“Any way you can hurry this up?” Keia muttered under her breath.
“I have to get a feel for the interface before I can use the thing,” I muttered back, splitting my attention between said interface and Keia.
Her eyes darted through the Auction House like she was waiting for an execution squad to come in and kill us. Which was fair considering we were deep in enemy territory right now where someone could come along without warning and try to kill them.
I really wanted to avoid that if I could. It’d be awkward if I was cut down in the middle of my auctioneering. I was also in a bit of an exposed position considering they could get all the stuff I had on me, and I didn’t want to lose all my potions on top of all the Horizon Dawn gear we’d stolen fair and square. Not to mention all the ore I was carrying.
Come to think of it, I probably should’ve looked into vaults before I started lifting shit.
“Well hurry up,” Keia said. "We’ll be in serious trouble if they catch us here. That entrance is a perfect chokepoint and there aren’t any other exits.”
"I'm on it," I said. “It’d help if I didn’t have people trying to distract me.”
Keia hit me with a withering glare, but I ignored it. I was already back to the AH interface. I had work to do, and the more time I spent chit chatting the more likely it was someone in a Horizon Dawn tabard who recognized us would come along.
It was possible one of those assholes had already recognized us and they were waiting for reinforcements. A small smile played across my face as I thought of them quietly talking in their guild chat because they were afraid of confronting me directly and getting blown the fuck up.
Whatever. Auction House interface. I needed to sell shit.
The first thing I did was search for the Nhewb’s Blessing Potion. I figured there’d be a lot of them up on the Auction House considering the flowers were the first thing I’d seen when I entered the game. There were probably plenty of noobs who looked at those flowers and…
I brought up a big fat zero. I frowned. I checked that I’d spelled it correctly.
I’d heard stories of the ancient days on eBay when you could get insane deals by searching for misspellings of rare items that no one was bidding on, back before they came up with an algorithm to fix that. Maybe something like that was going on here too, so I searched a couple of misspellings.
Then I saw something in the bottom corner that looked like it could be helpful. It was a small item slot with the word “search” beneath it. The meaning there was clear enough. If I wanted to search for an identical item then I could put that item in the slot rather than going to the trouble of spelling it out.
I pulled one of the potions out of my inventory and dragged it over that slot. Hit the search button. I figured that would pull up something, but again I was met with zilch.
What the ever loving fuck was going on here?
Either the interface was completely broken and the Auction House wasn't working correctly, something I seriously doubted from the number of people in the room using the Auction House without complaint, or I’d just stepped into something far more interesting than I could’ve imagined.
It boggled the mind to think that I was the only one who’d gone through the starter area picking those flowers, but then I thought about how those flowers had been presented within the game world.
Lotus wasn't like other MMOs, but so far just about everyone I’d run into, my friends included, was treating it like a traditional MMO with more impressive graphics. Only it was far from that.
Lotus was weird. Everything that’d been abstracted over years of videogame development had suddenly gone back to the real world equivalent of that abstraction because for the first time ever players were in a game that could generate that real world equivalent perfectly.
The game was so realistic that it didn't need to bother with abstraction any longer, but gamers were still looking for that shorthand. They expected things like a plant that had a sparkling animation overlay to let them know this plant was different from the others, and something that would be worth gathering.
The gamers coming into Lotus Online had cut their teeth on games that held their hands every step of the way. They didn’t have the old school exploratory instinct of gamers from a time when they had to reach out and touch everything in the game world to see if they could do something with it.
I couldn’t believe it even as it totally made sense. Was it really possible that everyone else who'd played the early access, everyone who'd been in the launch, seriously hadn't decided to pick the flowers and see if they could be used as a reagent?
Then again I thought about Trelor grousing about how people hadn't taken advantage of the crafting system he'd built. As though it was a personal affront that nobody seemed to care about his system.
And, not for the first time since starting this game, I felt that familiar tingling along my scalp. Though this time it ran down through my entire body as well.
I was onto something here. Something potentially huge. Something that might allow me to get a head start over anyone else who tried the crafting thing. Sure other people would probably figure out what I’d done as soon as I started listing these items on the Auction House, but he’d have the advantage of being the first mover.
Because as impossible as it seemed that gamers had ignored Trelor’s crafting system so thoroughly in the interest of killing monsters, there was the evidence, or rather the lack of evidence, here on the Auction House in front of me.
So I took one of the potions and listed it. There was no suggested pricing based on what the potion had gone for because nobody else had tried to sell a potion like this.
Again that tingle hit me.
With every new discovery I was backed up in my assumption that I was the first person to find this, and every time I thought that it felt more and more ridiculous. Yet here was the evidence in front of my eyes.
The Auction House had all the usual options. I could set up a straight up auction, or I had the option of allowing a Buy It Now price. Considering I had no idea what these potions should even go for, I decided I was going to do a straight auction and let the market dictate what it thought something that gave a person a ten percent bonus to abilities was worth.
I figured there was a good chance that whatever I set a Buy It Now for wasn't going to be nearly close enough to what people would be willing to pay, and my instincts were screaming at me not to leave any money on the table.
I briefly considered unloading everything I had onto the market. After all, if there wasn't anything up there then I could corner the market. I did a quick search for other enhancement potions and found some, but they were all Horizon branded. They offered all sorts of nifty bonuses, but nothing close to what I had.
I decided a little bit of scarcity might help. Horizon was flooding the market with their potions, but I was going to do it a little differently. I’d see what a couple of them went for, give potential buyers the impression that there was some scarcity involved, and then adjust the price from there.
“Potions are up,” I said, looking up from the Auction House interface.
Keia and Kristoph were still scanning the place looking for trouble, but everything else in the Auction House seemed like business as usual.
“Good, so we can go?” Keia asked.
“Not quite,” I said. “I’ve still got all that Horizon gear, and I need to get a vault while we’re here.”
Keia sighed and hit me with a look that told me I needed to hurry the fuck up. A sentiment I could totally get behind, but honestly I was having too much fun with this to be too worried about Horizon.
The next part was easier. There were a bunch of Horizon weapons that were the same as the ones I couldn't disenchant. Even better, they all had a firm Buy It Now price. No auction for those. So I listed the weapons I “found” at a ten percent discount below what Horizon listed their stuff at.
I figured that’d be good enough to get their attention, piss them off, and also make me a tidy profit at the same time. After all, I hadn’t had to spend any money to get them, aside from the gem I had to use to kill them. That hadn’t cost me anything either since I found it in the wild.
Basically selling Horizon stuff was nothing but profit. It was a nice low overhead business with huge profit margins.
Finally I pulled out my last listing for today. A plain sword I’d bought at a merchant for a trial run selling a Spellcrafted item.
It took me a couple of minutes to figure out how to narrow my search to certain spell infusions, but the Auction House search was obligingly granular once I knew how to use it.
I looked up items that had similar spell infusions, and didn’t find much in the way of comparable gear. Just like with the potions, it would appear that no one was selling Spellcrafted items yet. I’d be the first to go live with this discovery.
Which was a hell of an advantage, but I had no idea what to list my weapon for since there was nothing comparable on the market.
The sword was better than the Horizon stuff at the same level, so I figured screw it. I tossed it up for an auction price and set the lowest bid at ten percent lower than what a comparable piece of Horizon gear would go for.
When I’d finished I turned and looked at Keia. Grinned and gave her a thumbs up.
"I think we're good to go for now," I said.
“Good,” she said. “Let’s get you a vault and get the hell out of here.”
“Might want to hurry,” Kristoph said. “Our friends at the entrance are looking worried about something.”
I looked to the goblins I’d made nice with at the entrance. Sure enough they were alternating between glancing outside and turning to make little waving motions at us.
“Come on,” Keia said. “We need to get the hell out of here.”
“No way,” I said.
“No way?” she said, staring at me like I’d grown a second head or something.
“If we go out there then there’s a good chance we run into Horizon Dawn people and I lose my shit,” I said. “If I get a vault and toss my stuff in there then there’s a one hundred percent chance I keep my shit.”
Keia opened her mouth like she was going to protest, but for a surprise Kristoph chimed in.
“He’s got a point,” he said.
“What if I lose my stuff?” Keia said. “I’ve worked hard to get this shit!”
“And I’ll buy you new stuff with what I make on the Auction House or make you something better with the goblinsteel we’re about to lose,” I said.
She stared at me for a moment, then sighed and disappeared.
“I’m going to go scout outside. Hurry up,” she said.
“On it,” I said.
“I’m going to stand here and look menacing with my hammer,” Kristoph said.
I patted him on the shoulder. “You look menacing buddy.”
I turned to the other side of the Auction House where there was a massive vault that looked like something out of an old school bank from back in the days when money was a physical thing and not a bunch of numbers on a screen. A goblin stood behind a counter leaning against it and looking bored.
The goblin perked up as I approached.
“I need a vault,” I said, glancing over my shoulder to the entrance. “And I need it fast.”
“But of course,” the goblin said, smiling and showing rows of pointed teeth. “I can provide it for you at a slight discount considering your business relationship with us."
"Business relationship?" I asked.
The goblin’s grin grew even more predatory. “I heard you were going to do everything in your power to rid our town of the Horizon Dawn? I believe that was how you phrased it to my associate? So tell me, was that mere idle boasting?"
I glanced over my shoulder. The goblin who’d been helping me list my items grinned a similarly rapacious grin and gave us a little wave. I’d have to keep in mind that these goblins had scary good hearing.
I turned back to the vault vendor and my face hardened. "No boast. I'm going to run those assholes out of here if it kills me."
It probably was going to kill me several times before this was all said and done. My quest against Horizon Dawn was going to kill me in very unpleasant ways I wasn't going to care for considering how realistic things were in this game, but thems were the breaks.
"Well then it's a simple business arrangement," the vault vendor said. "You're the first person I've seen actually making promises like that, and I think you're the kind of person our organization want to make a business arrangement with."
I grinned. "Fine. What's the cost for a vault?"
There was some haggling, but in the end I was the proud owner of enough vault space to hold everything I’d need for a good long while. It was certainly enough to hold all the extra potions I had as well as all the ore I’d gathered with Keia and the leftover gems I had sitting in my inventory.
I almost handed all the gems over, then hesitated. I decided to keep a couple of water gems in my inventory. Those things had been a useful defense, after all, and I figured I wanted to have at least one around in case things went pear-shaped and I needed to to create an improvised explosive magic device.
"A pleasure doing business with you, sir," the goblin said. “And best of luck to you in your quest.”
"You too," I said.
I turned to see Kristoph running for the door with his axe out. The goblin guards also looked like they were on edge, and not at all happy about what they saw going on out there.
“Company coming!” Keia said. “I hope to fuck you’ve dropped off your stuff!”
None other than Gregor stepped through the door, his eyes searching. He didn’t get a chance to do much but scan the room before Kristoph’s hammer came up and hit him under the chin with one hell of an uppercut.
Gregor’s head flew up, his neck making an unfortunate cracking noise, and then he flew back out of the room.
Oddly the goblins didn’t do anything even though Kristoph had just made an unprovoked attack. At least it should’ve been unprovoked to a game system that didn’t understand the nuance of attacking a group of people coming to kill our asses before they could attack us.
Only from the way those goblins gave each other a high five they totally understood the nuance.
I grinned. We might actually make it through this. We might…
Something struck my head hard enough that the world bloomed with stars and pain. I fell to my knees and turned just in time to see one of the Horizon Dawn people I’d been ignoring on the assumption they didn’t recognize me swinging something heavy and blunt down on my head.
Hi! I'm a working writer who's been doing this full time since early 2015. I got my start in the Kindle romance boom, and I'm finally getting around to publishing stories under my own name!
I live in the Midwest with my wife, kids, and cats. Most days find me sitting in front of my computer typing out stories for your enjoyment!
I'm currently releasing Spellcraft. The tale of Conlan, a gamer who loves finding ways to exploit game systems, and how he uses those unique skills to battle a soulless multinational entertainment conglomerate who killed his sister and is trying to take over the gaming world!
Spellcraft is currently released on a chapter a day schedule.
I hope you enjoy my work. Thanks for reading!