A Monster Who Levels Up
Inside the personal office of the Highest Tier Knight Kim Yu-Rin, located in the Raven Knights Order’s HQ.
"I’ve told you many times already, haven’t I? He’s not answering the phone."
As if she was getting really frustrated, Yu-Rin pounded her chest while complaining to a certain guy.
About ten minutes ago, as she was finishing up her paperwork, Chae Young-Ho suddenly barged into her office.
And as usual, he proceeded to advise and lecture her for the next five minutes - then, he abruptly began asking about Kim Sae-Jin. She already told this man yesterday that she could not reach him by phone, yet like a blood-sucking leech he was tenaciously questioning her - going so far as to question whether she was lying to him or not.
"Hu-uh. Just how poorly do you take care of your personal connections that you manage to severe one after only a single dinner?"
He ended up accepting her words as truth after seeing her frustrated expression that verged on tears. But rather than going away, he began to take issues with her interpersonal skills instead.
"What do you mean by ‘severe’?! Everything was going alrig…."
Yu-Rin was about to fire back, when one thought entered her mind inexplicably.
During the dinner, she identified Kim Sae-Jin as a prideful person, and that he also had a lot of pride in his Society, The Monster.
But she refused him outright when he made the suggestion of her joining the Society. Since she had legitimate reasons for the refusal, they just chuckled and let it slide, but…
‘Could that be it?’
"I knew it. Seems like there was something, after all. Of all people, you just had to go and make a mistake with a person who’s considered as very important right now… I repeatedly said this to you, didn’t I? You and your father just lack the ability to treat other people properly. I should have…"
"I said, it was not like that!"
Yu-Rin slammed down on her desk when Chae Young-Ho began mentioning her father with a smug, know-it-all face. Slightly intimidated by her outburst, his body trembled imperceptibly.
"Fuu. You just wait and see."
Still fuming, Yu-Rin pulled her mobile phone out from her pocket.
"I’m going to call him right this instance."
Then, she called one number out of many, many saved numbers on her phone.
‘Please pick up, please pick up, please pick up, please pick up. Please.’
The hand holding her the phone shook noticeably, and before she knew it, sweat drops were forming on her forehead.
And 40 seconds later.
"…He’s not answering."
In the end, Kim Sae-Jin didn’t answer and all she could do was quietly put her phone down.
Chae Young-Ho watched this scene with an expression showing contempt before beginning his loud lamentations.
"Ha-ah. Didn’t I tell you this repeatedly before? If you continue to look down on people just because of your talents…"
"Why do you accuse me of looking down on people? You weren’t even there to begin with!"
"I don’t have to be there to know. You probably did something I knew you would do without realising it yourself. And that’s why you fail to even recognise that you did it."
"No, that’s not…"
Yu-Rin gritted her teeth.
Whatever the case may have been, it was true that she could no longer contact Kim Sae-Jin anymore; she stopped making excuses and lowered her head. Might as well, since if she kept on making excuses and brought up her own justifications, this torture would only be prolonged for her instead.
She decided to endure for now. Endure, then she’d try to call Sae-Jin tomorrow.
And around the same time.
Oh Dae-Soo fell on his butt from the might of the shock wave that stopped j
ust short of hitting his nose.
The scene in front of his eyes were truly hellish. The ground was split apart in a terrifying manner as if an earthquake had struck, and from the gaping chasms, hot steam was rising steadily.
Oh Dae-Soo unconsciously swallowed down his saliva after witnessing this awesome sight. When he imagined what would happen to him if he was struck by that shock wave… he didn’t even want to think about it. Most likely, all his limbs might have been ripped asunder.
*SFX for someone’s running footsteps*
And from the back of the squatting Oh Dae-Soo, sounds of running footsteps could be heard. When he glanced back, the two female Hunters were making a hasty retreat. One of them fell face first, but got up in a flash and continued running, utterly not giving a damn whether it looked pathetic or not.
And Oh Dae-Soo felt resentment towards the two.
*SFX for a low growl*
Right then, the low frequency growl of the Orc resounded in his ears; Oh Dae-Soo’s heart stopped beating for a second.
His entire face covered in perspiration, he slowly turned his gaze to take in the sight of the Orc standing atop the hill, looking down on him.
He suddenly felt the pressure from the gap in their strength ruthlessly trampling down on his body.
‘…It’s much more stronger than I thought.’
And in the meantime, Kim Sae-Jin was feeling quite shocked at the phenomenon he had just created.
The ‘Fierce Strike’, an active skill he earned after endlessly pounding Monsters to death with his mace. When activated, each of the hits would contain three times more explosive power and a special shock wave would occur as well.
At first, he thought of it as one of those additional buff skills but hell, now that he used it, wasn’t this on the level of being just too damn deadly?!
This was the fruit of his hard labour for the past ten days, indeed.
Currently, his Trait level was at 12. And all the equipment absorbed into his body via Spiritualisation ranked High Quality or above. Even though he was nominally an Orc Jaguar, his combat prowess alone should equal that of a Great Orc Warrior.
"Euh… euh!" (TL: No idea what this sound is supposed to be. Left as is.)
As Sae-Jin stood there admiring his own growth, the Knight squatting on the ground finally manage to stand.
"Geuh, Fu-euh, euh, euh!!" (TL: wait, is this supposed to be how an Orc sounds? Hmm.)
Sae-Jin then thoroughly enjoyed watching the back of the escaping Knight who was making strange noises. (TL: I guess not.)
That guy would take a few steps, then collapse on the ground. He then forced himself up, glance back at Sae-Jin, and tried hard to push forward with his shaking legs. It was a rather pitiful sight.
However, the previous attack with the Fierce Strike was nothing more than a warning shot. Sae-Jin wasn’t going to kill that fat Knight with a bulging stomach in the first place.
*SFX for the Orc’s roar*
Sae-Jin let out a roar that meant ‘get the hell out of here’. Oh Dae-Soo got shocked and fell down again, but he continued his desperate escape while crawling on all fours.
‘…So, why did you try your luck with me, moron?’
Sae-Jin originally thought of letting the hunting party go if they moved to escape on their own volition, anyways.
He put behind the pathetic appearance of Oh Dae-Soo and began searching for his next prey with his heavy footsteps.
‘Ah. My body’s aching all over the place.’
After achieving the daily hunting quota, Sae-Jin returned to the cave.
These past ten days, Sae-Jin in his Orc Form confronted Monsters, Knights and Hunters for a fight. His reasons were simple. Maybe the conditions for his evolution were related with battles, somehow.
But that didn’t mean he killed people, no. He did break their weapons and armour and sometimes made them faint but always let them be with their lives intact. Of course, there was nothing he could do about the injuries they got from these battles, but since no one lost a limb or stuff like that, he wasn’t too worried about it.
‘But I ended up with a plethora of skills, instead.’
Unfortunately, rather than the actual evolution, he ended up earning some strange skills in droves.
The Active Skill that boosted his strength momentarily, the Fierce Strike.
The Passive Skill that hardened his body like metal, the Indomitable Hard Body.
Of course, it wasn’t as if he didn’t like the number of his skills increasing like this. He loved it. Why would he not love his Orc Form getting stronger under the current circumstances?
‘Anyways. It should be… doable now, right?’
The action he wanted to perform right now was to combine his skills.
And the skills he wanted to combine were the Leviathan’s Scales and the Indomitable Hard Body. Ten days ago, his Skill Proficiency Levels were too low and it proved to be impossible to do it back then.
But the Indomitable Hard Body’s level rose to C so he figured that now it would work as the Leviathan’s Scales was still rated at F.
‘Let’s do it.’
According to the alert window, all he had to do was to think about combining two skills in his head. That was it. After waiting for a bit, a new alert window would pop up.
Just like now.
►Passive Skill, ‘Leviathan’s Hard Body’
– Scales of Leviathan rated F- will cover the body. (Can be activated/deactivated at will.)
– The scales will possess a fixed amount of resistance towards all elemental attributes.
– This Skill can be activated during any Form.
‘Oh, I did it.’
His body moved excitedly in pleasant surprise.
Originally, the skill ‘Leviathan’s Scales’ was a Form-specific ability that could only be used during the Feeble Sea Monster Form. But after it was combined with the skill Indomitable Hard Body, he had succeed in making the skill available to not only other Monster Forms but the Human Form as well.
This definitely could be labelled as a great result, for sure.
To test this new skill out, Sae-Jin activated it.
All over his body, scales of cold grey colour rapidly spread out.
An Orc covered head to toe in brilliantly shining scales. Wasn’t this a pretty cool sight?
A month went by since Sae-Jin began wandering around in the Monster field as an Orc.
Lots of things happened during this period of time.
The Fissure that opened up on the East Sea of Korea may have been subjugated without much trouble, but that wasn’t the only one opening up on that day.
Another one had opened up on the Atlantic Ocean near the African continent. And it was still not brought under control by the united but ultimately insufficient forces of the African nations.
The rumour spreading around like an itch currently was that they would make the request to both the United Nations’ own Knights Order and the overseas Orders for their military support pretty soon.
"The Demon Orc… Ah! You mean, the mutated Orc found in the Mid Tier hunting ground?"
"Ah, yes. Right now, we are… forming a team, you see."
However, the most trending topic in the Republic of Korea, which was located a great distance away from Africa, was something else entirely.
That had to do with a certain Orc found in the low Mid to Mid Tier hunting grounds, an existence some people took to calling the ‘Demon Orc’. Apparently, one could tell this Orc apart from the others of its kind by the azure scales covering its entire body.
After defeating countless Knights without even causing a single death, some even began to call it with a strange nickname, ‘the gentleman’; currently, the creature had become a sought-after big target for those Knights who were trying to make a name for themselves.
"Would you like to become a part of…. our team?"
A Mid Tier Knight named Kim Won-Jong was showing the greatest amount of courage he had ever mustered in his entire life, by requesting Yu Sae-Jung to join his team and subjugate this particular Orc. As an aside, when seven or more Knights gathered together, it was referred to as a team.
It was a somewhat weird thing to see a team being formed to subjugate one Monster found in the Mid Tier hunting ground. But, the Dawn Order was actually encouraging the formation of teams comprised of low Mid Tier and Mid Tier Knights.
A normal hunting team would form around an upper Mid Tier Knight, usually. The purpose of this move by the management was to let the lower Tiered Knights gain some valuable experience in this manner.
Plus, they must have not been too worried, because the Orc, for some strange reason, had not killed any Knights or Hunters until now.
Of course, there was always an exception to the rule, but judging from the 100 or so victims of the Orc, the most serious injury suffered was some fractured ribs. So, one could safely concur that this Orc clearly wasn’t planning to kill people.
An Orc that didn’t want to kill. What a crazy idea that was, but then again, wasn’t the very existence of Monsters shrouded in a veil of mystery?
Her arms crossed, Yu Sae-Jung agonised for a bit.
The Demon Orc. The creature’s official record was 148 matches, 148 victories and 0 losses. It was a champion among champions.
So, if that Monster was successfully subjugated, then the achievements gained would be seriously enormous. And those achievements would directly influence her rank advancement exams for the Mid Tier.
After thinking for a bit, she abruptly pulled out her mobile phone.
Those who had the honour of having their numbers saved on her phone were the likes of upper Mid Tier Knights, Wizards ranked B Class or higher, and high-ranking officials of politics and financial world.
There was only one Hunter among these giants, and that was Kim Sae-Jin.
"Please hold on for a moment. By the way, is there a spot for a Hunter to join?"
"Uh? Ah… Uhm, there isn’t, but I’ll make one!!"
When the guy proclaimed loudly, Yu Sae-Jung nodded her head and called that person.
If it was possible, she wanted to hunt together with that man. No, maybe, this was her making up an excuse or a justification because she wanted to see him again.
It had been over a month now since all contact with him had been lost. And she just failed to understand why she could not get a hold of him all of a sudden.
*SFX for a ringtone*
And as the ringtone continued to extend, Yu Sae-Jung began to bite her nails without even realising it.
She was feeling nervous. Why wasn’t he picking up his phone?
– "The number you dialled is currently unavail…."
In the end, it was the same result.
Sighing out grandly, Yu Sae-Jung pocketed her phone while carrying a hurtful expression. And then, turned her gaze back to the very hopeful male Knight waiting there.
"…I’ll do it."
At the surprise yes, the male Knight shouted out. As she was feeling somewhat prickly at the moment, Yu Sae-Jung frowned sharply at him which caused the Knight to let out a fake cough in an apologetic expression.
"Keum. Thank you very much. Oh, and, uh… should we reserve the spot for that Hunter you mentioned?"
Sae-Jung powerlessly shook her head.
"Do as you wish. If possible, fill it with someone capable, please."
She coldly cut his words in the middle, and walked with heavy footsteps towards the training ground.
‘Did I do… something wrong?’
Her chest began to tighten suddenly. Such a frustrated feeling was rather unfamiliar to her. She was someone who people fawned over her entire life, so why was she all hung up over a single person? She just could not figure this one out.
Was she afraid of losing the connection she had built with Kim Sae-Jin? No - that was just one of the reasons. There definitely was more.
The spiritless Yu Sae-Jung had arrived at the training ground before long.
Sighs automatically came out of her mouth.
Something was weird. Really, the training she looked forward to performing everyday was beginning to feel oh-so tedious now.
< 15. A Doubt, An Endeavor (3) > Fin.
(TL: Well, I slept on it, and my decision is… the outstanding chapters will arrive on this week Tuesday and on Thursday – one per day. I've got my reasons for doing this, but as I type this, I can't seem to remember them… Hmm.)
(TL: the amount needed for this week's second extra chapter: $7 US)