Two weeks later, Lee Shin Woo returned to Kuroa's Glory, and his popularity was better than ever.
"It's the Sun God's hero!"
"I heard he's traversed half of the Empire in less than a month. Is that true?"
"Perhaps not half, but he saved several cities. He cleared 5 unconquered dungeons."
Lee Shin Woo was able to clear so many dungeons due to the Sun God religion's resources and information gathering. As Lee Shin Woo had performed a never before seen feat and had returned in triumph, he did indeed look like a true hero.
"That man... Is he really human?"
"He must've conquered the dungeons with the Sun God religion's paladins and priests, but he's still amazing."
"I knew he was amazing since the first time I saw him spewing out those endless flames and burning the undead."
He was indeed followed by a few of the Sun God religion's paladins and priests, but the Pope hadn't. In order to assert that Lee Shin Woo was conquering the dungeon of his own free will, the Pope remained behind, covertly directing his troops and supporting Lee Shin Woo.
"Is he level 8 by any chance?"
"He's obviously level 8. Perhaps... Perhaps he's even reached level 9."
"Hey, you can't say that! What if His Majesty were to hear you!?"
He didn't know for sure, but the citizens of the Magic Empire spread rumors that the Emperor was level 9. And based on all the info he'd gathered thus far, there was a high possibility that the Emperor was indeed level 9.
So, calling someone level 9 was considered an act of treason, as it was essentially equating the individual with the Emperor himself.
'It's quite unreasonable, as it's not a unique title or anything... More importantly, the Undead Emperor must be level 9 if the Emperor on the surface is.'
When he'd first assessed Feotane Von Seldin's level, he assumed the Emperor would be level 9, and actually felt relieved at the news. He even thought he was lucky that he wasn't level 10.
'Putting aside the Emperors' strengths, the main issue is the curse.'
When he'd stopped the dungeon countercurrent, he felt a sense of foreboding, but of the dungeons he'd conquered this time around, half of the bosses were undead.
Some of the normal monsters would transform into the undead as well. If Jin hadn't sucked the death energy from them, then the paladins and the priests accompanying them might've been affected. He felt as though half of the humans on the surface would become undead in just a few years rather than dozens of years, at this rate.
He knew about this, so shouldn't the Emperor know about this as well? No, even an idiot would notice what was going on. If that's the case, then how would the Emperor react? No, how did he view the Underground Empire?
Lee Shin Woo had to go to the capital, if for no other reason than to find that out.
"Sir Kay, are you going back home?"
"No, I'm going to the auction house."
"Ah, that's right. You were backing this auction."
"You never know what might happen, so we'll accompany you."
One of the priests asked, and Lee Shin Woo replied nonchalantly and led Jin. Since news had spread that Lawrence was protected by the Sun God religion, there was a low chance of anything going wrong at the auction, but since this was the first 'main event' he'd started on the surface, he'd feel sad if he didn't witness it firsthand.
Although the priests and paladins knew just how pointless guarding him was, as they'd seen a glimpse of his strength by accompanying his dungeon conquests, it was still their duty, so they followed him quietly.
"Oh, it's already started."
"It's really big..."
They had originally planned to use the store building for the auction, but because so many people (it might've been different if they were all peasants, but each and every one of them were high ranking aristocrats or the top business leaders) wished to participate, a huge auction house had been set up instead.
What was most surprising was that the auction house was filled to the brim. When Lee Shin Woo stepped foot into the auction house, it was quite hot inside, so much so that he almost mistook it for the auction house burning down.
[160,000 Perium! We have 160,000 Perium for this bottle of Kerr Century Elemental 451! Do we have 165,000!? Ah, we have 170,000 Perium! I repeat, we have 170,000 Perium!]
Once he'd entered the auction house, Lee Shin Woo heard the auctioneer's resounding voice and wondered if he'd misheard. He'd sold a bottle to the Pope (at the special price) for 77,000 Perium. But what? One bottle is being sold for 170,000?
'I sold 1 liter of Kerr Century Dellocus 395 to Pleine for about 500,000 Perium, so a bottle (700 ml) should be worth about 350,000 Perium. Well, that's accounting for the steep premium due to its age. But what's going on...'
Although he'd revived the Kerr Century technique, he was only able to create the wine with an elf and the Dryads' help. But one bottle was being sold for 170,000 Perium?
[We have 210,000 Perium!]
Wait a sec. It just went over 200,000 Perium!
[Ah, the first successful bid is 230,000 Perium! Please remain on edge, there are 49 more bottles left to auction off individually! After that, we'll be auctioning off at least 10 bottles at a time, so make sure you don't lose your chance!]
Lee Shin Woo had prepared 1,500 bottles of Kerr Century Elemental 451 for the auction. He couldn't sell it all to one person, and he also couldn't sell them all individually, so the auction had become structured this way. He'd been worried, wondering how it would turn out, but after seeing this, he realized how effective it was.
In order to buy 10 bottles of Kerr Century wine, the buyer had to be extremely powerful. Following that logic, poorer buyers had no choice but to go for the individual bottles of wine. Because they had a limited supply of wine, whenever a bottle of wine was sold, the restlessness of the crowd would increase... In the end, the price of his wine increased exponentially.
He'd thought it wasn't a very good idea, but it was unexpectedly quite effective. Actually, if the product was good enough, then the seller could always raise the asking price.
[330,000 Perium! Sold at 330,000 Perium!]
While Lee Shin Woo was busy thinking, the fourth bottle of wine was sold for an additional 100,000 Perium. His contracted merchants had promoted the product and had even given wine tastings, but this had really far exceeded his expectations.
Hey, wait a second. The last winning bidder was the Sun God religion's Pope!
"He's supposed to be sponsoring this event. What the hell is he doing?"
"Perhaps he's sponsoring the event by buying it at such a high price..."
While Lee Shin Woo and the priests looked on vacantly, the auction began to heat up. Some of the participants grimaced at the increasing prices, but then, Lawrence's representative, Izuna (Ye Jin Jin) picked up one of the bottles.
"What a waste."
Of course, it wasn't up for sale, but a promotional item. Once she opened the top, the entire auction house was filled with the aroma of the wine, which meant that a magical device had been used. Lee Shin Woo took a whiff of the wine and even he was in awe of his product. It had been a long time since he'd missed his sense of taste.
"T-This aroma... Ooh."
"Why did such a skilled winemaker have to go underground?"
"Oh my god. Was this really made by a human?"
The wine's aroma had caused a huge commotion within the auction house, yet Ye Jin Jin, spoke calmly, unbefitting her. Of course, her voice resounded throughout the auction house as well.
"My magic device doesn't have the ability to magnify scents. This is simply the wine's natural aroma. Anyone who buys a bottle of wine is free to sample this promotional product."
The effect was explosive. The flames of the auction had begun to die down, but her actions refueled the fires, causing all the participants to spend all their savings on the auction.
After that, the winning bid for the fifth bottle of wine was more than 450,000 Perium, and the sixth had surpassed 500,000. It was madness.
And Ye Jin Jin had been the orchestrator. He'd trained her, of course, but she was the one who'd intervened at just the right time. Anyone who'd seen this wouldn't suspect her role as representative of the Lawrence shop.
"Sir Kay, the young silver-haired man sitting at the upper right is the Third Prince of the Empire."
"Even the Imperial family came. Though there's probably nothing I can learn from them..."
The Third Prince, who had likely come to figure out who was behind the Lawrence shop, had become intoxicated by the smell and was upping his bid. The high ranking nobles and the other high ranking priests of the other religious orders (who opposed the Sun God religion's sudden ascent in popularity) were no different.
All these individuals, who each had their own reasons for coming here, had abandoned those goals and focused entirely on the wine. What a nice sight!
'Can't I gather all of the money on the surface with wine...? No, wait. I can get all this money without it, so why the hell am I posing as a hero!?'
So much had happened that he hadn't expected, so Lee Shin Woo was dumbstruck. However, the auction continued on, and ultimately, he had sold all 1,500 bottles of the Kerr Century Elemental 451 for a whopping total of 670 million Perium.
But the highlight of the event was Ye Jin Jin saying, "We plan on introducing the Kerr Century Sparkling Elemental next season, so look forward to it." Once she said that, the participants began to fight desperately and scheme against each other so that they could participate in the next auction; it was something worth seeing, better than anything he'd seen in the Underground Empire.
"Sir Kay. I'm glad you're alright."
Once the auction was over and the goods were transferred, Lee Shin Woo found Ye Jin Jin and encouraged her. While they both looked after the Lawrence shop, Ye Jin Jin was Lawrence's representative and therefore knew she had to maintain a safe distance from Lee Shin Woo. However, she'd managed to take care of everything quite well.
"You worked hard too, Sir Kay."
She had already reached level 6 and looked much calmer than before. Perhaps her emotions had calmed down, as she knew that she was being helpful to him.
He didn't pinpoint the exact reason, but he was satisfied, as Ye Jin Jin's condition seemed to have improved. Once he'd looked around the auction house and confirmed that there was nothing amiss, he said.
"You can all go now."
"Sir Kay, when will the next auction be?"
"I've already told the Pope, but I'd like to do it before things become worse."
The auction had ended in a great success. Bisher Moon and Rem, both of which were in the capital right now, should be working together to create a foothold for him, and he had confirmed Ye Jin Jin's physical and mental growth, so...
"I guess I should go to the capital. On the way there, tell the Pope."
"That I'd like to start conquering level 7 dungeons."
The priests simultaneously adopted an expression similar to Munch's 'The Scream' , but Lee Shin Woo just ignored them and hastened his pace.
Then 20 minutes later, he got an unexpected report from Sinea.
 E/N: https://i.imgur.com/nuPFwMz.jpg