My brows furrowed in confusion. I scratched my head, “Kind sir, the food you made and your gratitude is enough. I don’t see the necessity to wager myself in such a big risk...”
I read at some point in the guide book that examiners aren’t allowed to use third-party items during the Crystal Examination. There were more violations formulated but as of now, this is the only rule I could remember when he uttered the word aid.
His mouth formed a straight line at my concern, “I didn’t expect you to react this way.” He ordered one of his men to enter the house. The guy carefully drew out a thick, grey-colored parchment from his bag and laid it down on the table.
“If a person uses supporting items inside the given location of the exam, he will receive impending consequences. That is unless you have background sponsors.”
Perplexed by his statement, “Huh? background sponsors? Sorry but I’ve never heard anything about this rule.” What I want is to at least have a decent type of glyphorite, one that I can sell to Chisha, my family’s trusted informant, in exchange for some info about my past life.
The entrance to her cave-like store is limited to customers who are above 18 years old, which works in my favor because I am 19 years old and the acceptable age for taking the exam starts at 19 and ends at 50.
At some point in the past, taking the exam would usually start at the age of 15 but they altered that rule after the brains of underage examiners were destroyed by scattered glyphorite aura. This resulted in many deaths that almost caused the test to be gone for good.
As a countermeasure, the High Court only allowed those of 19 years and above to participate.
Common glyphorite could sell around 100-500 Reqious. Rare pieces sell roughly at 1,000-9,000 Reqious, and lastly, legendary ones will cost you around 10,000-1,000,000. It all really depends on the quality, rarity, and power of your possession. However, once you sell your glyphorite, you’ll have to wait the next year to partake in the exam to get another.
I don’t struggle much with money since my foster parents would send me a monthly allowance, together with some useful accessories that they deem—useful. Mr. Patty, their butler, is the one responsible for sending them to me.
After the long run, I eventually found out that he is the son of my kind neighbor in this ostracized village, Mrs. Patty. Ever since our separation, they would take lots of effort to visit me here and listen to my rambles. Which is not very often, but they could never leave a year without checking my well-being.
They may not be my biological parents but seriously, I couldn’t ask for more.
The man in front of me cleared his throat which knocked me off my train of thought. “I see. Information herein Rosen spreads quite late so I’ll tell you this instead. The High Court had already permitted the use of supporting items in the exam, as long as you have a sponsor to provide the said items and back you up.”
I straightened myself and nodded, my eyes asking for more information.
“You seriously don’t know? As long as your guide book is in the latest edition, even the cheapest ones will have this.” He looked at me with eyes full of pity.
“Anyways, read the full contract of your sponsorship. Most of the answers to your questions can be found within.” He finally finished eating up his food. He stood up and went inside the kitchen to place it in the sink, giving me time to think about my decision.
However, no matter how I try to focus, something keeps bugging me.
What is it?
Then suddenly it hit me. When he sat on the table I touched his hand, passively asking for his whole attention. “You mentioned before something about a gamble, now tell me, what do I have to lose?”
He chuckled, “Now, now, eager aren’t we?” He pointed at the contract and prompted me to peruse it first before he could disclose any more information. I took the contract from the table and started reading. Needless to say, the agreement wasn’t as long as I had expected. It sure did fill my share of questions but most of it is unnecessary and there’s only a couple of important things that I’ll have to remember.
However, as I neared the foot of the contract, these two sentences in bold letters captured my attention.
As stated: “The sponsor shall not be held liable if the recipient is harmed in any way due to the item given.”
“The recipient shall not be in any way accountable about the damages sustained by the given item.”
So it’s a win-win situation, huh? if something ends up happening to me, he won’t be the one burdened. At the same time, If I accidentally damage one of his goods, I don’t have to pay or find a replacement—It’s like I own the things that I’m only supposed to rent.
Well, it is pretty understandable though. No matter how much I break his stuff up, if I end up dying, he won’t lose anything.
“Did you finish reading?” He asked to which I nodded. “Sign at the bottom of the page—”
“Please don’t drag my question any longer. Tell me, What do I have to gamble?”
He folded the note from earlier which he wrote my personal info with and inserted it back to his bag. “Your life.”
Another one of his men went inside, carrying a small black box in his hands and carefully placed it above the table then proceeded himself back outside. “Now, this box contains an ancient item that my team had recently uncovered from the outskirts of the kingdom. We don’t have enough time to find a human test host and that’s where you come in.”
“All we know is that it’s a powerful glyphorite-attracting item, which we found out as a result of our countless experimentations. It may have major setbacks if used on a human host and that’s what we aim to know.”
“But before I could show you, please sign the agreement first.” A hint of impatience laced on his voice. I took the pen from his grasp and at that moment I remembered, “My goal in joining the Crystal exam isn’t to get a powerful glyphorite. I’m okay with a good one. I’m going to sell it anyways.
“For money? I can still provide you with that even though it isn’t part of the contract. You rescued me after all.”
“No sir. For information.”
He silenced for a moment and stared at me. He spoke, “However if you want detailed information you would still want a rarer or perhaps a powerful glyphorite.”
“I see your point, but is it not too cruel? Seeing how I saved your life but I still have to do you a favor by holding the blade of the knife.” He thought I wouldn’t notice but he’s slowly averting his gaze from my face,
“Don’t put it that way. I’m suffering too. This is my first time being a sponsor and I had to turn down several offers just to give you this opportunity. Here, so that you won’t feel cheated, I’ll also offer you my protection.
I nodded my head, following every word that he says.
“About this info that you need, can’t we just offer your informant Reqious? Maybe 5,000 or 6,000 should be enough”
“Nothing can do. She does not accept money. Only my family and a few people know about her, she is that secluded. Her proffering a decent glyphorite is mercy itself. I heard that she proposes weird things in exchange, like 100 dirty toenails or a flayed demi-human of some sort.”
His face scrunched in disgust, “That’s just... ”
“Unbelievable, right?” We both chuckled at the thought.
After a few moments of cumbrous silence, I finally gave up. “Fine, I’ll sign the contract—but of course, under one condition. You’ll have to help me attain the info that I need.” He expertly masked his excitement with an elegant smile and a stoic act.
“Not a problem, I’ll lend my aid in that matter.” He handed me the contract and I took it with little hesitation. Up to this point in our meeting, he doesn’t seem like someone who plots to kidnap or enslave me behind my back. So it’s okay to be reassured for the time being.
“Could you pass me the pen?” I softly asked but he stopped and stared at me for a moment. I immediately wiped my face thinking that it is somehow dirtied. Our eyes met for a brief moment and immediately, his rare purple eyes rendered me defenseless—what was that again? Oh yes, exotic.
He tapped lightly at the table, “In case you’re mistaken, this contract requires the blood of the client as its signature.”
“Oh, uhm. W-Why didn’t you just say so.” Come on Airen, release some air from your bloated head. I noticed a small folded blade, inserted within the thin vertical crevice of the pen. I took it out and made a small incision at the tip of my middle finger.
I pressed the wounded spot unto the thick paper which did sting a bit. As soon as the blood dried, I handed it to him.
“Now that this matter is settled, I want to talk about the item.”