Chapter 3 Black Alley
When talking about the liveliest, most dynamic and also the most chaotic place in Primal Wildfire Town, it had to be the Black Alley.
Black Alley was not an official name. In fact, since the period of occupying was very short for both empires, they had not the luxury of making a record of all the streets and buildings – When comparing both parties, the Odin was so ignorant, that it even saved the trouble of inquiring population statistics.
The name Black Street was accepted by villagers through the common usage. It was located at the west corner of the outer town. This street was originally very broad and could be considered as the most spacious street in the town with enough space to fit two carriages side by side – these kind of big roads where not only rare for a backwater place, even in the civilized Byzantine Empire it usually only existed in some of the big cities.
It must be reminded that the word “original” was put before “fit two carriages side by side” – only when the many vendors did not block the street, could it be achieved.
Black Alley attracted all the weird things from across the continent. You could find anything and everything, including those that you could not even imagine it existed.
Regardless of what you wanted to buy, no matter how rare or weird, you just had to come to Black Alley in Primal Wildfire Town and hang up a look-out sign. In matter of half a day, there would be a few sneaky looking ragtag came to ask you for an offer.
These people were neither tricksters nor beggars, but some of the mercenary tribal agents.
In Primal Wildfire, there were many large and small tribes. The big ones could consist of thousands of people, while the small ones held a few hundreds. Some of the tribes survived by doing mercenary job, more often they were gangs of thieves and robbers.
The difficulty lies on how to distinguish whether they were mercenaries or the thieves – well, it all depended on their willingness.
The Byzantines had a proverb on how to distinguish between a mercenary group and a group of thieves:
“If you hire mercenaries as bodyguards, after the mission you only need to pay the commission. If by chance they were in a bad mood, they would not only take the commission money, but also rob your last penny – during these moments, you know they were a group of thieves.”
Obviously, Trading Guilds in the Capital refused to acknowledge such stereotype and repeatedly declared that those registered mercenaries were a legitimate and serious group, of course most importantly law-abiding. They condemned those two faced mercenaries and called them illegal black gangs.
Nevertheless, these black gangs in Primal Wildfire were a necessity for people since they took on jobs no others dared to touch. What’s most important, they were serious about their job!
If your offer was tempting enough, they even dared to do some live risking mission! For example, to catch some dwarf slaves, which those formal mercenary groups would never do, these black gangs however…… hey, how much money you are willing to pay?
Despite the harsh environment, it had to be said that Primal Wildfire was a place full of business opportunities! This was the buffer zone and the only trade route between the Byzantine Empire and Odin Empire. The Odin merchants and the Byzantine merchants had to cross this region if they wanted to go to the other country to do business.
The vast and harsh Primal Wildfire was full of hidden dangers. A bit further north outside the town, there was a blue basin – a territory belonged to those ferocious and eccentric dwarves. If you were human merchants, it was in your best interest not to go near there, otherwise on a unlucky day, your skull would be made into a decoration and hung on a shelf in a dim shop on Black Alley.
Only handful merchants established a relationship with those dwarves and thus, could do some trading with them close to their territory.
The dwarves were easy to deal with (as long as you did not intrude their homes, they normally would not attack you), in comparison, Goblins were the real headache. These little creatures were like rats. They spread like pests in their dens on the northern part of Primal Wildfire. Those vermin were the real robbers – they stole everything that could be eaten, wore and used. It must be mentioned that they would eat anything.
If by luck you are caught by them then congratulations!
Your meat would be made into delicious jerky and your bones grinded to powder to make tasty soup. Even your hair would be sewed into a blanket by the Goblins! In one word, Goblins had a very special quality that was rare for humans: being thrifty!
Trading across Primal Wildfire was very dangerous, but very profitable at the same time!
The Byzantine made superior armors, weapons, horses, cattle, minerals, artifacts……
The northern Odin Empire produced the finest fur, all kinds of crystal and various sculptures (What irony! The Odins were always regarded as rude and ignorant people and only this benighted country owned the world’s best carving techniques. The sculptors from the Byzantine Empire sculptors felt deeply ashamed when reminded. In order to express their disdain to the Odin sculptors, the Byzantines had an explanation: A life of an Odin could be divided into three parts: One third to fight, one third to mate and one third to carve statues and pray.)
It had to be mentioned that only big merchant groups with abundant capitals could afford to do these kinds of business.
Smaller trading groups would first need the guts to see their heads hanging on a belt, if they wanted to take part in such trading.
Needless to say, tempted by the huge profits that the trading could bring, many people were prepared to risk their lives. Among the people coming to Primal Wildfire town, more than half of them were holding a dream to make a fortune.
Every once in a while, there was always one or two lucky man who made it through the buffer zone alive and entered the destination country. They turned rich over night. This spurred more people with dreams of becoming rich to come to Primal Wildfire.
There was an old saying concerning Primal Wildfire: if you go outside the town and dig somewhere, you will always find skulls of the adventurers buried beneath the soil.
Shaar Thunder walked firmly into the Black Alley. Since he was satisfied that he finally filled his stomach – thanks to that foreign idiot.
Things went as usual on Black Alley, except that not long ago the gang occupying the town had been expelled. Currently, the streets were patrolled by mercenary groups, but the town people had already got used to this. The most important factor was that the new mercenary group ruled with law and did not raise the tax.
Speaking about tax, it was very simple in this town and only one fee called town entry tax had to be paid. No matter whom you were, what status you had, when entering the town, everyone was obligated to pay one copper plate as tax.
Other than the town entry tax, there was no business tax or any other taxes.
When Shaar Thunder went into the town today, he gave his last copper in his pocket to the gate keeper.
So, if he could not find a job to earn money today, he would really have to become a beggar…..
Black Alley was crowded with people and the sounds of arguments and shouting repeatedly came from the shops and street stalls. People here were valiant, since those who dared to venture all the way to this place were not easy to deal with, for most of the cases – that was why there were no decent people here in the town. Even when these rough guys were only bargaining, it sounded like cursing.
Occasionally, you can see some drunkards thrown out from roadside taverns to the rubbish dump in the corner.
Some suspicious looking guys sneaking in the crowd, who were also called the golden fingers, a.k.a thieves.
Fortunately, no golden fingers would pay attention to Shaar Tunder – he looked even worse than a beggar.
Shaar Thunder walked along with the stream of people, looking for a job to earn some money. His idea was very simple, but he needed to some start fund first. He wanted to try this luck as a magic beast hunter.
Magic beast hunters and hunters were two different professions. The work was basically the same, but they had different hunting targets.
Hunters hunted for pheasants, rabbits, foxes, coyotes and so on. You could become hunter as long as you knew how to shoot arrows or make traps.
But for magic beast hunters, they had only one target: the magic beasts!
When the old man was alive, he prohibited Shaar Thunder to hunt magic beasts. Nonetheless, Shaar Thunder did not plan to so end his whole life inside the mountains as some hillbilly hunter. The life of a magic beast hunter was filled with adventures, excitement and also very profitable. Exactly what young people aspired to become.
Therefore, without telling the old man, he had secretly hunted those prey for several times and successfully killed some magic beasts. Despite that, he had not been able to save any money, since most of the money had been traded for alcohol and was used to satisfy these two drunkards’ addiction.
Finally, Shaar Thunder found his target.
Just at the end of Black Alley, there was a board hanging in front of a small shop.
“Magic beast cubs wanted, offering grand reward…”