Chapter 23 - Shopping Spree
The warrior naturally spoke to Mark and not to the kid but it was Aaron who replied.
"Actually, yes," he said sincerely. "She was just in this alley which we came from," he pointed back.
The warrior looked at him stupefied for a second before it was replaced by disbelief. Then, he looked at Mark. "Sir, is the kid speaking the truth?"
Mark's face twisted in anger. "How dare you call my young master a liar?!"
The Five Stars Warrior didn't know how to reply to that. He had been so polite and yet he had been spoken like that by One Star Warrior?
In the end, he thanked both of them and called another warrior to go check on the alley.
Aaron didn't wait to see what would happen and went back to the Shopping District instead. On the way, he heard a distant explosion and felt a minor tremor, probably from Helina's business. He smiled.
"Young master, I don't understand what's going on," Mark said.
"The Prophetess that came to us seems to believe she was Chosen but the Temple of Time says she's a traitor. What don't you understand?"
"How is that possible?"
"Either she is crazy or there's foul play involved." His smile widened. "How exciting will it be to have not only the Immortal Crusade but also the Prophetesses chasing us?"
He had provided the warriors with her location to test both her battle prowess and how intent she was on following him. If she had faked being Chosen, she would just try to run for her life instead of trying to protect him.
"Young Master... That's dangerous..."
Aaron shook his head. "People in this continent live too comfortably, and it hinders them. Without obstacles to overcome, you won't be hard-pressed to improve, thus stagnating. If I keep depending on using my mana to improve my mana pool and become an Eminence, it'll take me about three months. But under a potentially fatal pressure? It might force my soul to evolve or die and thus shorten the required time."
"But Young Master, you're still so young! Why the hurry?"
"Destiny Points," he said. "The faster I clear this world, the more I get."
Confusion was evident on Mark's face. "What?"
Aaron smile turned mysterious and he didn't explain it.
As soon as they got back to the open market, he went directly to the same stall as before. The fat old man in there made an ugly face as soon as Aaron approached but to his surprise, Aaron took a crystal coin from one of his rings and threw at the table.
"Sorry for the trouble earlier," Aaron said. "I'll take everything."
The man looked at the coin with a stupid face for a moment before he took it, looking around to make sure no one was watching. "Of course, esteemed customer! Of course!" He quickly took a pouch out and began to fill it with all his gemstones.
"Y- Young Master!" Mark said after he recovered from the shock. "That coin!"
All coins in the Fire Continent were made of mana crystal of different grades. Each grade had different capabilities of how much mana they could hold in them, which determined the value of the coin.
The coins were named for their grades as a treasure.
Lower Mortal coins were coins that could only hold as much pure mana inside them as a grade 1 mana pool. They were called lomors.
Higher Mortal coins could hold as much pure mana as a grade 2 mana pool. They were called himors.
Peak Mortal coins were called pemors.
Lower Magical coins, lomags.
Higher Magical coins, himags.
Peak Magical coins, pemags.
Lower Artifact coins, loarts.
Higher Artifact coins, hiarts.
Peak Artifact coins, pearts.
And finally, Lower Relic coins were called lorels. There was no coin more valuable than lorels and they were incredibly rare.
Aaron had found a record saying that the coins were first called Lower Mortal coins, Higher Mortal coins and so on, and that their current names came to be after people got lazy and shortened their names.
Each grade of coin was worth a hundred of the lower graded one, reflecting the difference between mana pools' grades. A grade 10 mana pool – which meant the mage was an Overlord – could really hold as much as mana as a hundred grade 9 mana pools! It might not seem much, but coupled with superior control, it allowed for much stronger spells.
That exactness, growing a hundred by a hundred, was another show of how the powers that be had changed the world to conform to their twisted vision.
The coin he had given to the man was a hiart, with was worth a hundred loarts. Everything the man had on display was worth barely fifty loarts.
Aaron smiled. "A mere hiart, nothing to make a fuss about."
"But Young Master!" Mark insisted.
Aaron ignored him. The warrior had no choice but to silently collect the pouch containing the gemstones and follow Aaron around again.
"Thank you for your patronage!" The old mage yelled excitedly and quickly left the market, afraid of someone robbing him.
After buying the crystals, Aaron started a shopping spree.
For Mark, he bought light leather armor that was worse than enchanted gambeson and provided worse flexibility, too. The material, however, was great, the hide of the Southern Earthworm, a Champion Beast. With a bit of enchanting, that armor could become amazing and Aaron would use such upgrades to progressively reward Mark if he worked hard.
Besides the armor, he also bought him common boots, gloves, shield, and spear for him, his weapon of choice.
From the moment Aaron had forbidden Mark from using external tools, he didn't wield any weapons. Now, the man felt whole again.
"Thank you, Young Master!" Mark said and bowed low, storing the spear inside his spatial ring with a thought.
For Sara, Aaron bought a wooden staff. Mages in the Fire Continent usually preferred magical orbs or enchanted weapons but he knew that it was only because they hadn't unlocked the potential of wood inscriptions.
The wood of a well-made staff had to be fresh, which made it have both Life and Death attributes. Inscribing on it was very difficult, but the potential results of such material were amazing. He would use staff upgrades as a way to reward Sara, too.
The staff he bought was exactly the same height as Sara, made of light beige wood that had been grown in a perfectly straight way. Its top had a place for placing a magic gemstone of the mage's choosing. Any gemstone about half the size of a head would fit.
Not coincidently, Aaron had already purchased all gemstones of a stall!
He also bought all kinds of equipment for alchemy, artificing, formation mastery, martial arts, medicine, painting, poisoning, and beast taming.
From test tubes to reagents, materials to anvils, formation flags to inscription tools, weapons to armors, herbs to acupuncture needles, pencils to brushing, dead poisonous insects to poisonous beast cores, special animal food to magical reigns, he bought it all.
What he considered his best acquisition was a portable medicinal garden that he hung on his waist. It was like a spatial ring in that it was a place his consciousness could enter, and it could store objects. However, the medicinal garden wasn't a completely separated space but a much more delicate work that was linked to the world around it.
It used the very air around it, the sun rays that it received, the moisture in the air, and so on. The good thing about it was that it could hold living beings, something the spatial ring couldn't.
Thanks to that medicinal garden, Mark and Sara had just become much less of a burden. He could just pace them inside the garden and run for it if it came to it. It was thanks to such a treasure that he had known they wouldn't be that big of a burden.
The garden came with a few herbs and he bought even more to grow in there. The garden wasn't too big, only about a hundred meters of radius, but it would do for now.
Aaron also sold everything he considered useless from his rings. He kept the empty rings themselves for they could be useful as gifts but everything else, including the Mortal and Magical Items, were sold. If he ever required Mortal or Magical Items for himself or to gift his followers, he would rather craft them himself instead of using those shitty items.
To finish his shopping spree, he bought food. A lot of it. Enough to feed ten people for two years.
He also bought information about the Immortal Crusade to better understand his hunters and to make sure the right people would come for him.
By now, every shopkeeper in the city had heard about him, the spending machine, and so had the authorities. He wasn't worried though, since he felt safe enough with his new acquisitions.
If he had been too hard to find for too long, the Crusade might dispatch people to find him that were too strong for him to deal with. Therefore, he had been just enough stealthy as to buy the items that would help in a fight before revealing himself.
He was walking a thin line between smartness and stupidity, but he had no choice if he wanted to use the pressure from the Crusade to temper himself. By controlling the place and time of his appearance, he was giving himself an advantage. It was certainly much better than being found by the Crusade right after he fought a battle to the death against a beast and found himself lacking the mana to fight!
Also, by doing things this way, he was showing that he wasn't a great mastermind of evil that could hide for too long. He wasn't humiliating or challenging the Crusade. He was a genius kid who had tried to hide and succeeded for a time, but ultimately failed the way most genius kids would.
As he did his shopping, he was rather curious about which of the tens of people following him in the shadows would be the first to attack, if any. Part of him expected the Crusade to chase everyone away and to come for him first, but he hoped not. After his small cold play with the Prophetess, he was in for a bit of fun!
Speaking of which. "Time to go to the inn," he told Mark, wondering if Helina had gone there or not.
Sara was sitting at a corner of the inn's common room, wearing a cloak that hid all of her features. Unfortunately, it didn't hide her body's curves, and time and time again an annoying man would come to try and flirt with her.
It was all Aaron's fault. For whatever reason, he had chosen to stay at that inferior place, filled with men dominated by alcohol who acted as if they had never seen a woman in their lives. The place was so lowly that it even lacked tavern wenches and the customers had to go to the counter themselves to buy their drinks.
The White Lotus Inn had a beautiful name but that's where all the beauty ended. It was small, the common room barely able to receive two dozen patrons, and it only had three rooms to rent, all of which had already been paid for by her.
"Wa' do ya say? 'ive himors vor ya pretty ass," the drunk said.
He was calling her a whore and trying to buy her body. Sara was about to do the same she had done to the previous filthy men, use a spell to make him leave, when the doors of the inn opened up with a loud thump.
The most beautiful woman Sara had ever seen entered the room, stopping close to the doors. Her beauty was so great that it made Sara very self-conscious and happy for her face being hidden. The woman looked to be around twenty years old and wore a simple white dress that was tainted by blood. Whether it was hers or not, Sara couldn't say.
The woman was breathing heavily. She looked around the common room, stopping for an instant on Sara before asking the innkeeper in a loud voice. "Is this the White Lotus Inn?"
"Y- Yes, milady!" The man almost yelled, elated for being spoken to by such a perfect woman. He had been completely blinded by her beauty, incapable of seeing the blood on her clothes.
"Is there no other place with the same name..." She stopped talking, looking out for a few instants. There was such a big mana disruption in the air that even Sara, who wasn't very sensitive, felt it.
Check Level, Sara thought.
Level: 8 — Eminent Mage
Sara's jaw almost fell to the ground. She looked twenty years old and she was already an Eminence?! That had to be a lie! And she was a beauty, too! The woman had to be at least using a spell to hide her true appearance, right?! She couldn't be that perfect, correct?!
The woman looked back inside, now breathing even more haggardly than before. "Is this the only White Lotus Inn in the city?"
After looking around the common room one more time, she asked without any hope: "Is Ted Bright Star in here?"
"Milady, I never heard such a name," the innkeeper said.
Sara was barely able to hide her surprise due to her past training. How did that Eminence know of Aaron's alias? Was he in trouble?
The woman then stared straight at Sara, the only mage in the inn. "Do you know him?"
Sara felt her heart beat fast. What was the correct answer? What was going on? Why did an Eminence covered by blood want to find Aaron?
She hesitated for only a few seconds but it was enough for the woman to anxiously repeat her question. "Do you know him or not?!"
"I... I..." Sara felt completely lost. Should he tell the truth? Should she lie?
"She does," a kid's voice said from the outside. Sara recognized it as being Aaron's.
The woman turned. "You! What did you do?!" She yelled in absolute anger right before leaving the inn.
Sara stood up and ran to the entrance.
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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/