Claude still wasn’t aware that he was being tailed because of his attire. He was clad in a grey-blue linen shirt, a pair of roughened black long pants and black, cow-leather boots. He also carried a backpack made from black-colored beastskin. One look and people could tell that he was a foreign peasant, a young one at that. His facial hair was still short and fine and he appeared to be nothing more than a kid who hasn’t seen the world before. He was the prime target for those kinds of people.
Descendants of nobles who were born to be dignitarians would mostly wear silk clothing in hot weather like this instead of dressing up properly like they were on a long trip as Claude had done. So, the lanky man got his sights on Claude and was intent on making some money to spend. Too bad Claude didn’t fall for his shtick and even harshly asked him to leave.
Mario Street was the most famous commercial area in Whitewood. Most of the mining companies had an outlet on the street there was even a branch of the national bank there to make transactions more convenient.
Oask told him before he left that Dunkro Mining Company was the local hegemon and more than half of the whiteroot powder supply was controlled by them. So, their shops had the best quality whiteroot powder and sold many different types of it.
The shop beside the national bank was owned by Dunkro. Claude entered the shop, intent to check out the different kinds of whiteroot powder. He had never heard of there being variants as he didn’t have any choice back at Whitestag. The only factor that he cared about back then was price. The price of three crowns and three thales for one box of whiteroot powder at the open market was already a great deal by his standards. At least, it was half as cheap as the price Hurian offered them at.
But after seeing the whiteroot powders on display in Dunkro’s shop, he felt the urge for cursing the open market sellers for being scammers. The kind sold at Whitestag was of the poorest variety with lots of impurities and Dunkro offered them for only one crown and three thales. Hurian on the other hand sold a better product, but Dunkro offered them at two crowns and four thales while the old magus sold it for seven crowns.
After asking, Claude came to understand that the quality of whiteroot powder could affect the success rate of a herbal synthesis. As the core ingredient for the synthesis process, not only could the quality of whiteroot powder increase the success rate of each try, it could also improve the quality of the synthesized product. It was no longer Claude often failed for no reason when he used the powder he bought from the open market in his alchemical experiments. He had always thought that it was an error on his part that stemmed from his unfamiliarity with the alchemical formation array.
After mentally cursing the owner of the apothecary at the open market to his heart’s content, Claude turned his attention to the silver box on the counter. Whiteroot powder was also stored within, but it had the highest price tag — seven crowns a box. According to the shopkeeper. that was the highest quality whiteroot powder their company offered. On the box were three A-like symbols, probably denoting that it was AAA class in quality. It was made from a special kind of fossilized plant which was incredibly rare.
It was said that AAA whiteroot powder could effectively increase the quality of a concoction, but normal herbalists didn’t use them because of the price. Usually, only famed herbalists in the kingdom would send people to buy a box or two for them to make the highest quality concoctions.
If the shopkeeper didn’t mention famous herbalists, he would only give the box a passing glance instead of being reminded of Maria. When she last wrote him a letter, she said that she would be going to Whitestag during the 9th month and would stay there for ten to twenty or so days for her summer vacation.
If Claude hadn’t received the conscription order, he would’ve waited at the wood to receive her. She said that she would help him get an exemption from Stellin X to relieve Claude of military duty, after all. It was too bad Felidos stepped in and wrote him a recommendation letter on his own accord, causing Bluefeather to send him a conscription order for the officer training camp.
Even though Maria gave Claude the hut and land to pay him back for the price of the forbidden spells and tried to get him the exemption to tie him to the house and also paid back for the 500-crown debt Bloweyk owned, he still felt that he should return the favor.
Though he had already earned her an unimaginable amount of wealth from the real estate development, that wasn’t something he achieved entirely on his own. No matter how much talent he had, without the right connections, nothing of that magnitude could be achieved. That was something he learned in his past life.
Right now, he was pondering over whether he should get Maria a gift, such as these AAA quality whiteroot powder. Since he was already here at Whitewood, he believed that she would be glad to receive these from him.
“Give me ten boxes then,” Claude said, before he saw the shopkeeper widen his eyes with disbelief, as if he didn’t expect Claude could afford to spend that much. He was also half-suspecting that Claude was joking. Was he really able to bring out so much money to buy the highest-quality whiteroot powder?
Claude took his account book out. “I believe that I can withdraw money from the bank next door, right?”
“Of course, Sir. We have an arrangement with the bank and our customers don’t have to line up. You don’t have to wait for your withdrawal,” an old man with a goatee explained as he appeared in front of Claude.
“Manager…” The shopkeeper hurriedly bowed.
“Ivago, take our guest to the bank,” the old man said in a deep voice, obviously unhappy with how he had acted.
Claude withdrew his money smoothly and returned to the shop. However, this time around, he was treated like a VIP. He was invited to sit right after he entered and asked whether he wanted wine or tea.
Claude asked for red tea. Later, a young female shopkeeper brought a basin of warm water over for Claude to wipe his face with. It was easy to sweat in this weather after all, and two shopkeepers kept him fanned throughout his stay.
The AAA whiteroot powder were all stored in silver-plated copper boxes. Each box contained a catty of powder. The goateed man handed Claude each one to check. After that, he sealed the boxes with wax.
In the end, the manager asked Claude whether he wanted to take the product with him or have them delivered.
Claude was glad to hear about the latter option. He had planned to take them along and ask Oask to send those ten boxes to his sister in the wood on the return trip. He would then write her a letter to inform her to gift it to Maria when she came over on her vacation. It would be a timely supply for her experiments in the laboratory.
However, those ten boxes of whiteroot powder were worth 70 crowns. Claude also heard Oask say that he was going to some other place to visit a few comrades after sending Claude to the base while searching for any jobs to take. He felt that it wouldn’t be appropriate for Oask to hold onto the whiteroot powder since he wouldn’t be heading back to Whitestag immediately.
But when he asked for them to be sent to Normanley Wood in Whitestag, the manager hesitantly told Claude that it was a little too far and the delivery would cost around one crown extra.
Well, it was only one crown anyway. Claude was already going to spend seventy on whiteroot powder and he still had around 1600 crowns in his account. He also had more than ten crowns in his money pouch.
He took one out and gave it to the manager before asking for pen and paper to write Angelina a short letter and had the Dunkro stuff send the letter and the goods to her. Then, he signed a delivery contract and got a name card of the company, which he would use to write back to them about his address after he settled down at the base so that they could then mail him the receipt of the delivery and his sister’s reply.
After everything was done, Claude left. It was getting rather late, so he wanted to go back to the tavern for dinner before getting a good night’s rest. He still had to set out early tomorrow after all. What he didn’t see was how the manager whispered something to Ivago before the latter rushed outside the door.
Just as he stepped out onto the street, he saw a carriage approaching. He stopped, with the intent on letting the carriage pass before he stepped onto the street. What he didn’t expect was that two people would accost him from behind and place two sharp objects against his waist. The rat-faced man from before showed up in front of him, flanked by two huge men and smirked at him.
“Kid, weren’t you really arrogant just now? You asked me to buzz off, didn’t you? But now, you’re in my hands. Better kneel and beg for mercy.”
Claude felt the two sharp objects shoved against his waist. His shirt was already torn. A voice from behind said, “Second brother, do you want us to do him right here? The streets here are a little busy, don’t you think?”
The lanky man hurriedly snapped, “When did I ask you to do away him? I only asked him to kneel and beg for mercy. But you’re right. We’re on an open street and there is quite a crowd. The constables will be easily alerted. Bring him to that alley there. I want to have a good time skinning him.”
Claude was escorted expressionlessly to a narrow alley. The lanky man gleefully took a box out in front of Claude. “Kid, didn’t you say you couldn’t afford whiteroot powder? Didn’t you just buy a few boxes at Dunkro? you claim you don’t have money, but I saw you take a crown out of your money pouch. How dare you like to me! You didn’t buy my whiteroot powder because you looked down on me, didn’t you?!”
“I was buying on behalf of someone else. How can I afford something so expensive like that? They specified for me to buy at Dunkro too,” Claude said.
“I don’t care. If you don’t buy my whiteroot powder, you have humiliated me, and that comes with heavy consequences. I’m really mad. Even though I want to beat you up, strip you naked and throw you into the mine, I’m a businessman, you see. And I know that getting along would bring more profit for all of us. I will give you a chance to apologize. Just use all the money you have to buy this box of premium quality whiteroot powder. Sign this proof of purchase here and I’ll forgive you.”
The man took out a piece of paper from his shirt. His intentions were obvious. If he took Claude’s money away, it was robbery and that was a crime. He would be captured and sent to a labor camp. But if Claude signed the deal, it would be useless even if he reported it to the constables. It would be considered buyer’s remorse and a peasant like him could only blame his bad luck.
If the scrawny mn knew that Claude had bought 70 crowns worth of AAA-grade whiteroot powder at Dunkro, he would definitely consider properly whether Claude was someone he could afford to offend. But the fool quickly rushed to get his friends to help him out the moment he saw Calude to to the bank. All he saw when he came back was Claude taking out a crown and sign a piece of paper.
The man jumped to the natural conclusion that Claude was only there to make an order for some other company, nothing but a nameless errand boy and the perfect target for him to earn a quick buck.