Rock took a moment to look over Thomas. In his cheap linen clothes he didn't exactly strike an imposing figure or give any sign he knew anything about blacksmithing so Rock asked, "You ever worked in a smithy before?"

Thomas took a moment himself to think before deciding to deflect the question, "I know my way around a smithy. Just tell me what to do and I'll show you what I can do."

Not missing the deflection Rock snorted and pointed to a large wooden handle attached to a bellows that would pump air directly into one of the larger forges in the room, "Let's see what you've got newbie. Pump that bellows for the next six hours. If you can do that maybe I'll teach you a bit about blacksmithing tomorrow."

System Notice: New Quest
Rock Brickson wants you to smoothly and efficiently pump his bellows for the next six hours.
Rewards: 200 Exp, 20 gold
Failure: Rock Brickson will refuse to teach you blacksmithing.
Time Limit: 6 hours
Bonus: ???

Thomas grimaced, what was with these NPC's? It's like none of them actually wanted to teach him anything. Were all of them like Hekrin and Rock? Or did he just happen to stumble on the one group of NPC trainers that hated teaching? Without much choice, and with two quests riding on his actions now, Thomas manned up and walked over to the bellows. He gripped the handle tightly and began to methodically pull the bellows up and down pumping fresh air into the coals inside of the furnace and increasing the temperature of the forge.

Rock watched Thomas and nodded to himself, at least the scrawny and pathetic looking kid knew how to work a bellows. Rock ignored Thomas after that and went to work heating metal in a crucible until it melted then pouring it into a mold before setting it off to the side to cool down enough to work with.

Thomas watched Rock and a couple of other blacksmiths at the four forges in the room working for a while. They were doing pretty basic stuff for mass producing weapons. Once the molten metal in the casts cooled down enough to work with they would hammer the edges into a rough shape and then use the twelve grinding wheels to hone the edge before finally attaching a simple guard and grip. It was simple, but efficient, work that Thomas found boring as all hell.

After pumping the bellows for almost forty minutes the muscles in Thomas's legs, arms and back were starting to burn. Thomas maintained a steady breathing rhythm and tried to let his mind wander to keep it off of the growing pain in his body. His attributes were still based on his real-world self and in the real world he had never worked a bellows before in his life. The real world had blowers power by electricity to do this kind of work for blacksmiths for the last few hundred years!

Eventually, Thomas closed his eyes and tried his best to blank out his mind and just let his body work on autopilot. He tried to think of nothing, to feel nothing, to just let his body move in the same practiced way over and over to keep the air flowing into the forge. His body had long been soaked in sweat, his tan colored clothing turning darker as it grew wetter. Eventually, he managed to completely tune out his body from his mind and work in a steady manner.

System Notice: Serenity skill unlocked.

With the notice popping up in his mind Thomas stumbled in his work and earned a scolding from Rock to pay attention to what he's doing. Ignoring Rock he returned to pumping the bellows while opening his character sheet and focusing on his new skill to see what it did.

Serenity // Rank 1 // 0/20 Exp // Enter a serene state of mind to recover health, stamina, and mana a little bit faster.

Smiling to himself Thomas once more closed his eyes and let his mind unfocus while his body worked the bellows. He found that entering the state of 'Serenity' was much easier for him this time. Despite not having feeling in the rest of his body he could feel a small, slightly warm, sensation at his heart as energy trickled into his body and helped him keep his stamina from falling too quickly. Despite the boost from 'Serenity', he could feel himself continuing to slowly grow more and more tired.

After a solid two hours of moving his body up and down to pump the bellows Rock finally called a break for lunch. Hearing that, Thomas let go of the handle to the bellows and collapsed on the ground. Without being in the state of 'Serenity' his entire body felt like it was on fire while his muscles had small spasms.

Rock glanced over at Thomas and smirked, "C'mon newbie. You'll feel better after we get some lunch into you."

Thomas nodded and after taking a few deep breaths he forced himself to his feet while grunting in pain, every part of his body burned as he moved. Carefully he stumbled over to the group of large muscular men. Compared to their tall well-muscled bodies Thomas almost looked like a kid! They all gathered around a small table covered with plates of simple food and cups of water. After sitting down Thomas realized he was dehydrated and thirsting, so the first thing he did was grab a cup of water and down the contents in an instant.

Rock and the other blacksmiths let out hearty laughs as they watched Thomas chugging down water. After downing a few large cups of water Thomas felt like his stomach was bloated so he finally stopped drinking and instead focused on getting some food into himself. He'd played games where eating and drinking were necessary before but he couldn't recall ever feeling this ravenous in any of them.

The food was pretty basic. Some slightly hard bread with a hearty meat and vegetable soup. He wasn't entirely sure what any of the ingredients were, but the meat reminded him of pork and the vegetables reminded him of tomatoes, carrots, and potatoes. All in all, it was a pretty good, if simple, meal. Especially after dipping the somewhat hard bread into the soup's broth.

It was difficult, but Thomas managed to get himself to stop eating once he felt his hunger abate. The worst thing he could have done would be to overeat. If he had there would have been a good chance he would get sick and vomit inside of the smithy while working the bellows. Seeing that Thomas had stopped eating Rock gave a somewhat subtle nod, it was a good sign that the kid didn't stuff himself to the brim.

While waiting for some of the bigger men to finish eating their lunch Thomas took a moment to open his character sheet and check his progress on Serenity.

Name: Thomas Dakrose
Experience Gained: 0 Experience Spent: 0 Experience Remaining: 0
Power: 3 (+) 40XP
Endurance: 3 (+) 40XP
Agility: 7 (+) 80XP
Magic: 1 (+) 20XP
Innate Abilities:
  • Transmutation ( A ) // Rank 1 // 0/20 Exp
  • Quick Learner ( C ) // Rank 1 // 0/20 Exp
  • All Seeing Eyes ( S ) // Rank 1 // 2/20 Exp
  • Serenity // Rank 2 // 14/30 Exp
  • None

Thomas smiled at the progress 'Serenity' had made. If he was right then the more he used any of his Innate Abilities, Skills, or Abilities, the more experience they would gain and the higher they would grow in rank. Logically that should mean that they would grow stronger as their rank increased. Since he had been actively using 'Serenity' he hadn't been able to keep track of how much experience he was earning when using it, but since he'd had it for a little over an hour and gained 34 experience in it, maybe it was something like 1 exp every 2 minutes? If that was the case he would only need to use it for another half an hour to get it up to rank 3.

While Thomas was pondering Rock slammed his hands together in a thunderous clap, "Alright, back to work you lazy dogs!"

Though the words sounded harsh, they were said in a playful tone. Some of the other blacksmiths even laughed before heading back to their forges. Thomas did as everyone else had done and returned to his assignment at working Rock's bellows. Even with the use of 'Serenity' the next four hours were a living hell for him.

Thomas did his best while keeping his mind in the state of 'Serenity', but despite all of that, as the time ticked by he could feel more and more pain radiating out of all of his major muscle groups. It was especially painful for his arms, legs, abdomen, and back. After what felt like an eternity of torture Rock finally clapped his large hand onto Thomas's shoulder and said, "Alright kid, you're done for the day."

With those simple words, Thomas was forced out of 'Serenity' and felt a wave of pain rush over his entire body. All of his muscles began to spasm at the same time as he collapsed to the floor as a useless heap of shaking meat. Rock looked down at Thomas with a warm, though somewhat rueful, look, "Not bad kid. You did what I asked without complaint and even did a pretty good job at it."

System Notice: Your reputation with Rock has improved.

Spasming on the floor and wracked with pain Thomas couldn't even celebrate at getting more reputation with Rock. It took nearly twenty minutes before the spasms calmed down, but the pain hadn't faded very much at all. The entire time Rock had just straight up ignored Thomas while he was on the floor in agony.

After a few more minutes to catch his breath Thomas finally managed to pull himself to his feet and face Rock, "So, I can come back and learn blacksmithing from you tomorrow right?"

Rock laughs and nods, "Yeah kid, you did a good job today. Maybe there's hope for you to be a blacksmith after all."

Rock went over to a small lock box and dug out some gold coins to hand over to Thomas, "Your pay for today. Depending on how well you do tomorrow you might be able to earn more. Tell Belle, the woman you met when you got here, that I want her to take you to The Swans Nest. Tell her that tonight is on me."

System Notice: Quest Complete
Rock Brickson wants you to smoothly and efficiently pump his bellows for the next six hours.
Rewards: 200 Exp, 20 gold
Failure: Rock Brickson will refuse to teach you blacksmithing.
Time Limit: 6 hours
Bonus: One night of free lodging at The Swans Nest.
System Notice: You have gained 200 Exp.
System Notice: You have gained 20 gold.

Thomas accepted the gold coins and stuffed them into the small purse he had been given earlier in the day. Thinking back to the kids he'd had to bribe, the five gold he had paid them equated to about an hour and a half of work in the smithy. So maybe they hadn't really ripped him off? He still wasn't sure. After finishing the quest from Hekrin and learning Magitech Engineering he would have to take the time to look in the various stores and learn how products were priced to better understand wealth in AoG.

With all of that done Thomas slowly and carefully made his way to the storefront where Belle was. After explaining what Rock had said, Belle led Thomas out of the store and down the street to a rather nice looking inn. It was three stories tall and made of a combination of wood and stone. It looked rather nice and somewhat upscale.

After entering the inn Belle went to the bar, spoke with the large older woman behind it, paid her an amount that Thomas couldn't see and left right after. Belle had barely spoken to Thomas the entire time they were together, not that he minded. He was too focused on getting his worn out and pain riddled body to work.

The proprietress walked over to Thomas and gave him a warm motherly smile, "Belle told me that Rock has got you working yourself to the bone." She looked over Thomas's hunched form and continued, "Well, after a good hearty meal and a good nights rest you should be fit as a fiddle. Rock has already paid for your nights stay as well as dinner and breakfast. So, find yourself a seat and I'll bring you some food. Oh! I almost forgot, I'm Martha the owner of The Swans Nest."

Thomas gave Martha the best smile he could manage in his crippled state, "Nice to meet you Martha, I'm Thomas."

Martha nodded and followed Thomas as he shuffled over to a table and collapsed into the sturdy wooden chair. Martha left Thomas for a few minutes to fetch some food and drink from the kitchen. When she returned and set it down she gave Thomas another warm smile, "I hope the food suits your tastes. You're the first otherworlder to stay at my place so I'm not sure how you'll like the food."

Thomas looked over the food and smiled. It looked like a grilled steak, mashed potatoes and green beans with a mug that smelled like mead. Nodding his head Thomas gave Martha a smile in return, "Well, it smells great so I'm sure it will taste great!"

Martha watched, somewhat nervously, as Thomas picked up his fork and knife and carved off a chunk of the meat that looked like steak. He popped it into his mouth and chewed the tender meat. It somewhat reminded him of beef, but far juicer and with a slightly gamey taste to it. It had been spiced with something he couldn't identify by taste alone. After swallowing it he complimented Martha, "Delicious!"

Martha claps her hands together and beams a smile at Thomas, "I'm so glad! I wasn't sure if you would like the minotaur steak or not."

Minotaur?! Those giant cow-men with rippling muscles?! But... the meat was so tender and juicy, how could a wall of muscles taste so good?! Keeping his comments to himself, Thomas tried everything on the plate while Martha watched. The stuff that looked like mashed potatoes tasted like them too, only the texture was a little weird. The things that looked like green beans were almost exactly like green beans except the beans inside were somewhat hard and crunched when chewed. As for the mead, it was an excellent honey mead that Thomas greatly enjoyed.

Seeing that Thomas had no complaints about the food Martha informed him, "When you're done just wave me over and I will take you to your room."

Thomas nodded in reply and focused on his meal. It was slightly strange, but it all tasted great. It didn't take him long to finish it, so he flagged down Martha and she lead him to a room on the second floor and passed him the room key, "Enjoy your rest, Thomas."

The room was simple with a bed and a cupboard for clothes. Thomas tossed his sack of clothing to the floor and collapsed on the bed. He didn't know what the mattress was filled with but right now it felt like heaven to his aching body. Rolling onto his back Thomas opened his character sheet once again. Looking at the information and his freshly earned 200 exp Thomas started spending it to increase his attributes. He spent 90 experience on Power and Endurance to raise both attributes to 5, and the last 20 experience to increase Magic to 2. Satisfied he checked out his rank for 'Serenity'.

Name: Thomas Dakrose
Experience Gained: 200 Experience Spent: 200 Experience Remaining: 0
Power: 5 (+) 60XP
Endurance: 5 (+) 60XP
Agility: 7 (+) 80XP
Magic: 2 (+) 30XP
Innate Abilities:
  • Transmutation ( A ) // Rank 1 // 0/20 Exp
  • Quick Learner ( C ) // Rank 1 // 0/20 Exp
  • All Seeing Eyes ( S ) // Rank 1 // 2/20 Exp
  • Serenity // Rank 5 // 16/60 Exp
  • None

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About the author


  • Georgia, USA

Bio: Just your average self-employed American with some spare time that enjoys reading, and now writing.

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