Chapter 222 – Kelat Auction House (5)
“Trismegistus’ tablet has been sold to Mr. Croy!” Trismegistus was a historical pioneer of alchemy known throughout the Tower. Atran had attached his name to the tablet, and people joined in the auction as though they were really bidding for something that Trismegistus had left behind.
Alchemists, magicians, witches, and many others bid competitively, raising the price of the tablet sky high. However, the winner of the auction was a person who was known to have the most gold in the Tower, the magnate Croy. Croy enjoyed the gazes that he attracted as he walked up to the podium.
There was nothing like the joy of spending money and being looked at with envy. Those looks brought him so much exhilaration. He relished the thought that everyone was beneath him, and even those whom he couldn’t defeat with power were helpless in the face of his wealth.
The mercenaries that Croy had hired from the labor market stopped people from approaching him, and he returned to his estate after taking the tablet. He casually tossed it to a research center that worked for his clan. His happiness only came from the moment of buying, and he had no interest in what came after. It was better to leave it to them instead of letting the tablet rot in his vault. If it really were worth something, he could always resell it at a higher price.
If it turned out to be a disappointment, he would just treat it as a spoil of war—although from the reports of the research center, this spoil of war was truly a precious item. They put out a mana potion that glowed purple and confirmed that it was more effective than anything else on the market. When its form changed, it was even possible to use it as a single-use magic tool.
As the research center continued to produce other items, those who were desperate for the tablet and those who had doubted it both came to a realization. The value they’d placed on it wasn’t even a hair of its true worth. This information spread past the auction house to the rest of the Tower.
“Hehehe. This feels pretty nice.” Atran spun in his chair as he laughed in his office. He’d been given a personal office after he was promoted from head boss to director. It was fitted out with everything he wanted—a sparkling marble floor, expensive pottery, paintings, and decorations.
The auction had been the biggest event in ten years, and after its success, he had become the face of the West Wind Union. As the rumors of Trismegistus’ tablet grew in the Tower, so did Atran’s glory.
People asked him if he had manuscript versions of the tablet, or if he even had other previews. Of course, Atran had already prepared several manuscripts, and he was waiting for the excitement to reach fever pitch before releasing them one by one. He was sure to earn even more money with that plan. However, he didn’t make too many copies. The rarer a treasure was, the more it glowed. He wouldn’t do anything foolish to make its value drop.
‘Still, it’s a shame. Had I really understood its value, I could have asked for ten or even twenty times the price it sold for.’ He hadn’t expected that Trismegistus’ tablet would create such pandemonium in the Tower. ‘The tablet definitely had missing pieces, too. I wonder if there’s any way to get my hands on them.’
If he could find them, he was confident that he could send the Tower into an even bigger frenzy. ‘Should I hire more people to look for that Crow?’ Atran frowned as he thought of the Crow that vanished without a trace. If he could find out where the Crow had found the tablet, he might be able to find the missing pieces.
Since he was a mysterious merchant, he could move between different dimensions, unlike the Guardians or the players. Even if the missing pieces were in hell, he could go there to retrieve them. Just as he was licking his lips in regret, his secretary knocked and entered.
“Someone is desperately looking for you, sir. We tried to chase him out but he was so stubborn…”
“It’s probably someone asking for the manuscript. Have a mercenary get rid of him. Didn’t I give orders that I can’t be bothered because I’m busy?”
“But…he said he was the original owner of the tablet…”
“What?” Atran shot up from his seat. “Where is he?”
Atran followed his secretary to the first floor, where the bumpkin Crow was causing a commotion and shouting at the top of his lungs. “Tell that Merchant A or whatever he’s called to come out! I heard he’s in charge now! Tell him to come out! That tablet was mine! Do you think I’ll stay quiet after he scammed me like that? Huh?”
Atran frowned. Now that he thought about it, he had convinced the guy to sell the piece at the price the Tower suggested. At the time, the system of the Tower hadn’t acknowledged the tablet yet, and Atran used that loophole to take advantage of the Crow.
Atran signaled his secretary to calm the Crow down and bring him to his office. He departed to wait inside. Soon, the door opened and the Crow entered, glaring at Atran menacingly. His eyes were filled with annoyance, frustration, and indignation. However, Atran also noticed the greed and fear in his gaze.
The West Wind Union was a large one that dealt with a colossal amount of money. The guy was scared that he might vanish off the face of this world if he continued to make a fuss. However, his greed had overwhelmed his fear.
‘What are you going to do? Hm?’ Although the player was shouting, Atran only looked at him with pity. ‘Ah, I can’t help but think of that guy in times like this. Was his name Cain? He was pretty amazing. He even managed to defeat me with his words.’ Atran reminisced about the Hoarder, who was now one of the greatest rookies of the lower floors. Atran had had countless customers, but the only person who’d been able to match wits with him had been that guy.
He set aside his thoughts of the Hoarder and looked at the Crow with a slight frown. The guy immediately stepped back. “Dumb—I mean, sir. There wasn’t anything wrong with our deal. You gave me the tablet at the suggested price, and the system of the Tower acknowledged it. The system was functioning just fine, so what is this commotion that you’re making?”
”Y-you…!” The Crow clenched his teeth and trembled.
He really was a newbie. Atran scoffed inwardly and threw out a new lure. “However—”
He turned his lips upside down, switching his frown into a smile. The atmosphere changed instantly. “It’s true that we made a ridiculous profit, so we’ll give forty percent of it to you.”
The Crow’s eyes widened and trembled. Atran felt like he could hear the guy’s brain moving. The price at which the tablet was sold had already spread all over the Tower. The guy was calculating how much forty percent of it was, and he gasped as soon as he figured out the amount. He seemed like he would pass out at any second.
Atran harpooned the flapping fish in front of him. “But…you have the other pieces of the tablet, right? Won’t you sell that to us?”
The guy flinched as though he’d never expected Atran to guess. Atran could already see the sweat beading on the guy’s forehead. “Wh-what are you…”
“A smart customer like you wouldn’t come back without leverage, right?”
The guy just hesitated, unable to answer, but his nostrils flared. He was clearly tempted by Atran’s words.
“How about this: we’ll give fifty percent to you. Actually, we would give you more, but we need to pay some fees so we won’t end up with much. How’s that?”
Fifty percent. The Crow’s dumb brain couldn’t seem to grasp the astronomical amount, and his face flushed. His eyes were shaking from the sudden wealth he was about to get. “Here they are!” He quickly placed the rest of the tablet on the table.
Atran smiled. ‘Stupid bastard.’ He was so happy with just fifty percent that it was clear that he still didn’t know the true value of the tablet. Even if he asked for ninety percent, they would have to accept it, considering the value of the tablet, and the additional cash flow from the event that came from tricks like service fees.
Atran couldn’t even start to imagine how renowned he would become after the next auction, and his twisted smile grew as he thought about his future. Because of that, he missed seeing the glow of satisfaction in the Crow’s eyes.
Atran sent another letter to a few select VVIPs emphasizing that there would be a secret auction. Of course, the Tower was flipped upside down again. Everyone was surprised that there were more pieces of the tablet, but since only a few people had been invited, the rest of the players were furious.
However, the West Wind Union stood their ground, forcing those who hadn’t been invited to desperately search for invitations. The rankers and large guilds that hadn’t participated in the first auction announced that they would be doing so this time. Thanks to that, even though the second auction hadn’t begun yet, prices of the invitations alone reached the heavens. Atran’s name and reputation was marked in the heads of the VVIP players.
In the second auction, the pieces of the tablet weren’t purchased by the magnate Croy, but by the Magic Tower, who ran towards it as though they were ready to bankrupt everyone else in the Tower.
“If you can’t escape from that way of thinking, you’ll be in the dark forever. You’ll probably fight loneliness until the end.”
The fire burned, and even though he was in its path, that guy looked at her with a faint smile. She hated that smile so much.
“Poor, pitiful Ismenios. The last dragon.”
The burning fire swallowed him and his smile up. The Summer Queen’s eyes shot open and she gasped. She looked around and frowned when she realized when she was in her lair. Her hair was damp, and sweat dripped down her forehead. “That guy’s in my dreams again…”
The Summer Queen ground her teeth. When did it start? Ever since that guy died, she hadn’t been able to sleep properly. Since Draconic species maintained their magic power by resting enough to take care of their enormous amounts of energy, her poor sleeping habits had messed up her body.
Her Dragon Heart was already destroyed because she couldn’t recharge her magic power, and power continued to flow out of her like water. Her fiery red hair was now blue, and there were even streaks of silver in them. She wasn’t even able to dream about Polymorph—turning into her original form—and it was all because of that guy.
A nightmare was like a curse. No, it was even worse and crueler than a curse. She could restore herself after a curse, but she couldn’t do anything to this. It stuck to her like a parasite, eating her mind. As soon as she closed her eyes, she could see him.
He was always smiling, which made him seem even more frightening. She would have been fine if he’d struggled to escape but he didn’t even try. She couldn’t get rid of him. He was always in a corner of her head, smiling and making her suffer.
The sense of loss and the despair of being born a dragon, the knowledge that she had to bring someone down with another person’s help—these became chains that bound her and dragged her to her death. As her power and magic disappeared by the second, she became even more anxious. ‘Heaven Wing, Heaven Wing…!’
She cursed the guy she wouldn’t ever have a chance to see again. She tried to enter the state of Hochma, her eyes bloodshot as she thought of ways to restore her Dragon Heart. She couldn’t think of anything, but she needed to do something. She’d already given up on the Bow God after the One-horned tribe began chasing him.
The Summer Queen suddenly received a telepathic message. “What’s wrong?” Her seductive voice had grown dull even to her ears. Was it because it had been a long time since she’d spoken?
At the sound of her voice, Troy, who was on the other side of the telepathic connection, prostrated himself on the floor. He realized that she wasn’t in a good mood. Outside Red Dragon, he was known as Hawkeye, and renowned for being in the Eighty-One Oculus, in Red Dragon, he was nothing more than a servant of the Summer Queen.
『My apologies to the Summer Queen. Please pardon me, I have something urgent to report.』
“What is it?”
『Please take a look at this.』
The Summer Queen looked through their connection. She saw a small stone the size of a fingernail glowing with a brilliant purple light. The Summer Queen read its magic power with Troy’s signature skill, Night Eyes of Birds of Prey, and her eyes suddenly widened. “That’s...!”
『I’ve found the Philosopher’s Stone.』
The Summer Queen clenched her fists. She’d wanted the Philosopher’s Stone for such a long time, but she’d never been able to get her hands on it. But now, the thing that she thought had disappeared forever had reappeared!
『It’s so incomplete that it doesn’t even deserved to be called the Philosopher's Stone, but its activation and components are exactly like the one that the Cheonhwado possessed. In fact, this may be even more complete than theirs.』
The Summer Queen asked in voice full of suppressed excitement. “Where did you find it?”
『The Magic Tower sent it.』
“The Magic Tower?”
Troy explained that there had been a huge uproar in the Tower lately after a mysterious tablet appeared in the Kelat Auction House. The Magic Tower had sent this item to the Red Dragon after bidding on a piece of the tablet.
『The elders of the Magic Tower sent these since you made a secret request of them in the past.』
The Summer Queen was silent for a moment.
『It was announced last night that the third piece will be auctioned secretly.』
The Summer Queen broke her silence at that information. “Get it through any means necessary. Do whatever you have to do.”
『Yes, Your Majesty. Under—!』
Troy swallowed. Through his connection, he could feel the Summer Queen’s dark fury. He trembled in fear. She meant that if they couldn’t take care of it with money, they should take it with force, even though the auction house was managed by the Guardians themselves. That was how desperately she wanted the Philosopher’s Stone.
The Summer Queen snarled through gritted teeth. “Take the rest of the pieces as well. Everything! I want them in front of me right now!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter