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.)
With Kim Yu-Rin and the Orc as their lead, a group of 37 Knights were busy with their unplanned cave exploration for the past 24 hours or so.
And as the bitter coldness decreased to ‘chilly’ with the destruction of the magic circles they had come across, they encountered no other survival issues other than the slowly encroaching hunger and the onset of fatigue.
Unfortunately, strange Monsters that were suspected to be a part of the defense mechanism against the sudden disabling of the isolation barrier suddenly began to appear one after the other.
A three-headed dog that resembled the legendary Cerberus; a strange Chimera Monster that had a body of an Orc but a head of a deer; A grotesque floating eyeball with tentacles sprouting out of it, etc, etc…
Since the Knights trapped within this place couldn’t use Mana at all for some reason, the Hero Orc had to step up here and well, he took care of all the threats quite easily. Even the Monsters that looked strong enough to make the Knights tense up, got smashed apart like potato crisps under the Orc’s mace.
"Let’s take a look. Ah, there are so many scratches…" (Kim Yu-Rin)
But still, these Monsters possessed enough power to damage the Leviathan’s scales, thus he ended up receiving quite a few scars. Whenever that happened, though, Kim Yu-Rin pulled out an emergency potion from her waist-mounted bag and started applying on his body.
And the other Knights had this dumbfounded expressions as they bore witness to this… ‘heart-warming’ scene.
"…H, hey, isn’t that getting really serious now?! Miss Yu-Rin has never done anything like that for me until now…" (Kim Soo-Gyeom)
Among them, Kim Soo-Gyeom’s body was quaking from intense jealousy. He’d jump in there and separate the two if he could just muster up some courage, but…
But, he just couldn’t dare to go near that Orc with the massive, hulking physique, while also holding that destructive mace of his.
"Eiii, no way…. No way… But wouldn’t that be interesting? And we get new things to tease her with, too."
With a smiling face, Yi Hye-Rin gazed at the back of Yu-Rin and the Orc.
"Ahh~ I wish I had my phone with me so I can take some snaps of the two… How regretful, I say. So regretful."
Even inside this gloomy cave, Yi Hye-Rin didn’t lose her trademark active and easy-going personality.
Unfortunately, even that upbeat attitude couldn’t last forever.
The problem was with the length of this cave; it seemed endless, no matter how long they walked.
In the end, the Knights could no longer endure the accumulated fatigue after walking another 6 hours on top of the 24 they spent prior, and decided to set up a camp in the middle of the cave.
And as soon as they stopped their forward march, the loud rumbling sounds of the Knights’ empty stomachs rang out in a coordinated symphony.
The one thing Knights hated the most was hunger. From the early ages, the rigorous training and the cultivation of Mana led to these Knights having powerful bodies that ended up leaving them with much higher rate of metabolism compared to normal people.
It was even more severe in case of Kim Yu-Rin. The bitter pain from the stomach acid escaping from her stomach spread throughout her body and as a result, countless large, cold drops of sweat were forming all over her.
‘…Can’t these fools do anything without Mana?’
Kim Sae-Jin grumbled inwardly but still, he had to seriously t
hink about what to do here.
The leather pouch tied to his waist had one of those space expanding magic added to it. Inside, there was enough food to last him a month, as well as numerous Monster remains he got from all the hunting he did.
If he pulled those out, then he might be able to stave off starvation for now…
*SFX for empty stomachs loudly grumbling*
From somewhere, a loud roar exploded and shook the interior of the cave. Stunned by this, the Orc hurriedly turned his head to the side to see what’s what, only to find Kim Yu-Rin with her face completely painted in red and avoiding making eye contacts with him.
Unable to endure her moaning, the Orc ended up pulling out the meat of wild boar with its skin neatly removed.
This vicious animal was called ‘Trabong Boar’, a creature that sat in the boundary between being a Monster and a regular wild beast. It was famed as a delicacy and was treated a top ingredient as a result. (TL: "트라봉 멧돼지")
Every Knight’s eyes present here gleamed dangerously the moment that juicy red piece of meat emerged from his pouch. Even Kim Yu-Rin became totally speechless, silently staring at the meat. And, a drop of drool fell from the corner of her mouth…
"…Ah. We don’t have fire…"
But her expression sank deeply when she suddenly realised this fact.
The Orc chuckled inwardly as he began laying down Mana on the ground. Probably because the way he used Mana was fundamentally different from that of the Knights here, Sae-Jin had no trouble whatsoever in converting that Mana into flames.
Not only Kim Yu-Rin, but everyone else suddenly rushed in closer, their eyes shining brightly. The Orc then laid the boar meat on the fire.
*SFX for oil from meat sizzling in heat* (TL: damn, even I’m getting hungry TLing this bit…)
The fatally powerful aroma and the sound effect stimulated the two senses of all the Knights present here at the same time.
But then, Sae-Jin remembered that he didn’t have any seasoning with him.
‘…Hmm, should I try that method now?’
And that was to pour in Mana into food and change the flavour that way. He had never try this out yet, but he was still proud of the fact that, due to the Goblin’s Craftsmanship as well as its highly attuned tastebuds, his own sense of taste had reached a certain high level as well.
That’s why he figured that it’d be fine to simply use Mana to get the desired level of saltiness and sweetness.
Seizing the gap between the Knights’ attention, the Orc poured Mana into the meat.
Although the boar’s size was pretty big, as there were many mouths to feed here, each person ended up receiving six pieces of meat only.
But after realising that he could add different attributed to food as well, Sae-Jin added the attributes that could give the sensation of ‘satiety’ on the meat. And that caused the Knights to fall down on the ground after being utterly moved by the food’s taste as well as how it satisfied their hunger.
In other words, the best condiment in the world that made the greatest delicacies of all was surely the empty stomach.
Even Kim Yu-Rin was immersed deeply in the lingering aftertaste of the delicious meal, her eyes firmly closed in reverence as she relived the moment when the meat melted inside her mouth.
"Well, now… since we’ve eaten, why don’t get some shut-eye…?"
From the back, the voice of an unknown male Knight came through, and many others agreed with this idea. And so, they began to lie down on the cold floor of the cave one by one.
"Captain, it’s fine, right?"
Yi Hye-Rin inquired with a sleepy voice.
"Alright. Since we walked for a long time, let’s take a small break."
Kim Yu-Rin’s eyes were half closed as she replied. And that’s how all the Knights fell into a slumber in an instant. But only the Orc stood up from his spot. After all, the body of the Great Warrior didn’t need a whole lot of sleep, so he appointed himself as the lookout for now.
But eventually, he got bored after looking around the surroundings for about one hour and so he began studying the faces of the sleeping Knights instead. Most of their faces looked uncomfortable, but even so, the deep creases on Kim Yu-Rin’s forehead especially showed no sign of easing.
Seeing her uncomfortable face, a thought suddenly popped up in his mind and Sae-Jin began making a naughty smile.
Drifting out of her sleep, Yu-Rin turned her body this way and that, until she felt something strange. As if she was using a pillow made out of solid metal, it was hard just beneath her head.
She opened her eyes in confusion, only to see the face of the Orc with his own eyes closed. Confused even more at this situation, she began surveying her surroundings, and then realised that she was using his thigh as a pillow.
The shocked Kim Yu-Rin bolted right up, causing the Orc to open his eyes as well.
"…It, it’s nothing. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you up."
Kim Yu-Rin ended up apologising first after mistakenly believing that she used his thigh because of her usual sleeping habits.
Almost at the same time, other Knights began waking up one by one. She hurriedly tried to calm her pounding heart and did her best to look composed as she announced the resuming of their march forward.
"E, everyone, stand up!! We are moving!"
At the end of their lengthy march that lasted over one and a half day, Sae-Jin finally spotted what seemed to be the exit of the cave in the distance.
It was still pitch dark right up until that exit, but he could definitely tell. The space there was considerably wider than compared to the rest of the cave.
Unfortunately, he also sensed a wickedly evil energy in that place at the same time.
It was different from Monsters, but also rather different from humans as well. Instead, he smelled a familiar bloody odour. It was from Vampires.
Sae-Jin stopped his feet. When the Orc’s loud footsteps came to a halt, a small commotion developed towards the back.
"Is there… something wrong?"
Kim Yu-Rin asked while cautiously grabbing hold of his arm. Her move was so smooth and natural, Sae-Jin nearly ended up blurting something aloud.
He managed to shut his mouth and activated the Eyes of the Wolf to the max. Right away, his view expanded greatly until it reached the exit of the cave.
There indeed was a way out over yonder, but a strange old man was blocking the exit while holding a crystal ball and muttering some weird incantations.
But upon closer inspection, that wasn’t a real old man, but some kind of a ‘doll’ that happened to look like one.
‘…And what the heck is that now?’
Finishing up with his ‘surveillance’, Sae-Jin moved his gaze towards Kim Yu-Rin who was staring back at him. But since he had no avenue of passing on the information, all he could do now was to simply stare back at her.
Then, she opened her mouth slightly and tilted her head. That was too damn adorably cute. The simple Orc’s instincts kicked in, and he started gently stroking her cheek.
And the jaws of Yi Hye-Rin and Kim Soo-Gyeom who was witnessing this scene from right behind, dropped to the floor; meanwhile, the dazed Yu-Rin’s face rapidly became dyed in red colour.
Belatedly realising what he had done, the Orc quickly withdrew his hand and then pointed towards the distant exit with his mace.
However, Kim Yu-Rin and the other Knights were way too shocked to figure out what he was trying to say. He even pretended to get peeved and growled a little, but they only seem to get surprised and nothing else.
In the end, the Orc had to take the lead again. And only when the back of the Orc had gotten quite small did the dazed Knights hurriedly chase after him.
"For an Orc, that guy is pretty cool, but still…"
"I said, I know already!! It’s not like that!"
At Yi Hye-Rin’s carefully worded question, Yu-Rin replied back tersely, just as she had done before.
But, strangely enough, her wildly beating heart did not regain its calmness even after a long, long time.
The Knights and the single Orc arrived at the wide open space that led to the exit, but none of them could express their happiness. It was because of the overbearing presence of a puppet-like ‘doll’ that emanated a deeply unsettling energy from its body.
"Even though we can’t use Mana here, but as we still have our weapons, if we attack together from both sides, we might be able to do something," said Yi Hye-Rin as she unsheathed her longsword.
But the Orc stopped her and took a step closer to the ‘doll’.
These Knights couldn’t use Mana at all. And the opponent this time might have been a doll, but it was also seemingly a clone of a powerful Vampire. Most importantly, however - the desire for battle he had been suppressing until now was reacting with burning fervor, so it was perfect that he would get to fight this thing.
The Orc took a single look at the Knights behind him and then pointed at the exit behind the doll with the mace.
And before they could express their emotions…
"*SFX for a loud Orcish roar*"
…He dashed towards the doll while roaring out powerfully.
Almost immediately, several crimson tentacles shot out from the ground below and grabbed hold of his ankles, but the Orc’s superhuman strength wasn’t just for a show. Using nothing but his raw physical power, the Orc ripped off the binding tentacles and slammed his mace against the side of the doll.
The Vampire’s doll was smashed away like an empty can of soda, bounced around the cave and then, powerfully drilled into the ground.
The Orc pointed at the exit again which was now cleared of all obstacles.
The Knights began to head towards the exit one after the other, with the exception of one person - Kim Yu-Rin.
"Captain, what are you doing?! Please hurry!!"
"Mister Orc, let’s, let’s get out of here together!"
Yu-Rin hurriedly grabbed the arm of the Orc who was about to rush towards the Vampire’s doll.
But before he could respond, the entirety of the cave became dyed in red. And from these crimson walls, several sharp-pointed tentacles rapidly shot out towards the direction of Kim Yu-Rin and the Orc.
It was too late to deflect all of them. The Orc quickly pulled Yu-Rin in his arms and then activated the Leviathan’s Scales to absolute max.
Unfortunately, the tentacles managed to penetrate the scales, and the painful sensation of the sharp edges cutting into his flesh crawled up his spine.
"Ahh, damn it… Why! Eu-eu…! Eu-ah…!"
The Orc gazed down on Kim Yu-Rin within his arms. He found it rather pitiable and at the same time, felt grateful, at how hard she was struggling to summon up Mana inside her, wanting to help him out even if it was by a little.
But he judged that this stubborn woman would try to stay here until the end if he let her be, so he decided to open his mouth to her.
A voice more manly and burly than humanly possible resounded heavily inside the cave.
*SFX for the sounds of energy rising up*
As Kim Yu-Rin’s face became dyed in astonishment, the Vampire’s clone began emitting a seriously creepy aura.
"The exit, very long. I stay and block that bastard, until everyone, escapes."
The Orc spoke up to here and activated the Warrior of Reversal.
This wasn’t even some Hollywood action film, but just what kind of rubbish situation did he find himself in? Most of all, the presence of this woman was bothering him a great deal. After all, his heart was roaring wildly inside his chest, and he felt like he might die if he didn’t go crazy against that doll bastard right away.
So why the heck was he wasting time talking to this woman?!
"I see, you humans can’t use Mana, I think because of the crystal ball. That bastard, absorb that ball into the heart just now."
The Orc’s eyes were now dyed in crimson, and at the same time, equally red and very dense aura started rising up from its body.
"That’s why, no Mana, until that bastard dead. You, no useful in this fight. Only a distraction. So, go away, quickly."
The Orc then grabbed the waist of Kim Yu-Rin, who still hadn’t managed to pull herself back together from the shock, and powerfully threw her towards the exit like tossing a javelin.
"Kkyayyak!!" (Kim Yu-Rin)
It seemed that the Weapon Mastery Skill also applied in this case, as the thrown Kim Yu-Rin traced a perfect arc and scored an equally perfect goal inside the exit tunnel.
"Keep running that way."
At the end of this sentence from the Orc, the entire interior of the cave finished being painted in red.
< 23. Red Moon (5) > Fin.
(TL: Sorry for the cliffhanger. Well, what can I do, eh? See you tomorrow – Monday – for the regular release.)
(TL: Alright!! Four chapters cleared from the queue. Now I have five more to go. For the sixth chapter to be added to the queue, then it’ll be $50 out of 50.)