4: Shopping
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Galen led Luca out of the house back to the same little market street they’d walked through yesterday.

What Luca hadn’t noticed before is that aside from the open-air stalls scattered along the wide street there were also the more familiar permanent stores behind them.  Well, sort-of familiar, aside from the whole still growing look every building had. It was one of these stores they entered.

Unlike most first-time parents Galen was being surprisingly practical with his clothing choices. He picked up a few items of clothes in various shade of green and held them up to Luca.  “These ones look like they should fit, why don’t you go try them on.”

A friendly looking sub-beastman with deer antlers led the parent and child pair to the change rooms.  Luca insisted he could mange on his own so Galen smiling agreed to let him try on his own.  "Call if you need help," both amused and a little miffed by his cubs independence. 

Dumping his piles of clothes on a handy looking fossil leaf. Luca turned to the side and was confronted with the pretty looking nine, or almost ten-year-old cat boy reflected in the mirror.

“…!” Large almond shaped emerald eyes with flecks of gold and slit pupils were wide with astonishment.  Inch long, snow white strands that resembled fur more than hair, swayed on his head. Hiding in the fluff was a pair of trembling rounded ears.  His tail finally frozen due to shock, matched his fluffy head. The gaping mouth displayed two rows of slightly pointed teeth.

This is what I look like?! Staring at the cute button nose and rosy lips framed by good cheek bones, all perfectly situated on a soft round face, Luca didn’t know what to think.  His lovely face stopped his teeth from making him a mainstay of horror films. Instead of the evil child that bites off your hand he resembled more a fluffy kitten that clings to your hand with all four paws while it playfully nibbles. Recalling his dads feathered head Luca sighed, well at least I don’t have whiskers. 

His eyebrow twitched a little as he started to try on the clothes. It’s ok, I’m only young after all, I’m sure I’ll look less…pretty, and more manly when I get older.  Bolstering himself with this false comfort Luca ignored his reflection and put on the simple clothes that, while comfortable, were very basic. The top was a loose shirt with full length sleeves. The pants were straight and slightly baggy, with just a drawstring to tighten them.

“Dad I think these are a little big,” Luca shuffled out to show his dad, being careful not to trip on the pant legs that dragged on the ground. His looked up at his dad and stretched out his arms, fingers barely peeking out of his sleeves. 

“No these are just right. I’ll take the hem up and let it out again when you’re taller. They’ll last longer that way.” Galen nodded to himself overruling Luca’s opinion.

How practical, Luca internally agreed.

Luca observed as Galen paid for four sets of clothes.  One of which he was currently wearing. The sales person had also helpfully taken up the hems, while gushing over how the colour matched Luca’s eyes.   All four sets cost a total of four silver coins. Luca really wanted to know if that was cheap or expensive but after that moment last night, he didn’t want to arouse suspicion about how much he understood.  Luca decided play it safe and keep observing for now. 

The salesperson placed the bundle of clothes in the centre of a red Lotus like flower. Then Galen placed his hand on a raised leafy protrusion “Home,” The large red lotus curled up over the clothes and pulsed with light a few times before opening again. 

Luca stared wide eyed “where did the clothes go?” Luca blurted out in astonishment.  The shop attendant looked at Luca with surprise “how can you not know what a lotus-port is?”

Galen smiled proudly at the deer sub-beastman “He just hatched yesterday,”

The friendly deer person looked more shocked than Luca “congratulations,” the word seemed mostly automatic as doe eyed sub-beastman was still staring stiffly at Luca.

“Thank you,” Galen hummed with pleasure.

Don’t talk over my head answer the damn question! Luca screamed in his heart while striving to maintain a shocked but slightly curious gaze.

The deer person finally recovered from his shock and smiled warmly at Luca, “You’re very smart for a hatchling, I couldn’t tell at all.”

“Thank you,” Luca sulked internally but smiled while directing determined eyes at his dad. 

Sensing Luca’s resentment at his question being ignored, Galen had to suppress a smile. “The clothes just went to the lotus-port we have at home,”

Maintaining his politely curious smile, Lucas eyes demanded further explanation and Galen obliged “A home’s lotus-port can save a person’s aura and as long as the store has a lotus-port you can send things to any lotus port with your aura saved on it. Oh right!” Galen exclaimed “I suppose we should go to the Artisans guild to get you an aura stone too.”

Teleported! That weird flower actually teleported the clothes! In a daze Luca was led to the next shop by his dad. 

The shop was a strange combination of a gardening shop and a witch’s store room.  The front room contained weird and wonderful plants that were displayed in pots. The larger plants sitting round the edges of the store and the smaller plants placed on tables.

Galen led Luca straight past the plant tables and through a door less arch into the second room.  The second room contained a vast array of bottles filled with all kinds of liquids and powders. There were even jars filled with things like eyeballs and dried lizards. Staring nervously at the eyeballs Luca really hoped they were animal eye.  His thoughts halted and back tracked until they resembled a pretzel. Not people animals, but animal animals, he corrected himself as his thoughts got tied into knots. Luca looked away from the unnerving jar.

Galen bought several bottles containing different liquids and powders then used the lotus-port again.

“Won’t the clothes be in the way,” Luca asked distractedly

“No, it’s fine, you’ll see when we get home.” Galen smile, Luca distractedly nodded, still more worried about that eye jar.

Next they went to a butcher’s shop. Where a seven-foot mountain with bear ears cheerfully gave samples of dried meat to Luca.  While Luca was sampling the different flavours, he listened in on the bragging contest between his dad and the bear man. Apparently, the bear beastman and his partner had also recently welcomed a new hatchling to the family.  Though for the butcher, who's name Luca discovered was apparently Boris, this was his third cub. Boris the bear beastman butcher...what was he and his parents thinking. Luca shook the stray thought out of his head and smiled at the friendly man. He unconsciously stepped closer to Galen as the smell of the bear beastman drifted into his nose.

The bear man wrapped Luca’s choice up, and they were also immediately sent home. At this point Luca was just glad that his dad’s money bag wasn’t also some kind of plant.  Instead, the squarish coins with holes in the centre, were threaded like beads on thin metal wire. The wire was then placed in a disappointingly, mundane, leather pouch.

There last stop for the day was a much more important looking building, looming over the single-story shops around it, like the king frog in a pond full of tadpoles. There was a large important looking sign with gold embossed words. At least Luca thought they were words but there was one glaring problem.  He didn’t understand at all!

It looked like some sort of ancient runic script that didn’t look anything like the English Luca was expecting.  Okay so maybe he was being a bit slow, after all this was a different world, but he hadn’t noticed he was speaking a different language! Paying extra attention to the conversations going on in the building around him Luca became even more confused, it all just sounded like normal words. 

After dredging his memories Luca realised something shocking, he’d forgotten the English language! If he paid careful attention to the words spoken in his memories. The words themselves sounded like either static or just incomprehensible.  However even though he couldn't quite understand the words he, could remembered what the conversations were about.  Shaken, Luca wondered what else he had lost when he was reborn. 

But I suppose the main point is that I’m actually illiterate! While Luca was trying to use a more fixable problem to distract himself from the creeping horror he felt at the thought of maybe missing memories. Galen had led them to a tidy looking store worker with rabbit ears, and tail.

“Keep this on for a week so it can attune to your aura,” the rabbit shopkeeper placed a clear round colourless ball that could only be the aura stone, in a bag on a cord and draped it round Luca’s neck.

When Galen paid one gold coin for the aura stone, Luca realised he wasn’t going to figure out this currency system on his own.  He recalled the clothes had cost four whole silver coins, the witch’s products had cost five silver coins, the bears three large bags of jerky were two and a half copper coins.  Yes that’s right Galen had snapped one of the coins in half.  Then this measly looking little aura stone had cost one whole gold coin. It didn’t make sense. How could some fairly basic clothes, cost more than three bags of meat!?

Well, Luca grouched to himself, at least I discovered I can still count even if I can’t read.

Resolving himself Luca looked at Galen who was leading him by the hand.  With a determination to learn by any means, Luca tugged on Galen’s sleeve and turned on the charm.

Galen turned to look at his son and was shot in the heart by an adorable upturned face filled with curiosity. “Dad what were those shiny things you gave all the people we saw today?”

Galen felt a tug of pride at Luca’s interest in finance, deciding to properly educate him.  While his father wasn’t here to lead him astray. “Those are coins, we use them to buy things we need. They’re very important and hard to earn, so you need to be careful how you spend them.”

“But why were they different colours and why did you give more to some people, and less to others.”  Loving how curious his son was Galen started walking again while explaining about how the economy worked and what each of the coins were worth. He even gave Luca a copper and silver coin to look at while he was explaining. 

Luca greedily listened while observing the coins in his hands.  They were square in shape but with rounded corners. They both had a hole in the centre and a diagonal and horizontal line running through them to make them easier to break.  There were 25 copper coins, or 100 copper pieces, to a silver coin, and the same again for silver to gold. However, there were 50 gold coins, or 200 pieces, to a platinum coin and 100 platinum coins to a crystal coin.  The platinum and crystal coins apparently couldn’t be broken like the copper, silver and gold ones could. 

Luca carefully stored this information in his mind as they headed home for the day.

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