An intense bid war erupted in the Black Market for the second time. But even in the most fierce competition, there had to be a winner.
“Going once! Going twice! Sold!” The auctioneer raised his voice. People gave loud applause for the winner. And so, the owner of the Lake’s Tear was decided.
Midas sighed. He felt a confusing mix of relief and anger. In the end, he won two of the items he had aimed to get, but he suffered great losses. All his savings were wiped out, and he was in debt.
However, Midas comforted himself. ‘It’s okay. I can make money anyways.’ Thanks to his ability to make gold, it wouldn’t take him much time to pay his debt.
‘Still, I can’t believe I had to take loans.’ Due to the emergency, Midas had gathered money from scraping the bottom of his credit and took loans. As soon as he thought of his collateral, the insides of his mouth tasted bitter. ‘Even though I was in a hurry, I can’t believe I gave away my carriage…’
The carriage was his trademark: The symbol of his wealth and power. Midas couldn’t believe that he had handed over his golden carriage, which he used for personal activities, as collateral for his loan.
But this was reality.
‘They probably won’t return it immediately, right?’ Midas hadn’t used all the money he loaned. If he returned the remaining amount, his debt would lessen a bit. But he would have to reimburse the credit he had used first, and his creditors probably wouldn’t give his golden carriage back until he paid everything back.
‘For a while, I’ll have to spend all my time making gold.’ He had to get the golden carriage back as soon as possible. Midas sighed again as he thought about the near future where he would have to only focus on making gold instead of enjoying fancy luxuries. But when he saw the employee coming into the room with the Lake’s Tear, his heart calmed a bit.
‘Well, I can keep my side of the promise now.’ Midas thought of the group that had given him his power. If he gave this item to them, he would no longer have to involve himself with them anymore.
‘Ha, now, if I meet them later, they’ll be kneeling before me.’
As he imagined this future, Midas’ foul mood floated away. He was done with everything he needed to do. With ease, he watched the rest of the auction pass by.
* * *
The auction was over. After the last item was sold, people began to leave the auction house. Most people would have thought their day was over; they would probably return to their homes and go to bed after organizing their purchases of the day.
Yet, that was not the case for Zich. His activities officially started from that point on.
“You guys may head back first,” Zich said as he waved to his companions. “Or do you want to have fun with me?”
“No, I’ll head back first,” Lyla said. She knew that Zich’s version of ‘having fun’ was different from normal people’s standard of ‘having fun’, and refused.
“Let’s go,” Lyla said as she went outside. Following her, Hans and Snoc got out of the VIP room.
“Ms. Leona.” Zich called out Leona’s name as she was going out. Leona turned around to look at him. He continued, “You’ll be able to see the Lake’s Tear tomorrow morning. Sleep well tonight.”
“Will do.” Leona looked at him with clear eyes, seeming to believe him, and nodded. Then, she also left.
“Oh, that’s right!” Having seemingly forgotten something, Zich leaned his body outside of the VIP room. Then he told his companions, who were leaving in a group, “Just to let you guys know, the city will be pretty noisy tonight.”
His companions couldn’t find any words to say, as Zich looked like he was enjoying himself very much.
* * *
After he sent his companions off, Zich strolled around the auction house. He sat on a chair near the entranceway and stared at an area filled from corner to corner with carriages. Since everyone gathered in this place was wealthy, all the carriages were incredibly fancy; but of course, the most noticeable carriage of all was Midas’ golden carriage. The torches in its surroundings shone and displayed the carriage’s golden light, even this late at night.
However, it looked like the carriage had lost some of its original dignity. It was because of a piece of paper attached to the golden carriage, which certified that the carriage was collateral for Midas’ loans.
Passers-by on the way to their carriages saw the certification and murmured. Because of its unique and conspicuous appearance, the golden carriage was famous, making it more surprising that it had been used to take out a loan.
Low, scornful laughter seeped out among the people. Some people began to make convincing guesses that the person who had fought the intense bidding war in this auction was the owner of the golden carriage. While they were saying this, the carriage’s owner appeared before them.
Midas looked at the certificate on his golden carriage, disgusted. There were several people next to him.
‘Someone from the auction house probably did this,’ Midas thought. He had borrowed money from the auction house, which also offered credit and loans to its clients.
‘They really are a money-obsessed lot,’ Zich thought. But the auction house’s obsession with money was going to help Zich this time around.
Midas and the employee stood in front of the golden carriage. The employee seemed to be saying something to Midas. It seemed that the employee was telling Midas about the return date for the money he had borrowed and the interest incurred. Midas listened to all this with a sour look on his face.
‘Midas, there’s no point in listening to them.’ Zich held up the magic box and took out something. It was the gold bar that Midas had given to Zich to eavesdrop on Zich’s plans. ‘You aren’t going to get along with them anymore.’
* * *
The employee said, “With this, I’ve finished my explanation.”
Midas nodded towards the employee who came to take away the golden carriage. He stared once at the golden carriage; he needed to part with it for a while. He felt a bit anxious. Currently, the golden carriage made up most of his wealth, but he quickly repressed his anxiety.
‘I can always call it to me.’ As long as the carriage stayed inside the city, Midas could still control it. Even though it might take a while, Midas could call the carriage to him. ‘It’s goodbye for only a little while.’
With complicated emotions, Midas stared at the golden carriage. It was at that moment...
‘Huh?’ From a place nearby, Midas sensed one of his specially made gold pieces. Midas shifted his attention towards where the gold was. Without much difficulty, he found Zich. Zich was waving his hand with a bright smile on his face, and he was holding up the gold bar next to his mouth.
—Can you hear me?
Midas’ face stiffened immediately. ‘He knew about it?’
Judging by Zich’s actions, it seemed as if he knew what type of ability the gold bar had. Seeing Midas’ shocked face, Zich’s smile widened.
—As you can see, I know what your abilities are.
Then, Zich blatantly tapped the gold bar in front of his face.
“…Mr. Midas?” The employee next to Midas stared at him strangely.
But Midas had no leisure to pay any attention to them. ‘How?’
There were very few people who knew about his ability. The only people who knew how it worked were the people who had given it to him. But even before Midas could organize his thoughts, Zich continued his shocking revelations.
—Did you like today’s auction? You were able to get both of the items you wanted. It was a bit expensive, but you were the one who was victorious. I really think it’s amazing.
Zich’s compliments continued on, but Midas wasn’t happy at all. An ominous feeling slowly rose in his chest.
—I’m really sorry about this, but I’m feeling too guilty to continue lying to you. So in my guilt, I want to confess about the Earth’s Tear you helped me put up for auction.
Why was it like this? Why could Midas see Zich, who was a good distance away from him, so clearly?
It was as if a hammer had struck Midas’ head.
“…What?” Without even realizing it, Midas let out a question.
“Sir?” The employee was surprised and asked Midas a question in return. But Midas continued to pay zero attention to the employee.
—That item you purchased isn’t the Earth’s Tear. No—actually, thinking about it, that item really is the Earth’s Tear. Because I made the whole thing up, even its name. Hey, then why don’t we continue calling it the Earth’s Tear? Isn’t it a good name?
There was joy in Zich’s voice as he continued on. In contrast, Midas’ eyes became red and bloodshot.
—Well, why don’t you first try taking out the Earth’s Tear?
Midas quickly took out the ‘Earth’s Tear’ from his magic box.
—You see that it’s red, right? That’s because it’s made with copper. There’s a bit of mithril mixed in, and illusion magic on top of it. The magic was literally done to make it look like ‘something special’. In other words, that thing isn’t a treasure at all. Since a bit of mithril is mixed in, you can probably get a bit of money with it, but maybe not as much as the amount you paid for it.
Zich took out several gold bars from his magic box, and began throwing them around in the air and catching them. Midas was familiar with the gold bars that Zich was playing around with—they were the gold bars Midas had given to Zich to buy the Earth’s Tear.
—Obviously, it wasn’t an item I could possibly put up for auction on the Black Market, but fortunately, I had an amazing ‘collaborator’. I received so much help from you. You helped me put such a cheap item up for auction in the Black Market and went as far as to buy it for an extravagant price. Even my own mother wouldn’t be as generous to me as you did.
Midas’ body began to tremble. His face became red as if it were going to burst.
—To think about it, wasn’t there a name for a person like you? Let me think about it. What was it? It was probably the name you called the elf…
Zich put his hand on his chin and tilted his head. But as if he had just remembered the word, he flicked his finger with an exaggerated movement.
—Pushover! Yep, it was pushover~!
With a crumbling sound, the Earth’s Tear was crushed in Midas’ hand. It was an impressive show of power; even the employee next to him took a few steps back.
—No, you helped me so much that I can’t just call you a pushover. First-class pushover? No, that’s not enough for me to describe how much of a pushover you are. Hmmm…
Zich bowed his head and made an expression that seemed as if it were deeply contemplating this matter. But he soon shook his head and met Midas’ eyes again.
—There’s no name to perfectly describe you. Let’s just go with the simple option...
After a pause, Zich spoke again.
—...and call you a brainless, first-class pushover.
The Earth’s Tear completely broke in Midas’ hands and fell to the ground. Midas could see Zich clutching his stomach and laughing out loud. He could clearly hear Zich’s laughter through the gold bar.
—Did you think you saw through all my plans through this gold bar? That’s why you didn’t hesitate to buy such a poor-quality lump of metal. Too bad for you, but you’ve been played by me from the very beginning. The whole conversation that you overheard was merely a play I wrote to trick you, and you were the pitiful pierrot that was played by my act. You didn’t even know that, and you were so happy that you could erase your weakness.
Then, with a refreshing tone, Zich said his trademark line:
—So how was it, how was your sweet moment of hope?Previous Chapter Next Chapter