The merchants kept quiet as ever.
An abrupt intrusion of a tyrant. Regardless of the non-aggression agreement between the dark merchants and demon lords, they couldn’t completely ignore my sudden appearance.
23,000 might be a heavy price at present, but it was pretty much a ‘freebie’ when considering the value of the Yaksha. Especially Hwarang gu. I had used Mind’s Eye and saw that his value was over 100,000, after all.
But the dark merchants only put importance on the ‘jewels’ of the Yaksha. As the jewel of a Yaksha was one of the two greatest jewels, magic gems being the other, it definitely had much value. If the race couldn’t be subjugated, evaluating them based on the value of a magic gem was understandable.
“Come on closer, come on!”
The Yaksha struggled desperately. It seemed that they planned on killing any who came close, even if it means biting them to death. The merchants clicked their tongues. Then, Laila came forth to speak.
“It is a race that cannot be tamed in any case. Attempting to tame them by force will only serve to expend time and even more money. What’s more, attempting to dominate them by putting excessive pressure on their minds may result in a backlash, causing them to physically weaken or be unable to use their skills properly.”
She believed that there was no way I would buy something useless, because Laila Diablo knew that with Mind’s Eye I was the ‘one with piercing sight’. Thus, she stepped forward to sway the other merchants, to help me. Her words weren’t wrong either.
This was the 1st round of auctions. Here, the merchants bought slaves at relatively ‘cheap prices’, but the buying merchant was wholly responsible for the money and time to be invested in training or dominating. In the end, all the customers would come across would be these kinds of monsters with ‘completed training’. Excluding those that come in the form of eggs from the outset, of course.
Laila continued her words.
“23,000 should be enough purely considering the value of a magic gem. I shan’t oppose if you intend on showing off and spend more, truly I wonder if the demon lord will be pleased.”
“Laila Diablo! This is a sacred place of auction. Please refrain from threatening the merchants in that manner.”
“Hmph, threaten you say? Should you not be feeling thankful instead? A barbaric race like that, what demon lord would show interest in them? It should be difficult for those not demon lords to rule those barbaric folk…you should think it fortunately to even cover the price of a magic gem. Any higher than that is blatant profiteering disguised as an auction.
Her words implied that asking for a greater price than that will be considered as making an unjust profit.
Laila’s words had an impact to them. For a long time she had undertaken the role of ‘acting demon lord’ on my behalf, meaning that she had some acquaintance with all the merchants here. Moreover, while she may not match up to other demon lords, she couldn’t be completely ignored as she belonged to the group of ‘big customers’ in a sense.
At that moment, a merchant who wore a soldier’s helm spoke up.
“Damn it. 23,000 won’t even cover the funds gone into catching these slaves!”
“Do you mean to blame us for your stupidity? If my memory serves correctly, your ‘business ethics’ entails providing good products at good prices, no?” said another with a crown as its merchant hat”
Laila didn’t lose out even once in words.
The dark merchants wearing the helms of soldiers. They had lost the majority of their forces when they invaded the Rakshasa realm. Hundreds had gone in, but those that returned were merely twenty or so; a number which represented a near wipe-out.
Thanks to Laila, the momentum shifted to our side. Those who wore winged copper crowns as their merchant hats began making noise again.
“Certainly it does seem expensive.”
“Training those slaves will easily cost 50,000 points. Magic related to the mind is expensive after all…”
“Even the price of a magic gem will be a relief. Butchering them cleanly and extracting the jewels is work too.”
If 100,000 points went into purchasing and training, at least 130,000 points should be received in return for the sustained labor and costs. But apart from demon lords, there were almost none who could cope with such an expense. In other words, there was a high possibility that their efforts would go to waste if they failed to encourage customers’ interest.
The auctioneer breathed out a sigh.
“We have a bid at 23,000. Is there anyone bidding higher than 23,000?”
The dark merchants scrutinized one another. There hadn’t ever been a case where a demon lord personally came to bid on a recently procured item. There were times where they spectated, but no more than that.
Who would go looking for slaves that haven’t undergone even the basic of training? Excluding those like dragon eggs, which doesn’t even require training, wild monsters weren’t particularly popular. What’s more, training and reselling the Yaksha would be a problem as well. As Laila Diablo said, the merchant would wholly incur the loss if they failed to promote customers’ interest in the demon lords.
‘The merchants here aren’t united as one either.’
I gained a small realization; while they were tied under the Dark Company’s name, the merchants themselves were ‘individual’ beings, and they also competed among themselves as they endeavored to raise their ‘prestige’.
The hats they wore were symbols of ‘status’. While they were called the servants of the Great Star, I could guess that for the sake of even greater honor, they needed to raise their status and prestige. That, and the fact that…
‘Apparently the attack on the Rakshasa realm wasn’t intentional.’
It seemed that they had simply entered a randomly created gate, just like how I opened a gate. But the Rakshasa realm was an extremely powerful place, and they had managed to catch only around 40 Yaksha. Chances were very high that they hadn’t gone there aiming for the library or warrior skills.
Of course, it was definitely problematic that they attacked numerous ‘worlds’ in this manner. The demon lords are expected to head toward Earth after the war in the abyss is finished to a certain extent, but from time to time the dark merchants would carry out invasions to ‘plunder’. Was there no good way to tie them down?
“The Yaksha pack goes to ‘Uriel Diablo’ at 23,000 points. Congratulations.”
When I was about to go over my thoughts again, the 1st round of the auction came to an end. Unlike the auctioneer or the merchants, those who wore soldier hats clenched their fists. What they had obtained and brought back at the cost of all their troops was sold for dirt cheap. You reap what you sow, however. I turned my head to look at Laila.
“Please speak, my Lord.”
Laila’s was a big help in this auction. She would never have done what she did if she was alone; she took the initiative regardless of everything, killing her own pride all for the sake of helping me. Contrary to what happened in the past, it was an extremely praiseworthy deed. But the words of praise had difficulty leaving my lips.
“Take the Yaksha and return to the territory. I have a separate matter to attend.”
“May I ask as to what that matter is?”
“I didn’t reply, and Laila didn’t press further. Instead, she turned her head as if slightly sad.
“As you command.”
The matter which I had to attend to alone…was to uncover what’s behind these merchants here. To be specific, I wanted to know what method they used to go into ‘other worlds’.
Since there was no way they would answer if asked, I had no other choice than to chase their backs. Laila shouldn’t know the answer regarding this either, because all those who come here only seek to buy ‘good items’, rather than the origins of those items.
I saw the dark merchants wearing soldier hats going toward the back of building.
‘The great preta should have come back together.’
Where could they be?
I had a feeling that I could find out by chasing them.
An attack magic which turned space black, and summoned deathly hands. But an attack magic wasn’t all it was. It was S-ranked, and if its level is raised I could even contain myself within that dark space.
Countless black hands pulled at me as I used Stygian Touch. Having entered the dark space, I then mimicked the ‘shadow’ of a dark merchant wearing a soldier hat, and began to shadow him around.
Fortunately, the dark merchants failed to notice me. While they called it an non-aggression area, it seemed that one wouldn’t be sanctioned in any other way in particular, as long as one didn’t attack.
Around 20. The number of dark merchants wearing soldier hats. They talked among themselves as they moved toward a narrow alley.
“Losing the rank of nobility will be certain at this rate. There’ll be a limit even if 23,000 is used to rebuild the troops.”
“What will you do?”
“The great preta should still be alive, yes?”
“Regardless, isn’t it just a matter of time? They’ll all die around 3 days from now.”
“No other way than to quickly prepare for a trip within 3 days and ‘infiltrate’ again.”
“Won’t it be dangerous? There’ll be big restrictions when admitting lifeforms of a different dimension into another dimension. Making a move ourselves will also be a bit too much…how about just plundering the lifeforms of a suitable dimension?”
“There’s no time. Moreover, the lifeforms called great preta have quite the superb regeneration and adaptive abilities. We should be able to make a sufficient come back by infiltrating a lower dimension.”
“Huu, no way around it. I never imagined that it was such a high-level dimension.”
“We tried ‘infiltrating’ the one ruling that dimension, but almost died instead. Damn it! You’ll need to be at the rank of count at least before barely being able to even challenge it. I’ve only become a mere baronet now, I was too greedy.”
There was a part to their conversation which was difficult to follow. But I knew now that they were trying to ride the great preta and attack somewhere again. The dark merchant wearing a silver horned helmet, who appeared to be their leader…it seemed that he was the culprit behind all that had happened.
“Lord Uriel Diablo. We could have earned twice the amount if it weren’t for him.”
“Aren’t there those who trade with us? If we make a request of them…”
“No matter what, us dark merchants can’t attack demon lords, the candidates of the ‘Great Star’. Though it’s a different matter if they were to turn against one another.”
“I heard that he and lord Carpediem don’t get along well.”
“Did we have a ‘line’ connected to him?”
“I have heard that ‘Mountain-eating Yeti’ is together with Carpediem.”
“Mountain-eating Yeti is it…fine. We support Carpediem. But succeeding in ‘infiltrating’ a lower dimension comes first. At the very least, demotion has to be prevented.”
Officially, ‘backdoor dealings’ between merchants and demon lords were wrong. But there was no way a demon lord would go on living an honest life. Apparently, they open channels in this manner. It was also quite curious that the dark merchants called themselves dark people. It made for a complete different feeling, though there was only a single word difference.
Soon they headed toward the end of the Dark Company. Only after being checked multiple times by dark people wearing soldier helms could they move toward the next location.
‘Security is thorough.’
I would have been caught long ago if I hadn’t melded into a shadow.
‘This place is…’
It was a deep valley. There were countless dark people near it, appearing to number in the tens of thousands. They all appeared to soldier ranked, and even now they continued to launch themselves into the valley.
“Please permit entry into the lower dimension open to the public.”
There was a dark person at the edge of the valley, who held a marble the size of a torso. When the soldier approached him and spoke, the dark person holding the marble tilted his head.
“You won’t be going pioneering ?”
“Are you making fun of me? Everyone died after attempting to pioneer! I’m at the brink of demotion.”
The dark person spoke as he peered inside the marble.
“Hmm, Rakshasa realm is it. You’ve only managed to explore 3%? If it’s this much then I could designate you to the 18th dimension. Although you’ll need to be a marquis at the least to be able to challenge it.”
“Are you ignoring what I said?”
“Ahh, hang on. Let’s see, the 3rd dimension happens to be open.”
“Aren’t there nothing but beasts like kaim at best in the 3rd dimension? Are you telling me now to attack and loot some animals?”
“The only lower dimension you’re permitted to is that place. That’s why you should have explored at least 10% of the Rakshasa realm. If you’d done so, you would have been granted a big reward.”
“Hu…damn it all. Can’t be helped then.”
Cursing harshly, he nodded. He had no options to choose from.
Finally, the dark person holding the marble stretched out his fingers, toward the other side of the valley. The soldier began to move to that place, and I followed the soldier from behind, remaining as a shadow. Afterwards, I drew near the edge of the cliff and looked down the valley.
Booom! Boom! Craash!
I could feel shivers running all over my body at the same time.
The bottom of the valley…it was a place where countless black vortexes were crazily swirling. It was like a nuclear fusion, the vortexes endlessly twisting together to give birth to countless explosions!
The dark people threw themselves toward the valley. The moment they did, they transformed to take the appearance of great preta.
I felt like my mind was completely empty.
In a deep place of the abyss, there existed an uncountable number of rifts.