My mead does not taste as great today for some reason. To be honest I don’t feel like eating or drinking anything really, nevertheless I continue to force it down my throat. I have a funny feeling that I may lose my mind if I don’t continue to marinate it in alcohol.
We killed four people earlier today, oh wait, we also found a goblin camp, that also happened. It does however seem like a distant memory now though. Anyway after all that, we’ve come back to this establishment, the ‘Four leaf clover’, where Sarah lives. I am currently drowning my uneasiness in alcohol. I always thought that the whole adventurers sitting around a tavern, being a boisterous bunch, constantly drinking thing was a cliche. But after finding myself sitting here once again with ‘beer in hand’, I can no longer fault them, or pull my nose up at the trope. I suspect it’s just how they get by with all the shit they have to put up with.
Jess is here too. She seems to be staring into space, nursing her mead. This world doesn’t have such things as an age restriction for things like drinking or sex or marriage, or anything like that. You’re just generally going to be held responsible for your actions, should you fuck up, I guess.
“Hey, you okay?”, I ask her.
“Hmm. Ah, yes. I was just thinking about where we go from here.”
“I’m sorry I put you in that position.”
“What do you mean?”
“I said I would protect you and in the end you had to face off with your attackers. I allowed things to escalate to the point where you had to kill people.”
Jessica smiles at me gently, “I’m glad that you’re so concerned about me, but seriously don’t worry about it. I’m glad I had the opportunity to kill those bastards.”
I almost choke on mead when Jessica says that. How can she even say something like that.
“It was- liberating, in a way.”
“It doesn’t bother you that we murdered people?”, I can’t but help ask her in disbelief.
“Well not really, and by our definition of human, they were probably more like NPC’s. Actually scratch that, they are definitely monsters, I mean in any RPG, bandits are classified as just another mob. Let’s not forget they tried to rape me,” She adds with a sharp glint in her eyes.
Now I feel even more uneasy, after that conversation. At first I was worried about what would happen to us. I mean, anyway you look at it, Jessica started that fight, straight up killing a man. But, seeing as how this world works on a bounty system more than an actual justice system, Hardoen assured me that we would be fine. He said that no one was going to give two shits about a couple of dead bandits, in fact, Sarah brought the fucking leaders head back with us and Hardoen took it with to the Adventurers guild to go see if we can get a reward for it. What a fucked up world. We kill people in cold blood, even if they were animals, and get fucking rewarded for it.
Hardoen returns with Sarah in tow.
“Oh- so how’d it go?” I ask him.
“Good actually. The camp we located was a large one, we got quite lucky with that. And the bandit leader was a bit notorious so his head also fetched a decent reward. We earned eight silver coins total. That’s two silvers each.”
I do a quick sum in my head, I know that one silver can be traded for twenty five coppers, so that’s fifty coppers for each of us. That’s fantastic, Jessica and I can get by for a good couple of days on that if we pool our resources, even after we pay back our debts to Sarah.
“That’s great news.”
“Well don’t get too excited,” Hardoen smiles at me uneasily, “We got lucky this time. Most of the reward came from killing the bandits and on top of that we lucked out finding a large goblin camp so easily.” Hardoen sighs. “But hopefully with a head start this good, we will be able to hold out on this shitty goblin scouting business, long enough for some decent quests to be posted.”
I briefly consider buying Jess and myself some armour, but decide against it. Armour does not come cheap, even the cheap kinds for that matter. We need to in anycase hold onto our funds for living expenses, as we do not know how long this ‘dry spell’ will last.
“But seriously, how long is this going to go on?” Hardoen mumbles to himself. “There haven’t been any low level monster killing quests for days now. Just those slimes and they were a really big group so don’t even count. Goblin camps are also plenty dangerous enough, not to be considered level one material.”
“Hasn’t it always been like that?”
“Not from what I hear. Apparently this town used to be a haven for new level one adventurer’s starting out. There used to be an abundance of low level monsters. I wonder where they’ve all gone.”
“I guess that’s why we all had such a hard time forming a party, all the level one and two adventurers would also leave if there were no suitable monsters for them to take on,” Jessica adds to the conversation.
“Well at any rate we’ll just have to stick it out, it’s either that or goblin hunting,” Hardoen continues.
“So do you guys want to stay here?” Sarah breaks the silence, “I found out from the innkeeper that there is a room available.”
Jess looks at me expectantly. “You said the rent here is cheaper in general, right?” I ask. Sarah nods. “Well then I would like too. I’m sure Misty would also love to.” Jessica nods with a smile.
“What about you Hardoen?”
Hardoen shakes his head, “No, I’m fine in the stables it’s even cheaper,” he smiles.
“Well that’s fine, I’ll go make the arrangements with the innkeeper then.” Sarah heads off to secure our accommodation.
“By the way, did you tell the guild about that dangerous ogre?”, I enquire.
“Yes, I informed them of it. They will soon put up a kill quest for it.” Hardoen sighs. “More work for high level adventurers to do.”
I turn my thoughts to the prospect of sleeping on a ‘soft’ bed tonight. It will be great to get out of the stables, it’s really smelly and dirty there, and sleep in a proper room with Jessica by my side.
Four days have passed since our initial cash injection and we once again find ourselves back in the pits of despair. With our funds once again almost depleted and still no low level quests to take on, things are looking bad for us.
In these last four days, we were not able to find a single new goblin camp that hadn’t already been scouted. The only income we managed to accrue, came from killing two goblins that we accidentally ran into. Yes, we actually killed our first goblins.
Sarah and Jessica took down one of them, Sarah’s small scale fire magic seems to be a lot more effective on them than it was on those slimes that time. I of course took down the other one. I must admit they do not seem nearly as scary as they did the first time Jessica and I encountered one.
All four of their ears netted us twenty coppers, which doesn’t really mean much in the scheme of things, when it has to be shared amongst four people. I can’t but help sigh. Well at least Jessica and I got a level up out of the deal.
It was weird. After we killed the two goblins, we each got a ‘notification’ of our advancement to level two. And when I say notification, I mean an actual fucking text popup in my view! Jess and I appeared to be the only ones that could see them. The whole thing felt incredibly cheap and half-assed, like a game developer running out of money to finish the game and just dumped any old shit he could into the games missing UI parts. I wonder if it’s the same for NPC’s like Hardoen and Sarah. But I am too afraid of ‘death by headache’ to risk asking a question of that nature.
At any rate Jessica and I did practice a bit of after the level up and could definitely feel some kind of improvement. It’s like our ‘stats’ increased a little bit, or something. We can’t be certain of course since our adventurer cards only contain information about level number, job class and skills. There are no stats to speak of.
On that note, moving up to level two gave each of us a new skill. Jessica learned sneak, which allows her to move around while ‘sneaking’. This slows down her movement a lot, but in exchange allows here to greatly conceal her presence. I don’t fully understand how this works, but while she’s using it, it’s really hard to see or hear her.
I on the other hand learned ‘unwavering stance’. It’s a skill that for a short amount of time, allows me to tank any attack without budging an inch. So I can’t be forced back, down or out of the way. The downside is that it also seems to increase the amount of damage I take. Although this might be an unintentional side effect of simply taking a blow ‘full on’. I have to question how useful this skill is going to be.
“We have no choice anymore,” Hardoen, interrupts my thoughts, “We have to attack a goblin camp. We have three level two’s and a level four in our group, we can handle it.”
After making his case, nobody is any longer objecting to chasing down a goblin camp for money. We have a lot more experience as a party now and Jessica and I have actually killed goblins. Of course it doesn’t help that we are running out of money and still don’t have any prospects for more.
“OK. Let’s do this.”
A shadowy figure sits down on a nearby boulder to rest. He sighs and wipes the sweat from his brow. That was a lot of work, he mumbles to no one in particular.
“Whats taking so long?” A stern voice calls out to him. He immediately jumps up off the rock and stands too attention for the new figure that just entered the cavern.
“Ah- s- sorry. I just finished.”
“We need to hurry this up. The locals are getting suspicious. There are no longer any low level monsters hanging around this town. It’s starting to draw the attention of the nobles and high level seer’s. If this drags out we’ll be discovered. Not to mention that our quarry may even escape before we’re done.”
“Apologies, we have had to move very carefully not to alert anyone. But, fear not, we are almost done.”
“Good, and you have made arrangements with one of the local militia’s?”
“Ah, unfortunately the group of bandits we were going to use were killed a few days ago. But fear not, we have already found suitable replacements and are busy finalising the details with them.”
“Good. Get it done.”