Vulcan could no longer feel the pain that he had been feeling until only a moment ago.
It was obvious.
The Strengthening Stone…
Especially the kind with the chance of failure had a mysterious allure that made the user enter the state of pure excitement.
If the chance of strengthening success was 100%, Vulcan probably would not have been as agitated.
Because the return and the risk coexisted, gamers, the players never managed to escape the world of strengthening.
The Strengthening Stone was glowing brilliantly. Vulcan stared at it like he was going to burn a hole through it with his gaze.
There was no need for him to think about which one to use the stone on.
It was an item with great significance to him, although Vulcan had been starting to feel uncertain about this item lately.
Vulcan looked at the blade he held on his right arm. The blade was exuding a holy light.
‘The Heavenly Lightning Blade…’
It was most certainly a great blade.
Its attack power was 690. For a weapon with level limit of 470, the stat was incredibly high.
The blade had an additional attribute of being indestructible. Moreover, it had options related to lightning, which were sweet like honey to Vulcan.
‘Still, as I increase in level, I’ll feel the limitation of its level.’
In fact, Vulcan felt it a little even now.
A grand rate type level 700 weapon that Vulcan recently obtained had the attack power of 766. It was 76 higher than the Heavenly Lightning Blade, which was incredible.
Of course, the additional attributes on the Heavenly Lightning Blade were far superior, so Vulcan had no intention of changing his weapon to the grand rate blade even after becoming level 700.
However, if Vulcan ever obtained a new blade that was beyond a legendary rate weapon, even the Heavenly Lightning Blade had the high probability of being shunned.
Still, Vulcan did not want to give up Heavenly Lightning Blade. He wanted to keep it until the end of Act 2. He wanted to make the most of it like making nutritious stew out of bones by boiling them.
‘To throw away this blade and use another one… Each and every one of the options are like pearls…’
Quite literally, there was not a single option in this blade that Vulcan would have been okay with discarding. Vulcan was not certain if he could obtain another weapon as good as the Heavenly Lightning Blade even if he hunted for 100 or 200 years from now as if he was doing a slave labor.
Vulcan’s gaze went back and forth between the Heavenly Lightning Blade on his right hand and the Strengthening Stone on his left hand.
‘80% chance of strengthening…’
It was not a bad probability of success.
However, if it failed, it would not have mattered if the probability of success was 80% or 99%. A failure was a failure. The so called probability was like that.
Vulcan looked anxious like a man who stepped into a casino for the first time and betted his entire fortune on a game of baccarat.
He couldn’t just not use the stone, and if he was going to use the stone, it had to be this blade. No other items were worthy.
“Phew. It is not the time to act like an indecisive good-for-nothing.”
Vulcan closed his eyes for a moment. He took a deep breath, and brought the Strengthening Stone to the Heavenly Lightning Blade.
Doing so made the Strengthening Stone to exude even stronger light.
A new notification window floated up in front of Vulcan.
[Would you like to use the Strengthening Stone on ‘Heavenly Lightning Blade (Legendary rate weapon)’?]
[Warning: If strengthening fails, its ‘indestructible’ option will not apply.]
‘Uuu… You did not need to mention that to me…’
Having heard the warning, Vulcan got to hesitate again.
However, having come this far, Vulcan could not back down.
Vulcan pressed “Yes” button and closed his eyes again.
‘Please, Jesus, Buddah, Lumitus, please!’
Although Vulcan closed his eyes, he could feel the light filling the entire stone room.
Along with the light, he could hear ‘wooooooong’ sound. With anxious heart, Vulcan waited for the strengthening to complete.
Like that, about five seconds passed.
It was around the moment when Vulcan’s heart felt like it was going to burn to crisp from being anxious. Vulcan could finally hear the sound of notification that he had been wanting to hear so desperately.
[You were successful in strengthening!]
[Please confirm the strengthened item.]
“… Phew…. Phewaa….”
Vulcan sighed in relief.
To exaggerate a little, he was about as nervous as the time when he first ran into a Chimera.
Vulcan opened his eyes big and looked at the state of the strengthened item.
There was a blade that was shining even more brilliantly with holy light. Inside the stone room, it was revealing its graceful self.
[Legendary rate weapon – Strengthened Heavenly Lightning Blade]
[Level Limit: 647Lv]
[Mastery Limit: Lightning mastery rank SS or above]
Attack power: +941
Attack speed: +25%
Movement speed: +10%
Attack power of lightning type skill: +30%
Efficiency of lightning type training: +20%
Required mana reduced by 15% on lightning type skill.
*A lightning type blade that was said to have been bestowed by a lightning god of ancient legend to a hero who saved the humanity. It significantly amplifies the lightning type skills. The blade’s power is now greatly enhanced from being upgraded with the Strengthening Stone.
“This goes beyond the legendary rate… I just don’t know what to say.”
Vulcan thought about countless number of items that have gone through him until now, and then he compared them to the blade in front of him.
Of course, there was not a single item that could hold a candle next to the Strengthened Heavenly Lightning Blade.
‘Maybe all of the items I have ever obtained until now got combined into one, then it might be worth this much…’
Vulcan could not be certain about it.
‘There is one thing I can be sure of now. I won’t have any reason to use other weapons until the end of Act 2.’
Even weapons with 900 level limit could not be this magnificent. Vulcan calmed himself down from the excitement. He picked up the Strengthened Heavenly Lightning Blade and put it away in his sheath.
Now, his business here was done.
It was time for Vulcan to go back to Espo City.
* * *
Having exited the hidden dungeon, Vulcan used the return scroll and came back to Espo City.
Vulcan completed the basic maintenance. The first place he visited afterwards was Forwaru’s General Store.
Having arrived at the front of the store, Vulcan observed the exterior of the store.
It was clean and sophisticated looking two-floor building.
It seemed the business was going pretty well. While Vulcan was just watching the place, three people entered the place.
Vulcan was a little hesitant about going inside the store.
‘It seems they are currently open for business. Should I come back later?’
Vulcan didn’t come here for anything special.
He just wanted to say hello for Jake. If Vulcan got to open up a good relation with Forwaru in the process, that was going to be enough. That’s what Vulcan was thinking.
‘Last time I was here, I was hoping to get an investment offer, but…’
Now, Vulcan thought there was no need for it.
Vulcan no longer needed a new weapon until the end of Act 2. As for armors, he had been beating the crap out of so many monsters that he was up to the point of getting necessary items on his own.
Vulcan still had plenty of potions, and if he ran out, it was not going to be a problem.
Vulcan had so much money that he could just purchase them with money.
‘I think I’ll get rich from just selling everything I have in my inventory.’
Honestly, Vulcan was thinking he might make more money than Forwaru who was in the merchant business.
Vulcan stayed outside and watched customers coming and leaving for a while longer. He then slowly entered the building.
‘Still, he is Jake’s master. He will be glad to see me. He wouldn’t be heartless and say come back later when he is not busy.’
Thinking like that, Vulcan was looking around the area. A gigantic physique entered Vulcan’s sight.
His muscles were protruding like warriors from Powell. He was a man with a huge mouth containing shark-like set of teeth that was hard to believe that it belonged to a human being.
Still, his eyes were smiling, so his overall look felt very unbalanced.
[Ancient Predator (Anglerfish) Forwaru]
‘His level is… incredibly high.’
Because Forwaru was Jake’s master, Vulcan had predisposition to think that Forwaru must have a low level like Jake with a so-so combat potential. However, Vulcan was mistaken.
Of all people Vulcan have met so far, Forwaru was second only to the Blue Dragon.
With a vacant look on his face, Vulcan looked at Forwaru.
Forwaru was about to greet the new costumer that came in.
However, Vulcan just stared at Forwaru for a long time as if he was going to burn a hole through Forwaru with the gaze. Forwaru tilted his head side to side, thinking Vulcan was an odd newbie.
‘Who is that runt?’
That’s what Forwaru was thinking. However, the words that came out of Forwaru’s mouth were polite.
Forwaru said with kind smile,
“Hello. By any chance, do you have something you want to tell me?”
Forwaru’s smile was big and wide, reaching all the way to just below his ears. Looking at his smile, Vulcan got a grip and said,
“How do you do? I was here last time, but… I’m here to tell you how Mr. Jake is doing.”
Forwaru was very surprised.
He hardened the expression on his face for a moment, and then he put on a smile. Forwaru said,
“I think this conversation will take a while. Let’s go to the guest room.”
* * *
“Hm… This definitely is Jake’s.”
Vulcan showed Forwaru an item that Jake used to have. It seemed Forwaru was done with examining and confirming the item. With a smile, Forwaru offered Vulcan a handshake.
“I’ll introduce myself properly. My name is Forwaru. I’m a merchant in Espo City. I used to be Jake’s master when I was in Beloong City. Ah, I’m speaking freely. Is that making you uncomfortable?”
“Not at all. Please speak freely.”
“Haha. It has been a while. Hearing stories about him is making me indulge in nostalgia. Actually, those were the good old days. Nowadays, it is tight to make a living.”
Forwaru brought out three large, thick cigars from his pocket and lit them. He inhaled them all at once. In just a second, all cigars were burned to the root. Forwaru spat the cigars out, and this time, he brought out a bottle of whisky. He finished that in one-shot as well.
Watching Forwaru, Vulcan thought,
‘He likes smokes and drinks. He is indeed Mr. Jake’s master.’
The two chatted for quite a while about Beloong City.
It was Vulcan that talked most of the time.
With Jake as the main focus, Vulcan talked about what happened in Bellong City, and Forwaru responded to the stories. The conversation went on like that.
“Haha. Looks like that runt became pretty big. Well, there wasn’t anyone in Beloong City that could be called a merchant, but…”
“Oh, really? So something like that happened…”
Here and there, in-between Vulcan’s narrative, Forwaru said things to show that he was listening to the stories.
It felt friendly like talking to a middle-aged man next door. Because of this, Vulcan was able to unfold his stories with more ease.
It had been a while since Vulcan got to have an ordinary conversation like this without any other motives.
Vulcan’s daily life was stained in blood, slaughter and battle. Compared to that, this was a luxury that he didn’t get to enjoy often.
However, Vulcan was not feeling at ease at the moment.
For some reason unknown to Vulcan, having conversation with Forwaru was not all that comfortable at this moment.
‘I think he is a good man like Mr. Jake said, but…’
Considering how Forwaru spoke politely when they first met, and considering how he carried on conversations, it seemed Forwaru was certainly a good man.
However, despite all that, Vulcan felt awkwardness here and there. It was making him feel uncomfortable.
Vulcan continued on the conversation smoothly and observed the expression on Forwaru’s face.
It seemed Forwaru was not thinking the same as Vulcan.
The look on Forwaru’s face was without any lies. He seemed to be genuinely enjoying the stories about his pupil in Act 1 because it had been so long since he heard about Jake.
‘Is it that we are just not a very good fit?’
Establishing a good relation between people…
That went beyond the matter of someone being a good or bad person.
When Vulcan received investment offer from Jake for the first time before, Vulcan could feel that Vulcan and Jake were becoming close friends despite having known each other only for short while.
To exaggerate it a little, they got close enough to trust each other with lives.
However, Forwaru and Jake were two completely different people.
Vulcan thought it might be possible to maintain a good relation with Forwaru, but he thought that it might be impossible to establish a deep, close connection with him even after ten years. It was a sad thought.
‘Well, it is not like it is absolutely necessary for me to become super close with him.’
Vulcan was thinking about all sorts of things. Meanwhile, the conversation continued without interruption.
About one hour passed and Vulcan’s stories mostly concluded. It was around that time. Forwaru brought out another bottle of drinks and changed the subject.
“By the way, you are a Player, right?”
“Ah, yes, that’s right.”
“I see… The protective spell has not expired yet, but you placed items like that on the auction site. It would not make sense unless you were a Player. Using a Player’s standard to rate the items… The bow that I bought last time was probably at least a legendary rate, is that right?”
“That’s right. By the way, were you an archer?”
Vulcan could not imagine Forwaru being an archer at all.
Forwaru also shook his head hard to indicate he was absolutely not an archer.
“Haha. Of course not. I bought it just to expand my business. Lately, I have been buying quality weapons before anyone else.”
“Ah, I see. Actually, it seemed there were high demands for quality weapons.”
“Of course. You probably have no idea how much they are sought after among warriors. Players tend to have plenty of equipment, so. Haha.”
That was something Vulcan agreed on.
In particular, Vulcan currently had substantial number of items from the hidden quest area, so he had no choice but to agree with Forwaru on this point.
Forwaru slightly leaned forward toward Vulcan.
Vulcan thought, here it comes.
‘As I thought. There is no way Jake’s master would send me away without doing any trade.’
Having thought about it, Vulcan realized he got to know this place because of the auction site trade that he did.
Vulcan put up a smile that was appropriate for business and made the first move.
“Does this mean you are going to ask me to sell items if I have quality goods?”
“… Huhhuh… Was I too obvious? A merchant should have thick skin… This is not good.”
“That’s not why. To begin with, the shop employee here told me about it after the auction site trade. Anyway…”
Vulcan brought out seven items from the inventory.
They were all grand rate type items. Of all grand rate items, these were the ones with pretty good options.
“These are not as good as the legendary rate bow that I sold last time, but they are still pretty useful equipment. Are you interested in purchasing them? If you have no need for them, I’m thinking about going to the auction site.”
Forwaru made a fake laughter. He looked at Vulcan and said,
“It feels like you are more of a merchant than I am.”
* * *
“Well then, I’ll come again.”
“All right. I hope you bring more equipment next time.”
“Haha. If they are something I do not need, I’ll bring them your way.”
With that, Vulcan left the general store.
The well greased door smoothly opened and closed.
At the same time, on Forwaru’s face, which was looking at Vulcan, his smile disappeared.
“You handle the customers for the day.”
“Yes, I understand.”
Forwaru returned to the guest room. He could see the seven items laying on the table.
Forwaru moved his gaze around them for a moment. He slowly moved his hand toward them and picked one up.
It was a heavy, two-handed sword with cool-looking engraving of a dragon.
Forwaru examined the sharp edge of the sword like an experienced examiner, and then he pointed the tip of the sword toward his mouth.
He then opened his mouth big and started to eat it.
From the tip of the sword and to all the way down the handle, Forwaru swallowed the entire thing.
Forwaru looked satisfied as if he just ate a delicious cookie.
“Phew… As I thought, it takes at least a grand rate item to not cause problems with my body. I don’t think I should just let this be. I can’t stand just being quiet and only accepting trades.”
He had an emotionless look on his face.
However, between that look, there were uncontrolled violent look that leaked out here and there.
Forwaru had become even more violent than his days in Act 1. He mumbled in a low voice.
“When the protective blessing ends, I should go get him.”