Chapter 164: Two Dear Friends
“Excuse me . I think you said the wrong name . Did you just mention Sebastian?” Sila asked for confirmation .
“It’s not wrong, Big Bro . Mister Sebastian is really famous here . If you ask ten people, at least eight of them will know him . ”
“Eh? do you mean someone else who shares the same name?”
Bluebird cut to the chase . “It’s not someone else . He is that Sebastian . I will explain to you along the way, about what he is doing here . ”
Four of them walked along the main street . For the record, their group was quite eye-catching, with two of the four people wearing masks as well as Sila’s clothing looking rather expensive and extraordinary . Yet, the strangest sight was still Julia in a maid outfit .
Their destination was the exchange market of Zhongsuyuan City, the biggest marketplace in Monster Soul where players used a barter system for purchasing and selling goods and services . This market was one of Zhongsuyuan City’s three major markets, consisting of the exchange market, the wuxia market where qi-type gear and medicine were sold, and the eccentric market where you could find many strange items, including weird ingredients, loot boxes, as well as items that hadn’t been identified yet .
Looking around, Sila observed the vast size of the market in the city . There were many people crying out, trying to attract the attention of people walking by so they would check their wares . It was a chaotic and lively market .
“Didn’t we just go past another market?” asked Sila .
“Oh, Big Brother Sila still doesn't know that Zhongsuyuan City is a city of trading . In addition to the three major markets, there are many smaller markets . On top of that, people often set up stalls on the sides of streets . Especially during events that attract lots of people, like right now, you can see stalls on the sides of every street . ”
“I see . By the way, you still haven’t told me what Sebastian is doing here . ”
“He set up a shop for exchanging items . ”
“A shop? What kind of shop?” Sila had a hard time imagining Sebastian as a merchant setting up a shop .
“He wouldn’t be famous if he opened an ordinary shop . The shop that Mister Sebastian manages is a bartering shop where players can purchase or sell rare ingredients obtained from around Zhongsuyuan City, especially those that dropped from monsters in the desert; like Giant Desert Worm, Flame Salamander, Desert Dragon, and Stone Crab . Each of them is hard to defeat, but the more troublesome aspect about hunting them is they tend to flee and are good at concealing themselves in the sand . As Mister Sebastian sells these kinds of items in large quantities, it took no time for people to become interested in his shop . Furthermore, his shop sells Skull Grass, which is an item that possesses a rather high medicinal property . He also sells various kinds of strange potions that have never been seen before . Even though their prices are quite high, they are in high demand . ”
“So, in the end, his shop sells rare ingredients and rare potions?”
“The important thing is that he sells them cheaper than the market price, causing the competition to become fiercer . Obviously, since his shop has a barter system, he accepts trading his items on display for common items . Though the customer needs to trade a large number of common items for them, it’s still a good deal for them to get their hands on those rare ingredients . Just so you know, Mister Sebastian’s shop opens and closes at whatever time he wants . Despite that, when it’s closed, people are always standing in line, waiting for him to open his shop . ”
“Will he make a profit that way?”
Burapha replied almost instantly, “I also think the same . Personally, I believe that Mister Sebastian plans to hoard some kinds of items . If that’s really the case, he will make a profit when he sells them back at the right time . Well, what I’m curious about is that the items he accepts for trades can easily be found . Even if he sells them back, people won’t buy them for a high price . Anyway, although I’m wondering about his decisions, it will be rude of me to ask what his plan is . ”
Julia inserted her opinion, “Based on my inspection, there is no unusual movement in Master’s treasure room, sirs . We can imply that Mister Head Butler keeps the items he got from trading somewhere else, or he uses them all . ”
To be honest, for Sila, he didn’t mind what kinds of action Sebastian did in his free time . However, he couldn’t deny that he was curious about what Sebastian was doing . He hoped that Sebastian wouldn’t do something dangerous behind his back .
The four of them walked deeper into the market zone . The deeper they went, the livelier the market became . Finally, they arrived at their destination . It was a relatively large shop compared to the rest .
Looking upward, Sila noticed that the sign in front of the shop was an empty sign with no words engraved on it . He also sensed gazes from many groups of people looking at the shop .
Burapha gently poked Sila . “Big Brother, you noticed them too, right?”
“Who are they?”
“Trading is a competitive business, Big Brother . When you open a successful shop, there will be many eyes watching you closely . These people are likely to be Mister Sebastian’s competitors who are seeking to obtain his business secret or weaknesses . They might even resort to using violence if they get a chance . ”
“Won’t it become a problem?”
“For now, they can only observe . During Mister Sebastian’s first week of doing business, there was a time when his shop was disturbed by other players . However, he taught them a lesson and even went to their shops to cause havoc . As a result, they all died, and all of their products on display were taken away by Mister Sebastian as compensation . ”
Sila frowned . “He even went to ruin their shops? Wasn’t that excessive?”
Bluebird was the one to answer this question . “That’s not it, Sila . If you only lectured those kinds of people, they would continue to annoy you . On the other hand, if Sebastian reacts strongly, it sets a good example . Ever since then, no one has dared to provoke him . ”
Looking at the long queue, Sila sighed . “There are a lot of people . How can we go in?”
“We are not a customer and are his acquaintances . How about we enter through the back door?”
Everyone agreed and took a detour to look for a back door, which they easily found .
There was no doorknob, so Bluebird tapped on the door . It shook and all of them were pulled inside by a mysterious force .
Nearby, there were two players looking at the situation and talking to each other .
“Oi . Who were those four? They were pulled inside by that mechanical door . ”
“Dunno . All I know is that two hours from now, they will reappear at the rebirth point of the city . I have never seen anyone enter that door and return alive . It’s said that the door is directly connected to Hell . ”
“They must be new around here to not know that . ”
Both of them quit paying attention to the fate of the four people being pulled into the shop . They yawned and resumed their boring duty of watching the shop from a distance .
“This is a sweatshop!! I can’t take it anymore!”
A sharp voice echoed throughout the room . Looking closely, it was clear to everyone inside the room that the owner of the voice wasn’t a human, but a monster who had the upper body of a woman and the lower body of a snake . Hundreds, no, thousands of live venomous snakes could be spotted in place of her hair . She would look downright scary if not for a bandage covering half of her hair, and the fact that she was busy stirring a pot in front of her . Her face was drenched in sweat .
“Your task is still decent, Franz . Look at me . I have to remove my bones over and over again . I’m going to starve to death if I don’t get to eat something . ”
The one who argued with her was a blood-red skeleton knight . Again, he would be super scary if not for the fact that only his upper part of his body remained intact . In his hand was a bone he detached from his own body, which he dropped it into the pot that Franz was stirring . Meanwhile, a new bone grew from nothing to replace the detached one, though it seemed that the regeneration couldn’t keep up with the detachment at all .
“Grrr!! What about you removing your bones, Asura? I’m also forced to donate my venomous blood continuously . I’m running out!”
At the end of her sentence, black blood dripped from her fingernails, falling into the pot . Soon, a blueish smoke emerged from the liquid . It was glowing, temporary illuminating the interior of the shop .
For the record, this was a brewing room located at the back of Sebastian’s shop . Inside, there was a giant pot at the center of the room where a gorgon and a red skeleton knight with half of his body missing were making a potion . On the floor around them were many small pots that were being filled with liquid from the giant pot, and being brewed diligently by hundreds of white skeletons and big snakes . Some of them had to throw ingredients into the pots at the right time, some stirred, while some scooped the finished contents into bottles . It was the sight of a medium-size workshop full of labor .
The gorgon let out a complaint yet again . “Despite working this hard, all I get to eat is the same old soup . Although it fills my stomach, it’s the only thing I’ve gotten to eat for three weeks straight . I’m fed up with it!”
The red skeleton knight argued back, “At least you still get something to eat . What about me? I got nothing . Ah . . . my bones will become brittle at this rate . ”
“What nonsense are you spewing? Your undead race doesn’t need to eat to survive, does it?”
“We don’t . . . but I need nutrients! My bones look rather pale lately, see?”
“I don’t fucking care . By the way, how long do we have to make these damn potions for?! Do we have to make them until the day we die?!”
Asura yelled, “I have no clue either! In my case, that bastard Sebastian asked me to pay him back for helping me . He said I only need to work until his master’s debt is cleared . Unfortunately, I forgot to ask him how much debt his master is in . Don’t tell me he cheated me? Who on earth would be in that much debt?”
“Your case was better than mine . For me, I lost in a gambling match against him . I planned to ignore my obligation at first, but I’m bound with the soul contract he lured me into signing before the gambling started . My underlings are currently looking for a loophole in the contract at the moment so that I can use it to my advantage . I don’t plan to work like this for the rest of my life!”
“I believe Sebastian must have cheated us . He is the type of guy who pulls a straight face even when lying . How about we gang up on and kill him?”
“I have no problem with killing him, but what will we do after he dies? Remember the last time? I could barely escape while thousands of my underlings died . Considering that, I better stick with my plan to look for a loophole in the contract . ”
“What does the contract say?”
“Mainly, it’s about me having to unconditionally work my ass off as a slave to provide his master money to use as he pleases . ”
“Why did you even sign that rubbish? Don’t you know how sly he is? The condition is clearly unfair . He knew you are a gambling addict and took advantage of that . ”
“Damn . I just didn’t think I would lose . ”
“Now that you mention it, I still don’t know what kind of gambling match you played against him . ”
“A poison-drinking game, the game that I personally came up with to play with travelers for killing time . It’s a game where there are two bowls of liquid on the table . In one bowl, it contains a deadly poison that will instantly kill you upon taking a sip . As for the other bowl, it contains a perfect antidote that can cure and grant the consumer a temporary resistance to all poisons . Both liquids inside the bowls are identical; colorless and odorless . No one can tell them apart . . . Oh, except for me . ”
“So you cheated him . ”
“It's not cheating if you don't get caught!! The rule is simple . Each side takes a bowl and drinks it . If you drink and die, you lose . You also lose if you don’t drink . I’m always the victor of this game since I won’t die from drinking poison . In the case of no one dying, it will be counted as me winning the game . ”
“I confirm my statement . You cheated him . How did you even lose though?”
“That bastard asked to drink first and let me drink last, which is not unusual . He might suspect that I can tell the bowls apart . Most of the people I play this game with also choose to pick first . Well, I didn’t care . As I told you, in the case of a tie, it’s still my win . ”
“Yeah, I still can’t see how you lost . ”
“Grrr!! That bastard poured one bowl’s liquid into the other bowland drank it all, then said ‘I already drank mine, and you are left with nothing to drink . Since you don’t drink, you lose . ’ It stupefied me . What he said was right though; he drank one, and I didn’t drink . I’m so mad at him to this very day!”
As their conversation continued, four streaks of lights emerged within the room; they were Sila, Bluebird, Burapha, and Julia who were pulled inside . Any movements inside the room came to a stop .
“Hello? May I ask where Mister Sebastian is?” It was Sila who broke the silence .
Bluebird pulled his sleeve . “Oi, aren’t you scared? We are in the middle of the swarm of monsters, you know?”
As for Burapha, he readied his lance . “I think we need to prepare for a battle . ”
“Calm down, guys . This is Sebastian’s shop, isn’t it? These people should be his friends . See? They are working . ”
Compared to others, Sila had spent a lot of time with monsters . After his encounter with Rex and the Single-Horned Dragons, he realized that all monster species had their own kind of friendliness . The other reason for his calmness was the strange actions of the monsters in the room . At the very least, they didn’t initiate a fight as soon as they appeared .
Well, the actual reason for their strange behavior was that they were too tired to fight . They had been working non-stop twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, without being allowed to take any breaks . Even though two of them were mighty Lord Rank monsters, they were too lazy to take action, especially when the players didn’t attack them first .
“Who are you guys?” asked Asura .
Thinking that she had the lowest position in the group, Julia stepped forward and offered introductions . “This venerable one is Mister Sila, the master of Mister Head Butler, who you two might know as Sebastian . May we ask for Mister Sebastian’s whereabouts? Mister Sila urgently needs to meet him . ”
Sila thought it was too formal . However, he remembered that he allowed Julia to do anything out of her own free will, so he didn’t want to criticize her action .
Franz slithered over to Asura and they began to whisper . As Sila saw them consulting in secret, he decided not to intrude their privacy by eavesdropping .
“Hey, hey . This kid is Sebastian’s master . What should we do?”
“What can we do? Just go and call Sebastian over . But first, let me ask this kid how much debt he has . He looks naive and tactless, so hopefully, he will tell me the truth,” Asura whispered back .
“Shhh . I have a better plan . Our contracts are about us working to pay Sebastian’s master, right? What if he doesn’t have a master?”
“What if? We don’t have to work, then . Oh, a good plan . So, should we just kill him here and now?”
“Easy, man . This brat is Sebastian’s master so he must be skilled one way or another . If we take action and he doesn’t die, when Sebastian finds out, our workload will surely skyrocket . ”
“What should we do, then? Let me tell you that I don’t want to work anymore . All of my bones are already too pale . ”
“You don’t need to do anything . Let me take care of him myself,” whispered Franz .
The gorgon turned around and gave the four her brightest smile . Four bowls containing a transparent soup floated in the air, giving off a pleasant aroma .
“Oh, so you are the master of Sebastian, our dear friend . Thank you for coming to visit us . You must be tired from traveling, so please take a seat first and enjoy this soup . I will let my underlings go and inform Sebastian of your arrival while you take your well-deserved rest . Asura, please prepare some seats for our venerable guests . ”
Asura snapped his finger once, and four of the unfortunate white skeletons were bent by psychic power into chairs, before being carried by giant snakes and placed in front of the four guests .
Half-unwillingly, the four of them sat down, and the bowls with exceptional aromas was rather forcefully put into their hands .
“In your hand is a signature soup from our shop! Please drink it while it’s still warm . I especially and personally made them just for all of you . ” Urging them to drink, Franz’s eyes were fixated on all of their hands, which were slowly getting closer to their mouths .