Translator: Exodus Tales Editor: Exodus Tales
Fort Lee. It was supposed to be just the name of an old fort, but people started building a town around it and made it into a densely-populated town. Right now, the old Fort Lee was used as a residence for Lord Rex, who was the current mayor of this town.
It was about noon when Abel and Norman arrived at Fort Lee. After a brief discussion between themselves, the two decided to go to the church for some treatment first. For the priest to perform a 'healing for light injury' on Norman's leg, they spent a total of ten silver coins.
Something stood out to Abel while they were walking out of the sanctuary building. As it turned out, holding a church was actually a very profitable business. Ten silver coins were enough to feed a family for a month, but a priest could ask for the same amount for performing one divine act. No wonder the churches were so tall here.
Under Norman's guide, Abel came to a leather store on the eastern side of town. It was, apparently, the go-to place for selling hunted animal hides.
The store manager was shocked when the two brought the shadow panther in. It was hard to bring down a dangerous predator without doing too much damage to its body. That was exactly what Abel and Norman did, though. Apart from the long streak of the wound on its backside, every other part of the panther was left untouched.
That being said, the shopkeeper was more than happy to buy it for ten gold coins. While Norman seemed pretty content with this deal, Abel just nodded with him. He didn't know how the leather market was like, but the ten gold coins sounded like quite a good sum.
Ten gold coins. Along with the one coin he got from Zach and the other five he had in saving, Abel had a total of sixteen gold coins. Just like in the previous world, gold meant great purchasing power. This meant that Abel wasn't exactly penniless now.
Just to be clear, he didn't come to Fort Lee for a day off. Abel came here to do some shopping, some of which he had sent Norman to retrieve, and some of which he must buy without letting others know.
This was why he decided to head to the center of Fort Lee. After sending Norman away, Abel came to the Fort Lee Shopping Centre, which was a large shopping place marked with a logo of the old fort. It was about noontime here, so there wasn't a lot of people.
Abel wasn't sure what he could buy here, so he went to ask at the counter. From what he could see, this was kind of a more high-class version of a general store. There were daily commodities, jewellery, clothes, etc. He wasn't sure if he could find the stuff he was looking for here.
"You must be Sir Abel," a fat, middle-aged man walked out from the counter. While wearing a big grin on his face, he greeted Abel with a bow. It was a weird bow, and the timing was pretty weird as well.
Despite the unconventional (and somewhat inappropriate) display of etiquette by the man, Abel returned the favor with a formal greeting of his own. He knew how hard it was for commoners to learn the proper etiquette, so he wasn't going to ask too much.
"I am, indeed. Do you know me?"
"Forgive me for calling out your name, sir. My name is Tim. I'm the owner of this establishment," Tim bowed again, but still in a very bizarre manner, "I've noticed the Thorned Shield on your attire. Your brother Zach had the same mark on him, and I happened to know him some time ago."
The Thorned Shield was the coat of arms that represented the Bennett family. To be a competent royal, one must learn to memorize as many coats of arms as possible. It was a mandatory part of Abel's knight training, along with literature, music, and other talents.
"Do you have any single pieces of gemstone here, Mr. Tim?" Abel inquired. Now, Abel didn't have to but referring to Tim as 'mister' was quite a respectful thing to do. Judging from Tim's reaction, he must've been extraordinarily pleased by this act of acknowledgment.
"You've come to the right place, Sir," Tim responded with a wider grin than when they had just met, "Yes, we provide a variety of gemstones here in Fort Lee. What were you after, Sir?"
On his command, Tim ordered his men to unlock a big box stored in the counter. There were several rows of gemstones inside this box, all of which were very small pieces. Most people in Fort Lee couldn't afford jewelry. Plus, the bigger gemstones were to be moved to somewhere else. They had other uses than being sold off as luxury accessory items.
"How much do I need to pay for these, Mr. Tim?" Abel asked as he picked up six evenly-sized rubies from the box.
"Just six gold coins, Sir Abel."
It was a reasonable price. After all, no esteemed merchants would swindle a customer from the same region. Also, Abel might be young, but he was still the son of a knight. It was a fair deal made with six gold coins. Plain and simple.
Having received the cash from Abel, Tim went to put six ruby pieces inside a woolen bag. He led Abel out of the store after that. In the most respectful way he knew, of course.
Having left the shopping center, Abel ran off to an isolated alleyway. There, he took out three ruby pieces from the bag and placed them in his Horadric Cube. If he remembered his formulas correctly, three of the same gemstones could merge into one bigger, finer gemstone of the same kind.
Having withstood his feeling of excitement, Abel tapped the crafting slots with his finger. He inserted the three rubies in, which quickly vanished in a flash of light. He then saw a big ruby in the uppermost slot of the Horadric Cube.
What a thing a beauty this was. After putting it out in the daylight, every side of this piece was glistening with a clear, red flash. Whether it was the size or the quality of this piece, it was definitely a rank higher than the three other rubies combined. Abel couldn't tell for sure, but he knew this was worth more than three gold coins.
Having crafted his second larger gemstone, Abel was starting to think of a good place to sell them. He knew he couldn't go back to Fort Lee Shopping Centre for this. If he came back to sell them to the place he had just bought jewelry from, it wouldn't take a genius to figure out that something was wrong here.
Abel walked around the town for a bit more. After walking down the main street, he could see a boutique shop in front of him. It was the Edmund's boutique shop, the biggest business of its kind in the entire duchy. From what Abel could remember, every town in the Duchy of Carmel had Edmund's boutique shop somewhere. It was a very renowned brand, with a history of 500 years since it was first founded. Every year, the Edmund Business would host a big auction event that would attract aristocrats from all over the duchy. Even those from the neighboring duchies would come to bid on the exquisite items on sale.
"Welcome to Edmund's boutique shop. How can I help you?"
It was a young woman who greeted Abel as he made his entrance. She had blonde hair, a standard oval-shaped face, large eyes, and her skin was fair and spotless. The fine dress she was wearing was made of oriental silk, a material that originated from the Far East. She spoke in a soft, gentle voice as she gave Abel a noontime bow.
"Good noon, young and beautiful madam," Abel greeted, "I'm looking for someone to verify a gemstone for me."
Unlike that fat man earlier, this lady knew exactly the right way to demonstrate her etiquette. She spoke politely, but not in an unnecessarily-wordy kind of way. Her bow was proper and well-timed. As mentioned before, it wasn't easy for most people to learn the proper etiquette. The Edmund business must've done quite an investment in training its employees.
"Please, call me Yvette, my young and handsome sir. You can talk to me if it's about verifying your gemstones. I'm the manager of this shop. Please, come with me for a chat upstairs."
Just from a first glance, Yvette could tell that Abel was someone of noble birth. This was precisely why she would have a talk with him herself.
The two went upstairs to have a seat in the guest room. The moment Abel sat down, he was immediately served with a cup of fresh coffee. Abel didn't want to appear rude, but walking for several hours in town made him very thirsty. He went to have a sip before they even started talking.
It was good coffee. Abel wasn't exactly an expert, but his tongue wasn't completely numb either. Wherever the beans were from, it wasn't something that the Bennett family could easily make a purchase of.
Abel was a very young boy. So young, Yvette could just refer to him as 'boy.' Age, however, was by no means what signified the reputation of a nobleman. This notion was commonly acknowledged amongst the aristocrats. Also, it was the same for the servants who served.
"How much is this gemstone worth, Madam Yvette?" Abel took out his bigger ruby and passed it to Yvette.
Having taken over the gemstone, Yvette started examining its interior through a small lamp. Then, after a few minutes had passed, she raised her head with a somewhat delighted look on her face.
"This is a perfect piece! The carvings. The structure of it. Transparency. Honestly, I can't find any flaws in it. How about I buy it from you for 300 gold coins?"
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