“… Thank you for your purchase. I hope you enjoy the rest of your day.”
After a brief exchange of prices, I bid farewell to the woman who has just bought my bracelet for three times the cost to stock it. It’s a good start to another day in the marketplace, but my overall returns have yet to justify my visit to Catorrem. My name Morris Finlay and I’m a trader of novel accessories and small trinkets. For the past seven years of my life, I clawed my way from a lowly labourer to a lowly pedlar, and I plan to keep filling my coffers until I can live a comfortable life.
Unfortunately, the competition in this great merchant city was far more than I bargained for. On my first day in the marketplace, I found that a union of regular vendors had quartered off the best locations. Worse, the fee to enter and sell within the city is costly. Those late to occupy what little space is left are almost doomed to have a fruitless venture. Still, my experience is a good deal better than all the amateur sellers around me, wasting their energy screaming for attention.
I sit on a wooden crate and continue to observe the trickle of customers wander down the street. The trick is to anticipate the desires of a potential customer and only then do you draw their attention. For instance, the young lad wearing a dog mask over there appears to be a mage in training. Let’s go with him.
“Magic items for sale! Magic items for sale! I have enchanted hairpins and amulets, ideal for any aspiring mage…”
As expected, I draw the attention of the masked shopper and I finish spinning my tale before he arrives at my display. He examines the goods I have with great intent, and it’s apparent he does not possess <Magic Perception>. If he did, he would have immediately seen through my lie and simply walked away.
“Um, excuse me mister but I heard you say you have something suited for a mage?”
“Why, yes, of course! I have items that can improve magic control, empower certain spells and replenish your mana more quickly! What would you like?”
Of course, I have no such magical tool and without <Magic Perception> it is difficult to prove the effects I’ve listed as more than a trick of the mind. Thanks to a friend of mine who is an unofficial mage, I’m able to use such the words of a spell caster to add authenticity to my claims. I’ve pulled this trick before on unknowing apprentices and I have confidence it will be no different now.
“An item that can improve mana control would be nice.”
“In that case, please take a look at this precious pendant. It’s a popular enchanted item among novice spell casters, and as you can tell by signature on the back, it was made by the Varnus House. It can be yours for just 3 fablars!”
He picks up the iron ornament and inspects the false pentagram inscribed on the surface before checking the initials on the back. The young lad is probably weighing the price in his head. All he needs is one more push…
“Your studies must have been difficult, but this pendant can aid your endeavours! Do you not want to impress your master?”
“That’s very thoughtful of you mister, but I’m not sure about spending 3 fablars. What do you think, Master Enbos?”
“If you actually bought that sliver of metal, I would be far from impressed. In fact, I would be dearly disappointed.”
I look at the thin, hooded figure who suddenly popped into view. I have no idea how or when he got this close without me noticing, and I sincerely wish I had. There is no doubt that this man is this novice’s master, and he’s shown up at the worst possible moment. Like the dog-masked lad, his face is obscured with a wooden face, but unlike the former, his mask is truly disguising his intentions. Despite wearing a plain cloak and carrying a rugged travelling bag, he exudes an aura of mysticism and menace. Does he have <intimidate> and the title of <Feared One>? I’ve dealt with customers who possess them before, but somehow this chilling sensation feels more… instinctual.
“You don’t think it’s a good deal? Shall we look elsewhere?”
“For magic tools at least.”
“T-that is fine. It c-can’t be helped if you are not interested in my wares.”
“On the contrary, I am interested. Just not in that iron trinket you call a mana controller…”
Please, just leave already!
“How much will you ask for that silver pendant?”
“Y-you mean the one styled as a leaf?”
“W-well, will a fablar be an appropriate bid?”
I’ll start off with a generous price. I don’t want to garner anymore ire from this dangerous man!
“… 10 penz.”
“I said 10 penz.”
“I-I’m sorry but… 10 penz is too low of a price to ask. Would 40 penz be acceptable?”
“In that case… 10 penz.”
“But sir, I just said-”
This dastard! He’s trying to get back at me for almost swindling his apprentice! I should turn him away and forget this enough incident!
… or at least I would have if it were anybody else. Will he simply let me go? Will he conspire against me if I refuse? I can’t tell anything under that damn mask!
I need to drive him away.
I-I need to…
“Is something the matter? You seem to be under the weather. Could it be illness, or could it be…”
“Master, you don’t have to go that far. I’m sure he has a good reason.”
“Are you trying to defend him?”
“Well, I’m sure he’s proud of his accessories, and that in his eyes they’re easily worth a fablar or more. After all, the value of an object lies not in its materials, but how much one treasures it.”
“And that is good enough reason to blindly accept his opening bid?”
“N-no, but I think we should find a comprise that can make everybody happy. Isn’t that right?”
This kid… Is he a saint? He’s nothing like his haunting master! I can’t believe I was trying to trick such a pure hearted guy like him.
“Sigh, if you think so, I guess we’ll just-”
“Please wait a moment!”
“See, he wasn’t such a bad person after all. He gave us a free bracelet as a gift with the purchase.”
“He even gave you advice on bartering and avoiding scams in future. I suppose he has a conscience at least.”
“I know he was in the wrong, but did you had to be so hard on him? You were driving him into a corner. I don’t think you should use <Intimidate> so readily.”
“I didn’t use that skill at all. It was his own guilt that did the most damage. As for last night at the inn… I’m still reflecting on it.”
“I didn’t mean… I know that was an accident. I’m sorry I thought you used <Intimidate>. You’re a better man than that”
Well, I can’t deny I was deliberately scaring the living daylights out of that pedlar. When I noticed he was trying to scam Hachirou, a certain, pale faced swindler flashed in my mind and I immediately snapped. I shouldn’t have let out my stress on the poor guy… I think.
I take out the leaf pendant and undo the string cord. I then remove the pendant I’m already wearing: Yuki’s memento. After untying the string, I weave the silver leaf and add it to the other ornaments surrounding the wooden centrepiece. Hachirou looks at my new addition for a moment before proceeding to wear his recently gifted bracelet. I can’t tell what kind of face he’s making, but he probably feels the same as me.
We’ve made many fond memories in this fantastical city, but it’s time to go. There is still so much of this wide world left to experience… for all our sakes.