However, Theo just felt a strange nostalgia.
'This area hasn't changed at all.'
It was different from the main streets which were always changing. Most of the hanging signs were difficult to read, worn out from the wind and rain. It was also common for signs to fly away or to have no letters written. If Theo stepped into the dark alleys, he would see the beggars tossing and turning.
The scenery, which remained the same despite the three year gap, caused Theo to think back on past memories.
'Three years ago.'
Three years ago, he had just entered the second grade.
The Theodore Miller of those days hadn't been cynical nor distant from others. In the first year, the lessons had focused on theory rather than practical skills, so he had been able to get better grades than everyone else.
Theo's future prospects shone brightly enough for some noble children to pay attention to him. He knew there was a black market trader in this area because he had visited it with a friend at that time.
"Ha, what friend?"
Theo laughed coldly at the memory. As soon as his inferiority was revealed, they all turned their backs on him. The one they'd regarded as their friend was an 'excellent magician', not 'Theodore Miller.' It was ridiculous that he hadn't recognized their duplicity, and their act of turning their backs on this relationship was disgusting.
He recalled up to here. Theo stopped walking as he arrived at his destination. There were no errors in his memory.
"This place… is it open?"
However, Theo hesitated for a moment without turning the door knob. There was no sign on the shabby shack. The windows showed no signs of being cleaned, and the stairs creaked like they would fall apart at any minute. If there wasn't a sign saying 'OPEN' on the door, he might have turned around.
In the end, he turned the door knob.
The decrepit door opened with a strident sound, and as it opened, the interior was revealed. In short, it was a general store. There were many miscellaneous things piled up, of which the purpose of many of them was impossible to guess. However, unlike a general store, the prices weren't attached.
One of the characteristics of a black market trader was that the prices would fluctuate due to bargaining with the owner.
'So, any naive or stupid person will have their nose cut off.'
Black market traders were still merchants. They were talented at extracting money from the pockets of their customers. In fact, their main source of income was selling things cheaply. So, when using a black market trader, it was necessary to be accompanied by a person who wouldn't be easily shaken.
Theo recalled this fact and prepared his heart. It was at this moment that…
"What, a customer?" A flippant voice was heard from somewhere. Theo turned toward the counter and realized one more thing.
'…The black market dealer has changed.'
In the past, it had been a balding middle-aged man with a sturdy physique, but the one who greeted him now was a slim young man. The arms exposed under the sleeves were clearly trained, and a snake-like gaze was staring out from between dropped eyelids which made him appear sleepy.
He wouldn't be as easy to deal with as he seemed.
"Then please look around. Our store isn't kind enough to explain things, so you will have to choose on your own."
It was a mess, but this was also a rule for a black market trader. They wouldn't explain anything about the goods they were selling. In the case of defective products, they would lose the sale if they explained it.
Above all, the cost of cleansing cursed goods exceeded the price of selling it.
Sometimes, people would pay the price for an appraisal, but if such a thing was common, then black market traders wouldn't be able to sell their goods. Rather, it was much easier to find fools sitting on the street expecting to make money.
'Now, I shall begin.'
Theo first looked at the products on display. The first thing was to check whether or not the 'abilities' would be eaten. He carefully picked up a dagger which was displayed on a shelf in the corner.
Then he muttered in a low voice, "Appraisal." There was a slurp, and Gluttony's tongue licked the dagger.
[+1 Canine with a Lingering Attachment (Sword Type)]
[A common dagger made of steel. There is no magic treatment, but a deep grudge is embedded in the blade. When cut by this dagger, 'Open Wounds' will be applied to the injury.
* The grade of this dagger is 'Normal.'
* When consumed, a very small amount of magic power will be absorbed.
* When consumed, your understanding of 'Open Wounds' magic will increase.
* When consumed, the digestion time is 5 minutes and 11 seconds.]
'Okay, let's go!'
Theo grabbed his right hand unconsciously. The result was more than he'd expected. Not only did it reveal the effect hidden in the dagger, but he could obtain something other than magic power from it.
Furthermore, magic such as 'Open Wounds' wasn't easy to learn because it could be used for bad purposes. This was hard to find in the academy's library, where all types of magic books were scattered.
Theo paused for a moment before searching through the other objects enthusiastically.
'This dagger is usable. This leather armour… Ack, magic to keep it dirty? And who is the idiot who put a haste spell on an hourglass? There are a many useless items as well.'
Well, it didn't really matter whether the items had value or not.
Theo stared at the information windows which popped up and picked things out without hesitation. He picked anything which would increase his magic power after Gluttony ate it. Useless things were the same. The black market shop filled with useless things was literally a golden hunting ground for Theo.
20 minutes later, Theo headed to the counter with a basket of items.
The black market trader looked at him with interest.
"Customer, isn't this at least a month's worth of sales for our store? Even with a discount, it will be at least two gold."
"Let's see? I don't think so."
Theo boldly rejected the black market trader's offer. Two gold was ridiculous. The only things he put in his basket were defective products. It would be lucky if they were sold for 20 silver, and the seller would still be receiving a profit.
However, the black market trader didn't know that Theo had all this information. Unsurprisingly, the black market trader laughed lightly.
"Hey, Young Master. Don't you know that will be a bargain if a genuine item appears? Who knows what will come out from something that has a flaw in it?"
"Well, that is normally the case."
The black market trader's expression changed at Theo's blase attitude.
"Normally? What does Young Master mean?"
Instead of answering, Theo lifted his index finger. Then he pointed to an object on the counter. It was a necklace which was falling apart at the ends. It was a necklace which couldn't be used as an accessory.
Furthermore, according to Gluttony's abilities, "That necklace, it will tighten around the wearer's neck. The material is too cheap, so it will break. How can I pay so much for such a defective product?"
"These gloves are even more rubbish. It is difficult to grab anything because the fingers have the 'Grease' magic on them. And this…"
The trader's eyes became blank as he kept on describing the items. However, after a moment, the black market trader quickly realized what the descriptions meant. There was only one possibility if a person could speak such genuine information.
Of course, Theo might be lying. but there was another way to check it.
"Young Master, are you an appraiser?"
It referred to users of 'appraisal' magic, which was a type of magic that could only be learned by magicians with special qualities. They were welcomed in many places due to their small number and their usefulness. Even the king, royal families and nobles wouldn't hesitate to pay a high price for an appraiser.
"Well, I suppose so," Theo said brazenly with no shame.
Thanks to Gluttony, Theo could pretend to be an appraiser. It was the result of Appraisal, but he wasn't actually an appraiser. However, it was necessary to conceal its existence from the Tower of Magic. If they noticed Gluttony's presence, then they would try to cut off Theodore's wrist.
"…How interesting. It has been a while since I've been so interested."
The black market dealer got up and changed the signboard on the door to 'CLOSED'. He determined that it would be more beneficial to talk to Theo for a while. After he closed the door and covered the windows with curtains, he was now ready to talk.
"I'm sorry for my previous words. I never expected for an appraiser to come to a black market trader."
"I think so as well."
Theo didn't deny the black market trader's words. Right now, Theodore was an 'appraiser'. He'd stumbled onto a weak spot and had to play this role. Therefore, he waited for the opponent's words instead of making demands. As long as his position was superior, it was the other person who would become hasty.
Soon, the curious black market trader took the bait.
"Yes, Young Appraiser. Why have you come to this humble place?"
The real bargaining would start now. The first part of his plan to increase his magic power through the black market trader began.