“Money?” Leona pondered for a bit and took out a bundle from her waist.
“I don’t really know much about human money…” Leona poured out her belongings on top of the table.
‘She makes me worried.’
Although Lyla thought she also lacked experience and didn’t know much about the world, she thought Leona was worse than her. Leona seemed like she had grown up all her life in elf society and had just recently been thrown into the human world.
‘Who are Leona’s parents and why did they let someone like her go alone?’ Since Lyla didn’t know Leona’s situation in detail, Lyla didn’t make any further judgments.
Surprisingly, Leona carried a considerable amount of wealth. She didn’t have much human money, but there were a couple of valuable-looking gems amongst her belongings.
“You have more than I thought.”
“Really?” Leona felt hopeful that she could get back her clan’s treasure with the amount of money she had, so her face brightened.
“The quality of this gem is, um…” Zich picked up a red gem and gold coin. Then, he explained simply so that Leona, who had no knowledge or sense of human currency, could easily understand. “I’m not extremely knowledgeable about this either, but if you sell this one red gem, you will probably be able to get 500 of these gold coins.”
“What?” Leona was shocked.
“Is there a problem?”
“Ah, no. It’s just that I sold a similar gem to pay for my travel expenses before…”
“You must not have gotten 500 gold coins then.” Zich realized her situation.
“I got 85 of these gold coins.” She pointed at the same gold coins that Zich pointed to.
‘She got seriously conned.’
When he said that the gem was worth about 500 gold coins, he talked about its minimum value. Its actual value was probably much higher.
‘She almost got conned 1/6 to 1/8 of its value.’
Zich shook his head, “You got tricked, miss. They took advantage of your lack of knowledge about the human world and gave you much less money for the item’s worth.”
“I-Is that the case?”
Did he imagine it? It looked as if her ears slightly drooped down.
“Did you have a long trip? You don’t have much money left considering that you got 85 gold coins.” There were only three coins rolling on the table.
“What do you mean? It has only been 20 days since I came out of the forest.”
Both Zich and Lyla closed their mouths.
“W-Why?” Leona worried that she might have done something wrong again. There was no trace of the wariness she had towards them in the beginning.
“Did you stay in a fancy lodging, miss?”
“No. I usually sleep inside the forest. I went to the human’s lodging a few times out of curiosity, but that’s it.”
Sleeping in a forest was normal for elves. There was nothing strange about it except that her money had decreased significantly over the course of just 20 days.
“Did you eat luxurious foods?”
“I don’t know what you mean by that, but I mostly ate the fruits in the forest or bought vegetables in human stores. Ah, but a couple of times, I ate some human snacks out of curiosity.”
“What and how much did you buy?”
Leona told them what she bought and both Zich and Lyla became speechless by her response again.
“B-But I also bought those things, asking them… to give…me…a dis…count….” In addition to her ears, Leona’s shoulders drooped.
Zich sighed, “Well, what can we do? I think you lost a lot of money, but we can think of this as a learning experience of how harsh and dirty the human world is.”
However, Lyla added, “The amount that you lost in just 20 days is too much. You were cheated out of about 400 gold coins when you sold the gems and lost 80 more gold coins than you needed when buying goods.”
Although Lyla didn’t have much experience either, she had detailed information on various market values for goods and knew how much money Leona was scammed out of.
“It’s fine, Ms. Leona. It’s because you didn’t know. Just forget about those 480 gold coins.”
Even with Zich’s comforting words, Leona hung her head lower. Then, she muttered quietly like a crawling ant, “It’s not 480 coins…. I sold two gems.”
Zich and Lyla closed their mouths again. The same thought passed through their heads simultaneously: ‘This elf is a pushover—and a super pushover at that.’
* * *
The sun set beyond Tungel’s castle walls and spread its red rays everywhere. It was about time for stores to close for the day and people to return to their homes. Likewise, Zich, Lyla, and Leona faced the sunset with their backs and walked across a path.
Zich asked, “Are you satisfied, Ms. Leona?”
Staring absentmindedly while holding a hefty bundle in one of her hands, Leona turned to face him. “What did you say?”
“I asked if you were satisfied, Ms. Leona.”
Leona stared at the bundle she was carrying.“It’s not a bad feeling, but I don’t know. I feel kind of dispirited. It’s a complex feeling.”
It was understandable. Although she got 85 gold coins for each gem when she sold them by herself, she had succeeded in selling each one of her gems for 700 gold coins when she sold them with Zich’s help. The heavy bundle she was carrying contained a mass of gold coins.
“You got more than we expected since this is an auction city.”
The place where they sold the gem was one of the many auction houses that existed in Tungel. Her quality gems sold for 200 more gold coins than Zich had anticipated. In addition to that, Zich taught her the market value of goods and ways to negotiate with merchants. Of course, Leona still wasn’t used to living in human society, so she couldn’t negotiate like a human immediately, but she was clearly in a much better position than before.
“Let’s try going to the Tyroul Auction House so that we can check what day and what time your item will be auctioned.”
“Okay!” Leona nodded with a hopeful smile. An elf’s smile was extraordinary. All the people passing by momentarily stopped to gaze at her face.
However, Zich crushed the smile on her face with an indifferent expression. “Ms. Leona, you won’t be able to retrieve your item back with the amount of money you currently have.”
“…But I have so many gold coins?” Leona peeked into her sack.
“The customers in the Tyroul Auction House easily use that amount of gold coins for just one meal.”
“…” Leona looked down at her sack as if she was going to eat it whole.
Lyla elbowed Zich for completely crushing Leona’s hope. Lyla’s attack directly hit the center of his abdomen, but Zich received her attack with no change in his expression.
“Well, please don’t lose hope. There’re certainly ways to get it back.”
“There’s another way?”
Leona lifted her head up with a bright expression again. It was amusing to see how quickly her expressions changed.
“Yes, so don’t worry about it too much, and let’s go find the auction information about the Lake’s Tear.”
“Okay!” Leona smiled brightly again.
* * *
“Well, that was easy.”
While drinking a glass of wine, Zich sat on a chair and stretched out his legs on a stool. With a high and mighty air, he said, “How difficult would it be to coax an inexperienced hillbilly elf fresh out of the woods?”
Then Zich arrogantly tipped his wine glass towards him. Lyla tried her best, but she couldn’t look favorably at him because he looked so much like a swindler that had successfully captured his prey.
“What was up with your actions today?”
“You acted like someone completely different. Like…you know, what…”
“Like a person who is kind and caring and filled with a strong sense of justice?”
Lyla did not reply. She shivered as goosebumps ran down her arms and legs.
“Hey, go easy on me. I didn’t act like that because I wanted to.” Zich took a gulp of wine. If Lyla looked closer, his expression didn’t look too pleased either.
“It was the best way for me to successfully approach her and intervene given the situation.” Zich put his legs down from the stool. “She’s a young elf who came out of the forest for the first time to complete a mission of retrieving her tribe’s treasure back. Moreover, she must have experienced all sorts of discrimination as an elf.”
All the swindling and fraud was the most prominent discrimination she received so far. If she had been a human, she wouldn’t have been scammed to that extent.
“Of course, in her head, she must know it too that she should be wary of a person who suddenly appears to help her; but in such an awful situation, if a kind and caring person like me appears in front of her, she probably feels differently.”
Regardless of species, if everyone acted only on logic, swindlers would decrease to at least a tenth of their size. Zich was sure of this.
“Leona Pearl in Droud already trusts me beyond a normal level, and I’m able to maintain a relationship where I can interfere with her business.”
“No matter how I think about it, you look like a swindler who is trying to con a naïve country bumpkin who just came to the city.”
Zich burst out laughing. “Even though our goals are different, we probably are aiming for the same thing.”
Lyla shook her head.
“If we didn’t intervene, what would have happened to her? Judging by her reaction, Leona would have really caused havoc in the auction house if we didn’t stop her. From my memory, however, I don’t think she experienced a particularly bad incident.”
“Ah, that? It’s simple.” Zich recalled a distant event in his past. He remembered her ferociously sharp arrows and abilities in their final battle with Glen Zenard.
“It’s because she was strong enough to be one of Glen Zenard’s comrades. She’s probably crazy strong right now—strong enough to cause chaos in the auction house and successfully escape.”
After all, being street-smart and possessing physical strength were completely different matters.
* * *
The next day, Zich, Lyla, and Leona went back to the Tyroul Auction House. The employee at the information desk and the guards seemed to recognize her, but she didn’t act in any way that would make them chase her out. The guards merely strengthen their grip on the weapon they were holding. However, Leona also had no intentions to fight with them anymore, so she thoroughly ignored them and followed Zich and Lyla.
“That’s where the items being auctioned are written.” Zich pointed at the wooden boards on one side of the wall.
The wooden boards were huge. It was much bigger than a full-grown man, and they were filled with papers that had items soon to be auctioned written on them.
“Let’s first check out that wooden board.” Zich pointed at the wooden board where the building’s least valuable items were being auctioned off.
If the Lake’s Tear was on this board, they could buy the item at a relatively affordable cost. However, unfortunately, the Lake’s Tear was not on the first wooden board.
“Well, let’s go to the next board.”
Zich and his companions searched through each one of the wooden boards to find the Lake’s Tear. However, no matter where they looked, they couldn’t find the Lake’s Tear. Leona began to grow more and more nervous. Each time they moved on to the next board, the more valuable the items were; thus, the prices increased exponentially. Even though Zich said there was another way, she couldn’t help but feel worried. To her dismay, the Lake’s Tear didn’t appear even after they passed through many wooden boards.
“There’s only one board left.”
With Zich’s words, Leona looked at the last remaining board. It was the highlight of the auction house where items being auctioned off at the center auction room were posted.Previous Chapter Next Chapter