A Monster Who Levels Up
Two weeks ago.
The month of October began with ‘The Monster’ serving as the hottest topic in town.
In order to recruit new members for his Society, Kim Sae-Jin uploaded a notice on the home webpage and then advertised it on his SNS profile. His reasoning this time was that having only '6' members - while he was three of them in truth - when the member limit for the Class of his Society was 250 (excluding employees) seemed like a bit of wasted opportunity to him.
This was quite a departure from the other Societies with Classes higher than B that recruited new members in total secret; the home webpage then ended up crashing due to all the traffic after the declaration of the public recruitment went online, leading to many news outlets to focus on this matter and report on it.
Apparently, huge chaos erupted in the various community chat rooms dedicated to individual Knights Orders, such as that of the Dawn Order; allegedly, some Knights affiliated with the same Orders even held meetings to determine what they should do.
And the final number that had applied during the week-long recruitment process that included Knights from both local and abroad, Hunters and Wizards, was as many as 3000. If one was to count in people from other professions, then that number swelled up to 4000, making it even more ridiculous.
However, among these applicants, there was one man that made Sae-Jin rather anxious.
The boss of the Mercenary’s Tavern, and the man responsible for transforming Sae-Jin into the legendary Mercenary, Lycan.
‘Does he know?’
Kim Yu-Sohn’s Trait involved dreams and people. While dreaming, he could see from the perspective of a specific person for a short while.
In other words… there was a good possibility that Kim Yu-Sohn was aware of Sae-Jin being the Lycan already.
But then again, he wondered if it was better to bring the source of his anxiety closer to his side instead. More importantly, even though they had never met face to face, his credibility was completely assured. If he was a bat-like person, then he’d have sung the tune the moment SID began poking him.
Plus, Kim Yu-Sohn certainly worked his butt off for a person he had never met before. He had taken the records of his own past when he was working as an A-ranked but still-nameless Mercenary and modified it into the Lycan’s, and thus made it so that, when the SID tried to investigate Lycan’s prior activities, instead of suspicion, the confidence in this "legendary" Mercenary would rise instead.
– Mister Chairman. Mister Kim Yu-Sohn has come to see you. Should I admit him in?
Speak of the devil… Kim Sae-Jin breathed in deeply.
"Let him in, please."
He greeted Kim Yu-Sohn while being somewhat nervous.
"…That means, you knew from quite a long time ago?"
Kim Sae-Jin’s worried premonition proved to be right. Kim Yu-Sohn said that around three months ago, when Sae-Jin was ‘rampaging’ around as the Demon Orc, he had figured it out. No, rather than figuring it out, it was more like he came to understand, instead.
"Yes. The truth of the Chairman being the Lycan… I came to understood somehow, in one certain moment."
"You meant to say… you saw the others, as well."
Indeed, Kim Yu-Sohn said he got confused quite a lot. Sometimes, his dream would start as an Orc, sometimes as a Wolf, sometimes even as a human.
Because he suddenly had dreams as Monsters, he had to wonder if his Trait had leveled up or something like that. But he got to truly understand when Sae-Jin in his Orc Form ended up saving countless people.
"Well, I’ll be. It’s a bit embarrassing, isn’t it."
When seen through the Eyes of the Wolf, Kim Yu-Sohn had not one speck of
ill will in him. If he had any evil designs to begin with, then he would have started blackmailing him a long time ago already.
"Will it be alright for me to know this truth?" (Kim Yu-Sohn)
Even though his worries had become a reality, strangely enough, he felt as if a burden had lifted off his shoulders. In any case, he didn’t think his secret would be maintained forever anyways - and also, he couldn’t have kept it inside him forever, either.
"No, no. Of course it’s not like that. It is my Achilles heel, after all… Hmm. Looks like I don’t have any other choice."
At Sae-Jin’s words, Kim Yu-Sohn’s body shuddered. The middle-aged man must’ve thought that what Sae-Jin said was equal to his intentions of disposing him, and so, he began to slowly retreat back.
"Looks like you’ll have to stick by my side for a long while, then."
Fortunately for him, though, Sae-Jin simply smiled and reached out for a handshake.
"…Oh. Hahaha… Y, yes. Thank you kindly."
And on that day. The construction of a new Mercenary’s Tavern commenced on the grounds of The Monster, with Kim Yu-Sohn serving as its boss.
The amount of things to do after becoming 'B-' Class Society increased by a lot - such as, registering as a corporation, acquiring related business licenses, and of course, recruitment of new Society members.
Thanks to that, almost the entirety of the time limit for his Human Form had to be spent on taking care of the Society’s administrative work, and that naturally led to him having less and less meetings with other people for private matters.
"Does Oppa really need to do that selecting new members thingy?"
And so, it became a daily occurrence for Yu Sae-Jung to come and see him in the Chairman’s office after ending her own days of work - only after the punishment period set out by her Grandfather had ended, of course.
It couldn’t be helped, as Kim Sae-Jin wouldn’t meet her anywhere else other than here.
"Yeah. Besides, there are only about 100 people left, so."
"Hmph… I can also help out, you know?"
"I can finish up in 30 minutes if it’s 100 people. And well, you’re only a Mid Tier, so let’s not."
"Wah, again?! You looking down on me again? Didn’t I tell you that a normal Mid Tier and the youngest-ever Mid Tier is completely different?"
Yu Sae-Jung’s brows narrowed in a deliberate show of her displeasure. He simply smiled at her dissatisfaction and finished up with the last of the authorisation work needing his attention. With this, his daily admin duties were done for the day, as the interviews with the applicants would only take place on the following day.
Yu Sae-Jung was carefully studying Kim Sae-Jin for a bit as he got up from his seat. Then, with her fingers fidgeting around, she asked him.
"…You can’t make time today again?"
Everyday. She wanted to do something - anything - with Sae-Jin.
However… he checked the remaining time for his Human Form. One hour, 30 minutes. To be with her, it just was not enough.
"No, no. It’s not like I wanna go some place specific. Just… we can go to Oppa’s place, you know?"
Quickly reading his mood, Yu Sae-Jung carefully added more. Her shy appearance was powerful enough to worsen the repressed desires residing within his heart, but Sae-Jin was somehow able to endure it, and he quickly shook his head.
"You’re still too young to say you’d go to a bachelor’s place like that. Just train diligently in the basement training facility."
He gently stroked Yu Sae-Jung’s head once and headed outside the office.
His destination was the Monster field. Since the earth’s crust became distorted, the entry was now heavily restricted for regular civilians as well as for the lower Tiered Knights, but Sae-Jin had things to do there.
But suddenly, Yu Sae-Jung approached him and grabbed hold of his arm.
He turned around to see why and then, forgot what he wanted to say. She was biting on her lip, and her eyes were wet with tears.
Yu Sae-Jung breathed in deeply, before slowly opening her mouth.
"Where are you going? Can’t I come, too?"
"….No. You can’t."
Regrettably, Sae-Jin had to be firm.
Of course, as he was not a total idiot, he had already seen through her feelings for him that had developed some time ago.
She always came to see him the moment she got off from her duties. And then after parting ways, she’d send text messages until they went to bed. Without having a deep affection for him, she’d never do those things.
"Why not? You always say I can’t, but why not?"
"Because… you’re still young."
For someone like Sae-Jin who had never held a deep enough relationship with opposite sex, this was the only excuse he could come up with.
If he made up his mind, then…
He could’ve told her everything about this motherf*cking Trait of his. After all, Kim Yu-Sohn was aware of the truth already, anyways.
But then, she was not Kim Yu-Sohn. Because Yu Sae-Jung was someone incredibly precious to him, someone Kim Sae-Jin had connected with after going through so much, and that caused him to be reluctant.
The potential misunderstanding, fear, and terror she might feel after seeing him transform into Monsters played heavily in his mind. And most importantly of all… the reason why she even began to have these feelings for him in the first place, was due to the Skills of Monster Forms. It was not a feeling that had naturally developed.
What would she think, once she found that out?
The instincts of Monsters shouted out within him that none of his worries mattered, but the Human Kim Sae-Jin didn’t want to hurt this still young and naïve girl.
Of course, Yu Sae-Jung couldn’t accept such a reasoning. If he was to continue pushing around the excuse of her being young, then why did he give her all those subtle hints with skinship??
She clenched both her fists tightly. She wanted scream out at the top of her lungs and ask him, whether he was leading her on with these cheap baits or not - but also, wasn’t she too big of a fish for him to jerk around?
"….I got it."
Even though she found herself pitiful and pathetic, she didn’t want him to hate her.
The Manticore let out a strange cry as it collapsed on the ground. Kim Sae-Jin the Ebony Werewolf then shoved his claws deep into the Monster’s heart.
– All Stats rise.
– A new Passive Skill, ‘Vocal Cord Reconstruction’, has been acquired.
– When the Level rises higher, the host will be able to speak even when in the Monster Forms.
‘….What the hell is this?’
The very first Monster he ran into upon entering the Monster field was a Monster he had an experience fighting against - the Manticore. Back then, he didn’t have the leisure to stay and absorb its Mana Stone, so he found this encounter a rather fortunate development.
And the victory came much easier than he thought this time, thanks to a ‘Branded Goods’ item stored within his body with Spiritualisation.
‘But why the hell is this Skill so rubbish?’
He didn’t like one bit about the Skill he got after absorbing the Monster’s Mana Stone.
Things were a lot different when it came to Sae-Jin absorbing the Mana Stones of upper Mid Tier Monsters.
It was because he’d earn a new Skill simply by absorbing one Mana Stone. That meant, as long as he successfully hunted a upper Mid Tier Monster, that would serve as the fuel for his exponential growth.
Plus, as the entry to this place was heavily restricted, there were no Knights or Hunters in the vicinity as well.
‘But, maybe it’s not today?’
However, all of those was side distraction for the main reason. Kim Sae-Jin was roaming around the Monster field every night simply because of the ‘premonition’ Kim Yu-Sohn had.
He said, ‘I’ve dreamt of a sole Vampire walking within the Monster field. I believe that there might be a big harvest if you catch this individual and make him talk by either intimidation or by coercion.’
Kim Sae-Jin let out a fake cough for no reason.
Funnily enough, he really did sound like a human just now.
Of course, correct pronunciation was still a bit too much for now. Kim Sae-Jin could now sort of understand how a Manticore could ‘sing’. It wasn’t the kind of Skill with a variety of uses but well, he began moving his feet while deciding to feel happy about it since having more Skills was always better than not having any.
And shortly thereafter, Sae-Jin found the smell he was wandering around for.
A British national of "Hispanic origins", a bottom-feeder Vampire named Dwayne was able to enter South Korea with minimal issues thanks to his identity as a Hunter from a First World country. His role was to investigate the lay of the land within the Monster field after it had gone through the distortion.
Specifically, to investigate the portal that would lead to their home world as well as the Dead Fissure, and then submit the findings to his superiors.
*SFX for sounds of shaking grasses*
And as Dwayne was walking around doing his job, he heard the sound of grass being disturbed from his back.
He quickly turned his head around to look but he could see no living creature there. Thinking that it might have been the wind, he brought his attention back to his front.
And then, something else filled his vision up.
It was a lone Wolf.
A gigantic bipedal Wolf.
The Wolf made a suspicious grin and slowly opened up its jaws in a terrifying manner.
"Eet’s ben a wile."
A heavy, low-frequency voice. Even though the Wolf only spoke a single line, Dwayne passed out where he stood with bubbles forming in his mouth.
It sure was a strange reaction, but Sae-Jin could figure out the cause right afterwards.
There were 2~3 Skills related to his voice alone. And when those Skills blended in with the Wolf’s own voice, the fear effect doubled in its potency.
‘Whatever. Less work for me.’
Sae-Jin confirmed the Dark Energy rising from the unconscious Vampire, and then formed the Dark Energy Link with him.
Kim Sae-Jin left a mental order of ‘cooperate fully with the questioning’ on his imprisoned Vampire, and then tied him up in a place far from all human activity with a note that said, "This guy will spill everything out if you torture him".
After arriving back home, he phoned Yu Baek-Song.
Since they had met a few more times in private already because of his mother’s case, Sae-Jin thought they had gotten a bit closer. That’s what he thought.
– "…I’m gonna hang up."
– "Didn’t I repeatedly tell you to address me by my full name or I won’t even speak to you, eh?"
Unfortunately, Yu Baek-Song was still a feisty little Divine Beast and without the influence of his scent working on her, she maintained a cold attitude towards him.
"Miss Yu Baek-Song."
– "Okay, what?"
"Please send someone to the address I’m about to give you. Lycan said he has left a Vampire in there."
– "…A Vampire?"
Sae-Jin told her the address where the Vampire was.
"By the way, what about the matter I asked you about?"
– "Oh, that. All the related info is ready."
"Then let us meet tomorrow."
– "You wanna meet?!"
Yu Baek-Song showed signs of hesitation. Obviously, because of his scent.
"Yes. We can’t entrust the delivery of such important data to a courier service or to an agent, after all."
– "….Fine. I’ll call you tomorrow."
While maintaining that indifferent tone of hers, she hung up.
< 19. The Dead Ball (5) > Fin.
(TL: the amount remaining for *shudder* sixth sponsored chapter is: $10. Looks like I’ll have to haul a*s. Lol.)