Chapter 79. Explorer Melank

A sandstone bust lay where Monique had died.

The bust, which matched what he'd looked like when he was still alive, appeared to be wailing in agony. 


[Forever Tortured Monique]

A bust where the soul of Monique, who received divine punishment from the God of Wisdom, Turu, is sealed.

With the inability to sate his greed, his soul remains in torment for all eternity.


"He'll now suffer forevermore for his greed," Grano looked at the bust and said.

"Since he did something that can never be forgiven," Eder said.

To satisfy his greed, Monique had killed several members of the Order of Truth. It was a heavy sin that could not be forgiven.

Kang Oh approached the bust and tapped its head.

"Tch. C'mon, you ate fifteen pieces of treasure, but only dropped three items."

Indeed, Monique had consumed fifteen pieces of treasure that had dwelled within the oasis.

Despite that, Kang Oh only saw three items nearby the bust.

'I hope they're good items!'

Kang Oh picked up one of the items. It was a dagger embedded with a dark red gem.


[Monique's Greed]

A refined dagger embedded with a ruby.

The Sand Monster, Monique's endless greed changed the color of the ruby to a dark red.

+ Steal: You have a fixed chance of stealing an item off the corpse of a fallen foe. It can only be used against other players.

+ 2 Set Effect: For 1 minute, you can use Sand Transformation, which changes your physical body to sand. (Cooldown: 30 minutes)

Rank: AA

Abilities: Attack Power 214, Physical +30, Mental +22

Minimum Requirements: Level 150, or the title, Avaricious Man.


Kang Oh picked up the other dagger, which seemed to be a part of the set. It was a dagger embedded with a dark blue sapphire.


[Monique's Thirst]

A crude dagger embedded with a sapphire.

The Sand Monster, Monique's endless thirst changed the color of the sapphire to a dark blue. 

+ Exploit: There is a fixed chance that a fallen foe drops at least 2 items. Only effective against other players.

+ 2 Set Effect: If you get a direct hit, there is a fixed chance that Sand Prison activates, which binds your opponent.

Rank: AA

Abilities: Attack Power 201, Physical +28, Mental +24

Minimum Requirements: Level 150, or the title, Avaricious Man.


"Steal and Exploit..."

Steal, which allowed him to search through a fallen player's inventory and take an item of his choosing!

Whereas Exploit caused fallen players to drop at least two items!

It was a set of weapons that PKers would love.

"I should sell these."

If he put them up for auction, then someone would definitely buy it. However, he didn't know how much he should sell them for.

"Next up is..."

Kang Oh picked up the last remaining item. It was an old compass.


[Melank's Mysterious Compass (Keepsake)]

The compass that the passionate and foolish explorer, Melank, cherished.

This compass possessed the mysterious ability to lead him to the right path when he was lost.


[The keepsake contains memories. Would you like to see Melank's memories?]


"Mr. Grano. Eder."

"Yes?"

"What's wrong?"

"This compass contains Melank's memories. Let's watch them together."

Kang Oh extended his hand, palm facing up. Grano and Eder touched the compass with their fingertips.

"Watch Melank's memories."

A recording of Melank's memories flashed before Kang Oh, Grano, and Eder's eyes.

* * *

Melank looked for the oasis of truth all on his own.

With the help of his mysterious compass, he was able to find the quicksand pit that led to the hidden oasis.

The passionate and foolish Melank threw himself into the quicksand and ultimately passed the Final Journey.

Melank, who'd reached the hidden oasis, discovered the treasure that dwelled within the oasis, as well as the Tower of Wisdom.

He was more interested in the Tower of Wisdom than the treasure.

However, he didn't possess Turu's Slate, so he was unable to enter the Tower of Wisdom.

Melank gave up on entering the Tower of Wisdom and got ready to leave to inform others of his discovery.

As evidence of his discovery, he took a few pieces of treasure and bottled up some water from the oasis.

Of course, he didn't forget to write something along the lines of 'Truth doesn't exist within the hidden oasis, only treasure.' within his explorer journal.

He left the hidden oasis and looked for the exit.

But then...

The Sand Monster, Avaricious Monique, attacked Melank.

Melank had no info on Monique and didn't have the ability to fight him off either. Thus, he had no other choice but to run.

Monique chased after Melank.

Fortunately, his mysterious compass showed him the way out. Because of that, he was able to find the exit.

The exit was a cube-shaped boulder. If he touched the boulder, then he would be transported back to the Bariton Desert.

"I survived!"

Melank dashed towards the boulder, but right before he touched the boulder, Monique caught him.

He tightly grabbed onto Melank with his sand hand.

Melank struggled, but Monique's grip was too tight. Moreover, sand awls protruded from the sand, piercing Melank's body.

Ultimately, Melank was mortally wounded from the attack.

However!

The bottle of holy water that he'd stored in his breast pocket broke and sprayed onto Monique.

Monique writhed in pain and Melank used that opportunity to escape.

Mustering up all the strength he had left, he stretched out his hand, barely touching the cube-shaped boulder with his fingertips.

Ashen sand engulfed Melank and he disappeared into the sand.

In the process, Melank dropped his compass into Monique's body. That was the reason Monique had dropped Melank's compass.

* * *

That was the end of the memories contained within.

"So that's what happened," Grano said.

Melank, having sustained grievous wounds from Monique, had died somewhere within the Bariton Desert. 

A merchant group had coincidentally found his body, which was how the rumors that the hidden oasis contained treasure spread.

"Rest in peace," Eder said, putting his hands together and bowing before the compass.

Kang Oh and Grano bowed their heads as well and spared some time for a silent prayer.

...

Kang Oh raised his head and said, "Let's collect the treasure now."

His party entered the water and began collecting the various treasure, golden bars, and coins.

"Please place them all here," Kang Oh said as he placed the gold bars in his hands onto one side.

"Understood."

A short while later, they began piling up a large amount of treasure and gold.

"That's everything," Eder placed a golden calf onto the ground and said.

"Heh."

Kang Oh's lips widened into a smile. He recalled what his mother used to say, 'You feel full just looking at it.' Mm. My precious children!

"Huh?'

At that moment, Eder looked at Monique's bust and narrowed his eyes.

"What's wrong?"

"The bust looks like it's wailing even more," Eder said.

"You're right."

Eder was right. Monique's bust had become slightly more contorted than before.

"He must be suffering even more, seeing the treasure right before his eyes," Grano said.

"Thanks for gathering all the treasure for us, Monique. I'll use it well."

Kang Oh patted Monique's bust.

"Then... How shall we divide the treasure?" Eder said, looking at Kang Oh and Grano.

Kang Oh's portion was 70%, while Grano's was 30%.

"Let's divide the gold coins and bars right here. We'll sell Monique's item set and the treasure and then divide that 7:3. How does that sound?" Kang Oh asked.

"Alright. Then I'll take care of the treasure. I know a trustworthy merchant," Grano said.

"I want to sell Monique's item set at the auction house. Is that ok with you?" Kang Oh asked.

"Yes."

Grano nodded his head.

"Eder. Add up all the gold coins and bars."

"Understood."

Eder moved immediately.

First, he moved all the gold bars to one side and collected all of the gold coins in his belt pouch.

"It's a total of 5,412 gold."

"How much?"

"5,412 gold."

"Oh my god!"

Kang Oh kneeled and clasped his hands. It was like he was a soccer player performing a ceremony after getting a goal.

"Then I'll take 1,804 gold."

"Alright."

Grano took his share.

"After subtracting my 3 gold daily wage and my 50 gold bonus, the remaining gold is..."

Eder took his own share.

"3,555 gold!"

Kang Oh grinned and took the remaining gold coins and bars.

Then, as if mixed with sand and blood, rusty tears flowed from Monique's bust.

"He's crying."

Eder pointed at Monique.

"It hurts more to have something taken from you than to have never had it at all," Kang Oh said.

"He reaps what he sows," Grano firmly said.

Grano, as if flaunting the treasure, placed each piece of treasure into his subspace right in front of him.

Whenever Grano placed a piece of treasure into his subspace, Monique's bust shed rusty tears.

Pat, pat.

Grano, who'd placed the last piece of treasure into his subspace, dusted off his hands of dust and sand.

They had finished collecting all of the equipment, treasure, and gold, as well as furthering Monique's punishment and suffering.

All that was left now was...

Modune!

Their battle with Modune was waiting for them.

* * *

Because Kang Oh's party had witnessed Melank's memories, they were able to find the hidden oasis's exit with ease.

The cube-shaped boulder.

If this boulder was touched, then they would return to the Bariton Desert.

"Now all we have left is to fight Modune," Grano looked at the boulder and said.

So much had happened after Kang Oh had come to see him at the Mage's Tower. 

They'd gone to the uninhabited island, met the Fishman, had entered a pyramid and fought against a mummy and were subsequently almost flattened like a dried filefish fillet, and had even found the hidden oasis.

It was a long trip.

But now their trip was almost at its end.

"Yes, that's true."

Kang Oh nodded his head.

He hadn't expected that he'd undergo such a long journey after hearing the Veteran Adventurer, Jayce's tale.

Of course, they still had to take out Modune. Now they had to completely focus on that task.

Kang Oh opened a message window.

- Mr. Sephiro.

- Yes?

- Tell me about Modune's movements. 

- He's set up a tent on a sand dune a short distance away from the quicksand and is waiting on standby. 

- What about the mercenaries?

- They're also on standby inside their tents.

- We're finished here.

- Then?

- Yes, we'll come out in 30 minutes and then we'll fight against Modune.

- Understood.

Kang Oh closed his message window and stared at Grano.

"Please tell your side that we'll be out in 30 minutes. Please tell them to come on time."

"Ok."

Grano drew a magic circle with black powder. It was a magic circle that allowed him to communicate over long distances.

He spoke to someone from the center of the magic circle.

"Yes, we'll be out in 30 minutes, so please come on time. Yes. They'll do the same. Yes, yes. Then I'll see you later."

Grano finished his chat and erased the magic circle with his foot.

"You're finished, I see," Kang Oh said.

"Yes."

"Then let's leave after 30 minutes as planned."

* * *

Once Kang Oh touched the cube-shaped boulder, the floor's ashen sand engulfed Kang Oh and dragged him in.

It was a similar sensation to when he'd been sucked into the hidden oasis via the quicksand.

A short while later...

Kang Oh reappeared in the Bariton Desert from within the sand. It was like the sand had spat him out.

Grano and Eder were spat out in the same manner after him.

Kang Oh looked around.

He didn't see Modune or his men. Nor did he see the quicksand pit that had led them to the hidden oasis either.

"Where are we?" Kang Oh asked.

Grano observed the time, the position of the sun, the shape of the sand dunes, and the traces of wind on the sand.

"We're about two sand dunes away from the quicksand pit," Grano said.

Aside from Grano, there were only a few people that could tell their location within the Bariton Desert with such subtle clues. 

"There."

Eder pointed to a sand dune with his finger. A single Sandurion rose from the sand.

"Eder, take care of it," Kang Oh said.

Once he approached, the Sandurion attacked Eder with its pincers.

"Haahp."

Eder deflected its pincers with his shield and bashed its tough shell with his mace.

Thump.

It let off a blunt sound.

The enraged Sandurion attacked with even greater ferocity, shaking its head and attacking with its pincers once more.

But it was no use.

Eder slightly tilted his body, dodging its pincers, and then counterattacked.

He and the Sandurion exchanged attacks a few times.

Eder pushed it back and Grano finished it off with a water spear.

"Now Modune will know that we've returned," Grano said.

"Good."

Kang Oh grinned.

It was almost time to show this fat and naughty hyena its place.   

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