Level Up - Chapter 16: Ryu Hye Yeon - 1
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“What the hell is this nonsense?”
“I’m giving you this artifact as a gift. Don’t be shy, a simple thanks would be enough.”
The old man laughed.
“Throwing out the trash, now that it’s no longer in use.”
“What do you mean trash? I think it’s a perfect item for a low-level tanker. Isn’t it?”
A smirk crept across the old man’s face.
“You have a good pair of eyes. But you’re going to hand it over to me for nothing? Do you think I’ll take anything that’s offered to me?”
Hyun Seok smiled at his words. As expected, he was furious.
“If you want, please do me a small favor.”
The old man laughed and eyed Hyun Seok from top to bottom.
“What do I have to do? The favor seems to be really small.”
“But, I haven’t even told you yet.”
“Let’s stop messing around, it seems that you already know who I am. If it fits the price, I’ll do it. But if not, I won’t.”
“I need some laundry.”
“If you need laundry, buy a washing machine.”
Hyun Seok couldn’t help but laugh at the old man’s spontaneous pun and waited for his real answer.
And soon after, the old man’s expression gradually changed and while observing the situation, he fixed his eyes at Hyun Seok.
“Ha, look at this guy! You stirred trouble and now you’re asking me to clean your shit?”
“I was in a hurry, so I got a bit careless.”
“A little bit? Are you sure? Besides, that is not a small favor in any way.”
The old man’s gaze fell on the shield and was glued on it for a while. He must calculate if it’s a fitting compensation. However, for some reason today, he didn’t.
And saying that, the old man grabbed the shield and threw it into the box under the table.
Hyun Seok’s eyes grew slightly. In fact, he was even willing to pay him a magic core, since the old man might make such a request.
However, his prediction went wrong. That was not the style of the old man.
The old man prefers being composed while giving faith to those who do business with him.
That was his way of doing things, and what Hyun Seok was currently witnessing might be the old man’s only deal that could result in a loss.
“Is that really enough?” He asked as it was so unexpected.
Originally, the old man could have just declined. But he didn’t. Furthermore, Hyun Seok knew that he wasn’t clumsy enough to make such miscalculations.
“Why? Do you want to give me a magical core? Huh, little one?” The old man said while implying that he had already grasped everything about Hyun Seok.
About how Hyun Seok had entered the black market, sold magic cores through other routes, and his trading knowledge. The old man might even know who Hyun Seok was tracking.
That was the great thing about the black market. Even if it’s only a small piece of information, it’ll still reach the ears of this old Hwang.
In any case, in exchange for this particular work that he tried to set, Hyun Seok had expected that he would have to offer a magic stone in addition to the shield as appropriate payment.
Just as he thought, old Hwang had intentionally lowered the price. A thing that he had never done before.
“What are you staring at? If you’re done, just go!” The old man said while waving his hand.
Looking at the figure, Hyun Seok bowed his head and turned around. Seems that old Hwang did have such a side of him.
Hyun Seok’s mouth crept up. He knew that Hwang was a good person, but he might have been better.
Moving away from the booth of the old Hwang, Ryu Ji Hye blurted out the things she had piled up inside her.
“Who the hell was that old man? Why did you give him the shield? What’s the laundry? Are you sure you’re not a criminal in the past?”
Listening to such an outburst, Hyun Seok smiled and opened his mouth. But of course, their talk didn’t slow them down.
Moreover, the watchdog who was chasing after Hyun Seok might have a hard time finding him now. However, even if they did catch him, the artifact was no longer in his hands but at the hands of old Hwang.
“Wait, you’ll be out of breath. Take your time and ask one at a time. Okay? And to answer the important question, I’m not a criminal.”
Ryu Ji Hye stared at Hyun Seok with a dumbfounded expression. Did he seriously think that she asked because she didn’t know? Before they entered the mission, they already did a thorough background check on Hyun Seok. Anyway, she just randomly added that question for the flow.
‘I only asked because I should know what’s going on so that I can stay next to you.’
“Well, what else were you curious about?”
“That old man!”
Hyun Seok smiled as he replied, “He’s the owner of the black market here in Jongno.”
“What? But aren’t there different owners in Jongno black market?”
“Yes. However, as they’ve built it in such a huge underground space, of course, they can’t use it for free.”
Ryu Ji Hye unconsciously nodded at the remark. Come to think of it, yes. The Jongno black market was actually a little different from other black markets in many ways.
First was the location itself.
Who would have thought that there would be such a huge market in the middle of Jongno? It must have cost a lot of time and money to make.
“So, is everything here owned by that grandpa?”
“Not really. Under a few conditions, we can even get a booth for business.”
Different from other black markets, there were fewer crooks and robbers here as well, so the risk of suffering from a huge loss because of them was low.
The atmosphere here was different, thus, the growth rate was rapid compared to other black markets.
It is possible that these empty booths will become crowded soon. And as the customers grow, the number of merchants will also increase.
The black market itself had a separate owner, so it is likely that he had to manage the place himself.
Also, it’s less likely to have an accident here than anywhere else so the business would have a more stable operation.
“Then why did you give him the shield?” She asked with a curious look on her face.
She understands that he had to give something in return for that ‘laundry’. But what she wanted was a deeper story.
She needed to know Hyun Seok better.
“It’s for his other job. He sells information.” He casually replied.
“What?! That grandpa sells information?”
Here, the information is quite different from that of the usual. They were directly related to the player.
‘So that’s how the transactions with artifacts are done.’
Detailed information was essential for buying and selling the artifacts as these deals are perfect for frauds to cheat on their customers.
So a good grasp on artifacts is needed for trading at a reasonable price.
“Basically, the information here was much more accurate than I thought. Since the beginning, powerful people were supposed to be informative. But obviously, there aren’t many cases where you could meet someone like him.”
Ryu Ji Hye’s eyes twinkled while listening to Hyun Seok’s story. After all, such epic stories were not easily encountered.
Glancing at Hyun Seok, her eyes shone with admiration, thinking that he was such a great man.
‘Maybe… he is a person either with a great occupation or an incredible background before he became a player.’
That’s the best she could judge about Hyun Seok. But that was all she could think of as she couldn’t dig further on Hyun Seok’s character.
‘Che, so stingy, can’t you share a bit more about you?’
Ryu Ji Hye was slightly sulking while pouting her lips. However, she returned back to her original expression when Hyun Seok started to speak.
“Now that I’m really done with my business, let’s go and finish talking about your sister.” [*]
With much tension and anticipation, Ryu Ji Hye nodded.
* * *
The old man sat back and lifted his fingers as a signal.
Then, a man popped out of the black curtain behind him and politely stood beside him.
“Did you find out?”
“Yes. It won’t be as difficult as I thought. But there’s one thing that bothers me.”
Old Hwang then asked with a big smile.
“The Crimson Poison Guild and Choi Chang Soo?”
The man was surprised.
“How did you know?”
The old man held out a note stuck between his fingers.
Opening the note, the man’s expression suddenly changed with a strangely distorted look.
“So, I don’t have to touch Chang Soo and Crimson Poison?”
“He must have placed it in the shield before I could put it under the table, but didn’t want to tell me out loud.”
The old man murmured, recalling Ryu Ji Hye, who came with Hyun Seok.
The man had read the note several more times with a stiff look on his face and politely said.
“Except for this, the rest of the work is not that difficult. A little greasing would do.”
“It’s really easy, isn’t it? Anyway, didn’t you feel anything when you saw what he did?”
Hearing such a question from old Hwang, the man’s face hardened.
“I don’t care… I’ve made my own judgments while working. At first, I thought it was done without thinking, but looking at it closely, it was a kind of work that’s meticulously done without any mess.”
“Right? That story…”
The old man took the note that he returned between his fingers.
“It seems like they still have work to do.”
The man did not answer. But in that silence, he admitted that there was a good chance.
“Secretly and carefully inquire about it.”
The man was astounded. It was the first time that his boss, old Hwang, was interested, and so much so, that he was showing his kindness to him.
It really was surprising that the old man had secretly helped someone.
“Why? You think I’ve gone senile just because I’m doing something I have never done before?”
“Oh, no. Of course not.”
The old man chuckled. Still, it’s true that he’s doing too much.
“How long have you been working with me? About 20 years?”
“It’s been exactly 23 years.”
With a satisfied look, old Hwang nodded at the man’s answer.
“Ah, yes. You’ve endured for a long time under this picky old man. It’s good enough that you talk to me.”
The old man said and then continued to ask the man, “Why do you think I succeeded so much and made a lot of money?”
“It’s because you have a very special gift.”
“Sang Jae, yeah, that’s important. You’d need your own talent in this line of business.”
Saying that, the old man’s eyes flashed.
“But that’s just the basics. Without it, one shouldn’t start a business in the first place. However, what else do you think is needed?”
The man could not answer.
Then, with a smile, the old man tapped his head with his fingers.
Seeing the sign, the man thought he’d say something about the old man’s hair… but he was sure that it wasn’t the case.
“I’m quite sensitive to these things. It feels like something important is about to unfold.”
“If you say so…”
The old man turned his head towards the direction where Hyun Seok had disappeared to.
“This time, that feeling is quite strong. I’ll have to catch this guy no matter what. But not with money, rather, with the heart. And that’s what I did. So I pretended to be a bit crazy and invested in him.”
The man glanced at old Hwang with an incomprehensible look.
Hwang’s face was filled with immense happiness and satisfaction that he had never seen before.
Translator and Editor Notes:
[*] The former translation mentioned that it was Ji Hye’s brother but the name and other contexts hints that she’s actually a girl.
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