The first thing Sungjin did once he arrived in the Black Market was to check how many coins he had in total.
“Operator, how many coins do I have?”
“We received new shipment! Please come and check them out!”
One of the vendors tried to grab his attention, but Sungjin paid no attention to him. The item he wanted to purchase at ‘Darker than Black’ would cost 10,000 Coins. He only had 900 coins in excess.
‘There’s nothing I can get with this.’
Sungjin thought of going to ‘Ninety Nine Nights’ straight away, but he got an idea.
‘Wandering Merchant’s Mystery Pouch.’
He didn’t have a chance to open it yet.
“Operator, can you retrieve the Mystery Pouch for me?”
The Operator handed Sungjin the item. Once it was in his hands, Sungjin thought about it for a moment.
‘Legendary… Crafting material eh?’
Currently, the Ancient Stories from the East ‘Romance of the Three Kingdoms’ was already complete. Once the Unique Legendary item is complete, receiving another material pertaining to it loses all meaning and becomes a redeemable coupon with the value of 500 coins to be exchanged for at the Black Market.
‘That’s if ‘Roulette’ lands on the Ancient Stories from the East volume parts…’
The losses of opportunity would be unthinkable. It wouldn’t be any better even if he got Ancient stories of the Middle East or West. From what he was told by the previous owner of ‘Romance of the Three Kingdoms’, Declamation worked independent of the item used, and could only be cast 1 time a day.*
In other words, even if he gathers and crafts another book, it would be useless. And although the ingredients for each book would initially be worth 5000 Coins, if someone managed to gather and complete the book before he could sell it off, those pieces would drop in price to 500 coins each.
‘I hope I don’t get any book pieces…’
Until now the total number of Pouches he had seen being opened were three; two by himself, and by Serin Han. And of those, all three contained book parts.
If he was guaranteed to take a loss; it was better to go in with no expectations at all. Sungjin held the Pouch in silence for a while before he finally made up his mind.
‘I won’t open it. I’ll just put it out on the Auction floor.’
That was probably for the best. For those who already owned the books, the item held no real value anymore. But on the other hand, it could prove to be useful to other Hunters. Taking others into consideration, it was the right thing to do to make it available for other people.
Sungjin headed towards the ‘Three Achi Brother’s’ Auction house.
“Welcome, esteemed Hunter!”
Sungjin first asked them
“Did Manta get sold?”
The middle brother answered him back.
“No one placed a bid last night and so it was withdrawn.”
‘As I thought… Magic hasn’t really caught up yet with the general populace.’
“Should we cancel the auction?”
“No, no. Please continue to make it available on the floor.”
Sungjin then showed them the mystery pouch and said
“And please put this up for Auction.”
“How much would you like for us to sell this item for?”
Sungjin took a moment to consider.
‘If a book comes out, each one is worth 5000 Coins… if East comes out, only 500…’
Anyone who understood the true value of the ‘Mystery Pouch’ would know that the pieces of ‘Ancient Stories of the East’ were already worthless.
‘I should make it cheaper than 5000…But not too much lower than that.’
“Put the starting price at 3000, and buy out at 4000 please.”
This price seemed fair. It was an item with gambling element built in after all.
If they were to pay 4000 coins up front and then receive a favorable outcome, they would be satisfied with the purchase, and if they pay 3000 coins but are still disappointed, at least it wouldn’t be too big of a loss.
Once he was done with his business, Sungjin left the Auction house and headed towards ‘Ninety Nine Nights’.
When he arrived, Cain was baring his fangs and growling towards something. The place he was facing was the stables; Stables which now held his mount ‘Shadowrun’.
It was a stable that was always vacant, but thanks to ‘Spiritual Link’ the stable finally received an inhabitant. Sungjin reassured Cain as he gently tried to calm him down.
“Oh Cain, please don’t do that.”
Cain stared at its master. Sungjin glanced at Shadowrun. There were food and water filled at the trough before it, but it didn’t seem to have touched any of it. Sungjin extended his greeting towards the ghost stallion.
“I look forward to working with you too.”
Shadowrun replied in a low tone.
Responding to the horse, Cain resumed
Cain was completely on guard against the horse. Even though they were both beasts, it didn’t seem to like the fact that it was a ghost type. Sungjin returned his gaze to Cain and said.
“Ahh Cain, don’t do that. You should make friends.”
Cain turned to look at him again. He didn’t seem to want to do so. Sungjin couldn’t help but say
“Oh well, let’s go eat for now.”
Cain obediently strolled into Ninety Nine Nights. Sungjin followed behind him and entered the Inn.
Sungjin was greeted by Dalupin and Genie Soldamyr who were waiting for him inside.
“Thank you Dalupin.
“Good work today, Master.”
“You did well today as well Soldamyr”**
Dalupin approached Sungjin and asked
“What would you like to eat for Dinner today?”
Sungjin was laying down. He had eaten Dried Shellfish, Sharkfin, Swallow Nest Soup, and other unspeakable Chinese course meal in bulk; he wasn’t moving anytime soon.
‘I should go to bed early tonight if I want to wake up early tomorrow…’
Sungjin glanced outside. It was already dark out, long past sundown.
‘I wonder if someone bid on the Mystery Pouch…’
And exactly when he thought of that,
Dalupin knocked on the door. Sungjin opened the door for him as usual. And as always, Dalupin brought him a piece of paper and greeted him courteously.
“Are you getting a good rest?”
“Yes, thanks to you.”
Dalpuin handed over the paper and said
“Here is the information page for the next raid.”
Sungjin accepted the sheet and answered
“Ah, thank you.”
But Dalupin had another piece of paper.
“And this… this is a receipt from ‘Time is Money Plan’.”
Sungjin accepted the receipt.
Receipt – 3400 Black Coins
The item you placed on the auction, ‘Mystery Pouch’ has been sold.
3400 Black Coins was paid by ‘Head Hunter’.
Place the receipt into the cube to instantly redeem the amount.
Sungjin was surprised to see ‘Head Hunter’ as the purchaser since he already knew one such person.
“Thank you Dalupin. Oh yeah”
“Please tell me.”
“Please wake me up at three thirty again.”
“Understood. Please have a good rest.”
Sungjin sent Dalupin away and read over it again.
‘…did she buy this?’
It was likely that there were other ‘Head Hunters’ in the world, but buying Mystery Pouch so decisively, he was nearly certain it must have been her. But
‘No, forget it… The chances we will meet again is less than 10%.’
Becoming attached to any random hunter could only bring more pain. He had experienced it time and time again. He gazed at the receipt one last time before shoving it in the Cube.
[Received 3400 Black Coins.]
Sungjin walked out to the Balcony as he listened to the Operator’s voice. In the distance, he could see the lights coming from the Black Market.
‘I guess somewhere out there, another hunter is seeing this view…’
In another dimension, in another alternative ‘Ninety Nine Nights’, other Hunters lived and breathed. But the only time the hunters could interact with one another was during the Raids.
Even though he had Spiritual Links with his summons, he could never meet another Hunter in the Black market.
Hunters had to put their lives on the line to fight, but it was also a battle against loneliness. Sungjin let out a long sigh while staring off into the night.
It was then
[‘Head Hunter’ has succeeded in completing the Unique Legendary item ‘One Thousand and One Nights’]
[All other copies will be destroyed, and the owners will be refunded by 500 coins.]
Sungjin froze. One Thousand and One Nights; Arabian Nights. This was undoubtedly Ancient Stories of the Middle East. Sungjin couldn’t help but recall the woman with long flowing hair. He thought to himself
‘Serin… I guess our chances to meet again are higher than 10% after all.’
Sungjin turned away from the balcony. Behind him was a full moon.
Sungjin climbed down the stairs back to the main floor. Dalupin came to see him off. Soldamyr was inside his lamp. Once Sungjin was outside
Cain barked and ran after him.
“Cain don’t follow me. I’m going ‘there’ again.”
Cain didn’t listen and showed that he was going to come no matter what.
“Ok fine, I guess you can come until the entrance or something…”
Shadowrun watched him from the Stables. Because he was a ghost type, he apparently did not need sleep.
Sungjin put ‘Ninety Nine Nights behind him and headed towards the Black Market with Cain by his side. He headed towards Darker than Black. Once he reached the corner where Darker than Black was located, Cain stopped walking and sat down.
Sungjin wasn’t sure, but the man seemed to inspire fear in others. He took the shape of a man, but he was most definitely not a man.
“I’ll be back then.”
Sungjin said to Cain before entering the area. The stairway down was as dark as ever, but Sungjin was able to clearly see without trouble, thanks to Besgoro’s Ghost Vision.
Sungjin unhesitatingly entered the darkness and entered the bar within. Inside, he saw the ‘Hidden Merchant’.
“Second visit already. Welcome.”
Sungjin approached him.
“I have come to buy the Item we discussed last time.”
The Merchant took out a small marble from his coat.
“Here it is, the ‘Trollseeker marble’. 10,000 Black Coins.”
Sungjin didn’t hesitate.
The Merchant handed over the ‘Trollseeker Marble’ to Sungjin and said
“As the name would suggest, it allows you to forcefully enter a raid where a Troll has appeared. In exchange, you need to recharge its power. The recharge fee is a thousand coins each. Got it?”
Sungjin nodded. It was the same information he had heard last night.
“If you don’t have money you can’t use it. Just be aware.”
Sungjin replied looking straight into his eyes.
“That won’t be a problem. I am confident that I will be able to make more than a thousand coins each time I use it.”
The man grinned widely, revealing his white teeth.
“Is that so.”
Sungjin thought as he held the Marble.
‘Equip Adjudicator and hunt trolls in other Raids, and put the items I get, on the auction house… That should earn me minimum 1000 coins per jump.’
He would cut away ‘Trolls’ which obstructed the growth of other hunters as he empowered himself at the same time.
‘Except… keeping Adjudicator active…’
That was the only part that was bothering him; he would need to keep Adjudicator activated as long as he planned to go Troll Hunting. He could neither use Master Hunter nor Treasure Hunter titles. While he was thinking so, the Hidden Merchant spoke to him first.
“Why are you looking so troubled? Do you believe that you are restricted to a single title per round?”
It was as if he read Sungjin’s mind. When Sungjin turned his head towards the merchant, he continued, taking another item out of his coat; a Star shaped item with a whirlwind drawn in the middle.
“Star of the Nameless. It is an item that allows you to change your title at will.”
Sungjin’s eyes opened wide. The Merchant grinned again, revealing his white teeth as he laughed.
“Did I not tell you when you first came? If there is something you want, ask me.”
Sungjin couldn’t help but reach out to try and touch the item. The Merchant then muttered something, as if reciting verses from a holy book
“He who searches for answers finds questions, and he who searches for questions finds answers.”
* Incase it wasn’t clear, Declamation is a UNIQUE skill with global cooldown; You can only use declamation once a day, even if you had multiple books (or all of them). So having more books was literally useless.
** Sungjin speaks to Soldamyr with respect, treating him like an elder, not like a master to servant. Sungjin does speak politely to most people, but Soldamyr is the only person who Sungjin shows deference to and speaks with much respect. Sungjin does speak with Mahadas respectfully, but he uses language how religious person would behave with a holy man, not as a youth to a respected elder.