I headed back to Finnegans as fast as I could without getting my new finery all sweaty. I had one silver, fifty-eight coppers, and thirty-seven minutes left. I planned to breeze through Finnegan's shop before heading back down to the ship, only stopping long enough to grab some rum from a distillery in the undercity. Just before I entered the Nimble Thimble, however, a peal of crazed laughter spilled from the open display window.
I pushed open the door to see the old man holding a small item over his head triumphantly. He didn’t notice my entrance and I got close enough to see he was holding what looked like a black cloth shoe.
“What ‘cha got there?” I asked, curious enough to spend some of my limited time for an answer. Finnegan jumped, clearly unaware that he had a visitor. Then he brightened.
“Patrick! Come, look at this!” He beckoned me closer and I obligingly stepped forward so he could hold the shoe up for my inspection.
“Nice.” I said, going more by Finnegan's reaction than any knowledge of the item’s quality. Finnegan chuckled and shook his head.
“Nice, he says. Boy, do you have any idea what this is?” He pointed at the black thread that blended almost perfectly with the black cloth.
“Can’t say that I do Finnegan. I thought you were going to be busy fixing up my cap...”
“Oh, right,” Finnegan said before pulling a hat down from a peg behind him and handing it to me. “Finished this up in under an hour. Then I got to looking over that shirt you left me. It has a stitching pattern I’ve never seen before! Your crazy idea for shoes was still bouncing around in my head and I thought, why not give it a try. These seams are at least half again as strong as anything I have made before!”
I hardly paid attention to the words tumbling from the old man in a rush. I was lost in the beautiful patterns embroidered into the unrecognizable cap. The fabric was still green but that’s where the similarities ended. The ratty feather was replaced by a fluffy azure plume any peacock would be jealous of. White and blue thread was liberally applied around the brim making for a pattern of wind-swept waves. Better than all that though, the charisma boost had increased by two whole points!
Embroidered Courtier's Cap
Finnegan stopped talking at some point while I was distracted and another prompt appeared.
Quest: Walk a mile in Finnegans Slippers
Test Finnegan's new experiment by walking one mile. Return the slippers to Finnegan for inspection.
Success: +1 reputation level with Finnegan
Failure: -1 reputation level with Finnegan
“I’d love to test these slippers out but I just don’t have the time today.” I admitted sadly.
“That’s fine, just bring them back when you return from your voyage,” Finnegan said happily while pushing the slippers into my hands. A part of my mind was screaming at me to shut up and accept the gift, but Finnegan had been good to me and one good turn deserves another.
“Are you sure? That could be a while. Why not have someone else test them?” Finnegan waved off the question.
“And let my competitors steal this secret? No thank you. I'd test them myself but my legs aren't what they used to be and puttering around the shop wouldn't be a very good test of their durability. I’m pretty confident that you aren’t in league with any of those scoundrels considering that you brought this treasure to me in the first place. I can trust you to do your damndest to break them without turning around and selling them the moment you leave. ”
“Thank you.” I said, accepting the slippers and the quest. Finnegan waved me off again.
“Nonsense, I should be the one thanking you. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve been so excited about my craft. Ever since you walked through my door this morning it felt like half my years just flew away! The world is full of promise and possibility again! Thank you for knocking this old man out of his rut. Now, try those on, I want to see if my theory is right!”
Unsure what he was talking about but unwilling to dash off without paying proper respect to the man that made my day so profitable, I put the cap on my brow and pulled the slippers over my feet. They were a perfect fit and something occurred to me for the first time.
“How are all your clothes perfectly sized for me?” I asked. “You never took my measurements.” It would be too much to believe that he had a set of court finery in exactly my size.
“That’s just the effect of a little ability I picked up along the way. All my clothes will fit, no matter the wearer.” Then his enormously magnified eyes sparkled behind their lenses.
“It worked!” He shouted doing a little jig as he turned on the spot. The old man looked unstable on his wobbling legs but his excitement was contagious.
“What worked?” I asked.
“The set bonus!”
My eyebrows shot up. I looked down at my chest and a slew of notifications rolled past.
Courtier's Full Set (+18 CHA)
Embroidered Cap +3 CHA
Velvet Doublet +4 CHA
Pantaloons +3 CHA
Hose +1 CHA
Gloves +1 CHA
Slippers +1 CHA
Set bonus +5 CHA
My jaw dropped. This was far beyond anything I expected. The plan was to use clothes to offset my low natural Charisma of 7. In the end, with all the clothes and the enchanted ring, my Charisma shot up to 26 in one day! My dad always used to tell me that the clothes made the man but this dimension took that idiom to a whole other level.
The stat points from the clothes were as much as I could earn in three entire levels! That even included the extra stat points I would get for coming from another dimension!
“Wow.” Was all I could think to say for a moment. Then I remembered how pressed I was for time.
“This is incredible! How much do I owe you?” The set was great but I still needed some coin left over to get more commodities to sell.
“No charge, you’re doing me a favor here. I wouldn’t even have been able to make them without your help.”
I couldn’t just take his generosity and bolt, so I quickly scanned his piles of merchandise and bought a stack of 20 simple wide-brimmed straw hats for a copper each before dashing off for the lifts.
The fabric of the slippers was thin and soft. The bottoms were made of something a touch more durable but I could still feel the shape of every cobble underfoot as I streaked through the central plaza, drawing more than a few eyes in my hurry. The slippers were definitely better suited to thick carpets in opulent halls than city streets.
I jumped onto one of the glowing platforms just seconds before it started descending. There was no cost for riding down as my weight was technically helping to lift cargo on another platform. I should clarify. There was no monetary cost, but running across the counterweights in my new threads felt like a kick in the gut. I tried my best to look past them. Then, after berating myself, I offered the slaves some of Tarron’s meat pies.
The slaves looked horrified by the gesture and the supervising mage shouted for me to leave them alone. I sheepishly stuffed the food back into my inventory. I’m sure the back of my neck was bright red for the rest of the descent. Acting without a good understanding of the situation was just going to cause more problems no matter how much charisma I had.
Besides that social misstep, the ride itself was smooth, very much like an elevator... if the elevator had no walls, guard-rails, or even cables holding it up. I'm sure the view would have been breath-taking but I was having a hard enough time keeping my breathing under control without looking out over the dizzying drop in every direction.
A small punt was willing to take me to the cavern's shore for a copper and by the time we got to a dock near the Sea-Cow, I guessed I only had around 15 minutes to spare. It was easy enough to find a drinking establishment on the way to the ship. I didn’t have much time to haggle but my high Charisma and low regard for the distiller's opinion of me saw me leaving with no less than ten bottles of rum for 11 coppers each. That was nearly half of what I paid last time! Admittedly, last time I was blackout drunk and didn't even have the Trade skill so it wasn't that great a feat.
There were plenty of distillers in town so I had no issue with making one or two of them hate me from aggressive haggling before my contract was up and I never did business with them again.
I dumped the rest of my copper onto a rickety street vendor's cart, cleaning out their stock of unidentifiable meat on a stick.
I remembered to duck into an alley and change into my new sailor's vest and shorts just before getting back to the Sea Cow. The work-clothes were made of durable tan cloth and the shoulders were reinforced with extra layers. Nothing so thick as armor but enough padding to soften any load you had to carry on a shoulder. I was pleasantly surprised by a set bonus too. Apparently Courtiers had much higher requirements as to what constituted a 'full' set of clothing. It wasn't nearly as powerful as the set bonus from my other clothes but it was welcome all the same.
Sailors Full Set
Moments after I pulled on the vest, a cloak & dagger type came around the corner.
“Oy, you! Did a blue and green dandy just come through here?”
Words caught in my throat but I pointed a thumb over my shoulder at the far exit to the alley. The rogue flipped me a copper and continued following the fancy-lad who was throwing coins around like they were gravel. I’d have to be a little more discreet in the future. I had no clue that I was even being followed and if I wasn't in such a rush, my story might have ended right here, next to a few rotting barrels and piss-stained walls.
I took a moment to calm down and thank the Earth-Mother again for the extra-dimensional storage. That thing had already saved my ass on multiple occasions. I stepped out of the alley, bare feet padding on the cold cobbles once again. Duncan was on the deck, arms folded.
“Took you long enough. We could have left over an hour ago if we weren’t waiting on you!” He bellowed.
There was no clock-tower down here but I was pretty sure I made it back on time. At worst I was a few minutes late. There was no point arguing with the Captain though so I picked up my feet and jogged the rest of the way. Duncan ordered me to untie the ship from the docks and I had to clamber up the side as it pulled away.
As we rowed our way out of the cavern, I got grief for my lateness and congratulations for leveling in equal measure. It was obvious enough with the way my physique changed and how clean I suddenly was compared to the rest of the crew. Before we left the cavern however, I was just as coated in sweat as the rest of them.
It should be said that I didn't just change my clothes to keep the salt-spray and hard-labor from ruining them. So far I'd been able to keep my little smuggling operation a secret from the rest of the crew. I didn't see any reason to change that. It had worked out pretty well for me after all and this was only the beginning.