“Holy crap! Dave? An immortal being?” after Jianmen told them some more information about the mythical world he was involved with, both Jason and Caroline came up from the basement, doubting almost every aspect of their lives.
“Well, not ‘immortal’ immortal - they can still die, technically.” Jianmen looked back at them and said: “They just don’t really age.”
“And… uh, when can we have a chance to meet some of these people? Or visit some of these places? I mean, random gifted humans are one thing. A floating magical school? That’s whole another level.” Jason excitedly asked.
“I don’t know man.” Caroline sighed: “The world just feels more and more dangerous the more I learn about it. I mean, with the underground mercenaries, vampires and werewolves. And now the rival witch covens and wizard clans ...”
“No worries, we have our code. And we have a government agency to keep things in check.” just this moment, a figure in a purple coat appeared in the front door of the inn.
“What are you doing here?” Jianmen put his bottle of wine down on the reception’s desk.
“Oh, a late night visit from a lady and this is how you respond?” Josephine Wong walked into the lounge with a smile and gently nodded at Jason and Caroline: “Hi Jason, nice to see you again. And you must be Caroline, nice to meet you.”
“Yeah. Nice to meet you too.” Caroline nervously greeted Josephine Wong: “Now I feel stupid - I should have gone to the movie set...”
“It’s fine. That is a stinky place to meet anyway. ” Josephine raised her purse, took out three abnormally large, heavy and dusty books and put them on the desk: “Did you clean that filthy place up yet?”
“Is that something we’re supposed to do now? Boss?” Caroline looked at Jianmen with a sarcastic expression: “How come we’ve never heard of that?”
“My bad, my bad.” Jianmen made a “you caught me and I’m sorry” gesture: “But to be fair, that was still before your tribulation of fate.”
“Still needlessly mysterious as always.” Josephine Wong gently patted on the three heavy books: “Here you go, three tomes from the once glorious Paladin church of Galantium. Not directly copyable and scribable, which tells you they are really good!”
“That’s way more than I asked for.” Jianmen said with a frown: “Thank you, I really appreciate it. But how much do I owe you?”
“How about a favor to be redeemed later?”
“I’d prefer not - too vague for my taste. Just let me know what you want.”
“You know ...” Josephine Wong sighed: “Our barter will go much faster if you’re open to owing some favors once in a while.”
“Sorry, old habits - money or material things are easy. Favors are hard, and uh… bad karma.”
“Okay. How about - help me with a mortality scapegoat?” Josephine shrugged and asked: “I could use your help - you know it’s such a perilous process.”
“Why, you don’t have one already?”
“No… the one I had before had expired. It was time-bound and it just became useless.”
“Ah, happy birthday.” Jianmen raised his bottle like a toast: “Would you tell me why you need it with this kind of urgency?”
“I am officially stationed here, and I will be for at least the foreseeable future.” Josephine Wong sighed: “You’re not involved, you don’t know how shady a lot of business here is.”
“Okay. I am happy to help.” Jianmen thought for a short second and answered: “Which kind do you want? Soul bound? Or something better”
Josephine scoffed: “Yeah, as if I can afford that - no, just another time-bound one is good enough for now. I’ll think about better options when I can afford it.”
“Okay. ” Jianmen thought for a while: “I can provide you with some material as well, it should be good enough to extend the effectiveness by a few years.”
“Oh my, you do know how to spoil a lady.” Josephine chuckled: “And here I think I could get you to owe me a few favors.”
“The extra payments’ on their behalf.” Jianmen pointed at Caroline and Jason with the hand that held the wine bottle: “The audit program still available?”
“Done.” Josephine smiled and nodded, then shook Jianmen’s hand: “Pleasure doing business with you as always. I’ll let you know when I plan to do it. And hopefully next time I’ll have some news on the stones.”
“What just happened?” after Josephine Wong left, Caroline asked Jianmen in awe.
“Yeah, I understood most of the words ...” Jason added, “But I don’t know what you were talking about… ”
“Mortality scapegoats are like the wooden figures I gave you.” Jianmen explained: “They will die for you once. And it has a couple of different grades, ranking from cheap to expensive: flesh bound, time bound, soul bound and void bound. Time bound means it will be effective for a period of time, typically from one birthday to another. Soul bound means it will be bound to the soul and will remain active as long as your soul is not destroyed, which is kind of a loop hole because it will activate before someone destroys your soul. And uh… yeah the Grant academy has an audit program for guest students. It is every three years so mark your calendars next summer.”
“Wow… that’s… thank you!” Jason immediately said, and Caroline nodded after a short hesitation.
“Any other questions? Before I show you what’s in the garden?”