The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor Volume 17 Chapter 1
Chapter 1 : Weed’s Notoriety
A huge crowd had gathered when Weed reached Morata's square through the movement portal. People were buying and selling goods in the square as well as recruiting party members. With the Northern part of the Versailles Continent being showcased as an adventure region, Morata was flourishing into an even larger city.
"Please look this way!"
"Weed, Weed! Come hunt with us."
"Are you really Weed from the Continent of Magic?"
There we many people who were trying to get close to him, causing a commotion, asking questions about the River of Lamentation quest, or if he really was Weed from CoM. People even went up onto the castle walls to wave and cheer at Weed.
They welcomed Weed's return like a hero coming home after winning a war.
This was different from the time when he sold cheap sculptures in Rosenheim Kingdom. Weed folded his arms, raised his chin along with his gaze, and emanated arrogance.
"Heh, there are a lot more people here now."
He had to act unconcerned and completely unalarmed, as though the amount of people gathered were a natural course of events.
Abruptly, Weed yelled with Lion's Roar, "I went. I fought. I earned!"
Cheers loud enough to shake Morata Square to its foundations erupted at once.
"He said he earned a ton!"
"Imoogi! Please show us the items from the Imoogi you hunted!"
"WEED! WEED! WEED!"
His popularity was greater than that of a pseudo-religious cult leader, and the crowd was at the peak of uncontrollable delight. The hopes and dreams of the ordinary people in the Versailles Continent! After all, Weed had returned after hunting monsters others weren't able to kill, and accomplished a quest no one had ever experienced before.
Morata's Soldiers and the Freya Church's Knights mobilized to contain the situation. Only then was the uproar narrowly suppressed.
The Freya Church's Knights bowed their heads towards Weed politely.
"We would like to thank you for defeating the evil Embinyu Church. It is an honor to meet the adventurer who will go down in history as the benefactor of the Freya Church."
Weed replied with dignity. "It was nothing. I did not suffer in the slightest. The fight against the Embinyu Church was extremely dull. It was easier than going into a bank to take a nap on a scorching summer day."
He would take a nap in a bank and read comics in a large bookstore. Those were the excellent cultural facilities that had allowed Weed to spend his youth in peace. Since there were several banks in his neighborhood, they were places where he could go in at any time and comfortably utilize. They even arranged the latest magazines categorically for their customers.
The people at the banks would sometimes gossip, but he simply ignored such things! Weed was someone who had even shared deep conversations about today's youths over a cup of coffee, with one of the older guardsmen he had become friends with.
"He's talking with the Knights."
"They're talking to him really politely."
The crowd broke into whispers. The sight of Paladins speaking to Weed was enough to make their stomachs burn with jealousy.
That a portal would suddenly form and Weed would come out of it, was something the Merchants or Warriors doing business in the square had never expected.
"I think this is the first time I've seen the Knights of Freya acting this friendly."
"It must be because they're talking to Weed, right?"
"Of course it is."
With the Knights of Freya arranged in the plaza, there was no one who tried to carelessly approached him.
As the ruckus calmed down a little, Weed glanced around the square. The crowd in the square was packed in tightly, like a bag of sprouts.
'The number of players here has really grown.'
The thought of taxes occurred to him as he looked at the Merchants sitting in the stalls they had opened in the plaza!
'Should I raise the taxes or not? Even if I only raise the income tax by 1%, the revenue would be enormous...'
Weed invested all his energy into performing calculations. He was bad at math, but when it came to adding and subtracting money, he had never once made a mistake.
'No, not yet. It's still too early. If give off the impression of being desperate for tax collection this early, I won't be able to unleash a tax bomb later.'
His face paled, and even his expression became agonized.
He needed a clever scheme that would make people feel like he wasn't raising the taxes even when he was.
At the sight of Weed's deeply tormented face, the players gradually quieted as well. Looking at his expression alone, it appeared as if he was tackling a truly enormous problem. When he occasionally grimaced, the players' hearts would drop in alarm.
There were people who had previously met Weed, as well as those who had only heard of him here.
"Was his clinging to coppers while selling sculptures all an act?"
"His incognito skills aren't normal. He went around hiding his identity like that even though he's a player with a high enough level to hunt the King Hydra, y'know."
"Wargod Weed. Look at his expression, is he gonna wipe us all out because his mood soured?"
"They say that in the Continent of Magic, he was a solitary Warrior who didn't welcome even a little fuss or hassle..."
Once the excitement subsided, the people were struck with an eerie mood.
It was because the Weed from the Continent of Magic was a figure with extreme notoriety!
* * *
In a corner of the square, Merchants were chattering thoughtlessly. They were discussing Weed's misdeeds from the Continent of Magic!
"Soo-il, did he really kill people ever so often?"
"Yeah. Weed's nasty deeds were crazy. I was killed five times myself."
"Why were you killed? Were you enemies with Weed then?"
Weed could also hear the conversation between the young Merchants. Since they were discussing his history during his Continent of Magic days, he was deeply interested. it was an important conversation because, depending on the crowd's opinion, he could change the taxes as well.
"There was no particular reason. Once for making him wait because I was taking a long time to buy goods at a shop, once for meeting him by a stream, and once for going into a dungeon he was hunting in. The remaining two times were because I couldn't take his misdeeds anymore, so I joined a coalition and died while fighting as a group."
"He killed people for reasons like that?"
"He didn't just kill people, either. It was literally a massacre. He didn't leave anyone alive, even the unarmed or wounded."
In the Continent of Magic, Weed's notoriety was not limited to monsters alone. Even to players, he was merciless slaughter embodied. With his extremely overwhelming level, amazing skill management, and unique items, he was the strongest player. He trampled on those who challenged him to the point where they couldn't recover, and he simply killed those who were eyesores.
'I didn't differentiate humans from monsters.'
Weed briefly recalled his Continent of Magic days. He killed so much that it was difficult to remember all his opponents separately. He had found absolutely no reason to leave humans alive just because they were players, when he was already killing monsters. He even purposefully sought those who put on airs because they were high leveled players, started a fight, and killed them.
The force of a large guild? He didn't care.
'No matter how well organized they were, everything worked out once I killed them three or four times.'
He used one guild as an example and thoroughly destroyed them. After that, the criticism against him became harsh, and the public opinion of him plummeted. Then he thrashed them again. Without any reserve, he tore them all apart.
After numerous repetitions of thrashing, other guilds also took heed and cowered.
Although coalitions against him were formed several times, he lured them into dungeons and annihilated them one by one.
Weed fought cleverly.
Fighting a group single-handedly was actually an extremely difficult task. He was a demon who took advantage of his surroundings, used items without reserved, and killed his enemies one by one!
The Merchant asked, "Even so, it seems like they don't think too badly of Weed. There aren't many players from the Continent of Magic who would curse Weed."
The Merchant who had been explaining nodded his head in agreement. "Because it was when the Continent of Magic was gradually losing popularity, something new was necessary. Who wouldn't feel satisfied watching him complete unsolved quests, breakthrough labyrinths, uncover the secrets of mysterious dungeons, and slaying extremely powerful monsters?"
People did not hate Weed.
Even in Royal Road, Weed hunted and quested with unmatched recklessness. Though in truth, he couldn't help but receive requests because of his high Fame. He barely finished them by suffering to near death, but others could only give up in the middle without making any progress.
For guilds raising excitement with power expansion or players tired of repetitive hunting, Weed was like a fresh beam of light. Even guilds or players who were completely hostile towards Weed could not help but acknowledge that, at least.
"Even the highbrow guilds completely avoided him because they were afraid of getting in a fight with Weed."
"Was it that bad?"
"He was someone who everyone wanted to become friendly with, even while staying away from him and dying. Someone you wanted to at least imprint your name onto."
"He must've emitted an incredible atmosphere."
"If you were hunting in a hunting ground and heard Weed had appeared nearby, you'd get a feeling of goosebumps prickling all over your skin. You wouldn't know how it feels unless you've experienced it."
You're getting pumped up while hunting with your teammates as you share a peaceful conversation. Then, Weed appears in the vicinity.
A silent and frightening atmosphere.
The problem was not the quest nor the monsters, you'd want to leave your party and go there because you were curious about what Weed was doing.
In actuality, it was to the point where it was difficult to count every individual who had been interested in Weed's actions and had died while following him.
"You'd hear about Weed challenging the quests in the Continent of Magic that looked absolutely impossible, and going into places no one had ever gone to before without even a shred of fear."
"But there must've been times when he failed, right?"
"Of course. He probably failed a ton of times. But eventually, he succeeded. Only monster remains were left in dungeons Weed had gone through, the most awesome moments must've occurred."
The records Weed had established in the Continent of Magic continued to spread for a long time.
"So that was Weed."
"The more I hear, the more surprising and awesome it is. It's definitely fun to hear it from a person who experienced it firsthand."
"The strongest in the Continent of Magic, Weed. That person is the one standing right there; Morata's Lord."
The crowd's eyes were filled with respect!
* * *
Weed folded his arms and looked up. As the movement portal quietly emitted blue light, suspense filled the air.
After excruciating agony and inner conflict, he had won over his temptations.
"Not yet. Taxes have to be raised stealthily. So that people can't feel it..."
If he suddenly raised the taxes just because there were more people, he would meet great resistance.
'It also needs justification. To make them think the taxes really had to be raised, that there was no helping it, I need a justification they can understand! Without it, they won't even accept a tax increase.'
Having overcome his greed, Weed put his rucksack onto the ground and sat down. Weed was the type of person who placed no value on luxuries. Unlike others, he had never gone to a fancy restaurant or bought a meal for female players. He obtained carving tools or even blacksmithing goods through hunting or gathering and used them self-sufficiently.
The sum he had to invest in Morata to reap a huge profit later was enormous, so he needed lots of money.
With a cry, a gentle-looking cow emerged from the portal.
Yellowy was being used as a luggage carrier. Even his back was strapped with countless backpacks filled with japtem, acquired from hunting near the River of Lamentations.
The backpacks he had prepared ahead of time had been filled to the brim, and the large bags he had made with his Tailoring skill were also full.
"It should be somewhere around here..."
Weed rummaged through his backpacks and pulled out a sword.
A sword sharpened to a keen edge!
"This is not ordinary japtem! I'm selling japtem, as well as clothes, armor, and weapons in small quantities!"
The start of his japtem sale!
It only took an instant for the heavy atmosphere in the square to dissipate.
"Ehh, what the hell, he's selling goods."
"I was alarmed for no reason."
Because Weed had accumulated such enormous notoriety, even Morata's Soldiers and Knights had appeared, creating a rigid atmosphere. When Weed pulled out a sword on top of it all, the crowd held their breaths in alarm.
Now, although their interest in Weed was just as great as before, the grimness had disappeared and the square's characteristic noisy and carefree atmosphere returned.
A Merchant who had been doing business nearby bravely spoke up. In front of the movement portal, Weed and Yellowy were positioned in the very middle of the square.
"Are you really the Wargod Weed?"
"Heh, I'll leave it to your imagination."
Weed did not deny it. However, the Merchant who had asked nodded his head.
"Looks like you aren't him."
"He says he's not, right?"
"Yeah. He's not him."
That was the judgement the Merchants made on their own. On the other hand, there were quite a few people who believed Weed was the Continent of Magic's Wargod. The people who personally watched Weed's adventure through the broadcast thought differently, and they were also divided based on their judgements of his level or profession. However, the majority of people couldn't decide which side was right and were still on the fence.
The Merchants looked greedily at Weed and Yellowy's backpacks.
"But, ah, you have quite a lot of japtem."
"That's because I hunted diligently." Weed replied indifferently as he laid out his japtem. Customers hadn't arrived yet, and he was preparing to do business.
As he gazed avariciously at the laid out japtem, the Merchant proposed, "Would you be willing to sell all that japtem to me? I'll give you a good price for them."
Weed shook his head. "I will sell them myself."
"But it'll be better for me, a Merchant, to take care of them. Business is not so easy."
The Merchant gave him advice, but Weed didn't need to pay attention to him. He had become skilled at business since he was 10 years old. His learning had started by following a grandma selling vegetables in the marketplace!
"Caltrop Antennas! Black Wild Boar Fangs! I don't sell to just anyone. Since they're not cheap japtem, you can just take a look and go."
Weed began advertising his goods to the gathered players.
"Antennas? Fangs? What kind of japtem are they to be so expensive?"
The prices they reaped when sold at a general goods store were fantastic.
Weed had hunted and gathered japtem exclusive to the River of Lamentations. Since there wasn't anyone else who had gone to the River of Lamentations through the movement portal yet, it was not an exaggeration to say that these products were first-rate specialties right now.
There were truly many things the crowd had wanted to ask while looking at Weed after he appeared through the movement portal.
About the quest and the Wargod Weed!
However, once he started putting out japtem, the people wanting to buy goods rushed in before the curious crowd could start asking.
Both Merchants and Wizards were greatly amazed when they Identified the antennas. It was a material for a magic staff that could amplify lightning. If it was taken to an Enchanter, the antennas could receive a value greater than their weight in gold.
A Magician shouted out the greatest value that he could offer as soon as he checked the information. "I'll buy them! I can buy the antennas for 350 Gold each. All of them!"
"I'll purchase for 533 Gold."
"I'll buy for 540 Gold."
"I'll purchase with all the money I have, 555 Gold."
The values of japtem were usually fixed. However, Merchants could use their Accounting skills to sell goods they had purchased from players for a better price in stores. They could even receive better offers depending on their Intimacy, public contribution, and the donations they had made for the village's development. Magicians could personally process them before handing them over to a Blacksmith.
"Buy for 570 Gold!" shouted a cheeky-looking Merchant with a huge potbelly.
"I'll buy all of them for 600 Gold."
There was great profit in being the first to sell rare japtem to a store. A sale for the sake of raising Accounting skill and Fame!
Weed ripped off even the Merchants. He successfully sold off all the antennas he had for 620 Gold each, and 320 Gold for the fangs. He was satisfied since it was higher than what he could get from selling at a store.
It was also pricey for the Merchants, but since they could raise their skills and Fame without even selling a specialty item, it was a profit for them.
Weed pulled out another backpack.
"Now, this here is the Embinyu Church Headband. Trophies obtained while doing the Alliance of the Deliverers quest! Those of you who want it as a souvenir, please stand in line. I am selling them for 15 Gold apiece."
They were headbands embellished with the Embinyu Church's mark. Besides +3 Defense, they had almost no other bonuses. However, they were relatively cheap goods compared to the expensive japtem he had been selling just before.
"That looks good."
"I'll buy one."
"Please give me one as well."
Weed sold the headbands like souvenirs to the crowd. 'As expected, I have to sell them off when the crowd is excited.'
He made discounts and a buy five, get one free deal under the pretext of a special customer appreciation sale.
The headbands also sold out in an instant!
"Then the next thing is..."
The goods Weed put out one after another were japtem that fell greatly in importance! The spoils he had earned from hunting Undead were bones, tattered clothing, and weapons like rusty longswords. Rusted weapons had lowered maximum durability, and they became exponentially weaker if used by Undead.
The Merchants who had been doing business near Weed could only look on in envy at the sight of his goods selling like hotcakes.
"Please wait just one moment, sir."
Weed tidily used his sword sharpening skill and armor cleaning skill to make the exteriors all glossy and smooth.
"These are souvenirs that will draw luck to their owners! This isn't a chance that comes day in and day out. These goods will not be sold after I run out of stock today."
He was selling off items that would never, ever be used as equipment. The leg bone of a Skeleton sold for a whopping 1 Gold!
With the emptied backpacks on his back, Yellowy stealthily left. Then he entered a secluded alley in Morata Square for a secret rendezvous.
His face covered by a robe, a sly man was waiting in the alley.
"You must be Yellowy. I've heard a lot about you."
"Here are the goods. Please tell Weed the profit will be divided exactly 6 to 4."
Yellowy understood and nodded. Then his empty backpacks were filled to the brim with japtem.
The man waiting in the alleyway. His identity was Mapan.
"We can't miss the opportunity to sell off japtem at high prices."
The strategy was to disguise even normal japtem as souvenirs in order to sell and earn more!
Weed even inscribed his name into the bones with his carving knife.
Be happy. Weed.
I wish you happy hunting. Weed.
Remember the fierce battle against the Lord of the Undead; Balkan Demoph, Weed.
To be honest, he hadn't even fought against Balkan. He had only taken the barbarians to subdue a small portion that had broken off from the vast group of Undead!
* * *
Topics about the Wargod Weed were posted on Royal Road's forum.
There were a few people showing him respect for having solved the quests on the Continent of Magic. However, there were more people reporting his wrongdoings.
- He killed me for asking how much he bought his equipment for!
- He killed me for cutting in front of him in line at a store.
- At least there was a reason why the two of you were killed. I was killed for being in a dungeon that he was going to hunt in.
- He killed me for yawning.
- He killed me just for being a man.
- I died twelve times. In town, in the square, in the hunting ground, no matter where we met. Later, feeling wronged, I asked him why and he told me it was because he didn't like my name.
- What was your name?
- You deserved to be killed.
An enormous amount of Weed's misdeeds emerged.
The forum was centered around Weed. Topics that had always been of interest were buried.
- I was killed over thirty times by Weed. I went at him viciously, you see.
- Thirty times? You're speaking out over that amount? I died over fifty times. There are probably many people who remember the player who bothered Weed until the end; Chestnutty.
- Mr. Chestnutty. You probably never got within a knife's length of him, right?
- Heh. People above, don't fight. No matter how much you all died, is it as bad as me? As for me, I was a ranking player within the top 50 in the Continent of Magic. I even had the rare item Apejan's Circlet. After killing me, Weed took that Apejan's Circlet and equipped it.
- I'm jealous.
- To have gotten an item taken from you by Weed... did Weed use that item for long?
- It was an item he equipped even when he was hunting the Black Dragon. Waah!
Because Weed was such a famous player, there were also many high level players related to him. Players who didn't often reveal their whereabouts in Royal Road made comments. Even players who had risen to the Hall of Fame, posted their experiences from their past days in the Continent of Magic, adding to the legends about Weed.
The record of a former Thief who had followed Weed, undiscovered through dungeon exploration until he died was the highlight.
- Dungeon clearing of the very fastest speed! The sight of him clearing away groups of monsters that surrounded him without fear was enough to give me the creeps. He certainly had fighting ability, but I had never before seen anyone with such efficiency, they didn't even have any superfluous movements. Even while wounded and falling into traps, Weed pressed onward endlessly.
- What dungeon was that?
- What boss monster appeared?
- I don't know it either. I died in the middle of it because I got discovered by Weed.
While wandering lonesomely through hunting grounds, Weed did not bother with right or wrongs. He would simply kill them if they were an eyesore. He even killed guilds that attacked him, and killed those who annoyed him.
His ruthless infamy had accumulated extensively.
* * *
In CTS Media, massive amounts of funding were lay out an information gathering system in the Versailles Continent.
"We can't fall behind in the news. News is far more important than broadcasts about celebrities."
The number of people playing Royal Road was growing exponentially. Not only in the Republic of Korea, but all over the world. People who did not enjoy Royal Road were treated as savages. In Africa, the Middle East, and in South America, the craze was amazing. There was nothing more to be said since even the royals of the Arabian lands and Brazil's drug dealers were addicted to Royal Road!
It would seem as though the international players pouring in all at once would cause a considerable amount of confusion, but they quietly enjoyed the new world. Only a portion of the populace clung to extreme growth, like leveling up or item gathering. They settled in the northern, western, and central parts of the Continent. There were many players who possessed no aversion to experiencing the new wealth of experience known as monsters or different races.
'Heroes of the Versailles Continent,' CTS Media's primary program, was even translated and broadcasted in countries all over the world. As Royal Road grew, the sales of the related broadcasts were also expanding rapidly.
"Nothing draws attention like news. A leading program can only become news!"
CTS Media made contracts with foreign broadcasters before their competitors and even had much better terms. They used the fact that their parent company was a global multinational corporation, to pull the strings with their personal connections.
Enormous sums of money flowed in through copyright contracts, and depending on the sales, they even received royalties at regular intervals.
It wasn't just the capsules that international players bought and utilization fees; as the broadcast industry expanded, Royal Road was about to become the Republic of Korea's greatest source of income.
Because CTS was decidedly foremost in commercial marketing, they reinvested the money they had earned into Royal Road. They wouldn't even dare to dream of influencing the board of directors by increasing their Unicorn stock share. Not only CTS, but even their whole company couldn't compare to Unicorn in sales or cash income.
Unicorn's status in the worldwide economy was increasing with time, so only those who had held stocks in the early stages had been struck with sudden wealth.
CTS Media dispatched reports and invested in players for acquiring Royal Road information. Including castle lords, they persuaded key players using lots of money.
"It would be nice if you did exclusive coverage for our broadcast station alone."
Most users were easily swayed in front money.
"Is it really okay... for us to take this much money?"
"Of course. And please supply us with information about things that happen within the territory you govern, and please block the actions of personnel from other stations, if possible."
For guilds that handled regions, they weren't hard requests. It was too much for them to completely blockade the movements of reporters from other broadcasting stations, who moved under hidden identities. However, public coverage acquisition for another station was something that could certainly be stopped. The guilds were only spoken badly for a few days, so it wasn't really a problem.
"We understand, please treat us well."
CTS Media entered agreements with many lesser lords on the Versailles Continent. However, negotiations did not proceed easily with guilds that had greater power.
One area's rulers had many sources of income. Taxes, bribe money from minor guilds, hunting ground fees, and weapon and armor sales were producing much profit. Prestigious guilds were already steeped in commercial activities, so they were actually managing rather sizeable businesses.
"The contract sum is small, I see."
"We do not move for sums of this size."
They had grown to the point where they even ignored calls from station directors. Even though it was a virtual reality, the big lords of the Versailles Continent held enough authority and power. Even broadcasting stations couldn't deal with such lords carelessly. If they were rubbed the wrong way, coverage wouldn't proceed well, so they had to deal with being in the shoes of the weak. They couldn't even report the misdeeds of huge guilds heedlessly.
"We contacted just about everyone in the Central Continent... how is it going with the South and West?"
"The casting will end for players we have contact information for sometime between today and tomorrow."
"How are their responses?"
"Perhaps it's because there were rumors about trade in the central continent, but they are deciding quickly. I think the casting will end soon because they are many large guilds."
"That's not bad news."
There were many differences between the Western Versailles Continent and the other regions. Powerful centralized nations were positioned in the Central Continent. They were nations that boasted rich lands, mines, and populations. Emerging nations with outstanding potential were positioned in the East, and the South developed magic. There was vigorous pioneering and adventuring in the North. Because the Versailles Continent's area was so large, there were still places where people had yet to set foot in, even in the Central Continent.
The West had a strong nationalist disposition, so it was mostly settled by guilds that recruited native people. In other regions, even if you started in a specific city or village, you could escape the region's influence simply by moving your hunting ground. However, you could not do so in the West, which had many grasslands and deserts. There were many strong Warriors who were tied by blood to nomadic people, so they boasted strong cohesion. Excluding wanderers in the Central Continent. For the most part, guild issues were decided by the native people. Their strength was inferior in comparison to the Central Continent, but the size and numbers of individual guild territories were not small.
"That's a relief. Who are we contacting in the North?"
The Executive Director was personally heading a meeting in the CTS Media conference room.
"The representative of the North would be Weed's Morata. In the past, we had a business relationship."
"Who contacted him? Who was the person in charge?"
"The President's Secretary, Yoon Na-hee."
"Oh? Why did the President's Secretary herself contact him?"
"There was the matter of the President personally deciding to purchase the Continent of Magic account. The casting for the 8 Heroes program was also entrusted to her."
"It's really such a shame. If we had just kept broadcasting, it would have been a big hit..."
The 8 Heroes had managed to bring in decent ratings. However, they had stopped starring Weed because the initial response hadn't been good. After that, Weed had then won the battles against the True Blood Vampires, the Undead Legion, and the Bone Dragon.
Because their competitor KMC Media had gotten to broadcast those instead, there had even been an incident where PD in charge had written a letter of resignation. CTS Media's President had inevitably noticed.
"For now, we'll have Ms. Yoon Na-hee contact Weed."
"I will take the steps to do so."