A Monster Who Levels Up
And now… the only thing left to do after all the weapons’ introductions and the subsequent critiquing were over with, was the announcement of the final result.
Kim Tae-Sahn was carrying a somewhat bitter smile, framed by a facial expression of a man who had already accepted his fate.
He had put in a lot of effort to win. Some people might think less of him, but he also had played up for the cameras as well. He wanted to make sure of his chances with the audience members, in the case where the quality of his output would be only slightly worse than that of the Orc’s.
He even used his father’s name to enter. That’s how much he wanted to win. As a son of Kim Tae-Baek, a defeat didn’t suit Kim Tae-Sahn at all.
However, he was up against a weapon that could freaking grow. A notion he’d never even heard of in his entire life, a concept so utterly revolutionary. Considering that, it’d be weird if he had won this tournament instead. If he had won, then all the goodwill he built with the public would all be blown away in a blink.
So, all he could do now was to just open-heartedly accept his defeat.
The Orc Blacksmith was at least twice more talented than he was.
Kim Tae-Sahn’s pride wouldn’t allow for anything higher than a ‘twice’ but still, he nodded his head and accepted his defeat today.
"And now…. The winner is!"
The emcee pointed towards the giant screen standing erect in the middle of the stage with a loud voice.
The moment the Orc Blacksmith told the story of his sword, there was no tension left in the finals. Well, the result was inevitable, after all.
That’s why, when the winner was declared, everyone present here could quietly accept it.
"The winner is, the Orc Blacksmith’s ‘Growing Broadsword’!!"
Confetti exploded and from the floor, flames rose up. The fireworks on the stage went off loudly, but seeing that the winner wasn’t up on the said stage ready to receive the trophy, it was rather… an odd thing to witness.
"….Well then. Now… yes. And now, we will hear the thoughts of the winner, the Orc Blacksmith. Can you… please give us a call?"
Although it was cumbersome, the producers couldn’t do anything about it since the Orc had requested for this type of arrangement beforehand.
Fortunately, the Blacksmith was quick to make his call.
"Sir, congratulations on your win!"
"Haha… Thank you. I am really grateful."
His voice sounded calm, but the happiness hidden beneath still managed to leak out a little.
"You could call this result an overwhelming victory, so how do you feel?"
"Mm… I wouldn’t call it overwhelming. The other weapons competing against mine, you could easily spy their creators’ dedication and hard work in them. The winner had to be chosen, but the value of their hard work is all equally high in my mind."
It was a simple and humble reply. The emcee was about to end it on that feel-good note, when Yu Jo-Hyung suddenly raised his hand.
"Ah, a member of the judging panel wishes to ask you a question. Will that be fine with you?"
"Yes, it’s fine."
Receiving the go-ahead, Yu Jo-Hyung did one of his fake coughs first.
"By any chance, the attribute you spoke of - the growth of the weapon - when that attribute is proven to be nothing more than a falsehood…. what will you do? You have stayed anonymous all this time and it
217;s hard to place our trust in you. Isn’t it possible that, in order to win the prize money, you are lying right now?"
"Yes, that is possible."
Although it was a pointed attack loaded with hostility, the Orc Blacksmith still calmly replied.
"And that’s why I shall not ask for the prize money, nor for my weapon’s, until its new owner can unequivocally prove that it is indeed, real."
It was an assured answer that cut off all suspicions. Yu Jo-Hyung was still not satisfied, but since there was nothing he could retort against, he had to concede here.
"Oh, wait. Then, can I ask you something as well?"
This time, it was Kim Yu-Rin.
"Yes, of course."
"Are you planning to craft more weapons and sell them from now on? If so, then, what are your plans on the circulation of your goods?"
She asked short and simple questions, but as a person sitting on a high position in her Knights Order, they were of incredibly importance.
"Yes, I am planning on it. However, as for the circulation…. I’ll have to think about it first. I actually believe that, instead of making weapons and waiting for the right people to show up, a weapon should be crafted to match the individuals instead."
As soon as she heard that, she could not hide her shock and licked her lips, salivating. Almost all the Knights present here was doing the exact same thing as her.
Most well known blacksmiths, whether that be an artisan or a master, first crafted their weapons and then received the potential owner candidates for them. Hell, some rumours even said that one or two Knights were bribing the blacksmiths in order to acquire the weapons.
This was partly because there was ego involved, but also mostly because, it was indescribably difficult to tailor-make a weapon to suit its user. As for the ego bit, blacksmiths were the type of people that would destroy a half-year of their own hard work if it was not to their liking - so, to make something that followed the tastes of others were a bit….
"T, that’s great. Say, would you like to be my friend?"
These sincere words belonged to Kim Yu-Rin and she was dead serious about her intentions. But the audience members and filming crew thought it was a humorous joke and they all burst out into a laughter.
Staring at them with a confused expression, Kim Yu-Rin was about to open her mouth to say she wasn’t kidding, but before that, she got cut off by the loud shout from an audience member.
Since there was no mic near this person, the voice ended up being small, but when hearing it, one could tell it was about the hot new story regarding the Society, The Monster.
"Ah, just now, that person asked a question even I was curious about. By any chance, do you know of the Society, The Monster? The one Mister Goblin the Alchemist had joined."
"…Yes, I’ve heard of them."
The emcee asked without too much thought. Since the rumour was treated as completely groundless, his voice lacked much sincerity. Instead, a small amount of lightheartedness found its way in there.
"Since both you and him use a similar naming concept, people are wondering if you are planning to join this Society as well. What are your thoughts regarding this matter?"
"Is that so? Hmm…"
Unexpectedly, the Orc Blacksmith didn’t answer right away. At this sudden delay in answer, even those who dismissed the rumour off-handedly had to wait with bated breaths and concentrate.
The Orc allowed the expectations to bubble on for another thirty seconds, until he finally chuckled and made his reply.
"It might be interesting to join them after all. If I do decide to join, then anyone wishing to purchase my wares should send their inquiries to the Society, The Monster. If there’s nothing else, then, please excuse me."
The call from the blacksmith ended with the words that said there was a possibility. And the entire lecture hall became deathly silent right after.
Well, it was a fresh shock to the system, after all.
Sae-Jin hurriedly checked online all the articles and the reactions of the public that were uploaded in the blink of an eye.
He was exhausted, but still, he found it fun to sift through the stuff put up by the shocked media and the public.
‘The appearance of a Treasure-quality weapon.’
‘A growth-type weapon: is it authentic?’
‘A weapon that follows its master; who will be its new owner?’
‘The Orc Blacksmith presents a new paradigm shift.’
These were all rather extremely shameless clickbait-y headlines, but undoubtedly, they still held some strange persuasive power to make people click on them regardless.
However, after some point in time had passed, articles about the weapon got buried in another topic altogether. And that topic was… The Orc Blacksmith joining The Monster.
The reactions were explosive. It was unknown how they found out his address, but reporters began showing up in front of Kim Sae-Jin’s house.
"Don’t worry about it. I’ve sent people over. They will sort out the mess."
"Mm. Thanks, for everything."
He was getting sick and tired of journalists camping outside his house and knock on his door every twenty minutes or so - then, Yu Sae-Jung called him with great timing.
As expected of the Dawn Knights Order, just like she mentioned, the bodyguards arrived in less than three minutes and swept the annoying reporters away.
"But you also saw the programme, right? Is it true that the Orc Blacksmith is joining our Society?"
"Oh, that? Uh, that is…. actually, the Goblin Alchemist said that he knew the Orc Blacksmith personally. So there is a connection, right, I’m not sure yet. I need to ask first."
Once the lie started, it could not be stopped anymore; and the more he lied, the more comfortable he felt about it. And when he thought about seeing all those shocked faces… well, wasn’t this a slightly rotten habit he was developing here?
"R, really? If he really joins the Society later on, can I ask him for a favour?"
"Well, why not? As long as there’s enough compensation for it, that is."
"I’ve more than enough money for that purpose."
"….Of course, you do."
Their topic of conversation was the Orc Blacksmith. She yapped on and on about how she would be the new owner of the sword that could grow stronger.
"Oh, and Oppa, Can we have a meal together later on? Miss Kim Yu-Rin asked me if we could eat together sometime…"
Out of the blue, Yu Sae-Jung changed the topic with a slightly excited voice.
"Mm? Me too?"
"Y, yes. Oppa, too…"
Her reply sounded as if she was slightly unhappy about something. Maybe she wanted to enjoy a meal together with Kim Yu-Rin all by herself or some such.
"Is it okay for me to go?"
"Well, yes. Miss Kim Yu-Rin specifically said, ‘with Mister Kim Sae-Jin, too’ so…. Uh, I’ll just inform her that Sae-Jin Oppa is just too busy and we will have to eat without you. I’m sure she will understand!!"
Her voice sounded rather energetic as she said these words. So naturally, he felt quite mischievous and wanted to pull a prank on her.
"Ah, is that so? It’s fine. I can make it."
A sudden bout of eerie silence descended on the line. Kim Sae-Jin worked very hard to restrain the laughter that was threatening to leak out and continued to speak.
"When will it be?"
"…Next week Monday."
Sae-Jung spat out unhappily.
"Got it. Well, see you then."
He replied matter of factly and ended the call.
Kim Sae-Jin in the Ebony Wolf Form suddenly opened his eyes. His golden eyes gleamed brightly.
An indescribable aura was surrounding his body. As it gave off the serious case of an odious sensation, he quickly assumed the Human Form.
He glanced at the clock. It was now 9 AM. He went to bed at 1 AM, so he had a normal sleep. then.
Some parts of his body, here and there, were aching - especially his joints and his nails, they were in dull pain. As if, there were bruises from receiving impacts.
"…What is going on?"
Sae-Jin tilted his head slightly, but didn’t worry about it anymore. He just went downstairs to the basement and drank a vial of low Mid grade recovery potion instead. The aches and pain in his joints dissipated in an instant.
Climbing back upstairs while feeling satisfied, he lay down on the couch and switched the TV on.
The first item on the 9 o’clock morning news was about the Orc Blacksmith. Smiling contentedly, he listened to the news anchor’s voice.
– The public, Knights Orders and the leaders of financial and political world have all agreed that the new master craftsman who can represent the country will be born and have expressed their growing excitement…
As he heard the anchor’s unbridled praises, he could reaffirm the fevered reception and the excitement of the public at large he read online yesterday.
And in this bliss, he slowly sank into a siesta. His body felt strangely fatigued.
When he fell deep into the slumber…
The news coverage changed suddenly.
It was a breaking news.
– …!! Oh, we have a breaking news. At three o’clock this morning, a crime of murder has been committed in the area of Hyeongseong in Gwangwon Province. The evidence found in the victim’s house and the unnatural state of the body prompted the investigators to speed up the autopsy, and as a result, the identity of the victim is now known as a Vampire. Currently, the investigators are assuming that this is the work of the Mercenary, Lycan…
< 11. The Assimilation (4) > Fin.