Starting a Perverted Cult

A Brother\'s Discount

”Your mother still causing you problems? ” A few sentences after we made sure of each others identity, Huang asked the first thing that came to his mind when he saw me walking around this late at night

”Hahaha… The same exact shit as when you left ” helplessly laughing, I replied.

Just like me, Huang also was a social outcast in the way that he didn have any friends and that he didn have any parental figures to guide him in life. It also didn help that he had a reputation of being a swindler and a thief due to the things he did in order to survive.

They say irds of a feather, flock together, so during Huangs late teens to early twenties, he mostly hung out with me, the child me. Two social outcasts and both lived in absolute poverty, so it was natural the two of us got along.

He sympathized with me and I looked up to him, that was our relationship until four years ago, when Huang decided to become a traveling merchant because all the swindling he did finally caught up to him and his reputation was at an all-time low in this town. No one was interested in his wares and items any longer, nor was anyone interested in hiring him.

With him gone, I spent the next years of my life pondering whether or not I should have tagged along with him.

”But still, so many things changed in this place on such a short amount of time. I was so surprised when I saw the paved roads and wondered if I even arrived at the correct place ” Huang looked at the direction of the town and exclaimed. ”I don remember seeing any of those houses when I last left. ”

”The amount of people coming in here has increased, has something to do with a war or some bullshit like that. ” My tone didn sound too pleased when I spoke about it. It made me bitter that those people who just arrived were doing so much better than I was. Not to mention the prices of basic commodities were increasing as well as more and more people came, which made my living conditions even harder. ”The population increased so much that the kingdom felt the need to appoint a governor to this place a year ago. ”

”Is that so? So thats why theres knights in armor walking around in town now ” Huang spoke like he found it to be a shame

e one of the few people who doesn like having people enforce law and order in this place. ” I jokingly said.

Certainly, if Huang did any of the mischief he used to do many years ago now, he would probably be roughened up pretty badly by the guards.

”Hahaha, thats true. ” He found my remark amusing and chuckled a little bit, before bringing up another topic ”I guess it makes sense why people would want to come here. Its nice, full of opportunities, and most importantly, its far away from the empires war. It won be long before they start clearing out the woods behind those hills to accommodate the incoming settlers. ”

”Just how bad is this war anyway? ” I couldn help but ask. It was kind of hard to believe that our hometown is changing so much because of events on the other side of the continent.

”I don know, I haven seen it myself. ” Huang shrugged off my question. ”From what Ive heard though, its really **ing terrible and many people have the sentiments that the Empire must have lost their mind. Though I don know why. ”

”How about you then? How have you been doing outside? ” Now 28 years old, Huang has had 4 years to experience the outside world. Looking at him now, he looks better compared to when I last saw him 2 years ago.

He didn have this caravan before and he certainly couldn afford having it pulled by two horses, but look at him now.

”Same old, same old ” He laughed mischievously as he told me. So I asked him if he was still just swindling people and he replied, ”This time, I learned my lesson, I can just sell fake goods every time. Now I balanced it a little to about 70% legitimate items and the rest being overpriced trash. Its okay to take a few losses here and there, if it protects your reputation because sometimes, integrity is worth more than gold. ”

”You seem to be doing a lot better now ” I was genuinely happy for him as I gave him some praise.

Huang noticed my eyes which is looking at his nice-looking caravan and he laughed. ”Oh this? ”

”I told you right? Reputation is important and if you
e in a place where no one knows you, your reputation will be based on your first impressions. Which is why I bought this thing even though it cost me two years worth of my income. ” He hit the wooden caravan pretty hard as he spoke, seemingly confident in its durability.

”You can go around swindling people if you look like a swindler. I had to make myself look as legitimate as possible. ” Surely enough, his garments materials were many qualities above mine.

Unlike before, his garbs were now actually fitted accordingly to his body, which was a worlds worth of difference when it comes to appearance. Especially, the garbs long sleeves which gave him that intelligent look. He even grew out his mustache and wore fine shoes to really give off that experienced and sophisticated look.

”Actually, Ive been saving some money myself, the past few years. Im planning to live somewhere different and start anew as well ” Seeing how Huang seemingly managed to turn his life around, I made up my mind and told him about it.

”Hm? ” Huang looked interested in what I had to say. ”Well, how much have you saved up now? ”

”Maybe around 1200? ” After hearing me speak, I saw Huangs face turn into a wry smile, so I asked. ”Why? Is that not enough? ”

”Well, how long did it take you to save up for that? ”

”Around 3-2 years. ” I told him honestly. After all, I wanted the opinion of someone who had walked the path I wanted to take.

”Uhhh… ” However, after hearing me, Huang seemed like he was lost for words. ”I don know what else to say, except that it will be very difficult. ”

”Is that not enough? ” I thought that although it wasn my goal, it was still a decent amount of money. When budgeted properly, I could survive for an entire year with it only.

”Thats barely a weeks worth of budget in some of the cities I visited. Not to mention it took you 3 years to save up for only that much money. ” Huang said

”I haven really asked you before, but what do you even do for a living nowadays? ” Now, it was him thats asking questions

”Im still working the same job I did from the time when you first left. ” I answered

”Oh the one at the winery? No wonder… ” As if hed now understood the situation, he gave me a few nods before sinking in his thoughts. ”But Ill be real with you for a second, Johannes. Other than the obvious problem about money, what do you plan to do once you
e out of this town? What skills do you have that will allow you to earn some money? ”

”… ” Hearing that, I was stumped for an answer

”What really made me successful is because I am confident in my ability to deal and negotiate with people. My ability to keep up appearances and read what other people think of me, and using all of that to trick people into buying overprice garbage. It didn matter where I was, as long as I had my ability I was able to survive. ” He knocked on the walls of his caravan, before standing up and opening the door. Then he beckoned for me to come closer-

And what I saw was a mess.

Multiple boxes were inside the caravan, laying around unorganized. All kinds of items and wares were bundled up messily which made the entire caravan feel cramped, and just like us, he was also sleeping on a mattress on the floor.

”See? I haven changed much from the last time we met. ” With a laugh, Huang took off all pretenses and acted the same way he did about four years ago. ”Do you want to know why I made the sudden decision to leave 4 years ago? Because I stole about 20,000 shekels from Vivian. That incident gave me the capital I needed to start a new life somewhere far away from here. ”

With a smile, he casually revealed a shocking secret out of nowhere. 20,000?! I couldn even think of owning that much money even if I wanted to.

”At least, that was what I thought would happen. But reality is, I was robbed within my first week in the city. I knew too little and couldn protect myself at the time, so within one week I was back to my swindling days, but this time in a much more harsher and difficult place. ” Though the story he was telling was tough, his face looked like he had already gotten over it. Then he continued his story, ”I was homeless for about one and a half year, wandering from town to town, until I finally reached a place decimated by the Empires wars. Most of the corpses had already been looted, but some things of value still remained and from that I sold and traded many items until I reached where I am now. ”

”Now the reason Im telling you this is because if you go right now, youll probably suffer even worse than I did. You
e clueless about the outside world, youve done nothing but work as someone else gofer for some spare change, you barely have any money, and you
e built like a stick. I don even dare imagine the situations youll find yourself in ” Guiding me inside the caravan, he lectured me about his experiences.

”But luckily, Ive already walked that path for you and I won let a little brother of mine go head first into his downfall like that. ” Hed been talking nonstop since earlier, but he seemed really passionate about this.

Huang was digging through one of his boxes and finally pulled out a book. But as if he just remembered something, he then asked me, ”Wait a minute, can you even read? ”

”Uhhh, yes? ” I answered. My mother gave me quite a lot of lessons and was extremely harsh to me when I was a kid. She even forcefully drilled etiquette or whatever it was called, into my head.

”Thats a surprise, I myself just learned how to read 2 years ago. Just the fact that you can read puts you above most gofers and dogsbodies. But since you can read, it wouldn hurt to give you this ” Huang said, before giving me a book titled World History: Cultures, States, and Societies.

”Read that at home, but for now Ill ask you this- You already know that you
e poor right? But do you know just how poor are you? Think about it for a second. Just how big is the gap between you and, lets say, Basil or even Vivian are? Do you have any idea? ” He gestured for me to sit down in the mattress with him as he asked the question.

”… ” I never really gave it that much of a thought before

”You don right? So Ill put it into perspective. I don know much about Basil, so lets talk about the big shot instead, Vivian. So Johannes, tell me how much do you earn in a single month. ”

”Hmm, about 90? ” I actually earn about 210 a month, but Mom takes about 120 of those. ”Then most of it goes to food, and probably only food. Which allows me to only save around 20-30 every month. ”

”Oh shit… Thats even worse than I thought. ” Huang looked like he was about to shed a tear for me. ”What do you even buy with that amount of money? ”

”I usually buy seasonings. Then for most time, meat about twice a week and then I make soup from the vegetables and mushrooms I collect from the woods. ” The more I told my stories, the more pitiful his gaze became towards me.

”I see, I see. Then how much do you think does Vivian make monthly? Take a guess… ” He asked and gave me a few minutes to think of answer.

Since Huang said he was able to steal around 20,000 from her, that means it should be around, ”2,000? ” I said

”Try again. ” giving me an exaggerated shake of his head, he told me to come up with another answer

”Actually no, 3,000? ”

”Again… ”

”1,500? ”

”Okay, it doesn seem like youll be getting it right anytime soon. That night, 4 years ago, when I was able to steal 20,000 off of her, I saw the records she kept about her business and the recorded amount of profits that I saw for that particular month was 72,327 shekels! On a single month, and thats just the profit! Shes already subtracted all the costs of running her entire business and she still earned above 70,000! ” Huang was so dramatic as he spoke. He even remembered the number he saw down to its last digits, thats how affected he was by Vivians earnings. ”When I first saw it I felt all my hard work become worthless. Like I was out here happy with a few hundred, sometimes a thousand, in a month and then I suddenly found out people could earn that same amount in just a single day. ”

But it was understandable, even I felt my worldview getting shattered. All my life, Ive been earning 7 shekels a day in average and to find out that someone was earning that much money in a single month? It was unimaginable.

To put that into perspective, I was saving 20-30 shekels a month right? So even if I saved 30 shekels a month, which is 360 shekels every year. It would still take me 200 years just to earn the same amount of money that Vivian did that month.

And here I was, thinking I had enough when I only had 1,200. But it turns out the reality of the situation was a lot, LOT worse.

”But ultimately, it also served as my greatest motivation and gave me a benchmark to strive for. ” Huang added

”Really? Well how much do you earn nowadays? ” I couldn help but ask

”Thats a secret, my brother. ” he said with a sly grin, before continuing ”Now, Vivian is a special case so youll only hurt yourself trying to compare yourself to her. But at the very least you need to be able to save up at least 30,000 within two years while you
e eating good meals and everything. I don want you starving yourself by cutting off food on your budget. Remember, the 30,000 should be the excess amount of money that you have, NOT the total amount that you earned. ”

”30,000? Thatll take me over 50 years before I can even save up that much money. ” I looked at him like he was out of his mind

”Then find a way to do so ” Huang looked at me like I was stupid, before continuing ”At your current state, even if you were to somehow miraculously obtain 50,000 right now out of nowhere, it probably wouldn last a month before you get robbed out of town. ”

Huang went on a long explanation about how I wouldn be able to get anywhere in life if I continued what I was doing. He even said some things that I couldn understand like how Inflation will outpace the rate that I am saving which will make it worthless in the future, or other things that I couldn understand.

”You have no valuable skills and your arms probably aren even strong enough to split a twig in half. Which means you can work sophisticated jobs or do any physical labor work. ” He paused for a brief second and just as I thought it was over, he then added ”My point is, this place is very tame compared to the dangers of the outside world. If you
e already struggling here, then don even think of going anywhere else. ”

The last couple of minutes, Huang had said nothing but harsh words towards me. My confidence was already shattered when I realized just how poor I truly was and hearing these words only trampled on my already low self-esteem even more.

”So rather than just letting all your money collect dust on a box, or where ever you put them. Use them to improve yourself instead. Once youve improved yourself, youll have a lot more options available for you and then youll find it easier to save up for that 30,000 goal you
e planning for ” After he spoke that out, he kept taking out more and more items, and laid them on the floor as well. ”For example, this one… Try lifting this. ”

As he said so, he took off the cloth that was covering a large silver ax and laid it across the floor with a resounding thud, its head laying parallel to the floor. I grabbed its handle as strongly as I could in an attempt to wield it, but it all proved to be futile as I couldn even lift it off the ground.

”If you buy yourself lots of food across a long period of time, youll be able to gain some mass and then youll finally be able to lift that thing then you can start chopping trees and lumber for example, jobs that can give you 50 shekels a day instead of what you
e earning now ” Huang said as an example. ”Do you get what I mean? Spend now to earn money later., thats what an investment is. ”

”Oh, I see… ” I somewhat got the gist of it

”Yes, but only spend them on things thatll prove to be useful later on. ” While speaking, he still hadn stopped opening more boxes and taking out more and more items. ”Which is why… here. ” Finally he stopped taking items and turned towards me.

”Instead of settling on adding only 400 shekels to your savings every year, use your money now to better yourself instead. Im sure I have some stuff on me that can help you out massively right now~ ” He then pointed to all the items and wares that he had just taken out

… … I couldn believe what I was hearing.

”This was all just a ruse to get me to buy your stuff ain it? ” I knew something was up the moment that he asked about how much money I had. ”Nice try, but its not gonna work on me Huang. I know your tricks, next youll say I have a 20% discounts or whatever because Im your brother or some shit. ”

”HAHAHAHA, WAIT WAIT WAIT- ” Seeing the suspicion in my eyes, he suddenly burst out laughing. ”You caught me with the discount part, but Im being serious with you. All the advice I said earlier, I really meant them. So how about this Ill give you a special offer as my brother- ”

”Every item that you see right here will be worth 100 shekels only ” he said while pointing to the silver ax. ”For your information, the initial price of this ax is 2,000. Im practically letting you rob me here, so you better choose wisely… ”

”Ugh, this is another one of your tricks isn it? ” I was still suspicious, but the offer really did sound pretty tempting. I didn want to use all of my savings in a single night, especially when it took me 3 years to build up. But if I used all 1,200 of my money right here, Id be able to get any 12 items of my own choosing. Thats an opportunity thats pretty hard to come by.

”Even if you
e a friend, I don give out my wares for free. You and I both know that. Ive used my glib tongue to get ahold of some items that you would otherwise never come across your entire life ” Huang smiled, as he waited for my choice. ”All the items that I have with me, come from all corners and nations of the world. I have a few items that are only given exclusively to members of certain guilds, items that only pop up in the black market, and some that could get you locked up in jail just for possessing them. ”

”Do you know what my reputation in the outside world is right now? The Mystical Merchant Huang! Its up to you whether youll take this opportunity or not~ Its very rare that I give an offer like this~ ”

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