The next morning, Zilan went about his usual daily routine. He spent half of his morning at the tower recording all the notable things in his small book before going back home to help out with the restaurant and to deliver Solmo his wine.
Once the sun was right above the city, shining at it’s brightest. Zilan left home headed back to the market.
This time, however, he didn’t just stop at the outskirts, instead of pushing deeper into the market. Tens of people walked by paying no mind to one another, with more and more of them appearing as Zilan ventured further into the heart of the market.
The sounds of bells ringing and merchants cursing along with the sights of flies and mosquitoes grew louder and more frequent with every step he took. It wasn’t until he arrived at the heart of the market that Zilan finally took a full breath.
Unlike the long narrow road he had just come from, this part of the market was widely spaced and from above appeared like a “0” thus was commonly known as the “Merchants egg”. No small stalls could be seen in this area, with only exquisitely designed medium sized buildings appearing.
Zilan went into one of these buildings that had a sign with “Three brothers beyond” written on it. Inside, was a large hall with dozens of merchants and their luxurious mats laid out on the floor, on top of which were various artifacts ranging from mere shiny trinkets to dangerous weapons.
This wasn’t an uncommon sight as almost all citizens of Morning Dew knew the rules of the Merchant’s egg.
All merchants are forbidden from selling their goods as individuals.
All merchants are required by law to join a guild of their choice in order to sell their wares.
Those who break these rules will have their wares stripped and will also be banished from the city.
If one thought about it, they would find that this wasn’t such a bad deal, after all, there were reasons for such laws to be put in place. The most important of which was security.
If merchants sold valuable merchandise on the side of the road by themselves then it would be nigh impossible to control theft in the area which would then lead to them avoiding Morning Dew City on their travels. However, by joining strong guilds that could guarantee protection in exchange for a small commission the merchants need not worry for their merchandise and the Governor is spared from spending large amounts of the city’s income on Security.
The other reason was convenience. By joining one of the guilds, there was no longer any reason for merchants to fight for “spots” in the market as all merchandise was showcased at the same place. This also helped customers who didn’t need to go all around searching for particular goods.
All one had to do was go to the Merchant’s egg and look for the specific mark. For example, for those interested in weapons and arms. On the sign of any guild housing such items there will be a dagger symbol.
The “Three brothers beyond” had two symbols on its sign, a dagger, and a leaf which represented both arms and foreign items could be found inside.
Crowds of people moved around the hall, but the noise level had greatly reduced compared to the outside. Many merchants who knew of Zilan tried to call out to him but were simply ignored.
Zilan passed by all of them and arrived at a corner of the hall where only one mat laid. There was neither merchant nor buyer in at least a ten-meter radius of the mat however that didn’t stop Zilan from calmly approaching.
He stopped when he was about two arm’s length away from the mat and began looking around.
As soon as Zilan said those words, a figure rose from the mat like a giant bubble from soapy water. It rose to a height of about seven feet before stopping and taking form.
Zilan unblinkingly watched as the inky figure took the form of a wolf, sharply dressed in merchants clothing and a badge with the symbol of a leaf on it.
The wolf had the posture of a human, standing straight and walking on two legs however apart from the fur and claws, the one thing that truly made him incomparably different from humans was those dark pitch black eyes that seemed to depict death.
“Hoho..you finally come back, young one.” smiled Flesc, exposing his terrifyingly sharp rows of milky white teeth.
“I hope you don’t take it to heart, I only delayed because I didn’t know when you would pop up again,” replied Zilan, scratching his head.
“That’s not my fault! Besides me, I doubt there’s any of my kind who would do business in this land. Having to hop around from guild to guild only to be kicked out once they realize my presence is chasing customers away. Not to mention that….”
Zilan waved his hand, not wanting to speak more on the subject as it would only attract unwanted attention.
Beasts were discriminated against almost everywhere East of the Brivata Range. This was a fact in all of the Human lands, after all, most beasts were unable to cultivate usually having been born with already set limits on their talent and strength whereas man walked the perfect path of ascending the heavens.
“Oh! That reminds me, I managed to obtain some of the things you wanted,” exclaimed Flesc, smirking with pride.
Zilan seemingly shocked by those words widened his eyes and immediately grabbed Flesc by the arm, pulling him closer towards him.
“Are you certain that what you have is what I requested?” whispered Zilan.
Flesc raised his head up high, pushed Zilan off and proceeded to roll up his wears along with the mat and placed it in his void sack.
“Come and confirm with your own eyes if what I say is true.”
Zilan quietly followed Flesc out of the “Three brothers beyond” and into a small inn that wasn’t too far from the Merchant’s egg.
“This is where I’ll be staying for the next day, so if you need anything, don’t hesitate to ask!” said Flesc as he invited Zilan into his room.
Zilan didn’t hold back whatsoever, quickly entering the room and finding a seat for himself.
Flesc didn’t seem to mind Zilan’s sudden harsh tone, instead seeming rather pleased by it.
“No rush, no rush! Let’s have some tea first.”
Zilan furrowed his brow as he pondered on something. The room quickly fell into silence once again.
“If you truly obtained the items then that means….”
Flesc laughed as he poured Zilan a cup of tea.
“Why do you ask when you already know the answer?”
Zilan’s eyes widened, veins of varying colors popping out of his head.
“Then why did you come here! Do you not fear death?” barked Zilan as he suddenly stood up.
Ignoring Zilan, Flesc relaxedly sipped his tea whispering,
“These human drinks never disappoint when it comes to flavor.”
Seeing his calm attitude, Zilan was just about to burst into a rage when suddenly Flesc put his cup down and stared into Zilan’s eyes,
“Human, you and I may have a relationship but I owe you no explanation when it comes to my own actions! This will be the last time our paths cross, so show me the payment and let’s be done with this. I’m sure you understand that time is of the essence.”
Zilan sat down and sighed, his face slightly pale.
“I won’t ask anymore. Here, if this isn’t enough then please let me know.” He said as he threw a rather small void sack towards Flesc.
Flesc picked up the sack and after carefully going through its contents, he threw it back towards Zilan saying,
“That’s not enough, but it’ll do for now. The rest should be delivered to this address.”
A small piece of paper was placed within the void sack but just as Zilan was about to open it, he was stopped by Flesc.
“Open it once you leave.”
Once he said those words Zilan couldn’t help but tear up, seemingly as though he had grasped an idea as to what was really going on.
“In the future….”
Flesc raised his palm, urging Zilan not to speak anymore.
“What’s shall happen will happen, it has happened before and will continue after me. I’m just luckier than most that are in my situation. I pray that you will abide by the pact.”
Zilan immediately nodded. He tried to say something but it was almost like a sour lemon had been shoved down his throat, making it almost impossible to discern what he was saying.
“Take them and leave.”
An even smaller void sack was thrown towards Zilan. He caught it and without even inspecting its contents, placed in his chest pocket.
“It’d be rude for me to leave if I didn’t at least finish a cup of tea served to me by a dear friend.”
“Hoho, very well then! With this our two years of doing business together has been concluded.”