Chapter 70. Fairy Garden (3)
During that time, I leisurely walked around the Residential Area’s marketplace, checking the market value of the items here and which stores were where. I met two more people who tried to steal my weapon.
One was an old man who acted feeble and begged for money, then tried to take my spear and run. I grabbed him by his arm and held him with a leg lock. The next one was an explorer exposing much of her voluptuous figure, who approached me with a friendly smile. While I was shyly responding to her, she tried to sneakily take my spear and run with a stealth skill.
Of course, she couldn’t trick my senses. I twisted her wrist and got my spear back. I grabbed her by the edge of her dress and threw her over my shoulder (not being able to feel her skin because of my armor would forever remain a regret). She then threw out all sorts of curses as she ran away.
Realizing that my Black Earthen Spear looked like a great weapon to other people, I stopped foolishly carrying it around. I usually stored it in my inventory, but I didn’t have the time to put it away, since I came to the Residential Area right after speaking to Lin.
Then, I finally found the place where I could purchase a residence. The place I arrived at, after asking several people, was called the ‘First Dungeon Official Trading Center.’ Also known as the ‘market,’ it was a place where explorers auctioned off items found in the dungeon, bought houses or even Event Dungeon Entrance Tickets.
The manager of the trading center was not human. When I noticed him, he noticed me as well and quickly spoke.
“I’m going to say this beforehand, don’t take out your weapon. We’ll both get tired.”
“… A hobgoblin, right?”
Instead of taking out my weapon, I guessed his identity. The green-skinned hobgoblin, who was sitting on a chair looking over documents, clapped after hearing my guess. His black uniform was one thing, but his white silk gloves did not suit him in the slightest.
“How did you notice right away? Amazing!”
“Normal goblins aren’t as tall as you, nor are they as intelligent.”
At my words, a smile bloomed on the hobgoblin’s wrinkly face. In truth, he looked quite silly. Elves, hobgoblins, and fairies were all the same race, but how could there be such an unfortunate difference…?
“Mm, good, good. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a newcomer with some common sense. What business do you have? Are you trying to auction an item? Alright, although there’s usually a 10% fee, we’ll make it 5% since this is your first time. You just have to fill out this form with the auction duration, lowest amount, and item description…”
“Ah, no. I’m trying to claim a house.”
The hobgoblin then scanned me from head to toe and made a surprised expression.
“20th floor’s Lizard Knight Set, right?”
“Amazing. I didn’t think there would be an explorer that completed set equipment nowadays. I’m happy to have met a young man with a bright future. My name is Meladel. You can call me hyung1.”
The sense of distance shorted greatly.
“I’m Kang Shin. Take good care of me, Meladel.”
“Tsk, is it that hard to call me hyung? Well, whatever. Kang Shin, I fully understand your ability. Being able to defeat a Floor Master by yourself, you should be proud. However…”
He continued as he stamped on documents he pulled out of nowhere with his stamp that he also pulled out of nowhere.
“In the Residential Area, residences have a great significance. This place is full of people wanting to escape their worlds that are heading to ruin and secure safe spaces for themselves. There are also people who wish to form interdimensional organizations through guilds. Not to mention, it is required for Dimension Mercenaries to own residences in the Residential Area.”
When I heard Meladel’s words, I finally understood what Lin meant. That is, if I was understanding Meladel correctly.
“Escaping their worlds that are heading to ruin… You mean, if you have a residence in the dungeon, you don’t have to go back to your own world?”
“Right. After you install a Mana Stone and get authorized, even if your vitality becomes zero while exploring the dungeon, you’ll return to your home in the Residential Area rather than the world you came from. Of course, you still won’t be able to continue exploring the dungeon for a week, but you’ll still be able to escape the world you came from.”
“… I see.”
So that’s why they were called ‘escapees.’ It was truly fitting. Dungeon explorers’ worlds were all in huge or fatal trouble. The Luka continent had the demon race and the Edias continent had the invaders. Although Ren didn’t say what happened to the Panan continent, it seemed more hopeless than any of the other worlds.
If that was the case, it was perfectly normal for people to want to escape from their worlds. They could either die while fighting against a danger they couldn’t fight off alone, or they could survive by running away to the dungeon. The choice was clear.
I also understood why the word ‘escapee’ was forbidden. The ones who abandoned their worlds would undoubtedly have a sense of guilt in their hearts. Whether they were chosen by the dungeon or chosen by an explorer, they would have received a certain amount of expectations the moment they became dungeon explorers. As the one who will be their world’s savior, as the one who will fight against the danger.
However, they ran away. In face of the danger their worlds faced, they cowered in fear and ran. Or, they were burdened by the expectations the people of their worlds placed on them.
… I couldn’t blame them. I didn’t want to call them ‘escapees.’ As someone who had yet to face any serious danger and did not even have the courage to reveal himself to his world as an Awakened, I didn’t have the right.
As such, I stopped this line of thinking, and began to ask Meladel about words I had not heard about before.
“What are Dimension Mercenaries?”
“They’re mercenaries that go out to aid other worlds. When a world’s explorer requests them, they can travel to that world’s dimension. They’re explorers whose main jobs are completing these requests and getting compensated. They’re incredibly strong. None of them are weak. The requirement to become a Dimension Mercenary is also complicated. You need to have a high enough level, the ‘Return’ skill, which you can only get through a few special ways, the ‘Dimensional Travel’ skill, which lets you travel to other worlds, and be in a certain league of existence. And since they can’t be tied to one world, they have to own their own houses in the Residential Area.”
Wow, that sounded so cool. So they were specialists even amongst dungeon explorers. It also seemed you could get the Return skills in places other than the 15th floor.
That was the extent of my impression.
“Unfortunately, there is a finite number of houses in the Residential Area. 5 Special Mansions, 20 First-grade Mansions, 200 Second-grade Mansions, 500 First-grade Houses, 2,000 Second-grade Houses, 5,000 Third-grade houses, and finally 500 Tenement Houses that each fit about ten families. You got that?”
“That’s 12,725 families in total. Unless explorers marry each other, less than a third of First Dungeon’s dungeon explorers can occupy them.”
Hobgoblin Meladel solemnly nodded his head and continued.
“That’s right! And to buy a room in a Tenement House, you need… 10 million gold! You need 10 million gold to buy a room in a Tenement House.”
“Then are there rooms available?”
Although 10 million was certainly an enormous amount, I asked Meladel, thinking it actually might not take too long to collect that much. Meladel then smirked and explained further.
“No. With how long the dungeon’s been around, do you think there would be any empty rooms? What I meant was, there might be explorers who would give up their rooms for 10 million gold.”
“They’d throw away their homes for 10 million gold?”
“They can enter guilds instead.”
It seemed I would need to bother Meladel for a little longer.
“Can I ask a few more things? I know you must be busy, but I’m curious about what guilds are.”
“Time is gold, and just like you said, I’m a busy hobgoblin. But you’re an explorer with a bright future, and my golden intuition as a hobgoblin is telling me that building a closer relationship with you will be incredibly beneficial for me. Plus, I’m an excellent hobgoblin that can do my work while talking with others.”
If there’s one thing I understood, it was that he was a goblin with eloquent speech and high self-esteem.
“I explained a bit before, but a guild refers to an organization built around one incredibly strong leader and explorers from all dimensions who have similar goals. They live together in something called the Guild House, and its members might form small parties to explore together, or the entire guild might come together to clear an Event Dungeon or an Event Raid. With strong trust between its members, a guild becomes stronger. There’s a reason why so many explorers want to become Guild Masters.”
“I assume there are requirements to becoming a Guild Master?”
Meladel put down his stamp, and picked up his pen. He then continued as he filled out more documents.
“First, someone who wishes to become a Guild Master must be at least be a Gold rank explorer. In other words, a Guild Master has to at least be level 50.”
“He must also own a mansion. Normal houses cannot be used as Guild Houses.”
“Ah, so he needs to own a Guild House as well. So you would at least need a Second-grade Mansion.”
“That’s exactly right. In other words, at any time, the First Dungeon cannot have more than 225 guilds. However, mansions aren’t something you can just buy with money.”
He took his eyes off his documents and looked at me.
“… Right. Achievements. He needs to complete an achievement that anyone will acknowledge. If he does, he would obtain the qualification to buy a mansion. That qualification is called the Purchase Ticket. Depending on the quality and type of achievement he completed, the different kinds of mansions he can buy and how cheap he can buy them for would be determined. Although this might sound a bit strange, the worth of an uncompleted achievement increases as time goes on. The highest level of achievements are the ‘first’ achievements. In other words, the way to complete a great achievement right now would be to become the first to complete an achievement that has never been completed before. An achievement that has never been completed in the long history of the dungeon… you understand how valuable that would be, right?”
When I heard his explanation, I finally understood why succeeding in the Lizard Knight solo raid in my first challenge was such an amazing achievement. An achievement never-before-completed in the long history of the dungeon… I had succeeded in exactly that. Succeeding in the Lizard Knight first challenge solo raid.
“That’s why the mansions are a bit more open compared to the houses. There are still several ownerless Second-grade Mansions and 3 ownerless First-grade Mansions. One of the only five Special Mansions in the entire Residential Area, Marianne’s Garden, is also awaiting its owner, which has never appeared since the founding of the dungeon. There are quite a lot of explorers that are curious about the one that will become the owner of Marianne’s Garden.”
With that, he looked at me.
“But it seems that curiosity won’t last long. Don’t you agree, owner?”
“As I thought, you noticed.”
“Hmph, I noticed it when you said you would ‘claim’ a house rather than ‘purchase.’ Although I didn’t think it would be the Special Mansion.”
He really was smart. With a smile, I took out the Special Mansion Free Purchase Ticket and gave it to him. He put his reading glasses and carefully examined the ticket. Then, he let out a deep sigh.
“Lord… made a big decision. Alright, congratulations. Kang Shin, from today, you are the owner of the Special Mansion, Marianne’s Garden. I, Hobgoblin Meladel, Elder of the Fairy Garden, acknowledge it with my name.”
[You became the owner of the Special Mansion, Marianne’s Garden.]
[The key to the mansion is vested upon you. You can find it in your inventory.]
I opened my inventory and examined the key. It was slightly different than the light blue crystal key Loretta gave me, as it seemed to be carved from a jewel radiating a five-colored brilliance. Although it had less cuts than the crystal key, it was bigger and more beautiful. When I reached inside my inventory to grab it, I received a message.
[Your friend, Palludia Gren Ehuir, has invited you to her residence. Would you like to accept?]
“What an impeccable timing.”
“Hm? What’s wrong?”
“Ah, my friend invited me to her place. She told me to contact her… I guess she wanted to invite me to her home. Thank you, I’ll be going now.”
“… She invited you to her home, huh. Mm, I see.”
Meladel’s voice trembled slightly. He stared at me fixedly, then let out a dry cough.
“Kuhum… A girl, right?”
“Nothing. Hurry up and go. Ptui.”
I didn’t know why he suddenly spit on the ground. I turned my back to the hobgoblin, and answered the message as I glanced at the items being sold and the trading center’s employees busily running around.
1. Older brother