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A note from kosnik4

My chapters are slowly getting longer, around 3,200 words this time. I have a new respect for authors like pirateaba, I have no idea how they can do over 40,000 words a week regularly. If you aren’t already reading The Wandering Inn, I highly recommend it.

Why do I have to be the adult in this relationship?

I know I’m old mentally, but Del left his city when he was 70.

I shouldn’t have to remind grandpa to clean his room.

Gods, I’m already turning into my mother.

So tired, we spent the rest of the day cleaning everything. Now I’m covered again, in all things foul. Walking home to a verbal slap-down doesn’t make me feel any better either. It’s too cold to wash off before I get home and mother should already be making dinner. A Sneak or Invisibility skill would be handy right about now.

Maybe she’s distracted teaching Richard to cook. If I can make it to the hallway, I’ll only have to explain why I snuck in. Is sneaking around better than being filthy?

Reaching our front door, I bend down and unfasten my shoes. My feet will get cold but sneaking barefoot is quieter. Just have to open the door slowly.

Cccrakkkeeeee

Gods, damn that door. Maybe that’s why dad never fixes it, the door has a built-in alarm system. Looking in, Richard and mother are staring at me while I'm in the doorway. Richard is trying not to laugh, while mother looks like she could be a dragon in disguise. I wonder how far she can spit flames?

“I thought a goblin was trying to sneak in. Turns out its just my filthy daughter. Did you have fun at work?” Her eyes are demanding a tribute, but I don’t have any gold on me or does she want blood?

“Sorry mom, I didn’t want to disturb your cooking lessons with brother; so, I thought I’d try to be more quiet today.” She’s not buying it! Smile and charm! Smile and Charm!

“Go wash yourself… now!” It's worst when she’s quiet!

My feet are too dirty to put on my slippers. Walking on the cold stone I move to the bucket of water mom keeps for dad.

There are two now?

Looking over my shoulder, mom's still stone faced. I grab one of the buckets and head to my room, but right before I enter my room, mother's voice sends a shiver down my spine.

“I knew you’d be dirty again.” Closing the door behind me, I’m reminded how scary mother can be.

Taking off my clothes, I start wiping my body down with the cold washrag. Pausing for just a minute, I look down at my naked body. I don’t feel any desire when looking down. It’s just me.

When I think about it, I’ve fully transitioned into my new life. My previous memories have helped shape who I am, but I’m Aaliyah now: and that’s just fine.

With the philosophical outlook on myself over, I finish cleaning myself. “Man, that water is dirty. No wonder mom was pissed.” Carrying the dirty water back to the front door only Richard turns to smile at me. Mother doesn’t even turn around from stirring the stew.

“Make sure you throw it far enough away from the door, Aaliyah.” Her timing always amazes me, I was just about to toss it outside and be done with it. “Yes Mother,” I responded with a content voice. Maybe all mothers are psychic?

Throwing on my shoes, I round our house to dispose of the disgusting water. I need to find a better way to clean myself. My new job is probably going to be messy.

Cccrakkkeeeee

After entering our house again, and closing the door softly behind me; I can finally put my slippers on.

Cccrakkkeeeee

Stumbling on one leg, I hit the stone floor; landing on my rear-end. This brings back memories. Looking up, I see father closing the door again behind him.

“You ok sweety? I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“You didn’t scare me, dad. I’m still getting used to my Dexterity.” His snicker proves my story wasn’t working.

With my slippers on, I go to help set the table for dinner.

Everyone in our house moves with a certainty to it. Dad changes, I set the table, brother and mother bring the food, we pray, and we eat. Even if our schedule is the same, it’s the most important part of our day. The whole family can relax and talk about how our days went.

Usually we get exaggerated stories from dad, mom complaining how dirty our clothes are, or brother talking about something he learned from Salus. Richard was in the spotlight since he started his job a few years ago, but now I’m the one with the new profession; making it my job to entertain the family and listen to what they have to say about my work.

“What is that man having you do all day? I know yours isn’t the cleanest job, but do you have to come home filthier than your father?”

“Are you sure you want to be a blacksmith sweety? There’s plenty of other jobs around, or you could come to work with me again?”

“He probably hired you to be a maid. Whenever Salus takes us to get nails from Del, the whole place is always messy. A rabbit maid, no; a bunny maid!”

“Richard if you call me that again, I’ll burn your house down while you're sleeping!” I make sure he recognizes how serious I am. I will not be called a bunny maid!

“And for the rest of you, I know what I’m doing. We came to an agreement today, and Master Del seems really excited to teach me.”

“He originally didn’t want to teach me, but I refused to leave. I know how messy Master Del is. To pass the time, I started cleaning and we got talking. Del isn’t a bad guy, he’s just awkward around people. We talked and I convinced him how serious I am about blacksmithing.”

“In fact, he got so excited he wanted to start teaching me today. However, I couldn’t work in such a dirty environment. So, it was my idea to clean everything.”

Everyone is gawking at me. Brother looks surprised, father appears sad for some reason, while mother actually looks a little proud.

“I’m sorry I came home so messy again mom; depending on what he teaches me, I don’t think I’ll be coming home this dirty again.”

“It’s not that I’m worried about how dirty you get, honey. Like your brother said, he could be just looking for a maid. If he has you ruin your stat distribution, you can get stuck working for him; unable to find another job.”

“Why are you so worried about Master Del, mom?”

“It’s weird that he’s out here, ok. Growing up in a merchant household, I’ve heard many things about Stone Kin. They may produce some of the finest goods around; but they never, and I mean never, live outside their cities.”

Mothers words silence the table.

“That man could have been banished for any number of reasons. I worry about something happening to you.”

All three of them are looking at me now. How do I convince them Del is an alright person?

“You're right mom.” Mom looks at me in disbelief. If you try to argue with someone who already made up their mind, you’ll always lose.

“I don’t know who Del-Razen is, but I do know he is an accomplished blacksmith though. I don’t need to distribute my points right after starting my apprenticeship. I’ll keep an eye on him and if something funny happens I’ll tell you guys immediately.”

“We will always support you Aaliyah. If you need anything at all let us know about it, ok?

“Ok,” I smile thanking my supportive family.

With those last words from dad and my acceptance of a nosy family, we finished dinner in peace. Richard leaves after helping us clean our small kitchen, while the rest of us go off to bed. I can’t remember when I last felt this physically tired. Cleaning Master Del’s place, even with boosted stats was incredibly taxing.

Even the muffled sounds from my parents room can’t keep me awake tonight, thank the gods.

 


 

The cave is shaking again, I don’t want to die!

My eyes open with mother shaking the life out of me. “Maybe I don’t have to worry about you working for Del; he’ll fire you if you keep showing up late.”

“He’s probably…”, I stop my retort. Probably not the best idea to tell mom that Del is probably not even up yet either.

Focusing inward, I check my mana.

“Yeeeesss!”

My mana flow is finally repaired! Slowly speeding it up, I don’t feel any pain anymore. I can finally train my mana skills again tonight.

Getting dressed, I wonder what Del has planned for today. If he acts like yesterday, I’ll probably have to steer him in the right direction. With my hand on my bedroom door, I remember there is something else I need to do.

Status Page:

LV: 38 Experience: 14,308/ 48,950
Health: 1000/1000 Stamina: 664/666 Mana: 500/500
Vitality: 100
Endurance: 50
Strength: 50
Dexterity: 50
Senses: 50
Mind: 50
Magic: 50
Clarity: 50
Status Points: 106
Skills: Sense Mana (LV45), Acting (LV25), Meditation (LV43), Expel mana (LV27), Charm (LV33), Running (LV31), Cleaning (LV17), Mathematics (LV26), Writing (LV12), Mana Manipulation (LV5), Wood Carving (LV8), Drawing (LV5), Axe Skills (LV2), Inject mana (LV1)

I gained a few skill levels, while on sick leave.

Sense Mana went up by two and Meditation three times. Those skills went up the most because of mom forcing me to stay in bed all day. The two days of cleaning Del’s place gave me five levels in my Cleaning skill while Drawing and Wood Carving went up by two in my spare time. Hopefully I can get some cool blacksmithing skills and maybe Del can answer some of my mana questions. He can’t use magic but he probably knows a lot more than Anastasia.

Walking through the house and giving mom a goodbye-kiss, I step outside. I can tell its colder but it isn’t affecting me as much as last year.

My stats! That’s why people still go out into the snow and rain. With higher stats, temperature isn’t a problem. Last night the floor was probably freezing, but it only felt a little cold to me. I could practice outside more if I raise Endurance higher!

No. If I waste my points for that, it will be awhile before I can get them back. Looking at the clouded sky, I think I’ll do my exercises and run a few laps. Let see if I can finish before Del gets up by himself. I could work up a morning training schedule if he always gets up late.

 


 

Stretching and running ten laps around the village, with a cooldown walk to Del’s house only took me an hour. Looking around the clearing, I don’t see Master Del.

His door is unlocked, so I let myself in. A dirty pot of stew is left sitting next to his fireplace. After all the work I put into cleaning yesterday, he can’t even clean a single pot! Taking the dish outside, I scrub it clean.

Now that I have a clean pot, I have an easy way to wake Master up. Taking the pot over to his well, I fill it with water. Master's physical skills keep him from feeling me trying to wake him up physically, I wonder if that applies to waterboarding as well?

Walking over to his sleeping form a devilish smile crosses my face. I place one of his work rags over his exposed face. Ever so slowly I start pouring the pot of water over him.

“Kha..Kha…Kha!”

The bundle of hides rolls onto the floor, with a coughing dwarf still wrapped up. After he frees himself, he quickly finds me. Before he can yell, I cut him off.

“Good thing I cleaned your floor yesterday, you would have fallen onto some scrap metal if I didn’t.”

“Was that water magic? I thought I was drowning! He looks a little frightened.

“You scared of water? Is that why you smell like you haven’t washed in days?" I taunt him while he’s still on the ground.

“Yes, water scares me! Stone Kin aren’t known for their swimming. The scariest thing possible in a mine is falling in water. You never know how deep it is or if it’s acidic. Miners drown every year; it’s considered one of the worst ways to go!” Now I feel like an asshole.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know. I just wanted to wake you up. I’m not strong enough to physically wake you.” It takes a minute but Del calms down and thinks about my problem.

“Aww yes. You see that barrel with the nozzle? That’s my Blacksmiths Brew, fill up my canteen and wave it under my nose, that should wake me up.” Your favorite drink works as smelling salts!

“Alright lass, now that you woke me up so early let’s get to work.”

I put my hand in front of him, so he can’t walk outside yet.

“First, the whole village has been up for hours. Second, wash your dishes before you go to bed.” I hand Del the clean pot I’ve been carrying. “And third, wash yourself! You smell like good cheese.”

Slamming the door behind me I take a seat on one of his stone benches. He’ll need to scrub for at least an hour to remove the smell of depression.

 


 

“Happy now?!” Del yells from his doorway. He finally changed his clothes; I’ll have to train him to wash himself regularly.

“Yes, did your cleaning skill go up after washing? I gained five levels after helping you clean your house the last two days.”

“Haw-haw, good to know my apprentice has a sense of humor.”

Without smiling, I look at him, “I wasn’t joking.”

Del looks away and coughs, trying to clear the air.

“Speaking of skills if you’re going to be my apprentice, I have a few questions I need to ask. Do you have any smithing skills?”

“Does Axe Skills count?”

“It does actually. Axe Skills affects your use of a pickaxe. What’s your skill level and overall level?”

How do I answer this? I don’t mind giving him some of my information, but how will he react to my level?

He’s not pressuring me. Let’s see how I compare to other people. “It’s 2 and 38.”

“If you don’t want to tell me it's ok, I understand. You don’t need to lie though.” So, he doesn’t believe me, lets wipe that grin away.

“I’m serious, I reached level 38.” Del’s face freezes.

“That’s impossible, you turned ten less than a moon ago! How did you level so quickly?!”

“That’s really personal information, I understand we’re Master and apprentice but I have some secrets to keep. All you need to know is that I’m a hard worker. Any more questions?”

“I won’t ask you your full status build; but for now, I need to know your Vitality, Strength, and Dexterity. I need to know your Vitality in case you get hurt, while Strength and Dexterity affect proper metalworking.”

“100… 50… and 50”

Hearing my values, he breathes a sigh of relief.

“At least your stats aren’t ridiculous as well. That’s a good place to start off learning to smith. You should save your points till you reach the age of 15. When your body stops growing, that’s when your points become the most important. I’ll try to teach you the foundations of blacksmithing till then. Do you have any questions for me now?”

“Only two. What level are you, and what am I learning first?”

Now Master Del looks unsure whether or not to respond. I just gave him a lot of my personal information. If he can’t do the same, I might have to find a new master.

“I’m level 87.” He didn’t take as long as I did to decide.

Gods, I thought father was ridiculously strong. This guys a monster. How do you get a level like that?

“Stop giving me that look. You may think my level is high, but that’s only because normal humans don’t have time to level like Stone Kin do.

“This year I’ll be 238 years old. Stone Kin usually reach level 100 by the time they reach 140 years of age. By Stone Kin standards I’m quite under leveled.”

Over level 100, how strong does that make someone? I feel super human at level 38; what’s possible with a level three times that, or more.

Looking at Master Del, he’s just sitting there waiting for me to compose myself. Taking a few breaths, I set a new goal in my heart. I’ll rise my level to the highest any human has ever gone. Crafting in games gives loads of experience, I need to learn everything I can from Master Del.

Standing up, I shout to the gods.

“I’m ready!”

Realizing how silly I must look; I turn to Del.

He’s just sitting there with his hand on his chin, I didn’t know people actually did that.

“What’s wrong? Did I do something?”

“Huh, no. I was thinking about your second question. This is the first time I’m teaching somebody else. If we were in a Stone Kin city you would start off identifying metals.”

“That wont work here because I have a limited selection of metals, I only have what I can mine myself. I had to learn about mining metal the hard way after I left my home. Unlike our cities, we don’t have magic tools to mine and smelt large amounts of minerals. So, I was thinking about taking you mining for your first lesson.”

When he mentions mining, the feeling of being crushed to death comes to mind.

“There’s a mine around here, is it safe?” I can’t help but tremble a little.

Walking up to me, master Del puts his hand on my shoulder. The strength from his hand envelopes me like a hug. If I didn’t already know master can’t use magic, I would have thought he cast a calming spell on me.

“Worried about cave-ins, huh. I sometimes forget humans fear things like that. I can promise you the mine is very safe and even if a collapse happens, I could dig us out in a minute.”

That’s right, master strength must be over 300 he could probably pick up a boulder like an apple.

“Take some deep breaths and calm yourself. Stand here while I grab some gear.”

Disappearing into his house for only a few minutes he comes out with two pickaxes, two weird looking hard hats, and a clear stone.

“Here take the light-hat and an pickaxe. I’ll show you how to use them when we get to the mine.”

Following behind master, as he walks around his hut, and over to a giant hand cart made of metal. It has to be five feet wide and ten feet long with a metal wheel in the front. Del simply gets behind the giant metal wheelbarrow and starts pushing it towards an open path leading deeper into the forest.

Remembering what dad taught me, I survey the woods around me, not that Del cares. He walks forward never taking his eyes off the path. I bet he could punch a karhu to death if he needed to.

Twenty minutes later we come to a small quarry. The forest has been pushed back, with rocks piled around the perimeter. The dirt path leads straight down to the bottom of the quarry, where a stone archway stands leading to a deep abyss.

“Is this my first Dungeon Crawl?”

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A note from kosnik4

Thanks for reading everybody. Please continue to rate my story, I think I’m close to breaking into the top 500. That being said does anyone know how to make it onto the trending list?

 

Thank you for your comments, please continue to point out any errors you can find.

 

Stay safe


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kosnik4

Bio: Just love a good story.

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