2) Zahab and Queen Evane
The place that Weed arrived at through Yurin’s Picture Movement was the Bryce Highlands.
It was a wide and flat gra.s.sland in a very high location. Flocks of sheep and beasts like leopards and fire bears were running around. There wasn’t any cover so users barely bothered to come here to hunt.
“This is the place where Zahab retired to.”
In the past, he had met Zahab at Grapa.s.s one of the 10 Forbidden Zones. He had used him for hunting and earning contributions. Weed knew Zahab’s fighting skills better than anyone.
‘He is strong. And I know how he fights.’
He was also a master at sculpting and sword mastery.
“He is a figure I can’t forget.”
In his memory, Zahab had been worked like a slave. Of course, he would later return the favour.
‘I need to use this opportunity to make him work again.’
The happy memory of clearing dungeons with Zahab in Grapa.s.s. Zahab would be a huge help if he wanted to invade Portu’s Royal Castle.
In the case of NPCs, if the degree of intimacy or contribution wasn’t high then they wouldn’t easily follow. Furthermore, high level NPCs needed a large number of contribution before they would move.
That’s why Weed had to use a lot of achievement points in the Freya Church when he wanted to drag Alveron along on a dangerous mission. But Weed had a definite means to make Zahab work.
Weed summoned Cerberus.
Covered with a black aura, it was the three headed dog that guarded h.e.l.l!
Cerberus roared as soon as it arrived.
“Shut up, smell this.”
Weed brought a sculpture he previously obtained form Zahab’s house to Cerberus’s head. Cerberus raised its head and looked at it. His master had summoned him so he expected a huge battle.
“You can’t find it?”
“Let’s go, Hound!”
It was treated like a normal dog despite being a guardian of h.e.l.l! Cerberus sniffed it with the three heads and moved. Weed summoned Yellowy and followed form behind.
“Ummoooooo. Master, your appearance changed.”
“There were a few circ.u.mstances.”
“If you do too many bad things then you will receive punishment….”
“Noisy. You should look at the three heads.”
Cerburus’ noses went in various directions as it smelt the ground. It wasn’t necessary to wander around looking for Zahab like in Grapa.s.s. None of the beasts on the Bryce Highlands dared to attack due to Cerberus so Weed could casually follow. Zahab had put a log house in a place with a good view.
“Building a house in a secluded area surrounded by trees is a residential preference.”
Zahab didn’t like settling among people. It was still a secret that he was a Master Swordsman! If a user raised intimacy with him or fulfilled a request then they could learn Radiant Sword. But no user was visiting so he was just casually sculpting in front of his house.
‘That’s great. I’m relieved to see him. This time I will be sure to make him work.’
Weed jumped down from Yellowy and moved forward.
“Zahab-nim, I have come!”
“A guest has come here.”
Zahab wasn’t glad to see him. The friends.h.i.+p between them had already fallen.
“What brings you here?”
Zahab immediately asked him. Weed looked at the face of the sculpture that Zahab was making before answering. It was Queen Evane who he still hadn’t forgotten.
‘I had a quest a.s.sociated with Queen Evane but the Royal Knight had died. ‘If I finished that then I could’ve asked Zahab to save Rosenheim Kingdom from the Embinyu Church.’
It was a shame those days were past.
Right now the Embinyu Church was running rampant so there were many quests to destroy them. Maybe there were continuous connected quests that proceeded from an early stage like Weed. But Weed as well as other users didn’t proceed with such quests. As public safety worsened due to wars and dictators.h.i.+p, the Embinyu Church played a more active role. Numerous things that happened on the Versailles Continent were due to the users themselves.
Weed shrugged off his dissatisfaction and said.
“I have a little problem. You taught me Radiant Sword so I thought you could help.”
“We don’t have a relations.h.i.+p.”
“A person’s life depends on it.”
The guest was immediately turned away! Weed had a satisfied smile on his face.
He had no intention of complaining. His will wasn’t weak enough to be defeated by something like this.
“Can I carve a sculpture in the area for a while?”
“That is none of my business. But I’d like you to leave when it becomes night. You don’t seem to have any ability now so if you camp then you will die.”
“I will go when it is time.”
Of course, at that time Zahab would be his slave! Weed decided to use earth to form the sculpture. He was a sculpture but right now he was too weak to carve rocks or wood.
‘The thing that matters is the skill used to create the sculpture rather than the material.’
Yellowy and Cerberus dug up dirt from the ground while he created it. A woman’s body with small calves and wearing a skirt!
He needed to sculpt something that caught Zahab’s attention.
“Bark bark! It is disappointing, Master.”
“Ummoooooo. Something like that! The back of the legs are too thick.”
Yellowy and Cerberus were disappointed. He wasn’t making just any sculpture for Zahab but one of Queen Evane. The slightly different point was that she wasn’t wearing shabby clothes like peasant girls.
‘There wasn’t a lot of time but the form of Queen Evane looks good….’
The form wasn’t of a queen but a young Evane! Of course, Zahab was watching with cold eyes. Just creating a sculpting of Evane wouldn’t significantly increase intimacy. In some cases, it might actually cause more hostility. This obviously wasn’t enough to raise Weed’s intimacy with Zahab.
An ordinary sculpture was completed!
“Hrmm, it is well made.”
But Weed was satisfied. It had taken him 20 minutes before he hurried. The important thing was that Evane’s appearance was kept intact. He had acc.u.mulated a lot of experience making sculptures so far.
‘The penalty is intense but it can’t be helped.’
A sculpture that could cause a miracle. Weed used the skill that he had personally created.
|-Sculpture Resurrection has been used.
The virtuous Queen Evane of Rosenheim Kingdom. She has been called back to this land through art.
45 Art stats have permanently disappeared.
Faith stat has been permanently reduced by 100.
Level has fallen by 3.
70 Health and Mana has been consumed.
The person revived by Sculpture Resurrection will retain their knowledge and ability.
It is only a fixed short time but they are thankful for being able to move in this world again.
|-The skill proficiency of Sculpture Resurrection has improved.|
The debt of the earthen sculpture! The young and lively sculpture blinked and took a breath. It was for less than a day but Evane had revived again.
Evana and Zahab were stunned as they stared into each other’s eyes.
“Evane! Evane, is it really you?”
Zahab and Evane embraced each other. The poignant love that endured between two people.
“Zahab, how did this….?”
“Don’t say anything.”
They conveyed messages through their eyes. The scene of the two shedding tears while embracing each other was really inspiring.
And Weed was laughing evilly in the background! The manly Zahab was crying with pure delight and happiness. The pair was a pleasing sight.
“It is over. This ensures that I can work my slave to my heart’s content.”
Weed didn’t neglect the service after that. He had prepared ingredients beforehand so he could cook dishes for Zahab and Evane. The log house was filled with 3 copper decorations and the fireplace gave it a cosy feeling.
On the Versailles Continent, Weed was unmatched in earning achievements, giving flattery and bribery.
Weed took out beautiful wine gla.s.ses and spoke with admiration.
“I heard you say it but I was still hesitant… Evana-nim really is beautiful. Now I know why Zahab-nim was so in love.”
“Omo, is that so?”
When he flattered Evana, his intimacy with Zahab also rose.
‘This is necessary to living in society.’
Clumsy flattery wasn’t believable. But if he made sure that admiration came out automatically then it would be profitable.
And the afternoon of the next day!
Evane lived for less than one day before disappearing again like bubbles. But Zahab would never forget that day with Evane.
|-You have accomplished Zahab’s cherished goal.
He will think of you as a benefactor for the rest of his life.
Friends.h.i.+p with Zahab is now 491.
Zahab pulled out his sword the moment Evane turned back into a sculpture.
“Did you say there was a request? A person’s life is in danger? I’ll help. You don’t have to talk about justice. If you ask then I will help unconditionally.”
The operation to make Zahab his slave was a success.
There were two days left so Weed quickly gave orders to Mapan.
“I need some luxury sculpting materials.
“Nope. I need difficult to find gemstones such as ivory.”
Normally he used cheap materials but since the final secret technique was at risk, he needed top quality products.
“I will need a bit of time to obtain them.”
“You need to prepare them within two days.”
Mapan made a perplexed expression.
“Are you doing a quest?”
“Yes. The success or failure depends on this.”
“Hrmm, I can’t guarantee that I can do it. As you know, a lot of materials went into the construction of the Haven Empire’s Imperial Palace. I can ask for help for other merchants. I’ll try to get it by the date.”
Mapan sc.r.a.ped everything from the north. Of course, Mapan could afford it.
A merchant received large benefits in the north due to the low taxes. The merchants that ran around developing cities and kingdoms could accomplish large amounts of wealth.
The King of the Arpen Kingdom was bound to notice their activities. However, Weed was very favourable towards merchants. The so-called merchant preferential policy!
‘If the merchants become rich then I can squeeze them later.’
Mapan requests the luxury sculpting materials for other merchants in the north. Usually ordinary merchants wouldn’t co-operate with such a request. But it was well known that Mapan worked closely with Weed so the merchants jumped on this job.
“Where? The materials are on Helsen Island? It was close by but there in’t a good wind so we will barely meet the time limit. Set sail on the s.h.i.+ps!”
“I heard rumours that sculpting materials at buried in Ross River. Can you help me dig? I need to obtain the help of fishermen.”
“Gamong-nim entered the ghost cave. She did it to recover the materials.”
“Lois-nim is wandering through the swamp. I intend to obtain the materials from the ruins of the Niflheim Empire’s Imperial City.”
All the merchants in the north moved to obtain the sculpting materials for Weed.
“We need to recover them in two days.”
While the merchants were running around everywhere, Weed decided to return to the north. It was like playing around the day before a test! Varna Harbour was bustling with adventurous users and people trading.
“The markets are very large.”
There were the Whale Market, Tuna Market and Mackerel Market. Many users came to Varna Harbour to taste seafood.
And the next place he arrived at was Vent Castle!
The Niflheim Empire had surrendered to Weed’s Arpen Kingdom and pledged their loyalty. The standard of the residents was high and the attire of the users entering or leaving was also remarkable.
Apart from merchants, users more than level 200 gathered as well as occasional users in the 300s and 400s. Many prestigious guilds had been destroyed by the war on the Central Continent. The users of the guilds that broke up became wanderers. They came to the north so the number of high level users indirectly increased.
Weed walked to the gate. The main entrance and side gates was bustling with users wanting pa.s.sage. Weed naturally headed towards the front doors!
“Your Majesty, it is an honour for you to visit a humble place like this.”
“Raise your head.”
The knights at Vent Castle’s gates bowed as soon as they saw Weed.
Deng deng deng deng!
Once they heard the bell ringing from the gates, the knights in the interior rushed out and also bowed.
The dignity fit for a king!
“Is that really Weed the G.o.d of War?”
“This is the first time I’ve been this close.”
“How? I need to brag to my friends.”
The users were excited by his appearance. All the NPC knights of Vent Castle were bowing in front of Weed. Their loyalty was very high and they sincerely wanted to follow the king. Weed nodded like it was natural.
“I just want to comfortably look around this place like other people. So return to the work that you were doing. Defend the peace and make sure that the residents of the Arpen Kingdom can live comfortably.”
A dignity that seemed like it came from a movie! n.o.bles normally cringed in fear during times of war but Weed had dignity as king of the Arpen Kingdom.
“I will guide you, Your Majesty.”
“Sir Knight, what is your name?”
“Salomon, first I want to go to a weapons store.”
“It is an honour that you came, Your Majesty.”
The real reason he visited Vent Castle was to see how much he could raise taxes but he needed to seem interest in the castle’s safety. Weed was able to measure the financial power just by visiting the weapons store. Weapons could tell the level of the blacksmiths and the goods would allow him to determine the number of high level users and what was being hunted.
‘Well, this is amazing.’
Vent Castle had excellent blacksmiths. The dungeons nearby were high levelled so many blacksmith users came. Knights, warriors and hunting parties used Vent Castle as a base so the amount of sales was terrific.
‘The prices are maintained at a very cheap price.’
Normally prices would surge with the increase in users but the Arpen Kingdom was different. Lots of people obtained basic items from hunting monsters and dungeon. Demand for food, minerals, weapons and armour increased.
Even the small villages in the Arpen Kingdom obtained the minimum number of goods due to the merchants s.h.i.+pping them. The efficient distribution of food led to the explosive population growth of the Arpen Kingdom.
‘The prices has to rise more….’
Weed exited the weapons store and headed towards the castle. A knight’s castle!
It was the greatest castle constructed by the Niflheim Empire. The castle’s entrance and room were covered with the finest carpets that made Morata look shabby. The artwork and knight weapons from the Niflheim Empire was preserved.
‘There are a lot of decent equipment.’
Weed could take the equipment used for decoration and sell it.
Of course, then rumours about him being a gold digger would spread among the knights, infamy would rise and there might be a rebellion. It was possible to loot when a hostile kingdom invaded but selling the treasures of the Arpen Kingdom was too much.
Weed also didn’t want to use such extreme methods. He had more to lose than gain. He couldn’t be careless about how to raise money!
“Local information window!”
A castle that belongs to the Arpen Kingdom.
The loyalty of the knights to King Weed is wonderful.
The thick walls have endured for many long years and can repel any type of invasion.
The strong residents are experts at hunting. If given swords and armour then they could become soldiers of the military at any time.
There are many treasures and workmans.h.i.+p dating back to the time of the Niflheim Empire. Over the years, many goods haven’t been used so the castle’s finances are rich.
The closed gates has been opened for exchanges.
The expansion of the village has caused a higher birth rate and more residents migrating here.
Military Power: 4,998 Economic Power: 1,421
Culture: 934 Technology: 677
Religious Influence: 23
Local Politics: 79 Influence on Surrounding Areas: 81%
Influence of the old Niflheim Empire: 15.2% (Influence of the military, economy, culture, technology, population and requests in the area)
Urban Development: 199
Hygiene 64 Safety: 98%
The number of residents is increasing but the strong and vigilant knights prevents thieves from entering.
There are training places where knights can change professions and learn advanced riding tricks.
The major military buildings built by the Niflheim Empire has been maintained.
The territory of the village has expanded outside the castle.
The patrolling knights sweep for monsters and exerts their military influence in the nearby area.
Free knights are gathered.
The residents respect King Weed who built up the Arpen Kingdom in the north. They believe he is the only one who can rebuild the shattered honour of the Niflheim Empire and marvel at his amazing adventures.
The weapons and armour production technology has been pa.s.sed down. Siege weapons haven’t been used for a long time so the production technology is still immature.
The knights aren’t scared of an army of monsters and many talented cadets of the Arpen Kingdom are being trained. The knights prioritize pride and loyalty when teaching.
The Niflheim Empire’s sharp swordplay has taken on a rugged strength over the years.
Food isn’t self-sufficient and they are focused to obtain supplies from outside.
Most of the income comes from hunting or cleaning up monsters.
The residents are positive about more goods and the market has expanded.
Interest in art is lukewarm. Survival came first so they worry more about food and weapons then art.
Children are interested in knights and have no interest in other fields. Recently the reactions to merchants have become more positive.
The local faith now believes in the Arpen Kingdom’s Freya and Tyr the G.o.d of Battles.
Specialties: Iron swords, iron armour, valuables of the Niflheim Empire.
Territory’s Total Population: 33,920
Monthly Tax Revenue: 74, 006 gold
Castle’s Operational Expenditures: Military power 64%, economic development 22%, cultural investment 3%, requests and subduing monsters 7%, castle maintenance 4%.
“It is a complete military fortress.”
Morata was a commercial city so Weed was satisfied that it was different from the port city Verna and Vent Castle.
This was necessary to ensure his military strength.
“Vent Castle has a low population and development is slacking. If the population increases and migrants move here….”
The number of trained knights and soldiers diving into enemy lines would multiply in an instant. Of course, the military would eat money but it wouldn’t cause a kingdom to go into a deficit.
Slaying monsters and clearing dungeons could secure a safety zone and expand the borders. Users could gain achievements when travelling with knights and the castle would slowly change like Morata.
“A little more investment is needed. I need to make war-era buildings.”
Weed built buildings in Vent Castle.
It was possible to make buildings since he was the king that ruled over the castle. If he left it alone then it would expand but he needed to intervene if he wanted the right buildings in the proper place.
While completing the quest in the Keltun and Mapon Kingdoms, he had seen a complete military fortress. Architects in towns and cities created twisting alleyways that maximize the beauty of the buildings.
Weed preferred a grid style.
“The land is expensive but architects and merchants can deal with it!”
The territory of Vent Castle and its village was very wide due to their army.
“Increasing the number of houses needs to be prepared in advance.”
Shacks were built at the base of every mountain in the area.
Lee Hyun grilled meat and boiled bean paste soup.
“I need to fill my stomach before proceeding on a big job.”
He cleaned and did his ch.o.r.es before proceeding with the quest. If he had to take one thing then it would be Seo-yoon. She risked her life when helping in quests and stayed by his side for a long time. However, now she had been captured and was at risk of being killed by the Portu King.
“Well, I feel sorry… It is like when I was 19 years old and saw a girl in kindergarten drinking strawberry milk.”
At that time, he was hungry and had a cold so his condition wasn’t good. The cute looking girl was drinking strawberry milk when Lee Hyun spoke.
The girl opened her eyes and retorted.
“Why, Oppa? No, Ajuss.h.i.+.”
“Sell me that strawberry milk.”
“I don’t want to.”
“I’ll give you 200 won.”
“This is 600 won. Don’t you know the prices these days?”
Lee Hyun was quite discouraged. He thought a child in kindergarten would be naive or foolish so he resented this smarter world. Furthermore, politeness and respect towards adults seemed to have disappear.
“Then I will give it to you for 1,000 won because I was drinking it.”
“Go to sleep!”
“Kyah, so delicious.”
He escaped while she drank delicious strawberry milk! He cursed the little girl as he recalled that memory. It was a sad memory that he didn’t want to recall anymore. He couldn’t help feeling sorry when Seo-yoon received damage helping him.
‘I need to give her a gift. A necklace or earrings… No, that will be expensive. It needs to be a minimum of 100 won.’
Lee Hyun bought flower seeds and scattered them in his yard.
‘I will raise them and make a bouquet.’
But a bouquet of flowers wasn’t substantial so it seemed somewhat weak.
‘Instead of a present, should I give a chicken? No, I gave her that last time after the Jigolaths.’
He had used Half Sauce and Half Fried chicken many times. They hadn’t started breeding yet but he wasn’t stingy enough to offer an unborn chick.
“Well, I guess I will have to buy a bag. A bag is the best gift for a woman.”
Lee Hyun started searching for information.
“Let’s see, a suitable bag….”
He searched the internet for the brand of the bag that Seo-yoon used. His body then received a huge shock. His heartbeat seemed to stop before his rigid body relaxed again.
Lee Hyun quietly turned off the computer.
“I’ll soak some kimchi.”
Seo-yoon normally ate delivered kimchi. Lee Hyun decided to thank her with kimchi that he soaked with care.
“The construction companies in the Middle East are continuing to delay payment, President-nim.”
“That… Wait a little bit. It is possible to receive it at a later time.”
Seo-yoon’s father, Jeong Deuk-soo who was the president of a company had to go in to work early these days. There were reports with serious content every time the board of directors convened.
“The domestic construction industry?”
“The construction business is becoming increasingly bad. Our company has more than 10,000 unsold apartments. Business is deteriorating so we can’t selling residential land in metropolitan areas isn’t feasible anymore.”
“Then how will we raise the funds?”
“The apartments… The unsold housing should have the price be lower than that of the compet.i.tors. And a savings bank is required for loan repayments. However, loan repayment is impossible due to the funding situation of Hosung Construction.”
“The corporate bond expiration dates?”
“Early next year, President-nim.”
The construction side was driven into a crisis due to the lack of new funding. The situation of their biggest affiliate, Hosung Electronics was fairly dangerous.
“Due to Unicorn Corporation launching new models, the products from our company are shrinking rapidly. The flat screen televisions aren’t selling well so the factories have a large deficit. The profit has plummeted by 79% since the second quarter of last year.”
“The home electronics?”
“This is a recession so we haven’t reached the manufacturing cost. The export volume has reduced and the order from our fixed customers aren’t coming.”
“I heard that mobile phone sales have fallen despite a top actor being hired to advertise it?”
“Our brand is losing the compet.i.tive edge…. Our software is behind compared to a lot of other businesses.”
President Jeong Deuk-soo sighed with grief.
The management circ.u.mstances had worsened in a matter of 2~3 years. The Hosung Corporation was in a recession. The credit rating was pessimistic and corporate bonds had already been issued. Sales were bad so the financial costs were worsening.
“President-nim, you should consider closing down a few production factories overseas.”
“If the market share decreases due to reduced production, do you know how hard it will be to obtain it again?”
“But if this deficit continues then we won’t be able to endure it.”
“We can’t abandon any of the electronics. We need to increase our investment in promoting and restoring the compet.i.tiveness of the electronics.”
“There is a lot of pressure to improve our financial structure so getting approval from the credit companies will be difficult.”
Hosung Corporation made a ma.s.sive investment in electronics to overcome the crisis. However, every attempt was a failure.
“What are their requirements?”
“We’ve been asked to sell Hosung Chemicals, Hosung Construction and Hosung Hotels.”
“Isn’t the construction side the only company that can generate cash now? That is an absurd demand.”
They had 24 affiliates in Korea with the Hosung name but the funding crisis affected all of them.
“I will meet with the Bank Chief.”
President Jeong Deuk-soo decided to negotiate with the credit companies and main bank directly.