“Oh? It looks like you’ve gotten quite a load this time.” Old Korr adjusted his silver-rimmed glasses before reaching over for the parcel. He gaped, “Green Mist Stone! How did you find so many of them?!”
“Oh, iron-thorn bird eggs! Just how many nests did you raid for these?”
“Shimmering moss? A caster has been requesting these recently!”
Old Korr’s delight grew as he went through the other items in the parcel. Everything was of great quality and came in great numbers. His shop was probably the only one in the whole Hafman Avenue capable of affording such high-quality merchandise.
“Locke, are you sure you don’t want to consider my offer?” Old Korr wasn’t ready to give up yet. Locke had brought him thirteen batches of merchandise over the last two months and each of them was consistent of great quality.
“Sorry, I’m not planning to pledge to any faction for the time being,” Locke refused once again. Old Korr’s shop was under the umbrella of The Scar of the Death Bell and there was word that his relative was a committee member. His relative was possibly a Magister or a Ritter since he was able to assume an important role in such a huge organisation.
Old Korr had prompted the invitation seven times and he’d learned to anticipate Locke’s refusal. Anyhow, the man was amiable and Locke was one of his best wealth bringers; Old Korr wasn’t about to sully their relationship. They quickly moved past the topic and began talks of payment.
“Shall we go by the old rules?” Old Korr lifted the parcel off the counter.
“Yes, old rules.” Locke nodded in reply. The final payout came to three high-rank crystal cores and forty mid-rank crystal cores; his half-week stay in the forest was well worth it!
“How’s the armour treating you?” Old Korr asked with a smile as Locke inspected the crystal cores.
Locke clapped his chest plate loudly. “It’s treating me well.” He’d bought this armour from Old Korr for an extravagant price. The armour was a little heavier than what he was used to but its protective ability complemented his weaker defences well. Its sturdiness had far surpassed his usual leather armour, after all.
“Well, I wouldn’t expect less from an enchanted armour!” said Old Korr proudly. He’d gotten the armour off his relative in the Scar of the Death Bell, who had no use for it. Even so, it was still an item from a level-one Magister’s collection so it was still of a certain value.
“Do contact me if you have something as good as this next time!” said Locke.
“Of course! I know you’re rich!” The older man chortled.
“See you around then.” Locke pocketed his crystal cores.
“Goodbye! Lily? Come see our guest out!” Old Korr shouted at another door. A ghastly girl stepped out of the shade, bowing impossibly low to Locke. There was barely an ounce of life in her and she reeked faintly of almond bitter. Locke could remember being spooked when he first saw her and he’d only gotten used to her presence recently.
Lily was a reanimated corpse, one of the factions’ most popular products. The Scar of the Death Bell was a mid-scale faction until recent decades. They’d needed to attract the interest of other casters through offering considerable welfare and since casters were a career that required great expenditure, the faction needed a substantial income source. The Scar of the Death Bell was known for its exceptional findings of the supernatural, so it made sense for their biggest export to be artificial creatures and reanimated corpses.
The marionette had impenetrable skin and was of mid-rank Knecht ability. In other words, she was invincible, a being that even high-rank Knechts would have a difficult time dealing with when encountered. There was a good reason why Old Korr could afford a strategic property on the bust Hafman Avenue, after all.
“Wait, Locke! Will you be coming with more items in three days?” Old Korr asked belatedly as Locke stepped out of his premise.
Locke made a simple gesture and strode away, confident that the older man had caught his response. He took a turn into Magick Street, where most of the caster trading circles were concentrated, for a set of laboratory tools for Kristin.
Locke, Kristin and Laffey had been living in Krimea City ever since leaving Depan Forest. The monster wave ordeal had deviated them away from their planned route severely and Brurashire was further than ever. Krimea City was a developed and accessible place so Locke saw no harm in prolonging their stay here.
The city was flanked by multiple forests that included the Enchanted Forest Realm and the Purgatory Garden, which were locations where Mermerri's Cottage and the Scar of the Death Bell collected their resources. Locke had many places to cultivate at.
His associations with Old Korr had allowed him a visit to Purgatory Garden some time ago. The area was an artificial ecosystem made specifically to sustain special materials and creatures, much like the huge forest beneath the Sanctum’s Sky Corridor. While the forest was made by the Sanctum for the Sanctum, the Scar of the Death Bell had opened Purgatory Garden to all wandering adventurers at a decent admission price.
Purgatory Garden was a dumping ground for waddling zombies and failed reanimated corpses. It was rather dangerous and knights below mid-rank Knecht were susceptible to a myriad of bacterial infections when bitten. Worse, they needed to use a special antidote from the faction to treat the ailment. Despite that, there were a few precious shadow type materials hidden in various corners of the forsaken place, which meant a possibility of hitting jackpot with some luck.
Locke refused to revisit that place, though. Reanimated corpses were a nightmare to deal with and he hated the experience. Plus, the shadow-type materials were useless to him and he’d have to sell off his hard work to the faction again. It was exploitation hidden under the guise of possible wealth at its best. Locke refused to whore himself out to danger.
It wasn’t wrong to call Purgatory Garden a scavenging ground. All the Scar of the Death Bell needed to do for a good buck was to maintain its internal environment conditions; it was essentially a bottomless bucket of gold!
Locke set out for Conch Lake in southwest Krimea after spending an idle day at home with Laffey and Kristin. He needed to train relentlessly to break through as a Ritter as soon as possible. It was three days later when he returned to Old Korr’s shop with a huge bag of merchandise; it was their routine to trade twice a week. However, unlike their usual dealings, Old Korr hadn’t asked Lily to send him off when their business was dealt with. The older man leaned over with a smile, “Say, Locke. Have you heard of elven potions?”