~ Chapter 101: The lost girl (Part 1) ~
[Alkelios' point of view]
Leveder City, as impressive and beautiful some might claim it to be, in the end, it was just another mining city. The Leveder Lone Peak was a tall mountain with a dense forest covering it and rich mineral nodes hidden beneath its thick layers of stone. The human settlements were spread around it, drawing resources from within the forest and staying clear of the more dangerous monster nest spread across it.
From a distance, the defensive walls of the city were like tall giants that stood proudly in front of their enemies. They were built to last against siege and raging behemoth monsters. The aerial defense, however, was terribly lacking. The humans didn't seem to care about an attack from the sky, which was the strong point of the draconian armies.
It was like they were waiting to be conquered by us, dragons.
As we approached the thick wooden gates held together by long stripes of metal, we saw a long line of travelers who were waiting for their turn to enter the city. From what I could see, the guards were checking their bags for contraband goods and if they resembled any of the criminals on the wanted posters. The merchants were the only ones who had to pay a special trading tax for the goods they were bringing in. On the other hand, all the adventurers who used Leveder City as their base and confirmed this through their guild cards were excluded from the entry tax.
While our group had in its composition three adventurers and one cat, we didn't have Leveder City as our base, thus, we had to pay the same tax as any other weary traveler did. That was five copper coins for each person, enough for a meal at an average inn and was more or less seen as maintenance money for the big walls that protected everyone from the hungry monsters outside.
At one point, one of the adventurers walked up to the guard checking the line I was in and greeted him with a friendly handshake. They talked about some trivial things for a few minutes, to the annoyance of the people waiting in line, but then the adventurer said something that caught my interest.
“Man, I miss playing computer games, especially mmorpg.”
“What are you talking about, man? Aren't you living in a mmorpg world right now?” the guard said with a laugh.
“Bah, I meant one in which I could feel really OP, not this.” he shook his head.
“Get to level 1000 and you might feel like one.” he snorted.
“Only broken cheat users can get to that level of power. Anyway, see you later at the pub, man. I'm heading back to the guild to drop off some herbs!” and then he walked past him.
“Alright, see ya later, man!” the guard waved at him and then went back to doing his job.
So these two are Human Heroes like me and Kalderan, huh? I thought as I looked at them from a distance.
They didn't give off the pressure of a powerful individual and if they didn't mention something that didn't exist in this world, I would have taken them as your average human beings. Actually, with the exception of having some wacky skill given by the God-like and the ability to see their own status window, the Human Heroes were no different from the Humans of this world. They could look, talk, and even behave almost the same.
Three years was enough time for anyone to change to fit in this harsh world where monsters roamed the plains and gods ruled the skies. We had to either adapt to this new life style or risk finding ourselves at the rope's end.
“How many earthlings do you think survived of the 10 million from three years ago?” I asked Kalderan.
“Hm? I don't know, maybe half maybe more? There were definitely a good number of casualties along the years. Not all of us were blessed with luck and good skills.” he shrugged and took a step forward.
There were two more people in front of us before it was our turn.
“Yeah, true.” I nodded.
It's unfortunate that along with some of our memories, we brought back our bad manners too. Just because you know the guard doesn't mean you can just go around and cut in line. I grumbled in my mind, but Kalderan didn't appear to have been bothered by what I perceived to be a rude gesture.
I never liked those people who cut in line just because they thought they could, especially at the fast food restaurants, at the supermarket, or at the movie theater. The only acceptable situation where you could do that would be at the paid toilet and only if you had a MAJOR emergency to take care of. Cutting in line at the train station to get your ticket was also acceptable if your train was leaving in the next fifteen minutes and the rest of us were waiting to get a ticket for tomorrow.
What this Human Hero adventurer did, however, wasn't OK. Even so, I gracefully restrained myself from wishing him to slip in monster poo next time he went out.
Once we entered Leveder City, I saw a LOT of miners walking around. They were the real deal. They had big pickaxes with them, yellow helmets with a magic crystal attached to it for light, dirty clothes, and a sailor's attitude.
There were also quite a lot of ore shops set up along the main road. Their target customers were mostly merchants, but they didn't hesitate to sell their goods to the many adventurers who were looking for the raw materials needed to either repair or make new gear. There were also a couple of stands that sold crystals that could be used for enchanting, but I highly doubted they had the knowledge and skills needed to process them like that.
As we walked past these shops looking for an inn to spend the night at, I noticed that almost none of them had Dregaryum, Celestium, or Draconitium ores. I saw a few pieces of Zaradin, but that was about it when it came to those special materials. It made me curious about their price though. If I could find out for how much a piece of Celestium went on the market, then I could estimate the price for a sword or piece of armor made out of that stuff.
“How about we go and look around the shops after we pay for our rooms at the inn?” I suggested.
“Go ahead, I have something to report to the guild.” said Kalderan.
“Is it about the Black Company?” asked Risha.
“Nah, there's no need to mention them. I'm going to report that the escort of the mission was a failure. A natural disaster struck us.” he narrowed his eyes and looked at me as he said those last words.
“Huh?” I blinked surprised.
“I better come with you.” Risha offered.
“What about Tamara?” I asked as I pointed at the curious feline who was looking at everything around here with big round sparkly eyes and perked up ears.
“Erm... I'll take her with me.” Kalderan let out a sigh.
“Hm? You buy Tamara good fishy?” she asked with a gleam in her eyes.
“Er... sure.” said the brave warrior who lost the battle against those cute pearls.
“Here. For the snacks.” I tossed him a gold coin.
“Really? We're not going to buy all the food in a restaurant.” he raised an eyebrow at me.
I shrugged and then with a smirk on my lips, I said “Better safe than sorry.”
“Can we first go and buy Tamara some better clothes?” asked Risha.
“Clothes? What for?” both me and Kalderan asked at the same time.
The only woman in our group let out a disappointed sigh and shook her head.
“Really? Are you two going to make a cute child like Tamara walk around in rags with no shoes on?” she asked as she pointed at the little relliar.
“Tamara likes the fluffy rocks!” she said with a smile.
All three of us looked at her with dead fish eyes, and in that moment, I could swear my wife was narrowing her eyes at me from across the ocean, judging me with her stare.
“Here. Buy something for yourself too.” I said and gave her ten gold coins.
“Good.” she nodded and took my money. “Come on, Tamara, let's go make you cute!” Risha said with a smile as she took the little girl's hand.
“Nya~!” she replied and followed her with a gleaming smile.
A few moments later, after the two left, we were still staying here in the middle of the street.
“She doesn't know where we're going to stay, does she?” I asked Kalderan.
“Nope.” he shook his head.
“Ah, blasted eagles on a stick!” I cursed and then started running after those two.
We found them just as they were about to enter a tailor's shop. If they went inside, we would have been forced to wait outside until they were done shopping because that, my friends, was a women-only shop.
After we made it clear that we first had to book our rooms at an inn before going off on a sightseeing tour, we went straight to the nearest one. As luck would have it, a good one happened to be right across the street. It was called 'The drunkard's lullaby', a three star hotel if I were to make a comparison to the modern-day star rating system.
We booked two rooms, one for the guys and one for the girls, they were the last ones too, so we had to pay an extra silver to keep the innkeeper from overbooking us. I personally didn't mind if that happened, but it didn't sit well for me to let Tamara experience sleeping in the same room as other random strangers.
Once this was out of the way, we decided to split up. I went to take look at the ore shops, the girls went to buy clothes, and Kalderan went to settle things with the Adventurers Guild as well as buy some fishy snacks for Tamara, probably something dried and salted.
They had yet to invent fridges on the Human Continent, but the dragons had something similar by enchanting metal boxes with ice magic on the inside. They weren't that expensive to buy, but I made my own back at our home in Drakaria.
Speaking of which, I'll need to dust off my workshops when I return. Maybe I'll get the chance to play with Seryanna's pet squirrel. I wonder what that furball's doing? I thought.
As I was being consumed by nostalgia and a longing for my wife and family, I stopped in front of one of the more fancy-looking shops. For me, this place was as good as any to go and ask for a value appraisal for a piece of Celestium ore, but when I stepped inside, the two big guards at the entrance gave me a mean look. They probably thought I was some worthless bum who didn't even have enough money to pay for a rusty sword let alone the ores in this place.
To be honest, I did look kind of poor. I didn't have time to clean my armor, it was a bit dirty.
“May I help you?” the clerk asked from across the counter.
He was a man in his late thirties and gave me a look from top to bottom, appraising my possible worth as a paying customer.
“Hm? Yes. I'm interest in knowing if you also buy ores?” I asked.
“Ores?” he raised an eyebrow and then shook his head “No, we have our special suppliers, so we don't need to buy ores from... random people.” he replied.
I guess I came out looking as some poor chap. I thought, but this guy would have to try a lot harder if he wanted to insult me.
“I see. Then is it possible to appraise the value of a piece of ore?” I asked.
“Hm? Yes. That would depend on the type of ore. The prices are: 1 copper for a piece of copper; 5 coppers for a piece of iron; 10 coppers for a piece of tin; and anything else is 1 silver. We only accept batches usually, but you are in luck since you are the only customer right now. What do you want me to appraise?” he asked.
“Huh? Really? That's good. Well, I want you to appraise this piece of Celestium.” I said and took out the metal from my pocket.
The silver shine and concentrated Magic Energy within it was what made it different from the rest of the metals, but it was also incredibly hard and insanely difficult to process without the right tools. It was dug up by me on in the Northern Desert on the Dragon Continent, so I knew it was the real thing, but I wanted to know the price.
When the clerk heard what I had and then saw it, his mouth opened wide in shock. I was expecting him to be surprised, but not go full blue screen on me.
“Erm? Hello?” I asked as I waved my hand in front of him.
“T-That... i-it's not possible.” he said as he pointed at it.
“Why?” I asked furrowing my brow.
“What do you mean why?! Celestium is one of the most valued metals of the human species! There's no way someone like you could have a piece of it!” he retorted or rather he accused me of being dishonest.
“What are you implying, sir?” I asked.
“You definitely stole that! Yes, that's the only explanation! You stole it! You are a thief!” he declared and pointed at me.
“What?” I raised an eyebrow at him as this was starting to get ridiculous.
“If you hand it over now and run away, I will be kind enough not to give you to the authorities!” he declared with a confident smile on his face.
It appeared as though I was confused for a mere thief, but it never occurred to him that I might have actually found it or mined it. Worse even, I could have been the messenger of a possible new supplier sent to test the employees in this shop. With this outrageous accusation, this store just failed the test.
On the other hand, I now understood a little better just how priceless the rarer metals were on the Human Continent, or at the very least here, in the Ten Swords Kingdom.
“Sigh. How about no? I mined this honestly on the Dragon Continent, so seeing how I'm not welcomed here, I'll take my leave now.” I said and then dropped the piece Celestium in my right pocket.
“Wait! What makes you think you have the right to leave with that piece of Celestium? Leave it here while you still have the chance, you scoundrel!” he declared.
I looked back at him and raised an eyebrow.
“You don't get it do you?” I asked.
“Huh? Get what?” he asked furrowing his brow.
“I said I mined this on the Dragon Continent.” I repeated myself.
“You are obviously lying. Now, thief, leave the Celestium here. My guards will show you the way out!” he declared and then took a small bell from under the desk and rang it twice.
In the next moment, the two guards who were outside made their way to me while trying to look as menacing as possible.
I looked at the two and then at the clerk. Letting out a sigh, I dashed towards the nearest guard, a big man-bear for lack of description, and punched him in the stomach. It was a very weak strike because I didn't want him to explode all over the place.
The man-bear slid across the floor three meters and then looked back at me with a smirk.
“I have the [Rough Back] skill, mate. Ya'll need a lot more than that to take me down.” he said with an Australian accent of all things.
“Hah, a Human Hero. Now that's interesting.” I said and then kicked the other guard with my foot, sending him flying across the room and into a bunch of crates.
He was knocked out, leaving me with only this Australian man-bear to fight.
“You... You're strong.” he said.
“Yeah, cricket.” I replied with a smile.
“Cricket?” he furrowed his brow.
“Erm, I mean crangy... creaky, cramky?” I scratched the back of my head.
“You mean crikey?” he asked.
“Yes! That!” I struck my palm with the bottom of my fist.
With a smile on my lips, I then punched him in the face and knocked him out cold. Since he had some sort of body-strengthening skill, I couldn't afford to go easy on him, so I put a bit more strength into my punch, just enough to crush stones.
Note from the author: Thank you for reading this chapter, I hope you enjoyed it! Oh, and be sure to check out my other stories too!
This is the first chapter after my break! 😀
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