A Monster Who Levels Up
(TL: Brought to you by these generous donors: Gerald C, Keneth P, Donevin T, Mario R, Erik A, Maxwell G, Dale B, Timothy W, Karlis A, Jan B, Stephen M, Donald B, Robert R, Martin G, David R, Daniel T, Dennis D, and Philipp G. Thank you for your support.)
The area where the chaos of the Red Moon had swept across was now filled with forlorn silence and stillness.
Under the dim glow of the early morning sunlight, the wounded Knights were carried off to the temporary infirmary set up towards the rear, and several Knights, fatigued from the endless combat and lacking even the energy to get to the rest area, decided to just plop down on the ground and take break right there.
However, even among this scene of near-silent breaths and intermittent groans of pain, there were a few Knights present whose first priority wasn’t about resting up, but to tease a certain person nonstop.
"…I’ve already told you many times, it’s not like that." (Kim Yu-Rin)
Thanks to that, the person who was probably the most tired of them all, Kim Yu-Rin, couldn’t even take a proper break and instead had to make excuses one after another.
As one could imagine, the problem was with her face going red after the Hero Orc patted her head. The sight of her crimson cheeks and the past her declaring ‘the Goblin is her ideal person’ overlapped into one and that resulted in her being seen as a pervert with a weird fetish.
"But it’s a bit, you know, to say you’re not… I have never seen our Team Captain make a face like that before… It’s okay, Miss Yu-Rin, you can talk to me. You know I am good at keeping secrets." (Yi Hye-Rin)
Among them, even though one of her arms were heavily wounded, Yi Hye-Rin didn’t forget to be cheerful and teased Yu-Rin more than anyone else. It was most likely because, without this kind of distraction, it’d be too difficult for Hye-Rin to endure the horrors of what happened here only a few hours ago.
"No, I’m telling you, honestly it’s not like that!! It’s just that…"
…I was panicking a little because of the manly scent coming from the Orc, that’s all.
As her chain of thought reached up to here, all of a sudden, a spark was ignited in her head.
The Orc’s scent was similar to another one she smelled somewhere else. Although the smell of blood and iron got in the way of detecting it properly, as her senses were sharply tuned, she could pick up on the unexplainable but definite similarity between the Orc’s and that other scent.
"…Just that, and…? Oh, no~ what should we do now~? What’s gone wrong with our Team Captain’s preference in men~?"
"H, hey, I said, it’s not like that!!!"
"Ah-aht!! That’s why Miss Yu-Rin was not dating anyo… Eu-euph!!"
Kim Yu-Rin hurriedly dashed out and covered Hye-Rin’s mouth.
And so, as she began wasting what little energy she had left on something quite useless, the questions of regarding that scent’s origins got naturally faded into the background.
Returning to the village with the surviving dozen or so Orcs, Sae-Jin laid down to take a good rest. But he only needed four hours of sleep. The body of the Great Warrior didn’t want a break any longer than that.
And so, after waking up when the sun was exactly right in the middle of the sky, he searched for his mobile phone.
"Oh. So, there hasn’t been anything strange with Muffin so far, yes?"
– "Yes, sir. With no red moonlight touching her, she didn’t behave erratically or anything like that." (Jo Hahn-Sung)
The Red Moon caused frenzied and mindless state only by coming into contact with the Monsters in the first place. So, rather fortunately, Muffin wasn’t affected by it as she was hidden deep underground.
"Alright. Then please continue taking care of the Society’s matters in the future as well. And if something big happens, resolve it in the way you see fit. Oh, and if you’re planning to hire more people, please don’t forget that I need to see them at least once."
– "I understand, Mister Chairman."
Jo Hahn-Sung enthusiastically replied. Sae-Jin still had one more thing left to say, though.
"Have you really understood what I said? I said, ‘in the future’. The future, Mister Hahn-Sung."
– "…I beg your pardon?"
"What I’m saying is, not just for this week only, but from now on, you take the reins of managing the Society in the future."
This was something Sae-Jin had been thinking about lately. As the Society grew, it would become more specialised and integrated - but, well, having a final decision maker who was rather ignorant of the world’s business, as well as suffering from chronic shortage of time, now wouldn’t that be a fatal disadvantage going forward?
That was why it might be better to delegate his role to someone else altogether. No, it should be better. After all, he was already doing nothing much other than giving his approvals, anyway.
– "Mister Chairman, are you perhaps going off to somewhere far?"
"No, it’s not like that, just that, it’s all bothersome, you see? Besides, Mister Hahn-Sung is twice smarter than I am, anyways. Ah, right. This doesn’t mean I’m completely relinquishing my position at all. Mister Jo Hahn-Sung as the acting CEO, and I’m the majority shareholder - something like that type of arrangement."
– "That, that is…"
"It’s alright. I know. It’s too big a topic to talk over the phone, so let’s meet up later on and hash it out. I’m hanging up now. I’m running short on time, you see."
– "Ye, yes, sir."
Even though he was still trying to recover his senses from the sudden, super-fast promotion, Jo Hahn-Sung somehow managed to reply back.
Sae-Jin chuckled slightly and ended the call.
The time to train was here. He changed back to the Orc Great Warrior Form.
The following evening.
Before the horrifying memories of the previous night, when Monsters ranked higher than upper Mid Tier such as Ogres flooded in like invading ants, had the chance to fade away, the second Red Moon appeared. But unlike the initial fears, this time the defenders faced waves of much weaker Monsters.
Perhaps, that first night must have been just an anomaly. The same thing happened the day after, and then on the day after that as well.
The presence of outstanding Knights and Wizards, as well as the now-familiar dependable ally Hero Orc, who could easily substitute for a thousand men, made enduring the Red Moon somewhat easier.
Of course, during the week-long duration of the Red Moon, not all waves of Monsters would be this simple to contain, but still, the participating Knights were able to store up their strength this way.
"What’s the matter? You should just ask him out on a date~." (Yi Hye-Rin)
And now, after the fifth night of the battle had ended. As Kim Yu-Rin continued to stare blankly at the back of the Hero Orc, Yi Hye-Rin began to tease her once more.
Even Yu Sae-Jung started giggling on the side as she wiped the dried blood off her sword. But then, Yu-Rin’s sharp glares landed on her, and all Sae-Jung could do at that moment was to hurriedly stare down at the ground.
"Be mindful of where you are. Right now, Knight Yi Hye-Rin and I are not of the same rank. Do I look like a friend to you?!"
"…My apologies, ma’am." (Yu Sae-Jung)
It seemed that humouring them until now had become a problem.
When Kim Yu-Rin hardened her face and shouted out aloud, only then Yi Hye-Rin stopped with her teasing.
"I thought that, because the Team Captain’s eyes looked so dreamy…"
"T, this idiot is?!"
…Looked like she was stopping, but…
"I mean, really now. Past four days, after battles are over you’ve been bringing water to him~. And when he’s about to leave, you see him out, too~~. It’s so like watching a shy maiden’s actions with a guy she fell in love at first sight or something. At first I was teasing you, but now… I’m genuinely worried about you, Captain. Please pull yourself together."
Yi Hye-Rin fired off words like machinegun rounds.
And at her words, Kim Yu-Rin made a slightly panicking face. She was only trying to figure out that smell of the Orc, but now that she thought about it, her actions did look strange enough to rouse misunderstandings.
"…Inter-species mating is not allowed, you know? Morally, legally, and even scientifically, it’s definitely not allowed."
"E… Eeeek!! It’s not like that!! I told you over and over again, it’s not what you think!!"
When Yi Hye-Rin spoke with 100% pure worry in her voice, Kim Yu-Rin shouted back with her face totally red.
Already a week had passed since the beginning of the Red Moon that made the public worry deeply. For Korea though, the damage it received was far lower compared to other countries.
While the 1st world nations such as the USA and the Western Europe faced unprecedented loss of life and destruction of property due the Red Moon, in Korea, the defenders fought so well that the 1st defensive line hadn’t even been breached yet. It was all thanks to the Hero Orc and the brave Knights, of course.
On top of that, an unknown Knight revealed the part of a footage to the world, filmed in the middle of the defense against the Red Moon, which featured the Hero Orc’s role in the battle. The Orc’s absolutely overwhelming martial prowess was captured in it.
The video spread out to the rest of the world in an instant, and not just within the country, but even the other countries boiled over with the stories regarding the Hero Orc.
Within the span of the Red Moon week, the fame of the Hero Orc had risen up so high that practically, everyone knew who it was. Hell, some overseas nations enquired the Korean government about loaning the Hero Orcs out to them, saying that they’d like to take a male and female pair and have them live in their nations’ own respective Monster fields…
And so, the Red Moon continued to remain as a source of many talking points as well as great sorrow but finally, on the 8th day of the Red Moon, a very good news spread among the defenders.
"It’s going to end the day after tomorrow!!"
The current location was the 1st defensive perimeter that had become a total wasteland. After receiving a phone call, Joo Ji-Hyuk shouted out in a happy expression. And that caused many wounded and suffering Knights to abruptly open their eyes wide.
"…Huh? Really?! Who said that?"
Yi Hye-Rin was the first to run over and ask. And before anyone knew it, even Kim Yu-Rin and Yu Sae-Jung were standing behind Joo Ji-Hyuk now. But other Knights couldn’t muster up the courage to intrude on the so-called ‘Monster Family’, so they could only eavesdrop from a distance.
"It’s from the Chairman. He said that Lycan had informed him."
The smile on Ji-Hyuk’s face showed no signs of disappearing.
"Wah. Then that’s for real~ Ahssaya~!" (Yi Hye-Rin)
Yi Hye-Rin stretched her arms grandly.
Nowadays, the Lycan’s words were accepted as truth, almost on the level of worship, even. There was the contribution of catching Vampires, but more importantly, he was the very first person in the history to detect signs of the approaching Red Moon a week in advance.
"…Wait a sec. Did you say Oppa had called?"
But for some reason, Yu Sae-Jung glared at Joo Ji-Hyuk with stiff face as if something was unsatisfactory.
"Eh? Oh, ah… Yes." (Joo Ji-Hyuk)
"But why didn’t he call me?" (Yu Sae-Jung)
She began complaining and pulled out her mobile phone. Of course, there was no call from Kim Sae-Jin.
"Oh, he said he’d call you soon."(Joo Ji-Hyuk)
"…He did?" (Yu Sae-Jung)
*SFX for phone ringing*
The mobile phone began ringing at the same time. Yu Sae-Jung’s face remained weird as she tried hard to not to show that she was expecting this call while she checked out the LCD screen. And right away, a bright smile bloomed on her lips.
"May I be excused for a while, please~."
Yu Sae-Jung went towards a quiet area with no people - place where she could talk unhindered - with steps light and soft enough to make her float in the air.
And the two woman, Kim Yu-Rin and Yi Hye-Rin who not only didn’t have a boyfriend but didn’t even have someone they liked, chased after the back of Sae-Jung with envious eyes.
As the sky began to redden, the Knights began to grasp their weapons, and Wizards began channeling Mana in their bodies, all getting ready for another night of battle up ahead. The preparation before the battle was top notch. The morale was deeply boosted with the belief that if they survived tonight and the night after, this damned war would come to an end.
*SFX for roars of Monsters*
From somewhere, the cries of Monsters rang high into the sky.
In the distance, the legendary Monster Basilisk could be seen. And there was the single-eyed Ogre which was reputedly the most powerful of all Ogres, a ‘Cyclops’.
All the Monsters appearing hadn’t been seen until now. This was going to be a difficult fight without a doubt. Everyone began tensing up. But none of them scattered.
The belief in themselves having grown both emotionally and physically gave them much confidence, and also, there was also the powerful ally helping them out which helped them relax just a little bit more.
"All troops, ready your arms!!"
Kim Yu-Rin loudly shouted out.
Mana coming out from the numerous Knights and Wizards present started humming in the air.
Kim Sae-Jin, the Orc Great Warrior, swung his mace and then swung some more in this chaotic battlefield. From the mace overflowing with Mana, shock waves and Mana-infused ‘sword’ auras burst out repeatedly, ripping Monsters to shreds. The ground brutally split apart, and fountains of blood sprayed into the air, making the red moonlight redder still.
The word overwhelming suited the Orc’s fighting prowess, but the source of this display of irrepressible power was actually thanks to a certain wonderful cycle that started off by killing Monsters in the first place.
His Skill ‘Predator’ reinforced his strength the more Monsters he killed. And so, in this place overflowing with Monsters, whenever he smashed one apart, Sae-Jin was growing stronger. In other words, even if he couldn’t kill a Monster today, after going through the day’s rapid growth, he’d be able to kill it the following day.
It was the same for absorbing the Mana Stones as well. Normally, in order to absorb one, he’d have dig it out from the heart of the Monsters which would garner a few curious onlookers, but now that he had this ‘Mana Body’, the process had become a lot simpler. He’d just have to touch the dead Monster’s body to send in his Mana and assimilate the Mana Stone.
And so, he absorbed all the Mana Stones of the countless dead Monsters lining up on the ground like a glutton, even in the middle of this crazy melee.
One could say that for Kim Sae-Jin, this Red Moon was perhaps the greatest ‘event’ for crazy leveling up, making him stronger today than yesterday, and stronger still tomorrow compared to today.
*SFX for an Orcish roar*
But for now, he didn’t have enough time to focus on his growth.
He had spotted Kim Yu-Rin in the distance, fighting hard against a Bladed Dokkaebi. Maybe it was because she’d been fighting nonstop for the past four hours, the Mana covering her sword was getting dimmer and dimmer by the second.
The Orc immediately kicked the ground and rushed towards her location. After arriving there while raising a tempest, he raised the mace up high. And then, slammed down with ‘Fierce Strike’, loaded with seriously ridiculous destructive power.
The Bladed Dokkaebi raised both of its arms to block the mace but it was simply not adequate enough. The two arms of this Monster, reputedly as strong as that of adamantium, shattered like glass.
*SFX for a ‘thing’ going splat*
After losing its arms, the Bladed Dokkaebi turned around in order to run away. Obviously, the Orc didn’t allow that to happen and he powerfully smacked the back of the Monster’s head with the mace.
With the dull sound of destruction, the Monster’s head split open like a crushed tomato.
Unfortunately, Kim Yu-Rin got caught up in the shock wave of the Orc’s attack, and fell down on the ground.
The Orc approached her and offered his hand. Kim Yu-Rin blankly stared at the creature for a moment, before grabbing it and pulling herself up.
As soon as she was up, the Orc once more patted her on the head.
She felt like she had reverted back to being a little kid. But it didn’t all feel bad. No, it rather felt pretty good, instead. Besides from her father when she was very young, Yu-Rin hadn’t felt this sensation of being protected by a dependable man up until now…
However, Kim Yu-Rin deliberately roughly slapped away the Orc’s hand and let out a loud shout. Her face felt hot for some reason. It was like, she was beginning to think, how dare a lowly Orc look down on humans…
She loaded Mana into her sword and swung it. The winds of Mana spread around like the waves of the rough sea.
But at that exact moment, the violent current of Mana suddenly shot up from the ground.
This was energy from a strange magic spell being activated.
Carrying a shocked expression, Kim Yu-Rin quickly turned her head towards her subordinate Knights.
And then - the ground she was standing on collapsed noisily.
< 23 Red Moon (3) > Fin.
(TL: Cliff!! Oh well. Next chapters should go live tomorrow – I’m going to schedule them as soon as I’m done with posting this one.)
(TL: That’s two done. Seven left in the queue. If you’d like to see one more chapter added to the queue – the amount left for that is $50 out of 5o.)