Chapter 29. Consume (4)
With the arrival of the mysterious merchant, Kahn’s and Doyle’s eyes grew wider.
"Hyung, do you also know the mysterious merchant?"
Doyle looked at Yeon-woo with a surprised face.
Yeon-woo lightly nodded.
"Hey, how can you be so mean to me? I thought we had something special going on. Ohoho!"
The mysterious merchant gave a silly smirk as he babbled out some nonsensical jokes. He didn’t try hiding his fondness for Yeon-woo at all, which made Doyle eve more astonished.
In fact, the mysterious merchant was not someone one could easily have access to. He seldom showed himself in the waiting room of each section, or in the boss rooms. There was never a set time or reason for him to appear. Therefore, most people stayed in the waiting room and waited for an indefinite amount of time for the mysterious merchant to show up. But now, he had just popped up out of nowhere.
Of course, it wasn't actually impossible to personally strike a deal with the mysterious merchant.
"And also, glad to see you again, Kahn and Doyle. We haven’t met since you purchased the pass tickets, right?”
The mysterious merchant then greeted Kahn and Doyle.
Kahn nodded with a sour face. He felt like he was getting a heartburn just by recalling how he had paid with his attribute points to buy the tickets to go to Section B’s waiting room.
The methods one could use to befriend the mysterious merchant were very simple. One was to rank within the top 10 in the tutorial rankings. That was how Kahn had acquainted with the mysterious merchant.
And the other was,
‘To be acknowledged by him.’
It seemed like Yeon-woo was one of those ‘acknowledged’ people.
Kahn thought it was understandable. Considering what Yeon-woo had shown him so far, there was no way the mysterious merchant or the guardian wouldn’t pay attention to him.
After the simple greeting, the mysterious merchant quickly turned to Yeon-woo.
"By the way, would you mind telling me how you noticed I was here? I was so confident that I was hidding pretty well."
Kahn and Doyle nodded as well. The mysterious merchant was like the guardian, he belonged to The Tower, so normal players couldn’t notice their presence.
However, Yeon-woo flatly replied.
"It would be dumb of me not to notice you when you're staring at me like that."
*Grunt* "I see, you are not going to tell me."
The mysterious merchant let out a groan at Yeon-woo’s reply. But under the robes, his eyes were giving off a strange glow. He had known it from the time Yeon-woo purchased the reset tickets for section A that no one else had bought before. In many ways, Yeon-woo was a very strange person. But the mysterious merchant put on his usual smile, suppressing his feelings from showing.
"But next time, please show me some wit and pretend you don’t see me. You've just ruined the fun, don't you think? Ohohoho."
Yeon-woo tilted his head as if questioning his true intentions.
"If we hadn’t known you were here, weren’t you going to wait and pocket our items?"
The mysterious merchant grinned.
"My, my, you must have read my mind."
Yeon-woo shook his head as he looked at the mysterious merchant whose face was still filled with a smirk.
If I were asked to name things one should never trust in The Tower, the first thing would be the mysterious merchants. Contrary to what rumors say, that they don’t come outside very often, they always keep a close watch on players while hiding right next to them to pick up the items that they’ve missed or threw away.
His brother said that the being that players should be wary against the most, was the mysterious merchant.
They would never get the short end of the stick. Rather, they would be happy to dig around in filth if they could find anything profitable inside. They always kept an eye on players and secretly took things they abandoned and sold them at a high price.
If Yeon-woo had left the lair with only the items he needed in his hands, He would have shown up belatedly and taken everything left in the lair. Of course, Yeon-woo wasn’t going to give away his items that easily.
Sudden words without any explanation.
It was a bargain. The price for the ownership of the lair and the Blue Scale Scimitar.
Kahn and Doyle then turned towards the mysterious merchant with excited faces. But the mysterious merchant snorted at Yeon-woo's bargain with his arms crossed.
"Oh dear, now you're trying to bargain with me. But, you know, even the top rankers..."
"...can’t get that...."
As the mysterious merchant went on talking, Yeon-woo kept increasing the number.
"...do you think you can sell them at that price? Really?"
"300. You better take my offer quickly. The more you hesitate, the higher the number will be."
Then Yeon-woo raised the corners of his mouth.
"And of course, if you don't accept it, I will blow up the entire lair. Along with all the Magic Stones inside the lair.
"Magic Stones like those are pretty easy to get, I can..."
"I didn’t know you could get Magic Stones with a purity of over 70 so easily. Then I guess I’ll have to blow them all up."
For the first time, the mysterious merchant’s expression became stiff. Yeon-woo saw through that, and that was exactly what he was aiming for. As such, his smile grew bigger.
‘As long as I’m not a fool, there's no way I can lose if I know exactly what my opponent is after.’
It was only much later that the question arose in my mind. Why did Hargan's Lair quest give us so few rewards? And why did it give ownership of the lair as compensation?
The Tower is a place where players are rewarded according to their achievements. So there must have been a reason.
Later, I figured out that Hargan’s Lair had a rich mineral reserve of fine Magic Stones.
But when I found out about it, I wasn’t too disappointed. Even if I had known beforehand, I wouldn't have been able to do anything with it.
A Magic Stone was a basic medium to store and deliver mana. It was similar to an electrical conductor on Earth. The stones with higher purity were more efficient in transferring mana, so those with a purity of over 70 sold at a very high price. That was the reason why the mysterious merchant had his eyes on Hargan's Lair.
Of course, if the lair contained Magic Stones worth that much, I could take them for myself. But the higher the purity is, the more complicated the mining process becomes.'
His brother had also found it worthless even after learning about the secret of the quest.
‘I’d rather spend more time collecting Tokens.’
So to speak, the reserve of Magic Stones inside the lair was a white elephant to Yeon-woo. If so, he was better off selling it to the people who needed it. And the mysterious merchant appeared right in front of him just in time.
The mysterious merchant finally realized that he had completely fallen in the trap Yeon-woo had set up. And now, there was nothing he could do about it.
"Hmm…! Still, 300 Tokens is too expensive for….”
"O, okay okay! Stop! I'll pay, so don't raise it anymore! I’m really gonna go broke!"
The mysterious merchant finally waved the white flag.
Yeon-woo gave a victorious smile.
"Good. I'll sell it for 405 Tokens. Five is for wasting my time."
"...I've never seen anyone worse than me."
The mysterious merchant let out a deep sigh, and stretched his hand wide into the air.
Then, a blueish magic circle was drawn in the air and the message popped up in front of Yeon-woo.
[You have sold ‘Blue Scale Scimitar' and ‘the ownership of Hargan’s Lair', and obtained 405 Tokens in exchange.]
Yeon-woo noticed that the scimitar in his hand and the entire lair around him had disappeared. Instead, a new window appeared.
Yeon-woo had less than 100 Tokens before this raid, but now it had increased to nearly 700 simply by clearing a quest and selling some items.
As Yeon-woo’s trade ended in success, Kahn and Doyle were shaking their heads without closing their mouths. It was their first time seeing the mysterious merchant being forced into a deal.
After completing the deal, the mysterious merchant kept muttering to himself, saying things like ‘it was a total loss’, ‘there was nothing left’, ‘I got scammed’, and so on.
"Oh, and one more thing."
When Yeon-woo opened his mouth, the mysterious merchant appeared slightly vigilant of his words.
"W, what else are you going to rip off from me?"
"You sound like I’m bullying you. Anyway, I forgot to tell you, I have something I want to buy."
This was finally his chance. The mysterious merchant grinned.
"Uhuhu, what do have in mind?"
Yeon-woo pointed at the mask he was wearing.
"You see, it’s a little melted. I need something similar."
For a short moment, the mysterious merchant’s face distorted.
"Well, I do have things like that. Oh, by the way, it will cost you four Streng....”
"Of course, throw that into our deal."
"You can’t just do that!"
"Then I guess you want to cancel our deal. It doesn’t matter to me."
In the mysterious merchant’s mind, he had already hit the ceiling and was hurling all kinds of insults at Yeon-woo. But he couldn't miss out such a big deal for such a trivial thing. In the end, the mysterious merchant once again stretched out his hand while grinding his teeth in indignation.
[You have acquired the ‘Face of White Ghost']
Yeon-woo patted the mask in his hand.
It had a similar design to the one he had been using, but slightly different. It wasn’t made of plastic, but of a material he had never seen before.
"I noticed you were having a hard time because of the mask, so I prepared something good ‘specially’ for you. And next time we meet, if you keep bullying me like today, I’m not going to stick with your play, okay?"
Yeon-woo checked the artifact with a strange look.
[Face of White Ghost]
Description: A mask with various spirits ensnared inside. The mere use of it gives off a bizarre atmosphere, and allows the user to hide some of their presence.
Once worn, it doesn't come off easily. If damaged, it can restore itself by capturing another spirits.
It was a mask without any special options. However, Yeon-woo liked the line describing that it wouldn’t fall off from his face easily and that it would recover itself from damage.
Yeon-woo turned to the side so that the others could not see his face, and removed the mask he had been wearing. He was somewhat amazed at how the mask wasn’t completely ruined yet considering what he had been through. But now, he had to bid farewell to his old mask.
Yeon-woo easily crushed the old mask and threw it to the floor, and wore Face of White Ghost. The material felt odd on his skin. He patted on the mask to test if it fit its description. Thankfully, the mask was stuck on his face like a leech.
"I appreciate your kindness."
"Like hell you do!" *Sigh*
The mysterious merchant packed up the bundle he had brought with him and put it back on his shoulder. However, despite his sigh, he couldn’t erase the smile lingering on his face.
The mysterious merchant opened a portal and got ready to leave.
While he was sticking his foot inside, he thought of something and looked back at Yeon-woo.
"Oh, by the way."
"What is it?"
"When you were bargaining for the Magic Stones, you seemed almost too brave as if you knew something. So tell me, was that because you knew what's going on ‘on the other side’?"
Under the robes, the eyes of the mysterious merchant shone keenly.
However, Yeon-woo replied in a calm manner.
"On the other side? What do you mean?"
"Huh. Well, it’s nothing. I must have been mistaken."
The mysterious merchant shook his head and disappeared over the portal.
Even while the blue portal was closing, Yeon-woo still kept calm. His new mask made it even harder to tell the expression he had just by looks, even more so his thoughts.
‘Now it’s clear. The arms race between clans and between rankers in The Tower has become very fierce.'
Yeon-woo's eyes let out a cold glow.