Chapter 167

The morning was bright, and the glistening sunlight clearly displayed yesterday’s tragedy in full view. The Tyroul Auction House, which had towered over its surrounding buildings with its imposing presence, was nowhere to be found. Heaps of stone were piled up on the ground, and only the parts of the structure that barely remained upright showed traces of its past glory.

Many knights and soldiers were gathered in the place where the auction house used to be. The building, which had symbolized Tungel, was thoroughly crushed in one night. Of course, people began to investigate. And by interviewing the survivors, investigators unearthed the truth of the matter: A guy who went around riding a golden carriage had suddenly gone crazy, killed people, and crushed the auction house. The suspect was a man named Wips Midas.

“Ha! Isn’t it perfect?” Zich admired his own plan and gulped his beer down. “People will think Wips Midas was the one who caused this incident. Well, it’s the truth. I didn’t even hit a person or destroy a building this time.”

“I thought you destroyed the auction house yourself later on,” Lyla remarked.

“That couldn’t be helped. Midas was trying his hardest to kill me. It’s not as if I could just stand by and not resist at all. I had to desperately block, and you won’t believe how quickly he evaded all my attacks. I didn’t want to destroy the building too, you know.”

“As if!” Lyla snorted. “But I’m glad everything worked out well. Everything went according to your plans.”

“It wasn’t a very difficult thing to do. Truthfully, it wasn’t even a perfect plan.”

“How did you execute your plan so confidently, then?”

“Even though it wasn’t a perfect plan, there was an element that made it perfect.”

“What was it?”

“Midas’ absolute confidence in his ability.”

Lyla recalled what she knew about Midas. Even though she had never conversed or interacted with him directly, she knew that Midas was someone who had exuded confidence. Actually, he had gone beyond confidence, to the point of arrogance.

“When he spied on us from the gold bar, he probably thought he had us completely. So, even when he noticed something off, he probably ignored it.”

And this had all resulted in Midas’ devastating humiliation and defeat. At that moment, they heard a knock. The door opened, and Hans and Snoc entered.

“We’re back!”

“How was it?” Zich asked. 

Hans and Snoc placed the snacks they had bought from outside on the table. Then, they reported the city’s general atmosphere.

“It’s chaotic, sir. The only things people talk about when they gather are the reason behind the auction house’s destruction, or whether this incident will indirectly harm them. They even worry about the city’s economic losses.”

“And?”

“There are many rumors that they found dangerous items inside the auction house. They say that some of the surviving auction house’s employees have been arrested.”

At most, these had been untrustworthy rumors circulating around the market. However, if there were some circumstantial evidence combined with these rumors, it would provide a logical basis for further investigation.

“I suppose not all of Tungel’s high-ranking people were part of this auction house.”

“It seems the city hall is shocked too, sir. And not only because the auction hall was destroyed.”

“Probably. A normal person would be shocked to hear that an auction was taking place late at night when it shouldn’t be open, and unusual goods were being exchanged there.”

Zich had left behind all the goods that hadn’t been sold yet in the Black Market. While guiding Midas’ attacks, he had moved in a way that wouldn’t inflict any damage on the place where the goods were stored. This was so that he could read the investigators’ movements after they found the goods.

“I have to check a bit more, but the guys running the Black Market will definitely suffer for a while now.”

“Are you going to end the matter with this?” Lyla asked.

“Why? Do you think I’ll go to the city hall and kill everyone involved?”

“I think if it’s you, you can definitely do that,” Lyla responded, and Hans and Snoc straightened their necks.

“It’s not like I’m some guy who thinks, ‘I’ll exterminate all injustice in this world!’ I’m satisfied with just destroying the auction house and screwing Midas over. The guys participating in the auction house also got roped into the incident too. Also, it doesn’t seem as if the whole city is rotten.”

“Then, are you done with all your business in Tungel?”

“I’m finished with the important things. Why? Do you want to go look at the ruins?”

Lyla nodded. Zich, who knew about Lyla’s curiosity towards the ruins, quickly gave his consent. “We don’t have any more issues to attend to, so it doesn’t matter. But since not everything is over yet, let’s do that afterward.”

“You still have some things to take care of?”

“Just two small things.”

The room’s door roughly opened at that moment. Zich turned his attention towards the door and said, “I’ll probably be done with one of them soon.”

“I found him!” It was Leona. She had arrived in such a hurry that her hair was a mess. However, her usually pure, even slightly dazed eyes looked enraged. 

“Good. Let’s go,” Zich said.

“Did you find someone or something?” Lyla asked as she followed them. Hans and Snoc also tried to figure out the situation by looking around.

“It’s something simple,” Zich answered while taking his Windur out. “Suppose I stumbled upon a treasure. A very expensive treasure. And then I left it at a store so they could sell it for me. Then I rolled around in bed, filled with hope and anticipation about how much money it would bring me and how wealthy I would become. But then, I heard the terrible news that the store I left my treasure in collapsed.”

By this time, Lyla had figured out what Zich was talking about. “Then what would happen?” she asked simply.

“Without even properly putting on my clothes, I would run like crazy to the auction house, to check if the rumors were true,” Zich continued.

Lyla looked at Leona; she was even more sure of her answer as she saw Leona’s red face. She asked, “You found him? The person who stole the ‘Lake’s Tear’?”

Leona nodded. Zich moved next to Leona and turned back to Lyla, Hans, and Snoc, asking, “Is there anyone who wants to come? I’m really just asking. The worst that will probably happen is burying one thief, so you guys don’t have to worry about it too much.”

“I’ll go.” Lyla lifted up the staff that they had recently purchased.

“Sir, we’ll also go,” Hans said, and Snoc nodded his head in agreement.

“Is that so? Then let’s all go together,” Zich said while looking at Leona. “Ms. Leona, please guide us. Let’s fucking kill the guy.”

*   *   *

The man was full of despair. Pedestrians were surrounding the auction house—no, where the auction house used to be. Several guards were blocking people from entering beyond a set area, but the man could still easily see the devastating state of the auction house. He went through crowds of people and was barely able to reach one of the guards.

“Ah!” Even though various thoughts were swirling inside his mind, this was the only sound that came out of his mouth. All strength left his legs, and he was barely able to stop his body from falling.

‘M-my everything…!’ His job, connections, and relationships had all been shattered by his own hands, and the only thing left was his pitiful life. He had given it all away to live the rest of his life in affluence.

For that one goal, he had made a dangerous gamble, and it was successful. All that was left for him had been to change the results into money. He had been confident about it too. Wasn’t the item he had stolen an elf tribe’s treasure? He had been confident that he would be able to exchange the treasure for a great deal of money in the Black Market Auction House he had happened to find out about. But all that had returned to him was the destroyed ruins of an auction house.

It wasn’t as if he had never thought he would fail to reach his goal. It was just that in all the possibilities he had imagined, he had never imagined a scenario where the whole auction house would be in ruins like this. His gamble to exchange everything he had to live a life of affluence in the future had come back to him with the worst possible result.

Maybe he could at least retrieve the item he put up for auction. But the voices behind him put an end to this wishful thought.

“I heard that an auction happened last night. Why would there be an auction in the middle of the night?”

“Apparently, dangerous and awful items were being put on auction last night. That’s why employees are being captured and things are going crazy.”

“Is that why the auction house collapsed?”

“I don’t know. But don’t you think it’s related to that? If not, why would an ordinary auction house turn into ruins like this overnight?”

“Then what are they going to do about the items up for auction last night?”

“A few of them were confiscated, and some seem to have disappeared. A couple of them might have been buried under that rubble.”

“The owners probably can’t find it, right?”

“What do you mean find? Since an auction like that is illegal, everyone who participated in the auction last night is getting investigated.”

‘Damn it!’ the man thought. Rather than finding his item, he might be captured by the city officials instead. He suppressed his tears and turned around. Even though he had invested his whole life into this gamble and things had ended up like this, he couldn’t throw away his life. ‘I have to live. If I continue living, another opportunity is going to come up for sure.’

The man left Tungel on that same day. In the beginning, he was worried that an official from the city might come to catch him, but as he moved further away from the city, his worry disappeared. It was when he reached a mountain path, however...

Punch!

“Agh!”

Something suddenly punched him in the face. He didn’t even have time to scream, and his surroundings spun around. All strength left his body and he collapsed onto the ground. Someone was walking towards him.

The individual hauled the man over their shoulder and dragged him into the forest. Their rough and careless movement showed no concern for the man’s livelihood. The man hung over the individual’s shoulder, and various branches and plants hit him squarely in the face.

Drop!

The man was thrown into a random place in the forest. He was still disoriented, so he crawled around like a big dog. But after some time passed, his eyes focused, and he came to his senses. There were people surrounding him.

“W-who are you?!” the man shouted, trembling in fear. It was obvious that they were his kidnappers, though. His shout was merely a desperate cry to protect himself, and no one was frightened by them.

“Woah, the world has really become better, for swindlers to be able to shout so much,” someone said as they walked up to the man. That someone was Zich. Zich menacingly swung around Windur and stood in front of the man, remarking, “Victor Scholl. Am I right?”

‘He knows me?’ Scholl thought. It wasn’t a group of random bandits who had kidnapped him to get some money. The fear in Scholl’s face increased by another degree. He blurted out,“M-may I ask… who you guys are?”

“Ah, you don’t have to know. It’s just that we have someone here who wants to meet you.” Zich took one step back.

One of the people that surrounded Scholl came forward and said, “It’s been a while, Scholl.”

“…You!” Scholl was shocked. He was very familiar with the elf who was standing in front of him.

“Yes, it’s me—Leona. You haven’t forgotten me already, have you?”

“L-Leona…” With intense fear in his eyes, Scholl stared at Leona. But soon, he made an awkward smile with his lips. “W-what... Are these people your friends? Then this must all be a prank. But I hope you can stop this prank. I really thought I got kidnapped and almost peed my pants.”

“No, this isn’t a prank.” Leona shook her head and glared at Scholl while saying, “Just like it wasn’t a real prank when you told me to steal the ‘Lake’s Tear’.”

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