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Published at 29th of December 2018 07:27:35 PM

Chapter 72



I decided to stay home one more day before heading back to school . I was going to come back next week for the Aurora Constellate, but I guess Mother and Ellie had developed some sort of trauma, that I was going to somehow get hurt every time I left home .

I knew that I had people to inform but I owed it to them to be there .

As a change of pace, I was determined to spend time with my family, namely my mother and sister . Father left at dawn for work after checking up on me so it would just be myself and the girls . Tabitha decided to tag along and after a rather brief discussion; they wanted to go shopping . It was fairly apparent to me that they wouldn't take no for an answer .

Sigh…

I could at least use that chance to take a detour, after, to Xyrus Academy . I knew that everyone was safe according to what my parents heard from Professor Glory, but I shouldn't keep them in the dark about what happened to me for an extra day . I was also a bit worried about the condition of Tess's assimilation .

I lost count of the many places we visited after the umpteenth store but I didn't dare show my displeasure in front of the girls . While browsing through the stores, I realized how ignorant I was . The fact that the only time I'd visited the shops was a bit after I was first reborn into this world, struck me; this, coupled with the fact that I had no noteworthy equipment besides my sword, made me contemplate getting new equipment . I still remembered the time when I was slung on Mother's back and got to see all of the small tents filled with merchandise back up in the tiny town of Ashber .

Most of my childhood was spent in the Kingdom of Elenoir, more specifically, inside the castle . Even the previous time I went shopping with the ladies, we went directly to the fashion district so nothing appealed to me . There were some items with protective capabilities from either their material or from runes etched into the inside, but nothing powerful enough to catch my interest .

"Aunt Helstea, are there stores where they sell something that can help me train faster?" I asked while we headed inside a store that exclusively sold scarves .

"Hmm? You mean elixirs? Of course . " Tabitha gave me a confused look as if I had asked some sort of trick question .

I'd never used the elixirs here, but if they were anything like the drugs some practitioners used in my old world, then I didn't want to go anywhere near them .

"There's actually a small elixir and medicine shop around the corner if you want to go take a look while we shop for some scarves…"

That was all I needed to hear before strategically bolting out the store .

"Thank you! I'll meet you in front of the store!" I shouted while running out after carefully dropping the bags I was assigned to carry .

"Kyuu!" 'Don't leave me!'

I saw Sylvie extend a paw out towards me in a desperate attempt to escape Ellie's firm hold on her but I just gave her a look of condolence before running off .

Your sacrifice will not be in vain, I saluted .

After turning the corner as per instructions, my face crumpled up in bewilderment .

This was a store?!

The corner I turned at led me into a narrow alleyway thugs probably used to mug unsuspecting passersby . At the end of the narrow alleyway was a dingy shack that even rats would find too revolting to live in . The wooden planks that made up the store looked like they had been painted with moss and fungus as a musty, stale air emanated out, drifting towards me . At least it complemented the sickly green weeds creeping out from the bottom of the store as if even they didn't want to be stuck there .


WINDSOM'S POTIONS AND MEDICINES

I had to tilt my head to read the etched title on the angled sign, which had been barely dangling on a single nail .

Did they really sell potions and medicines there? I would be less surprised if they sold bottled diseases and poisons .

"Spare some change, young lad?" A haggard voice startled me out of my stupefied state .

Beside me sat a pale old man with a hand reached out towards me, palms up .

I immediately took a step back in surprise, instinctively layering my body with mana .

How did I not sense this old man that was almost right next to me?

"You look like you've seen a ghost, young lad . I'm but a mere aged man asking for some change . " The old man's face wrinkled as he revealed a pearly white smile that didn't match his ragged state .

"Ah yeah, sure . " I reached in my pocket for a copper coin, using the opportunity to take a closer look at him .

With a thick, uncombed bed of pepper-tinted hair that fell down to his slightly hunched shoulders, he looked up at me with milky eyes . The old man's wizened face, though, didn't come off to me as weak and weary, but intelligent and bright, for some reason . I could tell that this man was probably very handsome in his youth, which all the more made me feel a bit disheartened seeing him end up like this .

"Many thanks, young lad . " His gnarled hands nimbly grabbed the coin out of my hand with a speed that surprised me .

Between his middle and index fingers was a coin that was silver instead of copper .

Shit! I gave him a silver coin by mistake! That was a hundred copper coins!

"Wait… I meant to give you this…" I reached into my pocket again and when I made sure that this time, the coin in my hand was indeed copper, I looked back up to see that the old man was gone .

"What the f…" I stood there, bewildered for the third time in the last 5 minutes .

My money…

After letting a helpless sigh escape my lips, I took a step forward towards Windsom's potion shack . I reached for the handle of the wooden door that seemed like it would break upon mere contact when I felt a concentration of mana from the copper doorknob .

Coating my hand in mana, I wrapped my fingers around the knob, preparing to turn it, when a stiff jolt coursed through my hand and up my arm . Thankfully, the mana protecting my hand helped me from pulling away so I forcefully twisted the knob, opening the door .

As soon as the door unlocked, the shock stopped as well . Pushing open the creaking door, I'm welcomed by a breeze of something indescribably horrendous . The stench was so strong that it immediately triggered a stream of coughs from me .

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"Oh, a customer! What can I do for you?" a familiar voice welcomed me .

"You!" I couldn't help but point my finger at him in both anger and confusion . It was the same homeless old man that disappeared after taking my silver coin!

"What brings you in here?" He looked at me with an innocent expression .

I sighed in frustration . "Can I just have my coin back? I need that money to buy some stuff I need… and besides, you said you were homeless . " I stuck my hand out towards him .

"No, no . . . I said I was but a mere aged man . Based on the environment where you met me and by my appearance and demeanor, you assumed I was homeless . " He wagged his finger at me in a scolding manner, as if I was the one in the wrong . "How about this, you can pick one item here for free as a thank you for the present," he continued in a magnanimous manner as he twiddled my silver coin between his fingers, mockingly .

My brows twitched in annoyance but I calmed myself down and quickly took a scan around the sorry excuse of a store .

"Are you sure there are even items here worth a silver coin?" My voice came out with a twinge of frustration in it .

"Of course! I don't give this chance to just anyone, you know . You just have to choose carefully . " The old man's eyes gave off the excited twinkle of a second-rate gambler with a winning hand .

I rubbed my temples to try and calm the boiling rage stirring up inside of me .

The elderly should be respected, Arthur .

The elderly should be respected…

By this time, my nose had become accustomed to the mysterious stench that had the power to drive even the most ferocious mana beasts away . Taking a look through the shelves caked with dust, I became more and more amazed at how this place was still even running .

"Don't you ever clean this place, old man?" I asked as I slid my finger along one of the shelves . I could probably build a snowman out of dust with the amount collected here .

"Are you asking an aged man like myself to do manual labor?" He gasped sarcastically, putting on a horrified expression .

"Nevermind . " I couldn't help but roll my eyes at this man . I couldn't gauge him and that made it all the harder for me to trust him .

Making my way past the half-open boxes blocking the path, I went towards the shelves near the back of the store .

While scanning through the various vials and containers filled with either murky liquid or colored pills, I was startled by a figure sitting on the top of the shelf .

Dammit, what was with this place?

I couldn't sense anything inside here until it was right in front of my nose .

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The figure became more apparent as I focused on it; it was an almost pitch black cat . The only part of its body that wasn't black were the tuffs of white fur in front of its ears, but that wasn't what caught my attention . It was the cat's captivating eyes . Eyes that seemed as if it held the universe inside them . They looked like mirrored night skies with bright twinkling stars sprinkled inside them, with white, vertical slitted pupils glowing like a crescent moons .

As I stayed fixated on the cat's bewitching eyes, the cat peered back down at me from the top of the shelf with a sense of obvious superiority before it turned back and walked away .

Shaking my head, I focused back on the various bottles and containers when a small black box catches my attention .

Picking up the plain box, roughly about the size of something you would use to store small jewelry, I tried to open it . With a small click, the hinge came undone to reveal a small ring inside it . I brought the ring closer to my face when the 'gem' embedded into the ring suddenly squirted something out towards me .

Instantly, I whipped my head to the side so the stream of clear liquid missed and landed behind me .

It was water .

"Tch… you dodged it . " I turned my head back to see the old man grumbling while still fiddling with my silver coin .

"…"

At this point, I felt like if I stayed any longer, I would lose my sanity . First, the shocking doorknob… now, this squirting ring . This old man sure loved his pranks… even his cat looked down on me .

But I was determined . If I could get anything inside this store for free, I was going to get the most valuable item inside this store .

I must've spent at least an hour inside, just combing through elixirs that I didn't need . Why would a twelve-year-old need an elixir for hair growth?

"Kyu!" 'Papa! I'm here!'

A white blur whizzed past the door that was left open and landed on my head .

"Kuu!" 'Papa, you left me!' Sylvie puffed while smacking my forehead with her paw .

You survived, comrade! I smiled, rubbing her tiny head .

"Old man, I can't find anything I…" I began to say but the expression the old man had on his face made me stop . He was the one that looked like he saw ghost this time because his already pale face became whiter . His milky eyes that sagged down from old age looked like full moons, his expression stricken .

"We finally found…"

"You okay, old man?" I waved my hand in front of him . The shop owner shook his head and let out a cough .

"Yes, I'm quite alright . " His voice quivered a bit, confusing me .

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"Anyway, old man, I can't find anything worth taking back with me . Can't you just give me back my money?" I grumbled as I took one last scan through the store .

"You really don't have an eye for anything . " He walked out from behind his counter and strolled to one of the shelves in the front corner of the store .

"Ah, here we are . " Without even looking back, he tossed back to me a small ball about the size of a marble . It was layered in dust but when I wiped it clean, it was clear with specks of different colors floating inside it .

"What is this?" I asked as I brought the orb closer to my face to study it, making sure it wouldn't spray me with water .

"Don't worry, it's something you're going to need . Now scat . Teasing you bores me . " He shooed me off .

"Okay, okay . " I walked out of the store on my own, taking one last look back at the old shack .

As I strolled out of the narrow alleyway, I spotted the black cat gazing at me and then Sylvie before turning away as if it had lost interest .

Thinking little of it, I reached the intersection out of the alley and turn the corner to see my mother and sister sitting down at a table with Tabitha .

"Hi Brother!" Ellie waved while holding a drink with her other hand .

"Did you find what you were looking for?" Mother asked as she put down her refreshment as well .

"I…think?" I scratched my head . I put the clear orb inside my dimension ring to study it later but I couldn't help but think that it wasn't anything special .

"Oh really? That store is considered famous for having quite the variety of elixirs and medicines to help with training . Most of the students in Xyrus go there to shop for training materials . " Tabitha got up, picking all of the shopping bags off the floor .

"What? That shabby old place?" I replied, surprised that a bunch of rich snobby brats would go out of their way to shop at a rundown shack .

"Shabby? What are you talking about?" My mother and sister got up too, handing me their bags nonchalantly .

As we walked towards the alleyway, Tabitha turned the corner first and pointed at the shop .

"I wouldn't say it's shabby," she said, a bit confused by my comment .

"Really? If that's not shabby then I don't know…"

My jaw dropped along with the shopping bags I was holding onto .

In place of the previous narrow alleyway leading towards the worn-down shack was a marble-paved road laid out towards a three-story building with a gold sign that read:

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