A Monster Who Levels Up
Sae-Jin and Yu Sae-Jung laid back down on the bed again. And then, while using each other’s body as blankets, they tried to invite back the goddess of slumber.
The whispers of nature tickled their ears.
If time flowed by quietly like this, then surely, sleep would wash over them sooner rather than later.
Unfortunately, they overlooked one little thing – they hadn’t come to this vacation by themselves.
The distance between the pension where the rest of the group were staying and the countryside villa was less than 15 minutes, and well, they ran to the villa and pounded on the front door like crazy.
“Sae-Jung!! Mister Sae-Jin!!”
“There must be something big happening right now!!”
“There was a strange tremor just now….”
“Hey, stop pushing, will you?!”
Several voices were chaotically mixed up, and ended up sounding like screams, or maybe bizarre roars of wild beasts. So, the couple had no choice but to exit the villa.
As soon as the front door was opened, five totally freaked out faces, on the verge of unconsciousness, even, greeted them. Sae-Jin tried to pacify them by saying there was nothing to worry about, but no one would relax simply because he told them to.
In the end, Sae-Jin told them to enter the villa, asked them to have a sit on the floor, and then, called a certain person waiting near the Fissure’s location via phone – Lillia.
“So, how does the situation look right now?” (Sae-Jin)
– “The ground sank just a bit more.” (Lillia)
“What about Monsters? Has any come out?” (Sae-Jin)
– “No, but there should be still some time left before Monsters do show up.” (Lillia)
“In other words, it’s nothing major, right?” (Sae-Jin)
– “…..Yes, It’s nothing big.” (Lillia)
“Thank you very much.” (Sae-Jin)
Hanging up the phone, Sae-Jin shrugged his shoulders.
“See? She says there’s nothing to worry about.” (Sae-Jin)
However, the various dumbstruck expressions on the group were something else to behold.
“What the, Mister Sae-Jin?! Just what is ‘nothing to worry about’ here?!”
“Shouldn’t we return right away?”
“I just got a call from the President, you know.”
“Wait a minute, who was that woman on the phone? Why does she sound so affectionate towards you?”
These words were spoken by Hazeline, Kim Sun-Ho, Yu Baek-Song, and Yu Sae-Jung, in that order.
“It’s alright, everyone. It is really nothing to worry about.” (Sae-Jin)
“Hey, I said, who is that woman on the phone just now?” (Yu Sae-Jung)
Sae-Jin looked at Yu Sae-Jung and her very serious expression, and let out a gentle chuckle.
Hey, you, that’s not the most important issue here, you know.
“She’s a person who will become a Guild member pretty soon.” (Sae-Jin)
“Really? How come I don’t know who she is, then?” (Yu Sae-Jung)
“I’ll introduce her later.” (Sae-Jin)
“…….Hmph.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
Yu Sae-Jung’s eyes narrowed to a slit, full of suspicion. Hazeline glanced at the two, and shouted out in an urgent voice.
“Come on now, that’s not the real problem here, Sae-Jung-ah!!”
In the end, the situation reverted back to chaos once more and Sae-Jin had no choice but to board the car heading back home.
The group arrived at the Fissure’s location and confirmed the details with their own two eyes. Just as Lillia had explained, the ground surrounding the
Fissure had simply collapsed just a tad, and nothing as worrisome as powerful, unknown demonic creatures popping out happened. Which meant, there was nothing for them to do here, and so, the group went their separate ways, their minds full of nervous worries and fears.
Two days later, Yi Hye-Rin and Joo Ji-Hyuk returned from their honeymoon break. As soon as they returned, they jumped straight back into being Knights.
Almost at the same time, the sect master of Jin Mudo, Yi Yu-Jin returned to Korea after finishing up the training of junior disciples overseas. As if to welcome her arrival, small and big Fissures began to spring up just about everywhere from that day onwards.
One appeared in the middle of a city, one on the coastline, sometimes even in the middle of the sky – over 100 sightings of new Fissures occurred every day.
Also, strange, dark-red mucous liquid oozed out from the underground Fissure that would later form the portal.
Thankfully, contrary to Bathory’s fears, there was not one trace of unidentifiable creatures mixed among that disgusting liquid.
“Looks like there’s still some time left, then.” (Bathory)
While gritting her teeth, Bathory burned away every drop of that mucous liquid filling up the underground space.
Sae-Jin studied her for a bit, before a smile formed on his lips. Because, he spotted small, faint crumbs of energy bar lightly coating the corners of her mouth. He heard that she’d been ordering Rhosrahdel around to procure and consume six energy bars of varying flavours every day.
Well, how would she react once she became a bit obese later on?
“You are going to get overweight, you know.” (Sae-Jin)
“What? What bullsh*t are you spewing now?” (Bathory)
“….Nothing. Never mind.” (Sae-Jin)
He shook his head and asked her instead.
“That’s that, but, what will you do?” (Sae-Jin)
“About what?” (Bathory)
Bathory frowned slightly.
Sae-Jin’s brows danced slightly as he spoke to her in an intimate voice.
“I would love it if you remained here, in this world. When I go there, without a doubt, your help will be greatly needed in stopping the Monster waves. You being here makes me feel quite secure and confident, you know? Hell, you alone should be more than enough to take on the workload of 7 billion people.” (Sae-Jin)
Bathory didn’t say a word. He thought that was the silent refusal, but as it turned out, he was wrong.
Her voice belatedly leaked out, and well, the emotion of fear was weighing down greatly.
“Even I can’t do it.” (Bathory)
“What? Why?” (Sae-Jin)
“….There won’t be an end to Monsters coming out of the portal, that’s why.” (Bathory)
“That won’t be a problem. I’m going to close it.” (Sae-Jin)
When he replied to her and smiled brightly, Bathory’s expression crumpled all of a sudden and she shouted at him.
“Stop messing with me, you stupid f*cking c*nt idiot!!!” (Bathory)
“…….And just where did you learn to speak like that?” (Sae-Jin)
“Doesn’t matter where I learned it. You, you think you’re a god or something? From the word go, it’s completely impossible to close a portal that has been fully opened up. And then, let’s not forget, Monsters pouring out from the said portal is on a whole new level of nastiness altogether! Those filthy, disgusting sons of b*tches have destroyed countless worlds until now, and even I can’t win against them! If that portal remained open for one second, it’ll be the end. The end, you hear me?” (Bathory)
As soon as she finished shouting, her expressions darkened as if she recalled the events of the past.
He studied her for a minute or two, before walking towards the Fissure.
“Hey, hey!! W, where do you think you’re going now?!” (Bathory)
The scared voice of Bathory came from behind him, but he ignored that for the moment and walked towards the border between the Fissure and the ground. He then peered into the darkness below.
Inside that deep, endless darkness, those b*stards were waiting. The mysterious, unknown b*stards, sometimes referred to as the devourer of worlds, or dimensions. He could clearly hear their violent, ominous pulsing with his ears of the wolf.
‘Will I be able to do it?’
The wolf of Apocalypse, with its giant jaws touching the heavens and the earth below, devouring even the lands of the godly beings – that was Fenrir.
Inferring from the legendary tale, what he had to do couldn’t have been any clearer even if he tried.
He had to jump in, wade inside that portal, and then – swallow whole the origin of this Fissure.
Of course, he was scared.
Also, there were several question marks that hadn’t been answered yet.
It was a definite fact that the Sae-Jin from the diary, the future version of him, had indeed traveled to the past. However – did the world survive? And, just where was the future version of himself right now? Details of the events that happened after the jump to the past weren’t recorded properly, so it was only natural he was full of questions. Was it because the future him gave the diary away to Lillia?
Suddenly, he thought about his parents. On the basis of the Nosferatus’ faith, they also ended up trusting their yet-to-be born son.
A thin smile broke out on his lips, wondering whether it was the chicken or the egg that came first.
In the end, though – that didn’t matter. Far more importantly, right now, he was finally ‘connected’ to his parents.
He spoke up with groundless confidence.
“I am going to succeed.” (Sae-Jin)
Bathory’s voice was coming from somewhere surprisingly close. Also, he sensed that his sleeves were being held, too. Overcome with curiosity ever so slightly, Sae-Jin turned around to see what was what, and found Bathory trying to reel him back in, her body trembling in fear.
When he looked at her, a sneaky desire to pull a prank suddenly reared its head.
“*SFX for a loud, scary roar*”
She fell back on her butt, completely shocked silly out of her mind. Her reaction was far greater than he expected. He chuckled and extended his hand to her, but then, with a loud slap!! she lit up his cheek.
“You rotten son of a b*tch!!” (Bathory)
“…..Ha, haha… I’m sorry.” (Sae-Jin)
Bathory snorted out figurative flames out of her nostrils while standing up. She then stomped angrily while walking away, but Sae-Jin grabbed her wrist and stopped her.
“Hey, before you go, give me an answer. Will you help me or not?” (Sae-Jin)
“Ei, you crazy idiot trash. You really think your hair-brained plan will really work?!” (Bathory)
He replied to her matter of factly.
“It will, with your help.” (Sae-Jin)
Bathory didn’t say anything, other than a short snort, as she turned around to leave. But there was not one trace of deception, lies, or anger in her movements. In other words, he could take that as her saying yes.
With that, his mind became a lot more relaxed now.
Left alone, he checked the situation once more.
Four days remained until the end of the ‘deadline’. Strange phenomena were happening all around the world already – ominous signs such as the ground turning jet black occurred everywhere. People were afraid; everyday, protesters were marching violently, demanding the truth.
Sae-Jin ruminated on what he had to do inside this portal.
If he was brutally honest, then, rather than the obligation from the thoughts of ‘I must do this in order to save the world’ filling him up, it was instead the instinctive fear slowly overtaking everything, as the date loomed ever so closer.
Whenever he thought about the day in question, his heart pounded madly and even tears formed on the corners of his eyes. He dreamed nightmares throughout the night, and woke up drenched in cold perspiration.
This was probably the results born out of his self-doubt.
Could he really do it? If he had no Trait, then he would be an orphan who would’ve died as an orphan – a life even worse than an unremarkable one.
So, could someone like him really succeed? Such doubts and worries plagued him every single night.
If so, could he have lived a normal, boring life if no Trait manifested in him?
….If he thought about it, that wasn’t possible. From the very beginning, a normal life was an impossible dream since his father was a ‘Mah-in’, and more importantly, he would’ve lived and died a worthless life where he’d have never met any of the precious people surrounding him now.
Such a life was completely worthless compared to the one he was living right now.
Right. He had no choice. In order to protect this happiness, he had no choice but to do it.
He wasn’t doing it for the grand ideal of saving the world, but for the very personal and perhaps, even selfish reason of wanting to remain happy with his circle of precious friends and family.
That was all he needed.
So, he calmed his mind and took another peek into the darkness, wanting to see where he should bravely jump into, in order to make it back to the people he loved and cared about.
It was a lucky coincidence that the day before the portal would open up completely, was the date for the second scheduled get-together for the Guild members. This time, even Yi Yu-Jin made it, after she missed the first one because of her trip to overseas at the time.
But, there wasn’t much to talk about. No, rather than nothing to talk about, not one conversation happened between the members, instead.
Yu Sae-Jung was neck-deep in complicated thoughts; Hazeline was quietly sobbing away while leaning on Kim Yu-Rin’s shoulders. Even the usually easy-going Yi Hye-Rin was seeking Joo Ji-Hyuk’s arms to cry her heart out….
“Uh-whew, you hopeless fools. Seriously now.” (Bathory)
Only Bathory remained ‘brave’, as she glared at everyone with a dissatisfied expression on her face.
Within this depressing atmosphere, Sae-Jin finally willed himself to open his mouth.
“Everyone, I am going on a… business trip, soon.” (Sae-Jin)
Suddenly, thick silence descended and all gazes focused on him. Yu Sae-Jung was doing her absolute best not to cry, while every Guild member, such as Hazeline, Kim Sun-Ho, etc, were staring at him with dumbfounded eyes.
“…..Pardon? You’re going off to war?” (Hazeline) (TL: The Korean words for “business trip” and “joining the army/going to war” have a single spellingdifference. Hence this rather… weak humour from the author…)
Startled, Hazeline hurriedly stood up from her seat.
“No, a business trip. I’m going on a trip. It shouldn’t be as dangerous as going to a war, though.” (Sae-Jin)
“B, but, that doesn’t even make sense, right? I mean, under the current state of the world, just what kind of a business trip………..” (Kim Yu-Rin)
At Kim Yu-Rin’s query, Sae-Jin fell into a dilemma.
Should he tell them the truth? If so, then how should he break it to them? If he decides on how, then how far should he tell them?
But wasn’t that all too much work?
Besides, his work was pretty easy. Technically speaking, of course.
A simple affair, where he’d definitely come back alive, and meet up with everyone sooner or later. And that would be the end.
So, he decided to gloss over it.
Besides, either Bathory or Lillia would explain everything later, anyways.
“Well, that…. You can hear it from either Miss Lillia, or from ‘our’ Miss Bathory over here later on.” (Sae-Jin)
“Why are you mentioning me, all of a sudden?” (Bathory)
“What? What did you say just now, Oppa? Our? Why is this woman suddenly ‘our’ Bathory?” (Yu Sae-Jung)
Bathory glared sharply. And at the same time, Yu Sae-Jung’s eyes gleamed dangerously after hearing the word ‘our’. Coincidentally, their sharp, deadly eyes collided mid air.
The obvious loser from that exchange was Yu Sae-Jung. As soon as their eyes met, she lowered her tail real fast.
“No, wait. You should still give us a proper explanation. What kind of a business it is, how long you’ll take, and what should we do in the meantime…” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Kim Yu-Rin asked him with a serious face. Hazeline next to her nodded her head incessantly with a pair of extra large eyes.
“Really, it’s nothing much. And, it won’t take too long, either….. Probably.” (Sae-Jin)
From their perspective, most likely, ‘it’ wouldn’t take long at all. Even if that wasn’t the case, Sae-Jin dearly hoped that that would be the case.
“Besides, you know very well what you must do, anyways. Performing the duties of a Knight, that’s what. Ah, that’s right. I almost forgot – is the distribution of artifacts and armaments complete?” (Sae-Jin)
The Monster had opened up the vault for the artifacts and the Orc Blacksmith’s weapons, and distributed every single item to every Knight under the sun, with a pretext of renting them out ‘unconditionally until the end of the current crisis’.
“….Yes. Everyone is apparently confused whether to feel elated or be saddened.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
“Well, that’s fine. For now, let’s go home early, since we don’t know what new things might happen tomorrow.” (Sae-Jin)
Kim Sae-Jin spoke up to here, and an unusually bright smile formed on his face.
“Well, everyone. I’ll see you guys at the next scheduled get-together, okay?” (Sae-Jin)
< 49. The Wait (2) > Fin.