134 A New Commodity*
"Have you heard?"
"The incredible new product you can buy at the Rouke Markets?"
"You don't happen to mean the shield no one can see that is generated from an Evanine Crystal?"
"Of course I do! Such an incredible product. I saw it working when Dock Master Taylor met with a rather unreasonable Captain. The Captain had his sailors beat Taylor in order to intimidate the man into giving a spot at the docks for free. But low and behold, when the sailors went to start the fight they found their fists stopped mid-air, their fingers broken as if they'd punched a wall made from stone!"
"Truly a remarkable product, the makers must be making a fortune!"
"A fortune? I've heard they've sold less than a hundred products".
"Aye, but each is worth the cost of one's life".
"The cost of one's life?"
"They become indebted?"
"No, no, the literal cost in coin. The seller literally barters until the individual wishing to buy one of the protective charms says the price they think they are worth. The lowest so far I heard has been thirty gold coins, the most expensive near five hundred when Lord Delrowe purchased one of their products".
"How do they get away with such a thing?"
"No one has worked it out yet. But all the customers walk away thinking they've paid a fair price, especially those who have experienced the charm in use. In fact, some feel that whatever they paid is cheap".
"30 Gold is cheap?"
"I can't imagine feeling that way for 30 gold. My annual salary is barely a fraction of that".
"Well, how much do you think your life is worth?"
"What do you mean?"
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"Apparently that's the question that is asked by the seller".
"I don't know, if I make nowhere near 30 gold I can't possibly be worth that much. At best, I'd be worth 10".
"They'd never sell such a product for that little".
This, Rassa supposed, was the fatal flaw of his resolve to price the protective charms according to what one believed the value of their lives were. Once the pattern was realised of the price changing depending on how one valued themselves, and according to one's social standing and earnings, it would likely be met with problem. That was why Rassa didn't intend to keep selling in this fashion. After all, he'd no doubt encounter a lot of ire the longer he decided to work that way. If he wished to sell the same products in future, he would have to determine a set price. The process he had come up with using the Truth Charm would only work for so long.
Still, that wouldn't stop him from keeping to his current quota until the end of the festival. They were selling many more of the stones now. It was only coming towards the end of the second of fourteen days and they had just over 2000 charms left. Though, Rassa had moved 2,250 gem stones, including those which he'd marked with differing runes, to another location which Aegin was guarding until Rassa found somewhere appropriate to put them. He'd earned roughly another 1,500 gold from his sales over the past two days. Ebony was working hard, hard enough that they'd hired a guard by the name of Raul to ensure none of the merchandise was stolen. His pay? He'd only asked for one of the crystals. Ebony had insisted that she pay him, but apparently he had plenty of gold saved up from his previous work. Honestly, saying that only made Rassa and Ebony speculate what his previous work was for him to have gold saved up.
Today, as he walked to streets of Port Lace with the man who was showing him available properties, he'd found plenty of amusement out of the conversations of the locals. Knowing that his products were spoken about so avidly on the other side of the island was just asking to pet his ego. Which some would think was already big enough, but considering what he'd been through, knowing that his work was valued really put a welcome smile on his face.
"This property, Mr. Moon, would certainly meet your requirements. It's three stories and built with the latest amenities to ensure your comfort of course," the salesman said. He sounded more like a robot at this stage. When Rassa had initially told the man his budget, the man had been overjoyed, and done his best to showcase the properties available.
But, contrary to the man's positivity, Rassa declined every property the man had shown him. By this stage, the man was only seemed committed to ensuring Rassa walked away with something.
Rassa took the tour of the place, and again was disappointed by what he saw. It was all so enclosed. So locked away from the rest of the town. And yet at the same time, Rassa couldn't seem to escape the populations on the street no matter how far away he was. In the end, Rassa again shook his head.
The salesman sighed, "Look, Mr Moon, I don't mean to offend, but perhaps you could tell me some features that you are interested in so that we can find what you're looking for as soon as possible".
Mr Moon. When the salesman had asked for a surname, it was clear what clientele he usually dealt with. Not wanting to be disadvantaged, Rassa had just named the first thing that came to mind. Aegin would surely get a laugh out of it later.
"Something away from the main town, and something not as…cage-like," Rassa said.
The salesman looked rather stumped for a moment as he tried to think of an available property. His eyes lit up momentarily before he turned to look at Rassa cautiously.
"Well, I do have a property available for sale that is away from the main town, on the outskirts of the Port in fact," the salesman replied, "However…it is in a state of…disrepair".
"I'll look anyway," Rassa said, "I have plenty of time".
The salesman looked hesitant, but nodded. The two of them then proceeded out of the main town and towards the Eastern block of the city. They were, essentially, slums. There was no better way to describe them. And, as soon as Rassa saw the worst out of all of them, a three storey building that looked like a cross between a house and a warehouse, he knew that was where they were headed.
'Disrepair' was certainly a word that could have been used to describe it. Though, Rassa thought 'burned-down' and 'dilapidated' were better. The third storey essentially didn't exist anymore, only a partial brick wall indicated that there had once been something above the second storey. The rest of the place appeared no better than a blackened skeleton.
Still…it was open. And it was definitely away from the busy main streets. It was at this stage that Rassa realised that the salesman had been rambling on about what few 'good' qualities he could pick out from the place. The poor man was struggling.
For a moment, Rassa contemplated letting him continue, then he interrupted the man.
"How much?" asked Rassa.
"I-seriously?" asked the salesman, somewhat surprised.
The salesman stuttered a moment, "I..uh…I…I believe it's being sold for two hundred gold".
Rassa frowned, "So much?"
"Well, the original owner would let it go for no less," the salesman replied, "It is why we've had such trouble se-"
Rassa stepped forward to look inside, "Prepare the papers, I'll come by the office later to purchase it".
The salesman looked shocked for a moment before his face revealed a wide grin and he nodded enthusiastically, "Right away, Mr Moon, Right away!"
The salesman turned and dashed off.
Rassa looked at the ruin for a moment before he tilted his head to the side, focusing on something he'd detected but hadn't expected.
It seemed either the salesman wasn't aware or didn't care…but this place wasn't abandoned.