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Chapter 103: Charming Crests

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Author: TypeAxiom Original Source: Scribble Hub

Kagriss had mostly kept silent all this time, trying to make herself invisible so that she didn’t bother Camilla despite her questions.

After having her curiosity satisfied all morning, suddenly being kept in the dark like this was painful. There were so many things she wanted to ask but didn’t. Some of her questions answered themselves in time, but others burned in her.

She didn’t know where this place was, who this man that stood before them was and why Camilla’s attitude took on a respectful tone that Kagriss had never used before, or what the man meant by “introducing.”

However, when she heard the old man recite an entire wealth of knowledge just by examining the remains of the mana beast, it was like a whole new world had opened up for her. Something was calling out for her, and she saw the pelt and antler not as just the body of something that had hurt Camilla, but something she could tear apart until all of its secrets laid bare before her.

She wished to be able to do what that man did, the magic he had cast although she couldn’t sense his mana beyond the tingle he gave off.

That Camilla was introducing her to him was almost like a miracle, so without hesitation and question, she entered that dark room in the back. No, it wasn’t a room. It was a tunnel, leading off into the distance before turning away into parts unknown. And connected to that tunnel was a few doors on the walls leading elsewhere.

“This place…” she muttered, without meaning to.

“Are you surprised? I was when I first came here. Even now I still don’t know what’s on the other side.”

“And you shouldn’t,” the old man rasped, pulling the door shut behind him. “Where will my secrets be then? This way…”

Nodding her head as respectfully as she could, as she had seen Camilla do, she went with Camilla into a side door that Leland pushed open. She noticed that the string that Camilla had pulled on earlier actually split in two, one leading up to the room they were going to, and the other one disappeared into a different door.

It would probably be too rude to ask about it during her first meeting, however. Kagriss knew that first meetings should normally be rather conservative in terms of information given and received. At least, that’s what she learned from what she’d read.

Just like the room with the long table before, the room they were in now was simple as well, with two simple chairs and a desk. It reminded Kagriss of what rooms in the houses of the dark fortress she came from.

Grunting, the old man sat down, hunching over the table. Meanwhile, Kagriss followed Camilla’s example and sat down opposite the man in one of the two open seats, lacing her hands politely.

The old man cleared his throat. “Now, something to say?”

“Yes. But first, I’d like to confirm if you still deal with anyone, no matter who it is. Murderers, thieves, nobles, priests…” Camilla counted with her hands, a finger for each type of person listed, “…soldiers, templars…it doesn’t matter who they are, as long as they follow your rules and meet your standards, correct?”

Leland nodded without even giving the question a second thought. “It doesn’t matter.”

“Are there any exceptions at all to the rule?”

“Unless I have a personal grudge with you, there isn’t.”

“Even demons?”

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Leland shrugged. “It’s not like I’ve never dealt with demons. They offer me some of my highest quality and most valuable goods. Now, stop beating around the bushes and spit it out. Are you a demon?”

“…yes,” Camilla said.

Kagriss gasped. This was only the second time that Camilla revealed or hinted at her vampiric nature. Camilla had told her that the only time she revealed it was to Arvel, and that was only on account of their past friendship.

“I’m a vampire,” Camilla said, undoing her disguise.

Kagriss kept her eyes open, seeking to drink in every moment that Camilla had her disguise off. That soft hair, split in two equally beautiful colors. Kagriss could still remember how the silver glowed in the soft moonlight that night that Camilla met with Victoria. Those red eyes like rubies, so deep that she felt like she could be lost in them. That snow white skin, looking so soft that it seemed her fingers would simply sink in if she touched them.

Perhaps one day Camilla will cast off her disguise and embrace her appearance without having to hide what she truly looked like; Kagriss looked forward to that day.

However, before long, in no more than a few seconds, Camilla once again put on her disguise. Even sitting next to her, Kagriss didn’t feel any blood mana, proving that by now, Camilla was already an expert at casting that particular illusion spell.

Leland had fallen silent.

“So? Are you still willing to deal?” Camilla asked once she completed her disguise. “Or are vampires excluded?”

“No…they’re not. However, the person I’m thinking of should have died in a battle against the vampires, so why…?” He didn’t finish his sentence.

“Personal reasons. Also, not only am I a vampire, I’m also an undead.”

“Then that girl next to you is…”

Kagriss felt the old man’s eyes sweep over her again, so she sat still for him. However, his gaze didn’t linger long at all and he quickly looked away as if uninterested. For a moment, Kagriss felt a little crestfallen, feeling as if she had failed. Was she not enough to catch the man’s attention like Camilla expected?

What of her new desires then?

“Hmph. Well, considering you’re the two first undead customers I’ll have, there’s not much to judge you on. You’re Carmen, right? I already—”

“I’m Camilla. Carmen is dead, after all.”

“Well, okay then,” Leland muttered, closing his eyes. “How troublesome. This head of mine is good for remembering things, but changing existing memories is…troublesome. Urgh.”

After a moment, he opened his eyes. “Alright, Camilla. Well, you’re already in, and on account that she’s rather unique, I’ll agree to deal with that undead over there as well. What’s your name again?”

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“Kagriss!” Kagriss immediately replied in case Leland decided to change his mind. But that was a weird question. Didn’t Leland have a good memory?

How did the man forget her name when Camilla said it just earlier?

Perhaps the names of people he hadn’t yet acknowledged just didn’t register in his memories. Perhaps this time, her name will stick in his mind.

The man nodded. “Kagriss…I got it now. Well then, is that all you have to tell me?” When Camilla nodded, he shook his head, sighing as he stood up, walking around them. “I was wondering what kind of big news you wanted to tell me, and it turns out it was just this?”

The dismissive tone in his voice threw Kagriss off. How could this man speak that way to Camilla, even after learning that Camilla was an undead and a vampire?

Even if Kagriss wished to know his secrets, it didn’t mean that she’ll just sit by and let Camilla be belittled. Even if this man didn’t think so, Camilla valued her identity dearly.

But instead of being upset, Camilla just smiled. At her questioning look, after making sure that Leland really did leave the room, Camilla leaned over to her, putting her mouth close to her ear to whisper as quietly as she could.

“Don’t mind what he says too much, Kagriss. He’s getting a bit old and cranky. After all, he’s not like you or me. He has a limited lifespan, so it’s only natural that he values his time.”

“But you even went as far as to reveal your vampire identity to him…has he ever met a vampire noble?” Kagriss protested, keeping her voice low.

Camilla shrugged. “You’d never know with these people. He’s at least three times my age, and although he might not be older than your true age, his experience far exceeds yours.”

“…Eh? He’s that old?” Kagriss gasped. She hadn’t expected Leland to be that old.

“…Huh? How old did you think he was?”

“Actually, I don’t know,” Kagriss admitted. “Eighteen is the age of majority in the book, so since you said he’s three times your age…a hundred and fifty?” She wasn’t really sure. Hopefully she was right.

In the next moment, she winced as Camilla almost blew up.

“You think I’m fifty?!”

“Y—you’re not?” she asked, squeezing her eyes shut as Camilla reached up and lightly knocked her on the head. “But you never told me, so I just assumed…plus, it’s not like I have any references to go off of…”

Although she didn’t look happy with her explanation, Camilla nonetheless lowered her hand.

“No. The lifespan of humans is roughly eighty years if for people in good help, up to around ninety for people who live near dense mana, like in the Church or closer to the other races’ borders, and hundred for people possessing ma—”

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She was interrupted by the old man yelling from outside. “Are you coming or not?!”

“Yeah, hang on! Please count out the coins for now since you always take forever!” Camilla shouted.

“But you’re buying something, are you not?”

Camilla sighed. “Let’s go. I will say that I will be twenty-eight by my next birthday. I’m assuming Leland is somewhere in his eighties but it’s hard to tell past a certain age, especially for mages. Anyway, the point is Leland’s rudeness can be overlooked, especially since he’s currently staring at his eventual death and facing his mortality. I’d say his crankiness and his stubbornness when it comes to his decisions are some of his only bad decisions.”

Standing up, Camilla walked out, leaving Kagriss to think about Camilla’s words. The concept of age is quite alien to her, since she had looked like this ever since she evolved some decades ago and will probably continue to look like this until she evolves again. It’ll last until her eventual death in the hopefully distant future.

That’s why the feeling of impatience from not having her curiosity satisfied earlier was so uncomfortable. She was used to living at a much slower pace, so she had been unfamiliar with the feeling.

Trailing after Camilla, feeling a bit lost, they came into another empty room. Camilla had dumped the big sack of mana beast parts onto the desk and was holding a piece of paper in her hands. Catching Kagriss looking, she showed Kagriss what was on the paper.

“Leland…forty-one thousand?” she read out loud. There was also a date on it. “What’s this?”

“An I-owe-you letter,” Camilla replied. “If you trust the other party, it’s basically currency, the equivalent of its written value in crests.”

“That’s…strange. A piece of paper is worth forty-one thousand…crests?” So that was what human currency was called.

“Yup! That’s where the trust comes in. Ideally, they’d pay with or without the paper, but the paper serves as a physical reminder and record,” Camilla said, pointing at the number. “I don’t have the same memory he has after all.”

Oh. It was another one of those human things that Kagriss didn’t understand. One day, hopefully soon, she’ll know all this. She looked around, not seeing the old man anywhere. “Where’s Leland?”

“Probably in his warehouse in the back. I sent him off to check if he had some things I wanted to buy with the money we just got. The paper is also here so he doesn’t have to pay us anything just to take back the money later.”

“I see…that’s smart. So what did you buy?” Kagriss asked. “How much did it cost?”

As the words came out of her mouth, she realized that it was a pretty pointless question since she had no idea what the value of currency was. She didn’t even know how much forty-one thousand could buy, but it sounded like a large value…

Camilla didn’t answer, because a moment later Leland threw open the door, the metal handle slamming against the wall.

His face was black with indignation. “Just because I’m old doesn’t mean my memory is any worse! I was right! I had everything!” he growled, scowling. “Thirty kilograms of valorum ore, eight kilograms of harval ore, four kilograms of cystine, right? All there and ready to be delivered! Two hundred and eighty grams of blackstone opal, sixty milliliters of tear of angels, thirty grams of paradoxym, one hundred milliliters of meldar. I did have them all!”

“Now, now, I never said you didn’t or that you’re getting old. I just wanted you to check to make sure…” Camilla said, putting up her hands against Leland’s words, but the old man looked like he was still seething as he stomped up to Camilla and snatched the paper from her hands.

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Although Kagriss still thought that the old man was overreacting and incredibly rude, her new knowledge about Camilla made her feel a bit more at ease and tolerant about him.

Perhaps the man was just envious of Camilla’s longevity, something he didn’t have. Thinking about it that way, Kagriss thought he was a bit pitiful.

As the man was about to put pen to paper, Camilla spoke up. “I don’t know if this will make you feel any better, but you can just round up to the nearest thousand.”

Leland paused before he nodded ever so slightly. “Hmph! I don’t lack money!” However, when he handed back the paper, he no longer seemed as angry as before.

Kagriss looked over Camilla’s shoulder at the paper, managing to catch a glimpse of the new numbers right before Camilla folded it up and handed it back.

Eight thousand. Which meant there were thirty-three thousand remaining from the money that Camilla got from selling the mana beast parts. Was that a lot of money that Camilla had gotten and spent, or was it a minor amount?

In return for the paper, Leland took out a small box and unlocked it with a burst of holy magic so fast that Kagriss nearly didn’t catch the construction. She sucked in a breath in awe. Was that the difference in experience?

Contained within the box was a few stacks of golden coins, intricately carved. Leland counted out a few of the largest and second largest of the coins and dropped them into a bag that he handed to Camilla.

When Camilla held the bag in her hands after receiving it from Leland, she suddenly threw her hands up as a look of pure joy spread across her face. Kagriss flinched.

“Kagriss, we’re rich now!”

“H—huh?” Kagriss froze as Camilla suddenly jumped at her and pulled her into a tight hug.

“We’re rich! We can buy so many books with this. Your favorite!”

“Books…? So many?” Kagriss spaced out as she imagined stacks of the leatherbound books. One of her biggest regrets was leaving behind the two books in the fortress, and now Camilla was saying that they could have books now?

It was practically a wish come true. “Books…rich…money.”

Money brought books. Money made Camilla happy.

Money…Kagriss imagined her stack of books, but this time they were covered with a scattered pile of intricately carved metal disks, the so-called crests that humans used as currency.

Crest. Money. Money brought happiness.

As a new desire carved itself into Kagriss’s heart, she hugged Camilla back as she promised herself to make her and Camilla rich. Not even Leland’s clearing of his throat that Kagriss vaguely heard could bring her back to reality until Camilla finally pulled away.


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