Working for a Living
When Musette made it to the gate into Arkeport, she was required to show her journal for ID again. She’d seen people going in and out freely during the day, but the guards were much more alert at night.
Musette briefly considered telling the guards about the Orc encampment within 2 hours of the city. However, she wasn’t sure what would happen if she did. If nothing else, as long as she kept it a secret, she could use them to level up her fighting skills when she was a bit stronger. She was streaming right now, which meant she’d at least have a recording of her path back to there. Anyone who was watching the stream would also know about it, but she had already accepted that there probably wasn’t anyone still watching the stream this late.
Once back in town, Musette expanded her Map with a bit of concentration, and looked at it. Several important places were marked on the map, including the two information offices, the guard’s hall, two different schools, the governor-general’s mansion and several vault locations. Most importantly, there were several shops listed, as well as the central marketplace. The marketplace would be closed at night, but hopefully she could find some all night shops where she could get the Priest’s Falchion identified.
She also noticed that Arkeport had buildings for each of the guilds located within the city: Merchant, Craftsman, Artisan, Adventurer, Defender, Explorer, Healer, Scholar, Wizard and Sorcerer. In Chronicles, guilds were worldwide organizations that both players and NPCs could join. Each had their own functions and setup, but entrance wasn’t as simple as joining an appropriate class. They usually required an invitation and the passing of some sort of test. More importantly, membership in one guild usually precluded membership in any other, as they were usually at odds with each other.
Players could not start a guild, but they could create what was called a Clan. Clans had the function that was taken by guilds in other games, and were organizations of players cooperating together long term. There were many benefits to forming and being part of a Clan, but obviously none had been officially registered yet as it was still day one.
Musette began to explore the city, trying to find an open shop. Most of them were closed and locked up tight, with hours of operation. There were inns, taverns and even restaurants that were still open, but no places to buy, sell or repair equipment. At least, not in the southeastern part of town.
After wandering around for almost an hour, Musette had made it back to the guard’s hall, which was still open. It was still ridiculously crowded. People were still logging into the game, and this was one of the main locations they would head once they finished the tutorial.
Sighing Musette decided to head to the information office. However, on the way there, she spotted movement down an alley. Curious, Musette made her way carefully into the alley. What she saw was three people dressed in dark clothes with their faces covered and attempting to break into one of the nearby buildings.
She had tried approaching quietly, but they noticed her almost as soon as she saw them. They were all over threat 10, but instead of attacking her, as soon as they saw her they ran off, disappearing into the darkness quickly.
Musette breathed a sigh of relief and hastily exited the alley. If they’d attacked her, they’d have overpowered her easily. To be at that threat level, they had to be NPC thieves. Musette marked the location she’d run into them on her map. There might be a quest involving them later, so it’d be good to remember.
She quickly made it to the information office, and headed inside. It was warmly lit by torches along the walls and at the counter. Charee wasn’t there this time, and in fact all the receptionists had been replaced by men behind the counter.
The nearest receptionist had a long nose and bold chin that marked him as a centaur, even though he was only visible from the waist up. There was no one in front of him, so Musette approached and introduced herself.
“Hello, I’m Musette. I was wondering if you know of any shops that would be open this late at night?”
“Of course, miss. Most shops in the eastern district close at sundown. You’ll want to head to the western district, it tends to be more active at night. I can recommend some shops if you tell me what you need. Ah, my name is Paetter,” he replied in a rough voice.
“P...Payter? Um, okay. Would the Galariel Smithy be open this late?”
“Hmmm, while I believe the smithy is open this late, I do not believe it is open to customers at this time. If you’re looking to repair your equipment, might I recommend TimTin Repair. They only do repairs, so they are quick and have very good rates.”
“Oh, yes, that’ll be great. Um, but where would I go if I wanted to have an item identified,” Musette asked.
“If you have the item with you I might be able to assist with an identification,” Paetter said confidently.
Musette blinked. It hadn’t even occurred to her that the information office would be able to provide identification, but now that she thought about it, it made sense. She took the falchion out of her bag and placed it on the counter.
Paetter picked up the weapon, holding it flat in both hands. “It will cost 10T to identify this item for you,” he told her.
Musette winced, that was half the money she had, but she needed to know what the weapon was worth, so she paid it. Paetter didn’t take the money, and just looked over the weapon, from hilt to blade, then placed it back on the counter and took her money.
“That is a Crude Priest’s Pointer, I’d say it’s worth 1 Copper and 80 Tin at the minimum. You might be able to get 2C for it from a low ranked spellcaster,” Paetter told her.
Musette picked the sword up, and found she could now see its stats in full.
Crude Priest’s Pointer
Sword (Falchion) : H
Integrity 75% / Durability 80%
A falchion made of crudely hammered iron, but with a blade edge finely sharpened. The hilt is just bare metal wrapped with cloth. Its keen edge and simple shape allow it to be used to focus magic, albeit weakly, however it appears to have received a slight blessing.
Musette gaped at the stats. The attack alone made her sabre look like a child’s toy, and it even had a stat boost on it. Equipping it raised her attack to 3-4, but perhaps more interesting was that it increased her MP recovery to 51/min. Her SP also increased to 350, which would give her more uses of Sidestep, as well as allowing her to survive more spiritual attacks.
The problem was that the weapon was heavy and awkward. Not so heavy she needed two hands to use it, but heavy enough that she couldn’t swing it as fast as she’d gotten used to with her sabre. Musette gave it some thought, but she decided the best thing to do would be to sell this weapon and try to find a better quality sabre.
Sliding the crude priest’s pointer back into her bag, Musette turned back to Paetter. “Thanks, but do you know of any quests I can take in the city, or anywhere I could get some quests.”
“Well, that depends on what it is you’re looking to do,” Paetter shrugged. “Most major requests from the city are spread around to all the inns and taverns in the area. Anyone who qualifies for them can pick them up, and the rewards are paid by the city, so they’re quite trustworthy. Most individual shops will offer requests for things they require if you ask them directly, and the shop will pay you for any work you do. Of course, you can accept a request from any citizen of the city, but you do that at your own risk. Not everyone in Arkeport is trustworthy.”
“Ooooh, okay. ...do you have any requests Payter?”
Paetter blinked his large, round eyes at that, then shook his head. “Nothing I can think of. Oh, but my brother Frietter works at the docks. He might need help. There’s always work to be done at the docks, river traffic never stops.”
“Right, Freeter at the docks. Okay, I’ll check for him. Thanks Payter,” Musette said, waving at him as she left the office.
Musette crossed the bridge over the River Eryth and entered the western district of the town. She’d decided that she would visit the shops open late and do quests for them. She’d already seen how small things could change her reputation, and a good reputation seemed to have an affect on how NPCs treated her. Having a good reputation among the shopkeepers and crafters might help her get some discounts.
She decided she’d head to Galariel Smithy in the morning, which according to the Valia clock would be in about 8 hours, giving her plenty of time to do quests.
The first place she found to do quests was called Merton’s. It was a shop that dealt in materials rather than finished products. It had a shop in front, where people could buy materials needed for crafting, but that was only a small part of the business. Merton’s dealt with large orders, and was close to the docks to receive or send out shipments across the continent. In the front they had standard orders for materials that could be gathered locally. Not for anything common or easy to gather, like shillat fur or even horns from the big horned goats. Instead there were requests for fur and claws from cougars, lynxes and even mountain lions. Those were probably the predator’s she’d spotted taking down the deer. There were also requests for kingspear fangs and venom sacs, which Musette made a note of. They were something she could kill by herself, and while they’d be worth less money here than she’d gotten when selling them in Makit, there should be a bonus reward for completing a quest.
Musette was not about to go out hunting alone at night, however. Not with her current equipment anyway, so she spoke to one of the shopkeepers, and they directed her to the warehouse in the back. There she was given an option between two quests.
“Well, we do need someone to help haul deliveries back from the port. It’s hard work, but it pays decent,” the warehouse manager told her. “The only other thing we need help with is organizing the 3rd warehouse. That’s where we keep the stuff that isn’t used often. It’s all specialized use stuff that doesn’t sell much at all, so it all just gets thrown in there.”
“So it’s basically cleaning up?” Musette asked skeptically.
“It’s organization, organization,” he insisted. “You won’t need to move everything yourself, a few of the...lighter lads will help you out, we just need someone competent to sort it all out and create an organizational system for it so we can start using the warehouse again. It doesn’t pay that much, but you’ll get to keep some of the more, er, esoteric, materials.”
It was obvious when he said ‘esoteric’ he meant ‘useless’, but it still seemed preferable to carting stuff from the docks to the warehouse. “Okay, I’ll organize the warehouse for you,” Musette agreed.
The warehouse manager called several people over, all young men. There were two humans, an elf, a goblin and a cüeluri who Musette followed to the 3rd Warehouse. It was a large brick building not far from the river, located between Merton’s and the docks. Despite its size,it was still smaller than the other warehouses nearby at only about 8,000 sq ft.
The workers opened the door for her, and Musette stepped inside. It was dimly lit by covered oil lanterns, and full of boxes and bags, some on shelves, others stacked on the floor. The air smelled odd, somewhat spicy, and that mixed with the dust sent Musette into a fit of coughing.
The NPCs didn’t react to her coughing, but it soon settled down. She went into the warehouse to take a look around, but soon sighed in dismay, which nearly caused another coughing fit. There was an office which took up a small corner of the warehouse, but the rest was just storage space. In addition to being extremely large, it was about half full, and almost nothing was labeled. A lot of the boxes were sealed, and looked heavy.
Musette went back to the entrance where her five helpers were waiting. “Okay,” she said, “tell me about yourselves and what you can do.”
The first one to speak up was a blond human who looked even younger than her, his dark eyes lowering as he smiled at her shyly. “My name is Jean. I’m telekinetic, but I can’t lift very much at a time. I’m supposed to work to increase my strength so I can be more helpful with the large dock shipments.”
The goblin, who had red hair and freckles, answered next. “My name’s Krisp. I’m quick and flexible, and an excellent climber. I can’t lift much, but I can get pretty much anywhere.”
“I’m Flinde,” said the elf next. He wore his long white hair in a ponytail to his waist. Despite the color, he didn’t seem much older than Musette. “I’m a scribe, and I’ve studied some chemistry. I know a lot about many different chemicals and their uses.”
The cüeluri was covered in soft brown fur, with huge brown eyes, but his wings had colorful purple and green swirl patterns, with hints of blue and red mixed in. He seemed to be in the same age range as the other helpers, though it was harder to tell his exact features through all the hair. “I don’t know much about materials or anything, and I’m not super strong, but I am a Morpher. I can turn into just about any simple tool you could need,” he assured her.
The other human seemed the oldest of the group, being even older than her. He was black, with dark hair but light colored grey eyes that seemed serious. “My name is Ixis, and I don’t have any specialties,” he said. “I’ll do whatever you need me to do.”
Musette turned to the cüeluri and asked him, “Okay, what’s your name?”
“Oh, everyone just calls me Wrench,” he replied.
“O...kay. Um…, then Krisp, I want you to go in first and check the stability of the stacks of boxes, as well as the shelves. Can you mark anything that seems unstable?”
“Sure,” Krisp said, taking out a piece of chalk. Musette didn’t quite catch where he’d pulled it from, but as long as he was able to do the job, it didn’t matter. Krisp didn’t hesitate and headed into the warehouse, disappearing into the stacks.
“Flinde, since you’re the most knowledgeable, can you go through and catalogue everything already in there and where it’s currently located?”
“I can do that,” Flinde nodded, “for all the stuff on the ground or on a low enough shelf. I won’t be able to get to the high stuff by myself.”
“That’s good enough for now. We can take care of those later.”
Flinde nodded, and from somewhere took out a wooden board with a piece of paper tacked onto it, then headed into the warehouse.
“Jean, I want you to go in and look for Krisp’s marks on any of the stacks. I need you to restack it so that it’s stable, but leave it in the same order so you won’t mess up Flinde’s work.”
“I think I can do that,” Jean said uncertainly, but he went into the warehouse, looking around to find the marks for the unstable stacks.
“Then Ixis, can you and Wrench go through and clean around the stuff in the warehouse. Wrench, you can become a broom, can’t you?”
“Of course I can,” Wrench said, his body briefly glowed with magic, and then a simple push broom was standing there.
“Right...um, can you still hear me?”
There was no reaction from the broom, but Ixis grabbed it and replied, “Yeah, he can hear you, but he’s a broom, so he can’t exactly answer. I’ll take care of the cleaning.”
“Wait, can you also light the rest of the lamps, and repair any shelves that are damaged or unstable?”
“Sure thing, miss,” he said, nodding his head to her. He walked into the warehouse, carrying the broom Wrench and beginning to sweep the floor.
After that, Musette had nothing to do but wait. Krisp was the first to return after about 10 minutes, and he was covered head to toe in dust. He patted himself down, taking a minute or so to get himself clean.
“That was fun,” Krisp said, after he’d brushed most of the dust and cobwebs away. “Like playing in the attic. What now boss?”
“Not much we can do until the others get back. Thanks Krisp.”
“No problem,” he nodded.
Jean was the next to return, having stabilized the stack of boxes and miscellaneous piles. Nothing had been too heavy for him to lift telekinetically, so it hadn’t taken him long. He also asked what she wanted him to do next, but there really was nothing to do.
It was another 15 minutes before Flinde returned, also covered in dust, though not as bad as Krisp had been. He brushed himself off and handed the board with the paper on it over to Musette.
There were actually several sheets of paper, and rather than just a list of materials like Musette had expected, there was a small map of the entire warehouse with each item marked with its contents. They weren’t specific, just general categories like ‘spices’, ‘soft metals’ or ‘cheap fabrics’.
“I apologize that I couldn’t be more detailed, and that I couldn’t record the stuff that was higher up. I’ll try to do better.”
Musette gaped, then hurriedly reassured him, “No, no, this is great Flinde. You did a good job.”
She studied Flinde’s diagram again. She had an idea of how to arrange things, but the stuff that was higher up was going to be a problem. Flinde was the only one who could identify the contents, but Krisp was the only one who could climb up that high without bringing everything crashing down on him.
“We’re done, miss,” Ixis said, returning just then. He was holding Wrench, who was actually in the shape of a wrench at the moment. He set the wrench down, and it glowed with magic briefly, before once again becoming a cüeluri.
Musette looked into the warehouse, and her eyes widened. Not only was it a lot brighter with all the lamps lit, but it was spotless. Krisp and Flinde had been covered in dust when they came out of the warehouse, but Ixis and Wrench didn’t have a speck of dust on them. Somehow, they’d cleaned the entire warehouse of any and all dust in under 30 minutes.
Well, no matter how realistic Chronicles was, it was still a game. Still, it seemed the five of them could do pretty much anything she told them to do.
Wait, could they do anything she told them to do? As long as it was within their stated capabilities, it should be possible. Turning around, Musette asked, “Jean, with your telekinesis, would you be able to lift Flinde up?”
Jean eyed Flinde, then shrugged, “Sure, he don’t seem that heavy.”
Flinde raised his eyebrow at this assessment, but made no comment. “So if Jean lifted you, would you be able to see what’s in the containers higher up Flinde?” Musette asked.
“Yes, I’ll do my best,” he answered.
Flinde held out his hand, and after a moment Musette realized he wanted the board back. She quickly looked over it, then handed it to him. Then the two went back into the warehouse. She could faintly hear their voices as they began to map the upper part of the warehouse.
“Hey, not so fast!”
Musette gathered the other three and headed to another part of the warehouse. According to Flinde’s diagram, this area was mostly bags of spices. Musette wasn’t sure why spices would be considered useless, but it didn’t matter. The other thing in this area were a number of empty boxes.
Musette had them take anything that wasn’t full of spices out of the warehouse temporarily, then had them put the spices in the empty boxes and organize the boxes against the wall in small stacks. Wrench turned out to be a big help with this, as he could tell which spices were the same, or at least similar, by smell.
They continued to organize the areas of the warehouse that Musette remembered from the diagram, until Jean and Flinde returned with the updated map. After that, the organization went even faster. Jean was able to move most stuff easily with his telekinesis. Krisp moved around rapidly, guiding Jean to where to put the items. Things that were too heavy for Jean to move telekinetically Ixis and Wrench were able to lift together.
Flinde was indispensible in helping them put identical items together and get everything organized. Wrench could morph into a crowbar to open the sealed boxes, and then into a hammer to reseal them. And Ixis really could do just about anything Musette told him to. He had no special skills, but was the quickest and most efficient of her workers.
Musette didn’t really have to do anything herself but tell them what to move, when to move it, and where to put it. A quest that had seemed daunting at first had turned out to actually be rather easy. This was a puzzle quest, one that was meant to be solved. The other quest she was offered was probably a fetch quest, and Musette was kind of glad she’d avoided it.
Fetch quests were the staple of not just RPGs, but most games with any kind of story. They were easy to design and easy to complete, but also incredibly boring. Altogether, Musette had probably spent two hours organizing the warehouse, but she didn’t even notice the time passing. She didn’t have to do any of the work herself, but directing the others and figuring out creative ways to use their abilities actually absorbed her complete attention.
Eventually she looked at the diagram Flinde had drawn and realized they were done. The warehouse was completely organized, and where it’d seemed crowded before, there was actually plenty of empty space.
“I think we’re done,” Musette announced.
“Are you sure?” Flinde asked, looking around.
Musette handed his board with the diagram back to him and nodded, “Yeah, we went through everything.”
“I’ll go tell the manager,” Krisp said, and ran off before Musette could respond.
“I’ll turn most of these lights off,” Ixis followed. “No point in wasting oil.”
Musette just nodded and headed back to the warehouse entrance. It didn’t seem the NPCs were paying her any more heed once she’d declared that the job was finished.
It didn’t take long for Krisp to return with the warehouse manager, who disappeared into the warehouse without saying anything. He came out smiling less than a minute later.
“Incredible,” he announced. “You not only completely organized the place, but cleaned up, too. We’ve been putting that off for months, since everyone’s always so busy. You’ve definitely earned your reward.”
The manager handed Musette two small bags as a series of messages popped up.
~Ping~ You have completed the quest ‘Another Man’s Trash’. 1000 Life Experience received.
~Ping~ Skill ‘Leadership’ learned.
SubSkill ‘Logistics’ learned.
You have received 25T.
You have received 15 ‘Strands of Witch Hair’
Your Reputation with Merton’s has improved.
Musette smiled. The reward for this quest was pretty good. While it apparently didn’t pay as well as hauling freight, she’d gained a lot of life experience, as well as 2 new skills, as well as improving her reputation.
Musette said goodbye to her helpers and the warehouse manager, then checked the item she’d received from completing the quest.
Strand of Witch Hair
??? : F
Long, thin strands that feel disturbingly like hair. They possess some unidentifiable energy that might be magical. You can’t imagine what purpose they could possibly serve.
It seemed to be a trash item, like she’d expected, but it was rank F, which was fairly high, especially this early in the game. Most likely it wouldn’t be useful until much later. Shrugging, she decided to toss it in her vault until she could figure out what it was for.
As Musette was looking for another shop that was open, she came across two people arguing behind a general store.
“I’m telling you, it was full of bugs! How am I supposed to sell that to customers!”
“There were no bugs in it when I sold it to you! You must have an infestation in your storeroom!”
“Don’t be ridiculous! If there were bugs in my storeroom, there’d be bugs in all the food!”
“Well I checked it before I put it in the cart, and no one else complained about it!”
The two men continued shouting at each other, while Musette stood there. It seemed that the shopkeeper, a heavyset human with bright blue eyes, regularly purchased bread from the baker, a muscular centaur with a relatively short blond mane. It was the same kind of bread Musette carried in her pouch, made to last a long time for use by travellers.
Unfortunately, the last two shipments received had been infested with something called sprits, which apparently were some kind of burrowing insect. Of course, the shopkeeper blamed the baker, but the baker refuted that there was anything wrong with his bread.
Musette wanted to jump in and try to calm them down, but their obvious outrage and energetic argument made them seem too realistic. So she stood there, feeling awkward, until they came to blows.
It started with the shopkeeper pushing the baker, which accomplished very little since the baker was a centaur. So the baker pushed back, knocking the shopkeeper into the dirt. Furious, the shopkeeper kicked at the baker’s knee, which cause the baker to yell out in pain and nearly fall forward.
“Wait, wait,” Musette yelled, worried the two were going to kill each other. She wasn’t sure what would happen if they continued fighting, but the shopkeeper was threat 11, far outclassing the threat 2 baker. “Stop fighting, you’re going to hurt yourselves.”
They both glared at Musette, but the shopkeeper picked himself up off the ground, dusting off his pants. The baker was still favoring his left front leg.
“What do you want,” the shopkeeper asked aggressively.
N...nothing in particular. I just, um, couldn’t help overhearing your argument...uh….”
“Then you know he’s been selling me tainted bread! We should call the guards and have him arrested.”
“I told you,” sneered the baker, “my bread is perfect, it must be your shop that’s tainted.”
“But, if the bread’s the only thing with bugs in it,” interrupted Musette, “it’s hard to believe the shop is infested. Did you check the shop for, um, sprits?”
“Of course I did!” yelled the shopkeeper. “When customers started complaining, that was the first thing I checked! I even hired a priest to do a blessing. My place is clean, so it’s got to be a problem with his bread!”
“And I’m telling you, no one else has had a single complaint, you’re the only one!”
“Well, maybe the insects got into the bread on the way here,” Musette said.
There was utter silence, as the two men just looked at her. Their faces were expressionless, which made Musette nervous. “Ju...just, well, I mean, if you were using the s...same route, then, then you could be going through a nest. Or something.”
The two men looked at each other, then back at her, then at each other again. “I...suppose that’s possible,” admitted the baker. “You are the last delivery on my route.”
“I could see that happening,” the shopkeeper agreed. “It’s impossible to keep insects out of the entire town.”
The baker shuffled his feet, still favoring his left foreleg. He turned to Musette, saying, “Miss, thank you for that suggestion. I wonder, could you perhaps trace my route back to my last delivery and see if you can find this sprit nest?”
“Yes, that’s...ah, wait…,” the shopkeeper ran into the shop, returning a few minutes later with two small brown balls that looked fragile, and gave off a slightly unpleasant smell. “Here, take these. If you find the nest, drop them in, and that should take care of the problem.”
Musette nodded, taking the two balls, which turned out to be sprit poison. “Sure, I can check it out,” she said.
~Ping~ Baker’s Delivery Route added to map.
Musette glanced at her minimap, seeing a bright red line that led northeast, away from the shop. Seeing the two men had nothing else to say, Musette immediately headed out, following the red line.
It actually didn’t take her long to find the sprit nest, as she literally almost bumped into it. She’d been examining the ground, expecting it to be there, but it was attached to the side of a building, at about waist level. Seeing it, Musette yelped, and brushed her clothes, scared she’d gotten some of the things on her. The nest was crawling with the things, in a realistically disgusting fashion.
It was in a tight lane between two buildings. A cart coming through here would almost certainly brush up against it, and it was at a height where several of the things could just fall in if the cart was open.
Musette delicately dropped the poison into the nest, careful not to touch it. The sprits probably couldn’t hurt her, but she noticed that the nest, as a whole, was threat level 5, so figured it was better to play it safe.
Once she was done, she went back to the shop, where the two men were standing waiting for her. They seemed to be talking, but she couldn’t make out what they were saying, and they stopped when she got close.
Musette explained to them that she’d found the nest, and told them where it was. With that, the quest ‘Tainted Delivery’ was completed. Musette received 100 Life Experience, 5 pieces of goat jerky, and a coupon for a discount on a cake at the bakery. The bakery was also added to her map.
It wasn’t a big reward, but then, it had been a simple quest. The goat jerky was nice, since it was a food item that healed 100 BP and 20 Energy over 120 seconds, and only restored 17% Satiety.
The next quest Musette found, ended up being the one that took her the longest. It was a delivery quest that took her across the city. She’d deliver an item to one place, only to be given another to deliver somewhere else. This continued on in a chain for hours, ending in a delivery of an expensive bottle of wine to the governor-general’s mansion. At each step, Musette received some xp and a small amount of money, but the reward at the end was another 1000 xp and a boost to her reputation.
It was nearing sunrise, and the scenery had already begun to get brighter. Musette checked her map once again, then headed for the Galariel Smithy. She had 93T and the Crude Priest’s Pointer to sell. It was time for her to get some decent equipment.