Max was extremely lucky because the thief he just killed had dropped 10 copper coins and the den of thieves mask, which meant that Max need not go to the extra trouble of capturing a member alive and then stripping him off it.
This saved Max a considerable amount of time, energy, and effort for which he was grateful.
Max equipped the mask and immediately got a system notification.
[ System notification ] - You have equipped the den of thieves mask ( rare ), all inspection skills up to tier 2 will fail to identify your identity and stats.
[ System remark ] - cowards hide behind a mask, real men barge into enemy camps and bury them alive.
Max rolled his eyes reading the system remark, by this point in time he had gotten accustomed to the needless snarkiness of the system.
Slowly, Max started to make his way back to the village of thieves he had seen, careful not to get lost on the way as he tried to remember key markers he had seen on his tedious escape.
Max eventually reached the village and after taking a deep gulp he confidently strode through the gates.
Two tall guards were guarding the gates and Max prayed that they would let him enter without any questions asked, however, it was only wishful thinking on his part, just as he strode past them one of the tall guards asked in a gruff voice " Why are you returning alone? Where is your teammate? "
Time was ticking and Max needed to think of a quick response, hence taking out a handful of cash from his inventory that was dropped by the thief he killed, Max said " We tried to loot some adventures, but unfortunately, he died".
There was an awkward silence for a while as Max stood rooted to his spot waiting for a cross-question or a signal to enter, however, the guards gave him none.
After a full awkward five minutes, one of them said " Do you have something to ask of us? "
Max shook his head and replied " No "
" On your way then " the guard replied, not understanding why Max stood waiting for permission for so long in the first place.
Max quickly entered the village with haste in his steps as he now felt stupid for waiting too long.
' Confidence Max, have more confidence if nothing else at least learn how to lie from your good-for-nothing girlfriend '. Max thought inwardly as he wandered the thief market.
The reason why Max wanted to access the thief market was that it was the safest place for him to sell his goods, nobody there asked for the seller's identity and the honor amongst thieves guaranteed him a fair price.
The only question was, where to sell, and was it safe to sell here?
Max was impressed by the village the thieves had created as they had everything from Blacksmithing shops to potion shops to even a small bar/restaurant.
There was a civil order and everyone talked to each other extremely politely. The biggest advantage of anonymity was that everyone was treated equally and with respect, as nobody could dare to offend anybody as nobody knew who was who.
It was actually a much better place to stay and hang out than the crowded city and even the air was much fresher due to the place being in the center of a forest area.
Just as Max was loitering around he heard a loud noise coming from the small stage created at the city center "Attention comrades, a new discovery has been made of an ancient meteoric landing site. We need workers to dig and extract the meteorite and the pay for this job is set at 1 silver a day.
Interested parties can sign up now".
[ System notification ] - Impromptu quest.
[ Quest details ] - Mining work at an alleged ancient meteoric site.
Rewards - 1 silver/ day
Additional rewards - none
Work contract - 2 days - 10 days optional.
[ System remark ] - you are only good for menial mindless labor, jump at this opportunity!
Max thought about it and then realized that it was a good idea to join this operation. The pay aside, it was a chance for him to chat with other thieves and get to know about the risks of selling items in the market which would be useful considering the amount at stake.
Max believed there was no such thing as being too cautious, and hence he accepted the quest with the work time set at a minimum of 2 days.
With the coins he had collected he paid for a room at the motel and had a nice meal of a beer and a vegetarian curry, as he tried to sleep before the workday tomorrow.
( The next day )
The meteoric mining site was apparently a 3 hours walk from the village, and from the way, things looked Max understood that he would probably be stationed in a temporary camp in the wilderness tonight as he saw many thieves carrying camping equipment on their backs.
It was understandable since wasting 6 hours a day going to and fro was a complete waste of time and precious energy.
On the way, there were some encounters with local adventurers however they were swiftly dealt with by the senior thieves as no trace was left that the den of thieves was planning a large-scale operation.
Once the group arrived at the alleged location, Max raised an eyebrow as apart from charred soil and no vegetation growing in the 40-meter-ish circle, there was nothing that suggested that a meteor had landed at this spot several years ago.
There was no large crater, there was no impact zone, only a small 40 meters clearing.
Since Max was not here to find treasures in the first place he did not think much about it, but instead only focused on doing the digging task assigned to him while trying to make small talk with neighboring workers.
Max was given a shovel, whereas some other miners that were healthy looking were given pickaxes as surprisingly the ground was hard to break with there being 70% rocks and 30% sand.
The labor work was definitely difficult and only a few minutes into working Max understood that 1 silver was inadequate to pay for the kind of job they were performing.
If given a choice he would not even do it for 10 silver a day!
Although most thieves kept to themselves and either gave Max a cold reply or downright ignored him, he eventually found a chatty pick-axe miner who was glad for the company he found.
"It's a hard world out here mate, these buggers take 20 bronze coins a day to provide housing and 2 meals. It's absolutely outrageous mate I'm telling ya, it's difficult for a man to survive, even more, difficult for a man to have a wife and family.
He can't feed all those mouths and still save enough for liquor on the weekends. What do ya think mate? " The thief spoke in what Max could best describe in a very Irish accent.
" Ye mate, the exchange prices they give for the items these days are also lower than they used to be previously, I don't feel satisfied ". Max replied, matching his accent.
" Nah mate, they will never cheat you, there is honor amongst us thieves, never forget that.
Even if you sell epic items here they will give you a fair price and not ask a single question. I can vouch for it.
I once saw me a man selling an epic-rated chicken, he got paid a full 700 gold.
It was ridiculous, I would retire if me had such luck ". The man said and Max took mental note of the subject, at least whatever he heard until this moment was positive news.
Max kept chatting and absentmindedly shoveling dirt, unaware of the fact that one of the three pieces of his destiny that the angel Hazriel had shown him in the vision, laid right beneath him at this moment.
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