Sungjin checked the loot he obtained from the raid at the ‘First Drop’ as he always did. The items he decided to keep were four in total. The Blue gem obtained as the Hidden Piece, the blindfold given to him by Archae’ard, the staff, and the Cube.
Sungjin was filled with expectation when the Blue Gem was identified as a crafting material. He was planning on bringing it to Kargos. If the blacksmith was able to make an item of the same class as ‘Ring of the Great Sage’ then it would dramatically increase his own power.
Sungjin then picked up the blindfold that he had mistaken first as a Sunglass and second as a VR Headset. It had a very peculiar appearance.
‘I’ll…test this out tonight.’
He put the blindfold in the Cube after making a decision. The next was the Staff. In truth, there was no use for the staff. Even though he had a large repertoire of spells, it couldn’t be compared to his four swords, Moon Specter, Blood Vengeance, Artemio, and Ariane.
But even so, Sungjin decided to hold onto the staff without sending it off to the Auction house as even the Dragon Archae’ard had most definitely said,
‘And… Perhaps… You will also need this.’
The last item was a cube that looked just like the Operator’s Cube. It was much smaller in size and looked like it wouldn’t fit very many items. But the dragon had said many strange things-
‘Is keeping tradition.’
‘Human. Since I lost, I’m giving you a reward.’
‘That Cube is something you’re using, but it’s not yours. Right? However, that cube that you’re holding, that one is yours.’
– while handing it over. Sungjin took a small sip of the Iced tea as he inspected the cube. The cup was mostly melted ice water because he had drained much of it earlier, but Sungjin gave it no mind.
He was too busy observing the Cube. It looked like putting sword or shield into it would be impossible based on the size. It would hold a necklace or ring at most. Sungjin was holding it when he absentmindedly said,
The Operator’s Cube approached Sungjin when addressed.
Now that he thought of it, the cube was not under the control of the Operator. The Operator then asked Sungjin, unsure of what to do.
[Please name the desired service.]
The Operator’s Cube returned to its original position with Sungjin’s words. Sungjin looked back to the small Cube
‘I can’t help but think this thing needs to be operated manually…’
It was an equilateral cuboid. Thinking that the only side decorated with a blue drawing of a dragon was suspicious, Sungjin took a closer look when he accidentally pressed the side and then
With a sound, the side of the Cube lifted up and opened. Sungjin was startled for a moment, but he calmly inspected the interior. The inside of the Cube was very dark, like the Operator’s Cube.
‘Ooh… so the inside is limitless too, right?’
Sungjin took a look at his hands. Many of his fingers were decorated with rings. And among them, he selected the oldest ring of them all, the Lich’s Finger.
Soon the ring wrapped around his finger unraveled and crawled away like a caterpillar and reassumed a ring shape upon the table. Sungjin picked up the ring and dropped it inside.
But he heard the ring hit the bottom.
Sungjin checked the inside. The Lich’s Finger was laying just inside.
Sungjin carefully put his finger into the box. He first extracted the Lich’s Finger again and placed it on top of the table and then tried to touch the walls of the Cube with his hand. As expected, his finger reached the bottom of the Cube; the inside of the seemingly bottomless Cube was simply painted black.
‘What is this? It’s not unlimited!’
Although Sungjin had thought it was like the Operator’s Cube, it was actually not all that similar. As it was right now, it was no better than a small locker. Sungjin cursed the dragon in his mind.
‘Wow…he spent all that time trying to act like he did something amazing…and this is what he gives as a reward?’
Sungjin stared at the little cube for a bit more before he threw it into the Operator’s Cube.
He was telling himself ‘there will be a time where it will be useful,’ but he couldn’t quite figure out what it was used for just yet.
‘Well, at least it doesn’t hurt for me to hold onto it.’
Sungjin concluded his thoughts on the matter and began to inspect the rest of the items. The ones remaining were items he had obtained from troll hunting. All of it was slated to be auctioned off. Sungjin took a napkin and pen and began to jot down their prices.
Appraisal of the items was finished much earlier than usual. There was only one round of troll hunt this time around, so he ended up getting fewer items than last time. And truth be told, the trolls were probably going to continue to diminish in number as the raids progressed from this point forward.
According to the Operator, the number of Hunters remaining were 6710. If it’s divided into teams of fives, then it meant there were now 1342 parties remaining. Now there weren’t many trolls or opportunity to troll left. Sungjin took out the Troll Seeker Marbles he had which still had charges remaining on them.
‘I guess…this part is starting to come to an end.’
Soon he wouldn’t need to go charge five marbles at a time at Darker Than Black. Sungjin twirled the pen in the air as he recounted the total again.
‘6710 hunters…1342 parties…’
In truth, this raid at the Great Plains of Barrastan was actually a high difficulty raid where even the slightest mistake could quickly lead to a wipeout. Especially considering the fact that the final battle against the main army was essentially a small scale war, it was very difficult for any party to come out intact.
Before regression, he had just barely survived after he sacrificed a few of his teammates, and even most of the ‘Chosen Ones’ lost a few comrades during the raid despite the 20 percent bonus from Sungjin’s stats. But considering the difficulty, the number of people that survived this raid was actually fairly high.
‘I am sure now… the number of surviving hunters is higher than before…why is that so?’
Sungjin thought of it carefully. He couldn’t really think of anything that stood out to be different from before, so why was the result so different?
‘If anything can be said to have changed, it would be that this is my second time around…’
Now that he thought of it, Sungjin felt he had contributed to the change. First, he directly saved many hunters. Serin was a prime example. If it weren’t for him, she would have died at the Canyon.
Not only her, but Sungjin also tried to keep everyone he met alive as much as possible. He did cause trouble in the beginning by taking a large percentage of contribution points, but he did restrain more and more as the raids progressed.
So there would have been a great number of people that didn’t die thanks to him.
Second, he actively killed a large number of trolls. Trolls may power up themselves but inevitably lead to an overall decrease in the number of people. But because he had hunted so many of them, the would-be-victims were indirectly saved by his actions.
And finally, he himself hand-picked ‘Chosen Ones’ and created a format where they safeguard the hunters and carry them to the end of the raid. A fair number of people had been saved by their efforts.
‘But…it can’t be all that many.’
Sungjin couldn’t really figure out the cause, but he didn’t dwell long on it. It wasn’t like he could recall an exact number from the last time so it would be difficult to make a comparison with any certainty. Sungjin stood up and headed towards the Pig Brothers’ Auction house.
“Welcome, Mr. Hunter.”
Sungjin placed the items he received this round into the auction and then asked about the items still not sold from the previous days.
“So any items with bids?”
“None, Mr. Hunter.”
“There is not one, sir.”
The number of items that won’t be bought or bought at their minimum listed price was increasing. This is also due to the decrease in total population. There were now very few buyers remaining.
“Then please take this, this, and this off of the auction.”
“I will send it directly to your Cube.”
Sungjin recollected the items that remained unsold for few rounds and placed them into his cube. Next, he visited the pawn shop.
“Welcome, Mr. Hunter.”
Sungjin sold the non-auctionable items for few coins. It was a far lower price than he could have potentially demanded from an auction, but it was better to have something rather than continue to hold the item in a deserted Auction house. Sungjin headed to Kargos’s smithy once he was done with his business. Kargos was sitting on top of the anvil smoking a cigarette when he noticed Sungjin approaching and waved his hands.
“Yo~ owner of four swords, how are things?”
Sungjin nodded in response. Kargos held the cigarette between his teeth as he rubbed his hands and asked,
“So, what do you have for me this time?”
Sungjin took out the Hidden Piece of this round, the blue Gem that wouldn’t look amiss floating amongst the clouds.
“Do you recognize this?”
But Kargos’s jaws dropped, and the cigarette fell to the ground. He stared at the gem agape.
“Just…where did you find it?”
Sungjin thought about it for a moment. He had seen a similar reaction to when he produced the Dragon’s heart. But like always Sungjin’s answer was the same.
“Of course the raid.”
Kargos accepted the gem with trembling hands. Sungjin said to him,
“I think the name of this gem was…what was it, Elendil’s Final Preparations?”
“It has many names. Blue Sky, Final Preparations, Worth of Universe, Beginning of the End…” said Kargos who for the first time was acting like he was holding a truly precious gem in his hands. Sungjin then replied,
“Anyway…are you able to make this into something? Something that I can use.”
Sungjin was expecting the usual ‘of course’ as a reply because Kargos had been able to complete every request successfully. But Kargos gave an unexpected response instead,
And he had such a small unconfident voice as he said it. Sungjin then said with a disappointed voice.
Kargos replied as if he was making an excuse.
“It’s because of the nature of this thing. Whether you burn or freeze it, you can’t predict how it will turn out.”
Sungjin was now sure that Kargos had never touched this item before. So he asked,
“So…does that mean you can’t use it?”
Kargos looked away from the gem for the first time and turned towards Sungjin.
“No, I mean…I do want to give it a go at least…”
His gaze seemed to indicate ‘I may fail, but please give me a go at this.’ Sungjin gazed at him with his arms crossed for a moment. Truth be told, the answer was predetermined from the start.
There was no one else at the Black Market he could ask for help with. If he were to go to Meridian’s store he could sell it, but it couldn’t possibly be as worthwhile as crafting it into an item to take with him.
At his words, Kargos looked astonished.
“Yes. You’ve always done well until now. I’ll just have to trust your skill.”
“Ok then, I will put my heart and soul into this…I will give it my best. In return, I won’t charge you anything for it.”
“Ok…well, it’s not like money is an issue…”
Kargos muttered to himself while holding the gem as if he couldn’t hear Sungjin anymore.
“I will have to call my cousins.”
“Yes, my cousins. They’re all blacksmiths like me. I feel that…I will need their help to make an attempt.”
“…so how long do you think it will take?”
“Probably… three days.”
“That’s the minimum. Three days.”
He had said it would take one day to make something out of Dragon’s heart, but this would take much longer.
‘Since this is a 10 man raid…one day is for resting…I will probably be able to see the result after the end of the next raid.’
One way or another, he had no other choice.
“Then I’ll leave it to you.”
Sungjin bid his farewell and left the smithy. On the way back, he turned to see, and Kargos was still staring at the Gem while holding it as if it was a divine artifact.
‘Well…He’s a craftsman through and through so he will do the best that he can.’
Sungjin returned to bed at Ninety Nine Nights and collapsed onto the bed. It was a long raid, and he felt exhausted. Sungjin wanted to take a nap until dinner time. But once he closed his eyes, he recalled the face of Edward he had failed to kill earlier today. Even his voice from the distant past.
He couldn’t fall asleep now that he remembered. So Sungjin lay there on the bed until Dinner time. Without falling asleep.
Though late but Happy Thanksgiving to all^^
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