Chapter 20 Paying Without Thinking Eznho was walking under the snow along the roads of the northern district unaware of the undercurrents happening around him. He was pondering what to buy for his aunt and his big brother now that he has money to spare. While thinking, he was also trying to read the signboards of the shops hoping it would give him ideas. “I have no idea what would aunt Minchin like, as for big brother, argh!” His head was messy while to think of something when he saw a jewelry store. “That’s it, women like jewelry,” He was delighted and went inside. The store was full of all kinds of jewelry - earrings, necklace, rings and with different styles. His mind became blank after seeing so many luxury items. “Which one should I pick?” He smiled wryly while trying to choose when a lady in her forties came to greet him. “Welcome to my shop young fellow, looking for something for a dear lady?” She smiled amicably with her thick makeup. The smell of strong perfume surrounded her green dress and fur coat that covered her upper torso. Eznho was surprised by the question and immediately denied with embarrassment. “Ah? No, no, you are mistaken madam, I am looking something to give to my aunt,” “No need to deny young man, ahhhh, young love,” The shop owner teased while trying to make a seductive face. What’s wrong with this lady? Eznho was a bit creeped out and took a step back as if he was gonna be molested. Looking at the boy’s reaction, the lady was amused. “Hoho, no need to be flustered young man. Okay, what do you want to buy for your ‘aunt’? By the way, you can call me madam Mary.” “Uhhh, I’m Eznho. I don’t actually know what to buy for her.” Eznho was weirded by the lady but still tried to behave nicely, he did not really pay attention to what jewelries her aunt wore. Mary pondered and thought of something, “Hmmm, let’s see, how about a pearl necklace?” She suggested and invited Eznho to where the pearl necklaces are. Eznho on the other hand, really no idea what to pick so he just randomly picked a simple but elegant looking pearl necklace. “Good choice, are you sure about this?” Mary did not try to “advise” the boy as he immediately picked the most expensive of his pearl necklace collection. Eznho just nodded in response. “That would be 300 gold coins,” Mary stated with a beaming smile. The heck? That expensive? It had to be known her aunt only gets a couple of gold coins a month as her salary. Eznho could not help but sigh inside how rich people live in luxury while others struggle to find something to eat for a day. The more he discovered the world, the more he learned how beautiful and cruel it was at the same time. Too embarrassed to reject, he just swallowed it and tried not to think about it. It is just money anyway, it is nothing compared to his aunt. Finishing the deal, he secured the jewelry box and went on his way. “Ai, what a shame I should have told a higher number, who knew he had so much juice in him. Anyways, I need to prepare myself, the others might leave without prior notice.” Mary saw the disappearing boy outside and shook her head then went on her own business. ..... Back at the top floor of the bank, a communication device lit up and dimmed which made everyone stop what they were doing. The aged old voice spoke up with an obvious delight, “A new information came in, our informants found traces of golden blood in the forest near the mines. But what puzzled them is that according to their investigation a battle ensued but it was not a large one. They even reported that it was possible that the fight did not involve the magical beast. Basing on the evidence they gathered, there was a high chance that the serpent died in the forest without struggling. The only way to confirm what happened is to find the mercenary captains which would take a little time.” After relaying the information, everyone became silent. It was true, the only people they could interrogate were the mercenary captains, the other party involved were military officers. He trusted his informants and made his own predictions basing on their reports. “Ai, it seems somebody else was involved in this. Unless the beast died while fleeing?” He shook his head while thinking about it, the furrowed his brow. “Impossible, a magical beast is a beast after all and would never go down without a fight. The only possibility would be that it did not have the chance to attack. Whatever, we can only know the truth after the mercenary captains are found. Many eyes are starting to pry in this matter, let us just wait and see what happens next.” The other three just sat there in silence indicating their approval. ..... Eznho, on the other hand, made a decision on what he would give to his big brother and went inside a weapon shop. The store was filled with random things but they were mostly weapons of different kinds and materials. A robust middle-aged man with a scar on his cheek came to greet him with great enthusiasm. “Hello there young man, my name is Brad, how may I able to assist you? what are you looking for?” “Uhmmm...” Eznho was overwhelmed with the man’s enthusiasm and his series of questions. “I’m looking for a weapon, a sword,” “Hmmm? aren’t you too young for weapons?” Brad was skeptical, yes, cultivators started when they were young but inside Sin city, almost no kids of the younger practiced cultivation. After all, this city was just like a pit stop for merchants and travelers. “Uhmmm, it’s for my big brother, a gift,” Eznho answered honestly. “Hah! So that’s how it is, you are right in time. I have new stocks and most of them I made myself.” Brad said with a proud face and showed Eznho his goods. There were ten swords of different sizes and designs made from different materials. Eznho was weighing his options, he wanted the best for his big brother but according to his short experience, treasures can get a person killed. So he wanted to pick a good sword with a decent price that would not attract too much attention. Looking at the boy’s reaction, Brad immediately introduced his sword. He picked a greatsword, the blade was a meter long it was thick and half a foot wide. “This greatsword was forged by me using precious metals, it can break armors easily and crush the enemy’s bone. I name it Bone Crusher!” Brad announced with head held high as if showing a newly born prince to his people. Eznho was amused but did not like the sword it would be too bulky and heavy for his big brother. Looking at the boy’s unmoved demeanor, he picked a smaller sword. It was also a meter long sword but it was thin and only an inch wide. “This baby right here was born after delicately forging it for a week, I had to be careful with her you know. But don’t be fooled by her appearance. She can cut you without knowing you were hurt and would only feel it after and pierce your heart with gracefulness you would smile dying like an idiot, behold the ever beautiful sword, Woman’s Tongue!” Brad was like on the stage with glistening stars around him while caressing the like it was his lover filled with emotions. The heck? Eznho nearly vomited blood looking at this man like he was performing in an opera. Looking at the boy’s reaction, Brad was disgruntled. “Hmph! You are a naive boy, you still have never tasted a woman’s love and betrayal.” He carefully put down the sword like a man putting down his lover on top of the bed. What is this guy talking about? Eznho thought to himself. “What a pity you don’t know anything about the beauty of weapons, let me tell you this. A weapon is your companion, it will never betray you and never leave you, unlike people. Hmph!” This man is crazy. Eznho once again met a weird shop owner, “are they all like this?” he thought inwardly. Brad then took out another sword, it was also a meter long but it was two inches wide. It was made from a standard metal used in the army but it was in a better condition and quality. After all, he forged it with pride. “If you pick this, your brother will smile even on his dreams. I call him Gentleman’s Persistence, don’t be fooled by his name. It can penetrate anything and make every cut bleed and never make it heal, it will always bleed at least every month. Mwahahaha.” Brad was laughing while introducing his sword with a burning passion in his eyes. I have to get out of here. Eznho thought that the man was crazy but when he saw the sword his eyes lit up. Judging by its look, it was like an ordinary sword but with his sharp senses, he could see that its quality was better than the average sword. He could not wait any longer to get out of this shop, “How much?” Brad was overjoyed when Eznho showed interest, “Hmmm? Good, I thought you were blind, because I can see that you are a man of culture as well, I’ll give it for eight hundred gold coins instead of a thousand.” Eznho was in a daze and his jaw dropped, A weapon cost that much? Then he thought about the dagger that his big brother bought for him. In the end, money is just money so he just bought it straight up. Brad was in a good mood after receiving the money he never thought the boy would buy it and not even tried to bargain. “I should have said a thousand damn, I underestimated him.” He thought to himself. “My name is Brad, I am the best blacksmith in the city. You can come back here if you need more weapons and I can give you a discount. Is there anything else you need?” He introduced and boasted and did not even care about the boy’s name. Eznho was about to say goodbye when he thought about something, “Actually I need something, do you happen to have a map of the kingdom?” “A map?” Brad was disappointed when Eznho asked about a map but to leave a good impression so he went in front of a wooden chest filled with dust and opened it with a creaking sound. Cough! cough! Dust invaded his airways while he tried to find the map within the pile of random things. “Aha! Found it!” Brad shouted as he took out an old scroll with small tears on the edges. “Here you go lad, I’ll give it to you as a bonus. It’s not that detailed but it shows a vague map around the kingdom and its neighbors. I used to be an adventurer like you but then I took an arrow to the heart.” Brad held his chest as if remembering something then handed it to Eznho as a sign of goodwill but in truth, the map can be bought for just a gold as it was only a general map with no specific details. What’s wrong with him? Eznho thought while listening to the man’s nonsensical words. “Uhmmm, okay thanks, and goodbye.” Eznho hurriedly received the scroll without even looking at it with the box that contained the sword and scurried away. “Ai, the energy of youth, thanks for your patronage boy,” He was grinning while remembering his successful transaction. ..... Eznho was nearing the gate leading out of the district, with a rectangular box hanging on his shoulder with a strap. He was quite happy and was excited to present his gifts. He did not think much about the gold he spent when suddenly a random memory came popping in regarding his big brother’s advice about haggling. “Wait a minute, have I been duped?” He smiled helplessly when he thought about it, many things have been running through his mind and just paid what the shop owners told him, but at the same time even if he did haggle, he did not have any idea how much those items should really be bought for. In this matter, Eznho was not at fault. His experience outside the world was just so little, maybe his big brother’s advice was true, being a good talker has a lot of benefits. “Lesson learned I guess, I’ll be careful next time,” He breathed out a helpless sigh and shook his head, nothing can be done about it. If he wants to learn the way the world works, he has to experience it himself. There are things he has yet to learn. He closed his eyes and calmed down, when he opened them again, his eyes looked more mature brimming with excitement. Tilting his head, he took one last look at the area and went back to the inn.