Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Miss Madeleine Clearwater dreaded the arrival of Saturday. Saturday was the opening day of the Secret Trading House, that meant she must accompany Madame Boyle back to that dangerous place. Thinking about the unpleasant experience last time, her palms were still vaguely pained.
The owner of the trading house had broken her wrist with the strange sword. After returning home, Madame Boyle did the treatment for her, and assured her that there would be no after-effects. Madeleine repeatedly pleaded with Madame Boyle to go to the trading house without her, but all requests were refused by Madame.
“If you are afraid of even that small scene, how can you become a great weapon in the future?” Madame Boyle said. “Besides, there is a chance that there will be something good at the next trading house. Do we want to miss it?”
Madeleine was in tears, but could only agree. She prayed to God and all the vanished forerunners to stop time and never arrive at Saturday, but her prayers obviously did not reach Heaven.
On Saturday, the spell to the secret trading house opened again. Madame Boyle carried a small money box and pulled the reluctant Madeleine into the spell.
Madeleine thought the last fight would scare away most of the customers, but didn’t expect to enter the trading house and find that the customers were still flocking there. It seems that occult practitioners were much more daring than she thought. The more dangerous the place, the more precious treasures were hidden there. Any occult practitioners know this truth.
What surprised her was that the furnishings of the trading house had changed drastically compared to the last time.
In the middle of the hall, where the rotating display cases were originally displayed, a pyramid was set up with numerous small black boxes. Each box had a number written on it.
This wonderful black box pyramid attracted the attention of all the customers, everyone curiously circled around it, wondering what new tricks the owner of the trading house was playing.
The owner of the trading house today wore strange and bizarre attire, wearing a white wig, face behind with a gold mask, and wearing a horrible bright red colored cloak. Maybe the guy just loved fancy clothes, Madeleine thought. Wasn’t it often said that there was only a thin line between genius and madness? 1
“Master of the Trading House, we’ve brought the payment.” Madame Boyle greeted him.
“I’m surprised you’re here.” The owner of the trading house smiled.
“Did you think we would never return?”
“I just didn’t expect you to come up with the money so quickly.”
Madeleine thought the owner of the trading house obviously thought Madame Boyle would run away, but only said a few words of kindness.
Madame Boyle opened the money box and took out a few banknotes and a handful of gold pounds. The owner of the trading house counted them carefully, confirmed that they were correct and swept them into the counter drawer.
“Your shawl…Oh. There it is.”
The display case with the phosphorus fox shawl moved over with the owner’s voice, and the other display cases made way for it. It stopped beside Madame Boyle, at exactly the same height as the short old woman’s line of sight. The owner of the trading house took out the shawl and respectfully handed it to Madame Boyle.
Madame put on the shawl and cast a glance at the black box pyramid in the center of the hall, “Master of the Trading House, what is that?”
A gorgeous smile appeared on the corner of the owner’s lips. “That is exactly what I want to introduce to all the customers today.”
At the sound of his voice, all the customers gathered around with great interest. The owner of the trading house took down a black box from the tip of the pyramid tower and showed the numbers on it to the crowd.
“This is a blind box.” He explained, “Each box contains a secret item, but no one will know exactly what it is until the box is opened.”
The owner of the trading house took out another stack of leaflets and passed them around for the crowd to read. Madeleine also got one.
“This is a list of the items that can be opened in the blind boxes. Each blind box costs one pound, and what you can open depends on your luck. It could be a powerful magic weapon, or it could just be a common spell casting material. Of course, it is forbidden to use secret magic to see through the contents of the box.”
Madeleine’s spine chilled, knowing that the owner of the trading house’s threats were not empty promises. Those who violated the rules he laid down would suffer the horrible punishment.
Madame Boyle whispered the items on the flier, “Chicken snake liver, undead bird tail feather powder, hundred-eyed spider eyeballs… Well, it’s all very common. To be honest, it’s not worth a pound if that’s all you’re offered.”
“But look, ma’am, there’s something else written here! This ‘Pot of Conversion’ is very interesting!” Madeleine said.
The leaflet was labeled with some expensive items. Under the entry for Pot of Conversion, it said that the kettle had the ability to convert the nature of the liquid. Fill it with water to pour out poison, and fill it with poison to pour out water.
Madame Boyle’s eyes lit up. “If this were sold separately, the price would be over twenty pounds, right? But the odds of picking one out of a hundred from so many blind boxes are a little too low, aren’t they?”
The owner of the trading house wandered over to her and said with a smile, “It’s time to test your luck.”
Madeleine asked, “Wouldn’t the odds of winning be higher if we bought more blind boxes?”
The customers took the leaflets, mingled and whispered. Their greedy eyes hovered over the blind box pyramid. Everyone understood that it was a gamble. If they lost, it was a pound for a pile of junk, but once they won, the return was ten times, or even a hundred times…
It would be a lie to say that it wasn’ tempting. Everyone was eager to try.
Madeleine and Madame Boyle looked at each other.
“A pound isn’t too much, so let’s give it a shot, shall we?” Madame Boyle shrugged.
“Then I’ll buy one too!” Madeleine said excitedly.
Madeleine’s birthday was June 3, so she simply chose box number 63. Madame Boyle chose number 7, because it was known that 7 was the magic number.
Others saw she snatched the best number, rushed up and scrambled to buy the blind box from the owner of the trading house, afraid that other lucky numbers, magic numbers would also be snatched.
In less than five minutes, the blind boxes were all snapped up. Some people were so impatient that they unwrapped the blind boxes on the spot. For a while, sighs rose and fell.
“It’s true that nothing good can be opened…”
“Hmph, I should have known better than to waste money!”
But there was also someone who shouted in ecstasy.
“It’s the Pot of Conversion! Aah! I’ve won!”
Others cast jealous glances at the lucky winner, some with eyes red with hatred. Madeleine was not afraid of the jealousy and opened the blind box on the spot. She hurriedly searched the leaflet for a description of the item.
The owner of the trading house approached. “Congratulations, Miss. This necklace can help you resist malicious spells. It won’t ward off really advanced curses, but it can bounce ordinary minor evil spells back at the caster.”
Madeleine could not hide her smile and immediately put on the necklace.
Madame Boyle’s blind box held an unpolished purple crystal. She smiled bitterly and shook her head, “So it’s an energy storage crystal. Although the quality is very good, it is not suitable for my body type.”
Immediately, a customer came up to Madame Boyle and said, “I need an amethyst, why don’t I exchange mine with you, madame?”
Madame Boyle readily agreed.
The other guests followed suit and exchanged offers. Soon, even those who were not so happy with their blind boxes were able to exchange items for things they liked.
This incomparably lively trading day soon came to an end. After the last customer left the trading house, only Duan FeiZhou was left in the trading house, as well as a teenager wearing a mask.
The teenager took off his mask, revealing a sweat-sheened face. He held a plain black box and looked at the center of the empty hall, his eyes full of amazement.
“You are amazing! The idea of a blind box is just brilliant!” Al said.
When the owner of the trading house came up with the idea of blind boxes and commissioned Al’s mother to make 150 boxes in a week, Al had doubted him for a while. How in the world could anyone be willing to spend money without even knowing what the item they were buying was? If it didn’t sell, then wouldn’t his mom have wasted her efforts?
However now he was kind of convinced. The owner of the trading house was worthy of the veteran merchant who ran the world’s largest store of secret arts items. His wild and unconventional thinking was not something that ordinary people could speculate.
Duan FeiZhou laughed, “It’s no big deal. It’s just a way to exploit people’s psychological weaknesses. For the so-called blind box, there are roughly two methods of sales. The first is to put in a very few high-priced goods and many low-priced goods, then use the human gambling psychology to induce consumption. The second is that the items in the blind box are of similar value, but may not be what you want, so in order to get the desired item, you have to buy the blind box again and again. There are even people who take apart a set of items and put them into the blind box separately, tempting people to keep spending in order to get the whole set.”
Al nodded his head in a puzzled manner, feeling more and more that the owner of the trading house was unfathomable.