Really, what’s up with this kid? His approach made him come off as a newbie merchant.
Being pulled on my mantle repeatedly, I stood up from the bench and tried to shake him off.
As Pochi and I had been leaning our backs against the other’s, she immediately tumbled over face-up. Gah, now she’s falling straight asleep, looking quite satisfied.
As for me, I could only step forward as the boy still pulled the edges of my mantle.
He’s even smaller than Fuyu, and I wouldn’t say that he’s strong, but… oh no – it wouldn’t be good for me to disappear from my group without a word.
“Pochi! Tell everyone I’ll be back soon!”
And so she replied to me with a burp… Really, she’s stopped trying to be lady-like just because everyone else isn’t around, huh?
The boy pulled my mantle quite frantically; it seemed that he didn’t hear me calling him.
We went out to the main street and headed a short way northward to where the lines of weapon shops were, and at a certain point, the boy turned to the side, leading me into a dimly-lit alleyway.
As I’d expected, the path was lined with smaller shops that hadn’t been able to get a spot outside.
Can’t blame the kid for being this desperate, I suppose.
I matched the pace of my steps with the boy’s as we walked on, and eventually, we reached the dead-end of one of the passageway’s branches.
The boy, now out of breath, proceeded to point at the entrance of a worn-out shop there.
“H-here it is.”
Yes, I can see that.
If it was any further in, I would have gone through the wall.
Now, what would I do if this boy brought out a group of ‘bad people’ to try and mug me?
Wait, no – I AM the second strongest person in the Regalia Adventurers’ Guild. If anything, I’m definitely not someone who would be done in by ordinary civilians.
You’ll be fine, Asley. You’ll be fine.
“All right-y… so how about you show me inside?”
“Ah – um… yes!”
For someone who’d practically forcibly pulled me here, it looks like he does have a cowardly side to him as well. Perhaps he’d done that out of impulse more than anything. Since he’s still a kid, I’d say that is appropriate behavior for his age. Back when I was a child, I… nope, can’t remember anything.
The boy opened the door and went ahead into the shop’s gloomy interior.
It WAS lit up somewhat with candlelight, but my unadjusted eyes still couldn’t see most of the things.
Well, I’ll just have to do this, then.
The spell’s invocation lit up the interior with a light source.
“Whoa, awesome! You can use magic, mister?!”
“That’s right, I sure can!”
“So cool! My dad’s sure to be surprised, too! Dad! C’mon, get out here, dad! We have a customer here!”
The boy shouted so as to get his voice all the way to the other side of the shop. Perhaps in response to that, rustling sounds could be heard coming from beyond the door behind the counter.
It seemed that whoever was behind there was in quite a hurry. The door was opened by a push so strong that one would think someone was trying to destroy it, revealing a man in the back room, out of breath just like the boy had been a few moments ago.
The build of his body was solid and quite intimidating, but his face had a gentle and kind air about it.
“T-that’s… a Light Source magic spell… Wow, I never imagined my shop would ever look so bright…”
“Dad! He’s super awesome, you know! He got the light out in even less than a second!”
“Don’t be rude to the customer, Laeus. And apologies, customer… he’s still a young kid and all…”
The shopkeeper man put on a bitter smile as he looked at my Torrent Dragon Staff, my clothes, and then again at my Light Source spell… and immediately dropped his shoulders.
And that’s perfectly reasonable, I would say. A weapon shop would never expect a mage to visit them as a customer after all.
Since mages needed to manipulate the arcane energy in the air around them to invoke spells, they would never wear heavy metal armor nor even remotely tough leather.
The same case went for weapons. Even in close combat, they could defend themselves with augmentations and staff martial arts, so there was not much of a need for them to carry around conventional weapons.
And in the case that they did carry some, it would mostly be just knives or short swords, and even then, it was more for utility than actual combat.
“Ah, I haven’t even introduced myself yet… I am Don Kisaragi, the owner of this humble weapon shop. I’m sure Laeus has made some arbitrary demands on the way here, so… please let me apologize in his stead for the problems he might have caused.”
The man was quite serious and sincere with his apology – he’s quite a humble shopkeeper. Then again, he IS a parent, so perhaps it was reasonable for him to act that way… hmm.
That, or it’s just the way he is. He did give off the impression of being a kind man, and his behavior definitely proved that to be true.
“And you, Laeus! I’m sure I’ve already told you countless times that you can’t pull in customers like that!”
“B-but I was just… trying to…”
“Oh, no, I don’t mind that at all.”
I said as I put myself between Don and the boy he just called Laeus.
Don seemed slightly troubled in response to that.
Disciplining one’s child is important and all, but there are better times and places for that. I’d prefer that it not take place while I’m still here.
Hmm, seems like I can be quite selfish sometimes.
Hmm? My mantle is being pulled again…?
“Mister… aren’t you… going to buy… something?”
The convincing power of those upturned eyes. Those clouded pupils. Those welling tears. Those trembling hands.
If I were to say ‘no, I’m not buying anything,’ he would surely be sent past his breaking point. Hmm, right. Without a doubt.
Laeus is casting a Charm spell on me. There’s no other way I could possibly describe it.
I am Asley. I am an established mage who has studied the art of magic for 5,000 years.
I am Asley. I am a mage who employs Appraisal magic, Teleportation, Deca Spell, and a myriad of magecraft.
I am Asley. But since I’ve been afflicted with the Charm spell, none of that matters anymore.
I suppose… just for a day – just for today – I’ll identify myself as a warrior for him.
“Looking like this, I’m actually a warrior, you know. Just give me some time to look at your stuff, all right?”
“…You mean it?”
“I sure do.”
I patted Laeus’ head and turned to Don.
“Customer… You ought not to force yourself…”
“Don’t worry. I’m sure I’ll find something.”
“I have no issue with you browsing, of course, but…”
While he spoke, I proceeded to observe the weapons in the showcases under the counter and the swords displayed on the walls.
…I was surprised, I must say. All of them were quite well-made.
At the very least, when compared to the shops on the main street… these were genuinely good, unlike those bargain items those other places offered.
“What’re you doing around here, Asley? You never came back, so I had to ask Pochi to track your smell here, you know.”
I heard Betty’s voice calling from behind me, and a prompt response of Don’s voice in front.
When I turned around, I saw that Fuyu was here as well – and also Pochi, looking drowsy. They took turns coming through the narrow entrance. Betty was the first to realize what the deal with this place was.
“…Huh, what’s this place?”
I knew she would have the same impression as I just had. And since she’s a warrior, I’m sure she would have a more informed opinion, too.
“A weapon shop… what do you think about their stuff, Betty?”
“They look nice enough on display, that’s for sure. What’s important is their durability and power, though. Would you mind if I tested them out, pops?”
Betty slowly scanned over the blades on display and took one off.
“W-well, I have no issue with that, but all these weapons are my livelihood, you see, so… I’m afraid I don’t have anything for you to test it with.”
Betty, understanding of the shop’s circumstance, took a dagger from her thigh holder and threw it into the air.
It rose briefly and fell quickly – just as Betty brandished the blade in a backhand grip.
I didn’t even hear a sound – just felt a shredded streak of wind.
Then I looked down and saw the dagger, now split into two. Laeus clenched both his fist tightly.
“Wha… wow! Look, dad! This lady just cut iron like it was nothing!”
“Yes… her skill is amazing.”
Don picked up one piece of the dagger and took a long, hard look at its cut section.
I agree – Betty’s cutting technique was quite impressive. Even Fuyu was surprised.
Pochi, on the other hand, was sleeping in one corner of the store. So uncivilized.
“This blade is – what’s amazing, pops. How could a shop that sells this good of a weapon be left so run-down?”
An honest compliment, and then also an honest criticism.
In response to the latter point, Don cast his eyes down. It seems that his circumstances are more complicated than he had initially let on.
Laeus, impatient with Don’s reluctance to answer, spoke up with a whisper that escalated to a shout.
“It’s the Nation… the Nation screwed us over!”
“Laeus! You’d best watch your mouth. This lady here is one of the Magic Guardians, you know.”
Don harshened his tone and scolded Laeus. Although they were no acquaintance of Fuyu’s, her uniform was sure to give away the particulars of her job.
Fuyu stepped back and exited the shop, then took a look at the signboard.
Is she double-checking the store’s name? If I’m remembering right, it was ‘Drynium Road’.
A reference to the Holy Warriors’ Drynium equipment to signify the shop’s target standard of quality… I would assume.
“May I ask your name, sir?”
“…I am Don Kisaragi.”
Once Don introduced himself to her, Fuyu seemed to have understood something and continued speaking.
“Kisaragi… I knew it. Sir Asley, this man… he was a blacksmith exclusively employed by the Royal Castle up until four years ago.”
“…But not anymore. Why?”
“I’ve only heard the story from Sir Gaston, but… apparently, it was because the quality his weapons was too high. At the time, I didn’t know what that meant… But just the other day, when I had the chance to observe a training session of the Brave Guardians – which is the warrior counterpart of the Magic Guardians, by the way – I realized what the deal was…”
“It’s because of the replacement of weapons, then?”
In an unexpected direction, Betty followed up on the story.
“Yes, that is it.”
Fuyu nodded in agreement.
With his weapons being this high-quality, I would assume that there was almost no need to replace them.
If the weapons were damaged or destroyed, they would naturally have to order replacements – but with the need for that almost eliminated, the Royal Castle’s workshop ended up losing income. And if they were to drive the prices up, they wouldn’t be able to sell the things at all. That was why the Royal Castle had driven Don out.
Well, this was only one surface of the issue, I would say. The Nation in its original form would never pass up this high level of craftsmanship, and even if it was expensive, I’m sure they would not be so against it.
The true side of the issue, no matter how I thought about it, was the work of the Devilkin. The people’s easier access to powerful weapons would definitely be a problem for them in the long run.
It’s not that much of a threat at this point in time, of course, but if the level of craftsmanship were to keep increasing at that rate, it would eventually become something dreadful to their cause.
“Weapons of mediocre power and durability make more money… Ridiculous, isn’t it?”
Don’s voice shivered as he said that with downcast eyes.
“But your designs are good, and the quality is way above most other places… Even in here, you’re sure to get yourself some loyal customers eventually, don’t you think?”
Betty threw out a rhetorical question.
From what I could see, the prices here were not so different from the other places, either.
It was unthinkable that in the Royal Capital of Regalia, the gathering place for so many skilled individuals, this level of quality went so unnoticed.
Meaning… it has to be that – the Nation was also heavily involved in the flow of the market.
Don kept silent while Betty heaved a sigh. It seemed that they both had realized it as well.
“…It’s disgusting, really.”
It seemed that a sigh or two wasn’t going to be enough for her.