A Monster Who Levels Up
In the low Mid Tier hunting ground of the Monster field.
Kim Sae-Jin and Yu Sae-Jung were hunting together under a rather nice atmosphere.
It had been just over an hour, but her Expanding Pocket was nearly full with the Monster remains.
"Ah. There has been an increase in the number of Monsters rampaging around in cities lately."
As if she had abruptly remembered it just now, Yu Sae-Jung opened her mouth as they continued to search for their next prey.
"Is that right?"
"Yeah. So, Knights Orders have begun in-depth investigations into the matter but a lot of the stuff must be of a sensitive nature. They’ve been all labelled top secret."
"Hmm. That is strange. Oh, another Ebony Wolf is hiding over there."
He pointed at a bush and spoke. Since it was an Ebony Wolf, he sort of felt empathy towards it, but well, naught he could do for it now. The rule of the strong preying on the weak was heartless and cruel, after all.
"Alright. I’m on it."
It was a surprising thing for a human to spot an Ebony Wolf but, Yu Sae-Jung was now more or less used to it - she just replied calmly and gathered Mana into her sword. From the expensive sword in her hand, raging Mana rose up, quickly forming into a refined blade.
Her Mana, compared to when Sae-Jin first met her, every facet of it had taken a qualitative leap forward - the density of it, the richness of its colour, etc. When he asked her how she did it, Yu Sae-Jung explained that she too possessed a Trait which made it possible for her to grow so quickly. Of course, she also chose not to tell him the details of her Trait as well.
With a loud shout, she kicked the ground and rushed forward. Her target was the Ebony Wolf hiding in the bushes.
*SFX for a blade slicing the air*
Her smooth horizontal swing sliced apart the tall grasses, and the Wolf hidden within issued a short whimper before expiring immediately. Sae-Jin lowered his head to mourn its passing without even realising it.
"Fut. What are you doing?"
After stuffing the remains of the Ebony Wolf into her Expanding Pocket, she approached him while leaking a smile.
"Oh, ah, it’s nothing."
He hastily made an excuse. Yu Sae-Jung tilted her head in slight confusion, before pulling out her phone in a hurry to check the time.
"Looks like I’ve got to go."
"Mm? It’s been only an hour, though?"
"I have to go to The Eden tomorrow for the rank advancement exam."
"Ah, is that right?"
The Eden was the name given to the tallest building in the skyscraper-dominated province of Gangwon. Often referred to as the holy land of the Knights, it was the place where the administrative work regarding all things Knight-related took place, such as the aforementioned rank advancement exam, as well as the education and training of the young, up-and-coming Knights.
"Well, since there’s still a bit of time left before my chauffeur arrives, why don’t we have a coffee while we wait?"
Sae-Jung smiled and made a suggestion.
He thought about this for a bit. Right now, it was 3:30 PM. It was still in the afternoon, and since he was planning to go on a solo hunt later on anyway, there didn’t seem to be a reason to be mindful of the time limit here.
So, he nodded his head.
"In that case, let’s go right away. I hear there’s a new coffee shop inside the Rest Stop called 'Dawn In Coffee'." (TL: the name of the
coffee shop is written in English in raw.)
"I’m okay with whatever. Dunno much about stuff like that anyways."
"Well, in that case, you’ll just have to follow me, then."
They turned around and headed back towards the Rest Stop.
As soon as they arrived, Yu Sae-Jung dragged Sae-Jin and entered the coffee shop. The ordering and paying were Yu Sae-Jung’s job. She expertly ordered at the counter and walked back to their table.
"When is the driver coming?"
At his query, Yu Sae-Jung delayed answering and checked on her phone first.
"30 minutes. Around 30 minutes."
Her eyes didn’t leave the liquid crystal display as she answered. And then, she went silent. Judging from the way how she kept on wetting her lips, she seemed to be a little bit tense.
Yu Sae-Jung was about to go on a week-long training camp from today in The Eden, the Holy Land of the Knights. Even though it was nearly impossible for an 18 year old to become a full Mid Tier Knight, she still had to continue attending several of these tests just for her inevitable rank advancement in the future.
"Mm… You nervous?"
She immediately shook her head at his question. However, her oddly quick answer only served to reinforce the notion of her being tense instead.
"Nope. Not at all. I mean, I’m not even expecting anything. Both my achievements and skills are still very far from being on the level of a Mid Tier anyway."
"…If you say so."
However, as she implied, her initial nervousness eased with the passage of time.
It seemed that, as they drank coffee and conversed, she could sense that her mind had gradually calmed down.
"You sure do have… a nice scent."
And 20 minutes had passed. The coffee had cooled down, and the topics of conversation had dried up. As Sae-Jin wordlessly checked on his phone, suddenly Yu Sae-Jung muttered out as if it was in passing.
"Oh, thanks. But I don’t use perfumes, though."
"I know. I haven’t heard of a perfume like that anyway."
Yu Sae-Jung stared at him and lightly grinned.
"But there’s something different about your scent. When I’m next to you, my mind inexplicably calms down. Honestly, until a short while ago, I was really nervous, you know? But when I keep on breathing in your scent…"
She stopped her words and carefully breathed in the air. Her demeanor was practised and careful, as if to impart the feeling that even the actions of sniffing the air could be an act of elegance itself.
"Really, it helps me to settle my mind. I’m sure you weren’t aware of it, though? Normally, a person supposedly doesn’t know of his own smell, so…"
"Oh…. yeah? Right. I didn’t know."
Honestly speaking, of course he knew already. It was all because of his Passive Skill born out of his Trait. The Scent of a Wolf was said to have special effects on the… opposite sex. It was likely that Yu Sae-Jung was subjected to this effect at the moment.
"But still, it’s quite faint, so if it’s not an enclosed space like this, it’s not easy to smell it properly. Especially out in the forest. The rank smell of blood and the Monsters are far too strong there."
"Is that the reason why you wanted to come here?"
"….Yep. That was one of the reasons."
As she spoke up to here and smiled, the phone placed on top of the table vibrated and issued a ring.
"Ah, looks like he’s arrived. I should get going now."
Yu Sae-Jung rose up from her seat, and Sae-Jin followed her.
"Mm. Do your best."
"Yeah, thank you. By the way…. later on when I need your help again, can I bother you for a quick favour?"
At her cutely-made request, Sae-Jin nodded his head while smiling.
At the same time, an alert went off.
►The Skill Level of the Scent of a Wolf has risen from C- to C.
– The strong odour of a wolf. Depending on the gender, race, individual taste and characteristics, varied positive effects will be applied.
– This skill will also remain active during the Human Form.
"Well, I shall go ahead first. And… please don’t greet me out. My father… has also come today."
Yu Sae-Jung spoke apologetically. But Sae-Jin nodded his head in agreement as if that was the most obvious thing in the world.
And right after seeing her depart with his own two eyes, he turned back towards the Monster field.
The real hunting was about to begin.
Kim Sae-Jin’s Trait continued to grow. He diligently hunted in the Mid Tier hunting ground and with the exception of a handful of Mana Stones he'd use for potion crafting, he swallowed them all.
However, as usual, the problem laid with the evolution. He just could not evolve no matter what.
No, he hadn’t had found it yet.
‘…A Goblin Witchdoctor.’ (TL: the author used the Hanja word for witchcraft and wrote " a witchcraft Goblin." Obviously that doesn’t sound right when TLed literally, so I changed it to a Witchdoctor.)
Kim Sae-Jin in the wolf beast form silently observed the distant Goblin village while lying hidden in the bush. He coincidentally discovered this sprawling village located by the mountain side. And it was fairly easy to discern the types of Goblins living in this village. He only had to take a look at those Sotdae-like wooden poles they were carrying.
(TL: a Sotdae is… uh, according to Wikipedia: a tall wooden pole or a stone pillar with a carved bird on top, built for the purpose of folk belief in Korea. It is commonly erected near the entrance of villages to ward off evil spirits as well as to represent villagers’ wishes for prosperity and well-being.)
Those carrying that pole and capable of using witchcraft, the Goblin Witchdoctors.
Even though outwardly they appeared to be a bunch of weaklings, all frail and small of stature, their notoriety was high enough to pierce the heavens.
Their bad reputation wasn’t simply the result of their fondness towards practising the deadly witchcraft. The thing was, one would find pretty much no loot in their villages after braving all those dangerous curses and conquering them. At least there was a chance of procuring potions when raiding a Goblin village specialising in medicine but well, there was no point in attacking a village full of Witchdoctors as that kind of action pretty much signified the old adage of "High Risk, Low Return."
However - that was applicable for those who saw the Monsters in monetary values only.
‘Back then, I evolved after killing a Goblin.’
In all honesty, it was a bit hard to call that an evolution for his Goblin Form. It was more like him absorbing knowledge and going through an awakening of sorts.
*SFX for swallowing saliva*
Sae-Jin unconsciously swallowed his saliva. A Goblin Witchdoctor. It was an opponent that the current him would find hard to deal with. Of course, if it was a one on one situation, that wouldn’t be a problem but unfortunately, life wasn’t so considerate towards his feelings.
‘I need to kill an Elite, or something stronger.’
He understood that killing a regular Goblin was a waste of time. Just like that time, he needed to kill an Elite Goblin, the one with lots of tattoos on its body.
Using the eyes of a Wolf, his gaze pierced further and deeper into the village.
The previously-limited scope of his sight expanded gradually. The eyesight that didn’t know the meaning of the physical limitation continued to expand until he finally spotted a suitable Goblin.
It was located inside the deepest parts of the village; and it was noticeable due to it performing some kind of a ritual. It also wore a headgear signifying its position as a Chieftain, its body playing host to numerous tattoos.
That was the one.
The wolf’s savage lust for battle spread out from his beastly heart and made his body tremble slightly.
He briefly thought about the ways to kill that Goblin. But well, it was actually quite simple, really.
He’d dash past the mountain side, bite the Goblin Chieftain to death, and urgently hoof it outta there.
From his current position to where the Goblin was, using the absolute speed of this beast form, it’d only take 10 seconds.
However, he thought there was something slightly lacking with this plan. Goblins’ speed in firing off the witchcraft magic was deceptively fast. If he wanted to avoid getting cursed to death, then he had to be faster.
He accessed the small pouch hanging on his wrist and pulled out a small bottle of potion. It was a low Mid Tier ranked potion called ‘A Goblin’s Courage’, capable of boosting his physical stats temporarily.
The bottle was as small as a speck of dust within the huge palm of the beast, which made it difficult to pop open the lid. So, he just swallowed whole the bottle down his throat.
The effects of the potion appeared quickly. His muscles expanded and his body felt hot.
Sae-Jin crouched and took on the starting pose of a sprinter.
And finally, he activated the last piece of the doping procedure.
[The skill ‘Warrior of Reversal’ has been activated. All Stats rise temporarily.]
Normally, the skill Warrior of Reversal aided with the durability and strength, as well as resistance to pain; it had little to do with increasing speed. But for him, he needed that increase in durability and pain resistance right now.
The wolf’s - the beast’s - heart could freely control the circulation of blood. If he could momentarily increase the rate of blood flow, then he’d be able to display significant burst of overwhelming power.
"*SFX for beast growling*"
The blood in his body rapidly circulated like a boiling liquid. As the sensation of his body ready to blow up from the churning heat spread throughout, he felt the unexplainable feeling of the perceivable time slowing down to a crawl.
He could clearly see the blowing winds, and these winds rustling the blades of grass.
All his preparations were now complete.
Right away, he kicked the ground, hard.
The illusion of the world twisting apart occurred. At the incredible pressure created by his speed, the atmosphere was being compressed ruthlessly, and every time he took a step, the ground below violently caved in.
And when he gained enough speed, he then activated the Whirlwind Dash.
His speed broke past the speed of sound.
Moving so fast that not even leaving behind an afterimage, the beast was like a calamitous land-bound lightning strike.
In the blink of an eye that didn’t even last two seconds, Sae-Jin arrived in front of the Goblin Chieftain. And before the expression on the Goblin’s face had the time to change, the wolf’s savage fangs shot out towards its neck.
Sae-Jin started running again, with the Goblin trapped between his jaws. He obviously didn’t want to get cursed by dawdling around there.
►[Complete: Tradition of Goblins, Inheritance of Memories.]
– The host has absorbed the blood of the Goblin Witchdoctor (leader type). Now, the host can use ‘Goblin Chieftain’s Witchcraft’. (The witchcraft that can be used will be dependent on the Stat, Magic Strength.)
►’Spiritualisation’ [Skill Proficiency Level: F]
– Matter can be turned into spirit forms and stored inside the host’s body.
– When a matter is stored in the host’s body as a spirit, 30% of the matter’s original characteristics will be granted to the host.
►’The Curse of Binding.’ [Skill Proficiency Level: F]
– By sacrificing his own blood, the host can restrain a target.
►’Magic Tattoos’ [Skill Proficiency Level: F]
– The host can use liquids from potions, blood of the others or even liquified Mana to inscribe Magic Tattoos on his or other’s body.
– The Magic Tattoos will show differing effects depending on the base ingredients used.
These messages popped up. Kim Sae-Jin ran and ran while carrying a thick smile on his face.
The Spiritualisation - what a great skill he earned just now. No, should it be called witchcraft, instead?
Whatever the case may have been, he was more than satisfied. To turn things into spirits and store them in his body which would in turn grant him increased stats - didn’t that mean a new way to utilise his equipment from now on had appeared?
On top of that, the Magic Tattoos also had seemingly no limit as to how it could be used in the future.
"…*SFX for a beast growling*"
Sae-Jin quickly arrived at the banks of a stream with very little trace of human activity and lowered the dead Goblin down in order to search for the loot.
However…. his left arm wouldn’t move.
Confused, he took a look at his left arm.
And from his arm, a black aura was rising up like a steam. It was a curse.
The f*cking Goblin still managed to curse him in that short amount of time.
Today, he got to engrave it onto his bones why the countless Knights and Hunters did their best to avoid confronting the Goblin Witchdoctors.
< 10. The Quickening (1) > Fin.