8pm in the night…
There was just a sliver of light left in the sun.
On the newly constructed road stretching out from the city of Honor, were two wagons full of goods parked neatly by the side.
A bunch of differently dressed workers got about their work like a well oiled machine.
They weren’t a part of the expedition and as such weren’t controlled by them. However, they knew what rules to follow in order not to get chased off by the expedition.
Rows of stalls were set up in a night market-esque setting. In each stall were eye grabbing rows of treasure. With the stall all set up and ready to go, all that was missing were the customers.
They were the most desperate merchants in the world who took up the risky job of being an [Exploration Merchant].
No matter where you were in this world, as long as there was a large scale expedition or construction work, as long as there was a mass of laborers nearby, you would find them there.
As long as the customer needed it, they were there to provide it.
On top of that, they served the secondary purpose of being a fence. They bought out the bulk of the treasures with suspicious origins and resold them. This was one of their important sources of income.
No one was truly able to predict which treasures would cause a stir in the world so these merchants were extra vigilant in screening whatever was brought to them.
A lot of times, the line between striking it rich and mediocrity laid in that one moment of vigilance.
While such encounters were rare, this did not mean that they operated at a loss. Their normal goods were sold at much higher markup than the ones in the city. Even without a history-defining treasure, they were still able to rake in a ton of profit.
Of course, all these required them to face the same dangers that those expedition workers had to face.
However, in the face of profit, such risk wasn’t worth a cent.
According to the army’s regulations, 9 to 10 pm was a free period for the laborers.
Even though Mo Chuan said to go for a stroll, these untamed wilds didn’t seem like the sane choice for such an activity.
Did he intend to observe the indigenous wildlife?
However, it soon became clear that we weren’t the only ones going for a stroll. All the human traffic seemed to be directed at a certain spot.
It seemed to be located along the road we just built.
Di Qi Ju: Mo Chuan, is there some kind of fixed activity in the night?
Mo Chuan: Ah, in a sense. For such a large expedition, “fixed activities” are a given.
Di Qi Ju:……?
After passing through a rugged patch of wilderness, we reached our destination. There, I finally found out what “fixed activity” meant.
The darkness and silence of night gave way to a dazzling display of lights on the sides of the road.
A bustling market came into view as we reached the end of the road. Rows of stalls were densely packed together in this makeshift market. Between them were not only the laborers we saw on the way here, but also the members from the other tents. The sound of haggling and shouting filled the air as they conducted their transactions.
If it wasn’t for the demi-human Mo Chuan in front of me, I might’ve mistaken this for a festival on Earth.
Judging from their happy faces, calling this a festival wasn’t an exaggeration at all.
Mo Chuan: As expected…there are exploration merchants here.
Di Qi Ju: Exploration merchants?
Mo Chuan: While you are in an expedition, these are the people you go to when you want something.
Mo Chuan: Whatever you wanted, they could get it for you. To some, these merchants were almost at the level of the God of Wishes.
Mo Chuan: However, their prices are expensive.
Within this market, alcohol vendors formed a third of the stalls present. Throughout these stalls, some laborers could be seen happily drinking in a half naked stupor.
Wherever there was alcohol, there was sure to be food as well. Multiple food stalls were set up within and next to these alcohol vendors. As the fires of their stoves roared, a delicious scent filled the air.
When one talked about the needs of men, sex would probably be among the top few. Naturally, there were exploration merchants ready to take advantage of this as well. Mixed within the multitudes of stalls, were brothels with a gamut of scantily clad ladies hawking their wares amidst a cacophony of “Ahs and Unns”.
…there really was everything you could possibly want here.
Mo Chuan: The price at that establishment is at least 1,000 [wish]. Are you planning to lose your virginity there?
Di Qi Ju:…Do I look that desperate to you?
Mo Chuan: Ha ha, I’m just joking.
“Wish” is the name of the currency in this world. I’ve got to admit though, the power of religion is scary, even the coins are named after God.
Miss Poppy gave me 100 wish before leaving the village. However, I did not know the price of goods in this world so I only used it sparingly. Now’s a good time as any to learn about them.
Hawker 1: Black beer! 10 wish per mug.
Hawker 2: Come get your weapons here! My daggers can be legally carried within the expedition, only 100 wish each!
Hawker 11: Don’t wait until you are sick before you prepare! By the time the medic gets to you, it’s already too late. Get a bottle of medicine for only 200 wish…
Hawker 22: Isn’t it a waste to die in the wilderness before ever feeling the embrace of a woman? Over here—–
Di Qi Ju:……
After a round touring the market, I found out that my entire fortune was worth a few snacks, several beers or just enough to buy a paring knife…
Di Qi Ju: Don’t tell me…100 wish is only pocket change?
Mo Chuan: Not at all. It’s just that the items on sale are at least double the price of those in the city.
Suddenly, I spotted a familiar half-baked potato standing in front of those “special services” stalls, carefully inspecting its wares.
That outstandingly unique aura…without a doubt, that had to be One’day High.
His gaze locked onto a performing lady as he rummaged around in both of his pockets, a perverted look on his face.
From the looks of it, he was definitely planning to patronize one of these establishments.
Among the ladies on display, there were those who were naturally beautiful and there were also those who relied heavily on makeup.
Out of the selection available, One’day High picked a lady in the middle of that range.
After chatting with her for a while, they left for a nearby alcohol stall instead of the tent at the back.
This fellow…he wasn’t looking for relief but was looking for a hostess instead? I guess that’s a kind of need as well.
If One’day High’s here, does that mean that the other two musketeersare here as well?
As expected, I spotted Halfmoon Leak’age shopping nearby at a weapons stall.
The boss was aggressively pushing his goods at the side while he silently looked around the stall, ignoring the boss completely.
In the end, he left the stall without purchasing anything. He threw the boss a cold stare and a wry smile as he left.
I don’t know what he meant by that but I get the feeling he’s saying, “You’re persistent, I’ll admit my defeat.”
In comparison, I found Lee Sole’shot at a much livelier stall.
A clamoring crowd: S***, he hit it again! Amazing!
A clamoring crowd: This is the first time I’ve seen a bullseye so full of arrows!
A clamoring crowd: Didn’t you see that old lady’s shooting? She’s in the booth next door.
A clamoring crowd: Sure. Make sure to bring me along for a quick shot!
Lee Sole’shot: Eheh…
Crass praises and lewd jokes filled the atmosphere of the archery booth. In the midst of this, stood a slightly out of place Lee Sole’shot.
He seemed unaccustomed to this atmosphere but was also slightly happy.
Mo Chuan: Hmm, an archery range. Is that shooting target the work of Lee Sole’shot?
In the middle of a ten meter wide shooting target was a dense forest of arrows.
It looked like someone had stuck a flower vase full of arrows onto the bullseye.
Come to think of it, he introduced himself as an archery expert when we first met.
But this level of expertise…it’s inhuman.
Mo Chuan: Should we say hi?
Di Qi Ju: Hmm…sure.
The sour stench of vomit wafted in the air, as a stream of puke shot out between us. The stench nearly made me puke in disgust.
A robust looking man with a black head of messy hair stood behind us. His arm pressed down lightly on my shoulder as he supported his body. His other arm slowly rose and laid atop Mo Chuan’s shoulder as he slowly squeezed in between us.
He was slumped over us at the moment but judging from his size, he was at least as tall as Mo Chuan and had the same build as him.
With his glazed over eyes and the sour stench of a drunkard on him. He was clearly someone you wouldn’t want to tangle with at the moment.
??: What’s this…I thought it was going to be something spectacular but it’s just a silly show.
??: Pfft. At this range, you would’ve been hacked to death on the battlefield. Or worse if it was a beast.
The clamoring crowd turned silent at his remarks and threw him a cold stare.
A clamoring crowd: That’s…Alvin.
A clamoring crowd: Ah…that guy. The vice commander’s little brother.
A clamoring crowd: Just because his family members are influential, he thinks he’s some big shot as well. Truly, this world has no lack of this kind of people.
A clamoring crowd: He’s Ethan’s brother? I guess he kinda looks like him. Just a little though.
A clamoring crowd: Saying he resembles Ethan is an overstatement. Look at Ethan and look at this “little brother”, he’s not even a soldier.
A clamoring crowd: For all you know, they aren’t even from the same father. Haha—–
The crowd roared with laughter at that last remark.
Alvin: Ha?! What…did…you…say—-???
He blushed furiously at their laughter. He couldn’t find any rebuttal for their remarks. The arms on our shoulders started pressing down harder.
Mo Chuan: Hey there…
Mo Chuan grabbed ahold of his arms and continued.
Mo Chuan: I don’t care if you want to throw a drunken fit but can you get your dirty hands off my back.
Mo Chuan: You will dirty it.
Alvin: Huh? Who do you think you are? You’re just a damned mongrel. Do you think that no one dares to touch you just because you’re a little stronger?
Perhaps that was just the beer talking or he was simply trying to divert attention, but in an instant he shifted his target to Mo Chuan.
Alvin: What’s your motive for infiltrating this human gathering…?
Alvin: Ah…I get it.
Alvin: This shortie must be the follower you forced into servitude. That’s your true aim isn’t it?
Di Qi Ju:……
Alvin: How dare you break the laws of Faith!
Alvin: I’ll send the military police after you——
I abruptly ducked down, prying away from his drunken grip. In that instant, he collapsed due to the sudden loss of support. His head smacked the floor with a loud bang.
As I squatted down, I threw him a disdainful look.
Di Qi Ju: Who are you calling a shortie? I’m 170 cm tall!
Alvin:—–Ha? So you’re in cahoots with that mongrel! How dare you trick me!?
He leaped to his feet and after staggering slightly, he stabilized his beer addled body. He reached out unsteadily with his right arm and grabbed my neck.
Damn…his hand is huge. It’s almost big enough to wrap around my entire neck.
Mo Chuan: Ju!
Alvin: Little mongrel, I dare you to hit me! I’ll strangle this shortie to death!
Ah…strangle me…to death?
I doubt this muscle head can do that even if he tried. With the side effects of my wish ability, I think it’s more likely that my neck would injure him.
I threw him a cold taunting look, daring him to try.
Di Qi Ju: Strangle me? Let’s see you try it.
I whispered to him in a low voice.
Di Qi Ju: Don’t blame me if your fingers get broken.
Alvin: You! Let’s see how you sass me after I—-
Just as he was about to clench his hands, a swishing sound rang out in his ears in the air. He abruptly stopped his action.
A notched arrow was pointed at his forehead in that very moment. Below it was a hand knife pressed dangerously close to his neck arteries. I didn’t know when, but another leg had snuck in between his legs.
Lee Sole’shot: Go ahead and strangle him. I dare you! Let’s see if you are willing to lose your head to do so!
Halfmoon Leak’age: So excitable. I bet losing some blood will cool you down.
One’day High: No no. It’s his hormones acting up. He should fine after I fix his balls.
The threats seemed to have worked as he silently loosened his grip on my neck and backed away to the side. It wasn’t long before he vanished into the crowd.
A clamoring crowd: Haha! Look at him run with his tail between his legs!
A clamoring crowd: He’s not a seasonal wolf. Where’s he going to find a tail to run away with. He obviously peed in his pants and was too embarrassed to stay here.
A clamoring crowd: Let’s get another round of drinks to celebrate! Alvin just put on great show for us tonight!
A clamoring crowd: Cheers!
In the end, this debacle was merely a ripple in the vast ocean. Nothing came of it.
Mo Chuan: Ju, are you alright?
Di Qi Ju: Ah, I’m fine. He’s just a drunkard, there’s nothing to be concerned about.
One’day High: I told you with Old High standing watch, nothing can happen to the shortie.
Halfmoon Leak’age: But shortie was nearly scared to death by that drunkard.
Lee Sole’shot: That isn’t shortie’s fault. That guy was just too fierce.
One’day High: That’s right. Even our seasonal wolf is gentler than him. Man, who would’ve thought.
Lee Sole’shot: Well, at least our five man team can finally get along.
Halfmoon Leak’age: Sigh, I guess we can get along tentatively.
Di Qi Ju:…..
Di Qi Ju:…..
Di Qi Ju:…..
Di Qi Ju: I should make a wish to grow taller…
Special thanks to 7STARDARK BLADE! The first ever patron of Catato Patch Translations.
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.