Despite me experiencing one hell of a panic attack today, which was followed by almost fainting from my heart acting up again from it, I made the next drawing for my "Summer Drawing Rampage 2013". And this time I returned to my original artistic roots, the initial idea of why am I called "GraphiteSTALKER" - S.T.A.L.K.E.R. fanart, of course!
It is a new idea for sort of a faction: Merchants. ...It was a gloomy day at Cordon. The Loner rookie Petya and his somewhat more seasoned comrade, Vitya were both on guard by the old factory which they had just cleared from bandits. It was calm. And quiet. Suddenly, Vitya lifted up his HK MP5 and pointed it at a silhouette in the distance:
"Stand where you are! Identify yourself!"
But the rookie lightly lowered Vitya's weapon with his hand:
"Easy does it, Vitya - I know the person, he's just a Merchant!"
"How can you be so sure it is not a bandit?"
"Because most merchants have their Przevalsky horses with them! They help Merchants to carry all those goods they sell!"
"And...Why is he visiting us, then?"
"I ordered a warm Ushanka from The Big Land - the winter is coming, and I sure as Hell won't be spending it while freezing my ears off!"
Vitya wanted to say something, but the Merchant was already by the campfire. His horse was silently munching a pseudodog's tail, but Petya was too excited to notice it:
"Well, is my order here?"
"Indeed it is - one traditional Ushanka, 100% real rabbit fur. 500 roubles and it's all yours."
The rookie pulled the money out of his pocket, payed the amount and with a gleeful smile examined his new hat:
"Just look at this, Vitya - it is so warm and soft, just like a living rabbit!"
But Vitya was more interested about other goods of the trader:
"Say, erm...you - what else are you selling today?"
The Merchant frowned behind his respirator mask:
"There is a high-class satphone I was supposed to sell to one of the bandit leaders here, but the poor bastard seemed to have stepped into Vortex anomaly. Now my troubles looking for it are in vain, it seems."
The experienced loner sighed:
"M-yeah...Wait, can't you sell it to me?"
"Sure - the price is 2500 roubles. Pay up, and it's yours."
Vitya slapped his pockets - empty. Damn my luck, thought Vitya. Then suddenly, he opened his artifact container:
"Do you accept artifacts?"
"No, not usually, but what have you got?"
"A Flash and Crystal Thorn."
The Merchant thought for a while, then said:
"So be it - fork over the Flash, and here's your satphone, along with the charging equipment. It was nice doing business with you two - if you ever need something, you'll know who to call. Okay, Cauliflower - let's go, girl, we still have more clients today!"
These S.T.A.L.K.E.R.s are possibly the second most mysterious faction in the Zone after Mercenaries. Some say that Merchants are Zone agents of Traders, although no certain proof of Merchants being somehow linked with Traders exists. Merchants usually travel alone, or with their Przevalsky horses, which help with carrying the amount of goods. The only real enemy for Merchants is the Monolith, as the Military, the bandits and even the Mercenaries use the services of Merchants to get their hands on top quality equipment. However there is a considerable threat of mugging for Merchants, that's why Merchants are armed - with some of the top-shelf weaponry they themselves sell. Merchants accept the payment in money, less frequently in artifacts, as they don't see artifacts as a stable and trusty currency.
There is a rumor that one loner S.T.A.L.K.E.R. named Nimble might have had something to do with this faction, although he himself denies it.