Translator: SaltyTank  Editor: SaltyTank

When Soran entered the Adventurer Guild hall, he noticed that plenty of merchants were there. It seemed that some merchants with high reputations were trying to gather and form a large combined force in order to break through the monster blockade. As long as the roads remained closed, their goods were stuck in the city as well; some of their goods were seasonal, meaning that they could not be sold or would go bad after a certain period of time. If the roads remained closed for even a month or two, they could not even return to their homes. It would then be winter, and snow prevented most people from travelling over long distances.

The world was still rather primitive; most roads were not built on purpose, but were instead formed because people travelled through those paths repeatedly. There was no such thing as global warming here. It was freezing cold everywhere in winter, and human activity was reduced significantly as compared to other seasons. Even in the South, where it was supposed to be warmer, the snow could still reach over twenty centimeters thick, almost reaching knee height. It was simply impossible for horses and carts to travel in such conditions.

The B-ranked request was still pinned to the request board. Soran really wanted to accept the request and tell them the truth, but he could not do so; he lacked the strength to take on the quest. Apart from that, there was no way he could prove to the guild the existence of a red dragon, let alone an ancient one at that. The guild would not believe a Grade 2 rogue; it was a crucial matter to the city after all. These requests required the adventurers to report how they managed to complete the request. Soran, who did not know the exact location of the dragon and could not even break through the monster blockade, simply could not make up such a big lie to cover everything up. Even if the guild somehow believed what he said, it would make him a suspicious person, which would be troublesome.

The merchants were still arguing among themselves. They wanted to hire mercenaries and adventurers to clear the road, but they also wanted the more prestigious merchants to seek help from the city in order to save some money. The monsters that were forced to leave their original homes were occupying more and more land, cutting the supply routes to the city.

“Those useless bureaucrats and nobles!”

Soran glanced at the grumbling young merchant beside him, then left the guild.

It seemed that the bunch of merchants would not be able to reach an agreement among themselves any time soon; it was all up to the city’s bureaucrats to handle the situation.

After leaving the guild, Soran walked through the filthy alleys and arrived at a metal door which had a special marking engraved in it. The marking consisted of two cuts in the shape of an “X” and a viper beneath them.

There were shady places in every city without exception. However, if one did not have dealings in the Grey Realm, they would not be able to spot these hidden places in the creepy alleys. Even though Whiterun was a prosperous city, the back alleys were still extremely dirty and stinky. Most residents simply poured their excrement into the alleys; if one was not paying attention, he might even get splashed with a bucket of dung from the windows above.

_Knock! Knock! Knock!_

After Soran knocked on the door, a guard opened a small slit in it and glared at him.

“Who’s there?”

“The boundless shadows are all around,” Soran calmly replied.

The heavy door opened shortly after. The guard confirmed he was alone, then allowed him to enter. It was a spacious place, with weapons all around. Most were Common-grade equipment, but there were also banned weapons such as enhanced crossbows. Most forbidden or banned weapons had considerable destructive power; it was impossible to buy them from ordinary stores. What Soran wanted though, was something even more powerful and more strictly regulated.

“Anything you want?” A man who had a cold and gloomy look asked.

Soran looked around then answered, “Wyvern poison. Give me an enhanced crossbow, and I want poisonous bolts as well.”

The man crossed his legs as he sat on a chair, then glared at Soran and asked, “Those are not cheap. Do you have enough money?”

Soran took out a coin pouch and shook it.

“A hundred and twenty Gold Derahls. Don’t give me that diluted, defective stuff. What I want is undiluted wyvern poison.”

As he had once been fooled by these shady dealers, Soran made sure to warn the dealer not to try anything fishy.


The dealer opened one of the drawers, took out a thumb-sized vial, and tossed it to Soran.

“Have a taste to test it out if you dare.”

Soran opened the vial and took a sniff, then quickly closed the lid. After that, he tossed the coin pouch to the dealer.

Wyvern poison was one of the strongest poisons available in the early stages back in the game and was commonly used by assassins. Most poisons would evaporate after a short while when exposed to air, but wyvern poison was different. It could last up to two days after being smeared onto weapons. It was only natural for rogues to use poison; they were lacking in some aspects, thus they used other methods to overcome their weaknesses.

“Follow me,” the dealer said after counting the number of coins in the pouch. “The weapons are in the back.”

He swiftly took out an enhanced crossbow along with a set of thirty crossbows bolts with dark green tips. The tips of these bolts were immersed in poison during the manufacturing process, which was why they were already poisonous without the need to manually smear poison on them. The poison was fatal for common folk, and it could deal considerable damage to people with combat professions as well. It was definitely something which could only be bought from shady shops.

“That’s 30 Gold Derahls,” the dealer said as he passed the weapon and ammo over to Soran, then continued, “Do you need anything else? I have plenty of good stuff here.”

After making sure the crossbow was in good condition, Soran packed up the items and asked, “Any alchemical items here?”

The dealer stiffened after hearing what Soran said.

“Hell no, those things are fucking troublesome to deal with. The churches would surely go crazy, but even worse, the city guards would turn the city upside down to find out who sold them.”

Soran was not surprised. He knew alchemical items, especially weapons, were tightly restricted. He took out another pouch, paid 30 Gold Derahls for the enhanced crossbow and poisonous bolts, then said, “That’s fine.”

After Soran left, the guard asked the dealer, “Head, who’s that guy affiliated with?”

“We only do business. We don’t care where he’s from,” the man answered while fiddling with a gold coin between his fingers. “Perhaps from the Faceless Envoys or the Dark Brotherhood. Gosh, those damn rogues are as shady as ever.”

After buying what he had in mind, Soran headed back to the tavern. However, something seemed off; there was a serious atmosphere around it, not to mention plenty of Whiterun guards. He quickly hid the forbidden weapons in his clothes and dashed back to the tavern. The place was crowded, with many of the people having unfriendly looks.

_Shit! This is bad!_ Soran thought.

His expression cramped. He placed his hand on the hilt of his curved sword and began releasing killing intent.

Someone stopped him all of a sudden.

The man looked familiar, probably one of the merchant guards he travelled along with. He hurriedly pulled Soran over and said, “Vivian’s fine. She’s a smart kid. She immediately went to find us after things went wrong and is now staying with us. The mistress sent me over.”

Soran loosened up and let out a sigh of relief after hearing the merchant guard’s explanation. He looked around warily, then glared at the tavern owner who was conversing with the Whiterun guards. After that, he hurriedly went to the place where the mistress and her merchant squad were staying.

He could handle the troublesome things later; what mattered the most was Vivian’s safety. Soran walked with such a fast pace that the merchant guard had to run in order to catch up with him.

The two arrived at the place where the merchant squad was staying shortly after. Northern witches were influential people, which was why they had their own courtyard in the wealthy, prosperous district. The head merchant guard nodded at Soran after noticing him; the two got rather close after selling the ankhegs. If Soran was not leaving in such a great hurry, he would even want to treat Soran to a drink. After all, 1500 Gold Derahls was a considerable sum.

“The mistress is in there,” the head merchant guard pointed at the door behind him and said. “The girl’s a smart one. She immediately came to find us after the incident in the tavern.

“She really does have good memory for an eight-year-old. I still can’t remember the way after coming here a few times. Anyways, she’s in the mistress’ room right now. We can’t enter, so you’ll have to do that alone.

“Ah, one more thing. The mistress is in a bad mood today, so mind your mouth.”

Soran showed his gratitude by nodding. He took in a deep breath, then opened the door and entered the room.

“Big brother!”

Vivian, who had been staring blankly at the wall, immediately jumped into Soran’s arms. He lifted her up, then calmed her down by patting her back while saying, “It’s fine now, I’m back. Can you tell me what happened?”

Vivian was now in a set of clean clothes; she looked almost like a little princess in the white dress. The mistress sat on a rocking chair with a serious look, then furrowed her brows and said, “Vivian knows magic! Why didn’t you tell me when we travelled?! Do you know how many problems sorcerers face? Because they were born different, they are bound to be caught up in trouble when they grow up!

“It’d be fine if she only met good people, but she will definitely become the target of those evil scum!”

Soran startled for a moment. Even though the mistress did not sound nice and sounded as though she was scolding him, she clearly cared a lot about Vivian. They had only known each other for five days or so, and they had not even conversed that much during the journey. There were only two explanations: either she really, really liked Vivian, or she was such a wonderful actor that she even fooled herself.

Vivian could easily get close to people who had good will toward her and Soran. For example, the young priestess Annalynne and, apparently, the mistress sitting in front of them right now.

“I’m sorry,” Soran said, bowing as he apologized even though he was unsure why he had to do so, “but we did not want to attract unnecessary attention. We can’t be sure who we can trust, so I decided to hide the secret about Vivian’s magic.

“I owe you one this time.”

(Profession Information—Sorcerer: Though sorcerers are born with the ability to cast spells, their powers usually surface during puberty, and their first ever spell is usually cast unintentionally. Due to this reason, sorcerers may be unable to control the spell and may harm themselves as a result. It is common for the rooms of young sorcerers to be messy and covered in weird drawings and patterns, as though the rooms are haunted. One day, though, they will realise the power they hold and begin to practice their magic. Some lucky ones will get instructed by older sorcerers, allowing them to have a better understanding of their own abilities. However, most sorcerers live a lonely life because their friends and families fear them.

Due to their high Charisma, sorcerers often leave strong impressions on others. This is a double-edged sword, though; female sorcerers might attract unwanted attention, causing them trouble. For such reasons, most, if not all, sorcerers are bound to face special situations and difficulties as they grow up.)

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*[Long Taos]: side characters in Chinese operas who perform acrobatics and fight scenes

*[12.47 to 13.07]: don’t ask me about the tree sap