A lone carriage leaves the forest as it travels along the winding road. At the front of the carriage two massive reddish brown horses pull it diligently. The owner sits inside along with his escort of six high ranking adventurers.
[It should only be a few minutes till we reach Pavise, completing our contract. If you need to hire guards in the future be sure to look for us first old man.]
[With the way the forest has gotten I probably won’t be making any trips to Seabreeze any time soon. To tell you the truth, I wouldn’t have gone this time if I didn’t already promise an acquaintance a month ago that I’d pay him a visit when I stopped by. Since I won’t be heading through such dangerous territory I won’t need to spend so much on b-rank adventurers like you. Besides you all should be out exploring and enjoying your youth, not wasting time following around an old man like me.]
[It can’t be helped, escorting is one part of being an adventurer after all. Plus guarding someone with your rich experience can also be seen as enjoying our youth. It’s the privilege of the young to listen to the stories of wizened veterans that’ve traveled the world.]
[Even if I’ve been all over the world there are things I’ve never seen or only heard rumors about. No matter who you ask you won’t be able to get firsthand information on the miasma, only old legends. When it comes to the miasma your generation will be the old veterans telling stories, hahaha. The stories I’ve heard about it all describe it as a world shaking natural disaster. I fear this is just the beginning of something much more sinister.]
[Do you really believe that nonsense? If it was so world shaking why has it happened so many times without wiping us all out?]
[How many ancient relics from ages past have been found? Yet no matter how old or recent they are, the max level of technology is always about the same. I’ve lived a long life and seen how fast technology progresses, so I can tell you from experience something unnatural is going on. Our current technology has just about caught up and now we’re seeing an outbreak of miasma which is said to kill civilizations. I don’t think the timing’s a coincidence.]
As the group chatted inside the carriage they were unaware that someone was hovering in the sky above them. Looking for a good moment to enact his plan Jellal waited patiently. Seeing the driver look back into the covered carriage he made him move.
Rapidly descending he lands on the road fifty meters ahead of the carriage. Before the driver has a chance to turn around and spot him, he takes out a large box. Employing a classic stealth method he hid under the box in a totally inconspicuous manner.
The driver looked back to the road only to find a box had magically appeared in their path. Confused about what to do he called back inside the carriage. One of the adventurers had their interest peaked with the appearance of a magically appearing box and volunteered to take a look.
The carriage slowed to a halt a few meters away from the box. Hopping down from the carriage the adventurer casually approached the box. Underneath he found an ominous note reading: “Carelessness leads to death. If I wanted to, I could’ve killed you while you approached the box, or even as you’re reading this note. Take this experience as a lesson so you don’t make the same mistake when your life is on the line. – Just A Totally Normal, Definitely Not Suspicious Box”
The adventurers head jerked around as he looked for the source of the note, but to no avail. Using his shadow technique Jellal left the note before rushing through the shadow to the underside of the carriage.
Even though he could have waited in the shadow of the box, if they had ignored and ran it over he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to sneak onto their carriage. To counter that Jellal laid out a razor thin shadow in a serpentine pattern on the road. When the carriage stopped he left behind a note to serve as a distraction as he made the trek to the underside of the carriage.
The rightfully bewildered adventurer picked up the note and the box as he suspiciously eyed his surroundings. Unable to find anything out of the ordinary he returned to the carriage. With the adventurer on board and the obstruction out of the way the horses gradually pulled the carriage up to speed.
The passengers discussed the suspicious box and note. Compared to before the adventurers had lost their relaxed demeanor and had switched into battle mode, ready for any attack that might come their way. They were completely unaware the one responsible was literally right under their noses, clinging to the bottom of the carriage.
The extra caution they showed ended up being completely pointless as they arrived at the base of the city walls without incident. Their carriage slowed down as it approached the base of the wall, before coming to a standstill at the back of the line waiting to enter the city.
The line was separated into carriages and people on foot. The majority of people were in the later line standing off to the right side. The line for carriages was considerably shorter with only three in line before they arrived.
The evening sun caused the massive wall to produce an equally huge shadow covering the entire line of carriages. With such advantageous conditions Jellal got to work making a space to pass through the gate unimpeded.
Sinking into the shadow he temporarily took of his mask to observe the situation above. The guards seemed abnormally serious about searching the carriages as they checked every box, nook, and cranny leading him to believe something was going on in the city.
Casually strolling through the shadow he reached the other side of the gate. Moving to the center of the road he scoped out his next move. As a carriage passed overhead he checked to make sure no one would see him before sticking his hands out and clinging to its underside.
As the carriage slowly came to speed he got to work on another thin shadow. When it passed by an empty alleyway he dropped off into the shadow he prepared. Slinking through the shadow he arrives in the alley.
After making sure no eyes were on him, he put his mask back on and climbed out of the shadow. Pulling his hood down low he exits the alley, stepping onto the main street.
Things in the city are lively. Carriages come and go, while people of different races walk about in droves. The main streets through the city are reserved for merchants and businesses, with the center of the city being a giant market plaza.
The streets away from the main road are mainly used for houses, with the ones closer to the main roads and the plaza being the most valuable. The exception to these is the northeastern section of the city which is reserved for high ranking officials, nobles, and people with high status.
Walking through the streets Jellal listens to the hustle and bustle of the city. Street vendors line the left side of the streets soliciting passersby to try their goods. Those with wares rather than food haggle back and forth trying to gain as much profit as possible.
As he strolls along casually one particular stand catches his eye. A stand with various types of jewelry spread out on a fine silk cloth sits manned by a short and stalky man with red-orange hair. The man’s eyes and braided beard match his short, curly hair. The creases on his face show his age as he glares at the people who pass him by.
Drawn by the fancy jewelry, the intrigued Jellal decides to head over. While he’s closing in on the stand a young man with pompous clothes, whom he can only assume to be a noble, begins goading the owner of the stall.
[How’s business been going for you Yurnaag? You can’t possibly believe you would be able to do business in this city after turning down my request, hahaha. I’ll tell you what; if you make what I requested for free I’ll consider putting a good word in for you with the people of this city.]
A malicious smile floated on the young man’s face as he openly mocked Yurnaag. The situation was easy to understand, leaving Jellal with the dilemma of whether or not to visit the stand. Naturally he couldn’t care less about some random brat in a city he didn’t live in.
Walking up to the stand Jellal used his mana to closely inspect the craftsmanship. He immediately understood why the brat would specifically try to force the owner into making things for him. The gems were beautifully cut while the metal was flawlessly shaped leaving Jellal in awe. He would understand if they were made with highly precise machines but to be made by hand the craftsman who made them had to be truly miraculous.
Seeing Jellal blatantly ignoring him and walking up to the stand the young man became furious. He had come all the way here just to purposefully show that the rumors of him being displeased with the owner were true. Yet someone had the gall to act like he’s air in the middle of his display.
[Did you not hear me? This fool turned down a personal request of mine! What do you think you’re doing walking up to this stall? Could it be that my words mean nothing to you?]
The fuming brat grabbed at Jellal’s shoulder as he angrily tried to dissuade him from buying from the stand. Getting his shoulder pulled Jellal spun around until he was face to face with the pushy man. Looking at the strange mask without any eyeholes the man was stumped.
Jellal leisurely lifted his hand and cleared his shoulder of the pest latching onto it. Pretending the other man doesn’t exist he turned back to browse the stands goods. Smoke rose from the man’s head as he finally reached his boiling point. About to blow his top from the disrespect he’s been shown he once again reaches for Jellal’s shoulder.
[If you want to keep your hand I suggest you think carefully about your next course of action.]
Without giving the young man the time of day to glance back over his shoulder to look at him while speaking Jellal doled out a stern warning. Continuing to ignore the nuisance he returned to perusing the jewelry on the stand.
While he was busy inspecting the items the troublemaker stormed off in a rage, screaming how he’ll regret what he’s done like a stereotypical bad guy.
Among the pieces displayed Jellal found a group of four small hoop earrings that look more like rings for fingers than ears. Unlike the rest of the pieces they had an interesting reaction to mana making him wonder if they were made with a special technique or from a peculiar material.
[How much for those four?]
[Are you sure you want to buy something from my stand? If you do that punk won’t let it slide. He may not be much himself but his father has a lot of sway in these parts.]
[I don’t care who he is, if he picks a fight he’ll only have himself to blame. So, how much?]
[Hmm, for the syneel earrings it’ll twenty five gold a piece. Take it or leave it, I don’t haggle. Syneel is an extremely rare metal and they were made by me personally so they aren’t cheap. Even if someone comes across the metal they always use it to make swords so it’ll be nearly impossible to find another set like them.]
Reaching into his designated money bag he fishes out one hundred gold coins along with a small pouch. Right about now he’s feeling like a genius for adding a bunch of small pouches in the bag so he wouldn’t have to carry all of them in the open when he does a transaction. It was something he thought up spur of the moment before he set out in order to keep from attracting too much attention to himself.
With the coins loaded into the pouch he pulls it out of his bag and tosses it to Yurnaag. Catching it with one hand he gives it a light shake before bouncing it up and down on his palm a few times. Giving a nod he stuffs it into his bag and hands over the earrings.
Taking the earrings he tucks them away safely into his other bag. Since he’s planning on using them later he puts them in the first layer in the space that was opened up after he took out his disguise.
[This is my first time in this city. You wouldn’t happen to know where I can find a good place to offload a large supply of miscellaneous goods do you? Also a place where I can get some new clothes, these are a bit meh after all.]
[If you’re looking to sell you could go to the merchants association. They don’t give the best prices but they buy just about anything that has any value. All they are is a collection of merchants that buy everything in one place before selling it to merchants for a profit. If you want to get the best prices you can you’re better off trying to sell to merchants individually but if you want to get rid of something quick to a reputable buyer it’s the way to go.
As for finding clothes if you ask them they can set you up with a merchant who has what you’re looking for. Of course they’ll only send you to merchants affiliated with them, but those guys are all trustworthy and skilled so it’ll be fine.
The merchant association’s main building for handling customers is on the other side of the plaza directly across the street from the adventurer’s guild. It’s a big building with three scales on the signboard so it’s hard to miss.]
[I appreciate the help. I have a lot of business to attend to so I’ll be on my way.]
[Pleasure doing business with you.]
Now that he knows where to go to take care of his business Jellal parts with Yurnaag and makes his way towards the plaza. As he leaves a few greedy people try to tail him in hopes of striking it rich. Walking into a back alley devoid of people he waits for the less than subtle stalkers to catch up.
Searching through his bag he finds a chair amongst the nonsense he’s collected. Rather than standing around, he pulls up a chair and munches on some extremely poisonous berries that have an interesting bitter yet tangy flavor.
‘They’re sure taking their sweet time. I know my smaller stature makes it easy for me to weave through the crowds but I wasn’t even trying to throw them off. I figured the type of people to give into their greed like them wouldn’t be too bright but aren’t they a little too bad at following people? Judging by how quickly they decided to follow me I was under the impression that they do this quite often, so why are they so bad at it?
While I’m waiting should I modify my mask? It’s fine in the looks department but I didn’t leave any way to eat with it on. Having to stick food up under the mask is too inconvenient, and then there’s the lack of eyeholes. If I could find a way to make retractable eyeholes it would be great since I wouldn’t have to mess with my mask every time I want to look at something with my eyes.
Hmm, if I cut the lower part off and attach it with vines I would be able to make an opening mouth so I can eat all I want without taking off the mask. To that effect, if I cut some eyeholes and had vines hold them in place I would be able to choose whether or not my eyes are visible.
The only thing I’m unsure of is whether or not it’ll be comfortable to wear still when I’m done. I suppose I could use some fabric as a backing and run the vines under it. If I do that it shouldn’t be too uncomfortable to wear. I have plenty of fabric to choose from so I should be able to find one that’s suitable.’
While Jellal’s busy killing time thinking about how to improve his mask, the thugs finally show up. Based on how startled they are to find Jellal waiting for them it’s safe to say they truly believed they were being discreet.
The thugs look at each other and pull out their knives as they glare at Jellal.
[If you hand over everything you own, we’ll let you off easy, brat.]
Hearing their uninspired threat he begins to feel sorry for them. In order to have such lacking awareness of their situation and surroundings they must have incredibly low intelligence. Being the way they are they must have had it tough up to now.
[Luckily for you I’m in a generous mood today. If you get lost in the next ten seconds, I won’t do anything to hurt you. Consider it my way of showing kindness to ingrates like you.]
[There’s only one of you and so many of us, what can you do short stack.]
[That’s true! There really is only one of me; I’m a very unique individual after all. You’re also right about there being many of you. The world is full of foolish ingrates with no self-control after all. You don’t need to worry though; I know you’re all special in your own way. Only truly special individuals would purposefully pick a fight with a superior being such as myself.]