Chapter 99

“…!”

“After that, we stopped by a tannery. Clothing or pockets used to carry poison or abrasive chemicals will require specially designed clothes. We told him the purpose and he introduced us to a store that specializes in custom clothing.”

“…!!”

“And we also stopped by a perfume store. Don’t you use perfumes and certain scents to hide your smell or track something? We were very curious about who regularly purchases certain perfumes and oils who weren’t aristocrats.”

“…!!!”

“We looked into many other places as well. Where information is distributed like booksellers, where stolen goods could be sold like antique shops, and where stolen medicines and medicinal goods could be sold like medicinal herbs shops. Additionally, we watched the city all day. If there was a place where all these activities can be integrated, where travel to distant cities could be made easier, exchanges with nobles were frequent, and where one can secretly develop combat power…”

“…”

“Well… your world is simple. Excluding the mercenary and merchant guilds, there weren’t many places you could be. While some of the clans looked suspicious, we thought the Dark Guilds headquarters wouldn’t be in one of those unless the leader is an idiot.”

“Such great reasoning!”

Maheim lamented. He was truly admiring their reasoning. Nobles didn’t understand the logic of conducting business. The taste and behavior of the nobility are unknown to commoners. The merchant doesn’t know the logic of specialized craftsmen. The craftsman was hostile and wary against other craftsmen to protect their specialized skills and knowledge. Except for merchants, few commoners knew how to write. So, the logic of the Dark Guilds had never really been deconstructed in the manner Biyeon stated. In that gap of deduction and reasoning, their Dark Guilds was always safe.

“Do you want to keep talking like this? My arm is starting to get tired.” 

San put some pressure on his sword. The sword slowly dug deeper into Maheim’s throat.

“We can sell your goods… It will be of great help to you… It’s a difficult thing for you to sell yourself, Maheim said as he frowned.

“You’re not buying it?” San asked.

“We don’t have that kind of money. But we do know customers who have that amount of money. And we can sell it for a cheap fee.”

“You’re asking for a fee?” Biyeon interjected.

“If you consider the transaction risk, we should get 20%.”

“Did you ever reflect on your theft? It seems this scammer hasn’t learned his lesson,” San commented.

“That’s just business. It’s unforgivable for an unqualified person to have an expensive item.”

“And your thoughts now?”

“I think you have the qualifications.”

Maheim laughed. The opponent was the strongest he had ever faced. Besides, after having a conversation, San seemed to understand Maheim’s world. There was so much one can do with someone who is strong and knows how to negotiate. Furthermore, there was a reason in this world for the Dark Guilds existence. But…

“You’re disgusting…” San said lightly. 

Soon afterward, San’s sword circulated once, from the bottom to the top with a ‘Sh-Sh’ sound.

At the same time, Maheim’s right arm detached from his shoulder. His arm seemed to hover in the air for a moment before it fell to the floor. San’s sword immediately returned to Maheim’s neck. Blood was gushing out from Maheim’s shoulder along the torn artery. Maheim’s relaxed face turned blue as he looked back at San.

“I wondered if your arm deserved to be stuck there. Why, do you think my actions were unfair?”

“Do you want to be enemies for life with the Dark Guilds Alliance?” Maheim screamed as he ground his teeth.

“That’s not really saying much… I’m willing. We have a lot of enemies anyways. I’m even an enemy with the guy who made this world. I’m sorry. I don’t think I made myself clear on how serious we were. Next time, it’ll be your throat.”

San smiled brightly. Maheim groaned and grit his teeth. The opponent seemed to have the will to kill him. He wanted Maheim to surrender, not negotiate. However, Maheim couldn’t guess the reason or intention of them taking this radical action.

“What do you want?”

“First of all, reflection and apology.”

“What?”

You have to put everything back to its original state. What good deal can we make with children who don’t know how to reflect? We believe we should be compensated, not pay a commission. Recalling your words, I think the difference in our thoughts is too great. I think this conversation may be a waste of time…”

“…”

“Did you have anything further to say?”

“After killing me, will you kill everyone here?” Maheim asked in a low voice. His bleeding was already reaching a critical point. His lips were already blue.

“Probably… if it’s a proper organization, we’ll have to kill everyone. Wouldn’t that be the cleanest way of wrapping up a problem?” San answered dryly. 

Maheim stared into San’s eyes for a long time. He saw a dead end.

“I'm sorry. I’ll pay the requested compensation amount,” Maheim said as he bowed his head down.

“To us? Or to the Count’s children?”

San’s indifferent gaze was fixed on Maheim. Maheim felt like cool ice was flowing down his back. His body shivered. His opponent’s eyes felt like a judge who measured the content of sincerity and lies. He felt a feeling of pure fear for the first time since he was a child. The horror was like sorrow without an end in sight. It was as if he was being scolded by his parents when he was young.

“I’m sorry. To everyone. And… sincerely…”

There was a thin smile on Biyeon’s mouth.

With a bit of investment, they were now going to obtain the most competent information organization in this world, something they wanted dearly. This would help them prepare for the type of war they wanted in the near future. Biyeon took out a flask of nectar and lifted it towards Maheim. He’d be able to use his right arm again soon.

Episode 2. Book 5: Investment – Chapter 5

They lit the lights in the meeting room.

The large meeting place was in shambles as if it was struck by a bomb.

San stood back with his sword removed from Maheim’s neck while Biyeon stood next to him after finishing Maheim’s treatment.

All of the Dark Guild’s warriors put down their swords and weapons, but they were still nervous. Everyone’s eyes were paying attention to their leadership’s every movement and words.

Maheim snapped his right finger. The pain in his shoulder was gone, and although it was still unnatural, the sensation in his arm was returning.

“Phew- the water of life… I really have no idea who you two are. This level of water of life concentration is hard for even the elites of the Han-Sung Clan to get a hold of… In fact, this water of life is much more valuable than the Archon material…” Maheim said while looking up at San. 

Maheim’s face was mixed with surprise and curiosity. He had already put his guard down. His opponents had no qualms about using their swords without a moment’s notice. He understood that he couldn’t fool around with these types of people. However, instead of answering his question, San nodded lightly and then turned to another place.

There was a man who had disappeared during Maheim and the third battalion commander’s treatment. A scholarly man in his forties walked towards San after lifting a door’s curtains.

He was greeted with San’s smile.

“It looks like we won this game,” San said with a smile.

“It is so. You both went far beyond my judgment,” Sedum said simply. 

Maheim’s face subtly changed. The expressions of the battalion commanders and other high-level officials of the guild were also sinking deeply. However, San and Sedum weren’t concerned.

“Does this settle the issue?” San asked.

“I will follow you, as I promised,” Sedum replied. He put his right hand on his left chest and bowed deeply to San. The same was done for Biyeon. His actions were what one did when fulfilling the war god’s pledge.

“I have a right to know what’s going on here. What is the meaning of this? Sedum… my son...” Maheim spoke while holding his right arm. His voice was shaking.

Sedum looked up and stared into his father’s eyes. Maheim’s eyes were constantly vibrating, mixed with sadness, anger, pain, and suspicion.

“Can I speak instead?” San said as he looked at Sedum. 

Sedum shut his mouth as he was about to reply to Maheim, his father, and looked toward San. He bowed toward San, giving his consent. He wouldn’t disobey the will of the man to whom he promised his life. San put on a light smile and faced Maheim.

“That is… it was a similar situation as it is now…”

“…?”

“At that time, when we captured Sedum, he was aiming for our goods. Since we left the Count’s estate, we paid attention to his movements early on because he was a person who showed the movements of an expert. There are only good, innocent people in the Count’s estate, so information about the harsh real world was very difficult to obtain. So, we first offered to negotiate with Sedum. Of course, the collateral was Sedum’s own life…”

The entire place was silent as they focused on San’s every word.

Sedum stated that he couldn’t betray his guild and his mission. So, I felt that he was even more trustworthy. We could understand his situation. In fact, it could be considered that we were in the same industry. So, we proposed a reasonable way to accept each other’s wants and needs.”

“…”

“First, we were heading in the same direction, so we traveled together towards our common destination, Porato City. There were many people who were aiming for our goods, and there were many powerful enemies, so it was a good joint venture. So far, there was no reason for Sedum to object. We thought the joint venture was acceptable, too…”

“Hmm…”

Maheims low sighs flowed out as San continued speaking.

“Secondly, when we arrived in Porato City, I asked him to perform his original mission to the best of his abilities. I was also curious about how great and how capable the ‘Dark Guilds’ was. Anyway, it would be bothersome for us to hold onto such precious items and fend against the many people eyeing them in the city. There were also going to be situations where the two of us would be forced to leave the hotel for personal business, so in fact, we were not in a position to be able to keep the goods safe. Also, we had to think about the safety of the countless people we brought along…”

“…!”

“If Sedum succeeded in his mission, we decided to come find him. If we couldn’t find him, the goods would be his. If we did find him, he’d pay the appropriate compensation. Of course, this agreement had to be kept a secret from the leader of the Dark Guilds…”

Maheim looked at Sedum. Sedum was taking the doubt-filled looks from his father with a calm expression.

“But, even if we did find this place, we would never have told this story if we didn’t have the ability to get the goods back. In the end, for Sedum, it was never a game that would hurt his organization. Even if another guild like the Dark Guilds had stolen our goods, a day like today would surely have come.”

“Hu-Uh!”

“In short, Sedum believed in the abilities of himself and his father, and we believed in our abilities. We did our best to one-up each other, and the results of the game are the same as what you see today. However, we also made every effort to avoid danger. There was nothing for us to lose if we couldn’t find you. The amount you took was a small amount, and I was going to give it to Sedum as a bonus anyway. I won’t be too salty. You’ll get 10% of the total sales.”

San’s story was over. Maheim looked at Sedum with calm eyes. The anger that was overflowing within him just a moment ago had already disappeared. Instead, in its place, a deep trust and affection were filling its place. Also, a bit of moisture formed around his eyes…

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