Chapter 48: Aini’s Family (Part 1)
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
There were many different types of gemstones and many of them were similar in appearance. This sickly youth had merely taken a glance at the finger-sized fragment and had been able to identify it correctly. He must have had really good eyesight.
“How many do you have?” The youth looked up at Saleen, instantly having returned to his composed self.
“How many do you want?”
Upon hearing Saleen’s words, the youth frowned and walked out from behind the counter. He closed the door of the shop and hung a “closed” sign on it. Walking back to Saleen, he said, “Sir, if you have a lot of fluorite, that will be a problem. I own a very small shop and cannot buy everything, and if you sell it to someone else, you cannot be sure that it is safe.”
“Safe?” Saleen furrowed his brows and looked directly at the youth.
“Are you from Sikeqinya?”
“I could tell from your accent. You may not be very familiar with it but in the Qin Empire, all of the weaponry shops are backed by large families and the three largest weaponry shops own a total of eighty percent of the trade. When you have power, it is hard to prevent such things from happening. In order to survive, the small weaponry shops are not lacking in underhanded means. You’re a foreigner. After processing, this fluorite could get you two thousand gold coins. The weaponry shop would want a forty percent profit, and that would supposedly leave you with one thousand two hundred gold coins. But, if you’re lucky, you would get five hundred gold coins at most.”
Saleen laughed and asked, “What about you?”
“Even if I intend to have you as a friend, I can only give you a thousand gold coins.” The youth answered honestly.
“Sir, do you want to have me as a friend?” The youth laughed, approachable yet cunning at the same time.
Saleen tapped against the glass counter with his fingers, not in a rush to answer and looking blankly at the magic dagger within the counter. Even though this youth was sickly, he definitely didn’t have the aura of a commoner. If he made this friend, Saleen certainly wouldn’t mind selling his goods here.
“Have you thought about it?’
Saleen pretended to be deep in thought, waiting a while before saying, “You can call me Saleen. Saleen Metatrin.”
The youth broke into a large grin and said, “I’m Aini, Aini Clyde.” Seeing no reaction from Saleen after he had said his name, he grew certain that Saleen knew nothing about the Qin Empire. Over here, no one was clueless about the Clyde family.
What an innocent youth! The two of them couldn’t help but think the same thing.
“Who are these two?” Aini inquired politely. From Saleen’s equipment, he could tell that despite being a low-grade mage, he might not have been someone of low status. At the very least he had a decent teacher, or perhaps even a powerful magic lineage. The white crystal ring on his finger was worth at least tens of thousands of gold coins, and not every mage could afford it. Saleen’s magic robes were the same, keeping three constant magics and exceeding what a mage of his grade could own.
Sitting beside Saleen, Sika kept quiet. Saleen and Aini were conversing in the Qin language and she couldn’t understand a word. Nailisi was walking around the shelves, not looking back either.
“This is Sika. That is Nailisi.” Saleen diffused the awkwardness. “They do not speak the Qin language.”
“Let’s talk in the back, cough…” Aini covered his mouth and started coughing. His coughs were violent and the skin on his face turned a deep shade of red, reminding Saleen of Canghong. He wondered if that guy had made it out of the Chaotic Swamp.
The room in the back was even bigger than the shop in front. What surprised Saleen was the large table in the center of the room, as it was similar to the one that Jason had and was covered in magic props. Was Aini an alchemist?
The smell of sulfur in the room was combined with a rare perfume: rosemary.
Aini went into the room and coughed even harder, doubling over as his shoulders scrunched up in pain. Saleen took an empty gold cup from the table and created a portion of restorative water, putting half of it into the gold cup and absorbing the other half into his left hand.
“Thank you.” Aini straightened his back upon seeing Saleen’s gesture. He took the gold cup and drank it at once.
“Nailisi, don’t move!” Saleen saw Nailisi pick up a piece of metal from the table, about to take a bite to taste it. This gold part had been pieced together from hundreds of small parts. It was around a foot tall and was similar to a lego block.
Just as Saleen stopped Nailisi, Sika picked up a crystal beaker. The beaker was filled to the brim with a suspicious green fluid. The fluid was sticky with beads of gel in it that were almost like fish roe.
“Chief, it’s a garuda!” Sika reluctantly put down the crystal beaker.
“Um…” Saleen couldn’t hold it in any longer and said in embarrassment to Aini, ” I’m sorry, they have never been out before.”
Aini waved his hand and said, “It’s alright. I use these to pass the time. They aren’t worth much. Saleen, sit.”
Aini brought Saleen over to the bench at the corner of the wall and they both sat down. There were only two mats on the floor but they had been fashioned into a cloudlike shape.
“How long have you been injured?” Saleen could tell by now that Aini was not sick, but rather severely injured.
“Five, six years?” Aini smiled forcefully. He changed the topic and said, “Saleen, how many gemstones do you have? I cannot buy all of them if there are too many, but I do not want you to sell them to other families either. Help me out. Wait until I raise more money…”
Saleen extended his left hand from his sleeve and placed it on the bench.
Aini gave a bitter smile and said, “It seems like you’re in need of money too.”
It was possible for Saleen to use restorative water to treat his hand as it would recover but take a very long time. If he could buy some high-grade magic medicine, this amount of time could be greatly shortened and perhaps not affect his promotion.
“How much can you give?” Saleen and Aini were both bound by sickness, and there was a heartfelt connection. He had no family in the Qin Empire while this Aini seemed to be from a big family. Moreover, since this was such a small, remote area, it was definitely a good opportunity to make friends. Saleen had the instincts of a merchant and hadn’t lost his childlike innocence. He had no reason to reject Aini’s friendship.
Aini was touched as well. Doing a quick calculation, he answered, “The amount of money I can transfer probably amounts to sixty thousand gold coins.”
Saleen was counting in his heart, too. Sixty thousand gold coins wasn’t a small amount, but his hand would require medicine every day. High-grade magic medicine all cost thousands of gold coins, and after curing his hand, it was possible that he would be left with nothing again. He still needed to buy magic nuclei and magic ingredients, and all of those would cost at least a hundred gold coins each day.
“Does your family have any good pharmacists?” Saleen asked another question.
Aini understood immediately. Smiling, he said, “My uncle is a high-grade pharmacist. However, he is in Phoenix. Your injury…”
“I have errands to run at the Bitter Water Prefecture. If it is on the way, I wouldn’t mind.” Saleen had already made up his mind to sustain a friendship with the Clyde family. Just as they were deep in conversation, Nailisi held up the crystal beaker that Sika had picked up earlier. She stuck her tongue into the beaker and started licking.
“It’s really alright. Garuda eggs aren’t poisonous.” Aini found it interesting, Saleen was about his age yet here he was walking around with two beautiful women. He was only a Grade 1 mage, so it was surprising that his teacher actually felt at ease with this. Saleen was lucky that he had met him this time. If it had been a weaponry shop with ties to a bandit gang, he would have been a goner.
Saleen was troubled too. He wasn’t afraid of Nailisi getting poisoned. He was worried that if she broke anything, he would need to pay. Sika was better. After putting down the crystal beaker, she hadn’t touched anything else.
“Aini, I have a gemstone worth sixty thousand for you, but looking at your injury, it doesn’t seem to be something that is curable with magic medicine. If you want to take me as a friend, tell me about it. Maybe there is something I can do to help.”
“You cannot help. This is a curse.”
“Curse?” Saleen was shocked. It was a type of divine spell. Even though the name sounded evil, it was actually a rare ability from the sacred Holy See.
“Saleen, let me be frank with you. As a direct descendant of the Clyde family, I used to have a bright future back in Loulan Duchy. When I was eight, I was a high-grade magic disciple, and by the time I was twelve, I was already a Grade 3 mage. Everyone thought I would become a grand mage by the time I was fifteen and would be transferred back to the Qin Empire and into the nucleus of the family. However, that winter, I saved a mercenary who turned out to be a criminal wanted by the tribunal. I ended up offending the Holy See and was secretly cursed.”
Aini looked dejected as he carried on, “As you would likely know, to curse a Grade 3 mage without being found out, that person had to have been at least a deacon in the Holy See. Because of this, my parents went berserk. Even though they didn’t capture the person who had cursed me, they murdered all the missionaries who were in hiding in that city. Since they abused their family power and caused great losses, my parents were called back to the Qin Empire and are never to leave the family again. Although I wasn’t in the wrong, I lost my bright future. My magic chords are disappearing day by day. Sooner or later I will become a cripple, and hence I was sent to the border to manage this shop.”
Upon hearing this, Saleen grew agitated. The Clyde family was strong enough to take on the sacred Holy See. Even though Loulan Duchy was part of the Qin Empire, the Holy See could not be involved directly. However, a religious tribunal was not something that anyone would dare offend. Those crazed fellows did not care for anything.
“If my curse could be lifted, my family wouldn’t have abandoned me and allowed me to live out my days here.” At the mention of living out his days, Aini could not help but show his grievances on his face.
“You’ve found a cure?” Saleen could not understand it. If even the Clyde family could not lift the curse on Aini, why did he need so much money?
“There are two ways. The first is to kill the one who cursed me, but with so many people out there and this person being at least Grade 7, there is almost no chance of this happening. The second way…”
Aini looked into Saleen eyes and said, “Since my magic chords are disappearing, I might as well learn death magic.”
He observed Saleen’s reaction. Death magic did not have a good reputation, and even in the Qin Empire, there were not many people who were willing to learn it.
“That is a tough road…” Saleen gave a long sigh. Thinking back to the time where he had been constantly worried about his magic chords, he could empathize with Aini. Back then, he had been willing to pay any price to gain magic abilities.