At A Foreign City

31 Mar 2022  C. chou  6 mins read.

He found himself staring upward, eyes following each golden pillar they passed, as they walked. They were so majestic. So tall. So high above. He gulped. Before coming into the city he’d never seen sights anywhere close.

At the top of the stairs, he was greeted by a beautiful dais. Surrounded in white and gold, he couldn’t help but wonder how the place remained so clean, when it was open to the air. Glancing around, he found men carrying metal blocks. Men doing business. Men dressed in various fabrics of whites and greys, fitting in perfectly to the mood that the city seemed to generate.

Ripping his eyes away, he returned his attention to his tour guide. Though technically, an assistant to the man that he’d come to see, the man was one of the most regally dressed that he’d ever seen. Donned in a dark navy blue coat, laced with gold stripes, if he hadn’t already known the man, he would’ve easily mistook the man for the king.

Before the man was a gigantic oak tree, a piece of nature that while seemingly unfitting with the rest of the environment, somehow only enhanced the majesty of the city. With a bow, the other man issued him into the passageway beside the tree. Speechless at the sight, he stared up at the jewel decorated ceilings, at the gold patterns that outlined the tiles that made up the upper surface, and at the shining crystal chandelier that stood out amongst them all.

A hand fell to his shoulders, bringing him back into reality, as he returned his focus on his guide. Though his father sent him here to do business, everything felt so foreign that he could hardly concentrate, not to mention collect his bearings. Every new sight, every new smell, every new thing that met him on the streets immediately caught his attention before he could resist. Following the man’s footsteps, he found himself staring at the lines and lines of passing people dressed in a snowy white.

Everything was so unfamiliar, from appearances to customs. His emotions were a constant mixture of being enthralled by what he saw, and being on a lookout for the possibility that he was making a misstep of some sort. Even though according to his father, his family was the stronger party in this exchange, the grandiose views that were presented to him the moment that he arrived suggested otherwise. Part of him was afraid to offend, despite his father’s words.

They entered a room with many eyes staring back at him. He suddenly realized that despite what his father said, the men here had a distinct advantage that he lacked. They were in their homes, in the areas where they had power. On the other hand, despite the items he had to sell, he was but one person. One person on a potentially hostile territory. Everything could go dark at any moment. They could easily take him hostage, as a bargaining chip against his father. A bargaining chip that could give them access to more goods.

Suddenly, the ceilings didn’t seem so appealing. The crystal chandeliers seemed more dangerous than beautiful. He took a step back before taking a deep breath. He had to project an air of confidence. He had to make them believe that he wasn’t an easy target. Everything about his future depended on his next move. Everything that he knew, everything that he had was at stake now.

He swallowed another gulp of saliva in the anticipation of the consequences of his next move. But there was no backing out now. Backing out would only reveal weakness. He had to do this.

“I am here to trade.” He announced before the circle of men. “A representative to speak business on behalf of the Theramis Merchant family.”

“Very well, you may speak your preposition.” One of the men answered.

“Our family continues to sell a major source of energy crystals.” He declared. “Under our dedicated care, our mine is still plentiful after all these years.”

Everyone knew now that mines couldn’t simply be taken forcefully. Special care was necessary to obtain the best pieces and ensure that the mine was producing quality. Mines that were too heavily mined or insufficiently cared for dried up quickly without producing a single worthy piece.

“I have a simple proposition.” He continued. “We will continue to strive for the best pieces, and will sell them at fair price, under the condition that your country extends the contract of exclusivity.”

“We can obtain fair rates elsewhere with some negotiation.” One man answered. “Why should we continue exclusivity with your family?”

“As you might know, our family has been in this business for several generations now.” He replied. “We have been honing our skills during this time. As one of the earliest families to join this market, and one that still remains in it after all this time, we are one of the few families that have years of experience under our shoulders. With quality well-known around the globe, I’d suggest you reconsider before giving up such a valuable source.”

“You really think negotiation is the only way that we can gain access to your family’s products?” A different man from the circle asked.

“Of course not.” He replied. This conversation was going in the direction that he dreaded. “However, it would be in your greatest benefit to do so. This way, our family will guarantee your country the lowest prices in the fair range for years to come. More shipments than acquirable any other way. Furthermore, this way, we’ll gladly grant your country the best pieces for those prices.”

“A valid argument.” The first man that addressed him answered. “Consider this deal done. We will sign this contract.”

Once outside, contract in hand, he leaned against the wall and let out a relieved sigh. He didn’t disappoint his family. As scary as it was, the whole thing went smoother than he expected. He smiled, sucking in a breath of fresh air. Now all that he had to do is get this contact home, undamaged. Another journey in itself. Another quest to conquer. Another challenge to face, but one that was much more familiar. This time, he knew what he was up against, and this time, he was ready.

This story was inspired by a writing prompt from the “Microcosm” publication.

Write a story inspired by one of the following music genres:

  • YouTube Mixes vs. Microgenres (i.e. Synth Waves)

Limitation: 1000 Words

“Workout Mix 1”:

C. Chou
C. Chou

A writer that loves cabbages and bamboo, but also enjoys writing and sharing fiction (particularly the fantasy genre). Find me on Medium at: