“What’s going on? Who’s she staring at?”
“Probably one of the underground nobles. So it was meant to end up like this...”
The crowd buzzed as the vampire walked toward the VIP room without hesitation, as if the entire event had been predetermined. Some participants even raised their doubts as to whether the black merchants were toying with them using an item that already had a chosen owner.
“It seems the vampire has chosen her master! She’s stopped moving!” the auctioneer announced.
The vampire stopped right under the VIP room. Her ruby-like pupils sparkled as her lips curled up into a smile.
“Congratulations to the lucky participant!” the auctioneer exclaimed, almost too cheerfully.
Kim Jin-Woo stared at the vampire, who was looking up at him, with a perplexed expression.
Kim Jin-Woo couldn’t recall how the rest of the day’s auction went. He wasn’t too concerned, as the subsequent items on the list were those that only creatures of the underground world would be enthusiastic about. Still, he couldn’t help but feel uneasy about this whole situation.
“Well, well! It seems fortune is on your side.” The black merchant, who had been missing from the auction after the first day, appeared and congratulated him. Standing next to him was the stunningly beautiful vampire lady.
“Why me?” Kim Jin-Woo asked, but didn’t specify which of them the question was directed at. The black merchant responded by rolling his shifty eyes.
The vampire was about to take a step forward when Kim Jin-Woo raised his hand to stop her, saying, “I wasn’t talking to you.” He then looked at the black merchant and asked, “Is this part of an elaborate plan devised by whoever gave me the baron’s seal?”
“I don’t quite understand…” Puzzled, the black merchant tilted his head sideways.
Kim Jin-Woo narrowed his eyes. “It’s too coincidental. This is my first auction, and yet the vampire chose me over the other distinguished participants. It’s easier to believe that someone planned for all of this to happen.”
Not only had the vampire—a mere item for sale—been allowed to choose her own master, but the previous owner had also handed her over to Kim Jin-Woo for free. None of this made sense.
“Not at all. You’re reading too much into this. Pardon me, but you’re just one of the many labyrinth masters of the underground world. There’s no reason for someone to devise an intricate scheme like this,” the black merchant answered.
His explanation was compelling. Nobody would benefit from selecting one of the many labyrinth masters and coming up with a plan like this. Still, Kim Jin-Woo wasn’t fully convinced. He was a human, and that alone differentiated him from the rest of the labyrinth masters.
“Moreover, there are conditions that you have to fulfill, as her previous owner doesn’t want her to be unhappy. If her well-being is compromised, then… There will be severe consequences,” the black merchant added.
Kim Jin-Woo grimaced and replied indifferently, “I’m not too keen on it, then. There’s no reason to accept such a dodgy gift and bear the risks.”
The black merchant began to jabber away, as though he hadn’t expected Kim Jin-Woo to reject the vampire. “The vampire’s previous owner wouldn’t want her to be abandoned like that. He would be devastated and even furious,” he said.
“Are you threatening me?” Kim Jin-Woo lashed out at the black merchant, who seemed ready to break down and cry.
“Come on, that’s not it. My heart sinks whenever you speak like this.” The black merchant seemed to have given up reading Kim Jin-Woo’s thoughts. After all, the latter had also rejected his previous offer to fund the naga’s labyrinth’s upgrade during the war against Anaxtus.
“There are too many uncertainties for me to simply take the vampire in. It turns out I have to protect her, not the other way round. Why would I agree to such a bad deal?”
Kim Jin-Woo’s inquiry was logical and sound. Unable to refute him, the black merchant gave in and asked, “What do you want in return?”
“Now we’re talking,” Kim Jin-Woo replied, as though he had been waiting for those words. The black merchant sighed once again.
“Urgh, I’m always making a losing trade whenever I meet you. It’s starting to scare me at this point,” the black merchant muttered.
“I know you don’t mean it. You wouldn’t be visiting me if you had nothing to gain,” Kim Jin-Woo replied sternly. “Anyway, that was a good trade. Nice doing business with you.”
It sounded almost as if he were taunting the black merchant. The latter couldn’t help but sigh relentlessly.
“Has everything been settled?” At that moment, Kim Jin-Woo heard a faint yet alluring whisper in his ears. It was the first time he had heard the vampire’s incredibly attractive voice.
“Ah, I apologize for the delay. The baron is a very meticulous and prudent man, so…” the black merchant said hesitantly. Anyone could tell that he was cursing Kim Jin-Woo in his head, but he still tried to project a positive image of the underground baron.
Come to think of it, the black merchant was addressing the vampire—a mere item on auction—with an honorific. Kim Jin-Woo was convinced yet again that there was an ulterior motive behind the vampire’s selection.
“Not bad. I had no intention to serve a monster with all brawn and no brains.”
“Hmm…” Kim Jin-Woo felt light-headed. His eyes twitched, as he couldn’t help but stare at the vampire’s face whenever he heard her seductive voice.
“Well then, I shall excuse myself, since the deal has been sealed,” said the black merchant as he read Kim Jin-Woo’s mood. He left the VIP room along with the beastfolk helper.
“Are you going to take me in?” The vampire’s voice was too melodious to turn down.
However, Kim Jin-Woo raised his guard instead. “Since I’ve already received some goods from the black merchant, I guess I don’t have a choice. To be honest, I still don’t understand why you chose me.”
The vampire smiled brightly once again upon hearing his shrewd remark. “You’ll know everything about me soon. What’s the hurry?” Her words sounded strangely erotic.
Kim Jin-Woo pulled himself together and asked, “I don’t expect you to answer. but let me ask you regardless. Why me, of all people?”
“If an ulterior motive is what you’re concerned about, you don’t have to worry.” The vampire walked elegantly toward him. She said, “The black merchants seem very interested in your outings, but I don’t really care.”
“They told me to tag along by any means when you head out to the surface, and report everything I heard and saw to them.”
As Kim Jin-Woo had suspected, the black merchants did have an ulterior motive. He recalled how the despicable black merchant had rambled on shamelessly about how he was on the losing end of the deal.
“But don’t worry. I don’t care about them. Right now, I’m just—” The vampire licked her lips seductively, which appeared exceptionally red in contrast to her pale skin. “—imagining what human blood tastes like. The thought alone makes my whole body tingle.” She spoke with an excited expression on her face.
Just then, a message appeared in front of Kim Jin-Woo’s eyes.
[Angela the vampire wishes to join your labyrinth.]
[Long ago, vampires were the servants of the mightiest rulers of the underground world. However, they have now become nomads, wandering around looking for new masters. Angela has also waited decades for her new master. She seems extremely fond of her new master.]
[You have to undergo a blood ritual to take her in as your subordinate.]
[Think carefully about taking Angela the vampire in. Vampires are one of the most beautiful and seductive creatures in the underground world, but they can be very clingy and tenacious.]
Kim Jin-Woo was reading the messages when Angela approached him, flicking her tongue. “Will you take me in?”
[Do you wish to accept Angela the vampire? If you do, grant her your blood.]
Kim Jin-Woo called Dominique over as he stared at Angela, who was looking back at him with an enraptured expression. “Dominique,” he began.
<Yes, master. I’m here.> Dominique handed Kim Jin-Woo the sword he had purchased in this auction. He gripped its blade, causing blood to trickle down.
“Ahh…” Angela kneeled in front of the blade and gasped. She collected and drank the blood anxiously, refusing to let a single drop of it go to waste.
[The blood ritual between you and Angela the vampire has been completed. She will never leave your side now.]
[Vampires derive their life force from their masters’ blood. Without regular intake of your blood, Angela the vampire will lose her vitality and wither away to death.]
[As part of the ritual, you and Angela have been connected. You will share your life force with Angela, whereas she will share part of her abilities with you.]
The ritual was over, but Angela was still in a state of ecstasy, still craving his blood. Kim Jin-Woo put away the sword as he observed this strangely erotic scene.
“P-please…” Angela’s elegant and dignified demeanor from before was nowhere to be found. Her whole body shivering, she begged for more, but Dominique had already bandaged Kim Jin-Woo’s hand.
“I’ll think about it, depending on how good you are,” Kim Jin-Woo replied.
The vampire huffed and puffed pitifully.
A day had passed since Kim Jin-Woo took Angela in.
He had already obtained everything he needed from the trade with the black merchant. Therefore, he could watch the auction show with peace of mind.
The ordinary participants, who had actively participated in the previous bidding wars, lost their will to bid when the next few items were sold to VIPs at high prices. They were now more interested in watching what items were going up onstage.
Since this was the last day of the auction, there were many valuable items that even underground nobles would be fond of.
“Many people were disappointed yesterday when the vampire found her master. However, we have an equally special item today, so stay tuned!”
As usual, the auctioneer began to spice up the mood in the hall before introducing the last item. Kim Jin-Woo was shocked to the core when he saw the last item on the stage.
“There are very few of them left in the underground world now!”
The dejected, chained-up ‘item’ that was walking onto the stage was—
“Born and raised in the underground world! The first of its kind to appear on the auction in a decade! It’s a ‘subterranean person’!”
—a dungeon baby.Previous Chapter Next Chapter