Sungjin looked around the area where the shop owner disappeared.
“What… What happened?”
Sungjin actually got up and began to examine the area where the shop owner had been sitting. There was no sign of his presence at all; the shop owner had disappeared without a trace. Sungjin crossed his arms as he stared at the empty spot where the shop owner had been.
However, as he was crossing his arms, something touched his elbow. It was the empty bottle of elixir from which he had just drunk. Sungjin picked up and inspected the empty bottle. The shop owner had bidden farewell as if it were permanent instead of a temporary separation.
Considering his characteristics of ‘not telling everything, but being true with what he does say’, the man was most definitely gone forever. As if blaming the already disappeared shop owner, Sungjin said,
“But then… where am I supposed to use my Black Coins now…”
For the past few chapters, he had used all of his Black Coins in purchasing elixirs, but now that the shop owner was gone he could no longer buy more elixirs. He now had nowhere else to spend his Black Coins.
“Shit… He does whatever he wants until the end.”
Sungjin kicked the chair that the shop owner had sat in. Besgoro whispered in his ear afterwards.
‘Well, there’s that at least.’
‘That you changed all of your white coins into Holy Water of Baptism.’
‘If you didn’t do that much, then you wouldn’t have been able to increase your number of allies.’
Sungjin briefly looked at the empty chair before he said,
“… That’s true.”
Afterwards, he left the place. On the way back to Ninety Nine Nights, Sungjin reflected on the words that the shop owner had said.
“I’m a being that exists to convey ‘will’. I’ve accomplished my duty as of today, so I can no longer exist here.”
“You already had the determination, and now you obtained the power. It’s time for the story to end.”
“I’m just saying that all requirements have been met.”
Most of what the shop owner had said had been difficult to understand. But of the things he had said, Sungjin did understand one thing; this was what the shop owner had said while pointing to Sungjin’s earring.
‘When you have to choose one thing, choose that. The truth is always precious.’
Sungjin held his hand to his ear.
‘But… why this?’
He touched the earring and said,
Soon the purple light of the gem embedded in the earring caught his gaze. The sleepy looking half closed eyes inside of the gem was looking back at him. In some angles, it looked like it was somewhat drowsy, and in others, it looked like it was glaring sharply at him.
‘This… what was its name?’
Sungjin held the earring above his head. Soon, the Operator’s information window popped up and he read the name of the earring again.
“Trite… Eye of Jeremiah…”
Leaving that aside, Sungjin was incredibly curious about what the shop owner had meant by, ‘when you have to choose one thing’.
‘When will it be the time for that? He’s not someone who would say things lightly…’
For now, Sungjin re-equipped the earring by saying,
Afterwards, he walked on the road to Ninety Nine Nights. But along the way, Sungjin suddenly had an idea and he turned and headed towards Kargos’s Smithy; he was curious about how the work from yesterday was progressing.
Kargos’s smithy was as bright as the middle of the day despite being so early in the morning. The glow of hot molten steel shone from the furnace, and there were fireworks ceaselessly rising from the anvil and hammer. What was unique was that there were several dwarves similar to Kargos that were gathered at the smithy.
‘Aahh, he did say he was going to call his relatives, didn’t he? One, two, three, four…’
Sungjin gave up counting them when the number exceeded seven. This was because their appearance was so similar to the point that it was like attempting to solve a puzzle. They were still concentrating on their work even when Sungjin came close by.
It was as if Sungjin had become an invisible ghost. Sungjin watched them work with his arms crossed. After a while, Kargos saw Sungjin and raised his hand,
“Hullo, there! Commissioner.”
Sungjin almost didn’t recognize him. This was because Kargos’s face had been turned completely black and there were several places on his beard that had been burned away. Also, since he had been mixed amongst his relatives that looked like him, Sungjin had mistaken him for someone else.
“Ah… Hello, Kargos.”
Sungjin approached him and asked,
“How is it? Is it going well?”
The smith’s eyes glowed like a drunk man,
“Everything is going well since my cousins and I are putting our soul into crafting it. Now, take a look.”
He gestured Sungjin to look inside of the furnace. Sungjin tried to look as directed, but just the act of trying to take a peek inside caused Sungjin’s face to be blasted with immense scorching heat. But he forced himself to look inside anyway in spite of the heat.
There was something resembling a mesh filter placed below it, but something placed on top of it was giving off a radiant blue glow. Sungjin stared at it attentively for about three seconds when,
he came to realize that the shining light was just like the form of a shining star. He endured the scorching flames threatening to melt his face and asked Kargos,
“Kargos, that gem.”
“Are you crafting it into the shape of a star?”
“No, no. That gem… I can’t explain it, but I can’t change its shape however I want.”
“It chooses its shape by itself.”
Sungjin asked in surprise,
“I also couldn’t believe it the first time I read the ancient notes left behind by blacksmiths of old. However, now that I see, the legends were true. That gem, it’s as if… it originally was in that shape.”
It seemed that the gem was made of some sort of shape memory alloy, though it was likely that Kargos did not know what it was.
“… Is that so?”
Sungjin replied frivolously before saying,
“Then, I’ll leave it in your hands.”
“Ok. Just have faith in me.”
Sungjin bid farewell to Kargos then turned his feet around. On his way to Ninety Nine Nights, Besgoro said,
‘What a fascinating object, a gem that returns to a star shape all on its own. All my years on the battlefield, fighting and triumphing against countless barbarians chieftains of the north, heathen cult leaders of the south, and the witches of the west, I have taken a great number of treasures as my trophy… but I have never heard nor seen anything like that.’
At Besgoro’s words, Sungjin let out a short snort.
His attention had returned to the dream he had just had.
‘The star-shaped item that Edward had used… Then, that…’
That gem was the Hidden Piece from the previous chapter, which Arachae’ard was searching for. The moment you obtained it from the corpse, Archae’ard would appear from the sky and demand it. If you declined, you would fight.
It meant that Edward had also passed Archae’ard’s test and entrusted it to Kargos after earning the gem.
‘… Just what did Edward go around doing… That gem… Then…’
The doubts gave birth to new doubts. But the gem would not be complete for another day. Sungjin briefly stopped and looked back towards Kargos’s smithy. The light of the fire from the smithy could be easily seen from afar. He intensely gazed at that light for a few seconds, then returned to Ninety Nine Nights.
The sound of his stomach rumbling could be plainly heard. Sungjin finally opened his mouth.
“Operator, the time?”
[The time is 1:07 PM.]
‘… Is it already this late?’
After he had returned from his trip to Darker than Black and Kargos’s smithy, Sungjin had laid in bed. He did not eat breakfast, nor did he sleep. Instead, he thought about what the two Dragons, Ariane and Archae’ard, had said, about what the shop owner of Darker than Black had said, and about Edward’s past and his secrets.
All the pieces seem to be there but didn’t seem to fit somehow. This was undoubtedly because there was still a piece of the puzzle that was missing.
‘For now… After the next raid is over… I should know more after the gem is completed.’
While Sungjin was still thinking about things, his stomach once again growled.
Sungjin got up from his bed like a spring. It was a necessity that hunters eat properly. He heard the Operator’s voice when he opened the doors and began to climb down.
[The Chosen One has requested your teleportation.]
When Sungjin turned his head to look, Serin’s appearance was shown above the cube.
‘Ah, right… There’s Serin’s matter, too.’
Sungjin said to the cube,
“Aah… I’ll go. Teleport me.”
Sungjin was teleported to a restaurant on the outskirts of the Black Market. The eco-friendly landscape was well designed with all sorts of flowers and trees. It was the first time that Sungjin had seen such a place, even though he was the person who had spent the most amount of time in the Black Market.
Sungjin was thinking ‘wow there was a place like this’. It was a wonder that she found such a place. Serin was sitting at the best table in the center (as there were no other guests, reservations were not necessary). Sungjin sat down in front of her.
The problem was that, unlike the bright and beautiful environment, the mood was rather heavy. Even though they didn’t have a fight, or rather even though they didn’t even have a close enough relationship to be having a fight, the mood was rather awkward. After a moment, a deer demihuman with immense horns approached as he said,
“Welcome, to Five Emotions. Are you ready to order?”
Serin raised her hand towards him.
“We’ll order after a bit.”
“I understand. Then, please call me whenever you are ready.”
The deer demihuman courteously bid farewell then disappeared into the back. Awkwardness resumed. The two hesitated for a moment.
“I thought about yesterday, but…”
“I thought about yesterday, b…”
The two spoke up simultaneously but then stopped and stared at each other. Sungjin used that timing to speak first, apologizing.
“Yesterday, I think I was a bit hasty… When you first meet Edward… How should I put it, he really does seem like a nice guy after all.”
Serin also replied, while including an apology.
“No, it’s okay, Oppa. Since Oppa had returned in time once, there should have been something you saw before… I think I wasn’t able to understand that. If Oppa wanted to do something like that… There must have been a reason for it.”
The awkward mood quickly dissipated once the conversation began like that. Furthermore, at that time Sungjin’s stomach once again let out a sound.
The atmosphere was suddenly less serious. Sungjin patted his stomach as he said,
“Let’s first order our meals and then continue with our talk. I skipped breakfast so I’m really hungry.”
“Ah, of course. We’re ready to order.”
The deer demihuman with large horns approached and took their order. Once that was done, Sungjin stated the core of the matter.
“Well… What I see is different from what you see, but… It’s enough if we trust each other and act even if there are things we know and don’t know between us. It’s the same for me, and it’s the same for you.”
It was what he had thought of yesterday. Serin nodded her head as she said,
Afterwards, Sungjin briefly thought about Edward once more. That guy, who was always personable. It was not unreasonable for Serin to have misunderstood, either. At that time, Serin said,
“Oppa. But what you’re saying is…”
Her hesitation meant that there was something else she had wanted to say.
“No… It’s nothing.”
Unlike her normal actions, she shook her head meekly. During this time, the deer demihuman began to serve the food.
“Here is the salad with oysters and fresh dressing.”
Next chap will be out by this Sunday^^