Return of the Frozen Player - Chapter 43
Chapter 43 – Kwon Noya (2)
The two stared at each other, neither of them saying anything. His grandson Kwon Palmo didn’t know Specter’s face, but Kwon Noya did. He’d been the one to make Specter’s mask.
(TN: ‘Palmo’ can be read as ‘Mr. Arm’.)
The two didn’t care about appearances and acted like friends despite their age difference. Kwon Noya looked at Seo Jun-ho with one eye squinted.
“Excuse me… Have you two met before?” Kwon Palmo tilted his head as he asked, but his grandfather shook his head.
“Don’t worry about it. Palmo, fetch a glass of Agarit tea for our guest.”
“Huh? That precious tea…?” Kwon Noya nodded, and the giant headed to the kitchen, still stealing glances from Seo Jun-ho. Seo Jun-ho grinned as he watched Kwon Palmo’s back get smaller.
“He still listens well to his grandfather.”
“Don’t act like you don’t know. When he doesn’t listen, he gets stupidly stubborn.”
Seo Jun-ho picked up the sword on the anvil. “But still, he learned well despite crying during all your scoldings. It’s a great sword. The balance of the weight is perfect.”
“…Hmph, I still have a lot to teach him.”
“And you still don’t know how to react to compliments,” Seo Jun-ho chuckled as he walked to Kwon Noya. “And why aren’t you welcoming me back? Aren’t you happy that I returned?”
“Happy?!” His haughty expression quickly became disgusted. But it was only for a moment, and he patted Seo Jun-ho on the shoulder.
“…You’ve gone through a lot.”
“Thanks. You’re still healthy. And your personality is still soft.”
“Flattery will get you nowhere. Sit for now.” But before Seo Jun-ho could, Kwon Noya asked a question, his voice grave. “What was the reason?”
“How am I supposed to answer when you ask me like that?”
“I heard the summary from Deok-gu, but I didn’t hear the reason why you decided to come back.”
“Um, well, seeing is believing.”
Seo Jun-ho flicked his finger and frost crystallized in the air. After staring at it with a piercing look, Kwon Noya finally spoke.
“Is that the Frost Queen’s skill?”
“Yeah. I got her skill, and now I have a chance to save my teammates.”
“I see.” Kwon Noya understood everything. If it was like that, the kindhearted idiot in front of him would return as a player without a second thought.
“So let’s do our best from now on, since we have a lifelong contract anyways.”
“Hm?” Kwon Noya let out a long sigh. “The lifelong contract I signed was with Specter, not some newbie named Seo Jun-ho.”
“Hey, that’s not fair… You’re joking, right?” Seo Jun-ho swallowed nervously.
Kwon Noya burst into laughter. “Ahahaha! It’s a joke. I wanted to see that stupid face of yours.”
“I’m handsome and you know it.”
“Handsome? You look like a parasite. Our Palmo is the manly, handsome one.”
“…Um, anyways,” Before he could start bragging about his grandson, Seo Jun-ho needed to finish his business, “I came because you said the sword is done.”
“The one you told me to make with dragon bones? It’s finished.”
“Hasn’t it only been five days since I commissioned you?”
“Hah, have you forgotten?” Kwon Noya went over to a shelf in the back and brought back a black sheathed sword. “I wield the hammer for you, and you wield the sword for me. That’s the promise we made.”
“I’m not the one who said that, right? It’s cringey.”
“…Ahem, check out the weapon.”
Seo Jun-ho took the sheathed sword into his hands, and his eyes started to sparkle. It was made of dragon bones, and the red symbol of Kwon Noya’s workshop was carved into the middle.
“The red and black combo… It’s so cool.”
“The guy inside is even better,” Kwon Noya said, full of confidence. Seo Jun-ho swallowed and looked at the handle. It was the same black as the sheath and shaped like a dragon’s head. Filled with anticipation and excitement, Seo Jun-ho wrapped his hand around it.
…It fits my hand perfectly. Twenty-five years had passed, but Kwon Noya still thought of him. His chest was starting to tingle, and Seo Jun-ho unsheathed the sword.
It let out a sharp sound, as if the air around it was being cut. The blade that extended from the dragon’s mouth captivated him. It was like a work of art, his jaw dropping as he studied it. A voice came from behind him.
“You rascal, who throws someone a bunch of dragon bones and tells them to make a sword? I mixed in some new material.”
“Ah, that’s why it’s so shiny. It wouldn’t be like this if it was just made of bone.”
“Its durability and magic conductivity is a lot better than if it was pure bone.”
“Let me check. Item info.”
The information window popped up in front of him.
“…Yes, this is what a sword should be,” Seo Jun-ho muttered, entranced. He’d been using throwaway swords from the Association’s warehouse.
Most items made by smiths were usually Normal-grade—or Magic-grade if it was well-made. But Kwon Noya was one of the most skilled, most famous blacksmiths in the world. Perhaps that was why Black Dragon Fang was Unique.
“Your skill is as sharp as ever. It’s an amazing sword. A dragon’s fang; I like that.”
“As sharp as ever? I got even better, you rascal.” Seo Jun-ho was grinning at the sword like a child, and Kwon Noya smiled too. “You evil bastard. You told me to retire to my room and play Go, but you’re making work for me again.”
“You, playing Go? Don’t make me laugh. You’re not even that good.”
“Do you think I’m the same as before? Just you wait!”
Their bickering eventually led to a Go board being taken out. At that moment, Kwon Palmo came in with an apron, carrying a tea table.
“It’s hot, so please be careful.” He placed down the teacups and caught Kwon Noya’s look before going upstairs.
“It’s a rare tea. Don’t spill any.”
“Geez, Noya, you know I’ve had all sorts of expensive teas.” But as Seo Jun-ho blew on the tea and took a sip, his eyes bulged.
“Wh-what is this…?”
“Kukuku, doesn’t your head feel clear? And your eyes too? You want to drink more, don’t you?”
“What kind of tea is this?”
“I’ll tell you if you win.” Kwon Noya cackled, and Seo Jun-ho grabbed a stone.
Thirty minutes later, Kwon Noya picked up the heartless stones and threw them on the ground.
“This is a shitty game.”
“You’re not supposed to put them there…”
“Shut up!” Kwon Noya drained the last of his now-cold tea. “Kid, have you heard of the Second Race?”
“Monsters with intelligence that are similar to humans? Orcs, elves, banshees… Those guys?”
“That’s what we called them before, but their standards of intelligence have changed on the 2nd floor.” Kwon Noya placed stones on the Go board to explain. He pushed the black stones to one corner of the board. “So, these black stones are members of the Second Race that players have hunted in Gates thus far. We still call them monsters.”
“How about the white ones?”
“They’re the ones we now call the Second Race.”
“What’s the difference between them?”
“Intelligence.” Kwon Noya tapped on his temple. “The ones we now call the Second Race are all responsive to communication.”
“Wait. We can communicate with orcs?” Seo Jun-ho’s eyes were filled with shock. All the orcs he’d encountered only screeched gibberish.
“Orcs have always been lacking in a lot of ways. It’s hard to find ones we can communicate with.”
“But there are still some out there. Why are you suddenly bringing this up though…?”
“You asked me about the tea.” Kwon Noya stroked the teacup. “It’s called Agarit tea. The elves cultivated the leaves themselves, and you can’t buy it with money.”
“…Not even on the 2nd floor?”
“Who knows. If you make a connection with the elves, you might be able to.” Seo Jun-ho was a little disappointed since he liked the tea.
“Noya, can I ask you one more question?”
“Spit it out.”
“It’s easier to just show you.” Seo Jun-ho finished his sentence and pulled out the ‘Unknown Ball’ he’d won at the auction. Kwon Noya stared at the ball on the Go board and tilted his head.
“Hm? It’s an interesting-looking ball.”
“…So you don’t know what it is either?”
“You bastard, I’m not some sage from Chamseongdae*. Do you think I know everything? But…”
(TN: Oldest surviving astronomical observatory in the world that’s in Korea.)
Noya picked up the Unknown Ball and studied it. He nodded.
“There’s one thing I know. This ball is Elven.”
“How do you know that?”
“Hm, it’ll take too long to explain everything so I’ll summarize. I’ve met an Elven elder.”
“Wait, so you’ve gone to the 2nd floor before?”
“Not me. He was the one that came down.”
He’d never imagined that creatures from the upper floors could ride the Dimensional Elevator. Seo Jun-ho was filled with a new shock.
“Don’t go around talking about this. It’s top-secret,” Noya said.
“You know I’m tight-lipped. Tell me more.”
“The elf… gave off an energy that was both mystical and strange. The being in front of me was definitely humanoid, but it was like I was standing in front of water or a plant.” Kwon Noya stared at the ball as he spoke. “It’s the same feeling I get with this ball.”
“…An Elven item.” Seo Jun-ho looked at the ball with new eyes.
“You won’t be able to find elves on the 1st floor, so go to a dark elves’ forest instead.”
“Dark elves? Is that necessary?”
“You tell me. But Elven items that give off the energy of the World Tree can be activated.”
“Then…” Seo Jun-ho took a moment to sort his thoughts before he tapped on his Vita, looking for an article. He’d seen it on the flight to Korea.
[New Gate in Grantham, England, featured monsters are dark elves. Recruitment open.]
He’d decided on the next Gate he’d conquer.