The Bloodstained Lands followed a simple yet effective principle: one’s wealth should not exceed their power.
In simple terms, one needed the ability to protect themselves. They could only possess wealth and status proportional to their strength. Of course this wasn’t written down anywhere, but many years of unregulated conflict had made it a basic way of life.
Two desert lions at the top of the food chain were more likely to try and intimidate the other than fight, gauging the other’s strength and limits before moving on to weaker prey. In most parts of the Bloodstained Lands, including Bluewater Oasis, the law of the jungle prevailed.
Or at least, that’s what Richard came to believe after an hour-long conversation with the old man from the store about the place.
With the sun having dawned, the bloody events of the previous night and Schitich’s fate became the talk of the city. The events may seem exhilarating at first, but to those who had lived on the edge for a long time this was just like any other news. There were even some brazen people who approached Richard’s camp, looking at the display of corpses. It spoke volumes about Richard’s determination.
Richard had entered the city in the early hours of the morning, bringing the same people as the last time. However, the bar was closed this morning and he was not here to drink. Seeing the shop opened and the elder sitting there with nothing to do, he went over and sat across him for a chat.
His subordinates weren’t courteous to Schitich’s business. They smashed the bar door open, scaring the waitresses who’d been lucky enough to survive but had nowhere to go. They weren’t there to slaughter, however; they just took the tables and alcohol out, seating themselves close enough to protect Richard. The ruckus of the previous night had clearly left a lasting impression.
This street had tens of shops, all of various sizes. There were many other workers like this old man, just sitting at the entrance without any work. They rarely saw any customers; while they were stacked with items, most things were torn and tattered. It was obvious they were of little value.
The old man’s store, on the other hand, had proper stock. But that was what made its presence on this street right next to the bar seem strange and out of place.
Only after the chat had Richard realised that the items in the shops were only for show. In fact, each shop had a power behind it, its type and size hinting at the real business. Hide shops represented orcish slaves, while cloth shops were barbarian trades. The shops selling stone carvings traded in large numbers of desert people, while in addition to alcohol and women the bar took on bounties and had a mercenary business. If Richard saw someone unpleasant, he could have spent a sum of money to hire Schitich’s troops to kill him in the middle of the streets.
It wasn’t wrong for Richard to buy information, just that he looked too young and delicate. He was a completely unfamiliar face, and didn’t even look like a passerby from somewhere else in the Bloodstained Lands. Even more important was that he had paid too much money at the start for information. Schitich’s cavalry itself only took half a coin to hire two of the captains, and for fifty gold Schitich himself wouldn’t have minded coming out.
As for this shop owner, he dealt in the trade of all kinds of rare materials, including many goods prohibited in the human kingdoms. Richard’s curiosity had been piqued immediately, and his interest only grew deeper the more he listened. The mention of maple amber, flying snake venom and lafite steel had made him grow excited.
“It’s just a daring question, but who is the owner of this shop?” Richard had asked. The place was pitifully small, with only two similar shops along the entire street. It made him all the more curious about the old man’s identity.
The elderly man had smiled, “There’s nothing to tell you, it’s an open secret. My store belongs to Anrick, widely known as the Marquess of Strength.”
One’s aristocratic title was changed in Faelor to signify that they were different from anyone else. This may be due to them being a hero, or having royal blood coursing through their veins. There may be very strong fighters under their control, or they might have supernatural powers. Whatever the reason, these nobles had more strength and influence than normal, but because of some factors weren’t higher in the hierarchy.
“That’s quite the influence,” Richard commented.
The old man nodded, "Indeed. I’ve grown old in recent years, and my passion isn’t as high as it used to be. I like personal chats more these days. My influence is really good for you, it should be enough."
Looking at the followers behind Richard, the old man continued, “You’re young and remarkable, those guards definitely aren’t simple. It seems like you have both a strong family and a great teacher as well. Only those idiots like Schitich will have subordinates who assume you’re inexperienced and try to take advantage of you.” He then laughed at his own statement.
The old man had been quite gentle when talking to Richard since the last night, as if he wasn’t facing a dangerous outsider but a good chatting partner instead. “Schitich already paid for his idiocy, though. However, these matters tend not to end so easily.”
Richard stretched his body in a relaxed manner, “I admit I was a bit heavy-handed in the matter, but I don’t believe this is any problem for the Marquess. My teacher taught me to let work be handled by professionals, and I believe there are many professionals in this city. The Marquess might be one of the most professional of the lot.”
"Very clever of you, little one," the old man nodded approvingly, “But why should the Marquess solve your problems for you?”
“Because Anrick and I have a lot of business to do together.”
"I? Not we?” The old man was very keen to capture the meaning behind Richard’s words.
“I. Not, my teacher, not my family; the business will be with me,” Richard said in a calm tone.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: HG
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA