A Monster Who Levels Up
A week after the unexpected meeting with Kim Yu-Rin.
First, from the fang she gave to him as a present, Sae-Jin was able to create 4 batches of potions. One potion for strengthening the constitution of its drinker, and the other three, healing and regenerative effects. He’d stashed the former for himself when he went out on a hunt, but the rest, he decided to sell them off.
He was already getting fed up with this living-in-a-cave lifestyle, plus with the Energy Manipulation Stat now at 8, which made it possible to maintain the Human Form for at least 80 minutes every day, Sae-Jin decided it was high time he bought a house near the Gangwon Province. Of course, as expected of a place called the "Paradise for the Monster-related industry", the exorbitant land price here was second only to the capital city, Seoul, ensuring that even if he started working to his bones starting now, it’d still take a long, long while before he could afford one. (Lit said "A Mecca for the Monster-related industry. Changed for obvious reasons.)
Whatever the case may have been, currently Sae-Jin was standing in front of a building called an "Alchemy House" that reeked of a bitter aroma of the herbs and was filled with the bubbling sounds of chemicals boiling in their pots.
While there were less than three Alchemy Houses existing in any given large metropolis, these exceedingly rare organizations were the only place where the administration of the verification process, which assigned the grades as well as handled the distribution of the potions created by the alchemists, could be done. But, even though it was true they were hard to find, for someone like Sae-Jin who literally lived inside the borders of Gangwon Province, seeking out one of these so-called homes of an alchemist proved to be rather simple, with their continued survival intrinsically linked to that of the Monsters’ existences. (Had to change quite a lot in this paragraph. This author sure loves to torment me with indecipherable Spaghetti soup of words…)
Even though he wore the robe supposedly favoured by alchemists, and had the hood pulled right up to match the outer appearance, Sae-Jin’s actions of curiously surveying the surroundings easily revealed his status as a complete noob at these sort of things.
"Is there something I can assist you with, perhaps?"
An employee came in closer and politely inquired after noticing him meandering.
"…I’m here to sell some potions I’ve created. But I haven’t sold one before, nor have I any prior fame. Is it still possible?" (전력lit. battle records. I mean, wut)
"Ah, yes, of course. Would you follow me this way, please?"
Didn’t matter what territory or nation, the number of alchemists were always much lower than that of magicians, and consequently, they were treated as one of the most valuable human resources out there. And, even though there was this whiff of a newbie coming off of Sae-Jin, his word and posture were undoubtedly that of a real alchemist, so the male employee made sure to remain courteous while guiding him.
Sae-Jin promptly found and sat down on a nearest office chair, and nervously waited as he kept an eye on the watch but soon enough, the male employee sat on the opposite side with a document of some kind.
"This is the application form. The verification process will commence after you write down the name of the potion and its effects here. When the product’s been verified to be free of any side effects and its medicinal efficacy ascertained, a grade will be assigned according to its medicinal strengths, and afterwards, the potion can be sold on the m
Potions brewed by the skilled hands of alchemists enjoyed a far greater demand than the supply could ever meet. Those commonly available ’emergency potions’ sold in Monster Stores, mass manufactured with 10th grade Mana Stones, couldn’t even begin to compare in performance and overall quality.
And the popularity enjoyed by the potions brewed by a well-known alchemist was such that potential buyers had to reserve their share very much in advance in order to purchase one.
Strangely enough, it wasn’t the alchemist’s name that garnered the attention, but the potions themselves instead. It was because, alchemists loved anonymity and believed hiding one’s true identity from the public was a matter of professional virtue, so the only avenue available to truly flaunt their abilities was through their potioncraft.
It was a given, then, the alchemists painstakingly chose suitable names for their creations and didn’t hesitate to pour every fibre of their beings and every ounce of their talents into bettering the potions they made.
Of course, the rumour on the street was, that for those famed alchemists who had already achieved great acclaim and were well known throughout the world, they could afford to just deal directly with the Masters of the Knights Orders and the CEOs of the corporate worlds.
"If you wish to keep your identity hidden, please check that box labeled Anonymous over here."
Sae-Jin unhurriedly jotted the words down on the application form. For the potion’s effects…. healing and regeneration.
All of a sudden, the body of the male employee trembled noticeably from the shock as he took a sideways glance at the contents Sae-Jin was writing down.
When Sae-Jin glared at him questioningly, the employee scratched the back of his neck and sheepishly made an excuse.
"Ah, my apologies. It’s because regeneration is quite a rare effect… to clarify, did you mean regenerative recovery of the wounds, instead? Usually, a potion will be graded lower Mid tier even if the regenerative effects prove to be minor. And on top of that, there is also a healing effect as well…. Hahaha. As long as there are no side effects, this potion will be graded as High, surely? Many Knights Orders and hospitals were getting concerned at the shortage of High grade items lately… so this is great news."
Sae-Jin lightly smirked at the employee. He knew there wouldn’t be any side effects with the potion. Since a word like perfection was not nearly enough to describe the skills of an Elite Goblin capable of combining the ingredients and the powder of the Sabre-tooth Tiger’s fang down to a nanogram accuracy.
"I’ve completed the form."
"Ah, thank you. Just in case, have you brought along a sample of the potion?"
The employee asked Sae-Jin as he handed over the form.
"Well, rather than what you’d call a sample, I’ve got the finished product here with me."
Sae-Jin produced a glass bottle containing the potion from the robe’s pocket. A clear blue light emitted from the liquid inside and the small area around the bottle glowed softly as a result.
In that moment, the male employee became completely speechless. After a lengthy deliberation brought on by the indescribable beauty of the potion, the only thing he could do was to swallow back his saliva, hard.
There was just no way a novice alchemist could concoct a medicine that had both the effects of healing and regeneration. But there could be no doubt as to what this clear blue liquid emitting the brilliant glow was. Even without testing, even without assigning it a grade, this could only be the "Healing and Regeneration" potion.
"…. This…. Please, wait a moment."
The male employee quickly recognised it as an item he was not qualified to handle. A value of a potion with healing effects was higher than other variety of potions. Obviously, people with jobs fighting back the tides of Monsters, Hunters and Knights, as well as the civilians occupying regular positions would have found such potions quite a necessity.
"Sorry, but I don’t have much time."
Unfortunately, he just couldn’t afford to delay any longer, so Sae-Jin stood up to leave. Seeing this, the employee went into a full-on panic mode and he quickly grabbed Sae-Jin’s shoulders and made him sit back down.
"Wait, wait, wait a moment, please!!! Just one moment!! The Manager will…"
The employee was desperate in his plea. In reality, the Alchemy Houses were actually high-stress organizations dyed in the colours of cutthroat competition and the pursuit of the robust bottom lines.
To be in a better position to receive the "financial assistance", the twenty-odd Alchemy Houses spread throughout the country were engaged in a bloody war of results, and the matter of which potion came out of which House located in which province played the most important role in achieving the best results. In the situation where a quality potion came up for sale, then the House would occupy a more favourable position when the inevitable petty squabbles should break out between the Knights Orders and various other institutions that wanted the potion for themselves.
That was why the employee was adamant about keeping Sae-Jin here, but he was firm with his reply.
"You don’t need more than a few drops for the verification purposes, so I shall leave behind three. There shouldn’t be a problem for me to return at a later date after the testing process is finished."
"Ye, yes, that is true, but… Wait, the stamp. Did you already stamp your jijang on the form?" (A jijang is literally a finger stamp. Can’t think of an English equivalent and it’s not really leaving a fingerprint, so….)
The alchemists wishing to stay anonymous were specially managed through their jijangs. So, while most employees didn’t know of the name nor the face of an alchemist, they could still tell which potions were brewed by that particular person.
"Yes, I did. I saw the blue-coloured number 30437 spreading out on the form."
That number meant that his application was 30437th for this particular Alchemy House. Seeing that there were less than 1000 variety of potions on the market, there was no real need to ask just how many aspiring alchemists out there had to taste despair during the grading and verification processes.
"Yes… in that case… please promise me to come and visit us later on!! That you’ll return to us!!"
The employee bowed down and shouted out aloud. It was loud enough to reverberate around the interior and caused the surrounding gazes to focus here, but to those familiar with how the Alchemy Houses operated behind the scenes, it was only at the level of yet another day at work.
"Ah, yes. Well, do you have a preparatory bottle for the samples at hand?"
At his words, the employee hurriedly moved to find a sample bottle, and Sae-Jin left the Alchemy House after leaving behind precisely three drops worth of his potion inside of that tiny little glass bottle.
The downtown of the city was filled with all sorts of sounds. Conversations from the passing traffic of people tumbled around one another, mixed with the various noises of the city - Sae-Jin found it hard to adjust after getting used to the stillness of the mountains.
But even among this jumble of sounds, there was this one voice that attracted his ears especially so.
– Knight Kim Yu-Rin, there are only 2 weeks left until your Highest Tier Knight ascension ceremony…. How are you feeling right now?
The sound was coming from a wrist-mounted hologram TV displayed in the electronics store, the projection showing an interview performed by a reporter with Kim Yu-Rin.
– Not too bad.
– ….Yes? Ah, haha. Ahahahaha. Is that so? Of course… Hahaha. It wouldn’t be bad at all, hahaha!!
The reporter could only just about diffuse the tricky situation the uncomfortably short answer brought on with several awkward laughters.
Sae-Jin smirked lightly as he watched. He knew why she acted that way, after all - something about the phobia of being in front of cameras or something like that.
– So, so then… let’s proceed to the next question. Ah, yes, after being voted No. 1 as the most beautiful Knight by the male counterparts, can you please tell us how you feel….
The reporter forgot the rest of his question momentarily after he got properly sucked in by the infinitely clear gazes of Yu-Rin staring at his face. It might have been an ordinary gaze in truth, but her beautiful face made it seem much more extraordinary than it really was.
– Obviously, it’s not bad, as well, no? Ah, no, wait, that’s… what was it again…?
The reporter finally managed to open his mouth and sprouted nonsense for a second or two, before his professional mentality brought back his game face back on and he quickly changed to another question.
– Ah, that’s right. Can Miss Yu-Rin enlighten us to what your ideal man entails? It’s just that, several hotly trending male Knights have all chosen Miss Yu-Rin as their ideal partner, you see.
– …. An ideal man..?
– Yes, yes.
Yu-Rin thought deeply for a moment, before breaking out in a grin.
It was short, but stunningly beautiful enough to dye not only the projection but the entire grey street surrounding the store with brightness. The reporter was lost for words again, while Yu-Rin replied with that dazzling smile still on her face.
– I prefer a man that’s like a Goblin.
– …. Yes? What do you mean by that…?
– Except that he’d have to be intelligent and kind. In other words, a Goblin that’s both kind and skilled.
The reporter ended up interpreting her words that sounded unrealistic as something like ‘no ideal man for me out there’, or such.
– Ye- yes, of course. Thank you for your candid replies. As expected of the youngest ever Highest Tier Knight, the qualities for your ideal partner are indeed very unique.
But Sae-Jin was different. He stood there staring at the image of Kim Yu-Rin for a long while with a huge smile on his face, before entering the shop properly.
"Ah, yeah, how much for that wrist hologram TV? Oh, wait, will it work even deep inside a cave up in the mountains?"
While the employees of the Alchemy Houses were mostly the "specialists" who gave up walking the paths of alchemy mid-way, the roles of Managers could only be filled by the actual alchemists. An alchemist had to register a minimum of three potions in the bestseller list in order to either open up an Alchemy House or to sit in the apprentice position of a Master.
The Dark Elf alchemist Hazeline, who rose to the Alchemy House Manager’s seat at a young age of 31, was currently making an unreadable expression on her face as she examined the sample potion left behind by the mysterious visitor earlier today.
"…Hey, why am I even looking at this? Hell, this doesn’t even need to get verified, either. At the very least, it’s a mid grade. And at most, a High grade. It’s been awhile since I saw a potion this bright and clear. And like a schmuck, you sent away the guy who brewed this by saying that you needed to test it?!"
"My apologies… I have no excuses."
"Oh well, at least, with him leaving the sample behind here, the possibility of us doing business together is rather high, so no need to apologise. Anyhow, what’s it called?"
"Ah, that is… it’s a little strange."
The male employee hesitantly checked the application form Sae-Jin wrote, but in the end, stutteringly read aloud what was written on the paper.
"A Goblin’s Kindness. That’s the name of the potion."
< 02. A Goblin’s Kindness (3) > Fin.
(So, a confession time. The author keeps saying High, Mid, Low and stuff like that while describing the tiers/rankings of the Knights and Hunters, potions and Monsters, but hasn’t really provided a context to go with them so far. I did a quick Google and lo and behold, the word 고위 기사 used to describe what Kim Yu-Rin’s ranking was, which literally means Highest/Superior Knight, actually was the Korean TLed term for the Protoss High Templar from the Starcraft games. Y’know, that one Koreans all go mad over. So, uh…. should I rename all of the Knight rankings to that of Protoss system? What about that of the Hunters? And Monsters? Hmm…)