A Monster Who Levels Up
Kim Ji-Han handed over the "Taereung" Knights Order’s business card to Sae-Jin.
"…As I mentioned before…"
"I know. The thing is, though, human minds can change at any time, no? Honestly speaking, trying to tough it out alone, especially in our profession as Hunters where we already enjoy a pretty short life expectancy, isn’t going to work out in the long run. Of course, I’m sure there are pluses to going solo. But hell, don’t you agree that being unable to participate in The Fissure Exploration is too big a missed opportunity?"
In this world, there existed a separate dimension called The Fissure. A place that existed between dimensions, a world between worlds - that was a Fissure. There were numerous, countless Monsters infesting a Fissure, and the only way to "erase" one was to kill every single Monster residing within it. And there was the matter of pure, hard net profit that could be earned when erasing a Fissure which was at minimum, over $890K, or, as much over $9 million. It didn’t matter if you were a Hunter or a Knight, participating even once in a Fissure Exploration was a sure-fire way to earn not only great fame and acclaim, but a healthier bank balance as well.
"Give it another consideration. When paired together with a Knight, a Heavenly Gifted Hunter can shine even more, you see. Ah, right. Before that… Did you take down that Skeleton Soldier using that mace?"
Kim Ji-Han asked in a tone of voice that implied he couldn’t understand how it was done. It was just plainly impossible for a regular person to defeat a Low Tier Monster alone, after all.
"Yes. It’s a quality weapon for sure but… my family members all had inherited strong constitutions."
"Oh…. if you say so…"
In today’s world where the abilities "Mana Utilisation" and "Mana Affinity" were strictly divided into two distinct categories, the normal remained within the bounds of the common sense, but there was no longer any limits applicable for the ones deemed exceptional.
Those with good Mana Affinity didn’t need any special teachings to accumulate Mana other than to just breathe, and in time, they could become the proverbial super-men that were fundamentally different from the likes of normal citizens out there.
Although few in number, these Superman types did exist among the Hunters. They were existences that fell just short of becoming a true, full-on Knight as even though they possessed enough affinity with Mana, they still lacked the necessary Mana Utilisation, so most of them ended up eking out a living as Hunters. Of course, it was still a special power that the regular, powerless people wished they could have it too.
"Alright, I’ll think about it. Now then, excuse me, I’m running out of time."
There were still around 10 minutes left in the clock, but Sae-Jin felt it was slightly burdensome to deal with people right now.
"Right. Well, if you change your mind, we’d appreciate it greatly if you give us a call first. Our Taereung Knights Order is famous for treating all its members very well, regardless of whether it’s a Knight or a Hunter, you see."
Maybe it was in consideration of a Grey Wolf’s supposed strengths, the agility, his overall size didn’t increase even after the the Trait level hitting 4 but, his ferocious, dangerous aura now easily equalled that of a great tiger. And hunting became quite easier too in the Wolf Form without resorting to doping now.
Most of the Low Tier Monsters died a
fter a single surprise attack from Sae-Jin. He’d saunter into a thicket to hide and wait for a prey, and in that moment when one entered the killing zone… With a shocking explosion of speed that didn’t even leave behind a blur, his fangs would sink deep into the necks of his victims. If one was tempted to describe this hunting method, it’d be "One Hit, One Kill."
Sae-Jin abused the newly acquired active skill "Whirlwind Dash" which made catching at least two Monsters in a day a lot easier than before.
Even today, Sae-Jin was leisurely drifting around searching for prey in his Wolf Form. Its sensitive nose was truly outstanding. Plus, this sense of smell wasn’t some abstract, ambiguous nonsense that was like, "it smelled heavy so it’s close by", or "it smelled faint, so it’s far." Nope.
[Southeastward, 680 metres, Humans, 3 presences]
Yep, that’s how this system worked. By receiving this wonderful assistance of the cheat system, he was able to hunt over 10 Monsters in the period of past 3 days.
There were more people hunting in the Low Tier ground than compared to the Lowest Tier, so it was a common occurrence to run into other humans. Carrying a dissatisfied expression, the wolf slowly began to vacate the current position.
"Today’s luck is good."
Out of the blue, a voice of another person entered Sae-Jin’s ears as he began wading into the tall grass. It was really close. Strangely, there weren’t any scents in the air so, while panicking, he quickly scanned the surrounding area. About 200 metres from where he was, he felt a presence. Could he run away? He thought about it, but deemed it too dangerous. Immediately deciding what to do, he changed into the Human Form right away.
"…It’s a human."
Fortunately, thanks to his deft timing, he was safe. Sae-Jin calmed his heart and turned to look at the owner of the voice.
It was, weirdly enough, a party of two. One was a girl young enough to be under the legal voting age, and the other was a huge dude wearing a formal three piece suit that seemed totally out of place here.
"Well, hello there~."
The girl studied the lone Sae-Jin in curiosity for a bit before greeting him with a little nod of the head and slowly got closer.
"My name is Yu Sae-Jung, a Low Tier Knight."
The bob-cut hair that came down around her neck, a straight nose and a pair of intelligent eyes - she should definitely be a teenage girl when considering only her young face, but the slick, urbane aura she gave off made her seem much older and experienced.
Unwillingly shaking her hand, Sae-Jin reaffirmed that he had made the correct decision. Since she was a Knight, even if he assumed a Monster Form and hoofed it, the whole thing might have turned into one tiring mess. Meeting face-to-face once and parting ways smoothly was a hundred times more preferable.
"And this here is a Low Tier ranked Hunter, Yun Do-Han."
"….How do you do. It’s nice to make your acquaintance. I’m named Yun Do-Han, a Low Tier Hunter."
As the man bowed his head, Sae-Jin’s face dropped slightly in amazement. Yun Do-Han’s looks and the get-up all made him look like a highly-ranked Knight or some such, but in the end, he turned out to be some measly little Low Tier Hunter, of all things…
"Were you in the middle of a hunt? Your stealth skill is seriously incredible. And I don’t see any special equipment on you, even."
Yu Sae-Jung scanned Sae-Jin from top to bottom, and sent him a compliment in a soft voice.
Nowadays, networking & making connections in a hunting field were seen as more important than the whole "graduated from the same school, came from the same neighbourhood" schtick, which Yu Sae-Jung was acutely aware of. Of course, there was that unwritten rule of how the potential persons making connections needing to possess outstanding abilities first, but here, unknown to himself, Sae-Jin had passed this young girl’s initial test.
"Yeah. It’s better to erase all traces of yourself when tracking a prey. Like the way you have erased your scents."
As soon as Sae-Jin eyed her bracelet and spoke, she let out a soft cry.
"You’ve got a pretty sharp eye, there. By the way, I still haven’t caught your name as yet…"
"Ah, my name is Kim Sae-Jin. A Low Tier Hunter."
As soon as he finished speaking, her body shook for a very brief moment. And then, with her head slightly tilted in uncertainty, she began questioning him with a voice that was a degree colder than before.
"…Is it okay for a Low Tier to move alone like this?"
"I’m still alive, so yeah, it’s okay."
The initial interest she showed, had completely deserted her after his short reply, and so, she gave him a curt little nod. Obviously, she too had mistook as him as a Knight, just like others had so far.
"Yes, well. Whatever… Do carry on with whatever you’ve been doing until now. Seems to work for you, so."
She derisively snorted once and turned around. And seeing that cold demeanor, Sae-Jin couldn’t help but to frown a little. Seriously now, just how old was she to live her life so cold and calculating? Sae-Jin shook his head in disapproval before heading towards the opposite direction.
But his feet became ensnared by the message window popping up in front of his view.
[Eastward, 500 metres. A Troll in a Ravenous State]
A Monster with a face that resembled a withered, cracked bark of a tree, and the body size that could reach well over 3 metres tall when fully grown. And capable of making shrewd movements that contradicted its giant body.
A kind of Monster that made people automatically swear out, that was a Troll in a nutshell. Didn’t matter whether it was a Low Tier, a mid Low Tier, a Mid Tier, or a upper Mid Tier. All of this Monster’s characteristics were equally applicable to every Tier there was. Of course, since it resided in the Low Tier hunting ground, this Troll was weaker than the others in different areas. But the real trouble was that Ravenous State warning.
Trolls were unique in that they rarely displayed what could be seen as the common species-specific behavioural patterns and habits. That’s why Monster researchers preferred to study Trolls, and they were sometimes called the only Monsters to possess "individual personalities."
In the middle of those individual personalities, Ravenous State was the rarest and also happened to be the most concerning one, too. As the title implied, it really, really craved for food. What differentiated this state from the others was, Trolls suffering this infliction grew stronger the more Monsters they digested.
To make matters worse, the Troll in the Ravenous State would see unprecedented growth potential in this place, the Low Tier hunting ground. After all, it was the most powerful Monster roaming this area and there was literally nothing here that could oppose or threaten its growth, so a Troll would soon grow strong enough to rival a Mid Tier creature in terms of pure strength.
After hesitating for a moment or two, Sae-Jin quickly ran towards Yu Sae-Jung on the other direction and grabbed her shoulder. Even if her conducts were uncool, it was still the right thing to do to warn her of the impending dangers, after all.
"…What the, hey, what gives!!"
Totally unaware of the approaching disaster, Yu Sae-Jung slapped his hand off her shoulder in irritation.
"What is your problem?"
The guy next to her also butted in.
Even though he was pretty well built, since he revealed his rank as a Low Tier Hunter earlier, Sae-Jin didn’t really feel scared of this man. And as if he could understand his own shortcomings, he withdrew behind Yu Sae-Jung with a slight fake cough when Sae-Jin glared at him.
"Hey, mister. What the hell are you trying to…"
"There’s a Monster up ahead. We better evacuate."
No matter how urgent Sae-Jin appeared and sounded, she just disregarded him coldly before letting off yet another derisive snort.
"Fu. Only a trashy Low Tier Hunter like you would think of running away from a Low Tier Monste-"
Unfortunately for her, she couldn’t get to finish her hostile words of clear ridicule.
Strangely enough, a Troll’s growl sounded rather similar to that of a common wild beast.
There it was, approaching them so fast with its huge 3 metre frame, and a face that seemed to be half burnt by the ghostly flames of the Underworld. Outwardly resembling a craggy hill, this Troll stopped in its tracks and surveyed the meals that were discovered coincidentally with a pair of greedy, oppressive eyes.
Affected by the terrifying visage of the Troll, Sae-Jin’s eyes widened in shock and stark fear, and at the same time, Yu Sae-Jung very slowly turned her head to see what was behind her.
When that evil face filled up her view, she reacted similarly to how Sae-Jin did a bit earlier. Waking up from the fear-induced daze thanks to her swearing, Sae-Jin offhandedly thought that only now she was acting like a real teenager.
"… Do-Han Oppa? Do-Han Oppa!!" (Oppa: a term of endearment for an older male used by a younger female. Also lit. means older brother.)
"Eh… ah!! Ah, I got it!!"
Property of © Fantasy-Books.live; outside of it, it is stolen.
She hurriedly called out the name of the dazed Yun Do-Han while drawing her weapon, a sword, hanging from her hips. It was then when Do-Han suddenly took on the posture to start running.
"….But we’re in the Low Tier ground, though?"
The distance between this hunting ground and a military base with a Knight capable of dealing with this kind of threat was quite considerable.
"He’s different from a trashy Hunter like you so don’t worry about him. And you’ll get in my way, so please, back off to the side, will you."
Was it the ambitiousness of a youth, or naïve bravery? Yu Sae-Jung prepared to engage the Troll alone and raised her blade straight. And at the same time….
Yun Do-Han ran off at near the speed of sound.
Sae-Jin didn’t need to ask to figure out what happened. That kind of improbable movement could only be explained away with the involvement of a Trait.
The Troll got annoyed as one of its meals, Yun Do-Han, managed to disappear, and it began to growl even more aggressively than before.
She took one deep breath. As Yu Sae-Jung concentrated, azure-coloured Mana began to infuse with the blade of her nice sword. That was one of the most famous Mana Utilisation skills employed by the Knights, the "Mana Blade."
‘That isn’t going to work…’
Sae-Jin knew that was not enough for this Monster. And he noticed that the girl’s slender arms holding the sword were trembling ever so slightly. It was a sign that she was already affected by the fear of the enemy even before the battle, and soon, that would lead her to an inevitable defeat.
Even though he wanted to lend a hand here, without a weapon it was just impossible for him to intervene. The steel mace he praised so much was currently nicely asleep in the corner of his cave at the moment, as he was planning to hunt as a Wolf today.
‘Time to run.’
Out of ideas, Sae-Jin was about to run with his tail firmly between his legs when,
[Condition Complete: Encountering an Overwhelmingly Stronger Monster.]
– The host has encountered a Monster with near zero percentage of victory. All Stats will rise 1.
– The Orc Warrior Form is available for the host instead of the Orc Form. All stats for Monster Forms will be adjusted accordingly.
– The Skill "Warrior of Reversal" has been unlocked. (This skill name isn't final. Couldn't really come up with an appropriate TLed term. Until I do, it'll remain so…)
► Active Skill "Warrior of Reversal" [Current Skill Level: F]
– Available during all Monster Forms.
– For 5 minutes, Strength increases by 200%, Endurance increases by 100% and resistance to Pain increases. (During Human Form, the time is reduced to 1 minute.)
– When activating this Skill in Human Form, the Stats will be based off on the Orc Warrior Form.
– Calculated from the current Strength and Endurance Stat, the skill can be activated for (1 time) during a 24 hour period.
Just like that, another one of those evolution message windows rose up before him.
< 03. A Heavenly Gifted Hunter (2) > Fin.