The next day, Yeon-woo visited the Martial King to make a request. The Martial King, who had been busy chasing after the Bow God, looked unusually grim. Their search had ended in failure again, and since so many people had been lost or injured by now, they had to use all of the resources they had.
However, the Martial King smiled crookedly at Yeon-woo as though nothing were the matter. “Our little disciple-nim changes day by day. I heard you made something fun.” Even though the group had agreed to keep everything to do with the Philosopher’s Stone under wraps, the Martial King had figured it out, and he could sense that Yeon-woo had changed. He nodded in amusement. Yeon-woo had grown a lot compared to last time.
“Thanks to you, I was able to create it comfortably.”
“Psh.” The Martial King scoffed and waved his hand. “You say insincere things so easily. You’re becoming more shameless as time goes by, eh?”
“It’s all thanks to my teacher.”
“Ah, you’re good at flapping your gums. But it’s nice to see that you’re livelier now.” The Martial King continued with a smirk, “The first time I laid eyes on you, you were as fierce as a wolf that had been starved for five months. But now, you finally seem like a person, hm?”
For a moment, Yeon-woo was speechless. He felt like he understood why the Martial King was saying that. When they’d first met, Yeon-woo was only filled with thoughts of revenge. But now, things had changed. Although he was stronger, a lot of things had filled his empty heart, and he wasn’t prickly as before. Sesha, Brahm, Galliard, Phante, Edora, and the Martial King—he had a lot of good people around him now, and getting closer to them had helped him grow mentally and emotionally as well. Also, he was more relaxed now, and if it hadn’t been for them, he might have relentlessly and grimly climbed the Tower.
“Well, growing is good, whether it’s external or internal. If you focus too much on one thing, you’ll eventually fall. For a while, you seemed to only care about external growth, so I was worried. I’m relieved now, though.” The Martial King nodded with a smile. His eyes expressed how proud he was of Yeon-woo.
Yeon-woo also felt pride rising from somewhere in his heart. It was the first time the Martial King had complimented him like this.
“But be doubly cautious. You possess too many things now, and even if you’re on a winning streak at the moment, it’s only normal to be shaken up some day. A person’s mind is surprisingly weak. Your possessions are external to who you are. You’ll be fine as long as you don’t forget this.” He meant that Yeon-woo shouldn’t get hung up about things that weren’t integral to who he was. The most important thing was who he was—in other words, his mind.
“I’ll be careful.”
“All right. Good.” The Martial King’s smile grew wider. Yeon-woo was doing much better as a disciple than he ever expected, even though they’d only met by chance.
In fact, before Yeon-woo, the Martial King had lost any interest in taking in more disciples. His first disciple had walked a road of destruction out of greed, and his second disciple had turned away from the world because it was too hard to understand the Martial King’s teachings. The Martial King had enjoyed success his entire life. Ever since he was born as the heir to the throne, he had lived a life full of accomplishments. As a result, he’d grown hesitant about taking in more disciples considering his failure rate.
But his third disciple was doing well on his own, and the Martial King hoped that at the very least, this child would walk on his path safely. Initially, he’d accepted Yeon-woo as a disciple to fulfill his tribe’s wishes, but now he was sincerely cheering him on. “Well then, that’s it for the nagging today.” The Martial King quickly changed the subject in case Yeon-woo cottoned on to his thoughts. He would be embarrassed if Yeon-woo read his mind, and if Phante found out, he would tease his father ruthlessly.
“Why did you come here? It seems like you have something to ask.”
“You make it sound like your student only comes when he wants something from his teacher.”
“Really? So you’re saying you don’t need my help, then?”
“However, it would be impolite of the student to reject his teacher’s offer of help.”
“That mouth of yours. So what is it?” The Martial King asked with a smirk.
Yeon-woo nodded. “I’d like to ask for a Skin Mask.”
“A Skin Mask?” The Martial King’s eyes widened as he wondered what Yeon-woo was up to now. Not everyone in the tribe knew about the Skin Mask, and it was even less likely that an outsider would have heard of it. However, the Martial King acted like it was no big deal. “Talk to the Head Elder and get some from him. You don’t have to come to me for things like this.”
It was Yeon-woo’s turn to be surprised. “Isn’t the Skin Mask something rare and precious?”
“So? Do I seem like a miser who wouldn’t even lend his disciple one?”
“Hey, watch your mouth. I’ll take back my offer.”
“Never mind. Thank you.” Yeon-woo quickly bowed and left in case the Martial King changed his mind.
The Martial King grinned as he watched Yeon-woo leave. “He’s even joking with me now, huh? He’s grown a lot. He’s really grown.”
Yeon-woo was going to attempt to leak a fake formula for the Philosopher’s Stone so the Tower would be thrown into a state of chaos. He and Brahm managed to create a fake Emerald Tablet in four days that looked almost exactly like the original, except the instructions on it were a mix of the real formula and some things Yeon-woo had made up.
It was such a good fake that those who tried experimenting with the formula would think that it was achievable. However, no one would be able to go past a certain point, and no matter how much they struggled or guessed, it would be impossible to create the stone. Yeon-woo split the fake Emerald Tablet into four parts.
“You’re going to release this in order, right?” Brahm looked at the pieces of the Emerald Tablet and burst out laughing, which was uncharacteristic of him. Then, his smile turned cold. “Everyone will go crazy.”
Red Dragon would be especially anxious, but Brahm was certain that the other Large Clans and high rankers would be equally keen. It was impossible to measure the desire for an organ with unlimited magical power—the Summer Queen and many other players would be willing to do anything to get hold of one.
Brahm wanted to see Walpurgisnacht in ashes as soon as possible. His eyes glowed fiercely. “Let’s begin.”
Yeon-woo took off his mask and put on a Skin Mask. A very thin layer made up of plant fibers stuck to his skin, making him feel uncomfortable. “Is this good?”
“This part is poking out.”
Yeon-woo looked at Phante, who fixed the awkward parts before bringing a mirror over to him.
“What do you think? You can’t tell it’s not real, huh?”
Yeon-woo nodded at his reflection, which revealed an ordinary-looking person. He examined it carefully, thinking it was more interesting the more he looked at it. You really couldn’t tell it was him.
At the same time, Yeon-woo carefully pushed his magic into his deepest recesses and transformed his general aura into something else. Fortunately, the Philosopher’s Stone gave him unmatched control over magic power. After he was done, he really seemed like an ordinary and weak person with forgettable features. “I’ll be back.”
“See you on the twenty-third floor.”
Yeon-woo slung a duffel bag on his back and left the village. While he searched for the Kelat Auction House, Phante and Edora were going to the twenty-third floor with Brahm and Galliard to gather the pieces of Agares’ demonic energy that had scattered all over the stage and throw them into De Roy Lake to create a low-level demon they would use to cure Sesha.
「Hehehe, is dominating the world of villains next?」 Shanon giggled, amused.
「Am I wrong?」
‘Villains, you say? Well, you’re not wrong.’ Yeon-woo grinned. Shanon’s description was quite apt since he was planning on pushing the Tower over the edge. He wasn’t only aiming at Walpurgisnacht. He was after the Tower itself. Yeon-woo wet his lips with his red tongue. His eyes flashed coldly, like the eyes of a predator that had caught sight of its prey.
The Kelat Auction House was a market that was open to all players, and it was a large operation that dealt with thousands of items a day. It was an official platform that had the Bureau’s approval, and the Guardians were always around to monitor the situation and examine the items up for auction so that no one had to worry about scams.
If requested, the identity of the person who put an item up for auction could be kept a secret, and it was a good place to get rid of items that one might have accidentally come across. Whenever the Large Clans needed a large number of certain items or were discreetly looking for specific items, they would head straight to the auction house.
When Yeon-woo arrived, the Kelat Auction House was bustling with tons of people. Thanks to that, no one looked at Yeon-woo twice, and he was able to naturally blend in with the crowd in his loose clothes and duffel bag. Even his stiff expression made him look like a newbie seller.
「Wow! It hasn’t changed. This place is as boisterous as ever. Why are there so many people today? It’s not even a special day.」 Shanon laughed loudly, happy to be around a lot of people after a long while. Hanryeong didn’t say much, but he seemed to be traveling down memory lane as well.
There weren’t a lot of people who had never been to the Kelat Auction House, like Yeon-woo. It was composed of several buildings on a large plot of land that was divided into nine sections. The building at the center was where the auctions took place, and there were stalls where you could make trades with other players. Yeon-woo was headed towards the section for deals, where most people who had items to sell went.
Sellers could put items on consignment or find a direct buyer. To sell an item on consignment, a player had to pay a fee and then put the item up for auction. Finding a direct buyer meant simply selling it at the auction house’s preset price. Those who were confident in the value of their goods chose consignment, while those who needed quick cash always chose to look for direct buyers.
Yeon-woo walked past the labor market where players with all kinds of weapons stood near portals that could take them to any floor. The Kelat Auction House also dealt with mercenaries like these.
‘It should be somewhere here.’ Remembering the map in the diary, Yeon-woo looked around. There were many areas for dealing so that there wouldn’t be too much competition between the merchants. The Bureau only managed the Kelat Auction House, and the deals were done by actual merchants.
The mysterious merchants, one of whom Yeon-woo had met in the Tutorial, were neither players or Guardians. They came and went from various worlds and dimensions, bringing with them all kinds of goods. Yeon-woo was looking for a specific group. Just as players joined clans, the mysterious merchants joined unions, and Yeon-woo was looking for the one called West Wind.
His brother had frequently gone to them to make deals because they were very efficient and were considered one of the top five largest unions. ‘If I manage to sell something here, it’ll be snapped up easily, and the rumors will spread fast.’ He opened the door to a building called West Wind Union Dealing Area.
“Thank you for choosing us. We love you, dear fool, I mean, customer. I hope you choose to use Merchant A again in the future.” He heard a voice as soon as he entered. A merchant in a hooded robe seemed to have just completed a deal and was smiling broadly. The familiar voice made Yeon-woo’s eyes widen. ‘That guy is…?’Previous Chapter Next Chapter