Tuesday, October 11, 2016
The First Alchemist - Chap 16
Chapter 16 - Reactions to a Pervert’s Face
Tai Fu’s fist smashed down on top of Chem Al’s head. “Ow! What was that for?”
“I don’t know. I just suddenly wanted to hit you when you made that face!”
“What face?” At first Chem Al didn’t understand, but then he remembered what his disciples had said in his past life. They, and a few other people, staged an intervention to stop him of this bad habit. It was one of the few times his three disciples had actually agreed on something so he took their warnings to heart.
Chem Al stared at the medicinal cauldron. More than ever, he had to watch himself carefully now. It was no longer just his reputation on the line, but the noble reputation of The First Alchemist. He must stop making that face!
"Uh, I don't know what you're talking about, but I'll stop," Chem Al said.
"Good, because it was really creepy," Chem Au agreed. "Now are we done here? Then let's go. I think we can still make it to the tournament before the fight ends."
"Oh, wait! Before you go, are you sure there isn't anything else you would like to buy?" Tai Fu said, thinking of their bag of money. "You mentioned my shield a few days ago. How about that? It's one of my most prized creations in my shop."
Chem Au looked at the shield hanging on the wall, then he glanced at his little brother, hopeful, but Chem Al shut that down. "Look, it might be one of your finest works, but that shield isn't really what you would call the best. There are many better shields out there. For one thing, it's just made out of profound iron, and although that is better quality than pig iron, it's still close to the bottom in terms of hard, defensive capabilities. I bet if we were to go to almost any other blacksmith in this city, they would have a better shield."
"That's not true, dear customer. Those other blacksmiths just focuses on making powerful swords and such. I assure you that you will not find a better shield in all of Vera City," Tai Fu said, feeling the money slipping away.
Chem Al hid his smile. "Hmm, well, maybe I would buy one if you had a shield made from the shell of an Under Turtle."
"What? Do you know how expensive that is?" Tai Fu shouted, but then he wondered, "Wait. How do you even know about that?"
Tai Fu stared at the little boy in dirty, ragged clothes. The shell from an Under Turtle wasn't exactly a secret smithing material, but hardly anyone in Vera City knows about it because it comes from another Continent. In fact, he himself had only heard about it, and has never actually seen it before. He doubts that any blacksmith in Vera City has seen one before.
But this kid, how does he know about it? Under Turtle shells were the perfect materials to make shields, and even armor. They were the hardest materials that could be found from a desolate beast; even harder than the scales from a Flood Dragon.
Tai Fu waited for the boy to tell him how he knew about Under Turtle shells, but the boy just gave him a smile, making him feel annoyed. "You know what, I don't care. Even if you know about it, it’s not like I’ll make it for you. You can’t afford it anyway.” Tai Fu failed to mention that he himself didn’t know how to handle the material.
"True. Maybe not right now, but by this time next year, I think I’ll have enough money to buy a couple."
Tai Fu paused. He couldn’t stop himself from asking, "How much is a couple?"
"Around a hundred or two. For starters."
"What?" Tai Fu shouted. Wait! Wait a minute! He made a quick calculation in his head. Sure, buying the materials were expensive, but if he succeeded in turning those shells into shields, or even armor, he would make a ton of money.
Drool started to drip from his mouth as he imagined the possible profits, but then he shook himself out of it. There was no way this little boy would be able to come up with that kind of money. But then his head snapped up as he suddenly remembered when he had thought that before, and how that same little boy dropped a bag of jade stones on his counter. Maybe, just maybe, he could do it.
As if Chem Al saw the realization in Tai Fu's eyes, he said, "Just something to think about in the future. For now, I would like to buy something else from you." He then motioned for Chem Au to take out the bag of money.
"Oh, yes, of course. What is it?" Tai Fu said. Asking for shields made out of Under Turtle shells was a little unrealistic, but maybe the boy will buy something else from his shop that would give him a profit.
"I would like to buy four more medicinal cauldrons, please."
"Four medicinal cauldrons?” Tai Fu’s heart sank. “I'm sorry, dear customer, but didn't you say that you would be leaving the city soon? You had only asked for one, and I don't have any others made. If you’re asking for more of the same, it would take a couple of days."
"I know that. I don't want them immediately. A year from now would do when my village returns to this city, so I hope you can have them ready by then."
Tai Fu nodded. That was more than enough time.
"Then that's that," Chem Al said. "So four medicinal cauldrons. Although you gave me a good discount last time, you had mentioned that each one would cost two high jade stones. Since you do such good work, I'll pay the full price for these extra medicinal cauldrons.” Chem Al then placed eight high jade stones on the counter.
Tai Fu gulped. If he was completely honest, he would have mentioned that he had already made the mold for the first medicinal cauldron, so making these extra ones would be individually cheaper and easier. However, he couldn't stop himself from taking the customer’s money.
However, Chem Au protested. “Hey, can’t you at least negotiate a little? I don’t really get why you want more cauldrons, but you shouldn’t be giving away almost all of your money. You’re just going to be left with only one high jade stone left.”
"Please trust me on this," Chem Al said to him, and then he turned back to give Tai Fu a smile. "I hope you will use this money to buy something expensive in the future."
Tai Fu didn't really understand, but he accepted the jade stones. "Okay. So it's a deal. I'll have four more medicinal cauldrons ready in one year."
They shook hands on it.
After that, the two brothers left the Tai Smithy. Chem Au sighed, thinking about how almost all the money was gone, but then he tried to cheer himself up. "Now that that's over, let's finally go do something that I want to do instead. If we rush, I think we can still catch the last few minutes of the finals."
Chem Al stopped walking. "Umm, Au, did you forget how I made the money in the first place? If we go to the tournament, some desperate gambler might remember us, and then threaten us to hand over our money, even though we barely have anymore."
Chem Au's eyes widened, then he slowly collapsed on his knees. "So we’re going to miss the tournament finals?"
Chem Al patted his big brother on the shoulder. "I'm sorry, Au, for dragging you to only where I wanted to go. But I promise you that you will see the tournament next year."
"No, no, it's fine." Chem Au waved it off. He got off the ground and brushed away the dirt from his knees. "I had already watched the tournament last year, and the year before that. It's okay if I miss a year. Besides, I'm glad you're finally showing an interest in the city again."
“What do you mean?” There was a confused look on Chem Al’s face.
"Oh, is that another thing you don’t remember?” Chem Au said. “The last time you went around the city with me like this was when you were first old enough to come here. After that, you kind of just hung around our parents selling radishes while I went to watch the tournament by myself. So I'm glad, Little Al. I'm glad that we could hang out again in the city.”
Chem Al didn’t know how to respond. This was another tiny detail about The First Alchemist’s life that he didn’t know about despite reading all those books about him.
"Now,” Chem Au said. “I guess there's nothing else to do but go help our parents. The tournament should be ending soon so there will be one last stampede of customers before it's time to return to the village."
"Wait! Not just yet," Chem Al said. "There's still one last place I want to look at before we head back to the market."
Chem Au groaned. "Where?"
"A bookstore? What do you need to go there for?"
Chem Al smiled. "To buy a journal."