Chapter 21 - Shopping District
They walked the large streets with false leisure as to not attract attention to themselves yet.
Now that they were out of range from the wall's True Sight spell, Aaron used illusion spells to make minute adjustments to his appearance, especially his and Mark's clothes, getting even more inconspicuous than before.
"Master," Mark said eventually, "I'd like to discuss a delicate matter with you."
"Isn't it dangerous to leave the maid unattended?"
Aaron smiled. This was a good opportunity to show Mark how to be relaxed and aware of everything at the same time.
"The rings I gave you both can also be used for tracking you and listening in to your conversations," Aaron said.
How could it not be so, since parts of his soul were in the rings? Unless the rings got thousands of kilometers away from him, he would be able to find them, listen in, and even get a sense of 'feeling' of what was around them.
Mark didn't know whether to feel relieved or tense at the revelation. In the end, he relaxed and went with another question.
"Master, I'm not saying you are a liar but when you captured the maid, you said anyone who can kill a demon is a good person..." He hesitated about going on.
"Continue," Aaron said weaving his hand.
Mark took courage and obeyed. "And yet, didn't the maid have to explain to you about what demon-possessed people are and where they come from?"
"Oh, that. I knew about demon-possessed people and what they did in the past, I was simply not aware of details. It's similar to how you might recognize a wraith when you see one but have no idea how it was formed or how to get rid of one. You might also be aware of what spatial rings are capable of and how to use them, but not how they are created or how exactly they work."
"But how could it be so, Master? Weren't you curious about knowing what demons are and where they come from when you heard about their deeds?"
Aaron shrugged. "To me, demons are just another evil race like many others, except for being a slyer one that can pretend to be humans. It would be just like any orc shaman using an illusion spell to look like a human, only that illusion can't be pierced through unless the orc does something stupid and reveal itself. To me, any dead orc is a good thing, too, just like any demon."
Orcs weren't evil per se, their instincts were what made them not care about any living beings, themselves included. Which didn't mean he should be understanding of them and pat their heads while they tried to eat him.
"Oh, I see," Mark replied. "Thanks, Master."
Right after the gates was the main street of the city, full of stores that were obviously more expensive than they should be due to their strategic positioning. Aaron pretended to be window shopping while moving to the Shopping District.
The palanquins were brought to the Time Abode in the city, a kind of embassy for the Temple of Time. The Seven Flowers of the West left quickly and met in the dining room, except for one.
Helina went directly to the Hall of Candles, an enormous room with nothing but seven statues of thirteen-year-old girls. Each of them held a real red candle in their hands. Crafted by magic, the candles were always kept lit without ever burning out.
She went to the oldest statue, which held a candle composed by a mix of was and her own blood. She took a strand of hair from her head and placed it in the candle's flame.
The strand didn't get on fire. Instead, it floated above the flame and was covered by a green light.
When any Prophetesses did what she was doing, their hair would burn like expected. The exception was for the Chosen, who would have their hair glow green instead.
That simple glow changed everything. She had studied the formations in the candles and knew how they really resonated with Time, having nothing to do with the personal beliefs of the First Prophetess. It confirmed that she had really been Chosen by Time and that the error message was the one in the wrong.
It also showed that there was a hidden power sending illusions with fake error messages to some Prophetesses, a power that didn't want the boy to be protected.
She felt ecstatic. Not only she had been Chosen, but she was also part of something much bigger than she had ever hoped for!
The green strand of hair would be enough proof of her Chosen status to whoever came to that room, and thus she left the Abode without anyone seeing. Her secrecy meant her Vision was a secret, at least for now, and that she had gone to take care of it.
After all, she couldn't know who was acting against her Vision and it might even be another Prophetess — Time forbids it! Unless she absolutely needed to, she wouldn't ask the Temple for any help.
As soon as she left the room, a World's Writ tooltip appeared above her strand of hair, a red error message flashing in it.
The candle turned black and not only her strand of hair but also the entire candle were instantly consumed by flames.
The Shopping District occupied a good fifth of the city of two hundred thousand inhabitants. It consisted of a large group of streets, stores of the same kind sharing the same general area. Of course, there was the eventual odd store here and there but they were the exceptions.
A huge open market could be found in the middle of the District. It had about a thousand stalls and thousands of people in it at any time. Even in the early hours of the morning, it was already filled with stalls and people. Aaron eventually arrived there and started looking around, getting a feeling for the prices.
Mark, instead, looked at everything but the things on sale. A place like that was a den of thieves and he was determined to protect the Herald.
After a couple hours, Aaron noticed someone tailing him and stopped in front of a small stall. "Seven loarts for that tiny gemstone?" He said loudly. "That's daylight robbery!"
The stall was full of gemstones of multiple sizes and colors. While mana crystals were simply crystals that could hold Pure mana, gemstones had elemental properties. Gemstones were much rarer and more expensive than mana crystals.
The stall owner, an old fat man wearing expensive clothes, was sitting on a bench. He looked at Aaron, who was now using a veiling spell to look like a mere One Star Mage. "What do you know?!" The owner yelled angrily at being called a thief. "You're just a One Star Mage! Get lost!"
Aaron sneered. "Insolence! My master is a great mage and he taught me all there is to know about gemstones! This one is worth two pemags at most!"
"Preposterous!" The man yelled even louder, attracting even more attention from the nearby people. "My gemstones are of the greatest grade! This is a legit void gemstone, the rarest of them all, and it's already a loss for me to sell it seven loarts!"
Aaron shook his head. "What void gemstone? You just used a Blackening Spell to color it, my master told me everything about it."
The man showed shock on his face, not believing he was being offended like that by an insolent kid. A moment later, his face flushed red in fury and he stood up. "Who's your master?!" He yelled even louder. "Bring him here! I'll have words with him!"
Aaron opened his mouth to reply when a melodious female voice intervened. "Forgive my useless disciple for his ignorance, good man."
Everyone turned to see the most beautiful girl they had ever seen in their lives. She was about twenty years old, her skin looked soft like silk, her long black hair went up to her slim waist, and her light blue eyes shone brightly with life. Her clothes were simple, a white dress and white shoes, but such simplicity only seemed to add to her beauty.
"Ignorant?" Aaron asked with a frown, barely noticing her beauty. "Who's ignorant, you ugly old witch!"
Every single eye around him widened. Who was old? Who was ugly? That was the most beautiful woman they had all seen!
Aaron had obviously exaggerated. To him who had seen women so beautiful they would make mortals drop dead from shock, her beauty was passable at most, but she was still a far cry from being considered ugly.
The reason he was treating her like that was due to recognizing her as the one who had been riding the palanquin and also the one following him.
He had decided to cause a commotion with the stall owner to see how she would react but her coming to his aid could mean many things. The way she replied to this offense would narrow the possibilities.
And she had widened her eyes and opened her mouth in pure shock. She was called the Oldest, but only the Oldest Youngest! She was still twenty years old!
And ugly? How was that possible?! She was one of the Seven Flowers of the West! It wasn't always that the Youngest of the temple were called Seven Flowers, but the moment she was chosen, seven years ago, they started being called that way, in great part due to her beauty!
No one could even breath. No one had never seen such a shameless person like Aaron in their lives. Even the seller seemed to recover from his anger and was only staring in disbelief.
She was the first to recover from the shock. "Impudence!" She yelled angrily and pressure came out of her body.
In the Valdian Kingdom, Ascenders were considered the cream of the crop and the Eminences below them commanded immense respect. Even the royal family only had seven Eminences and the whole kingdom had less than twenty Eminences in total.
And she was an Eminence!
When she expanded her aura to pressure the boy, the mere left-over aura that befell the nearby klutzes was enough to make their faces pale and their souls tremble. That kind of pressure demanded submission or death and all of them, as one, kneeled.
There were also a few warriors and even a couple mages around, including the stall seller, a Notable Mage on his own right, and they all either bowed or kneeled, too.
In this world, the powerful ruled, and the weak obeyed.
In the middle of them all, only the girl, Mark, and Aaron remained standing upright. Aaron, of course, could ignore the pressure with his soul, and the ring he had given Mark allowed the man to also barely feel the pressure.
Aaron sneered again. "What is it, old hag? Can't handle the truth, so you try to silence others with force?"
Helina's shock only increased when she saw the boy in front of her withstanding her pressure.
Check Level, she thought for the hundredth time.
Level: 1 — One Star Mage (7 — Champion Mage)
The tooltip didn't lie, he was a mere Champion Mage. When put under an Eminence's pressure, Champions only had to bow slightly, but the boy was completely ignoring it!
As if it wasn't enough...
Level: 1 — One Star Warrior
Even the weak warrior beside the boy was ignoring the pressure! How was that possible?
Could it be that the man's level was being veiled by a Ninth spell cast by an Ascender so that her soul couldn't pierce through it?
What was the real identity of the boy she was supposed to protect?
And more importantly, why the hell was he calling her an old hag?!
"Stop calling me that!" She yelled. She had always been treated well and treasured by the Temple of Time since she was first considered a Candidate, when she was ten. No one had ever dared to even look at her the wrong way! How could he call her old and ugly?
"Old hag, old hag, old hag!" The boy repeated.
"Y- You!" She bellowed in rage, unsure of what to do.
"Should I buy you a mirror to show you the truth? Huh? Is that what you want, ugly old grandma?" The boy asked with a smirk on his face.
That was it. Helina couldn't stop herself anymore.
She stepped ahead, shortening the distance between herself and the boy, prepared to strangle him to death.
But to her incredulity, the One Star Warrior besides the boy stepped between them and slapped her hand away.
The sound of it resounded through the silent and shocked market.
A warrior had slapped an Eminent Mage!
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I'm Ed, a writer of GameLit. So far I have released only two books, but I'm working on increasing this number by tens! No, by hundreds! Maybe thousands! xP
Mailing list: http://www.edward-castle.com/