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Kang Oh was quick on the uptake. He'd met creatures that looked like boss monsters, but were actually friendly to trespassers.
"Are you a guardian that protects the soul stone?"
"That's right. I'm the Saul Graveyard's manager, Akite," Akite said.
'Oh, dear god!' Kang Oh's lip curled upwards. It felt like he'd been caught in an inescapable trap, but had found a treasure chest inside.
"You don't seem surprised; you must already know about the soul dungeons."
"I already own two soul dungeons."
He owned Moss Cave, which was located on the continent's southernmost coast, and the Beast's Tower, which resided in the western grasslands.
"I'm glad I don't have to explain things to you. Then let me ask you this. Do you want to become this dungeon's master?"
"Of course I do. Tell me what you want."
In order to become a dungeon's master, a player had to either defeat the dungeon's guardian, or be acknowledged by the guardian.
However, Kang Oh didn't even consider the former option. Beating a dragon by himself was absolutely out of the question.
"Dragons like to hoard treasure and gold in their nests. This is my nest."
Kang Oh could read between the lines. "So how much do you want?" he said.
"I don't want much."
Dragons were renowned for their greed. 'I'm glad you're not like them…'
"1 million gold."
"Wait, how much?" Kang Oh said.
'You crazy bone lizard! 1 million gold is worth 5 billion won ($5,000,000 USD)!'
The value of gold had depreciated ever since he started playing. When he first started, 1 gold was equal to 10,000 won ($10 USD).
As time passed, the supply of gold had increased, and the conversation rate had steadily dropped. Now, 1 gold was equal to 5,000 won ($5 USD).
'As expected, dragons sure are greedy!'
The back of his neck had gone stiff and felt itchy, whereas Akite tilted his head in confusion.
"Is 1 million gold a lot?"
"Yeah. You've stayed in the dungeon for so long that you're ignorant about the world. 1 million gold is a ton!"
"That's weird. My last master just gave it to me like it was nothing."
"Your last master? Who was that?"
"He died. Humans are so short-lived." Akite groaned.
"Short-lived, huh… Well, I suppose from a dragon's point of view, it's true."
Arth's dragons lived for 1,000 years. In other works of fiction, dragons could live for 10,000 years or more. Dragons lived much shorter lives in this game, but it was still much longer than the average human's lifespan.
"Humans seem even more short-lived to me, one who has transcended a dragon's normal lifespan."
"Transcended a dragon's normal lifespan?"
"That's right. Before I died, I turned myself into an undead, allowing me to stay alive. I've lived for about 2,000 years now."
Kang Oh was wondering how a Bone Dragon was capable of maintaining a sound mental state and using magic, but that explained it.
'Outwardly, he looks like a Bone Dragon, but he's closer to a Lich on the inside. But is living as an undead truly living? Eh, I guess that's not important right now!'
"Anyhow, your last master gave you 1 million gold?"
"Must've been rich."
"He said he was wealthy."
Wealthy. Kang Oh thought of one possible candidate.
"Was your last master Geskal?"
"That's right. Do you know him?"
"I've never seen him before, but I've heard of him."
He heard that he was a penny-pincher, yet he gave Akite all that money?
"Is this where Geskal died?"
"That's right. His gold coffin rests in my treasure house."
"I see. So this is where Geskal hid his fortune!"
Kang Oh put the pieces of the puzzle together. Geskal hid his fortune somewhere in Despia! He'd been looking for someone to protect his money once he was gone. In other words, he'd entrusted it to Akite!
[You have learned something new about the Nest Where Death Dwells.]
[You have discovered Geskal's Genuine Secret Storehouse.]
[If you want his treasure, then kill Akite!]
Kill an over level 600 Bone Dragon that looked like a raid boss?
Kang Oh was completely speechless. He laughed emptily, but also thought about how he'd go about killing it.
'It might be possible if I call Valan, Burkan, Eder, Dion, Helena, Bart, and Sephiro. I would need all of them.'
Even then, victory wouldn't be assured. Plus, Burkan would be hard enough to convince, but he knew he wouldn't be able to persuade the strongest human, Valan, to help him. Without him, it wouldn't be worth trying.
"What are you thinking so hard about?' Akite asked, as Kang Oh was just standing there and thinking.
"Ah, it's nothing. Anyhow, if I want the soul stone, then I need to give you 1 million gold, right?"
"1 million gold, huh…"
There was no way he'd have 1 million gold. If he had that kind of money, then he would've bought another house or a building!
"Can I pay it on an installment plan?"
"What's an installment plan?"
"I give you a small amount every month. Mm, about 10,000 gold a month."
'If it costs this much, then the reward should be worth more than 10,000 gold a month. Then there's the various materials and the unique material to consider! If I go with the installment plan, then I'll basically get the dungeon for free!'
It was definitely a good idea; to Kang Oh, at least! However, it didn't work.
"No thanks," Akite said decisively.
"How about 100,000 gold every 6 months?"
"Not even worth listening to. Stop talking about installment plans and what not!" Akite said, clearly annoyed.
"Can I substitute for crowns, gems, or precious items?" Kang Oh asked.
"You can. But in exchange, I choose how much they're worth."
So it depended on how he felt.
'I should probably avoid items. He'll probably value them less than they're worth.'
"Your previous master was willing to give you 1 million gold on the spot? What could the reward possible be?"
"They're items related to dragons."
"Dragon bone, scales, skin, claws. That kind of stuff?"
Every material that came out of a dragon was S-rank, the highest material rank.
"There's also a piece of a dragon's heart."
"A dragon's heart!"
A dragon's heart was also an S-rank material. But if S-rank wasn't the highest material rank, then a dragon's heart would definitely be SS-rank. In other words, a dragon's heart was unique amongst fellow S-rank materials.
'I wonder how much a dragon's heart is worth?'
There was no way to tell, since none had ever made their way to the market.
"How many of those materials do you give?"
"I'll tell you after you become the dungeon's master."
Kang Oh suddenly had a thought. "So if I, the dungeon master, were to touch your money or treasure, then…"
"I won't forgive anyone who touches my money/treasure, no matter who they are. It doesn't matter if you're my master!"
The blue fire in its eye sockets burned with even greater intensity. Its voice was both brutal and threatening.
"You can't attack the dungeon master."
"Touching my treasure violates the sacred contract. They'll no longer be my master."
"Mm, I see."
So he couldn't use a loophole in the process and take everything for himself.
"I just wanted to warn you. You might have a sh*tty master that tries that someday," he said. 'Like me.'
"Don't worry about it. No one can touch my treasure."
"Do you want to become the dungeon's master?" Akite asked.
"I'll think about it and come back later. I don't have the money on me right now."
Kang Oh postponed his decision.
'Getting 1 million gold is a problem, but the bigger problem is whether it's actually worth investing 1 million gold into this place.'
It was too hard to make a decision by himself, so he needed to ask for some advice.
'I have just the person in mind.' Kang Oh thought of the good-natured, generous Man Bok.
"Alright. And start telling people that I'm here. No one's been coming here," Akite said.
"Yeah, sure." Kang Oh grinned. Sure, that's what he said, but there's no way he'd actually spread rumors about the soul dungeon.
The bones blocking the entrance disappeared. Kang Oh waved his hand and left.
Once he'd completely disappeared, Akite dispelled the Light spell. At the same time, the blue fire in its eye sockets completely disappeared.
Darkness and silence had returned to its nest.
* * *
Kang Oh left the dragon's nest, and began hunting in the Saul Graveyard once more.
[You have completed the quest, Kill the Saul Graveyard's Dullahans.]
'I'm finally done.'
With this, he'd finished all thirty of the quests he'd received from Latnia City's citizens.
Kang Oh returned to Latnia City.
"I completed the quests!"
"Thank you, Savior! This is the reward I promised."
'Nice.' Kang Oh placed the gold and rare materials into his inventory and smirked.
"Savior, at Atma's Door…"
"I have another request."
There were still several people who had quests for him. A few of them were linked to his previous quests.
"Please leave it to me!"
Kang Oh picked the quests that were easy to complete and yielded the highest reward. He also accepted quests for dungeons he'd never gone to before.
'This should be enough.'
Once he felt like he'd accepted enough quests, he stopped taking requests.
"I have too much to do, so if you'll excuse me!"
Kang Oh quickly left, putting the people behind him, and then sent Man Bok a message.
- Mr. Man Bok.
- Yes, Mr. Kang Oh?
- Are you busy?
- Not really.
- May I meet with you in Altein?
- Understood. I'll see you in 30 minutes.
Viyoom Inn was one of Altein's many inns. The 2nd and 3rd floors were for lodging, while the first floor was a restaurant and pub.
The door opened, and in came Kang Oh and Man Bok. They sat at a corner table and exchanged idle chatter.
It was about time to move on.
"I'd like to ask your opinion on something," Kang Oh said.
"What is it?"
"I found a soul dungeon in the Goddess's Land."
"It's a dungeon where level 500 monsters spawn. The dungeon boss is even a Bone Dragon."
"Oho. A Bone Dragon!" Man Bok's eyes glinted.
"But to become the dungeon's master, I need 1 million gold."
"Pardon me?" Man Bok felt like he'd heard wrong.
"1 million gold."
"Mm. What are the dungeon rewards?" Man Bok asked. 1 million gold was a lot, yes, but it might not be much of an investment depending on the dungeon's rewards.
"Dragon bone, scales, skin, claws, and a piece of a dragon's heart."
"How many do you get?"
Kang Oh shook his head. "There's no way of knowing."
"It's a risky investment."
A risky investment. That was a good way of putting it.
"However, if I had 1 million gold, then I'd risk it. Because I'd be spending it now!" Man Bok said.
'You'd risk it because you'd be spending it now?' Kang Oh thought about what he was saying. He eventually understood why Man Bok had come to that conclusion.
"You mean that you'd be able to monopolize the supply of dragon materials?"
Man Bok nodded his head. "That's right. I'd be able to make more than 1 million gold right now with the dragon materials. But I imagine that one day, players will become strong enough to kill dragons. In the future, investing 1 million gold would be an act of lunacy."
If that happened, then they wouldn't be running a monopoly.
"Since the soul dungeon is located in Despia, there's reason to believe that dragon materials may appear in other dungeons, but they'd be in extremely dangerous locations. Finding a place like that and then occupying it doesn't sound easy. Moreover, even if you don't have a monopoly on it, dragon materials, especially a dragon's heart, are worth more than enough to justify the cost."
Man Bok was essentially saying that if you were to spend 1 million gold on a dungeon, then now was the time.
"Now then!" Man Bok lifted two of his fingers. "Now we have two problems left. Gathering 1 million gold, and how to deal with the dragon materials!"
Kang Oh stood up straight and stared at him attentively. "I'm all ears!"
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