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Jim pushed his chair out from the writing table. The beginning of a plan helped Jim pull his thoughts together and he left the town hall. His steps carried him toward the glinting town blacksmith. Brett’s guildmates flooded the area in orange forge-light and the cacophonous sound of hammers and shaped metal drew a tide of onlookers that Jim had to fight his way toward the building. Onlookers, both players and townspeople, crashed into Jim like waves. If Jim could leverage any portion of this force to complete his quests, he’d have no problem obtaining his reward for freeing the remaining 110 refugees.

When Jim approached the blacksmith, he got carried through the building in a flow of tourists. He tried to catch Brett’s attention, but the entire population of the town had gathered to marvel at the pale, shining anvils and the ghostly, glowing forges and, as a result, even Brett and his guild members were carried along, wrenched away from their tasks by the touring townsfolk.

The blacksmith was divided into three, large workrooms and an exterior stall. An open and well-ventilated room occupied the first space Jim entered. Dark grey stones speckled with white and black highlights formed the walls. Forges and furnaces made of the same stone-lined one wall. In the next room, anvils that glowed from within with silver light caught Jim’s attention.

Jim had to wonder at the guild’s decision to sink so many rare materials into the building, but when he saw the amount of control the guild had and the stats of the blacksmith, he was sure that they’d make a return on their investment. Jim inspected elements of the blacksmith and felt amazed by the difference rare materials made to a building’s constructed attributes.

Ancient Spirits Blacksmith (Rare)
This blacksmith fulfilled its construction requirements with two rare materials, increasing its quality to rare.
Durability increased by 50,000 (250,000/250,000)
Anvil upgraded to rare quality.
Forge upgraded to rare quality.

Ancient Stone Forge (Rare)
The ancient stones that make up the forge have proven their ability to withstand epochs of strain, wear, and tear. Ores refined in this forge may be increased by one level of purity due to the intense flames the forge can withstand.

Ghost Steel Anvil. (Rare)
This anvil imparts the power of ghost steel into weapons, armour, and objects shaped upon it.

Weapons: The spirit within the anvil transfer into the weapons formed upon this anvil, allowing them to bypass armour and obstacles (10% armour penetration).
Armour: The spirits within the anvil transfer into the armour formed upon this anvil, allowing it to be stretched thinner without failing or breaking (10% reduction in weight).
Tools: The spirits within the anvil transfer into the tools formed upon this anvil, allowing them to gain the knowledge of the spirits within (5% improved crafting speed).


Jim passed through the third workroom and exterior stall. These parts of the blacksmith contrasted with the rest of the building having been constructed from plain wood and, as a result, were largely bypassed. Thankfully, after being carried through the grand tour once by the brief mobbing of townspeople, the blacksmith largely cleared out. Only blacksmiths, buyers, and Brett’s guildmembers remained and Jim walked back through the building with a pace that would probably rival molasses. Jim managed to catch Brett’s attention amongst the crowd and was invited to join him in the queue for one of the forges that had formed as individual miners managed to break away from the stream of onlookers and attach themselves to one tool or other.

“Hey, Jim,” Brett said. “Are you looking to get some stuff made?” He had to yell over the intermittent klangs of the smithy.

“I am, actually. I was kind of hoping you’d be able to introduce me to your guild leader and some of your crafters.”

“Yeah, no problem. Nate said he’d be at the stall out front. Just cut the line and tell him you’re Jim.”

“Thanks,” Jim yelled over his shoulder as the passers-by gradually nudged him away from the queue.

Nathan Riley managed the congregation of prospective buyers with ease. Hopeful new players were met with, spoken to, and rejected by him in an orderly line. He was a tall man and looked to be in his 40s. Jim remembered when he looked similar to Nate, although Nate looked to have aged a bit better, and it only felt like two weeks ago that he’d been a middle-aged single dad trying to handle a teenaged daughter. He joined the queue, despite Brett’s assurance that he’d have been able to skip ahead. Jim just didn’t cut in; it wasn’t the done thing. His patience paid off as he was able to listen to player after player as they left the guild’s stall.

“One silver per item? Jeez.”

“Yeah, I only got 30 copper from the tutorial.”

The first two that Jim overheard were disgruntled newbies and Jim, who only had 2 silvers despite his progress through the game, began to doubt how important he’d be to this charismatic guild leader. He didn’t think his small amount of money would be worth the man’s while. Fortunately, it seemed that the guild also appeared happy to barter.

“Bro, what a bargain. I can’t believe I didn’t have to tip.”

“Yeah man, right? This armour is dope.”

“They must get, like, XP or something for making it.”

Jim hadn’t been aware that slang from the previous millennium had made a resurgence, but he’d been caught up in the endless cyclical trend of ripped denim, so he couldn’t judge. The weapon the first of the two teenaged players carried prevented him from speaking anyway.

Ghost Steel Maul (Rare)
Two-Handed Weapon – Mace
13—16 blunt damage
Durability: 100/100
Ghost Steel Spirit (II): 20% armour penetration.


Jim let out an involuntary low whistle and quiet exclamation. At the sound of his voice, the young man in front of Jim, who he had initially dismissed as just another teenaged player in beginner’s leather armour, snapped around.

“Councillor James!” Smith, the level 3 apprentice blacksmith whom Jim had brief dealings with when constructing the sawmill, greeted Jim enthusiastically. At the mention of his name, nearby players began to whisper and mutter to each other. Jim opened his mouth to return the young man’s greeting but was conversationally flattened by the young man’s bulldozer of a personality.

“Councillor James! What a coincidence seeing you here! Do you know the guild leader who built the blacksmith? Would you be able to introduce him to me? I’m looking for a master, you see. I’m just one level away from becoming a journeyman. I only need to learn a few more recipes and craft one rare item. I’ve been seeing all these people come out of the new blacksmith and I thought: ‘Wow, look at those rare items.’ Then I got in the line here because I want to be able to make rare items, too.”

The apprentice blacksmith’s charisma stat must have been so low as for him to be practically inept because Jim’s Conversation skill managed to trigger without him even taking part. If it weren’t for their proximity to the blacksmith and the increasingly loud clamour of metalworking, Jim would have been worried about every nearby player snatching the quest that he received.

Quest discovered: Learning.

A chance encounter with the young village blacksmith has led to you discovering his hidden ambition in life: He wants to craft rare items. Help him, and Smith will be grateful to you and do whatever you ask, whenever you can get a word in edgewise.

Help Smith craft a rare item: 0/1.

Rewards: A rare item; Recruit Smith as an auxiliary armourer for the militia.


Jim accepted the quest as a form of wordless agreement – the only kind he could get when Smith was involved – and was chatted to by the teenaged hopeful for the rest of their time in the queue. Jim zoned out, nodding at appropriate times (constantly), while he thought about what he could do to acquire equipment and help for the upcoming quest. The items he would want would require iron ore, preferably ghost iron ore, and he’d given everything he’d gotten from his dungeon run to the town. He didn’t think the rare leather he’d acquired would be enough to get him what he wanted. Seeing the sheer number of trades going on, Jim kicked himself for not taking the taxation talent at level 6.

Smith’s chatter faded away to nervous umming and ahing. They’d reached the front of the queue. Nate began to prompt the stuttering Smith, but Jim smoothly intercepted the conversation, not wanting to be buried by the apprentice’s verbal dump.

“Hi there, Mr. Riley. My name’s Jim. Brent said I should come and talk to you about acquiring some equipment?” At Jim’s introduction, Nate Riley held his hand out and Jim shook it.

“Nice to meet you, Jim. Call me Nate. We’d be happy to help. What can we do for you?”

“I overheard some players chatting that you exchanged materials for equipment; I was hoping you might do the same for me.”

“Oh, absolutely. What did you need?”

At this point, Jim hesitated. He didn’t want to reveal everything at once. Nate seemed like a nice person, but Jim could see how easily the First Dragon guild leader directed conversation. Could Jim trust this man with his life? He didn’t know. Jim stuck with just the basic pitch he’d developed while ignoring Smith.

“I’m after 30 sets of chain mail armour, 20 sets of leather armour, 30 spears, 30 shields, and 20 bows.” When Jim finished his list, he realised that, if he actually managed to get this massive list of equipment crafted, he probably could have sold it and solved his money problems short-term. He pushed away the thought. Jim needed money in the short term, but he also needed money in the long term. He could always sell it in an emergency.

Nate spent a short while writing Jim’s list and tallying the materials he would need. When he finished, he turned the list for Jim to see. He shook his head when he re-read the list himself.

“What the hell do you need all this for?”

Items:

Materials:

Total:

Chain Mail Armour Set x30

14 iron ore

2 cloth

420 iron ore

60 cloth

Leather Armour Set x20

2 iron ore

14 leather partials

40 iron ore

280 leather partials

Spear x30

2 iron ore

1 wooden stave

60 iron ore

30 wooden staves

Shield x30

4 iron ore

2 wooden planks

1 leather scrap

120 iron ore

60 wooden planks

30 leather scrap


Jim smiled at Nate. “I was actually hoping you might be interested in that, too. I’ve got a pretty big quest coming up, and I could probably use some help.”

Nate agreed instantly, “Done.”

Seeing how readily Nate agreed, Jim attempted to negotiate participation in the quest against some of the huge material costs.

“No way. We can work out a way to split the loot later, but quests and crafting are separate things, sorry Jim.” Nate sounded actually sorry and Jim couldn’t tell if Nate was genuine, or if he were the best salesman he’d ever met. The ensuing round of negotiation for the materials proved the latter, and perhaps some of the former, too. Jim started the negotiations on the back foot, but once he mentioned the Seasoned Hardwood Planks he had stored in one of the wagons, Nate made Jim a very favourable offer.

“Alright. So, for the 30 rare wood, 20 rare hides, 200 rare feathers, and your blacksmithing plans, we’ll make the 50 sets of common gear, five sets of rare gear for your officers, and train up your apprentice.”

With one word and a great deal of thought, Jim traded away almost his entire inventory, “Deal.”

He only had 3 rare hides and 41 feathers left in his bags. After the conversation with Nate, Jim worked out an approximate real-money value of those rare materials. He’d traded almost 3,500 credits of items, though he’d thought they’d have been worth much more.

“Alright. We’ll need the day to get everything sorted on our end. Meet in the town square tomorrow for this quest?” Jim agreed and the two shook hands before parting ways. Nate went back to the much-longer queue of players and Jim left to coordinate with some of the less-busy guild members to transfer the bulky resources.

Jim then led the militia in gathering materials for the town’s construction effort for the rest of the day. Even without any related professions, the militia managed to accumulate and sell 4 silvers worth of items to the town by the end of the workday.

Jim ate quietly beside Langdon and thought about what seemed to dominate everyone’s minds now: Money. Economic inflation in Platinum Online proved to be incredibly strong in this early stage of the game. Just a few days ago, he’d sold a rare tool for 2,000 credits. While he was sure Brett and the guild had got their money’s worth, now similar tools were becoming commonplace; churned out by the guild. In the morning, the rare pickaxes had sold for 20 silver, but, by the evening, so many of those players had returned with such huge quantities of ghost iron ore that the price plummeted, eventually stabilising to just a bit over 10 silver.

Jim finished mopping up a bowl of bland stew with a hunk of coarse bread when a loud voice cracked the quiet evening air right in front of Jim.

“Sir, sir! I’ve done it, look!” Smith actually stopped speaking to look at the weapon he’d crafted. He held a beautiful spear, two-and-a-bit metres long, with a leaf-shaped blade, carved haft and vicious butt-spike. Smith offered it to Jim, still gazing at the work.

“I can’t believe I made this,” Smith muttered.

Quest complete: Learning

The insufferable young Smith has crafted a weapon of beauty and grace.

Help Smith craft a rare item: 1/1.

Rewards: Ghost Steel Dory; Smith has joined the militia; Smith has unlocked the epic talent: Weapons of the Ancient Bloodline.

“Ok, sir, it’s all yours. I’ve got to get back. Master said I have to make all your rare stuff. Bye!”

Ghost Steel Dory: (Rare)
Two-Handed Weapon – Spear
13—16 piercing damage
Durability: 100/100
Ghost Steel Spirit (II): 20% armour penetration.
Weapon of the Ancient Bloodline: +X damage, where X is equal to the user’s level of the Reptilian Bloodline talent.
Restrictions: Level 5; Reptilian Bloodline only.

Jim gaped as Smith ran away. He stared at his retreating back long enough for the new recruit’s status screen to appear in front of his eyes. Jim looked at it briefly, before accessing the man’s talent wheel to see the new talent.

Smith, level 6 Lizardman journeyman armourer.

HP: 180/180

Armourer: (Rare; Advanced)

You specialise in crafting items for the army. Grants improved efficiency and potential when crafting weapons and armour.

Prerequisite: Employment with an organised military force.

Weapons of the Ancient Bloodline: (Epic; Advanced)

An ancient memory has awakened within your reptilian bloodline. Grants knowledge of the weaponry and equipment the Saurian army used to subdue the continent thousands of years ago. These items' power is increased by the armourer’s skill, connection with the ancient bloodline, level and quality of materials.

Prerequisite: Armourer; Reptilian Bloodline; Hidden Quest

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Experimenting with box colours for different purposes. Thoughts?


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About the author

ForgottenManOnline

Bio: Hi,
My name's Tim and I'm writing Forgotten Man Online, a game-literature light novel web-series that I plan to release here, on Royal Road, and eventually hopefully through Amazon's Kindle platform.

I studied writing at university for three years and then became a high-school English teacher in Australia (6 years in). Hopefully, that means you will find my content to be of a high standard and that you will enjoy it, provided you can stand the British spelling of words :).

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