Marn explained to him, that Mr. J was the loan shark he had gotten the money for the shop from. He was one of many shady businessmen on the third underground level, the black market. Seth collected the stolen weapons from the thugs and ordered them to lead him to Mr. J ’s place.
The three thugs led them down some dirty staircase into the lowest underground level. This level was not officially made, but hewn into the bedrock by people looking for a place to stay. As such it had a lot more random and maze-like.
The quality of the work also varied greatly. There were places rivaling the first underground floor made by dwarves with expansive streets and high-quality masonry. And then there were narrow passages that were just wide enough for one person to push through and stone rooms with entrances covered by worn-out rags. Those places also tended to not smell very good, since these places were naturally not connected to the sewers.
The lighting was intermittent at best. Unlike the other underground floors that were lit by magic lanterns, here there were only a few of them and mostly low-quality ones. Light on this floor came from torches and candles, which didn ’t help improve the air quality in these narrow tunnels.
Seth did not understand how anyone would be willing to live down here. But on the other hand, he could understand that people were ready to go a long way to survive. He felt the greedy and almost animalistic gazes from the dark rooms, entrances, and shadows around them. He equipped his armor, just in case.
Mr. J ’s place was part of a row of houses with smoothly worked housefront and had a reinforced door. The bright light from magic lanterns fell from the only openings in the walls. Arrowslits, thin openings for projectiles to be shot from.
The leader announced their arrival with loud knocks on the door. A minion of slightly higher quality opened the door. You could call him a butler if you wanted to be nice, but if you chose to be honest you would call him a bouncer. The thug explained who we were and the bouncer gave our group a once over. He grunted and invited us in without a word. He did not even bother to ask for their weapons.
”Asking to come without weapons or handover weapon probably didn ’t make much sense in a world where anyone could conceal an arsenal in their inventory. ” Seth thought to himself and entered the mansion with Marn. Yes, a mansion. It did not look like much from the outside, but the inside was lavishly decorated with all kinds of expensive-looking furniture and ornaments.
Loan sharks obviously made a lot of money and Mr. J liked to spend a lot, too. The Bounceler, as Seth decided to call him, led them to Mr. J ’s office. Marn nodded when Seth asked whether this was really ”Mr. J ”. At the big desk in the room sat a fucking leprechaun. Well, it was probably some kind of Gnome, but he wore a green hat and a green suit with golden ornaments.
”You are…. an elf? Ah! Marn! You decided to give me a visit. How nice of you. I hope you are here to pay your debts. You won´t try to tell me that still can´t pay, right? I have been really lenient you know? Any other Moneylender would not have such angelic patience as me! You can ask anybody. You haven´t even paid the interest in 3 months. Mr. G would have skinned you after the first! Mr. L would have salvaged you and sold your organs after months. I feel almost exploited with the way you treat me! ” he said theatrical making all kinds of gestured and acting like a poor victim.
Seth didn ’t feel like going along with the gnome ’s act. He really just wanted to leave this place as fast as possible. The third level was in some way worse than a dungeon or cave. He had felt eyes on him with every step. Eyes that wanted to rob him. That evaluated the risk. Eyes that already calculated the price of his stuff after they killed and robbed him. And this feeling was the greatest inside this subterranean mansion. Of course, he did not think he was in danger, but it was unpleasant nonetheless.
”How much does he owe you? ” he interrupted the gnome ’s monologue.
Mr. J didn ’t like it one bit. His face that had been doing all kinds of overacted expressions became completely serious. And so, became his tone.
”Your friend is no fun, Marn. It is very rude to simply interrupt my monologues. But ok. Let´s talk about business. Do you want to pay his debt? Good. Marn originally lends 20 gold from us to buy a shop and materials with a monthly interest of 50%. He paid. ” the gnome looked in his papers.
”2 interests in 5 months. This means he owes me 50 gold. Do you have this much? ” the gnome did not even grin or gloat. His face was still as if made from stone. Interrupting his speech must have really offended him.
Seth gave Marn a startled look. He really owed this much?
”Y-You took my best weapons instead of the third and fourth interest! S-So I only owe you one interest! ”
Mr. J glared at Marn but looked back down on into his papers. After skimming through some pages, he sighed annoyed. ”These goddamn gorillas… ” he whispered to himself.
”Ah, yes. I guess that happened. 30 gold then. ”
The transaction went unexpectedly smooth. Seth paid the money and got Marn ’s contract in exchange. 30 gold was no small amount. 10 of it was Marn´s dept. Seth would have him work for quite some time to pay him back. But with this, he finally owned a shop!
Seth had the way back on his map, so they hurried to get out from this unpleasant place.
——–After they left the office———–
”Go and find out who that was. Nobody interrupts me and gets away with it. ”
”Yes, sir. ” the Bouncler said and left the room.
”Is this really necessary? ” the gnome asks in the room.
”I told you to ruin this elf. How dare you question me? ” a voice answered him.
”Yes, Sir. ”
Seth and Marn returned to the shop where the half-elf started to tidy up the smashed racks and fallen weapons with a newfound motivation. The tour into the third level had been longer than expected and it was already evening. This meant Marn could only go to change the papers of the shop tomorrow, making Seth the new owner.
Seth returned to the in for the first time in three days and had a long and good night ’s sleep. Tomorrow he would return to Dungeon diving with the ”Yulecat´s Fur ”.
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