The Fated Profession
As was his routine, Rodriguez was taking an afternoon walk. He enjoyed checking on his neighbors and deepening their misery.
“How are you, Hans?”
“What is the best fruit today?”
“This one. Please have some. Fresh strawberry, sire.”
Rodriguez’s steps were light. For one thing, he wasn’t pestering others who fell under his gaze that afternoon. He was elated by the recent publication of the latest book he had penned.
When he returned home, his manservant in care of the manor was waiting at the entrance to greet him. He spoke without reservation to the manservant whose dedication to his family lasted for decades.
“How was your walk, milord?”
“Excellent. Very excellent. These days are free of worries and trifles.”
“I’m glad to hear that, milord. By the way, do you mind if I ask you a question?”
“What is it, William?”
“This is about the young lord who carved statues on the other side of the street, milord.”
“Oh, that kid!”
“Did he find what he was seeking?”
“It’d never be that easy.”
“No chance! He can’t find the place, and even if he finds it, against all odds…”
“Serves him right even if he gets the class!” Rodriguez burst into insane laughter.
* * *
The first thing that Weed did when he was alone was double-check his armor and inventory. “Twenty-four gold and thirty silvers…”
Instead of receiving his share of the spoils that his men had collected from the slain kobolds and goblins, which were mostly crude weapons, equipment and pieces of metal, Weed had asked for hard money.
“The revenue’s not too bad, and…”
For the last month, Weed had advanced his skills by far. His cooking mastery hit level six, the repair skill four. The repair skill is so useful that some users are encouraged to pick it up, but the cooking skill is almost extinct, except for professional cooks.
Weed’s bandage skill, now level four, empowered him to tend a minor injury by rolling gauze twice. But the most progressive one among his stats was his level.
He felt like laughing.
To Weed’s dismay, however, Arse whinnied unpleasantly. He had no choice but to take care of the colt by courtesy of Sir Midvale. The colt was good for nothing for now, but Weed was obliged to return it safely to the Royal Stable.
‘The Lair of Litvart. No other lair of the same name has been discovered so far. This is the place.’
The Counselor’s trick.
Assured that there was something behind it, Weed did his best to analyze the quest’s objective from different angles.
‘It must be hidden somewhere in the lair, somewhere no one has found yet – a secret chamber.’
Weed began working through from the first floor up to the fifth one.
For the adventuring classes, such as rangers and explorers, which are endowed with a multitude of observation-related stats and skills, it is easier to discover a concealed entrance.
But Weed could only stick to elementary means such as relying on his naked eyes and touching every suspicious area with his hands in order to look for the ‘secret chamber’.
There were at least twenty users on each floor in the Lair of Litvart. Hunting monsters, they commented about Weed, who was acting weird.
“What’s that guy doing?”
“Seems he’s looking for some entrance. Why else would he caress the stone wall so dearly?”
“Puhaha, what an idiot. The lair doesn’t have any secret passage.”
“This is the first lair found when Rosenheim was discovered months ago. Thousands of adventurers stormed here. He’s taking a gamble.”
They openly laughed at Weed, because they had been jealous of him who was surfing on an easy wave in the lair with thirty NPC troops, it was no surprise that he was the center of jealousy and envy.
“Just in case…”
“Watch out. Don’t let him notice we’re behind him.”
Several users followed Weed quietly, envisioning that he might have overheard valuable information from the NPC soldiers during the mission. Or better, he might be carrying out a special quest. In that case, they even considered forcing Weed to share the quest.
To their eyes, this lone freak was a low-level archer, lacking in melee combat skills; worked on household chores for the troops and sponged off them like a parasite.
After a week had passed without event, however, the troublemakers were exasperated by tracking Weed in vain; he was obsessed with exploring the lair, so they left.
“Damn, I’m freaking mad. I just wasted days.”
Even after they left him alone, Weed continued. ‘There’s gotta be something.’
Many explorers had already finished mapping out the entire region, and concluded that there was nothing left. This was exactly what Weed was told, too. In fact, he had done occasional research while hunting down the kobolds and goblins, but failed to make any meaningful discovery. Still, Weed was convinced that he would stumble on something someday.
‘Famous adventurers from all over the Continent searched this place. So what? You are wrong; I am right.’
The Lair of Litvart was a vast place. Wandering casually in the forlorn hope of uncovering a hidden place was a hope as far as the distance between the Earth and Andromeda.
Even though the adventurers were better in observation skills, attitude could make difference.
Weed patiently touched the wall, looking for a clue.
Arse watched Weed in contempt.
He had brought the horse in the lair because there was no one else who could look after it, but he was stressed by the disobedient beast.
‘I need to teach him a lesson first.’
Weed led Arse to a shelter of goblins on purpose—a goblin warrior and three goblin raiders. As soon as they saw Weed, they charged at him.
He stepped forward as if to protect the colt in front, and fought against the goblins, screaming
“My god! I don’t want to die!”
The goblin warrior’s spear sailed toward Weed but only grazed him, drawing little blood from the flesh.
“If… if I am killed now, what will ever happen to my dearest Arse…”
The goblins kept on pounding on Weed.
“No! I shall stand here to protect Arse! Bring it on, you abominable monsters! You must pass over my dead body before you lay any of your filthy fingers on him!”
Weed played a brave knight protecting his weak people at risk of death.
When he glanced back, however, he saw the colt yawning and playing with a pebble on the ground. Also, this beast was ready to bolt in the direction of the Lair’s exit the moment the master fell dead.
Weed was embarrassed by the turn of events. Why make a fool of himself to win over a mere colt?
Weed slew the pestering goblins with a single brandish of his sword.
He was tempted to behead the beast altogether, but losing Sir Midvale’s trust was too big a risk.
Arse gave Weed a contemptuous look as if to ask why he had bled needlessly when he could finish them so easily.
‘Whew. I was a fool to act like that. Patience, patience.’
Weed went back to the exploration of the lair.
Three days later, on the tenth day of his private exploration to be precise, he found a cavity in a dark corner on the fourth floor where goblin raiders were regenerated. It was located ten yards deeper than the regenerating point. Even the most cautious ranger would have overlooked it. Below a large rock projecting outward, the cavity was shadowed, away from human eyes.
‘Is there anyone there?’
Looking around, Weed made sure that there was nobody else sneaking up on him. Those who had trailed him for a week were long gone, but excessive caution never hurt.
If this cavity turned out to be what Weed had been looking for, he would be the first man to discover it, and he didn’t want to share the credit with anyone else.
For the first explorer who discovers an unknown area, the rewards are immense. He earns fame, plus double EXPs and a higher rate of item provision for a whole week after the discovery. Weed crept into the cavity carefully. The gap was narrow enough to be mistaken for a crevasse between rocks, and the interior widened little by little on each step. He soon reached a passage where he could move comfortably. A humid, foul smell pricked his nose.
Tense, he got ready for a battle. He didn’t have any clue as to what was coming next, so he held the iron sword in the right hand, and herb and bandages in the left one.
‘Bring it on.’
Weed walked slowly deeper into the cave.
Along the cave were several forks. He picked the left one and entered it, only to find a gigantic worm at a dead end.
“What the heck… what monster is this? I’ve never seen this sort of worm—”
Before Weed could finish his words, the surroundings underwent a sudden change.
What he thought to be the blackish ground was, in truth, a floor of little bugs the size of pinkies.
Like Moses breaking apart the Red Sea, the bugs scattered and then came back to attack Weed, crawling menacingly.
“What the!— How dare you!” Weed swung the iron sword like a windmill.
Covered in disturbingly creaky shells, the little bugs were almost harmless in low attack power, but the queen-like worm bore offspring faster than he was exterminating them. He really missed his men in the punitive force.
“I’d end this mess way earlier if I only had them here.”
Suddenly, the queen exhaled light green smoke fumes. Like a drop of black ink dispersed in transparent water, the fumes slowly spread in the cramped space, eventually reaching where Weed was standing, too.
The moment he inhaled them—
|You have been poisoned!|
|Life is decreasing continuously.|
Startled, Weed checked his life gauge.
His life was decreasing by one point per second.
“Damn… I don’t have any antidote! If it keeps going…”
In desperation, Weed ignored the little bugs, ran to the queen and struck it with the iron sword. The queen worm’s hard shell cracked, and yellow fluid oozed out.
“If I’m going to die, I’m taking you with me!”
Weed neglected the bugs that were crawling up and biting him. Whether they bit him or minutes passed by, he was dying anyway.
Torn between two choices, it was better to kill the queen and get the heck out of there. As if they sensed that their mother was dying, the little bugs crowded Weed aggressively, but his iron sword was persistent. The shell of the queen worm was so hard that, though the outer shell was partly cracked, she was alive and well. Meanwhile, Weed’s head was swimming dizzily.
‘I’m gonna die here. If only I had a combat skill…—…skill? Why didn’t I think of that!’
The skill that Weed had never been given a chance to use! He had a combat skill that sucked so much mana from him that he could not sustain it longer than a second. Whether it worked or not, the situation was hopeless enough.
“Engraving Knife Technique!” Weed’s iron sword blazed white. It temporarily overpowered the enemy’s defense.
Finally, the gigantic worm’s shell shattered into pieces.
|You have leveled up.|
Weed skipped the message window and yelled,
“Quest Information Window!”
|Search and Destroy Operation in the Lair of the Litvart
There are a hundred monsters inhabiting the Lair of Litvart. Kill each and every one of them at least once, and prove yourself worthy of the honorable class. The completion of this quest will open a right path for your destiny.
Difficulty Level: Unknown
Quest Requirement: None
Number of Monsters Left: 99
Though he was poisoned and dying, Weed smirked.
“I did it!”
Weed finally found the answer for the class change. It was these worms in the cave. He had to kill the queens, not those little bugs.
“I need to cure myself of the poison first…”
Chased by the little bugs, Weed left the cave in a hurry. When he saw they could not cross over the boundary of the cave, he began to walk slowly toward the ground level with the colt.
When a user is poisoned, his face darkens.
Weed avoided contact with other users to conceal that he was poisoned, and recharged his life a little by rubbing herbs on his body and stuffing himself with pre-cooked meals.
If he tried, he would surely find a party that had a priest. But he would rather die than ask for help. Was Weed too proud to bargain for his life?
There were no poisoning monsters in the Lair of Litvart. Neither kobolds nor goblins had any knowledge of poisonous substances, let alone used them.
A savior would want to know where Weed was poisoned, and by whom—with suspicious eyes. He would rather die once than share with others the whereabouts of the secret chamber that he had found after a long time of tribulation. Once he arrived at the exit above the ground, he got on the colt.
“Village. To the nearest village. Quick, or I’ll pass out.”
The beast did not even move a leg. As if taking joy in the misfortune of others, Arse pretended to be deaf and scratched the soil. It gnawed on grass in protest.
“If you’re going to be like that, then…”
The last grain of Weed’s patience finally ran out.
“You’re leaving me without any other options.”
Weed took out the engraving knife.
Arse looked terrified at the sight of a sharp object, but calmed down as if it knew Weed was only bluffing.
Instead of slashing at Arse, Weed cut his own forearm with the knife. Did he lose his sanity enough to get self-destructive when his life was already in jeopardy because of the poison gas?
Weed grinned treacherously, though his vision was already blurry as a result of anemia. Then, he clutched the colt’s jaws open and forced it to drink his blood.
“Look, now that you sipped my blood, you’re poisoned, too. Take me to a village, or we are both dead. I will resurrect soon, but you’ll never come to life again, got it?”
The colt finally galloped to the village, though its speed wasn’t any faster than before. Upon arriving at the village, Weed was cast a cure spell on the brink of death. He purchased herbs and antidotes worth twenty gold. Though his pockets were empty, he had no remorse.
Weed quickly returned to the Lair of Litvart, and only after he was certain that nobody was watching him from the perimeter, entered the cave where the worms dwelled.
He even brought Arse in there. He feared that other users might steal it, and while the idea to get rid of it by someone else’s hands was more than tempting, he didn’t want to know what would happen if he failed to return the colt to the Royal Stable as his priority.
“Always stay behind me.”
Arse swayed its tail resignedly.
Weed began to slay only queen worms. The little bugs gave EXPs their size, and the way that they crawled out at him from everywhere made it costly to attack each of them.
As no sword master could catch raindrops falling from the sky, Weed ignored the bugs that covered the entire floor in a murky color.
“Engraving Knife Technique!”
The mysterious sword technique from Zahab.
It crushed the enemy’s shell with powers that directly disintegrated the nature of an object, regardless of resistance and defense. Sometimes, Weed encountered bigger queen worms and needed two or three strikes, between which he rested to refill mana.
He was poisoned and insurgency by the little bugs. With life decreasing, Weed always barely escaped; death had never been so close.
The more he slew queens in the cave, the more blankly dismayed he felt. Who would believe this was a quest for class change? Most users choose their primary class long before they hit level ten.
On the other hand, Weed was level sixty-two, and this cave was still a life-and-death challenge to him. He only wondered what kind of class required so much hassle.
|The Number of Monsters Left: 1|
At the end of seven days of vicious battle, Weed had only one more to kill. The queen of queens! She was five times bigger than the other queen worms.
When Weed entered her throne room without precaution, he was accorded a cordial reception with thick, green fumes of poison gas that the queen had retained for him.
He would have let it hit him under other circumstances, but he jumped back under a vague hunch.
Little bugs that were touched by the fumes rotted in seconds and melted.
“Awful poison.” Weed’s heart skipped two beats.
The only way to stay away from the poison gas was using the bow from a distance. But his arrows could not penetrate the hardy shell of the queen worm. He had to approach within reach of her poison gas.
The queen worm knew Weed’s dilemma, and with a mouthful of poison gas, waited for him to get close so she could shower it on him.
Like a rattlesnake waiting coiled for a chance, the queen worm and Weed faced each other, motionless.
‘She can shoot thick fumes only once. If I can dodge the first one, the second one will be much lighter. The initial shot is decisive.’
Weed’s eyes glittered when he saw a treasure has stashed behind the queen worm.
‘I will never, ever give up here. If only I had someone who I could sacrifice to the poison gas… Right, I think I’ve found the answer.’
His eyes narrowed to slits. At the end of his gaze lay dumb-eyed Arse.
Weed kicked the colt’s ass right away. Arse plunged forward instinctively, and the queen worm reflexively puffed out the poison gas toward it.
‘Sorry, Arse. Destiny’s got you. Life isn’t fair, and this is the end of our relationship.’
Weed could not afford the luxury of watching the fate of the poor beast.
As soon as he made sure that the poison gas stocked in the queen worm’s mouth was fully launched, he rushed to her.
“Engraving Knife Technique! Double dance!”
Weed swung the sword wildly until his mana ran out.
With the iron sword in the right hand, and the engraving knife in the left, he tore the shell off the queen worm.
Left without any worthwhile combat skills, this was the best option for Weed. The queen worm struggled, but her gigantic size got in the way as he was too close to her.
She finally closed her eyes shut. Then, a key dropped from her body.
“This is it.”
Weed picked up the key, inserted it in the keyhole of the treasure box and turned it clockwise.
He found in the box a few volumes of books and a parchment scroll.
|The Successor to the Legendary Emperor
I am Geihar Von Arpen, the first emperor of the Continent, who put an end to timeless divisions.
My final years have been far from fulfilling.
No one has recognized my distress, my superiority!
Why does no one understand my profession?
Why does everyone look down upon my profession in disrespect?
Enslaved to prejudices, the talented have refused to understand my goodwill and succeed me in my trade.
Even with my children, this is true.
That imbecilic and senseless bunch!
They do not deserve to be my successor.
I entrust my secret trade to you.
The Emperor Geihar was the first and only man who had ruled over a unified empire in the history of the Versailles Continent.
After his death, the empire was divided once again, thus shaping the present map, but his achievements were recorded as legendary.
Weed was thrilled.
“There were idiots back then, too. They should have known better. It’s an excellent opportunity… Who is the Emperor Geihar? He’s none other than the first man to conquer the entire continent with his own powers, and this is his class! It must be damn good, but they judged it superficially.”
|If you accept it, you can use exclusive skills related to the nature of the class. Do you want to convert now?|
Weed yelled without hesitation, “Of course!” That moment, his avatar was enveloped in light
+ All stats are added 20 points.
+ Art stat is added extra 80 points.
+ In moonlit night, all stats increase by 30% in addition.
+ Enables you to equip certain items specialized for the class.
+ Enables you to learn all craft skills to the stage of a master.
+ Grants extra options to items that are produced or refined.
+ Increases Attack Power for the Engraving Knife technique.
+ Decreases Mana Consumption for the Engraving Knife technique.
+ Enables you to learn secret skills based on your level in Sculpture Mastery.
+ Increases Fame by creating a statue of extraordinary image or artistic value.
Weed finally got the class that he had been fighting for, but when he saw the name of his new class, he almost collapsed in mortification.
“Damn it!” ‘Moonlight Sculptor!’
* * *
After all his blood and sweat, it went back to Moonlight Sculptor.
It was actually ‘Legendary’ Moonlight Sculptor with a flattering prefix, but Weed didn’t give a damn about it. The cursed, hungry profession, Moonlight Sculptor!
Clear tears gushed out of Weed’s eyes.
He smelt what was left of the poison gas that the queen worm had breathed out in her last struggle at the moment of death, but it wasn’t what prompted the floodgates in his eyes to break down.
He had no choice but to accept the God-forbidden class of Moonlight Sculptor.
“I should’ve chosen a common warrior class.”
Weed, who had just laughed at the fools who refused to comprehend the Emperor Geihar’s profession, now blamed the emperor for duping him into converting to Moonlight Sculptor. He wasn’t at all convinced.
‘Why is life so hard on me?’
Weed was weeping in self-pity.
He had spent a week sitting down in the middle of the street to stimulate Rodriguez’s curiosity, and more than seven weeks in the Lair of Litvart to find this cavity and crush the disgusting worms. All the effort wasted on converting to Moonlight Sculptor!
Weed wanted to cry his heart out.
Yet he had improved his handicraft skills and sculpture mastery, and earned massive revenue during his sit-in in front of Rodriguez’s manor; he had leveled up at a frightening pace in the lair – conveniently, all of this escaped him now.
Only the cold reality, now a Moonlight Sculptor, grieved him. He just wanted to scream that it was so unfair.
“It’s not as bad as it looks.”
After a long moment of crisis, though, Weed’s eyes regained some light in realizing what he had missed amid a flood of misery.
He had thought that he hit the bottom, but as he calmed down, he was seeing the other side.
Warriors, rangers and priests are the top three classes, which means that they have been tried and proven better than the other classes.
For the warrior and ranger class, they are given 50% bonus in attack power when they are armed with a weapon of choice according to their sub-classes. The priest class can learn and cast holy spells that no other class but the paladin class can tap into.
This was why Weed could deal less damage with a sword than his counterpart sword warriors, and the attack power of his arrows could not rival that of a full-time ranger.
Therefore, a hidden class, whose secrets they have to figure out on their own through trial and error, heavily relies on the way they are brought up. If they are properly developed with a focus on the class’s merits and characteristics, it comes off well. If not, it will turn out mediocre, no better than a common class.
Weed hastily turned his attention back to the scroll. There were more paragraphs that he had yet to read.
|I love beautiful statues. The statues that are carved with the magnificent spirit of Kvasir have never forsaken me. As long as I love and trust them, they are loyal to me.
Who will believe this? That this lowly Sculpture Mastery is the cornerstone of my quest from a humble farmer in a country town to the man who united the Continent.
Listen, my successor who walks in the path of sculpture.
A very difficult path awaits you. The path that a hundred out of a hundred men shall give up and a nation of men will not fare any better.
However, my successor, I encourage you to stay the course in the face of the toughest challenges. Hardship brings a value of its own, and toughness produces a result of its own too.
The Grand Master of Sculpture!
You must learn the secrets of Sculpture Mastery which I failed to learn. It shall remain the wish of every man who has learned the sculptural art.
I hereby entrust you gifts of value.
The Emperor Geihar, the conqueror of the earth, the sea and the sky through Sculpture Mastery.
Weed finished reading the scroll and checked the other items—three tablets and a book.
The effects of the tablets were not recorded anywhere but he knew what skill to use in this situation.
|You failed to identify the item.|
|You failed to identify the item.|
|You failed to identify the item.|
|A Tablet of the Emperor
This tablet is made of a variety of rare herbs by an ancient emperor, to clear the mind when it is taken.
Increases Mana (+200 Mana)
After a series of failed attempts, Weed finally recognized the treasure items.
They were rare—no, more valuable than simply rare—items that increased the amount of mana permanently by two hundred points.
The tablets smelt of an indescribably comforting fragrance. Weed estimated the price for a single tablet to be no less than ten thousand gold.
Since the tablets increased the maximum amount of mana, instead of recovering mana temporarily like mana potions in the market, they were worth such an eye-popping price.
“Thank you so much. I admire your generosity, your Imperial Majesty.”
Weed put down the tablets and picked up the book.
“Does it contain great skills? It should! I don’t think more bad fortune will strike me again after I suffered these setbacks. No, I’m not that unlucky.”
This time again, Weed succeeded in figuring out the content of the book when he almost gave up after scores of message windows of failure.
|The Book of Secret Sword Techniques from the Imperial Family of Arpens
The Emperor Geihar Von Arpen recorded the Flawless Sword Techniques on behalf of the Imperial Family’s perpetuity and prosperity.
The book is composed of five movements and one footstep.
All members of the Imperial Family were, by origin, knights. The skill is initially restricted to the Knight class, but the Emperor Geihar Von Arpen considered his successor in Sculpture Mastery, so he refined the skill for a Sculptor to learn a weakened version of the skill.
Surprised, Weed almost dropped the book.
“This, this color is—”
The Book of Secret Sword Techniques was flashing in gold when it was identified.
It meant that the book was a rare skill book! Moreover, it was an A-grade sword technique book.
“You’re so generous, Your Imperial Majesty. Thank you for giving me an A-grade sword technique book,”
A little disappointing truth was that the skill book wasn’t a unique or S-grade one.
Still, it was questionable that Weed, now a sculptor, could learn such a high level of sword techniques even if he had found one.
S-grade sword techniques in general have a requirement for certain classes, mostly sword warriors or knights.
As Weed didn’t have much of a decent combat skill, this book was like raindrops in a drought.
The days of basic sword skill and archery! They would be now gone, only a distant memory.
Weed put a hand on the book and shouted, “Learn!”
|Skill: You have learned the Imperial Formless Sword Technique.|
The sword technique book, now done with, glowed white and burned to ashes.
“Imperial Formless Sword Technique Window!”
|Imperial Formless Sword Technique
This skill is tailored for Sculptors by Emperor Geihar Von Arpen. As the level in Sculpture Mastery rises, the Attack Power of the skill increases by 1%.
It is composed of five movements, one breathing technique and one footstep.
The corners of Weed’s mouth rose.
This is great!
The Arpenian Empire used to rule over the entire Continent. It collapsed to become barely a name only, but the sword technique that had once been exclusive within the Imperial Family was undoubtedly worth money.
But Weed was cast into despair when he read the descriptions of each movement in the skill info window.
“What in the world!”
He let out a cry.
The first movement, which consumed the least amount of mana of the five, required three hundred mana points.
Because his maximum mana was too low for now, the secret sword technique was far beyond his reach, even after he swallowed the Tablets of the Emperor.