Chapter 88
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“You know, we could probably make a door instead of buying one,” Damien said, scratching his chin. “We’d have to buy something for it to swing on, but I could probably carve something out of rock. It wouldn’t be pretty, but I’d imagine doors aren’t too cheap.”

“Let’s find out how much they are first,” Sylph suggested. “There’s a time when our time is more valuable than gold, and if a door only costs a little, I don’t see why we shouldn’t just buy one. I’ll be saving my credits, though.”

“Good idea,” Damien said. “And I will be as well. We could probably do with some shopping, though. Our room is starting to look a little depressing, and I think I’m going to treat myself to a meal that doesn’t resemble vomit. I think my finances can suffer that hit.”

Sylph grinned and gave him a nod. “Just don’t go too crazy. I can’t imagine things get any easier from here on out.” Her expression grew somber and she lowered her voice. “And… you need to be careful. I’m sure you noticed, but you’ve drawn a lot of attention. Whatever you’re hiding, you’d best redouble your efforts.”

“Thanks,” Damien said, giving her a small nod. “I’ll keep that in mind and hope that it was worth it.”

They put the gold back into their bags. Damien tied the drawstrings shut and put it into his travel bag, which he slung over his shoulder. Sylph tied hers to her belt. Once they were done, the two of them headed out of the room and slipped by Mark and the Grays’ gates as they headed down the mountain. Once they got to the bottom, the two of them headed into the town.

“Anywhere you want to start?” Sylph asked, adjusting the bag on her hip. “I’m not sure how early the general store opens, and I don’t even know where to start with getting a new door.”

“No way to know when it opens but to head over and find out,” Damien replied. “And I figure that’s a good place to start. They might not sell doors there, but I’m sure the clerk could point is in the right direction.”

Their path decided, the two of them increased their pace. They hadn’t spent much time exploring the campus recently, since they’d mostly been in the arena with Delph or training in the forest, but it still only took them a little over ten minutes to find the store.

To their pleasure, the general store’s doors were already wide open. Damien stepped inside with Sylph close on his heels. Aside from the large man behind the counter, it was entirely deserted. He glanced up from a book, quickly setting it down with a loud bang as they walked in.

“Welcome to the store,” he said with a wide grin. “I don’t tend to get many visitors this early. Is there something… particular you’re looking for?”

“A door,” Damien said, ignoring the raised eyebrow that the shopkeeper was sending them. “We were wondering if you knew where to get one and how much it would cost.”

“Ah,” he said, looking slightly disappointed. “You can get one commissioned here, if you’d like. It’ll run you anywhere between fourth five and a thousand gold, depending on how fancy you want it. I could show you a catalogue if you’d like.”

Damien grimaced at the high price tag. “I think we’re probably fine. Thank you, though. It’s a bit out of our price range.”

“Understandable,” the shopkeep said. “Most students end up making their own doors. The only ones who buy them are wealthy enough to not notice the money, and those are few and far in between at Blackmist. So, is there anything else I can help you two lovely people with?”

“Could you tell me what this is?” Sylph asked, reaching into her bag and pulling out the three vials she’d won in the competition.

The clerk squinted at the vials. Sylph walked up to the desk and put them down on the counter so he could get a better look. The man raised them to the light, squinting at the small green plants within them.

“They’re all the same plant. Ironleaf Thistle. It’s a magical herb that can help make your body stronger. These are rather expensive – if you don’t mind my asking, how did you get them without knowing what they are?”

He paused, squinting at them. Then he reached under his desk and took out a pair of comically small spectacles, setting them on the bridge of his nose and peering at Damien and Sylph.

“My goodness, aren’t you the first and semifinalist from the Year One ranking tournament?” He clapped, giving them a wide grin. “You are! Great job yesterday. It was quite amusing watching Teg lose his cool.”

“Thank you,” Damien said. Teg clearly wasn’t well liked among the student body. “Is my vial the same?”

He showed it to the clerk, who nodded after inspecting it for a moment.

“Thank you,” Damien said.

“No problem,” the clerk replied. “Is there anything else you’ll be needing today?”

“I could use some new clothes,” Sylph said. She saw the predatory look in his eyes and held up a hand. “Nothing fancy or expensive, please. I need something practical. I could also use some soap, if you’ve got it.”

The clerk’s grin didn’t waver. He just gave her a nod. “Of course. The soap is on the shelf behind you – the cheapest one is the plain brown bar. It smells a bit like wet paper, but it works fine. As for clothes, just give me your wristband and I’ll see what I can do for you.”

Sylph raised an eyebrow, but she took the metal band off and handed it to the man. He took it from her and tapped it against his own, his eyes looking off into the distance as he read something that only he could see.

He nodded and handed the band back to Sylph. “Got it. We’ve got something in your size. How many sets do you want? The university helps cover the price of clothing since it gets damaged a lot in training, so it’ll only cost you ten silver per set.”

“Seven sets then,” Sylph said, grabbing the bar of soap and putting it on the counter. “And this as well.”

“Of course,” the clerk replied, giving her a wink and disappearing into the back to get the requested goods.

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