Chapter 562: Shade Territory
After his visit to Alison, the blacksmith had gone to visit the Bard College. Although he had visited quite a few classes intermittently, the only person he really knew was Ember, so she was obviously the first person he approached.
“Just what kind of horrid stuff are you cooking up?” Ember the demoness asked perplexed after listening to Seth’s request.
Last time she had gone as far as to show him where he could find books about the more barbaric, less glorious practices of their craft. Now he came to her asking for someone who dabbled in trading souls.
Although demons and deals involving the soul were a fixed component of humanity’s impression of demons, not all of them did so. Similar to how dwarfs shared characteristics but would develop completely different cultures depending on the world and their environment, Demons also were not all the same.
The multiracial hotpotch of demons that resided in Delta was part of a big group of demons that turned to trans-dimensional trade. Seth already knew this, as it was the whole reason why Chrona was able to find a diplomatic solution with them.
What he didn’t expect was that they also saw themselves as more refined and cultured than their more “demonic” brethren. This entailed that some of their more traditional practices like soul trading was frowned upon these days.
Unlike the terrifying experiments Seth had read about, which were mostly illegal at this point, Soul Trade was fortunately still legal. However, this once highly regarded carrier had fallen to a business that would be made in backrooms and shadows.
There was nothing reputable about being a soul trader anymore.
Listening to her describing the situation, Seth’s hopes of quickly finding a soul trader sank. Suddenly, the girl’s big black eyes lit up. She gave him a big smile, exposing her canines.
“I might know someone… but I want you to help me with something in return.” said after musing over the problem for some time.
“What would that be?” Seth asked suspiciously.
“You were originally a traditional blacksmith, right? And you refurbished that lyre, right? Could you build this for me?” she asked excitedly and shoved a blueprint in his face.
What she shoved in his face was a drawn blueprint of something aching to a modern flute. The design was part mechanic and part arcane technology. It was long and had flaps similar to a modern instrument, but the mechanical parts seemed to be substituted by special enchantments, similar to those used on a golem.
The blacksmith quickly understood why she asked him about being a blacksmith, as these were traditional engravings for enchantments. As a demonic bard, she lacked the skills to properly replicate it. Not to mention that she focused on the musical part of her class and probably couldn’t even craft the body.
His skill helped him quickly understand the blueprint. These enchantments were not just magical mechanics, but they were also meant to be able to imbue power into the sounds.
They were similar to how elemental enchantments would imbue powerful effects into weapons. But unlike weapons where the element was predetermined, this lacked the imbue part, which would leave it up to the user to choose what kind of power to imbue with their mana.
On paper, this sounded more powerful and versatile and it probably was. However, it also demanded a great control and skill from the user. Aside from working perfectly, user error could lead to anything from the wrong magics to the flute outright exploding in their face.
“You really want this? I have to warn you, my skill is only level one,” he warned her.
“You even have the skill?! Great! I really need this. If you promise to make one for me, I will take you to a place that should be able to help you,” she got hyped when the blacksmith didn’t outright deny her.
It seemed like this was not just important to her, but that she had already struggled for some time to find one to make it for her. Making a flute as a price for a recommendation? Seth didn’t mind. On one hand, he got an excuse to test around with the skill, on the other hand, he was really interested in the flute.
He probably wouldn’t be able to use one himself, but he wanted to see how Ember would use it. The possibilities of this kind of flute were open-ended. If someone like a wizard or an Elementalist used it, they could probably add the power of any of the elements on top of the original effects of the song.
“Fine, but you can’t complain if the rating isn’t good,” he kept cautioning.
“It’s all fine, let’s go. I will introduce you to some people in the district.”
With a wave of her hand, she turned around and lead the way.
“Just like that?”
She just shrugged her shoulders.
“I doubt the great tower master of Minas Mar would go back on his word.”
She was rather carefree as she led the way and guided him through the mists of the demon district. Seth had come here quite a few times, but it always felt like a first to him. Even the places he had already visited before.
Ember led the bard to one of the parts of the district that were enveloped in darkness and illuminated by magic lanterns. The sky above was shrouded by huge panels of black fabric that were stretched between the towering skyscrapers above the streets.
Mystical signs and drawings on the panels turned even the brightest day above into an artificial night on the streets below.
“Just to make sure, you are really strong even aside from your bardic skill, right?”
“Yeah… Why? Are you going to get us into trouble?”
“Nooo, no…But the possibility that we run into trouble is high. This is the territory of the shades and thee are only the most basic rules at work here.”
“So it’s like what we call a black market?” Seth asked, using the human term, which was then translated by
“Yes, you could call it a place that trades with contraband and shady goods. As you may imagine the people here are not the easiest folks to talk to. If we are unlucky they might approach us on their own, ” she explained in a hushed voice.
“And who are we looking for in a place like this?” Seth asked curiously.
If the job of soul trader was looked down upon in this era, then it made sense for someone like this to be here, but Ember said she would introduce him to someone that could help him, not a trader directly.
Who did the demoness know in this kind of place?
The red of her face took on a slightly deeper hue.
“Please, keep it a secret. My uncle works here. He should know everything one needs to know about this place.” she admitted slightly embarrassed.
He didn’t get it at first why she would try o keep it a secret from him until he realized that just working in a place like this was already looked down upon among demons. As the Seth he was, he didn’t really care to judge people that had not offended him yet. But he knew that most intelligent species were prone to prejudice.
He just nodded and followed Amber into a big restaurant. Although it was situated inside the ground floor of a modern building, everything had been completely gutted and renovated. The place looked like an expansive high-class tavern, or maybe even a kind of saloon.
“We have to wait for a moment,” she told him.
Seth used the time to take in the atmosphere. Piano music was playing and all kinds of humanoid demons wearing expensive-looking clothes were drinking and chatting.
“Uncle!” Ember called out restrained when the piano music stopped.
The piano player looked up at her in surprise and came down from the stage with a calm smile.
“Ember, didn’t I tell you this place was dangerous? Why are you here, and who is your friend?” the demon asked her amused.
Although he scolded her, it was clear he was not angry that she came by. He looked like the same sort of demon as Ember, with red skin, dark markings, and almost completely black eyes. He came over and hugged Ember for a greeting
“And this is?” he asked curiously looking at Seth,
“He’s a friend. We need your help to find someone.” the demoness explained
“Find someone in the shade territory? Hmm, well, then follow me.”
Ember’s Uncle led them to an office where he put on a jacket and sat down behind the desk. Seth was a little puzzled. Was this his office? Why would a piano player have an office?
“It seems you didn’t introduce me to your friend before coming here,” the demon said with a chuckle.
“My name is Charred. Owner of this place and information broker,” he introduced himself.