The City of Heaven
A pub. A place that was usually filled with hearty laughter and clamorous noises had been silent for the last few days all because of a single man, Volk.
He had a scarily massive body, but what was scarier was his face.
Considering that someone whose countenance could make an Orc’s heart skip a beat had been drinking gloomily all day long, it was hardly surprising that the pub was drowned in silence.
Volk made a face while drinking.
‘I want to propose to her. I need something special for her, if there is anything.’
Volk wanted to propose to a lady. His heart-breaking anguish wasn’t visible to others.
‘A gift for her. Right, I heard of a sculptor in the Citadel of Serabourg. I will ask him to make one for me. If he makes something that pleases my heart, I will give him the most precious thing I have in return.’
Volk left the pub, stumbling.
* * *
“Whew, this is still full of users here.”
Back in the capital of Rosenheim kingdom after seven weeks, Weed felt a headache coming on at the sight of an incalculable number of avatars.
It was a dizzy scene in which buyers and sellers were actively trading with one another, and new adventurers were looking for partners to join their adventure.
“Quick, Arse! Let’s go to your home.”
Weed led the colt to the Royal Stable. It followed him obediently.
The beast had just survived the poison gas from the queen worm, as luck would have it.
As if it knew by instinct that it had missed imminent death more times than it deserved, the colt was willing to stay out of Weed’s way; the sooner it got home, the better.
There was a shabby stable outside the Royal Palace. As soon as the chief horse trainer laid eyes on the colt, he grimaced.
“The good times are gone, now that this mouth-firing Arse is back. Heard of you from Lord Midvale. Are you returning this beast that shames his father, Weed-nim?” Lighthearted now, Weed left the colt in an empty lot.
“You’ve had a good journey. I know this beast spells nothing but trouble.”
“I am fine. It’s over now.”
“Lord Midvale left a message. He wants you to visit him if you are still interested in the centurion job. He says it’s yours anytime.”
“Tell him I appreciate it.”
The chief horse trainer was polite to Weed who was virtually a stranger to him.
Assured once again that a man’s status depended on who his contacts were, and what he had done in his name, Weed left the Royal Stable and went to the Training Hall.
There, he met the instructor.
“Hmm. So that’s what happened to you…”
The instructor was very sorry that Weed was forced to convert to the Legendary Moonlight Sculptor class.
“It is my fault.”
Weed kept it short. He just dropped his head with a grim face.
“No. How can anyone in his right mind blame this on you? The counselor stepped over the line. Still, hang on to hope,”
The instructor said, patting Weed’s shoulder.
“Yes, Instructor. You’re the one I can always rely on…” Weed said.
“Haha. Absolutely. Anyway, you have come back from a great journey and you finished my quest.”
The instructor rewarded him with three gold and fifty points of public service to Rosenheim for the completion of The Clean-up Operation in the Lair of Litvart quest.
As public service is largely accumulated, it gives a user the upper hand in trades in the country in question, and he is qualified for government positions as well.
However, the instructor’s attitude changed slightly. He no longer considered Weed one of his kind as a colleague on the same path in swordsmanship.
It implied that the friendship between them, which Weed had worked so hard to build up, was crumbling a little.
After visiting the instructor, Weed stopped by at Rodriguez’s manor as his last visit. As always, the counselor was confined in his study.
“Haha. You really finished the quest,” Rodriguez said. “I was wondering how you fared because you had not appeared on my doorstep for a long time.”
“Hmm… Anyway, as destiny directs it, I have an object for you.”
Rodriguez handed Weed a wooden statue that fitted in his palm. It was shaped like an imperial knight.
“What is this?” Weed asked.
“It is the legacy of Geihar von Arpen the Magnificent. My family used to serve the Imperial Family of the Arpenian Empire. The blood, and the obligation accompanying it, has flowed in my family. I am the one to take the task for this generation. Now that I hand it to you, I am finally liberated from the reins,” Rodriguez said.
“But what is this statue for?” Weed had already received a wooden statue of a different shape when he carried out Zahab’s Moonlight Sculptor quest.
“I do not know the secret of this wooden statue, either,” Rodriguez said. “The myth has it that there have been five masters in sculptural art on the Continent. Of course, it is only an ancient myth, for they came and went like the wind. They are known to leave their own crafts in their legacies, so I surmise that this statue is probably one of them. According to the myth, if you succeeded in collecting all five of the statues, and solve the puzzle arising from them, the ultimate secret of sculptural art will appear.”
Still doubtful, Weed identified the wooden statue. Due to his low level in that skill, he succeeded in finding out the identity of the statue only after a couple of failed attempts.
This statue contains the Emperor Geihar Von Arpen’s skills.
Equips: Enables you to acquire a unique skill to give the breath of life to any statue.
Requirement: Expert stage in Sculpture Mastery
When Weed identified the wooden statue left by Zahab, he also found an engraving knife technique whose prerequisite was five or above skill level in sword mastery.
“A great secret is hidden in sculpture mastery,” Weed said.
“You are now on the path in sculptural art, and I wish you the best in making Grand Master in sculpture mastery. The world has never seen a Grand Master, but if there is ever one, he will be able to handle the fate of the Continent easily,” Rodriguez said. “It is true that I introduced you to this path out of malicious intent, but it is also a true tale I have told you.”
Weed no longer resented Rodriguez. The past was the past, and a sudden interest in the craft hit him.
‘The one who creates his own path.’
Furthermore, Weed was told that if he ever made it, the days of riches and power would wait for him.
Rodriguez thought he had paid off old scores with Weed. At the sight of his sorry state after he wandered hungry and cold for seven weeks, the grudge was already gone in the counselor’s mind.
“I have another question, Counselor. Do cooks or blacksmiths have their own hidden path to becoming Grand Master?” Weed asked.
“I guess so. God is generous,” Rodriguez said. “Remember –not everyone on the path in the cooking skill sees and grabs the opportunity.”
“There must be other Chosen Ones! They will see to it their own way. It is up to them if they have it or not.”
When Weed had heard all he wanted to hear, he left the manor.
* * *
Darius heard his heart pounding. He had never expected to go this far when he had solved a series of trivial-looking quests.
The best luck, he called it.
There were two men at the center of a power game in Rosenheim Kingdom—Duke Kanus and Count Albrook. Of the two, Duke Kanus, in charge of the military affairs, was more powerful.
The man in question was now lowering a snowy white sword toward him now.
“Darius-nim, I hereby bestow temporary knighthood of Rosenheim upon you in recognition of your dedicated service to the Royal Court. I order you to form a punitive force by the power of a knight and rescue the villagers at the frontier from their misery.”
“At your service, milord. You can count on me,” Darius said.
“Sir Darius, I entrust this task to you,” Duke Kanus said.
Darius felt a slight touch of the blade on both shoulders in turn, then on the head.
It might have been a dreadful sensation in times of war, but he was in the middle of an ordination ceremony of knighthood in the Royal Palace of Rosenheim. Moreover, the holder of the sword was Duke Kanus.
Rather than fearful, it was such a memorable moment for Darius that he almost let out a cry of excitement. Darius had to fight this spontaneous temptation to exclaim and roll over on the tapestry in spite of the solemn atmosphere. Suppressing a smirk, his face wrinkled into a grin.
‘Now I’m the commander of a punitive force’ Darius counted himself very, very lucky.
* * *
‘I’ve got to do something’
Weed made a serious face.
The nature of the sculptor class that he happened to stumble on was as follows:
As Weed’s main weapon was a sword, it was useful to compare him to a sword warrior.
The moment the class is decided, a sword warrior wins a 50% bonus on sword mastery. Of course, Weed could close the gap with his useful handicraft skill as compensation.
Thanks to the initially heightened stats, even a knight at the same level was no match for him. In the case of relatively lower levels, he was confident that he would win a duel against two sword warriors at the same level, supported by the engraving knife technique and the Imperial Formless Sword Technique.
The Imperial Formless Sword Technique—Weed was surprised by its dominant power when he tried it.
This technique was something close to a cheat key, doubling the speed of reflex and the power of destruction, and even tripling the recovery of mana. No wonder the Emperor Geihar selected it to leave to his successor.
However, the warriors and knights also have sword skills and breathing patterns of their own. When they master a breathing pattern suitable to their own class, it has a great effect on them, even when the grade of sword techniques that they know is lower than Weed’s Imperial Formless Sword Technique.
It is the special right enjoyed by the knights and warriors, the two standard classes specialized in combat skills.
In other words, no matter whether Weed raised his handicraft skill and other stats zealously, and acquired more cheat-key-like skills, he would one day be caught up by his counterparts. Even now, Weed was only slightly ahead of them unless he used underhanded tactics.
Obviously, he would have been much weaker than an ordinary sword warrior without timely investment in the handicraft skill as well as the Imperial Formless Sword Technique, and additional stats that he had earned from the Training Hall.
‘But the sculptor class has a greater potential than appears. If not, the Emperor Geihar could not have conquered the Continent, and it would be hard to explain Zahab’s strength,’
he said to himself.
* * *
The Citadel of Serabourg, the capital of Rosenheim Kingdom.
In front of the Central Fountain where the thriving downtown was located, a line of avatars was watching various statues on display. Weed had opened a second stall to work on his skill level in sculpture mastery.
“Hello. How much is this?” a girl asked.
“Five silvers,” Weed said.
“Oh my, it’s too expensive. Can you please make a little discount for me? Please? I’ll buy two pieces.”
The cute girl beamed at Weed, trying to persuade him, but he was merciless. Especially when it came to money, he treated men and women alike.
“With due respect, young lady, a discount is like an insult to my artworks. Do you think I discounted my passion in art, and my devotion to the work in particular, when I carved this statue? An artwork has to bear a fair price that reflects its true value, which will grow within your mind as time passes,”
The girl was moved. It was silly that she tried to bargain for artwork that held the sculptor’s heart. Seized with remorse, she took shiny silver coins out of her pocket.
“I’m so sorry. Here are ten silvers,” the girl said.
“Thank you, young lady.”
Weed grinned demurely, handing over two statues. It was a winner’s smile, proud of himself that he had sold the statues as they were originally priced.
As a sculptor with the bold description ‘Legendary Moonlight,’ which he had resisted but converted to in the end, he carved beautiful statues even by the standard of Pratique Des Arts, Peinture, Sculpture, Gravure.
His current skill level in sculpture mastery was four. Since Weed converted to Moonlight Sculptor, the effects of his sculpture mastery had been doubled, not to mention that he owned one of the top items that amounted to a cheat key, Zahab’s Engraving Knife.
Weed’s lineup was yet limited to small-size statues made of plain materials by his immature expertise in sculpture mastery. Their simplicity and low price rather appealed to a broader spectrum of customers.
Some of his fans even lined up to pick up the artworks that he was working on there and then.
Foxes and rabbits, which cost less than ten coppers for materials, were the most popular items in his stall that sold at a lightning speed, though they were priced at five silvers.
Weed believed that his enterprise was an honest business. He wasn’t coercing anyone to buy his statues. What could he do about people flocking to get hold of them for the stated price?
Weed moved the engraving knife faster. He was raising his expertise rating in sculpture mastery while he was making money.
Like sculpture mastery, cooking, repair and other craft skills are upgraded from the basic stage to intermediate when they reach the skill level of ten, which falls back to one after the upgrade.
For cooking skill, this upgrade creates solid options of enhancing life and mana benefits for hand-made meals. For the repair skill, the intermediate stage introduces a new tech tree for producing and refining weapons and gear.
That isn’t the end of it.
When the skill level reaches ten once again, thus passing the intermediate stage, the expert stage descends on a new full-fledged master, who has proven worthy of himself by completing all the necessary steps.
A master in any field of skills, combat or craft, is recognized and respected based solely on the merits of his expertise in the skill, but overall craft skills, such as sculptural art and cooking skill, are very limited in prospect.
Weed’s priority at this point was upgrading his basic handicraft skill to the intermediate stage.
The skill level had increase to nine while he was dedicated to repairing damage equipment and serving meals to the troops in the Lair of Litvart. One more level and the handicraft skill would be promoted to the intermediate stage.
The Intermediate handicraft skill enhances sword mastery and archery by increasing overall attack power by 30%.
The skill is mandatory for a sculptor whose attack power is substandard at best, penalized by the character of his class.
‘The handicraft skill is quite handy.’
As the handicraft skill rises, all the craft skills become more efficient. The expert handicraft skill can lift guild restrictions for a user into a wider field of craft skills, such as blacksmith work and alchemy.
The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor class already gave a free pass to all the craft skills related to other professions, but Weed was aware that a higher handicraft skill would make it easier and faster to acquire and develop them.
Perhaps the crafters gradually intersect with one another to the point where they converge on the same path to supremacy of a Grand Master.
Actually, it is an understatement that the crafters would become extinct without the existence of the handicraft skill. They cannot catch up with combat specialists unless they beef up their pathetic combat abilities.
‘Now I’ve finished a hundred statues!’
Even though Weed was carving statues relentlessly, his skill level in sculpture mastery was stuck at level 4 at 98%. In contrary to the fast-growing handicraft skill, the growth of his sculpture mastery was slowing down.
‘I hope it’ll level up after fifty more statues.’
That moment, female customers suddenly parted in alarm, and through a corridor between them appeared a tall man with terrorizing looks who was walking toward Weed.
The man seemed so full of a deadly aura that even Weed felt his spine freeze.
‘What have I done wrong to turn that thug against me?’ Weed asked himself under the breath.
The man looked around with slit eyes.
“He saw me!” the girls shrieked.
The man walked toward Weed slowly, and then bowed down miserably like a bedraggled mouse.
“I’d like to ask you for a favor,” the man said.
“Shoot” –Wrong choice of a word.
“I’m here to buy a statue. But I couldn’t find anything I wanted,” the man said kneeling down before Weed. “Can you make a statue the way I order? No, I beg you, please. You should make a statue for me, so I can propose to the lady.”
Weed tried to get the man to his feet and hear him out. The man’s name was Volk.
Volk had fallen in love with a woman. The primary motive for starting the online game was to protect her by her side. For the sake of this person, who was a priestess, he had selected the paladin knight class for his avatar.
During a year of numerous missions and battles, she had not died once owing to his devotion and sacrifice. He had also enjoyed his second life that was accompanied by blessing and healing from her. The bond between them had deepened as months went by, and he was so happy every time he saw her.
Now was the time for him to propose a marriage to her.
“I want to give her something she’d never forget. Not a flower that withers someday. I want you to carve the flowers that shall never wither—to engrave my heart in them! Please!”
Volk stayed on his knees.
His face was intimidating, but his heart wasn’t.
How many men would kneel down before a stranger for the sake of such an unconditional love cherished in the heart?
Sighing deeply, Weed looked around. Many women looked touched. Even he, blinded by money, could sense Volk’s grief.
* * *
‘I love her. I love her, but why doesn’t she see it in me?’
‘I want to speak my heart.’
‘I tried to say in my heart a thousand times, “I LOVE YOU!’
‘But why can’t I say the same words to her?’
* * *
As a man, Weed’s sympathies were with Volk. Weed held the paladin’s hand and helped him rise to his feet.
“For such a favor…” Weed said politely, “You don’t need to kneel down, Volk-nim. In your own right, you can ask for it on your feet. I am weak to that kind of request. I’ll gladly accept your order.”
Volk shed tears.
“Thank you so much, Weed-nim.”
“Not at all. So, what kind of flowers do you want?”
“Please make seven sunflowers. It will embody my heart, which has followed her, the sunshine of my life, for seven years.”
“I see. Can you wait a moment?”
Weed studied the wood stock beside him and chose the best quality timber—Elvenwood.
It was a very thick, hard wood that was known to grow only in a warmer climate in the south. It was still in one piece, the size of a rock, which was yet to be chopped to smaller blocks conforming to statues.
‘I must do my best to deliver it this time.’
Weed could carve a fox or rabbit with his eyes closed now, but flowers seemed like a challenge.
‘If I carve each flower separately, it will be a simple matter, but how can I put them together later? Seven sunflowers and a hundred roses as my private gift for this couple. I’d better carve a bouquet of all the flowers at once.’
Weed pictured the overall shape of the final work, and began to smooth the Elvenwood very slowly.
Volk and other girls had no idea what Weed was up to. They could not understand why he chose such a large piece of wood to carve only seven sunflowers. In any case, as the Elvenwood was being trimmed off, a shape was surfacing little by little.
The first flowers were relatively large sunflowers, soon followed by roses encircling them.
As Weed’s magic hands danced, a beautiful bouquet revealed itself from top to bottom.
Customers in waiting soon turned into spectators in awe, watching the sculptural art unfolded by Weed.
Each time the engraving knife snapped, each time the wood was trimmed, the audience throbbed with anxiety because a small mistake could snap the fragile trunk of a flower.
“Oh, my god! Let him finish it.”
This was the wish of not only Weed and Volk, but also everyone else present.
Right in front of them, Weed concentrated on the flowers fervently.
As the engraving knife moved, the wood was being shaped, revealing the blossoms, trunks and leaves.
‘Failure isn’t allowed here’Weed’s eyes gleamed.
He would have been forgiven for any failure if he had been alone, but now he was onstage surrounded by a thick circle of spectators. If he made a mistake before the prospective customers, his skyrocketing reputation would immediately crash.
He knew better than anyone else that his popularity was growing, large attributed to the fact that there was no other sculptor in the near vicinity, and he had to avoid it shrinking at any cost.
A fan’s fantasy is equal to money!
Weed sublimated his excessive obsession into artistic production, and finally succeeded in making the bouquet.
|Level Up: Sculpture Mastery
Enhances beauty and complexity of statues.
Decreases the rate at which you fail to produce statues.
Upgrade: Handicraft Skill [Basic to Intermediate]Increases attack power with weapons and fists. (+30% ATK)
Enhances every field of craft skill and Sword Mastery.
Art has risen by 5 point (+5 Art)
Fame has risen by 1 point. (+1 Fame)
Caution: The sale of a failed work may cancel it.
Once Weed finished the wooden bouquet, the two skills leveled altogether.
Because his sculpture mastery had been stuck at the expertise rating of 98% with the skill level of four, the first level up message wasn’t surprising, but though the expertise rating for the handicraft skill had remained six percent left lower than the next level, it was filled at once, promoted to the intermediate stage.
As luck would have it, the Art stat, which had been bothering him constantly because its progress was nowhere to be seen, increased by five points.
“This is unbelievable.”
Weed checked the window quickly, and realized that his skill level in sculpture mastery not only hit, but also accumulated an expertise rating of 17% above the line. Even the handicraft skill scored 5% after it converted to intermediate one.
‘Aren’t I lucky?’ Weed was excited by his fortune, but soon understood why it had taken place. Sculptural art isn’t a conveyor belt.
The expertise rating in sculpture mastery does not advance by mass production of similar statues as if they were made by a cookie cutter.
Only when a sculptor is dedicated to create an original work of high artistic value that has never been tried before, will sculpture mastery gain an enormous expertise rating. It reminded Weed of the first fox and rabbit statues that had improved his expertise rating in sculpture mastery greatly in the initial phase.
Tried and failed, his skill level had risen visibly fast. When he no longer tried a new shape and style by force of habit though, and repeatedly churned out monotonous products, his progress in sculpture mastery had slowed down almost to a stop.
‘I thought leveling was supposed to slow down as the level was higher, but that wasn’t it. I was taking the wrong path.’
While Weed was immersed in his own thoughts, Volk and other women were fascinated by the bouquet. A bouquet made of wood. The sunflowers and roses radiated softness and warmth, bearing life like real ones.
“It’s finished, Volk-nim.”
Weed handed the bouquet over to Volk.
The sunflowers and roses were beaming on the paladin. To his eyes, it was magic.
“Oh, dear God. I can’t—can’t believe…” More tears dropped from the eyes of Volk. “Is this really made of wood? Sculpture mastery does magic…”
“Yup, Volk-nim. You just saw me carve this, didn’t you?”
“It’s simply unbelievable,” Volk said amid tears.
The other spectators were also dazzled by Weed’s finished work. He could not have made the bouquet without Zahab’s engraving knife, and especially at the critical moment, his sculpture mastery and handicraft skill had been combined to bring out more fantastic effects on the work.
“I did make this bouquet with my heart. Now you go for her with your heart,” Weed said.
He encouraged Volk in a fine manner. He was inspired that he had learned a new secret of sculpture mastery while making the bouquet.
“Thank you, thank you so much,” Volk said, sincerely grateful to Weed, putting his hand in the pocket to take out the payment for the bouquet.
Uplifted, Weed said,
“It’s three gold.”
Considering the amount of effort that he had put in, the statue deserved to be worth more than three gold, but he was content with it. Suddenly, Volk had a confused look, and began to turn over his pockets.
“Where… where are they gone?” Volk cried. His hand that had been combing through in his pocket didn’t hold anything in it.
It was Weed, though, who was panicked at that very moment.
‘Is he trying to pull a trick on me?’
Weed already knew what was coming—more specifically, what Volk would say next second.
‘He will claim he’s lost money somewhere else.’
“I-I am so sorry, Weed-nim. I lost money somewhere else,” Volk said.
‘Cause you can’t say you didn’t have any gold in the first place.’
Volk didn’t wait for Weed to answer, and cried, “I think my pocket was picked. Damn squirrel!”
‘There you go. But you can’t bluff your way out with this number of people witnessing your every move. If he’s an expert in this line of business, he should know better than thinking he can rip me off and walk out alive.’
“Do you mind if I give you something of an equal value to make up for money?”
Volk followed the steps that Weed had already seen through, a typical trick for the penniless to try, but he underestimated Weed, whom spread a terrible aura.
‘Who do you think you are to rip me off, jackass?’ Weed thought.
Then, Volk was forced to put his hand again in his pocket.
“What a relief. I found two gold and ninety silvers left. Can you please discount ten silvers?” Volk asked.
“Why don’t you just give me something worth ten silvers? What do you have?”
Weed’s sharp eyes ran over Volk’s outfit. He observed the weapons, his gear and ornaments.
Tens of thousands of identified items in Royal Road were registered in alphabetic order in a corner of his brain. He wanted to immediately identify a new item upon acquiring it, estimate the market price for it, and rejoice twice, even thrice, right on the spot.
But his eyes failed to catch anything valuable from Volk who was poorly attired. The paladin took out a book from his clothes and handed it to Weed.
“How about allowing for ten silvers with this book?”
Weed quickly scanned the book.
|The Forgotten City on the Versailles Continent #4
In the sky above the Southern Province of Rosenheim Kingdom is a metropolis made mysterious by fairy tales and legend, which is recorded to be populated by a race that is distinctly non-human. To describe them best, the right word would be the Aves.
Strong warriors themselves, the race detested monsters, driving the lowly irritants out of the Southern Province, so they were nowhere to be seen. However, the race has now vanished, and even the path to the City of Heaven, as it is known, is now lost.
Now the presence of the city comes to be questionable, but the townspeople in the Southern Province still believe in the city and her courageous avian residents as the elders instill this tale in the minds of the next generation.
According to an unreliable source, it needs a Mysterious Seed to climb up to the City of Heaven.
Weed felt deceived. Who would believe such nonsense as the City of Heaven?
Granted that a city was actually floating somewhere in the air, violating every law of physics, the city would be seen from the earth. Consequently, that book claiming the presence of the City of Heaven would be hearsay.
If that wasn’t ridiculous enough, the last passage about climbing up a plant to the city was outrageous, if not lousy. The thing had about zero credibility.
As if he sensed that Weed was skeptical of the content of the book he had given him, Volk defended himself in a hurry,
“You may not believe this, but it’s a hard-won book…”
“I wish I could give you something better, but coincidentally, this book is the most valuable item in my possession,”
Volk said, showing what he had in his backpack—a rabbit’s fur, a snake’s scale and a small piece of a broken sword.
Weed could repair the sword, but it was a sloppy thing with +2 ATK that even a kobold would throw away. Perhaps he could negotiate for it for two coppers in the blacksmith’s workshop.
“I am so sorry, Weed-nim.”
Weed sighed deeply.
‘Okay, it’s fine. I learned the secret of sculpture mastery, anyway. I couldn’t have figured it out if I had printed out the same junk forever. I will forgive him for cheating ten silvers. No big deal.’
When Weed mentioned cost three gold, he had already considered it negotiable. His call was mainly intended to shock Volk into playing by his book.
The prices of most statues, which were not fixed by any normal standard, were largely determined by the way a customer made a bargain with a sculptor.
Two gold and ninety silvers, plus a silly book, wasn’t a bad deal at all, the level up of his sculpture mastery and other skills included. But God only knew what Weed would have committed to in the case of two gold and eighty silvers.
“I think this book is worth ten silvers. I wish you good luck with your proposal to her, Volk-nim. And the lady you fall in love with…”
“Excuse me?” Volk said.
“She will live a wonderful life with you,”
Weed said sarcastically. With such a penny-pinching husband, she would never be broke for the rest of her life, for one thing.
“Thank you, Weed-nim.” After shaking hands with Weed, Volk walked away slowly. Weed watched him leaving.
Suddenly, on Volk’s outfit, appeared shiny Mithril armor. His trousers were covered by a pair of Mithril gaiters. Even his boots turned into Mithril—that was a twist that left Weed reeling.
‘He’s wearing a life cotton ring, a rare item that doubles maximum life! A priceless treasure! As far as I know, those earrings resist the element of lightning. I heard it’s only listed in the catalogue, and no one actually had them. You bastard, you’re loaded – it’s not fair you just ripped off a poor sculptor.’
The items Volk was equipped with were valuable beyond Weed’s wildest imagination. Some of them were even worth thousands of gold.
* * *
Finished with the bouquet after hours of hard work, Weed stretched out his arms and yawned.
Suddenly, the spectators began to shove yellow gold at Weed and shouted—
“Make me exactly the same bouquet, please!”
“I just bought two foxes, but can I return them and change my order to the bouquet?”
* * *
Upon leaving the Citadel of Serabourg, Volk made a cheesy smile.
Full of humorous heart that betrayed his scary countenance, Volk had sincerely desired to reward Weed, who had created the bouquet with his heart.
The book of the City of Heaven!—truthfully, Volk had spent two months to get hold of it. According to the book, it is a mysterious place that even he had not put his foot on.
One of the reasons he had come to Rosenheim was to visit the city. But the proposal to the lady who had stolen his heart outweighed anything else.
Volk had given Weed the book in return of the bouquet, but it felt like nothing.
‘Don’t just throw it away. Keep it. It will show you the way if you look for it, and you’ll get there someday.’
Holding the bouquet dearly, Volk headed for Brent Kingdom, where the dear lady was.
* * *
A wooden bouquet!
It was a perfect gift at times such as when a boy asks a girl out, so as the rumor about Volk the paladin, his fair lady and the wooden bouquet spread, Weed’s outdoor sculpture shop was quickly becoming a landmark.
Most users had seen statues as keepsake lying on the fireplace or stuck in the dark corner, only to be dusted from time to time, but Volk’s event transformed the way they viewed statues.
That day, Weed declared, “I apologize, but I shall not make the same shape of statues anymore!”
He came to this conclusion, born of his personal gains, to speed up leveling in his sculpture mastery and Handicraft skill. Yet the public was misled.
“He’s a real artist!”
“He is so cool. He said he’s not making the some statue twice.”
“In that case, the value of his statues will rise.”
The customers to Weed’s vendor used to buy one or two rabbit- or fox-shaped statues as souvenir at a cheap price, but now they ordered original designs for the gifts.
The number of finished products fell below two digits because a single work cost him a couple of hours, but they were more popular than cookie cutters—three gold per each statue.
Given that the business didn’t require much of production costs, it was lucrative business.
In addition, Weed’s skill level in sculpture mastery and Handicraft skill soared in a short period.
In only three days, his skill level in sculpture mastery hit eight, way up from five and his intermediate Handicraft skill rose to level four.
When Weed was short of new orders, he cooked and sold food.
“Rabbit meat or fox meat! If you bring me any meat, I will cook it for you. It can’t be preserved for a long time, so you should eat it within a day!”
Weed’s cooking skill granted a bonus of life and vitality to meals he cooked. It was a poor man’s steroid. Those who found it hard to deal with meat that they had picked up while they were hunting wild animals near the Citadel rushed to Weed.
“Do you really cook?”
“Yes. Trust me. All you have to pay for is flavors and sauces. The thing is, just bring me any kind of meat anytime you want,” Weed said.
Food made with sculptural art—meals served by Weed were artistic works. More users than you would think learn how to cook because it is useful when they camp out in the field. But how many amateur cooks can apply the art stat when they are cooking?
Except for professional cooks, not so many users invest time and energy in the cooking skill, and appetizing meals are even rarer among the pros.
Selling quality food at a low price, Weed’s stall was a megahit. Users packed it in hope of a bonus of life and vitality.
Someone whispered to Weed, who had spent a week carving statues and cooking food for sale:
- Weed-nim, can you hear me?
It was Pale the archer, who had become acquainted with Weed during late nights hunting foxes and wolves.
- Hi. Long time no see.
- Great, you are in. Where have you been? I sent you a whisper almost every day, but it was always blocked.
- I had work to do.
The secret cave in the Lair of Litvart—inside it, whispering was automatically blocked. Pale didn’t pry into Weed.
- I see. Do you have time now?
Weed looked around. His statues were still popular, but it was strictly production-on-demand, so the sales had passed their peak. What people wanted for a gift was similar. In that sense, his declaration to make only original statues boomeranged on him.
- Then, why don’t you join the punitive force quest to Village Baran with us? We decided to take the quest together, and I tried to contact you to ask if you wanted it, too.