Chapter 102: A Artificer makes some purchases.
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The world felt different to Falean after her internal energy changed. Before she could get a sense of the world through the magical energy in the air, now she had to rely on her soul to take in the world. As they walked through the market Falean found that she could sense the souls of the people around them. Jack stopped her after a bit and asked "What exactly do you need to get?"

She pulled up the blueprints that she was looking to build at the moment and said "I need to get a series of magic crystals, about three pounds of them. I will also need a variety of metals, preferably in rods. A few other minor things, and of course Dust of a Drake."

"What is Dust of a Drake?" Jack asked in confusion.

"Small Drakes shed skin a couple of times a year. People collect the shed scales and grind them into dust. They have a unique property of being really sensitive to fire magic, they can cause small explosions."

Jack nodded, and they continued through the market. Observing a vendor that was selling Magic Crystals Falean walked up to it and began to take a look at what they were offering. Behind the counter she saw that they were mostly cast off magical crystals, Mages typically sold them to the public as they were not worth using in spellwork.

They however would still be of use to her. Falean looked at a gnome woman that was behind the counter and said "I'm looking for several fire crystals. In addition I would like about three pounds worth of crystals of any variety."

"Of course, let me show you the best of the fire crystals." The Gnome pulled out a box that contained the fire crystals. 

Going through the box Falean frowned at the quality of them. While she knew the mages kept the best, these were barely passable. "Do you have any better ones?"

The Gnome shook her head and said "The Queen has been on a purchasing spree of magical crystals from the mages. We only get the really bad ones lately."

"I see. That just means I'm going to have to get more than I thought to compensate for the lack of power. I will take this box of fire Crystals, and in addition increase the three pound crystals to six pounds."

"Of course. Sorry for the inconvenience." The gnome woman packed Faleans order into a large box and said "That will be forty small silver."

"Here you go." Falean put the coins into the gnome's hand. "When do you expect to have stronger Magic Crystals in stock again?"

"I'm unsure. The Queen hasn't let up on the purchase of Magic Crystals. It looks like she will start purchasing all the Magic crystals and then I won't know where I will be able to get a supply anymore."

"I wish you luck with your business." Falean said and stepped away with the box of crystals and put it into her inventory. When she did so, she got some stares from people around her but they quickly looked away.

Going forward Jack said "I could help you a lot faster if I knew what you wanted to try to build."

"Several things, one I have to create a weapon for myself. As I can no longer cast magical spells I must rely on the skills that I get from your system. With JP's help I have designed several suitable weapons for myself. In addition since you now have a Gunslinger, JP suggested I help you by building a few guns for your new gunslinger."

Jack looked at her and asked "Are you making a gun for your weapon?"

Falean shook her head "No, that weapon while interesting has no appeal to me. It lacks the elegance of magic to it. I talked it out with JP, who had another idea for the way I should go. He came up with a plan called a Magical Girl route for me to take."

"But you don't have any magical power?" Jack said, confused.

Falean thought back to the explanation JP gave and said "No, it's just a name of a type of warrior he was familiar with. He helped me design a variety of blueprints to build, so I could power them with Soul power. He said they would resonate with my outfit when it changes form."

Jack nodded in thought then said "Be careful not to rely too heavily on JP."

"Are you saying I should be careful around him? Isn't that the same as saying I should be careful around you?"

"I want you to make yourself stronger, rather than having to rely on me or a piece of my soul that may not always have your interests in mind."

"You do not need to fear me becoming too reliant on JP, or yourself for that matter. I am using the both of you to a means to an end, which is the downfall of my father. I serve you because I choose too. Should this relationship no longer benefit me, then I will leave, of course only if you remove my collar." Falean said rubbing the adamantine collar that hung on her neck. "Which I won't be asking you to do anytime soon. Not while those things are still out there."

"I understand."

"No, I don't think you do." Falean turned and stared into Jack's eyes and said "I remember everything. While I was not in control, I still recall how I felt. Quite honestly Jack you terrify me. I'm incredibly weak right now. You could dispatch me with a flick of your wrist. I recollect how it felt when you punched me during that fight. Even my bones still feel sore from your assault. While I have some, trust you won't simply get rid of me, as it's not in your nature, you still nearly killed me."

Jack was silent for a moment before saying "I can promise you as long as you are my User, I won't harm you."

"That's the key isn't it, though. You can remove my User status can't you."

"As long as you wish to remain my User, I won't ever force you to give up the status. Even if you were to do something I despise, I will be there with you. I may act to stop you of course, but I won't remove you from being my User."

"We will see." Falean said and continued onto a Metal dealer in the market. There was a rough looking man who looked at Falean and seemingly dismissed her at the same time. She said "Greetings, I need four rods of steel, two iron rods, one bar of copper. Plus three Mithril rods."

The man shook his head and said "We sell rods by the dozen here. If you want singular bars, you will need to visit a blacksmith."

Falean thought about it and came to the conclusion she would likely need more metal in the future so it would be alright to get more than she needed. "Under those circumstances I would like to get a dozen of each." 

"No Mithril I'm afraid, you will have to get that somewhere else." He grunted.

"Fine. How much for the steel, iron and copper?"

"Let's see, all told I can do the deal for five small gold coins."

This man was overcharging her by nearly half, Falean thought and said "I can do three small gold coins and not a coin more."

The man looked at Falean then at Jack and sighed "Fine. But you will have to move it yourself." He looked at Jack and said "If you wanted to pick up metal you should have brought more slaves." He turned and pointed at the piles of metal rods and said "Your pick."

Going into the stall, she picked up the heavy rods one by one until she was satisfied she had gotten them all. She pulled out the coins and gave them to the man. At that point Falean placed the rods into her inventory causing a grunt of surprise from the man and then he said "Of course, you're a noble slave aren't you." He turned to Jack and said "Forgive me sir" 

Jack looked uncomfortable and said "Do you know where we can get some Mithril Rods."

"If you are needing magical metals in quantities, you will be needing to see Gareth. His shop is near the market on Yellow Street. It's called Metals and Curios."

They left, and Jack looked at her and said "I'm sorry for the way he treated you."

Falean shrugged and said "It comes with the collar. If I am to wear it, I must accept others will see me as a slave."

"I despise the idea of slavery."

"I happen to disagree with you about that." Falean said.

"What?" Jack asked.

"There are reasons for slavery to exist. Though I agree some forms of it should be abolished."

"Which forms would you want to keep?" Jack said horrified.

"Criminals. Instead of keeping them caged and being a burden on the Empire or kingdom they should be put to use to repent for their crimes."

"That's forcing them to do jobs they would not normally choose to do. To me that sounds like barbarism." Jack said.

"To me locking them in a cage or dungeon for their sentence is barbarism, and worse a drain on the resources that should be put to making the kingdom or empire better. Needless to say there is also the extreme method of executing the most severe cases of criminals and charging the rest with a fine."

"What about rehabilitation?" Jack said.

"What better form of Rehabilitation than helping out the kingdom or empire?"

"We will have to agree to disagree. I hope if you do become the Empress you change your mind and abolish slavery within your kingdom."

She frowned and thought for a moment and said "I do agree slavery has become a bit too rampant in the world these days. I can't promise to totally abolish slavery, but I will make an effort to remove the casual use of slavery."

"That will be a start."

They left the market and walked onto Yellow Street. Falean instantly saw why the street had gotten that name. The buildings had a hideous yellow paint job on them. Going forward they eventually found the shop called Metal and Curios. Unlike most of the other buildings that had a fresh yellow paint job, this shop was a bit on the dingy side. Falean could see dirt had been collecting on the shop for years and what was presumably a yellow shop looked more brown then yellow.

Going in, Falean found the place stank as well. The smell tingled with her nose as it burned it's way to her lungs and she coughed as she walked forward into the dreary shop. Behind the counter was a really old man that glared at Falean as she walked up.

The old man looked at Jack and said "I presume you are this slave's master."

"I am. Though she is her to do business with you. So please talk with her."

He grunted and said "What business does a slave have with me?"

"Are you Gareth? I was told you might be able to sell me some Mithril Rods."

Gareth eyed her with a look that sent disgust through her body and said "I do have a few mithril rods for sale. Scavenged the metal straight from the ores myself. It's the purest mithril you will find in the city."

"That's excellent, what are you selling them for?"

"Four hundred big gold coins for a rod."

Snorting Falean said "That is absurd. Mithril runs at most fifty big gold coins per rod in a backwoods market such as this. At that price I should just mine it myself."

"Take it or leave it." Gareth shrugged.

"Is there no deal we could come to lower the price?" Jack asked.

Gareth smiled and said "There is something I need to have done. If you are willing to do this for me, I will lower my price to forty big gold coins per rod."

Not getting a good feeling, Falean asked "What exactly do you need done?"

"Why it's simple, I'm an old man it's hard for me to get up and down my stairs. Last night I heard some rats moving down in my basement. You go down and get rid of them, and we have a deal." Gareth smiled.

While Falean was still getting a handle on her new soul senses, she could tell that Gareth had a foul soul. Plus despite him claiming he had trouble she could tell he was still spry enough to get down stairs without trouble. Especially if he was moving around metal. Sensing a trap, she said "I will have to decline your offer. I believe I will be able to find other sources of Mithril in the city."

Gareth sneered at them as they quickly left his establishment and when they were out and Jack said "His basement was strangely shielded. It could be all the magical metals blocking my senses, but I got the distinct impression that there were no rats down there.

"Yeah, he was lying about that for sure. For what reason I don't know, I'm not in the mood to find out either." They got off the Yellow Road and found a street lined with shops. Falean saw one that was selling various monster materials and she entered and was greeted by a young man who smiled when they entered.

He said "Hello, how can we help you today?"

"I'm looking for Dust of a Drake. Do you have any in stock?"

The man nodded and said "You are in luck. We just got a large shipment in. Most of the supply of it has already been brought up by the Queen."

"What does she require with Dust of a Drake?" Jack asked.

"It's likely for the celebration that is coming up."

"Celebration?" Falean asked.

"The King's birthday, it's happening next week. They used Dust of a Drake in some spectacular events that will light up the sky in colors."

"Interesting. I am looking to get a full bag worth of it."

"We can do that. That will be three big silver coins."

Digging the coins out she placed them out on the table and the man went into the back and retrieved a large bag of the dust. Taking it she placed it into her inventory and they left the store. They were heading towards a blacksmith shop when Jack suddenly stopped and said "I need to check out this store."

Looking at where he was gesturing Falean saw a shop that had a large rabbit on a sign and a picture of a shoe next to it. She looked at Jack and said "Why do we need to visit a cobbler? Do you need a new pair of shoes?"

"No. The man who purchased the ingredients of Errais Oil, had a shoe that was likely made here."

Following Jack into the store, Falean discovered it to be of a high scale quality. Some of the boots and shoes that were placed on the shelves were of excellent quality. She found herself strangely tempted to buy a new pair of shoes. As they approached the counter Falean saw there was a rabbitkin girl standing behind the counter currently working on a pair of boots.

Jack walked up and said "Hello."

Putting aside the boot that she was working on the Rabbitkin said "Hello, Are you coming in looking for a new pair of shoes, or to get repairs done? We also make customized shoes if you are interested." The Rabbitkin peered over the counter and took a look at their feet.

When she saw Faleans heels, the girl let out a squeak and dashed around the counter. "Wow, what absolute craftsmanship with these shoes. What elegance, what beauty." The Rabbit kin looked up at Falean and said "May I touch them?"

Falean shrugged and said "Sure, you can take a look at them as long as you answer our questions." Falean found a chair nearby and sat down. 

The Rabbitkin nodded and said "Ask all you want." She pulled out a measuring tape and began to measure the shoes that Falean was wearing.

While she was doing that Jack said "Earlier today I was walking along and happened to bump into a man. Now we both were in a rush and dropped stuff. Unfortunately, he picked up some of my things as well. I didn't realize until later and now I'm looking for him. I happened to see your marking on the bottom of his shoe, and I was hoping you would be able to tell me who it was."

The Rabbitkin frowned while she was feeling the shoes and said "I"m sorry, I cannot reveal any of my customers' information. Client Privacy Protection is a key cornerstone of my business. I handle a lot of VIPs that wish that what occurs in here stays in here.”

"That's completely understandable. I'm not asking you to tell me anything about him. Surely you can just tell me his name?"

She looked troubled for a moment and then said "Tell you what, you describe the man to me and then I will tell you if I know him. If I think he won't mind me telling you his name, I will tell you."

"That sounds reasonable. He is a tall man that has really messed up hair. He is also unnaturally clumsy."

She frowned and said "Oh that asshole. Yeah I know him. He's Dean Marsah, a mage."

"Why is he an asshole?"

"Because he had the nerve of not paying me in full what he owed me. Claiming my workmanship was shoddy. Just because his legs are different heights and he can't walk worth a damn doesn't make it my fault when he trips in his new shoes."

"He's a mage?"

"Yeah, not sure what kind, though. He was hired by Lord Reata, so you can probably find him at that estate."

"How do you know that?" Jack asked.

"Because he came in with a letter of introduction by Lord Reata. Lord Reata is a Marquess that occasionally uses my services."

"Much obliged." Jack said.

"No thank you for allowing me to gaze on this amazing new shoe. It has got my creative juices flowing!" The Rabbitkin jumped up and said "Do you need anything else?"

"No, thank you. If I need a new pair of shoes, I will come to you." Jack said and escorted Falean out.

When they were out Falean asked "Did that help you?"

"Definitely a little bit. As soon as possible we should get the rest of what you need. I have a feeling that you will be needing your weapon soon. After we get done here we need to head back to the Inn, it's almost time for me to meet the gods." Jack said and they continued onto the blacksmith.

Thank you for reading my story. I hope you have enjoyed it so far.