The night market was in full swing when Milo emerged from the guildhall. He needed to do some shopping, and he felt much calmer here in the gloom near Light's End. Between the shadows, and spending points on The Invisible Tail, he was confident he could roam around in his normal skin here, no one the wiser.

He'd made the trip back across the rooftops without much incident. A few things had been thrown at him from windows, and he'd stumbled over two teen-agers involved in romance upon one roof, but overall, it was quicker than using the streets. And he'd gotten a great view of an airship! A very small dirigible had gone overhead, propellers pushing it forward. The gasbag didn't seem anywhere near big enough to hold it up. Some sort of magic must be involved. Milo sat and watched as it gained altitude and finally docked at one of the hanging buildings near the ceiling.

The guild had purchased all of his deep copper ore. It had been a chore packing it up the stairs. He unloaded it into bags and took three trips to get it all upstairs. He didn't want to reveal his stash withing the guild. Instead, he found a secluded spot in the caves and transferred the ore to several heavy bags. A couple of the miners had laughed as he was struggling to pack it up. The burly men could have easily taken it all in one load. After selling the copper he was 30 silver richer.

The parts from the machinery had surprisingly been worth more. When he dumped out the assortment of gears, broken sprockets, and chain drives the appraiser's face had gone from curiosity to greed. "Oh, nice, very nice. Old work here, where did you say you found these?"

Milo kept his answers vague. "Down deep, I got lost wandering through caves, ran from some critters, found an old mineshaft and a machine. Not sure if I can find it again."

The old dwarf knew a deflection when he heard one. "Well, if you suddenly remember, bring me more of it. These are hardened dark iron. After the parts are forged, some of the old smiths had a way to harden the outer layers of the metal, and leave the inner layers still flexible. Ideal for machine parts." He'd given Milo 100 silver for the parts, quite a sum of cash, and now it was time to go shopping at the nearby market.

His first priorities were food and carving tools. While looking through the food vendors, he smelled something delicious! He began running, dodging through the light crowds, diving under tables, and leaping over obstacles. Vendors cursed behind him and urchins took advantage of his disruption to steal food and goods. Milo was unaware of all of this, he just kept following his nose. And his nose led him to a small store on the edge of the market, near fish vendors and soap makers. The shoppers in this area held sachets of spices to their noses or had a cloth on their face.

Milo stood before the cheese shop and inhaled the strong aroma of dozens of cheeses. Two halflings were behind the counter. An older woman was working at a stove, dipping large cubes of cheese into a boiling pot of red was. She saw Milo and nodded at him. "Be right with you sir!". The other halfling was much younger and male. He currently was reclining in an old chair, snoring, with his large and hairy feet on the counter. The old woman kicked out with a foot, tipping the chair over and knocking him to the floor. "Ah hell, grandma, why'd you have to wake me up again?"

Grandma snorted and whispered at him. "Get up, Jethro, you lazy lout. A customer needs to be taken care of!"

Jethro dusted himself off and smiled at Milo. "Sir, welcome to our shop. We make the best stinky cheese..." He was cut off by a glare from his grandma. "um...the finest varieties of fragrant cheeses in all of the city."

Milo was drooling. "I can't believe I didn't smell your shop the last time I was in the market."

Jethro leaned forward and spoke in a stage whisper. "It's a terrible thing sir, but the authorities make us move around a lot for some reason. Makes it difficult for our best customers to find us."

"But enough about the troubles of hard-working merchants. What type of delicacy can I get for you today? A nice slice of gorgonzola? My grandma is just sealing our latest batch of freshly made, aged cheddar. Take home a block, you won't be disappointed. And for the brave soul with taste for the exotic, I have a round of liederkranz. And we always have plenty of limburger."

Milo's eyes darted around the stand. "I'll take all your cheese."

Jethro suppressed a smile at the thought of selling a huge platter of cheese. "Very good sir. One assortment of all of it coming right up. Would you prefer a basket of a dozen samples? Our finest assortment of 30 slices? And our 'feed the neighborhood' basket comes with a bit of all 57 of our slinkiest cheeses in all their pungent glory."

Milo put down the bag of copper Harry had paid him and added a handful of silver. "I didn't ask you for a menu, I said 'I'll take all your cheese.' "

Jethro stammered a bit upon seeing the money. Grandma looked at Milo and saw he was shaking and taking deep breaths. "Dammit Jethro, back away now and start packing it all up. I've dealt with his type before. Get moving!"

Turning to Milo, she handed him a large chunk of freshly made, aged cheddar. "Here sir, why don't you start on this to take the edge off of your hunger while we get you all packed up?" As Milo began to gnaw on the cheddar, she expertly scooped the money into her apron while keeping an eye on him.

When all the cheese in the stand was packed up, Milo had finished his snack and was feeling better. He looked at the assortment of boxes and bags and realized he couldn't carry them all. He looked over at the two happy but nervous cheese makers. "If you don't mind, I'd like to be alone with my cheese for a bit."

Jethro scratched his head, confused. "Why do you need...."

Grandma grabbed Jethro by the arm and dragged him out of the stand, pulling the leather curtains closed. "We totally understand sir. We'll give you some time with your purchases. Come on Jethro, its lunch time."

As she dragged her grandson away, she shook her finger and admonished him. "What have I told you about his type? When they get the hunger, you need to be careful. Don't end up like your Uncle Philmont." Jethro didn't know he'd ever had an Uncle Philmont.

Milo spent his last CSP to buy the second level of Smuggler's Stash. That gave him 9 square feet of room. The chest was now a cube with each side a little more than two feet long. He filled the chest with cheese along with a lovely fondue set that Grandma had added to the deal, then put a couple of blocks of cheddar into his backpack. Dismissing the chest he continued on his way, able to think a bit better. Time to go pick up the rest of the gear he needed for a good explore of the old mines.

Shopping list:
-Engraving and carving tools.
-Dried meats and bread.
-Rope, pitons,
-blank journal and pen/ink
-3 water skins
-clean underclothes
-mechanics tools


He was nearly broke when he finished, with only 3 coppers left in his pouch. With a backpack full of supplies and a belly full of cheese, he started to head back down to find Harry and do some more mining and exploring.

Your racial addiction to cheese has increased! You will now receive a bonus to your health regeneration when you have kept up a constant diet of nutritious cheese. In addition, your health is increased by +50 points and your STR by +2.

If you go one day without eating a pound of cheese, your health will be decreased by -50 points, and your wisdom will be reduced by -2. So, stay healthy, and eat your cheese!

When Jethro and his grandmother returned, they found not even a crumb in their stall. Grandmother looked around while jingling the coin in her pocket. "Just like I thought, he's a hungry one. Worst I’ve seen."

Jethro asked, "So what do we do?"

"You have to ask, boy? We get the clan to work making more cheese and get rich when he comes back for more."



About the author

The Walrus King

  • Pennsyltucky
  • The Walrus King


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