Chapter 4 The Slums Of Tresluna
Axel was halfway around the noble area, when he received a message. It wasn’t from his phone in real life, but from his in-game account. Axel wondered who he had already pissed off, but was ultimately surprised when he who messaged him.
Message from G3T_JACKED69
Yo man whats up. I didn’t realise you started playing the new game. Its been like four years?
He winced. It was Jack, his old best friend. It was not like they fell out, more of Axel just not having the time to talk. He felt embarrassed. Since the dreadful event that plagued his life, he hadn’t responded to any of his messages. Axel thought it would be best to dismiss him.
Send message to G3T_JACKED69
Its not him, i bought his old account. I was a big fan back in the day.
Axel thought that should be enough. He was very famous back in the old days. Within only a few seconds, Jack responded.
Message from G3T_JACKED69
You cant fool me man. I know youd never sell ur account.
“Fuck,” murmered Axel. It was true, he would never sell his account. It just showed that Jack knew him so well.
Message from G3T_JACKED69
Im being serious. I asked why he was selling and he said financial problems. He was selling cheap too. I kept trying to join the wanderers back on Omegas since i wanted to join his team. Kinda sucks he quit.
Message from G3T_JACKED69
Shit. well if ur actually him and just avoiding my messages for some fucked up reason im always here if you wanna do some grinding. Its been so long i wanna catch up. And if ur not Axel then hope you enjoy his account.
That hit Axel quite hard. Him and Jack had been best friends since they were 14-years-old. He lived in the United States, but they played together constantly. They played so much that time zones had little meaning to both of them. Every game they started playing, they were absolutely inseparable. In the end, he decided to not respond. Axel thought it was best that way, but in truth, he was hiding his embarrassment. He liked Jack, and always will.
He switched off the messages, just as he noticed jagged rocks coming from within the city. Once he reached near it, he noticed just how large the slums were. He walked down a few more streets so he could get a better view. The jagged rocks created a cove of sorts. It drowned the slums in shadows; hiding most of it.
Axel had to admit it was pretty cool. There were houses that were built up the side of the jagged rocks, each piled on top of the other. Most of the houses were on their last legs, which only matched Axel’s current predicament.
“It’s perfect!” he exclaimed.
Axel had other plans for the slums, but right now he needed to find a vendor to sell the stolen items. He strolled down the street, noticing the building were slowly declining the closer he got to the slums. Eventually, he reached what seemed to be the unofficial entrance. The was a sign that read ‘Bandits Hideaway’, and pleasant skull drawn on it beneath.
He rubbed his hands together and said, “I’m home.”
Walking through fairly confidently, he spotted various NPCs walking around. They wore rags, and someone of the children were barely clothed. “Damn, this place is pedo’s wet dream.” There were other players about, although very rare. They probably were on the same page as him, or exploring the city like a bunch of foolish tourists.
There were a few stalls too. There was bread that looked a few days out of date and had turned into rocks. He did however, find a second hand clothing stall where he was going to buy from. But the one thing he was looking for, was a dodgy guy selling-
“Ah, there he is.”
Axel walked up to a rickety stall selling trinkets and weapons. “Good afternoon,” Axel said, introducing himself. “I’m here to sell you some stuff.”
The seller stepped out from the back of the stall, and slowly walked up to him. It was a man, he was tall, with long white hair and a great eyepatch.
“What do you want, traveller?”
“To sell you some stuff,” Axel replied. He didn’t want to be sarcastic to him.
“What sort of stuff? You know, you could get a much better price somewhere else . . . Unless, these items are stolen?”
Axel grinned. “Someone with common sense.”
The seller matched his grin. “So, what have you got?”
“These,” Axel replied after dumping out the four weapons on the table.
The man picked one up carefully, but he didn’t examine the blade. Instead, he unwound the leather on the handle, and checked the bottom of the weapon. “You robbed that half-orc?”
Axel gulped while looking around. “Uh, how did you know?”
The man grinned again. “I’m impressed . . . Sellers like to mark their items here. Helps with thieves. That half-orc would have ripped you from the inside out if he caught ya.”
“Lucky he didn’t get me then,” Axel remarked, rubbing the back of his head.
“You’re a good thief. My name’s Barb.”
“Short for Barbra?” Axel questioned.
“No, because I lost my eye to a barbed slasher,” the man responded. He lifted up his eye patch to show it was heavily scarred. “It got me good.”
“Ouch,” Axel replied. It seemed awful.
“I see you got a black eye yourself, so at least we’re talking injured to injured, ey.” The man clicked his teeth as he placed them back down on the table. “For all these, I can do you 19 silver and 2 copper.”
Axel did the maths in his head. The actual value with I See Coins, was 20 silver and 7 copper; or 2 gold and 7 copper. It didn’t seem bad to Axel; he knew that he was going to get undercut, but still, the deal was good.
“Alright,” Axel said.
The man grinned. “I know that you loot goblins are good with coin. And you knew I was gonna undercut you a small amount for stolen goods. I like you. What’s your name, goblin?”
“Hoarder.” He was now going to always stick with it.
“Interesting name, but not that interesting for a loot goblin.”
The man then turned around, but Axel said, “Oh, I’m looking for some more items . . . The ones that can’t be found in others stores.”
“And you think have these items?” the man question, coming back to the table.
“I mean, dodgy guy in Bandits Hideaway is bound to sell some of those items. He wouldn’t be here otherwise.”
The man nodded approvingly; then brought out a small ring from his pocket, and told Axel to put it on. He quickly examined the item before doing as Barb said.
Ring of Vision Concealment ILLEGAL
Description: A ring when worn, will only show the items that have been connected to the ring.
Illegal: If a guard examines this ring, he will then arrest you.
Enchantments: Seer of Concealment
Allows the wearer to see connected items.
I See Coins: 49 Gold 7 Silver
“Holy shit,” Axel mumbled under his breath. It was a lot of gold. He wasn’t going to run away with it though, he could already see a few shadows watching him.
“Nifty little thing, ain’t it?”
Axel smiled at the man, but then noticed dozens of more items laid out on the table. They had a faint purple glow to them. Axel went to touch them, but the man slapped his hand away.
“The whole point is for people to not notice them,” Barb explained grudgingly.
“My bad,” Axel said. “Anyway, I’m looking for an item which hides my player tag. Do you perhaps have something like that?”
“Oh yes, travellers have strange spells don’t they,” stated Barb. He looked around the table with something else in his hand. Once he had found the purple object he was looking for, he carefully switched it out with something that wasn’t hidden. He did it so effortlessly and smoothly, Axel wouldn’t notice it if the man hadn’t told him.
“Here you go.” Barb handed him a glass flower vase. Inside the vase, there was a purple glowing vile with grey liquid inside.
NPC Blender Potion
Description: This potion allows one to remove their player tag from above their ahead when drank.
Duration: 6 Hours
Side effects: Causes one to wiggle their toes a lot.
I See Coins: 3 Silver 4 Copper
“It’s perfect,” Axel remarked. “What’s with the wiggle my toes thing?”
“Bad batch I’m afraid. The alchemist is a right drunk.”
Axel couldn’t help but laugh. “I’ll take it. You want the vase back or?”
“Yeah, just act like you don’t like it. But take the vial out first- discretely.”
Axel complied, and took the vial out. “Oh, and I was also looking for a cart. A shitty one will do. Anything that looks portable really.”
The man bobbed his head side to side. “I may have one, but it’s 10 silver.”
“Fuck it, go on then.”
The man disappeared into his stall, and came back out carrying a small wooden cart. It was perfect, but it was fairly damaged. It would be fine for what Axel was planning. Barb gave him the rest of the coin and now he had 9 silvers and 5 coppers left. Half of his illegal earns were already spent. It was an investment, so hopefully he could make a lot of profit back.
After giving the ring back and saying goodbye to Barb, he put it all in his inventory and headed towards a lady selling rock bread. She also had some second hand clothes for sale.
“How much for the bread?” Axel asked.
“A copper for 5. It’s out of date by three days.”
Axel picked up one of the pieces of bread in a huge pile. It felt like a hollow stone. He tapped it with his other knuckle, and found no indent at all. “And you’re just gonna tell me they’re out of date?”
“No point in lying; I had could crack a skull with them- speaking from experience.”
Axel looked at the woman. She was huge, not fat, just tall with bulging muscles. She had a strange pig-like nose. He didn’t want to ask what her race was, but he guess. He did have some other questions for her though.
“What did you first think of me when I walked over?” he asked.
“A goblin, not very good looking, and that black eye on your face means your trouble. But everyone is trouble round here.”
Axel nodded. It was pretty fair. He wanted to know how the charisma attribute worked when talking with NPCs. The guard at the noble gate was immediately rude to him, however, the one called Lenny was friendly. He guessed it was down to the NPC, rather than a flat score across the board.
“Alright, lady, I’ll take all your rock bread.”
“The whole lot?” she questioned.
“Yeah, for 5 silver.”
She squinted her eyes at him. “Six.”
“Five silver and 5 coppers.”
“Deal,” she said, happy.
“And with that, I’ll have an outfit from that pile of clothes.”
“Are you trying to blend in, traveller?” she questioned.
“You knew I was a traveller, so yeah.”
“You’re an interesting one,” she remarked. “Take what you want. They belonged to a late man.”
“Brilliant, a dead mans clothes,” Axel commented. He placed the rock bread in his inventory, and found it to be almost full. He sifted through the pile of clothes. They smelt terrible, and perfect for him to fit in. He looked like a poor salesman, just trying to squeeze by with what little coin he had. The look was extraordinary, and Axel patted himself on the back. He was going to wait till he found a dark alley before he set his grand plan in motion.
After losing five silver and 5 coppers, he was now left with 4 silver on the dot. He was hoping to make quadruple that amount of money back. He left shortly, ducking his head low as he weaved between the poorest of Tresluna.
The next stop he wanted to take, was back at the market he stole from. His whole plan with the stall and food, was to sell it outside of the city gates. As soon as he arrived near the city, he smelt fresh food cooking. It was that, and he had ran for two to reach the city. He would have killed for a nice drink and some food.
And that was his master plan. It was simple, but he was betting big on it. He was going to charge the players an extortionate amount for the rock hard bread and tasteless drink while pretending to be an NPC. He was going to bank on the new players eagerness to try everything. He was going to be a humble salesman.
The walk towards the market took him an extra half an hour. He hurried into the market once he was back near the gates. He found an stall selling food and drinks, and brought two of the cheapest jugs he saw. He didn’t want to steal drinks; the two jugs only cost him a silver, and he could sell one with each bread he had in his inventory.
In total, he had 300 pieces of bread. He hadn’t worked out the prices yet, but he knew that everyone coming from the three starter villages had at least 5 silver. Everyone would have done the initial training quest. He was debating on 1 silver for the bread and a drink. In truth, he didn’t know how much he could get away with. He would try and push it first with 2 silver, then if that backfired, try and sell for a silver and 5 coppers. Axel was a bad salesman, but a good businessman.
He ducked into a nearby alley way. The shade was nice; it relieved him of the weighted vest he always had to wear. He stripped down to his birthday suit, and then put on the dead mans clothes. It felt odd; they were baggy and cold, and stunk of mould. But he was getting into character, and that’s what mattered most to him.
He sniffed the potion in his hand. It smelled disgusting, and he when tipped it down his throat, it tasted even worse. It was like eating dust. To add on top of that, it left him with a dry mouth. And then his toes started to wiggle. It wasn’t the worse thing in the world since he had boots on. It didn’t show much, but it was generally uncomfortable. He was going to have a word with that alchemist if he ever met them.
It didn’t tell him that his tag was removed, but there was a timer in his HUD, which was a good enough indication. He summoned the rickety cart from his inventory, and placed all the bread and drinks inside. Mustering the soul of a poor salesman, he picked up the cart with two hands and wheeled it outside.
‘Do I throw on a limp?’ he asked himself. ‘No, that would be pain to walk all that way.’
Nevertheless, he did change his walk slightly. It was more of a wobble, but better than a limp. People would think he was old; it was difficult to tell his age when he was a loot goblin.
He approached the gate, and stayed to the right of the incoming players. Just as he was about to go under, a voice shouted, “Oi!”
Nervously, but still in character, he gently laid down the cart. He turned to the voice, noticing a guard; the guard’s uniform was different to the others. The person was clearly a higher ranked member.
“What seems to be the problem?” Axel asked in a croaky voice.
The guard weaved between the players until he was face to face with Axel. “Do you ‘ave a licence for that, goblin?”
‘Play it cool, play it cool.’
Axel held up his finger, and turned around to rummage inside the cart. He was doing it ridiculously slow on purpose. “I have it in here somewhere,” he said. He started lifting up individual pieces of bread. The guard wasn’t budging, their gaze was fixated on him. Axel went to bend over the cart, but faked a back pain.
“I’ll help you look for it,” the guard offered.
“No, no, it’s fine,” Axel protested, trying to remain upright.
“Hoarder!” Lenny shouted, running over. “Wha-”
“Do you know this goblin?” the head guard questioned Lenny.
Lenny didn’t respond as he looked at Axel. Axel himself was just praying that favour was going to come in handy.
“Yes. This is Hoarder,” Lenny replied. “He’s recently moved here. He’s just trying to make ends meet for his family.”
‘Oh Lenny! I could kiss you right now!’
“Is that so? Does he have a licence for all the stuff on the back there?” the guard questioned.
Axel could see Lenny gulp before answering with, “Yes, yes I have.”
“Right,” the head guard said. “I trust you Lenny. Be on your way then, goblin.”
Axel let off a humble smile. “Please, guard, would you and your comrades like a drink? It must be so hot in these magnificent suits of armour.”
The guard hesitated. “Yes, I think it would be a nice treat for the guards since we have been working overtime lately. How much?”
“Don’t worry about the coin,” Axel pleaded. “You protect us and that’s what matters.”
“That’s very kind of you, goblin.”
Axel followed him over to the guard post where there were others. “Men, this goblin has offered us some drinks,” the guard said.
Axel smiled as he picked up the cups and jugs and started dishing them out for everyone. Once they were all settled, Lenny turned his back to them to face Axel. “Hoarder, what are you doing?”
“Lenny, thank you for doing that. I’m just trying to make some money. Thank you for again for covering for me.”
Lenny took a deep breath in to calm himself down. “I can’t keep doing this.”
“It’s a one off. Oh, and here’s your drink.” Axel handed him one of the drinks with the most amount in.
“Thank you, Hoarder. Sorry for my overreaction.”
“It’s a normal reaction, Lenny. You were really good. Consider me impressed.”
Lenny looked over his shoulder at the guards. Thankfully, they were distracted.
“Who are you really? I may not be the smartest of the litter, but I know a trickster when I see one.”
Axel smiled. “You’ll find out soon enough, Lenny. But for right now, just know that you’re safe. There are big things coming to this city, and I’ll be at the centre of them.”
Lenny took off his helmet, exposing a youthful face. His face was fairly rugged, as if he had a troublesome upbringing. “Why me, Hoarder?”
“Why anyone?” he questioned back. “Destiny or fate?”
“No, the luck of the draw, Lenny. You’ll know when something happens. And if you need help, I’ll be there. In return, you help me. Consider it a partnership. Here, a token of my appreciation.” Axel pinged him a silver coin. “There. I’ll be back in a little bit, alright?”
Lenny caught the silver coin swiftly and pocketed it. He put his helm back on and gave a subtle nod after. Axel just grinned at him. He loved having people in his pockets. For too long had he been in others.
“I’ll you see later!” Axel shouted in character over to the rest of the guards.
They all gave him a friendly wave and Axel couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear once he was out of sight. Although he lost a silver coin and some drink, he knew that controlling the guards meant he could control everything that came in and out of the city.