One hundred million. It didn’t take a long time to say, nor was it difficult to pronounce. It was made up of words that children easily spat out while they played. But the words carried heavy weight, and even more so when ‘gold coins’ were attached to the end.
“Do you realize what you’re saying right now?” Midas was so stunned that he exclaimed, “What do you mean a hundred million gold coins!? Besides the fact that it’s an insane number, you won’t be able to carry that amount of weight with just one or two carriages!” As Midas continued to speak, he became more infuriated and ended up yelling.
‘What is he planning?’ Midas had heard Zich say that he would extract the greatest amount of money from him, but the number exceeded his wildest expectations. He couldn’t believe that Zich was asking for a hundred million gold coins for just putting the Earth’s Tear on auction. It was normal for people to call out a higher number than they were thinking of, but the price he was asking for was far too much. Instead of negotiating, it seemed as if Zich were trying to bankrupt him.
“It’s just a hundred million,” Zich insisted.
With his reddened face, Midas was about to spit out curses when Zich pushed a piece of paper towards him.
—100,000 gold coins.
Midas looked at the paper, and then at Zich’s face again. ‘What is he doing?’ He wondered why Zich had asked for a ridiculous amount like a hundred million out loud, and yet had written a much smaller number. While he thought this, Zich showed him a second piece of paper.
—The elf is outside.
Midas finally understood Zich’s strange behavior.
‘I thought he completely got rid of the elf after taking the Earth’s Tear?’ Midas wondered if Zich was acting to trick him. But he decided that it didn’t matter. The important part was that Zich wasn’t really asking for the ridiculous amount of a hundred million gold coins.
‘Hm, but still. One hundred thousand is a lot, too.’ It might have been different if he were personally buying the Lake’s Tear or the Earth’s Tear, but Zich was only placing the item up for auction. It wasn’t that Midas couldn’t give that amount, but he also hesitated.
“It’s too much.” Of course, Midas was talking about the hundred thousand Zich had asked for instead of the hundred million.
Zich shook his head and said in a whisper, “There’s no negotiating. Just tell me if you’re going to give me the money or not.”
Midas glared at Zich, but there was no way a scary glare would influence Zich. Midas tried to cut the price multiple times, but Zich refused. As they discussed, they didn’t mention the exact amount of gold coins that they were arguing about out loud.
Wrinkles formed around Midas’ eyes. Although he was bluffing, he was secretly nervous. The Earth’s Tear was truly a dangerous treasure for him. “…Can’t I just buy the treasure? I’ll give you five hundred thousand for it,” he offered.
“No.” Zich sternly denied the request. Then, he took out a piece of paper and wrote with his pen.
—Don’t ruin this, and quietly take it through the auction.
‘It must be because of the elf,’ Midas thought. Or else Zich wouldn’t have to explain on a piece of paper. ‘Damn it! Even though he definitely told me he stole the elf’s item! Did he fail to completely steal it? Or did something get mixed up?’
But there was nothing more Midas could do. If he refused one more time, it seemed as if Zich would really get up and leave.
“…Fine. I’ll go with the price you asked for.” In the end, Midas nodded at Zich’s proposal.
* * *
The day of the auction was bright. The Black Market opened on the same day as the central auction house, but as expected of a market with its secretive nature, it opened only at nighttime.
Zich and his companions went inside the auction house. The lobby looked the same as usual, but the people inside looked completely different. Most people in auction houses wore luxurious clothes, but they couldn’t compare to the people in the lobby right now.
The fabrics of their fancy and luxurious outfits gleamed with softness, and the gems embedded all over their bodies reflected the sunlight coming through the windows. They were all people who had come to participate in today’s auction.
On the day the central auction house opened, most small auction houses closed. It seemed as if today existed solely for the sake of this place. Also, the people who had come today all had to be extremely wealthy to participate in the event. In a way, the place had the same atmosphere as a grand ball held by royals or high-class aristocrats; there was a certain mood that seemed as if it would relentlessly push away anyone of a lower class.
Yet, Zich and his companions continued to walk confidently through the snooty atmosphere. They wore the same comfortable clothes as usual and stuck out amid the luxurious vibe of the place. All eyes shot towards them. However, the group’s expressions didn’t change as they headed towards the lobby’s information desk.
“…Do you need something, sir?”
The receptionist addressed him with ‘sir’, but there wasn’t a trace of welcome or friendliness in his voice; his face didn’t even bear a smile. On normal days, the receptionist maintained a friendly smile and voice even while mocking them, but today, because it was the day the central auction house opened, he didn’t. On this day, the receptionist chased away people who weren’t on par—specifically, who didn’t have money—for the rest of their clients. And Zich and his companions certainly didn’t seem to have money based on their appearance.
‘Now that I think about it, it’s him,’ Zich thought. This was the guy who had told Leona mockingly to buy her treasure if she had money.
The employee recognized Zich, and the gaze in his eyes became sharper. Even though he had asked Zich why he came here, he was already gesturing to the security guards. The security guards moved towards them, and they looked more armed than usual. The people around them looked at this scene with excitement and waited to see what would happen next. Most people predicted that Zich and his companions would be kicked out of the auction house. To them, this was merely a fun and interesting sight.
“I came here to participate in the central auction.” At Zich’s words, people burst into laughter; even the employee smirked.
“There’s a participation fee. It’s at least 200 gold coins,” the employee folded his arms and told Zich. He seemed to be saying, ‘Try paying it if you can’.
Zich returned the employee’s smirk. He wasn’t even angry at the man’s rude behavior; instead, it even looked cute to him. “Give me the VIP room.”
With these words, Zich took out two bags from his pocket and threw them on the desk. The drawstrings holding the bags closed loosened and gold coins spilled out.
The employee who had looked down on Zich, and the guards who stood ready to immediately remove Zich and his companions from the auction house, all stared at the gold coins in front of them.
“Am I wrong? Wasn’t the VIP lounge 1,000 gold coins?” Zich nodded as if to urge them to try counting the gold coins.
With a bewildered expression, the employee made eye contact with the guards, and they began counting the gold coins. After a while, they counted out exactly 1,000 gold coins.
“You made sure of the amount, right? Guide me to the room.” Zich put on airs as he spoke.
The bewildered employee immediately changed his posture to a more humble one. He quickly gestured towards the guards and made them withdraw. In the central auction house, money was everything. If someone had enough money to participate, even a homeless-looking person was their prized customer.
“I-I sincerely apologize, dear customer. In order to use the VIP lounge, you need to reserve…”
“Ah, thinking about it, I haven’t given you this.”
Zich took out something from his pockets. It was a piece of paper. The paper flew freely and landed directly under the employee’s feet. He carefully picked up the pieces of paper. They were a reservation document for the VIP lounge.
The employee further stiffened. The reservation document for the VIP lounge couldn’t be obtained by just having a lot of money.
‘Good thing I ripped this off of Midas,’ Zich cackled inside his mind. Since Midas was a VIP customer of the Tyroul Auction House, Zich had tried asking for it, and Midas had easily given him the reservation document. This was how important the Earth’s Tear was to him.
“What are you doing? Aren’t you gonna guide me to the room?” Zich looked down at the employee and shook his head. The employee quickly bowed his head and called someone to guide Zich and his companions to the VIP lounge.
“Ah, but by the way.” Before Zich went to the VIP lounge, he stared at the employee. Then he put his index finger straight up and jabbed the employee’s chest as if to push him.
“Pay more attention to your service, you bastard. It’s the first time I’ve met a service employee with such a shitty attitude.” Then, Zich tapped the employee’s cheeks a few times with his palms. It didn’t hurt very much, but it was very humiliating to be treated this way.
“I wouldn’t go so far as to ask you to be kind to people who aren’t customers, but if you have such a bad attitude, you should at least have an eye for those who are actually customers. Are your eyes just decoration? Is it okay for an amateur to be involved in such a grand auction house like this?”
“I-I deeply apologize!” The employee turned bright red, and all he could do was bow his head.
“Do well from now on.” Zich tapped the employee’s shoulder a few times and went up to the lounge.
The only people who were left behind were the employee trembling in humiliation, the other staff members who were a few steps away from him, and the buzzing people around him.
“Did you really have to go so far? He was just trying to do his job.” Lyla felt a bit uncomfortable with Zich’s actions just now.
Zich merely shrugged. “Even though this is his job, it’s not part of his job to mock and humiliate Leona.”
“Ah!” Lyla was surprised because she hadn’t realized Zich was avenging Leona. As an elf, Leona had sharp hearing and was able to hear their whole conversation; her eyes looked as though she was touched. Of course, Zich wanted to continue his hobby while avenging Leona at the same time. Zich and his companions were led to the VIP lounge, and they went inside.
Zich’s companions were all surprised by the VIP lounge. Hans, Snoc, and Leona opened their mouths wide open and let out their admiration. The room was large, and there was a soft carpet on the ground and luxurious decorations on the walls. The wall in front of the door was wide open. If they held onto the railing on the wall and looked down, the central auction house would come clearly into view.
“I guess, it’s worth the money.” Zich opened up a bottle of wine sitting on one side of the wall and filled his glass. He acted with such ease, it seemed as if he were in his own room.
“If you guys also want to eat something, then just pick out something,” Zich said as he looked at the fruits and the menu board on the table.
Hans and Snoc immediately rushed towards the table with the fruits and menu board. Zich was not the type of person to save money on these types of matters. Moreover, they all knew how much money Zich currently had in his possession.
The two of them—no, three including Nowem—began to seriously contemplate what food they should order. In comparison, Leona held onto the railing and looked down. Her expression was serious and full of resolve; it was now finally time for her to get back the ‘Lake’s Tear’.
“Ms. Leona, don’t worry about it too much.” Zich arrived next to Leona and handed her a glass of wine. “We’ll definitely be able to find the Lake’s Tear.” His current appearance looked extremely trustworthy to Leona.
After a while, a loud and rumbling voice came up to the terrace and into the VIP room.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we will be starting the auction!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter