Chapter 6 E X P O S I T I O N
Her clothes were barely holding together and her hair was an absolute mess. Dried blood stuck to both her body and her clothes. ‘I must smell horrible...’ Taking the traveling clothes, she immediately went outside again. The guards on night duty looked on with various expressions as the woman took a bucket of water and walked to the shed next to the well. Ilea undressed and thoroughly cleaned herself. After half an hour of cold water and hard brushes she got into her new clothes and went back to her room. Looking into the mirror she found herself staring back at her. Clean this time.
Going to bed she removed most of the traveling clothes again and slept. ‘This is the most comfortable I’ve felt in months...’ sleep came easy even though her day held some very jarring experiences. No dreams would come to her that night and a knock on the door woke her up rather early again.
“Ilea? Sorry to wake you this early but I’m leaving in an hour and would like to finish my business with you before I go.” Dale was standing outside.
Dressing in under a minute, she put on the traveling clothes and her cloak. All her other things went into the backpack, which she slung around her shoulder. Looking into the mirror she smiled ‘Looking like a real badass there mate.’ her cloak was down and her black hair flowed freely. There was no shampoo but the washing still did wonders.
Opening the door, Dale stood there for two seconds with wide eyes before he caught himself. “Oh, morning. Sorry you look….different. Very good actually.” he scratched his beard “Guess we won’t have to check your magic for witchcraft after all...” chuckling he motioned her to follow him.
“I do hope you burned those rags.” she chuckled at his joke.
“They hold some sentimental value, though otherwise I’d agree. How can I stay out of trouble in the city?” they turned a corner, most everything in the guard center made of stone.
“Not much really, no crime obviously or you have me hunting you down. The east side is a little rougher but you can run very fast, right?”
‘Not fast enough to run away from you...’ Entering a room, he opened a drawer and after searching for a while removed a couple coins and handed them to her.
“Three silver as the standard fee for a healer in employ of the city.” she took the coins and added them to her own.
“What about the gear?” She asked but he just looked at her confused.
“What gear? I’m not sure what you’re talking about Ilea. The things on your body are yours.” she simply nodded slowly.
“Aaaalright. Thanks a ton Dale, you really helped me out here.” she held out her hand and he shook it.
“No worries, healers are always welcome, no matter how crazy they look.” winking at her he motioned her to the door. “Any plans from now on?”
Following her outside and locking the door she answered “I’ll check out the city for a while and then leave again for a couple weeks, or months. Might be back for the festival though. Three months right?”
He nodded “Don’t get yourself killed out there Ilea. Yes, the city festival starts in three and a half months. Would be nice to see you there. Maybe you can join the tournament and run around a bit.” laughing together she bid him farewell and left the guard center.
It was early morning, the city was slowly coming to life. A bell could be heard in the distance and some dogs were barking. Ilea turned around and walked to the guard posted at the entrance of the center. Nodding to him she asked if there’s a place to get general information about the wildlife, the geography and the city itself. He directed her to the main library of the city. Apparently pretty much in the center of Riverwatch. Thanking him, she left and soon found herself lost in the small alleys. She wasn’t in a bad mood though. People were finally around her after so much time of solitude. ‘I’ll get sick of it again in a day though...’ she chuckled to herself and kept walking.
The architecture was medieval and very practical. No fancy structures or statues adorned the buildings, at least not in the district she was currently in. Children played in the alleys and people started to prepare their stalls to sell whatever goods they specialized in. The closer she got to the center, the more people and stalls were around. ‘There’s so much food...’ holding herself back because of her limited finances and fear of getting taken advantage of, she hurried to the library. The guard had described it pretty well and there was a fancy statue of a woman holding a battle ax into the air in front of it, which made it hard to miss. It was still morning, so navigating around the center wasn’t that difficult. Ilea already dreaded going back out in the middle of the day though.
Entering, the air was immediately much cooler. There were shelves far into the back of the main room, stacked with books. A lone librarian was sitting on a desk and writing down on a sheet of paper. Walking up to the desk Ilea coughed once. The man didn’t look up “What?”
Shrugging at his tone she started talking “I’m not from around here and need information on the wildlife, the geography and some about the city itself. I’m looking to be an adventurer someday.” trying to sound like a foreigner, which she was. And like a greenhorn adventurer, which she also was.
“Another life...wasted to adventure...” the man mumbled, nearly sneering at the word adventure.
‘Probably lost someone close to him to it...oh well.’ the man finished what he was writing and then rang a bell that was on his desk. “An attendant will….tend to you. 5 coppers per hour. And now schsh.”
Ilea walked a couple steps back and waited ‘At least he doesn’t pretend to be nice.’ ten seconds later a girl of around sixteen years appeared and looked expectantly at the librarian. He simply pointed at Ilea.
She walked up to her and held out her hand “Hi, I’m Maria. How may I help you. Oh it’s five coppers an hour if you need help finding books or information about anything. Oh and welcome to the Riverwatch library!”
Shaking her hand Ilea looked around “Hi Maria, nice to meet you I’m Ilea. Do you have somewhere to sit down? I need to know quite a few things.”
Maria nodded and beckoned her to follow. Sitting down at a table in a separate room Maria looked at her expectantly. ‘Wow she’s motivated...did she start today?’ Ilea thought.
“Alright, as I said I’m Ilea. I just arrived here in the city. I grew up in a small village so remote that nobody has ever heard of it and we weren’t really taught much. Only my grandfather traveled outside the village and he died when I was little. I learned some things from the books we had but as I said...very little.” the girl just sat there and nodded.
“Well there are a couple very basic things I need to know. Please tell me if anything I say or ask is offensive or forbidden. I really don’t know about that stuff.” She tried to look innocent and ashamed, which she basically was in a way.
Even though there was no way she could know anything about this world in her situation it was still weird to ask a sixteen year old for general knowledge. “Sure, just ask me. If I don’t know something I’ll find it in a book or ask someone.” a bright smile accompanied her assurance. Letting out a breath she didn’t know she held, Ilea started.
“How does the money system work? I got some money from my village to help on my travels but I have no idea how much a silver coin or a copper coin is worth.” raising her eyebrows at the question the girl sighed.
“That basic of a question...hmm...” she continued mumbling very quietly, Ilea could practically hear her thought of “this is gonna be boring...” then out loud again she answered the question. “Basically it’s one to one hundred copper being the lowest, then silver, then gold. Wait...do you...know numbers? Basic math?” she had the worst fake smile on her face that Ilea had ever seen.
“I do, don’t worry. Can you tell me a couple things that would convey the general worth of money? Like how much does an iron sword cost or a piece of bread?”
Seemingly relieved, Maria continued. “Well it’s different from place to place of course. And with swords and stuff it’s super different right? Cause they have very different qualities. A basic meal costs around two to ten coppers. You can easily pay several silvers for a meal though if it’s amazing. Clothes...hmm a full set of leather armor would be around ten silver or so. A minor healing potion goes for a gold or two, depending on availability. An armor set like the city guards wear can be a gold or even several too. Again, depending on the quality. If you’re looking to not get cheated in the city it’s difficult though...you’d have to know all the products, the current market value, problems in other cities and trade routes and...”
‘Wow so those clothes and leather armor were a lot more than Dale owed me. Considering the prices for potions I don’t feel too bad though.’ Ilea stopped her there. “I got the idea. Thanks. Now what big countries are around the continent...how do you call the continent by the way? And in each what are some big organizations I should know about?”
Maria blinked “You’re weird...wait sorry! I didn’t mean to insult a customer...it’s just...”
Ilea smiled at her “It’s fine...my knowledge is only bits and pieces of whatever I could get. That’s why I’m here. I’d be thankful though if you just tried to answer the questions as simply as possible. I promise there’ll be something in it for you too.” she winked at her.
This seemed to elate the girl again “Alright..well we’re in Elos...that’s the continent. There are a ton of books on the geography. Very very broadly put the east is occupied by mostly human kingdoms up to the sea, there are many places on the other side of the ocean but few have returned and the ones who have spoke of strong monsters and very harsh terrain.”
“Northwards is the great Naraza mountain chain. There are some cities there and many different species living in it. The higher up you go the climate gets harsher though and powerful monsters occupy the place. Beyond that is mountains as far as one can see. News of adventurers pushing further reaches us every couple years but not a lot of it is charted yet. Of course before that is the Navali forest. Again many different species living there. Directly north it’s mostly monsters though. After many years of skirmishes between elves, humans and dwarfs it was kinda unofficially declared that nobody gets the place. Few travel through it anymore. The lack of regulation means a lot of strong monsters and supposedly even cults and practitioners of forbidden magic. That’s only rumors though.”
‘Wow I was right with my compass rose. That’s pretty cool.’ She thought.
“Well the western part of the forest is basically elven territory although there isn’t a lot of trade going on there so we know little. The war is of course still going on. You know about the war though I hope?” shaking her head the girl sighed, took a deep breath and continued “Elves are at war with basically everything else. Because they’re bloodthirsty and crazy. There aren’t many though so the other races could push them back into the forest. Many tried to go in there and attack their villages but nobody made it back alive. It’s their domain and most humans at least are fine with that it seems, other species still try though.”
‘Elves are bloodthirsty creatures? Interesting.’ Ilea thought
“This is Riverwatch. We’re an independent city just like seven or so more directly south of the forest. Should I get into the kingdoms and bigger cities in the east, or continue with the independent cities here?”
Ilea shook her head “That’s enough geography for now, thanks. Another thing I’m very interested in is levels and skills. You see I’m a healer from my village and nobody else really trained to be a warrior or mage there. Can you talk about that a little?”
Maria nodded “Well there are an insane amount of classes obviously...if you reach certain requirements you can chose one. A person can choose two classes, if there are any ways to gain more, I don’t know them. Just tell me if I’m too basic here...” Ilea motioned for Maria to continue.
“Well every class has certain related skills, either active or passive. I’m sure you have some too. They level up by you using them. You can level your class and skills up by killing monsters, or even other sapient beings. The stronger the better. Of course you could just use the skills a lot but it’s way slower that way. You want to become an adventurer right? So you should know this too. To join the guild you need to be level 10 at least. For higher ranks you’ll need higher levels. At least ten for each rank.”
“What’s the highest known level of a person or skill?” she asked
“Well here in Riverwatch there are several adventurers known to be over level 100. Some elite guards are in that range as well. Some old mages are said to have similar or higher levels. Skill wise I’ve heard about people having skills in the second tier at level 10 or even higher. If you didn’t know, once a skill reaches level 20 and levels again it goes into the 2nd tier. They change slightly and become more powerful of course. There are generally probably people with higher levels or skills but already low level adventurers are reluctant to share their stats. It’s not everything but you know a lot about a person if you know their stats. I can’t even guess about other cities, especially in the bigger kingdoms.”
“That was very helpful information Maria, thanks. In that sense, how important are levels anyway, of humans and monsters….let’s say for example...a Drake.”
Maria didn’t show a major reaction to the word so Ilea was relieved “Well a level one person with a high enough leveled skill could hurt or even kill a level 100 adventurer. It’s unlikely but levels don’t mean everything. With monsters it’s even more apparent. The Drake you mentioned is a very strong beast, having dragon’s blood in its veins. A level five Drake could be a tough challenge to a level thirty adventurer. There have been sightings of them only a week or two to the north by the way, so be wary of that place. So a level thirty Drake could probably take a level 80 wolf but there are so many factors involved in fights it’s hard to say really...as I said...levels are just a base number. If one beast is ten times as fast it can kill the slower beast even if the slower one has one hundred levels more.”
“Alright, I see I see. The last thing I wanted to know is about gear. Generally weapons, armors and clothing. Are there ways to enchant them with additional powers, maybe even status points?
“I’ve never heard of armor with stat improvements honestly but it wouldn’t be too weird. The best things I’ve heard of add some special ability to the wearer but they’re very rare and people tend to be super secretive about them. Mostly adventurers wear that stuff because they found it in a dungeon. Hope that answers your question.”
“It does. The last thing...you mentioned dungeons, what are they exactly?”
Maria continued “Well there are places where the natural magic is very strong. Monsters tend to gather there and whenever there are enough, some form of evolution can happen. Nobody really knows yet about the process. A boss monster is born or evolved and the monsters in the dungeon will turn more aggressive and unite under the boss. Sometimes they even leave to attack villages or cities. They also breed faster and sometimes even drop rare loot when killed. Adventurers like to go there to strengthen themselves and find better gear. Or simply to make money.”
“Well I guess that’s all for now. Thanks Maria for the kind help. Keep the rest, that old geezer doesn’t need to know.” leaving a silver piece on the desk Maria started to fumble with her words “It’s fine.” Ilea said as she got up and walked back to the main hall. The talk was barely an hour long but having such an enthusiastic girl help her was the best. ‘She didn’t go into too much detail. Wouldn’t want to read about the specific creatures and kingdoms anyway. Exploring them on my own seems more fun. Heh...thinking like a true adventurer already...’
Leaving the library Ilea frowned ‘It’s barely been an hour and look at all the people...I want my temple back.’ starting to descend the stairs to the central square she started to smile ‘I guess it’s not so bad in this world...now for the food...’
It was still early in the morning but many stands already sold food. The smells filling the streets were wonderful compared to Ilea’s Grass only diet. Getting some grilled meat at a stand she walked on while eating. A nice looking salad, several interesting juices, two sausages and what she thought was a kebab later, she sat down in a park overlooking a big part of the city. “Ouuf, I’m having a food baby…,” The sun was shining bright on the city. Half of it cornered on the mountain. A tree provided shade for Ilea. The busy city below her. “Fuck I forgot to ask about the different stats...”