Chapter 125 - Life is Timing (1)
'Does this mean to come in?'
Theo waited a moment, but there was no further reaction. He was a bit curious about the procedure which opened and closed the door, but there existed something more important than a trivial question.
It was dark enough inside that he couldn't see anything from the outside. Some people would be reluctant to step into the darkness, but Theo walked forward without any hesitation.
His clean-soled shoes rubbed against sand and made unpleasant noises. No, maybe they had laid the sand for this very purpose. As a rustling sound entered his ears, Theodore scoffed.
He'd noticed breathing sounds coming from the narrow passages on the left and right. However, it wasn't that their stealth was inadequate; Theodore's senses and Mitra's detection ability were just superior. It was to the extent that he could determine the number and skills of those hiding.
'Six people, among them is an aura user. I'm not sure about a head-on fight, but his stealth is equivalent to a regular knight.'
Just like inhabitants of the dark side of the world, the life which permeated this place was insidious and sticky. For those who lived in the shadows, a head-on battle was only a last resort, and fighting skills wasn't necessary. It was probably a prerequisite that they knew how to strike from the back, not the front.
However, Theo continued moving calmly. The nasty feeling wasn't a problem, but he didn't relax his guard either. He might find them ridiculous, but it would be stupid to not be wary.
Theo put on his best cold expression as he walked on. Then after precisely 100 steps, Theodore arrived in front of a shabby door that he calculated to be around 20 meters below the surface. Finally, a space filled with deep shadows greeted him.
'This information guild... Is he the [King of Mice] of the Sipoto branch?'
The space was unnaturally open, and there was an unusually old-fashioned table in the center of the room. Theo's keen eyes were able to distinguish the good quality of the wood and that it was made by a skilled craftsman.
Theodore looked at the person sitting beyond the table. Under the dim light, the man who boasted a unique appearance grabbed Theo's attention. Despite having the distinct brown skin and brown eyes of the desert people, the man was big enough to be eye level with Theodore while sitting down.
Even so, the presence around him was like a fog.
It didn't feel like the man could beat Theo, but it would be hard to catch him if he ran away. Theodore raised his evaluated level of the Information Guild by two stages. The man sitting behind the desk looked at Theo quietly and opened his mouth to say, "...It has been a long time since I've had uninvited guests."
Did that mean the instructions Canis provided him were wrong?
However, he got an answer to his question as the man continued speaking, "You aren't a guest that my kids brought, or any of those who work with them. Based on your speech and clothing, you recently came from Meltor in the north."
"How do you know that?"
"There are all sorts of tricks. How you tie a shoelace, the tan marks, dirt attached to the hem, and so on. There are many things that can't be hidden unless you are a properly trained secret agent."
Indeed, Theodore admired the man's keen eye for detail. It had been less than three minutes since Theo arrived at the door. However, that man had casually uncovered Theo's hometown and that he had arrived in Sipoto recently.
If this was the level of the man in charge of the guild, Theo couldn't doubt their credibility.
Theodore sat in the chair before him. "As expected of the best information guild in the central continent."
"Yes, who introduced you to this place?"
"A black market trader called Canis."
The eyebrows on the brown skin raised. "Canis? That cub is still alive. Though there has been no message from Meltor recently..."
"Are you acquaintances?"
"We've done business a few times. His skills aren't bad, but his way of thinking is too narrow. He must've found a pretty good rat hole," the informant mumbled before extending his thick arms. The tattoo of a two-headed serpent on his forearm wriggled.
He reached out as if asking for a handshake, before his rough face smiled. "I am Sipoto's branch chief, Gibra."
Gibra finished the greeting and brought up the subject first. "So, why did you come to find us?"
Theodore was relieved. Asking for the job was the same as accepting the request. He was concerned about being an outsider, but as Canis said, the Information Guild didn't distinguish between the origin and identity of the guests.
The only important thing was whether the customer could pay the price, the black market trader had said.
'Then this story will be fast,' Theo thought with a strange smile as he looked at his left hand.
Before leaving Meltor, he had changed all his goods into cash and stored them in the inventory. It was a tremendous amount when he added in the rewards he'd accumulated from his achievement in Elvenheim. The prices of original books or the sales commission wouldn't even make a dent in it.
There was no reason for Theodore to hesitate, since he possessed both wealth and power.
So, he said, "There are things I want to buy in Kargas."
Gibra listened with a bright expression.
Theo continued,"I want to know the location of all the original books in Kargas and the information about the owners. I will leave it to you to act as the agent for the purchase. The status of the item is fine as long as it is an original, and if the item is bought at a reasonable price, you'll be paid part of the purchase price."
"Original books? You mean the original copy of a magic book? It will take a lot of money to buy all the ones in Kargas."
"30 gold as a deposit, the survey period- ...Ah, whoops."
As Theo wondered about the sudden interruption, Gibra scratched the back of his head with an embarrassed expression. "I'm sorry, but I can't take the commission. I can't."
"How come? If it is simply a matter of the cost..."
"No, it's not that. Honestly, the money is good, but the timing is really bad."
'Timing?' Theodore made a perplexed expression.
"That reminds me, you're from the north? Then you won't know about a famous attraction of Kargas."
The Kargas Kingdom was the center of the central continent and a trade kingdom, so it didn't have anything to symbolize it. In Kargas, all logistics from the north, south, and center gathered before spreading to the rest of the continent. It was a kingdom where numerous foreigners frequented, and there was a mixture of cultures. It would be strange if there was something unique about this place.
However, there was something behind Kargas. It was the place where money and desire gathered from all over the world in the abyss of the trading kingdom-the underground auction houses.
"Every year, it will be held in secret for a few weeks. There is a saying that the goods that move through there go beyond the yearly budget of a few kingdoms."
"What does that have to do with my commission?"
"The auction is a place where sellers can handle things at the highest prices. Even more so when there are original books on sale."
When Theodore made an expression of realization, Gibra continued, "You finally understand. The auction is more attractive than selling it to an unidentified buyer. The right time for the commission would be a few months after the auction ends. So, I can't accept your request."
Theodore was convinced by the reasonable explanation, so he wasn't embarrassed by the rejection.
The auction house where buyers from all over the world gathered was indeed more attractive than a single buyer. It might be possible to persuade the owner prior to that, but there would be more people who preferred the tradition of the auction house.
As Gibra said, Theo's timing was really bad.
'...No, not yet. There is still a way.'
Theodore's expression recovered as he lifted his head. He looked at Gibra and expressed his idea, "How about participating in the auction directly?"
"If possible, that would be for the best. The auction house isn't just for sellers, as buyers can also get things at reasonable prices." However, Gibra shook his head. "Sipoto's auction house isn't a place for the uninvited. Isn't it an event where the budget of a kingdom is moved? The guild doesn't accept commissions for entry. It will be a problem if we are caught. It is better to wait a few months for the commission."
"That is only true if I was an uninvited guest."
This time it was Gibra's turn to be confused. Theodore smiled and placed his hand on his chest. Everything was lining up, so it felt like the heavens were helping him. It hadn't even been a day since he'd received the plaque from Bear. The dim light shone from the palm of his hand.
Gibra's expression turned into one of shock for the first time as he grasped the identity of the plaque.
"The Polonell Company?"
"You know it."
"I would have to die if I didn't know the symbol of the top three trading companies in the north. By the way, I don't know how you got your hands on this at your age."
"I'm sorry, but I can't tell you that." Theodore shrugged casually.
Judging from Gibra's reaction, this plaque would qualify him to enter the auction house. Who would've expected his journey to produce this result? Theodore seemed to feel an unknown flow of life around him.
Gibra calmed down from his shock and held his chin. The expression in his eyes was different from before, and his blurred appearance seemed unusual.
"You are eligible if you have the mark of the Polonell Company. Prior to that, I want to ask one thing. Guest from Meltor, do you intend to sincerely participate in Sipoto's auction house?"
A remarkably intimidating atmosphere emanated from Gibra, but his opponent was Theodore, the master of a grimoire. Theo wouldn't be overwhelmed by anyone who wasn't a master. Above all, Theo had no time. Just a few months was enough to make him feel rushed. The time limit was decreasing with every day that passed.
Theodore nodded with a serious expression, and Gibra opened his mouth to say, "Okay, then I will call you Employer from now on."