A Monster Who Levels Up
Deep under the Geumgang Mountain, there existed a Sanctuary belonging to Nosferatus.
"It was beyond our expectations that the entire portal would completely be destroyed… But, somehow, our mission is a success, sir." (Unnamed Nosferatu)
Unlike those Vampires that had blended into the human society, Nosferatus had a different end goal.
They hadn’t publicly announced it yet in order to avoid the gazes of the omniscient and omnipotent Lord of all Vampires, but the thing was, they did not want to return to their original world.
In a way, it was an expected response from them who were treated with deep disdain and contempt by the rest of the Vampire species.
To them, it was far more preferable to live among the humans and drink animal blood, rather than to suffer a life worse than that of a livestock where one’s neck would be in constant risk of being cut off because of a single mistake.
"Plans are advancing much faster than our expectations. What is the response from the Lord?" (Suterte)
"The Lord is yet to awaken from his hibernation, thus he is not aware of anything, sir."
So, the leader of the Nosferatus, ‘Suterte’ decided to involve humans so they could disrupt the House of Bathory’s plans to open up a portal back to their home world.
Of course, even he didn’t expect the portal to be thoroughly destroyed like this.
No, what he thought would happen was that, after the event of the Red Moon had ended, the number of Monsters within the Monster field would have decreased rather dramatically, and so, the Knights would take this opportunity to search for their missing colleagues and then, accidentally stumble onto the portal. In case that didn’t happen, then he was planning to let them know anonymously, too.
"On top of this, unlike the Vampire Lord’s original plan, the Bathorys were too impatient. They were thinking of completing everything before the end of the hibernation. That is why they will do everything in their power to make sure none of this blunder will enter the Lord’s ears." (Unnamed Nosferatu)
Suterte stroked his lengthy beard and harrumphed to himself quietly.
"That’s why we need to be wary of the fury of the House of Bathory, not the Vampire Lord. There should not be any evidence of our involvement behind, but that Bathory woman is a simple-minded moron who moves on nothing but a feeling, after all." (Unnamed Nosferatu)
"Phew… Seeing such a stupid woman wield so much power, makes me fear just what she might do next. Fine, that’s that but, what is the progress on the order I gave you?" (Suterte)
"Sir. As you’ve correctly predicted, the Bathorys have handed over the information regarding our Sanctuary and its interior layout to the Lycan. However, both the Lycan and the SID have not shown any activity until now."
Suterte fell into a deep thought after listening to the subordinate’s report.
The Lycan - a name he’d never heard before. But in the world of Mercenaries, people changing their names or acting in anonymity were as common as the stars in the night sky. And judging by the unfathomable way his actions had been so far, it was a sure thing that he had an incredible wealth of experience in dealing with such matters.
A Mercenary that possessed abilities to detect the omens of the Red Moon, and to sniff out and murder those hidden Vampires - not just any, but those incredibly dangerous members of the Bathory family only…
"If that’s the case, there’s a chance that the Lycan might have figured out our ultimate goal. At least, he could have determined that we are not a threat for now."
Suterte let out a weighty exclamation of admiration while thinking, Really, this Lycan is someone who exceeds my expectations.
"So, we only have to focus all of our
attention on the Vampire Lord who should be waking up soon."
The Lord possessed the authority of life or death over all Vampires.
Of course, that didn’t mean the Lord possessed the literal means to control the fates of every Vampire, but it wasn’t too far off that notion since this being could freely control their Vampiric instincts.
"Yes, sir. Understood."
The subordinate bowed his waist in a disciplined manner before melting into the shadows.
At the same time, the underground training facility of The Monster.
Kim Sae-Jin was going through his daily martial arts training.
"Miss Kim Yu-Rin?"
"What are you doing?"
"That… No, it’s nothing."
Unfortunately, the current state of his tutor was a bit of a mess.
Kim Yu-Rin hadn’t been paying much attention to their sparring session at all, instead choosing to sniff out Sae-Jin’s scent as if to seek out the faint smell of the Orc from him or some such.
Although there were parts that were similar, scents were different in each of his Forms. So, he was not worried about being discovered, but still, this sort of wasting valuable time for training was proving to be somewhat troublesome for him.
"I am really sorry but… is it okay if we end today’s training here?"
Kim Yu-Rin sounded rather miserable while scratching the back of her head. Her expression right then looked really complicated.
For the past two weeks, the time she spent staring into nothing in a daze increased in frequency. Instead of forgetting about what had happened, her yearning only became deeper and deeper. Her worries of whether this feeling she carried around was a crush or not also deepened as well.
If it indeed was affection, then she had to immediately severe it away.
The reality was not a fairy tale. The beauty and the beast, or more correctly, an Orc and a female Knight. That would never be realised, and it should never be realized as well.
But, just as they said, "belatedly blowing winds are far more terrifying" - until now, she had never found any man interesting, but she couldn’t stop thinking about that Orc.
No, she couldn’t help but to think about him. Whenever she switched on the TV, or when going to her Knights Order, the conversation regarding the Orc continued on, so the memories of back then ended up stimulating her even more…
"…Excuse me, Miss Kim Yu-Rin? Nowadays…"
"N, no, it’s definitely not that."
She even developed a sixth sense lately, in recognizing what other people wanted to ask her about and then denying it unequivocally.
"It’s just that, I’ve been mentally and physically fatigued of late. It must be the aftereffects of the Red Moon… I apologise."
She couldn’t even meet Sae-Jin’s eyes. He wordlessly stared at her for a moment or two, before nodding his head briefly.
"I understand. I guess it can’t be helped, then."
He sheathed the practice sword back into the scabbard while muttering out.
Kim Yu-Rin too lowered her sword and hurriedly shuffled towards the showers. Sae-Jin looked at her back and sighed out, before shouting at her.
"I will be going ahead. There are matters I need to attend to."
"Oh, yes. It’s fine."
He quickly started walking. It was in order to resolve her rather serious ‘lovesickness’, even if it was by a little bit. He already knew where she’d go next. If he waited for her there, she’d show up eventually.
The still-chilly Spring winds brushed past the forest’s vegetation. Kim Sae-Jin the Hero Orc was busy hiding behind a bush, waiting for a certain someone to show up.
*SFX for footsteps*
After waiting for around 30 minutes, he could hear footsteps. The Orc turned his head towards the direction of the sounds.
It was, just as he thought, Kim Yu-Rin.
This woman, who said she was too tired and had ended the two hour training session only after 30 minutes, came here to the Monster field that would’ve made her more ‘tired’.
Yu-Rin got to the foot of the tall walls of the Orc village, started looking around this way and that.
And then, after making up her mind, she cautiously gathered Mana to her feet…
…By using an instant combustion, she soared up into the sky and easily jumped over the wall.
By eyeing up a good timing, he planned to show his face to her, but now, he had fallen into a bit of panic here. He sure as hell didn’t expect her to be that proactive by actually intruding into the sleeping quarters of a man…
For now, he exited from the bushes and then, decided to wait for her at a suitable distance from the wall, as she’d coming out of the village soon enough.
And so, another 20 minutes flowed by.
He sensed the flow of Mana beyond the wall and right away, a figure of a person soared up past it. Kim Yu-Rin landed softly on the overgrown weeds on the ground.
It seemed like that she had confirmed the absence of the Hero Orc inside. She spat out a grand sigh containing all her lamentations, before dropping her head low and started walking.
*SFX for the sound of rustling winds*
At the same time, Spring winds blew by. Riding on the currents of air, the scent of the nostalgic past deeply imprinted in her heart tickled her nose.
Kim Yu-Rin hurriedly raised her head.
And that’s how she finally got to see the Orc she so desperately wanted to meet again.
Her usually large and clear eyes became twice as big as she ceased all movements, like a still from a paused video. She wasn’t even breathing out in this moment.
The Orc ignored her for now and trudged towards the walls.
"…Ex, excuse me!"
Figuring that the Orc would walk right past her if she didn’t do something, Yu-Rin hurriedly grabbed his arm.
"Ah… y, you managed to make it out alive."
Her face red like a young girl, both her hands gathered in front of her chest - she cautiously began speaking to the Orc.
Now that she was looking at him, she could clearly feel her heart beating powerfully. They were the heartbeats of emotions that she could barely contain.
However, the Orc didn’t say anything. No, he was simply gazing back at her.
"Uhm, can I… hear your voice one more time?"
They said that the person in need was more desperate. The person in need here was obviously Kim Yu-Rin.
Although she was very earnest in her plea, her actions only made Sae-Jin to cringe inwardly. Without realising it, the corners of his mouth were twitching.
"I’m begging you. Ah, I didn’t mean anything by that. It’s just that, I’d like to convey my thanks for the time back then…"
Completely unaware of what Sae-Jin was thinking, Yu-Rin was very serious with her plea. Although, no one would be able to figure out how conveying her gratitude and him speaking out had anything to do with each other…
That was the first thing the Orc said. At his cold words, Kim Yu-Rin’s body shuddered briefly.
She was already expecting it, but now that she had faced rejection, it still hurt. However, despite her hands shaking like leaves, she managed to pull out an item from her Expanding Pocket. It was another Expanding Pocket.
"This… is to show my gratitude."
"Don’t need it."
The Orc rejected it bluntly and tried to walk past her. He thought that she should give up if it was this much, but then, she was more tenacious than he bargained for. She powerfully grabbed the Orc’s hand that was as big as her head and forcibly placed it in there.
"I won’t bother you again anymore. You’ll find a lot of potions inside. Please, drink or apply them when you’re injured. Then, I’ll… go away now."
Her voice was trembling. She lowered her head and turned around to leave, her heart now torn into million pieces after receiving the Orc’s uncaring attitude.
And the appearance of her back weakly walking away looked so pitiful and lonely. The overflowing confidence of the past Kim Yu-Rin was nowhere to be seen.
That was why, the Orc let out a grand sigh, and then called out to her.
Fortunately, she was a good listener.
He slowly approached the stopped woman, and unfastened the wrist protector made out of corundum from his own wrist.
At a first glance, it looked way too big, but it had an attribute called ‘Auto-Adjust’ that would adjust its size to suit her. The Orc handed the wrist protector over to her.
But she didn’t take it. Only that, her gaze continued to stare downwards, while biting on her lips.
He wondered if she was too deeply hurt. Even though that was his intention to begin with, but now that he was here, he became somewhat dumbfounded. Just why the heck was this 28 year-old almost-a-spinster acting like a teenage girl having her first crush…
"Take. Think as reward, for your gifts."
He spoke up to here and then lifted her chin so she could look him in the eyes. She appeared so vulnerable right then, with wetness pooling around her eyes, making her quite lovely to behold.
The Orc’s consciousness became hazy in that moment, and the other thoughts nearly took over, but thankfully, the effects of the libido-limiting potion was still working its magic.
Just like what she did before, he took her hand and forcibly shoved the wrist protector there. Then, he turned around to leave.
"Excuse me… Will we meet again in the future?"
From his back, the winds carried her meek and hopeful voice over to him.
"No. Don’t come here anymore."
But the Orc replied in a cold, indifferent manner.
Despite that, she stood there for a long time chasing after his back with her eyes, while clutching the simple-but-tough wrist protector tightly.
"Damn it all to hell!!"
A man wearing a robe angrily slammed down on a desk. The furniture made out of marble split into two under that single fist strike.
"How can our portal collapse suddenly like that?!" (The angry Vampire)
Lady Bathory hated wasting time. On top of that, a rumour speaking of her growing bored of TV began spreading around yesterday as well. In other words, there wasn’t much time left before her harsh scolding would begin in earnest.
"…We also are not… Maybe, the magic spell of the Lich, under the influence of the Red Moon, got mixed up with ours, or it’s possible that a third party have gotten in the way."
"This son of a… What happened to the artificial heart?" (The angry Vampire)
The artificial heart that literally took bloody tears and sweat to create was truly a treasure crafted by the hands of the Vampires. Not only was it valuable all on its own, there was no doubt that it’d become a crucial medium in opening up their portal. It was an item they could not afford to lose or let someone rob them of it.
"We’re currently looking for ways of locating it, sir. We suspect that one of the Knights who got trapped there might be in possession of it. For now, we are trying to trace the energy coming off from the heart, but…"
Apostle Beren angrily massaged his temples. (TL: "베렌")
And to make things even worse, the crystal rolling on the ground was slowly dyeing in red.
It was the sign that Lady Bathory was calling for him.
< 24. Calm Before the Storm (1) > Fin.
(TL: Still 5 extra chapters waiting in queue. $13 left towards the sixth.)