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When Thomas awoke the next morning he felt good, really good. He stretched while letting out soft groans as his muscles flexed and moved. He was actually starting to feel strong, to feel somewhat powerful. With all of his attributes sitting at twenty, he had doubled what was considered to be the real world maximum for humans. Thomas climbed out of his bed and got dressed for the day. Today was going to be his first day learning leatherworking and he was a bit excited.

After a comforting breakfast, Thomas left The Swans Nest and got directions to Hyde's Hides from a nearby guard. Like the other places Hekrin had pointed him to, Hyde's Hides was on the same main street as Rock's Armory and Zella's Fashions so it wasn't very difficult to find at all. Stepping into the shop, Thomas was greeted by the heavy scent of processed leather goods. The store was packed with various leather products from armor, to bags, to shoes and more.

The store counter was currently being manned by a little girl that couldn't have been more than ten years old. She was adorable in the way that all little kids are. The little girl stared at Thomas with her bright green eyes and an excited smile on her face. She adjusted her platinum blonde twin braids and waved at him, "Welcome to Hyde's Hides! I'm Teena, can I help you find something today?"

Thomas couldn't help but smile in return, getting a little caught up in her enthusiastic energy, "I'm Thomas, it's nice to meet you, Teena. I'm actually here to look for Hyde. Is he available to talk to me?"

Teena nods and exclaims in a childishly sweet voice, "I'll go and get papa for you then!"

She turns and hops off of the stool she was standing on to go get Hyde, but stops and quickly climbs back onto the stool to point a finger at Thomas as she reprimands him, "You be sure not to touch anything while I'm gone! Papa told me to watch the store and customers to make sure nothing goes missing. So you just stay right there and don't touch anything while I go get papa!"

Teena glares at Thomas for a few seconds while she continues to point her finger at him like she's trying to intimidate him. Thomas, for his part, does his best to keep himself from smiling or laughing as he nods to the overly serious little girl. Seeing his compliance, Teena once again hops off of the stool and scampers into the back of the shop to fetch her papa.

Watching Teena run off to get her father and remembering the children he'd met on his first day, a thought struck Thomas. Where did the NPC children come from? Though there were very obvious game elements to the world, there was also quite a bit of realism. So, was it possible for players to get the NPC's pregnant? Could female players get pregnant? It wasn't entirely out of the realm of possibility, several games had features like that in the past. Thomas had even had children of his own in a game once. Though such a feature brought with it a whole host of serious problems for the mental health of the players. After all, all games eventually shut down. Which means those children ceased to exist. To put it another way, they all died.

Thomas shook his head to clear out the negative thoughts when Teena returned with Hyde. Hyde was a middle-aged man with light brown hair showing a hint of gray at his temples. Hyde smiled warmly at Thomas, "So, you're the guy Rock and Zella mentioned. I heard you've been dealing with Hekrin for a full two weeks now. Color me impressed. Most people he deals with can get through the first week, but many drop out at the second week, and even fewer continue into the third. You just might be the first person to get through everything."

Thomas grinned and walked a little further into the store to get closer to Hyde and extended his hand for a handshake, "If you're like Rock and Zella, then I'm sure you're looking forward to me beating Hekrin at his own game."

Hyde laughed and grabbed Thomas's hand in a firm grip, "Damned right kid!" After releasing Thomas's hand Hyde continued, "Come into the back and we'll get started. Since you've already trained with Zella and Rock there's not a whole lot I need to teach you. Most leather armor is sewn, glued, or riveted together so all I really need to teach you is how to tan hide into leather and make the forms."

Thomas nodded to himself, he understood the process fairly well. It was actually a rather simple process to take a hide, clean it properly and then soak it in tannin to turn it into leather. After that, you could soak the leather and strap it to a shaped form until it dried and retained the shape. Then it was just a simple matter of assembling the armor. The biggest problem with leatherworking was simply time. In reality, it could take hours, or even days, for leather to tan and cure properly, then the time to dry out and so on. Just a single suit of leather armor could take over a week to produce. Fortunately, games tended to rapidly speed up such processes.

Stepping into the back of the shop, Thomas's nostrils were assaulted by the acrid acidic scent of the tannin used to cure the hides. Thomas felt his eyes watering a bit, but ignored it. His nose would quickly desensitize from the smell. Hyde glanced at Thomas, and seeing no signs of him complaining about the scent, nodded in approval. Hyde gestured to the bag on Thomas's back with a grin, "Well, I'm glad to see you came prepared!"

Thomas nodded and pulled the bag off of his back to unload the fourteen boar hides he'd managed to collect and keep yesterday. It would have been fifteen if not for that ridiculous exploding boar. Hyde stepped over and examined the hides from the boars and nodded in approval, "Not bad kid. You did a good job and managed to keep them mostly intact." Hyde goes through each of the hides and laughs, "I can tell the order you skinned them in." He gestures to the most raggedly shaped hide, "That was definitely your first. I'm guessing you didn't have the skinning skill until after you finished." Hyde looks over the hides and nods, "But I can see you progressed rather well as you hunted and skinned more. The last one there was done rather well. Though you still have a long ways to go."

Thomas nodded in agreement. While the hides he'd procured from the boars were mostly intact, they were still ragged around the edges and far from perfect. His skinning skill had only made it to rank four after all. There was plenty of hide left to work with though. Hyde looked over the hides and nodded, "Alright, first prep the hides for a good soak. You can start by dehairing the hides before tossing them into the tannin for a good soak. While they soak I'll let you use some leather I already prepped."

With a nod, Thomas got to work. He borrowed some of Hyde's tools and began his work in removing the hair and any excess flesh that might still be stuck to the animal hides. It wasn't exactly easy work, but it was many times easier than it would be in reality. It took Thomas a little over ten minutes to finish each hide, a total of two and a half hours of work. Once the hides were hairless and clean he tossed them into the tannin solution to let them cure.

Hyde had watched Thomas worked and nodded in approval once more. He determined that Thomas was a serious and hard worker so he had no qualms about teaching him. Given the way Rock and Zella spoke about him, it almost felt like there wasn't anything Thomas couldn't do. Especially after how excited Rock was from working with Thomas. Hyde had to admit, he was wondering if Thomas would leave him with some ideas as he had done with Rock.

Hyde fetched a dried and prepped piece of leather as well as a pattern similar to a tailoring pattern. There really wasn't a whole lot of difference between tailoring and leatherworking, they both used the same set of skills for the most part. It was only the materials they worked with and some techniques that differed between the two. Hekrin might be a dick, but he did things with a proper plan in mind. Hyde set the leather and pattern down in front of Thomas, "Alright, now the real work can begin."

System Notice: Leatherworking Tutorial. Follow the directions of Hyde to unlock the Leatherworking skill.

Hyde points to the leather and the pattern, "Since you worked with Zella already I'm sure you know what to do with these."

Thomas nodded and placed the pattern in an optimal location to avoid wasting any of the leather. He quickly traced the pattern onto the leather. Once the pattern was drawn he grabbed a knife specially designed to cut through the leather like it was butter. All knives used for cutting leather had to have their edges maintained perfectly, just one wrong or hard tug and the knife could easily cut off a finger, or worse. Using the knife, Thomas cut out the pieces to the pattern while Hyde observed.

The pattern was for a simple layered armor that would protect the wearer's chest and back. The bottom-most layer, the one closest to the user's body, was going to be made of slightly more flexible leather, while the layers on top would be made of hardened leather. The design of the armor would like a man's pecks and abs with the layers building up a three-dimensional look on the chest, while strips would be layered together to make a pattern on the back. Just based on the look from the pattern he was cutting out, Thomas expected it to be a rather handsome looking piece of work.

For an hour, Thomas continued to cut out the various pieces of leather. Once he was done they took a short break for lunch before heading back to work. Thomas placed the bottom layer down while Hyde handed him a pot of glue and cautioned, "Be generous with the glue. This stuff will bind the leather together to the point where trying to remove the pieces will just rip the leather apart. If you bind yourself to the leather you will be in deep trouble."

Thomas nods and takes the time to do a mock-up of the placements for the pieces that will make up the layers, wanting to get them into the proper position before he goes about gluing them on. Thomas uses a disposable wooden stick with a wide flat end to carefully spread out a layer of the glue before affixing the first piece of the left pectoral. For the next three hours, Thomas carefully spreads glue on the pieces of hardened leather before affixing them in place until the front and back of the armor have been completed.

The final product reminded Thomas of Roman Legionnaire leather armor, though instead of the leather being molded it was layered pieces giving it a much more 'modern' feel.

System Notice: Tutorial Complete. You have unlocked the Leatherworking skill.

Hyde looked over the final product and nodded in approval, "Not bad kid. Alright, it took you about four hours to finish." Hyde rubs his chin and thought and then nods, "Alright. I want you to make me one more armor today, and three more tomorrow. So by the end of work tomorrow I want a total of four completed, got it?"

System Notice: New Quest!
Hyde has requested that you make four more leather armors by the end of the day tomorrow.
Rewards: 200 Exp, 40 gold
Time Limit: 1 day, 4 hours
Bonus: ???

Spoiler
: Character Sheet
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A note from thomasdarkrose

Patch Notes:

  • Weapon Mastery (Knife) -> Weapon Mastery (Small Blades)

I know the chapter is a little short, but the quest was a natural place to conclude for the day. We'll pick up right here tomorrow.

Also, I may have, uh, forgotten to set the autorelease time so this one is an hour late. xD My bad!


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About the author

thomasdarkrose

  • Georgia, USA

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

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