Tristen’s party stepped through the gates into Kylanoris. He had this idea planted firmly in his thoughts of a small, disorganized village where the homes were primitive huts made from large roots and thatched with plants and mud. Any preconceived notions he held about the sophistication of this town quickly evaporated. This town sprawled out in a circular formation with beautiful structures that flowed with the trees. It looked like the most exceptional artists had spent decades meticulously carving every facet, arch, and crenelation for the buildings.

Not believing this was all grown, he walked over to the nearest building and felt the wood structure. No seams or break in the material were found, which confirmed what Natalia had said. The buildings were even more beautiful after he'd walked up to one. He saw the character, and attention to detail layered into every surface of the structure. Examining the surface and looking for some clue as to its fabricated nature he could not find a single crevice, crack or nail.

Natalia ditched her Nature Magic school after seeing all of this, thought Tristen. If someone with enough juice could do something like this, the magic school would develop into something awesome down the road. He chided himself for questioning her since he knew that Natalia hadn’t made the choice flippantly and she had done what she thought was best for the party. Still, it made Tristen wonder at the possibilities.

His wonderlust sated for the moment, Tristen continued to look around at the splendor of this city. He started to regret choosing a human. If this was just the starter town, he imagined the grandness of a capital city. Rather than a disorganized smorgasbord of huts, as he had thought, the town included as many structures and functional buildings as in Castile. The streets in Castille formed a gridlike pattern, while Kylanoris was splayed out in a web-like formation. The roads circled the town until they met in the middle where a large building stood. Based on the map that Natalia had shared that was the Adventurer Hall for this starter area.

Natalia led the group to a shop just inside the last circular venue that made up the streets. While Natalia and Tristen perused the store, Aaron decided to visit the weapons and blacksmith shops to see if there was anything noteworthy.

On account of Natalia starting with a bow and quiver, she only needed to buy some armor for the coming adventures. Even with the start bow, she was able to deal more damage than Tristen. The shortbow she had equipped only netted a small amount of damage, but her high dexterity significantly increased the amount of damage she could bring to bear. Tristen felt a little embarrassed that a healer could output more damage than him, but he had decided to play the long game with his character. He had made the character for a support role and had no illusions about pumping out massive amounts of damage. Instead, most of the damage he could deal involved deceit and misdirection.

Natalia chose a soft leather outfit that granted +11 defense, +3 dexterity, and +2 vitality. The merchant initially wanted three gold 50 silvers for the set, but Tristen planned to haggle that price down with [Persuasion] and [Haggle], which gave him a 69% chance for a moderate discount on the set. The party only had two gold and 51 silvers left, so he needed to lower the asking price by one gold. Thankfully, the merchant didn’t have any counter offers and accepted the proffered gold for the outfit. The transaction used up the last coin they had, but after the upcoming adventure, Tristen hoped to replenish their wallet.

Natalia equipped her gear immediately. Thankfully, donning gear simply required a person to mentally drag the item from their inventory to the outline of their avatar on the character sheet. It could have been awkward for Tristen if Natalia had to remove her old clothes first. This game included mature themes and nudity was turned on by default for those over 21. Once the new gear was equipped, the old equipment appeared in the player's inventory. Out of curiosity, Tristen asked the merchant if there was any equipment with higher stat boosts or unique items sold anywhere in Kylanoris.

“Sorry, sir,” she explained, “If you want to get unique gear or even something better than you just purchased, you will likely need to venture to a larger town or capital city. We usually only stock beginner’s gear and sometimes will have random items that adventurers like yourself sell us from their adventures.”

“Thank you for your time,” Tristen said as they left the store.

Instead of looking for Aaron right away Tristen wanted to evaluate the merchandise in the other stores to see if there was anything uniquely different from Castille’s shops. The local equivalent to the Tonics and Potions store was Nagul’s Alchemy & Herbs. The proprietor of the shop was a crotchety old man who looked like he had eaten a sack of lemons. The old man barely had time to utter a word of protest before Tristen bolted back out the door. The potion shop in Castille apparently stocked identical items.

They visited the last of the shops and found all of them to be near replicas in all but name to the stores in Castille. Before collecting Aaron and meeting Tyler, Tristen picked up some food from the Inn. The extra buffs could help the party if they encountered difficult enemies. Tristen had told the Innkeeper that they were headed out on an adventure. As a result, he had received some type of dried meat, similar to their rations. Reading the description, it looked as though the same buff applied as the pie in Castille. The meat went into his inventory; He planned to hand it out before they entered any instance or quest area.

Recalling some questions Tristen had on their way to Kylanoris, Tristen told Natalia that he wanted to visit the training grounds to speak with Sai. He wanted to ask her about his [Inspect] skill. He needed to know what the limitations were and how to gain experience. Fully expecting the transition to the training room, he transitioned to the training room much more smoothly than the last time. Tristen immediately noticed that Sai was the only floating orb in the room and did not see any magic of skill orbs around.

Hi Fath…Tristen!

Smirking, Tristen said “Good to see you too, Sai. I was just exploring Kylanoris and thought to check in here to see if there was any difference. I also had some questions to ask about a skill I learned.” Tristen also had a desire to see Sai again. He never tired of spending time with her and that desire had only increased with this new transformation she had undergone.

As you can see, there are no further options for you to learn any new skills, spells or magic schools. If you choose to abandon one of your Magic Schools, then you will be able to select a new one and a new spell in that Magic School.

Smacking his head, Tristen felt dumb for not realizing that was the reason no orbs were within sight. Their party needed to save everything they learned to pay for new spells and skill. They would need gear as well, but he hoped to find some while out questing. Tristen could not wait until they found a capital city. Everything that seemed important pointed him towards a bigger city. He just didn’t know how far they would need to travel to reach one.

“Sai, another question. My current skill. [Inspect] is a little confusing and I was wondering if you could enlighten me on how to level it up faster? I tried inspecting some items but didn’t receive any experience for them. Will that happen if I inspect sentient beings as well?” Thinking about this, Tristen mentally kicked himself. He been an idiot and didn’t inspect any of the NPC’s in town, so he still had no evidence to back up the theory about sentient beings all being unique.

You will only receive new experience for unique objects, creatures, or people. Objects, like flowers and herbs, are all the same. Therefore, after you unlocked the Inspect skill, they will no longer award experience. Creatures and people are all unique, and you will gain experience for each one you inspect. However, you will be limited in the information you can obtain until the skill levels up sufficiently. At level 1, you will likely only be able to discern the name of the person or creature inspected. Depending on the creature or person examined, you may also be able to see their level provided you are within a few levels yourself. Level 2 would grant their class and title. That is all the information I can give you about the skill without violating your wishes for unfair treatment. You will need to speak to additional trainers to learn more about the ranks of the ability. As the current description states, once you have mastered the skill you will be able to determine the history of an item or person. Many times this will grant unique quests and insight into various quests.

“Thank you for honoring my request about hints and advantages; it means a lot to me!”

“Is it possible to pay for items to be inspected if we suspect there is more than meets the eye?”

Yes, although not every city will have people able to perform the task. Many of the larger towns and capitals will have someone that can inspect items for a fee. Each person has a different fee, and that fee is dependent on personal interactions rather than a fixed price.

Thanking Sai for the information, he promised her that he would visit in person within the next couple of days. In person was a matter of perspective, but he meant visiting her in his lab.

Thinking about the information he had learned, he suspected his Charisma, [Persuasion], and [Haggle] skills would benefit the group a lot more than he anticipated. When they reached the blacksmiths, Aaron just stood there, unblinking while he watched them smiths work. One dwarf pumped the bellows, another shoveled, and sifted the coals in the forge and yes another smith pounded a sheet of metal on the anvil. It looked like a production line and once the red glow of the metal dwindled the smith returned it to the forge and a second piece was placed on the anvil. Tristen and Natalia had walked up to either side of Aaron, but he was so engrossed he didn’t even register their presence.

Clearing his throat, Tristen stared at Aaron until he swung his head around and jumped.

“Sorry,” Aaron said. “This smithing is interesting, and I was just trying to learn a little about it. I think once we choose professions, I want to take up Blacksmithing. I can work on forging my gear and even make our weapons and shields. Well, unless we find better loot while adventuring. Still, I think it would be a good skill to fall back on, and at the very least, I can repair our equipment when needed.”

“Sounds like a good idea to me,” Tristen said, “Though, we should probably head out to meet with Tyler. We have already been in here for a while and who knows what kind of trouble he is getting into with a town full of wood elves and a hateful reputation!”

A note from Balr0g

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Bio: This is the section where I'm supposed to write how I have always dreamed of writing books and that there are dozens of five star books out there with my name on them. Reality? I am brand new to writing, and worse, I'm not a creative writer. Most of the stuff that I have written is technical, cyber-related stuff. So, how in the world did I start down this path? The best way to sum it up is D. Rus and Vasiliy Mahenenka. These two Russian authors created books in a new genre called LitRPG, which falls under a more broad category called Gamelit. I devoured any and every book created by these two authors and quickly realized they were not alone in their endeavor. The series they created were translated from Russian to English, but it wasn't long before American authors started pushing their own series. Since starting with the Play to Live series (D.Rus), I've read hundreds of books and dozens of stories on Royal Road. I started posing questions and conversations about plots and book directions in various groups and forums. Eventually, I got the idea to start keeping track of my ideas and instead of giving them away, write my own story. Herein, is born a writer (or at least a wannabe writer)... not a writer to grab a paycheck, and not even for the sake of a job. I am putting this first story together purely for my enjoyment and it has been a fun ride so far.

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