A Monster Who Levels Up
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Kim Sae-Jin slowly approached the back of Hazeline who was busy glaring at the nine humanoid figures covered in a veil of darkness, her current face stiff. Sensing his approach, she extended her arm out and stopped him there.
"…I'm sorry, Mister Sae-Jin. This is all because of me. I'll finish this up as soon as possible, so please, take a step back."
"No, wait a min…"
"Hush. Be quiet now."
Her misunderstanding continued on as she began drawing deep breaths.
"Since you didn't react, I guess you're not from the Mafia, either? Then, maybe you're from Yakuza?" (Hazeline)
There was no reply this time as well. It was obvious why - they were not 'human' to begin with. Their rotten smell of blood tickling Sae-Jin's nostrils proved that much.
Without replying back to her, all nine of them began chanting a spell at the same time. Seeing this, Hazeline bit her lip and then, chanted her own spell as well.
Right away, black-coloured lava powerfully rose up behind her, before forming a massive, lengthy spear that buzzed noisily while floating in the air. Near the constantly burning surface of the spear, space seemed to distort around as the air itself was busy melting all around it.
It was the Mana Spear.
The spell where its caster formed a spear with Mana, its sole purpose was to destroy and kill its target. Rated as one of the highest-class attack magic spells, not only the caster needed to pour in a great deal of Mana, he or she also needed to possess excellent Magic Strength - ability to control Mana - in order to maintain the shape of the spear as well as its elemental properties.
This spell was powerful enough to be used as the greatest trump card that could theoretically contend against a true dragon, depending on the ability of the caster.
"If you're scared, then you better get lost now. I do not wish to worsen our relationship any further than it already is. If we can resolve this with dialogue, wouldn't it be simpler for both of us that way?"
Hazeline confidently grinned, as the Mana Spear split into nine and targeted all nine figures while buzzing in the air.
That grin could last only for 10 seconds.
The reason for that was the strange 'wave' spreading out from beneath the feet of the Vampires. Spreading around like a raging black torrent, this wave thing reached out until arriving at a certain diameter, then rose up in a dome shape, separating and enclosing the space they were in from the rest of the world.
This was a spell Sae-Jin was quite familiar with: the isolation barrier.
Of course, as an A-ranked Wizard, Hazeline had experienced her share of barriers before. But at this moment, she could not hide her astonishment.
As soon as this barrier finished forming, the sizes of the black Mana Spears began to gradually shrink rapidly, all the while she felt the flow of Mana within her body slow down as well.
At this unexpected turn of events, she quickly scanned her surroundings and gritted her teeth.
"What kind of trickery is this?!"
Vampires didn't bother to answer her, even this time. Instead, from behind their back, a small and dark-reddish rift in the space opened up; from there, dozens of tentacles exploded out. These things slapped away the Mana Spears and flung themselves at Hazeline's location.
Right in that moment when those grotesque-looking tentacles and their sharp edges were about to cut into her neck…
Five lines of slashes, coming from unexpected 'claws', gleamed coldly in the air as the tentacles were sliced apart, turning to powder before dissipating into the wind.
Only then did the nine Vampires show some signs of being agitated.
"This f***ing…. Pant, pant…" (Hazeline)
Sensing the approach of death for the first time after a
long, long while, Hazeline broke out in cold sweat, her breathing ragged and shallow.
"These crazy sons of b***hes have gone completely bonkers insane. Resorting to using sh*tty black magic… huh?"
Hazeline began pointing accusatory fingers at the Vampires while growling like a wounded animal, only to have a strong hand powerfully rein her back in from behind.
"…Miss Hazeline. Please calm down first. We are at a disadvantage here. Do you know of the ways to disable a barrier like this?"
Sae-Jin looked at her with a hardened face. Sensing the overall strengths of the nine suddenly-appearing Vampires via the Wolf's intuition, he couldn't help but feel flustered here. In the Human Form, there was just no way he'd be able to fight against all of them at the same time.
"I've never seen a barrier like this before. It must be from the school of black magic, but… I'm truly sorry. Because of me, even Mister Sae-Jin has…"
Hazeline's misunderstanding hadn't alleviated just yet, and thus she was feeling apologetic towards Sae-Jin as a result. Seeing her like this, some of the tension in him lightened up, causing him to smile weakly and nod his head.
"It's fine. I'll do my best to buy us time, so please, look for a way to…"
Unfortunately for the two, these Vampires weren't polite enough to give them time to formulate a response.
Truly out of the blue, a giant meteorite formed on the skies within the barrier and began descending down rapidly on Sae-Jin and Hazeline. She summoned forth a barrier of her own with what little Mana she could wield, while he lengthened his claws and slashed out a whirlwind.
That's how they managed to stop the meteorite, but then, an unsighted tentacle shot towards them from the side. This thing easily smashed apart the barrier and inflicted a huge wound on Hazeline's waist.
Hazeline stumbled and collapsed on the ground. Sae-Jin spat out a bunch of expletives and tried to cut the isolation barrier with his claws, but as expected, his actions proved to be ineffective.
'I can't do this as a human…"
Sighing out grandly, Sae-Jin extracted one of the Spiritualised potions out from his body and healed Hazeline's wound.
"Miss Hazeline, are you alright?"
Then, he studied Hazeline's face; she seemed rather relieved as the searing pain lessened a great deal.
"More or less…" (Hazeline)
"Please listen to me carefully. Me, I'm definitely not a Monster Man, nor a Demonic Being. If it's you, Miss Hazeline, you will trust me on this one, right?"
A Monster that could change into a person, the so-called Monster Man.
The being straddling the boundary between a human and a Monster, the Demonic Being.
Of the two, 'Demonic Being' actually was a collective term denoting all the races with violent nature and tendencies who had migrated from another world to planet Earth. These Demonic Beings were different from Vampires and Nagas in that, not one media outlet 'stood up' for them, and thus were now classified as targets to be eliminated on sight.
If Lycanthropes still existed, then they would surely fall into this category as well.
This was one of the reasons why Sae-Jin hesitated revealing his Trait to the others. After all, Demonic Beings who died while claiming to be humans holding unique Traits numbered quite a few.
"…?? What do you mean by…" (Hazeline)
In the middle of her sentence, Vampires attacked again. Sae-Jin managed to destroy the tentacles with his razor-sharp claws, but against the huge ball of black flames flying towards them, these claws weren't much of a help while he was in the Human Form.
Sae-Jin hurriedly pushed Hazeline with his arm and then flung himself to the opposite side.
The ground they were standing on mere seconds ago was distorted as if lava had melted it down.
"For now, search for a method to break out of this isolation barrier!!" (Sae-Jin)
He never once believed that he'd be able to conceal his Trait forever.
Sae-Jin shouted out at her, and then - assumed the form of the Hero Orc covered in blue scales.
The physique that easily exceeded the height of two metres; with the pair of burning eyes, he glared at the Vampires and grasped the mace tightly.
Within him, his fighting spirit, combined with rage boiled over.
*SFX for an Orc's roar*
That was why he just had to let out the roar containing all his hunger for battle. Although Hazeline was busy backpedalling in sheer fright, right now he had no interest in her plight whatsoever.
He then rushed forward, slamming away the various tentacles that were coiling out of pretty much everywhere, while completely ignoring those magic spells that were powerful enough to tickle him. The damage inflicted on the Orc's pristine scales were pretty much zero. His overwhelming appearance easily transcended that of a mere Orc, reminding all present of a mythical demonic fiend, instead.
"What the f***…?!"
The Vampires finally lost their calmness and began falling into disorder and one even spat out some choice words.
With a roar that threatened to destroy the eardrums of all who listened to it, the Orc slammed down with his mace. As soon as the weapon slammed on the surface of the road, the ground gouged out in a crater, and the entire isolation barrier began to quake uncontrollably.
Seven out of the nine Vampires began panicking and started firing all sorts of magic spells to stop the rampaging Orc at all costs. However, the remaining two Vampires continued to maintain their composure. These so-called 'Honorable Apostles' then raised a wall between their group and the Orc, while speaking out words of calm.
"Stop wasting your energy and time. We'll activate the summoning procedure."
When the seven 'Believers' were about to show their astonishment, the mace of the Orc powerfully slammed into the artificial wall with a loud Thaaahang and sent out a stupendous shock wave.
"That's probably his so-called 'Trait', no? Well, how unexpected and irritating. Begin the summoning procedure, immediately!"
"But, but, if we summon Lady Bathory here…"
"Mm? You think I'm insane? There's no need to summon her Majesty here. The Death Knight will be more than enough."
The mace slammed into the wall once more. Cracks noisily formed on the magically created defensive wall.
"Hurry. There's not much time."
Sensing the urgency of the situation, the nine Vampires hurriedly began reciting the chant together. The language they spoke was not Korean, not English, not even Japanese, but that of another world.
Sae-Jin's intuition immediately told him of the impending crisis, so he activated the Skill 'Warrior of Reversal' and attacked the magic wall even harder. Unfortunately, although the crack opened up just a bit wider, the defensive wall stood.
"Step aside for a second, please!!"
It was then, he heard Hazeline's shout along with the sensation of magic energy from the back. As soon as Sae-Jin stepped aside, very, very thin Mana Spear shot past him. It slipped in through the crack and splendidly set a Vampire's neck ablaze.
At this sudden and successful attack, one of the Vampires met with an untimely death. However, it was still a bit too late. From the ground dyed in the darkest shades of black, the shape of an ebony knight slowly emerged above the surface.
This was a relic of the past, straight from the Vampires' previous world.
The strongest Undead, created out of a Knight who had passed on a long time ago - the Death Knight.
*SFX for sounds of glass (?) shattering*
As the Death Knight finished emerging, the defensive wall shattered like glass and Sae-Jin swung his mace against the still-immobile Death Knight. Too bad for him, though - those damnable tentacles got in the way of his attack and he had no choice but to retreat.
"You, find how to destroy, this barrier yet?" (Sae-Jin)
Sae-Jin shouted out. It was quite likely that if he started pounding on it, the barrier could collapse just like before. But there just wasn't enough time for that.
"I'm still looking!"
As Hazeline shouted back, the Death Knight completely awakened. From the gaps of the metal helm that hid its entire head, a pair of eerie red eyes lit up.
As soon as its consciousness returned in full, the Death Knight unsheathed the sword mounted on its hip and slashed out. The deep red sword aura flying out in a crescent trajectory was roughly slapped away by Sae-Jin's mace as he dashed towards the Death Knight.
The Orc's mace shattered the air as it came down on the Death Knight's head, but it swung its great sword to block the attack. In that instant, a powerful shock wave swept out and raised a huge dust cloud that blocked the view.
From within this thick dust cloud, the sounds of metal colliding against one another rang out continuously.
In terms of both the raw strength and skill, the Death Knight was not at disadvantage at all compared to Sae-Jin in the Orc Form. On top of this, the irritating obstruction from the surrounding Vampires were making this battle quite difficult as well.'
It was nearly impossible to defend against both the Death Knight's sword and the magic spells of the Vampires at the same time. So, Sae-Jin tried to focus on this Death Knight and let the other attacks slip by for now, but the damn Undead's swordsmanship was like an impregnable fortress with absolutely no opening whatsoever.
'…This situation is too unfavourable.'
Sae-Jin gritted his teeth as the sharp nicks began appearing on the tough scales covering his body.
In order to have a smoother battle, it was the correct strategy to kill off all the Wizards in the rear first who were in charge of supporting fire. Unfortunately for him, the current Orc Form was not agile enough to get past the Death Knight.
If he was in the Werewolf Form, it might just be possible, but he was certain that he'd not be able to withstand a single strike while transforming under this kind of intense situation.
Sae-Jin glanced at the alert window faintly wavering just above the shoulders of the Death Knight. There was still one more method left that could potentially help him overcome this tricky situation.
That damn alert window sure as hell looked incredibly alluring right about now. He thought that, whether there were pros and cons of becoming Lycanthrope or not, he had to actually survive in order to experience it.
Sae-Jin shouted at Hazeline and glanced at her direction. But she was just as occupied as he was currently. Instead of searching for a way to break the isolation barrier, she was too busy engaging in a life-or-death battle against two Vampires.
If this unfavourable situation persisted, then both of them would perish here. There wasn't much time to decide anymore, and his reasoning of a Human was quickly deserting him. Seeing those damnable Vampires at the back busy shooting out those evil magic spells, his entire body quaked in violent rage, wishing nothing but to rip all their bodies asunder.
*SFX for another loud Orcish roar*
Sae-Jin roared out loudly and - selected 'Yes'.
In that moment, countless alert windows popped up. The windows seemed to fill up the entire the world and blocked his view completely. It was a scene he had never experienced before.
< 25. Intensification (2) > Fin.
(TL: this is the Monday's regular chapter. Due to me being dense and not properly reading the staff announcements, I totally glossed over last weekend's server migration schedule and messed up my own schedule along the process. So, uh, I'll try to make it up to you guys and release one chapter tomorrow and on Thursday. Sorry.)
(TL: the amount left for another sponsored chapter is still $39 out of $50.)