A Monster Who Levels Up
Kim Sae-Jin further explained afterwards, but Yu Sae-Jin, with her mind not working at all, didn’t seem to understand a word he said. While frozen in a dazed expression, she replied with a short "Yes", "Ahh", "That", etc, etc.
"…H, how is that even possible?"
These words were what she could string together after pulling herself out of the lengthy confusion.
He deliberated for a short moment on how he should answer her, before settling on the broadest answer possible.
"It’s thanks to my Trait."
"Whaaat? Just what kind of Trait is…"
Just what kind of Trait is that great?! Yu Sae-Jung shut her mouth while feeling slightly unfair.
Normally, a Trait was divided into two big subsections - the Completed type and the Level-Up type.
Those born with the former type of Trait, the Completed, could wield enormous power from the word go, but since the Trait could not be developed any further, the only way to grow oneself was through practise and rigorous training of one’s physical body. One of the more obvious examples of this Trait was the ‘Heavy Swords Mastery’ of Joo Ji-Hyuk.
However, although the latter type, the Level-Up, started off on a much weaker note than the Completed type, but with lots of effort, both the Trait and one’s physical self would grow. That meant there was a high possibility that in the later years, the holders of this Trait type would reach greater heights than those with the Completed type.
More than half of all the Knights, Wizards and other specialty professions were holders of some kind of Traits and among them, it was understood that around 80% were the Completed type while the rest 20% were the Level-Up type.
But seeing that more than half of that '20%' Level-Up type Trait holders were Knights ranked higher than upper Mid Tier, or Wizards ranked B or higher, it was safe to say that this type of Trait was truly a blessing from the heavens or some such.
"…So that’s how it was."
She decided that Kim Sae-Jin was the wielder of the Level-Up type Trait, even a uber-super-fraudulent version of it, and stopped short of asking him about the finer details.
She had never, ever even heard of such a world-breaking bugged Trait existing before, but whatever the case may have been, it was still taboo to inquire too deeply about another person’s Trait.
"Ohhh, so you believe me now?"
Sae-Jin smiled and looked at her with eyes showing how proud he was of her. He was expecting her to doubt him at least for a little while longer and start assaulting him with more questions.
"What choice do I have? Even though it’s re~ally unbelievable, since you said it’s true, I have to trust you."
For some reason, Yu Sae-Jung felt content when his gentle gaze landed on her. And that’s how, a deep smile began dawning on her lips as she stared back at his face.
"Yawn~, by the way, where is the break room in this place? I’m feeling way too tired… And my head is so fuzzy, it’s like I’m still dreaming right now. You’ll tell me more when I wake up, right?"
Yu Sae-Jung yawned out as she spoke.
Finding her appearance really adorable, he somehow ended up walking towards her position and started gently stroking her head. It sure was a sudden ‘skinship’, but… she found his touches not too bad at all. No, it was actually quite nice.
That was why she let out a fake cough and hurriedly lowered her head. No doubt her hotly burning face was dyed in deep red, and she didn’t want to show him that appearance at all.
"It’s located in the basement. Come, I’ll take you there."
When Sae-Jin took away his hand while saying these words, she shyly nodded her head while showing a slight disappointment.
inside the Raven Knights Order’s HQ.
Kim Yu-Rin stood before the doors to the Executive Conference room and breathed in deeply.
On the day she stubbornly and resolutely decided to go and meet Kim Sae-Jin ‘alone’ at the promised place - she made a deal with Chae Young-Ho and other executives.
And that was to report on the results of the two people’s dinner.
It was because Kim Sae-Jin’s fame had risen up way too high to call the simple dinner between him and Yu-Rin as a mere private matter anymore.
And so, today was the day she’d report on her meeting with Kim Sae-Jin last night. But there was no need for her to fret. Even though she didn’t receive any concrete answers regarding the Athany doll, just like last time, Kim Sae-Jin gifted her another ‘weapon purchase application’ form.
"…You can do this. Yes, you can, Kim Yu-Rin! Just relax."
Yu-Rin did her best to self-hypnotise, and then carefully opened the door.
Inside the conference room, the team leaders from the teams 1 to 8 were all present and waiting. In other words, besides the beleaguered Vice Order Master who was staying at home currently with various scandals hanging over his head, and her father the Order Master who had to go and meet the President on this same day, everyone of the upper management was here.
"Oh, you’re arrived."
Chae Young-Ho welcomed (?) her first. She then replied to the avalanche of greetings with a warm smile and found an empty seat for herself.
"So, what did you two talk about?"
As expected, it was Chae Young-Ho who fired the first round. He was taking secret glances at the paper in Yu-Rin’s grasp. Judging by the style of the coating that was rather suspicious, he thought that she had indeed brought home something after all.
"We were able to converse regarding various topics. Out of all those, the one that left most impression on me was his future plans on how he’d improve the Athany doll."
Kim Yu-Rin deliberately spoke in a relaxed manner.
Last night, Sae-Jin told her about his plans on what he’d like to do with the doll without too much thought. What he said was that the effects of the doll should improve by at least 100% from before - obviously because the Orc Form’s evolution prompting the growth in the skill 'Smithing Technique'.
"Hu-uh. Doesn’t that mean it’s going to be as effective as an A level Mana Spring? Even now, that one doll’s effect rivals a B~C level Spring… Huh, really now."
Even if it was something Sae-Jin had spoken out carelessly, to these guys it was a priceless information. One or two executives present were even thinking of getting rid of their share of stocks belonging to those Wizards Towers mainly specialising in building Mana Springs.
"Yes. And besides the Athany doll designed to aid training, he also spoke of his plans to develop the doll to new directions as well."
Encouraged by the positive reactions of the executives, Yu-Rin became more lively with her replies.
"By the way, what is that paper in your hands?"
However, Chae Young-Ho managed to cut off the flow rather abruptly. Yu-Rin ended up frowning slightly, but still, she didn’t say anything else and placed the paper on the conference room table.
"It’s the weapon purchase application form for the Orc’s Forge, a gift from Mister Sae-Jin."
"Oho? So this is that famous application form?"
"As expected… if you have a dinner with him, then he’d gift you a weapon made by the Orc - so, it was true, indeed."
The executives near the paper Yu-Rin produced brightened up considerably and quickly swarmed around it. It was only Chae Young-Ho who carried a somewhat unhappy expression while submerged deeply in his own thoughts.
"How are you planning to utilise this form?"
"How about… well, it seems like a good idea to put this up as a prize for the person achieving the number 1 internal rankings… I’m happy with whatever works the best!!" (Kim Yu-Rin)
For her, the reactions of the gathered executives were great, but most importantly, Kim Yu-Rin found the cloudy expression of Chae Young-Ho just so wonderful to behold. So, with a bright smile blooming on her face, she spoke with full of energy.
"Later on, if there’s any message you’d like to pass on to the Society’s Chairman, just talk to me!! We’ve become re~ally friendly with each other, you see! ….Ah.."
As soon as she spoke, she realised her own faux pas. Actually, the mood during the meeting with him wasn’t so good due to her being way too tense. Their conversations didn’t flow smoothly at all, and at one point in time, she even saw Sae-Jin make a frustrated face…
"Oh! That is a relief. Nowadays, I’ve heard that other Knights Orders are agonising over the ways to befriend that man. As expected, our Yu-Rin is just a blessed girl. Blessed, I say."
"Uh-huh. I’ve always believed her to be like that, but you were different, no? Miss Yu-Rin. That old man there was getting jealous of you a month before you earned your rank of the Highest Tier."
"What nonsense are you barking out now?! And I’m still in my 40s, so who the heck is an old man….."
But seeing this lively atmosphere and the rotting face of Chae Young-Ho…
"…Ha, haha… Is, is that so?"
She just couldn’t find the chance to correct her mistake.
But, she was also beginning to feel rather bitter in the corner of her mind.
While these people here devalued whatever results she brought in after going through the proverbial hell - the achievements deemed important for the real Knights - the same voices were now sincerely approving of her actions after making this one personal connection….
"You can… talk to me… at any time…"
"Five incidents? There were that many?"
– "Yes. As you’ve requested, I arrived before other Knights could and resolved all the situations. And whew, even the mobilization time is on another level altogether. Well, considering it only takes 10 minutes from Seoul to Gangwon Province, so…"
"Wow… But wouldn’t there be some problems with your body when moving that fast?"
– "It’s fine if one uses Mana Barrier. But, in order to withstand this much atmospheric pressure and air resistance, I think one needs to be higher than a Mid Tier at least."
This was the openly-encroaching season of the blooming flowers - but the affairs of this planet were, as if they had a prior arrangement or something, all flowing towards a clearly bad direction.
And strangely, out of all the countless countries in this world, the Republic of Korea was having it the worst. The citizens were rightly feeling anxious at the sudden, unexplainable Monster incidents occurring as much as 31 times a month - one every day.
Unfortunately, the shifting, burning embers of the current state of things somehow fell on top of Kim Sae-Jin and Muffin. The number of people suspecting how safe it could be with Muffin had increased explosively all of a sudden.
And so, in order to change the perception of public opinion, he asked Joo Ji-Hyuk to ride on Muffin’s back and to eliminate Monsters.
"So, how was the reactions of the citizens? Were they afraid?"
– "Not at all. I didn’t see anyone like that, instead I even met a few who were smiling. Saying they found the new twin tail hairstyle adorable."
Just in case the ordinary citizens found Muffin scary, Sae-Jin inscribed a Magic Tattoo that emitted a pleasant smell, and on top of that, he even braided the long white hair of the Griffin into a twin ponytail. He wanted to maximise the creature’s cuteness, and also since it was a female, there was that, too.
"By the way, did Muffin act in any weird way? Mister Hahn-Sung was referring to Muffin as the Satan Reincarnate or something like that."
– "Pardon? What did he mean by ‘Satan’, when it’s this adorable… Huhuh. Maybe that guy dreamed a nightmare?"
"…You think so, too? Looks like maybe Mister Hahn-Sung is suffering from overwork. I should hurry and hire more people."
– "Hahaha… Ah, Mister Chairman, I just received a request for an interview. What should I do?"
"You do what you think is the best. Then, let’s end the call here."
– "Understood, Mister Chairman."
When the conversation with Joo Ji-Hyuk came to an end, Sae-Jin pocketed his phone and brought up his Status window.
*Time remaining for the Human Form: (300/343) minutes.
He let out a sigh of relief.
Fortunately, his continuously-growing height stopped increasing for a week now; only his weight had changed slightly. But even that change came from one of his newly acquired Passives.
– Step 1: The host’s body will undergo changes to better suit a ‘warrior’ with the passage of time. (Current percentage of completion: 15.5%)
– The subsequent Steps will only be unlocked after the completion of 'Step 1'.
It seemed that with this ‘Warrior’s Special Quality’ activating, he could relax somewhat about being assimilated completely into the Ebony Wolf for now.
However, there was a new, completely unexpected and somewhat related problem that had occurred in the meantime.
The culprit was a single notebook on top of his desk.
This book was a communication tool he had crafted by activating the Orc’s Smithing Technique for ten minutes straight. He made a pair of them and when letters were written on the pages of one, the same letters would appear on the other one.
The reason why he made these notebooks was for the sake of security while communicating with the Mercenary’s Tavern. Fearing that ‘the Lycan’ might act without his knowledge, he had sent one over to the Tavern more than three months ago.
‘…Aaand you were trying to prosecute me up until now.’
Feeling somewhat dumbfounded, he picked up the book again. On the middle of the 21st page, these words were clearly written.
Looks like the government understands how much it wronged you, the Lycan, and thus is offering up these fairly substantial rewards. But, I shall leave the decision making solely up to you.
And furthermore, this notebook will be confiscated by the Special Investigation Division of Police. I’ve immediately tore off the pages prior to this one the moment your messages came through and burned them, but still, I must apologise for getting discovered.]
The reward was supposedly a weapon made by the Orc Blacksmith. A hollow chuckle threatened to break out of his mouth.
"Really, this is ridiculous…"
From a few weeks ago, a certain civil servant, claiming to be the Deputy Commissioner of some government entity, came every two days to sincerely beg him for the sale of an Athany doll. He said that it’d be used purely for the diplomatic purposes between countries.
Sae-Jin was going to ignore the man, but since it was allegedly for a good cause so, while saying an Athany doll was impossible, he handed over the Orc’s weapon application form instead.
‘And they are using what I gave them right here.’
Obviously they had no idea that Kim Sae-Jin and the Lycan was the same person, but still, this was definitely not right, wasn’t it? This wasn’t diplomacy, after all.
Sighing out grandly, Sae-Jin began jotting down the words of refusal on the pages of the notebook. Since he was feeling somewhat wronged as well, he also deliberately showed off a bit of arrogance and bravado.
He then stopped here. As he was trying to hide his handwriting, he was writing with his left hand and that wasn’t easy at all. Of course, thanks to the skill ‘Goblin’s Craftsmanship’, his left hand writing was almost indistinguishable from regular people’s writings.
At that moment Kim Sae-Jin wrote these words down…
The desk where the notebook was resting on became nothing more than sawdust under the fist of a certain woman.
With the screams coming off the surrounding people, all gazes gathered on this particular woman.
The ferocious and violent personality resembling the real tiger - but portrayed as the guardian of the Korean nation by the media; and perhaps this world’s most two-faced woman…
"Haa, a tiger?! That measly, worthless son of a bi*ch dares to..?"
The world’s only living ‘Divine Beast’ type Soo-in, Yu Baek-Song. She just couldn’t hold back her anger at those sudden words of insults. Her trembling eyelashes and deeply frowning face illustrated the level of anger she was feeling right this moment.
"Wow. I, I seriously feel like I’ll go mad. A tiger?!"
She hated the word ‘tiger’ with passion. As she was a ‘White Tiger’, she had this irrational obsession that caused her to zealously separate herself from the lowly common garden-variety tigers.
Yu Baek-Song let out an animalistic roar. Of course, she was still a ‘human’, and on top of that, a woman with a… somewhat small physique so it didn’t sound at all threatening, however. If anything, one could even call it rather adorable.
But she did this contrived and unnatural act regardless, whenever she became beyond incensed with anger.
The excuse was that it was the expression of the pride at being a 1st gen. Soo-in and the resulting animalistic tendencies or some such.
Thanks to this scene, all the people present here had to do their very best to suppress their rising laughter.
<17. The Omen (4) > Fin.
(TL: the amount left for the second sponsored chapter of the week: $21.)