"This lady here has a good eye for things! This shadow cloak is one of the best items we have in our store! Even though there are so many who want to buy it, we can't even bear to sell it ourselves!"
The old owner of the shop smiled brightly. His face wrinkled like a blooming daisy.
"Owner, please wait! Let us talk it over first! Darn it, I said to wait!" yelled Leguna, almost cursing.
The old human owner of the equipment shop was far slimier than the dwarven blacksmith in Hammer of Flame. No matter what Vera had her eyes on, the owner of Path to Survival would praise it like it was a divine instrument. In response, she would ask Leguna to pay for it.
"Sheesh, my little man, I can see this lady is buying this equipment for your sake! You should be glad she's spending so much money on you!" said the boss as he took down the shadow cloak from the wall, thinking, if I don't take a bite out of this piece of juicy meat, I won't forgive myself!
"Yeah, she's spending money on me, but it's money ending up in your pocket!" retorted Leguna.
The owner was not the slightest bit mad. He merely continued to show the shadow cloak off to Vera.
"This shadow cloak is made from a material specially selected from a stealthy magic beast, the myriadform lizard. After treatment by an alchemist to ensure the softness of the material, this cloak still retains the amazing color-changing properties of the lizard! It's definitely the go-to item for people who want to sneak and stalk! Miss, hesitate no more! Since you've bought so much from me already, I'll let you have it for the low, low price of 45 gold coins! It's basically just the cost of production, you know! If not for the fact that you're so beautiful, I wouldn't have offered you such a killer deal! Come on, this is the most luxurious thing you can get for the lowest price possible!"
"Sis, we've already spent more than 120 gold coins!" said Leguna, his voice trembling.
"Ah, wonderful! We have 70 more to spare! You have a deal!" exclaimed Vera, completely misunderstanding Leguna.
"Don't tell me you intend to spend it all?!" cried Leguna desperately.
"Come on, if Kurdak gives me that much, it means he's okay with me spending all of it. What would I do with the 50 gold coins that are left if I only spend 150? Money not spent is just another weight to bear when traveling!" said Vera as she snatched the pouch.
"I really don't..." Leguna's brain shut off the moment he heard Vera's logic.
"Phew, you sure got a huge haul today. Your equipment is even better than mine," said Kurdak after Leguna returned to the inn in the evening.
Leguna's eyes were filled with a look of gratitude.
"Boss, I've really made you spend too much."
"Don't sweat it, it's just a small matter! The money is from our party funds, after all. It's not mine alone. Also, when you join our party, I'll have you earn it back, so don't worry about it!" said Kurdak carefreely.
"Huh?" mused Leguna as if he didn't hear what Kurdak just said.
"Oh, every time after we finish a mission, we'll have a tenth of the reward saved into our party funds," said Kurdak when he saw Leguna's confused look.
"I wasn't talking about that!" Leguna said, "You mentioned that I have to pay this back?"
"Of course!" Kurdak rolled his eyes, "That was 200 gold coins, you know. Who'd pay us back for it aside from you?"
"Boss, what if I leave your party?" asked Leguna gingerly.
"No problem!" Kurdak said as he waved his hand with a cheerful smile.
Just when Leguna was about to breathe a relieved sigh, Kurdak's expression tensed up when he said, "I'll let you leave when you pay us back!"
"Can I just leave the items with you?" asked Leguna with a sorrowful look.
"I want money, not equipment," said Kurdak calmly.
"I've just sold myself, haven't I?!" cried Leguna in despair.
Leguna started his test the following evening.
"Within the building at the center of the yard is a book with a dark blue cover. There's only one book like it in the building. It shouldn't be hard to spot. You have to sneak inside and locate the book. Naturally, the courtyard will be guarded - you can deal with them however you please. But make sure not to inflict any lasting injuries. Of course, killing them is out of the question. That's all," explained Kurdak.
Even though Leguna was rather nervous about whether he'd be able to pass the test, he was relieved to learn that all he had to do was steal something. Even though he didn't like to admit it, he didn't get his moniker 'Leguna the Nimble' for nothing!
He arrived at the inner part of the courtyard. He quietly retrieved the grappling hook he used to scale the wall. He was already familiar with its use thanks to the day's practice. He paced along the wall slowly in the shadows. He didn't catch any of the guards' attention.
"Do you think Ley will pass the test?" asked Vera as she took a sip of booze.
Her face was slightly flushed.
Kurdak and his two mates were drinking and chatting in the tavern. They weren't too worried about anything bad happening to Leguna, given that Arikos had said he would be responsible for the test.
"It will be tough!" Kurdak said after he took a swig, "Moonshadow deployed level four security after all. Even though there are no magi, the sheer number of traps laid should cause him quite a bit of trouble."
"I have a feeling he'll succeed though," Cyranos countered.
He seemed to have loosened up from the alcohol and appeared more talkative.
"Perhaps you two might not have noticed it, but the kid is rather hard to spot in the darkness."
"Huh? What do you mean?" Kurdak laughed before he took a bite of his steak, "Are you saying his presence is weak in the night?"
"I'm sure you know there's a breed of people who have special talents," said Cyranos.
"So you're saying..." Kurdak mused, "No wonder Moonshadow is willing to put so much resources into a brat like that."
"What are you talking about? Why don't I understand a word you're saying?" asked Vera, confused.
"Well, it's not exactly a secret," Kurdak laughed, "Actually, that kid is..."
Bam! Leguna suddenly appeared beside their table and slammed the book.
"Boss, why are you drinking so casually?! I was almost doomed!"
Kurdak didn't think Leguna would actually finish his assignment so quickly. The book on the table seemed to be the one he was instructed to steal.
"Stop playing dumb!" said Leguna disdainfully.
"What do you mean? Explain yourself first!"
Even though Kurdak was involved in the test, he didn't know what Arikos had planned specifically.
"Fine, let's see the look on your face when I finish telling you about it!" said Leguna unforgivingly.
Twenty minutes prior to the scene at the inn, Leguna had managed to sneak into the inner courtyard.
These fellows are bumbling idiots! thought he.
He hadn't encountered any difficulty so far. He was extremely careful at first. He did his best to avoid the patrols. But when he realized the guards were seemingly unable to notice his presence, Leguna began to act more boldly. He gave up on the notion of infiltrating through a more obscure route and rushed forward under the shade of two large trees. Even as he did so, nobody was able to detect him!
He was rather lucky to have picked such an approach. If he had used the surrounding buildings' roofs, he would've been met with the myriad of traps that plagued its surface. Even though they might not have been able to hold him there for too long, they definitely would've been nothing short of troublesome.
Given that he had managed to sneak in using the shade of the two trees and the increased sneaking capability afforded by his cloak, he couldn't help but be surprised at how quickly it took him to arrive at his destination.
He observed his surroundings in the shadows and realized that the book was guarded by just two guards and a patrol that circled the building. The building had no windows at all. Only one door was visible.
It looks like the security here is rather lax!
After confirming his suspicions, he picked the opportune moment to rush to the side of the building and used the grappling hook to pull himself up to the roof.
I knew there would be a skylight!
He couldn't help but be awed by his luck. Even though the skylight was only as big as a wash basin, which would stop an adult man or a fat child from entering, his sleek frame had no such trouble.
After carefully opening the skylight, he made his way down and looked around. There wasn't much within the building and he quickly managed to locate the book.
"Done deal!" whispered Leguna as he pocketed the book.
"Congratulations!" said a middle-aged man clad in blue armor who barged into the room and looked at Leguna with a bright smile on his face.
It was none other than the man who had planned the test, Arikos. The moment Leguna tried to make his move, Arikos had already appeared in front of him and pressed a dagger that radiated magic against his throat.
"If you're smart, you better not move an inch," said Arikos coldly.
Leguna raised both his hands behind his head as a gesture of surrender. He knew better than anyone the disparity of power between him and the man, and he remembered Kurdak had assured him the test wouldn't pose any threat to his life. He decided to go with whatever Arikos had in store for him.
"Now, let us talk," Arikos said confidently as he sheathed his dagger, "Tell me your name and the reason you came here."
Leguna looked at the man quietly. He had no intention of replying. Even though Kurdak had promised him the test wouldn't cost him his life, there was no telling whether an accident might happen or not. He felt he just had a run in with some powerful faction.
That was why, even though he didn't rat Kurdak and the rest out, he secretly cursed Kurdak's ancestors up to the 14th generation.
Arikos was not surprised to see the boy not willing to talk. He patted on Leguna's chest and took the book ut with a look of intrigue.
"So, you're here to steal this book?"
"What happened next?" asked Kurdak.
"Well, he kinda gave me a long lecture and wanted me to trust that the Moonshadow guild didn't hold any hostile intentions against me. But he wasn't about to let me off that easily since he wasn't sure if I'd read the book's contents or not. In the end, he gave me two choices. The first was to join the guild. That way, it wouldn't matter if I've read the book already. If I didn't, he'd kill me right away," explained Leguna.
"So, what was your choice?"
"Isn't it obvious enough? I'm no idiot! Of course, I chose to join the guild. He took out a contract and had me sign it. He also wrote a letter and asked me to report to the odd job department at Belir Street," said Leguna as he waved the letter in his hand around.
To think you wouldn't have an inch of suspicion for a plan with so many flaws... And you just said you're no idiot, thought Kurdak before he said with surprise, "Wait, sign? You know how to write?"
"Of all the things I told you, that's what you're surprised at?!" said Leguna with a disgruntled look.
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