A Monster Who Levels Up
– Wow, what is that flower pattern? Why is it visible past the armours? Is it because her clothing-type armour is thin?
– It’s irritatingly pretty. Look how the camera is deliberately shooting only her back.
The Knights Duel was so popular, it was shown live on both the TV as well as on the internet; Sae-Jin was inclined towards the internet broadcast as he could check out the reactions in real time.
Right now, the audience was paying far more attention towards the blue flower pattern that had emerged above the thin but strong armour, rather than on the battle itself.
But that was just a momentary distraction. All those things that had very little to do with the fight itself were forgotten the very next moment.
*SFX for feet exploding off the ground*
The first one to make her move was Jung Eun-Ji from the Goryeo Knights Order. She kicked the ground hard and rushed towards Yu Sae-Jung. A speed as fast as a lightning, she arrived at the spot where Sae-Jung was standing and slashed her sword with all her might.
And the sword drawing an oblique line shot straight at her target’s heart with a pinpoint accuracy.
An ear-splitting noise resounded in the air, and from the blades in contact with each other, harsh sparks exploded out.
And from this single encounter, Jung Eun-Ji who had attacked first, definitely understood the difference between them.
One, the difference in weapons. And two, the difference in their Mana.
Eun-Ji could only bit down hard on her teeth. The gap in the quality of their equipment could be accounted for, somehow. After all, that girl was holding a weapon that every Knight in this place was envious of - the Orc Blacksmith’s greatest work yet. But right now, there was another difference between them.
She couldn’t understand why her Mana was losing out to Yu Sae-Jung’s. There hadn’t been such a disparity between them only a week ago.
So, how come? And how did she? How could this girl experience such an explosive growth during that short window of time?
Jung Eun-Ji had to take a big step backwards. She hated to admit it, but there was no hope for her in a frontal assault. She had to search for an opening…
It was right then.
Yu Sae-Jung’s aura went a sudden change. Mana that had pooled around the blade’s edge, let out a chilly blue light and her slightly bent-forward body exploded outward like a loaded spring.
Jung Eun-Ji raised her sword to resist against the terrifying onslaught, but the ultra-quick sword slash simply destroyed her armour like tofu.
The duel ended so quickly, it might as well be called anti-climatic. Even the referee was lost for words, and on the entire indoor arena thick silence descended down.
Two strikes. No, if one was to think of the first sword clash was nothing more than to feel out the opponent, then this duel had ended in a single strike. Such an absolute result was unthinkable for a duel between Knights of the same Tier.
But just who was Jung Eun-Ji?
Although she was older by two years, wasn’t Jung Eun-Ji an outstanding Knight, someone who was comparable to Yu Sae-Jung in terms of talent and the looks department? And taking the hint from the relationship between the Dawn and the Goryeo, the media called her the rival to Yu Sae-Jung, even.
And more importantly, such a massive gap like this did not exist during the last week’s trial duels…
"…Winner, Yu Sae-Jung!!"
Remembering his role again, the referee hurriedly shouted out the result.
"…How is it possible?"
With a hollow expression, Jung Eun-Ji muttered out dazedly.
The limit one had to surmount in order to climb up higher, an opponent that sometimes seemed just impossible to overcome - Knigh
ts called that, the wall.
And Eun-Ji had felt that wall right now. In just one week, her opponent had changed in such a shocking manner.
"Just wait a…"
Jung Eun-Ji turned her crazed eyes towards Yu Sae-Jung.
But already, Sae-Jung had disinterestedly turned her back on her, and was walking towards the exit for the victors - as if she didn’t even place Eun-Ji in her eyes. She didn’t even stop to shake the hand of the defeated.
At the sight of her mannerless appearance that showed total disrespect, Jung Eun-Ji clenched both of her fists tightly and gritted her teeth.
Yu Sae-Jung, meanwhile, had to deal with the mic of a reporter shoved into her face the moment she entered the exit. It was nominally an interview for the victor. She didn’t really like doing this, but still, knew enough not to refuse one outright during a live broadcast.
"What is the real identity of the tattoo on your back? The whole world is dying to know."
The reporter made a quick and simple congratulatory greeting, and then immediately brought up the matter about her tattoo. Since she already heard from Sae-Jin that the tattoo would become visible through the clothing once she utilised her Mana, Yu Sae-Jung could nonchalantly continue on with the interview.
"I’ll reveal the truth at a later date. It’s not something I can arbitrarily decide to share on my own. I apologise."
"Eh? Oh…. Yes, well."
At Yu Sae-Jung’s dignified answer, the reporter also chose not to query her further on this topic and moved onto other questions. And she replied in the manner dictated by the Dawn Knights Order’s standard PR guidebook.
After the Knights Duel had ended. Considering Kim Sae-Jin’s position, Yu Sae-Jung did her best to beat around the bush whenever the topic of her tattoo came up.
However, this world was a wide one which happened to be filled with discerning experts as well.
The public guessed that the tattoo causing the unexplainable situation was some type of magic, and that prompted Wizards to step forward with their theories.
Wizards were the kind of people whose obsession for knowledge bordered on sheer lunacy. And with their incredibly diligent, fervid investigation, the truth behind the tattoo was revealed just after one day had passed.
The first one to break the news was the Tower Lord of the Gangwon Province’s Wizard Tower, a Wizard ranked A, Yun No-Hahn who had called for a press conference.
"There is Mana contained within this tattoo. It’s an innovative device to increase the overall Mana reserve of its owner. However, the method to utilise this is still a mystery. In order to create this tattoo, items with Mana in them such as Mana Stones need to be liquified first, but that process requires intense heat. However, such heat scatters Mana away, so the effects would become completely negligible." (Yun No-Hahn)
"In other words, are you saying that as long as one has the necessary ingredients, tattoos similar to what Yu Sae-Jung has can be recreated?" (Reporter)
"No, that is incorrect. There won’t be any effects of any kind simply by tattooing oneself with liquified Mana. No, you run the risk of facing side effects, instead. The reason for that is, it’s impossible to contain the liquified Mana within a human body just by tattooing…" (Yun No-Hahn)
And when the contents of this press conference spread among the populace of Knights and Wizards, a riot occurred. It was understandable in a way, as Mana was their most important source of power which also happened to be the most difficult to raise as well.
So, emboldened by the curiosity of the public and media, they demanded the truth from the Dawn Corporation, the Dawn Knights Order, and more specifically, from Yu Sae-Jung herself.
However, the three in question resolutely remained silent over the matter. In rage, Knights and Wizards began casting the figurative stones at their directions.
– "Is it really okay to tell them?"
That’s why, Sae-Jin told her to say that his Trait was responsible for this ruckus.
He decided to deceive them by saying that he could only do it once a month. He figured that, although the clingy types would still cling to him to make his life inconvenient, there should be considerable benefit for himself once the truth came out.
– "Okay, I understand. Ah, and by the way, Sae-Jin Oppa. I went ahead and decided on the compensation for this tattoo on my own… you are not unhappy, right?"
"Huh? A compensation?"
He wondered about that briefly, but in reality, there was no need.
A compensation from the Dawn. He had no reason to refuse. And if a rumour of him doing a tattoo for free spread around somehow, then without a doubt, people would hound him like crazy.
"It’s fine. I’m actually happier that way. So, what is it?"
– "Oh, that, well… You still haven’t rented out the office for the Society yet, right? There’s an extra building in Gangwon Province we own, so I shall give it to you. Of course, the gift tax as well as other taxes that might arise later will be taken care of by the Dawn as well."
Sae-Jin became utterly speechless. A goddamned building…. He almost wondered out aloud if that building was the one he had seen before. A compensation for a tattoo was a building - it might have seemed a bit extravagant, but he chose to think of it as how much Yu Sae-Jung valued Mana.
"Uh? Oh, thank you. I am grateful… but isn’t it too generous for me?"
– "No, no. It’s still too cheap, you know. And, um…"
On the other side of the line, Yu Sae-Jung swallowed down the rest of her words.
There was certainly a bit of selfish reason for doing this.
If she handed over an entire building as a price for that tattoo, then that would set the precedence on the pricing from now on. If so, then most regular Knights wouldn’t even dare to make a request for a tattoo.
She was aiming precisely for this.
– "Ah, it’s nothing. Don’t worry. It’s just that… I am really thankful, Oppa. Really, the day I met you Oppa… wasn’t the fate trying to aid me?"
"…I’m gonna hang up now."
– "Eh? Why? Why?"
Since he had no such hobby of listening to cringe-worthy lines suddenly being read out in an angelic voice, he decidedly ended the call.
"Fuu. Okay, let’s do it."
And then, he went back to the work he was doing just now.
In his hands, there was a rag doll. It was the accidental mascot of his Society, the little ‘Athany’. The origin of the name was rather obvious, if one thought about it - from the word Leviathan, of course.
Whatever the case may have been, the reason why he was fooling around with this doll was because he had gotten an inspiration after witnessing the surprising popularity of the doll placed in the Yoseon Alchemy House.
He wanted to turn this doll into an artifact.
The only attributes he endowed to the Athany dolls were to gather the attention of people and let out a pleasing scent, and that was it.
Even with only those two, it’d be enough to treat the dolls as a merchandise, but the problem here was with them not being the type that could be manufactured in high numbers.
And if he wanted to sell the doll depending solely on the attributes imbued in it, then he had to make each and every one a really expensive luxury item that was sold in limited numbers.
Such a chain of thoughts eventually led to ‘artifacts’. Accessories just like necklaces, rings and bracelets with magical effects imbued within, the so-called magical items. Ruinously expensive products with low numbers available in the market thanks to their unique magical effects.
But it was difficult to ape the magic effects on those items just by relying on the attributes alone. Plus, as this Athany doll had to benefit the owner and not the ‘wearer’, the difficulty did indeed went through the roof of ridiculousness.
The answer Sae-Jin arrived at was to utilise the Magic Tattoos and the Orc’s Smithing Technique at the same time. This method became possible only after the Skill Proficiency Level for the Magic Tattoos had increased and as a result, he could inscribe tattoos on materials as well as on living people.
‘The very first thing to do is…’
He began inscribing the tattoo on the back of the doll with a white ink, to make sure it would not be spotted. The base ingredients used were a mid ranked Mana Crystal and a mid grade recovery potion; the effects from the two combined would be: Recovery of Mana and energy.
As of now, this doll of Athany would be able to recover its Mana and energy. But since a doll would be in possession of neither Mana nor energy, if he stopped here, then all his efforts until now would be in vain. He needed to go through one more step, the Orc’s Forging Technique.
Sae-Jin changed to the Orc Form and while holding the doll in his hands, activated the Smithing Technique.
The additional attribute he wanted to add on top of the Magic Tattoo was… ‘Spread around to the surrounding area’.
The doll of Athany became dyed in blue light before returning to normal.
Changing his Form back to Human, Sae-Jin quickly accessed its information window.
Applied attributes: Especially Adorable [B], Special Aroma [C]
Special Aroma: Within the radius of 60 metres, the aroma with the effects of energy and Mana recovery will be spread around uniformly.
"…I did it!!"
It was completed.
The value of this kind of a merchandise would be amazing as long as its effects were proven.
Its ability to recover spent Mana reminded one of the famed Mana Springs - and to build one of those, an astronomical sum of moolah was required to do so. Of course, he was not claiming that one Athany doll would work just as well as a real Mana Spring.
‘At least, I should ask someone.’
Now that the product was ready, the remaining work was to get its effects verified and register it in the patent office. So, Sae-Jin called the person who could take care of such work.
And in the following morning.
Waking up from all the chaos outside his house and still half submerged in the dream land, Sae-Jin opened the front door.
At the same time, countless eyes of Knights and Wizards converged on him.
As Sae-Jin stood there, totally dazed, they began moving their mouths first.
And well, he got to find out for the first time just how loud human voices could become, on this day.
< 14. The Menace (2) > Fin.
(TL: Thank you for all your suggestions. The sponsored chapters will land on Saturday and on Sunday. Please do look forward to it.)
(TL: Once more, thank you, generous donators.)
(TL: Oh, and one more thing, I am planning to make an announcement on the Sunday's extra chapters. It's mighty imperative that you guys and gals read it, so please, don't skip it when you see the TL note at the bottom of the chapter!! Thanks.)