Solo Max Level Newbie Chapter 191

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Chapter 191: The Pawnshop of Ricknos

Beyond the familiar gate emerged…

Thud.

It was ‘Rick Hennessy,’ one of the middle managers.

Finally, you’ve come. Such a sly old serpent you seem to be.

“Heh heh. Oh my, oh my… It seems you are quite angered.”

Rick burst into a boisterous laugh.

His relaxed demeanor further irked Jinhyuk.

His voice cooled down.

“You promised to block the manifestations of the higher forces, did you not? The demon’s manifestation and the live editing of Freedman’s broadcast. These were the two conditions I requested.”

“Of course, I remember the terms of our deal. However, they were so well-prepared on their end that a hole opened up in the barrier. Consequently, it eluded me as well.”

“A hole in a barrier created by the grand middle manager Rick? You expect me to believe that?”

Sauron might as well be having Lasik surgery while sitting down.

Despite having map-hack and seeing every corner of the tower, I’m unsure where such a blatant lie has come from with such an innocent face.

As the atmosphere began to chill, Rick swiftly added another remark.

“Ahem! Ah! It wasn’t intentional. In truth, we also had a difficult situation on our side.”

“Sure, sure, I suppose there must be. Naturally, that something is a secret, correct?”

“No, not at all. Since it was our mistake that things turned out this way, I must surely tell you. A few hours ago… the Murim side launched a preemptive strike on the Empire. It was only a vanguard, but a part of the 24th floor has been completely devastated.”

At Rick’s words, Jinhyuk’s gaze narrowed.

‘Oh my.’

Look at this.

The Murim, whose forces had dwindled, initiated a sneak attack on the Empire?

And they’ve been hibernating until now?

‘Whether it’s the orthodox or the unorthodox… They’re barely harmonious and even have to deal with the colossal headache known as the Demonic Cult.’

This turns things quite interesting.

I couldn’t figure out their motives, but it was obvious that it would have a massive impact on the tower’s power dynamic.

“I understand there’s a situation. That doesn’t mean you can breach the contract you have with me, Rick.”

“Of course. In fact, as an apology, I planned to give you the right to ‘purchase’ one of the items I have as a bonus… What do you think about that? Is it acceptable?”

To just give the right to ‘purchase,’ rather than give something outright…

Indeed, that’s so like Rick.

Not only the compensation but even the choices I make and how I negotiate seem to be a point of observation for him.

“Jinhyuk, you already know that the items I possess are not commonly found in the tower.”

Right. I’m well aware.

Rick, the true owner of the Target Point, indeed possessed a trove of treasures that players, no matter how desperate, couldn’t obtain.

This kind of opportunity is rare.

Moreover, thanks to Makethros, I’ve already achieved various benefits including the ‘Key of Rift,’ so I could afford to give him a brief respite for his misdeeds.

Just a brief one, of course.

“Fine. Let’s do it.”

“A wise decision. Then, what would you like? Weapons, armor, accessories, holy relics, or all sorts of potions are available as long as your balance allows. Feel free to let me know.”

“Well, I just spent all my coins. I won’t be able to buy anything with coins, but instead, let’s do a barter exchange.”

“Hmm. That’s not a bad idea either, but I doubt you have anything that would interest me…”

Rick gasped mid-sentence!

Woooosh!

As Jinhyuk activated his spatial inventory, Rick’s eyes bulged as if about to pop out.

No wonder.

For the one toddling out of the void was none other than a sweet potato.

“C’mon, c’mon here.”

“Mogi!”

The sweet potato snuggled right into Jinhyuk’s embrace.

With eyes tightly closed, enjoying the caressing hands, the spud was the very image of a dragon kitty.

“You, you intend to exchange an ancient species…?”

Rick’s voice trembled violently.

Meanwhile.

“Mogi, mogi!”

Sensing something awry, the sweet potato flailed about in Jinhyuk’s clutches.

Be still, will you?

I wouldn’t swap you for all the gold in the world.

“Ah! Just to clear things up, I’m not trading the sweet potato.”

“Then, what…”

“How about a single scale from the sweet potato?”

A scale from an ancient species!

Greed flashed in Rick’s eyes.

“…And what do you seek in return?”

“A ‘compass’ that marks where rifts appear. Surely… you have one in your possession, correct?”

Having obtained the key from Makethros, now all I needed was to locate where the rifts appear.

Jinhyuk intended to resolve this through Rick.

Their gazes locked.

Now the real negotiation began.

[Rick Hennessy has activated the skill Lv25 ‘Deep Sigh’.]

“Sigh…”

Rick furrowed his brow, stroking his chin with his hand.

That profoundly somber bass voice was always astonishing to hear.

“As delightful as an ancient species’ scale might be, it’s not an adult and since the True Name is unknown, it’s difficult to gauge its true value. Moreover, it requires special storage in a specific solution which isn’t cheap to maintain. Of course, there might be interested buyers, but there might not be, right? I alone would have to bear all the risks… This is not an easy task.”

His long explanation was close to nonsense but strangely convincing.

Maintenance and inventory issues, and the low demand due to its rarity—it all made sense from an economic perspective.

[Rick Hennessy has activated the skill Lv22 ‘Halving Blow’.]

“So, I suggest… ten scales and one week’s rental of the ancient species as conditions for the trade. Sigh… This is my limit. It’s tough to go further. The scales will regrow anyway, and the rental isn’t exactly a heavy demand, is it? Although I stand to lose, I’m willing to offer you this special deal because it’s you, Jinhyuk.”

Once again, there was a peculiar force in his argument.

As ever, Rick had impecable timing in using his skills.

Not for nothing did he earn the nickname ‘Ricknos’, the halver of everything.

“Hmm…”

Jinhyuk, who had been listening silently, nodded.

Not in agreement, though.

He would have gone along if Rick had offered a fair deal, but since he decided to play hardball, it was time to play properly.

“I think it would be easier to speak with Mr. Hastings. It seems impossible to get through to you, Rick. Please, call your superior.”

“Ex… excuse me? What do you mean by that…”

“I was willing to overlook one major mistake, considering our relationship. Instead, you try to hit me with a low blow, don’t you? You’re forgetting, though, a manager’s contract breach is a serious crime. Moreover… there must be more mishaps on the managers’ end, right?”

Grudges are not forgotten even when gratitude fades – it’s the way of the veteran to remember distinctively.

The shenanigans pulled by the lower manager, ‘Kaman.’

Gulp.

Rick swallowed hard, sensing the seriousness of the situation.

“Goodwill, taken for granted over time, can seem natural, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. Personally, I rather liked you, Rick.”

“Ju… just a moment! I’m sorry! My mistake… My fault!”

Rick clutched Jinhyuk’s sleeve, his face turning pale with dread.

He didn’t even want to think about what might happen if Hastings were to come.

“How about it? Will you hand over the compass willingly?”

“For one scale… I will give it to you.”

Finally, Rick raised the white flag.

However.

Jinhyuk did not accept that white flag.

There was also no need.

Control had fully shifted into his hands now.

“Hmm. I really, truly wish I could give it to you, but I just realized how pitiful our sweet potato looks.”

“Mogi, mogi.”

Thinking of being plucked of its live scales, the sweet potato’s eyes glistened with moisture.

It would be downright barbaric to do such a thing. Could anyone witness those trembling eyes and commit such a savage act?

“Perhaps…”

“Give it to me for free.”

A regular customer is valued, right? This is the time for mutual generosity.

Well, when I think about how Rick previously fooled me left and right, this doesn’t even qualify as a con.

“But, but even so, for free is a bit…”

“Since I can’t, go ahead and try plucking it yourself.”

Jinhyuk lovingly stroked the sweet potato’s head.

Growl!

“Mogi!”

The sweet potato bared its sharp fangs.

Even touching it with a fingertip could mean becoming its chew toy—that’s the resolve in its eyes.

Even the middle manager would think twice.

It wouldn’t be so bold as to lay hands on the scale of an ancient beast.

“Cough…”

Predictably.

Rick withdrew his hand.

“Please send the compass to my spatial inventory. It might take some time to find, so I’ll give you three days.”

“Under… stood. Let’s do that. Please keep this matter confidential from Mr. Hastings.”

“Don’t worry about that. Instead, ensure that the punishment for that damned lower manager is carried out appropriately.”

Personally, I’d prefer never to see that face again.

Sudden backstabbings were the least of what I wanted.

Of course.

“We’ll make sure he never appears in the tower again, so don’t worry about that.”

Rick’s fury over losing a treasure was bound to fall squarely on Kaman—there was hardly any need for concern.

Just then.

[The 8th and 9th layers have been conquered.]

[An impressive achievement.]

[This feat will be recorded in the ‘Hall of Fame’ for one full day tomorrow.]

[Your level has increased.]

[Your level has increased.]

[Your level has…]

[…increased.]

[You’ve acquired +500,000 coins.]

[You have earned the right to choose a ‘Title’.]

[You can check the details of the titles through the information section.]

A series of status windows emerged, declaring the true victor of this quarrel.

Everything was resolved.

Now, it was time to leave the maze.

***

Inside the antique-looking room, two familiar figures appeared.

One was the upper manager Hastings, sipping from a cup of tea while seated.

The other was the lower manager Kaman, trembling terribly and pale with fright.

He had transgressed the rules of the tower, attempting to glean benefits from the bosses, a crime warranting a life sentence in the infinite prison.

However.

The reason for Kaman’s trembling fear was not this.

“Hastings… please, save me. It was a mistake.”

“Indeed, it was.”

Hastings placed his teacup down.

The clinking sound reverberated unusually loudly.

“I gave you support so you wouldn’t fail, yet you spectacularly ruined everything. I’m truly annoyed. Genuinely angered.”

The voice, cold and sharp, was far from the affable Hastings of before.

“Hii… heek.”

Kaman stepped backward slowly.

His face, drained by terror and fear, showed only a desperate desire to live.

“Especially considering I provided even upper demons to support you, right? Even though you’re a fool, I made sure you couldn’t fail.”

The reason the lower manager Kaman managed to link two layers and call upon Makethros from the demon world was because Hastings had backed him up.

“Choosing a lower manager was meant to attract less attention, but it seems I’ve made a mistake. You’ve worked hard so far, Mr. Kaman.”

With that.

Hastings concluded the conversation.

“Please, please…”

With a piteous cry for mercy.

Krack!

Space itself swallowed Kaman whole.

And at that moment…

Squirming.

An unidentifiable shadow with tentacles stretched out within the room.

[…..]

Unspeakable menace began to infest the room.

Even Hastings shuddered with fright.

“Do not worry too much. Oh ancient sovereigns. No one shall approach your sacred domain… I, Hastings, will ensure it.”

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