Brendel had not actually been to Ampere Seale’s workshop district that often. The one place he recalled the most was the rusted sign that wobbled in the sea breeze at the edge of Grey Harbor, the messy room along with the stove inside it that looked like it had not been lit for a long time, and the boozy old dwarf.
It’s not like O’Dork, The Red Nose’s handiworks were that impressive. But for just a small barrel of strong liquor, the old dwarf would take good care of your equipment; that is, as long as he did not drink himself unconscious.
Ampere Seale was now different.
After the carriage passed a fortress, the road became narrow and claustrophobic, as houses lined up on both sides of the road, squished tightly together. The salty sea smell that Brendel remembered was replaced by the heavier scent of smoke. The glistening red signs were made of brass, and the text on it was unabashedly flamboyant, showing off the culture and style unique to harbor cities.
The carriage passed by old dwarves smoking at the doorway with hammers in their hands, their beards strung together by shiny iron rings. Wind elves in long and ornate robes, either from Deerzik or from the woods north of the Misty Forest, with board, intricately designed cage rings on their middle fingers to signify that they were mages.
Most of these people were the creams of the crop in their respective fields. A hint of arrogance was in their eyes, and their personal worths was quite high. The workshop district in Ampere Seale represented extravagance and wealth, and the high quality of services befitting that reputation.
As if nobility was carved into the very bones of this harbor city.
The history of the workshop district in Ampere Seale was way older than even that of the harbor. It originated from the time where the people from Aouine traded with the Southern Highlanders. The marketplace then became a military base for the Erik, and then a deep water anchorage ground, before gradually growing to its present size. Today, there were still moss-covered pillars on both sides of the road in the workshop district, standing tall in the sea breeze, telling stories from the past.
As the carriage went into the alley, the sounds of pottery and spinning wheels behind them became distant. Soon after, the black wooden sign reading “Lucretia” came into view, the magic black wood hanging from a gold-plated bracket, carved with flowers. The sign was not physically connected to it, floating and rotating in mid-air with magic.
Although magic was common in Vaunte’s world. However, to be able to cast a long-lasting spell to make the sign float was an indirect indication of the standards of the shop. This was not even a shop selling magical items, but a shop that sold perfectly ordinary weapons and defence items.
The carriage slowly came to a stop at the main entrance of Lucretia's Armory shop. However, no one came out to greet them. Any normal person would not open a shop in such a secluded place anyway. According to the princess, it’s because the shopkeeper prefers a quiet place. Faeries were known to be a strange species..
Brendel and the Royal Highness Princess entered the shop. The inside of the shop was decorated elegantly. Dark wood counters emanating a special fragrance were arranged nicely around the shop. Every counter had a shiny weapon displayed on it, covered with glass, with the name on the weapon written on the brass name plate attached to its velvet cushion, ranging from the most common swords to spears and armour.
To Brendel’s surprise, what was on display in the shop were mostly magical equipment. Not the crudely-made type from an Alchemist, but real magical equipment. There were even a few antiques. Brendel recognized the goat-headed axe, the ‘Cutter Cesareus’. This giant axe could ignore ten percent of armour per attack and could at most penetrate near half of it.
A Divine Artifact with Elemental Power, this is amazing.
Brendel originally wanted to buy it for the red-bearded Batum of the Red Bronze Dragon mercenaries. He was the only guy under him who used an axe as a weapon, and was a rugged hunk too. But as soon as he saw the price, Brendel pretended the thought had never even crossed his mind.
The Cutter Cesareus costed 550,000 taels.
Brendel instantly changed his mind; the players acting like unscrupulous businessmen in the game were not so bad after all. No wonder this shop is only open to the nobles. Other than those who spent money like spilling water, who would ever come here to buy something?
He shifted his gaze and saw that Her Royal Highness was on the other side, curiously checking out the displays in the shop as well. Her eyes were mostly on the booths that displayed a wide variety of long swords, and Brendel followed her gaze to see a Thorn of Azure Light.
“Hasn’t her Royal Highness Princess been here before?” He was a bit surprised, and asked curiously.
Princess Gryphine raised her finger to her lips and replied quietly, “No, Mr Brendel. This is my first time coming here too. But I’m familiar with the owner of this shop. Aunt Tania met me once when I was very young.”
“Aunt Tania.” That is probably the shopowner’s name Brendel thought. The name did sound like a Faerie’s. The Faeries in Vaunte liked to give themselves a human name, although most of them were simple, and quite unusual.
He looked around and noticed that there was not even a single person in the large shop. No, there’s one. As the three walked past the hall, they alerted the only employee in the shop. It was only then when Brendel realized that there was someone here when he saw a head emerging from a pile of boxes.
It was a young girl with short brown hair and big curious eyes looking at them, “What have you guys come here for?”
This question was quite loaded. A thief generally would not visit at this hour, unless he was desperate to register himself to go to jail. The options left to her were thus that the people in front of her were either a customer, or a creditor.
Cleverly, the young girl did not reveal her relationship to the shop, so that she could find an excuse to avoid trouble and say that she was only temporary staff or something, if they identified themselves as creditors. While Brendel’s thought drifted, the young girl had her eyes wide open.
Brendel saw her rushing out from her position, leaving her work behind. Before he and the Royal Highness Princess could scream ‘watch out’, the young girl hit the cupboard door with a scream and bounced back.
The neatly stacked of weapons, armour and cans scattered all over the floor with a series of loud clangs.
Holy shit, Brendel thought at the moment, This shop doesn’t seem to be as reliable as I’ve been told.
“I apologize for startling you both. This young girl’s name is Carol, she’s here to help me temporarily, as her father owes me money that he can’t pay off.”
Brendel and Princess Gryphine were seated, while the Faerie lady, dressed a bit like a loan shark in a gray and purple gown, sat on top of the counter. With a pair of silver-rimmed glasses, she looked like a jeweler from Perina too. She claimed to be the manager and shareholder of the Silver Cross Merchant’s Guild though, and this weapon and fence shop was just a side business of hers.
The Silver Cross Merchant’s Guild was from the Naios Deepwater Harbor. It was said that this business organization was under the name of a Buga Crafting Mage, which was why Brendel was very skeptical of this self-introduction of hers.
It was a good thing that mages from Silver lacked any real influence over the people on earth, ever since they practiced isolationism, so Brendel didn’t bother interrogating her reply.. He took one look at Carol, who was pressing on her reddened forehead with tears in her eyes, and thought to himself, Isn’t this child labor?
Brendel silently expressed his sympathies.
“This child is too young. Aunt Tania, how can you let her work like that.” Princess Gryphine spoke up and complained, “How much does her father owe you, Aunt Tania. I’ll pay it back for her.”
“Oh.” The Faerie lady took a sip from her white porcelain teacup, so tiny it looked like part of a doll set. “The last time I saw you, you were just a little kid, Gryphine. But her father owes me a total of two million taels, are you sure you want to pay it back on her behalf?”
“Huh!” Gryphine was shocked, “Why that much!” Two million taels was a huge sum of money for most of the nobles in Aouine, not to mention the commoners. Even to the royal family and those powerful dukes, it was not exactly a small amount of money.
Brendel could not help but look at the young girl curiously, wondering what on earth her father did exactly to owe so much money.
Tania replied, “Her father used to be a good friend of mine when I was exploring with him. I agreed to lend him the money to open this shop. In fact, Carol will be the owner of this shop in the future. The reason I assigned those jobs to her is to make sure she will know what to do as the future owner.”
“Of course, she can use it as a way to pay off the debt too.”
“I see, what about Carol’s father?” Gryphine asked curiously.
“Her father died in this war.”
“Ah!” The Royal Highness Princess reacted, Brendel was surprised too. It was obvious that she was just taking the responsibility of supporting her friend’s daughter and was not really trying to get the money back despite what she said. What an odd personality this Faerie lady had.
You are amazing, Aunt Tania.” The Royal Highness Princess exclaimed, somewhat glumly, “All of this happened because the descendants of the House Covardo failed to fulfill their duty. It let the war spread in the kingdom. Many civilians are affected by this war in Ampere Seale.”
“It wasn’t your fault, Gryphine.” Tania replied, “You were just a silly little kid the last time I saw you. In a blink of an eye, you’ve already become a worthy princess. But I heard you haven’t chosen a partner yet. Is this the knight you fancied?”
“No, no.” The princess blushed and shook her head immediately, “Although Brendel is indeed….. My knight, but not in the way you think, Aunt Tania.”
The Faerie lady laughed without saying anything. Brendel suspected that she was teasing them. Faeries were always up to mischief, and they had a “good reputation” for fooling around. Also, it was obvious that this Aunt Tania was enjoying herself.
But soon, she got serious.
“Oh?” The Faerie lady turned around and looked at him curiously, “You are Brendel?”
Brendel felt chills on his back but he nodded anyway. Tania asked again, “I heard you saved Ampere Seale, that makes you the hero of this harbour, huh?”
“I’m sure you’re not aware of the fact that your grandfather owes me a Holy Sword.”
“Does he?” Brendel was stunned, “Wait, what!?” He shouted, Why did I suddenly have a creditor now. If things kept going down this road, the plot would demand the son to pay back his father's debt, right?.
“You know it too, the weapon of the Earth Sword Saint.”
“My grandfather’s weapon….” Brendel was startled, and suddenly remembered the Earth Sword Saint’s walking rapier. It was called the “Falling Star”, a legendary weapon, said to be a replica of Sisyphus’s Tooth, which had the ability to split apart the very earth itself.
Sisyphus's Tooth sword of Kula, the hero of the highlanders. The mythology of the highlanders strayed from the one of the Kirrlutz, but Kula did indeed exist in history, and he once even adventured with the Azure Knights. Although the history was not widely known, the Sisyphus’s Tooth was quite famous. It was said that the Alkash Mountains were carved into existence by a slash of this sword.
Sisyphus’s Tooth was called Siri, Andrida, as well as “the sword that separates the earth”, in the language of the highlanders. This sword was technically more famous than Kula himself, and it was part of the reason why the Earth Sword Saint Darius was given his title.
Brendel could not help but stared at the Royal Highness Princess. Unexpectedly, Princess Gryphine nodded to him with an embarrassed face, “Mr Brendel, I’m sorry I forgot to mention it to you…… Your grandfather’s sword was given by Aunt Tania when he was young.”
“The guy even promised me that he’d one day bring me an actually Holy Sword in exchange for it, but he failed to keep his promise.” Tania complained, like a little child. “But that’s okay, his grandson has now grown up—”
Damn, the plot really is going in that son-pays-off-father’s-debt direction!
“Wait, what do you want!” Brendel shouted. He suddenly felt that one of the worst decisions he made today was to come here. He’d come to get his equipment fixed, he hadn’t expected to meet a creditor! There was definitely something wrong with his script!
“Relax, I won’t really ask you to go look for a Holy Sword. That is just a wish I had when I was young; my desire for adventure has faded already.” The Faerie lady replied generously.
“I wouldn’t do it even if you want me to look for it.” Brendel replied crossly. He did have a genuine Halran Gaia, which was technically considered as a Holy Sword too, but it was a sword that he had spent a lot of time and effort finding, and not one he would ever give to someone else to pay off debt. He could not help but complain,
When other people find out they have powerful relatives they have all sorts of good things happen to them, but why is it that when it comes to me, it’s either an enemy or a creditor? Just what awful things did Sword Saint Darius while he had been alive?
The Faerie lady was not affected by Brendel’s bad attitude. Instead, she said to Carol, who was nearby, “Carol, can you go inside and help me to get that box out?”
“The one with the ring of jewels embedded on the lock.”
“Oh.” The still teary-eyed girl replied, before running to the back. But Brendel felt like the evil merchant of a Faerie lady was just trying to send away the outsider. Sure enough, in the next moment, she turned around and said, “Gryphine, Mr Brendel. Can you do me a favor?”
“Aunt Tania, what do you need?” Before Brendel could answer, Princess Gryphine next to him spoke up.
“I'd like to ask you to help me find something.”
“Aunt Tania…. Those Holy Swords from the legends have long since disappeared. This is no longer the age of the War of The Holy Saints.” Princess Gryphine smiled helplessly at her request, obviously aware of this ‘aunt’ of hers’ weird personality.
“That’s not necessarily true.” The Faerie lady looked unconcerned, and she put down her teacup, “The true era of glory is only just beginning, but let’s not get into that. I’m not asking you to go find me a Holy Sword or anything.”
“Huh?” Princess Gryphine paused in surprise, “What do you want to find then, Aunt Tania?”
“This is actually the reason I came to Ampere Seale, and it’s not like I have to own the thing. I just want to take a look at it, and my lifelong wish will be fulfilled.”
Brendel saw the Royal Highness Princess’s unconcerned face, he knew that the elder Faerie lady had a lot of lifelong wishes. Maybe that’s what she said when she gave the sword to my grandfather.
“Aunt Tania, what are you looking for actually.”
“The Azure Lance, I heard it’s hidden somewhere in Ampere Seale.”