There was a store on the first floor of the Mage's Tower, which sold various grimoires, magic materials, magic devices, and other useful goods.
"Fertilizer, fertilizer, fertilizer..."
Kang Oh and Eder, who covered his face with a smile mask, looked at the items on display.
"Ah, this is it." Kang Oh examined the brown jar, and the item's information popped up.
Fertilizer developed by the Tower. Quickens the growth of a plant and increases yield.
It is more effective than normal, or even high-rank fertilizer. In exchange, it costs much more.
'100 gold, huh... It's really expensive.'
Magic Fertilizer cost 100 gold. Normal fertilizer only cost 5 gold, while high-rank fertilizer cost about 20 gold. Considering how much they cost, the magic fertilizer definitely felt like a rip off, no matter how effective it was.
'Then again, I'm not the one buying it.'
Kang Oh stared at Eder and said, "You buy it."
"Of course. You're the one who wants to get to the goddess's land ASAP."
"Is this why you brought me?" he asked. 'To pay for everything!?'
"Yeah," he said. 'Isn't that obvious? I ain't crazy enough to spend my money on fertilizer and plant growth enhancers!'
"Don't want to? Alright then. We'll take our time."
"I'll buy it, you stingy human."
"Make sure you buy enough. We don't want to run out." Kang Oh grinned.
"I got it, alright?" Eder picked up the jar with both hands and headed for the counter.
A short while later...
Eder, who'd bought the jar filled with magic fertilizer, stashed it into his subspace and returned to Kang Oh.
"Good enough?" Eder said disrespectfully, but he'd spent a ton of money, so Kang Oh decided to let it go.
"Let's go. We have to buy the plant growth enhancer too."
"Ugh, I have to buy that too, don't I?" Eder said fiercely.
Kang Oh grinned.
* * *
The next day.
Kang Oh's party gathered in front of Altein's intercity transfer gate.
"Did you leave the egg with the Tamer Guild?" Kang Oh asked.
"How long will it take to hatch?"
"At least 1 week."
"In just a week, you'll get yourself a pet. Congratulations."
"Hehe, thank you." Sephiro beamed.
"You haven't forgotten about the picnic tomorrow, right?"
"Of course. Where are we going?"
You could see the most beautiful sunset in all of Arth there. Moreover, it was a spatiotemporal intersection point, so other people wouldn't bother them. The monsters that spawned there were extremely weak too.
Thus, many celebrities were drawn to the area. Kang Oh and Asu had already come to Maroon Hill before during Dungeon Conquering Man.
"Maroon Hill. Sounds good." Sephiro gave him a thumbs up.
Kang Oh nodded his head and glanced at Eder. "The fertilizer and the growth enhancer?"
"They're in my subspace."
"Good. Let's go."
Eder entered the intercity transfer gate and yelled, "Saharamant!"
The magic circle's light rose and engulfed Kang Oh's party. By the time the pillar of light had vanished, Kang Oh's party was nowhere to be seen.
Kang Oh's party popped out of Eder's magic circle, and immediately entered Mandra's Helix. Red and Blue Knights were waiting for them.
"Take them out."
Kang Oh's party defeated the Ghost-Possessed Armors and made their way down the spiral road. They encountered White and Black Knights as well, but they couldn't stop their advance.
The dungeon was long, and there was nowhere else to go but forward, so they couldn't avoid battle. Thus, it took them three hours to get to the end.
"It's still here." Kang Oh looked at the sprout and grinned. "Eder."
He was clearly ordering him to pull out the fertilizer and growth enhancer. However, Eder was staring at the sprout critically, so he didn't hear Kang Oh.
"Eder!" Kang Oh called again.
Only then did Eder break out of his stupor.
"It's nothing. I just thought it was kind of strange."
"The sprout. Doesn't it look like it grew the size of a fingernail?"
"Huh?" Kang Oh looked at the sprout again. He was right; it did look bigger than yesterday.
"It does. But aren't sprouts supposed to grow quickly?"
"Yes. Unless they're Mandra trees, which slowly grow over 100 years."
"Fully grown, Mandra trees are only a little more than 2 meters tall. And they require 100 years to grow that much. However, the sprout has grown this much in just one day. Something's strange."
"True. We haven't even used the fertilizer or growth enhancer yet," Sephiro said.
"This dungeon must have a way of accelerating its growth," Eder said with certainty.
"There are no hidden devices anywhere. My Hyper Intuition didn't go off even once as we made our way down. If that's the case, then there are only two possibilities."
"Which are?" Sephiro asked.
"The amount of time we're inside the dungeon. The more time we spend here, the more it grows."
"What's the other option?"
"The more times you clear the dungeon, the more it grows."
"Let's use the fertilizer and growth enhancer first. Then we can figure out which one's correct."
"Alright," Eder said, and retrieved the magic fertilizer and high-rank growth enhancer from his subspace.
Eder carefully mixed the fertilizer with the nearby dirt, and then poured the growth enhancer on top.
"I'm done." Eder dusted off his hands.
"Then let's see which one is right."
"It took us three hours to clear the dungeon, so let's just quietly wait here and see what happens. If the Mandra tree's growth has anything to do with our time spent here, then we should see the sprout grow in the next three hours."
Kang Oh's party sat around the sprout and killed time with idle chatter. However, the sprout hadn't grown at all.
"I don't think this is the answer," Sephiro said.
"Then let's try the second method."
Kang Oh's 'second method' referred to their number of clears. He hypothesized that the more times they cleared the dungeon, the more the sprout would grow.
His party exited the dungeon, and then went back through it again.
Three hours later...
Kang Oh's party reached the end of the dungeon. They also saw the sprout again; it had clearly grown!
"Ooh, this is the answer!"
The more times they cleared the dungeon, the more the tree would grow!
"We have to keep clearing the dungeons until the Mandra tree bears fruit! That's why Ratia told us we need to be patient," Eder said.
"How many times do you think it'll take?"
"It's a tree that takes 100 years to grow. At least thirty times? Maybe even forty times?"
Clearing the same dungeon over and over again certainly took patience. It was really boring, that's why!
"It's late, and we're going on a picnic tomorrow, so... Let's go through the dungeon again after the picnic."
There were no disagreements there. Eder and Sephiro immediately nodded their heads.
* * *
The small, quiet town of Snowprim.
Not only was it where the Witch's Forest was located, but it also had an intercity transfer gate. They'd picked a place without a lot of people, and where it was easy to gather.
Kang Oh, Eder, and Sephiro had come 30 minutes early, and were waiting for the girls to arrive. It wasn't polite to keep a lady waiting, after all.
10 minutes before they agreed to meet...
Three women came out of Snowprim's intercity transfer gate. There was only one familiar face among them. It was the western beauty, Asu!
The other two women were Triple Lower's Hyo Min and Lee Seol.
"Welcome," Kang Oh opened his arms and said.
"You're here early, Oppa." Asu smiled.
"Of course I am." Kang Oh smiled back.
"Give it a rest already." The woman behind her glared at them. They really needed to read the mood.
"Hello, um..." Kang Oh began, but then glanced at Asu.
"She's the younger one. Her ID is Choco."
Lee Seol's ID was Choco. She had striking, slanted eyes, but the rest of her was rather plain. She was just 5% short of being a beauty.
"And Unni is..."
"My name is Gray." Hyo Min, whose in-game ID was Gray, slightly bowed her head.
Her hair, like her name, was gray, and her cute dimples would show whenever she smiled. Her character was indeed beautiful.
"These are my subor... Err, they're my companions, Sephiro and Eder." Kang Oh pointed at Eder and Sephiro.
"My name is Sephiro. It's a pleasure to meet you!"
"My name is Eder."
Eder was currently occupying Arumode's remodeled body. There was no way he could come out as a Lich, now could he?
"This is the first time we've met, right? My name is Asu. Please take care of me." Asu slightly bowed her head at Sephiro.
"Ugh, are you Mr. Kang Oh's girlfriend?"
"Ahem. You really did have a girlfriend. But I feel like I've seen you somewhere before..." Sephiro tilted his head.
'He probably has. On Dungeon Conquering Man.' Kang Oh sent Asu a signal to play dumb.
Sephiro may figure it out later, but there was no reason to go out of their way and tell him that Asu was a celebrity.
Asu definitely got his signal.
"Are you sure you're not confusing me with someone else? This is the first time we've met." Asu smiled.
"Ah, yes." Sephiro let it go.
"So where are we going today?" Gray asked.
"You didn't tell them?" Kang Oh stared at Asu.
"No. I thought it'd be better if it was a surprise."
"Mm. Then I'll keep it a secret until we get there." Kang Oh grinned.
"Alright, sounds good. I'll be really looking forward to it, so don't let me down," Gray smiled and said.
"I got it already, so let's hurry up and go," Choco said.
* * *
Kang Oh and Asu rode on their white and black horses side-by-side. There was a sweet atmosphere between them.
The other four followed them on horseback. They had just met, so you'd expect them to be extremely nervous and awkward around each other. However, there was a cheerful, relaxed mood permeating the air.
"So what happened next?"
Choco and Gray were the entire reason things were going so well. They listened to everything Sephiro and Eder said, would occasionally chime in, and would share their own stories too.
Kang Oh's party reached their destination while maintaining this 'not bad' atmosphere.
"Over there." Kang Oh pointed at Maroon Hill, a place where players could see the eternal sunset.
"Where is this?" Choco asked Asu.
"Have you ever heard of Maroon Hill?"
"Nope." Choco shook her head.
"Look forward to it. It's really beautiful."
Kang Oh's party passed through Maroon Hill's arch-shaped entrance.
[Entering the spatiotemporal intersection point, Maroon Hill.]
It was time for their picnic.Previous Chapter Next Chapter