Episode 46 – Engagement Ring Shop
She then turned her head to the side, locking eyes with his. “If I wanted to expand my knowledge…where else could I go? Muni is the holy land of magic. If the knowledge can’t be found there, then it can’t be found anywhere else in the lands under the Shield.”
She has a point. Muni wasn’t only a teaching institution. It was also a research institution with more staff than students which produced new breakthroughs in the field of magic study every year.
There was much more to Muni than just classes. All professors were masters in their respective fields of study. Being mentored by one would allow you to learn knowledge that you can’t learn anywhere else.
Muni also had the finest library of magic related books in all the lands of Halnea.
If you wanted to learn magic, no matter how advanced, where else would you go besides Muni?
Kiel had successfully managed to change the subject from her efforts to make him a magical artifact, to her purpose in coming to Muni. However, even though the conversation steered away, his mind and heart were still hopelessly stuck on her seemingly selfless efforts in helping him out.
He clenched his fists hard, trying to hide the turmoil he felt inside. He didn’t know what he should be feeling right now. He didn’t even know what he was currently feeling.
He only knew that whatever these emotions were, they weren’t pleasant. There was a tightness in his chest and a bitter taste in his mouth.
Elaru used this opportunity to wrap her hands around his. The warmth spreading out from her body pressed against his arm made the unpleasant feeling subside a bit.
Currently, the thought of shrugging her arms off didn’t even occur to him. She pulled on his arm gently, letting her soothing warm aura envelop him.
Under her urging, relaxed by her aura, he stepped forward.
Completely lost in his own thoughts, he had forgotten his previous complaints about entering the ring shop. Only when the merchant asked how he could help, did Kiel snap out of his thoughts.
Dazed, he looked down at the table filled with shiny silver rings; his mind unable to concentrate on the matter at hand.
In the background, he heard the voice of the merchant. “Are the young lord and lady looking for engagement rings?”
He couldn’t see Elaru’s face but from her words he could tell she was smiling. “We haven’t made any definite decisions yet. We would like to see your wares first.”
The merchant winked at her knowingly. “Why of course!”
Hearing that, Kiel felt as if a cold bucket of water splashed over his head. He almost spit out blood from anger. This is why!! This is exactly why I didn’t want to go here!! Why couldn’t you have explained it properly?? Why do you insist on speaking in such an ambiguous manner!? It’s as if you want to be misunderstood!
The merchant started bringing out different types of engagement rings and explaining their materials.
“See anything you like?” Elaru’s voice reverberated inside his head. As if she could tell exactly what he was feeling she added. “Quicker you find the right ring, the quicker we can leave.”
That statement jolted Kiel out of his daze and his gaze focused on the rings. He scrutinized them one by one, quickly pointing towards several rings. “Could I see this one, that one and the one over here.”
The merchant looked at him strangely. “Young lord, those aren’t engagement rings?” Kiel’s cold gaze made the merchant jolt, quickly correcting himself. “But of course, creating a matching ring to the ring of your choice is a simple matter! Don’t worry about it young lord. Just pick whatever your heart desires and we will do our best to accommodate.”
Kiel inwardly cursed. He let his coldness seep out instead of keeping up his friendly façade.
“What kind of rings are you looking for? Enchanted rings? Diamond rings? Gold, silver, platinum?” The merchant asked.
Kiel frowned. It was a good question. What price range could Elaru afford? He glanced at her just in time to see her smile at the merchant. “It doesn’t matter. As long as it is to our liking.”
Kiel got the urge to pick the most expensive ring just to get back at her. But after the initial impulse, he discarded the thought. He intended to pay her back the price. He didn’t want to owe her anything. Picking something expensive would only make it harder to return the favor.
He inspected different rings until a peculiar one caught his eye. It had no jewels and was made out of two different types of materials. The outer part of the ring looked to be made out of white gold. Intricate patterns like wines spread over the elegant ring. In-between the embossed patterns could be seen a shiny black material.
It was simple yet very beautiful. He turned it around, his face darkening when he saw the price tag.
How can something without any jewels be so expensive?
Elaru paid attention to his facial expressions, and just when he was about to put the ring back, she took it into her hand instead. She carefully inspected the ring, staring at it as if she wanted to devour it.
Seeing her interest, the merchant quickly started advocating the ring. “A very elegant choice suiting the peerless grace of young lord and lady. It is as if this black diamond ring was made to be worn by you.”
Kiel looked at the merchant speechlessly. You sure know how to flatter…
So this black metal is actually a precious rock? No wonder it is so expensive.
Elaru paid no attention to the merchant, still staring at the ring as if entranced.
Kiel looked back at her strangely. Is there something special about this ring? Don’t tell me she can actually afford this?
Suddenly Elaru came out of her strange mood and smiled brilliantly.
Kiel was just about to stop her and remind her that it is too expensive when she placed the ring back on the stand and exclaimed. “Thank you for your service. I have to admit your wares are quite high class. We’ll definitely be back in the future.” She winked at the stunned merchant who seemed to be too entranced by her bright smile to realize what was happening.
Elaru pulled on Kiel’s arm leading him out of the shop. Before the merchant could come back to his senses, the two of them had already left the shop.
Kiel stared at her dumbfounded. Isn’t this where you are supposed to say “Don’t worry about the price! If you like this one, then I’ll get you this one.”?
Bah…why do I feel like a female in this relationship? He shook his head and transmitted his displeasure. “Wait…why are we leaving? I still haven’t picked a ring yet.”
Elaru smiled mysteriously. “Didn’t you just pick that black diamond one?”
Kiel frowned. “No. That one was too expensive.”
Elaru chuckled musically. “Everything in this shop is too expensive.”
Kiel’s eyebrow started twitching. Then why did you even bring me here?!? Are you making fun of me?!
Elaru glanced at his frosty expression, but her smile didn’t lessen in any way. “I brought you here to pick a ring. But I never said I’d buy you the ring.”
“What do you mean?” Kiel’s eyes flashed dangerously. “Don’t tell me you intend to steal it?” Kiel’s face darkened.
Elaru’s eyes widened in surprise. “What do you take me as? A common thief?”
For a moment, Kiel almost felt guilty for thinking that…before she added: “Stealing from this place is too arduous of a task. Don’t get me wrong. If I wanted to steal the ring, those few buffoons couldn’t stop me. Stealing it isn’t difficult. Keeping it is the difficult part.”
Kiel patiently waited for her to explain. She paused for a while, giving him a meaningful look. “Jewelers mix mana crystal dust inside the alloys which uniquely identify the rings. Removing the dust would be a very arduous task that couldn’t be accomplished without melting down the ring. Even if I transmuted the ring into another shape, the owners would still be able to recognize that it is theirs.
Not only that, but they also tag the rings with a special substance the smell of which bloodhounds can track. Only after purchasing the ring would they neutralize the substance.
While it is possible for me to steal the ring and counter all these measures, the time and effort are really not worth it.”
Kiel stared at her, a stoic expression frozen on his face. Oi, oi. Don’t you know a bit too much about stealing jewelry?
He shook his head and exhaled slowly. Just attribute it to her knowledge of tracking. Marking stuff is related to tracking. Yes. If asked in the future, I’ll claim to have had no idea of any potentially illegal activities of Elaru Wayvin.
He decided to steer the conversation into safer waters. “If their rings are identifiable then using them as a dummy artifact is out of the question. If they investigated the ring in the future, they would realize that it was purchased in their shop thus it couldn’t be a mana purifying divine artifact.”
Elaru nodded her head. “Correct. Which is why my intention in bringing you here wasn’t to buy you a ring.”
Then why did you bring me here? Kiel’s eyebrows furrowed. If all jewelers marked their rings, then buying a ring was out of the question. They would need a non-marked jewelry piece.
Could it be that the purpose of this visit wasn’t to buy him a ring but rather to find a ring he liked so that they could make a custom ring similar to it?
“You said you were bringing me shopping. How misleading…” Kiel grumbled.
Elaru grinned, her eyes glittering teasingly. She could tell that Kiel had figured out the reason for their visit here. “Window shopping is still shopping.”
Only according to your logic. Kiel shook his head. “How about we shop for food instead of jewelry?” Before she could respond, he added. “No window shopping this time.”
Elaru laughed musically, the sound incredibly soothing to the ear. “Alright. I know just the place.”
Kiel stared blankly at the building in front of him. This situation…it was disturbingly similar to the one before that…
Serves me right for letting Elaru lead the way to the restaurant. “I know Ashar like the back of my hand.” she said…Isn’t this place an overkill?!
Kiel finally opened his mouth, his face still blank, he slowly spoke out. “Can’t we just go to a normal restaurant?”
“Nope. This is exactly the place we need to go.” Elaru exclaimed in self-satisfaction. Kiel felt the urge to face-palm, especially since her statement didn’t raise his lie detector. She honestly thought that they needed to go here and nowhere else.
The multi-story building in front of him looked like a giant black pearl surrounded by a forest of green gardens. The pearl was made out of special black glass that prevented people from seeing inside. However, people inside of it could see the outside clearly.
Like a crown, a black marble ring surrounded the pearl that looked like a balcony. Since it was high up, Kiel could only see the pillars supporting it which were carved into shapes of dragons.
The gate of the restaurant was the most luxurious looking, with thickest pillars, on top of which a large sign stood: Black Pearl.
If you wanted to find a more expensive restaurant, you wouldn’t be able to find it!
Kiel was familiar with the Black Pearl restaurant. His brother loved to spend his time here.
Black Pearl was a high-class restaurant that had branches in every major city. However, the quality of food and service wasn’t the reason for its fame.
Black Pearl provided nobles with maximum security and privacy. Younger generation nobles took their dates here where they could enjoy both the food and their dates in privacy. Older generation nobles used the place to strike secret business deals safe from prying eyes and ears. Since the restaurant was a neutral yet extremely secure ground, nobles could relax and enjoy their time there.
Kiel exhaled slowly and tried to reason with her. “In this place, the waiters are dressed in higher class garments than us. They won’t let us in looking like this.”