This chapter was brought to you by AnmesicCat, BlankBlank, Charles, Lei, and Mathew.
Win the hearts of the People
‘Whew, it’s really hopeless.’ Ark heaved a sigh.
He stopped Merpeople at random and asked, but it was of no use. Finding information about Christin was going to be harder than expected. Judging from past experience, there was only one way to solve situations like this. He must raise his intimacy with the Merpeople.
The problem was the information required significantly high intimacy.
Based on the Mermaid Guards’ reaction, the favor he’d earned from just a few words was no use. In addition, he didn’t know how to increase intimacy in this strange Underwater City.
‘The first thing to do is to gain information about Merpeople other than Christin.’
Ark decided to relax and took a stroll around the city.
Nodelesse was slightly different compared to a Human Village. Human Villages, no matter how small always had a tavern, inn, and various shops. However Nodelesse even though it was 3, 4 times larger than a Human Village, only had one restaurant and a General Store.
‘Should I clean out my japtem for now?’
After wandering in the ocean for nearly half a month, his bag and Snake’s stomach were full of items.
“Oh, you’re a Human. It’s surprising for a Human to come to my store. Right, what are you looking for?”
As soon as he entered the store, an elderly Merman greeted him. With his wrinkled face and shaggy beard, the Merman didn’t look quite right, but Ark still sported a friendly smile.
“I have some things to sell and things to buy. May I look around the shop?”
Ark went through the goods in the store.
All of the items available in the store were things he had never seen before. It was inevitable since he was in an Underwater City, and because all the materials could only be acquired in the ocean. Shields made out of seashells, bows made out of Whale bones, Spears carved from tuna bones, etc.
The materials had a slightly crude feeling to them. Perhaps because it was a difficult city to come to, the stats transcended his imagination.
Level 50, Warrior Related
This shield was made by polishing a large Clam shell sturdy as steel, so it cannot be broken by any sword. It was made with a streamline surface, so it is easy to carry it and swim.
Electric Eel Breastplate (Magic)
Armor made from the hides of Electric Eels living in the ocean depths. Attacks will slide off its slippery surface. The characteristic of Electric Eel remains; it will emit an electric shock with a fixed chance when hit.
Attack Nullification: 30%
Even a normal defensive gear, Clam Shield, had an enormous defense of 190.
Well, Shields were originally set with high defense since the defense was added when the player actually blocked with it. Even so, 190 was definitely an incredible defense.
The added special effects of the Electric Eel Breastplate were also no joke.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call it rare. It is attractive enough to want to buy 1 or 2 if the price is right. But strangely enough, the price was in units of “P.”
“What does P mean?”
The store owner twisted his head around wondering what Ark was talking about. After staring blankly at Ark for awhile, the store owner nodded in understanding.
“Ahh, you are a Human. P means this.” The store owner raised a Pearl as big as an eyeball. “Here at Nodelesse, Pearl is used as currency.”
“Then for 2,500P, you need 2,500 Pearls to buy the item?”
Ark’s jaw dropped unconsciously.
He had gathered 3 or 4 pearls when he crossed through the ocean. At that time, Ark was very happy. Since they were rare jewels, he thought they could be sold for a really high price. So far, the jewels he’d occasionally earned were 10 Silver for the low-quality ones, and the high-quality rare ones were worth 5 gold.
But he need 2,500 of those Pearls to buy one armor? Doesn’t it mean even if he bought it for a cheap price, it would still amount to 250 gold? No matter how good the performance of the item was, it was an unbelievable rip-off.
But Ark soon changed his way of thinking.
‘No, it might be because the the value of the Pearls are unbelievably low in this place.’
If so, there was nothing more to desire. If he acquired Pearls in bulk in this place and took advantage of the value difference, he could amass a sizable fortune.
Ark thought of this and opened his bag.
“If I sold all of this, how much can I get?”
The bag was filled with Clam shells, seaweed, and things like the flesh of marine monsters.
But the store owner muttered in an uninterested voice, “Why would I buy them?”
“What? What do you mean?”
“Those things are everywhere outside, so there’s no need for me to buy them.”
The store owner was turning his head uninterested, but then he flinched. He pointed at one item with fascinated eyes.
“Wh-what is that?”
“What? This shoe?”
“Shoe? Ooh, you call it a shoe? It looks marvelous. Do humans wear those on their feet? But I think this is the first time I’ve seen such material. What is it made out of?”
“What do you mean. It is just animal hide…”
While answering with a flummoxed expression, Ark suddenly had an epiphany.
‘Right, this is an Underwater City!’
An Underwater City, the City of Merpeople who spent hundreds of years without any contact with the outside world.
Just like how the Underwater City items were fascinating to Ark, the items found on land were fascinating to the Merpeople; even if it was just a ragged leather shoe. Since they lived underwater, they never had a chance to glimpse at land animal leather before.
In other word, scarcity! No matter where you are, rarity is what decides the value of goods.
Indeed, the store owner’s eyes were filled with desire.
“Interesting! Very interesting! Are you saying this is an animal hide? Why did you only show me trash when you have such amazing goods? I don’t need the other things, but if you’ll sell that or similar goods, I’ll buy them all. I’ll give you a good price too.”
The store owner shook the bag filled with Pearls to say he wanted to trade immediately.
The items Ark currently possessed were no more than japtem. Plus, they were goods with only 1 durability, since he used them to raise his Magic Restoration skill. At a normal village, it was difficult to receive even a few coppers. But the shop owner was saying he would buy them for a good price.
This was definitely a bonanza.
But Ark’s hand that was taking out items suddenly stopped.
‘Wait, if these items have good value here, then I don’t really need to sell them at a shop, right? And I have to raise intimacy to gain information… What if I sell them to Merpeople in the city?’
He could raise intimacy. Granted, there is a limit when raising intimacy by trading. But if he raises his intimacy to a certain level, he would naturally earn the favor of the Merpeople and might come to learn of another method to raise intimacy.
“I’m sorry. I will return.”
Ark quickly packed his things and left the shop.
The place Ark sought was the plaza situated at the center of the city, where many Merpeople gathered. Then he found a decent place and spread out land items. When the first Human they ever saw started spreading out items they have never seen before, Ark became the center of the Merpeople’s attention.
“Huh? It’s a human.”
“How did it get here?”
“But what are those goods? What exactly are they made of?”
“It is sparkling? Perhaps it’s what you call iron?”
In Nodelesse, iron was something difficult to even catch a glimpse of, there was no way to mine iron ores and refine them underwater. Clam shells, rock, and bones were substituted for iron.
Ark sent out a greeting to the Merpeople who gathered like clouds around him. When it came to selling things, it was something he had done countless of times in reality.
Of course it was his first time having fishes as customers…
“Merpeople with beautiful silver tails, I greet you. I am a Human who is by chance enjoying the honor of visiting the gorgeous city of Nodelesse. They call me Ark.”
“Beautiful silver tail, hmm, it’s the truth”
Merpeople are simple. He figured it out by taking to the Mermen guards. Just a little bit of sugar coating can instantly raise intimacy, but declining was also instantaneous.
“Today, I will show everyone a couple of items found on land.”
Ark skillfully explained like a celebrity who hosts a shopping channel.
“What you are seeing now are various armors made of animal hides which cannot be acquired underwater. In addition, there are iron weapons made with the hearts and souls of Humans. Ah, I know what you are thinking. You must be thinking the performance is subpar. However, these products I’m selling, are not meant for you to use.”
“Are you saying we should buy something we’re never going to use?”
“You do not understand? Think carefully again. The performance alone isn’t comparable to the great weapons of the Merpeople, but they are all made of materials unobtainable underwater. In other words, no matter how thoroughly you look, only one of these items exist in Nodelesse! Only those who purchase them from me can enjoy the right to possess them.”
“So that’s how it is!”
“For those who still don’t quite get it, close your eyes and imagine. Land monsters you cannot even take a glimpse at here. A monster clearing the forest and racing across the plains has been defeated after a fierce struggle by a Warrior. Then it left its hide and was changed into gear such as this. These aren’t just items. They are items filled with the history and a touch of the adventurer who hunted the monster galloping down the plains. You can decorate your living room with this. When will there ever be such a luxury underwater again?”
The light in the eyes of the Merpeople looking at the item changed.
Land monsters which cannot be seen or heard underwater! There was no practicality for either a glove or a shoe. But simply purchasing a single sword, they could imagine a world they had never seen.
This mentality stimulated the Merpeople’s desire to purchase the items.
Of course, Ark’s Art of Communication special stat was applied and it had a large influence on convincing the Merpeople. Art of Communication didn’t demonstrate much of an effect in normal stores. But in a special case such as now, it caused profound influence.
“What is this made out of?” A Mermaid child pointed at the glove as it asked.
Ark sported his most friendly expression as he answered, “Ah, it’s a leather of a monster called Magal Wolf. Its whole body is covered with black fur, and countless sharp canines are embedded within its gigantic mouth. They looked like they can swallow a person whole. Try touching it. You can imagine the monster called Magal Wolf by the touch it, right?”
“Whoa, feels amazing.”
“H-how much is it?” A Merman who couldn’t wait anymore fretted as he asked.
‘They’re hooked! The fish is hooked!’
“There isn’t a set price. The quantity is limited, so please understand. I will award the honor to the one who calls out the highest price. First, this glove this cute child showed interest in!”
When he finished talking, the Merpeople called out prices frighteningly.
At best, they were goods he could only get 10 Silver on land. But 60P! One pearl was 10 Silver, so it amounted to 60 Silver, 10 times the price!
Ark wanted to hit the ground and wail.
‘If I knew this was going to happen, I should have brought anything and everything japtem…’
Not even a few minutes later 20 or so japtem were sold like hot cakes.
Whenever his florid speech raised the price, his Art of Communication also rose. When he had cleaned out all his goods, his Art of Communication stat rose by 13, and he also gathered 450 pearls. Of course, all the Merpeople who bought the goods left with satisfied faces, so his intimacy also rose considerably.
But they still wouldn’t tell him about Christin.
Ark didn’t worry. ‘There should be a strategy even in an unexpectedly ridiculous place!’
After finishing his successful business, Ark became confident.
‘Cultural difference is money!’
Nodelesse was completely segregated from land, and that fact held the strategy to raise intimacy. Something completely useless on land had unexpected effects here. As long as he found out what those were, it was no problem to raise intimacy.
Ark immediately gathered information as he wandered through Nodelesse.
What came next to Ark’s attention was the restaurant.
The Merpeople had no concept of cooking. Even if you ordered food at a restaurant, only raw seaweed and shellfish were served.
It was inevitable. Fire cannot be used underwater.
However it was different for Ark. The Survival Cooking Pot Ark possessed could boil water without fire, and roast ingredients regardless of time and place! Just like the name ‘Survival Cooking’ implied, as long as you put your heart into making something, you could even make ramen underwater.
‘They’ll eat it. Without a doubt, they’ll eat it.’
Ark immediately started a food stand in the plaza.
He had so many ingredients left, to the point where they’d rotted and became overripe.
Among the dishes Ark could make with the ingredients he had, Ark chose several good tasting dishes with decent effects. The result was just as he expected.
Merpeople had never even seen cooked food before.
They couldn’t even imagine food made from land ingredients. The Merpeople went as far paying an exorbitant fee of 1P per serving and ate the food. And the word-of-mouth of the Merpeople who had eaten it once spread from tail to tail, and long lines formed day after day at Ark’s food stall.
Ark made the menu more varied as the sale improved. An invigorating meal with the effect of Health recovery and a nutritious meal raising Strength or Agility were the vanguard. Those special food were priced at a colossal price of 3P! It was really a gimmick to raise the price and receive more profit.
“Ohh, what is this?”
“Wow, it’s such a fascinating taste.”
“Is this what they call land meat?”
“For some reason, when I eat food from there, I feel my strength rising.”
In a single day, the ingredients from land became scarce. But the business stayed as prosperous as ever.
“This is the seaweed I’ve always eaten, but the taste is completely different!”
“I can’t believe it. How can you make such distinctive taste with shellfish!”
From children to elderly, from Guards to Nobles of the Merpeople, they didn’t spare their praises.
Some Merpeople brought their lovers and strutted as they ordered food. Of course Ark, who had a sense for customer treatment, satisfied the Merpeople with services second only to first-class restaurants.
Thanks to his customer service, his popularity soared even more. Soon the line of Merpeople who waited at dawn was long enough to surround the plaza.
“Give me the baked shellfish I ate yesterday.”
“You need to wait 10 minutes.”
It was difficult to handle the customers who kept coming even though he made food without rest. In just a few days, Ark became so famous, there wasn’t a single Merperson in Nodelesse who didn’t know of him.
But it was only the beginning.
“Ah, this is also almost to the point of breaking. Do I need to buy a new one?”
Guards who sought out the stall sighed while looking at the tattered armor.
Ark rapidly approached and put on a friendly smile.
“If it is okay, could I repair the equipment?”
“What do you mean repair? Surely you’re not saying you’ll fix it?”
“Yes, it won’t be in the same state as before, but you’ll still be able to use it for awhile.”
“But I have never heard of a human repairing Merpeople’s equipment?”
“For now, please give it to me.”
The Guard took off and gave him the seashell armor with an expression of disbelief.
The concept of maximum durability didn’t apply to the equipment of Merpeople. Since the materials used to make them were seashells, they couldn’t be fixed after they were broken. Even for someone who learned the technique from a Blacksmith cannot repair a seashell with a hammer. But the technique Ark had learned was Magic Restoration. It wasn’t the concept of repair, but restoring to its original state.
When the skill was used, the tattered armor went back to its original condition.
At the sight, the Merpeople couldn’t hide their astonishment. Granted, since it was still a beginner skill, it didn’t completely return to original. 10% penalty was applied and durability only recovered by 90%.
A player would refuse the services even if they were paid. But this alone was a shock to the Merpeople. Since one equip was over 1,000P, replacing one was a big deal.
“You are truly incredible! Even a Magician wouldn’t be able to do something like this!”
Ark spoke while gasping, pretending to be tired, “Huff huff huff, it’s very difficult when I use this technique.”
“No wonder, since you did something remarkable. This isn’t much, but take it.”
The guard readily pulled out 50P.
It was better than selling 20 special cooking!
Ark’s pupils flashed with golden light again.
‘Nice. I was getting worried since there’s a limit to the ingredients.’
“It’s too regretful to simply throw away the great equipment of the Merpeople when they are broken. It’s difficult for me, but if you have something broken, please bring it to me any time. If it’s a normal item, I will repair it for a cheap price.”
When the rumors spread, all the Merpeople brought their equipment and swarmed around Ark.
‘Hahaha this is truly a cinch.’
He was so happy, he might turn insane.
He used ingredients he couldn’t sell in the store to earn Pearls. Was that all? Every time he cooked, he raised his Survival Cooking skill. As he used Magic Restoration while earning Pearls, he was also able to raise its skill proficiency. As a result, the proficiency rose insanely and he raised the Magic Restoration level in three days.
Magic Restoration has risen to Intermediate through a great deal of experience.
The usual penalty you received when repairing normal items is gone. It is now possible to repair Magical Items. However, each time you repair a magic item, its maximum durability will decrease by 10%.
Mana Consumption: 20
* Since both the Nursing and Magic Restoration skill have become Intermediate, you have learned Purification Restoration as an effect of set skills. With Purification Restoration, you can purify curses on any kind of item.
‘Set skill effect!’
In the past, he learned Sword-Hand Combat as a set effect of Sword Mastery and Hand-to-Hand Combat. When a couple related skills grow to a certain level, a set effect is given. But seeing it was a skill to lift curses, with Nursing and Magic Restoration being uncommon skills, this set effect was rare kind. Now he could release the curse of items without paying money to the Cathedral.
Lancel’s Sword immediately came to mind.
Until now, it was maddening to wonder what kind of sword it was.
“Alright, Purification Restoration!”
Once the Sword’s curse was lifted, a message window popped up with a new sound effect.
– Once the curse was released, the Sword’s original appearance has materialized.
Lancel’s Sword (Magic Sword)
Dark Attribute, Level 50
A Sword used by the Mercenary Lancel, who was famed in the past. The reason why Lancel became notorious was due to the magic sword he wielded corrupting his mind. Lancel realized this and didn’t utilize the sword for a long time, but he took up the Sword again to exterminate Kundalini, where he then drew his last breath and died.
‘It’s.. it’s the jackpot!’ Ark’s mouth was wide open with surprise.
Ark was still using the Sharply Shining Sword he had earned from defeating the Black Bear Mouse. The sword’s attack is 8-12, whereas Lancel’s Sword was 20-30.
Just by looking at the attack power, it was a perfect sword to use at level 50. Unfortunately, there was a restriction of Dark Attribute.
The players Ark knew with the Dark Attribute were so few that he could count them on one hand. Despite it being a rare-class item, it would be difficult to a get a high price at the auction. However, there was no reason to be disappointed.
‘Lancel’s Sword would immediately raise collective attack power by at least 30 percent.’
That alone gave it plenty of value.
Just then, another new message window popped up.
The Magic Tool’s ability was drawn out by the Dark Walker’s job characteristic.
Netherworld residents who are at least Intermediate class all possess their own artifact, which they call Magic Tools. Players can activate Magic Tool once a day. You can summon the host of the Magic Sword, who hides in the Netherworld. No kinds of environmental penalties apply to the entity summoned as the Magic Sword’s host.
However, the Magic Sword’s host is not friendly to players.
Job Special : If the player who owns the sword has the ability to summon creatures of the Netherworld, you are qualified to make the Familiar and the host of the Magic Sword duel. If the Familiar wins, you can combine the two entities to evolve into a stronger Familiar.
If the player attacks and uses hostile magic to side with the Familiar during the duel, the duel will automatically end in a defeat. In the cases the Familiar loses, it will be forcefully recalled and the appropriate penalty will apply.
Lancel’s Sword’s (Magic Sword)
Special Effect: Once a day, you can summon the low-class Vampire Dunphil.
‘What is this?’ Ark had a puzzled expression when he saw the never before seen message.
After reading it a couple of times, without being mindful of his surroundings he exclaimed.
‘A Familiar’s growth!’
They were words that made his eyes pop. Truthfully, Ark was feeling slightly doubtful about developing his Familiars, since the condition to develop Familiars was too peculiar.
Newly made dishes with Survival Cooking. However even if the cooking succeeded, if the added effects were negative, the Familiars wouldn’t grow. So although he had created about 80 new dishes, his Familiars’ stats had only risen about thirty times. And since Skull and Bat split the consumption, it was only fifteen times.
If the risen stats were converted to levels, they were only about level 15, even though Ark had leveled up over 30 times while cooking ceaselessly. Moreover, no matter how many kinds of ingredients there were in New World, there was a limit.
In conclusion, the amount of new dishes Ark can make is limited. Eventually, the Familiar’s growth would stop.
Right now they were overcoming the level difference against monsters with tactics, but it would also reach its limit one day.
When it happens, he might have to give up on his Familiars. But before it happens, he has to develop them a little more. The Familiars, who had no thoughts of rushing up to level, trembled uncontrollably at the mere sight of food…
Anyway, it was regrettable for Ark, who had special affection for his Familiars.
‘But now there was another method!’
After ending his sale in the evening, Ark went outside Nodelesse.
The reason being: combat cannot be done inside the city.
“Magic Sword summon!”
Once Ark released the seal, a monster was summoned with hazy light. It had the appearance of a middle-aged man in a suit.
Dunphil glanced around, studied Ark, and smirked. “You summoned me? What is your business?”
Its expression and manner of speech were incomparably arrogant.
It was when Ark was about to say something.
“DU-DUNPHIL!” While staring blankly at Dunphil, Bat screamed.
But Dunphil’s response was apathetic.
“Who the hell are you?”
“Y-you don’t know me?”
“You are a strange one, I wouldn’t know the likes of a bat without even a name.”
“WH-WHAT? THIS BASTARD!”
Without even a chance to interfere, Bat charged at Dunphil.
It seemed it was decided Dunphil would be Bat’s opponent.
Once the fight between the Familiars began, a message came up and all Ark could do was watch. He couldn’t even use Nursing or recall his summon.
Ark took a step back together with Skull and used Eyes of the Cat to watch the fight. Dunphil’s level was 25. On the other hand, when looking at Bat with its level 15 stats, the level difference was apparent throughout the fight.
Whenever Dunphil’s attack hit, Bat’s heath fell by 10%. Even so, Bat blindly pushed forward.
As if Bat forgot all the fighting experience it had gained with Ark, it recklessly charged at Dunphil.
“Bat, carefully lengthen the fight!”
They were underwater. Dunphil doesn’t get environment penalty. He wasn’t at a disadvantage of not being able to breath underwater and experienced any movement hindrance. He can move naturally even underwater. While on the other hand, Bat received underwater penalty and couldn’t display the greatest advantage of a winged beast — mobility. The difference was very large.
It was a disadvantageous fight from the beginning.
If Bat had a slight chance of winning, it was to use its experience of underwater battle and drag the fight on. But since Bat was only thinking about charging in and dealing damage, he couldn’t have a proper fight.
Bat didn’t even pretended to have heard Ark’s advice.
“I’ll kill you! I WILL KILL YOU!”
“Kekeke, you dare to come at me with your level of skill, how laughable!”
In the end, Bat’s Health hit rock bottom after Dunphil’s claw attack. Bat faded away while gnawing at Dunphil’s shoulder.
“How insignificant. The business is settled now, yeah?”
“Yes. F—k off.”
“If you’re going to make me fight, it would be better to bring someone more commendable.”
Dunphil disappeared while speaking with an arrogant expression. In the end, the first fight ended in vain.
Ark exploded in rage. Dunphil’s scumbag attitude was bad too, but what made him even angrier was Bat. Thoughtlessly rushing in and tear? The fight was so absurd, it made Ark’s face go hot. What the hell had Bat learned while fighting alongside Ark until now?
Ark had returned to the city and spent 24 hours doing business.
“Hey, Bat! The hell was THAT?” After resummoning, Ark castigated Bat with a stormy expression.
But he couldn’t keep speaking.
Once it was summoned, Bat bawled as it ground its teeth.
“WAAAAAH, DAMMIT, DAMMIT!”
“Huh? What? Are you putting on a show because I’m angry?”
“Master, I beg you! Call that bastard again! I have to fight with him!”
“What the hell are you saying? Explain so I can understand!”
“That bastard… that bastard is the one who harassed me for over 10 years in the Netherworld.”
Bat ground its teeth as it spoke.
Dunphil was a low-ranking noble in the Netherworld. The arrogant and ill-tempered Dunphil harassed weak monsters as a hobby, and for the most part, its target was Bat.
Bat, who was born as a relative of the Vampire race, was constantly harassed by Dunphil. In addition, he was ostracized by the other bats as per Dunphil’s instructions. In the end he was exiled from the race.
‘Now that I think about it, this guy…’
Bat’s original name was ‘Hatred-bearing Bat.’
An explanation how Bat came to bear hatred and rage towards the world because it suffered harassment in the Netherworld; had been attached in its description.
‘In such a setting, it can’t be helped for this rascal to fight Dunphil.’
After thinking for a while, a wicked smile blossomed on Ark’s lips.
‘It’s a chance.’
“I understand the situation, however I can’t let you immediately fight Dunphil.”
“If you fight like the way you did the day before, no matter how much you fight, you can’t win against him. You will lose. And if you don’t want to lose again listen to me. First, you need to get stronger.”
Bat was startled. Getting stronger; in other words, it meant he had to eat food.
However Bat grit its teeth and nodded. “I understand, if I can win against him I will do anything.”
“Alright, and another thing, you can’t fight like you did before. He’s stronger than you. But not enough for you not to win. From today onwards, I’ll train you.”
Ark did business during the day and started training Bat at night. And when a new recipe came up, he immediately shoved it into Bat’s mouth.
Food made with ocean ingredients had a high chance of having a good effect. Whenever it happened, Bat’s stats went up.
Bat’s training was sparring with Ark.
“Do it right! If you fight that way you can’t win against Dunphil! Do you want to be beaten up again?”
“N-NO! I won’t lose!”
Pow pow pow!
The days of gruesome training continued.
Unlike usual, although Bat got beaten up by Ark countless times, its fighting spirit burned. After finishing intense training for a few days, Ark called Dunphil out again and had them duel.
Though Bat’s stats had risen a few times, it alone wasn’t enough to oppose Dunphil yet. But since Bat’s skills had greatly improved over the last few days, a battle far more stable than before unfolded.
“Huff huff huff, this, this much is far from it.”
In the end it ended with Dunphil’s victory again, but there wasn’t as large of a margin as last time. Ark smiled coldly at Dunphil, who swaggered in a way unfitting for his appearance.
“It’ll be harder next time.”
“Hmph, even so, a bat is a bat.”
Dunphil disappeared to the Netherworld as if it was running away.
‘Damn, the problem is I have to wait 24 hours once it dies. Next time I’ll allow him to fight when I am more confident he can win. Until I can resummon, I should make up the training schedule.’
Ark was busy doing business, raising his Familiar, and doing miscellaneous things.
* * *
Ark accumulated Pearls while steadily doing business.
But when there is a high tide there is also low tide.
As time passed, even his lucrative business slowly died down. His land ingredients ran out so he squeezed out dishes with seaweed as its main ingredient, but since it was an ingredient the Merpeople were familiar with, it didn’t hold their interest for very long.
The business of Magic Restoration also didn’t gather customers easily after he repaired all the Guards’ equipment. Since there wasn’t a big war going on, there was no reason for the durability to drop quickly.
‘For a business, it is more important to know when to stop than knowing when to start. Well, it wasn’t something I could do for long anyway.’
In the end, Ark ended his business in ten days.
It was a business which earned him Pearls without a capital. It wasn’t without regret, but he couldn’t pick a spot and live in Nodelesse. Also, no matter how many Pearls he had, if he didn’t change them into gold then there was no meaning. It was a business he had to stop eventually.
More than anything the reason Ark was able to leave the business without regret was because he already reached his initial goal. Ark was already a celebrity among the Merpeople.
Wherever he went, Merpeople recognized Ark and pretended to know him.
When he was doing business, there were huge fans who came to the restaurant without missing a single day. Finding out a piece of information wasn’t even a problem.
“Do you happen to know someone by the name of Christin?”
“Christin you say…”
In the past there would’ve been immediate swearing first, but this time the circumstances were different.
The elderly Merman earnestly pondered and spoke, “There’s nothing I can’t tell if it’s you, but actually, I don’t know very much about a person named Christin either. It’s not just me. There probably isn’t a Merperson in Nodelesse who knows the details about him. It’s a name everyone knows, but nobody knows who exactly he was.”
“I don’t understand. But then why does everyone get upset when I asked about him?”
“It’s because we learned to act as such. I only heard from prideful Merpeople during my grandfather’s grandfather’s time that you had to hate him. But after listening to your words and thinking back on it, I didn’t hear why we have to hate him.”
He understood, why else would they be fish?
“Isn’t there a way to find out?”
The old Merman contemplated for a while and answered as if he suddenly remembered something.
“Now that I think about it, there’s a Crystal Pillar that records the history of the Merpeople in front of the Palace. I think I’ve heard something about him being recorded there too, though we don’t know what it says because it’s written in a language forgotten long ago. You who have many talents may be able to find a clue. Go there and try.”
“But are you closing down the restaurant now?”
“Yes, I don’t have any ingredients left.”
“How unfortunate. It was my sole pleasure…” The elderly Merman murmured while smacking his mouth.
Ark left the regular customer and headed directly to the Palace.
“Hey, Ark. What are you doing here?”
“I came after hearing there was a marvelous Crystal Pillar in front of the Palace.”
“There is. It’s quite a marvelous decoration.”
“Could I come in and see it once?”
“Hm, that’s a bit difficult…”
“I wish to learn more about the Merpeople whom I admire deep within my heart. I’ll just glance at it and come out so please let me.”
“Well, since it’s your request and not someone else’s, it can’t be helped. I understand, but you have to come out quick.”
Since the intimacy was at maximum, everything was progressing at lightning speed.
Once he entered the Palace, he saw a Crystal Pillar not far from the entrance.
Bead-like writing was crammed all over the surface of the 10 meter high Crystal Pillar.
‘To progress with the quest do I need to decipher this?’
It was when Ark’s hand touched the surface of the pillar. Light suddenly poured out from the pillar and countless images flashed in front of him.
* * *
A beautiful Mermaid was seated on a balcony overlooking all of Nodelesse. It was a Mermaid with brilliant shoulder-length blond hair and sapphire blue eyes.
She was watching the back of a man with unbearable sadness in her eyes. It was a big, strong, perfectly reliable back, but at that moment it filled her with complete despair and anguish. Because the back couldn’t become hers.
The man’s back slowly grew distant.
The Mermaid cried and cried as she watched the man’s back getting farther away from the balcony.
Tears distinctively appeared within the transparent ocean.
Then the scene changed.
The Mermaid clutched the items retaining the man’s scent to her chest and left for somewhere. The currents drawn by her beautiful tail conveyed keen sadness.
Christin, Christin, I love you.
Even if all the water in the ocean were to dry up, I’d still love you.
Even if I have to bear the stabbing pain in my chest I’d still love you.
I believe in your promise.
As promised, I believe you will return and find me.
Until then, I will wait for you at the promised place.
Please do not forget the words I whispered with you.
If you want to see me, close both of your eyes.
In a hidden place, I will wait for the day I can be in your arms.
* * *
Through the Knowledge of Ancient Relics, you have discovered the Crystal Pillar’s hidden information.
The yearning of a Mermaid for her lover is recorded inside the Crystal Pillar.
For the lover who would find her someday, she carved this in ancient letters. However, sadly, it seems like her love did not come to be.
Knowledge of Ancients +5, Intelligence increased by 5, Luck increased by 2, Fame increased by 10.
‘So basically this is a love letter. She wrote a very grandiose love letter.’
Then the image disappeared.
Suddenly, spiderweb-like cracks appeared on the Crystal Pillar, and without time to even do anything it came crashing down. The Guards who gathered after hearing the commotion shouted with astonished expressions.
“It’s him. The stranger who ran the restaurant broke the pillar!”
“You bastard, what have you done!”
Ark was stunned because he didn’t know what was going on. Fifteen guards surrounded him and pushed forward with their raised Spears of coral.
“You dare to intrude the castle and break the ruin!”
“N-no, I don’t know how this happened either…”
“QUIET! Drag this Human away immediately!”
* * *
Ark suddenly had to spend a day in prison.
After logging off for half a day and coming back in, a Merman in scale armor appeared.
“The Queen wants to see you. Follow me.”
Mermen dragged Ark to the throne room.
Merpeople in noble attire were lined up in the ruby throne room. At their center sat a beautiful female Mermaid who looked to be over the age of 30. Since she was decorated with jewels and wore a crown, it seemed she was the Queen of the Merpeople. But her face was familiar.
Ark easily understood the reason.
‘She looked similar to the Mermaid I saw in the Crystal Pillar.’
The Nobles of the Merpeople made a fuss when Ark entered.
“For a stranger to sully the Palace ruins, it’s unheard of.”
“We must deal with him appropriately with severe punishment.”
“But since there is no precedence….”
“The fact this stranger entered the Palace is alone enough to punish him.”
“However, the Merpeople have always upheld fairness, so even if he had committed the crime, should we not assess the situation beforehand and make a ruling?”
The opinion of the Merpeople Nobles were split in two.
Simply put, it was the opinion of the Nobles who had been Ark’s customers and those who weren’t. It was probably because of them that Ark, who damaged the royal ruins wasn’t executed immediately. If he’d been forcefully deported, it would’ve been hopeless.
‘This was definitely something that should have only been done after raising intimacy.’
The Queen raised her hand to silence everyone and looked at Ark.
“I understand because I heard the words of the nobles, but a stranger damaging the Palace ruins is unprecedented. Of course it is an incident deserving of a heavy punishment. However, I have found the residents of Nodelesse to have great confidence in you. There are even volunteers who wish to take up your defense. It is not easy for a stranger to earn trust. Therefore I will give you a chance to explain. Now, why did you destroy the pillar?”
“I had no intention of destroying it. I just wanted to know about the person named Christin and simply touched it with my hand, but it was destroyed on its own.”
The Merpeople Nobles opened their eyes wide and looked at each other. The Queen also gathered her brows in considerable surprise and asked back, “Are you someone with relations to Christin?”
“I don’t know.”
“You said the name Christin yourself, but you don’t know?”
“Yes, it’s true I was searching for him, but it’s hard to say I have relations with him. Rather, I want to know more, since I left on a journey to find out who he is and what kind of relation he has with me, so I came all the way here. But no one would tell me about Christin. So I placed my last hopes and approached the pillar.”
“Christin is a traitor who betrayed the trust of the Merpeople.” A fire of rage burned in the Queen’s eyes.
“It seems you still need more explanation.”
At Ark’s response, the Queen sighed and continued, “Christin was the man loved by the Queen who ruled the Merpeople before the start of the Dark Century. During that time, the Merpeople were trading with many races while sharing conversations. But then the Queen went out to the land, and she fell in love with a young man.”
“The name of that person is?”
“Yes, it is Christin.”
He heard about the Dark Century from the Meow. It was the time when the powers of darkness had covered the world and thus was called the Dark Century. Then the 7 Heroes appeared and finally, the days of light returned. So if he was from before the Dark Century, Cristin was a figure from hundreds of years ago.
“But Merpeople cannot live on land. In the end, the Queen had to return to the sea, but she promised to meet again with her lover and gave him the Compass of the Sea God as a token of her love.”
“Compass of the Sea God?”
“Originally, Nodelesse was an illusory city that wandered the sea. Even Merpeople had a hard time finding it again if they left the city. However, the Compass of the Sea God always shined light towards Nodelesse so you wouldn’t get lost. It was the Queen’s greatest treasure. Giving him the Compass of the Sea God was the same as giving him everything, so he could come find her whenever he wanted.”
‘Is she talking about the Jeweled Hand Mirror?’
Ark followed the Hand Mirror’s guidance and reached Nodelesse. Since the name Christin is written on it, there is no doubt.
“But did he not come find her?”
“No, he came as promised. He was a stranger to the Merpeople, but we truly welcomed and accepted the man the Queen loved. But his love didn’t even last one year. In the end he threw away the Queen and returned to the land. Can you imagine? The sadness of a woman who was thrown away by the man whom she gave everything to?”
The Queen’s voice became emotional.
“The queen shut herself in her room and spent her night in tears. Then after more than ten years, she suddenly hid herself. Not after long, a great calamity befell upon Nodelesse.”
“Since long, long ago, Nodelesse received the protection of an existence called Gallic, a great White Whale. Gallic, who had shared a spiritual connection with the Queen for generations, is the master of the ocean and the guardian deity of the Merpeople. But after the Queen disappeared, Gallic became uncontrollably vicious.”
“Are you saying it was Christin’s fault?”
“If it wasn’t, then whose is it? The Queen cursed Christin, who threw her away. It’s certain her feelings and the weight of her curse made Gallic, who was spiritually connected, go mad. In the end, it was Christin’s fault Nodelesse’s lost its past glory.”
“There is no way!” Ark spoke with a determined voice.
The Queen’s forehead scrunched at the unexpected objection. “What did you say?”
“I do not know the whole story. However, I am certain the Queen did not hate or resent Christin. Rather, she tried to understand why he had no choice but to leave. The reason why she disappeared is probably connected to his departure as well.”
“How could you, who didn’t even know who Christin was, know this?”
“It was written on the Crystal Pillar.”
The Merpeople Nobles stirred with shocked expressions at Ark’s reply.
The Queen asked quickly with an expression of disbelief, “Did you decipher the meaning of the pillar?”
“That is correct.”
“Lies, it’s a lie!”
“Yes, he is just babbling because he wants to avoid punishment. You mustn’t be tricked.”
The Merpeople Nobles flailed as they shouted.
“It is not a lie. If you truly cannot believe it, I will show you the proof.”
“The Queen was in possession of the item Christin left behind. It was an important item she treasured greatly. If we find the item, we’ll know his true feelings towards her and the reason why she disappeared.”
“Didn’t I say we don’t know where she disappeared to?”
“There is no need to think hard about it. If Gallic suddenly became violent after she disappeared, the answer is there. Please tell me where Gallic is. I will find the answer.”
“So it can be thought of that way too. I’ve also tried sending Soldiers to calm Gallic several times. But Gallic is the Master of the Sea who wanders the ocean; a Warrior of the Merpeople cannot find Gallic. The sole way to find Gallic is the Compass of the Sea God.”
“Then it’s all the more reason why I should go.”
Ark pulled out the Jeweled Hand Mirror from his bag.
The Queen’s eyes widened to an unbelievable size.
After staring blankly at the hand mirror with surprised eyes, the Queen barely managed to stammer after a long while, “M-my goodness… for the lost Compass of the Sea God to return after hundreds of years…”
Ark interrupted, not giving her a chance to speak.
“I won’t talk long for much longer. You know the items inside a stranger’s bag cannot be taken by anyone without the permission of the owner, yes? There is a reason why I must find out why the person named Christin left her. So, please help me find Gallic.”
“Perhaps… This may be the final chance. Okay.”
The Queen thought for a while and nodded.
“If you look at the back of the Compass of the Sea God, jewels of three colors should be embedded. If you arrange the jewels one space to the left, it will lead you to Gallic.”
Thu-thu-thump, the quest information was updated at last.
The quest has been updated.
Entrance to the New World → Guardian Deity of the Merpeople, Gallic
You have found out Christin’s past and the ancestral Mermaid Queen who disappeared are connected.
By connecting the information of the Mermaid Queen to the Crystal Pillar, everything is related.
It is certain the ancestral Queen has an item related to Christin. In addition, her disappearance is likely connected to the Guardian Deity of the Merpeople, Gallic. You must find her whereabouts through Gallic and recover the item. You must also find a way to calm Gallic.
The Compass of the Sea God will guide you.
* * *
“Huff huff, this whale, you wanna play with me?”
Ark spat out curses while clearing countless meters of Kelp forest.
He had already been struggling in the sea for several days.
Only when Ark went out of Nodelesse did he feel overwhelming motivation.
He was thinking of stabbing the great White Whale or whatever in one blow and thus ending the quest.
From Shadow Forest to lighthouse, from lighthouse to Nodelesse, and doing business to gather information in Nodelesse. All in all, it took a month. But during that time he was able to raise his level many times, earned money, and gather items. For just one quest, he had invested tremendous amount of time.
‘It feels like it’s coming to an end now.’
But after leaving the city, it wasn’t as simple as he thought.
Gallic wasn’t far away from Nodelesse. The thicker the light from the compass, the closer he was to the goal. However, there was a problem he hadn’t expected — the goal was constantly moving because it was a living whale.
“Did this guy run away again?”
He ran like no tomorrow, but the needle’s light pointed to another direction before he knew it. He had always been one step behind for several days.
But when there is a will there is a way. After struggling in the ocean for a few days, Ark finally found a way to catch up to the whale.
It was the same current that swept him away when he was on his way to Nodelesse.
The currents entangled the area Gallic moved in like a spiderweb. You could think of it like hundreds of quickly moving escalators tangled in a building.
‘If I use this…!’
Ark removed the Sharkman’s Shackles and threw himself into a nearby current. Instantaneously, the landscape zipped by at a extremely high speeds. The coral reefs and schools of fishes swept past like the wind. The beauty he hadn’t seen while struggling within them came to his view. Traveling by the current was yet another fascinating experience. After moving in the same direction for some time, the guiding light shifted to the side.
‘Are you running away again? Not this time!’
Ark immediately moved to the current flowing next to him. After switching directions a few times, the light became thicker and then suddenly disappeared. It wasn’t because he’d lost him, but he had arrived at his destination.
‘It’s around here somewhere.’
Ark grasped his sword. Suddenly, Bat said in voice trembling with nervousness, “Ma-master.”
“I know. Get ready. It is nearby.”
“N-No, that is not it. There…”
Bat’s voice trembled more and more.
He turned his head to see what was the matter, but he saw nothing.
“You don’t see it? The mountain… is moving.”
It was when Ark turned his head to follow Bat’s gaze.
The vast background obstructing the view in front of him twitched as it moved. An enormous amount of sand dust rose and clouded the water. Within it, something glossy moved.
“May-maybe that is Gallic….?”
The round object of enormous size turned just then towards Ark!
What were as big as buildings were shockingly its eyes. The enormous background that had been its eyes slowly rose. Bat, Skull, and Ark’s eyes also looked up trying to follow it.
He stopped to catch his breath.
Calling it gigantic is nowhere enough to this overwhelming creature.
Ark had felt this feeling before when he was young. It was the same feeling when looking up at Mt. Seorak or Mt. Halla from the mountain base. If there was a difference between them, it was the mountain in front of him being a living creature, a moving organism.
‘White Whale, Gallic!’ His voice didn’t come out.
Ridiculous! No matter how big, isn’t it too big?
Did he really have to fight something like this? An ant bit a person. The angered person crushed the ant. You couldn’t call it a fight.
Right now Ark was no different from an ant.
The Sword in Ark’s hand wouldn’t even give the gigantic creature a stinging feeling. In other words, it is like an ant losing all fear and biting a human.
The White Whale opened its mouth, revealing a space like a tunnel with a 50-lane road. Simultaneously an enormous pull sucked Ark in.
“WAAAAAAAAH!” Ark screamed with all his strength.
Then he was swallowed by the White Whale.