the operation, when everyone was feeling tense.
Jo Hahn-Sung personally came to see Sae-Jin in his office. It was because the British Foreign Office had made the urgent request to dispatch the Kraken.
"Okay, so what’s going on over there now?" (Sae-Jin)
"Apparently, a Boss-level snake Monster called ‘Mangsasa’ has built a nest within the Pennines mountain range, sir. Since the geographical location isn’t ideal for battle, the British are in a bind as they also can’t leave it alone, but it seems that they thought of the Italian incident from a while back." (Jo Hahn-Sung) (TL: Mangsasa is a set of Hanja that the author seemed to have invented by himself. Individual words translates to "Ruinous/Destroyed (Mang) Heinous/Evil (Sa) Snake (Sa). I couldn’t really find a snake-type monster with a name similar to this so I thought I’d leave it in romanised form. Hopefully you’re fine with that.)
If this was any other time period, he would agree to send the Kraken, but he had to give it a serious thought right now. After all, the Kraken would play a big role when fighting the Bathory woman soon.
"How much are they willing to fork out?" (Sae-Jin)
"Just like then, they are putting up the important loot from the raid." (Jo Hahn-Sung)
‘Important loot’ probably meant the Monster’s Mana Stone, as well as parts of its carcass - in a snake’s case, its fangs.
"Hmm… What is your opinion on this, Mister Hahn-Sung?" (Sae-Jin)
"I don’t have anything particular to add, sir. After all, the compensation proposed by them are not for the benefit of the company as a whole, but it lines up more closely to the Guild Master’s hobbies." (Jo Hahn-Sung)
Sae-Jin narrowed his eyes and glared at him. From some time ago, the company took centre stage in this guy’s eyes…
Quickly deciphering the meaning behind Sae-Jin’s unhappy glare, Jo Hahn-Sung hurriedly added more.
"Kehuem. However, if it was up to me, I would agree to do it, sir. A Kraken isn’t going to wear out anyways from the repeated use, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense to let an opportunity to make profit slip away. Plus, it seems that they are quite desperate now, seeing how the British Foreign Secretary came to speak to me here in the Guild, sir." (Jo Hahn-Sung)
"That happened? Fine. But… how long will it take, according to the Brits?" (Sae-Jin)
It was fine to send the Kraken, but since the creature would play a part in the Bathory hunting, at a minimum, he had to recall it before the 25th.
"Since it’s only one day’s travel from here to Britain, they are suggesting four days, tops."
"Mm… Alright, cool. Agree to a set of dates and let me know."
Finishing his words up to here, Sae-Jin was about to hand over the documents containing his permission to Jo Hahn-Sung.
"Ah, actually… The thing is, sir, they are waiting outside the office right now." (Jo Hahn-Sung)
"Please come in, everyone!!" (Jo Hahn-Sung)
As soon as Jo Hahn-Sung’s shout ended, foreigners wearing clean-cut formal suits poured into Sae-Jin’s office. And there were 15 of them. The spacious office became half-full in no time.
"Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to meet with us!!"
A man who could be the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom shouted out in broken Korean and bent his waist forward 90 degrees. His colleagues echoed his movement and did the same.
Sae-Jin faltered from his seat, quickly got up and asked them to sit down first.
"Ah, uh, yes, well, uh, please, take a seat. I’m not sure what is the meaning of this sudden visit, though."
"Firstly, excuse my rude behaviour and allow me get to the main topic. These are the all the information compiled for the Boss Monster, Mangsasa."
From the suitcases they carried, documents after documents were pulled out in sequential order. Since it was 15 people producing documents, the seemingly-wide conference table soon became a grave of papers in no time. Sae-Jin’s expression naturally crumpled as well.
"The details of our proposed compensation can be found on this document, here. On top of this, our government guarantees an one-off payment of ₤10 million for the dispatch itself. This fee is yours, even if the Monster Mangsasa is not defeated…"
The Foreign Secretary rapidly fired his words out. Sae-Jin searched for Jo Hahn-Sung, but he had already evacuated from the office, and that left Sae-Jin to sit there and listen to the briefing related to the Boss Monster for the next 30 minutes or so.
"…And that is all we have. Guild Master Kim Sae-Jin-nim, please lend us your aid."
"Please help us."
At the end of the briefing, all the officers from the UK Foreign Office lowered their heads with sincere facial expressions. Seeing 15 high ranking group of men from a foreign country doing this sure made Sae-Jin feel quite odd at that moment. Embarrassed yet content, burdened yet feeling boastful, that was how he felt.
"However, I thought there were many outstanding people in the UK? So why…?" (Sae-Jin)
"At the moment, within the United Kingdom’s borders, we have two Boss level Monsters to deal with - the Mangsasa and the ‘Preven’. Our forces are currently focused on combating the Preven which has been active near the city of Oxford. However, if the Mangsasa decides to aim for the gap in our forces and leave its nest during this time, and head South, then…"
The rays of hope shining out from the blue eyes of the Foreign Secretary were quite burdensome to behold.
Sae-Jin massaged his forehead for the next ten minutes, looking as if he was in a serious thinking process, before slowly opening his mouth.
The Boss Monster-related Incident Special Squad, based in London.
A massive screen to the front projected the image of the Boss Monster, while on the lengthy desk shaped like an unfolded fan, countless documents were piled on top.
Equally many team members were silently holding their breaths, waiting for the answer from their Foreign Secretary who had flown over to Korea.
– "The negotiation has been completed."
A small commotion erupted as soon as the Secretary’s voice came out of the speakers.
"…What are the results?"
The Prime Minister of United Kingdom, ‘Reiden’, cautiously asked. He was still uneasy about this whole thing. Should he have gone there instead of the Foreign Affairs Secretary? Did the deal collapse because he chose the national pride over its success?
A long and drawn out sigh came from the other side of the line. Since it sounded like the sound of defeat, the listeners also let out long sighs as well.
The Foreign Secretary was simply pulling a prank. He shouted out in a very excited voice.
– "We did it!! Sir Kim Sae-Jin agreed to dispatch the Kraken right this minute!!" (TL: LOL what? He’s a Sir now?!)
Silence invaded the room for a short moment. The listeners hadn’t had the chance yet to fully understand the Secretary’s words.
The first to react was Prime Minister Reiden. He adjusted his glasses and asked again.
– "Yes, of course!!"
Right away, cries of cheers exploded out and documents flew up in the air.
It was a scene straight out of a Hollywood movie. However, the Prime Minister understood full well this wasn’t some cliched scene from a disaster movie, that this was really happening.
– Kim Sae-Jin’s Kraken showed off yet another incredible display of power. This time, it was in the United Kingdom. The Kraken was even more powerful compared to when it fought off against the demon Asmodeus. This report is compiled by the reporter, Kim Young-Ho.
Sae-Jin might have overlooked this fact, but the Kraken’s Stats also improved when the Leviathan Form powered up. That was why the Kraken was able to fight against Mangsasa almost one on one and win - if the final attack from the Knight affiliated with the London-based Knights Order, Romelo, was excluded, then it was not wrong to say the fight was purely one on one.
"That guy is also being included in our plan, right?" (Yi Hye-Rin)
Yi Hye-Rin asked as she appreciated the Kraken’s absolute might shown on the TV screen.
"But seriously… why is a squid shooting out electricity? How mysterious." (Yi Hye-Rin)
That was because Sae-Jin tattooed the ‘Lightning Chain Claws’ to the suction pads of the Kraken.
"Yes, the Kraken is also taking part." (Sae-Jin)
"No, Sahrahng, it’s Sahrahng taking part." (Hazeline)
Hazeline interjected and corrected Sae-Jin.
"Yes. Sahrahng is taking part in the battle." (Sae-Jin)
"…Its name is Sahrahng?" (Yu Baek-Song)
Yu Baek-Song tilted her head and asked back.
It was right then when some more words came out from the TV.
– ….This trustworthy Kraken’s name is now known to be ‘Sahrahng’, and also the personal pet of The Monster Guild’s Master, Kim Sae-Jin. Breathing a sigh of relief with the Kraken’s dispatch, the UK government sent words of gratitude to Kim Sae-Jin, and also, to the Korean government who facilitated the negotiations…
"You see? The name’s Sahrahng. For now, let’s turn off the TV." (Sae-Jin)
Sae-Jin turned the TV off. Since this was the last chance to watch it, everyone gathered here showed some regret, but it couldn’t be helped.
Today’s date was 22nd of December. With only three days to go before the day of the operation, and so little time left, they had to be ready to react at a moment’s notice.
– "…Has everyone finished with their preparations?"
These words belonged to Lillia, coming from the communication crystal.
"We have." (Sae-Jin)
– "In that case, everyone except Mister Kim Sae-Jin, please enter the isolation barrier chamber. We’ve prepared a special mechanism that will transport you to where we are."
"…What about Mister Sae-Jin?" (Hazeline)
Hazeline asked in suspicion.
– "Mister Sae-Jin will act as a lure for Bathory."
"Isn’t that too dangerous?" (Hazeline)
– "No, it won’t be. Certainly, he will be in a lot less danger than us. After all, Bathory’s ultimate aim is to capture the Azure Dragon alive."
"….Oh. You’re right." (Hazeline)
Hazeline lightly clapped her hands and got up. Following her, Joo Ji-Hyuk, Yi Hye-Rin, Kim Sun-Ho and Rejen also got up from their seats.
"…Miss Yu Baek-Song? Aren’t you coming?"
…That was, with the notable exception of Yu Baek-Song.
While twisting her body this way and that, she showed no signs of leaving Sae-Jin’s side.
"What are you doing? Hurry up!!" (Hazeline)
Hazeline called out to her in a somewhat uncomfortable voice.
The surprising thing was, Hazeline and Yu Baek-Song were the same age.
"It’s going to be fine. We are going to see each other again so you don’t have to be like this, you know?" (Sae-Jin)
Thinking that maybe she didn’t want to part from him, Sae-Jin tried to speak to Yu Baek-Song while patting her head.
Almost immediately, flames lit up in Hazeline’s eyes, but unaware of this development, Yu Baek-Song slightly shook her head and shyly spoke up.
"No, that’s not it…." (Yu Baek-Song)
"Eh? Please say what you need." (Sae-Jin)
"….You said, that, you’ll, give it to me, that thing…." (Yu Baek-Song)
However, Yu Baek-Song couldn’t finish what she wanted to say and simply overloaded herself. Just what was she trying to say to him?
Looking at her crimson-red blushing face, Sae-Jin smiled in deep happiness.
"Ex, cu, se, me. I asked you what you are doing?!" (Hazeline)
Hazeline’s voice were full of thorns now. Yu Baek-Song got pressured by this and finally spat out what she wanted to say.
"Your smell. You said you’ll let me smell it even when you’re not around… you said you’ll gimme a handkerchief…" (Yu Baek-Song)
Sae-Jin understood only then. For sure, he did say something similar to that a few weeks ago. Well, he did prepare a handkerchief but hadn’t yet given to her, since he didn’t want to be an afterthought from that point onwards…
"Of course, I’ve got it." (Sae-Jin)
Reluctantly, Sae-Jin extracted a handkerchief out from his back pocket. Created with the aid of the Magic Tattoo Skill, it was a piece of cloth where the smell of the Wolf was deeply embedded in.
Yu Baek-Song quickly snatched that off his hands and left Sae-Jin’s side in a hurry, and ran towards Hazeline in a cute little bouncy steps.
That kinda felt slightly dejecting.
It seemed that, this body of Kim Sae-Jin was simply an ancillary existence to Yu Baek-Song. Only his body odour mattered…
"…What is that?" (Hazeline)
"Sae-Jin’s smell is on it." (Yu Baek-Song)
"…Give that here." (Hazeline)
Sae-Jin overheard their conversation and smirked slightly.
"Don’t wanna." (Yu Baek-Song)
"Why not? Friends are supposed to share, you know? So, let me hold it at least once." (Hazeline)
"Get lost." (Yu Baek-Song)
"….W, what?! What did you just say?" (Hazeline)
Not too long after, the door to the isolation barrier chamber slammed shut.
Only thing remaining was silence.
Sitting alone on a couch that possessed the faint aroma of people, Sae-Jin was overcome with a certain sense of loneliness, but he still managed to stand up from his spot.
< 40. The Wintering (4) > Fin.
(TL: $43 out of $50 left for this week’s first sponsored chapter.)
(TL: Calm before the storm, folks. Calm before the storm…)