Chapter 15 - The One Who Does the Worst
Weed and his party members had managed to safely gather the Skeleton Knight bones from the first floor of Memphis Hall and complete their quest.
Unfortunately, there was some bad news as well. Apparently, Pale, Romuna and Irene were real life friends who lived in the same neighborhood. In fact, Surka was Romuna’s younger sister.
They hadn’t mentioned anything so as not to make Weed feel awkward. But now, they had to reveal the truth.
“Sorry… our parents…”
“It seems we won’t be able to get online for a while.” they said dejectedly.
They had already become addicted to Royal Road and played continuously to the point of even skipping school but their parents, who had been on vacation, soon found out.
Obviously, they were all grounded.
“You guys… are playing games instead of doing homework?!”
“GO TO SCHOOL RIGHT NOW!”
The log-in licenses to the expensive capsules were thus confiscated, and their requests for extended leave from school were cancelled. But luckily they had learnt their lesson from watching Weed that success depended on the ability to find profit even in an unfavorable situation! They simply made their parents log onto Royal Road asking them to just experience it for themselves.
A new player couldn’t go outside the castle until four weeks had passed. Their parents, however, were completely satisfied with staying safely confined within the Castles walls.
After all, it was a perfect rendition of a fantasy world.
The parents had grown up playing games and reading fantasy novels themselves. But when they got jobs and started raising children, they were no longer able to do these things. This here, however, this was a whole new universe for them. The paradise they’ve been dreaming of since they were children.
This game is like a whole new world where they can escape from their work and business without going to faraway country.
“Games are not all that bad.”
“It’s certainly fun.”
“By the way, Jungee’s mom, I heard you got a ‘quest’ at the Weapons Shop?”
“Yes, it’s really more of a chore. I have to buy five Whetstones for the shop…”
“Do you have enough money?”
“Yep. I got 3 silvers to buy them. Whetstones are 50 coppers, so I’ll be left with 50 coppers to spare.”
“Share with us!”
The parents started at Serabourg Castle all together. They wandered around together, doing quests and befriending the NPCs.
And just like that, the four in-game weeks went by, but in the real world only a week had passed. Now the parents were free to go in and out of the castle. When Pale and Surka had told them they could now leave the castle their parents just laughed.
“Come on… how can we hunt monsters?”
“Hunting is for you youngsters.”
“We like staying in the castle and helping people, doing chores for money, which we can then use to buy good food.”
But upon leaving the castle out of curiosity, the parents’ attitudes changed dramatically. The following was the conversation that transpired between Romuna and her parents.
“Bastard Swords deal more damage than Long Swords… Why is that?”
“Because it’s a two-handed sword. It’s big and heavy, so you can’t swing it as fast.”
“So you mean instead of several small hits, it’s one strong hit?”
“That’s the kind of weapon I want… But the Bastard Sword costs over 10 gold from the shop…”
“Should I buy one for you?”
“Well… I’ll only say this now… But how much do you think we went through raising you? When you were just a baby, we provided you the best food and covered you in the best clothes. Since we care so much about you, we don’t really want to force you to…”
Pale’s situation was quite similar. His parents were schoolteachers and thus they were very strict. When he was young, he could not so much as breathe loudly in front of his parents. His father, who had been an Army Ranger in his youth, had developed significant charisma from his years in the military. On the night he left the castle for a short time, Pale had the following discussion with his father over dinner, “Hmm, it seems those damn foxes are very strong.”
Pale, whose real name was Oh Dongman, was thinking hard to figure out what his father was saying.
His father hinted once again. “Damn foxes. They’re too strong.”
Only then did it occur to Oh Dongman.
“They’re a bit challenging at first. If you don’t have any equipment, that is.”
“I do have some…”
“You didn’t try to fight them on your own, did you?”
“Well of course it’s hard if you try to fight the foxes alone. At your level, Dad, it’s almost impossible”
“Th-then you mean you can beat them? Foxes?”
Oh Dongman’s father grasped his son’s hands. “Avenge your father!” he commanded.
Needless to say, just like that, the parents were also sucked into the world of Royal Road. Since neighboring families were also playing the game together, Royal Road had became a hot topic at town meetings and family gatherings.
Now, instead of discussing real estate and finance pains, the parents chatted about Royal Road over drinks. Apparently, there were many people their age that played the game. They had, in fact, been late to discover the joy of Royal Road.
Hyun had long since predicted that a day like this would come. In most games, the value of items dropped over time. Same for currency like gold or silver. This was natural since the average levels of users rises over time. However, if the users are not confined to 10 to 20 year olds, and if adults who are set for life become addicted to Royal Road, the value of the game’s currency would not diminish.
When there was a great item, people started a bidding war. They bought weapons, armor and accessories the same way they bought good cars.
This actually had more merit than in the real world. If one went into battle wearing good equipment, then they could actually feel themselves becoming stronger and taste the sweetness of victory.
As time went by, more middle-aged users appeared, buying items at increasingly high prices as if they were buying race cars. This was also how the parents were lured into playing Royal Road.
However, due to this, Pale and Co. were no longer able to train in Lavias.
“Sorry, but we have to help our parents. At least until they adjust to the game…”
Pale spoke without hiding his disappointment. Weed understood why they had to go. It was unavoidable since they were doing it for their parents. However, Weed still had things to do, so he stayed behind alone in Lavias.
“328,200 won spent on food this month. I heard the price of rice is increasing. But we should still avoid imported rice…”
Hyun was writing in his accounts ledger.
He did not want Hayan or his grandmother to eat American rice, which might be genetically modified. Regardless of how cheap it was, it just simply could not be trusted.
“We’ve been spending too much. I should stop using the recipes I had learnt online. Next is the heating… but there’s no way to save money on that because of grandma.”
Hyun checked all the expenses of the month. He had shopped for groceries, cooked food, cleaned the house and handled the money all on his own.
Only a meager 90 million won remained of his family’s entire fortune after the loan sharks had seized his 3 billion won. At one stage, his anger had led to many sleepless nights but in the end he was able to calm himself. That was all in the past. He even felt somewhat relieved knowing it was all over. He would have continued to suffer had the debts not been paid off.
They hounded Hyun for eight years, waiting for Hyun to become an adult so they could force him into dangerous work like drug dealing or worse – murdering members of rival groups. If Hyun was caught, they could just bribe the police and frame him for all their crimes. That was how they avoided most of their troubles with law enforcers.
Hyun had lived such a troubled childhood that the press and public would simply assume it was only natural for him to have committed these crimes.
One might even say such people deserved to be punished since there was no hope of salvation for them. But the wiser would understand the dangers these people had endured. Surely they too were afraid of going to jail? After all, what would happen to their families if they were arrested?
He only had his grandmother and his little sister.
The thought of them waiting for Hayan to become an adult was truly frightening. Or perhaps they would not even bother to wait that long. Young women sold for better prices, after all. In Hyun’s case, a young man dealing drugs and murdering other gang members would undoubtedly draw attention.
Most people cannot fathom why a young boy would go as far as to deal drugs and assassinate gang members. Perhaps they’re forced into it, or perhaps they’re being framed.
If Hyun had gone to jail in such a manner, leaving his baby sister to live a hard and cruel life, he might have gone insane. Clearing the debt prevented all that from happening.
“90 million won. Plus another nine million if we add the five that we got from selling the old house and the four million we saved for emergencies.”
However, they had spent 50 million on a new house. They were able to buy a house for that little because it was in a less desirable neighborhood. Though they still had 49 million won remaining after that, they had spent around 20 million over the last year. Looking back, it was an incredible loss. To begin with, the capsule for playing Royal Road cost 10 million won to buy and install, not to mention the monthly subscription fee was 300,000 won. The rest had gone to basic living expenses and Hayan’s school fees.
“29 million won… Just about enough to last around 2 more years.”
Hyun, dressed in a uniform, fell to despair. It was time to start living an even thriftier lifestyle.
“Oppa, I’m home!”
(PR: ‘Oppa’ is the respectful term used by females to call older males such as older male brother or friends in Korea)
At that moment, Hayan opened the door and entered the room. Surprised, Hyun quickly hid his accounts book and bank book inside his uniform.
“You’re early. Your grades come in today, right?”
“Yeah, here it is.”
Hyun impatiently opened the report card. This was an important moment for Hayan, who was in her second year of high school.
“3rd place in your class, 14th place in your grade… Your rank went up a bit since last time.”
“Of course! Whose sister do you think I am?”
“Well, let’s leave it at that.”
“What’s with that tone?” Hayan pouted.
Hyun then looked at the list of prospective colleges at the bottom of the report. Korea University was at the top of the list, with a 98% chance of her being accepted. Until a short time ago, she used to hang out with kids who might’ve been a bad influence, but Hayan still had a good brain. Once she returned to being his gentle little sister, her grades had improved rapidly. Eventually, it became almost certain that she would be able to get into university.
One could spend over 10 million won a week going to college. Not just paying for classes, but transportation, food and books, so that she can keep up with her peers.
“These test results are very good. Eyesight isn’t bad, and the liver and kidneys are very healthy.”
“How is the marrow?”
“Great. Though for a bone marrow transplant, there needs to be a matching recipient. But I’m sure a buyer will appear soon. The reactions of the intestines are very good, and the bloodstream is also free from infections.”
Hyun listened to each and every word spoken by the doctor.
“Then the tests are over?”
“Thank you. Please send me the documents. I will sell whatever makes me the most money fast. But let me wait 1 year and 4 months. If I still need the money then, I’ll get the surgery.”
“I will send the documents.”
Coming out of the hospital, Hyun didn’t feel any better hearing he was physically healthy.
He had discovered this hospital through the black market. 50 million won for a single eyeball, 30 million for a kidney. Though livers and bone marrow needed a compatible recipient, they could be sold for about 20 million won each. He had only about 1 year and 4 months left.
Royal Road would become money, he was certain of that. However, he needed to consider the alternate possibilities. If Hayan needed more money to go to college, Hyun was prepared to sell his body parts.
Royal Road, is a game to be enjoyed. But Hyun could not afford the luxury of being so carefree. He had to force himself to work harder to earn more money and become Royal Road’s richest man.
‘Lee Hayan, you must succeed my unfulfilled dreams. I will make sure you won’t have to make the sacrifices that I’ve had to make.’
Hyun, wearing worn-out clothes, came back home muttering like a possessed man. He did not care what happened to him. Losing one eye would not affect his life much, not when it came to earning money.
He wanted to make sure that at least his sister would grow up cheerfully away from the harshness of life.
If one went through too much hardship, a shadow would appear across the face. It is inevitable since they would be different from those who grew up in a good environment. The mind would weaken, giving way to fear which in turn erodes self-confidence. Out of greed, Hyun had tried hard even at a young age to attain the confidence and Intelligence attributed to rich kids.
Even if he himself could not eat or be clothed properly, he would make sure his little sister would never need to be jealous of others. There aren’t many men who would do this for their younger sister. Maybe not all older brothers are like this, but Hyun’s feelings for his little sister were unrivaled. She wasn’t just his little sister, she was almost his own daughter.
Hayan had lost her parents at a young age. Since then, the one who cared for her and raised her was not the busy grandmother, but Hyun himself.
Now, there was no more Irene’s holy magic, nor Romuna’s AOE spells or alarms and Surka’s relentless punches were nowhere to be found, nor were Pale’s lightning-fast range attacks. Nevertheless, Weed still had himself.
Hunting in a party was fine, but with more people arguments were inevitable, wasting time. In the worst case, the hunt ended before it could even begin.
In comparison, hunting solo had the benefit of simplicity. There was no pointless wasting of time and proved great for raising skill points. It was better to fight solo to improve Sword Mastery and other combat techniques.
A Skeleton Knight, radiating a battle aura, swung its sword toward his head. The armored Skeleton Knight’s with its quick moves were undoubtedly intimidating, but Weed’s movements were also unique. Gliding smoothly, he dodged the Skeleton Knight’s attacks as he slowly whittled away his opponent’s health. As a result, the Skeleton Knight’s movements began to slow.
“Sculpting Blade!” he roared.
Finally, Weed’s sword shattered the Skeleton Knight’s ribcage and the light faded from it’s hollowed eyes, an affirmation of death. Fights in Royal Road were very realistic. The special effects for things getting broken or smashed were flawless.
A solo player had great opportunities to boost the Strength stat. This particular stat determined the power behind attacks, just like in the real world. A player used that power when fighting monsters. Maximum damage was not dealt if attacks did not employ strength. For example, a punch thrown while running away had much lower destructive power as opposed to a punch thrown at a close range. Therefore, damage was determined by how much one could control his own power. Posture, muscle use, proximity, and explosion of power.
Royal Road was a virtual reality game that allowed players to exploit an enemy’s weakness. Players of Royal Road, like veteran warriors, were keenly aware of their own strength. Not just via numbers on their stat window, but by actually experiencing their own destructive power. There was such joy in destruction! Of course, Weed was no exception.
He had dedicated himself to practicing swordsmanship for a year in order to master accuracy, dodging and the basics of battle. Through his many practice matches, he had become unafraid of battles to the point of actually enjoying fights against stronger opponents.
The sword became his way and his tool. The sword was the best tool to use to understand the basics of movement and fighting. Of course, a person who started Royal Road without learning swordsmanship or martial arts could still become familiar with fighting skills. Actually, that was how most players did it, thinking of it as just another part of the game to get used to. But his perspective was different.
The tree whose roots run deep will grow taller. A player who fought monsters without a strong foundation in swordsmanship could only grow up deformed. Weed had practiced swordsmanship for a year before ever facing a monster! And by fighting progressively stronger monsters, his skills improved. This was the reason Weed was even stronger than his stats suggested.
“Hmm… With this, I have all the items I need to complete the quest.”
“Whew… I should just replenish the mana.” Weed’s mana was half depleted, so he decided to take a brief break.
Since Weed was doing the work of many people on his own, he was always on the alert, never truly relaxing. While he waited for his mana to replenish, he sat and sculpted with enthusiasm. The sculpture he was making was in the shape of a crow.
Making a sculpture for the first time significantly raises both the Art stat and Sculpture Mastery. Since Weed had decided to make each new sculpture unique, his Art stat and Sculpture Mastery were rising quickly. His goal was to make sculptures for each Avian tribe in Lavias.
Weed returned to Lavias and distributed the sculptures he had made to the Avians.
“This sculpture is the only one of its kind in the entire world. I sculpted all your appearances with my own hands!”
Each Avian received a sculpture that resembles them. As they took them, they said, “I can’t take this for free.”
“How much do you want me to give you?”
Each time they asked, Weed gave the same reply. “Let’s not complicate our relationship by getting money involved. But I’m very interested in Lavias. Could you tell me something about this city?”
“Mmm… Then I’ll tell you about the Northern Nest…”
“I’ll tell you about the habits of the undead in the underground.”
The Avians’ stories became an important source of information. Though they were mostly just useless gossip, sometimes there was information about quests or hunting grounds.
Weed went to the Crow, who stood in front of the armor shop.
“What is this?”
“I made this sculpture for Crow-nim.”
“Hoh, thank you,” Crow said, flapping his wings in appreciation. Then he spoke up, as if a thought had just occurred to him. “Have you ever gone to the Dead Warrior’s Cave?”
“The Dead Warrior’s Cave?”
“Yes, if you come out of Memphis Hall and walk north for thirty minutes, you can see the entrance. Careful, though, there are Ghouls, Skeleton Mercenaries and Dullahan there. You won’t survive if you go in without proper preparations.”
In Royal Road, levels rose faster when fighting monsters above your own level. Skeleton Soldiers and Mages were no longer a match for Weed, and he was getting bored of the Skeleton Knights that only wandered around alone.
Weed prepared his bag with an abundance of medicinal herbs, food and fresh water. On the Continent, Weed would only need things like condiments and spices, since he could find edible plants or catch and cook animals with his Cooking Skills. But since Memphis Hall had only the Undead, he had to pack food.
On his way to the grocery store he met an Avian resembling a parrot.“Oh, a human traveler. Come, come!”
“Nice to meet you,” replied Weed with a sigh.
‘Bah, what a bird-brain!’
Weed had met this Avian resembling a parrot a while ago, and of course given him a sculpture as a token of friendship. He had liked it very much at the time. But a few days later, Weed visited him again and he had forgotten all about Weed.
When Weed tried to remind him about the sculpture, he angrily told Weed not to talk nonsense. He then called Weed a thief and threw him out. Frustrated, Weed visited him yet again and was greeted warmly as a customer. That was when Weed realized something about the Avians.
‘They have terrible memory!’
Don’t people say that a goldfish can’t remember anything beyond three seconds?
Then these Avians were better than goldfish, but the fact remained that they possessed the undersized brains of birds. They forgot Weed’s existence even after he had introduced himself multiple times. Because of this, Weed’s strategy to make friends with them wasn’t working.
He ended up having to get everything he could out of them right then and there while they were still being friendly to him.“I came to buy beans, sesame seeds, corn, walnuts, fish, leeks, pork, peanuts and spinach.”
“Oh, is that so?”
The parrot-looking avian took out foods one by one as Weed ordered them and checked them several times before saying, “That’ll be 19 gold.”
“Here it is. Ah, but I only have 18 gold and 50 silver. Can I give you the rest the next time I come?”
The Avian merchant took a long look at Weed.
“You’re not a merchant. I couldn’t give you a discount because you’re not experienced in bartering. You are a somewhat famous adventurer, but not that famous. But you have artistic talent. I can’t deny someone who may be the next famous artist. I’ll trust you and take that 50 silver next time.”
Weed left with his goods, having paid 50 silver less.
The foods he bought could raise mana temporarily, so of course the price would be high.
Now the question was whether or not the parrot-like Avian would remember to ask for the 50 silver. Seeing as he had forgotten the 40 silvers weed had promised him last time, it seemed unlikely.
With that, the first step of his preparations ended. Next he had to hone his fighting skills.
“Open Stats Window”
Character Name :
Legendary Moonlight Sculptor
Fighting Spirit :
Magic Resistance :
+20 points add to all stats (+20 ALL STATS)
+80 points added Art (+80 ART)
+30% increase to Stats on Moonlit Nights
Gained ability to equip and use class specific items
Gained ability to learn all craft skills to the stage of a Master
Crafting skills are optional and advanced skills are available
Grants extra options to items that are produced or refined
Increases Attack Power for the Sculpting Blade technique
Decreases Mana Consumption for the Sculpting Blade technique
Enables you to learn secret skills based on your level in Sculpture Mastery
Increases Fame rapidly by creating statues of extraordinary beauty or artistic value
Weed’s Level was over 100. So when Weed and his party discovered Memphis Hall and received double experience points, they had concentrated on hunting the whole time.
They decreased their sleep time by two hours, and even stayed connected while they slept. This way, Weed had gotten to level 95. Hunting solo, he had since then raised it to 109.
His stats had been greatly boosted thanks to the level gains. His Mana was now high enough to allow him to use the 4th Imperial Formless Sword Technique, Sword Dance; though only once.
The only unsatisfying part was that there had been no increase in Charisma. This skill rose not only when giving orders to NPCs, but also when one was a party leader. However, since he had been hunting alone, there had been no way to improve his Charisma stat and certain other skills had also increased by very little.
Cooking (Beginner Lv: 8 | 45%)
Sculpting Mastery (Beginner Lv: 9 | 99%)
Repair (Beginner Lv: 7 | 25%)
Handcraft (Intermediate Lv: 2 | 6%)
Sword Mastery (Beginner Lv: 8 | 88%)
Archery (Beginner Lv: 5 | 98%)
Sculpting Blade (Beginner Lv: 7 | 49%)
Imperial Formless Sword Techniques (Comprehension 5%)
Bandage (Beginner Lv: 7 | 11%)
Identification (Beginner Lv: 5 | 14%)
Sculpting Blade Technique (Beginner Lv: 7 | 30%)
Sculpting was about to rise to intermediate. As for Sculpting Blade, the mana cost had significantly decreased after reaching level 7.
He had used Sword Kaiser a few times lately, but for hunting solo it was more effective to use the Sculpting Blade technique, due to its ability to cut through the unseen and bypass armor. This was critical when fighting the Undead as it effectively severed the soul. This sword technique was, therefore, akin to holy magic in its ability to destroy the Undead.
Weed smiled as he headed toward the market to buy antidotes, medicinal herbs and bandages.
His eyes grew sad at the thought of spending money again. Truthfully, he had never bought items before. He made his own food, and sometimes even sold it.
Sculptures carved from cheap materials could also be sold for a gold or two. Naturally, this was not a small sum.
When he was with Pale and the others, he always told them he had only 30 gold, even after taking his portion of the loot. But his profit from selling sculptures and food was 200 gold! He had accumulated 650 gold through hunting, selling loot and collecting quest rewards.
But to be in position to spend money was greater agony than being penniless. Weed’s shoulders drooped and his face looked like one facing death whenever he went into a store.
Especially when paying, he seemed like a person having a near death experience. Therefore, no one could comprehend why his heart ached so, or why he was always short a few silvers.