"Here you are, Sir Immortus. The deed to property six-four-two in the merchant's quarters, as well as your official I-ranked Merchant's Licence. I am legally obligated to tell you that you may sell whatever product you wish, but your rank will determine what level of trades you may do. As an I-ranked merchant, Sir Immortus, you may only perform commerce within the confines of Mystopolis' merchant quarters," the guild employee said very politely as she hid the tremble in her voice expertly.
Lone frowned lightly as he stroked Kyuubi fluffy tail and accepted the licence card then the property deed. "Richard didn't come to see me himself?"
"N-No. Chairman Lithmon is a very busy man. He instructed me to tell you that he was very regretful that he couldn't see to you himself..." the employee claimed as she forced a smile onto her face.
Lone shrugged. "Oh well. He's got every right to be shitting himself. So, where's property six-four-two, exactly? I'm new to Mystopolis."
"Of course, please, one moment. I'll prepare a map of the city for you," the employee requested as she got up and started rummaging through a cabinet behind her desk.
Lone patiently waited and then left the Merchant's Guild as soon as he knew where the land he had been 'gifted' was.
"Well, he clearly doesn't like me. Can't exactly fault him for that, now can we, huh?" Lone asked Kyuubi who just wriggled in his arms about cutely in response.
Right ahead of Lone stood a glorified wooden shack. It was wedged between a massive armour and weapons shop on its left and a store that specialised in magic wands on its right.
"I wasn't exactly expecting a garden and a mansion, but for fuck's sake, could he have given me a building any smaller?" Lone asked as he sighed.
He honestly wasn't as angry as his words made him out to be. He had fucked over Richard Lithmon pretty severely by killing Cross and then humiliating him, so this tiny act of defiance wasn't enough to waste the man's second chance as far as Lone was concerned.
"Well, for starters, let's get rid of this piece of shit," Lone decided as he created a Pure Mana Flame and used it to raze the shack to the ground.
|Congratulations! The host's fire magic skill [Pure Mana Flame] has levelled up. It is now Beginner Level 8.|
The people wandering the streets nearby cried out in alarm and screamed when they saw the wooden building burst into bright-blue flames and then disappear from existence. Some guards approached Lone out of concern, but he just explained that he was the building's owner and it was well within his rights to destroy it. They didn't look very happy, but he was correct, so they left him with a warning and resumed their duties.
Spending a little over seventy-five-thousand mana points, Lone created a replacement store.
It was made out of simple wood and stone, but something about its design was very charming and inviting. It was only a single story tall, but that was more than enough for what Lone needed right now.
There was a sole window that showed the empty innards of the quaint building. Shelves lined the internal structure and there was a small forge in the corner of the store's only room.
On the outside, a large sign that stretched from each end of the front wall read 'Lone's Wondrous Emporium!'. Right below that, in a smaller font, was the message, 'Everything from soul oracle services, arms and armour, repairing your broken sword, painkillers, energy juice, food, jewellery, and even basic life advice, we offer it all here! All we charge is a rare book, a steamforged dwarven item, or a promissory contract! Tell the owner an interesting tale, and perhaps you'll be served free of charge! (Free service is wholly dependent on the owner's mood and on the buyer's circumstances)'
'I need to create a mana orb that doesn't turn to dust when used. If I can do that and anchor it to this shop or something, then I can charge people their magic points. Maybe a discount for The Academy students? Man, this merchant shit's kinda getting me hyped. It's pretty fun,' Lone thought as he entered the store.
He pulled out random weapons, armour, clothes and jewels that he had created to practice his mastery of their base materials, and put them onto the shelves. They were useless to The Wanderers, but to your everyday adventurer or wealthy citizen? They'd no doubt be seen as treasures.
"Hmm... I know some basic enchantment magic, but I never really got Eolande to teach me seriously... I guess for now, Relaxation Enchantment," Lone said as he pointed his open palm to the shop's floor.
|Congratulations! The host's active enchantment magic skill [Relaxation Enchantment] has levelled up. It is now Beginner Level 2.|
He then used that same enchantment on the walls, the ceiling, the door, the window, the items, and even the shelves. Naturally, this resulted in the skill rapidly levelling.
|Congratulations! The host's active enchantment magic skill [Relaxation Enchantment] has levelled up. It is now Intermediate Level 1.|
|Active Enchantment Magic Skill: Relaxation Enchantment|
Creates a 24-hour [up from 12-hour] enchantment that relaxes anyone it affects by 15% [+10%].
|Cost:||4,250 MP [-750 MP]|
|Mastery:||Intermediate Level 1|
'Decent improvements...' As Lone thought that, another notification filled his vision.
|Congratulations! The host's passive skill [Enchantment Magic Resistance] has levelled up. It is now Beginner Level 2.|
"This resistance levels really slowly when compared to the other ones, huh? Is it because I'm not being directly enchanted? Still, this skill kinda fucking sucks, doesn't it? It's making beneficial enchantments increasingly useless, isn't it?" Lone asked no one in particular as he cuddled Kyuubi.
Just to confirm, he checked the skill's information.
|Passive Skill: Enchantment Magic Resistance|
A skill that allows the host to resist all negative forms of Enchantment Magic.
Negative forms of Enchantment Magic used on the host will be weakened by 5%.
|Mastery:||Beginner Level 2|
"Oh! That's actually really useful. Only negative forms, huh? So, does that mean that the Relaxation Enchantment is deemed as negative, or am I just levelling up this skill because I'm being affected by the enchantment regardless of if it's negative or not?" Lone wondered aloud.
He looked around his customerless shop for a few seconds before he smirked. "Well, I'm not meeting up with the kids for a few days since they need time to recover from their recent rank ups, and the war-ranked quest can wait for a little bit, so why don't we stay here and experiment a little while we wait for a customer or two, huh, Kyuubi?"
A light purr from the half-asleep baby girl in his arms was enough of an affirmation for Lone to get busy spamming the Relaxation Enchantment skill.
|Congratulations! The host's active enchantment magic skill [Relaxation Enchantment] has levelled up. It is now Intermediate Level 6.|
|Congratulations! The host's passive skill [Enchantment Magic Resistance] has levelled up. It is now Beginner Level 3.|
The sound of a bell ringing snapped Lone out of his skill-grinding trance. Raising his head, he saw two children in nothing but rags very carefully entering his store. They seemed to have been startled by the doorbell, but the shiny things littering almost every shelf quickly overthrew their caution.
Lone could see hints of greed and curiosity in the two kids' eyes, but there was also an unmistakeable anxiousness.
'Maybe five or six? Seven at a push. Are they both boys? It's kinda hard to tell since they've got long hair... they could both be girls for all I know. Still, those clothes... slummers? I didn't even realise that Mystopolis had a slum. I kinda assumed it didn't considering how rich this city is, but I guess a slum makes sense. No settlement is free of darkness,' Lone commented internally as he appraised the two kids.
"Hi," Lone greeted with a warm smile on his face. "Are you guys looking for anything in particular?"
The kids were a bit scared and jumped slightly at being addressed so directly and so politely. The slightly taller of the two replied to Lone. "Uh... Um... Food?"
'Hmm... They do look very thin, now don't they? I guess something light that their stomachs can handle?' Lone concluded internally before he said, "Sure, but what'll you pay me with?"
"Um... story?" Lone had to applaud the taller kid's courage and apparent ability to read. If he knew that Lone was selling food and accepting stories as payment, that meant that not only was this child courageous, but he was also fairly wise despite his youth.
Lone smiled. "Sure. Well, why don't you eat while you talk?" he suggested as he created two small bowls of chicken soup.
The kids scrambled over to his side and grabbed the soup so fast that Lone almost mistook them for high rankers. He sat in silence as they greedily guzzled down the soup like cats drinking milk. Once they were done, they had longing looks in their eyes as they stared at the bottoms of their bowls.
"Hahaha," Lone chuckled as he grabbed the bowls and refilled them. "Slowly this time, and tell me my story, 'kay?"
They had no idea where the food was coming from, but the shorter one happily dug in while the taller one mumbled his way through a story of how he followed a dog through the city, which ended up leading him and his younger sister to this shop.
'So one's a boy and one's a girl, huh? Still, a dog? They can't be very lucky if they're beggars, so maybe it was my luck that brought them here? I wonder why,' Lone thought as he let the kids go after giving them some jerky and telling them to come back if they needed anything else and had a story to tell.
Not an hour had passed before ten children aged between four and eight wandered into his shop with the two from before leading them.
Lone cracked a wry smile. 'Did I just become a free stop for food or something? I wouldn't mind getting a real customer or two at some point...'
Finally, two hours after the slummer kids had left with full bellies, someone who seemed to possess some actual wealth confidently strode into Lone's store.
His latest customer was a short man with a rough beard, but his bursting muscles spoke a lot about his lifestyle, his biceps and forearms, in particular. He was wearing a rough leather apron over his fairly high-quality shirt and trousers.
This man who was clearly a dwarf of some sort approached a shelf which hosted several weapons and he held his chin. "Mast'rful work. I couldnae ev'n dream ah craftin' somethin' like this. Oi, you, are ya the son of ah bitch who forg'd 'is?" he asked as he glanced towards Lone.
'I feel like I'm looking at an older Grimsley... Do all dwarves have Scottish accents? Boy, it's so distracting,' Lone thought as he nodded. "Yup."
The dwarf walked right up to Lone and Kyuubi then stared at Saturn. "An' 'at? Ya forge 'at anaw?"
Again, Lone nodded. "Sure did. Though that's a combination of two items, not one, so it took a lot of resources to make," Lone explained with a slight sigh. 'The amount of mana I've poured into Saturn... and that number's only gonna skyrocket now that I need to upgrade it even more to avoid situations like last night's one from ever happening again.'
The dwarf stroked his beard. "Ah see... Yer glasses anaw?"
"Yes and no. They were a gift from my former blacksmithing master. I've since altered and upgraded them myself," Lone answered politely. 'This guy's got a lot of questions, huh?'
The dwarf smirked. "Last question, Ninetails. Who was yer previous blacksmithin' mast'r?"
"A Stone Dwarf called Grimsley Ironsbane," Lone replied as he cracked his neck softly. "Anyway, are you gonna buy anything, or are you just gonna ask a million questions?"
"Hahaha! S'been a while since ah got such lip," the dwarf claimed as he held his belly and heartily laughed. "Ah know Grimsley. He's ma great-nephew. Name's Frodley Goldsbane. Ah own the shop next door. Good tae meet ya, and aye, ah'll certainly be buyin' somethin'. By the way, how's the wee cunt? He still hammerin' away in Milindo?"
Lone wore a surprised expression. 'Great-nephew? Grimsley did mention that his family worked all over the continent, but to actually run into one of them... Small world, I guess,' Lone joked before he responded, "No. He's currently in the middle of the Northern Ocean with his niece and a grouchy White Dragonkin."
"Ah, so 'e found wee Shana did 'e? 'At's good news. I swear, 'is maw and pa woudnae shut their fookin' traps about 'ow stupid 'e was bein' headin' tae a racist human country to follow a nearly dead lead. 'At was, what, five, six years ago now? Ah mind it like it was yesterday, though," Frodley said with a short cackle.
He glanced around the shop once more before he picked up a random sword. "This'll do. Ya like steamforg'd shite, aye? It's naw ma cup ah tea since ah'm naw a steamforg'r, so 'ere, take this. I got it as a gift two hoose gatherin's ago, but ah've nae need fer it."
Lone caught the brass mug that had been tossed his way. "What does it do? Besides hold liquids, of course." Naturally, he'd check it later with Clicker's power, but it didn't hurt him to ask.
"It automatically 'eats up or cools doon drinks. There's a switch under the handle fer which mode ya wan'. I dinnae drink booze anymer. I made a vow not tae when ma wife passed, ya see? So it's just a dust collect'r tae me now," Frodley said as he shrugged lightly and picked his ear. "Anyhoo, I'll gae ya more junk like 'at in the future if ya wan' it. I've plenty lyin' aroond. If I can pawn 'em off fer yer insanely well-forg'd arms and armour, then I dinnae see why I wouldnae."
Lone nodded enthusiastically. "The more steamforged shit, the better. Thanks."
Frodley grinned and gave Lone a thumbs-up. "Here's tae a long an' fruitful partnership then, Ninetails."
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- The Scottish Slothy Sloth
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