Chapter 154

Today, Leona went to the auction house again. Although they had planned to look for the Lake’s Tear tomorrow, she went to the auction house every day in the hopes of seeing the treasure.

‘It’s not here today either.’

There were some new descriptions of goods added to the pile, but she couldn’t find the Lake’s Tear that she was looking for. However, Leona wasn’t disappointed. She shut her eyes for a moment and decided to focus her mind away from her surroundings.

‘…Yeah, I’m sure it’s here.’

She sensed it many times whenever she came to this place. She didn’t know the particular spot it was in, but she was sure that the treasure was here somewhere.

‘I think Zich is right. They must be selling the Lake’s Tear in a black market.’ Leona brushed off her last remaining regret and thought, ‘Let me find the treasure and buy it from the place called the black market.’

She decided to stop wasting her time and energy looking for any descriptions about the Lake’s Tear and looked through the wooden posts.

‘There are many interesting things.’

It was quite fun to simply read the descriptions of the items displayed on the post. As expected of the best auction house in the world, even the descriptions of the lowest quality goods had one-liners that were interesting enough to stir people’s curiosities. Furthermore, these posts had detailed explanations and illustrations that made viewers instantly imagine the item inside their minds. Leona continued to look at items that she had never seen from her homeland.

“Is there something you like?” She suddenly heard a low voice in front of her and looked up. A man with a long mustache and blonde hair smoothened behind his head stared at her. His first impression was unpleasant: he had a mean smile and spoke in a rude tone.

“What do you want?” Of course, Leona didn’t respond well to the man’s question. However, the man didn’t seem to be offended.

“Oh, I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Wips Midas.” He made a small nod, but Leona couldn’t sense the tiniest bit of respect in his behavior because all she felt from him was contempt and ridicule. The man named Midas raised his head again.

“I became interested in your story recently.”

“Well, I don’t have any interest in you.”

Leona turned her back, but Midas’ next words clasped her ankles back.

“…Even if it’s a story about the Lake’s Tear?”

*      *    *

There were small stores next to the auction house’s lobby such as restaurants or cafès for buyers. As expected of the establishments within Tryoul Auction House, they were all extremely expensive.

Leona sipped her drink made from fruit juice and water and looked around the shop. After familiarizing herself with currency and human money somewhat, Leona didn’t buy anything in the shops but they still interested her. However, when she saw the menu, her expression changed.

‘Why is everything so expensive?’ Leona thought she could now understand why Zich had taken her to a different store (of course, this was not the reason and Zich had moved stores simply because he wanted an individual room).

“Are you satisfied?”

“Sort of.” Leona looked to the man who had introduced himself as Wips Midas and continued, “You said you knew about the Lake’s Tear. Quickly tell me right now.”

Leona’s blunt way of speaking was the same as ever, but Midas maintained his smile.

“Before that, let’s talk for a bit. You are quite famous.”

“I am famous?”

First, may I ask for your name?”

Leona blinked and stared at him suspiciously. However, someone like her who had been titled as ‘pushover’ by Zich couldn’t discern Midas’ crafty, inner thoughts.

“It’s Leona,” she answered, thinking that it was fine to at least give her name.

“Leona? That’s a pretty name.”

“What do you mean by I’m famous?”

“It’s just as I said. There are rumors about you among the people who use this auction hall, saying that you are an utterly…” As if it made him laugh at just the thought of the words, Midas repressed his laughter and said, “…helpless pushover.”

“…What is that?”

“Kukuku! I can’t believe you don’t even know what the word pushover means.”

Midas thought she was such a clown. As Leona scowled because she was clueless about what she just heard, Midas’ laughter grew louder. People in their surroundings also erupted into laughter. It seemed like they all had heard the conversation between the two.

“Well, fine. Let me make an offer to a pitiful pushover who doesn’t even know what the word means.”

Although she didn’t know what was going on, Leona knew that she was getting laughed at and her mood worsened. She planned to leave immediately if Midas began uttering nonsense.

“I will help you look for the Lake’s Tear.”

“You don’t need to.”

For the first time, Midas’ smiling face faltered. Leona felt more refreshed somehow by his response.

“…I thought you treasured it?”

“I do.”

“Then why don’t you need any help to get it?”

“Are you even listening? It’s not that I don’t need help. I just don’t need your help.”

“I guess you are listening to the people who are helping you right now.”

As if the situation had turned back to what he expected, Midas’ attitude assumed an arrogant tone again.

“Of course.”

“Then let me warn you. Doing a kind act for another person is a difficult thing to do, especially for another species like you.”

“What do you mean?”

“It means that the people helping you are swindlers.”

Slam!

Leona struck the cup she was holding onto the table. The table shook strongly, but surprisingly the cup remained fine, and the juice that still filled half of the cup didn’t pour out. Midas’ face stiffened at her reaction.

“Say that one more time,” Leona said menacingly. The expression on Midas and the spectators’ faces changed.  

Her eyes sharpened. A naïve, hillbilly elf who had just come out of her forest was replaced by a strong and skilled hunter in front of him.

“…Yes. I guess you are not just an ordinary hillbilly elf.”

“Say that again.”

“I said they are swindlers.”

Leona glared at Midas as if she was going to pounce on him at any moment. Midas faced her intense aura with a calm demeanor.

“…If I had my bow and no one was around, you would be dead right now.”

“That’s unfortunate. If you’ve attacked me, I could have taught you that was a futile dream.”

Leona did not fall for his provocation. It was annoying to even continue conversing with him. She was about to get up, but Midas stopped her before she could leave.

“Don’t go so soon. I’m not finished yet.”

“It’s over.”

“The Lake’s Tear is not going to show up in this auction house.”

Leona’s gaze went back towards Midas, and he smiled to prove his statement.

“To be more precise, it’s not going to show up in the ‘front’ auction house.”

Leona scanned her surroundings.

“Is it okay to talk about that place out loud?”

“…You seem like you know about the existence of the Black Market Auction House.” Midas’ voice had a hint of surprise in it. “Don’t worry about the people around us. They are all my friends, and they obviously know about the existence of the black market.”

The people around her nodded. Some even waved, but they all showed signs of arrogance and snobbery.

“Do you know how to participate?”

“They told me how to participate.”

“Well, if they knew about its existence, I guess they would know at least that much. Even if you know of its existence and the way to participate, if you don’t have the most important thing, it’d all be useless.”

Clonk!

Midas took out something from his clothes and threw it on the table. Leona thought it might be a secret attack and flinched, but it was not an attack directed towards her. The item on the table reflected all the light of its surroundings and sparkled golden lights. It was a gold bar that was the size of a hand. 

“Money.”

After saying this, Midas continued, “The Lake’s Tear is probably going to be very expensive. Do you think you guys will be able to prepare that much money?”

“Yeah.”

At Leona’s confident reply, Midas made a face full of surprise and curiosity.

“You must have a foolproof plan. What is it?”

“Treasure.”

“…What?”

“I’m going to find treasure.”

Midas’ face scrunched up peculiarly. A face that did not know if it should laugh or cry finally settled on a suitable expression—an outburst. A giant outburst of laughter.

“Heeha, hehahahahahahhahaahhaha!”

Midas grabbed his stomach and laughed out loud, and the people around him also laughed loudly. It was to the extent that people outside of the auction house peered in to see what was happening.

“Hah, you’re the biggest pushover I’ve ever seen! Did you seriously believe those ridiculous words!”

“Stop laughing!” Leona shouted while her face was bright red. However, he ignored Leona’s words and continued to laugh for a while.

“Ha, it’s been a while since I laughed so much! This is on me! Take this!”

Midas pushed the gold bar to Leona’s sides. The gold bar slightly pushed Leona’s cup, and the liquid inside the cup shook.

“I don’t need it.”

“Don’t be like that and take it. It’s rare for me to be in such a good mood.”

“I thought you were naïve, but I had no idea you were this stupid. Do you really believe that ridiculous treasure story?”

“Of course!”

Midas shook his head. “Unfortunately for you, but those guys are definitely swindlers…”

“I don’t know who you are, but you shouldn’t be like that, my friend.”

Someone suddenly intervened between the two of them.

“You shouldn’t gossip about people behind their backs.”

Midas lifted his head and stared at the person who suddenly intervened. The person’s voice was full of confidence, and the sides of his mouth were turned slightly upwards, almost like a smirk. Midas knew who he was.

“Zich!” Leona welcomed him. 

Zich made a small smile at Leona and said, “My friend here seems to have an issue with me, so would you be able to wait outside for a bit?”

Zich pointed his thumb towards his back. Lyla was standing at the area where he pointed.

“Okay.” Leona glanced at Midas once and left. 

Zich sat on the spot she used to sit. Hans and Snoc, who came with Zich, stood behind him. Even though others might have found their presence threatening, Midas paid no attention to them. 

Zich said, “All right. My friend here with a lot of money and complaints, you seem like you have something to say to me.”

“You bring around an elf and a beauty like that—I guess you are not an ordinary swindler.”

“What do you mean, a swindler? How can you say such a harsh word to me? There’s no one as upright as me in this world.”

Hans and Snoc both pinched their thighs and tried to maintain a straight face. Nowem, who was only peeking out with his face, decided to just go back inside Snoc’s clothes.

“I won’t say much to that.”

Midas didn’t want to waste his time on superfluous affairs and decided to move to the next topic.

“You did a good job taming that elf.”

“Why are you talking as if she is an animal? The only thing I did was give advice to a naïve elf who just came out of the forest.”

Zich tapped his fingers on the cup. A hard sound came from the wooden cup.

“A piece of advice to believe in no one else but me.”

“It’s a common tactic that swindlers use: to make people completely believe in their words and then make them not believe in anyone else.”

“But I’m not a swindler.”

“What a shameless punk.” Midas insulted Zich. “You know, you are quite famous around here. They all know you as the swindler trying to completely rip off an elf.”

“I keep telling you, I’m not a swindler. I’ll admit that I look like one, but you also don’t look so upright either. No, instead, you look like a beast that drips saliva even while looking at rotten meat.” Then, Zich’s eyes sharpened. “What kind of trick are you trying to pull?”

“What do you mean by trick…”

Midas’ eyes sparkled as he continued, “I’m after what you are trying to get from that elf. I also want it.”

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