A Monster Who Levels Up
Fallen leaves and naked trees; warmer coats and cooler temperatures. In a few areas of Gangwon Province, where the changes in seasons were especially prominent, thin snowflakes were falling here and there – it was that kind of a day.
The middle of November existed in limbo, stuck between the end of Autumn and the beginning of Winter.
Not wanting to waste precious time, Sae-Jin focused every fibre of his being on various business ventures under his control.
Firstly, his company constructed an artificial island the size of Yeouido off the Gangwon’s coastline for the East Sea, and the nesting area for Griffins was built there. He also spent half of each day on crafting various artifacts and armaments as well as writing grimoires. Of course, that meant he didn’t get to enjoy the luxury of sleep at all during this time. (TL: Yeouido might sound like a fakey tongue-twister, but it’s an actual island in the middle of Han River flowing through Seoul. Think of it as Manhattan and you’re almost there.)
He also actively participated on the matters of foreign affair as well.
He met and held talks with local and overseas politicians, Presidents, and Prime Ministers. And he assured them that the humanity would definitely overcome the current crisis, so they must never give up hope and endure for a little bit longer.
Some people accused him of preaching baseless hope to the masses, but Sae-Jin ignored them and did not stop his work.
Cooperating with the government, he was able to restrict access to the home base of the el Las clan where the Fissure had opened up.
The estimated size of the Fissure was around 1000 pyoung. Considering that the Fissure in Africa that caused the history’s biggest catastrophe was only around 20 pyoung, the new one’s size was enough to instill an unprecedented amount of despair on all who saw it.
The survey team comprised of The Monster’s staff and government employees fell into a deep state of panic, once they clapped their eyes on the actual Fissure. If it wasn’t for Rhosrahdel’s mind control magic ‘decreasing’ the size of the Fissure to 1/100 in the survey team’s minds, then the whole world might have fallen into an even greater chaos right then.
And before long, as he spent every single day busy as a bee, the ‘deadline’ drew in ever closer, now only one month away.
“There it is.” (Sae-Jin)
Just as it was written on his diary, Sae-Jin came to a coastline near Yeongdo located in Busan. And in between the distant white, fluffy clouds, he could see the blurry shape of that Korean crow-tit chick. (TL: It’s an island off the south coast of the city of Busan.)
Bathory followed Sae-Jin’s pointing fingers and took a very long look at the bird-like Monster. She was more than satisfied by the adorable exterior of the creature.
“….It’s bigger than I expected.” (Bathory)
“What, you don’t like it?” (Sae-Jin)
After spitting out a short reply, Bathory extended out her Mana towards the Monster. Sae-Jin expected the creature to fiercely rebel against them, but to his surprise, it chased after the Mana’s trail and descended. Heck, it even nasally chirped ppiyack, ppiyack, too.
Sae-Jin broke out in a hollow chuckle – did the dang thing recognise its destined master or something?
When the bird Monster got close enough, Bathory reached out her hand. The creature was busy smiling as it approached, but then, spotted Sae-Jin next to her and became very cautious for a minute. Eventually, though, it crept up closer and settled quietly down on Bathory’s arm – like some dang pirate’s parrot or something.
“Would you look at
Finally, Sae-Jin got to take a detailed look at the bird Monster.
A small protruding beak, the wide and flat-ish face, and a pair of round and clear eyes that nicely shone in contrast to that face. But what caught his attention the most were faint letters visible on where the wing met the shoulder. It was neither English nor Korean.
But Sae-Jin could more or less tell the meaning of those letters.
“That’s my name. Ellie von Bathory.”
As if she had realised the true meaning of it, Bathory murmured with a complicated emotion. Her voice contained a faint trace of sadness. Sae-Jin didn’t have anything particularly important to say, so he said whatever.
“It’s a pretty name.” (Sae-Jin)
“….Shut up.” (Bathory)
It seemed that he shouldn’t have said anything. When Bathory took a glance at him….
The bird Monster, that had been busy rubbing its body on Bathory’s arm until now, suddenly spat out a Breath of flames at Sae-Jin’s face.
It was as if it would not tolerate a human being annoying its master. Sae-Jin’s blackened face crumpled unsightly.
“Fuhut, well done, my Choucream.” (TL: This is a Konglish word describing a certain type of custard. Google it if you’re curious. 슈크림)
She had named it already. Sae-Jin grinned thinly and extended his hand towards the Monster.
“Hand it over. Let me hit it just once.” (Sae-Jin)
“Get lost.” (Bathory)
Bathory mockingly laughed as if he got what he deserved, and then, used instant transmission along with the bird Monster. Suddenly left all alone, Sae-Jin wiped the ashes off his face and searched after her Mana signature.
Well, there was a little bit of blood he needed to receive from her still.
Kim Yu-Rin, Sae-Jin, Hazeline, Yu Sae-Jung, and Yu Baek-Song were staring at the rectangular card resting on top of the conference table and were thinking very deeply.
Just what was this card supposed to be…?
“It’s my wedding invitation~.” (Yi Hye-Rin)
Yi Hye-Rin solved all their questions with a cheerful voice.
The five people’s heads shot right up.
“….We don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, so I should get married before something does happen, right?” (Yi Hye-Rin)
Unlike her smiling face, her words spoke of a rather depressing future possibility.
“Does Mister Ji-Hyuk… know he’s getting married to you?” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Sae-Jin couldn’t help but chuckle at Kim Yu-Rin’s cautious inquiry. If the husband-to-be wasn’t aware of the wedding, then that would be a wonderful comedy in itself.
Yi Hye-Rin frowned slightly and nodded her head.
“Of course. If we count us flirting around as us dating, then we’ve been going out for over a year already.” (Yi Hye-Rin)
Indeed, they did flirt pretty hardcore until now.
“Well, yeah. Mister Joo Ji-Hyuk is a good man, so I am not too concerned, but…” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Kim Yu-Rin became suspicious ever so slightly. Seeing that a wedding had been set way before the participants were ‘known’ to be in love, she couldn’t help but wonder if there was some kind of an accident at play here.
As if she was unable to see why suspicions might rise – or, simply not caring – Yi Hye-Rin grinned refreshingly and surveyed the faces of everyone, before playfully yammering on.
“Oh yeah, by the way – Captain, just when did you sneak to our Guild Master’s side? Even the first ‘madam’ is present here and all, so like, wowsers.” (Yi Hye-Rin)
“Ah, now that you mention it, you’re right. Let’s swap places.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
At the same time, the deeply troubled Yu Sae-Jung shot up from her seat.
“Ahaha…. Sorry, sorry.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Kim Yu-Rin scratched the back of her neck and vacated the seat, and Yu Sae-Jung rapidly occupied the resulting empty spot.
“For the role of the marriage officiant, the Raven Order Master has agreed to fill in, and I also got the word that Guild Master will sing the congratulatory song.” (Yi Hye-Rin)
“….Hang on. I’m singing at your wedding reception?” (Sae-Jin)
“Yep.” (Yi Hye-Rin)
“But, I can’t sing, though? No, wait. You’ve never even asked me about this until now, so… how?” (Sae-Jin)
He couldn’t remember ever agreeing to sing – not even in his dreams did he agree to do such a thing. When Sae-Jin became flustered, Yi Hye-Rin also became somewhat confused as well.
“But, I got the permission from Sae-Jung? Back when we went out for a night out, just couple of us Knights.” (Yi Hye-Rin)
Sae-Jin glared at Yu Sae-Jung with eyes demanding explanations. She evaded his pointed stares and whispered in a low, low voice.
“I forgot to mention it to you…” (Yu Sae-Jung)
“E, eh?! But, but! You’re already so famous for your dreamy voice, Guild Master! That’s why I definitely believe you’ll sing beautifully, really!! And I even boasted to others you’d be singing at the ceremony…” (Yi Hye-Rin)
Sae-Jin couldn’t bring himself to say no to Yi Hye-Rin’s desperately pleading eyes. Still, he needed to punish Yu Sae-Jung appropriately.
“Okay, I understand. I will do it. But…. Miss Yu-Rin, I think you should change your seat again.” (Sae-Jin)
“Ah!! No, you can’t! I’m sorry, Oppa!” (Yu Sae-Jung)
“Change the seat.” (Sae-Jin)
“……..Euh euh.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
And so, Yu Sae-Jung was unceremoniously demoted. But, not too long afterwards, even Kim Yu-Rin lost her spot to Hazeline after she was found to be lusting after… Sae-Jin’s portion of snacks.
Yi Hye-Rin couldn’t help but laugh out loudly while watching these four people.
“*SFX for a loud guffaw*”
It would be wonderful if she could spend the rest of her life this happy.
Yi Hye-Rin thought of this small but luxurious dream.
[The Monster Guild member and a top celeb, Yi Hye-Rin announces shock wedding ceremony. The husband to be is…]
Soon afterwards, news broke out simultaneously all over the media. As expected, Yi Hye-Rin’s popularity and the reach of her influence were great enough for her story to dominate not only the entertainment sections, but even the society pages as well.
And on the following day the news broke, the wedding ceremony took place.
The venue was the front lawn of the Guild HQ building. (TL: Very romantic…. Nope, not really.)
Nominally, it was a ‘small-scale’, closed-door wedding ceremony, but the identities of those attending it were enough to cause gasps of shock – from the likes of the Raven Order Master, to the country’s Prime Minister, who should be too busy with work to attend a wedding, and even CEO of TM, Jo Hahn-Sung, etc, etc…
And in this place where real heavyweights had gathered, Sae-Jin had to sing in public. The name of the chosen song was “You In My Arms”. It was rather funny seeing his reddened face while he sang, but thanks to his rather suave voice, the venue soon got into the groove of the song. The whole atmosphere in here was quite romantic and hopeful. (TL: There is a K-pop song with the same name, sung by Yoo Jae-Ha. I think it’s the song the author is talking about. Youtube it if you’re curious… Because, I’m not.)
The wedding eventually ended in a gentle, tranquil mood.
“And we’re going now~.”
After saying their farewells to the gathered Guild members and the family from both sides, Joo Ji-Hyuk and Yi Hye-Rin went off to their honeymoon.
Actually, although it was nominally a honeymoon, it was nothing more than the married couple taking three days off and resting at Yi Hye-Rin’s personal residence. As an aside, Yi Hye-Rin’s home was a $38 million mansion located in the top suburb of Seoul. The imposing size and the impressive majesty of it were more than enough to shock Joo Ji-Hyuk quite thoroughly.
At the same time, Sae-Jin decided to travel along with Yu Sae-Jung, who also got some time off as well. Because of the current state of the world, they couldn’t go too far, so they just went to a small villa on the coast, to have some private fun.
The plan was for just the two of them to go and hide away for a while. Yet…
“Weren’t we supposed to go alone? Like, just us two?”
Unfortunately, several hangers-on decided to pop in and ruin that plan – Rhosrahdel, Kim Sun-Ho, Hazeline, even Yu Baek-Song. It was a mystery how they found out, but they still showed up carrying their luggage.
“Yeah, me too. I was thinking the same…” (Sae-Jin)
Sae-Jin replied to Yu Sae-Jung while sweating heavily. Hazeline quickly figured out the couple’s unhappy moods, and told them not to worry.
“It’s just that our direction’s the same. Our purposes are completely different, you know. Don’t you think we should also enjoy potentially the last vacation in our lives, too?” (Hazeline)
If so, why were they shoving their bags into Sae-Jin’s car? He was so dumbfounded, a hollow chuckle threatened to break out from his mouth.
“Let’s go~!” (Yu Baek-Song)
Yu Baek-Song had climbed into the car before anyone noticed her, and shouted out loudly.
And so, Sae-Jin went off on a vacation with them, unable to do anything.
Yu Sae-Jung and Sae-Jin set up camp in the holiday villa, while the rest rented out a pension in its entirety for themselves. (TL: a pension is a small hotel or a boarding house usually found in France, not just a regular payment system by a government to retirees.)
This area was a famous vacation spot known for its scenic mountains and valleys, but, thanks to the current state of affairs, not one person was vacationing here.
Sae-Jin’s group enjoyed the sights of the valley, now totally devoid of people – the incident of Hazeline nearly drowning because of Yu Baek-Song’s prank notwithstanding.
Next, they held a BBQ, and in the evening, a campfire. The group had fun together.
In the beginning, Yu Sae-Jung was full of dissatisfaction, her shoulders drooping noticeably, but by the time they settled around the campfire, she was carrying around genuinely-happy expressions and told them it was “much more fun with everyone together.”
“See you guys tomorrow~.”
After saying simple goodbyes, the group split into two.
As soon as Sae-Jin and Yu Sae-Jung returned to the villa, they took a shower together. Well, rather than together, it was more like Sae-Jin barging in while Yu Sae-Jung was in the middle of a shower, actually.
“Oppa, I’m tired… T, tired….”
Maybe she had used up too much energy in the bathroom – Sae-Jung was just about to fall into a deep slumber when she hit the bed.
Sae-Jin gave his best shot at first, but he soon gave up rousing her and had to be satisfied only with tightly embracing her.
Cool breezes sneaked in through the open windows, and the trees of the forest sang sorrowfully.
An unknown amount of time went by.
Sae-Jin softly whispered into the ears of steadily-breathing Yu Sae-Jung.
Her voice was deeply drowsy.
He met his gaze with hers, and spoke with a serious voice.
“Let’s get married.” (Sae-Jin)
The lull of sleep left her in that moment, and Yu Sae-Jung’s eyes widened in surprise.
“But…. just a little bit later.” (Sae-Jin)
Then, her eyes narrowed in dissatisfaction this time. She pouted heavily and asked him.
“Why?” (Yu Sae-Jung)
“I must go on a lengthy business trip to a faraway place, you see. When I return, I’ll explain everything.” (Sae-Jin)
Yu Sae-Jung maintained silence for a long time. It was hard to read her expressions in this moonless night. However, the smile she formed after the long bout of silence was exceptionally bright and clear.
“How long will you go away for this time?” (Yu Sae-Jung)
“Not sure. I think….. it might take a while.” (Sae-Jin)
“….And, if I wait for you?” (Yu Sae-Jung)
Sae-Jin chuckled slightly.
“I’ll give you the rest of my life.” (Sae-Jin)
“Euh-heuk. I’m gonna curl up here.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
She playfully frowned deeply, but then, gifted him a long kiss right away. And he decided to accept this kiss as a sign from her agreeing to his conditions.
Their gradually-heating up atmosphere got rudely interrupted by a strange tremor.
It wasn’t a big one, but also, quite a bit unsettling to simply ignore.
Perhaps overcome with ominous feelings, Yu Sae-Jung’s eyes snapped open and she tried to leave the bed – but, Sae-Jin stopped her.
“Oppa, just now…” (Yu Sae-Jung)
“It’s okay. It’ll be fine. So, just spend the night with me, here.” (Sae-Jin)
The tremor was simply caused by the ground collapsing slightly after the Fissure opened up more than usual. There were still around two weeks to go. So….
“….You don’t have to worry. I’ll take care of everything.” (Sae-Jin)
< 49. The Wait (1) > Fin.