<Chapter 19. Clean Up – 3>
“Guten abend! …Oh my, you came by yourself?”
The secret shop’s owner, Pleine, always greeted him with the same expression, whether it was when he was level 1 and didn’t know anything, or now, when he was level 5 and realized that the events in the Underground Empire aren’t progressing as simply as a retro game’s scenario.
“Is the hot cocoa good?”
“Would you like some? Ah, I forgot you can’t drink it.”
Moreover, she would always be eating something with a blissful expression whenever he entered the shop; she never failed to get under his skin! The red haired beauty set down her cup of hot cocoa, which had been pressed to her lips, and laughed while Lee Shin Woo just grit his teeth.
Then, she spoke a bit more seriously than before.
“Last time I said I didn’t think you’d be able to gather all that Perium, but how about it? Did you gather 1.3 million Perium?”
“Of course I did.”
Was it time to fight back now? Lee Shin Woo smiled faintly and Pleine was sure that he made a lot of money.
“The time between visits was a bit long this time…”
“Ah, that’s because I went to God’s garden in between, so I needed some time to gather some more permits.”
“You visited God!?”
As expected, it seemed as though Pleine’s information was indeed limited. Upon saying that he went to God’s garden, Pleine started bombarding him with questions, and Lee Shin Woo just replied adequately. When he told her about how he’d asked God for a quest to kill the undead heroes, she laughed uproariously.
“You made a choice like a hero who’s been underground for dozens of years!”
“I’m not actually sure if this was a good idea or not, but…”
“You’re probably already aware of this, but there’s a limit to the karma she can bestow upon a human. A piece of her grace, the God’s garden which can only be reached by gathering permits is also the same. That’s the reason she cannot give you such a tremendous blessing, no matter how much she might want to.”
If God could unlimitedly bestow her power to others, the curse would already be gone. The reason Lee Shin Woo could receive a greater blessing than the other heroes was because he traded his life for it. At the time, he couldn’t understand, but now he understood it well, as if it were only natural.
“What if she doesn’t personally bestow that grace, but does so indirectly; and what if that blessing can only be bestowed upon you by using your own karma as a foundation? Naturally, the limitation widens significantly. That’s the reason you were able to obtain the information regarding the scattered undead heroes in the Empire.”
Lee Shin Woo had made that request because he had a rough idea of what would happen. He thought it’d be much more profitable to get the quest rather than an item, but… In terms of results, he’d hit the mark. It was fine if he accepted it like that.
“Pleine, do you know about Ethan Cruz?”
“Ah… if you’re asking specifically about him, does that mean you know?”
Lee Shin Woo wordlessly nodded his head and Pleine looked like she was at a loss.
“You’ve realized something that the other heroes have yet to realize. But regarding that person… I can only tell you to avoid him. I don’t trade with him because I like him. Please understand that I can’t carelessly pass on his information so long as he remains a hero.”
“Is it really ok for a hero to kill another hero?”
“It’s not really forbidden. Normally, heroes can’t absorb other heroes’ strength by killing them, and even if they gain karma from killing them, they’ll also accumulate bad karma, so there’s no reason to do something so foolish…”
Ethan Cruz must possess an authority that makes that bad karma beneficial to him, or maybe he has a skill that does it. That’s probably enough information. Pleine looked really troubled, so Lee Shin Woo just shrugged his shoulders and decided to go on to the main topic.
“Anyway, I have some goods that I’d like to sell this time around.”
“Goods you’d like to sell? Ah, is it food?”
Pleine knew that Lee Shin Woo possessed an ability that allowed him to utilize most items, so she quickly came to a conclusion, and sported a deep smile.
“You must’ve acquired it in a dungeon, so it should be fruit or vegetables. No, is it meat? Both are fine. Because every other hero wants food, you’ll be paid handsomely.”
“How about alcohol?”
Pleine’s eyes momentarily shimmered, like the stars on the ceiling of a planetarium. At least, that’s what it felt like to him.
“Alcohol is sold at an expensive price above ground as well! The unit price is different, the unit price! Please take it out. How many bottles do you have!?”
“You sell goods above ground as well?”
“Oh my. I have to make a living too, so I can’t just trade with heroes, who only bring gloomy things, right? You haven’t taken the alcohol out yet? What type is it? Whiskey? Rice Wine? Vodka? Ah, but wine would be the best.”
Was it the mood? It felt like Pleine would drink the alcohol whenever he took out a bottle… Lee Shin Woo slightly opened his inventory and took out a bottle of wine. Pleine’s eyes definitely shimmered like stars this time.
“Please take a look.”
“This is from Kerr Century!? There was still a Kerr Century remaining underground?”
If he told her there was an entire winery still there, it felt like she would take everything he had. Around now, Lee Shin Woo realized that the goods he’d brought weren’t ordinary.
“Ah, they’re not vintage. But this much wine… Mm, alright. It has a premium, so I can give you 20,000 Perium for it.”
“That’s not all I have. I have other types, so please take a look at them.”
“Others!? 381… This is a great vintage! This is vintage as well! This isn’t… Ah, but it’s still great wine. Since only novices are so concerned over the vintage.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about, so do as you please.”
Before he entered the secret shop, it felt like he was going to a wholesale dealer to sell his wine, but now it felt like he was having a sommelier examine his wine.
Lee Shin Woo took out all the wine he had, which was a bit less than 50 bottles, and she looked distressed, with the most serious expression he’d ever seen from her… then, she opened her mouth.
“I’ll buy them all for a total of 1.5 million Perium.”
“…That’s quite a lot.”
“They’re that valuable. Wine requires countless people’s effort and finances to create, so the karmic value is considerable. That’s especially true for older wine. Finally, there’s a saying that Kerr Century’s wine is so delicious that ‘you have to bow before drinking it, even though it’s the cheapest’.”
“I see… Then I’ll sell them at that price.”
“Wait a sec.”
Lee Shin Woo spoke nonchalantly, and Pleine’s eyes glittered. her red hair surged up, as if it were aflame.
“Them? Do you have others as well?”
“Yes, I have the biggest one left.”
“The biggest one!?”
This time, Pleine’s hands wriggled unpleasantly. She showed him so many expressions that he’d never seen from her before with just one word, ‘alcohol’, and obediently took out the alcohol like she wanted. Well, one barrel for now.
“What is… Huh?”
Pleine looked vacantly at him as if saying ‘you said you’d bring out alcohol, but what’s with this wooden barrel?’, but soon realized what it was.
“I thought you’d brought way too much, but… you didn’t.”
“I took everything that was in a winery. I have others besides this one.”
Until now, Pleine had only moved her hands from behind the stall and hadn’t even bobbed her head up and down, yet for the first time, she abruptly stood up from her seat. Lee Shin Woo watched her and his goblin fire gently swayed.
“Are you planning to drink it all yourself?”
“I-I can’t do that. I can’t… Though it would be easy…”
Even while speaking, she instinctually extended her hand towards him. Since he knew what she wanted, Lee Shin Woo helped her touch the wooden barrel and the next moment her hand slightly shook. She had read the information on the wooden barrel.
“Kerr Century… 395…”
Pleine, who’d ascertained when the wine was made, gently closed her eyes. Her throat slightly wriggled. The sight of her trying to restrain her surging emotions actually shocked Lee Shin Woo.
He could understand why she felt so conflicted without even asking her. She didn’t look it, but she was someone connected with the fall of the Underground Empire.
“I suppose… even then… they were still fermenting alcohol…”
Pleine, who had struggled to open her eyes, strained herself to say that. He acted like he hadn’t heard her. However, she continued.
“Well, I suppose that’s what happened. That’s when everything was overflowing with life. They had never failed with magic before. The harvest was bountiful…”
“…Can I call you granny?”
“Customer, do you want me to hit you? Do you? Do you want to get hit?”
He teased her in an attempt to cheer her up, but he ended up pissing her off. However, it wasn’t like it was completely ineffective as she soon left her sentimental thoughts behind; she fake coughed with an ‘ahem’ and returned to her normal calm voice.
“Mr. Lee Shin Woo, please act as if you didn’t hear what I just said. Ah, and please remember that I’m seventeen.”
“Yes, I understand.”
Getting involved with a merchant who calls herself seventeen when she’s not can’t lead to anything good… Lee Shin Woo suddenly felt relieved that he was a skeleton, and Pleine made an offer.
“The wine’s own value, as well as its historical value… That’s excluding the rating as well. This alcohol is way too valuable to exchange for Perium, so let’s trade instead. I’ll trade for them with whatever you wish for, Mr. Lee Shin Woo.”
“That’s good. I want bones.”
“I knew you would say that.”
Despite the fact that the barrels had significantly lower value as they weren’t bottled, each barrel stored several dozens of liters of wine, so each wooden barrel was valued at at least 1 million Perium. He’d cleared out an entire winery, so he would be able to easily buy a level 6 elite bone.
“Then I’ll take them out.”
“How many do you have? I’d like to get a rough estimate, so I can give you suitable products in exchange…”
Pleine, who sported a joyous expression and had been rummaging under the counter, saw Lee Shin Woo take barrel after barrel out of his inventory, and her face gradually stiffened.
“Wait a sec. How many barrels do you have!?”
“I think there were about 100 barrels… I counted about 2,000 liters.”
“2,000 liters. Then that means… Eek!”
She didn’t think just one hero would be able to sell so much that she would go ‘eek’! Pleine just let that moment pass. Lee Shin Woo was flustered, and Pleine quickly straightened herself out, stood up… and made an offer.
“Mr. Lee Shin Woo… There’s an item that was stored many years ago in this shop and none like it have ever entered the shop again. Would you like to see it?”
“I told you I wanted some bones.”
“Yes, it’s a bone. It’s also the best bone we have.”
‘Could it be?’ Lee Shin Woo thought, and the moment his eyes lit up… Pleine nodded her head as if his assumption was correct and spoke.
“It’s the only bone in this shop that costs 30 million… It’s the level 7 elite, the Giant Fenno’s bone.”
 T/N: German for good evening.