The Pet Market.
On both sides of the road, pet cages were arranged and packed closely together. There were rows of them in various heights, sizes, and colours. Most of them were either light coloured or white.
A few elegantly dressed ladies and young female aristocrats shielded themselves with white parasols as they strolled through the market, observing and purchasing the pets that were for sale.
Horse drawn carriages stopped beside the entrance along the lane as new customers alighted and entered the market.
A bald man walked out leisurely from one of the black carriages. He had no hair on his head, no beard, and no eyebrows, making his face seem like a freshly carved white wax figure. There wasn’t a single strand of hair on his face, and his whole head was completely bare. His peculiar look caused the surrounding passersby to look over at him with curious glances.
This man handed the transport fee to the coachman, before tidying the white casual garments he wore.
"Sir, do you need a scarf? It’s only five copper rumbs," said a child as he rushed over to sell a sun-shading scarf to the man.
The man bought the scarf and wrapped it around his head.
Starting from the the left side of the market, he observed the animals as he strolled through the street slowly.
A man in grey clothes carried a grey owl on his hand and spoke loudly but slightly inarticulately, attempting to promote his wares to two aristocratic women. The owl on his arm would turn its head occasionally, a sign that it was in reasonably good spirits.
Up ahead, a plump man wearing a turban with a white gemstone patted the large metal cage beside him and began to introduce the clouded leopard pacing inside. It was obvious that the lynx was feeling restless because of the heat.
Further in front, a group of upper class women gathered around a little pet shop that sold rabbits and squirrels, giggling softly from time to time.
Garen inched forward slowly as his line of sight grazed over the various cages. His mind was constantly filled with thoughts.
"Empowered totems cannot be kept inside storage tools, but must be left outside. They also need to consume food and excrete. Could these things empower human beings as well?" the thought crossed his mind suddenly.
His face remained expressionless, as Garen continued to move forward and look at every single one of the cages.
Eagles, cheetahs, wildcats, hounds, pythons, and spiders were among the many other pets that could be found here.
Suddenly, his feet stopped moving. He stood in front of a large aquarium.
Inside the blue water tank, a large great white shark swam around nonchalantly.
"Sir, are you interested in buying this great white shark? If you
purchase it now, I’ll also throw in a gift. Every great white shark purchase comes with a free aquarium," said a friendly, thin man who smelled like the ocean.
"I have other kinds of aquatic creatures here in my shop, and a few types of amphibians as well. You can feel free to have a look. Crocodiles, wolf fish, decorative goldfish, black-headed prawns, cylindrical snails, and jellyfish. Anything you want, we’ll catch it for you!"
"Oh?" Garen declined to comment. "I’d like to see the crocodiles."
"Please come inside, sir," said the slim man as he enthusiastically led Garen into the dark, damp part of the shop. He had opened his shop here a long time ago, initially thinking that the rich lords and ladies would have an affinity towards strange aquatic creatures. He never expected his business to flop the entire time. It was rare enough for him to come across a customer who was actually interested in buying something, thus it was only natural for him not to let this chance escape.
Garen entered the shop. He saw a deep pit in the left side of the shop, where two short-tailed crocs were crawling around lazily. One of the crocodiles stretched its mouth wide open, as its sharp teeth snapped at a flock of little white birds.
"On its own, the crocodile has a strong defensive armor. If it was empowered into a Silver Totem, I’m not sure how much stronger my Totem Light would become because of that." Garen wanted to buy the crocodile for its full body of tough armor. Even if he decided to just raise it at home, the Totem Light that he would gain from the crocodile was probably more than what he would gain from most living creatures.
"I’d like a crocodile, so how much would that cost?"
"Just thirty thousand, thirty thousand silver rumbs. Hehe," The skinny man was happier beyond his wildest expectations. He never thought that he’d be able to seal a deal for a pet with a customer that just walked in.
"Done. Please send it to this address later." Garen took out a pen, and was about to write down the hotel’s address, before stopping himself abruptly. "Hold on. I’ll come back later and confirm the location with you. Here’s the deposit."
Garen took out a thousand silver rumbs and counted them for the skinny shopkeeper, before leaving his name and informing the man that he would return later.
After leaving the aquatic pet shop, Garen continued journeying forwards and took his time looking around.
In a short while, he decided upon three giant desert monitor lizards from a different pet shop. All three of them were lizards with dark blue coloured backs, and had each grown to be more than one meter in length. Their skin felt like a
a kind of rough cloth when touched.
Garen pressed his finger against the giant lizard’s skin and realised that it was actually quite tough.
These three giant desert monitor lizards had only cost Garen ten thousand silver rumbs. However, it was rumoured that these creatures could be used to form a blood relation with the legendary dragon. Garen was interested to try this out, to see if it was possible to evolve them into a similar type of living totem.
But of course, everything depended on the requirements for the core totem’s foundation to be met first.
This kind of blue back lizard excelled in drilling holes and possessed swift movements. Furthermore, they also had highly poisonous glands that could cause paralysis. They were extremely unsuitable as domesticated pets. A moment of negligence would allow them an opportunity to drill holes and escape. Thus, the shop owner was unable to sell them for their full price, which caused their value to decrease rapidly. Never had he expected a customer like Garen, someone who was so entranced by these creatures. This shop owner was also delighted beyond expectation, and decided to sell all three of his giant lizards to Garen.
Next, Garen also purchased three grey feathered hawks. These hawks were extremely fierce despite their small stature. This particular female hawk was especially impressive, as it was often found with leopards in the northern highlands. This was another creature that was superb even at its foundation level.
One short-tailed croc, three grey feathered hawks, and three giant desert monitor lizards. A total of seven animals, and when Garen’s current howling wererabbit was added to the list, that brought the grand total to eight. Garen still planned to leave two empty spots in case there were better choices for him to substitute later.
These creatures cost him a total of seventy thousand silver rumbs.
He decided to give up on a getting custom-made totem. Custom-made totems were definitely more suited to totem users compared to standard totems, and the better suited a totem was to its totem user, the easier it was to evolve it. However, Garen had already acquired excellent abilities, making it redundant for him to pay the exorbitant fees just for a custom-made totem.
After paying the deposit, Garen followed the crowd into a different street.
He looked at the relaxed aristocrats that passed by him, every one of them oblivious to the upcoming chaos.
Most of these people were unaware of the existence of Luminarists. They lived in a fabricated world of pretend, naively believing that the cavalry, archers, patrol guards, swordsmen, and musketeers were all there was to war. Unbeknownst to them, the real war was the one that was fought by totem users and Luminarists, and they were in charge of the actual decision-making.
Totems were banned
were banned from meddling in wars between normal people, and this was a rule. But people who were the slightest bit knowledgeable were already aware of the importance of totem users. Both war and peace were controlled by the hands of these few people.
"General Wellan recently led Anita’s third legion of nearly a hundred thousand men out to battle, who knows how long it will take before the war ends. My husband is part of that army as their logistics officer," said an upper class lady with an anxious look on her face, holding a white rabbit in her arms. "I don’t even know if he’s taking care of himself properly while he’s out there."
"Don’t worry. Brother-in-law will be fine. He’s a man. Big sister, look at my squirrel. Isn’t it cute?" Nearby, a red-headed young lady stroked the squirrel in her palm happily.
Garen passed by the two ladies, and heard bits and pieces of their conversation.
In the eyes of the average person, General Wellan had led one hundred thousand soldiers out to battle, and had three of the bravest and fiercest army captains under his command.
However, the people who truly decided the outcome of the battle were not these hundred thousand men, but the other thousand over totem users who had left a long time ago, but whose whereabouts and statuses remained unknown.
The wars of totem users and normal people were vastly different, and they always selected their battle sites individually. The moment one sector of totem users was defeated, their commander would automatically declare their surrender.
The majority of totem users would not slaughter normal people, but this resulted in a lot of predetermined outcomes, many of which concluded with the weak beating the strong. The difference in soldier numbers resulted in a wide disparity between both sides, but this was ultimately caused by the totem users’ unanimous surrender when defeated in battle.
Garen’s train of thought began to deviate, so he waved down a horse-drawn carriage and headed towards the outskirts of the city quickly.
He needed to find a house that would solely belong to him, or else it would be impossible for him to house this many Silver Totems.
He returned to his hotel and packed his belongings, before rushing off to the nearest home rental center.
In the home rental center, he chose a house with a big courtyard on the outskirts of the city, which included a lake and man-made grassy mountains, which amounted to its huge perimeter. The house was somewhat decrepit, but the rental was only required to be paid once every two years, and each payment was twenty thousand silver rumbs.
This was a considerably cheap price.
Currently, Garen did not have much money left, and once he had totalled his remaining bits of money, after the purchase after the purchase of his pets, he was left with less than three hundred thousand silver rumbs. At the request of the landlord, he was led outside and brought to see the courtyard. After that, he paid the two-year rental fee in one payment.
Next, Garen went to the pet market street again, and gave his new address to the shop keepers.
He had no plans to visit other pet markets. To be honest, most animals could already be found here, the remaining ones were merely lions, tigers, bears and other ferocious beasts. He hardly cared about these common creatures, because as far as their defense was concerned, lions and tigers did not have the armor the crocodile possessed. The most important factor was that for large carnivorous animals, one was definitely enough. If you empowered more than one, their daily meat intake would definitely increase to an insane amount.
Once the Great War broke out, there would definitely not be enough meat to sustain all these creatures.
On the outskirts of Iron Tank City where people were scarce, a few courtyards stood spaciously away from one another.
One of the courtyards was surrounded by a grey fence, and on the green grass stood a mountain shaped double-storey building. The little building had white floors and black sides, and looked somewhat unkempt on first glance. Certain parts of the windows had wilted yellow vines growing all over them.
A gust of wind blew over, blowing the grass and causing the yellowed leaves to roll away.
Garen alighted the carriage, and stood in front of the gates of the courtyard.
He turned his head and looked in the opposite direction and saw a similar looking courtyard, except that there were flowering fruit trees growing in the other courtyard, and a young woman who was holding a watering can and watering the flowers.
The girl also noticed Garen standing opposite her, and her face immediately broke out into a friendly smile.
Garen smiled back at her too.
Garen looked for the key and unlocked the latch on the fence, before walking into the courtyard that he had just rented for himself.
The sound of a dog barking could be heard from the courtyard on the opposite side.
"Teller! Damn you, don’t you dare pee there! Do you hear me?!" The girl yelled loudly from the opposing courtyard. "Teller! Teller!!!" She threw her watering can down and chase a golden retriever into the back of the house.
Garen turned to look in her direction, before removing the key from his pocket. He stuck it into the keyhole of his front door and turned the handle.
The door creaked when it was pulled open towards the outside, as a mouldy smell that came from inside the house began to waft towards him.