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Chapter: 80

Present day

Dragging Charlie down the road, Nolkonoe kept her eyes locked forward. The thoughts of the day stood strong in her mind as she walked. Every little detail flooded over her as she stormed down the street. Several of the older warriors kept behind them, acting like as shield if the night elf was to attack them.

"Nolkonoe," Charlie tried to reason with her, but there was no sign of her slowing down in her charge away from the situation.

"Nolkonoe!" Charlie yelled, louder this time as he tried to pull his arm from her grasp.

"Charlie, there are some things you just need to trust me on," she said, tightening her grip on his arm.

"STOP! Your hurting me!" Charlie yelled. Widening her eyes, Nolkonoe seemed to snap out of the daze of hate. Turning and staring at him, she released her grip on his arm.  

"S…Sorry," Nolkonoe said. Still glancing over his shoulder to make sure they were not being chased, "Come on, lets find a shop that sells weapons and lets leave,"

Seeing the look of worry in her eyes, Charlie nodded, "let’s go,"

In silence, they began their walk again down the street, but a new tension hung over the group. Both Charlie and the younger of the group wanted to prod Nolkonoe on her out burst at seeing the elven woman, as well as the hatred that seemed to be swelling within the older of the group, but none dared ask. It wasn’t long until they reached a shop.

The large insignia outside of a rifle told them what the purpose of this shop was. Moving to the front of the group, Charlie turned and smiled at them.

"Ok everyone, this is our first stop/lesson in merchant trade. I’ll go inside first and see what happens, you stay here, and I’ll call you inside in a minute," Charlie said, Nolkonoe keeping close behind him to try and catch a glance inside the shop to see if there were any more Night Elves inside.

As Charlie opened the door, no scent of the elf immediately hit her. Allowing him to walk, inside she turned to the other women.

"Wait here," Nolkonoe said, following Charlie inside the building, just to make sure he was fine.

"You really don’t need to follow me," Charlie said, not evening having to look behind him to know Nolkonoe was following him inside. The tensing feeling of being watched that burned into the back of his head was enough for him to know she wasn’t going to risk him running into another elf.

"I’m not doing anything weird; I just know that it is good for me to get some first-hand experience to help the others," Nolkonoe said, trying to justify her reason for standing almost directly behind him. 

Sighing, and choosing to allow her to do what she wanted, he began to walk around the room. It was dark, and there was the strong smell of some kind of imperial perfume that hung in the air and tingled his skin. It also seemed to greatly irritate Nolkonoe as she twitched her nose at the scent. Their footsteps echoed slightly against the dark, wooden panels of the floor.

A wooden square rack stood at the centre of the room. Several large guns stood on display. Walking around, the room, Charlie stopped as he reached one of the guns positioned on a counter as a display. The gun was long with a silver body and barrel, there was a wooden grip, and the gun was loaded via leather action. Pointing to the gun, he then gestured down to the wooden sign under it.

"What does that say?" Charlie began, wanting to at least teach Nolkonoe some tricks if she was going to be following him.

"Eight hundred gold? That is expensive…" Charlie nodded to her answer. Pointing above the rifle, he gestured to a sign of the gun just above the first.

"Now what does that say?" Charlie again asked. A little confused on why he was speaking, Nolkonoe chose to still comply.

"Three thousand coppers," Nolkonoe stated.

"And why do you think that?" Charlie continued. Frowning, she pointed to the letter C for coppers, and the letter G to symbolise the need to pay in gold.

"Well one of the two things you read were correct," gesturing down to the rifle that was said to be gold, Charlie shook his head.

"This is copper. The Merchants write it in such a way that at first glance it looks like gold. They do this for their best guns so that you believe they are more expensive. They then make their worst guns look cheaper, so you buy those, when in actuality they cost more," Charlie explained.

"I… I don’t understand?" Smiling, Charlie placed his hands onto his hips.

"Well then, let me begin," Shuffling over to the side, he pointed at the signs again.

"Now tell me what this says," Charlie said, and Nolkonoe again read the signs. Her eyes widened as she now read the symbol for copper which had been made to look like Gold as its correct name of C for coppers.

"Basically, they sell cheap guns for more and the good guns for less. This means that they are probably trying to arm a gang. But, since it is illegal to arm gangs, they do this trick so that they can legally sell good guns for cheap to the gangs. This is how they get away with it, they say that it is readable, and it is the fault of the customers if they read the sign wrong since it is ‘obviously’ written correctly. In turn this takes all blame off the shop owner as they technically aren’t doing anything illegal, or at least by the Empire’s standards," Charlie stated, and Nolkonoe snarled slightly.

"The gangs know which guns to buy for cheap, and I bet soon the shop keeper will come out to try and make us feel awkward. This will make us either leave or buy a gun at eye level, also known as the guns, they sell for two thousand coppers, but they only brought for maybe five hundred. Since they are also a shop keeper and not a merchant, the Union looks the other way,"

"So, all the money from the good guns being sold just go back into the pockets of the gang?" Nolkonoe questioned.

"Exactly, thus, they are laundering their dirty money into clean money," Nolkonoe didn’t understand what he meant, but decided to nod along to what he was saying. Seeing this, Charlie quickly explained the process of money made through crime being made into ‘clean’ money.

"Why don’t they then make guns higher in price? Wouldn’t they ‘launder’ more money that way?" Nolkonoe continued.

"Any fire arms transaction over eight hundred coppers needs to be signed off on by the merchant union," Charlie explained.

"Kind of trick Mr Green Water would use,"

"He probably did, but since I wasn’t there to see it, he has probably tricked you all many times before," Charlie commented, "I even used some of it in that contract I had scammed you with,"

Nodding, Nolkonoe glared at the sign. Even without having to speak, he knew she was now taking mental notes of everything he said. As they spoke, the sounds of creaking on the floorboards become ever closer and closer. A man walked out from a small side room. His eyes were soft and sunken, his face dead pan and showing little emotion as he moved around the counter. Staring towards them, he leaned forward onto his desk.

"Now then, what exactly can I help you with?" Charlie narrowed his eyes at the man.

"We are fine sir," he responded to the man. Glancing over to Nolkonoe, he studied her grass skirt and grass top.

"And who is she?" the man said, a slight smile curling onto his lips.

"She is a close friend of mine as well as being my mother-in-law," Charlie responded to the man.

"Something doesn’t feel right," Nolkonoe whispered to him. Charlie had felt it as well. The eyes of this man scanning over them, studying them, judging them in a way he had not felt before.

"Ah well, sorry to have interrupted," the man said, his eyes keeping locked onto them as they shopped.

"Ready to see another trick?" Charlie whispered to Nolkonoe.

"It’s called a merchants gaze, it is meant to make you feel uncomfortable, put you off thinking about the prices too much so that you hopefully buy something and then leave," A grin came over his lips, "and I’m about to show you how really piss this kind of person off."

Dragging his feet, Charlie wondered around the store, the eyes of the man glaring at him. Nolkonoe stood to the side, staring at him along side the others who she had now brought into the store.

"Some merchants become store owners. They often do this to apply the tricks they learn to trick merchants onto the unexpecting public. This is one of them. They begin conversation so that you feel as if you have to stay in the store and buy something. Longer you stay, the more they glare at you, so you buy something without thinking," Charlie had explained to Nolkonoe.

She stood by the door, watching this plan in action as the man tried his best to make sure his glare made Charlie uncomfortable, yet his glare didn’t even move him. Step one to combating this kind of merchant turned store owner, act as if those merchants isn’t even in the room. Just when they start to get irritable…

"I want to buy about three hundred of these," Charlie broke the tense silence as he pointed to a gun. The man’s eyes lit up at the idea of such a large sale, but the look faded as he saw Charlie gesturing towards the cheaper, good guns used for money laundering. For a moment Charlie locked eyes with the man, neither speaking as they waited for the other to speak.

"But sir," the man said, walking forward, clapping his hands together as he put on his best grin, "Those guns are incredibly expensiv," before he could finish his sentence, Charlie spoke.

"Eight hundred coppers really aren’t that much, and I would greatly prefer these guns," The man’s gin faded as he now glared at Charlie.

"What do you want?"

"I said what I want," Charlie stated, pointing in more of an exaggerated tone to the gun. Pissing off a merchant was quite easy, pissing off a shop keeper was even easier. Act smug and stupid but hold your cards against your chest.

"Yes sir…" the man said, his tone showing his annoyance at Charlie having seen through his trick. Dropping small hints of what you know, such as the real price of the gun, was enough to show that despite his demeaner of being smug, he still had some knowledge hidden away.

"But this gun is a far higher quality!" the merchant said, leaping into action.

He stood slightly between Charlie and the rifles. Subtly, his leg blocked the better gun while his hands presented the worse gun. Using his body to physically separate Charlie from the product was a subtle mental game to try and make him more likely to buy the gun he recommended.

"I’m happy with my choice," Charlie said, stepping forward and accidently stepping onto the foot of the man.

He also just happened to accidently angle it so that the man fell back and stumbled into the counter, causing him to fall over. It was a basic trick, something that his brother had used to do to him all the time. Often, he would do it around a table with some pots on it so that he would cause the pots to fall of the table and potentially break. Then he would get the excuse to yell and abuse him.

Putting down a hand, Charlie grinned at the man.

"Sorry there, it seemed you tripped. Want some help?" Charlie said, his smile sly as she stared down into his eyes. As the man stared back into the devious eyes of this boy, he could tell he had something in mind…

"Three hundred guns, on a discount since we are first time customers. Also, I want about one hundred rounds of ammunition for each rifle we purchase. I want it by the gate of the city by the end of the day," Charlie said, the man refusing to take his hands as he got to his feet.

"Make the delivery, will you?" Stepping forward, Charlie placed a hand onto the man’s shoulders, "the Chiefess will be disappointed,"

Stepping forward, Nolkonoe placed a knife onto the neck of the man, "If you tell anyone, I’ll kill you,"

Charlie kept his cold, emotionless gaze as he turned to walk away. Stopping, he tapped the gun used for money laundering.

"This one, keep that in mind. And don’t think you can just give us some cruddy ammunition for them either," Charlie pointed to Nolkonoe, "She has killed thousands. She once ate a man’s cock, literally, she bit it off. So don’t think about doing anything,"

With a smile Charlie turned and walked out the shop, Nolkonoe and the others in tow. The second he was around the corner, he collapsed against the wall. Hand on his heart, Charlie took in deep, deep breaths as sweat began to drip down the side of his face. He really, really wasn’t used to having to act like that.

Leaving the store, Nolkonoe grinned as she stared down at Charlie.

"How did you know I have bitten off men’s cocks?" Nolkonoe said. Staring back up at her, Charlie frowned.

"You actually have?" Nolkonoe gulped as she patted him on the head.

"Lets go, places to be, stuff to do," Nolkonoe said as she helped him to his feet and began to walk away from the store.

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