008 – Chaos Before the Start of School #1
The seven gods created the world, and it is said that they created Ludens Island last.
Ludens was grand and beautiful, as the gods had poured all their knowledge and craftsmanship into shaping it. It was a miniature world where everything coexisted, from the sea to lava zones, freezing snow-capped mountains, grasslands, and forests.
It was only natural that it was called a miniature version of the world.
Naturally, there were many inhabitants.
The population was roughly around 100,000.
Excluding the 30,000 academy students, the remaining 70,000 were ordinary people.
The ordinary people were either graduates of the Prison Academy or island residents who made money off them.
“Come on, I’ve got wolf pelts from the mainland. 500,000 Rene.”
“500,000 Rene? That’s 5 million gold in mainland currency. Isn’t it a bit inflated for something that’s normally worth only 500,000 gold?”
“Oh, do you know how tough it was for me to sail all the way here? My ship almost capsized during the summer typhoon. If you don’t want to buy it, just say so.”
“It’s not that I don’t want to buy it, I’m just asking for a little discount…”
The market near the harbor was as noisy as if it had been lifted straight out of the game.
There were so many people who had come from far away by ship that it was almost deafening.
The noise emanated from various hawkers and their wares.
“It’s lively and nice.”
Still, it felt good. When you came to the market, you couldn’t help but feel motivated, thinking, ‘I need to work hard like them.’
“There seem to be fewer people today than I expected! Is it because there’s a typhoon approaching nearby? And the prices of goods seem higher than usual.”
Nike looked at the people and raised an eyebrow. Indeed, there seemed to be talk of a typhoon among the people’s conversations.
There were perilous waters between Ludens Island and the mainland kingdom, so not just anyone could sail there.
By the way, the types of sailors who come to the island vary as you complete quests.
From Kraken sailors who sell rare seafood to Onyx sailors who sell gems, they change depending on the time. So you have to put in some effort to find the right ones each time.
“Nike, you seem quite calm in the market.”
I thought Nike, as an Earth Mage, would be jumping around saying, “There are so many things here!” But she didn’t. In fact, Nike seemed calmer than I did.
Is this because even earth wizards are residents of this world?
“I come to this market every Friday to sell rabbit hides!”
“I see. Then I’ll leave the market guidance to you.”
“It’s easy to guide you, but why did you come here? The bank where we can borrow money is not here at the harbor, but in the central district.”
“I have something to do before then.”
Nike made an uncertain sound under her tattered hood.
“Until this morning, you seemed quite trustworthy. But suddenly, you started to seem very suspicious.”
“Anyway, let’s move quickly. Time is a resource for us, too, as we need to repay our debts. Just standing still is a loss.”
“Got it. So where do we need to go?”
I told Nike where I needed to go.
“Yeah. I just need one.”
“If that’s the case, you can buy it at the school store without coming all the way here, right?”
“It has to be a mainland egg, not a Ludens egg.”
As far as I know, they only sell them at this harbor.
Nike hesitated as she led me to a shop filled with chickens. A merchant who looked like a pirate, with a yellow eye showing, appeared and asked,
“Seems like you’re students from Ludens. What are you looking for?”
“I want to buy an egg, a mainland egg.”
“Just one egg, huh? Of course, we have it. Here, 5,000 Rene.”
The merchant confidently offered a single egg.
5,000 Renne for one mainland egg. It felt dizzying when you thought about buying one egg for 5,000 won.
But it was a necessary expense.
I didn’t consider it a waste.
“What are you doing, Nike? Hurry up and pay. Time is running out.”
“M-me? I’m supposed to pay…!?”
Nike was startled. Why was she surprised at this point?
“I told you yesterday, didn’t I? My entire possession was the bottle of water I drank yesterday. Since I don’t have any cash right now, you have to buy this egg.”
“Hmm… An egg that costs 5,000 Rene for just one. With this money, I could buy five Ludens eggs… Five eggs would be five meals…”
“Hehe, but these are high-quality mainland chicken eggs. I’ll take 5,000 Rene.”
Nicke reluctantly took out her coin purse from her pocket.
The jingling sound of coins, to be precise, they looked like gold coins but were not gold.
They were Rene, a magical metal currency unique to Ludens Island.
“The sound of Rene clinking is always pleasing. It’s worth sailing through storms to get here. Come back again sometime.”
Nike seemed quite reluctant to spend the money, so I tried to boost her morale.
“Don’t worry. That 5,000 Rene will turn into 50 million Rene in the future.”
“…Now that I think about it, it all feels so absurd and unreal. Why did I even join you? I don’t even know what we’re trying to do.”
Oh, is Nike feeling anxious?
It’s important to explain the future to investors.
So, as we left the market, I told Nike about my plan.
“We’re going to establish a club. To establish a club, we need a place, materials for workshops, and various other things. So, we’re taking out a loan.”
“Yeah, since you said you’ve opened a club before, you should understand what I’m saying.”
“The club application process was really tough. Are you sure it’s going to be okay?”
“Last night, you had that Fragrance Soup. We’ll use it for the application process.”
Maybe it could be a cooking club.
Nicke, who had eaten the Fragrance Soup, praised it highly.
It wasn’t just because she was a humble Earth Mage who hadn’t tasted good food before; she could genuinely feel it now that she had experienced the market by the sea.
The market itself was generally outdated.
Most of the ingredients in the market were 3-tier and easy to find. Even the prepared foods were all cheap. But what if I started offering 2-tier dishes in the market by myself? This could become a profitable venture.
It’s all a matter of time.
* * *
First, we went to the bank in Ludens’ central district.
The student council’s finance executive, who was dispatched at the bank, rummaged through various documents and said,
“Victor, Nike. Both of your credit ratings are good. You can each borrow up to 10 million Rene on a same-day loan.”
“So, that’s a total of 20 million?”
I was thinking of borrowing around 50 million Rene. With 50 million Rene, I could not only save the failing club but also obtain advanced facilities.
Is it better to concentrate on facilities with 20 million? For the club, I could open a shop like a wheeled cart and expand it into a chain…
“Sounds good. Let’s proceed with the loan.”
“Understood. Please sign here.”
“Nike, you too, hurry up.”
Nicke stood before the loan application form for 10 million Rene, seemingly unsure of what to do.
Hesitation was only natural. She had already incurred debt, and she probably didn’t want to increase it further.
People with a lot of debt naturally become fearful of taking on more debt for investments.
I felt the same way once. But making big money without investment is difficult.
“Invest with the heart of a beast, Nike.”
Nike was taken aback.
“A beast’s heart, you say… You talk like my father sometimes.”
“Does your father happen to be involved in stocks or something? Is that why your family has debts?”
“No, it’s not like that. Well… I don’t really know.”
Nike applied ink to her thumb and left a thumbprint. With that, we obtained a hefty sum of 20 million Rene!
A solid thud.
Nike held the bag of Rene tightly to her chest, trembling.
“…Handling this much money is a first for me in my life. What if someone tries to pickpocket us?”
“Well, if someone does, we can catch them and aim for additional compensation. It’s a win-win situation. But don’t deliberately get pickpocketed; it’s a hassle.”
“I won’t do such a thing…! Anyway, are we heading to the student center now? You mentioned starting a club. I know exactly what to do. Follow me!”
“No, we’re not going to the student center yet. There’s somewhere else we need to go.”
I scrutinized Nike from top to bottom.
“For now, let’s get cleaned up and buy some clothes.”
“Yeah, even if it’s not casual wear, we should at least get a clean school uniform. The one you’re wearing now won’t do.”
“But I already have clothes on. This is extravagant! You know school uniforms are incredibly expensive!”
School uniforms are indeed expensive.
If we follow the in-game prices, they’d cost around 3 million Rene per set.
However, Nike looked like a homeless person or beggar right now. Would she go for the evaluation at the student center like this? She’d definitely get rejected.
Food, clothing and shelter.
Balance is crucial, even though I’ve emphasized it countless times.
“Nike, if you want to pay off your debt, you need to tidy up your appearance.”
“… Isn’t it more important for people to focus on inner qualities than appearances?”
“That might sound nice, but no. First impressions matter. You could miss out on opportunities that won’t come again just because of your appearance. I’ve had experiences…”
No, there’s no need to explain it that far.
“Anyway, grooming yourself can be helpful. But that doesn’t mean you have to splurge. Just looking neat should suffice.”
If we go as we are now, we won’t be able to start the club, let alone get rejected.
People naturally tend to be more impressed by well-dressed individuals, no matter how many times they say otherwise.
Nike still seemed to not understand.
“It’s probably going to be difficult to master the strategy for paying off debt that uses the know-how of my youth in just one day.
“Then let’s go.”
I took Nike, who was hesitating, and headed towards the central shopping street.
Unlike the bustling starting point of the harbor, the central shopping street was adorned with quite elegant shops, including clothing stores and tool shops, among others.
The streets were neat, and people’s attire was also tidy.
Are we the only ones who are a mess?
“This is my first time here since the uniform shopping for the entrance ceremony. I’m really nervous… Just being here makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong…”
Nike shivered as she looked through the sparkling glass display of jewelry. Then she found something and swallowed her saliva.
“A necklace for 30 million Rene? Even if we combine everything we have, we can’t buy it.”
“There’s no need to buy it. Such things are a luxury for us right now. The price is high, but it’s only a Tier 3 accessory with just one effect.”
“…You really know your stuff.”
Nike’s emerald eyes, hidden behind messy bangs, shook from side to side. With money in her pocket and in such a glamorous market, it was hard to resist being tempted.
Some might say that it’s possible for those with a lot of debt to suddenly turn their eyes to luxury items when they have a little money.
Surprisingly, it happened quite frequently.
‘It will take a long time or a lifetime to repay the entire principal anyway. There are many cases where people give up and say things like, ‘Why don’t I just spend everything I have and live roughly before I die?’
“Nike, snap out of it.”
Nike’s gaze had now shifted away from the display shelves and towards the student girls walking down the street. It was a Friday just before the weekend leading up to the start of a new school semester.
The girls out shopping for the beginning of the new term were laughing with big shopping bags in hand. They truly gave off the feeling of girls enjoying their youth.
No matter how Ludens Academy might be called a Prison Academy, there was definitely an upper class that enjoyed a relaxed lifestyle. Nike was looking at those kids with envy.
“The shoes and the shiny hair… I’ll be like that soon if I save up a bit more…”
This is so unsettling.
Should I hold onto the money bundle?
“Nike, I’ll hold onto the money.”
“Ugh… That’s probably a good idea. But you absolutely can’t run away with it! I’ll really curse you then. Even though I look like this, I’m quite a skilled black magician, you know! Got it?”
(TL: Not really sure about the whole Black/Earth Mage here, sometimes translation is either, it might be a joke I guess, the wiki says she’s an Earth Mage, but it’s crossed out and I have no idea what that means~)
As we had this conversation, we were walking down the central street.
“It’s really true, so what did I do yesterday… More importantly, hey, your ex-boyfriend is passing by over there. Victor, I mean.”
“Just kidding. I’ve been fooling you all along. It’s fun to tease you.”
“Shadi, do you really want to die? And he’s not my ex-boyfriend; he was my fiancé. A fiancé my family arranged for me.”
“Okay, okay. Don’t get mad, Victoria. You know, you’ve already had a rough day, getting dumped, getting angry will just make it sadder.”
“…I didn’t get dumped! I dumped him!”
I was taken aback by the unexpected name.
As a reflex, I hid behind a nearby lamppost.
Nike looked at me suspiciously and asked, “What are you doing now?” But I had forgotten to even breathe. Why am I hiding? I haven’t done anything wrong.
But my body wouldn’t budge easily.
Is it because Victor wants to hide, not me, Ha Seung-ri?
… Well, I can understand not wanting to meet your ex-fiancé. It’s daunting to think about how to face them and what expression to wear.
“Victor, what the hell are you doing? Are you trying to run off with my money? You scammer! Give me my money back!”
However, Nike began to suspect my strange behavior. It was only natural since I was acting strangely while holding her 10 million Rene.
Thanks to this small commotion, someone noticed our presence.
“Hey, Victoria, isn’t that your ex-boyfriend over there?”
“Shadi, do you think I’ll be fooled again? I feel like I’m being tricked again.”
“… I swear on the Order of the Gods, this time it’s real. He’s with some weird girl. Do you think she’s the one…”
“What…? A girl?”