After a nice nights sleep, Thomas rolled out of his bed and started getting himself ready for the day. He decked himself out in all of his gear. No matter what, he would be leaving the city today and heading out on his journey to find Hekrin's master. Thinking about Hekrin's master he wasn't able to remember if he'd ever asked for the man's name. If he had he'd forgotten it already. He double checked the notes he'd taken while speaking with Hekrin but didn't see a name on that either. He'd need to stop by Hekrin's place before he left the city.
Once he was fully dressed and armed he looked at Snowlily as she lounged on the bed and yawned, "Alright, we're going on an adventure."
He dug out the sling he'd made to carry Snowlily around in and set it in front of her, "We're going somewhere crowded and I don't want people stepping on you or trying to capture you. So you're going to need to hang out in here for a while."
Snowlily looked at the sling and huffed in displeasure, to comfort her he smiled and added, "You won't have to get into it until after breakfast."
Snowlily looked pleased and hopped off of the bed. Together the two of them made their way down to the dining room to enjoy their breakfast. While they were eating Martha came over to check on them. Thomas looked up at her and smiled, "Thanks for everything Martha. Today I'll be heading out again to see some more of the world."
Martha sighed while nodding her head, "I expected it wouldn't be too much longer. I think you've stayed in the city longer than any other summoned person. I was starting to wonder if you planned to stay here for good."
Thomas laughed and shook his head, "I love it here, but I'd like to go out into the world and learn a lot more. I'm sure I'll be back here before too much longer and staying here once again."
Martha smiled and nodded, "There will always be a room here for you. Even if I have to kick someone else out!"
They both laughed at that until Martha took her leave. With breakfast and his goodbye with Martha done, Thomas pulled the sling out once more and smiled at Snowlily, "Alright, it's time."
Snowlily huffed, but didn't fight and made her way into the sling. After she was in it he lifted it up and gently wore it over his shoulder so that Snowlily could rest against his back. Once it was settled her head popped over his shoulder and peeked out so she could keep watching the world around her. Together they left The Swans Nest and made their way toward the adventurers guild.
He wanted to check and see if there might be a caravan that needed guard duty or something similar heading to the south like he was planning to. He could take a ship to cut some time off of the journey but he wanted to spend some time making his way on the ground. The time the journey took didn't really matter to him, he'd find things to do along the way. Besides, getting to places as fast as possible made it so much harder to have a good adventure or a lucky encounter like meeting Snowlily. He'd also be able to kill monsters, look for materials, and see what other kinds of things he could find.
When they arrived at the guild, Thomas was glad that he'd had Snowlily get into the sling. The place was crowded this early in the morning and if she'd been on her own beneath all their feet she might have gotten hurt. After looking around a bit, Thomas made his way over to the requests board and looked through them to see if there was one he could take. While browsing the players and NPC's inside of the guild were all talking and looking for quests themselves.
Sadly, AoG wasn't so nice as to always have the kind of quest he wanted available when he wanted it. Unable to find a quest to suit his needs, he left the guild and started going to shops nearby. He needed to get plenty of gear for camping out in the wilderness. He needed basic stuff like a tent, sleeping bag, and so on. He could avoid most of the basic tools like an axe for chopping wood and stuff but he couldn't easily produce a tent with magic.
After about an hour of shopping, Thomas had everything he could think of. If he forgot anything he could figure out a temporary fix or swing by another town for the missing items. He'd managed to get himself a map that covered a lot of the area around Ulvstad so it wouldn't be hard to make his way to a village, town, or city that was nearby. With everything ready, he started to make his way over to Hekrin's shop. He wanted to get the last piece of information he needed as well as say goodbye to the old goat.
After making his way down the main avenue of the city, he stopped in front of Hekrin's shop and smiled. He could see the old dwarf at his usual spot behind the counter through the glass window. After he stepped into the shop Hekrin smirked, '"Bout time ya showed up kid. Was startin' ta wonder if ya were gunna show or not."
Thomas smiled and walked over to the counter, "How could I leave without saying goodbye first? Besides, I don't remember if you ever even told me your master's name or not."
Hekrin blinked for a moment before stroking his beard, "I think yur right kid. I don't recall tellin' ya his name."
Hekrin shrugged his shoulders, "Doubly good ya came by then kid!"
After saying that he waved his hand and deposited a box engraved with various magical looking designs on the counter, "I can tell ya my master's name and can give ya this."
Thomas looked at the ornate box and arched an eyebrow inquisitively. He couldn't tell what material the box was made of. He reached out and touched it. The material looked similar to wood but had a texture that felt cool and smooth like metal. The engravings of magic circles and runes held no meaning at all to him. When it came to enchanting there was no specific set of runes or marks that made it work, just intent. After looking it over for a bit he turned his attention back to Hekrin, "So what is it?"
"It's a box ya dolt!", Hekrin smiled mischievously before continuing, "It's a puzzle that's been handed down from master ta apprentice fer generations. Since yur muh only apprentice, naturally, it will be passed on ta ya."
Thomas looked over the puzzle box. It looked exquisite but he couldn't tell if there was anything special about it at all, "So it's a puzzle. Should be interesting but what's the point?"
Hekrin crossed his arms in front of his chest and smirked, "It's not just a puzzle, it's a puzzle only a Magitech Engineer can solve." Hekrin gestured to it, "Besides, there's a nice little surprise inside of it for ya if ya can get it open!"
Thomas continued to study the box and smiled, "A surprise is it? Sounds even more interesting."
After looking over the box for a bit he tried to pick it up. His first attempt ended in failure, despite the box being only about thirty centimeters on each side its weight was massive. He obviously hadn't used his entire strength to try to lift the box all at once, it wasn't all that big after all. After failing to lift it with a portion of his strength he slowly began to exert more and more of it until he could finally lift the box off of the counter. Despite the small size of the box it had to weight at least several thousand kilograms!
It took nearly three-quarters of his entire strength to lift the box. Honestly, Thomas was shocked that the weight of the box hadn't completely crushed the counter when Hekrin set it down. Just how reinforced was the counter?! Even more so, when Hekrin had pulled it out he'd only used a single hand to handle it and made it looked like the box weighed nothing. Just how strong was Hekrin?!
Putting those questions aside, Thomas looked over the surfaces of the box but still couldn't understand anything about it at all. He was sure that whatever was inside must be quite extraordinary. He stored the box in his inventory and looked at Hekrin with a smile, "Thanks. I'll spend some time trying to figure it out."
Hekrin shrugged his shoulders, "No rush kid. It'll take as long as it takes." He stroked his beard absentmindedly and smiled, "Now, about my master. His name is Fokgrag Coalheart. It shouldn't be too hard ta find him when ya get ta Kafla. He tends ta make a bit o' noise wherever he goes."
Thomas noted down the name with the rest of his notes and smiled. Now he had everything he needed to find Hekrin's master and hopefully get his hands on an U.L.T.R.A. of his own! Who knew what else the dwarf might have? He was certain that if he could make good friends with Hekrin's master he would be able to learn a lot and grow in his chosen career. Once he put the notes away he looked at Hekrin and sighed, "Looks like this time I'll be gone for quite a while."
With a smirk, Hekrin replied, "Good. Now get yur overly tall ass outa here."
Thomas laughed and nodded, "Got it. I'll look for you when I come back sometime."
After their emotional goodbye... not really, Thomas left Hekrin's shop and made his way directly toward the southern gate leading out of the city. He was looking forward to the next step of his journey but at the same time was feeling a bit melancholic about leaving the familiar city that felt like home to him. Firming his resolve, Thomas stepped through the gate and started walking down the road towards his next destination, Stok.
Stok was a small town south on the road that Thomas was walking. It was about a hundred and fifty kilometers away and if he could run full out the entire time he could probably make it there rather quickly. But speed really wasn't what he was interested in for this journey. Ever since he first logged in he hadn't really explored all that much. Part of being able to craft the greatest items was to find the materials needed. That was half the fun!
After an hour of walking, Thomas found himself alone on the road with only Snowlily as company. Outside of Ulvstad, there was nothing but lightly wooded plains and further south was an area of hills. He could see rather far and there really wasn't much for him to feast his eyes on. Once he was certain it was relatively safe, he kneeled down on the ground and gently removed the sling carrying Snowlily. Once he had, she happily started to run around while sniffing to get her bearings.
Thomas stored the sling and smiled as he watched her frolic a bit. Once she calmed down they continued their journey. The road wasn't the best but it served its purpose and made traveling rather simple and enjoyable. When lunchtime came around they stopped and had a simple meal together that Thomas reheated with his heat magic. They walked together for most of the day without spotting any signs of any other living things.
As the sun started to descend from the sky, they found a patch of flat ground and made their way over. It didn't take much effort at all for Thomas to set up camp and start a fire. Though the fire wasn't strictly necessary for anything, it was comforting and just seemed right. Thomas reheated some food from his storage ring and looked over at Snowlily. She was eating, reluctantly, so he smiled, "Tomorrow I'll try and hunt something down so we can have a fresh meal."
Snowlily began to wag her tail happily at the mention of fresh meat. Once their meal was finished, Thomas pulled out a set of four matching metal rods. The rods had been enchanted to work as an alarm system. Once driven into the ground at the four corners of the camp they would act as a trip wire. Anything crossing between them would set off an audible alarm and warn the campers. He could have made something similar or better himself, but what was the point if it saved him some time to just buy it?
He set the four markers out about a hundred meters from the center of his camp. That would give him enough time to get prepared for anything invading the territory around him. With everything set, he rolled out his sleeping bag and started stripping off the majority of his gear and storing it in his inventory where it would be within easy reach. The exception being his Peace Maker, that he stored under the pillow he'd purchased. Together the two relaxed in the tent and drifted off to sleep for the evening.