Roland was back in his room, the day had been a strange one. He went out to test his spell scroll slinging abilities on some goblins. But what he found there was a young girl almost getting herself killed. He didn’t want to pry too much into her business and she didn’t react kindly when he started reprimanding her.
The other peculiar thing was how she acted. The whole encounter made him think that he was stuck in some kind of game world as he didn’t think people like that existed. She had multiple emotional outbursts towards him, while on the other hand acted all grateful and even shy while bringing over some food.
‘Well… she might just be bipolar…Should I stay clear of her?”
He thought, but maybe he was reading too much into her character traits there. There were all sorts of people in this world. He had managed to get a free sausage as a reward so it was worth it. He was now stuffed and back in his room. He would scribe one more fire arrow spell before going to bed.
Tomorrow would be the day when he would finally go on a spending spree. He needed to buy out as many runic spell scrolls as possible. He could then start creating schematics for them to quickly gain levels.
The more levels and the better stats he achieved, the faster he would become at creating his wares. He was also hopeful that in the future the Libra Auction House would drop their percentages. Losing 25% after they got their cut was a bit much, he wasn’t sure if the regular stores charged others as much for their wares.
He used his usual disguise that made him look like a little Warlock in training. The place he was visiting first was the same one he got the runic fire arrow spell from. It was the store that was called Exeor’s Magic Emporium.
He stepped forward the doors opened by themselves with the help of some kind of enchantment. He wanted to examine this door, maybe it also operated on some runes and he would be able to add another one to his collection.
There weren’t that many people in here and he didn’t really come here often. The general store that was closer to his inn had all the necessary items. He was also concerned that if he came here too often his disguise as the person selling the runic scrolls would fall through.
The elven girl by the name Zilyana was still here acting as the main salesperson. He just moved over to the display case with the runic spells. They were all still there, even though there weren’t many he could use them for research. They looked dusty as before and even though he was able to make some profit on them, the other crafters didn’t seem to be able to.
He had a bit of an advantage over other people. He could just take their work and improve upon it. Even if the person made the lowest of low runic spells he could turn it into the highest one in a matter of hours.
The common grade runic spells were a bit harder to correct. They used a lot more runes and even their schematics were double their size. This was also why he needed more time to scribe them down and why it took him half a year to get the crafting process down to near perfection. This was also just for one rune, if he tried completing a totally new one it could take him just as long.
He looked to the elf lady, motioning her over as he wanted to buy a couple of these scrolls. She smiled at him and went over. He wasn’t sure if she was doing it on purpose but her hips were swinging side to side in an alluring way. The high heels she was wearing were making clicking sounds against the wooden floor panels when she moved forward.
“What will it be dear customer?, I see that you have decided~”
“I’d like to buy this Runic Orb of Light spell scroll and this Runic Aqua Ball spell scroll… also this Frost Bolt one…”
He started listing them off, he wasn’t sure if he had enough money for all of them. They would be great for his future research as he was itching to start fiddling with the runic components. He had already listed down all the parts into his notes and now he just needed some time to experiment.
“You want to buy the runic spell scrolls?”
“Hm… wait a moment I’ll be right back.”
The elf replied and walked away. This was an unexpected reaction. He started wondering if there was something wrong. Normally they would just hand over the goods, take the coins and it would be over. Maybe she had more scrolls in the back and she didn’t want to move these dusty ones?
He remained in the store and waited. He even saw the elf go up the stairs, the same ones that he had used before.
‘Are the scrolls stored up there?’
He wasn’t sure what this was about but he just waited. He needed these spells scrolls as without them he wouldn’t be able to progress. He needed more samples to work with, the number of rune schematics he possessed wasn’t that high and only one was good for earning money.
After about five minutes the elf finally descended from the stairs and started walking back towards him. She wasn’t carrying any scrolls with her so Roland’s first assumption was wrong.
“Excuse me, I’ve made you wait.”
“It’s fine, can I get these scrolls then?”
He asked as he didn’t want to waste any more time here, he still wanted to see if he could get some better materials for his work.
“I have to apologize, but that won’t be possible.”
He was baffled by the answer. Was there something wrong with him buying these? Did someone figure out his scheme and that he could make schematics of already completed runic symbols? His mind spun into conspiracy theory territory as he started sweating.
“Ah don’t worry, It’s not like that. The manager would just like to speak with you.”
The image of a gnome working with some large pitchers popped into his head.
“Yes, he wishes to discuss some business opportunities, I’m sure he will allow the purchase of these scrolls after that~”
The elf girl just smiled without explaining herself. Roland tried deducting the answer in his mind and the only thing coming to mind was that he was found out. They didn’t want to sell him the runic spells and they wanted to talk business, if this wasn’t about him going to the auction house then he would eat a shoe.
He had two options. Leaving and trying another shop, this wasn’t the only one with these unused runic spells. The other one was to head up and see what this person wanted from him. If he just left then he would be left uninformed about this manager’s motives.
Roland had decided to go and see him. He didn’t think that he was in any danger as this man wasn’t a warrior but an alchemist. He was also a store owner so he probably did just want to throw a business proposition his way. He could always decline and move on with his life. Leaving the city if things got complicated was also an option.
“Okay, lead the way.”
He nodded while the golden-haired elf smiled. He was soon before the same door as half a year ago. Not much had changed there, the person inside still looked the same. The alchemist equipment might have increased with a few pitchers and beakers here and there though.
The door closed behind him after the elf woman had left. He was now left alone with the store’s manager, if he was also the owner of it was unknown to him. He remained standing and looked around, besides the alchemist utensils there was also a furnace to the side.
He wondered why something like that was here, right next to a bunch of chemicals and flammable books that were standing on a nearby bookshelf. Then he remembered that this world probably didn’t have anyone to check the safety measures of stores.
“Runic fire arrows, eh?”
He could hear the gnome finally speak up. He had a higher-pitched voice than a human and was a lot shorter. Roland compared the man’s height to the other gnomes he had seen around the city and he was a bit on the taller side, close to 120 cm.
“What about runic fire arrows?”
He replied, playing dumb as he didn’t know if he had been really found out or just being tested. The older man stopped doing what he was and finally stepped out from behind the alchemist setup he was working on.
He had a grumpy expression on his face. Roland could finally get a good look at him. The man had a full beard that was gray and was wearing some kind of turban on top of his head. His ears were pointy and long, not as long as an elf’s though. He had quite a large nose with a large wart on the left nostril. His clothes consisted of a baggy robe that was tied to him with a brown leather belt.
“Kid, don’t insult my intelligence. Did you really think no one would notice your antics?”
“I’ve got to give it to ya, you have a lot of talent if you can produce spells of that quality and all at such a young age.
He moved forward while talking, heading over to another desk that was in the corner. It had a large chair behind it, probably so that he could see over it as it looked to be human-sized. He sat himself down and then took out a wooden pipe, smoke soon flowed out from his nostrils.
Roland was a bit worried that he was exposed, he had disguised himself and even said that he was working for someone else when he was selling his wares. Maybe if he played dumb he could still evade suspicion.
“I was just hired to deliver the scrolls there…”
The gnome just raised his eyebrow as if he was looking at an idiot. He scuffed some while blowing out some smoke Roland’s way.
“You sure are persistent with your little story. If you wanted to hide you shouldn’t have stuck out like a vampire in the sun.”
“Listen here, your secret is out. I could give a molerat’s ass about the reason you were using that stupid disguise. I am here to talk about money!”
Roland just remained in place and continued to listen. At this point, he already figured that there was no way of talking himself out of this. This gnome person probably had informants at the auction house that tipped him of. He could have even been followed by someone that was good at hiding. He as a mage class was not really good at detecting trouble so people could easily sneak upon him.
“You’ve got talent kid, but even more important than that is that class and work ethic.”
The gnome smiled at him while removing the pipe from his mouth as he explained further.
“You are still green kid, do you think you can hide your special class from anyone without an enchantment to block out the identification skill?”
The gnome’s eyes shone blue for a split second as he looked at Roland.
“Level 10 already? Not bad, you have a bright future ahead of you if you continue working hard.”
Roland took a step back while digesting this information. This person had a high identification skill and he could read him as an open book. His Runic Mana Scribe class had been revealed to him and he couldn’t even do anything about it.
“You saw my class back then?”
“That’s right, I have a very good memory, you know us intelligence types.”
“Then someone started selling runic spell scrolls, now why would any respectable Runesmith sell crummy spell scrolls? Maybe it was a Runic Mana Scribe instead, hmm?”
The way this man had figured him out was revealed. It was all mostly thanks to one skill. All of the work that went into his disguise had been for nothing as he was exposed right from the beginning. What the old man wanted from him was still up to debate.
He slumped a bit forward in defeat. His thought he had it all figured out but apparently he was just deluding himself.
“Now now, I’m not here to blackmail you or anything, so just relax and take a seat, we have a lot to talk about.”
Roland just sat down in defeat, there was no reason to deny it anymore.
“What do you want?”
“Not much, I want you to work with me.”
“I’m not signing one of those ludicrous contracts.”
Roland was quick to reply, he still wasn’t willing to get himself stuck working for six years in one spot. He would rather leave the city and try elsewhere, he had made enough to relocate.
“Those contracts are for talentless hacks, you kid have a future.”
“This is how I see it…”
“I’ll supply you with the location where you can develop your craft, I’ll even lower the price for the materials...
The man started talking business. He wanted to sponsor Roland, he would give him his own place where he could do his runecrafting. The contract he was offering was a lot less strenuous than the one he saw half a year ago.
He wouldn’t need to share any of his secrets. He would only be required to continue crafting like he already did. This store would take care of the selling part, their commission was also lower than of the auction house at 15%.
“This contract looks a bit one-sided… why are you willing to give me so much freedom?”
It looked a bit fishy. The only binding thing here was that he could only sell his wares to this store. He could freely craft for himself and give them away for free if he wanted. There was even a clause that he was allowed to sell it at a cheaper price for a couple of people of his choosing and he could also negotiate for it. The period of this contract was also shorter, just three years. After which he was up for renegotiating or just leaving outright.
“That’s an easy answer, you show a lot of promise. There aren't many people at your age that have such a high level."
"You probably don’t realize how rare unique classes like yours are.”
“I am willing to invest in your talent, I don’t think that it’s a bad deal.”
The man smiled while already having the contract ready. Roland only needed to sign on the dotted line and it would be finalized. The punishment for breaking the contract was a slightly lesser curse that would only remove his mana by 30%. It also didn’t take into effect instantly if he broke one rule and he could work it out with the boss to evade it.
It was actually a good contract for someone with no backing and no influence like him. He could work and sell his items while not having to worry about the price margin. The auction house buyers were sometimes stingy with their purchases.
He would also get his own place to tinker about. Probably one of the rooms in this large building. This contract could even extend to when he advanced to a blacksmith. It was easy to scribe spell scrolls, but he would need a fully equipped smithy to get anything done as a blacksmith. The contract stated that the company he was signing with was required to present him with facilities for his craft. It wasn’t limited to his runic mana scribe profession either.
“I see that you have made your research, it would probably be unwise for me to refuse.”
He replied while looking at the old man that was wiggling the contract before him. The gnome also warned him about the other stores. Apparently not everyone was as lenient as he was. Others might want to crush him instead of recruiting. It would be easy to pull some strings and have him banned from the auction houses in Edelgard.
In this city, there existed something like a council. Their members were the most influential businessmen in the city, merchants, store owners, owners of large smithing shops, and other various businesses. They gathered every three months for discussions. If an upstart appeared they would first try to get them over to their side. If they resisted they would be crushed. Roland was flying under the radar for now but as soon as he tried creating his own company the council would come on knocking.
The Gnome here was part of it so he could put him under his protective umbrella and shield him from any future woes.
Roland moved his head down and thought, the deal wasn’t that bad and he was still young. The contract was only three years so he would have a lot of leeway when he improved later on. He also didn’t know how long he would have to keep this up until he would actually have enough money to buy his own workshop.
“Let me think about it, could I get a copy of this contract and read it over?”
The old gnome didn’t have a reason to refuse and Roland left. He would read through the contract again and come up with a few modifications. Like being allowed to keep his own brand symbol of the small red comet along with having his identity hidden. In the end, he would agree to it, his life of crafting had only begun with this step.