Chapter 160

Zich and Lyla would have made Hans and Snoc endure a tremendous amount of pain if they knew what those two were imagining, but they continued to act.

Lyla asked, “What are you planning to do?” However, she didn’t even glance at Zich as she took out a new core from a golem and searched for any peculiarities. 

Zich took out two lumps of mithril and juggled them as he answered, “I’m going to present the Earth’s Tear at the auction through the elf. Then, I’ll make Wips Midas buy it.”

“That guy won’t gain anything from doing that, though.”

“Of course, I’m going to hide the item’s true identity when I put it up for auction. He’ll buy the Earth’s Tear for a good price then. He would think it’s a steal, considering the item’s worth.”

“How about presenting a fake one?”

“From what I heard, Midas has considerable knowledge about treasures. He would identify a fake right away. To trick him, we have to take the risk and give him the real one.”

“So, will you get money for putting the treasure up for auction?”

“Yeah. I think he has an infinite supply of money. If we hide the identity of the Earth’s Tear, we should be able to get a lot of money from him.”

“What if he doesn’t give us the money?”

“He has to. We have to use the money we get from him to buy the Lake’s Tear.”

“Will this plan work?”

“This is the least we could do to even attempt to buy the Lake’s Tear.”

“I thought Wips Midas was also aiming for that.”

“That’s why I’m trying to extract a certain amount of money from him. Not only will it fill our pockets, it will also cut his funds.”

“I don’t think it’ll be enough.”

“That’s why we’re presenting the Earth’s Tear in hopes of making a dent in his funds. We just have to hope that this will make it difficult for him to buy the Earth’s Tear and the Lake’s Tear at the same time.” Zich sighed.

“What if Wips Midas doesn’t accept the offer?”

“It can’t be helped, then. We would have to trick a buyer and sell the Earth’s Tear somewhere. Even if we can’t use it without the Lake’s Tear, it’s still an elf’s treasure. We should be able to get a good amount for it. It would probably be great for someone’s display collection.” Then Zich grumbled, “I can’t even call it an elf’s treasure. It’s just a lump of metal by itself.”

“But it’s not as if it doesn’t have an ability at all.”

“That makes it worse.” Zich took out the gold bar from his pocket and lifted it. Then he said as he placed it inside a magic box, “What kind of lunatic would use it? Who would use an ability to turn gold into stone?”

The gold bar disappeared into the magic box, and the conversation ended. The room became silent.

Clap!

Zich clapped once, calling out, “It’s over!”

“Wowww~!” Leona, who had been watching excitedly from the room’s sofa, exclaimed.

Zich bowed his head exaggeratedly towards her like an actor finishing his act.

Leona clapped. “Amazing! How are you so good at acting?”

“It’s my hobby.”

“Is acting your hobby?”

“No, it’s something else.”

To be specific, Zich’s hobbies were tricking people, screwing them over, infuriating them, and so on; but he thought it was pointless to explain. Of course, Leona was beginning to realize that Zich was not simply a kind person. But since he had never said something wrong, she continued to trust in him; she was still a mega pushover, after all.

Zich turned away from Leona’s sparkling eyes and turned to his accomplice, who had performed splendidly with him. He said, “Great job. You’re quite talented in this field.”

Zich extended his palms to her, and Lyla put her hand on top of his palm. Still, she didn’t pull her eyes away from the core. Zich knew not to disturb her when she was researching; magicians were very sensitive during these moments. So, he quietly moved away.

But before he fully turned around, Lyla took her eyes off the core. “Haa~!”  She moved her head around as if her muscles ached and twisted her arms.

Thinking she had finished her research for the day, Zich approached her side, asking, “Did you make any progress?”

“Yup. It’s nothing special. I thought golems from an ancient ruin filled with treasures would be different, but no matter how much I look at it, there’s nothing special about it.”

Lyla treated the core, which had supported a fast and powerful golem made from a magical metal, like a toy that a child would play with.

Zich shook his head. Even he sighed at her genius. He thought, ‘Could she have more talent than the Demon Lord of Magic?’

Besides that, Lyla had astounding talent in other areas and learned everything quickly. Even the acting skills she had displayed today were the result of a few days of Zich’s teachings.

Of course, there were still some awkward parts, but… ‘It doesn’t matter. He’s only listening through a gold bar anyway.’ Their acting was enough to trick Midas.

“Ah, that reminds me.” As she placed the core into her magic box, Lyla took out something. It was a fist-sized piece of red ore.

“Just as you told me to, I made it look ‘special’.”

Faint magic permeated the ore, and rainbow light seeped out from it as Lyla moved it.

Zich looked at the ore. He carefully inspected its front, back, and sides.

“Hmm, I like it! You did well!” Zich gave Lyla a thumbs-up and looked back at the red ore again.

“What is that?” Leona asked as she moved next to Zich, and likewise, she stared at the red ore in Zich’s hand. Zich smiled widely; he looked like a playful kid who was about to pull a prank. But Hans and Snoc, who knew the destructive power behind that smile, nervously stared at him.

“Ms. Leona, this is the Earth’s Tear,” Zich said.

“…This?”

The Earth’s Tear was part of Zich’s plan to retrieve the Lake’s Tear. Leona stared at the Earth’s Tear with curiosity in her eyes, asking, “So you’re saying this is fake?”

Lyla was the one who replied to Leona’s question. “Yeah. Most of it is copper, and I mixed mithril into it. I also used illusion magic to make it emit a strange and mysterious light.”

It was a type of artifact, but it had no worth as an artifact. Even if they sold it, all they could get was the price of copper and mithril; there would probably be no one who would want it as an artifact, but Zich was completely satisfied with it.

“This is enough. What we need is not an amazing artifact, but an item that looks mysterious and valuable. We just have to trick Wips Midas with it.”

“Will he be tricked by it?” Even though Lyla was the one who had made the fake Earth’s Tear, she wondered if Midas would get tricked by such a shabby-looking piece of ore.

However, Zich was confident that this ore would trick Midas. He shook the magic box that contained the gold bar he had gotten from Midas. “Guys like that are usually overconfident about their abilities. And they don’t doubt the results they obtain from their amazing abilities.”

Zich put back the magic box in his pocket. “That guy is probably thinking this in his mind: ‘Those guys have the Earth’s Tear in their hands, and they’re going to use that against me.’ And…”

Zich looked at the Earth’s Tear once more, and with a playfulness in his voice, he continued, “He probably thinks this Earth’s Tear is the exact counter against his ability.” Just thinking about how Midas would be frustrated and conflicted over this ore was enough to make Zich laugh out loud.

“Then, how did you know that he was extremely knowledgeable about things like treasures?”

“Ah, about that? I also don’t really know that. I just needed a reason for why I would give him the ‘real’ Earth’s Tear. Since Midas thinks I know how knowledgeable he is about treasures, he’s going to think I have no choice but to give him the real Earth’s Tear.”

After saying this, Zich snickered again. “Honestly, it doesn’t matter if he’s knowledgeable about treasures or not. Even if he is actually knowledgeable about treasures, he’s going to trust the information he got from that amazing ability of his.”

Rather than doubting his ‘amazing ability’, there was a higher probability that Midas would doubt his knowledge about treasures. Zich burst into laughter again. Hans, Snoc, and Leona shook their heads. Only Lyla stared at Zich with wide eyes.

*   *   *

Zich’s prediction was exactly on the mark. Midas was relaxing his body in the tub and eavesdropping on Zich and Lyla’s conversation. However, his expression was now very serious. ‘A rock that can change gold into stone?’

From what he had heard, it seemed as if the Earth’s Tear would only work together with the Lake’s Tear.

The ability to turn gold into stone was a superfluous ability. As Zich said, there was probably no one who wanted this kind of ability. But to Midas, it was not about whether he wanted it or not; it was a very threatening ability for him. ‘Then with that item, can people change my gold into stone?’

Even though he didn’t know the ability’s strength or magnitude, the existence of such a treasure was very threatening to Midas. If the treasure’s ability was very strong, and if one of his enemies possessed such an item… ‘NO!’

Even though Midas had no limit to the amount of gold he could make, there was a limit to how fast he could make it. Moreover, if his specially made gold was turned into stone, he could not secure his safety and protection. There was a possibility that his grand dream to control the world by continuously making more gold might crumble. Fortunately, before this happened, he had been able to discover the identity of such a treasure and the way to obtain it. 

‘If I could take it by force, that would be the best option, but…’ Considering they had destroyed all the armored puppets he sent them last time, they all had formidable skills. Even though Midas didn’t think he would ever lose, there was a possibility that those swindlers might run away with the Earth’s Tear. Midas recalled Zich’s previous words.

‘He said he would come to see me so he could sell the Earth’s Tear in the auction house.’ Without much choice, Midas had to follow that swindler’s plan for now. ‘If he comes to see me again, I have to give him money for the Earth’s Tear.’

All he had to do was give out money. But the problem was that he didn’t know how much money Zich would request for that treasure. Even though Midas’ wealth had the potential to infinitely increase in size, he didn’t currently have an infinite supply of money. ‘I might have to actually borrow money.’

Fortunately, his credibility here wasn’t bad. Moreover, Zich might not ask for an exorbitant amount of money.

‘Damn it! Either way, I have to meet him to find out for sure!’ He also needed to buy the Lake’s Tear. Midas roughly got out of his bathtub. All the pleasant mood he had had when he first entered the tub was now gone.

*   *  *

The very next day, Midas sent someone to call for Zich. It was better to take care of these matters as soon as possible. First of all, Midas told Zich that he was willing to sign a contract with him, and asked how much he wanted.

“…What?” Midas thought he heard Zich’s words wrong. His mouth gaped open at the amount Zich asked for.

In contrast, Zich lifted his chin high up and stared at Midas with a relaxed posture.

“What did you JUST. SAY. THE. AMOUNT. WAS?” Midas was so furious that he barely managed to repress the swear words that threatened to come out of his mouth. However, he couldn’t help but speak with a pause between each word.

At Midas’ agitation, Zich even raised his fingers to make clear the amount he wanted. Only one of his fingers was raised. And he repeated his words loud and clear so that Midas could perfectly hear each word.

“100 million gold coins.”

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