”How long are you gonna be staying in this town? ” I asked Huang

”Maybe a week more or so. ”

I looked at the items that Huang had put up and thought about which of them would benefit me the most in my future.

”Im buying that ax. ” I pointed to the heavy-looking ax on the ground and Huang wrote something on a piece of paper

Even if I wouldn be able to make use of it in the foreseeable future, taking the ax now would be a steal. I could just decide what to do with it in the future, resell it maybe to someone else? But whats important now is getting it.

”Okay… Tell me if you
e getting anything else and if you don know about something, just ask me ” Huang lifted the ax and return the cloth that covered its blade, before safely tying it up and letting it lean on the wall.

”Oh, I forgot to tell you. I don have my money with me right now ” I just remembered that it was still hidden somewhere on the woods

”No problem, you can take your items tomorrow. Im listing all of them anyway. ”

”Okay, okay. ” That made me relieved, so now I had to focus on my thoughts again.

There were books about all sorts of topics- Science, Mathematics, Novels, Mythology, and whatnot. There were other handy items like a large bag, nice leather boots, a pot, and a fishing rod. He also had superficial items like necklaces, bracelets, and rings. As well as items that can only be used one time, like potions and wine.

”Do you have a list of everything that you sell? Its hard to look at all of them like this. ” I had to ask him

”Actually I do have one, but it might be a bit outdated and it might still list items that Ive already sold a couple of months ago. ” Huang told me before he opened a wooden crate and started digging through it.

After about half a minute, he finally took out a couple of papers, clipped together nicely, before giving it for me to read. Written in the papers, just as I expected, were a list of items and goods that Huang was currently in possession of. Some of them already had x0 written next to them indicating that theyve been sold out already, but most of them were still up for the taking.

[Item Stock for 1375-76

Recovery Potion x12

Iron Dagger x2

Silver Pot x3

Grand Silver Ax x1

Book:The Archimedes Codex x1

Essence of Nightshade x2

Basilisks Blood x3

Smoke Bomb x2

Wyverns Horn x1

Super Ultra Great Delicious Wonderful Apple x0]

”Why are some of these written with red ink? ” I asked him and pointed to the Essence of Nightshade

”A lot of the people who would contact a traveling merchant probably need things that aren sold publicly. Of course, that would include some rather dubious items such as poison and drugs, etc. Whatever nefarious plot they have in mind is none of my business, I have to sell these things if I want my business to thrive ” Huang shrugged

”So basically, dangerous items? ” I raised my eyebrows at him

”No, its prohibited items. ” He corrected me with a smile

Okay, if thats what you say. Anyway, I got back to scanning the list of items but I was still troubled. I didn know what to do or what should I buy to better my future, so I asked ”Hey, Im **ing retarded, what do I even buy? ”

”Are you sure you
e gonna ask me? I can scam you, you know? ” He asked, with raised eyebrows. But after seeing that Im serious about my question, he gave in and said. ”You said it yourself, you
e **ing retarded, so go buy some books you moron. Ill throw you another discount- if you buy 3 books Ill charge you 200 only. ”

200? That would have taken me half a year to save up that amount of money, and its only worth 5 books?

Huang must have seen the doubtful look in my face because he then said ”Im practically letting you rob me at this point and you
e still dissatisfied? Books can cost anywhere from 300 up to several thousands, you know? ”

”Several thousand? How can a bunch of paper possibly cost that much of money? ” I asked him

”It depends on the contents and authors. Books written by some hoodlum on the street won even be worth 10 shekels, but few pages from the diary of an ancient master will have people fighting tooth and nail over it. In fact, some of them are so valuable, you can even buy them with money. ” He explained

Books, huh? I never knew they were that expensive. But lets not forget, Huang said it himself, he has about 70% legitimate items and 30% scam products, so I better be careful. For now, Ill check all the items that had been tagged as a book.

[Item Stock for 1375-76

Book: The Archimedes Codex x1

Book: Oracle, Myths and Gods around the World x1

Book: Forbidden x1

Book: Honors Epitome x1

Book: Flameward, Ledger of Trials x1

Book: Spellkeeper, Tome of Corruption x1

Book: The Records of the Red Viper x1

…]

There were some others, but these were the ones that caught my attention the most. I could buy three of them for 200 or buy all 6 for 400, which is a years worth of savings… Nah, Ill just stick with three after all.

”Huang, Id like the Spellkeeper, Forbidden, and Oracle. ” I told him my choices and he proceeded to look if he still had them in stock.

I chose Spellkeeper because Mom was capable of using magic, so its not that unreasonable that I might be able to as well; Forbidden, well, its forbidden so it must be something good, right?; And Oracle, because it wouldn hurt to know more about the outside world.

”It seems like Ive already sold Spellkeeper to someone else. I can find it anywhere, so just pick another book. ”

”Thats unfortunate… ” I sighed, I thought that if I learned magic, I would finally be able to match my mother but unfortunately that won come true. ”How about the one about the Red Viper instead? ”

”That one, I do have and heres Oracle as well. ” Hes tying all of them up to a nice little package, so that hed be able to help me carry it tomorrow.

Out of curiosity, I asked him ”Have you read any of these before? ”. To which he replied, ”No, why would I? ”

”Is that all that you want? Personally, I must say that among the items that youve bought, obviously you can use the ax in your current state so unless the books youve chosen contains some really practical knowledge that you can start applying immediately, none of them would really affect your life at this stage. ” Huang said after giving it some thought. ”While some investments may be really good in the long run, you have to make sure youll last long enough for you to reap the benefits in the first place. Buying some things that will benefit you right now isn that bad of an idea, honestly ”

”What do you mean? ”

”It depends, I don know your exact situation so I don know what will help you. For example, a light dagger would be able to help you hunt some rabbits or whatnot. It just depends if you can use it. ”

Well I thought the Spellkeeper book wouldve certainly helped me in my current situation, but its already been sold. So I have to think of something else.

Think… Hunting rabbits would be nice, but I doubt Id even be able to do that. I don have the experience or the stamina to last that long in a hunt. Theres a fishing rod somewhere in the list as well, but its the same problem. I have no experience and I doubt I can do something as physically demanding as fishing.

So in the end, whats really my problem? Im too physically weak, because Ive starved myself for way too long, which means I can work jobs, which in turn means I don have money, which then translates to me not having food, which makes me weak. Its a goddamn cycle.

”Is there a high-paying job that doesn need me breaking my back? ”

”There are, but its only reserved for the elite and most privileged. Not for scrubs like us. ” Huang said with a wry smile

He says that, but wasn he in this same exact position 4 years ago? He was pretty thin as well during those days when he was swindling the townsfolk, didn have a job, and really only had his swindling abilities to help him. Yet look at him now, looking so different after he was able to successfully get out of the same situation as me.

Oh right, there was this thing that he did, which is why he was able to suddenly have the money that he needed in order to leave. So I asked him, ”That reminds me, how were you even able to get 20 thousand from Vivian in the first place? ”

Vivians house was special because even up to here, if I were to look out the window of this caravan, I would be able to catch a glimpse of it, despite it being located at the center of this town. It had high stone walls that surrounded its perimeter, which took up half of the entire block, and even more towering was the actual mansion itself being three stories high.

It is the closest thing this town has to a castle, and it probably isn that big of an exaggeration to say that its more grand than the governors own home.

”Oh that… ” Not expecting my question, he scratched his cheek for a second. Before recollecting his thoughts and said, ”Well do you know about Kurt? ”

… … Kurt?

Isn he the son of the guy running the ranch? His name was Woody or something, if I remember correctly. After thinking about that, I told Huang that I do know him.

”Well, he used to draw water from the well and bring it to Vivians residence for some extra money. Vivian, being the rich person that she is, uses a lot of water so Kurt made a lot of trips from the well to the mansion. ” He then proceeded to tell me the rest of the story.

Huang who was struggling at the time, found out about it and befriended Kurt, who would then later tell him during one of their conversations that there were actually only three people living in that huge residence, Vivian and her two old servants.

What was supposed to be a meaningless conversation between friends, turned out to be the key to Huangs biggest opportunity. Because during the time Huang was befriending Kurt, he gave him a straw hat to wear whenever he was working when the sun was high up.

Then one day, with some sinister effort from from Huangs side, Kurt slipped while carrying the bucket and hurt his knees. Since Huang just happened to be in the vicinity, Kurt asked him to refill the bucket and carry it to Vivians residence himself. After directing the conversation, Huang asked about the payment from the mansion and Kurt said that Huang could take all of it, since he had yet to carry a bucket that day and Huang would be the one doing all the work. So Huang did just that, and carried the bucket to the mansion and do the job in his stead.

However, Huang had an extra straw hat with him at the time, similar to the one Kurt was wearing, that he used to cover a portion of his face. He was ready to give an explanation to the servant in case they asked about his identity, but they didn . After seeing the straw hat the old servant expected it to be Kurt, just like the dozen other times that he carried water for them before, and didn notice the thinner arms of the new worker.

So after completing the task, he silently received the money and pretended to walk out. The moment the old servant looked somewhere else, he ran into the garden and hid there for several hours until midnight. It was hard, hiding under the thick hedges with twigs and branches constantly poking at his skinny body. The gate of the walls around the mansion had already been locked and the entire town was asleep, except for one person.

Huang watched as the people living in the mansion, lulled into a sense of security given by the sturdy perimeter walls that surrounded them, carelessly leave windows open. That allowed him to easily enter the interior without any problems and left it less than an hour later, this time, with a pouch filled of gold shekels. While there were no way to scale the walls from outside, it was different from the inside. He climbed one of the trees planted in the garden and used it to get over the walls of the mansion, and just like that the deed had been done.

”It wasn a perfect crime by any means. I was sure that they would be able to quickly piece things together the next day, so before dawn struck, I took my stuff and had already made my way out of town. But as I told you earlier, karma quickly caught up to me. ”

Hed already told me about the story earlier, he wasn able to actually make use of any of the money he was able to take away. Hed been robbed in the next city immediately after and lived the next one and a half year on the streets.

But his story gave me an idea of what I should do. Thats right, there is this one loophole around the never-ending cycle of poverty and starvation that Im currently facing and its name is crime.

If I can just steal a few thousand shekel, Id be able to eat more and get stronger. Then finally Id be able to work a real job and earn some good money. So for that, I started looking at the items written with red ink. My eyes then stopped at one that Id already seen before, so I pointed to the one named Essence of Nightshade and asked him what does it do.

”Well, its a very gentle poison. Depending on the amount you use, it can be a tranquilizer, sedative, induce sleep, or outright kill a person. A general rule of thumb when using it is, A drop dissolved into wine will slow a pounding heart and stop a hand from shaking. Three drops will grant a night of deep and dreamless sleep. Ten drops, and you will have a sleep that does not end . ”

… … I see. I can certainly think of some scenarios where this will be useful. From what hes told me, it seems like the other person need to ingest it directly for this thing to work. As useful as this is, I won be able to do anything with this alone. So again, I scanned the other pages of the list that Huang gave me in order to find some other useful items that might compliment this.

If I add this to the total items that I have bought, I would have spent a total of 300 shekels. Which leaves me with 900 more, or 9 potential items. Of course, I don have to buy 9 items, Im just saying the total limit of what I can buy right now.

[Item Stock for 1375-76

Masquerade Mask (Gold) x2

Tricorn hat x3

Cardinal Staff x1

Espimere (Staff) x1

Rope x10

Scythe x1

Almas Brimas x1

…]

… What were some of these names? Despite reading the names like 5 times, I still couldn picture what it looked like. There were obvious ones like the rope and the scythe, while the hat and the staff gave me a vague idea of what those looked like. Meanwhile, I would never have guessed the Espimere thing was a staff if it wasn literally written beside it as a note. As for the Almas Brimas one, I had no choice but to ask Huang to bring it out so that I would be able to see it for myself.

He then brought out a small box from which he took it out and what I saw was a golden necklace. The symbol of a two headed eagle was engraved in a golden plaque which served as the centerpiece of the entire article, embellished with rare gemstones and precious minerals.

Seeing my eyes which was looking at it with wonder, Huang asked if I was gonna take it. Huang gave me a wry smile and said that the item was one of his scam items. But I wasn sure if he was just trying to dissuade me from taking it or if he was really saying the truth.

I never worked with jewelry before, so I don know the difference between what is genuine and not. But for my plebeian eyes, this thing looked like the physical manifestation of riches and luxury. Thus, without hesitation I said I was gonna take this one as well. Who knows how much I could resell it when given the opportunity?

”I was planning to use that to trick some rich upstart, but I said that you can buy anything in here and that naturally includes this. ” He genuinely looked like he didn want to part ways with it, but he still carefully returned the necklace to its box and put it away.

For my last few purchases, I bought a light silver dagger that even I was able to carry, a rope, another drug named, he Thiefs wine, and lastly, the masquerade mask. I told him that it was all that I needed for now, and I would come back tomorrow to bring the money. I also asked him if it was possible to put all of them inside a wooden crate, because Im worried that my mother will take them if she were to ever notice my new belongings.

He agreed and even promised to help me hide the wooden crate somewhere in the woods, so that it was really out of sight from my mother.

Lastly, even though I already owed far too much to Huang, I still asked him if he had some spare fish or ingredients that I could use to cook dinner with.

”You see, my mom actually ordered me to go get something to eat which is why I went here and bumped into you in the first place. ”

”Oh right… I forgot about that. I guess you do have it harder than I did back then, at the very least I didn have to take care of a wastrel when I was your age. ”

Now it was my turn to give a wry smile. If my mother didn siphon more than half of my earnings every time, I would have had at least 2500 or more with me right now. Nevertheless, Huang still pitied my situation and gave me four of the fishes that he caught earlier this day before I was finally able to return home, with food in hand.

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