Synopsis: A fast-paced story about a youngster who loses everything and everyone he holds dear. Through the only family that still remains with him, his uncle, he gets to choose to dedicate his focus and attention to blacksmithing rather than to fall into depression and street life...
Looking for Authors for Exclusive positions! Paid. DM the Admin on Discord if you're interested. LINK
The three had arrived at the entrance of the settlement in the icy realm.
Getting out of the newly reshaped realm and through a few others had taken its time, especially thanks to Sarah’s new trouble-magnet title. Though while it was mostly annoying to the scientist, the party – well, mostly Sera and Nia – quickly took care of the hostile forces and the warrior seemed to even like the new enemies.
So, after slaughtering themselves through masses of newly spawned Ivy Elementals, Salamanders – the lesser lesser lesser dragons, not the small lizards, though they did look somewhat like lizards – Magma Slimes, Runic Golems and whatever else the realm managed to bring up, they left the environment which made any greenhouse look like a joke.
Repeating the process through the adjacent realms, they then reached the mostly ice and water covered world.
The town itself was pretty similar to the one they first visited. A lot of businesses mainly focused on supporting the fighters, sectors to the side meant for guilds and similar organizations, the lesser visited shops in the back-alleys.
If Sarah had to name a change, it was the amount of enchantments found around the buildings. Ones apparently placed to keep the warmth in, to make the settlement a bit more welcoming and to prevent smithies from melting through the floor.
Though while the applied magic was interesting, it wasn’t why they were here.
“Did i mention that this is a bad idea?” Nia asked.
“Yes, 34 times.” Sarah replied. The crowded streets of the settlement had turned to lifeless gaps between abandoned seeming buildings, as the three followed their guide.
“Ah, good. And i guess you didn’t change your opinion?” She checked again, just to be sure.
“Nop. Just get us in and we will handle the rest.” The scientist answered cheerfully.
She had been made well aware of the general stance towards people who force contracts onto others and especially that it could cause issues with the Followers of Law.
How free will was highly valued in the Realms.
But then why were wars for resources and fine, even though stealing was also bad?
Likely another one of the social paradoxons, similar to how a murderer could become a hated serial killer while a soldier could turn into a celebrated war hero.
But, those were useless contemplations. The girl wasn’t interested in the deeper social structures, neither of this nor her old world, as they wouldn’t help her directly with her magical or soul related experiments. Maybe at some point in the future her opinion might change, but she doubted it. Biological life, mechanical life and computer science seemed far more interesting, should she ever manage to exhaust the mysteries offered by magic, souls, Eas, other worlds in general and the beyond.
Though fortunately, before she could get further annoyed about all the issues caused by gatherings of hairless monkeys or search for more useful questions she could answer without the help of a more or less willing test subject, they arrived near their destination.
On the way Nia had shortly left the twins to talk with an acquaintance to figure out where they could find what the mage was searching for.
Apparently the kind of business she was looking for tended to switch locations ever so often. Either voluntarily or by external influence with more or less force involved. Though that still didn’t prevent other people from offering similar services. Quick money seemed to have a certain appeal even in the Realms.
Walking out of the labyrinth of narrow alleys between the decaying houses, the three suddenly found themselves in what seemed like a completely different world again. Gone were the armored and armed people, the weapon shops and smithies at every corner. Well, the former not completely as a more careful look revealed. Most had still a dagger or something similar somewhere on their body, either openly or hidden. Here and there were also a few cloaked or better armed figures, probably like Sarah searching for the less legal or less well regarded services of the town.
They were in what Nia had previously called the slum of this settlement. While it might look optically rather nice compared to what she had first expected, most of its inhabitants were either those who have given up on reaching level 100 and beyond, drowning in whatever pleasures the slum had to offer, or those taking advantage of the others. Or those who were after the quick money, morals and legality be damned.
Though those facts were mostly irrelevant for the mage. She wasn’t visiting the location for the sights.
Passing through the street, they quickly entered another back-alley, but this time their way was much shorter and with a different objective: hiding their tracks.
One had to be secretive.
So, after they made sure none could reasonably track them, they entered an unassuming general store, offering everything from normal clothing to probably far overpriced mana crystals and weapons which may or may not have questionable sources. Seemingly looking through the wares, Nia worked her way to the counter, making sure there were no other customers in the store.
“Hello. I’ve looked through the displayed items, but i’m searching for something with a bit more utility. Did you maybe have wares not yet on display?”
“Oh? What are you searching for exactly?” The clerk answered.
“Wait a moment, i got the details written out.” The guide handed over a folded piece of paper, which she had pulled out of her spatial bag.
After a few seconds seemingly reading whatever stood on the paper, he replied. “Ah, yes, but i think you will have to talk with the owner.”
The owner was then quickly informed and after a few more minutes of waiting, the three found themselves in a back room.
Nia, Sarah and Sera as well as the owner were seated on a rather luxurious couch each; a table was placed in between the two parties. Another person stood to the side, behind the owner, and with him being armed and level 92, he had a surprisingly high level for someone from the slum. Likely a bodyguard or he was there to intimidate the customers.
The rest of the room was also decorated with little regard to money, though the three didn’t pay much attention to it.
“So, i heard you are here for our other wares?” The owner started.
“Yes. We are searching for a healer or, if that isn’t possible, a light attribute mage below affinity level 50. Also a darkness attribute mage would be nice. Both should be young, female and preferably without a previous owner.” The warrior answered. With Sarah disliking the presence of others it was as usual her job to negotiate and she had long since figured out what to ask for. Like to never buy ones which have already been used, unless you just need them as ingredients. They tended to have unstable personalities or other issues. Or why else would they be on the market again?
“Hm… a rather specific request. Well, i’ll see what i can do, though it might get a bit more expensive…” The owner replied.
“Don’t worry, money is no issue.” Sera assured. They were well aware that the owner would use all the details given to drive the price up while likely also giving them worse items. But it was necessary and money fortunately wasn’t an issue after the war.
“If that is the case…” He turned to the man standing on the side. “Can you keep our guests company while i check our stock?” Then, without waiting for an answer from his employee, the owner left.
Some time later the owner returned, actually with two plainly clothed girls behind him. They had expected him to only “find” one and still charge them the price of two, but he likely judged that they would be able to pay for both one way or another. “Sorry for the delay. While we do have some items in stock your request didn’t make it easy. Fortunately, those two just came in the other day! One is a light mage, the other darkness mage, as requested. Both 3 cycles old and they apparently even have some experience working together. Though, you should be aware that the demand for such items is always pretty high, so…”
As the girls expected he overcharged them. By nearly ten times the usual amount, if they trusted Nia’s knowledge.
But it was still within expectation. Nonetheless the girls grimaced hearing the price.
“That is quite the amount you want… Shouldn’t the prices be much lower, even for wares with high demand?” Sera tried to negotiate
“True, but do you think you are the only ones searching for a healer? There are a lot of people looking for one and willing to pay the price! Though, i guess, if you have items with an appropriate value, i wouldn’t mind taking those. And don’t worry, the price for the new contracts and secrecy agreement between us is also included.” He replied.
Negotiations didn’t seem possible.
Sera was about to reply, but then got interrupted by her sister tugging on her coat. A few whispers later, she reluctantly accepted the offer. “Fine, we take it. But before that, can you please look at this item we found in a dungeon?”
As if she had been waiting for the keyword, Sarah carefully pulled out a small, palm-sized transparent three-sided pyramid and placed it on the table. Complicated spell circle-like engravings could be seen in its center, yet the surface was completely smooth to the touch.
The girls didn’t find it in a dungeon, but there was no need for the other party to know that.