A Monster Who Levels Up
The man named Kim Hahn-Seol.
His story was like this: three years before graduating from the university, he joined the Special Investigation Division. He was 21. Blessed with a certain Trait, good ability and keen street-smarts, he earned the trust of the then-Chief of the SID and saw a meteoric rise in his career. But in his fifth year with the organization, he was implicated in a rather ugly 'scandal' and was fired as a result.
However, for the next two years, he resolved the matter with his own two hands and made a triumphant return to the fold. Then, for the next eight years, he climbed up the ladder within the SID and became its Chief. Even now, well after he had retired from the post, this man still lorded over the National Police Agency as its most powerful figure.
Today was the first time Kim Sae-Jin met this man face to face. Hahn-Seol's face looked quite young - Sae-Jin had heard that this man's actual age was in the late 40s but he looked in his early 30s, instead.
'…His colours aren't so bad.'
Both the hues of his eyes, and the aura coming off of him didn't lean particularly towards any side which meant he was 'neutral'. Quite frankly, Sae-Jin was taken aback by this revelation; after all, he had been under the intense grip of this expectation, where the person responsible for erasing all evidence of his parents' murders would turn out to be the most dastardly villain out there.
"In any case. I hope you're carrying out my orders well."
"Yes, I am. You don't have to worry."
Him and Kim Yu-Rin were talking about an unknown topic. Kim Hahn-Seol looked energetic, but she seemed burdened by something weighty.
"Indeed. But there is no need for you to be that diligent. After all, it is…"
Sensing a presence nearby, Hahn-Seol stopped his words and turned towards Sae-Jin's direction. And as soon as confirming that presence was an Orc, he unsheathed a short sword mounted on his hips.
However, Kim Yu-Rin quickly stopped him.
Plus, she was gripping Hahn-Seol's arm strong enough to send him into a bit of panic as well.
"What, what are you doing?" (Kim Hahn-Seol)
"That's the Hero Orc." (Kim Yu-Rin)
"…But that doesn't mean it won't fight humans, correct?"
"Please withdraw your weapon as I'll be the one to resolve this."
Kim Yu-Rin was coldly adamant with her words, and Hahn-Seol had no choice but to do as she said. She then observed the mood of the Orc that simply stood there staring at the two of them, before lightly pushing Kim Hahn-Seol away.
"Excuse me, since we hunted for a while now, how about calling it a day and head home first, alone? It might get a little tougher for you from here onwards. I'll take care of the Orc."
"…Huh? But it's only been 30 minutes. I still have more than enough energy left." (Kim Hahn-Seol)
"No. Please go."
Kim Hahn-Seol was dumbfounded at her sudden stubbornness, but in the end, nodded his head in understanding.
"Well, if you insist that much… But regardless, consider deeply what I've told you before. It's important that you do."
With those parting words, Hahn-Seol left the area. The Orc's eyes chased after the escaping man's back.
"…It's been a while."
After Kim Hahn-Seol had completely left the vicinity, Kim Yu-Rin approached the Orc while her hands were carefully gathered in front of her chest. Seeing this, the Orc fell into a slight dilemma - should he just leave, or ask her what she and Hahn-Seol were talking about?
But to do the latter as an Orc, that made little sense. So, the Orc wordlessly turned around to leave, and that made Yu-Rin to hurriedly reach out and grab hold of his arm.
"W, w, wait… Please stay still for a second. Let's, let's talk…"
Unfortunately for her, the Orc didn't stop moving. And she continued to plead with him, asking him to stop all the while he dragged her around.
u-Rin stubbornly followed him around. But she maintained a respectful distance to make sure the Orc wouldn't feel uncomfortable. When he stopped walking, she stopped too, and when he moved, she did the same.
Maybe it was because she hadn't seen him in over a month, although she was just following the Orc around without saying a single word, a gentle smile was visible on Kim Yu-Rin's lips.
But suddenly, the Orc stopped and turned around to look at her. Yu-Rin didn't panic and met his gaze.
"…Why meet that man?" (Sae-Jin the Orc)
"Ah? Oh, that… it's because of my work. There really aren't any other reasons."
She began to feel happy for some weird reason when the Orc asked her a question.
"No, not that, but what work?" (Sae-Jin the Orc)
But the Orc seemed to unwilling to let go. At this turn of events, Kim Yu-Rin's head initially tilted to the side, before both the corners of her eyes and lips rose up in a naughty smile.
"Why should I tell you about that? And besides, why would an Orc ask about such a thing?"
She came to stand before the Orc, her hips swaying from side to side. The Orc seemed unhappy at the fact that she was trying to match up to him and his mouth was resolutely closed shut.
"…Can be curious. Orcs, like to know things." (Sae-Jin the Orc)
"Hmm~. If that's the case, once every week, would you like to spar with me?"
"Yep. It's not what you think, but simply to improve our abilities at the same time. For you, the leader of the Orc tribe, and for me, a leader who will have to oversee a Knights Order."
"Then you tell me why?"
Yu-Rin thought about this for a second before energetically nodding her head. Although it was classified information, the jealous (?) Orc in front of her was a Monster, after all.
Since he wanted to strengthen the Orc Form anyways, there was no loss for Sae-Jin either way in this arrangement as well.
"So then, next week… No, I mean, when the sun goes down and comes back up seven times - no, wait, five times, I'll come see you at your house. Okay?"
"Fine. Then you tell why…"
"I'll tell you the reason later. After we finish our first sparring together!"
Before he could do anything, Yu-Rin quickly ran away. In her mind, she was thinking of making the Orc sit tight and wait around nervously.
The Orc simply gazed at her disappearing back with dumbfounded eyes.
After parting ways with Kim Yu-Rin, Sae-Jin returned home only to deal with another visitor.
This time, it was Hazeline. She came to his house while bearing a gift. Her misunderstanding from that event hadn't been cleared yet, and she simply wanted to say thanks for his timely aid - Sae-Jin thought that if he told her the truth, it'd be the same as dragging her into this conflict he had with the Vampires, so in the end, he chose not to clear the air up.
"Mm? You are watching yet another repeat broadcast of yourself on TV?" (Hazeline)
Sitting down on the living room's couch, Hazeline pointed at the TV and spoke. So, Sae-Jin quickly switched the channel.
"…Hah, haha… I don't have any other hobbies beside this one, so…"
"Really? But why did you change the channel? Why don't we watch it together? Isn't it more enjoyable sharing your hobby with someone else?"
Hazeline then snatched away the remote from Sae-Jin's hand and changed the channel again.
- Mister Kim Sae-Jin, this is not funny anymore, you know? The growth of The Monster is…
A talk show where the participants were gathered into one location and were told to converse was being broadcast on TV. Originally, one needed to be of an extraordinary background in order to appear alone, but Sae-Jin was doing exactly that, occupying the guest's table all by himself.
"Wow. Mister Sae-Jin seems to have become this generation's top celebrity, no?" (Hazeline)
"…Please stop teasing me."
Initially, she only changed the channel to poke fun at him, but gradually, she too got absorbed in the show as well.
Sae-Jin's handsome face, now accentuated with makeup, just loved the attention from the overhead spotlights and the cameras. His funny and friendly eloquence was charming as well; also, there were those muscles that peeked out from the gaps of his clothing every now and then, too.
"What the - it's already finished?" (Hazeline)
The final comments from the emcee was coming out of the TV, meaning, she wasn't even aware of the passage of time and had dazedly smiled through the whole show.
"Wow… Mister Sae-Jin, so that's how you became the number one real-time search topic… Now I get it. As expected of a devilishly charming man, someone voted as the number one ideal man by the female Knights."
Hazeline nodded her head in deliberate showing of her understanding.
"A 'number one ideal man'? What on earth is that now?" (Sae-Jin)
"You didn't know? You've been voted as the top pick for the last three months in a row in a famous magazine for Knights."
Feeling embarrassed somewhat, Sae-Jin scratched the back of his neck while a grin he couldn't disguise broke out on his lips.
"Huhut. You are so adorable. Although, I gotta say, you can feel less happy now since it's the top pick not in the looks department but regarding your abilities. After all, you can find plenty of beautiful male Elf Knights out there." (Hazeline)
"…But, well, I knew that already." (Sae-Jin)
"Hahaht… Is that so? Oh, right. This is a present."
Hazeline giggled at him while her eyes were narrowed to a slit, before pulling out a small package from her bag. While sipping his tea, Sae-Jin accepted it.
"It's an artifact." (Hazeline)
"Yes. And its effect is to strongly suppress sexual desires."
Sae-Jin came this close to spilling out the tea in his mouth.
"…Cough. But why so out of the blue…?"
"I saw that you've been ordering a lot of ingredients required for that lust suppressing potion lately. I thought you were really troubled by the whole thing, though?"
Sae-Jin opened the lid on the box. He found a simple-looking artifact styled to look like a bracelet inside.
"Ingesting lots of potions isn't so good for your body. So, instead, please wear this. Its effect is… well, I'm sure the potions Mister Sae-Jin makes are superior, but still."
She personally fitted the bracelet on Sae-Jin's wrist. Its colour resembled Hazeline's skin tone - pure white.
"…Will this thing take care of my… problem?"
"To a point. But that doesn't mean I'll be the one to take care of the rest, you know?"
Hazeline passed off an odd joke to him.
However, now that he had evolved into the Lycanthrope, even a passing mention was enough to give Sae-Jin a huge stimulus. His body trembled noticeably for a moment or two before he let out a deliberately relaxed smile and shook his head.
"…Ha, hahah… Thank you for your help."
"Don't mention it. I've received a lot more from you, after all."
Hazeline laughed genially and got up from her seat.
"Well then, I should get going now~."
"Oh, right. Take care."
Sae-Jin got up as well to see her to the door.
"I'll talk to you later."
Putting her high heels back on, Hazeline lightly tapped on his broad shoulders and left through the front door. Sae-Jin was smiling in satisfaction as he watched her back.
As expected, even her posterior was as eye-catching as her front…
*SFX for a mobile phone vibrating*
Right on cue, his phone began vibrating. Yu Sae-Jung had sent him a message.
The contents of her message were so affectionate that it ended up making Sae-Jin feel guilty for some unfathomable reason.
During the night with a full moon brightening the sky.
The Lycanthrope's instincts proved to be incredibly difficult to contain. Doubts of him being no longer a human visited him in the middle of several nights as well.
Every time that happened, his rage surged and he just couldn't remain still. So, he began roaming around outside.
Changing into the appearance of the 'Wolf', he jumped across the rooftops of tall skyscrapers while bathed in the moonlight. The leg strength of this Wolf form was so great that he could easily leap over a ten-story building with single jump. And during his speedy dash across the skyline while being bombarded by the harsh night air streaming past his skin - his blues seemed to dissipate, at least for a bit.
Most likely, he'd not remember what he was doing right now, come the following morning.
But it did not matter at all in this moment.
Before he knew it, Sae-Jin found himself arriving on top of a very tall building. As he stood there, drinking the cold air in this high place, some of his burning instincts had cooled down somewhat.
"…Where is this place?"
While scratching the top of his head with the claws that were harder than mithril, Sae-Jin walked towards the roof railings. When he looked over, he could see nothing but deep darkness by the empty road way, way down below. However, the silver streaks from the neon-lit letters still managed to pierce the gloomy darkness.
'Romance of Dawn.'
This was the hotel where the Bathorys were staying currently. Sae-Jin momentarily freaked out. Did he subconsciously utilise the information gained while he was conscious?
But there wasn't enough time for him to leisurely figure this out. After all, he had sensed several presences just beyond the metal access door to the roof.
He was about to quickly get the hell out of there, but then, Sae-Jin stopped moving.
There were at least ten of them behind the door, but well, none of them were strong enough to truly cause him any meaningful issues.
'…I can use Dark Energy Link here.'
He stared at the metal door while thinking about the available Skill sets he could use. If he just captured one of them alive, couldn't he be able to extract valuable information on these Vampire bastards?
The metal door to the roof flung open with a loud bang.
Ten 'henchmen' hurriedly checked the situation on the roof to find the unknown creature that had allegedly breached the barrier.
"…Maybe it was a bird or something?"
When one of the henchmen spoke to an 'Apostle' of his suspicion, the moonlight brightening the area suddenly wavered.
It was as if the moon itself was trying to illuminate the hidden figure…
"Who goes there!!"
The Apostle shouted out. And at the same time, terrifying claws cut through one of the goons while drawing eerie lines in the air. It was just one attack, but then, those claws flowed around like as if they were being pulled along by chains and locked onto another Vampire nearby.
In the blink of an eye, nine screams soared high into the sky.
Watching all of his subordinates perish, the Apostle panicked and opened his eyes ultra-wide.
And finally, he spotted a certain creature standing there, reflecting the moonlight.
A pair of silver eyes, and the wild mane that was the same colour as the moon; the protruding maws of a beast and incomparably sharp, piercing eyeline; and that smooth and supple fur - this beast that could talk, it could only be…
This appearance was the most terrifying thing this Vampire had seen. In the end, he fainted where he stood while showing the whites of his eyes and bubbles foaming out of his mouth.
< 26. Truth? (3) > Fin.
(TL: This is the Friday's regular chapter. The two remaing chapters in the queue will go live on Saturday and on Sunday.)