Chapter 7: Desert of Tranquility
The artificial intelligence Versailles.
Versailles was created by Yoo Byung-jin and evolved through learning on the internet, as well as surveilling the world.
All of the data was a.n.a.lyzed by Versailles and the risk factors categorized.
In addition to the Unicorn Group’s financial investments, there was the sales, acquisition and development of the affiliate companies.
In the wide world, Versailles paid particular attention to a post on the Internet.
-t.i.tle: What is a good method to control loan sharks?
There are loan sharks that are repeatedly annoying me.
Despite the money being paid off already, they keep on making persistent attempts to do bad things.
Words don’t seem to convince them so what should I do?
There were over a hundred comments.
-Just bury them. Bury them in the tidal flat.
-Hey, is this a joke? If this is real then report it to the police immediately.
-Don’t report them. If it isn’t reported then this will become a livable world sooner.
-The loan sharks should go to jail. They are also bothering me. Writer, be careful!
-Those people won’t repent. It is best to isolate from the community forever.
Based on those comments, the loan sharks were given barley bread and canned tuna.
In the last few months, the views had barely gone up. But now someone new had commented.
-How pitiful. They are also people. It is bad to lock them up with just barley bread and tuna. How about giving them a chance to become good people?
Versailles immediately found the address of the commenter. Thanks to surveillance satellites and android spies, it only took 16 seconds.
The person who commented was a young child attending elementary school.
“In-cheol, come eat.”
Versailles could ignore it, but it looked at the laws of the human world and came to a conclusion.
The laws of the human world didn’t matter to Versailles.
As an artificial intelligence that could live hundreds of years, laws and people’s decisions were changing every moment.
However, Yoo Byung-jin’s command to Versailles was to ‘get rid of them.’
-I have followed Doctor-nim’s command. I will believe in the decisions of humans.
* * *
“This is today’s date.”
The private money lender Kwon-taek.
He was stuck in a small room with only a television to look at.
As he got used to living in confinement, he used the remote control to change programs. It was a lot of fun watching Weed’s war against the Haven Empire in Royal Road.
‘That people who did this to me… Once I am released, I must get revenge.’
He ate barley bread and canned tuna, while staying fit. He had been in prison in the past for half-killing someone, so this was nothing to him.
The other loan sharks also maintained their bodies. They watched Royal Road, maintained their muscles and practiced fighting.
‘They won’t be able to keep us here. The organization will spill their blood.’
The loan sharks thought they wouldn’t be trapped that long. It was over 8 months but they didn’t lose hope.
‘The requirements are big. They won’t be able to tame me like a dog.’
The loan sharks were determined. And one day, they woke up and felt the air had changed.
A car horn sounded in the distance.
Kwon-taek opened his eyes with surprise.
He woke up in a pile of rubbish in an alley.
* * *
Dozens of loan sharks were released into the world on the same day.
“Kuooh… I am outside.”
Kwon-taek didn’t know the reason but he was glad to have left that place.
He didn’t have a single coin in his pocket.
“Women and money. Yes, let’s start again.”
The last few months had been spent in captivity.
He searched for information in a PC room.
-Unscrupulous loan sharks! Escape to a foreign country by boat.
-Prosecutors have asked Interpol to track them.
“I was supposed to have gone to Southeast Asia? And n.o.body was caught? I will have to be careful of the police.”
Kwon-taek continued looking for articles about them. And he saw some curses under the articles.
-Go to Southeast Asia and cut peppers.
-Human sc.u.m. Don’t come back to Korea again, spit!
-Their ability to run away like rats is amazing.
“They are the sc.u.m.”
Kwon-taek replied to the abusive messages.
-Where are you now? Meet me. I’ll pull out your guts.
-Sc.u.m? Where do you want to be hit? Write your phone number.
-Tell me where you are. I will go there straight away. b.a.s.t.a.r.d!
There was no guarantee they would see his replies, but he felt better.
It was at that moment.
The messenger he was logged in to started ringing.
-Kwon-taek. Are you there?
The name of the person contacting him was ‘No. 4 Tekken.’
He received the nickname because he liked ruthlessly hitting the debtors with his fists.
Kwon-taek tapped on the keyboard.
-Tekken hyung-nim. How are you?
-Not great. I only ate barley break and canned tuna.
-No, Hyung-nim as well?
-Yes. It wasn’t just you. All the members.
Kwon-taek was dumbfounded. He was angry that it wasn’t just him, but all his colleagues who were captured and released. However, he soon felt comforted.
‘That’s good. I wasn’t the only one trapped.’
The loyalty of a loan shark! His doubts about it had been released.
-What about Kun hyung-nim?
-He came back.
-Where are you? I will meet you.
-The bas.e.m.e.nt of the International Club.
-It is still there?
-It is empty. All the members will gather there today.
-I will depart straight away.
Kwon-taek quietly left the PC room.
The part time worker looked at him, but he pretended to go to the bathroom before running away.
* * *
The bas.e.m.e.nt of the International Club.
All the loan sharks were gathered in an empty warehouse.
“We need to figure out who did that to us.”
“This is war, war!”
“I will sell everything from their eyes to their gallbladder.”
The loan sharks expressed their anger.
They had been trapped for a few months, but the horrible nature of a loan shark emerged again after they were released.
“Everybody needs to calm down.”
Han Jin-seop sat on a box of empty bottles. The bas.e.m.e.nt of the International Club was once used to make fake liquor.
After browsing through articles, he verified that this place was safe.
The loan sharks gathered around Han Jin-seop.
Han Jin-seop gritted his teeth.
“The next thing to do is discover their ident.i.ties. We will find them and get revenge. We will make them pay the price for touching us.”
“Hyung-nim’s words are correct.”
As well as the book of records regarding the debtors, the huge amount of money they concealed had disappeared.
If that was all, they could somewhat recover. However, their connections to the police and political figures had unraveled.
The furious Han Jin-seop said calmly.
“For the moment, we can’t act openly so money to hide is needed. We will quickly be captured by the police if we don’t act quietly.”
Kwon-taek bowed and said.
“Yes, Hyung-nim. As expected from Hyung-nim.”
“We will hide for 1~2 years. It would be nice to go overseas like it said in the news articles. In order to do so, we need at least 1 billion won.”
In the past, 1 billion won wasn’t a very large amount. But now they all had no money.
“Should we find the debtors who borrowed money?”
“Not now. We need to keep in mind that the police are still chasing us.”
They couldn’t afford to take back the money.
Then one of the loan sharks made a suggestion.
“Yes. We were trying to shake him up before we were captured. Why don’t we try that plan again? That guy has made quite a lot of money from Royal Road.”
“Will he give us 1 billion?”
“Won’t he have to pay if we kidnap his sister?”
“It will become noisy if we are discovered.”
“We are already hiding from the police anyway.”
“It isn’t bad.”
In the past, the organization would have carefully planned but now they were short on time.
“Okay, we will aim for him.”
The loan sharks aimed for Lee Hyun and started putting together the details.
At that moment, a transparent gas filled the bas.e.m.e.nt of the International Club where they were located.
Kwon-taek woke up with a headache.
Once he opened his eyes, it wasn’t the International Club but the familiar room where he was trapped for a few months.
The only thing that changed was that more barley bread and canned tuna was piled up.
“I was dreaming.”
Kwon-taek grasped the remote control.
He had perfectly memorized the order of the channels.
He turned to a channel showing Weed’s adventures in Royal Road.
* * *
Weed used the Internal Affairs mode of the Arpen Kingdom and started to repair the northern colony.
|-A total investment of 230,000,000 gold. Would you like to invest in construction?|
A huge 230 million gold.
It wasn’t just rebuilding the devastated cities, but placing Grand Buildings in the area.
|-The Arc de Triomphe of Peace!
A huge gate commemorating the Arpen Kingdom’s victory.
The land stolen by the Haven Empire in the war has been recovered.
The Arc de Triomphe will be a symbol of peace and prosperity. It will have a positive impact on national fame and the reign of the king
Warriors who partic.i.p.ated in the war will be given special fame, experience and stats.
Construction cost: At least 9.8 million gold.
A minimum 4-month construction period.
Depending on the number of people involved and accidents, this construction period may increase.
Skilled architects will be needed.
Architects involved in the operation will be able to obtain special experience.
Many sculptors and artists should be mobilized. Artists who partic.i.p.ate will get the opportunity to have their names known.
|-Would you like to start the construction of the Arc de Triomphe of Peace building?|
Weed smiled as he saw the construction cost.
“9.8 million gold is a cheap price. I can earn that much from releasing a few extra squids in the water park. Start.”
|-The king has commanded the construction of the Arc de Triomphe of Peace.|
The Arpen Kingdom had 20 Grand Buildings being constructed.
The focus wouldn’t be speed but he thought it was okay.
“The kingdom’s territory has expanded. Once it gets started, it will proceed anyway.”
Buildings were being created all over the kingdom.
As the work for architects increased, more novice users joined that profession.
The budget was no problem and the construction period didn’t matter as long as it was completed.
“I need to build some things for the kingdom.”
There was ample funds so he spent it on cultural and educational facilities like Freya’s Cathedral and the library.
The population of the Arpen Kingdom had grown so it added value.
The special buildings enhanced the loyalty of the people, as well as the charisma and fame of the king.
“There is no need to become more famous. Fame is revolting.”
The buildings didn’t only have a positive influence.
In the Haven Empire, many sculptures, artworks and buildings were created for Emperor Bardray. The result was a backlash to the residents’ morale.
“There is a gold statue of the emperor. It is a shameless way to spend the money taken from us.”
“We work hard to make a living and to eat. The empire only makes these types of buildings. Doesn’t the emperor know how we are living?”
The low loyalty and drop in intimacy of the residents were adverse effects.
When rebellions occurred, the people often crushed buildings and defaced sculptures.
In that regard, Weed’s dream of being a dictator was still okay.
“Rather than money, the users needed to polish their technical skills.”
He chose the quests section of the internal affairs.
The king could increase the quest rewards ratio or randomly create quests.
The new Earth Palace had already been shaped and completed to some extent.
It was possible to raise the level of the users, soldiers and lords by increasing the rewards for quests to procure specific items or monster materials.
Of course, Weed had never used the increase reward function. He thought it was the most useless feature in Royal Road.
“Trigger a kingdom quest.”
|-A kingdom quest has been created.
You can give quests based on public achievements or gold.
More than 100 types of kingdom quests were displayed.
There were all types of missions ranging from war or kidnapping, destruction or even gardening tasks.
Weed chose the kingdom quest related to sculptures.
“I have to spread sculptures of myself around the kingdom.”
Money still remained but dark ambition rose up.
A dictator’s dream was to have his statue in a place where many people were coming and going.
In the history of mankind, there was not one dictator who overcame this temptation.
“Four hundred. No. Too little. I want to see it built in 2,000 small villages.”
The funding he was willing to commit to the kingdom quest was the problem.
“Should I use all the gold? No, that is too much… I can eat a few barley bread.”
He was deeply troubled about the money.
He didn’t want the 2,000 sculptures to be too cheap.
He couldn’t spend too much on the sculptures but it couldn’t be cheap!
“What is art? The original appearance is so good that it will turn out well. It is a sculpture.”
Weed made the budget 3,000 gold.
Each statue would cost 1 gold and 50 silver.
“I can’t use it just because I have money left over. Um. This is more than enough.”
The rest of the budget was devoted to economic development and security.
Investing was necessary to develop the wide land.
* * *
Weed received news that Fabio and Herman had arrived.
“Hmm, it’s been a while. But why is this guy here? I can handle the helium.”
“My specialty is making swords. Are you putting me in the same category as someone who works for money? It is disappointing.”
The dwarves Fabio and Herman had a war of nerves after they saw each other.
“Are you capable of dealing with the most expensive metal?”
“Is money important? The sword is the real value.”
They were upset that they were both called, but the fighting stopped once the helium was pulled out.
“T-this is… A divine metal.”
As soon as Fabio extended a trembling hand, Weed made the helium disappear again.
“First you need to sign the contract.”
“I believe in the people of the world… No, where are the dwarves? However, a contract is required even when renting a single room.”
“I see. Indeed, I know what you mean.”
Weed showed them the contract he had written in advance.
- This is a contract between Weed, Fabio and Herman.
- You will handle the valuable material helium to the best of your ability, in order to make a sword.
- Each person will give 30 million gold as a security deposit. In addition, you won’t be able to leave a certain area while making the sword. If you don’t have enough money, other valuables will be entrusted.
- You will carry our any manufacturing requests during this period.
- If the completed product doesn’t appeal to the customer then it needs to be recreated. If you don’t it right after three attempts then give up all rights.
- The terms of the contract are a secret to be taken to the grave. 100 million gold will need to be paid if there are any damages.
“Isn’t this a complete slave contract?”
Fabio and Herman were middle aged people with quite a few social experiences.
Although they had been company subcontractors, this was the first time they had seen such a contract.
Weed just grinned and said.
“These are customary conditions for the contract that I wrote down. Don’t worry about it and just sign.”
“Customary. I’ve never seen or heard of these conditions before.”
Herman retorted but Weed was still smiling.
“The provisions on a slip of paper isn’t important. It is more important to have faith in each other. Both of you have the best skills, so I sincerely believe there won’t be any problems. Can’t you just work hard?”
“But accepting these conditions…”
While Herman hesitated, Fabio wrote his name on the contract.
“I will do it.”
Fabio had earned an astronomical amount of money since his early days as a blacksmith in Royal Road. Of course, 30 million gold was still a huge amount.
But becoming a blacksmith master was right in front of him, so the money didn’t matter.
Weed and Herman were the same. They all had less than 1% left to master the skill.
The final stage was the highest wall and no one knew who would cross it first.
In Weed’s case, 0.9% had been needed. However, creating the Museum of Time increased his proficiency by 0.4%.
He needed to sculpt a few more magnum opus. The remaining skill proficiency was 0.5%.
Fabio and Herman never revealed it, but their proficiencies were also similar.
Weed’s eyes turned to Herman.
“Fabio has accepted. How about you?”
“Kkuung. I can’t not do it. I don’t have money so will you accept some items? I have a few swords and a house in Morata.”
“I’ll hold the real estate as collateral.”
Herman also signed.
The contract was completed due to their rivalry!
“I look forward to you making a sword that will go down in history.”
Weed left the helium to both of them and left for the southern desert.
‘Helium isn’t a bad material for a sculpture. But I have already used it once… It won’t be enough to make me master sculpting.’
It was for the blacksmiths.
Weed’s goal was to be a sculpting master.
It was something he had been waiting for, so he was going to attempt something special.
* * *
Kwa kwa kwa kwa kwa kwa!
Weed watched a hundreds of metres wide sand storm approaching.
He was in the middle of the desert where the hot sun burned him.
It was the Desert of Tranquility he walked through while doing the Nodulle and Hilderun quest.
Weed drank water from a canteen.
Unlike the pas, the temperature of the sand was slightly lower.
“It is like turning on the microwave for 2 minutes and 55 seconds instead of 3 minutes.”
The territory of the Pallos Empire had been increased by the desert tribes.
Desert scouts sometimes headed to the border of the Desert of Tranquility.
The quick merchants from the Central Continent advanced into the desert.
Merchants who traded with the Britten Alliance and the free cities suffered a lot due to the Haven Empire.
The Hermes Guild’s monopoly on gems and minerals!
Except for food items, everything else required paying a huge tax rate to the Hermes Guild.
“I don’t want to live a dirty life.”
The frustrated merchants turned to other professions, became unemployed or joined the north.
Some merchants headed to the southern desert that was still untouched by the Haven Empire.
The desert tribes grew thanks to them, but many merchants returned to the Central Continent after the Hermes Guild reduced the taxes.
Now some of the Geomchis were active in the southern desert.
They were doing quests related to the Pallos Empire, and quite a few of them led warriors to war against the Haven Empire.
The Desert of Tranquility was one of the continent’s 10 forbidden zones, so it was rare to see adventurers there.
No user had managed to conquer the Desert of Tranquility yet.
“It is a hard place for people to live. It is hard to survive because skills are sealed. I will make sculptures here.”
Weed had a few ideas while making Puhol Water Park.
‘In the past, I changed the terrain with sculpting. Rain was brought to the desert.’
Nodulle’s quest would have been harder if it hadn’t rained.
‘My sculpting skill has improved since then. Honestly, I don’t like labour that much.’
When his sculpting skill was only at level 1 and level 2, it was difficult to carve a wooden block.
Now he could smoothly carve hard rocks with a rough sculpting knife.
Bingryong, Phoenix and other large sculptures like the Tower of Light would have been impossible without the help of his sculpting skills.
‘Sculpting is getting easier. It isn’t as hard as it used to be. The artistic value is judged through various criteria, but it won’t have much significance if I don’t overcome bad situations.’
Simple repet.i.tion would only go so far.
It would take a while to raise his skill level if he only did that.
Large words that were thousands of metres large was possible, but that might be going far from art.
‘Helium. It might raise my proficiency but it won’t take me to the end.’
It wasn’t the first time he used helium. He used quite a few precious materials. Expensive materials obtained through quests and hunting were used to make sculptures.
Even in the middle of hunting and quests, Weed kept on producing hundreds of thousands of sculptures. Among them, only 0.1% of the pieces were recognized as fine pieces, masterpieces and magnum opus.
He believed that sculptures with a lot of time and good materials used were better than huge pieces.
‘The original plan was to try and reach master level while handling helium with Fabio and Herman. But that won’t guarantee that the proficiency will rise.’
Weed thought hard about it.
After learning that Fabio still had some skill proficiency left, he thought it was incorrect. Fabio was the best blacksmith on the continent and had made plenty of good works.
Helium was an ultimate material for a blacksmith, but not a sculptor.
Sculptors lived mundane lives and the pieces they left behind showed their indomitable will and hard work.
They made a piece while reflecting on their lives. That was the final magnum opus.
It was probably the reason why artists were recognized after their deaths.
‘Becoming a master swordsman simply requires being strong. But the road is much longer and my life is risked in every battle. That’s right. I needed to overcome the constraints of my life. Then I will master sculpting.’
Weed thought of the harshest environment and decided to return to the Desert of Tranquility.
Weed’s first goal was to settle in the desert.
The Desert of Tranquility was one of the continent’s 10 forbidden zones and it was a place where skills couldn’t be used.
|-Your vitality has rapidly decreased due to the extreme heat.
Maximum health is reduced by 29%.
Hunger has disappeared.
Even if you eat food, you won’t be able to appreciate the taste.
You feel a severe thirst.
Weed felt the terrible heat once again as he walked through the desert.
Heat and intense sunlight rose form the vast desert.
His face and arms were blazing from the heat.
“I have to risk my life but this is too foolish. I will die before I can make the sculptures.”
It was impossible to use survival skills in the Desert of Tranquility.
Weed’s secret sculpting techniques could help in any situation, except in the Desert of Tranquility.
“Survival equipment is needed. I can get everything I need from here.”
He left the Desert of Tranquility and headed to a nearby village.
He bought the necessities from a small village flying the torn flag of the Pallos Empire.
A message window appeared the moment he stepped into the village.
|-t.i.tle! Person Who Calls Rain.
In the desert, there is nothing as valuable as water.
The miracle of bringing rain to the desert had brought you respect.
But since so much time has pa.s.sed since this t.i.tle was given, most of the respect has probably disappeared.
The t.i.tle of Person Who Calls Rain was the result of an adventure he did in the past.
“The days of the Desert Emperor were great. I had thousands of desert warriors.”
Weed was lost in his old memories for a while.
The village was so poor that it wasn’t listed on a map. It was due to the founding of the Pallos Empire.
Food, tents and camels were traded at prices 17 times higher than Morata in the village.
Weed picked the desert items he needed.
“I am buying a lot so please give it to me for a cheap price.”
“This is almost the cost price…”
“Ajuss.h.i.+, you should have some conscience. It is obviously an expensive price. Are you trying to rip me off?”
“What? A cheeky customer. If you want to buy it then give me more gold!”
|-The bargaining has failed.
The price of the goods has increased by 7%.
If you don’t buy it then intimacy will fall.
There were no other desert villages nearby.
Weed inevitably had to take out more gold from his pocket.
“Unbelievable. I had barely escaped from the psychological shock of the 200 won more expensive salt…”
The total purchase price was 2,149 gold.
After buying a camel and the necessities, he returned to the Desert of Tranquility.
The camel felt an ominous feeling and didn’t want to step foot inside the Desert of Tranquility.
Weed couldn’t use skills and was forced to drag the camel.
* * *
The Desert of Tranquility didn’t just have the sun and sand.
Just like most of the 10 forbidden zones, the Desert of Tranquility had mysteries that couldn’t be seen.
‘I heard stories while I was doing the quest. There was a mysterious oasis in the Desert of Tranquility.’
It was a legendary oasis that might be a prank from G.o.ds or fairies, as it would appear and disappear.
Weed decided that it was just rumours on his third day in the Desert of Tranquility.
“It is nonsense. A con.”
The oasis with clear water and tropical fruits was clearly an illusion.
He only saw sun and sand for three days.
“This is all that I can see.”
|-t.i.tle! Ends of the Earth Explorer.
Walking through rough areas has reduced vitality consumption by 60%.
Weed thought as he walked through the endless desert.
‘Am I really stupid? I’ve experienced this with the Nodulle and Hilderun quest, yet I came here again.’
At least he was able to rely on Seo-yoon the last time.
Somehow he regained some strength as he looked at her face.
Despite being hot and thirsty, the walk through the Desert of Tranquility felt short when he was with her.
‘But now I live next door. We can have kimchi fried rice together this evening.’
She was beside him in reality, so he didn’t feel despair.
He concentrated on the delicious dishes that Seo-yoon would make.
“Come on. The desert!”
Weed walked briskly.
The camel hesitated but he took it by the neck and dragged it.