The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor Volume 11 Chapter 1
Chapter 1 : The Land of the Vampires
Weed, while riding on the back of a vampire bat on its way toward the Kingdom of Vampires Todeum, had great expectations.
"This place Todeum must be overflowing with money and treasures. The mindset of nobilities........am I going to get a reward in exchange for time I've spent bringing up Tori?"
After reaching the city of heaven, Levis, Weed took care of the Death Knight and reclaimed the lost cup of Freya, Herrara Cup. But instead of getting a reward, he instead received another quest from the Church of Freya!
The quest was to defeat a clan consists of vampires in the name of Freya; and retrieves the lost relic of the Church of Freya, the Fargo Crown. With that said, Tori was the head of that vampire clan, a Boss type monster of level 400; and an underling of Lord of the Undead, Barr Khan.
Weed, on the other hand, was not even at level 200 back then. Along with just Ron Alves, he had to free all of priests and paladins whom were under the petrified curse. Thanks to their valiant effort, Tori and his clan were defeated; but that, by no means, was not the end.
Near the beginning of the battle against the Legion of Immortality, Weed went through many adventures in order to grow stronger; strong enough to summoned and fought against Tori to earn his title as Tori's master. Now, as if to truly recognize Weeds as his master, Tori invited Weed into the Kingdom of Vampires.
The reward will be as sweet as honey!
Vampires love luxurious things: treasures, beautiful works of art, magnificent castles and the likes; so Todeum will be filled with such sights. For them to be invited to such a place, they must have been in Tori's good grace.
While harboring these beautiful fantasies, Weed and his party were taken by surprise as the vampire bats they rode dove into the ground. Entering a hole below earth, they were dropped into the contaminated river and went with the flow.
They swam upward from the depth, gasping for air, and made their way toward the shore. With the help of the Geomchi's group, Mapan's wagon full of provisions departed from the river unharmed.
"Where are we, anyway?"
"Well, we came here by means of bats,"
Pale shook his head while answering, though he wasn't sure since no one had ever stepped into this region before.
Similarly, Weed came up with nothing.
'Surely we should be in Toteum.'
Tori promised. For sure the invitation was to the Kingdom of Vampires Toteum! The nobles of the night who lived in the Kingdom of Vampires! Possessors of piled high mountains of ancient arts and jewelry; along with beautiful women that's hard to find on earth.
This Promise Land was only accessible once every 3 months; and housed hundreds of millions of bats and rodents with its rulers, the vampires, while surrounded in eternal darkness.
After the abrupt end with the vampire bats, the party walked along the shore of the disgusting river, going with the flow of the murky water underneath the earth.
Pale, walking forefront as the scout of the party, asked.
"Will we be able to trace our path back to Morata by going upstream?"
"Can't go back to Morata via that way," Weed answered after he thought it over, "it isn't even near the vicinity of this land."
The river of this land was so polluted; the nearby shores along it were contaminated beyond recognition. Instead of the lush green they usually sees, withered plants and grey sands were all they could see. The decayed reeds swayed back and forth as the wind brushed the leaves, an ominous chill seemingly sent by the murky Todeum's sky. This scenery was nothing comparing to Morata.
"That means we arrived to the Kingdom of Vampires, correct?" Pale asked.
"Well...let's check to be sure. Summon vampire Tori!"
Weed tried to summon Tori for more information, but no response from Tori.
The wind grew stronger.
Nobody understood the current situation, as to why Tori couldn't be summoned. Hesitantly, Pale said.
"Weed-nim, were we played for fools?"
"There's no way."
Weed wanted to believe in Tori. The feeling would have been like a shot in the back of the head, though everyone had a similar notion.
"But Weed-nim, this sight is different from what we thought it'd be. Todeum must be a nice place; it wouldn't be near a contaminated river such as this."
Pale pointed out.
The Todeum they fantasized about. This reality was the complete opposite of the Kingdom of Vampires that was supposed to be filled with elegance and grace, piled high in gold; this was nothing more than a desolate land filled with nothing but a polluted river and a murky sky.
"No way, this was not what he meant!"
Weed still in denial, retorted.
Remembering what Tori said, it suggested that it was some sort of reward; but this can hardly be called a gift. Neither sun nor stars; the passing wind that have the stench of rusted pipes; the Kingdom of Vampires was completely different than what they imagined. Zephyr finally made a remark.
"Another damned character."
"Getting abused every time, this must be payback."
Romuna words punctured Weed's chest like a canine's bite; though the most damaging blow came from Surka's innocent words.
"Although we made it here, nothing exciting is going to happen?"
In exchange for bringing up Tori, he figured it'd be a pleasant trip; but he hadn't considered the risks, and came without a guide. Weed tried to rally his spirit that had plummeted to the ground.
'What about my kingdom of gold.'
So far, he hasn't been lucky enough to relax, not even once. He had to overcome plenty of sufferings throughout his journey!
Though looking at the situation calmly, the pleasant trip to Todeum may not be as it seems. Considering Tori's level, along with the time he have been serving directly under Balkan; building a 'good' relationship with a level 400 boss type monster under the duration of a year seems unlikely.
'Seems like it isn't as I thought. This place is extremely dangerous, and we're definitely not ready.'
If the monsters' here were nearing Tori's level, this would not be like any adventures before. The thought broke Weed's expectations and fantasies; from this point on, survivability is the highest priority.
The law of Toteum, the Kingdom of Vampires, is that even if you died just once, you'll be toss back into the world above.
This is considered as a heinous penalty, even prohibited on the Versailles continent. On the continent, you can die many times with no care about the banning; but here in the Kingdom of vampires, you only have once chance.
Due to the fact that your stature isn't like a vampire, a death in Toteum means an immediate spawn outside of the kingdom, total deportation. A difficult to obtain opportunity like this should not be wasted, since you don't know the proper quest line you're supposed to follow on Versailles continent.
Weed's eyes then became cool.
'Whether it's Toteum or anywhere else, I will not back down. MONEY! Gunna get me buncha money!'
Consider a big pot in a casino, a piled high shrine that reminds humans of their deepest desire, obsession for money; like a moth going toward a flame at the risk of survival, aiming for it is like foods for desires.
'This is too much of risk if mobs were to come, a crisis will occur if this happens.'
However, these hopes will pop if Weed's fear comes to pass. In Toteum, this crisis maybe averted if he was alone, but now he have a huge number of colleagues with him.
"Where are we and where to?"
"What about our way back?"
Geomchi475 and Geomchi503 manly voices seemingly shuddered.
Taken to a place in hopes to witness vampires, but arrived at some random place in which they were unfamiliar with. At this point in time, if they had seen a monster, they'd be too intimidated to fight. With an unknown quest or adventure while situated in an unfamiliar location, the feeling was like being a blind man being pushed into a river!
Not only the fear, but the confusion came along with it was a major crisis.
Though Weed had a simple solution to the problem.
Hunger for a meal!
All craving for kimchi.
"Give me something delicious!"
"Love some sweets, like chocolate."
"Whipcreams on them doesn't hurt."
"Who here don't want some meat as well, hm?"
"A drink here don't sound too bad......."
Immediately the nervousness that once filled this party faded away; with happy expressions on their faces, they mimic plump-faced pigs, each and every one of them. And as pigs, food was now the main topic. Though the teachers themselves didn't express their desires, their opinions didn't seem to differ. Geomchi3, Geomchi4, Geomchi5 seems pleased.
"What kind of food you're going to make?"
"The wait will be boring, but...gotta have patience for delicious foods."
Seechwi gave out a groan.
"Oh my God, if everyone were like these people, I'd be out of a job."
All of her theses about psycho-analysis regarding the complexity of the human minds would be abandoned if all humans were as simple as the ones before her!
Falling into the depths of hell just to eat pork was not the way of human natures either!
But there were hopes amongst these hopeless-es that kept Seechwi from going insane. Pale, Zephyr, and Maylon were of the general population, and were troubled by the situation.
Pale asked Zephyr in a serious demeanor.
"What are today's meals?"
"Can the items we get in Todeum be use as ingredients?"
"Of course. Possibly."
Hwaryeong clapped with absolute delight.
"Weed-nim is so good at cooking; we don't have to worry about a thing."
Again, Seechwi was troubled.
'They're also not normal.'
As written on the POD before one enters the game. To go down in history as one of the heroes that bears the danger of exploring unknown territories, high Leadership is required:
Not giving in at the face of any crisis shows the will of the mind.
Having quick wits and being decisive.
It was even more essential to explore the Kingdom of Vampires. However, the conclusion drawn after watching Weed during the time was that it was difficult to match him to a heroic stature. Seechwi basically gave up and said.
"He's leader probably because of the levels; but those Geomchis and I can probably match his levels!"
Seechwi, after all, was just another human.
After some time had elapsed, Weed brought out the dishes.
Zara Soup! (Turtle Soup)
They had brought enough ingredients before leaving Morata, just needed to cook them.
"The ingredients in this were Zaras, and this very dish represents growth. You know how you're on all fours at night begging for it to 'revive' like a turtle, but when you look down and it was still shriveled like a turtle? This will completely revive the 'VIGOR' of a man...keuheuheu!"
Weed began to sugarcoat the dishes before him. At the end of the appealing demonstration, a boisterous laugh!
Having been through a year as his class being a sculptor, he learned how to hype things up and a show of confidence was a must.
'Being a cook is the same. The LAW - delicious food will become more delicious if you give them a taste beforehand.'
A vote of confidence from the chef was a must to heighten the experience.
All of the Geomchis rushed to get their Zara soup servings. While they should have kept in mind of the possibility of lacking ingredients for the future, they didn't leave a single drop of soup leftover.
They thoroughly enjoyed the soup. They each chow down 3 servings per person; even in a place such as the scary Kingdom of Vampires did nothing to dampen their appetite. Especially when the words 'reviving vigor' were mentioned! Even though Pale and Zephyr didn't discuss about it, they consumed the turtle soup diligently.
"Bon appetite...will not leave a single drop."
Maylon was the next to be encouraged; thinking about women's side, Weeds words were different.
"Similar to the turtle's longevity, Zara Soup will stop the aging process of skin for 20 days......"
"Please give me! Do it fast!"
"Plenty of it please, Weed-nim!"
Irene and Romuna interjected. Surka on the other hand was still too young to be bothered with skin care. Of course, no one knew whether the aging process would halt for 20 days if consumed, since it was pretty much impossible to tell otherwise. But taking care of oneself on any day of the year will be rewarded!
Even if you felt like you were duped, no point being unhappy over the situation. Since the girls spent so much time in Royal Road, using skin care products became a second priority; though the girls hesitated.
As if he saw through their doubts, Weed gave his words a final nudge.
"Eat right after serve. It's a must! Only then it'll be effective..."
With that said, the girls devoured the foods greedily.
However, Mapan knew of a terrible fact behind this feast.
During the time shopping for food.
Although it was up to Mapan, as he was of the merchant class, to procure foods and handle the loads of shipments during the trip; it was up to Weed to decide on the ingredients since he was the cook most of the time and knew what to choose to obtain everyone's shares.
"Are 17 Zaras good enough?"
Weed nodded deeply.
"Yes. Being advanced cooking materials, each one of them costs 3G(G=gold), so we don't have the luxury of eating them as much as we want."
"But considering the group we're going with, are they enough for 500 plus people?"
"Even with Weed-nim's cooking ability, I doubt serving 17 Zaras to this group along with Geomchi's will be difficult."
Making Zara Soup was not only difficult, acquiring enough to not leave anybody out was even more difficult.
Weed gave a weak laugh.
"Storing live Zaras will also be tough, maybe this amount is fine."
"Yeah, will it be alright?"
"We will probably be ok on the first day in the Kingdom of Vampires, and eat them on the second. Depending whether we'll face any danger along the way, but saving them for too long means the effectiveness of the Zaras will decrease."
"So it's best to buy a lot of Zaras......."
"If we do that, what will we do with the extras we won't eat?"
Weed began preaching as if he were a professional chef.
"The profit margin of high class cuisine is excruciating! Making more than enough is not optimal, and investing too much in ingredients is not recommended. But which is worse, letting the Masters suffer the death penalty without the foods or making them pay 5G per meal?"
"No sir, those choices are too tough."
The Geomchis group generally was very poor, due to the fact the money they've gathered were used to change weapons or was invested in gears. And rather than hunting mobs for items, they killed one and went onto the next immediately to become stronger without a care for drops. The thrill was in the hunt; the tougher the challenge, the more they enjoyed the game.
So for them to have enough to pay for foods was an ordeal in itself.
"Between death penalty and the Masters, best to have them eat; therefore, we should get an abundance of inexpensive ingredients that we can."
"But we only have 17 Saras, meaning we're leaving a lot of people out to dry."
"There maybe a way. Have the Pollock prices been dropping?"
"Hm? Their prices have dropped drastically from the original."
"Get 2000(amount) worth. I'll make Zara Soup with the Pollocks."
"Wouldn't their tastes be different?"
"Get as much spices, flavoring, and food coloring you can afford."
Pretentious Zara Soup!
And its main ingredient was Pollack. Mapan's eyes spun greatly, as his conscience suffered a damaging blow.
"I thought I'm not buying?" (spec *im not involve in this*)
Weed replied to dispel Mapan's concern.
"There's no such thing as an unfill part in a taiyaki." (spec *the moment we started talking about this, we were in cahoots.*)
* * *
The feast was finished, and the energy level of the party grew, primary due to the increased strength and vitality of Weed's cuisine; and the effects were heightened thanks to his advance stages in Dexterity. One can cook the foods from the recipes earned, but there wouldn't be a homemade feel to them. Crafting foods with any kind of tools wouldn't be a match to the base of every tool, the hands. Weeds made every part of the feast with his hands, down to the ingredients; and it was completely worth it from his party's perspective.
"I enjoyed Weed-nim's foods. But to make everything with your bare hands, is it a bother?"
"Doing so will make it more delicious."
Irene agreed. Weed even mixed the seasoning by hands. And it seems by doing so, the effects were even more spectacular.
Irene sheepishly said.
"But when was the last time you've washed your hands?"
Of course, the question was a joke, but Weed offered a serious answer.
"A month ago; or it could have been two. Well, I don't really recall...."
Irene, speechless, began shedding tears.
"Zara Soup was delicious. Just as I had it before."
"I want to eat this again some other time."
"Now for the adventure."
The innocent Geomchi rejoiced, while Mapan and Irene had a quiet conversation on the side.
"Mapan-nim, what other ingredients were made with the Zaras?"
"Well...actually, I traded in a lot of stuff we've collected and was still short."
"We did give you our money."
Pale interjected. He, along with Irene and Surka, handed Mapan their collected golds.
"In Weed-nim's opinion regarding the products, he said to buy lots and turn them later for profits."
"So you mean all of the money was used to get the ingredients? That's too much for ingredients."
"Yeah, they were cheap, but..."
"Where'd you get them?"
"In an alley."
Mapan paused for a moment, coming out of his hesitation, he said.
"It's easier to believe they came from China..."
Irene flooded with tears.
Though the appearance of the dish seems appetizing, but knowing the actual ingredients may put you off the foods for good. The materials they've obtained were nearing their expiration date! They basically got anything of grade 3 or grade 4 qualities at an extremely cheap price and threw them onto the wagon.
Nevertheless, the Saras amongst all other craps mixed in the dish left a desirable aftertaste, as if to wash the junks away.
"Finally after the meal, the adventure begins."
Weed got everybody to gather in one place.
Sounded as Geomchi409 drew his sword.
"Keuheuheu! Finally its time."
Geomchi15 gave a boisterous laugh.
"Dirty vamps, ima cut you up."
Geomchis eyes all changed. Wielded their blades nonchalantly, with absolutely no sign of jitters; their mindset have been switched on to respond to any situations.
High Fighting spirits!
No longer were they scared of stronger enemies. If one had come, they'd be honor to rush into the battle head on; such were they ways sword wielding Geomchis.
Zephyr silently nodded.
'Weed did well putting his faith in these people.'
It was extremely dangerous in the Kingdom of Vampires; since this was a first for anybody, anything could happen will happen.
One major obstacle in this land!
They did not have prior information regarding this land; hence they'll have to solve everything without a helping hand. Forced to walk through this on their own, and there was no other choice; though they've been through this before in the Versailles Continent, where they had to adapt through trials and errors in order to grow. But a death in the Kingdom of Vampires meant an expulsion from this place. Commit no mistake, be highly alert, face all the risks, and need to cope in adversities.
Such were the policies the Geomchi lived by; they've been through many hardships and had hands-on experiences regarding situations like these. Rushes-in-head-first experts.
As if they've sensed the risks, the mood suddenly changed. From one member to the next, their aura amplified one another.
Land of the unknown.
Geomchis showed absolutely no fear!
"I'm also ready!"
Surka, too, clenched her fists.
"Lets get to it? I'm ready!"
Definitely a dangerous place; but having comrades to face the risks with will give one the confidence to get through! Similar to the adventure in Levias, they had absolute faith in each other.
Weed came toward Geomchi and said.
"We are probably in the land of vampires; since I do not know of what will happen, I hope master will take the reign and lead the group."
Geomchi gently shook his head.
"I don't know much about this place, so I will not understand the mobs' characteristics. So I believe it's best for you to lead. You have various production skills that are absolutely necessary, so you stay back and conduct our movements."
"But I don't want to risk you all to suffer the death pentalty..."
"No, it's not for you to take the blame. It's best to put those who knows even a little more than others to keep the most of us alive."
Geomchi2 also lent a hand.
"It's best if you take the command. Better you than any of us."
Weed's eyes went toward Geomchi3, Geomchi4, and Geomchi5.
"Are you guys willing as the Master, teachers?"
"Up to you."
Geomchi5 gave a pat on Weed's shoulder along with words of encouragement.
"We're only here because we were invited by you. Don't be drag down by the heavy burden on your own, ease your mind, child."
Sincere encouragement in the face of the death penalty.
Weed examined Geomchi6 to Geomchi505 faces. All of the apprentices' stern faces gave a slight smile and nodded. Rather than greed for power, they devoted absolute loyalty toward the masters.
In Surka, Irene, and Romuna's viewpoint, this was a great scene showing the passion of men's heart.
"I've grown fonder with them."
"Having Geomchis-nim with us is really nice company."
Though Seechwi viewed them from a different perspective.
'Well, to get the five teachers to agree in exchange of delicious foods, then knowing the practitioners will follow the masters; not everyone is as creative as Weed.'
The other Geomchis had something quite different. Weed is one thing, but they were completely fearful of the teachers. During training they were forced to push past the human limitations every time, always near the brink of death everyday. If they had said anything, they feared they might suffer a quick and sudden death.
'In the past after Geomchi3's death, we were forced to do morning training everyday for three days straight; I hardly got a wink of sleep in...'
'When Geomchi5 was killed by some worm, he came back and punch the crap out of it until you couldn't tell who's blood soaked his fists...and he went around dragging it's carcass...'
'Master Geomchi!! Ever since you've joined Royal Road, your moods have been getting better......'
The other Geomchis regarded Weed leading the party was fortunate.
Weed turned to Pale.
"Please go with Maylon-nim toward that hill to scout the surroundings. If you happen to encounter any mobs, do not engage and rush back to us."
"Scanning only? Sure, will go now."
Pale and Maylon headed toward the hill together. With the archer's peripheral visions being higher than anyone, they can scan a wide range of space in a short amount of time. Pale and Maylon returned.
"There are no monsters in this area, though the problem is that they maybe hiding from our sights..."
"What about the terrains?"
"The surrounding areas near the river are blocked by cliffs; so we can only go in one direction. There seems to be a small bridleway that-a-way."
"Then let's get on it."
After Weed's decision, the party moved along the road anxiously. After passing the woods, Geomchi turned toward Weed and asked.
"Weed, you've dealt with a lot of vampires before?"
"What happens if you were bitten?"
"The vampires here aren't similar to what we've heard. Mainly they drain your vitality and mana to replenish theirs, so we should exercise cautions."
"Do they have any weakness?"
"They have high vitality and stamina, and their magic attacks are very strong. They don't use weapons and agile like rats and insects; and they can also go on the offensive as bats."
"That's quite annoying."
"Their defenses are also high, and the higher level vampires can use curse magic or stronger types of sorceries; it'd be big trouble if we encounter one and aren't ready."
"What are their other characteristics?"
"Unlike simple mobs such as beasts, trolls, and ogres, vampires have way higher intelligence; they can manage well enough and band together to form clans."
"Keuheum! They can do that? I guess it's best to keep our distance."
They walked for another 10 minutes or so. Then the red sky above them was masked by an innumerable amount of bats.
"Sign of vampires! As a reminder to not relax, vampires can change their forms to bats."
Weed's words added extra tensions, he gripped his sword even tighter. They rode many vampire bats to make their ways toward Todeum, but the sight before them was way too much.
However, the bats did not attack.
Weed took some time to come up with a decision.
"Before we continue: if you see the bats, do not be the first to engage. Keep your arms up and to see whether or not they'll approach."
The sky above them changed as the bats continued their ways onward, and scatted.
Mapan let out a petite laugh. Though with that smile, sweats were running down his spine. He imagined what would have happened if the bats were to attacked; the sensation of them coming closer and closer, and drained the life out of you. Such vivid imagination!
'A taste of the adventure, too.'
No one knew what will happen. Each step they took takes them closer and closer to a direct confrontation. He was so excited from the excitement of the adventure; as he was the first of the merchant class to leave the continent and facing the unknown land!
Merchants, too, do enjoy the game.
Geomchi9's muscles tensed up. He was the biggest amongst all others in terms of size. After the intensive training he went through, the fats in his body turned into well-toned muscles. And he was itching for a fight; he hoped to bats to come close so he can test himself.
Hand clenching his sword, he was ready for the moment! If the situation had changed, he would be ready to dance amongst the bats with his sword. And perhaps the other Geomchis had similar idea; but the bats did not come.
Though it would have been Romuna to be the first attack, as she was ready to cast her spells to attack them if the bats came into range; but they flew away.
Weed's party continued as they were, passed the mountain ridges, and came before a sizable town. It consisted of hundred of luxurious residences, with large gardens and some with their own water fountains; the houses were more like villas than anything else. The roads were paved neatly and kept cleanly, while surrounding the town was a seemingly impenetrable wall.