Chapter 58: Thieves
Miss Thana promised Nisha they would continue talking about the matter at the guild when she returned and that she would give some advice to the young dragon after thinking about it for a bit.
Nisha, in turn, was extremely glad to be able to run an errand for the old lady, hanging the pouch with coins on one of the lashes adorning her leather hunting gear.
She didn’t check the contents, but the clanking and clinking was enough to give her a good estimate of the inside.
Under no circumstances did Nisha want to fail her mission and let the kind old lady down, therefore she quickly walked down the street, she had been here before, the carriage ran along here the last time she visited the temple.
Following the instructions Miss Thana gave her, the elven girl quickly arrived at one of the streets leading to the city’s main plaza, where the guild and the skill library were located.
The avenue profited from its proximity to the beating heart of the city, connecting the temple with the plaza. Hundreds of humans and even the occasional elf passed by her, all too busy to spare the small frame of Nisha more than a passing glance.
Being submerged in this mass of hot and breathing flesh still strained many of the dragon’s outstanding senses, the sheer multitude of input to blame for that, yet it also started to become more natural for her to filter out most of the unnecessary background noise.
Still, I have no idea how so many humans manage to live in such a small space. There’s no monster that would tolerate being stuck packed so closely in a den, they’d probably split into several tribes.
Viewing her surroundings through [Spirit Sight], the busy road also appeared as a grand stream of multicoloured energy, each passing individual adding a bit of mana and aura into the total, creating an imposing current mainly made of the four elemental colours blue, green, red and yellow.
Of course, the dragon also spotted a few wisps of the remaining three colours, but a different phenomenon – one she hadn’t noticed before – caught her attention.
Drained of most of her energy, Nisha detected something that made her stand out from the crowd.
Instead of giving off spirit and vigor, the swirling energy diffused inside her body, slowly replenishing her depleted resources.
She always knew that being a dragon made her different from others, her secret had to be kept from anyone.
Her older sisters had warned her about unusual occurrences in her proximity that needed to be concealed.
It’s nice to see there are some advantages as well.
Revelling in the pleasant sensations she overlooked before, Nisha drifted through the crowd, looking for the store sign; [Raff’s Tearoom].
Compared to the noble’s sector, the shop fronts seemed a bit more cheaply made, the goods didn’t have the same shine, yet to Nisha it was all the same. Marvelling at the different unknown articles, she swiftly evaded oncoming pedestrians.
Sadly, her evasion didn’t work all the time. While Nisha was admiring the display of a materials store, especially wood and stones that reminded her of the Wilderness, she collided with a brown haired girl, only a few turns younger than Aubrey.
Reeling back from the shock, Nisha almost fell down, having to hold onto the other girl to remain standing.
“Oh my, I’m so sorry. Did I hurt you?”
Giving the stunned dragon a dazzling smile, she also reached out to steady the one she run into.
“Ah, no, I’m fine. Sorry for running into you.”
“Don’t worry about it, I wasn’t looking either. Sorry, gotta go.”
Without leaving the elven girl a chance to recover, the girl sped away.
Unperturbed by the incident, Nisha continued walking down the street, looking for the store Thana described.
Wandering for a while longer and about half way before reaching the plaza from the temple, an exquisite store with a shop sign cast from bronze. A leaf, green from rust, decorated the big R and gave the emblem a nice touch.
Skipping happily up the three small stone stairs, the elven girl cheerfully pushed open the smooth and dark wooden door.
“Hellooo! Is anyone here?”
Shouting into the empty sales room, she first noticed that instead of a display window, the store had a table with two chairs set up, a can of water boiling over an enchanted fireplace.
The counter itself, opposite the small set up, had a glass top, revealing many different kinds of tea blends beneath it, separated in little wooden boxes.
Apart from that, every single free bit of space was covered in the same kind of boxes, the racks reached up to the ceiling, even above the entrance.
“Coming, esteemed customer. What can I help you with?”
Emerging from the backroom of his shop, a man clad in a wrinkled, yet expensive suit appeared, giving Nisha his best business smile.
“Um, Miss Thana sent me, she wants me to pick up her order.”
He looks kind of friendly.
Slightly intimidated, Nisha kept her eyes on the wares below the glass counter, this was the first time she entered a shop to make a purchase.
“Of course, I have Lady Thana’s shipment prepared already, please wait a moment while I retrieve it.”
Hurrying back into the room he just came from, the man, presumably Raff, left Nisha in the shop.
Not knowing what to do, the elven girl sat down on one of the chairs in the seating arrangement, observing the street outside through a tinted window.
The human stream outside never broke, always flowing without caring for the dragon secretly observing them.
Even now, small wisps of energy flew through the window, merging with her body.
Prior to the episode in the Guild earlier, Nisha would have undoubtedly said there was no difference between herself, her older sisters or other humans.
Now she had to rethink her whole worldview, and what it meant for her.
While she was lost in thought, Raff returned from his back room.
“Here you go, Miss. One order, containing a bag of [Cinderwhistle Leaves], [Dreamdrift Leaves], [Firesting Stalk] and [Icebreeze Leaves] each. I’ve also added a bag of [Lifewhisper Stalks] – Lady Thana’s favourite – for free.
All in all, it comes to a total of 55 silver.”
Placing a solid wooden crate on the counter, roughly the size of Nisha’s upper body and light enough that he could easily carry it, expectantly waiting for his customer to finish the transaction.
“Yes, I have it right he-…”
Reaching for the pouch on her hip, the elven girl was only able to find the remains of cut leather.
Hoping to only have made a mistake, she unfastened the pouch, placing it on the table.
A small and sharp blade had sliced right below the place she fastened the bag, effectively severing the fabric and enabling someone to steal the purse.
“Oh no …”
Realizing what happened, Nisha slumped back in her chair, only able to whisper.
Tears welled up in her eyes, unbidden, nonetheless she was powerless to stop them.
First, she failed to stop herself in the guild, creating a mess, letting herself down.
Second, she ran away and pushed all of the responsibility on Aubrey by running away, letting her down as well.
Finally, she lost the money Miss Thana entrusted her, and she was going to let her down as well when she needed to return and confess that the pouch was stolen.
Falling freely, her tears soundlessly shattered on the ground, Nisha did her best to keep her sobs in.
Alarmed by the sudden change, the well dressed shopkeeper quickly drew close, unsure what caused the outburst of sadness.
“What’s wrong? Tell me!”
Obviously concerned, his gentle tone was more than Nisha could endure.
“It’s gone! My pouch is gone, and Miss Thana is going to be so disappointed with me.”
Just imagining how vexed the kind lady would look, having lost her money for her errand, even after going ahead and healing Nisha, helping her at the time she was down …
Why does this happen to me? When did I lose it?
It must have happened when that woman collided with me … did she steal it? Did I lose it? But the leather is cut.
“Ah, I see. Did you carry all of your money in that bag?”
Unable to see it through her veil of tears, the shopkeeper kept his smile and made a decision.
“Don’t feel too bad about it, I’ve been pickpocketed before as well.
I’ll teach you a trick so it doesn’t happen again. Do you see my pouch?”
Waiting for Nisha’s reply, Raff prepared the pot on the table, throwing in leaves out of a small wooden box sitting on the table they were sitting at.
When he poured each of them a cup, Nisha had calmed down enough.
“Yes, I do. What about it?”
Unfastening his pouch, he threw it on the table.
Curious by now, the dragon obediently took the leather bag and loosened the strap, taking a peek inside. A single silver bit and many bronze bits were inside.
“And now, take a look at this.”
Pushing open one half of his suit, the friendly shopkeeper revealed another leather pouch, safely secured in the inner pocket of his coat.
“It’s a lesson I had to learn as well. If a pickpocket can’t spot where your money is, they get creative. I thought I was so smart when I started carrying around my coins in my inner pocket, you should have seen my face just as I went to pay for my purchases and realized that it was gone.
Now I just have two purses on me, one with a bit of silver, so the thief is satisfied, and another with the amount I need to pay for stuff.
Don’t be too hard on yourself, I lost several gold before I started handling it like this.”
Chuckling at the memory now, Raff took a sip of his tea, quite pleased to see that his little customer stopped bawling.
“Gold? What’s that?”
Tilting her head at the unknown term, Nisha looked at him, waiting for an explanation.
She had seen Annabelle and Lydia handle silver and copper coins before when she visited them at the trading house they were staying at to learn the trade, how they exchanged goods for them, however she had no idea how the currency inside Leandar worked.
Everyone simply took it for granted that she knew about currency and never bothered to explain it to her, neither Eldrin, nor Luthais, her elder sisters or the butler Galan during the time he oversaw her education.
“Is this your first time shopping by yourself? Very well, I have a bit of free time right now, let’s see if I have enough coins here. It doesn’t feel right to let you leave and shop somewhere else in the future if you don’t know the value of money.”
Thana knew Raff’s character really well, she knew there was no way the kind man would leave a cute girl alone, even if she had aimed to have him give the elven maiden a discount on her order.
Picking up a large metal chest from behind the counter, the merchant opened it with a key he wore around his neck on a simple band.
Taking out several handfuls of coins, he started stacking them in different piles and presented her with one of each type.
So pretty. Just like Little Terra’s hard stones.
“This is a copper. The smallest unit in trade. For a copper, you can buy something like an apple or a small bread.”
Handing her the coin to let her inspect it, the merchant continued.
“By amassing one hundred copper coins, you get the value of a silver. Here, see this?”
Laying another metal bit on the table in front of her, he noted the engraved cross on the back.
“To make trading easier, most currencies have this break lines. Instead of having to carry around a large amount of coinage, a silver can be broken in half with a machine most merchants have. A silver half is worth exactly half, so fifty coppers.
Furthermore, splitting in two a silver half gives you quarters, or twenty five coppers.
Amused by the sparkling in her eyes, Raff felt that it had already been worth it to explain it to such a cute young elf.
“Yes, I can see it. Do you mind if I make a silver half?”
The bold proposal elicited a chuckle from him, giving her the permission with a wave.
“Sure, you can try. But careful, silver coins are very hard, don’t hurt your-…”
His words trailed off as Nisha easily snapped the metal in half, playing with the two new halves, tracing the smooth broken edge with her finger.
Raff made a mental note that it would be very unwise to underestimate the young girl, capable of snapping metal coins in half with her aura.
Fortunately he wasn’t able to hear Nisha’s thoughts right now, or he might have just fallen over where he stood.
I didn’t even need to reinforce myself to break it. What a good invention, those crosses on the back.
“Anyway, for a few silver coins you can buy a shortsword or similar adventurer gear, depending on the quality.”
Getting the two metal fragments back from the dragon shook the merchant out of his stupor, he pretended to not care and just placed them in front of a one hundred copper stack, to visualize its value.
Taking out the last coin, Raff wanted to finish his little demonstration, but the elven girl interrupted him again.
Standing up, she pointed at the yellow metal.
“Ah! I know that one! And you can pay for stuff with that?!?”
“Why, yes? This is a gold, just like before it is worth one hundred silvers. You can also break it into halves and quarters, so you can avoid carrying around too many coins. Most guilds will be happy to exchange money for you.
Well, that should be enough for now. I’ll just give you the Lady’s order for now and put it on her tab, it’s not the first time anyway.
Make sure to greet her from me, okay?”
Feeling benevolent to have had a chance to enjoy his tea with a cute elf, Raff was more than willing to wait for payment a bit longer.
However, Nisha surprised him, beaming a happy smile now.
I finally know what one of my treasures is called.
Unknowingly, when the merchant pulled out one of his golden pieces, he reminded Nisha of something stored away in her space.
“Thank you very much mister for explaining this to me, comforting me and the tea.
You said it was 55 silver, right? Here, this is for you, you can keep the rest.”
Giddy at her discovery, Nisha pushed her hand into her pocket to pretend that she was taking something out, when she actually pulled something out of her [Soul Space], laid it on the table and then quickly got up to carry the crate she was sent to fetch.
“Ah no, wait …”
Not giving him a chance to finish, Nisha looked at the coin.
“You’re right, this one is different from yours. Is it not enough? Here, take another.”
Placing one more of the coins on the table in front of her untouched cup, she hummed a happy tune while leaving the shop, leaving Raff to stare at two one hundred gold coins.