With only 10 HP left, Prof had no other choice but to drink his last better potion.
With the dizziness gone he could finally survey the room in detail: the only furniture in it was an extremely over-decorated sarcophagus with bare walls. Such an expensive resting place was common on earth for only the most renowned monarchs or for saints who made a wow of poverty during their lives. Prof crunched his neck and hands, it was time for archaeology!
Or at least some serious looting.
According to the Captain most of the loot came from the weapons and armour of the skeletons, but even so, because of the rust, is was only smelted down. From the sum value of around eleven silvers for everything, collecting trash metal gave around nine – Prof found this ratio suspicious, two silvers worth of stuff was too little for the high difficulty for the average adventurer. Even if the dungeon was “broken” according to Captain Bela.
Prof had one thing – besides a lot of time – that wasn’t common on Arkadia: 150% in [Looting]. As he accidentally found out, very few raised the Skill to such a level, even 100% was rare, and no one with such a skill level visited Smallgrovewell.
The Skill’s description said, it was used for finding important or random stuff, valuables, hidden stashes or doors. That was exactly, what Prof was planning to do. With his Scavenger Perk, he was even more confident to find something good.
First, he scrutinized to room down to the last square centimeter – and found nothing. He started to doubt there was any loot in the room, when he spotted a small, strange crack on the inside of the sarcophagus. After some examination he was confident, he found a hidden safe. This was exactly what he was searching for! With the safe found, he only needed to find the opening mechanism! How hard could that be?
Well, he needed a whole hour to find it: he had to turn a nondescript carving on the outside. The safe opened with a quiet “click” and Prof checked the loot greedily. He was now the proud owner of a thin golden necklace, two silver rings and a copper badge with the picture of a running… Human (?) depicted on it. The necklace and the rings had a sum value of at least one and a half silvers, but the real surprise came, when he tried to evaluate the badge.
He only got the nagging feeling in the back of his head, that the item was magical, but his Skill didn’t give a return for value. He found his first magical artefact! His only problem was that as far as he could remember the rules, there were three possibilities to identify a magical item: First, a magic user cast an identify-spell on it, second, a theorist with a high magic Skill puzzled the use out, or an utter moron… khmm... a well-informed and adventurous individual used it.
Prof suspected that other ways existed that the Locals found out, but knew nothing about those. The nearest possibility for an identify he knew of was in the capital of Wanderberg, one week of travel away, and the last one was a bit risky for his taste. If he pinned the badge on himself without due thought, he could have easily contract some curse or undesirable effect.
Not unlike a street hooker – you may have a good time for cheap but you get the whole catalogue of STDs gratis. Finally, he wrapped it into a piece of moth-ridden cloth and put it into his messenger bag. Before he left the room, he stuffed the Boss’ armour into his sack and after a short deliberation took the sword too.
Searching the large room took even more time, but it was time well spent, the haul was nice, to say it so. He found the small purse with copper coins the Captain warned him about, but also another one with ten silvers, another golden necklace, a silver ring with precious stones set in it, a handful of bronze jewellery and an above average quality steel hunting knife.
Not counting the scrap metal, he was already at 15 silvers, and he still had two rooms to go! When he collected the gear of the three skeleton-noobs, his eyes stopped on a child-sized sarcophagus, that he already checked. He eyed it for a minute, took a large breath and checked it again. The effort was rewarded shortly, if he pushed the stone just the right way, it slid away and underneath it he was presented with a money box made out of iron with a complicated lock. Prof shook the box and could hear stuff jingling inside. Unfortunately his [Lock-picking] was at an abysmal 36%, so trying to pick the lock was out of the question. He wasn’t ready to smash it open, it was worth a few silvers, so hoping he found someone in the village who could open it, he bagged it unopened.
In the two flanking rooms he collected the known loot (two silver rings and a handful of coppers) and started to scatter the piles of bones. He could pry a gold tooth out of a skull, found another handful of coppers a some copper and bronze jewellery, a magical ring made out of bone, a comb, lavishly decorated with an animal motif, a copper whistle and finally an ornate but somewhat used looking sword sheath. Baubles worth another 22 Silvers wandered into his bag.
In contrast, the first room gave almost nothing to further Prof’s journey to be wealthy – from a hidden box next to the altar a few iron bits and coppers and from under a collapsed pew a silver plated bronze statue of a hooded figure. His Skills told him the last one was part of a game set, but nothing more, not even a value.
To sum up his haul, instead of the promised 11 silvers he had stuff in his bags worth around fifty, and in that he didn’t even counted the two magical items, the money box and its contents! Prof was happy. Very happy. Like finding a suitcase in a cupboard happy. A famous star – and generations of archaeologists – would have argued the loot, plundered from a crypt should be put into a museum, but smart grave-robbers figured it out thousands of years ago, that the value of valuables is that people are willing to give you money for them. If a museum does it, fine, if an oil-sheik, that is fine too.
As soon as Prof left the dungeon, a though occurred to him: no one knew about the real wealth the dungeon provided but only him. If he told them, the dungeon was truly broken, and there was no other loot in it, just what everyone knew, he would be fine. He didn’t want to stay any further, so selling the excess loot somewhere else would be also safe. The only problem was, if the Locals at least suspected more loot, or did know about more loot, but just didn’t tell him.
Prof didn’t like taxes – in his opinion it was just lawful robbery – but the local 10%/ was still much more agreeable than the rates at home. Not even counting the etceteras the state liked to collect. If the Locals somehow found out he evaded taxes, he would be neck deep in problems. Four silvers didn’t looked like worth the trouble. After some deliberation he decided to admit the true loot, pay the taxes and get done with it.
Arriving at the brook he cleaned himself up first – there not being much blood but crawling on the floor of an ancient crypt made his clothes collect an enormous amount of dirt. He could only remove a tiny fraction of it, and decided to give them to the woman who did his washing. Her rates were good, no need to get stingy after such a haul.
After cleaning up somewhat, he sat down below the willow and had a hearty meal of dried foodstuff. Well, not hearty, but it was still a nice picknick. With half a day work he collected around five thousand Euros, if the rates Sandy told him were correct – back on Earth, with his average Central European salary he would have had to work for around six month for that kind of money.
Life was beautiful! While munching away he thought about his new life – back on Earth he wouldn’t have gotten the idea to fight Dire Wolfs, Pigrats or Skeletons (partially, because neither existed on Earth any more) and here, he didn’t even thought twice. Did the glaze of civilisation wear down so fast, did he lose a lot of “negative Perks” that held him back on Earth or did the laws and rules of Arkadia influence him?
Probably a bit of all three – the glazing could wear down on Earth really fast too (see all those riots) and he did remember seeing a few Perks on the list that were geared towards a law-abiding Westerner. Be as it may, Prof didn’t regret choosing this option in the afterlife office. Finally, knowledge could be quantified – impartially and in an absolute matter – progression was visible, the government and the revenue office wasn’t breathing down his neck and the whole life wasn’t so hectic any more.
If you wanted money, you just had to make a run in a dungeon, and if you didn’t spent everything in a night, that one run set you up for a year. OK, Arkadia did have its own problems, like the missing healthcare net – not that Central Europe could boast about its well-running healthcare system – there was no porn from the ‘net – of course Prof didn’t watch such filth – and there was a larger chance for a Dire Wolf or a Skeleton accidentally strolling by and believing you are lunch.
One could say that in advanced places like Central Africa that could happen too. Or get eaten by the botany like in Australia. Or feeding a shark while peacefully surfing. OK, Earth was probably not that safe either.
After finishing his meal and the philosophical excursion (yes, he checked, there was a [Philosophy] Skill) he set out to return to the village – as he planned, on the longer, more scenic way. The brook was picturesque farther from the clearing too, it winded its way between hills and rocks, rushed through rapids, tiny waterfalls and past fallen trees. Above small ponds and bays dragonflies and other colourful bugs (Prof had no idea, what they were) danced in the sunlight and the banks were full with radiant flowers of every colour.
Back home, he would have to travel hours to find such a beauty, but even then, he would have to compete with other hobby-migrants and wonder about the idiots going into a park and just throwing away their garbage. Here, no one disturbed him. He pushed [Drawing] or [Painting] up a bit on his to-do list. Seeing the undisturbed beauty of the small brook, and having no means to take a picture? That could not stand!
After about an hour – and he took his time to enjoy the sight, and didn’t rush – he took a break on the bank of a small lake below a cute little waterfall. It was there he had to leave the brook and continue towards the village, so he took advantage of the place to admire nature’s beauty a last time. He was about to leave the lake, when he heard groaning from under some bushes.