A Monster Who Levels Up
The ground turned to dust and disappeared, and the sky above burned in fierce red as it split apart. Disgusting mucous substance replaced the missing ground, and something jet-black wriggled disgustingly within it. Covered in some sort of a film waiting to hatch, this something glared at me with bloodshot eyes.
I felt fear for the very first time in my life when I looked into those terrifying eyes. I also realised in that moment, that there was no way to fight against such a monstrosity.
I must run away if I want to live.
Leaving behind all my memories, my regrets, wishes – and run away to another world altogether.
But I believed no human alive would grant a Vampire like me passage through a portal that could admit only a finite number of travelers. After all, we’ve been the source of their biggest headache until now.
Whatever, I still headed to the portal while thinking that I will kill all those blocking my way.
However…. humans unexpectedly helped us.
The ‘human’ Wizards dispersed the incoming waves of attacks, and the ‘human’ Knights desperately blocked the unidentifiable creatures. In my eyes, though, they weren’t resisting, simply throwing their lives away.
“What are you doing, Ellie!! Hurry and come over here!!” (TL: Not a mistranslation; mister Author changed Bathory’s name, for good.)
My godfather shouted at me, while I was lost in the sight of the humans fiercely fighting out there. I couldn’t think for long. I entered the portal, and escaped from the homeworld.
And so, a brand new world I’ve never even dreamed of seeing in my life spread out before my stunned eyes.
“Are you refugees from another world?”
Another, ‘new’ humans were looking at me.
But… why didn’t those humans run away in panic? Why did they lend a helping hand to us?
I never understood their reasoning back then, and even now, I can’t understand it.
(TL: Back to 3rd person perspective.)
Captured by the memories of the past, Bathory’s mind sunk deeper and deeper into the darkness below where nothing existed.
Suddenly, a baseless confidence rose up within her.
Her homeworld must’ve overcome the crisis of the Fissure.
And so, it must have recovered the beautiful scenery she and her companions used to see.
The homeworld was waiting with a warm and gentle embrace for her return.
Now completely entranced, she took a step closer towards the Fissure.
“What the hell are you doing?!” (Sae-Jin)
However, someone grabbed her arm. Her blurry, unfocused eyes regained focus. Bathory glanced at Kim Sae-Jin holding her arm, and then shifted her gaze back at the Fissure. Even now, the ground below her feet was collapsing. Although still incomplete, it resembled a portal now, more or less. If she swam in those dark waves, then she might arrive back at the homeworld she’d been longing for so much.
But in that moment, a solid arm tightly and rather forcefully wrapped around her waist.
“Everyone, hold on!!” (Sae-Jin)
Sae-Jin shouted out while pulling Bathory into his arms. Confirming that everyone had clung tightly onto him, he quickly transformed into the Leviathan and activated the instant transmission.
As if the sight of that Fissure stretching below their feet infinitely was nothing more than a nightmare, the team members returned to the underground conference room in an instant.
But no one spoke a single word; they were suffering from the shock of the events that happened just now.
And what the hell was that thing they saw?
It was as if the entire sur
face of the earth became a Fissure. No one had seen one that big before, ever.
“What happened back there?” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Kim Yu-Rin broke the heavy silence with some difficulty. She was a brave person indeed to speak up, since the person she asked and was expecting an answer from happened to be Bathory.
With complicated eyes, the Vampire queen stared at Kim Yu-Rin, before breaking out in a smirk.
“What else? That dang kid stimulated the Fissure by using my Mana, his own body, as well as the Feather of Efrit, that’s what.” (Bathory)
“What’s a Feather of Efrit?” (Kim Yu-Rin)
“You know, that thing. The thing that almost killed you just now. Looking like an octopus, with tentacles and stuff.” (Bathory)
Kim Yu-Rin stupidly nodded her head. Bathory shook her head as if she disapproved of the reaction, and then continued.
“That thing, is a remnant of the ‘demon god’ that used to live back in my homeworld. It will never disappear, unless you kill the original body it came from, and its destructive power depends on the ‘grade’ of Mana absorbed.” (Bathory)
Bathory stopped talking for a moment, and let out a frustrated sigh.
“….But, that damn feather absorbed my Mana. So, it and the body of that damn el Las kid will be consumed as the fuel to widen up the Fissure for good. Even if things get delayed, in two days’ time, everything will come to an end.”
In other words, this was the worst of all possibilities. Kim Yu-Rin gritted her teeth.
“Then, what should we do now?” (Kim Yu-Rin)
“Well, you should decide. To abandon your home, and escape to another world. Or, fall together with this planet.” (Bathory)
When Bathory’s words ended, Kim Yu-Rin stumbled and sat down on the couch, as if some of her strength escaped.
It was then. Sae-Jin, who had been quietly listening while his gaze was fixed to the floor, raised his head.
“….There’s something I’m curious about.” (Sae-Jin)
Bathory glanced at Sae-Jin’s direction.
“Does that Feather function as something important?” (Sae-Jin)
“….Hey, you. It’s from a demonic god. A damn demon god. It’s got the word ‘god’ in it, for crying out loud. How can you be even worse than me in language and stuff?” (Bathory)
“Whatever. So you’re saying it plays a crucial role, right? Then, we still might have more time than you think.” (Sae-Jin)
“……You really are a hopelessly unsalvageable idiot, aren’t you?” (Bathory)
Even under the assault of Bathory’s sneering eyes, Sae-Jin simply chuckled and produced an item tucked away within himself.
It was an item procured on the spur of the moment, a jet-black and surprisingly hard feather – the Feather of Efrit.
Seeing this, Bathory’s eyes widened.
“But…. How?” (Bathory)
“Looks like it is the correct article, then, judging by your reaction. I knew instinctively that this thing was a weakness. So, I took it.” (Sae-Jin)
“…..Oh well. Sure, you did something good, but it’s all too late now. What you did was to delay something that was planned to happen tomorrow, for maybe two months, tops.” (Bathory)
What she said was correct; no matter how positive they wanted to spin this, this one fact couldn’t be denied, causing yet another weighty bout of silence to descend in the room.
And so…. time continued to flow and soon, the day became night.
Sae-Jin didn’t have anything to do. Didn’t feel like holding another meeting, either. But, he didn’t dare to go home, not just yet.
He was trying to solve the problem, but ended up exacerbating the situation even further. Was it because he was too hasty…?
As if this thought was shared among the rest of the team members, not one of them thought about leaving the conference room.
However, Bathory had disappeared a long time ago. And Sae-Jin could only feel his chest tighten further in frustration.
He lied down on the couch and closed his eyes.
He didn’t mind at all if this whole situation turned out to be some sort of a bad dream. Not at all.
“….Uhm, Guild Master?”
Someone’s voice spread out like a ripple in Sae-Jin’s consciousness.
“I have something to tell you.” (Lillia)
When he opened his eyes a little, he saw Lillia. Like a mirage borne out of his fading dream, she seemed especially beautiful under the cover of darkness.
“For now, please come with me.” (Lillia)
Sae-Jin rubbed his eyes a bit and looked around.
“I’m sure it’s fine, since everyone’s still asleep…” (Sae-Jin)
While grumbling to himself, Sae-Jin moved towards the barrier room Hazeline used to practice, located next to the conference room. After going as far as to activate the isolation barrier, Sae-Jin yawned out loudly and stared at Lillia.
“What did you want to tell me?” (Sae-Jin)
Lillia smiled thinly.
For some reason, Sae-Jin thought that smile was incredibly gentle and warm.
“Looks like we don’t have much time left, yes? Soon, the Fissure will open up in full.” (Lillia)
And here he was, almost forgetting it. Sae-Jin could only let out a bitter groan rising from deep within his heart.
“Wait. How did you find out?” (Sae-Jin)
He could not remember telling Lillia about what had happened.
She maintained that gentle smile and spoke some cryptic, enigmatic words to him.
“It’s going to be fine. All of us. And the planet.” (Lillia)
Lillia was full of confidence. Obviously, Sae-Jin couldn’t understand.
Regardless, she relaxedly continued on with that smooth, gentle voice of hers.
“A Fissure will try to destroy a ‘world’ by inserting a gap of sorts in there. But surprisingly… because of that very gap, something that could definitely never occur without the existence of a Fissure, something with a hopelessly low percentage of succeeding, a miracle so miraculous – that very miracle is going to happen.” (Lillia)
From her inner pocket, she pulled out a worn-out notebook that seemed to have bore witness to the cruel and unrelenting passage of time. Then, she pushed it at Sae-Jin.
“Please, read this.” (Lillia)
Sae-Jin received the notebook with a confused face.
“It might break if I try to open it…” (Sae-Jin)
“It’s been treated with magic.” (Lillia)
“Oh, is that so? …..However, this thing… it seems awfully familiar.” (Sae-Jin)
Something about this book seemed really familiar to him. Sae-Jin tilted his head while flipping over to the first page. And almost right away, he understood the reason why.
The dates jotted down, the sparse details of the daily happenings, and the feelings noted within…
This was a certain someone’s diary.
“This… is…” (Sae-Jin)
The revelation was shocking. It felt like he got struck in the back of his head by the Emillejong Bell, and now the insides were ringing like crazy. In that moment, he couldn’t even breathe, let alone string a sentence together. (TL: Apparently, the largest bell in the Korean peninsula. Google it if you’re curious.)
Lillia smiled again while looking at him.
And as if she was trying to imprint every single word in his head, she spoke carefully.
“This notebook, it’s your diary. To be more specific, it’s a diary written by the future version of you…. Something like that.” (Lillia)
A wry, bitter chuckle escaped his mouth.
One could traverse through time by entering the Fissure.
He knew this already, but he honestly did not expect things to turn out quite like this.
“Please, read everything in it.” (Lillia)
“For, for now, let’s…. Let’s go somewhere else.” (Sae-Jin)
Sae-Jin did his best to rein his quaking mind and hid the diary within his inner pocket.
Sae-Jin went to a nearby hotel and after getting a room, began reading the diary. He spent the whole day reading it. There were things he was embarrassed to share with others; there were many missing dates too, as if he was too busy to write something down; and the most important part, the part about what happened after the Fissure completely broke open, was somewhat hazy and vague in detail.
“This book of prophecy, no, this diary has been our most sacred holy book, even now. Without this, we’d still be dreaming the false dream of returning to our homeworld.” (Lillia)
“Okay, fine, but…. Just when did, uh, ‘me’…. give you this?” (Sae-Jin)
“Probably, around 70 years ago. Maybe.” (Lillia)
“You look considerably young for that, though?” (Sae-Jin)
“It’s only my external appearance that looks young.” (Lillia)
“Ha, haha…” (Sae-Jin)
But more importantly, 70 years – that was a long time ago. No, perhaps, it could have been even longer than that. Sae-Jin began smiling bitterly at the thought.
Lillia tightly held his hand. And with a somewhat unsure face, she spoke words that seemed a bit out of the blue.
“The earth, and us, we were fated to be saved. By Mister Sae-Jin’s hands.” (Lillia)
Her voice contained a heavy dosage of determined reverence.
“….I’m not planning to run away from this, so you don’t have to console me. It seems like it’s already set in stone, anyways. If I can save myself, the planet, all those precious to me, then it’s for the better, I guess…. But, it sure doesn’t feel so good if I think about what’s to come, you know?” (Sae-Jin)
Sae-Jin forcibly squeezed out a smile and asked a question he was really curious about.
“But, just what did this diary have to do with the Vampire Lord?” (Sae-Jin)
That thing the Lord said, the prophecy that still remained fleeting in his head – just how did this book relate to those words?
“This original book was kept within me via Spiritualisation, while I had a copy made to resemble an ‘ancient tome’, and had it stored in an underground vault. The Lord took away that copy and researched it.” (Lillia)
“….Wait a minute. Are you saying the Vampires have been researching my diary?!” (Sae-Jin)
“Fuhut. No. No, they weren’t doing that. The only one researching your diary was the Lord, no one else. The other Vampires were researching the real ancient tome we brought along from our homeworld.” (Lillia)
“Aha…. I was way off the mark, wasn’t I.” (Sae-Jin)
“Yes, somewhat.” (Lillia)
The conversation tinged with slight humour only lasted for an all-too brief second, before a strange silence filled the gap.
*SFX for ticking of a clock*
The ticking of the second hand felt so sharp in this moment.
After looking down on the diary for a while, Sae-Jin grumbled in a voice that sounded a little dejected.
“By the way, if things unfold as this diary says, then… it might get a bit depressing. Ah, maybe the boredom should be a bigger worry than depression, instead.” (Sae-Jin)
“….Whatever happens, you’ll have to forfeit a lot of things.” (Lillia)
Lillia gazed at him with those pair of gentle eyes. Sae-Jin met her gaze.
“Perhaps, do you seek company? I’m always ready….” (Lillia)
It seemed that she mistook his gaze for something else entirely, judging by the way she began to undo the buttons of her dress…
“There’s no need. Please leave. I’d like to be alone for now.” (Sae-Jin)
“Eh? But, in your diary, we… Ah, that was a prank?!” (Lillia)
“….Fut. For now, let me be alone. Please.” (Sae-Jin)
Thanks to her, he did feel a little bit better.
When the dawn’s sun rose, Sae-Jin left the hotel. He wandered the streets aimlessly, while holding the Feather of Efrit in one hand. The demon god’s inheritance – the things that needed to be done with it were quite clear to him.
In that case, was there a reason for him to tremble in fear and hesitate?
Sae-Jin shook away all unnecessary thoughts and then, chucked the Feather into his mouth.
As it was written on the ‘diary’, many, many alert windows popped up.
However, he didn’t feel the usual joy of evolution. He also didn’t feel depressed, either. He didn’t even feel the burning sense of duty, too. No, rather unexcitingly, he just felt that this was something he simply had to do.
[Condition complete: The Wolf that kills gods, Fenrir.]
– The dormant potential sleeping within explodes forth, after ingesting the Feather of Efrit.
– However, as the quantity isn’t enough, the host can only transform into Fenrir for ‘one day’.
What the hell is a bloody Fenrir now?!
A groan automatically escaped from his mouth.
< 48. Waves (2) > fin.