Monday, October 17, 2016
The First Alchemist - Chap 18
Chapter 18 - Back to the Village
Chem Al and Chem Au stopped by a food cart on the way back to their parents and bought a baked sweet potato with their last low jade stone, which they shared between them.
Chem Au gobbled down his in a matter of seconds, while Chem Al barely tasted his. Coming from a time where cakes and ice cream were the norm, this sweet potato didn’t do that much for him. Instead, he focused more on the bag he was carrying.
One medicinal cauldron, one blue journal, and the Golden Dan Root he had kept in his clothes all this time ever since he had found it during their journey through the forest. Combine that with the four extra cauldrons he had ordered, this trip was more than worthwhile.
By the time they got back to their parents, the market was packed.
“Finally! What took you so long?” their father shouted over the hustle and bustle of the crowd. “Get to work!”
The two brothers hurried to help their frantic parents. There was such a rush of customers that, less than an hour later, they sold out of radishes. The customers groaned, and then left for the other carts, leaving the Chem clan to collapse on the ground, tired but happy. It wasn’t every year they managed to sell all of their crops.
Chem Feng and Chem Mai eagerly counted the money they made. Most of them were low jade stones, with a few mid jade stones here and there. All together, they made over one high jade stone. A decent profit for a year worth of radishes.
Seeing their parents’ smiles, the two brothers, especially Chem Au, couldn’t help but feel a little guilty. Just awhile ago, they had a lot more money than that, and could have brought a bigger smile to their parents’ faces if they had shown them all of the high jade stones they had. However, Chem Al managed to bite back his guilt as he reminded himself that he would make a lot more money than that next year.
At this time, their parents finally noticed the bag that Chem Al had carried with him to the cart.
“Where did you get that from?” Chem Feng asked.
“Oh, you know, I found it in someone’s garbage. Don’t worry, it isn’t dirty,” Chem Al said. He then took out the book and the cauldron, leaving in the the root that his parents had already seen.
Chem Feng and Chem Mai flipped through the book. “That’s a nice book,” Chem Mai said. “I don’t understand why someone would throw it out. As for this pot, although it looks pretty, you can’t really cook much in it. I guess somebody threw it away because they bought a bigger one.” Her husband agreed.
For the first time in this life, Chem Al felt a little annoyed at them. Even though they were the parents of The First Alchemist, no one should be allowed to call the first medicinal cauldron in all of history a mere cooking pot.
Chem Feng and Chem Mai didn’t think more of their son’s newly found stuff after that. Rich people threw out perfectly good things all the time. It wasn’t strange for their boys to find things like that in the garbage.
They rubbed Chem Al’s head, congratulating him on his finds. Then they were off to do some shopping. With the money they made, it was time to buy the things they would need to last them another year.
Pulling their children along, Chem Feng and Chem Mai went off to buy staples like flour, rice, and salt, along with cloths and sewing threads. They weren’t the only ones from Sorka Village to do this. The market was ending, and it was their last chance to buy the necessities.
As night fell and everyone began to clear out, the only thing left to do was to pay their yearly tax.
“I know it sucks, but it looks like you did well this year,” the village chief said as he came around.
"Yeah, we were able to sell our whole lot." Chem Feng handed over the money, though albeit reluctantly.
The village chief shook his head. "No, you don't have to pay that much this year. I was able to make a killing selling the Wyrm's corpse at the Everything Auction House. Someone bid on it for a lot of money.” He handed some of the money back. "I'll be able to offset the amount of tax our village has to pay to the City Lord."
Chem Feng smiled, which was a first during tax time. "That's great! I guess a rare creature like that would be interesting for the rich."
The village chief dropped the fewer amount of jade stones into his bag, and then, after taking one last glance at Chem Al, moved on to the next cart. This wasn't his favorite job to do, but it allowed their village to sell what they had at the city's market, along with allowing their village to exist in Vera City's surrounding land.
Chem Al watched him as he went around collecting money from his fellow villagers, and then ended up in a line that led to a finely dressed tax collector who was sitting behind a table. Two guards were standing close by, eyeing the line of people as if daring them to try anything. Chem Al didn’t know who this tax collector was, but he knew that there were many men like him throughout the city doing the same job, and all that money they’ll collect will end up in the hands of Tan Lan, the city treasurer.
Chem Al sighed. He didn’t want to deal with that man in the future.
Night fell. There wasn't much to do now but go to sleep under their carts. Those that had made a ton of money would go out drinking to celebrate, but none of these people came from Sorka Village, who had a few men that lamented over the fact that they couldn't even afford cheap liquor at times like these.
The next morning, before the sun was fully up, all of the people from the surrounding villages were now exiting the city, ready to make the trip back home. This included the people from Sorka Village.
Again, the village chief made the same speech about how they should be careful making their way through the forest, and to not fall behind because they had to hurry home before nightfall. Even though it was the same, boring speech, his tone still conveyed how serious these warnings were. Just because no one in the village was carting meat anymore didn't mean that they wouldn't attract a desolate beast.
So they began their journey back through the forest, their carts full of necessities.
They didn't know if it was a lucky year or not, but so far they hadn’t encountered a single desolate beast on their return journey. Most of them had smiles on their faces as they neared the end, realizing that only one person had died this time. It was a good year.
As they cheered at the sight of Sorka Village, none of them, except Chem Al, knew that this year was only going to get better.