28 New Clothes

A few blocks down the street, the little thief from before dashed into an alleyway.

He panted heavily as he looked around to check if anyone was nearby. 

After realizing he had gotten away safely, he faced the sky and let out a large exhale of relief.

Then, he clenched his fist and hit it against the wall behind him, "Damn that guy... he didn't look like he had too much money, but I didn't expect for him to not even have a pouch or wallet!"

He sounded frustrated, but brushed this off, "Whatever... at least I didn't get caught. From what I stole off that stupid vendor, it should still last me a few days--" 

The kid checked his pocket, but couldn't feel his pouch of spirit stones.

His eyes widened as shock danced within his pupils. Several thoughts sped through his head.

He patted his shorts down, and then his shirt, and then his entire body.

"No... no no no! Where? How!? Wait a minute... that kid... surely, he couldn't have... damn it! Damn it all!"

***

Sol made his way into the clothing shop.

'I guess I lucked out. Pickpocketing was an art I mastered many times before in the past. A measly runt like that wouldn't have ever been able to steal from me...'

The shop was quite large, and the store owner greeted him as he entered.

"Hello, young lad! Welcome to Owl's Clothing!"

"Hey!" Sol walked toward the man, "Tell me, what sort of options do you have for cloaks and robes? I want the cheapest of the cheap."

As Sol said this, the shop owner's expression turned slightly unamused.

He was an older man looking to be in his early sixties. From a glance, one could tell he was quite distinguished, and the look on his face was a judgemental look of pity.

Sol's eyebrow raised, "Look, old man... I'm not here for your weird looks. If you don't want to sell to me, I'll go to your competitors."

He turned around, already beginning to walk toward the exit.

"W-wait! Please wait, young man!" The old man reached his hand over the counter.

Sol smirked slightly behind his shoulder before turning around and facing the old man with a stern look.

"I'm sure we have some options that will fit your price range. I wouldn't want to support my competitors..." The man rubbed his palms together as he nervously laughed. Sol walked back toward him.

"Good." He smiled.

The old man then showed him a row of cheap options for him to look at.

Sol observed the clothing and immediately found a few pieces that he liked.

He wasn't a very picky person, so he had finished choosing what he was going to wear in only 5 minutes.

Laced with thick leather straps and adorned with rustic buckles, he chose long boots that rose up to the top of his calves for his feet with crisscrossing ties.

On his body, he donned a black hanfu that also had a hood on the top.

After he put these items on, the old man at the counter looked at the clothing up and down.

'Oh? He doesn't know the price of these items it seems.'

Sol thought, as there would be no other reason for the shop owner to try and ascertain the value of the items.

"That'll be--" Before the man could say anything, Sol abruptly cut him off.

"Please, good sir... I only have 15 spirit stones in my possession. Could you allow me to get away with that much?" Sol spoke in an unexpected tone.

"W-what!?" The old man was thrown off at first, and then immediately became angry, "If you had that little, I wouldn't have allowed you to enter my store in the first place, damn it! I'm not selling all of that to you for a mere 15 spirit stones, not in any Great Sanctuary!"

Sol clasped his palms together. "C'mon man... spare a kid some trouble."

"Y-you runt! Where has that arrogant tone from earlier gone? Do you expect me to be some buffoon!? All of that is at least 130 spirit stones!"

'Crap... I actually thought that would work. Alright, plan b then.'

"Look... I didn't want it to come down to this, but you have given me no choice." 

"W-what?" The shopkeeper confusedly exclaimed.

"I guess I'll have to go and tell everyone that the Owl's Clothing shop sells deformed merchandise at an overly inflated price." Sol's tone was almost somber as he spoke as if he didn't want to do this.

He sounded completely genuine this time. 

"Deformed merchandise!?" The shopowner barked, puzzled.

'Wait a minute.... in truth I haven't looked at those old pieces of junk in years. It might actually be deformed. If that's the case and this brat actually goes and blabbers his mouth off about it, it will definitely decrease my sales.'

He worriedly thought to himself.

'No... it's fine. No one will believe him. Surely they won't... right?'

At that moment, Sol continued his act, "I was even going to settle at a potentially higher price if need be, but now, I don't even know if I want to buy such a piece. Instead, maybe I'll just go tell people about the shady ways of this store. Yeah... that's exactly what I'll do."

Sol gazed out the door, a look of determination on his face.

'T-this kids serious!'

"Okay! Okay! Stop! I'll sell you the damn rags!"

A playful smirk danced on Sol's lips as he heard this, "Now that's more like it..."

He quickly placed 15 spirit stones on the counter and left, not saying a word.

The shop owner groaned slightly as he stared at the boy's back, "Ugh... I might have just been swindled. But, whatever... I was going to throw those pieces out anyway. At least I got something for them and also avoided potentially having my reputation tarnished. Stupid brat... where did he even come from? I've never seen him around here."

Sol left the shop with a proud look on his face, "I knew that geezer would give in eventually. So greedy for clothes that he considers up-pricing mere rags, tsk tsk tsk..."

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