<Chapter 23. Level 6 – 2>
“Gute Nacht… Congratulations on the level up. Then, sleep well.”
“No wait. Please don’t lie down.”
Perhaps he’d come at a bad time; the merchant behind the counter, Pleine, congratulated him whilst wearing a nightgown and bent her body over the counter. Lee Shin Woo, taken aback, stopped her, and Pleine, as if expecting it, sighed and raised her head.
“I don’t usually take customers when I’m about to sleep…”
“So you have times when you don’t take customers, huh.”
“But you’re special Mr. Lee Shin Woo… Hoo.”
She said, and tapped her own cheek. It was a teasing gesture, but it seemed to work, as she awoke slightly and barely opened her eyes.
“Thank you for the consideration.”
“Haam … You understand how I feel, right?”
As there was a empty wine bottle rolling atop the counter, even Lee Shin Woo, who didn’t understand women very well, could tell exactly how she felt. He was sure that she was a woman who loved her alcohol.
“It was such good liquor that I wanted to drink it with someone else. Would you like to drink with me? Ah, that’s right. You can’t drink it, Customer. Hehe.”
Pleine, who was always teasing him, sounded tipsy. Lee Shin Woo felt like it would take quite a long time to do his shopping, shrugged his shoulders, and approached the counter. Pleine still looked at him with drowsy eyes and spoke.
“Is it urgent today?”
“No. But since I used up one of my permits, I’d rather finish my business or it’d be a waste.”
“Are you saying you have some time? Then… please listen to my story.”
She wasn’t asking him to tell her his story, but rather, she wanted him to listen to hers? What was this granny talking about? With that in mind, Lee Shin Woo looked at Pleine vacantly. It seemed like she’d understood the doubt within his goblin fire, so Pleine added on.
“I’ll give you a 20% discount on one item. In exchange, please don’t tell this to anyone else.”
“Then please go ahead. I don’t have ears, but I’m still a really good listener.”
To think she’d deduct 20% of the price off an item just by listening to her story! Lee Shin Woo knocked on his chest, as if he were ready to listen at any time, and sat down.
Pleine chuckled at Lee Shin Woo’s trustworthy figure, and opened her mouth, releasing a pink sigh.
“You’re fine in this regard, Mr. Lee Shin Woo, but given the opportunity, the other male customers will hit on me. You know that, right? You see, today…”
“Wait a sec. Where did you just look? Where were you looking when I said you were fine!? You know that’s sexual harassment, right!?”
“I suppose you can’t even sexually harass me. At any rate, that customer bought wine, drank it on the spot, and kept sticking to me; I should put up a sign saying no eating or drinking because seriously…”
Pleine completely ignored Lee Shin Woo’s protests, and continued to speak. Pleine started with that drunk customer (Lee Shin Woo felt like he knew who she was talking about for some reason), who drank alcohol and attempted an unbecoming trick on her. She also told him about how much her usual customers pestered her, as well as the fact that she couldn’t meet with God very much and all the things she was trying to figure out, like God’s intent…
“It’s better above ground. Since I’m just one merchant amongst many up there. It’s just a clean, business relationship up there…”
“…How is it up there?”
“It’s completely unscathed. Everything is plentiful and peaceful up there, excessively so. I wonder if they’re even aware of their impending doom…”
She started by talking about business, but when he thought about it, this was the perfect chance to hear about what happened on the surface, as she had a link to it. Lee Shin Woo asked her naturally.
“I heard that there have been times where heroes were dispatched to the surface as well.”
“It’s only happened a couple of times. You should already be aware of this Mr. Shin Woo, but this curse that has completely covered the Empire… hasn’t invaded the surface yet.”
“It’ll invade the surface at some point though, right?”
“I believe the humans above ground won’t allow it to.”
This was news to him. Lee Shin Woo’s (nonexistent) ears pricked his ears. Before she continued, Pleine brought out a new wine bottle, and immediately bit her lips. As she was beautiful, even the sight of her vigorously drinking from the bottle was quite nice.
“Gulp, gulp… Puu. You see, they’re overconfident in their strength. After they received the first oracle, they sent heroes down underground a few times; when they didn’t return, they just decided to seal off the underground.”
“So did they succeed!?”
“They thought they did at least. But no… At this rate, the curse will someday take over the surface as well. This is the price of their arrogance, and… their sin.”
“That’s it with the bonus information. Mmm, paa…”
It ended at the most exciting part. But, as Pleine could read Lee Shin Woo like a book, it didn’t seem like she’d tell him anything more about the surface. While Lee Shin Woo clicked his tongue, Pleine continued to curse at the secret shop customers.
“So, about the customer I had last time…”
“Who’s your most handsome customer?”
“Then what about the prettiest?”
“Seira… Von Retadane.”
She replied, and then nodded her head.
“She’s a beautiful woman, though she’s quite rude.”
“Hoo… I suppose it’s time I let out all the curses I’ve been holding back.”
Pleine cursed at Seira Von Retadane for quite a long time, as if it was the right time. Pleine looked so happy as she cursed at Seira with every single word; Lee Shin Woo couldn’t even think of stopping her, and just stood still whilst listening to her. Thus, two hours passed.
“Oh my. It’s already this late? I’ll be going to sleep now.”
“Go after you’ve sold me something.”
Pleine plainly clicked her tongue. He looked at her in astonishment as she looked like she was saying ‘you could’ve just let me go’. Before she played another trick on him, Lee Shin Woo cleanly and firmly spoke.
“Please give me the best charge type skill you have.”
“A charge skill? Are you saying that you haven’t acquired a single charge skill, even though you possess the Bone Reinforcement ability, Customer? Elite monsters all have a couple of charge skills.”
“I had two, but I fused them together, and it became a combat skill, rather than a charge skill.”
“You fused them!? …Just for reference, what is that skill?”
Lee Shin Woo created the Shadow Horn with his bare hands, and showed it to Pleine. This skill was a special passive skill like Bursting Thunder, and would passively buff (faster, and stealthier) his thrust like attacks, but it was still possible to physically manifest the skill by using mana.
By doing so, shadows would envelop the weapon, turning it into the shape of a sharp horn, but it was also possible to activate the skill with his bare hands.
“…This skill. This wasn’t gifted through God’s grace, but was actually created by you, Mr. Shin Woo?”
“There are some parts that are sloppy, but… this is tremendous. Divine skills that are recorded as legends are typically born this way. Like the Bursting Thunder you possess, Mr. Shin Woo.”
She soon clapped her hands and made a suggestion.
“Would you like to reinforce this skill by adding in more skills? It’d definitely be possible with your ability, Mr. Shin Woo!”
“I said I wanted a charge skill.”
“I think it’d be better if you became even stealthier. In terms of power… it was originally based on horns, so I’ll go find some materials from other tough monsters. You’ll be able to extract their characteristics from them.”
She had already stopped listening to Lee Shin Woo. Seeing Pleine rummage through her inventory here and there, Lee Shin Woo felt like he was out shopping with his girlfriend. Of course, he didn’t have a girlfriend.
“Here, I only picked out two.”
“What’s this… Giant Growth. So this is where it was. Though it’s only one part of it…”
Just from looking at them, Lee Shin Woo could tell that the skill books Pleine had brought out were really subtle. The first was ‘Intermediate Horn Giant Growth’, and the second one was ‘Low Rank Shadow Extension’; just by reading the skill book names, he couldn’t help but feel that they were unclear, such that he couldn’t even describe them.
“The first can only be learned by those with horns, but that shouldn’t be a problem for you, Mr. Shin Woo, as you possess the Bone Reinforcement skill which can absorb anything. The second skill is also a skill that is meaningless unless you can control shadows, but this should also be no problem to you, Mr. Shin Woo.”
Pleine stressed that there were no defects in her goods, and Lee Shin Woo’s goblin fire softly blazed.
“How much are they?”
“Both skills are extremely subtle, but also extremely rare, so they’re quite valuable. In total, it’ll be 16 million Perium.”
“Since we agreed that there’d only be a 20% discount on one item!”
He thought they’d gotten closer, as he’d listened to her drunk talk for 2 hours, yet it seemed like she would only allow the discount on one item.
As expected, he couldn’t take this merchant lightly. If he had his wish, he would’ve just asked for a charge skill, taken it, and then gone home, but…
“Don’t you feel it? That you can strengthen the Shadow Horn skill significantly with these skills!?”
She was right. As expected of an outstanding merchant; Pleine had brought out items that Lee Shin Woo really wanted to buy.
Horn Giant Growth would increase the destructive power of his horns by increasing their size, and was a truly simple skill that was effective in an extremely limited range. On the other hand, he didn’t know how effective the other skill would be, as it would disperse shadows and confuse his opponents. However, if he applied Shadow Extension to Shadow Horn, he would be able to create quite the diverse skill…
Because he’d gained so much money from going around the Empire, especially from cutting down the Forest of the Dryads, he had enough money to buy both skill books. He possessed 57.52 million Perium. It wasn’t an easy sum to acquire for even the level 6 heroes who had been in the Empire for a few years.
However, perhaps she’d expected that as well. No, was her story for two hours also a way to lower his decision making ability!?
“…Probably not, but I’ll take them.”
“I love you, Customer!”
Pleine smiled beamingly, and Lee Shin Woo sighed as he accepted the skill books. He immediately learned the two skills. Pleine gazed at him with wide eyes.
“You’re not going to try it out right away?”
“I’m not a genius, you know. I’ll attempt it after I’ve studied both of the skills.”
“I feel like the fact that you were even able to fuse two skills together makes you a genius… Here, this is the charge skill you were looking for. You’ll probably like it.”
Perhaps she had prepared it beforehand, as she placed a book onto the table without delay.
It looked a lot different from all the other skill books he’d found or bought before. The edges of the book were decorated in gold, yet the cover of the book was in tatters.
“This is… Keuk?’
The moment he stretched his hand towards the skill book, the book emitted sparks that flickered across Lee Shin Woo’s hand. It was powerful lightning! The glitter in Lee Shin Woo’s eyes changed as he gazed upon the book. Pleine spoke with a satisfied expression.
“Spirit Arts – Lightning Sprint. It’s a high rank skill, but… I believe you should be able to use this skill, even without the help of spirits, Mr. Shin Woo. What do you think?”
“I really like it. How much is it?”
Pleine smiled brightly. Seeing that smile, Lee Shin Woo felt slightly uneasy.
“With a 20% discount, it costs a clean 41.5 million Perium, Customer!”
 T/N: Good night in German.
 T/N: Yawning sound.