On the far left, there was a round shield coated in platinum. There was a story carved into the center of the shield like a panorama.
A shield created using the unknown, golden alloy, Dracodium. The shield is coated in platinum, which possesses a mysterious power.
The shield is inspired by the story of Hamar, the cowardly dwarf that saved his family from a terrifying monster with just a single shield.
However, this shield is undoubtedly greater than the shield that Hamar used.
It is a masterpiece created by a blacksmith who has taken their first steps towards becoming a Master. The blacksmith in question did not leave behind his name.
+ Dracodium's Mystery: Reduces all damage by 30%. This ability does not stack.
+ A Coward's Courage: For 3 minutes, the user's main stats increase proportionally to their Courage stat. Cooldown: 1 hour.
+ Platinum Coating: Intermediate-rank or lower fire, water, wind, and lighting spells are reflected.
Abilities: Defense 1,000, Courage +100.
Minimum Requirements: Level 450, 'Coward' title, Courage side stat.
"This is outrageous." Kang Oh gaped.
It was an SS-rank shield with a defense bonus of 1,000! Not only that, but it had three item effects, all of which were good.
Plus, the fact that it was coated in platinum, and had the 'Platinum Coating' effect meant that...
"Was Violf's Platinum used in this too?"
Violf's Platinum was a dungeon reward from the Beast's Tower. It had the ability to reflect physical projectiles and/or magic!
"Indeed." Man Bok hadn't said anything. Instead, the response came from somewhere else.
"Huh?" Kang Oh turned his head towards the source and saw Hoffman coming down the stairs. "H-Hello." Kang Oh bowed his head.
"Did you come to see the equipment?"
"Everything besides that shield is a failure. It was my first time handling dragon materials, so I made a lot of mistakes."
"Everything else is a failure?"
Kang Oh quickly examined the rest of the equipment. There were three other items, aside from the shield and breastplate that he'd already seen. One of them was AA-rank, and the other two were S-rank.
To him, they weren't 'failures' at all.
"Are you sure about that?"
"They're failures," Hoffman said firmly.
"Then I guess I can look forward to your next creations." Kang Oh grinned.
"They should be better next time. But I can't make something like Hamar's Shield every single time. That was a gift from Orgon."
Orgon was the God of Blacksmiths. The dwarves believed their greatest creations were gifted to them by Orgon himself.
"You used Violf's Platinum for this shield, right?" Kang Oh asked.
"That's right. Do you know the story of Hamar?"
Kang Oh shook his head.
"It's a story that we tell our children. In it, a cowardly dwarf, Hamir, saves his family from a ferocious monster. It's said that he wielded a mirror shield that reflected spells. Of course, the mirror shield was extremely weak to physical attacks, even though it reflected most spells. Anyhow, it wasn't a proper shield."
"Mm, I see."
"I was going to make a shield with the dragon materials when I saw Violf's Platinum. That's when I got the idea. What if I used the platinum, which has the ability to deflect magic and to a certain extent, physical attacks as well? With it, I'd be able to recreate Hamar's mirror shield."
Hoffman explained how he'd created Hamar's Shield.
"My brothers and I put our heart and soul into that shield. After all, we've all heard the story of Hamar at least once when we were little. Attempting to recreate the shield was quite fun."
"And as a result, you created this amazing SS-rank shield?"
"Indeed. It's a gift from Orgon."
"Do you think my demon sword will be gift from Orgon too?" Kang Oh asked.
"We'll just have to wait and see. But don't worry about it. I'll do whatever it takes to receive another one of Orgon's gifts. You just worry about your own business." In other words, focus on killing Inarius.
"I promise you, I'll kill that evil lizard one day."
'Not right now. But sometime in the far distant future!'
"You must." Hoffman stared at him strongly.
"Then I'll get back to work. I just came down because I heard some noise down here. Please deal with this equipment however you, Mr. Man Bok, and the Chieftain wish."
"Understood," Man Bok said.
Once Hoffman disappeared, Kang Oh said, "When are you going to start selling the dragon equipment?"
"After all of the materials are converted into equipment," Man Bok replied. He planned on starting the business as soon as he had enough in stock.
"Wouldn't it be better to hold off on selling this shield?" Kang Oh pointed at Hamar's Shield.
"Of course. This shield is far more valuable than the others. No one will even take a look at the other equipment if we put the shield up for sale."
"A wise decision."
"I'll focus on the S-rank equipment first. I'll sell the SS-rank item later."
Kang Oh nodded his head.
Buying an SS-rank item was tough. There weren't enough SS-rank items to go around for the amount of players there were. Thus, SS-rank items were easily worth more than 100 million won ($100,000 USD).
'Moreover, we're selling dragon equipment.'
Equipment made out of dragon materials was even more expensive. After all, some people assumed that dragon materials were the best of the best, and that equipment made out of it had no equal.
'I should be able to make a fortune.' Kang Oh grinned.
Man Bok's suggestion that he buy the soul dungeon for 1 million gold and make a business selling dragon equipment wasn't wrong. He could just smell the money this equipment would rake in.
'Combine the money I make from selling the equipment, the ad revenue from my Despia footage, and the money I get from my soul dungeons every month, and...'
It wouldn't be that difficult to pay Burkan back his 800,000 gold.
Plus, what happens when he's fully paid off his debt? He'll buy the house he was currently renting. He could even become a landlord in real life!
He was just waiting for the day that Man Bok sold the dragon equipment and gave him his share.
* * *
The Phamas Mountains.
Merchants set up yurts around the Tower of Trials so that challengers could get what they needed before attempting their ascent. You could have a simple meal here, and could buy potions, return scrolls, and various supplies. Of course, it was more expensive here than if you were to buy your supplies from a city.
Some merchants lent out their yurts too. GBS's staff members had rented a yurt, and had gathered the First Hunter contestants inside.
Predator Kang Oh.
Female Knight, Snow Flower.
Special-Class Mercenary, Strong Punch.
The Great Explorer, Marco.
This is the first time these four had ever gathered together in-game.
"Contestants, please enter the Tower of Trial in 30 minutes at 12 o'clock sharp. Please turn on live mode ten minutes before it's time, and give us all your live codes," a GBS staff member said.
"Then I'll see you all later."
The staff member left, leaving only the contestants inside. Everyone turned their attention to Kang Oh.
"Did you discover Despia yourself?" Marco asked. There was no ulterior motive behind his question. He just asked as Arth's greatest explorer.
The rest of Blue Sky was with him too. They all stared at him with shining eyes.
"Yes," Kang Oh said curtly.
"It must have been hard," Marco said. His gaze was one of understanding, knowing firsthand the hardships Kang Oh must have gone through to find Despia.
After all, that was what Blue Sky was all about; they discovered several areas and revealed them to the world. None of it had been easy. If a place was hidden, there was a reason for it. Whether it be powerful monsters, dangerous traps, etc.
"Are you trying to find the way to Despia?" Kang Oh asked.
After Despia had been revealed, several players and guilds had attempted to find the way to Despia. Of course, it proved to be a difficult task.
"No, it doesn't really interest me," Marco said.
Blue Sky liked discovering things first; they didn't try to benefit from other's discoveries.
"A wise decision. Despia has already been revealed to the world, so why don't you try finding one of the other dangerous locations Song Lee Shen talked about? For example, the Devil's Sea."
Kang Oh didn't want them to look for Despia. After all, if anyone could find it, Blue Sky could; they were the best explorers for a reason.
The bigger problem was that once they found something, they revealed it. If they found Despia, then they'd tell the world how they got there too.
"The Devil's Sea, huh... You brought it up, so let me tell you something interesting I heard. It's said that there's a giant turtle that lives in the Devil's Sea. And that turtle's back is like an island of its own."
"Have you found the Devil's Sea?" Kang Oh asked. He could read between the lines.
"No. But the turtle... If I can find the Emperor Turtle Islet that I read about in the ancient texts, then I could use that as my base of operations while I explore the Devil's Sea."
Kang Oh, Strong Punch, and Snow Flower were all interested now. They couldn't help it. As the top rankers, they were interested in Despia, the Devil's Sea, and any other areas that were extremely dangerous and difficult.
They were all skilled in their own right, so whoever found it first would reap the most benefits.
"Oh, and by the way." Marco clapped and livened things up. "Mr. Kang Oh."
"Would you like to join Blue Sky?"
"You're a talented explorer. If you join us, I'm sure you'll be able to accomplish a lot."
"I respectfully decline."
There was no reason to work with Blue Sky. He needed to do everything himself; that way, he could reap all of the benefits too! It was hard enough to share some of the loot with Sephiro and Eder as is.
"Please let me know if you change your mind. Ah, would you like to friend me?"
He could see no downside to forming a connection with the Great Explorer, Marco. Plus, he said he wouldn't be looking for Despia.
"Mercenary work is fun too." Strong Punch suddenly jumped in.
"The Breaker Guild's doors are always open. And... I'm going to win today!" Snow Flower declared. She had turned the laid-back atmosphere tense again.
That's right. They were gathered as competitors, not friends. Their place as winner and loser was clearly defined; whoever got to the highest floor would win.
After that, the competitors didn't speak amongst themselves anymore. They just whispered to their teammates. They were probably discussing their plans to get to the highest floor.
How much time had passed?
A staff member came inside the yurt. "It's 10 minutes before 12. Please turn on live film mode, and let us know your code. Please get ready to enter the tower too."
With this, the game with 200 million won ($200,000 USD) at stake had begun.Previous Chapter Next Chapter