Chapter 163

The price of the Earth’s Tear continued to go up. It was difficult to tell who the bidder was. Whomever his competitor was, they continued to raise the price, and Midas made a higher bid accordingly. He had no choice.

‘Damn it! Who is it?!’ Midas wanted to tear that bastard’s limbs into pieces if he found them. But this was a place where people competed not with physical might, but rather with money. Fortunately, Midas still had a lot of money left. However, he couldn’t feel relieved. ‘I have to win the Lake’s Tear too!’

If he used too much of his funds on the Earth’s Tear, he could fall behind in the bidding for the Lake’s Tear. Before, he had thought there was a low chance of that happening and didn’t think the bidding for the Earth’s Tear would be so competitive either.

‘Besides this, those guys could participate in the bid for the other treasure too!’

Midas threw away the possibility of Zich being the competitor for the Earth’s Tear. However, Zich and his companions could participate in the bidding for the Lake’s Tear, since the money for the Earth’s Tear would go directly to them.

‘They seemed like guys who have money as their top priority, so they might be satisfied with the amount they get for the sale of the Earth’s Tear. But they might change their minds if they receive a higher amount than they expected!’

Midas knew that Zich was aiming for the Lake’s Tear. However, he couldn’t stop his bidding for an item that might become his only weak point—against him, someone who would soon rule the world as a god. His competitor raised the price again, and Midas also made a higher bid. His lips revealed thin spots of blood as he gnawed on them.

*    *    *

Zich enjoyed participating in the auction very much. But there was one thing he regretted. ‘I want to see that guy’s expression first-hand!’ He thought it was truly pitiful, but everything else was very satisfying.

Lyla asked, “How long are you going to increase the price?”

Beside her, Hans and Snoc sat mindlessly, unable to wrap their heads around the unimaginable numbers that kept increasing. It was the same for Leona. The price was beyond the level she could calculate with her own metric of counting apples.

“I won’t stop until I scrape away at least half of his funds.”

“Can you tell how much he has?”

“I can guess.”

Midas had full control over a tenth of the total amount of gold he made. And except for the gold in the armors, the bar he had sent to Zich for bugging purposes, and a couple of other minor things, Midas kept all the gold he had control over close to his side. He didn’t even place it in a magic box.

‘That’s why he made ridiculous things, such as a golden castle.’ Zich thought the golden carriage that Midas rode around on made up the total amount of gold he had control over. ‘That means his funds are about ten times the size of his golden carriage.’

And since Midas had probably spent a lot of gold on luxuries recently, the amount he could use immediately was probably lower. Zich had already calculated a rough estimate of the golden carriage.

‘I should make him spend at least six golden carriages worth of money.’ In contrast to Midas, who was writhing nervously, Zich peacefully pushed his button and raised the price again.

*      *      *

Among the many auction houses in Tungel, the most special and secretive auction house was the Black Market. And there, a very strange event was unfolding. Astronomical prices were continuing to be called for an ordinary item, which had no special purpose and was the first one introduced in the auction. People watched the bidding excitedly. It was a strange sight, but it wasn’t an entirely impossible phenomenon. These kinds of happenings occurred not only in the Black Market but also in other auction houses from time to time.

The cause of such a phenomenon was sheer competition. People thought a fierce battle had sparked between two rich persons. They were not competing for the item they were bidding on, but for their personal pride.

But in contrast to what people believed, one of the bidders, Midas, didn’t possess an ounce of competitiveness. His competitive spirit had disappeared a long time ago.

‘Stop bidding, you bastard!’ Midas wanted to punch the face of the faceless bastard who continued to bid. He wanted to run to the auction stage this instant and lift the auctioneer by his collar in order to ask who the other bidder was. Midas thought about the gold he had and calculated his leftover funds. His fund had already dwindled to more than half the original amount. He almost thought of giving up, but he couldn’t leave an item that could be his weak point alone.

‘Damn it!’ In the end, he raised the price again. Nervously, he waited for his opponent’s response. However, his opponent, who had always bid immediately after his own, showed no response.

“Going once, going twice, sold!” With his booming voice, the auctioneer let the sale be known.

Everyone was impressed by the jaw-dropping battle of pride and congratulated the winner.

‘I-Is it over?’ Midas felt his strength leave him. He leaned his whole body against the back of his chair. ‘I won.’

However, he wasn’t glad about his victory at all. It was a victory achieved after many injuries. Ever since he had become an alchemist, he had never been anxious because of money until now.

Knock! Knock!

Somebody knocked on his compartment room door. Midas, who was catching his breath, scowled. ‘Damn it! I just wanted to rest for a bit!’

But because he knew who had come to visit him, Midas helplessly rose from his chair.

“Congratulations!” The auction house’s employee made a deep bow as they entered. A beaming look of admiration shone from their face; they were stunned by Midas, who had just spent an amount they couldn’t afford even after tens or hundreds of lifetimes. Normally, Midas would have enjoyed their admiring gaze, but Midas was only annoyed now.

The employee quickly caught Midas’ sour mood and tensed up. But still, they completed their job responsibly and said, “Excuse me, sir, but please make your payment.”

In the Black Market, clients had to pay immediately. There were guards with the employee to prevent the customer from causing a scene.

“Tch! Fine.” Midas clicked his tongue to show his displeasure and made his payment. In a flash, more than half of his vast wealth was gone. He felt as if a hole had formed in a part of his heart.

‘…It’s because of this.’ After giving the payment to the employee, Midas touched the Earth’s Tear the employee gave him. It was a red ore that let out mysterious light.

“Damn it!” He wanted to roughly throw the Earth’s Tear at this very moment. But the exorbitant amount he’d had to pay for this hung over his mind, so he couldn’t throw it out. Midas sighed and put the Earth’s Tear back into the magic box.

‘Who the hell was that…?’ Who was the competition that had raised the price of the Earth’s Tear? Midas was extremely curious about the identity of his competition, but he dropped this thought. ‘No, it’s not time for me to get hung up about this.’

Since he had been able to purchase the Earth’s Tear as planned, he now had to focus all his attention on the Lake’s Tear. Since all the money he had used to purchase the Earth’s Tear had now gone to Zich and his companions, the competition for the Lake’s Tear might be more difficult than Midas had predicted.

‘Also, that bastard who wanted the Earth’s Tear might also want the Lake’s Tear.’ Midas gritted his teeth. There was still some time before the Lake’s Tear came up for auction. ‘I need to borrow some money.’

Midas got up from his seat.

*    *    *

Various auction items were brought up for bidding. Some items received a high price, and others didn’t receive as high a price as the owners expected. But despite the ups and downs of the auction house, each item found its owner, and finally, it was time for the ‘Lake’s Tear’ to come up.

“That’s it!” Leona jumped up to her feet. 

Zich also looked down at the Lake’s Tear. Even though he was running a lot of plans to retrieve it, it was the first time he had seen the Lake’s Tear in person.

‘It’s pretty.’ This was the first thought that popped up in Zich’s head. The Lake’s Tear was shaped like a water droplet that was about to fall from a tree leaf. It was about the size of a person’s palm. It was bright blue, and it emitted a mysterious light that looked as if tranquil ocean water were surrounding it. Even before considering its abilities, the Lake’s Tear seemed highly valuable as an art piece.

The auctioneer began the bidding for the Lake’s Tear. From everywhere, people began to raise the price. However, Zich made no reaction at all from his seat.

“Are you going to participate in the end again?”

“Yeah.”

Zich took out a magic box and twirled his hands on top of it. It was the magic box that contained all the gold coins he got from the Earth’s Tear.

Lyla saw the box and opened her mouth, saying, “I didn’t know that they would stuff all the gold coins inside a magic box and hand it over to us.”

The magic box wasn’t theirs, but it had been given to them by the auction house for them to easily take the gold coins home. 

“These people are super greedy about bringing in as much money as possible to the auction house. By giving us this magic box, they’re telling us that our product was a mega-hit.”

“…Can we even call that a product?”

“Of course; it’s a very great product. Just look at our sales.” Zich shook the magic box and chuckled.

“Would they usually give us the amount we earned immediately?”

“Only to those who are participating in the auction. It’s so those who received money from their item can raise the prices of the other items up for auction.”

“Wow, they’re good at their business.” Lyla shook her head. 

While they were talking, the price for the Lake’s Tear had climbed up considerably. As the price increased, the people who participated decreased; soon, the price stagnated. It was at that moment that Zich joined, and as it had been with the Earth’s Tear, the price of the Lake’s Tear increased exponentially. People shouted out their cheers. In just one day, two bidding wars had occurred in one auction. 

Astronomical sums were being called out; the auctioneer was excited as they shouted prices continuously while straining their throat. Despite the excitement below him, Zich put his chin on one hand as if he were bored, and continuously pressed the button next to him with his other hand. But as the price reached a certain point, the sharpness in his eyes changed.

Lyla asked, “What happened?”

“It’s all happening according to plan. That guy is beginning to use more money than he has right now.”

“So he’s using the amount he borrowed, right?”

“Yep.”

At this point in time, Zich’s plan was almost complete. He stole a glance at Leona; her face was frozen. He asked, “I’m going to ask you again. Are you really all right with this? Ms. Leona, if you want to just end this with getting back the Lake’s Tear, I’ll follow your wishes.”

Leona fell into deep thought, but it didn’t take long for her to say, “I realized this just now, but Zich, you aren’t really a kind person, are you?”

“Yes. I would actually categorize myself as a very bad person.”

Next to Zich, Lyla nodded. Hans, Snoc, and Nowem all looked away.

“But you are definitely doing this to help me, right?”

“Yes.”

“Then, that’s fine.” Leona smiled. “If I hadn’t met you, I wouldn’t even be here in the first place. So I’m going to trust you till the very end this time around.”

“You might regret it.”

“This is what I decided, so even if I regret it, I can’t help it.”

Zich nodded at Leona’s decision. “At least, for now, your trust in me won’t be betrayed. I’m definitely going to find the Lake’s Tear for you. And in order to do that, for now, we have to…”

Zich stared at the Lake’s Tear on top of the stage. “Give up on the Lake’s Tear.”

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