Chapter 163 -- The Merchants Guild Of The City Of Doran
Doran's Merchants Guild occupied a very fine building fronting on to the main street of the city. Ugor-san led me directly into the entrance where we were met by a stout Merchant who appeared to be in his late 40s, well-dressed and neatly groomed, the very picture of a prosperous citizen.
"I've been looking forward to meeting you," he said, waving his hand towards the hallway beyond the entrance. "Please be welcome." I looked behind me, was it okay for Fer and the others to accompany me? This wasn't the Adventurers Guild where they were familiar visitors. The Merchant added, "Follow me with your contracted monsters, if you please." The Merchant had noticed my hesitancy and quickly responded to it as you might expect of a high-ranking man of business. He led the way to a room in the back of the Guild's reception area with Fer and Dora-chan tagging along. This room was one like others in the corridor where I saw more people, presumably Merchants, discussing some kind of business around tables.
* * * * *
Once we were comfortably seated around a table in the room the Merchant spoke. "Firstly, let me introduce myself. I'm the Guild Master of the Merchants Guild here in the city of Doran. My name is Adriano. I'm glad to make your acquaintance."
I was impressed by the fact the Guild Master himself had come to meet with me. "I’m Mukouda, I look forward to working with you." I responded politely, keeping in mind that I was also a member of the Merchants Guild, if only the lowest rank and this man was effectively my superior.
Adriano-san turned to the Deputy Guild Master and bowed his head. "Ugor-san, I'm sorry for bothering you so many times over the past two days about this matter."
"No no, I understand your reasons.” Ugor-san replied rather stiffly.
"I'm glad you feel that way," Adriano-san smiled. For some weird reason the Gustave level boss monster we had fought in the dungeon suddenly came to mind. "Now can we get down to business?" He turned to me. "Ugor-san has informed us that you have gems and jewellery of various sorts to offer us, is that correct?"
"Yes I do." I said. Adriano-san sent an assistant out to fetch an appraiser, someone who was an expert in examining and valuing gems and the like. The fellow who entered the room after a few minutes was a grandfatherly type, in his 60s perhaps, with sharp eyes.
"Now, please show us what you have to offer, Mukouda-san." I started taking out the various gemstones we had collected in the dungeon.
"First, there's this ruby.” I passed the stone to the old man who screwed a loupe into his eyesocket before holding the ruby up to the light, examining it closely on all sides. It was the first time I had seen someone use a loupe in this world. Glasses and other optical devices seemed to be rare and expensive, I had noticed only a few wealthier individuals wearing spectacles here and there.
"It's a small stone," the appraiser muttered, "but it's a wonderfully deep red colour. A dungeon stone, I expect." He put the stone down carefully on a soft black cloth Adriano-san had laid on the table. It sounded like the old man knew his stuff, I decided.
"Well then, can you bring out the next one please?" he requested. I asked him if it wouldn't be easier for me to get all of them out at once but he demurred.
"No, it’s been a long time since I've had a chance to work with gems from the dungeon." he explained. "I must judge each stone with my full attention. Having them all lying in front of me would only be a distraction." That really sounded like he was taking a very professional attitude to his job so I complied with his wishes and brought each stone out one by one. He examined the smaller emerald, garnet and aquamarine gemstones, the amethysts and the peridot, commenting on each of them in turn before laying them down on the cloth on the table. However when I said "This is an Imperial Topaz" and handed the stone to the appraiser, I saw his eyes light up.
"An Imperial Topaz!" he said after a long time, turning the larger stone in his fingers in the light as he studied it through his loupe with great concentration. "I haven't seen this golden color for decades! This is very fine..." he said, "there are no flaws I can detect and the size is impressive." He put the Imperial Topaz down beside the others with some reluctance, as if he didn't want to let go of it.
"You seem somewhat excited, Ruslan-san." Adriano-san said, "Is this gemstone important?" Ah, so the appraiser's name was Ruslan-san.
"Yes. This is a big find." Ruslan-san said, resting a finger on the large yellow gem. "To start with there aren't many Imperial Topazes around, it's a very rare gemstone. The people that know of them are aware of their scarcity but they're very much in demand, regardless of the price. The colour of this example too, the red-tinged golden shade, that makes it even more attractive to possible buyers." He nodded. "Once word gets out that this stone is on the market there will be a lot of people interested in acquiring it."
Adriano-san leaned in to look at the Imperial Topaz, muttering to himself, "True, that clear golden color is very attractive.” I had no idea of the value of such things but if both these gentlemen thought that way it looked like the Imperial Topaz was very valuable. I still had more gems to be appraised so I continued with the sapphire and alexandrite, following up with the smaller diamonds. Ruslan-san was quite enthusiastic about all of them.
"Huhu, the quality of dungeon products is very different to regular gems.” he explained.
"Are they really so different?" I couldn't tell myself, of course.
"Yes. First, there are few flaws if any in gems collected from a dungeon and they have clear colours with no turbidity or distortion. They are always of the the highest quality in my experience.'' Ah, I thought they were only valuable since they were gems but it seemed that dungeon gems were higher quality and presumably worth more. I recalled that Ugor-san had said that skins from the dungeon were more highly prized than those resulting from monster subjugations -- was it something about Dungeon-san's methods of producing such items? I wondered.
"Next is a diamond ring from a treasure chest.” I took it from my Item Box and handed it to Ruslan-san.
"Huhu, these stones are already mounted in a ring." He turned the ring in his fingers, examining it closely though his loupe. "The design is a little old-fashioned but the diamonds are, again, very good quality.'' It seemed the dungeon didn't keep up with the latest fashion trends when it came to jewellery and the like.
"Next is a tanzanite necklace. This also came out of a treasure chest."
"Again this is a rather old design," Ruslan-san said as he examined the necklace. "But tanzanite is a rare gem. It has a slightly purplish blue that is different from a blue sapphire, a colour unique to tanzanite in my experience. Wonderful."
"And this is the last one." I said. I had held this gemstone back since I thought it was possibly the most valuable gem of them all. Of course I knew very little about such things but... "It’s a yellow diamond from a treasure chest we found on the 29th level.” I presented the large yellow diamond cut in a teardrop shape to Ruslan-san.
"Th-This is..." Ruslan-san took the stone from me with shaking fingers.
"R- Ruslan-san?" Adriano-san said, looking anxiously at his subordinate. Was Ruslan-san crying? The old man paused for a moment to wipe his eyes.
"I'm sorry, I was overcome for a moment." he said, fixing his gaze on the stone in his hands. "I'm an old man, I never expected to see something like this in the time I have left, that's all." He swallowed, then continued, his voice firming up as his professionalism came to the fore.
"First of all, there's the rarity of coloured diamonds. They're very uncommon to start with." Ruslan-san held the diamond up to the light, turning it this way and that. "Moreover, this stone has a strong even yellow tint and excellent transparency. The yellowish-golden shade is, like the Imperial Topaz, popular with many buyers and it will be in great demand." He hefted the large diamond in the palm of his hand.
"To add to that, the size is exceptional. Such large diamonds rarely appear on the market coloured or not, and the teardrop cut is also excellent, its shape is pleasing to the eye and the brilliant facets catch the light perfectly. The most skilled craftsman I know of could manage to cut a diamond like this, perhaps but no-one else." He put the diamond down beside the others gems on the table, his eyes remaining fixed on it, and sighed.
"I've been around gemstones and jewellery all my long life, I've seen and appraised many top-quality items. I can honestly say that I've never seen a gem as fine as this one before today." He pointed at the diamond. "In my expert opinion," he stopped and swallowed again, "and please don't think I'm exaggerating, this may well be the finest gemstone in the world." He looked up at Adriano-san and spoke firmly. "I, Ruslan personally guarantee this stone's quality."
...the finest gemstone in the world? What? I looked at the diamond lying on the cloth, trying to see what Ruslan-san saw in it. Sure it was big and yellow and glittery but, I scrabbled to comprehend, it was like a large piece of coloured glass to me, sparklier perhaps but... Looking up again I saw Ugor-san exchange a look with Adriano-san who nodded before standing up.
"So, please wait a moment, Mukouda-san, Ugor-san." Adriano-san said. "We'll leave you for a brief time to discuss what we wish to buy from you but I promise we'll return shortly." He gestured for Ruslan-san to follow him. The old man kept glancing back to the table and the gems littering the black cloth as he left the room trailing the Guild Master.
I started to say something about the gems to Ugor-san but he put a finger to his lips, glancing around the room. It dawned on me that anything we said here could well be overheard and it was likely Adriano-san would be briefed on the contents of our conversation before he returned. Instead we waited in silence until staff members of the Merchants Guild appeared to serve us tea.
I took a sip of the aromatic black tea and had to restrain myself from exclaiming out loud. It tasted wonderful, something like a Darjeeling and definitely not made from a tea bag. It was the sort of expensive tea you'd bring back from a trip abroad as a gift, something to butter up your boss or make nice with your in-laws. Ugor-san smiled over the rim of his own teacup, obviously amused by my reaction.
"The Merchants Guild always serve the finest tea, as you might expect.'' He took another sip. "Ahhh. This makes coming to this den of thieves almost worthwhile."
"Oh, is this the finest grade of tea?” I asked, taking another sip myself. It was delightful.
"Yes, it can only be harvested in the Doolin region of the Erman Kingdom. It’s called Doolin tea.”
Oh, is that so? I sipped some more Doolin tea while we waited for Adriano-san to return.