Although Serein has been calling them Little Gremlins, the brokers aren’t exactly their childish, greenish counterparts.
More sly and cheeky as they made deals with desperate humans, the brokers are more intelligent and actually seek victims that would easily fall for their precarious deals.
Sometimes they will even work together with the tricksters, the gremlins, who love to cause minor inconveniences to their targets. Nothing big, really, just letting the cage of the stocks open, dropping the jugs, or sometimes hiding things such as glasses.
However, these small behaviors, more often than not, become the last straw for their prey. Maybe the hidden thing was something crucial at the moment; maybe the broken item was extremely expensive, or maybe the stocks they had at the barn were also their lifeline through the cold and harsh winter.
In other territories, those minor and inconvenient losses might be able to be recovered, or even become a laughing stock at the bar. But in this kingdom? Where these poor civilians were already oppressed by their tyrannical leader—
‘This is why these little punks made a wide settlement for their trades here.’
The dark alleyways of the Kiraan Kingdom.
Sometimes, people don’t even have to say the correct password to summon them. Just like magpies that collect shiny things, the brokers can sense desperate souls. They love it more when their victims have high hopes, because the moment the said soul realizes that their ‘hopes’ are nothing but empty words, the smell of despair and defeat would be even more potent, and thus it would hold a higher value once they brought it back to their own world.
Vicious, you may call it, but it’s like how humans raise their livestock for the best taste. At the end of the day, it’s just how things have different values all around the world.
Brokers are also known to be hunters because once they have a customer, they won’t let that person go until they get the payment they deserved. Which, of course, is the soul itself.
People say the most one person has ever made deals with them back to back, is four times.
‘What a convenient number,’ Serein muses as she thinks back on how that particular number is always linked with death.
—Well, either way, she has made her call, and thus, not so long after she heard the reply to her request, a teleportation point was created at a dead end deep in the alley, just as she had expected.
It looks even more foreboding as the result of being surrounded by destroyed walls of barren houses that obscured it.
She could hear a scabrous voice as a silhouette of a creature not higher than her knees could slowly be seen under the heavy smoke surrounding the closing portal.
“What a shame, it seems like you have actually fulfilled your end of the bargain.”
Serein could hear the broker smirking behind his hood, the sound grating against her ears.
“Such an impressive feat if I must say for myself. I had initially thought that I must go all the way to that filthy forest of mules just to collect your soul. Dear customer, you saved me a great deal of trouble.”
However, instead of replying, she immediately went straight to business and ignored this chatty broker’s commentary that sounded like a person with eight-grade syndrome back in her world.
“You got my money and now I got you the seeds. A whole bag of it, just as it is written on the contract.”
Serein made sure to especially emphasize the last words to corner the broker not to do any fishy business with her, like changing the term in the contract for example.
“How nasty. I might be a broker, but I will definitely not do such a despicable thing~”
Observing the broker’s words and his tone, Serein could only heave a sigh of relief as she noticed how close she was to falling into a deathly trap once again; this time from the broker’s schemes.
Or who knows, maybe it was just her carelessness that was going to let her trip all over herself and directly fall into the honey trap rather than anything else.
In any case, the deal is already ongoing and just at the last stage. They just need to settle the payment now and leave money for later.
“Here, your antidote.”
The two exchanged items when the broker then said again, “I’m genuinely surprised that you’re able to withstand the aftereffect and to even walk. You know, most people will just randomly be engulfed by their own mili and die~”
“—Then again, I should have known better, since you smell like winter.”
The Broker shrugged as he tossed the bag from Serein’s hand to behind him where a small greenish portal was awaiting.
‘Smells like winter…’
That adventurer remained calm as she stored the antidote in the deep pocket inside of her outfit as well while taking mental notes about this particular comment about this body.
Could this possibly link to what The Sage and Aidou said about her?
A soft breeze passes by, and that adventurer takes it as a sign from the ancient spirit, Aiston.
Not that she knows whether it was him trying to agree to her conclusion or denying it– she’ll ask once she finalized this deal with this broker.
“Now, to mark the ending of our deal~ Please sign your name down here~!”
The broker chirps as the floating clay tablets containing their contract float in front of her to be signed with her blood while the left side has the broker’s hand prints instead.
Pricking her finger again to sign the contract, since the small wound she used to call the broker earlier had closed up, Serein signed her side of clay after she read the translated paperwork.
“Well, that completes our first contract, dear customer~!”
Serein could hear the hooded creature smile as he kept the clay tablets in a purple-ish portal next to him. The Broker’s smile went even wider as he then offered,
“Now, dear customer, would you fancy some of these booster potions? Or maybe a couple of scrolls of ancient spells? The newest weapon in creation? Maybe one that’s made by the dwarves? Elven’s bow perhaps? Or even a dragon’s heart~! I have everything that you need! Restoration spell~? Reanimation potions~? From black magic, white magic, to the most unthinkable Curses, you name it, and I shall provide~!”
—Cheerful it might sound, but there’s something more going on behind the screen, and that something is heavily manipulative.
Hypnotism is probably the closest term there is since the brokers couldn’t do as far as brainwashing someone. That being said, they are able to pull back someone’s memory and replayed it in their target’s mind as a ‘reminder’ and a motive for these people to buy more items from them.
Serein wasn’t aware of this trait on their first interaction and ended up buying some health potions– which ended up being a cheaper side of the purchase, but it cost way more than it should have had she bought it at normal shops.
Thankfully, she doesn’t really need a lot of things at that time and her money has been limited drastically anyway.
Basically, this is the actual reason as to why she ended up broke without any coin left as she started the journey to Ervenyl Mountain.
She was robbed.
And it seems like this broker is attempting the same scheme as before, seeing that she’s starting to remember how she needs to buy good weapons and some potions— exactly what the broker just offered a moment ago.
This time, however, it was easier for Serein to snap out of it because she wasn’t as lost as the first experience she had dealing with this kind of goblins.
“No. I have everything that I need as of now.”
As of now— she said. After all, to give the implications that she’d call back later at other times is the best way she could conceive to get away from this creature.
Who knows what they would do if she had straight out said no and rejected his offers after all.
To pull away from this transaction discreetly was the best solution she could think of for now. It wouldn’t result in her needing to fight with him or being under his influence any further, and it’ll give her an open chance for the future.
Much to her delight, the Broker actually let her get away, seemingly convinced that this is just not the right time to strike another deal.
“Oh well, what a shame. Hopefully, you’re satisfied with my services and will call again soon.”
Almost immediately, Serein felt some sort of relief as if her mind was once again cleared from fabricated desires. That being said, at the same time without sounding her answer whatsoever, Serein just stared as the smoke once again surrounded the broker when a portal formed under him.
“—All sorts of magic and potions, with just one silver coin and a drop of blood~!”
A dried leaf with some writings on it flew in the adventurer’s direction which Serein easily caught as she heard the broker say lastly.
“Call me anytime!”
And with that, the broker left, leaving the monochromatic-haired adventurer alone in the dark alleyway with the ‘name card’ made out of a leaf in her hand.
‘Yeah no,’ Serein does not wish to ever call for this or any other broker anymore.
Regardless, she kept the name card inside of her pocket before then putting her hoodie back as she went to the market to buy herself some better weapons than the previous ones.
‘I should have done this first before meeting one of those punks’
She heaved a sigh as a breeze once again passed by— very likely another influence of Aiston which is still muted to her because there’s no one here to interpret his words to her and whatever that commentary was, it’s definitely not urgent enough for the Ancient spirit to use his spiritual power to talk into her minds.
– Clang clang
That copper bell rang as she entered the weaponry shop.
“Welcome!” A young woman greeted her from behind the counter. “What can I help you with?”
She sounded like an NPC saying that, really. Then again, the twin braid and the headscarf were only made to highlight the stereotype.
Serein hummed before then responding to her politely.
“I’d like to see your collection of daggers, please.”
“Is there any specific trait you have in mind?”
Serein paused, then answered, “Focusing on durability but also lightweight.”
These are her preferences to fight silently. As for hunting, she’d buy a separate blade for it.
“Alright, I’ll get you some daggers based on that. You can look around if anything else might interest you while I wrap it.”
Agreeing to that suggestion, Serein watched as the young lady left her to her own devices. She shrugged and decided to go to the other side of the shop where there are swords and daggers alike displayed.
While in the middle of checking some of the hunting knives that she might buy as well, she then hears the door open indicating that there’s another customer entering.
– Clang clang
At first, Serein didn’t really put many thoughts into it, since it is a shop for the public and there’s an adventurer guild nearby as well.
However, a pat on her shoulder later, she was met with a dark-haired boy who smiled at her.
“Excuse me, miss. Do you work here?” he asked. His tone is inquisitive. Serein squints at him, but answers nonetheless.
“No, the clerk would return soon though.”
Brushing it off easily, the boy then apologized before then waiting for the clerk to return, casually throwing a glance or two at Serein.
A strange glint in his eyes; mysterious and it had weird emotions within it. However, something else caught Serein’s attention.
‘He looks young for an adventurer.’
That was her first impression of this boy who looked quite normal while waiting for the clerk.
Unbeknownst to her, the threads of fate already tangled themselves wildly, and she would get involved with this person more than she would have imagined…
Chaos, thriller, mystery, adventures.
Those were the keywords that their future would revolve around.
Author Note: Heyya folks! Anemic Bunnicula here~! Here goes another update for the week + Art that you can check on the discussion channel. Hope you all would enjoy it, and I’ll see you again in the next chapter, Chao~!