After that incident, Kazuki and the others made a quick getaway. Eventually, they found a stall by the side of the road selling skewers of some type of meat. The taste resembled chicken but when asked what it was the lady selling it simply grinned.
Kazuki liked the taste and found no poison in it so he didn’t really care. Tilly as well wasn’t bothered by it and simply wanted a cup or two of alcohol to go with it. Mei and Tsura were just excited trying something new and found the mystery meat interesting. It was nowhere as good as Tsura’s cooking but it still hit the spot to some degree.
Since they were already out and about, Tilly decided to show them around town before they headed to Sid’s craft shop. Apparently, the owner was a long-time acquaintance of Tilly’s who worked on and sold magic tools and items.
Old Tilly escorted them about and showed off some of the local cuisine and the best drinking spots. It turns out, her showing off was just an attempt to find some more booze. Once she was caught she laughed it off and finally led them to Sid’s craft shop.
*Ding da ding*
Walking into the shop, it was fairly large and had shelves of items stacking all the way to the ceiling. Chest, rings, hammers, crystal lamps, the variety was in no way short.
A short old man sat on a high chair behind a counter. As soon as he saw Tilly’s appearance he couldn’t help but roll his eyes.
“You old bat, for what reason am I graced with your presence.”
Tilly’s smile remained as her words poked the man.
“Hehehe, come now my short little buddy, I’ve brought customers. Is that any way to speak to a beauty such as me.”
“Hmpf what beauty, all I see is a shriveled old witch. Who let you out of the dungeon, he’ll certainly pay a hefty price for endangering the kingdom.”
The two went quiet for a moment and stared at one another with savage glares.
Kazuki thought he should probably say something to ease the tension but looking around he could see that there were other customers browsing around and had no interest in the two’s exchange at all.
(Hmm, are these people not bothered by this? Could this be a regular occurrence.)
Just as he thought that the two old people simultaneously broke out in laughter.
The short old man behind the counter wiped a fresh tear from his face before climbing on top of the glass counter and walking over. Seeing someone so short for the first time in her life, Mei almost burst out laughing. Thankfully Tsura covered her mouth and glared at her.
The old man though wasn’t particularly bothered by it. Being his height, for all of his life, he couldn’t say that he was totally used to it but at least a reaction from a child no longer got to him. Only when it was someone who’s supposed to know better, would he be truly bothered but even then that was life.
The old man came to the end of the counter and stood in front of Tilly and Kazuki. Still, his height only equaled Kazuki’s while on top of the counter, in actuality the man couldn’t be taller than 3 feet. The man stuck out his tiny, toddler-sized hand and introduced himself to Kazuki and the others.
“Yo, I’m Sid but most people call me Sid the giant or Sid the dragon slayer but you can just call me Sid the wise.”
Kazuki shook his hand.
“How embarrassing is this. I’m also called Ryuta the giant or Ryuta the dragon slayer. They used to call me wise as well but then I spent a night drinking with Tilly and now, I’m afraid I’ve lost too many brain cells for that title.”
Sid was a little taken aback with Ryuta’s reply but sharing a look with Tilly he laughed heartily.
“Tilly this young man is quite an interesting fellow. I like him.”
Tilly nodded along proudly.
“Right right right. I discovered this little gem yesterday. Today I brought him as a customer for you.”
Kazuki heard Tilly mention that earlier but he thought she was just joking but it seems she was serious. Kazuki couldn’t help but give her a questioning look.
Sid also introduced himself to Tsura and Mei as well.
“Now who is this little cutie, hmm?”
Mei pulled her mother’s hand from her mouth and giggled.
“I’m Mei and you’re funny, mister.”
“Oh, how so? It couldn’t be my face, could it?”
As soon as Sid said that he stuck out his tongue and pulled at his face stretching it into a weird look. Mei found this hilarious and began to laugh and laugh and laugh.
“Hmm, must have been something I said. And you must be this little lass’s older sister.”
Living in an isolated forest all of her life, Tsura had never heard a line like that and didn’t know how to respond. Before that went any further, Kazuki interrupted them.
“Tilly, you said I was a customer, I thought you were the one capable of dealing with my situation.”
Tilly winked at Kazuki.
“Oh, ye of little faith. I am to do the job but in order to do what you asked of me, I need this old shrimp’s assistance or rather his tools to do it.”
“What, you only want my tools? Here I thought you brought in some real gold but it’s just a few coins.”
Tilly winked at old Sid and repeated the same line to him.
“Oh, ye of little faith. This young Ryuta fella, he told me last night he’s in need of many things. Your place sells many things. After we use your tools I’m sure he’ll be in need of a few items.”
Sid eyed Kazuki up and down.
“His outfit is quite poor, are you sure he even has the coin to pay?”
“Oh, he can pay.”
Kazuki felt slightly annoyed having people talk about him directly in front of his face but also found it a bit refreshing. These two old people liked to joke around but seemed rather honest and upfront. It felt nice not having so many people breathing down his neck for once, questioning nearly every move he made. He wondered if he was weird for feeling better being around these two old folks then Shin and Danny.
“Well, you know my policy, Tilly, 2 gold Zeni for an hour in the back and another two to rent my equipment. What do you say?”
“Eh! Can’t you give me an old friend discount or a saved your ass from your ex coupon?”
“Dammit, that was a long time ago and I’ve helped you out plenty of times since. 4 Zeni or no deal, take it or leave it.”
Tilly’s face scrunched up a bit.
“So stingy. Fine whatever. Ryuta, I tried my best to negotiate, unfortunately I have failed you, so hurry up and pay the man.”
Tsura and Mei were confused by the situation as well but said nothing. Kazuki though remained silent for a while, while Tilly held out a hand for a long time. Finally, Kazuki relented and pulled out 4 Zeni. It’s not that he wasn’t willing to hand it over but rather he had no clue why he was paying 4 Zeni. In the end though, he felt Tilly wouldn’t screw him over. After all, they did just do business last night in the sum of 2,000 gold Zeni. If she fucked him over now it wouldn’t make much sense. To lose a potential whale type customer over a few Zeni, no way, Kazuki thought.
Handing her the gold Zeni, she, in turn, counted it out playfully before handing it over to Sid.
“There, I’ve paid you your money, you greedy fiend, now show us weary travelers the way.”
Kazuki’s eyes went wide as he stared at Tilly.
(You paid him, what?)
Mei and Tsura couldn’t help but giggle at Kazuki’s plight as they followed Sid toward the back of his shop.
Entering a room in the back, it only had one object within. In the center of this backroom sat a 9 foot by 5 foot golden table. Mei and Tsura’s mouths fell open in disbelief.
Kazuki lay a hand on the table and examined it. At first, it appeared to be a normal rectangular golden table but Kazuki could feel undulations of power constantly emanating and pulsing off of it as though the table were alive and breathing. Curious, he inserted some of his ki. The surface was blank like an undisturbed frozen lake but he knew this was a false bravado as there was power continuously leaking from it. Digging deeper, Kazuki stretched more tendrils of ki and forced them further in. That’s when he made an interesting discovery. Inside the middle of this golden table, he found hundreds of inscriptions not on the surface but instead buried within the table itself.
(How were these carved exactly?)
Normally inscriptions were carved on the surface of an object. This was done for the simple reason of being able to see the work in progress. That way if you messed up, you could potentially remelt the magic gold and reinscribe it from scratch. Looking at the table, it was one solid piece of magic gold. Which meant whoever inscribed this table did so without looking as they worked. This clearly should have led to damaged or broken inscriptions, yet what Kazuki just observed was near perfection. The inscriptions were almost flawless and seemed to have been done in one solid stroke.
(Whoever created such a treasure must have the hands of a god.)
Kazuki continued to admire the table whenTilly’s voice interrupted his thoughts.
“OK Tsura, get on the table and lie on you back.”
Tsura looked at Kazuki and he nodded. Before she got on though, Tilly added something.
“Oh right, first strip.”