A Monster Who Levels Up
(TL: From here on out, raw chapters need to be purchased from the source. I'd like to take this opportunity thank the gracious donors who have donated so far. And please, keep 'em coming!! Haha.)
In a Mercenaries’ Tavern located on the outskirts of Gangwon Province.
Once upon a time, this establishment was packed to the brim with the voices of drunken Mercenaries, smell of strong liquor, sweat, and sounds of fisticuffs. Back then, 24 hours in a day weren’t enough for the working Mercenaries; and when they were sitting here doing nothing, the Master of the Tavern reminded them of their shortcomings, all in a good camaraderie. (TL: this last line also confused me a great deal. Wasn’t sure whether the author was saying the Master was telling the Mercs off, or it’s the other way around.)
But now… all of that was a distant memory.
No one sought out the singularly 'frozen in time' Mercenaries’ Tavern. A shabby exterior and the worn, broken down furniture, bottles of strong alcohol going through another stage of fermentation thanks to no one buying them - and an empty wooden board made of cork, bereft of any and all assignments.
Like the dying Mercenaries, a Tavern also forgotten and buried in time.
However, regardless how forgotten this place was, there still was one man resolutely looking after it.
He was Kim Yu-Sohn, a middle aged Mercenary.
Just like everyday, he polished the cutlery of the Tavern, cleaned the furniture, and brushed up the empty cork notice board, believing that, one day, this board would be choke-full of assignments.
*SFX for an ill-fitting door sliding open*
The wooden door’s metal hinges made a sorrowful wail as it opened. The half opened door then made more weak noises before breaking up completely. The man who was trying to open it carefully lowered the broken door down and entered inside the Tavern.
"You’ve come. Take a seat."
Kim Yu-Sohn stopped cleaning the furniture and went behind the bar to receive his son.
"It’s been really a long time since your last visit here."
The son couldn’t say anything. Even though he had something he wanted to say prepared beforehand, the moment he saw his father’s face… nothing came out of his mouth. As a son, he knew better than anyone what this Tavern meant to his father.
That’s why, the son began talking about his current situation, trying to beat around the bush.
"Dad, I’ve managed to rank up to a Mid Tier Knight in the Goryeo Knights Order recently. My annual salary has doubled as well. Because of that, I’ve decided to look for a house here in Gangwon. Now that I’ve got some breathing space, I thought it was a bit of waste commuting from Seoul all the time." (TL: Hah!! Got you. I bet you thought this was our MC. Haha. You naughty author, you…)
"Is that right? Well done, son. Your mother on the other side will be proud of you."
The father, Kim Yu-Sohn, smiled warmly. The son that was looking at his father with sad eyes, bit his lips and lowered his head.
That was an event of the distant past, long enough ago to cause the memories to become indistinct now.
His mother. His father’s wife. The most beautiful woman for both of these people, lost her life in a manner that was truly depraved and utterly filthy, even to her final moments. The day Kim Yu-Sohn became a Mercenary and not a Knight was this very day. The son’s dream also had changed on that day, too.
The son was always proud of his
father’s dependable back, even if he became a Mercenary and not a Knight. Didn’t matter he came back late at night, leaving behind a young child alone; not even when he failed to return home altogether - the boy was still proud of his father.
"….Dad. From now on, let’s stay together. Mercenaries… they are not coming to this place anymore."
The son was finally able to force out the words he wanted to say in a trembling voice.
He knew better than anyone, of all the hard work his father had put in. That was why he raged so much when those f*cking mass media people tried to turn everything his father had done into crime.
But now, the times had changed. The war against those bastards… it was now a story from the past too long ago.
"…That’s not it."
Unfortunately, his father shook his head. At his adamant attitude, the son hurriedly continued with his words.
"I also saw the news about the Vampires. But right now…"
"No, no. That’s not it, my son."
The father, Kim Yu-Sohn gently stroked the son’s head like way back when his height was much shorter.
"I had a dream. You know very well what it means for me to have a dream, yes?"
The son dazedly nodded his head. His father possessed what those great Knights call a special power, a Trait. A strange power, that was distinctly different from Mana and magic.
"I saw the Vampires. I don’t know what their end goal is, but they have somehow become stronger than in the past, and are getting ready to unfurl their wings."
"…Even still, that is the job of Knights Orders now. Mercenaries are…"
"No. Knights Orders fear the public sentiment. And there are a lot more Vampires out there than you think, existing in many different places."
The son was about to raise his counter argument when Kim Yu-Sohn raised his index finger and placed it on his lips. Shh. He gestured his son to remain silent. Right at that time…
*SFX for an old fashioned phone ringing*
The unfamiliar sound of a ring leaked out from the old phone that hadn’t had a reason to cry in the past several years. The father carefully picked the receiver up. Defeated by his own curiosity, the son jumped over the counter and stood very closely next to his father as well.
"This is the Mercenaries’ Tavern."
A low, heavy voice came out from the phone.
– "I’m giving you a call after seeing the flyer."
"Yes. It’s a difficult assignment. That is why…"
– "Just tell me of their whereabouts. I’ll take it from there."
"But then, how will I be able to tell you’re successful or not…?"
– "I’ll discard the bodies where they’ll be discovered more easily. The media will then do its job."
Kim Yu-Sohn smiled thickly as the conversation flowed exactly as in his dream. Next up, he should deny being a Mercenary.
– "However, there’s a problem. I’m not…"
"Just provide me with your Mercenary Name and a passcode to identify you. That’s all I need. I’ll take care of registering you as a Mercenary."
As if the man on the other side had panicked a little, the conversation stopped for a short moment. But not too long after, his "name" and the "password" came out accompanied by that deep voice.
"I understand. One week from today, please go to where you found that flyer. I’ll leave behind the new information there."
– "Eh? Hmm… Got it."
The guy seemed more surprised at Kim Yu-Sohn’s words, but he hung up without inquiring further.
"…Who was he?"
The son asked, clearly puzzled.
"I don’t know either."
As he lightly replied, for the first time in a long while, the father had to fish out a Mercenary Application form from a drawer.
Back when it all started, in order to apply as a Mercenary, a person was required to provide a thorough proof of his or her background, such as a name, age, and the current physical condition.
But now, the story was different. Since the industry was dying, the details of an application were left to the discretion of the Tavern’s boss. Grinning widely, Kim Yu-Sohn wielded his pen like a sword, and at the totally unbelievable things he wrote down, the son’s mouth flapped wide open as well.
"Wa, wait a second, dad. An A rank?! Isn’t that the highest rank available? You only had one phone conversation…"
"Wasn’t I an A rank before as well? And besides, no one cares about Mercenaries’ rankings anymore. It’s just a set of irrelevant alphabets now."
"Okay, fine, let’s say we can make a concession on the ranking, but what is up with that name?! By using that kind of a Mercenary name, isn’t it the same as telling the world, Come and just kill me?!"
At the son’s worries, the father simply chuckled slightly. Actually, Kim Yu-Sohn found the name to his liking.
A mythical creature that ripped Vampires to shreds - more than that, a lonely but enraged beast that saw the rest of the world as its enemy.
"What’s wrong with the Lycan? It sounds cool and all."
For the first time in his life, Kim Sae-Jin bought a miracle of the modern world, the mobile phone. And what a wondrous contraption it was. He could activate it by touching the liquid crystal display, and if he projected the screen in the air, then the images became a lot bigger. At first, he got surprised by the projected images from the screen, but he was more or less used to it now.
And now, Sae-Jin was surfing the web using his phone inside a cafe near the Gangwon Province.
He paid special attention to "Neighbour" News and EntertainmentTV - and almost half of all the stories there were related to Yu Sae-Jung. It seemed like the recently broadcasted episode of ‘1st Round of the Blacksmithing Open Invitational Tournament’ had given rise to an ample amount of gossip material.
While sipping his coffee, Sae-Jin slowly read the articles regarding her and all the comments littering the comment section below.
– I thought she was unlikeable in the beginning, but she was really cute by the end. ㅋㅋㅋㅋ [Upvoted 1093 Downvoted 53]
˪I actually liked her from the beginning. Honestly, don’t like it if she was trying to curry favours and say nice this and nice that.
˪Wut; Didn’t Yu Sae-Jung try to do that at the end with that one blacksmith? Are your eyes decorations? You bloomin’ dinkleberry. (TL: no, the author didn’t actually write this. He had the common sense to censor himself… I had to figure out what insult he was writing here, so I improvised a bit.)
˪That blacksmith was worth it, that’s why, you numbskull. You can see at one glance that weapon was something else. Didn’t you see the close up shot? Just shut the f*ck up if you know jacksh*t.
˪Don’t f*cking make me laugh. It’s still a Low Quality crap no matter how nice it is. Trying to swing your d*ck around with your trashy Lowest Tier~Low Tier Hunter knowledge? Do you even know anything about weapons in the first place?
˪Yep. ^^ This dagger received the official rating of Low Quality today ^^ I’ll go and take a look myself ^^ Don’t believe me, then come yourself, you loser butt monkey bastard. Will send you a PM so you better reply.
(TL: Oooooh, boy. The above exchange was written entirely in Korean slang terms. Please just kill me already…. BTW, that ^^ thing means LOL.)
"…What the hell?"
Reading this banquet of weird swear words, Sae-Jin’s brows narrowed slightly. Since he didn’t want to read this junk no more, he scrolled down quickly until he found another interesting article. This one was also related to the Blacksmithing tournament, but instead of focusing on people, it was about the submitted items.
⸢Through the eyes of an expert, evaluating the selected items from the 1st Round of the Open Invitational Tournament.⸥
Becoming an artisan at a young age of 36 and raising much expectations to himself, the Artisan craftsman Soh Yun-Han has given his evaluations on the top 10 entrants out of the 40 that had successfully passed the 1st Round of judging.
– It’s a good weapon. Most of all, the refinement and the steelworking is quite faultless, and smith’s blacksmithing skill as well as the important Mana infusion, is exemplary considering the level of the judging criteria in the 1st Round.
If there is one thing that falls short, then it’d be the fact that the apprentice Kim Soo-Han just so happens to be the disciple of the Master Kim Tae-Baek. This weapon isn’t going to 100% satisfy that incredibly weighty expectations. Of course, he could have submitted the worst of his pre-fabricated items for this round as there are still 2nd and Final rounds to go; if so, then that definitely raises the future expectation on this young craftsman.
The evaluation of an artisan: B (a mid Low Quality)
– To be honest, I was quite astonished. I became so curious, I ended up asking about the information of this blacksmith who calls himself The ORK. First of all, the full name of the blacksmith itself is different from the others - ‘The Orc’s Forge K’. I’ve no idea why he chose to use such a name, but still, what he had crafted caused a huge buzz in this 1st Round of judging.
If you judge it by the criteria of the 1st Round, then it’s perfect in almost every way. The only weak link here is the quality of the material used, but the excellent level of Mana infusion more than compensates for that. Every Knight that saw it praised this dagger greatly, saying it’s very easy to infuse Mana with the weapon.
Well, there is no point in delaying this. Personally, I’d say this dagger takes the top spot in the 1st Round. To think such a wonderful item would emerge so soon in the 1st Round… The future of Blacksmithing, and the future of this tournament, is going to be a lot brighter moving forward.
The evaluation of an artisan: A (upper Low Quality ~ low Mid Quality)
Sae-Jin let out a fake cough after getting somewhat self-conscious by what he had read.
Suddenly, a text message flew out of the phone. A very business-like, no nonsense text message was written there.
‘It’s Yu Sae-Jung. When can we meet?’
He had received Yu Sae-Jung’s message she sent to his home because the mobile phone was synced with the landline there. There’s that, but why was she calling him already when it’d been only two hours since they parted ways?
Sae-Jin decided not to reply yet, and stepped out of the cafe.
< 08. Lycan the Mercenary (2) > Fin.