A pinch of salt from the old republic.
The rush was high. Hundreds were waiting eagerly for the final call. Yet, there was no sign of an end.
“It’s at 36500, time is almost up. We will be closing this auction soon. Let’s not forget that this is a rare product. The ability to create this salt has been lost for generations. We might not see another pinch in a million years. The call is at 36500. The first call.”
“36500… anyone? Second call.”
“36500…third call. Sold.”
“The pinch of salt from the old republic, sold to the lovely young lady for 36500 gold. Congratulations”
There were wild celebrations across the room. This was one exciting battle to watch.
Sam turned off the tv. There wasn’t much excitement on tv these days. The bidding wars were different. It rose his blood. A pinch of salt from the old republic… It wasn’t much. It didn’t sell for much. Sam knew he could have fetched a higher price for it.
Sighing, he looked at the catalog in his hand. ‘Soon, I will make it up there too’. His eyes had a sparkle.
Auctions were common in the finance district. It was rare to see an item getting undervalued. Rich loved to spend money. They loved to show off wealth. The auction sites combined these two elements. It was common to find people here to spend thousands of gold. But that doesn’t mean a thing to the commoners. Their lives were the same everywhere.
Sam just got home in time for the final call for the great auction live tv. Today's episode was special. When the rare items emerged, they run extremely long campaigns and invited the richest of the lot. To Sam this was training. He was just a trainee at a local store.
He had his second bottle of orange juice. Took off his shoes and slammed on the bed. ‘I’m too tired to change.’ As the clock ticked, Sam slowly drifted to sleep.
It was a peaceful night. He was in a dream world. White clouds floated around. His eyes could see further beyond than would be normal. It felt as if he was floating in the sky above the clouds. Looking down he couldn’t see anything. It was too foggy. The view above was more beautiful. The pitch-black sky and a few dazzling stars.
“You woke up”. A young man in his twenties appeared from thin air. He had a cowboy hat and a lasso around his hips. He had a straw in his mouth. He kept staring at Sam as if expecting an answer.
‘Woke up?’, Sam was a bit confused. Seeing his eyes move, the man started smiling.
“Don’t worry, this is a fun game. Would you like to play a game?”
‘Who is this man’, Sam started to freak out a bit. ‘Calm down. There is nothing wrong.’ He smiled to himself reminding him it was a dream.
“Where are we?” Sam looked at the man for an answer.
“Nowhere. Where would you like to go? You can call me Yama.” The man had his smile plastered on his face.
‘This dream is a bit too realistic’. Before Sam could ask anything, Yama continued. “Would you like to experience a carefree life? It would be simple, and you wouldn’t be forced to do anything you don’t want to do. How is that?”
“Carefree simple life, where you won’t have to work if you don’t want to? Sure, doesn’t everyone want that?”
“OK then, off you go”. And Yama waved his hands.
‘Wait Yama…YAMA?’ Before Sam could protest, he felt as if his consciousness faded away.
Slowly Sam’s world came to be. He opened his eyes. There was nothing but sand around to see. Endless sand. To the distance, there was a little green. Looks like it was the only way out of this sand.
He was well clothed with a backpack on his back. The water pouch was attached to his belt. Looks like the clothing was derived from animal skin. It had a soft feel. Sam went through his backpack just to be sure. There was a little meat and a few coins, mostly copper.
‘Yama? So, I died? Why did I not feel anything?’. There was no point hovering around. From the outfit he had, Sam could assume that he was in a different culture from the current earth. He had to find a place to get some information.
With his sight on the faraway green patch, Sam slowly walked forward. With each step, he had labored as his legs kept sinking into the sand. After a few meters, he fell over face down. It was exhausting. After a few hours and multiple attempts, he was able to get closer to the patch which turned out to be a small desert settlement.
The palm-shaped trees provided some comfort from the heat. The dry wind still caused exhaustion and dehydration. His water pouch was almost dry. He walked forward into this, what appeared to be a desert outpost. Two guards blocked his path and asked for identification.
‘Identification?’ Sam quickly rummaged through his backpack. He found one that looked like a business card but made of metal.
“Merchant? What are you doing traveling with no luggage?” the guards were confused. It wasn’t normal for merchants to travel alone. Nor had they ever seen one with no luggage. Sam had to react quickly.
“…Bandits… We had to split… They took my stuff…” Sam started panting for air to add to his act this wasn’t hard. He had just been through a special force daily training. Looking at him the guards weren’t too sure but still let it be.
Sam decided to push his luck a bit further. “Respected Sir, could I trouble you for a bit. Where might this place be?” Sam was at his best behavior. Years of training made his acting look sincere. The guards smiled inwardly and puffed their chests.
“You are at the desert outpost 322, Singala Province of the great Asura Kingdom under the grand emperor Rufford William-fin Markos Sparkley”.
‘What have I done to deserve this?’ Sam almost wanted to shout at that Yama.
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