Friday, March 16, 2018

The Dark Market

Dark Market

Once upon a time, and that time is now.
Shen do Shen owns a small business in the dark market, which he keeps hidden in the back room of a legitimate business in the royal marketplace. The front business, also known as just a front, is a dry cleaning store. In the back room, Shen sells various spices as a luxury commodity to the wealthier class of citizens in the kingdom.
Today is a special occasion for which the dry cleaner's store is closed and no visitors are permitted into the back market. The king has requested a visit a few days ago to purchase spice. Aside from the fact that the king wants the store to himself because he is very busy and doesn't have time to get tangled up in long lines at a busy market, Shen knows the king will purchase a large quantity of spice. So Shen can afford to close the market for one day and still earn a day's worth of profits just from what the king will spend.
"Your majesty, to what do I owe this pleasure?" Shen asks of his visitor, knowing perfectly well the king is only interested in purchasing spice.
"I have come to collect my annual taxes Shen," announces the great goblin king.
Shen is surprised. In the past, the king has allowed years to pass without ever collecting taxes from Shen. Shen do Shen contributed the kindness to him having a reputation for selling the best quality spice in all the markets surrounding the kingdom.
"But your majesty, I just payed my taxes yesterday to your collector," complains Shen, confusing his nightmare he woke up from a few hours ago as the actual events of the day before, but they never actually occcured.
"I heard you had a busy night Shen, I'd hate to see you spend my portion of the spices this month before I had a chance to collect," explains the king.
"Of course, your majesty," states Shen in fear of the alternative, "let me grab it from the back room. I won't be but a minute."
"Of course Shen, take your time. Make sure you count it right," warns the king. Another reputation of Shen's throughout the kingdom was that his measuring scale was always a little light on each batch of spice he sold. Since different spices weigh differently, Shen has dozens of measuring devices, one for each type of spice.
"Your majesty," speaks a frail voice of his entourage, "since the dark market is now a taxable exchange and bartering system within the kingdom, thanks to your diplomacy, you have managed to turn illegal businesses into legitimate, tax payers of sorts."
The king swivels his head in astonishment to find one of his servants speaking to him. With his jaw gaping open, Shen quickly covered his mouth to avoid the drama  that was about to ensue.
"The businesses operating in the dark market were profiting anyway," the servant continues unimpeded, "so your decision helped earn revenue for the kingdom, and therefore alleviate the tax burden off of businesses in the royal marketplace."
"I'm aware of that, servant," the king answers, appreciative of the servant's bravely-displayed insight, but insightful none the less. "Shen only needs a permit and a record of his transactions in order for his dark market bar to be a legitimate business in the kingdom," the king adds. "Now keep quiet," the king orders, growing impatient for Shen's return from the back room.
"Ah, here we are, my king," Shen do Shen states as he shuts the door to the stairway behind it, leading to the lower level of his storefront. He locks the door behind him as he pulls out an envelope from the inside pocket of his jacket. "This is for you, your highness," he says as his hand offers the package to the king, his head bowed down as a form of respect. The insightful servant steps forward and takes the package from Shen's hands, who's head is no longer bowing.
"Are you still catering to customers from last night?" Asks the great king.
"A few were still here your majesty, but I kicked them out last night. Unfortunately, they stumbled back in a few hours later. I think though that they will be leaving shortly," Shen humbly explains, "the sun was out when I tried to make them leave your majesty, but you know how it is once there's spice involved. As soon as it is dark again, they will be sent away."
"Are they vampires?" asks the king in a somber tone.
"Your majesty!" Shrieks one of the servants.
"Quiet!" Roars the great king at his entourage. "Vampires yes or no?"
"Some, yes, your majesty," but peaceful from what I can tell," answers Shen.
"Make sure they leave tonight. I don't want vampires staying in my kingdom  overnight two days in a row," orders the king.
"I will make sure of it," agreed Shen. The king waves his entourage to exit the store.


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