A Monster Who Levels Up
(TL: This is the second of the sponsored chapters that should have been released on Sunday.)
(TL: This chapter is here thanks to 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.)
Within the VVIP hall of the Hyunwol Auction House, hundreds of important figures had gathered. They were the kind of people that held prominent positions in their chosen field of profession.
Nominally, only the Knights could potentially purchase the Treasure grade weapon, but there were quite a few people participating as a representative of other Knights in order to build personal connections as well as to broaden their horizons.
That was probably why there was such a diverse melting pot of people that ignored race, nationality, and species within the auction venue, where Knights, big shots from the world of politics and commerce as well as mega celebrities the likes of which South Koreans had never experienced before were busy rubbing shoulders currently.
But all these men and women of great fame were looking for one man's whereabouts in particular.
And that person was Kim Sae-Jin.
"…Why isn't he coming?"
As the auction went under way, a worried Yu Sae-Jung repeatedly looked around while asking Jo Hahn-Sung. For some strange reason, she seemed to be shrinking away like a loser which was quite unlike her usual proud and confident self.
"Even I'm not… Well, he did say he'll come before the finale, but he also mentioned not to wait for him."
Sae-Jung let out a sigh. However, it was closer to a relieved sigh rather than a worried one.
In all honesty, she was feeling quite worried.
Currently, there were just way too many Elves and Fox-type Soo-ins who were famous the world over for their blinding, transcendent beauty everywhere she looked within this venue. And they were the reason why Yu Sae-Jung had lost all of her usual confidence.
She felt that, compared to those women, she seemed to be lacking in so many areas. Why did her face have to be so angular, and why were her legs so short? For the first time in her life, she began to feel resentment towards her dad.
"He's coming for sure, you'll see. Don't you worry." (Joo Ji-Hyuk)
Joo Ji-Hyuk, still clueless, tried to comfort her unnecessarily. Sae-Jung nodded her head lightly, pulled out her phone and then began typing a text message. The recipient was 'Sae-Jin Oppa~'. Only his name had the honour of having an emoticon next to it, among hundreds saved in her list of contacts.
And just as she hit 'send'…
"Finally! We shall commence with the last lot of the auction, the one all you've been looking forward to!"
As the emcee's loud voice settled down heavily on the auction venue, the Orc Blacksmith's masterpiece revealed itself to the world.
The 'treasure', wrapped tightly in a thick veil, was moved to the centre of the hall. The collective sounds of people swallowing their saliva echoed around the venue.
"The one that will go down in the annals of history. I present to you, the true treasure crafted by the brilliant Orc Blacksmith, the sword 'Gram'." (TL: just in case some of you readers are not familiar with Norse mythology, Gram is the name of the sword wielded by Sigurd to slay the dragon, Fafnir. Google is your friend. Yes.)
A chaos broke out in the auction hall when it was revealed that the Blacksmith dared to pilfer the name of the legendary artifact for his own creation.
"According to the Blacksmith himself, he tried his very best to replicate the Gram of the legends as exactly as possible."
The moment emcee pulled the veil of
f the sword, all that doubt and dissatisfaction morphed into admiration and amazement.
Some Knights couldn't sit still anymore and shot up from their seats, even.
The lengthy, pure-white mithril blade; the hilt shining with an exquisite golden hue; the sword that boasted a smooth and neat appearance, the Gram reflected the lights from the venue to a blinding level.
The now-trademark symbol of the Orc Blacksmith - the intricate carvings - was absent on its exterior, making it look a bit plain, but all the Knights gathered here instinctively knew. That truly was one of the greatest 'treasures' the world have seen yet.
"And so, the auction will commence from now on. The starting bidding amount will be set at $4.5 million USD. The minimum increase will be $100 thousand USD…."
Just as the emcee announced this…
Suddenly, the entrance to the auction hall opened.
And the man who showed up from the opened gap was, without a doubt, the protagonist of this auction - Kim Sae-Jin himself.
Looking bashful for his interruption, he quickly moved his feet and went towards his assigned seat.
Of course, people wouldn't let him go by just like that. Every single one of them tried their best to engage Sae-Jin in a conversation, and so, the start of the auction had to be delayed for another 20 minutes.
The auction for the final item lasted for over two hours.
The final hammer price was… $165 million USD. No matter how steep the competition for it was, it truly was a ridiculous amount. (TL: Holy cow. That's like, an operating budget of a medium-sized Formula One team. For the WHOLE year, no less.)
And the lucky bidder was…
It was the Raven Knights Order - in other words, the Republic of Korea.
Considering that it was a Treasure grade item, the final bid price was slightly on the low side, but this result was somewhat within expectations. (TL: Eh?! But you just wrote it was a ridiculous amount? Make up your mind, Mr. Author…)
If an overseas entity were to snap up this sword, then the real amount they would have to pay at the end of it all, would be 4~5 times the bidding price, thanks to special tariffs applicable to luxury goods, special tax ascribed from the 'special' law, value added tax, etc, etc… Not to forget, one had to also consider policies of the Hyunwol Auction House, the ones about having to 'pay the entire amount in cash' and keeping to a strict 'payment time schedule'.
All those representatives of nations and Knights Orders hoping against hoping had to return home satisfied in the knowledge that they were able to personally witness a Treasure-grade sword with their own eyes.
Many international media expressed their dissatisfaction and regret at the Korean government openly supporting one of their own - the criticism was especially harsh from the Japanese, as they were the ones who had bidded till the bitter end.
However, even then, what dominated the international headlines was not dissatisfaction, but the beautiful exterior of the Treasure-graded sword, Gram.
That pure-white blade and that perfectly manufactured hilt. And contained within that relatively simple appearance, the power matching up to its legendary namesake.
After making the hearts of every Knight flutter with nothing but its name and a single photo, Gram easily took the position of 30th out of 100 best weapons in existence as voted by the 'Time' magazine. And the Orc Blacksmith was admitted to the ranks of the world's greatest blacksmiths.
And then, the Raven Knights Order decided to award the sword Gram to its current Order Master, Kim Hyun-Seok as a loan lasting for the period of 10 years. The ceremony was broadcast live and caused quite a stir among the populace.
In the end, it was a sort-of victory for both the Korean government as they didn't let their treasure taken away, and for the Orc Blacksmith with his fame now spreading to the rest of the world.
However, now that the Orc Blacksmith had suddenly become a hot topic of conversation, a strange and 'nonsensical' rumour about his real identity also began circulating around, one where it was alleged that Kim Sae-Jin was actually the Orc all along.
While the entirety of the Korean peninsula was still rumbling on from the excitement of the auction, Kim Sae-Jin had to answer an emergency summons from the Monster Mercenary Company before he could come down from all that euphoria.
"We've finally come across the information on the hotel where the Vampires I've mentioned before are staying currently." (Kim Yu-Sohn)
With 130 intelligence operatives and 50 field agents AKA Mercenaries, Sae-Jin's Company now boasted a better information gathering network than most underground organizations. On the amount of secrets he knew alone, he had already surpassed most media outlets by now.
"The hotel is called 'Romance of Dawn'. Not only were the strange happenings occurring on the building's top floors clearly been observed, the angry voices of a woman and traces of magic being used were recorded in the security systems installed on the corridors." (Kim Yu-Sohn)
"…Then, just who exactly is staying there?"
"We suspect it to be a 'Bathory'."
In that instant, killing intent flickered in Sae-Jin's eyes, his fists clenching tightly.
Even if it was sudden, the name 'Bathory' was already deeply ingrained in his psyche. The cops did find a symbol of Bathory at the crime scene of his mother's death, after all.
Finally, he had found the place these bastards were hiding in. So, this could be unexpectedly easy for…
"No, sir. Bathory's powers are far too great for us to do anything at the moment. The rumours speak of the Bathory family head possessing enough power to level a mountain with a flick of a hand and dye the sky jet black. That means, even without all that exaggeration, this prey is an incredibly powerful foe." (Kim Yu-Sohn)
However, Kim Yu-Sohn put an end to Sae-Jin's thought process.
"I have fought against countless Vampires, so I can confidently say this much - the hidden strength accumulated through the passing of Vampiric bloodlines is simply beyond our scope of imagination." (Kim Yu-Sohn)
What Kim Yu-Sohn was saying, was that they should be satisfied with just knowing where the Vampires were and wait for the right opportunity.
"…Is the bastard really that strong?"
"Yes. It's possible that the family head alone could equal a single Knights Order. After all, these are the creatures that have sacrificed their own race's leader in pursuit of power." (TL: I've no idea where this one's coming from. I've TLed the line literally.)
Kim Sae-Jin could only nod his head as this was a considered opinion from a veteran who had fought against Vampires for over half of his life.
"…Fuu. Then, let's just head to the basement for now. Oh, right. Did you make sure to secure all the access points?"
"Of course, sir. Let us hurry. The 'kids' have grown so much lately."
Sae-Jin was currently in his Goblin Form.
However, his current location was a bit unusual.
It was not the usual Monster field, but the basement located below the grounds of the Society, The Monster.
Around three weeks ago, Sae-Jin ordered Kim Yu-Sohn to open up a space in the basement.
Of course, since the purpose of this space was not something that could be explained to the public, even the members of his Society had to be kept in the dark as well.
There was a variety of uses for this basement area, but the most prominent one was the 'village of Goblins'.
As of now, Monsters known as Goblins were facing extinction in Korea. The only reason why such weak Monsters were able to survive in the first place was because they had formed large packs; but then, the distortion of the earth's crust happened and these creatures ended up getting separated from one another.
And so, Sae-Jin began taking in those Goblins that had nowhere left to go, and just like his actions as the Hero Orc, he decided to take care of these critters as well. Besides, quite unlike those Orcs who were only good for fighting, Goblins had much more value to offer overall.
Well, the old saying 'Goblins are craftier than humans' didn't come out of nothing, after all.
First of all, if these Monsters took care of crafting potions, then he'd not have to waste his precious time on doing that anymore, and as far as their Witchcraft was concerned, the potential application for them was just too numerous to count.
…That was, as long as they leveled up properly, of course.
"Nice. They are quite obedient, aren't they?"
These creatures were pretty quick on the uptake. They were hard workers and were easy to educate as well. Well, he did threaten them a bit while in the Lycanthrope form so there was that but still, they displayed unexpected amount of loyalty and honesty.
"Keep on making those potions as I showed you, got it? And Witchcraft Goblins continue on with your research."
Kim Sae-Jin shouted out at the Goblins. They replied back with their own shouts of Kkyahahk-!
"Is it because of the good 'welfare benefits'? They unexpectedly work so hard," said Kim Yu-Sohn, with a smile on his face.
Although it was weird to say 'welfare benefits' for Monsters, it was actually happening right here. The Goblins living in this place were blessed with humane living quarters, and received clean food and drinking water three times a day. The food was leftovers from the Society's cafeteria, though.
"Well, besides that - how goes the gathering of information so far?"
Changing back to the appearance of a human before anyone had noticed it, Sae-Jin asked Kim Yu-Sohn.
"Sir. It seems that Miss Yu Baek-Song's immediate superior is the Minister in Charge of Bureau of Monster Affairs, Kim Hahn-Seol. As he had served as the former Chief of National Police, his martial prowess is considerable, and he also has many personal connections, such as members of Parliament, an executive director in the Dawn Corporation, etc, etc. He is your typical ambitious, driven man."
Kim Sae-Jin fell into a thought, while scratching his chin.
And exactly ten seconds later, his phone vibrated. He narrowed his brows and checked out who the caller was - it was Jo Hahn-Sung.
- "Guild Master, it's Jo Hahn-Sung. We just received a request for a meeting with a government's representative over the matter of the Guild registration. And he's a Minister, as well."
"Keheum… Okay, what's his name?"
Sae-Jin couldn't help but feel rather emotional at the fact that from being an orphan, he had climbed up in the societal ladder to enjoy a private meeting with a government minister. But such an emotion only lasted for a brief moment.
- "He's called Kim Hahn-Seol, the Minister in Charge of Bureau of Monster affairs."
"…Oh? Well, I got it. Please inform the other party that I'd like to meet him as soon as possible."
- "Yes, sir. I understand."
Sae-Jin ended the call.
"What's the matter, sir?"
Kim Yu-Sohn asked from the side.
"Just now, a reason to meet up with that minister just came around. Looks like… I'll be able to properly check out what kind of man he is."
Sae-Jin smiled thickly and replied.
The following day.
As usual, Sae-Jin headed off to the Monster field.
The first thing he did was to change into the Hero Orc Form and went to the village to see what was what. The number of the Orcs living there had increased to three digits, and judging by the fact that the two 'real' leader Orc Jaguars had seemingly leveled up to Orc Great Warriors somehow, it was clear there was no longer a need for him to worry about their survival anymore.
Feeling relieved, he then headed towards the upper Mid Tier hunting ground.
He then quickly began searching for Monsters to smash. But during all that, he ended up running into a rather bothersome individual. Actually, he was the one who went to see them first.
It was Kim Yu-Rin.
And she was currently with an unknown man.
From what he could overhear from the distance, this man's name was definitely 'Kim Hahn-Seol'.
Although they were scheduled to meet in three days' time… it wouldn't be so bad to see what this guy's attitude and personality were like beforehand.
< 26. Truth? (2) > Fin.
(TL: Now there's only two remaining in the queue. Will probably get to clear that this weekend. Yep.)
(TL: Also, a small announcement - I'd like to take the next week, the Christmas week, off. It'll be from the 25th, which is a Monday. How long will this break last, you ask? Hmm. I haven't decided it yet. Probably a week, maybe more since, you know, there's the New Year and all…)