Chapter 111 – Upgrade
Calore’s downtown area was presently located in the southern district of the city, neighbouring the Mercenary Guild. Most of the NPC shops in the city were concentrated in this area, and it was also where the auction house was located, making the area the central hub for business and player activity. As of right now, the NPC shops in the area only sold goods that would satisfy low level players. In the future, these shops would gradually be replaced by crafting professions that could meet the demands of higher level players who required more advanced goods and equipment. Of course, this shift in the economy would bring about changes in the structure of commerce in the city as well. Also to note was the fact that the game developers would eventually place the real world currency exchange center in the east, causing Calore’s downtown area to slowly shift to that region of the city. Business in the south would gradually thin out until the only entity that could draw players in was the Mercenary Guild.
Currently, the plots in Calore’s southern district were priced at a minimum of ten gold. A few were even valued at up to thirty to forty gold, whereas the ones in the eastern region would only fetch one or two, some for even less. However, in two to three months, the average value of these relatively cheap plots in the east would rise by at least tenfold and several hundred for the ones in prime locations. In the next ten years, they would skyrocket to even more frightening levels.
Yet, at present, the entire region was a slum, to the extent where there wasn’t a single modern building in sight.
Leaving the auction house, Nie Yan headed for the administrator’s office located in the heart of the business hub. After walking for several minutes, he soon approached his destination as a towering white spire came into view. Typical of Viridian architecture, the stone walls were full of exquisite carvings and then further reinforced with mana, resulting in a faint azure glow emitting from their surface. If one inspected more closely, they would see a row of orchids hanging from the building’s balcony, allowing their fragrant scent to drift down to the streets below.
Upon arriving at the doorstep, Nie Yan entered the building and saw floors so immaculate and smooth they revealed his own reflection. The more than ten-meter-high ceiling would leave anyone awed at the expansiveness of this place. Additionally, various colorful pieces of artwork were painted across it, free for guests to enjoy during their stay.
As soon as he stepped through the doors, an elderly man walked over to greet him. He wore a deep black, well-ironed military uniform that carried golden epaulettes at the shoulders. Despite his age, he still appeared full of vigor and possessed an aura that was both dignified and domineering.
“Chief Administrator Telus, I’ve come to purchase some land.”
“I’m happy that you’ve decided to take up residence in Calore. We welcome any customer who wishes to open up a shop. We especially offer the best services to those who abide by the law. Please, come with me,” Chief Administrator Telus said before heading into his office.
Nie Yan had come here before in his past life, though it was already far too late by then. Even the most remote plots of land were valued at over several thousand to upwards of tens of thousands of gold. It was also during this period that Calore came to be known as the City of Gold. Any piece of it was worth quite a bit of money. Even the most ordinary storefronts could earn a player a significant sum. Within Conviction, merchants became so rich and powerful that they possessed no less if not more influence than the top-tier players. In contrast, he had been powerless and could only leave the chief administrator’s office empty handed while filled with regret.
However, in this lifetime, he would be able to obtain a vast number of extremely valuable storefronts for dirt cheap prices before most players were even paying attention to the virtual real-estate market!
“Dear customer, which storefront would you like to purchase?” Chief Administrator Telus inquired, pointing towards a holographic model of the city on his desk. All properties available for purchase were marked, and even their individual prices were clearly displayed.
Nie Yan stared at the eastern region of the city. Presently, there were over twenty properties available. The most expensive ones were two gold while the cheapest were fifty silver.
A few of them were properties that were considered prime real-estate in his past life. One of the locations was even near the yet to be built currency exchange center. The market value of that property had been well over several tens of thousands of gold. While in the real world, it became even more invaluable. Yet, placed right before his very eyes, such a matchless location was only being sold for two gold!
No other fact caused his heart to beat as wildly as this!
“I would like the storefront over here…” Nie Yan said, pointing to the property near the yet to be built currency exchange center. In the moment that he spoke, his heart began racing in his chest and he felt an intense excitement that was almost impossible to suppress. He barely held himself back from shouting out in joy.
This investment of two gold would create unlimited possibilities for him in the future!
He handed over the money to Chief Administrator Telus, and without missing a beat, the chief administrator handed back a title deed for the property, which came in the appearance of a scroll.
This thin, somewhat ancient scroll served as a legal document in the virtual world. The contract language and terms in this document were the same as the ones in reality and bore the same protection by the law.
After the first transaction, Nie Yan proceeded to purchase eleven more properties in prime real estate locations. Two of them were especially large, occupying an enormous area of land that made it perfect for building a towering auction house. He hoped to make it the most prosperous place in the entire eastern district.
Nie Yan glanced at his bag. After purchasing the rights to so many properties, he was only left with two gold.
In any world, the best way of earning money wasn’t to set up a commercial enterprise but rather to invest with impeccable foresight. By using money to create more money, he would achieve the goal of expanding his capital. Being reborn had given him many opportunities that he had missed out on in his past life.
Calore would become the Viridian Empire’s most flourishing city in the future while these twelve properties would become the most profitable. Even if he didn’t open his own shop and only rented them out, he would still rake in tremendous sums of money.
「System: For purchasing five or more properties in the city, your Influence in Calore has increased by 5.」
The boost in Influence would be helpful to him when doing business in and around every part of the city. When a player’s Influence reached thirty, even if their name was marked in red, they would still be able to freely walk the streets of the city and enjoy the protection of the guards. When purchasing goods from the NPC shops, they wouldn’t dare to price gouge the player as they pleased, simply for the fact that Influence represented status in the city.
Right after killing another player, he would still be able to parade himself ostentatiously around the streets! Just how wonderful of a situation was that? Though with his low-key nature, he absolutely wouldn’t commit such an attention-seeking act.
“In the future, when you open a shop, you’ll have to pay 1% of your profits every month as income tax. It is also necessary that you improve your shop within the next two months. Furthermore, you will have to pay 0.05% of your shop’s value as property tax. The most you can be behind on your payments is three months. Failure to repay your debts within that time limit will result in the Viridian Empire seizing your property, as per stated in your contract. Do you wish to make any further inquiries?” Chief Administrator Telus asked.
“No, that’ll be fine,” Nie Yan replied. In comparison to the benefits these properties would bring him, these taxes could be completely disregarded considering how immaterial they were.
After completing the transaction, he stored the deeds away, then stared at the model of the city. He could see piles of gold overflowing from these properties as they towered over the eastern region of Calore.
Now, he simply had to wait for the eventual expansion of the region!
Having finished his business, Nie Yan left the building with a sense of satisfaction. Even if he stagnated and did nothing from now on, the slowly appreciating properties almost ensured his future earnings would satisfy his expenses for a long time to come. Naturally, he wouldn’t become complacent after acquiring these deeds. The grand oceans allowed the fish to leap, and the vast skies allowed the birds to fly. He still had much more business to take care of.
Nie Yan headed back to the auction house. Aside from the Black Phenol and materials, he also placed a batch of Flash Powder, Web Scrolls, and Sheep Transformation Scrolls up for auction as well. Though, the majority of the money he earned would be used to purchase things that might spike in value later on. For example, right now he was focused on gathering consumables that cured petrification and equipment that increased Spirit for the upcoming dungeon, Medusa’s Lair.
He also purchased several Fortune Gems in addition to the fifteen he already had in his possession. For him, selling these gems or sitting on them while waiting for their value to rise wasn’t worth his time. That meant the best course of action was to use them to strengthen his equipment right now. Only then could he get the most out of them.
After thinking about what he should upgrade, the Dark Gold dagger, Blood Pact, popped into his mind. Now that he thought about it, it was probably the best piece of gear out of all the equipment that was currently in his possession. Although it was a Level 0 dagger, it was still Dark Gold-grade. It certainly wasn’t lacking in attack, but the most significant aspect was that it boasted a fairly rare property, Lifesteal. If he were able to raise this dagger’s attack, then it would become even more perfect.
However, most players felt that using Fortune Gems on a Level 0 weapon was too much of a waste. After all, these gems cost five silver each! At the very least, many would wait until they reached the mid thirties, when levelling became much slower, to use such an expensive item, but Nie Yan didn’t have any such apprehensions. He had no shortage of money-making schemes to use in the future. Thus, if he really wanted to upgrade his equipment again, he could simply purchase more Fortune Gems at the auction house. All Elite or Lord monsters over Level 5 had a chance of dropping them. Usually, ordinary players who got their hands on some often couldn’t bear to use it for themselves, so they would place them up for sale on the auction house, making it so the market would never run out.
Aside from increasing the success rate of socketing gems, a Fortune Gem (1) could also raise a weapon’s attack by ten and a piece of armour’s defense by fifteen. These bonuses were enough to make many players go crazy. The caveat was that the success rate would fall depending on the number of upgrades. For the first five stages, the success rate was sixty percent. If it was successful, then all was fine, but upon failure, the piece of equipment would lose an upgrade stage. From stage six to ten, the success rate would fall to fifty percent, and upon failure, five stages would be lost. From the eleventh to the fifteenth stage, the success rate remained fifty percent, but all upgrades would be lost upon failure. As for the final stages, stage sixteen to twenty, each successive upgrade would provide the piece of equipment with an additional, formidable skill. Any piece of equipment that had been upgraded twenty times were existences that were as rare as Legendary-grade equipment.
When upgrading a piece of equipment, each additional gem would increase the success rate by a certain amount.
The concept of upgrading equipment with Fortune Gems was often the bane of players with gambling addictions. Those who were lucky would be able to raise several stages with only a few gems, thus creating an invaluable piece of equipment. In contrast, there were also some incredibly unfortunate fools, who, when falling prey to a moment of weakness, would try their luck only to lose over ten upgrades all at once.
No matter what, upgrading with Fortune Gems was an activity only for the rich. Ordinary players definitely wouldn’t dare to do so, or more accurately, they couldn’t afford to do so!
Not only did Nie Yan have fifteen Fortune Gems, he also possessed Pandora’s Box1 which had the ability to influence success rate. Thus, he was itching to give it a try. Besides, for the first ten stages, there was no chance of losing all upgrades.
After confirming his decision, he placed Blood Pact and one Fortune Gem into Pandora’s Box. The dagger glowed with a blood red aura while beside it was a gem that emitted a dazzling radiance.
「System: Do you wish to upgrade this piece of equipment?」
Nie Yan gazed fixedly at Conviction’s clock. He calculated whether the time was on an even cycle or an odd cycle as he watched the passing seconds, his pupils reflecting each successive digit.
Nie Yan confirmed the upgrade.
「System: Upgrade successful! Blood Pact → Blood Pact +1」
My luck’s pretty good! He examined the properties of the improved Blood Pact.