A Monster Who Levels Up
Billions of people dazedly looked on at the horrifying existence standing tall – some through their naked eyes, while others, through the airwaves.
Funnily enough, even with the absolutely terrifying and unimaginable threat standing right in front, not one cliched occasion of some nutter proclaiming the end of the world could be seen. No incidents of robbery, violence, rape, etc, etc, happened, either.
Everyone simply stared at the creature with eyes completely lost within the pits of despair – the being that just stood there, not affected in the slightest by the combined might of the military, Knights, and Wizards, with not one person able to tell what it was planning to do.
[It has been now confirmed via the testimony of the first generation migrants, that the being on screen is called the ‘Dimensional Devourer’. Although it is one level lower in terms of danger compared to the ‘Universe Devourer’, we have learned that this creature has destroyed countless worlds already.]
Even under this kind of situation, the news channels faithfully carried out their duties.
However, this piece of information delivered with such desperation ended up sounding like a horrifying eulogy to all those stationed at the battlefront.
“What’s the current situation? Do we have enough leeway to pour all our attacks on that b*stard?” (Kim Hyun-Seok)
The supreme commander of the gathered forces, Kim Hyun-Seok, asked a junior Knight, while his body was covered from head to toe in unidentified blood and dirt.
“We are at the very limit of our capacity trying to deal with the new Monsters emerging from the Fissure, as well as existing Monsters running amok under that b*stard’s influences, sir!”
“……D*mn it.” (Kim Hyun-Seok)
Kim Hyun-Seok spat out a low groan. But, in all honesty, he too expected something like this. The only things they could do right now, were to quell the rampaging Monsters, or simply observe that damnable ‘Devourer’.
But, even doing that wasn’t easy.
The battalion of soldiers desperately guarding the frontlines with all their might got destroyed with a single swing of the giant creature’s fist, and more than half of the gathered Knights seemed to have lost their dang collective minds after witnessing that incredible display of power.
Not to mention, mental and physical strain of the troops fighting for the past five days straight without a break or sleep were taking their toll as well. Kim Hyun-Seok even saw several soldiers deserting their posts and running away.
He couldn’t imagine a situation worse than this one.
“…We still need to hold the line.” (Kim Hyun-Seok)
Of course, Kim Hyun-Seok could not give up here. Knights, as well as the military, were the citizens’ so-called psychological ‘Maginot’ line. So, if he and his men were to retreat from here, then the country, even the entire world, wouldn’t be able to survive. No, he couldn’t back away from here, even if it was only to repay the faith and love people had shown them until now.
“Yes, sir. Understood.”
The subordinate Knight nodded his head and took his leave.
Kim Hyun-Seok grasped his sword tightly and glared at the giant creature that he couldn’t still take in its entirety even with his neck tilted way back.
This was the only thing he could do for now.
For the first time in his life, he could truly feel the inadequacy of his powers.
It was now noon, yet the sun was still blocked by the jet-black clouds, and very little light was coming through.
And, just as the Korea’s best Knight stared at the heavens and lamented the fact that he couldn’t do anything…
Something that could o
nly be described as quite bizarre happened.
“….What the hell is that?”
The ‘beginning’ was nothing more than someone murmuring out in a daze. That was all. No one paid him any mind. However, this person didn’t let it go, and poked the Knight next to him with an elbow.
The poked Knight was way too tired to even get annoyed, so he had to endure the abuse for a bit of time, before finally turning his gaze towards the direction his pokey friend was pointing at.
And then, he ended up doing the exact same poking thing with another Knight next to him.
That was how the eyes of the Knights gradually rose up to the sky, one by one.
With enough time passing by, the need to poke others with elbows had dissipated, and in the end, even camera lenses were taking in the sights of the emergence… of a new unknown being.
From within the beating, swirling storm of winds that seemed to rip apart those murky, dark clouds, a mystical creature slowly revealed itself.
Spreading out its noble and pure blue-coloured wings widely, its deep yet dignified eyes looked down on the world below, and its powerful and resolutely-shut maws pointed towards the Dimensional Devourer.
Knights, soldiers, even normal people couldn’t even begin to fathom the identity of that creature.
However, strangely enough, they all could faintly guess what it could be.
That creature was an exact copy of the dragon in the fairytales and legends of the yore.
Just before the gathered Knights could fall into a collective dilemma of choosing between whether to celebrate this new development, or to throw away even the last vestige of hope – the dragon-like being lunged at the still-awakening Devourer.
The world got twisted apart momentarily from the air pressure and noise generated by that powerful, mad rush forward.
Needing only a blink of an eye that felt like the flow of time had been distorted, the dragon arrived by the side of the Devourer and wrapped the tail around it – then, began gathering a massive amount of Mana in the mouth.
And the Devourer, until now inert and simply observing, hurriedly moved its arms and grabbed the dragon’s – Bahamut’s – tail.
Too bad, it was one step too late.
A jet-black Breath beam was fired out without special sound effects and blew away the Devourer’s head.
And there they were, unable to damage the Devourer no matter what they tried – jaws of the gathered Knights dropped to the floor, after witnessing empty spot where the giant creature’s head should have been.
However, the Devourer wasn’t dead. Although now headless, it moved its one arm and two legs to fiercely resist.
That was the signal for the mighty physical struggle between these two titans that shook the entire world.
An indescribable scene of battle unfolded, where fists and front claws, kicks and tail whips were exchanged endlessly.
However, after losing its head, the Devourer had lost its sense of sight and all it could do was flail its arms and legs about wildly.
Of course, those simple actions alone possessed incredible danger. Sae-Jin had found it difficult to properly control his new wings and was helpless when he got punched by a blind swing and flew away. Then, he even got kicked in the stomach, as well.
Only after he spat out black blood out, he decided to deal with this b*stard using magic.
Still, the Devourer proved to be not a simple opponent at all. As soon as it sensed the activation of magic, it too responded with magic of its own. The only difference was, the Devourer’s did not just aim at the dragon only.
It was targeting the entire world. The sole purpose was to destroy.
Bahamut hurriedly fired off a Breath. In the end, though – Sae-Jin returned to fighting it physically, in order to prevent the fountain of blood from the Devourer’s destroyed arm landing on the ground below. To stop it from using magic ever again, he hit it even harder than before.
But, well, from the very beginning of this battle, there could only be one destined victor between the headless Dimensional Devourer and Bahamut with all its body parts still intact.
The longer the fight dragged on, the Devourer’s ability to make judgments suffered, and in the end, it threw its arms and legs wildly as if it had forgotten how to use magic completely. That only lasted until another Breath from Bahamut pierced its heart.
….And so, the Dimensional Devourer that seemingly possessed no equal in this world, fell while issuing a bizarre cry that sounded like an animal, and scattered away into black smoke.
Only the silence remained afterwards.
Not even screams, cheers, loud shouts, or praises could be heard.
This remained true even for the reporters broadcasting the event live, the anchors relaying it to the ordinary people, as well as those said people watching on.
This silence was so suffocating and unreal that tens of thousands souls gathered here ended up imagining this was all just a long and harsh nightmare instead.
Within this stillness, Bahamut slowly flew away.
While blood poured out from numerous wounds on his body, the dragon desperately flew towards the East Sea where he would be healed.
Only after he had drifted away eastward, and after a considerable length of time went by, did the remaining army of fighters realise what had just happened.
One by one, they began approaching the position where the Devourer used to stand with numb and dazed minds.
With the exception of giant craters where the Devourer’s massive feet stepped on, there really was no trace of the Monster itself.
The reality finally dawned on them and they stared up at the heavens above.
Just in time, the dark clouds drifted away and several bright rays of sun shone brilliantly down on the ground.
And so, the world would never forget the beauty of the sunlight seen for the first time in five days.
(TL: Told from the MC’s perspective.)
It was a difficult, yet ultimately hollow battle that, after its conclusion, was hard to recall exactly what had transpired.
That was why, as I laid this body that was so close to death by the depths of the ocean, I couldn’t really remember anything.
Although, I did sense the faint pulsing of this planet, Earth.
And also, I could more or less understand that the planet was thanking me.
I was confident that it was gratitude.
A lifeform wished to live.
It was the same whether you were a human, an animal, or a Monster – even, Earth too.
The planet wished to survive. It wished for its salvation. That was why it deliberately created ‘Traits’. So, the truth was completely opposite to all those experts that yammered on about ‘Fissures creating Traits’.
The fruit of that desperate struggle, created in order to find even the tiniest hint of possibility for survival – born out of the irresponsible mentality of ‘anything is fine, so please, let one stick’, that was Trait.
That was why, I knew I’d wake up for sure, sooner or later.
The warmth of the divine energy wrapping around me while I remained submerged deep underwater was the proof of this.
Also, the texts ‘Plea of the Gaia has been completed’ appearing in front of my eyes were another proof.
I was only entering a deep slumber, just like how it always had been.
And soon, I would be able to meet up with the others.
And, I would be able to love them as an ordinary person by then.
I truly believed that would come to pass.
(TL: Told from Yu Sae-Jung’s perspective.)
With the appearance of the legendary creature, Bahamut, the world finally found peace.
The unstoppable calamity, the Dimensional Devourer was defeated at the claws of Bahamut, and soon, many Fissures opening up around the world began to close for good, one by one.
However, at the same time, small chaos ensued as well. Because, all Traits had suddenly vanished into thin air.
Many, who enjoyed charmed lives but now had to live like the rest of normal people, couldn’t quite come to grips with this reality and were wading through pits of despair.
Of course, those like Joo Ji-Hyuk and Yu Sae-Jung, whose egos weren’t inflated by their Traits, had no problem whatsoever adopting to the new life.
On the flip side, Mana and Monsters didn’t disappear. One thing that did change was that Monsters couldn’t replenish their numbers through the ‘external supply’ anymore and had to live, breed, and perish in the exact same manner of every other normal wild animal.
Of course, if Monsters were exterminated, that would cause too much of a shock to the world’s system, so they would not be pushed towards extinction. Instead, they were to be reared by mankind.
A month after the passing of the great calamity, a religion worshipping Bahamut sprang up. People were disappointed and distrustful towards the pre-existing religions that didn’t offer any real, tangible aid during the most obvious apocalyptic threat ever recorded in history – and also, with an uncanny timing, several ‘followers’ of Bahamut popped up suddenly, too.
The pre-existing religions offered the usual line of excuses, even going as far as to say that their gods had sent Bahamut to humanity and all that, but with the exception of a small percentage, modern humans weren’t delusional enough to fall for such empty claims.
Inevitably, after the religion came the organisation, and eventually, the Bahamut organisation’s greatest temple of worship was built on the very spot where the Dimensional Devourer was felled. This place became the holy land that many worshippers from all corners of the globe made pilgrimage to.
A religion that became one of the biggest in the world through only a single moment, the Bahamut Church – and the leader of this organisation was Lillia.
‘He’ had disappeared.
No one knew where he had vanished to.
Did he run away because he fell in love with another woman, or did he migrate to another world after he got scared by the prospect of the world coming to an end…?
And it seemed like the only person who knew the details was the Bathory woman, but it was difficult to meet with her, and when I somehow found a chance to ask her, she refused to give me a straight answer.
I could only spend the time alone, with no one to blame.
I found out for the first time in my life that prolonged longing could morph into powerful heartache. But, I endured, believing that I would see him sooner or later.
And so…. a year went by, without him by my side.
Finally, the date for the regular gathering of The Monster Guild had arrived. So, I tidied myself up and went there.
‘All Guild members must attend the meeting.’
I was so sure that he wouldn’t forget the one real rule he came up with for the Guild he created with his own hands.
After all, the gathering was supposed to take place on the 17th of every month, but in his consideration, it had been changed into an annual event, instead.
So, he should show up on this one. He must.
The gathering was scheduled for seven in the evening, and I arrived at 6:30. However, everyone was here already. Kim Yu-Rin unni, the Tower Lord Hazeline, the member of parliament Yu Baek-Song, the married couple Joo Ji-Hyuk and Yi Hye-Rin, Bathory and Rhosrahdel, as well as Kim Sun-Ho and the rest of the newbie members.
Everyone greeted me with welcoming faces.
Yet, only one person was missing.
“You came?” (Kim Yu-Rin)
Yu-Rin unni asked me first. I forced out a smile.
“Yes. Unni, I heard you’ve been really busy lately? It must’ve been really difficult to find a gap in your schedule… Thank you for coming today.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
As soon as Monsters became existences that needed to be reared for the future rather than to be exterminated on sight, Yu-Rin unni left the world of Knights immediately without any regrets.
And then, she concentrated on the entertainment industry side of things.
She made a success out of three, four variety shows she appeared in as a regular cast member, and her debut as an actress was a roaring success as well.
So, nowadays the name ‘Kim Yu-Rin’ was better known as a celebrity rather than a former Knight. Understandably so, she was incredibly busy in her life due to all of her entertainment industry commitments.
But, even though she was busy, she found time to continue her work as the ‘Orc Enthusiast’. The thing was, many Hero Orcs still existed – they even rescued many ordinary people attempting to run away from the rampaging Monsters, and offered shelter within their village. Which in turn, made them into national treasures of Korean people.
“That’s true, but I still wouldn’t miss this gathering.” (Kim Yu-Rin)
“No wait, Sae-Jung-ah. This unni, she only came here to see whether he’s coming or not. You gotta watch out now. This person here, as much as you, she wants to see hi…” (Yi Hye-Rin)
“Uh-muh. What could you possibly be talking about?” (TL: ‘uh-muh’ = ‘oh my, my.’) (Kim Yu-Rin)
Yi Hye-Rin added some spice in a playful attempt to get a rise out of her, but now that Kim Yu-Rin had escaped from beneath the weighty burden of being a Knight, and thereby becoming much more relaxed, such a provocation didn’t work anymore.
“Hahat… But, you, Hye-Rin unni, I thought you’d be too busy being lovey-dovey for today.” (Yu Sae-Jung)
Joo Ji-Hyuk and Yi Hye-Rin must’ve been the most famous married couple in Korea right now. They were appearing on two TV shows together, and all the sweetness they poured out to each other on screen was something else to behold, really.
“Well, we can still love outside the house, right~?” (Yi Hye-Rin)
While saying something that might lead to a misunderstanding, Yi Hye-Rin leaned her head on Joo Ji-Hyuk’s shoulder.
Hazeline looked at the duo with a dissatisfied expression, before lamenting out softly.
“Anyways….. He’s not coming again, is he? And I even shoved all that urgent Tower business aside to come here.” (Hazeline)
Hazeline was currently reigning over the world’s best Wizard Tower as its Lord.
Unlike Knights, magic still played big part in society even after reduction in the Monsters’ numbers, so rather than the industry faltering away, it saw many leaps and advances forward, instead.
Well, pretty much every Wizard that was somewhat undecided between sticking to attack magic used to deal with Monsters, and the practical, everyday magic with potential to help the world, finally chose to go with the latter, that was why.
Under these changes, the Dawn & TM’s Tower became widely acknowledged as the best in the world.
The thing was, the legacy of Bangbae-Dong Wizard, no, wait, no – most of the 28 grimoires he published before he left had real world applications, it turned out.
And thanks to his enormous accomplishments until the end, the name of the Wizard of Bangbae-Dong, who had vanished without a trace, had become an everlasting legend that may never be repeated again in the Wizarding world.
Bathory did complain slightly during that, though, saying all those magic spells were nothing more than some amateurish rejigging of stuff already existing in her head.
It was then, Yu Baek-Song tugged at Hazeline’s robe.
“Hey, help me with my campaign funds.” (Yu Baek-Song)
“….Are you insane? Why should I spend money on a cat entering politics? Besides, you’ve been elected already, so what gives?” (Hazeline)
“I need lots more later on. You think running a constituency is that simple? At minimum, I gotta be elected three times.” (Yu Baek-Song)
“But, isn’t there still lots of time left until the election?” (Hazeline)
“I’m specially elected to fill a vacancy, so I gotta get elected again in a year, you know.” (Yu Baek-Song)
Surely, the most weird prospect here belonged to Yu Baek-Song. She became a member of parliament. On top of this, her ambitions began ballooning up without anyone noticing it, and now, she could often be ‘seen’ staring at a certain House with Blue roof tiles with eyes burning with desire.
“Hey, how was the reaction to the interview I shot today?” (Bathory)
To the side, Bathory showed no interest in them whatsoever, and was busy asking her ‘retainer’ while looking at her phone.
“It’s very good, ma’am. Everyone’s praising you!” (Rhosrahdel)
At Rhosrahdel’s energetic reply, I could hear a slightly happy snort from the side.
It was really tough trying to predict what could’ve happened to Bathory and Rhosrahdel, during this past year. Well, Bathory had emerged as the clear leader/representative of the union of Vampires, after all.
At first, she alternated between the persona of the Wizard Emil and Bathory the Vampire, but after receiving a perfectly-timed image makeover at the hands of Rhosrahdel, she could appear as Bathory nowadays without an issue – she was even being seen as a goddess of peace and reconciliation, a moniker people and Vampires alike who knew the truth could never comprehend.
“There hasn’t been any incidents lately, Mister Sun-Ho?” (Yu Sae-Jung)
“Ah, well. Besides taking care of the children, nothing much’s been going on in my life, miss.” (Kim Sun-Ho)
As for Kim Sun-Ho…. he resigned from all of his duties and then, became a father of twins. A son and a daughter, no less.
“Mister Sun-Ho’s children are so, so cute you know? Let’s go and visit them sometime.” (Yi Hye-Rin)
I smiled relaxedly at Yi Hye-Rin’s words.
And so, our unhurried conversations took flight. Waiters brought out wonderful food and expensive alcohol, and the members made sure there was no lull in our conversations.
Topics ranged from newbie members, the road ahead for TM to the succession at the Dawn, etc, etc….
But, with the exception at the very beginning, no one talked about ‘him’ anymore.
Everyone was being considerate to everyone else, and also, there remained this slim hope and expectation running within our group, too – where he might just show up out of the blue, that kind of hope.
And so, we talked about unimportant matters and inquired about each other’s lives, letting the time slowly move forward.
One hour, then two, three, four…. time continued to flow, but no one gave up.
However, midnight came, and the day had come to an end.
The date for our regular gathering had come and gone.
And that meant, the possibility of seeing him ‘today’ had ended, as well.
Guild members did their best to hide their sadness, shared well wishes and bid farewells.
I returned home feeling rather proud of myself for holding back my tears.
But once I did get home, I felt the cold emptiness of this place and I began crying again.
To not find him waiting for me at the end of a day, it was the worst torture ever.
All those things I did for him and those that I couldn’t yet, stabbed my heart like an assassin’s dagger.
I wanted to see his face, and repeatedly say his name out aloud.
And the fact that I couldn’t do any of those without him here made it so unbearably hard.
I buried my face in the pillow and cried.
Then, I gradually fell asleep from the exhaustion.
He left as if there was nothing big going on, and disappeared as if he wasn’t even there since the beginning.
But, he did exist, and even if he didn’t, I still wouldn’t be able to forget his face, now deeply ingrained in my heart – so, even spending one day without him was painful.
I suffered from anxiety that tomorrow wouldn’t come at all.
But, I believed his promise that he’d come back no matter what.
It might not be tomorrow, but when he would make his return, I’d forgive him. No, really.
I might give him a big fat slap on the cheek, though. And then, hug him tightly, as he faltered about cutely.
I imagined the happy moments of the future and endured every day.
I endured two days like that.
Then, four days.
Spring, with flowers blooming.
Summer, when the clear winds blew.
Autumn, as the leaves on trees grew older.
And finally, after Winter, when snow blanketed the world in white…
Another year, that seemed like it would never arrive, arrived.
< 50. In the End (3) > Fin.