A Monster Who Levels Up
For the following week after the programme had aired, Sae-Jin was overwhelmed with requests to join the Society.
The moment he approached the Monster field, people stuck onto him like glue.
And the identities of each and every one of these folks were just incredible. All of them were some kind of big shots in their chosen field of profession - Mid Tier Knights, upper Mid Tiers, B rank Wizards, etc, etc…
When he refused, there were one or two high-nosed snobs glaring at him with eyes that said, how dare a lowly you refuse me?! But well, that was understandable as they all had status out in the society.
However, Kim Sae-Jin refused them all. He didn’t want to admit those folks with intentions all too clear to see, and muddy the waters of his own Society like that.
Yu Sae-Jung was the same in this regard. But she had her bodyguards to prevent any trouble approaching her beforehand, so she had encountered far less trouble compared to what Sae-Jin had to go through.
Oh, and also, totally out of the blue, he received a lot of requests for investments. Not only from the Knights Orders, but Wizard Towers and private corporations, as well as even from certain politicians.
Some of them strangely went as far as to threaten him with if you don’t take this money, things will become ve~ry difficult for you down the line, capiche? (TL: no, the author didn’t use that word. I just wrangled it in there, cuz, you know, sounds about right.)
Of course, Sae-Jin still refused all of them.
However - there was this one thing that he could not refuse outright as his instincts stopped him from doing so.
And that was making an appearance on TV.
The idea came from the producer of the programme, The Qualities of a Knight, who packaged the scenes of the real Knights hunting Monsters as entertainment and created a huge hit show in the process.
Sae-Jin was unable to cleanly refuse the guy, as not only the programme itself had been a big ratings draw, but as a child watching TV with his mother, he did hold a secret yearning to appear on it. So, he just told the producer guy that he’d think about it and left it there like that.
And now, it was a late afternoon as the sun began to slowly set in the West. Today was also the promised day for the dinner with Kim Yu-Rin, too. Sae-Jin was waiting for Yu Sae-Jung in front of his house after she said she’d come and fetch him.
He was feeling a bit nervous as the memories of the day he had rescued Kim Yu-Rin continued to drift in and out of his head.
So, he tried to distract himself by playing with his phone when, from the distance, a shiny and very black limo glided towards his position.
‘…Could that be hers?’
Sae-Jin fell into a slight dilemma. If he was being escorted to a high-class party, sure, but since it was just a nice little dinner, such a lengthy limo seemed a bit overkill to him. Wouldn’t such a thing become cumbersome, instead?
Unfortunately, the limo did stop in front of Sae-Jin.
As Sae-Jin stood there and blankly stared at the car, the window for the backseat slid down and the face of Yu Sae-Jung peeped out from the opening.
"What are you doing, Oppa? Get in."
"…Oh. Yeah, sure…"
With a reluctant reply, he opened the back door and climbed inside.
The interior was even more spectacular. The size in here felt like it would not lose o
ut to his old one room apartment. Even the seats were soft and fluffy, as if he was parking his butt over a cloud or something.
"…This is all really amazing. Is this all thanks to the ‘Magic engineering’ thing?"
Sae-Jin spoke as he poked at the seat cushions.
She replied in a relaxed manner and leaned against the backrest. But Sae-Jin couldn’t do that. So, he just twisted his body around like a slightly uncomfortable shrimp.
"By the way, what’s that?"
Pretending to not know, he pointed at a box laying securely on Sae-Jung’s lap. She carried a very proud expression as she opened the box.
"It’s the ‘Growing Broadsword’, you see. It will serve as my main weapon from now on. And Mister Orc the Blacksmith even wrote me a letter as well."
He did write a letter for Yu Sae-Jung. He asked her to use the sword well. He also added that, when his skills improved, he’d also take care of maintaining the weapon in the future as well.
She had a very satisfied expression, so he decided to feel satisfied as well.
The venue was a high-class restaurant located near the Raven Knights Order. Sae-Jin had never ever set foot in an eatery where one could not enter without an invitation before in his life.
He felt a little, no, make that a lot, pressured by this. Such a luxurious atmosphere didn’t suit him one bit.
He saw a guy wearing a formal attire that could easily have cost more than a few thousand bucks, and a woman wearing a super-fancy dress. Among all the diners here, he spotted famous politicians, Knights, as well as celebrities he could recognise just by looking at their faces.
From the tops of their heads to the tips of their toes, from the clothes they wore and their mannerisms - him and this whole space was at perfect odds with one another.
Of course Sae-Jin would feel depressed.
"Lady Yu Sae-Jung and Sir Kim Sae-Jin, your reservations have been confirmed."
Two of them followed the professional guidance of the waiter and sat down in front of a huge table.
"Oppa, why do you keep looking around like that?"
Yu Sae-Jung stopped browsing the menu and asked him, looking somewhat puzzled.
"…They are staring at us."
He was already feeling uncomfortable, and now all these famous people were looking over here. He so wanted to rip off the cheap chequered shirt he was wearing right this instant.
"Mm, you’re right. It’s probably because of the Society, I think? Since even the Orc Blacksmith has joined us… Well, I guess it can’t be helped, really."
On another side note, Yu Sae-Jung seemed very much moved by the letter Kim Sae-Jin sent along with the Broadsword, and had become a die-hard fan of the Orc Blacksmith. Of course, it was somewhat pitiable that she had no idea the very blacksmith was sitting right in front of her at this moment.
"By the way, will Sir Blacksmith really join our Society?"
And before he knew it, the way she called the Society had changed to a more agreeable our Society. Sae-Jin smiled slightly.
"Not sure yet. But I think I can get in touch with him."
He answered her in a nonchalant manner. Of course he could get in touch with himself. Wasn’t that the most obvious thing in the world? Maybe it was just too obvious and that could be a problem, but still.
"Wah… Can I, can I get in touch with him too?"
"Well, that’s, uh… oh, by the way, surely you can find out the identity if you wanted to, can’t you?"
Sae-Jin asked her as if there was some doubt there.
If it was the Dawn’s information network, they should be able to uncover the identities of both the Goblin Alchemist as well as the Orc Blacksmith. After all, there would inevitably be a paper trail left somewhere.
No, for the people of Dawn, it would be far more harder to accept the truth that all three individuals happened to be a single person - Kim Sae-Jin.
"That’s true, but I think that’s no different from slicing the belly of the goose that lays the golden eggs. It’d be our loss if the potential relationship sours because we ignored his wishes to remain anonymous."
That was a wonderful answer. He quickly nodded his head.
But then, all of a sudden, Yu Sae-Jung seemed to have remembered something - she opened her eyes real wide and pushed her upper body real close.
"Ah, right! When you get to speak to the Blacksmith, you must pass on this message. Us at Dawn are deliberately protecting the identity of the Blacksmith as we speak. There are other Knight Orders and corporations that don’t think the same as us out there."
"…Uh, sure thing. Got it."
After finishing her business, she slowly leaned back against her chair.
Sae-Jin dumbly stared at her. As they became more friendly, she felt like a different person from the initial impressions.
There was still that side of being more mature than her age, but without a doubt, there also existed the side that was cheerful and overflowing with emotions, just like any other girls her age. It was a refreshingly charming side, for sure.
However, she was still underage, though.
"…Ah! She’s here!"
Yu Sae-Jung pointed behind his back and whispered loudly. Kim Sae-Jin also turned his head to look.
There she was, Kim Yu-Rin - wearing a coat-style armour.
Just like how Sae-Jin had acted earlier, she too seemed flustered as she went past the focused stares to arrive at the table.
"H, hello there!"
Yu Sae-Jung abruptly stood up first.
"Oh, hello there. Ah, the thing is… I came here straight after finishing up work so I couldn’t find the chance to change my clothes."
Kim Yu-Rin spoke apologetically as she sat down next to Yu Sae-Jung.
"How do you do, I’m Kim Sae-Jung."
"Hello. I’ve heard many good things about you. It’s a pleasure."
After sharing a light greeting with Sae-Jin, Kim Yu-Rin browsed the menu before her jaw magnificently hit the floor.
"Uh…. They are all quite expensive, aren’t they?"
That was totally unexpected from the point of view for the other two present here. After all, Kim Yu-Rin was a Highest Tier Knight employed by the country, so her annual salary must have been at least $900 grand…
"Ah, actually, I moved house recently, and I spent a bit of money buying an equipment, so…"
"I, it’s totally fine! My grandfather owns this restaurant, so it’s all free."
Yu Sae-Jung proudly pounded her chest as she spoke, and that made Kim Yu-Rin smile brightly as well.
And then, the three of them conversed in a slightly awkward atmosphere until their food arrived.
The topics of the conversation were varied. The Goblin Alchemist, the Orc Blacksmith, the large scale incidents in China and the USA involving the continuous Fissure eruptions, the future and what it had in store for them; and finally…
"Ah, right. Will the two monsters really join your Society, The Monster?"
"Yes. Nowadays people are calling the two by that term. Well, I believe it’s actually a term of reverence as both of them demonstrated absolutely overwhelming skills in their chosen fields."
After hearing her serious voice, anyone could tell that this was the topic she wanted to discuss from the very beginning.
"Well, really… I’m not too sure. The Goblin did say he was on friendly terms with the Orc…"
Sae-Jin vaguely answered and quickly assumed a smile as he tried to speak in a sly, somewhat shameless tone.
"You seem to have a lot of interest in this matter, though? If that’s so, would you like to join our Society as well? Then, it should be more than possible to bridge the two connections…"
"Wah, that is an excellent idea!!!"
Suddenly, Yu Sae-Jung shouted out at the top of her lungs.
…And it was way too damn loud. Loud enough to pull all the attention of the surroundings to here.
‘What’s the heck is she doing?!’
He became embarrassed slightly and glared at Yu Sae-Jung.
Indeed, her current state was a mess. Her face was completely flustered, there were numerous large sweat drops dotting her forehead, and her entire demeanor seemed like as if she’d faint at any given moment.
Sighing out grandly, Sae-Jin fished out a handkerchief and dabbed all the sweat off her forehead.
"…Ah, oh, thanks…"
Finally calming down, she took several deep breaths and thanked him.
Kim Yu-Rin blankly watched this scene with an unreadable expression before opening her mouth once more.
"That… I’m grateful for the invitation. To be offered an opportunity to join the hottest Society right now… But my situation is a little bit complicated at the moment. However, I’ll definitely think about it."
Yu-Rin really wanted to join, of course - but she couldn’t as she was now. As a matter of principle, an Order Master of a government-run Knights Order could not join any Societies. And she was a person who’d be following in her father’s footsteps and become the next Master.
There might be three years left until that, but still, she figured it would instead only inconvenience the Society’s members if she joined for that limited amount of time.
"I understand. Please, give it a careful consi…"
It was then.
*SFX for things vibrating*
Out of the blue, the floor vibrated.
Sae-Jin was wondering if there was an earthquake, but soon, he could see that was not the case from the view through windows of the restaurant.
He could view down to the Han River from this restaurant and he saw it - a huge shape rising slowly from the middle of the river’s surface.
With a deeply astonished expression, Kim Yu-Rin shot up from her seat.
It was a Leviathan.
A gigantic sea Monster that made the Han River seem cramped; its body like that of a snake and possessing a head similar to that of a dragon, it was sometimes referred to as the ‘Imugi of Oceans’ - and more importantly, it was a Monster that should not have existed in this river.
< 12. A Development that’s not a progress. (1) > Fin.
(TL: an Imugi is, according to the ever-reliable Wikipedia, a proto-dragon found in Korean folklore. It resembles a giant snake, and after surviving a thousand years it can become a full-fledged dragon. There are various versions of folk tales, all describing different ways for the creature to become a true dragon.)
(TL: Okay, people, I'll be experimenting with something here. As I've no idea how to manipulate the "sponsor bar/graph" by the index page, so instead of tearing my hair out trying to figure that one out, I'll post the amount needed to meet the goal for the extra chapters at the end of every chap posted.)
(The amount needed for this week's 2nd extra chapter: $16.)