E/D: Fun P/R:Lark
When Shaar entered the shop he noticed that there were no other guests inside, only a skinny old man sitting behind the counter. Although Shaar’s clothes were very tattered, the old man did not discriminate against him, instead he stood up and gave him a warm welcome. With a bright smile hanging on his face, the old man squint his eyes. This kind of smiling face was equal to having “profiteer” engraved on it.
“Respectful customer, what items are you interested in? We recently received a new batch of fine tobacco, which was planted by the real Zharturk people! Looking at your age, you are probably not interested in tobacco …ah, someone as tall and strong as you, radiating such strength and courage, must be a splendid warrior. Yes, we have high quality equipment made by ‘Mjölnir’. What kind of weapon do you need? Is it a good sword, or maybe you need new armour? I can guarantee you that all of our equipment is authentic, forged by famous dwarf smiths and are absolutely not forgeries!”
Come on, stop the bullshit.
Shaar had spent many years in Primal Wildfire Town, how could he not know these profiteers’ shameful promises?
The whole world knew that the weapons built by the dwarf smiths were the best. The dwarves believed in Thor and thus almost half of the weapon shops on the continent were named “Mjölnir”, after the hammer of Thor in order to try to make others believe that the weapons they sold were all made by dwarves.
Shaar presumed that there were genuine high quality weapons made by dwarves in Black Street, however those were highly valued treasures and these profiteers would certainly not show them to a boy that looked like a beggar.
Seeing that Shaar not responding, the old man twisted his beard and put an “I understand as a man” smile on his face: “Perhaps you want to purchase some special drug? We have an exceptional pharmacist that can manufacture any kind of special drug in our headquarters. He is especially efficient in making the type of drug that can put someone to sleep! Best used for trespassing, killing or robbing someone’s possessions and equipment …Respectful customer, tell me, what do you desire?”
Shaar carefully observed everything inside the store.
The first thing he noticed was the piece of dried sheepskin hanging near the entrance. This was a contract document with two signature stamps below.
One most likely belonged to this shop’s affiliated business group and the other belonged to the mercenary group which currently controlled Primal Wildfire Town.
This contract indicated that this shop and the occupier of Primal Wildfire Town signed an agreement. This shop was under the protection of the mercenary group and had to abide to the law of Primal Wildfire Town. Once a law was breached, you could go to the Primal Wildfire’s protector and seek arbitration and damage payment.
This store could still be considered as “legal”.
This was the first point that had to be clarified, since ……In Black Street there were many illegal shops!
There are no decent people in Primal Wildfire Town… hehehe!
“I came in because of the request sign outside.” Shaar finally opened his mouth and his voice spoke a local dialect.
The enthusiasm of the old profiteer immediately diminished, but he still stayed very polite, which made Shaar pleasantly surprised. At least, he did not judge people solely on appearance and appeared somewhat professional.
“Listening to your voice, you seem to be a native.” The old man smiled: “Are you a magical beast hunter?”
While listening to this question, Shaar could not help but to touch his hole-ridden fur coat and his charred pitch fork on his waist. Perhaps some magical beast hunters wore only some simple equipment, however absolutely no one in this world would use a charred pitch fork to fight fierce magical beasts…
Shaar started blushing, but he overcame his shame and nodded:
It seemed that the old man did not deliberately look at Shaar’s ragged coat and his charred weapon. His eyes stayed fixated on Shaar for half a minute: “Alright then, you came here to take on the request? The requirement is written over there, do you have any questions?”
The request sign was written very clearly.
” Magical beast cubs wanted, offering grand reward.
Request: Ferocious Lion cub, characteristics: white fur.
Demand not limited.
Price confirmation: Five silver plates per cub.
Term of validity: 30 days.”
“No further questions, if possible I would like to sign the contract immediately.”
Shaar put in some effort to pretend that he had experience.
The old man carefully studied Shaar’s face and unexpectedly sighed: “Young man, I hope you understand what you are doing. It looks like you know martial arts, nonetheless… a Ferocious Lion is not an ordinary beast. Taking into account that winter is coming, magical beasts become more aggressive while stockpiling food for the season. What’s more, every beast becomes extremely dangerous when their cub is threatened.”
“I know what I’m doing and it’s not my first time going on a magical beast hunt.” Shaar puffed his chest out: “But thank you for reminding me.”
The old man calmed down and turned around to take out a contract from a drawer behind the counter. He put the contract on the table in front of Shaar and looked him in the eye: “Can you read the words? Do you need me to read it for you?”
Shaar looked at the contract and there were no issues.
“Sign your name below and add your fingerprint.” The old man squinted his eyes and looked at the young man: “What’s your name?”
“Shaar.” The young magical beast hunter’s reply was quite vague. Deep inside, he was a bit ashamed of his name and therefore left out the embracing part.
“Shaar? What a strange name. What is your surname?” The old man inquired.
Shaar looked at him and did not reply.
The old man showed a faint smile and stopped asking further. Many people who hung out in Primal Wildfire Town had an arrest warrant hanging over their head and rarely mentioned their full name. Not even mentioning a real name was not strange either.
“I need a small advance payment.” Shaar was very embarrassed when voicing his request.
Advance payment was something quite common while doing business in Black Street. Under normal circumstances, you could ask for an advance payment of 1% of the commodity prices.
After all, the things that were requested were generally difficult to obtain and sometimes even life threatening.
Certainly, they had to prevent the people that took advantage of this method to steal the money after signing the contract from doing so. Taking the advance payment and not completing the request was not tolerated!
If you dared to do so, you would be banished by the occupier of Primal Wildfire Town. Assuming that they saw you again, you would be severely beaten and then hanged.
Your only choice would be to never return to Primal Wildfire Town.
It was needless to say that if you died while completing the request, there was no need to return the money.
The old man took out five copper plates without any objections and put it on the table. It was quite clear that he saw Shaar’s distress: “Young man, take this and go eat a full meal. Only with a full stomach will you have the strength to work.”
“Thanks, but I have already eaten enough today.” Shaar immediately took the copper plates and the contract. He hesitated for a moment until he could not resist anymore and asked: “Why would somebody buy Ferocious Lion cubs? The fur of these beasts is not valuable, the meat does not taste delicious and most importantly those kind of low-level magical beasts do not possess a magical core.”
“It seems like you have some knowledge about magical beasts.” The old profiteer answered his question: “The Ferocious Lion cubs have snow white fur until they grow up, depilate and turn their fur into a fire-like red colour.
Well… a recent trend of raising Ferocious Lion cubs as pets is growing amongst the aristocrats from the Royal Capital because they think that the snow white fur looks very cute… oh, nobles are always like this. They promise money and some people are willing to risk their lives. This is only fair.”
Shaar no longer said anything and prepared to leave. Just when he was about to close the door, the old man added: “Since you are still young, I will give you an important hint. Apparently people have encountered some Ferocious Lions on the mountain north of Primal Wildfire Town. I give you this advice so that you can avoid wasting your time while searching.”
Shaar did not turn his head back, he gave back a “thanks” and left.
In the shop, the old man returned to his seat, lowered his head to take out an account book and wrote something down.
Forthwith, a clerk who just finished his job walked in from the backyard. He faked a smile and asked, “Sir, seems like you’ve got another deal?”
“Nothing much, just a little chap trying desperately to make a living.” The old profiteer looked up and shook his head: “What a pity! He is such a young child. May luck be with him. I hope I’m not wasting my five copper plates.”
“You are always so kind!” The clerk flattered with a smile, revealing a mouthful of yellow teeth. “Have you forgotten the saying: In Primal Wildfire Town, there are dead people buried everywhere.”
The five copper plates were fully used by Shaar.
He had spent half a day bargaining in the blacksmith’s shop and finally got a rusty axe for only three copper plates. He then spent a copper plate on rye dough and the last copper plate on a few sips of the cheapest liquor. It was not because his alcohol addiction got him, but because he knew that he needed it to keep his body warm as a hunter. By drinking it he could at least feel warmer while hunting in the mountains in such a cold season.
Carrying the axe, with the dough and water bag of liquor in his arms, Shaar went out of Primal Wildfire Town and headed north, still wearing his ragged wolf skin coat and worn-out straw sandals.