A Monster Who Levels Up
The wide open area had now become the crimson arena of death; from the red walls, dozens and hundreds of glistening, razor-sharp tentacles exploded out.
Kim Sae-Jin wielded Mana and covered his entire body with it, and then changed its nature to that of ultra-high temperature white flames.
The numerous tentacles that tried to viciously attack the Orc could not penetrate past the protective flames and all melted away well before even touching his scales.
"*SFX for the Orc’s roar*"
From inside, the Orc’s brutal nature boiled over.
Sae-Jin charged towards the doll with a loud roar. It was the rush of a brightly burning flame that violently shook the cave and stirred the air inside it.
However, even against such a terror-inducing onslaught, the doll didn’t flinch from fear. It only stood there, reciting the chant and getting ready for the next magic spell.
Arriving right in front of the doll, the Orc slammed down with his mace. Accompanied by a stupendously loud explosion, the murky fog rose up and obscured the surroundings.
The Orc did not let up his assault on the doll even while trapped within this black dust cloud. Using the mace, he shattered the doll’s barrier and then with his bare fist, fed the doll’s head some knuckle sandwich.
The doll let out weird noises whenever the fists connected with it.
The Orc continued to one-sidedly clobber the doll, but then suddenly, strange qigong began to gather up on its chest area. (TL: WTF?! Qigong? Really? What happened to Mana? Colour me confused…)
In that very moment, the Orc’s intuition rang chilling alarm bells.
But even before he could take a step back, the gathered qigong became an ultra-sharp point of light and pierced his chest.
The pain was indescribable. However, that pain instead served to awaken the Orc’s reckless instincts. His vision became dyed in red, and the muscles on his entire body quaked in pure rage.
– To become the Orc Chieftain…
An alert window popped up, but it simply could not enter Sae-Jin’s cognition right now.
*SFX for a seriously loud Orc’s roar*
Blinded by the heaven-shaking rage, the Orc used up every single potion stored inside via Spiritualisation. His wounds healed up in an instant, and his vitality soared to crazy new heights.
"What are you doing, Captain? Keep on running!!"
Yi Hye-Rin pulled the hesitant Kim Yu-Rin away. Without resistance, she got pulled along by Hye-Rin. It was because of the effect of Skills imbued within the Orc’s voice.
Even as the Knights continued to run forward, they could clearly hear the evidence of a fierce battle taking place behind their backs - the sounds of mace destroying something, the dull sounds of heavy fighting - but most of all, the Orc’s roar that shook the ground.
Whenever she heard those sounds, Kim Yu-Rin repeatedly looked back while carrying a mixed expression. Yi Hye-Rin had never seen such a longing gaze from Yu-Rin before in the past ten years they’d known each other.
‘Isn’t this getting way too serious?!’
Yu-Rin’s peculiar reactions made Yi Hye-Rin frown deeply. Even if Yu-Rin was unfamiliar with the matters of men, but still, just why would she and an Orc, of all things…
Right then, a white light bloomed up from behind and brightened the interior of the cave. Kim Yu-Rin’s feet stopped moving all on their own, but at the same time, the Orc’s voice deeply embedded in her mind rang out again.
‘Keep running that way.’
And so, she continued to run forward.
After 30 minutes of running, the Knights could finally locate the exit of this goddam
n isolation barrier that made them wander around for the past 40 hours or so.
As they escaped from the exit while shouting out in joy, they were greeted by the dense, green forest, with the sunlight broken up by the leaves on tall trees shining on them.
They heard the refreshing chirping of the birds. For the Knights who were trapped in that dank and gloomy cave for the past 40 hours, it was the most welcoming and refreshing noise there could be.
"…By the way, where are we, exactly?"
But even that joy was short-lived. One of the Knights came back to reality quickly, and asked out.
"Ah! Is anyone here still able to communicate with outside?"
Although the leader of this group was originally Kim Yu-Rin, as she was doing nothing but staring at the exit while waiting for someone, Yi Hye-Rin chose to take the lead.
"Please wait a moment!"
A Knight began to rummage through his pocket to produce a crystal ball and a GPS. The GPS didn’t work inside the cave, but now it was working just fine.
However, this Knight didn’t reply and simply gazed at the coordinates shown on the GPS dumbfoundedly.
"What is it? Hey, I said, where are we?!" (Yi Hye-Rin)
The Knight only managed to swallow down his saliva only after hearing Yi Hye-Rin’s frustrated shout.
"…We need to get out of here as soon as possible. This place is the deepest part of the Monster field. We’re over 50 km away from the 1st defensive line."
In an instant, all the Knights’ faces crumpled. Yi Hye-Rin let out a long sigh and then grabbed the wrist of Kim Yu-Rin who was still gazing at the cave’s exit.
"Let’s get out of here. It’s dangerous here, Captain."
"…You’re right. Everyone, let’s hurry and leave this area."
It seemed that, even though she was in a dazed state, Kim Yu-Rin still managed to hear what the Knight with the GPS had said, as she resolutely gave out an order. Although there was very little strength behind her voice to call it an order, but still.
And so, the Knights ran with haste to leave the Monster field.
As they were still situated very deeply within the field, many powerful upper Mid Tier Monsters showed up, but well, threats of those levels were easily dealt with by Kim Yu-Rin’s attacks.
And her attacks were unusually vicious for some reason.
"…Are you angry?"
Yi Hye-Rin cautiously asked her after a clueless Manticore decided to attack the group and promptly got turned into scraps of meat.
"No. Not at all. Just continue running. There’s no time to waste."
Kim Yu-Rin spat out before starting her running again. Hye-Rin dazedly watched her back getting gradually smaller before hurriedly following after her.
Inside the cave where the evidence of fierce battle still remained fresh, Kim Sae-Jin was breathing heavily.
After three hours of intense melee combat and by utilising every single one of Skills beneficial to him in this situation, he finally succeeded in disabling the doll’s operations.
But his sacrifices weren’t small. He just couldn’t figure out what the hell was up with this damnable doll’s durability - if it weren’t for all those potions, he’d have collapsed first from losing way too much blood.
He shoved his hand into the chest of the destroyed doll rolling around on the cave’s floor. Then he grabbed and pulled out the still-beating artificial heart that felt cold to the touch. From the pierced chest of the doll, blood shot out like a fountain.
Sae-Jin took a probing look at this thing. Even after being separated from the body, it was still somehow continuously beating steadily.
– An artificial heart created by taking a human heart and combining it with several hundred Mana Stones of Monsters. It’ll increase the flow of Mana in one’s blood vessels simply by holding it.
– Currently, there are a total of (23/30) magic spells stored within this heart. With enough Mana, it’s possible to use the heart as a medium when using magic and it’ll be possible to store new type of magic spells.
Now that he had looked at it, there seemed to be a variety of uses for this thing.
As it was made out of hundreds of Monster Mana Stones, absorbing it would cause unprecedented growth in his Stats, or he could use Spiritualisation and store it inside his body which would allow him to use magic.
For now, he stored the heart inside him using Spiritualisation, and began moving towards the exit, as well.
Around the same time.
By fully abusing ‘Mana Movement Technique’, Knights were able to escape from the Monster field in less than an hour.
The final defensive perimeter came into view in the distance. There were black smokes rising as well as the moanings of the wounded everywhere, but the defense operation had already been concluded successfully.
"Uh?! There are Knights approaching us over there!"
Someone shouted out loudly while pointing towards the Knights trudging out from the mountainside. Right away, thousands and tens of thousands of eyes focused there.
"Wow, wowee~. We can finally go home~."
While checking out Kim Yu-Rin’s mood, Yi Hye-Rin stretched her limbs out grandly. Unfortunately, Yu-Rin’s gloomy expression showed no signs of abating anytime soon.
"…Uh! That’s Order Master Hyun-Seok!!"
Just in time, Kim Hyun-Seok’s face could be seen in the distance. Thinking this was a good chance, Yi Hye-Rin quickly shouted out. Only then did Yu-Rin’s stiff expression change slightly.
"He must’ve been really worried… What are you doing? You should hurry~."
"Eh? Uh? H, hey, wait!"
Hye-Rin didn’t miss this chance and forcibly pushed Yu-Rin’s back. Although surprised, she still managed to quickly walk towards Kim Hyun-Seok.
"You’ve safely returned?"
Kim Hyun-Seok smiled softly while looking at her.
"…Yes, sir. All 37 missing Knights, reporting their safe return."
Kim Hyun-Seok was worse than a worst miser when it came to praising his own daughter but it was different this time. He didn’t lose the smile even for a second as he proudly patted her shoulders.
"Thank you. You worked hard."
He only spoke two things. But Kim Yu-Rin was extremely moved by the meaning behind those words. Her moist eyes, wet from the emotions repressed within her, clearly demonstrated her current feelings.
"Let us go home." (Kim Hyun-Seok)
Kim Yu-Rin carefully wiped the corners of her eyes and resolutely nodded her head.
Even after finishing up a press conference, Kim Yu-Rin had to endure the harassment of hundreds of reporters on her way back home.
The questions that didn’t deserve an answer were repeatedly asked, and she also couldn’t really figure out what they were on about when asking her about a scandal that developed inside the cave.
As expected. She often thought about this, but for her it was far simpler and easier to deal with Monsters rather than reporters.
But after she had returned to her empty house, a part of her heart became rather lonesome all of a sudden. Maybe it was because the place was not inhabited for the last ten days, her house felt so cold and empty.
Feeling lonely for some reason, Yu-Rin turned on the tap for the bathtub and to liven up the quietness of the empty room somehow, she switched on the TV.
– It is now revealed that the one responsible for aiding the escape of the 37 Knights was the Hero Orc.
The news coming out of the news channel in that moment was talking about the Hero Orc. And so, Yu-Rin ended up naturally thinking about him again.
However, the Orc was not here with her. Only that, his dignified scent and the manly voice remained clearly in her memories, making her heart ache deeply.
She found herself wondering. Did the Orc safely escape the cave alive? Or did he… fail to do so and perished in the middle of the battle?
"…I want to see him agai… Uh?! Huh?"
After getting utterly shocked by the words involuntarily leaking out of her, Yu-Rin hurriedly covered up her mouth.
– According to the testimonies of the Knights present, the Orc displayed a heroical demeanour by destroying isolation barrier that had trapped the Knights inside, as well as providing sustenance to the starving Knights.
The news broadcast continued on. The memories of yesterday came back to her in full force, when she was still with the Orc inside the cave.
That warm blanket and the delicious food, the firm thigh as well as his gentle touches…
When she remembered up to here, her heart began pounding madly away suddenly.
"…Am I really going crazy?"
She quickly switched the TV off and held her crimson cheeks. Maybe it was her instinctive hunger rearing its head with vengeance after 28 years of abstinence or something. But to fall for someone who wasn’t even a human… Wasn’t that a bit wrong?
*SFX for water overflowing off the edge of the bathtub*
By then, the water began to overflow from the bathtub.
‘Right. Let’s just take a bath and cleanse all the weird thoughts out of my head.’
She took off her clothes and headed straight towards the bathroom.
"Oh, that’s good…"
Unfortunately for her, even after dipping herself into the suitably warm water, the thoughts of that Orc didn’t easily dissipate.
"…Surely, he didn’t die, right? After all, he was so strong…"
No, instead, she continued to think about him. The images of Orc’s martial prowess back then and his dependable back continued to circle around in her mind.
Feeling frustrated, she closed her eyes shut and sighed out grandly below the water’s surface. Bubbles floated up on the water as a result.
One week later.
"It’s not even funny with Yu-Rin Unni’s situation anymore. I mean, she’s loitering around the Hero Orc’s village everyday under the pretext of hunting, you know?"
At Yi Hye-Rin’s words, Yu Sae-Jung made a surprised face.
"Mm. Serious. Everyday, as soon as she’s done with her duties, she goes there."
Right next to Yu Sae-Jung, as if his throat was burning up, Sae-Jin was gulping down lots of water. Yu Sae-Jung looked at him confusedly for a moment or two, before seizing this opening by grabbing hold of his hand.
"Oppa, it’s not to your liking?"
"Hmm? Uh… No, it’s nothing."
Kim Sae-Jin shook his head, while inwardly wondering whether he should show his ‘face’ to Yu-Rin at least once.
"…But what’s the relationship between you two? Are you really dating?" (Yi Hye-Rin)
Yi Hye-Rin’s forehead creased a little as she surveyed the two.
"No…" (Kim Sae-Jin)
At his quick reply, Yu Sae-Jung made an expression of getting really, really hurt by that.
"…Not yet." (Kim Sae-Jin)
As soon as he added a bit more, her expression brightened slightly.
"But what does that even mean?" (Yi Hye-Rin)
Yi Hye-Rin sharply glared at him with the disbelieving eyes, before giving a serious warning to Yu Sae-Jung.
"Miss Sae-Jung, you gotta be careful now. This is the classic case of leading people on."
"Yes, I’m aware. That’s why, I’m gonna definitely settle this once and for all later on."
"Oh, please. Stop. You’re still too young for that." (Kim Sae-Jin)
As his guilty conscience got poked, Sae-Jin flicked the forehead of Yu Sae-Jung who had made an unnecessary declaration.
"Ouch! What do you mean, I’m too young? I’m an adult now."
Yu Sae-Jung poured out her complaints. All Sae-Jin could do then, was to chuckle and overlook it.
< 23. Red Moon (6) > Fin.
(TL: 5 chapters still in queue. The amount remaining for the sixth is: $17 out of $50.)