Haggling went terribly. What it came down to was that the demand for crystals was higher than the supply. It didn’t help that in the Crystal Crafter’s eyes a person with wind mana wasn’t that important. Not to say some weren’t interested. But their interest lay in getting free labor with payment in experience. Despite that, she didn’t decline the offers straight away. She wanted to learn crystal crafting. The whole idea of magic crystals had sparked her interest, but she wanted to see if there were options that might work better.
Mathius managed to hold back his smug look but the look of pity he gave her wasn’t much better. Eventually, they took the platform, which Mathius explained was actually called a Skylift, down to the second dock.
“You shouldn’t take it so hard,” Mathius said. “I’m sure Briney will be fine.”
Briney let out a sad trill which Nova wasn’t sure meant he agreed or if the kraken was sad he hadn’t received any mana crystals.
“Well come on. It’s time we did a bit of shopping,” Mathius said.
Nova looked at him curiously. “Shopping?”
“I figure you want your own set of clothes?” Mathius said.
Nova brightened. “Yes, yes I would.”
Shopping in a fantasy world was very different. Mathius took her to different tailors that showed their material and had a few display items but unlike back in the US, none of the clothes you could just pick up and buy. Everything had to be tailored, though they did have a few items that could be bought right away, but they were mostly hats, scarves, and gloves. Nova passed on most of them. She was more interested in pants.
It took a few shops, but she found a shop that sold the loose pants she had seen many women wearing. Mathius frowned at her as she looked through the designs.
“Why do you want work pants?” Mathius asked.
“Because I’ll get strange looks if I wear my jeans.”
This only made an even more perplexed look appear on Mathius’s face.
A middle-aged woman stepped out from the backroom, giving them a firm nod. “How can I help you two?”
“I want pants,” Nova said promptly.
Mathius frowned at her but the woman simply nodded.
“What type of work do you need them for?” she asked.
“Not for work. I want something for everyday use,” Nova said.
The woman’s eyebrow rose in surprise. “That’s an interesting request.”
“You are embarrassing,” Mathius said, covering his face
Nova grinned. “They’re more comfortable and pants can be fashionable.”
“It sounds like you have something in mind?” the seamstress asked.
The woman let out a thoughtful grunt before turning and walking to the back. When she returned, she had several bits of cloth in her hand. She held them out. “These are what I have.”
The material was wool, two types of linen, and leather. Nova’s gaze was drawn to the leather. A pair of leather pants were tempting but in the end, she decided on a light linen and the wool. “Do they come in different colors?”
The woman nodded and disappeared into her workshop before returning with several color samples pinned to a bigger cloth. She put the samples out, hesitated, and then put out a second set of samples. Nova’s gaze was immediately drawn to the second set. The colors weren’t the mute colors she saw around the Caverns. They weren’t the truly vibrant colors Nova was used to but there were deep greens, a rich blue, a pale yellow, and a soft coral.
“These are lovely.”
“And expensive,” Mathius piped in.
Nova frowned and nodded. She had to remember that she wasn’t spending her own money. “How much would it cost to have the linen in one of these colors?”
“It depends on the amount of fabric you need and the color,” the woman answered.
Nova nodded and then paused, looking at the seamstress. “I’m sorry. I never asked your name.”
“I’m Nova Davis. I have a question for you Mrs. Acher. I have a particular design in mind and I wonder if I draw it if you might be able to make it.”
The seamstress arched her eyebrow. “It’s possible but I would have to take a look to make sure.”
“Then if it isn’t too much trouble do you have something I could use to draw on?”
The seamstress nodded and disappeared in the back.
“What are you doing?” Mathius said to her.
“Buying clothes,” Nova said. “What? Is it rude to do it this way?”
Mathius shook his head and shut up as Ida returned with a scrap of paper and a quill. Nova was relieved to see that paper was a thing though obviously not to the standard she was used to. She dipped the quill in the ink and after multiple tries managed to draw a depiction of a pair of palazzo pants. She then began to explain how the pants were meant to mimic a skirt while providing the movability of pants.
Ida asked several questions about the pants before nodding her head. “I think I can give it a try.”
Nova smiled warmly at the seamstress. “I’ll have the wool in this gray color and the linen…how much for the coral?”
“Coral?” Ida asked.
Nova pointed to the pink.
“Ah, I call that one roseus. It’s an experimental color so I’ll only charge two bronzes more per yard.”
Nova looked at Mathius and he nodded. Nova turned back to Ida and agreed. They talked about price and then from there things went quickly. After that, she moved on to shirts or tunics. Ida brought out a few but most were clothes meant for work.
Nova shook her head. “I don’t think any would really work with the palazzos.”
“Palazzos? Is that what you called the pants you designed,” Ida asked curiously as she gathered up the tunics.
Ida tilted her head thoughtfully. “Would you be interested in perhaps allowing me to experiment with a design?”
Nova looked at the woman curiously. “Experiment?”
Ida flushed. “I think I can come up with something that would work well with your design if you’re interested.”
Nova was curious though a bit hesitant. Until she got her own money she wouldn’t be able to just buy a new shirt if she didn’t like it. She glanced over to Mathius.
“Since it’s experimental I would lower the charge,” Ida added.
Even if it was experimental, Nova knew she would be getting a deal. “Then I agree.”
They worked out the payment details and added a pair of boots before leaving the shop. From there they stopped at a few more shops, picking up small things. Eventually, they headed to the Skylift and moved to dock 1. Dock 1 held several markets and basic shops. They even visited a used book shop filled with old Academy books. She managed to convince Mathius to buy her a book titled, The History of Mana. It was extremely expensive, even used.
After the last purchase, Nova was starting to feel a little guilty. “You’ve been spending a lot on me. Are you sure it isn’t too much?”
“I can afford it for now but don’t expect it to be a regular habit. The rest of the money is going towards the Explorer’s Guild.”
Nova nodded her head but she did wonder a bit at it. Mathius was spending a great deal on her and his home had been very modest. Even from what she gathered about the Caverns, the people there were on the poorer side, so how could he afford everything? A terrible thought came to her mind and she stopped.
“Mathius, you’re not a criminal, are you?” Nova asked.
“What? Where did that come from?” Mathius asked, staring at Nova.
“I was just wondering how you can afford this plus have the money to establish a guild, which I figure isn’t exactly cheap. You even said people in the Caverns only made 40 bronze in a month at most.”
Mathius rubbed the bridge of his nose. “No, I’m not a criminal.” He sighed. “I do something nice and I’m accused of being a criminal.”
“Sorry,” Nova said. “I just wanted to be sure.
“Look the money is from…my mother died and I ended up with a bit more money than expected,” Mathius’s expression tightened and he started work.
“Oh! I’m so sorry,” Nova said, hurrying to keep up with him. “I shouldn’t have…”
“It’s fine. You won’t be the first to wonder,” Mathius said, not slowing down
“Still, I’m sorry.” Nova bit her lip. “I know how it is to lose a parent. My parents died two months ago.”
“Oh,” Mathius said, slowing his pace down. “It’s been five months since my mother returned to the Realms. I’m still not used to it.”
“Yeah, I get it,” Nova said, once again walking beside him. “It’s like something you never imagined wouldn’t be there is suddenly gone. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it.”
Mathius nodded and no more was said. A comfortable silence settled around them as they continued down the street, stopping every once in a while to look at a stall. They were looking over a stall with pins when Briney poked out his head. The kraken quickly climbed out of her cloak and before she could blink leaped from her shoulder.
“Briney!” Nova shouted and her hand shot out. She just barely managed to grab one of his tentacles. “What are you doing?”
Briney squawked and slapped at her hand, waving two of his tentacles angrily. “What’s got into you?”
Mathius quickly pulled them away from the stall as the owner blinked at them owlish as Nova struggled with Briney.
“I think he might be hungry,” Mathius said and pointed further up the street in the direction Briney had been running to. “It’s the fish market.”
Nova looked at Briney in surprise. “So you can eat regular food too? But I thought you only ate mana crystals.”
Briney made several squeaking sounds.
“I think we both could use a meal,” Mathius said. “But there is somewhere I wanted to show you first.”
“Then fish for Briney?” Nova asked
“You hear that Briney? Be a little patient and we’ll get you some fish.”
Briney grumbled but didn’t try to escape when Nova pushed him back into her cloak. When she looked up, she noticed several people giving her strange looks.
“Was that a purple octopus,” someone said.
“But it had a beak,” someone else said.
“Time to go,” Mathius said and grabbed Nova’s wrist, pulling her down the street.
They didn’t go far. The pair stopped in front of a plain but dignified shop that had the words, The Golden Crystal, carved into a sign. Nova arched her eyebrow at Mathius but he ignored her and led them inside. The shop was surprisingly empty though it was filled with the wooden props the other crystal crafters used.
“I thought you said crystal crafters were on the third dock and up,” Nova said.
“Usually they are,” Mathius said and headed to the counter. A small bell sat on the counter with the words, ‘ring me,’ next to it.
He rang it and immediately there was a clatter. “Just a moment!”
There was more noise and then an older short man came from the back, adjusting a pair of spectacles. “Ah! Mister Crux. You have returned. It’s been a long time since we last spoke. I hope your mother is enjoying her bath.”
Mathius gave the man a small smile. “She did. It was the perfect gift just like you said it would be, Mr. Tinle.”
“I knew it. I have an eye for these sorts of things.” He turned and took a look at Nova. “Oh! You brought a lady friend with you. And she’s quite pretty.”
“Thank you,” Nova said.
“She’s just a friend,” Mathius said quickly. “And she’s interested in purchasing an empty mana crystal.”
“Oh! A crafter than. Are you with the academy?” He paused and looked Nova over. “If you are then newly joined, I imagined.”
“I’m not an academy student but I’m considering it,” Nova said.
He nodded. “It’s too bad you haven’t joined yet and a little surprising at your age.” He squinted at Nova. “Have you been tested?”
“Tested?” Nova asked.
“The scry test,” Tinle said. “And that answers that. Do you know what sort of mana you can use?”
“I’m still figuring that out,” Nova said before Mathius could state it was wind mana.
Mathius gave her an annoyed look but didn’t press the issue.
Tinle gave them a thoughtful look before shaking his head. “A mystery then? I like a good mystery.”
“About the mana crystals,” Mathius said, trying to steer the conversation away from mana types. “We’re hoping to find something affordable.” He paused and looked at Nova. “Do you still need crystals now that we know…” He trailed off.
It took Nova a moment to understand what he meant but she got it. Since they now knew Briney could eat fish did he actually need the mana crystals? Nova considered it but Jace had been clear that Briney needed mana crystals. It might have been that the kraken only needed it for the connection between the worlds.
“Yes, I still need it. How much would it cost?” Nova asked.
“Hmm, let me check on that. You two just wait a bit for me,” Tinle said and then shuffled into the back. There was more clatter and then he came out. He set a small clear crystal on the counter. The crystal looked more like glass than an actual crystal. It was completely clear.
Nova leaned forward to take a closer look. She switched to mana sight. For a moment she didn’t see anything but the longer she looked she could see it. It was like small silver sparkles floating within the crystal instead of the threads she usually saw.
As soon as she spoke, a purple blur shot towards the counter and straight at the mana crystal.
I hope you’re enjoying my fantasy LitRPG webnovel. Check out my patreon to read ahead.