Whether it was because he’d met her before, or owned a settlement in which she already existed—Blibl was available as a System-assigned—rather than generated—Alchemical Vendor. He mashed the build button as hard as he could.

He rushed down to street level as the building began to assemble, grinning like a fool. He spotted Sarah entering the settlement, walking dazedly through the gates. The other four humans, who had since exited their houses, gathered around to watch. Sarah joined them a moment later.

Chris felt gazes dart between himself and the Alchemical Vendor. Oh, right. He must look strange, being half naked and half armored.

“No one go inside,” he cautioned, then jogged over to the General Supplies Vendor to get some clothes.

The five people were still standing outside, looking none the worse for wear, when he returned—now divested of his armor, wearing a set of comfortable, well-made clothes, and with his hammer in hand.

He stopped by Sarah as he passed her. “Thanks, by the way, for your help back there. And, uh, sorry, things get a little crazy around here.”

She nodded noncommittally, probably still trying to purge the images of Chris’ napkin-skin from her mind.

Chris continued on, walking forward. Standing in front of the door, he turned to address everyone else.

“Rule number one: don’t attack Blibl. She’s stronger than you. Rule number two: when Blibl is wearing her eyebrows, you will act as if she is a human. That is non-negotiable.” He stepped aside, giving his five new citizens the opportunity to enter. He pushed the door open. “Go ahead.”

The five of them filed in, Sarah entering last and bumping into another’s back as the front of the column suddenly stopped in place.

Chris grinned. “Don’t say it.”

Slowly, the procession continued in and he finally stopped inside. Things were a little… different.

Stacked around Blibl’s counter like a holy shrine were bundles of flowers, letters, and drawings—all slightly translucent and unreal. He gave some of the objects a poke. They were solid, but he was unable to move them.

He poked at the letters, reading some of their contents.

Color rose to his cheeks. They were love letters—with different letters complimenting, often contradictory, parts of Blibl’s fictitious appearance. According to only the visible letters, Blibl had eyes like pale smoke, eyes like midnight stars, and a kaleidoscope of other shades. That was just the eyes, eyebrow compliments were even more frequent, as well as various deviations into how she wore a radiant mantle of coupon clips.

There was even some… well… smut…

He heard an intake of breath from behind him, at the same moment a squishy form landed on his hair and a little blob of Slime wiggled in front of his face. “Lord Christopher, stop being a pervert? Don’t read Blibl’s love letters,” Blibl danced in front of his face—continuing with her method of movement based communication.

Chris coughed and stood back up. A small snicker came from behind him. Had they seen what Blibl had said as well?

Blibl launched off his head, back onto the counter.

Chris rubbed his rumpled hair, looking back at the five humans behind him. All of them seemed to be shifting between a blend of confusion and amusement.

“Um, this is Blibl, she’s the human alchemist for Hartshire as well.”

Blank faces at that.

“Hartshire is another human settlement nearby. It’s a lot bigger.”

He looked back to Blibl, just in time to see her finish wobbling something to the humans behind him.

“How are you both here and there, by the way? You are Blibl, right?”

Blibl did a little hop, circle, and shake of agreement. “Blibl is Blibl. Blibl is definitely Human alchemist. The System helped make a second shop for Blibl. Blibl can do business in both shops independently and know what is going on in each.” Blibl paused, then her eyebrows scrunched together. “Have any of the humans had a discount today?”

“No we haven’t.”

Blibl’s eyebrows shot up. She vibrated with worry as she jumped down behind the counter-slash-shrine and returned with a bundle of coupon vouchers inside her.

Chris felt Blibl’s attention on him. Then she did a little backflip like motion. “Blibl is worried about Lord Christopher. Philip and Bruce just said to make sure you eat your daily nutritional requirement of discounts.” Blibl nodded to herself, then wiggled again. “A discount a day keeps the doctor away.”

Chris stepped back as he realized what had happened. “I’ve already had my—”

A coupon voucher shot into his mouth. He gasped and spat it out. Only for Blibl to launch another into his mouth from the bundle inside her with uncanny precision. Blibl seemed to tap dance for a moment. “Philip said you’d say that. Eat your discounts.”

Chris chewed the coupon, surprised to find that it actually tasted quite good—like a pastry. Not that he wasn’t going to get Philip and Bruce back for that.

One of the five humans spoke up from behind him. “Actually, it’s vegetables that are good for health.”

Blibl hopped. “How do you know that?”

“I used to be a doctor,” the man said.

Blibl’s eyebrows thickened suddenly. A stream of coupons whistled through the air toward the doctor like machine gun fire. “Begone doctor! Blibl will not let you hurt humans.”

Chris chuckled as the doctor fled the onslaught of coupons, receding deeper into the shop, ducking behind shelves and stands of potions and alchemical supplies. Blibl followed in hot pursuit, scream dancing as she went. “Begone doctor! The power of discounts compels you!”

Chris laughed under his breath. The coupons weren’t very powerful, even if they were fast. The doctor would probably be fine. His ego? Probably not.

It was entertaining to see Philip and Bruce’s attempt at trolling him back had landed, mostly, on someone else.

However, it did reveal one thing. That Blibl was indeed able to communicate between her iterations, and that the Hartshire Blibl was probably communicating with Bruce and Phil right now. It would be worth seeing if that could be turned into a form of long range communication—although there were probably better options.

It was probably best to check up with them from time to time. They might be going a little crazy over Blibl there. These ones with him seemed far less relaxed and happy go lucky. They’d only turned up recently. At what? Seven days after the first humans arrived at Kingscastle. Where had they been beforehand? There had to be more of them out there—somewhere. If five of them had spontaneously appeared in his settlement, there would inevitably be more humans from where they came from.

Sarah had been quick to save him from the portal, even if she’d been too weak to do much. The others were alert and composed. Except for the doctor. He and Blibl returned just as Chris was deep in thought—although, given how the doctor stood slightly apart and kept on glancing at Blibl, he had been threatened on pain of discount to keep away from everyone else.

Chris didn’t find it quite so lighthearted anymore. He didn’t know precisely what was going on.

Sarah didn’t either. “Why are we here?” she asked.

“Well, I wanted to buy a couple of potions, and make sure you didn’t accidentally get yourself killed by attacking the various Vendors here.” He inclined his head toward Blibl.

“Are any more of them… like Blibl?” another of the humans behind him said.

“Nope. Just Blibl so far.”

Chris quickly bought several more F-2 rank health potions. He wanted to test if he could store them inside his arm, like Blibl did with stuff. He tapped Sarah on the shoulder when he left, gesturing outside.

He needed to find out what was going on back on Earth—assuming Sarah hadn’t been transported elsewhere. Then he’d need to get some more armor; he always seemed to be buying more armor these days. Then, if everything worked out, he wanted to get his Class Skills. He assumed that, taking a hint from the name, such a thing would require him to plant the Tower Seed.


About the author


Bio: [participant in the Royal Road Writathon challenge]

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