Chapter 110 - How Much? (2)
When a User achieves great success in Warlord, everyone starts to comment on the reasons behind the User's success.
One of the reasons behind the success was attributed to the excellent AI making up Warlord.
This was why the Users paid much more attention to the NPCs in Warlord compared to the NPCs of other games. Of course, it wasn't as if all the NPCs were popular. If an NPC wanted to be popular, one had two fulfill one of the two requirements.
The NPC had to be either a beautiful woman or a handsome man. If not, the NPC had to have a habit of giving out good Items.
From that perspective, Ahimbree's massive popularity was inevitable. Ahimbree was an NPC that gave Items that was beyond good. It was downright amazing.
Moreover, a User named Cocomo had obtained Ahimbree's Disciple title, and it seemed he had been short on money. He sold information regarding Ahimbree, which had never been disseminated before. This drove Ahimbree's popularity into a pitched fever. Numerous Users attempted to become Ahimbree's Disciple.
At that point, the much praised AI system of Warlord did something very wise. There were too many Users visiting Ahimbree, so Ahimbree's residence was moved.
This was to Hyrkan's benefit as there weren't many obstacles when he tried to meet Ahimbree.
‘Shit. If he was going to move, he should have moved up north. Why the hell did he move to the south?’
Of course, Hyrkan had been working in the North, so he had to spend a good amount of time traveling towards the south. However, this was a very minor problem.
The usual office that had always greeted Hyrkan was gone.
“……your room is very clean.”
The books that had been strewn about…
Unlike his previous office where the expensive Skill books had coated the floor, his current office was very clean. It was hard to find any books or even a whiff of paper inside the room.
One would never expect to feel a sense of unease when confronted with a clean room.
However, Hyrkan felt uneasy.
‘The mood is strangely cool.’
He had come here expecting to receive a delicious treat. Instead of a treat, he was worried he might have wasted his time coming here.
‘Eh-ee. At the very least, he'll still probably give me a Skill. It isn't as if he would only give a Skill book only if the Skill books were strewn across the floor.’
He tried very hard to push down his anxiety, and Hyrkan greeted Ahimbree.
“How's your health and peace of mind, teacher?”
He used respectful words that he had utter to his parents before. Hyrkan looked very respectful.
However, Ahimbree didn't answer immediately. The NPC kept staring at Hyrkan. It looked like Ahimbree was affected by a system freeze, but the manual explicitly stated that such a scenario wasn’t possible. This meant it was really having a hard time answering Hyrkan's question. It meant Hyrkan's action had stumped the outstanding AI. The AI was at a loss for words at Hyrkan's absurd action.
Ahimbree opened his mouth after more time had passed.
“I've been well. How have you been?”
“I've had a lot on my plate, so I've been busy.”
“I'm sure your hands were full. Did you perhaps learn of any important information?”
Hyrkan was a bit worried at the question.
‘Is he fishing for something or is this just a straightforward question? Is he testing the water with me?’
Ahimbree knew Hyrkan was carrying out activities as a member of the Secret Society. This question was probably intended to ask about his activities related to the Secret Society. Moreover, Hyrkan had gained an important information recently. He had sufficient information where he could cast suspicion on Prince Dean.
If he continued this conversation with Ahimbree by telling him about the Trigon Emblem, it might be a key to opening a hidden quest.
On the other hand, he remembered the Maeung's warning. Maeung told him to tell this information to no one.
After coming to a surprisingly difficult decision, he decided to keep his mouth shut.
“I'm still investigating. Unfortunately, I'm lacking in ability, so it is unfortunate that I can't be of bigger help.”
“I heard about your accomplishments from Bagel. I also hear a lot of praise about you. If we have 100 men like you, we could clear the lands across the Terube Castle walls. We’ll be able to immediately occupy the lands. He wants to introduce you to Prince Dean as soon as possible.”
As the administrator of the Terube Castle wall, it seemed the NPC had taken a liking to Hyrkan. As someone who serves under Prince Dean as his lord, this was the highest compliment that could be given to Hyrkan.
Of course, he knew Prince Dean's real identity, so Hyrkan could only put on an awkward smile.
Hyrkan calmly ended this particular thread of conversation with a single phrase.
“So why did you come looking for me?”
Ahimbree started the conversation in earnest. Hyrkan didn't hide anything. He spoke immediately.
“I'm unable to carry out the Secret Society's missions with my current level of ability. As you have done for me before, please provide me an opportunity and a stage.”
Ahimbree stared at Hyrkan when it heard his words. It was an NPC, but the light in its eyes was really strange. It really felt as if an incredible sage was seeing into Hyrkan's heart. It almost made him believe that it wasn't an NPC.
However, Hyrkan didn't turn away from the gaze. The saving of one's face and sense of shame... Those words weren't in Hyrkan's dictionary.
Its gaze gave him goosebumps.
Ahimbree stared into Hyrkan's eyes as it spoke.
“You are already plenty strong. I cannot do anything for you. Moreover, don't you already know about the methods to become stronger?”
Its words were dressed up adequately, but in the end, it meant it couldn't provide a stage like the Battlefield from before. It basically meant Hyrkan couldn't suck out any honey here from Ahimbree.
“I want to learn a new magic.”
Hyrkan immediately gave a straightforward comment. Even if Ahimbree had sent him to a stage like the Battlefield, Hyrkan wouldn't have gone.
“Magic isn't something that is easily earned.”
“If I wanted to take the easy road, I wouldn't have come here. Please you can give me any trials and tribulations!”
Hyrkan spoke in a sincere tone.
Of course, his inner thoughts differed from his tone.
‘Please give me an easy one. I want the really easy task. Please.’
Warlord's difficulty was almost limitless. In Warlord, an NPC of Ahimbree's stature could give really difficult Quests. Those were the ones that Users didn't even bother completing.
“You should search out the Magician's Tower. It would be better for you to ask them for help instead of me.”
Ahimbree once again expressed words that rejected Hyrkan. Maybe this was to be expected. It would be absurd to expect a free Skill at this point in the game.
‘Yes, this is the right answer.’
In the end, Hyrkan had to accept it.
‘Everything was going so well for so long that I lost myself for a moment. It was stupid of me to come here.’
The problem lay with him. He was the one who had come searching for the easiest and most obvious answer in Ahimbree.
At that moment, Ahimbree continued to speak.
“If you give a big contribution to the Magician's Tower, the Magician's Tower will surely give you a recompense.”
For a brief moment, Hyrkan combed through his memory. It felt as if he had heard about something similiar to this before.
However, Ahimbree gave a clearer explanation before Hyrkan could search through his memories.
“The Magician's Tower always needs a lot of help. They need testing ingredients and other various needs.”
‘Will you look at this?’
Hyrkan let out a yell of delight inside his heart. Ahimbree couldn't directly give him a skill, but it seemed he'll be able to earn a Skill book from the Magician's Tower. From Hyrkan's perspective, he didn't care where he got the Skill book.
“Of course, their biggest need is operational funds.”
At that moment, Hyrkan's expression did a 180.
‘Funds? What fund? I...it can't be true.’
“Donation. That is the sure fire thing they want.”
From Hyrkan's mouth, the sound of him gasping was automatically let out. Ahimbree didn't even register Hyrkan's change of countenance as he continued to speak.
“I think around 100 thousand gold should be enough. You'll be able to learn a magic befitting your level.”
“Sship? Sship? Did you just say Sship?” 1
His words had come out reflexively yet Ahimbree decided to react to Hyrkan's words.
“Is that a problem?”
It seemed sship had sounded like a curse word to Ahimbree. In truth, it was a form of curse word if one considered how he was feeling.
Hyrkan quickly changed his words.
“Sship…… So you were saying Sship-mahn gold would be enough?”
“That's right. A donation of that size would be plenty enough to get what you want.”
It happened at that moment.
[The Quest 'Meaningful Donation' has started.]
The critical blow was struck when the announcement rang in his ears.
Ahn-jaehyun had a cup of water in front of him, and he had his eyes closed. Ahn-jaehyun had an outdated Tablet PC in his hand. Someone else's SNS page was open on the LCD. If one looked at the number of subscribers, it seemed the owner of the SNS page was very popular. The owner was a handsome white man with blonde hair and blue eyes.
‘Somehow, things always find a way to go sideways.’
He felt a chill run up his spine from just hearing that name.
At first, Ahn-jaehyun hadn't been too worried about the quest.
In truth, he didn't even need to think on it. It would be crazy to spend 100 thousand gold for a level 140 Skill book. Currently, the level 160 and 170 Skill Books had been released into the market. These Skill books were popular yet it was traded for a similar price. So why should he spend 100 thousand gold in buying one of the skills regarding the unpopular Black Magician Body Modification Skill Tree?
Still, he researched about the skill reward as a precaution. There might be someone, who might have finished this Quest. He decided to research into it first.
In truth, he was sure he wouldn’t find a crazy bastard, who had gone through with this Quest.
Couple million people were spending quite a lot of money to play this game, and it seemed there was a User crazy enough to torch a large sum of money on such a Quest.
‘I think I regret searching for this in the first place.’
He was a world famous singer and actor named Neal Whittaker. Woody was his name in Warlord. Amongst the worldwide celebrities, he was known to be an incredible fan of Warlord. He had played the game since the game service started, and he had poured an incredible amount of money into the game. However, his level was a bit low considering how much time and money he had spent in this game. He was level 141. However, if one ranked Users on the money spent on the game, he would easily be within the top 50. His love for Warlord was that large.
At the same time, it was a twisted form of love. Woody had so much money that it pained him to not be able to surround himself with luxury items. He acted like a rich person showing off his sports car. He was someone who loved to boast about his unbridled spending on the SNS.
That guy had done the 100 thousand gold Donation Quest. As a reward, he had been able to choose a level 140 Unique Skill.
At that point, Ahn-jaehyun would have just ignored this all together. Instead of buying a Skill book with a price tag of 100 thousand, it would be more advisable and healthier for him to go a hotel buffet, and leave after eating salad.
The problem was that this Donation Quest's reward didn't have a fixed reward. One could choose the reward.
Once one chose a Skill Tree, one will have an unrestricted view of the Skill Tree from level 1 to level 190. Then it'll allow one to choose a Skill below one's level. Since this was a level 140 Quest, the best he could choose was a level 140 Skill.
‘If I donate 100 thousand gold, I could see the little known Body Modification Skill Tree.... ’
The key point was the fact that he'll be able to see the entire array of his choices.
This wasn't just about gaining a skill. He would be able to find out about the entire Skill tree of his choice, and this information was a very precious information one couldn't even buy with money.
The numerous Users of this game gather fragmentary information to puzzle out the Skill Trees. It was a hard task. He'll be able to see such a Skill Tree for the price of 100 thousand gold, and it was well worth the price.
This was the reason why he was agonizing over the decision.
Of course, Ahn-jaehyun's best case scenario was for another person to confirm and reveal the Body Modification Skill Tree.
That was a pipe dream.
In the first place, Warlord's magician population was highly skewed towards white magicians. Recently, the ratio had shifted towards Black Magicians by a little bit, because of the Hahoe Mask's exploit.
He had been lucky with the Curse Skill Tree, since the Curse Monks were popular. He was able to gain enough information regarding the Curse Skill Tree. However, this wasn't the case for the Summon Skill Tree and the Body Modification Skill Tree.
In regard to the Summon Skill Tree, even the veteran Necromancers didn't recognized the Skills used by Hyrkan.
'Our Class has that kind of Skill?'
'What's that horn growing out of the Skeleton's head, Hahoe Mask-nim?'
The Body Modification Skill Tree was something one had to be over level 100 to obtain. This was why there weren't any information regarding this particular Skill Tree out in the open.
It was possible that there were Users, who might be aiming for a Magic Swordsman type character. In that particular situation, the Black Magician would have to advance the Body Modification Skill Tree. Hyrkan had just found a User, who had spent 100 thousand gold to progress an unknown Quest, so it wasn’t too far-fetched to think that a Magic Swordsman was out there.
Still, there was no way that a User, who had spent 100 thousand gold to learn the Body Modification Skill Tree, would reveal this information to the public.
‘However, there is a possibility that this bastard might be selling snake oil. Isn't he an attention whore? If I finish the Quest and....’
Woody hadn't revealed the Skill Tree he gained in its entirety. He wrote he would reveal additional information as his number of subscribers grew. Currently, he had revealed Skills that most Users had already figured out. This was why there was a chance that this might be a stunt being pulled by Woody to gain more attention.
If Woody was lying, Hyrkan might just receive a single Skill Book for 100 thousand gold.
Ahn-jaehyun finally drank the cup of water in front of him. He downed it in one shot.
‘If this is some plot to inflate the number of subscribers, I'll kill you 100 thousand times with my bare hands, Woody.’
He had drunk the cold water, but it was having a hard time cooling his boiling insides.
- Ship-mahn = 100 thousand Sship-pahl = curse word. They sound phonetically the same in the beginning. NPC thought Hyrkan was trying to curse.