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First star I see tonight [Moderated]

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2nd of Zi'da, arc 716
Water Street Marketplace
One break before midnight


"'Ey there boy. That's a fine-looking sword ye got there. Whatcha say, how much gold for it?" The voice echoed on the walls of the old water duct as small glimpses of moonlight briefly breached them every couple of seconds. The man with a golden tooth stood there, expecting an answer from the cloaked boy, as he smirked at one of his comrades. Criminals. Filthy criminals. But he needed them for now.

"That's a pretty nice cloak too, whad'ya think George, velvet or silk? Whatever it is, it's gotta come in a package with the fancy sword, ye? We got gold boy, just say yer price." This man had a way thicker accent, he was from the north, way above Rynmere, that much was clear. Still, that didn't change anything, and Aeon simply kept on walking forward, towards one of the quieter sides of the black market, where not everyone would ask to buy the clothing from his skin.

"Not for sale. Move along." He simply said as he kept walking, but the two men didn't stop. They resumed following close to him, and haggling for different prices, from one to two hundred gold nel, they said it all. But he would never sell a weapon to criminals, and the cloak had grown on him, and it was just too valuable to be simply given away. These two didn't seem to get it however, as they continued walking right next to him, talking without a pause. "I'm not here for justice, but you keep talking and you may just make me serve some. I bet you two combined are guilty of what, two dozen crimes, at least? " Aeon tried talking to them, he did, and he just hoped there were witnesses once he beat the devil out of them. And he would, if they just continued. Fortunately for them, they simply laughed rather loudly and went on their merry way to bother other customers of the market about their valuables.

The floor was wet, he just noticed, as a low splashing sound was heard when he stumbled on what seemed to be bones of an animal. He was trying to walk quietly before that, so he didn't notice. From his position, none of the salesmen appeared to have a face too. They were all covered by the shadows, which meant that they could see his scarred, scary face and expression. Shadows are a good friend to those that want to remain anonymous, Aeon noted, as he tried to locate a place where he might just get what he wanted. He, of course, didn't know where to look, but he knew that somewhere on this marketplace he could find the metal he was after.

Deciding to start asking questions, the cloaked boy walked up to the front of one of the shops, one that had particularly black windows. Nothing was visible from the inside, but it was worth the risk. As he opened the door and went inside, Aeon heard the sound of what appeared to be doves, singing from every angle of the place, and a small, freaky man walked up from the back of the shop. The small guy didn't seem to appreciate the cloak that covered the swordsman's scars, but alas, he couldn't do anything about it.

"Malorite." Aeon mumbled at the small man, expecting guidance to find whoever could sell him that metal. It was a rare sort, malorite, and the boy was lucky to have found it in one of the books earlier that trial. The book hadn't specified if there even was any in all of Rynmere, but the boy knew that if there was, it would be sold down here. He could still see Ryqos besides him, opening the doors shop by shop, beating up the owners until they gave him what he wanted. Aeon didn't have that privilege, or did he want it. His approach was, so to say, more subtle.

"I can't help you there." The man basically shouted, as if he wanted every shop owner around his own shop to hear him. Then again, that might have been the case. Still, he was nodding as he said that, and just as the blond man's mouth opened to speak, he was given a small piece of paper, with the number three and the letter E written on it. Was finding every shop in this street so hard, or just the ones with very rare metal?

As Aeon exited, he nodded towards the shop keeper, who in response walked back to the hole in which he disappeared, as if he wasn't even there in the first place. The cloaked man could notice all the strange items around the shelves of the store. Pieces of wood, books, gemstones, even a couple of rings and necklaces found themselves being for sale, and yet Aeon couldn't figure out what was it that all of them had in common. Surely the shops down here had some meaning to them.

Not long after he closed the door of the shop to the sound of singing doves did the boy find himself at the shop that was three doors to the east, like the paper said. Was it here that he would find what he was looking for? That he would find the metal for Tristan? He certainly hoped so.
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Water Street Market is not a place for the unwary, nor for timid of nature. Thankfully, Aeon was neither of these, but still. It was not a nice place to be. The underground water duct that it used to be had maybe carried sewage in it's time. Almost certainly, in fact. But whether it had or not, then, some of the filth of Rynmere walked through it now.

Yet, the former knight walked here, amongst them. He had tried one shop, for want of a better explanation for it, and then there was another on the horizon for him. Three doors to the East and there was another shop. As he walked in, Aeon might well get the feeling that he had come to the right place. There were diamonds, crystals, shining jewels of all kinds and there were metals too. This place probably held a small fortune's worth of stuff and the man behind the counter looked like he could probably defend it on his own. He was a wiry, muscular chap who looked positively dangerous. It was the way he moved, the very air of him. Aeon had been around killers before, and this man certainly gave off the aura of one.

He looked up as Aeon walked in, looked him up and raised an eyebrow. Aeon might notice that there was a woman sitting in the corner, apparently asleep. She was dressed in leather trousers and a loose tunic, thigh high leather boots and had a book in her lap.

The shop owner raised an eyebrow as he looked at Aeon.

"What do you want?"
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The young, cloaked man entered the store perfectly ready for getting denied. He still doubted that the guy from the last store didn't have malorite, mostly because these criminals, they have their own rings of people who they trust, people who buy things from them, and people who are allowed the best merchandise. Aeon wasn't in any of those rings, so he believed he would need an unconventional method of getting what he desired.

This shop owner, however, was a way more fit person, one that seemed like a true criminal, instead of a spider. For some reason, that gave the scarred man reassurance that this was the right place. That, and well, the countless stone and metal-looking objects all around the room. He didn't need to raise his voice, this could all be dealt with in a matter of words, not blades. However, if the need presented itself, Aeon doubted he would feel guilty if he did end this man's life. The families of the men and women he took surely wouldn't object.

Killing a killer doesn't change the number of killers in the world kid. He could hear the voice echoing inside his head, it was a lesson Ryqos kept teaching him, but then went out and forgot about it himself. His late mentor was that kind of person who knew what was the right thing to do even in the worst of times, and yet would go and do the fun thing instead. But beating a killer up, breaking a few bones, that ain't gonna hurt anyone. He could hear the quick chuckle leaving the older man's mouth right after the words.

"Malorite. I was told you have it." Aeon almost whispered, being barely audible enough for the bigger man to hear clearly, and yet to anyone outside the door, it would've been simple mumbling. "I'm willing to pay the gold." The boy continued before the man could say anything, and with a swift move of his only hand, raised a bag of money he carried within his cloak just this one night. Five hundred golden coins found themselves in an amusement park as he threw the bag an inch or so in the air and caught it again. He had more money than five hundred coins, since he basically never spent it, but he simply wanted a reaction from the bigger man. Aeon was still hopeful the night could be done swiftly and without complications, with only words and an exchange of items, but his guard was up nonetheless, because he knew criminals had no honor. Not even towards gold.
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The man looked at him and raised an eyebrow. "Malorite? That's rare." His tone was neutral and he looked at Aeon with an appraising glance. He didn't watch the bag of gold, his gaze remained on Aeon. Calm, baleful and yet poised and ready to move without notice or warning. The closest analogy was to a large predator, poised and ready to spring at a moment.

"It'll cost you more than that. How much are you wanting?"

There were a couple of things which Aeon might notice, now that he was closer. This place sold, as he had already seen, metals and gemstones. It was a jeweller's haven, no doubt. But those pieces of metal which had not been melted down into ingots? They were all personal things. There was jewellery, some of which still had blood on. There were teeth, also not washed, in a small pot. Maybe 20 teeth in there, each of the twenty mouths screaming for justice. Small gold trinkets, silver mementos, relics from the lives of people. Some of them, it seemed, removed in a violent manner.

"Because if you're wanting that, boy, you'd better be prepared to pay a lot"

The woman who was sleeping in the corner gave a snort, which turned into a snore.

"So how much you want, and how much you prepared to pay?"
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The man in front of him wasn't a good person, that much was clear since the boy walked through that door, but the longer they kept going with this staring contest, the more guilty Aeon felt, even though that guilt was nothing compared to other bad emotions he was feeling. The guilt was still on the rise, however, and the night was young. The items all around the room certainly did not give him any comfort, as they all seemed stolen, or looted. The sooner he got out of there, the better.

"Already melted ingots." He slowly said, gazing around only to notice a golden ring with a strange gemstone sitting on a shelf to his left. It was an odd piece of jewelry, certainly not pretty, but most definitely quite expensive. Who was this man, surely he had a reputation, if he owned so many valuables, and why did Ryqos never mention him? "Enough for a, say, greatsword?" At this point, it was simply testing the basis at which the trade was going down on. This man could not care one bit about the customers or the items he was selling, and he would simply proceed, or he would notice the strangeness of what just happened.

A boy with one hand, wanting a greatsword? Aeon could imagine the old man saying, just as the sight of his dead mentor said it, but then, it continued to some thoughts the young man wouldn't have even noticed were within his mind. Star Metal for a sword? You're really not familiar with the metals me boy, ya better take some adamantite if ya want a sword, Star Metal is way better as a layer to armor. The half-transparent Ryqos said in an attempt to mimic the other man's voice. A poor attempt, even though it was imaginary.

"I'll give you eight hundred nel, and complete anonymity." Aeon said, as his lips raised themselves into a quick smirk which disappeared as quickly as it appeared, while the boy's left foot made its way just over his right one, and his hips turned alongside it, to observe the shelves to the left of the man, and the right of the swordsman. The woman sleeping in the corner didn't seem to spark his interest, not nearly as much as the countless items all across the room. If this man was as dark and bad as the people in midtown say the merchants in the black market are, then the deal should go without a problem, even if there did have to be some haggling. Eight hundred, the boy was willing to pay much more, but it was worth it to see the man's reaction. Perhaps he didn't need to spend so much.
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No, not a good person. Definitely not. But then, who really was of the three in the room at the moment? Morality was such a complex subject on the best of trials and in the most salubrious of places. This was not either of those things.

Still, the man behind the counter listened and he said nothing at all until Aeon had finished speaking. He didn't care about what the boy was going to make, it was of no interest to him. If the cripple lad wanted to play with a greatsword, that was his choice. It was the last bit which made him chuckle, a deep and unpleasant noise which lacked anything resembling humour.

"Three ingots, then. Maybe four to be on the safe side. Those, and complete anonymity? Well, that eight hundred sure is tempting, but lets say we put another zero on the end of it, shall we? Eight thousand."

He looked at Aeon and smiled a rotten smile, "Anonymity? Well, if I'm going to get that, you can make it ten thousand.", there could be no doubt that the sleeping woman smiled at that. "Why would I want that on a perfectly legal transaction, boy? Are you up to somethin' no good, cos if you are, I'm going to have to ask you to leave. I know we're in a bad part of town, but this is a legitimate business an' I've got bills of sale for every item here and I pay my taxes. Cos I'm smart, not stupid, see."

Tapping the counter, the large man looked at Aeon with a barely disguised smirk, "So, three ingots, ten thousand gold nel."
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Eight thousand? This guy is funny. The old, rough voice of the dead colonel said as the man replied with a counteroffer that now in turn made Aeon chuckle. Chuckle? As the man continued, the scarred swordsman nearly fell into laughter. He dared to call his business a legitimate one? His transactions perfectly legal? Right in front of his nose? It was confirmed, this man was the worst of the worst. He wasn't only a monster, he was a lying monster. The worst kind.

"Huh, is that so? You know what really intrigues me? No shop uptown that has direct contacts with Endor mines has this metal, and yet you do? Do you have some best friend that mines Malorite, or are you just so lucky that it legally comes into your hands? What if a man asks for Jacadon hearts? Would you have them too, completely legally obtained?" It was beyond a normal trade right then. Aeon was alright with paying a criminal, but paying a lying scum like this one, no, that wasn't going to happen. At best, this guy would go around telling tales to his crime buddies not to let the blond man with scars into their shops. At worst, he wouldn't speak of anything ever again. But it was really up to him, not Aeon.

"Very well, I'll take your word for it. Ten thousand was it? I'm sure a businessman such as yourself understands, but I would like to see the metal first, to make sure I'm not getting played. Precautions. Like you said, we're in a bad part of town, and people around here often lie. Surely you don't mind showing off your wares?" The young man took a few steps around the shop, looking at each and every item that stood on the shelves now in more detail.

Now, would he see the glowing metal in the big man's hands, or would it have to be the hard way? Truly, Aeon did not want to follow in his mentor's footsteps of beating the crap out of each bad guy that hasn't been proven guilty yet, but if bad guys are lying scum like this one, he would manage. Still, if this man only didn't lie. If he only accepted a regular black market trade, it would have been easier for both of them. Just as he turned to see the shopkeeper's response, another small item fell into his eyesight. A necklace made of pearls, quite rare ones if he had to guess, but the thing that made it interesting was that is still had drops of hardened blood on one side.

It's their game kid, that's why we don't play it. You know what happens when we play it, don't you? Aeon quickly shushed the half-transparent image of the long-haired, older man and returned to observing the shopkeeper. It wasn't the boy behind the one hazel eye however. It was someone else, someone darker. Someone who stopped caring about law, and cared about justice instead. Law was no more equal to justice, not after what he had witnessed last season.
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The request, such as it was, seemed to be a reasonable one in many ways. See the merchandise.Look at the goods which Aeon was, supposedly, about to pay such a lot of money for. But then, this was not a normal business and not a normal transaction and they both knew it. In fact, it was far, far from it and just how far removed it was from what was a usual merchant-customer might expect was yet to be fully revealed to either of them.

"I've got it. That's enough for you. Pay or leave."

The man didn't seem inclined to talk about it and he certainly didn't appreciate Aeon's tone or suggestion. But he didn't bite, he didn't reply. He didn't even frown in concern. The boy would pay up, or he would not it was as simple as that. "Ask fer what intrigues ya, well that's good that yer intrigued. No, we don't stock Jacadon hearts cos they're illegal. What other traders may, or may not have in stock isn't my business."

He looked at Aeon with a very calm expression. "I'll show you a sample. No more than that, nothing like enough for you to try and take it from me. Simple as that. Take it or leave it. He really didn't seem bothered and, more than that, he didn't seem at all pressured. In fact, he looked like he was about as unconcerned as it was possible to be. Maybe he didn't believe Aeon had the gold in the first place.
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The boy came awfully close to simply drawing his blade after the man’s response, as he had just heard proof that this was no ordinary trade, but then the now fully transparent image of his mentor smirked as if it had just won the bet, and Aeon loosened his stance.

The man spoke again, most likely spilling the same amount of lies with each sentence he ended, from the beginning to the end. Being a criminal was one thing, and some crimes could be forgiven and forgotten, but being a criminal with no honor, one that simply tells lies like it’s nothing, that was unforgivable, that was something that should be punished, corrected, and this individual seemed like the perfect one for an example.

”How do you expect me to believe you have ten thousand nel worth of it with a sample? I’m getting played.” Aeon tried to say in as low a tone as he could, barely audible to anyone outside his brain, but Ryqos wasn’t outside, the image was inside of his brain, and it could hear the man’s regretted words repeatedly echoing across his mind, again and again reminding him.

If we play their game, we become them.

And so just as Aeon got to see the smallest piece of a rock that glew from the inside of a brown box decorated with purple on the inside, he knew it was action time. He perhaps may not get his Star Metal, but he would certainly show this scum what’s what.

As if he was going to say something, Aeon drew his sheathed sword straight towards the merchant’s face, in a way that only someone who trained in combat could dodge. Why would this guy have any training? Was the thought that flew through his brain at that point, since even the slightest bit of dodging experience could yield perfect results in this situation. That was because, while the blows to the head were the most damaging, they were the hardest to hit versus any opponent that knew what to do. Luckily for the boy, the man was still holding the sample of Malorite when the sword was drawn.
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Why would he have any training? Well, there were a number of reasons why it would be entirely logical for the shopkeeper to be able to defend himself. Firstly, this was Water Street Market and, the bottom line here was that it was each man and woman for themselves. He needed to be able to defend himself because of where he was.

Then, of course, there was the fact of what he was. Purveyor of dubious goods most of which tended to err on the side of "out" as far as the law was concerned. Because of that fact alone, he needed to be able to enter a battle and be competent, at the very least.

Finally, there was who he was and, had Aeon not considered the other two, surely he would know that men who liked to be bullies, who liked to throw themselves around and who used intimidation as a tactic probably spent, or had spent, a lot of time learning to fight.

Why would he have any training? Surely, Aeon's actual thought should have been why the man wouldn't.

He did, of course. He did have training and he used it. The blow Aeon aimed for was hard and the man was trained. However, he was a competent brawler and he was facing a man much, much more skilled. He started to dodge backwards and Aeon certainly knew that, had the merchant been just a split trill faster or he the same time slower, then he would have missed completely.

But neither of those things happened. His sword connected. However, the merchant had started to move so the connection was not as solid as perhaps Aeon would have liked. The merchant threw himself backwards, Aeon's sword connecting with his head with a resounding thunk. It wasn't quite what he'd planned to do, but it was close and it was close enough

The merchant crumbled to the floor, having let out a strangled cry of pain and surprise. Chances were, no one would pay attention to such. However it was his own lack of attention which might be Aeon's undoing.

The sleeping woman, who was not sleeping at all stood and in one fluid motion the pistol crossbow which had been hidden by her form was in her hand and pointing directly at Aeon's head.

"Drop the sword. Now." She didn't seem inclined to count.
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