Splitting the Spoils
The moment Morssen left, Arbeit followed. Claude only found it rather weird. It was as if Arbeit had did something wrong and was avoiding him. What did that fellow do? Did he get his head kicked by an ass?
Claude didn’t have time to bother with that arse. He was far too hungry. During the voyage back home, he had slept for two hours or so and missed lunch. By the time he reached home, slumber took hold him again and he slept all the way into the night, leaving his stomach empty the hold time. Hunger had finally caught up with his senses.
After quickly finishing the rest of the food on the table, Claude felt only seven-tenths full. It was then when he recalled that he hadn’t taken a good look at Landes’s jade chest which he kept in his bag yet. Feeling like he was being teased by a cat, he hurriedly cleaned the table up and left the utensils in the kitchen for his sister to wash. He stroked her head without noticing the hesitant look on her face before running back up to his attic.
He pulled his bag out from underneath the bed and undid the strings, only to have his nostrils assailed by a stench.
“Ugh… Ack…” Claude pinched his nose as he took out the clothes that got dirty from his muddy tussle with the python. He tossed them on the ground before carefully taking the white-jade chest out of his bag.
What surprised him was that the surface of the chest still looked as clean as ever. The dirty clothes didn’t leave the slightest mark on it. Since it was something that belonged to a magus, Claude didn’t bother to ponder over that matter. This chest must be a magical item of some sort.
Being the transmigrator that he was, he couldn’t help but be reminded that the material the chest was made out of resembled jade from his previous life. As a Chinese person, he knew what jade symbolized in his culture. But ever since he transmigrated to this world, he realized to a shock that there wasn’t a word for jade in the Hebrai language after thoroughly studying it. The ‘jade’ mined from the quarries were called stone essence instead.
On the continent of Freia, the stone essences that were harvested were considered the quintessence of the great earth and was used as a precious magic material. But ever since the evil magi were exiled from the continent, they became nothing more than precious stone, being used to make all sorts of jewelry and sculpture and becoming cherished objects for many a noble lady.
This should be a premium quality white jadestone… thought Claude as he played around with the jadestone, no, jade box. He gained quite an extensive understanding about jade when he was working for his boss in his past life. After all, one had to show off when hanging with the ladies.
Stone essence… What a horrible name. It doesn’t sound as refined as jade does…thought Claude as he tried to open the chest.
These two diaries… I wonder how many years they record within. They’re as thick as whole dictionaries and the parchment’s so thin that it’s half see-through… Not to mention the tiny words that filled the pages… Fortunately, even though the entries were also written in ancient Hez script, they weren’t hidden like the text in the magical cookbook was. Claude was worried that he would go insane from spending too much energy to copy all the text down before decoding them.
The other book within was supposedly a magical notebook. That was the thing Claude needed the most. He hoped to understand magic through the notes recorded within, and perhaps, learn some of it…
That notebook alone was as big as the diaries, but it wasn’t nearly as thick, sporting only around some forty pages between its covers. The paper used was just as thin as those used in the diary, being semi translucent and looking like some kind of membrane. It showed some elasticity when pulled and wasn’t easily torn.
What remained within the chest was the yellow-brown money sack with 30 shaliuns remaining within. Claude took a good look at each of them and was disappointed to not discover even a single darkgold magical shaliun. This Landes is rather pitiful for a magus. He doesn’t even have a single magical shaliun, only these common ones.
Though Claude let his mind run freely, he didn’t consider that Landes was merely a low-ranked, four-ring rune magus. It was already a rather difficult task for him to be able to save those 35 shaliun gold coins up. Beggars can’t be choosers after all.
However, those 30 gold coins were practically worthless in Claude’s hands as he had no way of exchanging them for modern currency. He could only treat those coins as pretty little plaything and also had to go through the trouble of hiding them from others. All he could do was keep them safe and see whether he had a chance to trade them in for money in a few more years.
He flipped through the two dictionary-thick diaries listlessly without enthusiasm at all. Such is man: he loses sleep over what he desires, and loses interest in what he acquires. Even though he had only managed to obtain those two diaries after his deathly struggle, he didn’t seem particularly interested in them. They’re probably nothing more than the slices of life of Magus Landes… It’s not like I’m going to write him a biography… There’d be little point in translating these diaries…
But when he happened upon that thought, he suddenly found himself losing interest in the magical notebook as well. He gave it a simple flip and saw some rather simple drawings accompanied by large paragraphs of text. There were also a lot of mystical symbols that Claude didn’t recognize around the diagrams. Upon closer inspection, they seemed like blueprints for something.
Wait, the resemblance is far too uncanny here… Had it not been for the matchlock he handled just recently, he would’ve thought that the diagram was depicting a cannon. What kind of gun would be drawn this thick and short like a cannon? If he didn’t see the slow match, serpentine, flash pan, pan lid, trigger and so on, Claude would’ve mistakenly thought that Landes was trying to design a cannon.
Seeing that reminded him about the improved matchlocks stated in the magical cookbook. He reasoned that the diagram of a cannon-like object was probably the improved gun design. He saw the same components on Welikro’s gally mark 3 matchlock already and the design was the same for the most part. Even though more than six centuries had passed, guns still used matchlock designs and hadn’t changed much since then.
Claude only felt mildly intrigued. He had suddenly lost the urge to go through the magical notebook. Standing up, he paced around in circles in his attic before the dirty clothes on the floor caught his attention. Oh, I still haven’t taken a bath yet. I’ll have to keep the jadestone, I mean, box, and the sack of shaliuns before I go downstairs though. As for those diaries and the notebook… Well, I can just leave it out here. It’s not like anyone in my family is interested in ancient Hez anyway…
After much thought, he decided to stuff the chest and the gold coins as deeply as he could under his bed. There really wasn’t any other place that he felt safe enough to hide those in. It was then when he realized the shortcomings of the attic he lived in. There was no way for him to remove a wooden board to hide his things under and directly above him was the roof where nothing could be hid. The only place available to him was the bottom of his bed. Then again, nobody would usually go to his room when he was absent. Even his younger siblings wouldn’t come up to make a mess when he wasn’t there.
He went downstairs to soak his clothes in a large wooden basin. I’ll tell mom to call a house helper over to wash these clothes. Two or three sunars should be enough, no big deal. Then, he went to the first floor and was surprised to find that Arbeit wasn’t there. I wonder if he’s drinking somewhere… Well, it’s for the best that he isn’t here.Claude took a quick bath while he whistled happily before going back to his attic.
Feeling rather troubled, he climbed up to the roof for some reason and bathed in the moonlight as he spaced out. Ever since the time he translated the magical cookbook, he developed the habit of moonbathing. Only under the light of the moon did he feel calm and safe.
After lying on the roof for quite a while, he started feeling rather stiff and got back into his attic. He gave his desk a brief cleaning before going back to sleep.
He woke up the next day when the bell of the wargod shrine was rung. He groomed himself and went downstairs for breakfast as usual. Arbeit was already at the dining hall, but he ate in a rushed manner before leaving the house in a hurry. His father said that Sir Fux had returned from the prefecture capital, so Arbeit, being the gentleman’s secretary, had to be by his side to serve him.
As it was a normal school day, he left with his bag. Upon stepping out of his house, he saw his three friends waiting for him at the fruit stand opposite his house, each with a half-eaten apple in hand.
“Give us one more baked apple,” Borkal said to Eriksson, “Here, it’s yours.”
Claude received the apple and watched as Borkal paid three fennies to the stall owner. The four of them chewed on their snack as they made their way to school.
“I heard that you guys caused quite the commotion at the docks yesterday,” said Claude.
“How did you know?” asked Borkal.
“My father told me about it last night,” he replied.
“Do you know how many people came to watch? I think everyone from town went there,” said Eriksson as he recalled the sheer grandeur of their return. It was quite apparent that he was one that enjoyed being in the spotlight quite a lot. “We displayed the skin of the python you killed on the docks and quite a few people cried out with shock. Some children even started to cry.”
“Don’t worry, Claude. We told them about it the way you wanted us to. We said that we discovered this python when we were hunting for goats and it had eaten too much and wasn’t able to move. That’s how we were able to kill it with a shot to the head, and the hole in the python’s head was evidence. Nobody would think that you had killed the python alone in the midst of the ruins,” whispered Welikro.
“Alright, thank you. It’s best if we don’t let people find out that we went to the ruins,” said Claude with relief. He didn’t want any more turmoil in his family. If his father found out that they had actually gone to the magic tower ruins on Egret, he would definitely not be spared a harsh scolding. He might even be forbidden from hanging out with his friends anymore as punishment instead of being let off easily like he was yesterday.
“We didn’t. I told them that we hunted at the swampy shore of the lake. It’s quite common for pythons to show up there. This one is just far larger than normal ones,” said Welikro.
“Did you sell the stuff?” Claude asked Borkal.
“All of it. I got 17 thales and eight riyases in total.”
“How did it amount to so much?” exclaimed Claude.
“Hehe, I auctioned if off on the spot. The people were scrambling to make their bid and the price rose considerably as a result.” Borkal seemed rather satisfied. Had it not been for the spark of inspiration he got to host a live auction when a few shop owners came to ask him for a price, he would’ve been pressured to lower the price when he brought the deer and python skins to the individual shops to sell.
“The python skin sold for six thales and three riyases. The weapons shop owner Hans was the one who bought it.”
“The heck? Why would Hans need a python skin for? Did he buy it out of the heat of the moment?” asked Claude, stunned.
“I bet you didn’t know that python skin was the ideal material to make leather sheaths with, according to Hans anyway. He was just going to fashion a high-class blade, so he offered a high price for the skin, one whole thale more than what Chirp Leather offered,” said Eriksson.
“Wakri bought the python tendons and paid three thales and four riyases for them. We also sold him the two deer goat skins for six riyases, making his total purchase worth four thales. The deer skin was sold for two thales and seven riyases to the seamstress, Miss Mila. Chirp Leather didn’t manage to buy anything at all. How embarrassing for them.”
As the largest leather shop in town, not only did they not buy the python and deer skins, they didn’t even manage to get the torn-up goat skins. With so many people around witnessing the whole auction, it probably wouldn’t take long before Chirp Leather could no longer lay claim as the largest leather shop in town.
“The blacktiger fish was sold to Head Chef Pjard from the tavern for two thales. The python’s eyes and gallbladder were sold to the apothecary for two thales and eight riyases, but I managed to get them to give us one more antidote as well to make up for the one you consumed.”
Borkal didn’t leave any stone unturned when it came to financial management. “After dividing it up, each of us will have a share of four thales, four riyases and five sunars.”
“Take the one thale and three riyases I owe out and give me the rest,” Claude said after some thought, “Let’s not dine in school during noon. We’ll go out to town for food, and it’ll be my treat. Accompany me to the bookshop after that for a bit.”