"...six fire crystals, one catty of skystar dust and one box of whiteroot powder, a bottle of crimsonblood dew, six magistone tablets, one enchanted crossbow, and six enchanted bolts. Everything's ready, please check."
Hurian had been waiting for Claude in the shop all night. He brought him to the secret room immediately, cast Luminous Pearl, and took out a goatskin sack with everything inside.
Claude checked everything carefully, then nodded. He took out a common linen pouch and put it on the counter.
"Count. Everything should be there."
Hurian counted each slowly, and all 21 shaliuns were present.
"You should've gotten a better pouch. At least use a deerskin one, anything less is too cheap compared to the money inside."
Claude snorted humorously but didn't comment. Did he think Claude was stupid? Leatherwork pouches were always branded by their makers. He would be leaving a breadcrumb by which Hurian could find out who he was.
The linen cloth was unmarked. It was a cheap, common accessory of which no one took note. There would be no tracking him down from it. Not to mention Claude didn't feel like throwing away the money a leatherwork pouch would cost.
Hurian smiled gingerly.
"Want me to pack them? I can give you that deerskin sack if you want."
"No need, thanks," Claude shook his head as he took out a bag of his own, "I brought my own."
The most important thing was to remain vigilant. Who knew what the old fattie might have done to the sack. There might just be something in or on it that made it possible for him to track Claude. Nothing was given for no money if there wasn't some other cost, and his anonymity was too precious.
"I have no ill intentions," Hurian chuckled a couple awkward snorts, watching Claude's backpack.
The backpack, like the pouch he'd given Hurian, was a simple, common, untraceable item.
"Oh, I almost forgot."
Hurian opened the pouch and put two shaliuns on the counter, gesturing for Claude to keep them.
"What's the meaning of this?"
"We have an unwritten rule in the magic black market. Any sale over ten shaliuns gets a one-tenth discount. Only for the customers we like, of course," Hurian smiled the most sincere smile he could manage.
"That all?" Claude asked, playing around with the two coins.
"Hehe--' Hurian's eyes followed the coins almost instinctively. "--Well, I do have a few questions, if you don't mind."
"Ask. I'll decide whether to answer them after I've heard them."
"Was that business with Blacksnake last night your doing?"
"It was. They wouldn't let me pass, so I made them get out of the way."
"Aren't you worried word of this will reach the Watch?"
"No. My teacher will have little trouble dealing with it," Claude smiled fearlessly.
He'd known this lot would find out sooner or later, though he would have preferred if it hadn't until after he'd bought his stuff and left. Then again, the two shaliuns in his hand now showed it had not turned out very badly. Fear made for a great teacher of manners.
The bastard! Claude had just known the old fart had given him bogus prices!
"Since your teacher has an array, I suspect he will need a steady stream of supplies? We would be partial to helping out with that on a more permanent basis." Hurian finally revealed.
Claude shook his head.
"I will be frank, sir. Most of the stuff in here is too expensive. Normal mages might not be able to afford to go to the capital every now and again, but my teacher does so anyway, so he might as well buy everything when he heads there."
"Hehe, well, we have to be more careful with our first trades after all. The next time you give your patronage, I promise you'll be charged according to the capital's prices. If you buy in bulk, you'll even get some discounts," Hurian smiled.
"That's a matter for another day. Whether we need any other materials is up to my teacher to decide when he returns. What I have to do now is to swap the alchemical formation array I ruined for a new one quick so that I don't get punished. But if you can promise good prices, I can put in a word with my teacher. The decision's still up to him though." Claude made it sound like he really had one.
But Hurian looked like he didn't doubt it one bit.
"Haha, why of course. It's up to your teacher whether he wants to buy from us. However, I will definitely appreciate the good word you put in for us. I won't forget your help the next time you come to me."
Claude put the two shaliuns back on the counter.
"Have some scrolls? I'll just get some here if they're fitting so that I don't have to get some all the way from the capital."
"I do but what kind of spells do you need, my friend?"
"I'd like some combat spells. Do you have any?" asked Claude.
Hurian looked a little troubled. "To be frank, I don't have any combat spells that are too powerful. You won't find them easily at the royal capital either. You know that this has to depend on luck, right? You'll have to wait for the right spell to show up for sale at the right price to be able to get one. However, I do have two support-type combat spells. Would you like to see them?"
Seeing Claude nod, Hurian took out two long boxes from under the counter and retrieved two spell scrolls from within. Those weren't magic scrolls, which could store mana within them and unleash the spell inscribed on it when torn. These were normal scrolls used for learning spells. The scrolls contained the spell formation as well as some explanations and step-by-step instructions of drawing the formation.
One of the scrolls detailed the Featherfall spell. In simple terms, it allowed the user to fall from a high location as lightly as a feather instead of being turned into meat paste. However, it also had its limitations. The state could only be maintained for a minute or two. The scroll also warned to not fall from higher than ten meters. Jumping from a tall spot like a cliff would merely use up the spell during the first two minutes before the user turned into meat paste due to the rest of the fall.
However, should one be able to keep a clear mind during a fall and use Featherfall near the end of it, it was a different story. In a 300-meter fall, one could jump for 290 meters and successfully use the spell for the remaining ten meters. It depended on one's own proficiency. However, that was merely a theoretical use case. Not a single magus who learned the spell was proven to achieve something like that.
The other spell scroll contained Projectile Barrier. This spell could be considered a true supporting combat spell. However, Claude couldn't seem to link Featherfall to combat no matter how much he thought about it. He reasoned that it probably helped with escape.
Projectile Barrier on the other hand seemed almost useless to Claude. What era is it nowadays? Does anyone still use bows and arrows? Guns are all the rage now. If there really were a Bulletproof spell, it'd definitely sell through the roof.
Seeing Claude shake his head and look at the scrolls derisively, Hurian hurriedly explained, "Young friend, there are only useless magi in this world, no useless spells. Any spell used under right conditions will have surprising effects. Take Featherfall for example. It helped a friend of mine escape pursuit from the Watch more than once. It also affords him much convenience when picking herbs from steep ravines."
Ah, it is used for escaping after all. During a hypothetical chase into a building, the pursuers who surrounded all the entrances and rushed upstairs wouldn't expect to see their target jump out of the window and fall to the ground like a feather. It would definitely be incredibly infuriating for them.
Well, it does seem like a more practical spell. It's better to be prepared. Maybe I'd need it one day. Claude nodded to show that he would like the spell.
Hurian continued, "Projectile Barrier is the staple support combat spell of every magus. Applying this barrier before a battle would spare one from harm from hidden weapons or arrows.
"Naturally, times are different now and nobody uses bows and arrows or even crossbows in war anymore. It would seem that this spell is useless, but that is not the case. Projectile Barrier is still provides great utility for rogue magi.
"Take for example your conflict with the Blacksnakes in the alley yesterday night. Even though you were victorious, you were lucky that none of them brought sleeve arrow launchers or crossbows with them. Otherwise, you wouldn't be able to leave unscathed.
"Now that Blacksnake knows that the one who fought them was a rogue magus, they would definitely prepare lots of crossbows to protect themselves from you. Even though the crossbow has lost its use on the battlefield, it's still a prime weapon in small-scale ambushes."
Claude was quite surprised. He had forgotten the fact that he relied on the ranged aspect of his spells to gain an absolute advantage in the fight yesterday. If the thugs really had crossbows and sleeve arrow launchers like Hurian mentioned, he wouldn't have fared as well. Even if he could rely on dodging and ducking, the alley was only so wide.
"Alright, I'll take both spells. How much do you want for them?" decided Claude.
"Two shaliuns will do. You should know that those harmless spells cost ten crowns in the royal capital. These two spells of mine are far more practical and I'm only selling them to you for one shaliun each, double the price of those harmless spells. It's a great discount for you, my friend!"
"Alright, Hurian. You have my gratitude. That's a deal."