“Recipes,” I said, pacing back and forth through the forges.
“Recipes?” Rezzik asked.
“Yup. Recipes. I need all the recipes and plans you have for building stuff. Like I need everything,” I said.
“But what do you need them for?” he asked, his ear twitching just a little to show me that he was just a touch confused.
I paused as I felt a pinging somewhere in the back of my mind. I pulled up the notification, and sure enough there was another Horizon Dawn incursion moving into my territory.
I swiped at the thing to move it away.
“Another Horizon Dawn patrol?” Keia asked.
“Yup,” I said. “I really need to figure out if there’s a way to mute those notifications.”
“Maybe they want you to be annoyed when your territory has been occupied,” Kristoph said. “Did you ever stop to think about that?”
“Well it’s not like it’s my fault it’s occupied,” I said. “The place was occupied before I started the damn game!”
“Yeah, but the game doesn’t know that,” Kristoph said. “Those dings are your punishment for not having a firm hold on your territory!”
I ground my teeth together as I looked at him. I was tempted to tell some of the goblins to stab him, I was pretty sure Keia could raise him at this point so it’s not like he was in all that much danger. I didn’t ask them to kill him though.
There were just some things that you didn’t do to your friends, and ordering a bunch of stabby little murder machines to go after your best friend was at the top of that list.
“C’mon man,” Kristoph said. “Just let me do my thing. Show off some of the skills I’ve been getting from sparring!”
“We’re not sending out any patrols to take them out,” I said. “Not yet.”
“But why not?” he asked, a hint of whining coming to his voice as he said it.
I opened my mouth to explain to him, for like the eleventy billionth time, why we weren’t sending out goblin patrols to take out the Horizon Dawn people who were moving into territory that was now mine. Only Keia was there way ahead of me to provide the explanation.
“Because if anything out of the ordinary starts happening up there then it’s going to tip them off that something new is going on around here,” Keia said. “If they know something new is going on then they might be able to figure it out and counter us.”
“Believe you me,” I said. “I have no desire to let them keep running things up there any longer than we have to, but we’re in a precarious position right now.”
I pulled up the now familiar window that showed the defenses for the Kthonopolis as well as all the weapons and soldiers that were available to us. It painted a picture of a city that was falling more on the game mechanics than art design side of things.
“You’d think this place would have more soldiers,” Kristoph muttered. “I mean they’re all over the place, so why can’t we use them?”
“That’s the problem,” I said. “Those guards are there for art design purposes and to make this place look like a fully populated city, but they don’t to jack shit when it comes to the actual military count for this place.”
The game had gone from being an MMO to a strategy game the moment I found a faction to call my very own. I’d always enjoyed strategy games, but in this case it was more than a little annoying that I was being hit with an old fashioned “gather lumber and gold and build up your army before you do anything” situation when this was clearly a massive goblin city with huge resources.
Case in point. The only goblinsteel we had to make items was the goblinsteel I’d brought with me. The message from the game designers who put together the faction pvp in this game was clear: if I was going to take out my enemies then I needed to build my army from scratch.
“About the only good thing I can think of is at least there aren’t any other factions around here I’m aware of that’ve had a chance to build up their troop concentration,” I muttered.
“What was that?” Keia asked.
“It’s just annoying that they’re making us build everything up from scratch when there’s clearly a whole damn city around us that’s on a war footing,” I said.
“Yeah, that does suck.”
“You said something about recipes and plans?” Rezzik asked.
“Hm?” I asked, turning to the goblin who’d become my right hand dude since the regent was taken out of commission. The goblin king hadn’t been exactly happy to discover that I’d fried his regent, but he’d also been willing to bow to the realpolitik of the moment when it became clear the regent had been doing his best to usurp the king’s power in his absence.
“Yeah, any plans you have,” I said. “The more plans we have the more we can get goblins to working on those plans.”
A rumble from somewhere in the depths well beneath the city hit me. That’d been happening a hell of a lot more since I took over the faction.
“Something down there isn’t happy,” Kristoph said.
Keia shook her head like she was trying to get rid of a bug or something buzzing around her.
“Whispering in your head again?” I asked.
“Yeah,” she said. “That’s really fucking annoying!”
“Tell me about it,” I growled. “I mean if they’re going to rip off the whole elder god thing then the least they could do is give it some teeth instead of having it whisper sweet nothings in your ear.”
“Are you saying you’d actually like it if the scary elder god boss in this game could take control of your mind?” Keia asked. “Because I’m not sure I’m cool with that idea.”
“How about these?” Rezzik asked.
I turned to see that while I’d been preoccupied going over all the factional stuff and thinking about how I was going to deal with Horizon Dawn, not to mention the elder god that seemed to be stirring somewhere beneath the Kthonopolis now that there was a player around to take control of things and lead the war effort, Rezzik had been pretty busy. There was a massive wagon that was loaded down with scrolls of all types.
“Holy shit Rezzik,” I breathed. “This is the mother lode. How did you get all this?”
“This isn’t even the beginning of it,” Rezzik said. “We have a crafting library here that can pretty much let you make anything you can think of.”
My mind immediately went to the one thing that I’d been wanting to create ever since I first stepped into this game and looked up into the skies to see not a bird, not a plane, but a massive airship floating in the air in defiance of gravity and all known laws of physics.
I mean I was well aware that violating laws of physics wasn’t really all that big a deal in a game where those laws could be turned off at the flip of a switch, but that didn’t change the fact that I had visions of massive airships dropping bombs like something straight out of the intro to a 16-bit Final Fantasy game, only with way more realistic graphics.
I licked my lips as I looked through the giant pile of plans.
“Do they have anything in there about airships?” I asked.
Rezzik cocked his head to the side, and his ears did that weird goblin thing where one of them went slightly up while the other one stayed folded over. I knew that meant he was thinking about something, and I figured him thinking about whether or not they had airship plans could only be a good thing.
“Well yeah,” he said. “Someone had to make those things, right?”
I licked my lips again. I wasn’t going to bother explaining to him that those things had been put into the game as a convenient method of transportation that would allow players to get from point A to point B without traversing territory that was presumably full of nasty monsters that would want to eat them.
No, much better to just go along with the in-game justifications for the goblins having airship plans. Especially when that meant I was getting what I wanted anyway.
“D… Do you think you could show me those plans specifically?” I asked.
Rezzik shrugged. It was a fatalistic shrug that seemed to say he didn’t care one way or another whether or not he was about to reveal something to me that was going to change the very balance of power in this game, but then again when you got down to it I figured a lot of these moments were like this in the real world too.
I’m sure there were more than a few people working on, say, the Manhattan Project who’d been so exhausted by the time they got around to actually finishing their project that they were more relieved than they were excited at what they’d done.
Then again I got the impression from reading some of the really interesting declassified histories that most of them were horrified by what they’d unleashed on the world. Sort of like someone being all proud of their pet Godzilla or something right up to the moment it goes on a rampage destroying Tokyo Tower and the Diet.
The Diet being what they used to call their representatives in Japan, and not something that a person went on back when there was actually a problem with people having so much food that the poor people were fat instead of barely keeping enough food around to stay alive.
The past was a funny place, is what I was getting at, and…
“Here you are boss,” Rezzik said, handing some plans over to me.
This scroll was a little more hefty than all the others, but I knew it was all for show. I wouldn’t have to actually open this thing up and study it any more than I would’ve had to do that for any of the other plans that I’d been able to devour.
That was one good thing about how the game handled learning new recipes. All I had to do was touch one and think about learning what was in it, and the ability to perform whatever the hell was included in that scroll was granted to me.
Of course there was still the question of whether or not my skill level was high enough to allow me to pull something like that off on the first try, usually it wasn’t and I’d spent plenty of late nights in the Kthonopolis getting annoyed both at my inability to get some of these complicated recipes right the first time and because there was that ever present whispering from that damned elder god boss that was probably lurking somewhere in the depths.
The scroll glowed a few times, fitfully at first because the game didn’t want to give up the secrets of this particular recipe to me when I was clearly this low skilled, but I kept at the sumbitch.
“Um, are you sure you’re doing that right?” Rezzik asked.
“I’m pretty sure I’m doing it right,” I said, squinting at the thing and wondering if I was doing something wrong here. I mean most of the recipes I’d been learning so far had been simpler stuff like weapons and armor that I then passed on to the goblins who got to work making the shit, and something told me that an airship was going to be a hell of a lot more complicated than that.
“I mean you hold the thing out and I get the knowledge,” I muttered.
“Did you ever stop to think that maybe you need to read the thing?” Rezzik finally asked after a long pause that told me he was thinking about whether or not he wanted to bring it up.
“I know you don’t understand this, but that’s not how this game works,” I said.
“That’s how reading every other set of plans I’ve ever come across has worked,” Rezzik muttered under his breath, but loud enough that I was pretty sure I’d been meant to hear it.
I didn’t have time to explain to him, again, that we were talking about a situation where everything had worked like that previously in his memory because the people who put this game together had implanted those memories in whatever subroutines made up his memories.
Honestly thinking like that was still a bit of a mindfuck for me too. Realizing that humans had done that with thinking creatures like Rezzik was enough to have me wondering if the same could be true of my world as well. What if I was nothing but an entertainment for someone else invading my inner thoughts or something?
I shivered and tried not to think about that. Instead I focused on this damn scroll that wasn’t working like it was supposed to. The thing pulsed a few more times, like it was trying to be absorbed, but nothing happened. Finally I sighed and turned to Rezzik.
“Okay, do we have a table or something that’d be big enough that we can spread this thing out on it and have a look at it?”
“I took the liberty of having the boys bring something up out of storage,” Rezzik said, a supremely satisfied smile on his face.
He snapped his fingers and some goblins who’d been hiding in the shadows at the other end of the vast room appeared carting a rather large table. It was positively gigantic by goblin standards, though in my case it only came up to about my waist.
We spread the airship plans out over the table, and as I looked at the thing I suddenly realized that there was a good reason why I couldn’t just absorbe the knowledge in the damned thing.
These airships were complicated machines. I mean it made sense that they would be ridiculously complicated machines, but I was surprised that they would be this complicated in a video game sense.
“Is there a problem?” Rezzik asked.
“This thing is going to take a lot more work than I thought,” I said. “There are engines I have to learn to build, Spellcrafting gems that I have to discover and infuse to create some of the stuff that allows them to hover, parts for navigation, weapons, so much.”
It was like Lotus had taken some of the best spaceflight simulators out there and grafted it onto their game, only instead of building spaceships I’d be building airships.
I sighed and slumped against the table.
“This is going to take a hell of a lot more work than I thought,” I finally said.
“On the bright side, we have plans for most of these individual parts,” Rezzik said. “You’re going to need a shitload of goblinsteel to even start to make some of these components though.”
I looked at something I hadn’t noticed before. Sure enough there was a list of materials needed. There were mundane materials that I’d learned were pretty easy to come by. Stuff like wood and iron and other stuff like that, but sure enough down at the bottom there was a requirement for goblinsteel.
And when Rezzik said we were going to need a shitload of goblinsteel he hadn’t been lying. We were going to need a metric fuckton of goblinsteel to pull something like this off.
I sighed. Then did the one thing that could calm me when I found myself staring at yet another mountain that I had to climb on my path to vengeance against Horizon. I pulled up a screen that showed me my current skill counter. It was something I’d muted from my normal notifications and relegated to this special window because it was happening so often.
My Spellcrafting and regular crafting skills were ticking up on the regular. Again I got the feeling that whoever had designed this system hadn’t anticipated a crafter suddenly having an entire city of goblins at their disposal to do their crafting for them, and I was about to unlock a perk that would let me have a hell of a lot more goblins start working on this stuff.
I smiled. That was something. And honestly I was starting to think it was time to take a little break from crafting.
“Rezzik, how are we doing on weapons and soldiers?” I asked.
“We have enough for a small strike force right now,” Rezzik said. “And we’re running out of materials. We’re gonna need some more goblinsteel sooner rather than later. Especially if you start making those airships.”
I grinned an evil little grin. I needed a break. I needed to try out my new goblin army. I needed goblinsteel.
There was one location I could think of that would allow me to do all of those at once, and it happened to be pretty close by if you were using tunnels to travel under the game world.
“Keia, Kristph, are y’all still bored out of your skulls?”
“You know it,” Kristoph said, twirling his hammer.
“What’s up?” Keia asked.
“I was thinking it was time to pay Horizon Dawn a visit,” I said.
Kristoph cocked an eyebrow. “What about all that stuff you were saying about how I wasn’t allowed to attack those assholes? That we need to lie low so they don’t think something is up?”
“Well that was with a patrol. This is going to be with a fully armed raid,” I said with a grin. “Big difference.”
“Plus we sort of need those resources now,” Keia said. “We can’t afford to not attack them if we need that goblinsteel to advance. Otherwise we’re just waiting here in our hole to die.”
“You’re so full of shit,” Kristoph said with a grin of his own. “But I’ll avoid highlighting your hypocrisy too much considering it sounds like I’m finally gonna get to smash some heads.”
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!