“You, you’re really selling this many beast cores?”
It looks like I surprised my unnamed scapegoat of a master with the sheer number of beast cores I’ve gathered. And this small pile is only made up of the scavenger crows’! Would she faint if I showed her the number of bear cores I have? “But this marketplace really is convenient, huh?”
It really, really is. Everyone’s wearing a pyramidal hat with writing on it telling sellers exactly what they want. And the vendors are wearing hats that tell everyone exactly what they’re selling. There’s even one person selling those hats, which I bought, by the way. But I made the scapegoat wear it.
“How many scavenger crow cores are you selling?” A man dressed in a suit approached me. Maybe he was the servant of someone rich? He doesn’t look like a martial artist; he’s totally suspicious. “I’m from the Briarwood family.”
“T-the Briarwood family?” The scapegoat looked surprised. Were they famous? I mean, I’ve heard of them too, but I don’t know much about the political circles in the upper echelons of human society. “I’m selling fifty cores, easily enough to bring someone’s status on par with a scavenger crow’s.”
“Ten gold each…. Is there a bulk discount?”
“No discounts! Only sell.” Money is money! Even if these scavenger crow cores are only equivalent to two and a half bear cores, every single penny counts! I still remember my days of struggling to save even one silver to buy my fire starter. There’s no way I can allow discounts. Nuh-uh. Nope.
“…Your servant has an awfully loose mouth.”
Your face is loose, you grumpy old man! Look at all those wrinkles and sagging skin.
“Mm.” The scapegoat lowered her head a bit. Were the Briarwoods really that powerful? “I’m sorry, but she’s right. I don’t do discounts.”
“Tch. Five hundred gold then.” The butler-like man withdrew five bracelets ringed with gold coins from his clothes and placed them into the scapegoat’s hands. I took them from her and gave the pouch of scavenger crow cores to the man. Then I changed the writing on the scapegoat’s hat to reflect the new sales. Shadow panther cores! 50 gold each! Of course, when I say writing, I mean pictures. Literacy is hard.
The butler-like man stared at me.
I know I’m beautiful, but he doesn’t have to stare so intensely. “What? Do you have a problem?”
“No. No problem. How many of those cores do you have?”
“…1,100 gold then.” The man offered me 11 of those gold-coin bracelets and I handed him the pouch of shadow panther cores. He counted them while I once again adjusted the writing on the scapegoat’s hat. Moonlight wolf cores! 50 gold each!
The man’s expression darkened once he saw the new pictures. “…How many?”
“210.” Moonlight wolves travel in packs. It’s a lot easier to gather their cores than any other beasts.
The man frowned. “I’ll give you an interspacial ring for them.”
“Deal!” It looks like I don’t have to become a thief. How nice. But I thought people wouldn’t want to sell interspacial rings? “Can you trade something as precious as that?”
“…You’re not from around here, are you? The Briarwood family has a fourth-circle space magician capable of creating interspacial rings.” The man stroked his chin before reaching into his clothes and taking out a simple silver ring. The scapegoat gulped when she saw it.
“Let me inspect it first.” I held my hand out. I’m totally not going to steal it and run. I’m not Snow, gosh. The ring was light and no different from any that you’d see from a jeweler. In fact, it probably was made by a jeweler and enchanted later. “How do I use it?”
“Send a stream of consciousness into it.”
A whatawhatwhat? A stream of consciousness? Like focus on it? Oh! That’s interesting. It’s like I’m holding a cube of empty space the size of a room in my palm. How do I put things inside? Go inside, bone! A skull hanging from my shoulder disappeared and reappeared in the space. It worked! Now, come out! It reappeared on my shoulder. “This is amazing!”
The butler-like man cleared his throat. “You can bind it to yourself with a drop of blood. Also…, don’t forget why you have it.”
Right. I’m a salesman right now. I handed over a bulging pouch and cut my finger with mini-DalDal, smearing the ring with blood. It flashed with a white light, and I had a weird feeling of having an eleventh finger. Right, let’s put it someplace safe. Don’t look!
Once the ring was safely stowed away in a very private place—I made sure it’d still function properly—I stored all the bones I accumulated on my body inside of it. “Ah, those things were really smothering.”
The scapegoat blinked at me. “…You’re a lot less scary than before.”
I slapped her shoulder, causing her to yelp. Anyways, time to change the writing on her hat again. “Uh, what are those crocodiles called and how much do I sell their cores for?”
“Thick-skinned crocodiles? Their core market price is 250 gold.” The scapegoat had a strange expression while clutching her shoulder. “You’re selling those?”
“Thick-skinned crocodile cores! 250 gold!” I finished drawing the pictures on her hat.
The butler-like man stared at me. “How many?”
“20.” I fell into a river and was swarmed by over a hundred of them. It didn’t take too long to harvest their cores and bones because I fed some of their beast cores into my dress to repeatedly use haste. There was no way I was going to spend days on dismantling crocodiles.
“You’re a lot more capable than I thought….” The butler frowned and handed me 50 bracelets of gold. It seemed like he was carrying around an interspacial ring as well. In return, I handed him the bag of 20 crocodile cores. “Are you selling more? Death vulture cores perhaps? I’ll buy them for the same price as the crocodile cores.”
I poked the scapegoat. “Is that a reasonable price?”
The old man’s brow was slightly furrowed. Was that concern? He was definitely troubled by something, but he’s a big customer! I’ll sell it to him. “I have 18 cores.”
Why was he so good at math? I guess that’s why they sent him here, huh? I accepted the 45 bracelets and gave him my pouch.
“…Do you have fat bear cores? I’ll buy them for 300 gold each.”
Whoa. That’s way more than the scapegoat’s estimate! “I have twelve.”
“3,600 gold.” The man gave me 36 bracelets and accepted my last pouch. “I don’t suppose you have any spirit beast cores? I’d be willing to buy them for 1,000 gold each.”
I don’t think I’ve encountered any spirit beasts yet. “I don’t.”
“Are you selling anything else?”
“No.” I need my engraved bones for personal consumption!
Somewhere along the way of our transactions, the butler-like man’s attention had drifted away from the scapegoat completely and focused on me. “You obtained these cores by killing the beasts, right? It was obvious from the bones.” I nodded. “Did you hunt the bears by yourself?” I nodded again. The man sucked in his breath. “Then you’re at least a low-ranked spirit warrior?”
Am I? I don’t know. “Maybe?”
“…That’s on par with our magician. Would you … perhaps want to join the Briarwood family as a guest?”
“I’m in the middle of an intense training period right now.” It’s a shame. Noble families are a lot nicer to work for than the army. If I didn’t have to get stronger for Durandal, I’d have totally accepted the offer.
“Can you at least leave me your messenger signature? I’ll be willing to buy any future beast cores from you.”
“I don’t have a messenger.” Those are expensive! …But I guess I’m rich now, huh? “…I should buy one.” Well, a slave never had a need for one in the first place.
“I have a spare,” the man said. He handed me a white tile. “Bind it to yourself.”
At least my finger was still bleeding from the earlier cut…? The bleeding stopped? What the heck? And there’s no trace of an injury either. But I can still feel the ring down there, so everything that happened definitely wasn’t a dream. Well, I’ll just cut my finger again and bind this messenger. Gosh, it’s like I have a twelfth finger now.
The man tapped a tile against the one in my hand. “I’ve recorded your signature and stored mine in your messenger. If you need to send me a message, send a stream of consciousness into the artifact, select my signature—I named it Briarwood envoy—and write a message on the surface. Audio messages can be recorded too.”
“Okay.” I feel like such a fancy person now! An interspacial ring, a shit-ton of money, a messenger. I should go on a spending spree! I’m in a marketplace after all, and money is only useful if it’s spent! I poked my scapegoat. “Take me to a magic tool store!”
The scapegoat stiffened. “D-didn’t I already say there weren’t stores here?”
“Yes, you did, but I wanted to say those lines for a long time.” Saying them was almost as good as going to an actual store. Anyways, at least all the sellers have their goods on their hats. …Even if I can’t read them, the scapegoat can. Oh, I should probably take the scapegoat’s hat off … or replace it. Buying combat-oriented magic tools. Will a picture of a sword and shield work? I’ll add some squiggly lines. That should do it. Maybe the Briarwood envoy sells tools? “Do you sell magic tools?”
The envoy shook his head. “The Briarwood family only sells interspacial rings for income.” He glanced at the sky and frowned. “Well, it was a pleasure meeting you. I didn’t catch your name. My name is Poe Briarwood.”
My name. Do I lie and tell him something else? What if people connected to Bryant hunt me down? But it’s not like I have anything to fear from them! I’m stronger than the generals in the army. “My name is Lucia.”
“…Fluffytail. Lucia Fluffytail.” If Snow’s ancestor could be named Cottontail, there’s nothing wrong with making my last name Fluffytail! And my tail is fluffy. Very, very fluffy. It’s a totally fitting name that’s not stupid at all.
“Lucia Fluffytail. I’ll remember your name.” Poe nodded and turned around, disappearing into the crowd of merchants. Was it just me or were there a lot of people looking in my direction? …It seems like they all want to sell me magic tools! Or rob me. Anyways, let’s pretend I don’t notice them, but if they try anything funny, I’ll cut their hands off. I have to hurry up and make my purchases, so I can go back to training faster.
“Come with me, scapegoat.”
The scapegoat didn’t resist as I dragged her through the market, reading (looking at) the signs on people’s heads. “Oh. I almost forgot.” I scribbled onto the scapegoat’s hat. A picture of a bear’s penis.
In an instant, there were a dozen people flocking around us. I had no idea it was such a hot commodity. What other use did bear penises have…? The scapegoat was startled as well. “O-one at a time, please!”
A burly man shoved his way to the front of the crowd. “How much are you selling them for?”
The burly man looked at me before turning his attention back to the scapegoat. “Is that right?”
“I’ll buy twenty!”
…Why would…, you know what, never mind. If people want to buy them, I won’t question their life decisions. Right when I was about to take them out, someone shouted, “I’ll buy twenty for 12 gold each!”
“15 gold each!”
“20 gold each!”
“I’ll trade you my family heirloom which is worth 500 gold for twenty!”
“50 gold each.”
The crowd fell silent as a woman dressed in black robes stepped forward, slipping past the crowd like oil through water. No one spoke as the woman flicked her wrist, causing the burly man to be thrown aside. She hadn’t even touched him! The woman frowned when she saw the scapegoat. “You’re a woman. How could you sell something like this?”
“I-it’s not me.” The scapegoat pointed at me. “I-it’s her.”
Wow. I’ve been sold out by my own scapegoat. But doesn’t that mean this person is more intimidating than me? Who is she?
“You, beastkin. This alley may be a black market, but we have some rules. No one’s allowed to sell aphrodisiacal materials here.”
“…Why not rename this place to slightly gray market then?” Seriously? What kind of black market has rules?
The woman’s frown deepened. She flicked her wrist and pointed at me. What the heck? Did she just shove me with magic? How rude.
“…What?” The woman looked at her hand and furrowed her brow. She flicked her finger at me again. I didn’t move, but I felt something pushing me. “This….” She turned around and flicked at a random stranger. He was sent flying. “Okay….” She tried to use the magic on me once again without any result. “What’s wrong with you?”
“What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with you?” Can I justifiably beat her to death in the name of self-defense? “Why are you pushing people with magic?”
“You felt it? I don’t understand. The only restrictions on my spell are certain weight limits or….” The woman’s eyes widened. “You’re a fourth-circle magician?”
…Aren’t glorious misunderstandings great? “Yes. That’s right.”
“Forgive my offenses!” The woman dropped to her knees and knocked her forehead against the ground. Wow. Magicians really hold a lot of sway, huh? “My name is Liana Noctis, third-circle magician. I’m the overseer of this marketplace.”
I really understand why Durandal likes bullying people now. It’s such a great feeling, ah. …Does this make me a sadist? I hope not. “Overseer of the marketplace? Help me find some magic tools and I’ll forgive you completely. Oh, and buy these penises. You did offer 50 gold for them.”
Liana’s face cramped. “M-my money’s in my office, but I’ll take you there right now if you wish, ma’am.”
“No, that’s okay. I want to buy some tools first.”
Liana nodded. “Are there any you have in mind, ma’am?”
“Don’t call me ma’am. And I want ten rings with different spells. Another bracelet for my other hand. Two earrings. Goggles! Magical socks and magical shoes. A magical coat and magical gloves. Oh, magical panties and a magical bra as well.” Everything I wear must be magical! If I can’t learn magic naturally, then I’ll use my money to supplement my deficiencies!
“…I understand. But why does a fourth-circle magician need so many magic tools?”
Let’s copy Durandal and stare at her until she yields.
“I-I’m sorry I asked. It was out of my bounds. I’m sure you have your reasons, ma’am.”
Don’t call me ma’am! But anyways, it looks like I can ditch the first scapegoat. I found the boss of the area and made her my lackey. It’s smooth sailing from here on out. Maybe she can get me some discounts too. Power is great, isn’t it?