Chapter 221 - Kelat Auction House (4)

Merchant A was the mysterious merchant with whom Yeon-woo had made deals in the Tutorial. He never told Yeon-woo his name, only introducing himself as A. Yeon-woo never imagined that he would meet him here. 

Even though Yeon-woo couldn’t see his face because of his hood, he recognized him right away from his ridiculous speech and mannerisms. Of course, since he was hiding his identity at the moment, he couldn’t act like he knew him, but in fact, this was working in his favor. He knew the merchant’s personality, so he could deal with him easily, while the merchant would happily assume that another pushover had arrived. Trying not to reveal his emotions, Yeon-woo nervously adjusted his duffel bag and headed towards the merchant. 

***

The merchant Atran was pretty high up in the West Wind Union, second only to the head boss. After he’d made a lucky purchase of a huge quantity of Magic Stones and resold them at high prices to different clans, he’d made a generous profit. However, he often clashed with the other elites of the union because of his rudeness and his unpleasant personality. After he smacked the head boss in the face, he’d been unceremoniously booted into the low-level area of the Kelat Auction House.

There wasn’t much for him to do in this section for deals. It was just a matter of selling and snatching up items that players brought in. The low amounts he dealt with seemed like pennies after the high of cornering the market for Magic Stones“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.”

However, work was still work, and he had to prepare himself to butter up the next customer. ‘Ugh. Another pushover has shown up.’ The door opened, and a player with a naïve-looking face carrying a single duffel bag entered, looking around. The merchant didn’t feel any particular aura from him, and he could tell that he was going to be an easy mark.

He looked like a newbie who wanted to sell the trinkets he’d collected so far, and these were the kinds of players that were easiest to rip off. Even though they were dealing inside the Kelat Auction House, the merchants would still try as much as possible to rip off the players, and novices who were just starting out were the best ones to negotiate with.

However, he didn’t let anyone read his thoughts—that was something only stupid people did and a veteran like him would never reveal his intentions. “What are you here for, dumb—I mean, sir?”

The player flinched when Atran spoke to him, and the merchant didn’t even know how this guy could have mustered up the courage to become a player in the first place. It suddenly occurred to him that the newbie might be putting on an act, but he quickly shook those thoughts off. There was no need for any acts at a lower-level area like this. 

“I-I want to sell something.”

“I see, so you’re here to sell? Is this your first time with us?”

“Yes. That’s right.”

“Ooh. Then you’ve found the right place. The West Wind Union is the most conscientious and honest out of all the merchant unions.”

“Is that so?” Then, the player beamed like it was a relief. His smile made him look even more gullible.

“I have to examine the object, so would you mind putting it here?”

The player awkwardly set his duffel bag down. Atran was only thinking about ripping him off and sending him on his way, so he was stunned when he saw the items in the duffel bag. ‘How did someone like that get these?’

The bag was full of weapons like swords and spears. They were all sturdy and sharp, and definitely not items that a newbie would possess. “They’re pretty nice, right? Haha.” The player smiled proudly.   

‘So he’s a Crow.’ Atran instantly realized what kind of person the player was. Players who went around old battlefields and looted corpses were called Crows. The world of the Tower was vast, and there were always battles in every corner. It seemed like this Crow had gathered a decent amount of weapons. Although they exhibited some wear and tear, the weapons could still be used and sold at high prices.  

Atran couldn’t let his thoughts show, and so he suggested a low price range. “Yes. They’re all good quality. Very good, indeed. A few of them are even high-class artifacts that have magic.”

“Then, the price will be—?!”

“However…it’s really a shame.”

“W-what do you mean?”

“Look here. As you can see, the rune letters on the blade have been destroyed beyond the point of recognition, and it’s very worn. The value is only a quarter of its original price. And for something like this…” Because of the Bureau, he couldn’t completely rip off the little player but he could make him suffer a little bit. Even among the West Wind, Atran’s persuasive skills were renowned, and as he spoke, the bumpkin’s face grew paler. He had obviously come here with high hopes, only to have them crushed. 

Atran decided to stop, knowing that if he bid too low, the deal might fall apart. If the player took the swords to another merchant, his efforts would all go to waste.

“But even if their condition is a bit unfortunate, a pearl doesn’t lose its value just because it’s been buried under sand for a long time. If they’re repaired just a bit, you can sell them at a fine price.”

“R-really?” Color returned to the bumpkin’s depressed face. 

Atran realized that the player had completely taken the bait and pretended to punch some numbers into a calculator then pushed it forward. “Normally, I’d offer this price to you, but since you’ve brought so many items and I want to keep a good relationship with you, I’ll raise to…this one. How’s that?”

“Y-yes! It’s a deal!” Although he still seemed disappointed, the player gripped Atran’s hand happily after seeing the price increase. Then, after looking around cautiously, he pulled something from his chest pocket.

Atran idly wondered what kind of item would make the guy so careful. However, it was something he never expected. It was neither an artifact nor a weapon. It was a tablet. Most of the letters seemed blurred from age, but as soon as Atran activated his decoding skill, he had to force a gasp down. ‘This is…!’

Merchants had to know a little bit of everything since they came in contact with all kinds of items. Atran himself knew a little more about alchemy than most, and he instantly recognized that the tablet was a precious object. The complex formulas inscribed on it were difficult to read—proof of the tablet’s age—but he could tell that they referred to something extraordinary.

The Tower was a place that saw people from different worlds, some of whom had arrived after stealing treasures from their home worlds. Since most of the players didn’t understand the value of these treasures, they were discarded in the end or passed around until they reached someone who actually saw their worth. He could tell that this was one of those items.

Although it was unfortunate that the tail end of the formulas had been cut off, it wouldn’t be too difficult to piece the entire thing together after some research. ‘I have to have this.’ Most merchants said, “Eureka” whenever they encountered items like this, and Atran wanted to shout “Eureka!” at that moment. It occurred to him that this tablet might help him return to his former glory, and his eyes glowed under the hood. 

***

‘Things went smoothly since he seemed to know its value.’ Yeon-woo laughed as he left the area. He had been planning to spread rumors after the tablet exchanged hands, but it seemed like there wasn’t any need to do that anymore. He’d managed to fool the mysterious merchant into thinking he was a Crow, and since he’d sold the fake Emerald Tablet along with the weapons, he wasn’t worried about getting caught.

He’d planted the seed, and now it was time to wait for it to sprout.

***

Atran didn’t move right away after getting the tablet. Instead, his head was filled with thoughts about his next steps. ‘I can’t just put it up for sale. I have to package it nicely, and leak some rumors first.’

In the Kelat Auction House, it was important to control public opinion. Customers felt more satisfied if they thought they had something precious that no one else had, and if he managed to pull this off, he could ask for an astronomical price. He had to make sure that he seeded rumors to incite curiosity and anticipation.  

Finally, he came up with a plan and rang a bell to call for his subordinate. Ring!

“Did you call for me?”

“Do you know a good scribe?”

“There should be a few in the labor market.”

“Ask around and bring ten here as soon as possible!”

***

Atran made the scribes copy just twenty percent of the information on the tablet to create a preview that he wrapped up in silk and sent to his VIP list with a short introduction: “May luck be with whoever receives this letter. I hope the object inside this can be that luck for you.” 

He expected that most of the people on the list wouldn’t be interested. The warrior-types among them would see a few strange letters inside the fancy envelope and throw it in the trash. However, Apostles or magic-type players would realize its worth at once. 

They would immediately understand that the fragment of the formula on the letter pertained to the legendary goal of alchemy on the Emerald Tablet. Even though the fraction was only a small part, those who understood it exclaimed in astonishment. Some, who were stuck on a point of research, managed to solve their blockages right away and uncovered the truth that they were missing.

Different groups within the Magic Tower, like the clans of alchemists, Walpurgisnacht, and a few other religions and sects started to contact the Kelat Auction House to ask for more information. They wanted to know the source of the letter and whether the Kelat Auction House would release the rest of the formulas.

Each day, hundreds of people visited the West Wind, and Atran received thousands of letters. The response was larger than he expected, and his name quickly spread among the rankers. Even priests and monks who claimed to have listened to divine messages and stayed away from worldly life visited him. The Eight Large Clans also began to take an interest. 

Because of this, the West Wind had to accept Atran back into their ranks. At first, they had tried to take the fake Emerald Tablet by force, but Atran had hidden it as soon as he made the preview. In the end, they made him a head boss and ordered him to plan their union’s biggest event carefully.

Atran wasn’t done yet. He made another preview with five percent more of the formula included and sent it to even more people. Those who finally realized that the formulas were legitimate began to make a fuss. 

In the end, even the Bureau had to observe what was going on with Atran and the tablet. A great response meant that they could also throw in more deals with other items, so they planned to enlarge the scale.

They allowed Atran the use of the main auction house. It was the largest area with the most visitors, and since the auction was advertised under the name of the Kelat Auction House, countless players, from rankers to business owners, arrived on the day of the auction.

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