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The World Congress had only lasted about 10 hours total but had without a doubt been a defining moment for the enlightened races of Earth. Most of the powerhouses of the planet met, and alliances, truces, trade agreements, defensive pacts, or just generally friendly relations were established between many factions.

To distinguish a ”winner,” if one may, would be difficult. While Jake and Haven had gotten all the voting results, they wanted and managed to secure both Herbs and the Treasure Hunt event, that didn’t mean they had somehow won out over everyone else. They were far from the only ones, as it wasn’t like the Treasure Hunt was unpopular, and Ores and Metals was the first option voted in, along with the foodstuff one.

The only way to truly say there had been a winner was if a World Leader was selected, but such an option was far off. Perhaps it would happen in a year, or perhaps later than that. Many theorized ways the system would one day enforce that one had to be selected, but that day hadn’t arrived yet.

In the end, it can be said that all of humanity won out. No wars or conflicts were started, as the World Congress had in general been a pleasant event that only led to a stronger bond between the enlightened races, and everyone came out on top – even the undead who had feared for the worst.


Jake, Lillian, Miranda, and Neil appeared back at the good old lodge inside Jake’s valley. They had only been gone for 10 hours, but all of them – besides Neil, who actually seemed quite energetic – were exhausted.

It took a lot out of you to always be on your toes, and even if Jake hadn’t been under as much pressure as Lillian and Miranda when it came to discussions, he was still tired. Jake tended to find social interactions, even those he enjoyed, exhausting in the long run. But the most exhausting thing had been the talk with that Kim Eunseo woman – or Kimmie as she told him just to call her.

She had told him quite a bit about what she and William had been up to, and while Jake had let her talk and he listened, he honestly didn’t care very much about that metal mage anymore. Jake didn’t truly know him as he had only spent a few moments with the guy. He only knew the metal mage more as an idea or a concept than a person.

To Jake, he was a representation of Jake’s own failures during the tutorial, nothing less and nothing more. He had been a living reminder that Jake had fucked up and not even tried to help people he honestly did care about – no matter how much he sucked at showing it. In that sense, Jake wouldn’t say he hated William; he hated what he represented. The only real feeling he felt towards him was apathy.

This ultimately leads to the question: would Jake kill him the next time they met? He couldn’t answer that. He did feel a strange mix of puzzlement, doubt, and even humor in how William had apparently been traumatized by Jake smashing him into the ground. But if he would kill him… time will tell.

If Jake were honest, he would prefer just never to meet the guy again. The psychiatrist talked about him how he was ”improving” and to start moving towards forgiveness if that was at all possible, but Jake really didn’t feel like he had anything to forgive him for. If anyone truly had a bone to pick with William, it wasn’t Jake either… it was Casper, and even more so than that, his girlfriend. William had either been the direct or indirect cause of her death. Jake wasn’t sure which, and he hadn’t been insensitive enough to ask for details.

And one thing was for sure… if Casper decided that little shit needed to be squashed, Jake sure as hell wouldn’t interfere.

”So… what’s the plan now?” Jake asked, shaking his head to get some of those annoying thoughts out of his head.

What was important now was preparing for the Treasure Hunt and nothing else.

Both Miranda and Lillian, who stood there like they were in a daze, just looked at him weirdly as Miranda asked. ”Check out the System Store?”

”Oh, shit,” Jake exclaimed as he swiftly opened it, and instantly a store opened up before him:

Limited System store

Categories:

Ore & Metal

Herbs

Jake didn’t need to go any further than that as he opened up the Herbs category and instantly felt a bit… disappointed. He had a lot of Credits just burning in his metaphysical pocket. A lot.

Credits available: 133.972.000

Jake had even spent a good 700.000 on things. Mainly all the weapons he had destroyed, his order of the mushroom-killing poison devices, and a lot of other minor matters he wanted to be done. He was also fully aware that he had overpaid for pretty much everything, at least he thought so. He had given Miranda 500.000 to buy weapons with, and she did mention he still has some money with the city…

Anyway, all of this is to say that Jake was loaded, and he knew he was loaded and wanted to instantly buy out all the best stuff. Yet the best he could find was a scarce few uncommon rarity herbs, and the rest were common or inferior-rarity.

Well, it wasn’t all bad, and Jake instantly jumped in and checked what the store had in stock. Before that, though, he just quickly skimmed some rules:

The System Store only accepts Credits.

The System Store restocks every 3 days.

Items put up for sale must have a list price and can be bought by anyone with access to the store.

Items bought will appear in your immediate surroundings (if you have spatial storage, it will appear within there).

Items sold directly to the System Store are appraised, and you will be paid immediately based on their estimated worth (determined dynamically, with the current development of Earth taken into account). These items will not become available to others with access to the store.

There were a few other notes, but these were the important ones. Especially the restock-thing was a relief to Jake due to what he planned on doing next.

Without any hesitation, Jake went into the store and bought 50% of the common-rarity Red Lavender, Blue Lavender, and Green Lavender. Each Lavender only had a cost of 250 Credits, with the inferior-rarity version costing 25. Jake left the inferior-rarity versions alone, as quite frankly, he didn’t need it. However, he did see that the inferior-rarity Lavender was disappearing rapidly, likely being bought up by all the different cities, no doubt.

Luckily for them, the system had clearly taken this into account, and there was a near-infinite supply of inferior-rarity Lavender. As for the common-rarity stuff, not so much.

Once he bought it – nearly 1000 plants of each version, making him spend nearly a million Credits right away – he felt it instantly appear within his spatial storage, neatly packed in bundles. 10/10 delivery service. He also quickly bought some Evergreen grass to go with the Lavender, immediately now having enough materials for several thousands of potion batches.

Jake didn’t hesitate as he dove in and began buying up some more stuff, such as all the Bluebright Mushrooms, which was about 70 total only, and more than half of the uncommon-rarity toxins available. That was more than a million Credits down the drain again. He didn’t really sweat it, though, because he quickly tried to do something else fun.

He took out a potion and willed the system to offer to purchase it.

Would you like to sell [Health Potion (Common)] for 6412 Credits?

Well, ain’t that a deal? Jake smiled. It was one of his newest potions, and it was quite potent for sure… but damn, that was some good value. One has to remember that every brewing didn’t result in a single potion but a batch of potions, and at this point, Jake could easily have several potions in every batch.

This meant that Jake could effectively amplify the value of the ingredients by turning them into a potion by about a hundredfold. The only limitation was his own time and boredom. Of course, he had a strong feeling the price would decrease the more he sold - a feeling he tested out.

He had 5 potions from the same batch, restoring the same amount of health each. He sold the first one and saw it disappear from his hand. He quickly did the same two more times and noticed the price reduce slightly, increasing by a bit more every time he sold a potion.

Would you like to sell [Health Potion (Common)] for 6331 Credits?

The last one he would get around 80 less for.

Finally, he took one of the potions and put it up for sale so other cities could buy it. He decided to start high and put it at 15.000 Credits, more than double what the system offered. He didn’t actually think anyone would buy it right away, bu-

Your [Health Potion (Common)] has been sold.

Okay, people really like potions, Jake thought, shaking his head in mild disbelief. Fifteen thousand Credits was a lot to normal people… but then again, a potion restoring nearly your entire health pool is close to a second life. Jake sure as hell wouldn’t be able to be where he was today without chugging down what he now realized was millions of Credits worth of potions.

“Would it be fine if I just offloaded a shitload of potions?” Jake asked Miranda, who also stood in a trance going through the store.

“Sure,” she answered, as Jake saw a weird nugget of metal appear beside her. “It’s your Credits.” Another weird piece of metal appeared, and what looked like an old root soon after, before another small ore popped into existence.

Jake took that approval and rolled with it and put up all the potions he had made as he prepared for the fight against the Prima as well as most of his old common-rarity ones. He had already given out the inferior-rarity ones, so he now put up 99% of the potions he had left.

Which only left one issue… bottles… Jake was nearly out of-

Just as the thoughts appeared, so did the bottles. Hundreds, no, thousands of small potion and poison bottles appeared on the ground just beside Lillian, who stood there with her neutral expression.

“I made a deal to have a supply of bottles sold right after returning at a reduced price, and I was waiting to snipe the postings,” she explained, a small smile creeping onto her lips. “You did mention how you needed bottles, and I assume that need is now bigger than ever.”

“Lillian, you are a goddamn hero!” Jake said, giving her a huge thumbs up.

She looked a bit embarrassed, making Jake happy he hadn’t jumped to his first choice, which was to give her a big bear hug. Jake was feeling damn good, practically shoveling in crafting material, and he even got a bunch of uncommon ingredients for some poison he had researched.

On a side note, most often, you didn’t actually need a specific kind of herb for a recipe; you just needed something that fit the criteria. The Lavender archetypes, as an example, was just one kind of herb that innately stored energy especially suited to the resource potions, and they were incredibly easy to grow and numerous; hence they tended to be the go-to. They were such good herbs because they truly only did that one thing.

So, Jake had needed some more strong poison with powerful necrotic energy to begin making some uncommon-rarity poison in earnest. The super-fungicide had used up far more valuable ingredients than it should have, and it wasn’t something he could mass-produce, far from it.

Apropos the mushroom, Jake also picked up some herbs he hoped to combine with the Lifevines. Maybe even the Lifecore he still had absorbed with Palate of the Malefic Viper that was actually the source behind knowing what he needed. At least he had a solid general sense of what could be good to combo it with.

Finally, Jake tried to look for something he could mix with the weird time-bananas from his time tree. Because one had to remember that Jake now had a time tree. Well, not a tree, but Jake called it a tree anyway.

However, it turns out that finding compatible herbs for time bananas isn’t that easy. Who would have thought? Apparently, time bananas that permanently increased agility weren’t that common… in fact, one could even call them rare… rarity.

Bad jokes aside, Jake spent the next hour or so shopping. All the potions he put up for sale were sold within the first fifteen minutes, making Jake realize he had likely undercharged significantly. But wouldn’t it be kind of an asshole move to overcharge people for what is essentially emergency care? Yeah, overcharging people for stuff like that is some solid asshole behavior.

All of them actually just stood there, likely looking absolutely moronic from an outsider’s point of view. The only thing really happening was items appearing on the ground around Miranda and Lillian once in a while. For Neil and Jake, it just appeared in their spatial storages.

Jake even ended up picking up a few things from the foodstuff store. It was mostly things he just wanted to experiment with as they contained types of energies he thought beneficial during a brew. It could totally end up being a dead-end, but who knows.

“So, any interesting news?” Jake heard a voice echo in his head. He smiled as he felt that the connection was completely back. Well, it had been ever since he left the Congress, but Villy was nice enough to give him some time to look at menus.

“I’ll tell ya in a bit when the others leave, deal? I wanna ask you some stuff too,” Jake answered back. He could have spoken the words out loud, but that would just be weird as he was surrounded by other people.

“Lillian, we should head back to the office and call a meeting with the council to discuss these new developments,” Miranda finally said.

“I’ll tag along; I need to get back with my party. We got some work to do in the next 3 months to make sure we’re all ready for the Treasure Hunt and won’t embarrass Haven,” Neil answered.

“Right, that will certainly be one of the points of discussion. Identify how many citizens we have able to reach D-grade in time and support them to do so,” Miranda said before turning to Jake. “You wanna come along?”

She looked like she already knew the answer and only asked to be polite. And, well, she did know the answer.

“Nah. I got some stuff to handle,” Jake said dismissively.

He had just spent 10 hours in a congress surrounded by hundreds of people. No fucking way he was going to another meeting. Besides, he had to wait for the hawks to get back. They tended to spend a lot of time hunting these days, with even Sylphie tagging along.

“Alright, take care. I’ll come by and inform you later,” Miranda answered with a nod, quickly adding. “Tomorrow, that is.”

Giving an affirming nod, he saw them all walk out of the valley, leaving Jake back in the valley. Alone with himself, his thoughts, and an impatient god he had put on hold.

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Zogarth

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